Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Grand Old Party's Choice

Watching tonight's Republican debate is painful. For the first time in this long primary season, I sympathize with Gov. Mitt Romney. He pinned Sen. John McCain to the wall by proving that McCain has been lying about Romney's past statements about whether there should be a "timetable" for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Unfortunately, it's too late for Romney. McCain is polling 20 points ahead of him (44-24% nationally.)

There were two other candidates at the debate, but they were essentially observers to the McCain-Romney spat. Gov. Mike Huckabee, the lone GOP candidate with a sense of humor and some basic human charm, won no points on anything, though he still polls as the favorite of 16% of Republicans nationally.

(You might expect that I would dislike Huckabee, as a Christian conservative, but I don't. Hell, I have family members who are deeply committed Christians, and I have always respected them as among the most ethical people I know. I also do not fear every Christian conservative candidate in a knee jerk way. But the experience of living under the idiocy of George W. Bush's horrible failure of an administration has taught me to be very, very careful of these candidates who pander to voters on the basis of their faith, whatever it may be. W was supposedly a "compassionate conservative," but there has not been one iota of compassion for any of us under this reactionary regime.)

The other spectator was Ron Paul, the strange Libertarian candidate who can raise so much money online that even though few ever vote for him he's sticking around, and I suspect he will until the bitter end. But, to give him his due (although it's hard to when he speaks as if he may be a victim of an invisible ventriloquist, or maybe he has no teeth), he was absolutely brilliant tonight in denouncing the Iraq war and rendering the McCain-Romney spat as silly as it indeed was.

You know, to be honest, McCain looked like an old, wizened squirrel next to the much bigger, younger, more vibrant Romney. If I were a voter in the GOP primary next Tuesday, I would vote for one of the three trailing candidates, but not McCain.

It's funny about politics. I actually voted for McCain in the 1990 primary. Yes, and that was hardly the only Republican ballot I have cast, always in honor of my father's beliefs. When it comes to economics, I often identify with Republicans over Democrats because I do not consider big government a solution to anything.

But, on national security issues, unlike many Americans, I do not like Republicans at all. They exploit my fellow citizens' fears and biases, and demonize people who look different or follow a different faith.

I prefer leaders who understand that wherever we may live on this planet we are all made of the same genetic material. Barack Obama is the prototypical multi-racial, multi-cultural leader who can unify, not only Americans, but also people all over this globe.


Collector's Edition, Mint Condition

photo by Brian Castagne

Aidan #45 Forward
Synergy Varsity Basketball 2007-08
Age: 13 Height: 5'7" Weight: 110 lbs. Rookie

Games 7
Minutes 119
FG/A 15/41
FT/A 5/14
Rebounds 16.5
Assists 10
Steals 13
Blocks 3
TO 14
Fouls 7
Points 34


Proud Pappy? Yep, my seventh-grader learned how to play basketball this winter, and watching him in games became one of the things I most looked forward to each week. The brilliant Brian Castagne, caught him soaring high, red hair flowing, in for a layup in the first quarter of Game 7.

He's the kind of kid who doesn't know how to play with anything less than 200% intensity -- the kind of young athlete coaches (and parents) love...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Latest Polls Show Obama Breathing Down Clinton's Neck

The race is tightening: Clinton has 44% of the Democratic vote nationally; Obama is up to 41%.

For the Republicans, McCain is pulling away, with 39%, compared to 24% for Romney, and 17% for Huckabee, who continues to hang around.

Graphs courtesy of Gallup.


Work from home! Get rich! (not)...Trabajar desde casa! Obtener rico! (No)

There are a lot of things to be learned by working for oneself.

1. I'm not sure about my boss. He's a nice guy, but when it comes to being productive here, he has the attention span of hummingbird.*

2. Working for yourself is actually being unemployed, somebody told me. She's right.

3. It might be better to say that I took "early retirement" than admit to being unemployed, somebody else told me. She's probably right, too.

4. Working for myself, I realize how much my mind wanders. In the right kind of setting, this may resemble brilliance of a certain type, since my ability to generate numerous ideas in a rapid-fire manner can prove useful in a brainstorming session. But when I am my own boss, I am the only audience to my explosion of ideas, which leads only to a recurring headache.

5. I like being around other people. It's fun to be part of a team, a group, or even just a project. The camaraderie genuinely lifts my spirits.

6. I am lousy at making a cup of coffee.

7. I never realized how exciting it is when the mailman finally arrives.

8. I never realized how depressing it is that the mailman mainly brings junk mail.

9. Not having lots of details to attend to can end up defining your day. If you know you have to pay a certain bill today, and there's nothing much else required of you, you may choose to stretch out the task until, say, a half hour before the mailman cometh, just to generate a little tension in an otherwise aimless "workday."

10. Shopping for food does not have to be rushed affair. In fact, standing in lines no longer bothers you like it did before. Some days, the only substantive human contact you may have is with your checkout clerk.

11. Not all checkout clerks are friendly. It's worth standing in line for the ones who are, since, again, that may be the only substantive human contact you'll have that particular day.

12. If your landline rings during the day, it is probably a solicitor.

13. The national "do not call" list does not necessarily protect your from solicitors.

14. The companies that already have your home phone number on file (like your bank or cable company) seem to feel they can violate the "do not call" list whenever they feel like it.

15. Solicitors are not very gifted at guessing how to pronounce your name. "Mister Veal?" "Mister Wire?" "Mister Wee?" Of course, given they are probably somewhere deep in Ahmedabad, they’re to be excused.

16. Being alone too much breeds strange, compulsive behavior. How to explain a grown man prancing around his apartment chanting, "Who's your Mama? Obama's your mama."


*Actually, I hope this is not an insult to hummingbirds. I don't actually know what kind of attention span they have, and it could well be better than my boss's.


Ahora, en Espanol.

Viernes, febrero 01, 2008
Trabajar desde casa! Obtener rico! (No)

Hay un montón de cosas que podemos aprender, por trabajo por cuenta propia.

1. No estoy seguro acerca de mi jefe. Él es un buen chico, pero cuando se trata de ser productivo, que tiene la atención de colibrí .*

2. Trabajo para ti es, en realidad, están en paro, alguien me dijo. Ella es.

3. Tal vez sería mejor decir que tomé "jubilación anticipada" que admitir que estoy en paro, cualquier otra persona, me dijo. Ella es probablemente la derecha, también.

4. Trabajo para mí, me doy cuenta de lo mucho vagar por mi mente. En el tipo de establecimiento, esto puede parecerse brillo de un cierto tipo, ya que mi capacidad de generar numerosas ideas en una forma rápida del fuego puede resultar útil en una sesión de lluvia de ideas. Pero cuando estoy mi propio jefe, yo soy el único de mi audiencia explosión de ideas, que sólo conduce a un recurrente dolor de cabeza.

5. Me gusta estar con otras personas. Es divertido ser parte de un equipo, un grupo, o tan solo un proyecto. La camaradería realmente levanta mi espíritus.

6. Estoy mal en hacer una taza de café.

7. Nunca me di cuenta lo emocionante que es cuando llega el cartero.

8. Nunca me di cuenta cómo es deprimente que el mailman principalmente trae el correo basura.

9. No el hecho de tener muchos detalles a asistir a la definición puede acabar su día. Si sabe que tienen que pagar un determinado proyecto de ley hoy, y no hay mucho más de lo necesario, puede elegir para estirar a cabo la tarea hasta que, digamos, una media hora antes de que el mailman viene, tan sólo para generar un poco de tensión en una de otra "jornada laboral".

10. Compras de alimentos no tiene que ser apresurado asunto. De hecho, de pie en las líneas ya no te molesta, como lo hizo antes. Algunos días, el único contacto humano de fondo que pueda tener es con su empleado de la caja.

11. No todos los empleados de la caja son amistosas. Vale la pena de pie en la línea de los que son, ya que, de nuevo, que puede ser el único contacto humano sustantivo tendrá ese día.

12. Si sus anillos terrestre durante el día, es probablemente un abogado.

13. El nacional de "no llamar" la lista no es necesariamente de proteger sus abogados.

14. Las empresas que ya cuentan con el número de teléfono de su casa en el archivo (como su banco o compañía de cable) parece que creen que pueden violar la "no llamar" lista cada vez que se sienten como él.

15. Los abogados no están muy dotados en adivinar cómo pronunciar su nombre. "Mister vacuno?" "Mister Wire?" "Mister Wee?" Por supuesto, dado que están probablemente en alguna profundidad, en Ahmedabad, sino que se la dispensa.

16. Estar solos demasiado extraño razas, comportamiento compulsivo. Cómo explicar un hombre crecido prancing alrededor de su apartamento cantando, "¿Quién es tu mamá? Obama es su mamá."


* En realidad, espero que esto no es un insulto a los colibríes. Yo no sé realmente qué tipo de atención que tienen, y que bien podría ser mejor que mi jefe.

And then back to English again:

There are a lot of things that we can learn, for self-employment.

1. I am not sure about my boss. He is a good boy, but when it comes to be productive, which has the attention of hummingbird .*

2. Working for yourself is, in reality, are unemployed, someone told me. She is.

3. It might be better to say that I took "early retirement" to admit that I am unemployed, somebody else told me. She is probably right, too.

4. Work for me, I realize how much my mind wanders. In the type of establishment, this may seem brightness of a certain type, as my ability to generate many ideas in a quick-fire can be useful in a brainstorming session. But when I am my own boss, I am the only one of my audience explosion of ideas, which only leads to a recurring headache.

5. I love to be with other people. It's fun to be part of a team, a group, or just a project. The camaraderie really lifted my spirits.

6. I am wrong in making a cup of coffee.

7. I never realized how exciting it is when the postman arrives.

8. I never realized how depressing is that the mailman brings mostly junk mail.

9. Not having many details to attend to the definition can end your day. If you know you have to pay a certain bill today, and there is much more than necessary, you can choose to stretch out the task until, say, half an hour before the mailman comes only to generate little tension in one another "workday".

10. Purchases of food does not have to be rushed affair. In fact, standing in lines no longer bothers you, as it did before. Some days, the only human contact background may have is with his employee of the box.

11. Not all employees of the box are friendly. It was worth standing in line for those who are, because, again, that may be the only human contact substantive will have that day.

12. If your ring land during the day, it is probably a lawyer.

13. The national "do not call" list is not necessarily to protect their lawyers.

14. Companies that already have the telephone number of his home in the file (such as your bank or cable company) seem to believe that they can violate the "Do Not Call" list every time you feel like it.

15. Lawyers are not very gifted in guessing how to pronounce his name. "Mister beef?" "Mister Wire?" "Wee Mister?" Of course, given that they are probably in some depth, in Ahmedabad, but was excused.

16. Being alone too strange races, compulsive behavior. How to explain a grown man prancing around his apartment chanting, "Who's your mother? Obama is her mom."

-30 --

* In fact, I hope that this is not an insult to the hummingbirds. I really do not know what type of care they have, and might well be better than my boss.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Nice Debate

After the nastiness of recent weeks, the two leading Democratic candidates were civil beyond belief tonight before an audience of adoring movie stars and their cohorts in L.A.

Clinton probably "won" the debate; she was calm and cool and articulate, i.e., at her very best. But Obama may have accomplished even more by appearing so dignified, although he did not speak as eloquently as he is capable of...

But perhaps the main accomplishment at tonight's event was the feel-good sense Democrats could take away that either candidate would be a major upgrade from the current resident of the White House.

I've sorted through additional poll data today and everything points to a close outcome in the 22 contests next Super Tuesday. It's safe to say that neither candidate will win all the races. The most significant developing story line, given Clinton's superior organization in many states and her strong lead in most polls, is how fast Obama appears to be rising.

One well-known political figure, Dick Morris, claims tonight that Obama has pulled even with Clinton, nationally. The consensus of other polls does not yet support that allegation, and I personally doubt it.

But, as I have predicted, ask me in four days. By then, this may in fact be a dead heat...


Obama surging in latest poll

According to the authoritative Rasmussen telephone poll in California, Barack Obama had closed to within three points of Hillary Clinton by mid-week, before John Edwards dropped out of the race.

This was announced amid growing indications that and Obama wave may be sweeping the Golden State. We'll delve into more numbers once we have gathered and analyzed them. Other polls indicate that Edwards' former supporters will break more in Obama's favor than Clinton's.

There is as yet no indication that Edwards will endorse either rival.

The same Rasmussen poll indicates that John McCain holds a narrow four point lead over Mitt Romney in California, but this is before the important endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and the Arnold the Gubernator boosted McCain over the past two days.

Two other GOP candidates, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, remain in the race but are unlikely to garner the minimum support necessary to harvest delegates in many places next Super Tuesday. My guess is each will do well in pockets here in California -- Huckabee with Christian Conservatives and Paul with Silicon Valley Libertarians.

Neither group is large or influential enough to influence the outcome, however. It appears to be McCain's race to lose -- nationally -- and he is acting like he knows it.

As the field narrows, pay attention to how the major party candidates would do head to head. Those who have been counting on a Democratic victory in November may be disturbed, again relying on Rasmussen, that McCain beats Clinton by eight points. Obama supports can be somewhat more optimistic, given that McCain's lead over Obama is smaller -- six points.

Of course, all of these numbers are fungible and subject to a margin of error that makes all veteran political junkies urge caution. Since I've staked out a position and made a prediction in the California primary race, I'll be examining the numbers and trends more closely than some.

Stay tuned for additional analyses leading up to Super Tuesday.

Thanks to my friend Daniel Kreiss for the tip that led to this post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

National trends

I've been studying the polls, and in the past five days, look at what has happened nationally in the Clinton-Obama race:

Gallup Poll daily tracking. Three-day rolling average. N=approx. 1,200 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.

Preference for Democratic Nominee:

Clinton Obama

1/24 47% 31%
1/29 42% 36%

This is, by any measure, a significant change, one full percent per day. With five more days to go until Super Tuesday, if this trend continues, the two leading Democrats will be in a dead heat, or Obama could actually lead! The biggest unknown in this equation is how will the Edwards supporters break now he has exited the race, without endorsing either leading candidate.

Stay tuned. This is a volatile race that may well be decided in the next few days.


Time to take a stand

If you can, dear reader, just ignore these random images. They are the work of a single Dad with cabin fever. Day after day recently, five straight, I have been caring for sick children.

Besides a visit to the doctor and, afterwards, to the pharmacy, my main duties have been to cook 3-4 meals a day, serving 15-20 portions; wash dishes continuously, clean counters, throw away tissues, recycle recyclables and compost compostables, do the laundry, and administer medicine after medicine.

Mostly, my job is to give comfort. When children get sick, they get sad, and probably a bit scared. They usually have ten times the energy a person my age can muster; this week I have ten times the energy they can muster.

Do not think I am complaining. This is simply what it is to be a parent. But there are other matters afoot.

As a journalist, since age 19, I normally remain uncommitted, at least in public, on political races. But this year is different. I have decided to break my neutrality and work on behalf of Barack Obama.

In my youth, in the Sixties, I was active in many movements -- anti-war, environmental, pro-choice, supportive of gay rights, etc., but nothing ever excited as much passion for me as the civil right movement.

We were then a nation self-conscious of only two races -- white and black. Most people I knew were at least latently racist. I grew up (in the north!) hearing phrases like nigger and black buck, referring to Afro-Americans from my relatives.

I have never spoken either of those myself.

Who knows why, perhaps because I was sickly, weird, an outsider, "overly sensitive" -- as my father claimed, or some other aspect of my nature, but I never shared his or their hatred, suspicion, or paranoia about black people.

Rather, I liked the black people I was privileged to get to know. My college freshmen roommates included a very special black friend, Timothy, and he introduced me to many others, including Calvin, who grew up at Stevie Wonder's childhood friend, and a guy who dated Diana Ross in high school.

I went on several dates with black women myself, and had a crush on at least one other.

But, most importantly, it was the era where black people were on the move in America. The civil rights movement was the most uplifting, inspirational development of my youth, and I treasure my memories and involvements to this day. Every January, I replay my favorite tape of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches, as I did last week.

So it is that tonight I have decided to break my professional silence and take a firm stand. I've agreed to hand out signs and fliers in my neighborhood in support of Barack Obama. I want to be able to help vote in our first black President.

If you can vote, I hope you will join me. History will welcome you for making the right choice at the right time.


News: Edwards, Giuliani are done...

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago

DENVER - Democrat John Edwards is exiting the presidential race Wednesday, ending a scrappy underdog bid in which he steered his rivals toward progressive ideals while grappling with family hardship that roused voters' sympathies, The Associated Press has learned.


Rudolph Giuliani is also withdrawing soon, and reportedly will endorse John McCain.

There are only four viable candidates standing:

McCain v. Romney.

Clinton v. Obama.

After Super Tuesday next week, both party's nominees may be clear, although the Democratic race may continue for a few more primaries if the two candidates split the vote next Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


It's way too small a sample to be scientific, but among the dozen or so Californians I've spoken with this past week about next Tuesday's Democratic Primary, there appears to be a new trend favoring Sen. Barack Obama. We have six parties as well as a non-partisan ("decline to state") option in this state. Only registered Repub1icans can vote in the GOP primary, but Independents (who account for about 19% of the state's voters) can vote in the Democratic primary.

(Dem's outnumber Rep's here by roughly 43-36%, and the minor parties account for the other ~2% of the electorate.) Independents lean Democratic by a rough margin of 4-3, though a solid third don't support either party.

In fact, California Independents are not only famously unpredictable, crossing party lines at will, they also are the fastest-growing segment of the state's electorate. They vote for candidates above parties. Accordingly, John McCain and Barack Obama should do very well here. But since Independents cannot cast ballots in the GOP race, Obama figures to harvest a larger share of these critical swing voters.

It's a weird state, electorally speaking, with a moderate Republican as its Gubernator, and three liberal women as its two Senators and the Speaker of the House. Voters skew slightly more to conservative than moderate and slightly more moderate than liberal -- the smallest of the three large blocs of voters by ideology.

The coast is liberal and Blue; the interior is conservative and Red. The fastest-growing parts of the state are developing communities between the Blue Coast and the Red Valley in Purple Land. Here, independents hold sway, and anything can happen.

In this context, back to my informal, unscientific survey... My sample includes Independents, Republicans, Democrats, and Greens -- reflecting my overall distribution of my friends rather accurately. They were mainly breaking for Clinton or Edwards until recently, but one by one they seem to be moving into Obama's camp in the final days leading up to Super Tuesday.

The anti-Clinton sentiment among these folks, especially since the bitter South Carolina primary, is palpable. One man told me he hates Clinton so much he will vote Republican (for McCain) if she is the nominee. Many of the others liked Edwards because of his anti-corporate, anti-poverty stands, but they are dropping away from him as unelectable.

The only people I know who remain in Clinton's camp are some women voters, who are remaining loyal to the gender politics that is fueling her run. But, I no longer know any men or Independents who favor her over Obama, which was not at all the case a year ago.

Her support is eroding quickly among young voters, who are predominantly Non-Partisan. Although she controls an impressive state organization, all of the passion on the ground is swinging to Obama. (McCain, too, seems to increasingly appeal to Californians, especially men, older people, Latinos, and conservatives, and Independents.)

The most recent polls I've seen still imply that Clinton has a big lead over Obama, who does not have much name recognition among minorities here. But California as much as any state in the country is evolving into a diverse, multicultural society with global connections and aspirations.

In this context, my friend, the talented editor Mark MacNamara, has posted fascinating collections of stories about how the rest of the world views Obama's candidacy. (Click on the title of this post to view it.) There seems to be a growing impression overseas that Obama could potentially transform the U.S. image (currently at all-time lows) into one significantly more positive than any of the other candidates.

Considering all these factors, trends, and data points, I'm ready to risk my perfect record to date and issue the following prediction: Obama will win this state a week from today. Get ready for it.


The trouble with this high profile IPO...

So, Current TV, the three-year-old cable venture co-founded by Joel Hyatt and Al Gore, has filed to go public, and they are seeking $100 million in public funds going forward.

We have some cautionary notes about this one. First, when evaluating the potential of new media ventures, experience indicates that we should evaluate the multiples conservatively, based on the fundamentals, including profitability.

In the case of Current TV, there are indications for concern. Although it has grown its global audience to 51 million (up from 19 million at launch), the Current market share is infinitesimal by industry standards.

The company, which aims to appeal to an extremely attractive demographic (18-34 year olds), has yet to demonstrate its ability to generate a profit. It reported revenue of $63.8 million in 2007 and losses of $9.9 million; up from $37.9 million in revenue and $7.6 million in 2006.

Current also features a web presence, which is de rigueur for media offerings, of course, but until the company can explain how it will grow its advertising revenue from the current portion of 16% of revenue, it seems likely most knowledgeable investors will pass.

Among its sexier features, Current TV relies on users to create advertising spots and also – in a YouTube sort of twist – posts users’ homemade videos along with its staff reports. Most clips are short and to the point, which optimizes the web experience, as well as exploiting the presumed short attention span of its youthful audience.

Interestingly, among the company’s disclosures is the potentially liability of having Gore as such a visible part of its leadership team. Should Gore leave the venture (say, to accept a post in a new Democratic administration) “…our relationships with key distributors and our business could be adversely affected,” the company’s finding discloses.

Yet another reason to sit this one out, for now, in our view…

Reactions & Clarifications to Mis-State of the Onion


“Thou art a votary to fond desire”... Shakespeare, about 500 years ago.

“Emotion on the sleeve advertises distortion of fact”... Dan, about 15 minutes ago.

Distorted fact can be humorous, and often is – just not when so plainly wrapped in vitriol.

Of course, if venting made it feel better, I suppose there's value in that.


7:52 AM

Blogger David Weir answered...

Actually, I'm rather fond of W; at least he's consistent (unlike the Clintons!) We do disagree on policy most of the time, but I bear him no animus. (You oughta see what I write when I hate someone.)

All of the disparaging personal information, BTW, is based on material in our files during the 2000 election cycle when I was D.C. Bureau Chief for Salon. None of it is made up. And there's far more evidence of these personal quirks and orientations than there ever was for Hussein's WMD's!

As far as W's personal ethics, I have absolutely no reason to think he is anything but an honest, decent man. He just makes a terrible President; though quite probably (again, unlike the Clintons) he's quite a nice person.

As I've previously reported, both George Bush and Dick Cheney are very generous philanthropists; giving away a much higher percentage of their annual income than all but a tiny slice of American citizens.

It's not enough to write this off to their wealth; plenty of Americans are richer (many of them Democrats) but few give away anywhere near as much of their wealth.

Perhaps this information can slightly counter-act the notion that I insanely hate Bush. I don't; my impression of him is nuanced and analytical. Last night's parody was simply another of my many experiments in writing style.

Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

10:08 AM

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mis-State of the Onion

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Mixed Gender Folks: I, your El Presidente Arbusto, have decided to leak a copy of my upcoming national address to Hotweir. Why, you might ask, would I pick this obscure blogger for such an honor. That's an easy one. It's my last year in office, and I don't really give a fuck anymore! Screw big media. May Hotweir have his way with this.
-- George Dubya Arbusto

"What's the State of this great Onion? Fucked up, my friends. And, who did it? It was, I, Dubya. Yes, let me count the ways. I, or rather my surrogates (big word) ignored the intelligence that Al-Kaline was going to send suicide bombers into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.

"In retrospect ('nother big word), it was all there for us to see, but we just weren't lookin', ya know? I told Candy, 'Candy, who's our biggest threat, Al-Kaline and the other old ballplayers, or Russia?

"'Well', she said, 'Masta Prezidentay, suh, it is most definitely the former Soviet Onion.' Ha ha ha. She don't really talk like that, I just love kiddin' her, y'know? After all, name me one other Prez that appointed a black dyke to be his National Security Advisor? (Embarrassed snickering.)

"Then, after General Powell quit, (another Afro!), hell, I made her Secretary of State!

"That's a black job, now, Sectry 'a State, thanks to me, G. W. Arbusto! (Camera shows Condi Rice scowling.)

"Let's see. Where was I? Oh yeah, the State of the Onion.

"My friends, this here Onion's been peeled, and there ain't nothin' left to do but cry over it. We are headed into one mother of a Depression, so I suggest y'all load up on all the Prozac, Zoloft, whatever you kin git yer hands on!

"Before, you know, our health system completely collapses!'Nother thing I kinda messed up on, heh heh... (Nervous twittering.)

"Lookit, we might just as well get right down to it. There was never no weapons of mass destruction (really big word). I know that now. Back then, I didn't know what destruction meant, you see. Dick Cheney told me it was some sort of literary school of thought, definitely Communist, out at U-C,
Berkeley, and therefore our truest kind of enemy. (Standing ovation.)

"That's where Candy and Dick came together -- Communism. And let me tell you, it was instructivable (huge word). Listen'g to them big thinkers, I almost grew some hemorrhoids (big bad word), know what I'm saying? Yakking...syllablizin'...


"Okay, so I messed up on Eye-Rack! There, I said it. S-o-r-r-y! BFD, as we say down at Crawford, where Cheney can't even go huntin' wthout shootin' down one of his buddies...Sorrry, Dick, couldn't resist that one, heh...Don't go aimin' your shotgun at me, big guy! (Laughter, canned.) (Dick Cheney scowls.)

"One last point. The economy. I knew we were fucked once Allen Greenspan left the house. I told Laura, that's my wife, who's way smarter than I'll ever be, I told her, 'wagin' war's the easy part of the job, BB, the cows don't know where the milkin' machine is until the bells toll real loud upwind, and honey, that bell be honky-tonkin' at us.

"That was s'posed to be a met-a-for (Karl Rove taught me that) but she wasn't buyin' it. She just got mad and accused me of drinkin', and tryin' to get her to go out partyin' like in the old days. Like when ah used to dance naked on tables. Oops. No comment on that alligatoration.

"So I said to her, 'No, I ain't drinkin' but I know about those campin' trips to the mountains, woman, with yer girlie friends, and I know you went topless!' Oops.

"'Got the CIA surveillance (monster word, hard to say) photos to prove it,' ah added, makin' a 'nother big boo-boo. (Audible groans.)

"That was, all told, my biggest messup as Prez. I'm a man, so I will admit to that. Now I'm in the doghouse. Just like ol' Hank Williams said, Move over little doggie, 'cause the big dog's movin' in."

"Know what I'm sayin'?. (Applause.)

"Oh well, goodnight, ladies, gentleman, and you other types, whatever you orientin' might be. Just don't go peeling no onions, hear?

"Heh, heh, heh.

"And, meanwhile, I'm eating dog food just like you, so let's not complain, let's be cheerful. Shit, it could be cat food, you know?" (Everyone races for the exit.)

Fading sounds of "Hell to the Cheat" fill the halls of Congress, as Presidente Arbusto's self-satisfied grin dissolves into a look of puzzlementainment at the suddenly empty hall. "Where's the party, guys...Guys?"


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Daybreak Over a Wired City

Every season has its points. Here, on this slender peninsula reaching out toward Marin, surrounded on three sides by the mighty Pacific and the huge San Francisco Bay, our best sunrises and sunsets occur in winter, when the sun arcs across the southern sky.

Free wireless has not yet come to San Francisco, despite the efforts of our Mayor and several tech giants. But overhead wires abound here.

Ever wonder who else reads a blog like this one? Who knows, but there are usually 50-100 visitors a day from all over the world. Since almost nobody ever clicks on the ad units, however, the blogger makes no money at all. In previous years, we took in $100 every now and again, but no longer. At this rate, it will take seven more years before I get my next check!

That makes me think again about the ad-supported media model. Would you visit me if there were a micro-charge, say 25 cents per visit? That model is one that has not yet been developed, but it might help small business people (like me) create some revenue from our intellectual labor.

Regardless, this hole in my back yard fence went unnoticed for a long while, because the bamboo proliferating on both sides of the old, sagging, redwood unit is so thick that not even the cats choose to use this opening as their passage.

Apologies to Robert Frost, in his most brilliant cynical moment, but if "good fences make good neighbors," bamboo forests make better neighbors out of all of us.

Brother on brother. Here is my 13-year-old trying to teach his younger brother how to play basketball. As a teacher, he is relentless. He never gives up; he never accepts defeatism; he always says, "You can do it!"

The little guy, who turns 12 in April, has two more games this season, and then the JV playoffs. Our shared goal: for him to score a basket. He's taken exactly one shot all season and it just barely missed. That first score will be a moment of triumph, not only for him, but for his big brother, an exceptional athlete, who only wishes for his younger brother to feel the sweetness of even a small athletic success.

The selflessness of both of them breaks my heart, sometimes. They love each other so much; and despite vast differences, are each other's best friend. After months of training by his brother, the little guy actually possesses several wicked offensive weapons, though he may not know it yet.

He can:

* hit a jump shot from the right side close in...
* hit free throws if he ever gets fouled...
* can hold off a defender while dribbling and, with speed, drive for a layup.

I never could have predicted that he could have learned these techniques, but brotherly (and sisterly) love is a force beyond all reason.

The winds were howling tonight on Bernal Hill. Another storm is blowing this peninsula around. Hillsides slide, roads buckle, a strong rain falls sideways.

But inside, all is warm and cozy. The books lining these walls stare down at me, beckoning. "C'mon," they seem to say, "Read me next."

Meanwhile, I say to you: "Please come back. Read me again, soon. Thank you for stopping by."