Monday, September 29, 2008

Couric & Palin, SNL Style

Tina Fey returns as the nation's spotlight governor, grilled by Katie Couric... kinda, sorta.

Does Couric actually bat her lashes that much? I'll take a closer look and get back to you. UPDATE: Good grief, she does!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Big Mac-Stake

John McCain finally wised up this morning and decided to debate Barack Obama after all. As Politico reports:
...Republicans said the standoff was hurting McCain's campaign and that he would look terrible if he didn't attend the nationally televised, eagerly anticipated debate while Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was ready to go on stage.
Well, duh. I hope Republicans didn't actually have to tell McCain that.

Some of my friends think McCain did the noble thing by suspending his campaign to concentrate on the economy. I think it blew up in his face, for two reasons Obama stated clearly the other day:

* Now is the time to have a debate, with the economic mess on everybody's minds and people wanting to know how the candidates are going to fix it.

* You have to multitask as president. You can't suspend one part of your job to focus on another part.

And here's another reason -- David Letterman caught Big Mac in a whopper, saying he had to fly to Washington but somehow finding the time to sit down with Katie Couric. Nobody thought Letterman would grab a raw CBS feed of the interview and expose it to viewers. McCain's campaign is now saying that it wasn't the time for comedy. Why not just man up and say that in the first place?

One more reason: Sarah Palin's interview with Couric. Watching it was painful. Palin talked in hyphenated, hesitating speech like she was going through the file box in her mind, looking for a GOP talking point on every question. (And to my friends at the Friday morning Prayer Breakfast, I'm sorry, but Katie asked legitimate questions. You can not dump on reporters when they grill candidates you like. That's part of their job.)

Take a look at how she answered some questions... or mildly restated them:
Couric: When President Bush ran for office, he opposed nation-building. But he has spent, as you know, much of his presidency promoting democracy around the world. What lessons have you learned from Iraq? And how specifically will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?

Palin: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality. That is the whole goal here in fighting terrorism also. It's not just to keep the people safe, but to be able to usher in democratic values and ideals around this, around the world.
Where were the specifics? And what about the lessons from Iraq?

As for the economy... Palin finally grabbed a talking point.
The interesting thing in the last couple of days that I have seen is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain will do on this proposal. They're not waiting to see what Barack Obama is going to do. Is he going to do this and see what way the political wind's blowing? They're waiting to see if John McCain will be able to see these amendments implemented in Paulson's proposal.

Couric: Why do you say that? Why are they waiting for John McCain and not Barack Obama?

Palin: He's got the track record of the leadership qualities and the pragmatism that's needed at a crisis time like this.

Couric: But polls have shown that Sen. Obama has actually gotten a boost as a result of this latest crisis, with more people feeling that he can handle the situation better than John McCain.

Palin: I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?
Maybe Americans already have.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Trickle-Down Democracy

A few blocks away from FrancisPage headquarters, the city of Tucson desires to annex about three square miles of upscale neighborhood. Several people want to know what that will get them, so last night, a few city administrators held a get-acquainted meeting.

A colleague of mine -- who was attending as a citizen of that neighborhood and not a reporter -- expected a cordial evening, along the lines of that famous Norman Rockwell town-hall painting. Instead, things turned rancid.

Opponents filled the room. Not just the loyal opposition, but foaming, frothy grumblers still ticked off at some failed city plan from years ago. Maybe they hated Tucson's leadership. Maybe they hated growth. Maybe they didn't want the "gub-mint" messing with their peaceful setting. It didn't matter. Whatever reasons they gave had little to do with the issue on the table.

It all stunned that co-worker of mine, who said "this one guy got up and asked (of the speaker for the city), 'Are you the guy I talked with on the phone today?'" That one guy then went into a bluster rivaling a tropical depression.

I wasn't surprised. "You are seeing the Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann-ization of democracy," I said. "It all trickles down."

The No-Spin Zone and Worst People In The World arrived in Tucson last night, whether we wanted them or not. We cannot embrace bare-knuckle politics on the radio and television without it warping our perspective into a perpetual us-versus-them mentality.

Skepticism is healthy. Vigilance is a tentpole of democracy. But Tucson's management didn't deserve the angry gripefest they got last night. That annexation plan will likely die a caustic death for all the wrong reasons, and I won't blame the people who held out the olive branch.

We complain about partisan bickering in Washington, but we're quite capable of doing it ourselves.

Let 'Em Drink Kool-Aid!

If you have any doubts PETA cares about animals to the detriment of humans -- including newborns -- let me erase them now.

PETA is urging Ben And Jerry's to use human breast milk instead of cow's milk in their ice cream. I kid you not.

As WNBC-TV reports:
"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."
I love B&J's short and sensible reply:
In a statement Ben and Jerry's said, "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Right Fine Time

Hootin’ & Hollerin’ with We Make History as boots stomp across the floor for the Tucson Barn Dance!

As Told By Christopher, Boatman of The Ol’ Miss and the Mighty Mo'
(although mistakenly attributed to a certain Finn)

Daguerreotypes by Mr. M. Cynecki

After the war between the states, a lot of folks I knew headed west. I was not sure what they were after, more than a change of scenery and maybe some steady work.

That’s how I ended up on a barge running from Kansas City to St. Louis and down the Mississippi. Everywhere I go I carry the scars of a ball to my arm in Gettysburg, but the captain admired my service to Virginia and the Confederacy and gave me a job. A friend of mine who served as a Colonel had the same idea after Vicksburg. He heard of Arizona from a Sergeant turned rancher familiar with the land and new opportunities. He talked of the socials and fine barbecue every Friday night. I could have told him he need only travel to Kansas City for the barbecue. He was determined, however, and he made the long journey there.

Once rooted there, he sent word of success to everyone he knew. One of his letters found my hand in St. Charles, and as the banks of the Missouri floated past, his pen told of investments in the thriving copper mine at Ajo and the blossoming town of Tucson. He said we needed to see the future for ourselves. All I could see was the same trees and landmarks and towns I had passed hundreds of times before. If it were not for my arm, my captain would have let me pilot the boat blindfolded in the dead of night with full confidence of reaching New Orleans unscratched.

He gave me leave to journey to Arizona on the condition I would explore new shipping opportunities. Two weeks later, after a patchwork voyage by train and horse, I arrived in Tucson just in time for one of those socials.

We meet in a church hall east of town. I had not had time to visit a proper tailor, so I wear the best work clothes I have, along with a hat I picked up in Tombstone. As the last of the ladies and gentlemen arrive, the Colonel stands tall in front of us in his white suit and hat, promising a fine time and introducing our musicians, who called themselves The Privvytippers. I still wonder about that name and how they got it.

He is soon taking the floor, leading things off with a bow to his beautiful wife and leading her through an opening promenade. I realize I have no lady to escort, until I look way on the other side of the hall. I run like lightning to find a lady unaccompanied within a group of three. It puts me in a delicate spot, but I pull off my hat and bow to the one whose smile first catches my eye, and we take each others’ arms.

We wind through the room, marching and skipping along the way, eventually ending up in a circle. The Colonel honors the guests with some as he calls them out to dance in the middle.

“All those wearing hats!”

“All those from Maricopa County!”

“All those from Pinal County!”

This is where he voices his dry Arizona humor:

“All those over six feet!”

“All those under five feet!”

“All those over 200 pounds!”

“All redheads!”

After some more circling, a mixer, and some more bows, I find myself another lady for a set dance. It has my partner and I arching our arms and running up and down the other lines before sashaying and weaving about. That weaving step, one they call a pousette, has my lady anxious, but I keep reassuring her.

“Don’t worry about movin’ at exactly the same time,” I say as the couples pousette back and forth. “Just don’t run into anybody.” We didn’t.

Another lady and I settle down into a waltz, a simple unflourished two-step I would dub my “Missouri Waltz.” All around me, folks are getting fancy. They twirl a few times here and there, but every time I attempt it, it either starts or ends awkwardly. I am heartened my partner is forgiving of my monotony, even if it is in line with the rhythm.

Our skilled caller, Miss Becky, teaches us something new, a dance in four-couple squares familiar to the Colonel… but the term is not.

“Quadrille,” I volunteer.

“Quadrille!” he acknowledges.

All the couples take turns leading around the set and gently nudging the other couples into the dance.

“Push Pa! Push Ma! Swing that gal from Arkansas!” our caller sings.

Some show off a bit, pretending like they’re going to fall flat on their face when they feel the push to meet a partner from the opposite side of the square.

“Behave yourself,” the Colonel smiles when I play along with the act.

Later we try something a little more familiar: “Birdie In A Cage”

I offer a dance to a spirited young lady who’s eager to skip about. Perhaps she is a little too eager. As we circle back and forth, swing, and promenade around, she constantly chases after her breath, laboring to catch it. Yet she is not distressed at all. She smiles through the entire dance, enjoying the moments and trying to dispel my concerns as the ladies and gents take turns stepping in and out of the middle of the circle after swinging with others. Thank goodness for the refreshments of punch and ice cold spring water delivered fresh from Mt. Lemmon.

A few wee children are anxious to join in every dance, even if they’re barely tall enough to reach the bottom of our hands. Advising them to sit a complex number gnaws at us, but the time comes to draw them back into our arms.

A girl of six, to my best guess, wanders about as the Privvytippers begin another waltz. I bow to her and offer her my hand.

“Would you like to waltz with me?” I query in a polite and tender voice.

She is shy and of few words. I know she wants to dance, but a fear churns within her. Her head down, facing away from me, she shakes her head in silence, even with my reassurances she has nothing to fear. She scurries off to the side.

But moments later, as I two-step with another, I spot her again. She is reaching up into the arms of the Colonel’s wife, swaying from side to side on the floor and savoring the opportunity to cavort with the grownups once again.

In a mixer later on, she has no reservations in skipping about with me and another young lad who labors as a deputy sheriff in Tombstone… along with his also-deputized sister. They are fast on the draw and light on their feet.

And one must be light on the feet for the Virginia Reel. I know it well, as should every fine citizen of Virginia (it right ought to be a condition of residency) but its popularity has infected the nation. When the music begins, the native Arizonans dance it with fervor, hardly waiting for the caller to advance to the next figure.

As if to cool us off, the Privvytippers pick off a holiday favorite:

“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!”

September is close enough to December, is it not?

Everyone in the set seizes their chance to skip forward and back, to swing and honoring the partners from the opposite end and sashay their own to the bottom and lead the line around through the arches. But nothing is complete without a big finish.

“Swing your partner!” the Colonel bellows, and we comply without hesitation.

“Now swing someone else!”

Dancers reach for whoever they can find, stranding a few who race to swing a lady or gent left alone.

“Swing somebody from another set!”

We race across the room, looking to grab that lonesome lady or gent with the eye of an eagle swooping down on a fish.

“Now swing two or three!”

Everyone grabs anyone they can find, laughing through the most enjoyable chaos they will ever know, as hands grab elbows and hook partners unexpectedly from the sides.


The room spins out of control into a swinging mayhem, restrained only by gravity. Only a few minutes leave us fanning for air.

Even after that, however, we still have enough fervor within us for a pumpkin dance, the follow-up to the ever-popular pineapple dance from earlier in the evening.

“Anything worth doing once…” I think out loud as the Colonel announces it, letting my thought trail off into a smile.

So the pumpkin is passed or even tossed about to couples who skip hand and hand down the line in groups of two or often three.

Some charge forth as if they are reliving their days behind enemy lines. Some reel about as if they are dancing a hectic round.

Even after all of that, more enthusiasm bubbles up within them. They engage in “Chase The Jackrabbit” as if the evening is just beginning.

Minutes elapse faster than we can count them, and a last waltz arrives. I bow to that young lady deputy sheriff, whom I find is well-versed in a box step. In seconds, I learn from her.

“The foot that isn’t on the outside sort of drags,” she explains to me. I had never heard it explained to me any clearly. With her direction, I worry not about looking down at her feet but into her beautiful countenance, as any gentleman should.

“She is a wonderful dancer and a wonderful teacher,” I compliment to her family after the tune dissolves and we honor each other.

The starry skies of Tucson illuminate us as we venture into the night, pausing for some coffee or some orange juice along the way. Thirst must be quenched. But our feet have had their fill.

Y'all see more scenes and stories of the good 'ol time here!

NEXT: Defend The Plantation

AHEAD: Aim and Amiability

LATER: Away To The Camp!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spin Doctoring

Canadian mathematics and computer science professor David Skillicorn has developed software to analyze politicians' word usage and facial expressions. It can tell when a candidate is taking liberties with the truth, and how much.

He put it to the test in the presidential race, as New Scientist reports:
Each of the candidates had made speeches containing very high and very low levels of spin, according to Skillicorn's program, depending on the occasion. In general though, Obama's speeches contain considerably higher spin than either McCain or Clinton. For example, for their speeches accepting their party's nomination for president, Obama's speech scored a spin value of 6.7 - where 0 is the average level of spin within all the political speeches analysed, and positive values represent higher spin. In contrast, McCain's speech scored -7.58, while Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention scored 0.15. Skillicorn also found that Sarah Palin's speeches contain slightly more spin than average.

So the analysis appears to back up McCain's claim that he is a "straight talker". However, for the purposes of political speech-making this may not be an entirely good thing for him. "Obama uses spin in his speeches very well," says Skillicorn. For example, Obama's spin level skyrockets when facing problems in the press, such as when Jeremiah Wright, the reverend of his former church, made controversial comments to the press.
So once again, that street proverb comes into play: "It ain't what you got, it's how you use it." Or maybe, "Don't hate the player, hate the game."

It's Gordon's World -- We Just Live In It

"Greed," Gordon Gekko proclaims at a stockholders meeting in the movie Wall Street, "for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA."

Maybe that's what the executives of Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, IndyMac and who knows how many other banks, brokerage houses and investment firms were thinking when they sold their souls to that devil called the subprime mortgage market. Even the very word "subprime" masked the danger, hinting something below standards could still carry the mark of quality. How wrong they were.

And shame on them for not learning. A decade ago we saw Barings, the rock-solid bank brought down by derivatives. Wikipedia defines them as "financial instruments whose value changes in response to the changes in underlying variables." That's just a polite way of saying you're making a bet with your broker about something in the financial world. As 60 Minutes found in 1995, it can be something as simple as cattle futures, or something as complex as a fund tied to the value of several international currencies. Derivatives can make you stinking rich or flat broke. All too often, it's the latter.

Watch CBS Videos Online

But what motivated people to design these high-risk investments? Ask Gordon Gekko. When the plain-Jane stocks and bonds and funds don't sell, it's time to revamp the product line. In step the wizards with their computers to design the next generation of high-gain financial opportunity. Risk, schmisk.

After Barings fell, derivative sales fell with it, but a new analyst came into prominence: the financial forensic investigator. This is someone paid lots of money to figure out how and why your money disappeared in an investment you probably didn't understand in the first place and probably shouldn't have bought.

The risk-schmiskers moved on to the next deal: real estate. Hey, it's tangible, it's understandable, and it actually exists somewhere besides paper. Sounds like a good bet. But we need buyers, and we need fewer barriers. This sounds like a job for Congress.

So people who have no business getting a loan are living the dream... until the wrath of ARM. Sale signs stand at attention up and down those promising young suburbs as keys jingle through the mail back to lenders. We see the stories on the news of disillusioned families who bought too much house. Scorn festers for the greedy mortgage companies. But what about the buyers who allowed themselves to be conned into the housing bubble, who now can't understand why they're upside down on their property, who couldn't be told -- politely and firmly -- "no"?

So this is where we are: investment firms wanting more and leaving all of us with less. The government is now backing up Fannie and Freddy and AIG. At least it had the stones to let Lehman twist in the wind. A guest lecturer in my college economics class introduced me to the principle that some banks were too big to fail. And they can't, lest the system get fouled up more than it already is.

It happened with the S&L debacle and the derivative scandals and now it's happening again. But nobody learns a darn thing. The honchos who paved the way get out with their skin and a few million and it's back to the golf course and the next deal. As Gekko put it, "I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reel To Reel: Burn After Reading

Sex, lies, and incompetent espionage.

How It Rates: ***
Starring: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins
Rated: R
Red Flags: Strong Language (many f-bombs), Brief Strong Sex Scenes including a working "sex machine" -- I kid you not!

Burn After Reading is how the Coen Brothers kick back after their Oscar-winning triumph No Country For Old Men. Yet they hold on to some of the darkness and create an espionage thriller comedy blending the DNA of Robert Ludlum and Elmore Leonard.

The film's serpentine plot involves a CD of sensitive information belonging to ex-CIA official Osborne Cox (Malkovich) which winds up in the hands of two gym employees, love-challenged Linda Litzke (McDormand) and dopey dude Chad Feldheimer (Pitt). Litzke is trying to reinvent herself, dating through an online match site and frustrated with her HMO's refusals to pay for plastic surgery. I kept waiting for somebody to tell Litzke that no insurance plan on the planet pays for elective cosmetic operations. Litzke, however, can't hold on to a boyfriend any more than her no-bad-vibes version of reality. When Feldheimer comes across the CD, the two formulate a plan to extort money from Cox.

Cox doesn't need any more headaches. Pushed into retirement over his drinking, he doesn't know his wife Katie (Swinton) is cheating with Treasury Department agent Harry Pffarer (Clooney), a married, smooth-talking serial womanizer, fitness buff and handyman. Cox is the angry aging spook left with nothing to do except empty the liquor cabinet and pen his memoirs, if he can ever spit them out into a tape recorder.

The scheme to blackmail Cox starts awkwardly and spirals out of control, as Chad bumbles a meeting, leaving Litzke to sell the secrets to the Russians while ending up in a match with Pffarer, not knowing anything about their scheme or his role in touching the whole mess off by fooling around with Mrs. Cox, a cold calculator who made the CD as a first step towards divorce.

Enough convolution. The film starts out disjointed, but brings itself together quickly while maintaining the pace of a spy thriller. It plays surprisingly heavy and violent at times, almost as if the Coens were re-mixing their first major film -- Blood Simple -- for laughs. It derives the bulk of its humor from people who think they can pull off anything but refuse to come up for air when they get in over their heads. Then again, some people don't even know they're in over their heads.

Let me put it this way: you wouldn't laugh at an Olympic gymnast falling off the parallel bars, but what if that gymnast was a thirtysomething ex-model looking for redemption and approval, a person who insists on competing even if she's doomed never to crack a score of 5? That's the sort of empathy one feels for Linda, who just wants a man to marry before her biological clock runs out. Too bad she's surrounded by idiots and incompetents, albeit well-written ones, all the way up to the CIA, which sorta knows what's going on but would rather not mess with it:
CIA Officer: We'll ... interface with the FBI on this dead body.

CIA Superior: No, no. God no. Burn the body. Get rid of it.

CIA Officer: Okay.
Quotes courtesy
I can only hope life doesn't reflect art.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cast Away!

That big hulking rock-hard polycarbonate albatross is gone, replaced by a stylish black removable brace that covers only a fraction of what my original cast once protected.

"You gotta be kidding me," I said to the technician when he put it on and told me that was all of it. It doesn't even cover my incision scars, still healing and still quite nasty looking in spots (which is why they're fuzzed out in the photo). Now I can add Aloe Vera and Vitamin E cream to the Citracal and supplements I'm already taking.

Because the brace comes off, I can also take a bath once again. No more plastic newspaper wrapper to cover up the cast in the shower. Let's soak and be merry.

In other developments:

* Bone continues to fill in nicely. My doctor pointed out the healing in fresh x-rays. I still see a lot of the wreckage, but I'm assured everything is moving in the right direction.

* I can curl my thumb a wee bit, but I still have significant numbness in the left part of my right hand. The doctor says it's because the muscle doesn't like the plate that's next to it. He gives it another month and a half or so.

* New ground rules: No contact sports (I don't consider historic dance to be a contact sport), no bicycling (what bicycling?), and no heavy lifting.

"How much weight is heavy lifting?" I asked.

"A gallon of milk is too much," he answered. "Half a gallon is fine."

So it appears I won't be able to pick up a musket for about the next six weeks, under doctors' advice. I haven't put a lot of weight on that arm, but what weight it has carried, it has handled very well. Now that the cast is off, though, I don't have as much support to back up my arm.

* Still no pain. Still no meds. My bicep is glad to be rid of the extra weight.

Thank you all so much for your continued prayers. Praise God! I never expected to be out of a cast so soon.

Realize it has been less than a month since the accident. The Forces Of Darkness knew just where to hit me the night of August 16 -- right at the height of my merriment, doing the thing I love the most. Never let anybody convince you there's not a spiritual battle going on out there. I was warned. But God's healing has been nothing short of Amazing. Amazing grace, truly.

And for the record, I have gone dancing three times since the break -- twice in the full Highland regalia.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You Don't Mess With Virginians

A man in Suffolk, Virginia killed a fox with his bare hands when attacked. Here's the story from WVEC-TV, Norfolk:

Sizing Up Gov. Sarah Palin

I'm still officially undecided about the Presidential race, which is great fun when push-pollsters call because the conversation usually goes like this:


"Hi, I'm (name) from (partisan polling group). If the election were held today, which Presidential candidate would you vote for?"

"I haven't decided yet."

"Oh, okay. Thank you for your time." Click.

I can hear the disappointment in their voices. They don't have an opportunity to hit me with partisan spin-doctored guff. But they need the independents. They need 'em badly.

Enter Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. A week and a half ago, you were thinking "who?" Now she's exploded, landing in the supermarket tabloids, talk radio, and the cable-news gabfests. Friends of mine are going crazy about her, and I can't blame them. She's got the look, the razor-sharp tongue, and the political moxie. She wants to win.

But does she have my vote? Let me go down the list.

First, the whole eruption over her daughter's pregnancy stunk to high heaven. While I agree Gov. Palin needed to come clean about what happened, this whole mess started with left-wing bloggers acting more like Hollywood gossip mavens. They raised questions about the paternity of Gov. Palin's youngest child, and then the press got in on the chase. Thankfully, the governor's handlers had the sense to avoid the John Kerry mistake of thinking some issues are unworthy of response. Kerry found out it doesn't matter once the allegations get into the 24-hour news and web cycle. (Kudos to Newsweek for debunking several rumors.)

I have sympathy for Palin after she hit that tripwire straight out of the blocks. Before she agreed to sit down with Charlie Gibson of ABC, she wasn't going to do interviews unless she was treated with "respect and deference." When I heard that phrase from John McCain's campaign manager, I thought of the scene in HBO's John Adams where the title statesman and patriot had to make three "reverences" -- low and courtly bows -- before King George III when entering the throne room. Can you imagine Charlie Gibson bending a knee before Her Alaskan Majesty?

But seriously, Palin is scoring points in her game of Beat The Press, so she has little incentive to quit. Republicans love to play the press-victim game and harp on the "liberal media," forgetting most media corporations are run by people who are anything but liberal. Dems say the media's too conservative and gripe about Fox News and talk radio rather than figuring out how to win. Both parties then complain when the press isn't tough enough on their opponents. A pox on both your houses. I'm tired of it. Bias is in the eye of the beholder. Hopefully the governor will move on before the press-bash act grows stale.

Sen. Barack Obama and Palin are now going back and forth over who's the bigger pork barrel spender. Gov. Palin claims Obama got a billion dollars in earmarks for Illinois, and Obama's people claim she's gotten millions herself. Really. If you ask a politician to abstain from earmarks, you are in for a world of disappointment. Remember that saying: "Never teach a pig to sing. It doesn't work and it annoys the pig."

So she wants to drill in Alaska. With $3 gas, a lot of us would. But I also want to see Detroit come up with the 70 mpg car so we don't have to keep having this discussion. And going back to pork again, I found this example in Time of how the colder half lives:
Alaska is, in essence, an adjunct member of OPEC. It has four different taxes on oil, which produce more than 89% of the state's unrestricted revenue. On average, three-quarters of the value of a barrel of oil is taken by the state government before that oil is permitted to leave the state. Alaska residents each get a yearly check for about $2,000 from oil revenues, plus an additional $1,200 pushed through by Palin last year to take advantage of rising oil prices. Any sympathy the governor of Alaska expresses for folks in the lower 48 who are suffering from high gas prices or can't afford to heat their homes is strictly crocodile tears.
You can feel the envy from sea to shining sea.

So she doesn't have enough foreign policy experience. Neither does Barack Obama. Neither did Dan Quayle. And George W. didn't have a lot either before he moved into the White House. Getting real again, that's why you have presidential advisers. Surely you don't expect the Chief Executive to do it all with one brain.

This takes me back to my brain and its indecision. Less than sixty days from now, I'll be ready. For the present though, I'm still undecided, with no motivation to change and every motivation to keep on digging while the partisans labor for my vote like some trophy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Few Thoughts After The Last Gavel

Things I'm musing since the end of both party parties:

* Could Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have filled Viking Stadium as Sen. Barack Obama did at INVESCO field? Given Palin's TV ratings Wednesday night, I'd give it a shot. GOP heavyweights have star power, too.

* You could do both conventions in two days' time by stripping the most of the pep-rally elements, thereby reducing hot-air and gas emissions.

* The rumors about who fathered Palin's youngest child are a libel suit waiting to happen. And for the record, yes, Bristol's out-of-wedlock pregnancy is fair game for the news cycle. The Republicans are a family-values party. But how it came to light -- drug out through dirt-dishing at the Daily Kos -- stinks. One of these days a campaign's gonna sue a blogger and it won't be good for anybody.

* How the heck did Code Pink protesters keep getting into the GOP convention?

* Sen. Joe Biden, repeat after me: "I am the luckiest man on Earth for getting to be Obama's running mate after that ignorant remark I made last year about him being 'the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.'"

* Ironic how Palin disses Obama for being a community organizer while McCain calls on people to serve their country. Guess helping your neighbors isn't service enough.

* Who came up with the idea to put those columns behind Barack Obama? Sophocles? And it's obvious the GOP technicians forgot about Stephen Colbert's green screen challenge during the first few minutes of McCain's speech.

* The peaceful demonstrators in St. Paul ought to march next against the splinter group of rowdies who muffed it up for everybody.

* I couldn't decide on the bigger potential party pooper: Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Dems, or Ron Paul for the GOP. The partisans have to be thanking Heaven every night that neither of them decide to run as independents -- although it might be fun to watch.

* People complaining about the press beating up on Gov. Palin don't seem to mind reporters throwing Hillary under a bus... or for that matter, Amy Goodman. Years of experience in the news biz have convinced me when most people complain about press bias, it's because the press isn't biased in their direction.

* How many guys out there want the Republicans' giant LCD screen for their next Super Bowl bash?

* To all those who complained about Palin's daughter doing the lick-and-stick with the baby's hair: how many times have you done that in public? Come on, be honest.

* I'm still glad I'm not affiliated with either party.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One And Half Arms

"I can't believe you don't have any pain!"

Oh, believe it all right. God is Great. But working with a casted right arm still gives me a few headaches.

* Typing: The weight of the polycarbonate material tires my limb as I tap out scripts in the newsroom. I can relieve it by balancing it on my knee, which involves sitting in a slightly weird position. I've taken on a normal workload since coming back to KOLD -- including last night's primary elections -- with hardly any assistance.

* Driving: I'm glad I drive an automatic. Shifting is done with my left hand since it's hard to grip the lever with all the cast material in the way. Forget about turning any keys with my right hand alone.

* Doors: Unless it has a lever, the left hand is on knob duty.

But let's be real. All of this is low-grade nitpicking. My right bicep may be hating me now, but it's gonna love me when the wrap comes off, and then I'll suddenly find I can pick up a GMC van with my right hand or some other unexpected feat of strength.

Then, I'll hear a new question: "How did you get those scars?"