Saturday, December 27, 2008

"You First....No, YOU First.....No, YOU First....No, YOU..."


Hey, want to hear a riddle?

What’s the difference between an expert and a know it all?

The know it all doesn’t get paid for the opinion.

Don’t get the wrong idea.

I am all about the American Dream, circa 2009.

The dream that we can get a nice big fat paycheck every week while expending as little energy or effort as absolutely necessary.

And how much energy or effort does it take to simply tell people what you think?

Obviously, not very much.

This regular mouthing off of my two cents is living proof.

Here’s the thing, though.

In a culture where the Internet, and blogging, et al, in particular, have made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harriet to express their opinions and find a mass audience for them by simply hitting “save” and “send”, the pitfalls of “expert” opinion grow in numbers that more than match the amount of said opinions being expressed.

In other words, any and every idiot has access to the pipeline.

And the problem with giving any and every idiot access to the pipeline is that there are, literally, millions of people who accept, without question, the doofus dogma.

“Well, uh, Marge…I know it seems kind of, uh, stupid…but, uh, it’s right here on the Intra-net, so it must be true…”

The whole thing goes back to something I said a couple dozen blogs ago.

The problem with freedom is that you have to give it to everybody.

Ergo, the problem with free speech is that you have to allow everybody to speak freely.

And share their expertise, such as it is, wherever they want with whomever they want.

Including those millions of people who accept, without question, the doofus dogma.

Cause it’s, uh, right here on the “Intra-net”.

Healthy debate on the merits of the various Amendments that provide us said freedoms aside, here’s the reason I was inspired to offer my doofus dogma on the subject today.

This is an excerpted article from a relationship page on CNN.com.

Give it a read, if you will.

I’ll be right back to debate the dogma.

WHY WOMEN SHOULDN'T SAY I LOVE YOU FIRST

By Wendy Atterberry

(The Frisky) -- If I have a daughter one day, among the many things I'll teach her will be how to tie her shoes, to look both ways before crossing the street, to never end a sentence with a preposition, and to always let the man say "I love you" first.

This issue can cause a bit of commotion. "What is this, the Victorian era?" wrote one person, "if you truly love someone, tell them. Otherwise you're just playing outdated coquettish games."
Another put it more diplomatically: "I don't think I've ever said 'I love you' first, but someone has to do it. It's okay to take a few risks."

I appreciate both arguments and understand the sentiments behind them, but at the risk of having my feminist card revoked, I think it's naïve for a woman to utter those three little words before a man does.

Unlike asking a man out, making a move on him, or even proposing, there's no action-based response to the first "I love you." It's all words, it's all emotion. In that moment, he either loves you back or he doesn't -- you only hear the black or white of a 'yes' or 'no,' not the gray of "Well, I like you a whole lot and I could see myself falling in love with you, but I'm just not quite there yet."

And the truth is, it often takes men longer to get there than it does for women. Men process their emotions more slowly, they're usually more cautious about taking their feelings and relationships to the next level.

So what happens if you get there first and you say it and he's not there yet? What happens when your "I love you" is met with a "thank you," or worse, a deer-in-headlights look? Well, it stings, sure, but more than that, it can stop a perfectly happy and healthy relationship in its tracks before it's even too far from the station.

If a woman asks a man out and he says 'no,' at least she knows where she stands with him and she doesn't waste any time pining over someone who isn't interested. Same thing goes if she makes a move on him and she's rejected.

If she's in a serious relationship -- one where the expression of love has been made clearly by both partners -- and she's eager to make a deeper commitment, there's nothing wrong with proposing. At the very least, it'll start a conversation of where the relationship is headed so the woman can decide for herself if and how long she's willing to wait if the man isn't interested in getting married yet.

But an "I love you" uttered too soon, before the man has processed his feelings and reached the same level of adoration could end a relationship that just as easily could have had an eternal shelf life. As soon as those words are said, they change the dynamic. If a man isn't feeling the love quite yet, he may suddenly feel pressure to manifest that emotion. And if the woman doesn't get the response she expected, it could damage her confidence enough to derail the whole relationship entirely.


First, I have no idea who Wendy Atterberry is.

And I don’t know anything about her.

There is no bio information included with her writing here.

I have a feeling that at least one guy has ripped her heart out because he stiff armed her when she said the “L” word first and he just nodded and went back to SportsCenter.

But, I’m just guessing.

And because there is no bio information, my intrinsically skeptical nature has me imagining that she’s not “qualified” in the conventional sense (degrees, pedigrees, professional experience, etc) to be doling out advice on how people should deal with some of the most heart felt pieces of the puzzles of their lives.

So, my assumption is that she’s a civilian.

Either way, my opinion of her opinion is the same.

She’s full of shit.

Life is short.

Love is the greatest gift.

And if the person who unwraps that exquisite gift you hand them looks like they were just given a membership in the Jelly Of The Month Club, do what you would do in any similar situation.

Tell them to have a nice day.

And move on to the next person on your gift list.

Wendy is probably a very nice person.

And I’m sure her someday daughter will manage to grow up emotionally healthy in spite of Mom’s baggage.

But Wendy isn’t seeing the big picture when it comes to the L word.

And at this time of the year, that’s especially sad.

It’s more blessed to give.

Just imagine where we would be if God was waiting for us to say “I love you” first.

Then again, I’m no expert.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Please, Sir...I Want Some More...and Some More...And Some....



The things I know, I know really well.

The things I don’t know, I don’t know at all.

That’s why I’m steering clear of any serious bitching about the bailout of the big three automakers.

Oh, I’m right there with a lot of you, feeling, at least, weary and, at most, pissed off, that once again tax dollars are being spent on everything BUT new schools, hospitals, housing for the homeless, et al.

But I like to think of myself as smart enough to keep my mouth shut when it comes to subjects in which I don’t have sufficient expertise to offer expert opinion.

And even the PhD’s in economics are in various states of agree/disagree about the issue.

To bailout or not to bailout.
That is the question.

The party line is that if the bailout doesn’t happen, the big three will collapse and the financial ripple could easily and quickly become an economic tsunami.

Obviously, I have no way of knowing whether that’s a fair assessment or just a fear tactic to get us all to suck it up and pull the stock optioned coated asses of those mismanaging CEO morons out of the fire.

And the only sure test of the theory is to let them collapse.

And then hope to God that the wave doesn’t wash us all back to 1932.

So, for whatever it’s worth, I’m going to try and think of this payout as an insurance premium.

Glass half full stuff.

It occurs to me, though, at a more philosophical level, that this bailout and all the others, for that matter, are a contradiction to one of the most basic and earliest learned lessons of childhood.

If you spend your allowance before the end of the week, don’t come crying back to me for more money.

That may be the source, deep down, of the frustration that a lot of us are feeling.

As parents, we’re instinctively rooting for Congress to tell the big three that THEY’VE got to suck it up and lie in the bed that they’ve made.

The problem, of course, is that when you tell your kid to live with the fact that their allowance is gone, it doesn’t result in all of the other kids in the neighborhood having to go without food, clothing or shelter for the foreseeable.

And that, I think, is why there is so much emotion about this issue.

Because it’s not about lending a helping hand to a friend in need.

It’s about having a gun put to our head and being told to fork it over.
Or else.

It’s one thing to teach little Johnny a lesson.

It’s another to drag Johnny Q Public over the side, too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

...Let's Look At Bush From Both Sides Now...."


Lately, “legacy” seems to loom largely on the landscape.

And aint that an abundance of awesome alliteration.

Up front, let me offer that I’m probably as weary of poking Dubya as you are reading me doing it.

So, while I cant make a pinky swear promise that you’ve read the absolute last of it, believe me when I tell you that, like the high carb stuff that has been flowing like water since Halloween, I’m going to start doing my best to wean myself off of it.

Today, though, I’d like to ponder, for a moment, the concept of fairness.

Bush’s detractors, and I count myself among them (well, come on, I’m relentless, but I’m not stupid…) suggest that there isn’t a single redeeming factor to be found in the eight years that America gave the guy to lead and/or inspire.

Which, by the way, aint always one and the same.

But that’s another blog.

And since he leaves office the most “unpopular” president in the history of the presidency, I don’t think it unfair to say that his is a failed presidency.

Okay, there’s that fairness thing again.

Bush’s advocates, on the other hand, while doing a pretty good job of staring at the floor and shuffling their feet when almost any discussion of the guy comes up, do express their belief that if he accomplished nothing else (and, again, even his advocates admit, if only in private, that nothing else about sums it up) suggest that he should be given credit for the fact that America, under his administration, has not been attacked again since 9/11.

Okay, let’s be fair.

That statement is, factually, true.

America has not been attacked, directly, since 9/11.

And for the sake of not wandering too far off the point, I’m willing to reserve, for another day, discussing the idea that, were the administration as militarily savvy as it has always wanted us to believe, the 9/11 attack shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

So, let’s just give the guy a little wiggle room and say that the Bush administration didn’t actually begin on Jan 20, 2001 and that it began on September 12, 2001.

Fair enough?

In that light, it is absolutely fair to say that America has not, in fact, been attacked directly since 9/11.

And since Bush has been in the White House every day since then, he should rightly be credited.

It’s only fair.

And those folks who hold fast to the idea that the legacy of George W. Bush should be, at the very least, his keeping safe from foreign attack the United States of America deserve to have the point conceded.

Fair is fair.

And since Bush has been in the White House every day since then, he should also be saddled with the responsibility of an economy that has taken us all to the brink of the second great depression, an environment that grows more poisoned every day, a health care system that ignores the heath needs of its citizens and makes fatter the wallets of the health corporate, an education system that is neither systemic, nor educates and a disillusionment about the entire political process that has not been experienced in this country since Herbert Hoover was sent packing in 1932.

Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair.

It’s said that, in life, we can’t have things both ways.

Actually, we can.

Actually, in certain cases, we are required to.

The simplest of those, taught from our very first cognitive moments, is that we are accountable to each other, not to mention God, for both the good and the bad we do.

The right and the wrong.
The good, the bad and the ugly.
Can’t have one without the other.

Love and marriage, love and marriage….

Sorry. I tend to hear songs in my head at every turn of phrase.

If the legacy of George W. Bush is to include his successful safekeeping of America, it must also include his failure to accomplish almost anything else.

Otherwise, the legacy would be incomplete.

And that wouldn’t be fair.
Would it?

"...God Help Us....Everyone...."


This Christmas season, I’ve rediscovered an old passion.

Acting.

No, not acting out.

That’s been a part of my basic psyche since first I had a psyche.

I’m talking about acting.

The stage, the lights, the costumes.

The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd.

There’s NO business like SHOW bu…….

Okay, so, really what I’ve done is take a part in a community theatre production of “A Christmas Carol”.

And before you start contemplating which character would most befit me, let me spare you the wasted time by sharing that my schedule would only allow me to take a bit part.

Community theatre being what it is, though, the “bit” players always end up multi-tasking.

So, according to the Playbill, I am, in order of appearance:

Second Charity Man.
Dick Wilkins.
Townsperson.

Oh and while it doesn’t appear in print, I’m part stagehand, as well.

The play will exist on DVD in a week or two and, for grins, I might just post it here so you can witness my triumphant return to the stage.

I’m told that my “Second Charity Man” is one of the great moments in theatre.

Of course, I’m the one telling myself that.

As usual, though, I digress.

Being in the play has been more than a lot of fun.

But it’s also gotten me to thinking.

And, as we all know, nothing good can come from that.

I’m thinking about a version of the classic Dickens play that could easily be written these days.

The main character would be a man who has spent his life in the single minded pursuit of his own agenda, with no ability to see that while his heart may have always been in the right place, the unwillingness to consider the consequences of his actions resulted not only in failure, but in pain and suffering for those around him.

And then, one night, he is visited by three spirits who walk him through the collected results and/or ruins of the life he has thus far led.

The Ghost of Weapons of Mass Destruction past.

The Ghost of Home Forclosure Present.

And, in the most chilling and haunting scene of all, The Ghost of Possible Great Depression Future.

In this play, the man would, like his Dickensian counterpart, see the error of his ways just in time to change his ways, turn the page, start anew, make it right.

Unlike the original script though, this one would require not a changing of the ways, but a changing of the guard.

After years of living with the man’s dogged clinging to his values and the results of that clinging, the townspeople finally rise up and replace the guy.

And he would slowly fade into the shadows, stage right (wink, wink) to count his coins and write his own history, as it suited him.

This play, unlike the one that inspired it, has no happy ending, per se.
It simply ends.

Ebenezer Scrooge came very close to becoming a tragic figure.

Dickens pulled him out just in time.
Turns out the founding fathers took care of that for us when they wrote that thing about term limits.

In the spirit of seasonal giving, though, I'd like to make an offering.
So, I think I'll make a contribution to the forthcoming presidential library.
A copy of "A Christmas Carol".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Blinded By The Light..."


At this time of year, there are many stories of caring and giving and good will towards men.

And over the next few weeks, I promise to share some of them with you.

Not today.

(CNN) -- A temporary Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death in a rush of thousands of early morning shoppers as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a Long Island, New York, store at 5 a.m., police said.

The Wal-Mart worker, whom authorities did not identify, was 34 and lived in Queens, said Nassau County police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming.

"This was utter chaos as these men tried to open the door this morning," Fleming said.

Video showed as many as a dozen people knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the Wal-Mart store, Fleming said.

The employee was "stepped on by hundreds of people" as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, Fleming said.

"Several minutes" passed before others were able to clear space around the man and attempt to render aid. Police arrived, and "as they were giving first aid, those police officers were also jostled and pushed," he said.

"Shoppers ... were on a full-out run into the store," he said.

The crowd had begun forming outside the store by 9 p.m. Thursday, Fleming said. By 5 a.m. Friday, when the doors were unlocked, there were 2,000 or so shoppers, many of whom "surged forward," breaking the doors, he said.

The man was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Others in the crowd sustained minor injuries such as sprained ankles, Fleming said.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, but "the baby is going to be OK,"
Fleming said. She was to be released later in the day, he said.

Asked about the possibility of criminal charges in the Wal-Mart death, Fleming said he would not rule it out but noted that charges would be "very difficult," as it would be "almost impossible" to identify people in the crowd from the video, and those in the front of the crowd were pushed by those behind them.

Hundreds of people may have lined up in an orderly fashion but got caught up in the rush, he said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kelly Cheeseman issued a statement saying, "We are saddened to report that a gentleman who was working for a temporary agency on our behalf died at the store and a few other customers were injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time."

The company is investigating the incident, the statement said.

Officers patrolling the shopping center overnight had had concerns about the size of the crowd, Fleming said, and had tried to get those in line better organized. Wal-Mart security officers were also present overnight, but he said he did not know how many.

"I don't know what it's worth to Wal-Mart or to any of these stores that run these sales events," Fleming said, "but it has become common knowledge that large crowds do gather on the Friday after Thanksgiving in response to these sales and in an effort to do their holiday shopping at the cheapest prices.

"I think it is incumbent upon the commercial establishments to recognize that this has the potential to occur at any store. Today, it happened to be Wal-Mart. It could have been any other store where hundreds and hundreds of people gather."

Asked whether the security had been adequate, Fleming said, "In light of the outcome, in hindsight, the answer is obviously no. ... This crowd was out of control."

This is one of those stories that, obviously, appalls and/or offends any decent soul.

A young man is dead because people would have knocked down their own grandmothers to save two hundred bucks on a flat screen.

And it would be easy and obvious to launch into the diatribe about the “price lust” that turned a crowd into a mob that killed someone.

It really isn’t price lust that killed this guy.

Anybody who has ever seen grown people shove little children to the ground in order to snatch up three-cent doubloons during Mardi Gras parades will testify to how easily madness can overtake maturity.

What killed this guy was blindness.

Retailers blinded by the light at the end of the long tunnel of quarterly loss.

Shoppers rushing hysterically forward in the blinding blaze of the blue light specials.

In this season of lights, it was the brightest of lights that blinded the masses and cost one family a loved one.

The official cause of this young man’s death was heart failure.

But he died of blindness.

The blinding light of a Wal Mart sign outshining a star from the east.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Oh...and World Peace....I Forgot World Peace...."


G says that everything is a tradeoff.

Indeed.

For example, the tradeoff for the privilege of filling mouth and tummy with the caloric confections of this day is dealing with that moment at the dinner table when you have to come up with something.

You know.

That “let’s all tell what we’re thankful for” thing.

There are usually two main types of tablemates.

The ones who have no problem rattling off the list of things they are thankful for, from good friends and family to the way that fungus has finally cleared up on the family spaniel.

And those you just know are making shit up so they can eat without guilt.

Historically, I fall somewhere in the middle.

Which is ironic, I’d offer, given that one of my primary motivations in life seems to be going after and/or relishing being the center of attention.

It might have something to do with the fact that there are really only two ways to go with the ritual.

You either simultaneously show sincerity and vulnerability which are tough rows to hoe under the best of circumstances, let alone while sitting at a table surrounded by relatives whose reactions to your sharing could easily influence your status in their last will and testaments.

Or you play the smart-ass card, which never plays well in that moment.

And pretty much makes your getting cut out of the will a lock.

Actually, my problem is that I’ve spent a lifetime creating a persona of smart ass.

So turning into heartfelt sharing boy at the dinner table just feels disingenuous.

Having said all that…

Healthy kids, grandkids, loved ones and healing spaniels duly noted, I offer this thought up as my way of saying thanks today.


People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.

Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.

They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or whether you are a lifetime.



Pass the gravy, please.

"And Now...For Something Completely Different...."



When it comes to relevant and precisely focused perspective on the state of the world, the first name that comes to your mind probably isn’t Monty Python.

But, believe it or not, it’s the first name that occurs to me.

It happened again this morning as I was reading through the latest news about the terrorist attacks in India.

And while I’m willing to concede the point that oversimplifying things can be a slippery slope, I think that the Python guys have, at least, distilled the chaos and darkness down to a pretty legitimate essence.

It was during a “reunion” festival at Aspen some years ago, when all the still living Pythons were taking questions from the audience.

I don’t recall the exact question or even the premise of it, but I do remember, some ten plus years later, the answer, give or take a word.

Terry Jones, on the subject of warfare and its constant presence on our planet:

“All religions believe that they are going to heaven. They just keep killing us and each other in the argument over which is the best way to get there.”

The temptation, of course, is to find some complex way to put that.

Because the sheer simplicity is almost too much to absorb.

And even the youngest school child would be inclined to sum up the whole cause and effect relationship in a single word.

Stupid.

And while the strategists and the politicians and the pundits and even the poets will continue to look for the answer to the riddle inside the enigma, I hold that the Python perspective really cant be improved upon.

Sometimes a dead parrot is just a dead parrot.

And stupid is just stupid.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"The Bad News....We DO Know Where Paris Hilton Is....."


Sometimes I think I invented trivial pursuit.

Not the game.

Just the actual pursuit of trivia.

Seems like I've been doing it, in one way or another, all my life.

When I trace the origins of my fascination with the obscure, I find it takes me back to somewhere around junior high school, when I realized that ploughing through "Lord Jim" or "House of The Seven Gables" felt like trying to walk through wet cement.

On the other hand, I could breeze through, and retain most of, a couple hundred pages of "The Book Of Lists" between the beginning and ending bell of any given math class.

Which accounts for my success in mathematics.

But I digress.

When the web came along, it brought with it the mother lode of unusual and, essentially, useless information.

Useless, that is, to people who dont do one of two things.

Do radio.

Or blog.

Well, what do you know.

This morning, I was looking for holiday information to use on the air when I stumbled across this list. It has little or nothing to do with anything topical or timely.

But isn't that, by definition, exactly what trivia is?

So, while you're taking a break from surfing for bargains, news and/or whatever your particular internet fancy might be, here's some junk food for your synapsis.

And, at the very least, I'm off blogging about politics for awhile.

With a nod to my friends at MentalFloss.com...


Five Famous Bodies That Were Never Found


1. Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?)
He was wounded during the Civil War, drank with fellow journalists Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, and kept a human skull on his desk. Bierce was also a devilishly fine writer who lampooned and skewered just about everyone in the American public eye during the last half of the 19th century. One thing he wasn’t, however, was found.In late 1913, Bierce went to Mexico to cover the country’s revolution. What happened to him when he got there is a mystery. Theories include: he was killed at the Battle of Ojinaga; he was executed by the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa; he shot himself at the Grand Canyon. Any of those ends would have doubtless suited Bierce. Death by bullet, he wrote before leaving for Mexico, “beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs.”


2. Joseph F. Crater (1889–????)
On the evening of August 6, 1930, a New York Supreme Court associate justice stepped into a New York City taxi—and became a synonym for “missing person.” When Crater didn’t show up for court on August 25, a massive search was launched. But no trace of the judge was ever found. There were reports he was killed by the jealous boyfriend of a chorus girl, or by crooked politicians who feared what Crater knew. Conversely, there were rumors that he fled the country to avoid a judicial corruption probe. After 10 years, Crater was declared dead. But by then he’d already become a staple of pop culture: Groucho Marx would sometimes end his nightclub act by saying he “was stepping out [to] look for Judge Crater.”


3. Amelia Earhart (1897–1937?)
It was the second time around when Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, took off in May 1937 to try to circle the world in a custom-built twin-engine plane. A first effort by the famed aviatrix ended in a crash in Hawaii. Undaunted, however, Earhart had completed all but the last three legs of her second journey when the world last heard from her on July 2, and investigations into her fate have been almost ceaseless since then. U.S. government officials say she crashed at sea. Others claim she died on a South Pacific island, was captured and executed by the Japanese military, or lived out her life as a housewife in New Jersey.


4. Glenn Miller (1904–1944?)
On December 15, 1944, it was so foggy that Miller reportedly joked, “Even the birds are grounded.” Still, the famed bandleader, who had joined the U.S. Army in 1942, boarded a small plane in Bedford, England, bound for Paris to prepare for a troop concert. He never made it. Depending on your level of credulity: the plane crashed in the English Channel; it was knocked down by Allied planes jettisoning bombs before landing; he was killed by the Nazis while on a secret mission; or he died of a heart attack in a Paris brothel. The big money, though, is apparently on the bomb theory. A Royal Air Force logbook indicating “friendly fire” as the cause of Miller’s demise sold for about $30,000 at a 1999 auction.


5. Harold Holt (1908–1967?)
On December 17, 1967, the ocean was all motion off Portsea, Victoria, but Australian politician Harold Holt, known as the “sportsman prime minister,” plunged into the surf anyway. The man had been PM for only two years, but sadly, he never came out, and an intensive search failed to turn up a trace. The result? 38 years of rumors: had Holt committed suicide; been assassinated by the CIA; been eaten by a shark; or had he swum out to a waiting Chinese submarine and been spirited away? Without a body, no inquest was held at the time.But in 2004, a change in Australian law prompted a formal inquiry to formally close the case of the missing PM. The ruling? A lackluster verdict to say the least: death by drowning.


Cool stuff, huh?

I was going to add the body of the Republican elephant.

But I'm off blogging about politics for awhile.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back to Back To The Future

Life imitates art.

Again.

Maybe.

In August, I wrote about the parallel between the real life teaming of the “inexperienced” Barack Obama with the more seasoned Joe Biden and the fictionalized teaming of the “inexperienced” Matthew Santos with the more seasoned Leo McGarry on “The West Wing” (check out my August archive for “Previously….On….")

Now, the buzz is pretty heavy that Obama has all but offered the job of Secretary Of State to Hillary.

A political foe he vanquished on his way to the White House.

And Santos?

He offered the same job to Arnold Vinick, the opposing party’s nominee for President.

Admittedly, the precise equivalent of this parallel would require Obama offering the gig to John McCain.

Potato patahto.

Whichever way it goes, keep tabs on what a guy named Aaron Sorkin writes next.

He’s the creator and guiding light behind shows like “Sports Night” and movies like “A Few Good Men”.

Oh…and “The West Wing”.

The only thing that could make this cooler would be if Aaron Sorkin was an anagram for Nostradamus.

Or if Sarah Palin shows up as a featured player in Sorkin’s next project.

Stranger things have happened.

"It's Really Nowhere...Man...."



The Beatles made me do it.

They were the reason I begged, pleaded and bargained to get that Sears Silvertone acoustic guitar for Christmas 1964.

Got it, too.

Well, at first, I got a picture of the guitar cut out of a Sears catalog and taped to the bottom of a nicely wrapped present.

My parents made the same mistake a lot of parents made.
Every kid over the age of 9 wanted a guitar that year.

So there was a little back order thing that had to be dealt with.

The guitar finally showed up, though.

And with it, and subsequent others, I wrote, through the years, four or five hundred songs, got a couple hundred published and had a few recorded.

Artists you would know.
Songs you wouldn’t.

Hey, if I had written some monster hit do you think I’d be working sixty hours a week and blogging on the weekends?

Meanwhile, back at The Beatles.

I really don’t think of myself as a Fab Four fanatic.

Although I will proudly say that I have been, and am, a fan.

Truth is, I was enamored of their work starting at yeah, yeah, yeah and started to lose interest somewhere around the Magical Mystery Tour period.

Everybody went ape shit about Sgt. Pepper.

Personally, I think it was a pretty cool album.

But, for my money, they hit their stride with Rubber Soul and Revolver.

And I found their “experimental, existential” stuff to be a big snooze.

Give me the exquisitely melodic, lyrically poignant “We Can Work It Out” over self-indulgent crap like “Revolution Number 9 (“…number nine….number nine….number nine….”) anytime.

So, while I credit them with exciting and inspiring me to start maturing my own musical masterworks, I was never one of those people who felt like every sound that came out of every orifice they possessed was genius.

And now, I hear tell of yet more sound to come.

LONDON, England (CNN) -- A "lost" Beatles track recorded in 1967 and performed just once in public could finally be released, according to Paul McCartney.
"Carnival of Light" -- a 14-minute experimental track recorded at the height of the Beatles' musical experimentations with psychedelia and inspired by avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen -- has long been considered too adventurous for mainstream audiences.
In an interview for BBC radio, McCartney said his bandmates and their producer George Martin had vetoed its inclusion on the exhaustive 1990s "Anthology" collection, according to UK's The Observer newspaper.
McCartney confirmed he still owned the master tapes, adding that he suspected "the time has come for it to get its moment." The Observer reported. "I like it because it's the Beatles free, going off piste," McCartney said.
Almost everything recorded by the Beatles from their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg to their break-up in 1970 has been released amid almost insatiable public appetite for anything to do with the legendary Liverpool quartet.
In the 40 years since its recording, "Carnival of Light" has acquired near mythical status among Beatles fans who argue that the existence of the track provides evidence of the group's experimental ambitions beyond their commercially successfully pop career.
The improvised work features distorted electric guitars, discordant sound effects, a church organ and gargling interspersed with McCartney and John Lennon shouting random phrases like "Barcelona" and "Are you all right?"
McCartney would need the consent of Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison, to release the track.



As I said, I’m a fan.

And here’s a little something I imagine you probably thought you’d never hear a fan say about the possibility of new, undiscovered Beatles music.

Yawn snooze.

The Beatles had moments of brilliance.
The key word in that sentence was moments.

Fourteen minutes of distorted guitars, church organ and John and Paul gargling isn’t brilliance.
It’s self-indulgent bullshit.

So, I’ll take a pass on “Carnival of Light”, thank yew veddy muhhch…

I’m a Bogart fan, too.
But I don’t need to see collector’s video of him making armpit noises for the crew between takes.

Let it be, already.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Mother Nature...The Ultimate Economist..."


Some forest fires aren’t supposed to be put out.

Although I dozed or, at best, feigned interest through most of my junior high school science classes (which explains why I’m unlikely to ever win a Nobel), I did manage (while reading “From Russia With Love” in paperback hidden behind my science textbook) to absorb the basic concept of nature “renewing” itself with a little “out with the old, in with the new” processing.

Ergo, the old forest is allowed to burn to the ground so that new saplings can take root, etc, etc.

And while we’re at it, although I profess no expertise in the area of economics, I understand that the nature of free market economy is that a little of that out with the old stuff applies as well.

That’s occurred to me as I read about the bailouts.

First, the banks.
Then, insurance companies.

Now General Motors has gotten to the head of the line.

To hear GM tell it, if they don’t get the bucks they need to put out the fire of bankruptcy, we’ll all be consumed in the flames.

First, GM ain’t the only forest in town.

Nissan, Toyota, et al seem to be pretty leafy.

Second, I don’t much care for the idea of paying for a car that I’m not going to get to drive.

If my tax dollars go to bailout GM, I could make a pretty good case that that’s the case.

Third, I’m no five star parent, but I do recall being savvy enough to teach the kids somewhere along the way that if they spend their allowance frivolously, they’ve got to deal with the consequences.

Fourth, I don’t like being scared or bullied into giving somebody my money.

“Hey….fork over the dough, pal…or the roof is gonna fall in on youse….ya dig?”

Tony Soprano as CEO.

Meanwhile, do I feel bad about the people who are going to really take the hit here? The autoworkers who have families to feed and will be out of work?

Of course, I do.

Damn it, Jim. I’m a free market capitalist, not an unfeeling asshole.

In fact, thanks to the total cluster f*** that was the outgoing administration, none of us are immune right now to the ripple effects of a economy on the slide.

Come to think of it…

I’ve spent more money for the last few months that I had coming in.

And if I don’t find some funding, I’m going to not be able to pay my rent or my car note.

And I’ll have no place to live and no way to get around to find a new job.

So chances are, I’ll be showing up at your house to eat your food and drive your car.

Until the cost of paying for both of us starts to overwhelm you and you start spending more money every month than you have coming in.

And you need funding or you wont be able to pay OUR rent or OUR car note.

And we’ll have no place to live or any way to get around to find new jobs.

And so we’ll show up at their house….or their house….or theirs…

So, I need a bailout.
Or things will get pretty ugly.

On the other hand, maybe having to take the fall for my overspending and learning to live within my means will mark the end of selfishness and greed and the beginning of a new, more responsible way of living.

A burning down, if you will, of old, bad habits.

And the taking root of new, good ones.
Some forest fires aren’t supposed to be put out.

"All Aboard!....Hey...Not So Fast, You...."


Thank God the election is over.

Or as some folks out in Denver might say…

Thank whomever.

Check this out.

DENVER -- A controversial billboard will likely be popping up in a neighborhood near you, just in time for the holidays.

The billboard is paid for by a Colorado atheist group. The message sits against a blue sky backdrop and says, "Don't believe in God? You're not alone."

Ten billboards will pepper metro Denver, while one will be put up in Colorado Springs

And we're putting them up in November and December because of the holidays, when church and state issues tend to come up a lot," said Joel Guttormson, with Metro State Atheists. "To let non-believers, free-thinkers and atheists know that they are not alone, especially in a country like ours that is predominantly Christian."

Pastor Willard Johnson of Denver's Macedonia Baptist Church called the billboards a desperate effort to discredit Christianity.

"The Bible is being fulfilled. It says that in latter days, you have all these kinds of things coming up, trying to disrupt the validity of Christianity," Johnson said. "If they don't believe in God, how do they believe they came about? We denounce what they are doing. But we do it with love, with gentleness, with decency and with compassion."

Bob Enyart, a Christian radio host and spokesman for American Right to Life, said it's hard to ignore the evidence.

"The Bible says that faith is the evidence of things not seen. Evidence. If we ignore the evidence for gravity or the Creator, that's really dangerous," said Enyart. "Income tax doesn't not exist because somebody doesn't believe in it. And the same is true with our Creator."

The billboards will go up Nov. 17. The atheist group, called Colorado Coalition of Reason or COCORE, also wanted to put up signs in Fort Collins and Greeley, but a billboard company there refused to carry the message.

Johnson said atheism is a rebellion against Biblical principals and the billboard will likely offend many Christians.

COCORE said this is about First Amendment rights.

"And I've read the First Amendment up and down and nowhere does it say that I have to care about your feelings. We're either 10 to 16 percent of the population, and the reason we don't really know is because people are scared to come out because they're ostracized by the people around them," said Guttormson.

Speaking of “the First”, the first thing that comes to my mind is that these folks are justifying their actions here by trumpeting the First Amendment as if it somehow trumps Scripture.

When, if I understand it correctly (and Lord knows {no pun intended}, the whole faith thing still doth vex me personally), the First Amendment was written by mortal beings who were created by God who is, at the end of this thread, the author of…wait for it…Scripture.

So logic (and I admit that logic is usually an unwelcome interloper in discussions of this nature) is inclined to dictate that to invoke the First Amendment as a means of getting around the Bible is a little like getting around the drunk driving law by handing the judge a piece of paper that you and a couple of your drinking buddies wrote that says “we get to get shit faced and boogie down the highway whenever we feel like it.”

Of course, it’s easier if you can say you don’t believe in the judge in the first place.

See, there’s the problem with that whole “evidence of things unseen” thing.

From the moment we can first understand language, we are taught (if we are fortunate enough to have parents who actually want to teach us and not just let us grow up courtesy of the culture…but that’s another blog…) that we shouldn’t take things at face value and we should look before we leap and we should be careful not to step on the ice unless we’re sure it’s solid and we should err on the side of caution, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah, hosanna, hosanna, sanna, sanna, ho…

But, oh, by the way, just accept and believe that God is right here with us.

Or right there.

Or there.

Or everywhere.

I digress.

Given the freedoms that the Constitution allows us as citizens of this country (and those who are afraid that Obama is going to pile us all in a truck and head down the Socialist-Marxist Expressway take note), these folks have every right to express their opinion.

And, fair is fair, they’re not advertising or proselytizing on behalf of Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer or even Elizabeth Hasselbeck, for that matter.

They’re simply saying they’re imagining there’s no heaven.
It’s easy if they try.

But, like I said, fair is far.

No do-overs, kids.

You don’t get to change your party affiliation if and when the Glory Train shows up.

Because again, if I understand it correctly, the price of a ticket is believing that the train is coming.

Even if there ain’t no tracks to be seen.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Coming Up....Wittys From the Wolf-ster!..."



I don’t flip over to CNN looking for laughs.

The comedy stylings of Wolf Blitzer notwithstanding.

So, it’s just a scoche disheartening to see D.L. Hughley show up with a weekly show on the Cable News Network.

And, just so we’re clear, my issue with the idea of putting a standup comic (and a minor league one to boot, but that’s just my personal taste) on a network that has, heretofore, been solely about the business of news is that there can only be one reason for doing it.

“The best things in life are free/
But you can keep em for the birds and bees/
Now give me money/
That’s what I want”

Let me endeavor to be reasonable here.

The “info-tainment” concept isn’t new to the era of cable/satellite TV.

One of the most revered icons in all of broadcast TV news history was made to do a little weekly fluff and fold back in the fifties to help pay for the network’s groceries.

“CBS presents the award winning newsman, Edward R. Murrow and….Person to Person…..this week, Ed talks with Liberace!”

So, there’s precedent.

But, CBS wasn’t solely a news channel.

For every Ed Murrow, there was a Mary Tyler Moore.
For every Dan Rather, there was a Lucy Ricardo.

Ted Turner defied the conventional wisdom of the times when he stuck his financial neck out to create a channel that would do nothing twenty-four seven but report the news.

And the gamble paid off, because CNN is consistently the most highly rated channel of its kind to be found.

That said, it’s perfectly understandable, given the current economic climate, why a news network might feel the need to “diversify” a little and go looking for profit dollars down other roads.

But, it’s a little sad at the same time.

Because any time you fix what aint broke, you can never go back to the original glory.

Hardee’s hasn’t been close to the same since they started serving chicken.
KFC ain’t much to cluck about since they started serving breakfast.

And CNN is never really going to be the same now that they’re serving up warmed over “Daily Show” from Comedy Central.

On the other hand, if you think Jack Cafferty is a borderline sourpuss now, just wait until they have him reporting Britney Spears next meltdown as breaking news.

Now, that’s funny.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"They Must Know Something I Don't Know...."


63 million and change.

Versus 55 million and change.

In the clear light of day, after all of the respective cheering and lamenting had faded, those numbers were the bottom line.

63 million people voted for Obama.
55 million people voted for McCain.

Not what you would call a squeaker.

Thank heaven, too, because the last thing this country needs right now as it tries to keeps it’s collective head above water is a repeat of the “we won, no, we won” slapstick comedy of 2000.

No mistaking the “will of the people” on this one.

And when you include Dubya’s approval ratings in the mix, it’s hardly surprising that Obama ran up the score.

Personally, I don’t find the numbers surprising.
I do find them just a bit curious, though.

The credentials of John McCain and Joe Biden spoke, and speak, for themselves.

The argument that Barack Obama had little “experience” was a fair point.

But, as I’ve pointed out more than once, he was vetted over a two-year period by millions of Americans who had a chance to accept or reject his resume in the primary process.

He was apparently acceptable.

Ask any of those millions of people all over the country.

Or just ask Hillary.

Sarah Palin came out of nowhere ten weeks prior to the election, was chosen by a single person to be placed one 72 year old heartbeat away from the presidency and, in the course of those ten weeks, among other things, gave the impression that she didn’t know that Africa was a continent and not a country.

Okay, let’s be totally fair here.

I’m not sure that if I had been a contestant on “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” and felt the adrenalin of being on national TV that I wouldn’t have put my foot in my mouth in a similar fashion.

But I wasn’t a contestant on a game show.

And I most certainly wasn’t asking voters to elect me Vice President of the United States.

The end result of the election pretty much validates the idea that a lot of people ultimately couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer to the question they probably would have asked John McCain about his reasons for picking Palin.

“Say, John…what were you thinking?”

As for me, I look back at the final vote totals.

55 million people voted for John McCain.

And Sarah Palin.

And that makes me curious.

“Say, folks…what were you thinking?”

"The Reason They Call Elections "A Race"....


It’s pointless for me to say, on the front end, that I think I have the ability to be objective about any post game analysis, because politics, by its nature, doesn’t allow any possibility of objectivity.

If you agree with me, it’s because you agreed with me going in.

And if you disagree with me, nothing I say will change your mind.

So, keep that in mind as I share the bullet points of what is, admittedly, my personal opinion here.

To wit, here’s why Barack Obama beat John McCain.

Obama attacked eight years of Bush policy.
McCain attacked Obama.

Obama chose a VP who, while clearly “establishment”, didn’t have us overly concerned about what would happen if he were to have to move into the Oval Office.

McCain chose a VP who, while clearly “mavericky”, had even those who chose, let alone supported, her wondering what would happen should the same fate come her way.

Obama embraced the current technology, especially the Internet, to reach out to a whole “new” group of voters, much the same way that JFK used television for the first time in 1960.

McCain didn’t take advantage of the same technology, much the same way that Nixon missed his shot in 1960.

Obama connected the dots in voter’s minds from McCain to Bush.
McCain never found away to erase those lines.

Obama kept his eyes on the prize.
McCain kept his eyes on Obama.

And there’s really only one way to watch somebody while you’re moving forward.

That’s watching him as he moves forward, too.

Up there ahead of you.

In the end, philosophies, policies, promises and platitudes aside, it’s not necessarily the best team that wins the game.

It’s the team that plays the best game.

And, at the buzzer, the final score:

Obama 349.
McCain 163.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"McCain Had The Right IDEA...It's Just That....."


It’s a bum rap.

I really don’t think that Obama is any better or more qualified to be president than McCain.

And I really don’t think that Biden is necessarily going to make a better VP that Palin would have ( or will…election day is still ten days away and I NEVER underestimate the zany bunch that is the American electorate).

But perception is reality.

And I can see, by rereading my own words, where you might perceive that I am anti Palin.

Perceive away.

It’s a free country.

Withholding taxes, notwithstanding.

But I realized this morning that I’ve finally grown tired of pontificating political.

And you’ve likely “groan” tired of it, too.
Hardy har.

So, in my own twisted version of being part of the solution as opposed to the problem, let me offer an answer to the question that I’ve heard coming at me in the form of vibes from cyberspacers who still dream the dream of a McCain Palin administration.

And share with you some names of folks I think might have benefited McCain more than the very nice lady who is going to be living down the whole Caribou Barbie thing for awhile.

See, I think the problem isn’t that McCain chose to try and go outside the box.
It’s that he didn’t go outside the outside of the box.

Because, Palin’s qualifications or lack of same aside, she is an elected official and, by default, a part of the “establishment”.

Scratch a maverick, find a politician.

Had I been advising the campaign, I would have offered that we were missing the biggest part of the big picture, that being that the job of VP nominee, and VP for that matter, is simply that of sidekick.

Unless, of course, the president dies in office.
Or is Dick Cheney.

So, since McCain obviously wanted to “energize” things and clearly threw a Hail Mary pass when he picked Palin, why throw the Hail Mary twenty yards when you might as well go for fifty or sixty?

In for a penny, so to speak.

And if qualifications aren’t the criteria (and yes, I really do GET that Obama has very little experience either, but at least the guy was vetted by primary voters for two friggin years), then why not just totally go for broke and, high office qualifications be damned, just go for the sidekick that would bring the most to the table?

For example:

Ed McMahon….loyal, energetic, able to sell anything and everything from Medic Alert to Alpo and that whole “Heeeerre’s Johnnnny” thing would have been a nothing but net slam dunk in a McCain campaign.

Robin…again, loyal and energetic, not to mention buff, Batman’s number two would have not only brought the youth vote pouring in, but, with the mask, he’s got, right out of the gate, the most important quality of any potential office holder: plausible deniability.

Oprah….okay, so she’s not a sidekick, but think of the mindblow here….in one bold move, you not only steal Obama's "number one fan", you appeal to blacks, celebrities, soccer moms and disgruntled Hillary supporters of all races and both sexual preferences.

Ethel Mertz….again, the women’s vote is in the bag, but, best of all, when things start to go south domestically and/or internationally, the distraction value of McCain and Mertz shoving chocolates into their orifices and clothing as the assembly line goes faster? Priceless.

Teller…of Penn and…not a lot of help demographically, necessarily, but since the guy never utters a word, he would be the heaven sent choice to act as spokesperson for any administration failure. And never underestimate the political value of a cool “pour the milk into the paper cone” thing.

Tonto…probably the icon of sidekicks…with T, you not only put the Native American vote in the bag, and probably by association, all the other minorities, you’ve got a whole big damn US of A full of casinos to fund whatever the next zany war effort is.

Tweedle Dum…oh, wait….we did that with Quayle didn’t we? Never mind.

Bubba Blue (Forest Gump’s most very good friend)…not only do you lock up the black vote, but we can save the taxpayer’s a fortune by getting rid of that bunch who plan the state dinner menus,,,(“shrimp stew…shrimp cocktail…boiled shrimp…fried shrimp…..”).

Marie Osmond….(from her “Donny and…” days)…you get the women’s vote, the celeb backing, the Mormon vote and if and when the wheels come off, you just send her out to distract us with her dancing…and if things REALLY go south, she faints…problem solved.

And, last but not least…

Marge Simpson….you assure yourself of the women’s vote, the youth vote, the highly underrated and much overlooked animated characters vote and you’re talking about a woman who has put up with Homer Simpson for twenty odd years. Surely that makes her capable of putting up with just about anything and everything Washington DC might throw at her.

And if, God forbid, she should become president, our enemies would be totally stunned as to how to deal with an American government staffed with such diverse personalities as Moe the Bartender and Krusty the Klown.

Not to mention having Ned Flanders in the cabinet would sure shut Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and their gang the hell up.

Oh…and while I imagine it’s a moot point at this point, I’d offer to Senator McCain this last piece of advice.

If you’re sticking with the maverick thing, why not go for broke?

You still have ten days.

And Kathie Lee hasn’t got a gig.

"Meanwhile, One Year Later..."


Nostradamus has no monopoly on the visions of the future.

I’ve had one myself.

Admittedly, it could be the result of that Taco Bell Grande I ate just before going to sleep the other night.

But who’s to say that Nostra-boy didn’t think outside the bun in his day?

Ergo, I offer up my lookie see at what’s around the bend.

January 2010.

Barack Obama has been President for one year. Assuming, God forbid, that some psychotic wack job trying to impress Halle Berry doesn’t take a shot at him, those who didn’t care for him still don’t care for him and those that believed him to be the answer to every prayer uttered have quietly gone back to living their lives as best they can, having realized that he is mere mortal, subject to the same challenges and setbacks faced by every guy who calls the Oval Office his nine to five.

Oprah is inconsolable, by the way.

Joe Biden manages to walk the razor thin line between dutiful lap dog VP and loose cannon, the former the result of his sincere desire to be a team player, the latter the result of his discovering, like LBJ did a long time ago, that knowing everybody in Washington on a first name basis guarantees squat when it comes to getting any thing done.

John McCain gets a six-figure advance on his memoirs, the seventh figure having fallen off the radar the previous November 4th when both Ohio and Florida decided to jump off the Straight Talk Express and on the Obama bandwagon. Somewhere around page 114, he will note with great irony that the politician he most identifies with is Al Gore.

Al’s albatross was nicknamed Slick Willie.

John’s albatross was nicknamed Dubya.

And Sarah Palin, having resigned as Governor of Alaska after deciding that politics wasn’t really where she wanted to be, gets the last and best laugh in retaliation for the interview that very likely began the fall of Palin’s star in the campaign by blowing away the competition and zooming to number one with…

The Evening News with Sarah Palin.

On the Fox News Channel.

Take that, Katie Couric

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"What We've Got Here...Is.....Failure To Communicate...."



There’s one scene, not to mention many others, in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” that I like a lot.

Luke, played by Paul Newman, is challenged to a fight by Dragline, played by George Kennedy because Drag, the “leader” of the chain gang is threatened by Luke’s growing popularity.

Take a few minutes to watch the scene provided here before reading any further.




The obvious lesson trying to be imparted here is never give up.

But that’s not what I remember.

What I remember is the wonderful job that George Kennedy did in conveying the frustration of somebody who went from wanting to beat the hell out of somebody to wanting that person to just lay down.

In other words, with each new punch, the feeling of victory was being overtaken by feelings of guilt.

I know exactly how Dragline felt.

Because it’s getting to that point when it comes to making comments about Sarah Palin.

Here’s a piece from CNN that brings my point into focus.



ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) -- With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

"She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.
"Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is "not good at process questions" and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

But this Palin source acknowledged that Palin is trying to take more control of her message, pointing to last week's impromptu news conference on a Colorado tarmac.
Tracey Schmitt, Palin's press secretary, was urgently called over after Palin wandered over to the press and started talking. Schmitt tried several times to end the unscheduled session.

"We acknowledge that perhaps she should have been out there doing more," a different Palin adviser recently said, arguing that "it's not fair to judge her off one or two sound bites" from the network interviews.

The Politico reported Saturday on Palin's frustration, specifically with McCain advisers Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They helped decide to limit Palin's initial press contact to high-profile interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, which all McCain sources admit were highly damaging.

But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.

"Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."



I imagine that even if you and I don’t share the same perspective politically, there’s a pretty good chance that we have at least one thing in common.

We’re both ready for all of this to be over.

But either way, I think it fair to say that the last three paragraphs of the story are not only telling, they’re stunning.

The McCain campaign is defending the decision to keep Palin from answering questions because “after she was picked…she was not ready and the missteps could have been a lot worse…she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain’s record…her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic…and…it was the hardest to get her up to speed than any other candidate in history?”

Whatever else may have been, or has yet to be, said about this election, I think this story leads to only one reasonable conclusion.

Even the very campaign staff that was instrumental in choosing Palin to be the running mate is saying that she wasn’t qualified to be the candidate.

And, partisan politics aside, if she’s not qualified to be the candidate, then how in God’s name can anyone believe for a moment that she’s qualified to be one 72 year old heartbeat away from being President of the United States?

I admire Luke for not wanting to give up.

But I most identify with Dragline and the feeling of not wanting to throw any more punches.

Just lie down, Sarah.

And stay there.

"Hero Is A Verb...Not A Noun..."


As a radio personality, I sometimes hear people say they think I’m good at what I do.

I appreciate their kind words.

Not to mention their good taste.

That’s meant to be funny.

See, like email, that’s the trouble with blogs.

You can’t color your words with nuance or tone.

I do appreciate their kind words.

And I do put in a lot of effort to make what I sound effortless.

But, now and then, I come across something that reminds me of the sometimes subtle, but always essential, difference between being good at what you do and doing good.

For example…

CNN launched its second annual global search for ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary deeds in February.


The network has aired weekly CNN Hero profiles of those people, chosen from more than 3,700 nominations submitted by viewers in 75 countries.



A panel made up of world leaders and luminaries recognized for their own dedication to public service selected the Top 10. The Blue Ribbon Panel includes humanitarians such as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Kristi Yamaguchi and Deepak Chopra.



"What an incredible group of people and how difficult it was to select only 10," said Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a panel member.



Archbishop Tutu added, "They all deserve to win. Thanks for saluting these remarkable human beings."



Each of this year's Top 10 CNN Heroes will receive $25,000 and will be honored at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," airing from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on November 27.



Hosted by Cooper, the Thanksgiving night broadcast will culminate with the announcement of the CNN Hero of the Year, selected by the public in an online poll that began Thursday morning.



Continuing through November 19, viewers can log on to

CNN.com/Heroes to participate in the poll. The person receiving the most votes will receive an additional $100,000.


In alphabetical order, the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2008 are:



Tad Agoglia, Houston, Texas --Agoglia's First Response Team provides immediate help to areas hit by natural disasters. In a little over a year, he and his crew have aided thousands of victims at more than 15 sites across the United States, free of charge.



Yohannes Gebregeorgis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia --Moved by the lack of children's books and low literacy rates in his native Ethiopia, Gebregeorgis established Ethiopia Reads, bringing free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of Ethiopian children.



Carolyn LeCroy, Norfolk, Virginia --After serving time in prison, LeCroy started The Messages Project to help children stay connected with their incarcerated parents. She and volunteer camera crews have taped roughly 3,000 messages from inmates to their children.



Anne Mahlum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania --On her daily morning jogs, Mahlum used to run past homeless men. Today, she's helping to transform lives by running with them, and others as part of her "Back On My Feet" program.



Liz McCartney, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana --McCartney moved to New Orleans to dedicate herself to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors move back into their homes. Her nonprofit St. Bernard Project has rebuilt the homes of more than 120 families for free.



Phymean Noun, Toronto, Ontario --Growing up in Cambodia, Noun struggled to complete high school. Today, she offers hundreds of Cambodian children who work in Phnom Penh's trash dump a way out -- through free schooling and job training.



David Puckett, Savannah, Georgia --Puckett started Positive Image Prosthetics and Orthotics Missions -- PIPO -- to provide artificial limbs and braces and care to people in southeastern Mexico. Since November 2000 his mission has helped more than 420 people, free of charge.



Maria Ruiz, El Paso, Texas --Several times a week, Ruiz crosses the border into Juarez, Mexico, to bring food, clothing and toys to hundreds of impoverished children and their families.



Marie Da Silva, Los Angeles, California --Having lost 14 family members to AIDS, the Los Angeles nanny funds a school in her native Malawi -- where half a million children have been orphaned by the disease.



Viola Vaughn, Kaolack, Senegal --The Detroit, Michigan, native moved to Senegal to retire. Instead, a group of failing schoolchildren asked her to help them pass their classes. Today, her "10,000 Girls" program is helping hundreds of girls succeed in school and run their own businesses.



I enjoy the work I do.

And I work hard at it, hard, of course, always a relative thing.

But, I like hearing about people like these.

Because, above and beyond the wonderful things their efforts accomplish, it offers me something, as well.

A reminder that there’s a lot of wiggle room between making people laugh.

And making a difference.

"Satire and Cement"



These are some very talented and funny people.

And so spot on with their obviously satirical impressions that some will be offended.

Good.

That’s exactly what really good political satire is supposed to do.

If you’re one of those who “get” what’s going on here, enough said.

If you’re not, let me simply offer you this.

Our sense of humor is our saving grace.

And our ability to laugh at ourselves is the only thing that has gotten us this far.

Because, as it has been more eloquently written before, life is a serious business lived by people who need to be careful to not take themselves too seriously.

And it is our ability to laugh through our tears that keeps us going.

One other thing, though.

I hear a lot of bitching about why “liberals” seem to be doing all the satire.

In other words, why isn’t SNL, for example, doing skits skewering the Democrats?

I think it’s obvious that the SNL gang isn’t exactly what you would call members of the Republican base.

But I’d offer that they’ve done a pretty nice job of “ridiculing” Hillary and Bill and company through the years.

I think it really comes down to something fairly fundamental, stereotypes aside.

Conservatives, by nature, like the fresh cement just the way it is.

Liberals, by nature, like to put their initials in it.

When liberals talk about change, they tend to mean changing the system, rocking the boat, zigging when zagging is traditional.

When conservatives talk about change, they usually mean changing the way liberals think about things.

I don’t have even close to enough wisdom to offer whether one philosophy is “better” than the other or that one is right and the other wrong.

Or left, as the case may be.

I just know that when I see fresh cement, I’m tempted to put my initials in it.

So, I suspect, are the gang at SNL.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Be Not Afraid....Either Way, We're Good...."


Here’s a political analysis I’m willing to bet you won’t get anywhere else.

It won’t matter if Barack Obama is elected president.

It won’t matter if John McCain is elected president.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter all that much who wins.

Because the power of the presidency is, for the most part, illusory.

The founding fathers pretty much saw to that.

And while we continue trying to convince ourselves, and each other, that those we choose to live on Pennsylvania Avenue have joined us from Mount Olympus on their eventual way to Mount Rushmore, the fact is that they are, at the end of the day, mere mortals.

And our political system pretty much negates any chance that they’re going to do either radical harm, or radical good, while in office.

Unless they go Dr. Strangelove on us, but if that happens, all the bets are off anyway.

The president can do little or nothing without the support and/or consent of the Congress.

And Congress rarely chooses which side to come down on based on what might be good for the country.

They choose which side to come down on based on what’s good for the Congress.

Or, more to the point, what will keep us from getting pissed off enough to vote their asses out of office on the next go round.

Visions of Jimmy Stewart filibustering long into the night in defense of Joe Six Pack and Harriet Hockey Mom not withstanding, the whole structure of our government is really nothing more or less than a marble coated, tourist saturated version of your place of business.

And office politics are office politics, regardless of shape, size or rotunda.

You do what you have to do to keep your job.

Just like your elected representatives.

And if you happen to actually accomplish something in the process, then that’s gravy.

But it’s not necessarily germane to the goal.

Keeping the job.

No matter what President Obama or President McCain want to do, they’re gonna have to run it past the legislative branch.

And the legislative branch is gonna have to run it past you.

Because you’re the boss.

Neither President Obama or President McCain can fire Senator Hometown or Congresswoman Main Street.

But you can.

And if it comes to a choice between pissing off the President or pissing off the voter, which direction do you think your representatives are going to go?

Funny, ain’t it?

All the time and energy, let alone money, that gets spent every four years by the political parties in their effort to get you to decide who’s going to run the country

When the whole time, we already know who runs the country.

We do.

There’s just not enough room in the executive mansion for all of us to live together.

So we all get together every four years and pick somebody.

Somebody who spends their time and our money convincing us that they’re showing us the way.

Imagine what would happen if every single voter in this country realized what I’ve just shared with you.

We might actually get things done.






"Thanks for Coming In..We'll Get Back To You..."



Credit where it’s due.

She’s a good sport.

Being able to stand up to weekly ridicule, let alone actually show up where the ridicule is being inflicted, takes a classy sense of humor.

Can’t see Hillary Clinton calling herself “Caribou Barbie”.

So good for you, guv.

Here’s the thing, though.

After all the anticipation of her appearance and while she did a great job of playing the straight man, and not looking awkward or out of her element, I think it fair to say that the skit didn’t generate any of the real out loud laughs we’ve laughed in previous weeks.

And it has nothing to do with the Governor.

It could just be that the joke has been told so many times that it simply isn’t funny anymore.

Well, okay, the Tina Fey doing the pageant walk thing is funny, but other than that…

In any event, the Governor did, as they say in the biz, a pretty good job given the limits of the material.

And don’t let anybody tell you that you didn’t.

It’s not the first time that the actual performance hasn’t come close to living up to the hype.

Just look at the last eight years.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"The Ghost of November Past...."


Four years ago, about this time, I expressed an opinion.

I’m going to express it again in just a few minutes.

First, though, take a look at what McCain and Palin are offering us now in the way of “positive, affirming, here’s what we’re going to do to lead and inspire this country” rhetoric:

(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain stepped up his rhetoric against his Democratic rival on taxes in his weekly radio address Saturday, comparing his plan to "socialist" programs.

The remarks were part of a theme McCain has used since the final presidential debate, but his most recent comments were the first time he used the word to describe Sen. Barack Obama.

In the radio address, McCain didn't directly call Obama a socialist, but he let the now-famous Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher nearly do it for him.

"You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism," McCain said Saturday.
Watch McCain blast Obama »

In an interview with ABC last week, Wurzelbacher said Obama's proposal to raise taxes by 3 percent on those making $250,000 and over is a "very socialist view."

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has used the word in speeches the past two days as well.

I have no words to waste on anyone who is too obtuse to see this for what it is.

Desperation.

With the distinctive aroma of the ghost of Richard Nixon and his veiled threats of “communist” that got HIM elected to the Senate in the forties.

And we all know what a first class statesman and leader he turned out to be.

So, let me just spare myself the typing and you the need to read what you either get or don’t.

And simply offer this.

Four years ago, when it was clear that George W. Bush was in over his head and lacking any real vision for the presidency other than winning it and we had the chance to replace him, I said that he needed to go, but John Kerry wasn’t the guy.

Having said that, though, I offered this opinion.

Knowing what we knew and seeing what we saw, if we elected George W. Bush to another term, we would have no one to blame but ourselves.

And we would get exactly what we deserved.

We did.
And we have.

I am, hand to God, still not convinced that Barack Obama has what it takes to be the president that his believers believe he will be.

But, I am convinced that this country can’t possibly do worse than to elect a guy so desperate to win that he resorts to cheap bullshit scare tactics at the last minute.

John McCain got pissed the other night and told Barack Obama to his face that “I’m not President Bush.”

I’m not worried that he’s George Bush.

I’m worried that he’s the ghost of Richard Nixon.

"The Only Sure Things are STILL Death and Taxes..."


The debates are a done deal.

Sarah Palin has pretty much used up her fifteen minutes.

And the “serious” business of the home stretch is underway.

Meanwhile, the “experts” are telling us that all the polls indicated Obama pulling away from McCain, making it, in their opinion, pretty much a done deal that we are about to elect the first African American President of the United States.

Maybe.
Maybe not.

Just ask Tom Dewey.

It was pretty much a “done deal” that he was a shoe in to boot Harry Truman out of the White House in 1948.

At one time or another, we’ve all seen the picture of Truman holding up the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline.

Political savvy and expertise aside, for my money, there is no wiser interpreter of the body politic than Yogi Berra.

The baseball player, not the cartoon bear.

The bear said, “hey, mister ranger, sir, could I have that pick a nick basket?”
The ball player said, “It aint over till it’s over.”

Obama reportedly told his folks this past week to be cool and not get cocky.
Smart man.

And good writers, too, cause it would have been all too easy to tell his folks not to get all “Dewey-eyed” just yet.

I don’t trust opinion polls.

It’s just like House says when he’s diagnosing patients.

“Everybody lies.”

Until they get behind the curtain and pull the lever.

Or push the button.

Does anybody actually pull a lever anymore?

I digress.

It aint, indeed, over till its over.

And, just to add an additional thickening to the plot, check out this online poll from CNN.com this morning:

Have you made a final decision on which candidate should be the next president?

Yes 92% 223409
No 8% 18753

Total Votes: 242162

I have to admit that I’m a little perplexed.

The other “polls” tell us that Obama is pulling farther away each day.

This poll, which doesn’t ask for a choice, one way or the other, indicates that in a group of almost a quarter million people, nine out of ten have made up their minds.

Obama in a nine to one landslide?

I think not.

McCain in a stunning nine to one upset?

Uh, no.

The bottom line here, kids, is that, with all due respect to Wolf and his “best political team on television”, not to mention the plentiful other mouthpieces telling us what’s going to happen before it happens, “predictions” are useful for one, and only one, thing.

Fun small talk.

Until the votes are actually cast and counted, predictions mean squat.

Just ask Al Gore.
Or Tom Dewey.