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Gladstone
  • Five Things from Sweden That Aren't as Good as They Might Seem

    It appears President Obama is looking towards Sweden's model of government-assisted banking to help America's troubled financial sector. Many believe Sweden recovered from its recession twenty years ago as a result of the government's support and active oversight. While the Swedish model seems enticing, President Obama would do well to remember other Swedish influences, that while initially promising, proved to be less than desirable.

    IKEA

    Sure, discount, do-it-yourself furniture seems like a good idea. I mean, how else can you furnish every room in your entire apartment for under $900? But look more closely.

    No not at the warping that occurs after a week. Over here. No. Not at the imitation wood wallpaper that separates from the composite board after three weeks. Here. At the directions. Notice something? Right. There are no words!

    You might think that's because the explanatory diagrams are so helpful there's no need for language, but you'd be mistaken. More accurately, it's because there's no Swedish equivalent for the phrase: "Beware! Intense searing arthritic pain to be caused by cruelly-shaped "L" wrench!"

    .

    Swedish Chef

    Yes, as a child the Swedish chef from the old Muppet Show was very amusing. What are those funny words he's saying? Oh, I can't see his eyes beneath that amusingly bushy brow. And he's so adorable. I just want to squeeze every last bit of his plush, muppety body and… uh…

    What's with his hands! Good lord! What have you done to his hands! HE HAS HUMAN HANDS! What sort of twisted amalgam of muppet and man have you created?

    No wonder those chickens were terrified.

    .

    Swedish Massage

    Relaxing? Check.

    Good for blood flow? Check.

    The number one culprit for spreading chlamydia? Check!

    How do I know? Never mind. I don't.

    Forget I said anything.

    .

    Existentialist Cinema

    No one can argue that Ingmar Bergman isn't a genius. His film, The Seventh Seal, is a classic of existential, expressionist drama — and not just because the scene in which a man plays chess with Death spawned a hilarious send up in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. I mean, any film student will tell you, it's a classic (and then ask to borrow money so they can buy some leather patches for their vintage tweed overcoat).

    But, the thing is, have you tried to watch The Seventh Seal? Or Swedish cinema in general? It's really depressing. And don't take my word for it. Ask Swedish film star, Max von Sydow. Why doesn't he keep making movies for Mr. Bergman if Ingmar is so great? And don't give me that "Uh, because he's dead," excuse.

    It's because Max knew that if he portrayed a philosophical notion in a black and white film just one more time, he'd lose it. Indeed, existentialist drama likely took its toll on poor Max. How else to explain his appearances in Flash Gordon and Judge Dredd?

    .

    Stockholm Syndrome

    In these dark times, loyalty is something we just can't get enough of. Someone to watch your back. Someone to lend a hand. Someone to rob a bank at machine gun point in the name of the Symbionese Liberation Front!

    Yes, the Swedes introduced us to the notion of gaining loyalty through abuse -– namely the psychological phenomenon of captives gaining sympathy for their captors over a period of time.

    It's probably not fair for me to blame the entire Swedish nation for a phenomenon named after an incident featuring a few bank robbers in Stockholm, but as I'm writing this on a crappy computer desk I bought from IKEA, you'll have to cut me some slack.

    .

    So there you have it. The five largest deceptively evil influences from Sweden. Study them well Mr. President. Otherwise the promise of a new economy might fall through as easily as the shelf on my entertainment center when I placed my television on it.


    Tags: Barack Obama, Economy, Sweden
  • Again with the Most Important Jews in Politics of 2008 Already!

    As 2008 draws to a close, we thought it appropriate to run Gladstone's year-end round-up of the the eight most important Jews in American politics of the past year, that he'd originally written to celebrate American Jewishyishness and the eight nights of Hanukkah.

    If you missed it the first eight times, here's your chance to catch up…



    In honor of Hanukkah and the Jewish people, Indecision 2008 news editor Dennis DiClaudio put together a special feature called The 8 Most Important Jews in Politics of 2008.

    Of course, Dennis — despite being hairy, bespectacled, and consumed with religious guilt — is not actually what my people refer to as a “Jew.” And frankly, while I’m all for tolerance and diversity, the thought of his greasy Italian fingers punching up a piece on my political brethren makes me want to puke up my macaroons.

    So seeing as I’ve been Bar Mitzvah’d, circumcised, and found attractive by Catholic girls with Jew fetishes, I offered to spruce up his list. I must say, even though Dennis didn’t manage to select the actual Jews in our nation’s Zionist occupied shadow government, I think his efforts were just adorable. So sit back and enjoy the next eight days of Hanukkah with each day celebrating a different political Jew of note.

    Night 1
    Rahm Emanuel

    In 2008, President Elect Barack Obama chose Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff, cementing Emanuel’s status as the kind of Jew my people want to be: one that Black people like to hang out with.

    But how important is that approbation to Rahm? Well, many feel he gave the up the chance to one day be Speaker of the House in order to run Obama’s White House. That kind of dedication is just inspiring.

    And this is no mere accidental pairing of a Black and a Jew like Jon Stewart and Chris Rock on my personal comedy heroes’ height/weight chart. No. By all accounts, Obama selected Rahm for his tenacity, judgment, and ability to get things done. Together they promise to affect real change in 2009 and realize the nightmares of bigots everywhere.

    Night 2
    Eliot Spitzer

    2008 was a hard year for Jewish surnames containing "Spitz." Of course, the big story was that Michael Phelps shattered Jewish Olympian Marc Spitz's seemingly unbreakable record of eight gold medals.

    To a lesser extent, however, there was also some slight reporting on New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer's wildly inappropriate prostitute sex scandal. The scandal revealed that Spitzer enjoyed exposing more than Wall Street corruption, but also raised many questions in the Jewish community such as "Is he Jewish? Really? Are you sure? Damn."

    Spitzer left office in disgrace after a press conference that was as strained and painful as some of the "dangerous" sexual practices he is alleged to have engaged in.

    Still, his downfall struck another positive note for Black/Jew relations in 2008. After the scandal, Lt. Governor David Patterson assumed Spitzer's office, making Patterson New York's first Black Governor and the African American that has benefited most from prostitution since Snoop Dogg.

    Night 3
    The Next Senator Elected from Minnesota – Either Al Franken or Norm Coleman

    When I think of Jew-friendly places in America my thoughts turn to New York, L.A., and Miami Beach, but, perhaps, I should add Minnesota to that list. I mean, aside from being the birth place of one Robert Zimmerman (non-Jew name Bob Dylan), the State was also represented by the late Senator Paul Wellstone. And what's more, no matter what happens in 2008's bitterly contested Senatorial election, Minnesota will be getting another Jew in office. That's right, both Norm Coleman and Al Franken are Jewish.

    No, really. Despite signs to the contrary, Norm Coleman is Jewish. And those reports about the Coleman family menorah featuring 8 maids-a-milking are probably apocryphal. Still, it can't be denied that Norm has hid his Judaism well through arch conservatism and a steadfast refusal to be even remotely funny. But don't underestimate how badly Franken wants this. While he may not be able to conceal his Hebraic status as successfully, Franken has been going toe to toe with Coleman by seemingly refusing to be funny for several years now.

    Night 4
    Lynn Forester de Rothschild

    Wealthy Clinton fundraiser Lynn Forester de Rothschild –- or Doll Face as I used to call her when we partied in the Hamptons back in the 90's — came to embody the Obama-hating Clinton supporter who just couldn't toe the party line after their gal was defeated.

    After raising oodles of cash for Hillary in 2008, Rothschild threw her support behind McCain rather than back Obama. The ramifications were great –- although Barack Obama still won the election handily, he received one fewer popular vote than he would have had Rothschild voted for him.

    Night 5
    David Axelrod

    Several times during cable news's reporting of the 2008 election I asked myself, "why is CNN interviewing that sleepy labor union representative about Obama's campaign strategy?"

    But that question only belied my own ignorance. For that vaguely unkempt mustached gentleman was no disgruntled shop teacher, but Barack Obama's brilliant campaign strategist, David Axelrod.

    Axelrod is credited with engineering Obama's unprecedented Presidential victory, and by all accounts, his efforts represent the most successful Jewish direction of a Black since Steven Spielberg led Oprah Winfrey to an Oscar nomination in The Color Purple.

    Night 6
    Mark Penn

    Ask any racist and they will tell you: Jews are smart, crafty, and good with money.

    Well, in 2008, the Jewish community took its hat off to Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's campaign strategist, for shattering those anti-Semitic stereotypes. As no one can dispute, Penn's handling of the Clinton campaign was just abysmal.

    Smart? Some claim that Penn was unaware that delegates in primaries are not awarded in a winner take all fashion. Crafty? Penn predicted that a big win for Clinton in large states would lead to a decisive Super Tuesday victory. Good with money? Hillary Clinton finally abandoned her campaign millions of dollars in debt.

    No doubt, Hillary's decision to team up with Penn will go down as the most disastrously messy Clinton/Jew collaboration since Bill stained up Lewinsky's dress.

    Night 7
    Bill Kristol

    I don't know Bill Kristol. He doesn't belong to my synagogue and we didn't go to school together, but I'm pretty sure I'd be able to pick him out on the playground 40 years ago -– if the Collegiate School's Prepatory Academy for Boys had a playground.

    Bill was the kid who did the bully's homework for him and then deluded himself into thinking the bully was his friend. Perhaps, little Bill even tried to affect some of that bully's power by tormenting his more socially-afflicted friends. By embracing something seemingly stronger, more mainstream and "American," he hoped to shake loose the shackles of his Jewish nerdom and acquire a sense of everyman -– a Manhattan elite, Ivy Leauge educated, national publication-editing everyman.

    Of course, this is all just conjecture, but it would explain Kristol's fascination with George W. Bush in 2000. Over and over, he extolled Bush's simple, old-fashioned integrity while lambasting Gore as a shifty, bookish nightmare. Perhaps, Gore was a dark reminder of Kristol's own tortured past. A past that included studying for tests, understanding Earth science, and pronouncing "nuclear" correctly.

    And in 2008, Bill earned his place on this list by being one of Sarah Palin's biggest supporters. His magazine, The Weekly Standard, defended this all-American, no-nonsense, right-as-rain sweetheart to the end. I have to wonder, after all that do you think she kissed his cheek and told him that for a New York Jew, he was "A-OK" in her book? Gee, I certainly hope so.

    It would be a shame to think he helped saddle a cancer-ridden, geriatric Presidential candidate with a woefully unqualified running mate for anything less.

    Night 8
    Joe Lieberman

    To find the people in this world who are really, really passionate about Joe Lieberman you have to search the narrowest shaded regions of a highly specific venn diagram: war hawks, who love Jesus, who aren't anti-Semitic, who can overlook pro-Choice politics.

    Maybe that explains his disastrous 2004 Presidential run despite all his "Joe-mentum." But as a Jew from Connecticut, I guess Lieberman is used to not exactly fitting in.

    Still, his not-fitting-in-iness got a whole lot more not-fitting-in-ier in 2008 when he backed Republican Senator John McCain for President. Lieberman railed against Obama and supported his pal McCain until the bitter end. And the end was bitter.

    When the dust settled, Lieberman apologized for what he'd done and ate crow -– which although technically Kosher, must have been difficult for him to swallow.


    Tags: Al Franken, David Axelrod, Eliot Spitzer, Hanukkah, Jewish, Joe Lieberman, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Mark Penn, Norm Coleman, Rahm Emanuel, William Kristol
  • The Most Important Jews in Politics of 5768-69: Eighth Night – Joe Lieberman


    Joe Lieberman

    To find the people in this world who are really, really passionate about Joe Lieberman you have to search the narrowest shaded regions of a highly specific venn diagram: war hawks, who love Jesus, who aren't anti-Semitic, who can overlook pro-Choice politics.

    Maybe that explains his disastrous 2004 Presidential run despite all his "Joe-mentum." But as a Jew from Connecticut, I guess Lieberman is used to not exactly fitting in.

    Still, his not-fitting-in-iness got a whole lot more not-fitting-in-ier in 2008 when he backed Republican Senator John McCain for President. Lieberman railed against Obama and supported his pal McCain until the bitter end. And the end was bitter.

    When the dust settled, Lieberman apologized for what he'd done and ate crow -– which although technically Kosher, must have been difficult for him to swallow.

    Go back to the seventh night.


    Tags: Hanukkah, Jewish, Joe Lieberman
  • The Most Important Jews in Politics of 5768-69: Seventh Night – Bill Kristol


    Bill Kristol

    I don't know Bill Kristol. He doesn't belong to my synagogue and we didn't go to school together, but I'm pretty sure I'd be able to pick him out on the playground 40 years ago -– if the Collegiate School's Prepatory Academy for Boys had a playground.

    Bill was the kid who did the bully's homework for him and then deluded himself into thinking the bully was his friend. Perhaps, little Bill even tried to affect some of that bully's power by tormenting his more socially-afflicted friends. By embracing something seemingly stronger, more mainstream and "American," he hoped to shake loose the shackles of his Jewish nerdom and acquire a sense of everyman -– a Manhattan elite, Ivy Leauge educated, national publication-editing everyman.

    Of course, this is all just conjecture, but it would explain Kristol's fascination with George W. Bush in 2000. Over and over, he extolled Bush's simple, old-fashioned integrity while lambasting Gore as a shifty, bookish nightmare. Perhaps, Gore was a dark reminder of Kristol's own tortured past. A past that included studying for tests, understanding Earth science, and pronouncing "nuclear" correctly.

    And in 2008, Bill earned his place on this list by being one of Sarah Palin's biggest supporters. His magazine, The Weekly Standard, defended this all-American, no-nonsense, right-as-rain sweetheart to the end. I have to wonder, after all that do you think she kissed his cheek and told him that for a New York Jew, he was "A-OK" in her book? Gee, I certainly hope so.

    It would be a shame to think he helped saddle a cancer-ridden, geriatric Presidential candidate with a woefully unqualified running mate for anything less.

    Go back to the sixth night.


    Tags: Hanukkah, Jewish, William Kristol
  • The Most Important Jews in Politics of 5768-69: Sixth Night – Mark Penn


    Mark Penn

    Ask any racist and they will tell you: Jews are smart, crafty, and good with money.

    Well, in 2008, the Jewish community took its hat off to Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's campaign strategist, for shattering those anti-Semitic stereotypes. As no one can dispute, Penn's handling of the Clinton campaign was just abysmal.

    Smart? Some claim that Penn was unaware that delegates in primaries are not awarded in a winner take all fashion. Crafty? Penn predicted that a big win for Clinton in large states would lead to a decisive Super Tuesday victory. Good with money? Hillary Clinton finally abandoned her campaign millions of dollars in debt.

    No doubt, Hillary's decision to team up with Penn will go down as the most disastrously messy Clinton/Jew collaboration since Bill stained up Lewinsky's dress.

    Go back to the fifth night.


    Tags: Hanukkah, Jewish, Mark Penn