Friday, January 26, 2007

The Lightning Round:
Rabbit Season! Duck Season! Campaign Season!

It's a long road to the White House. We hope you like potholes.

DIRTY POLITICS. Now that Sen. Hillary Clinton is officially in the presidential race, we at your Lightning Round feel it necessary to warn you about the mud tsunami about to hit.

Provided the former first lady survives the primaries -- and our staff pool has her a 2-1 favorite -- right-wing operatives will attack with a rabid vengeance. They have a long grudge list, including:

* Her involvement in President Clinton's botched national health care plan
* Whitewater (again)
* Bill (again)
* Allegations of her shorting cattle futures
* Conspiracy theories connecting her to the death of White House counsel Vince Foster
* Monicagate (again). Yes, we know she wasn't responsible for that, but do you think the wingnuts care about technicalities?

Mrs. Clinton is already a heavy favorite in at least one poll. But this is now. Savor the moment and relax in the respite of these precious few months before you hear the words: "I approved this message." As John Kerry learned in 2004, there's lies, there's outrageous lies, and there's campaign ads.

SCHOOLED IN THE TRUTH. Hillary's chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, is already showing he's no Kerry. Obama denies a school he attended in Indonesia as a boy teaches radical Islam.

Investigations by CNN, ABC, and other media organizations have found the allegations, originally reported in the conservative Insight magazine, baseless.

From the AP:
"We will not be swift-boated," said Obama communications director Robert Gibbs. "And we won't take allegations that are patently untrue lying down."
Of course they won't take it lying down. Bill Clinton already did that.

BURNED. Notorious Tucson Mexican flag burner Roy Warden is under orders to lay down his gun and stay away from public protests. He was found guilty of assaulting, threatening and intimidating Hispanic teenager Arturo Rodriguez during a burn in front of the Mexican Consulate last summer. Warden beat a similar charge earlier this year. He might have done so again if Rodriguez hadn't gotten the incident on tape.

Warden, always Mr. Personality, is unrepentant. From KOLD News 13's Dan Marries:
"If you attempt to commit an act of violence against me," a defiant Warden said right outside the courtroom, "I will draw my sidearm and blow your f---in' head off. That's what I told Arturo then that's what I told the judge up in the courtroom...nothing changes."
Rodriguez, to our surprise and amusement, holds a hint of admiration for this character.
"I actually respect the guy because he's brave enough to oppose what most of the city is standing for and what the city believes. He's respectable except for the fact that he threatens little kids."
Arturo, we note, is neither "kid" nor "little." We also note the sentence will do nothing to disarm Warden's machine-gun mouth. He's still free to go near flammable materials and start demonstrations of his own. The net results: more flag burnings, more incendiary rhetoric, and potentially more scuffles with counter-demonstrators.

To paraphrase an 80's gangsta-rap record, not a darn thing changed!

FUNNY OLD GAME. British drama students are doing stand-up comedy from the Victorian era after dusting off an old joke book from circus clown Tom Lawrence.

The gags are not likely to kill 'em in Peoria, much less Manchester. From Chortle:
Lawrence’s gags include: ’What's the difference between a rowing boat and Joan of Arc?’ To which the answer is: ‘One is made of wood and the other is Maid of Orleans.’
However, many jokes were topical. Many took cheap shots. And occasionally, the humor cuts across time... cuts like a knife.

Some more examples from the BBC:
"Bad husbands are like bad coals - they smoke, they go out, and they don't keep the pot boiling."
"You know I'm very fond of the ladies - I say bless those wives that fill our lives, With little bees and honey, They ease life's shocks, they mend our socks - But can't they spend the money."
Ouch, I say, ouch!

ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE. You don't need to tell 60-year-old Matthieu Ricard any jokes. Scientists call this academic turned Buddhist monk the world's happiest man.

From The Independent:
MRI scans showed that he and other long-term meditators - who had completed more than 10,000 hours each - experienced a huge level of "positive emotions" in the left pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is associated with happiness. The right-hand side, which handles negative thoughts, is suppressed.
Ricard hangs out with a good crowd. He's the interpreter for the Dalai Lama. But happiness, like most things, does not come through osmosis.
"The mind is malleable," Mr Ricard told The Independent on Sunday yesterday. "Our life can be greatly transformed by even a minimal change in how we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world. Happiness is a skill. It requires effort and time."
On that, I happily concur -- and a few rounds of "Come, Let's Be Merry" help too.

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