Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

It works best as an action verb.

Want some? Give some.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The fugitive(s)

This is personal -- the recount in the Minnesota senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. That campaign could send the Mystery Woman to the federal penitentiary. And her 88-year-old mother, too.

Voter fraud. Or at least what will look like voter fraud at first glance.

The women voted voted once but appear to have tried to vote twice. They were acting on the advice of Minneapolis election officials.

This sordid tale began when someone stole our out-going mail from the mailbox on the front porch. Three envelopes were taken that day: one was a packet of stuff to a friend across town and the other two were their absentee ballots because we were planning to hit the road before election day.

Well, the friend received her packet. But, with the heavy absentee voting, there was no way for election officials to dig through sacks of incoming mail perchance to find the ballots from our aforementioned felons-in-residence.

“You girls just come on down and vote early,” intoned the election official on the other end of the line. “If your ballots have arrived, it will show up on the voter list and you just walk away. If not, you vote.”

That was before the tight senate race triggered an automatic run-off. What with all that scrutiny, our formerly good citizens are bound to be discovered. True, they only voted once. But the mail-in will make it look like a second attempt.

Worse, when the federals knock on the door of our Minneapolis home, they will discover we have flown the coop. This is looking worser and worser.

Stay tuned for the final outcome. Will Al Franken win by two votes? Or lose by two?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mad Max in a minivan

Get back in your house. Do not follow us.

We are the last of a kind. We are hunters/gathers. We are snowbirds chasing the sun, searching the horizon for the mountaintop experience -- and a place to get our prescriptions filled.

Only the toughest survive the semi-annual trek from north to south, from lefse to Tex-Mex. We won’t even discuss lutefisk or mountain oysters.

I know. You have romanticized the open road all your life. But remember that Jack Kerouac and Willie Nelson wrote that stuff while still in their thirties. And if he were alive today, Marlon Brando couldn’t mount a Harley with a footstool.

Forget the images of Errol Flynn and Maureen O’Hara in rut. Clear your mind.

Now, imagine Gabby Hayes in his trusty Conestoga bitching about his sore backside and looking for a Best Western before sundown.

Get ready for the rigors that start with making 42 contacts (via phone, computer, post card, or smoke signal) regarding change of address. Hell, I doubt I still have 42 friends still living.

Besides, the Post Office is going to screw it up for the first six weeks no matter how many Forever Stamps you buy.

Pioneers are always intense.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A bailout to nowhere

What is it about the proposed auto industry bailout that causes Congress to blink? After all, the federal government has given out billions and billions more to the greedy bastards who run the financial world. And those Wall Street SOBs have rubbed our face in it with crazy spending sprees at resorts and with incredible bonus packages -- and still they ask for more. More!

At least the car makers have a product, you say.

Yes. And that’s part of the problem. Auto manufacturers don’t have the right product mix. Gas prices are high and interest rates are higher but Detroit keeps on trying to sell us big trucks, big cars and big price tags. As if anyone could even get a loan these days.

Management is stupid. Fire them all. None of them can even spell G-R-E-E-N.

The unions are not much better. We pay around $30 more per hour than our overseas competitors. Fire the unions, too.

Analysts propose we drop some U.S. car brands and close some plants. This would be painful, costing perhaps hundreds of thousands of jobs in the hopes of creating millions of future jobs to build better American cars. Tough choice.

And then there’s the bigger problem – the world wide economic meltdown.

Frankly, I think Congress needs to get out of the bailout business. Just look at how Secretary Paulson has ignored legislative intent, ignored the homeowners and helped his palls on Wall Street. Billions and billions. Hundreds of billions.

And it’s not working.

We need to stop this give-away madness. Let’s start over. I don’t want to be a Socialist.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The high road is less traveled

What do we do now? Most of us were consumed by the 24-hour election news cycles. Like most who blog about politics, I devoured the stuff. Fodder. Gimme. Gimme more.

It was easy to bash George W. Bush. Easier still to take on the whack job, Sarah Palin. Although, I did have a soft spot in my heart for McCain.

And, I must admit, I liked banging on the incompetents in the GOP.
Rich targets.

But that changed when Obama won. He’s taking the high road. Inviting former enemies to join his team. For me to continue blasting away is counter-productive. After all, we want him to unite our country. He is the best chance America has had in decades.

I’m going to try to follow my leader. I’ll try to hush.

I hope we can all stop the assaults, verbal and written. Give this nation a chance to heal.

At a family dinner last week, we were discussing this very thing when someone at the table blurted out: “I’m ready for Obama to tell me what to do. I’m ready to pitch in. I’m ready to work.” Our nation is in trouble. Shared sacrifice.

That’s the spirit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Remembering President Kennedy

See that icon on the left. It’s the cover of “When the News Went Live,” a book written by four of us who were young reporters in Dallas that fateful weekend when the world lost JFK.

If you are in Dallas this week, come remember that pivotal instant in history. We’ll be part of the program, Thursday, Nov. 20, at 11 a.m.

Starting today, the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas presents “The 45th: Remembering President Kennedy."

Speakers are:

November 18, 7 PM -- Dr. Kenneth Salyer was a resident neurosurgeon who briefly tended to President John F. Kennedy at Parkland Hospital the day of the assassination.

November 19, 11:00 AM -- Retired Dallas Police detective Jim Leavelle talks about the investigation of President Kennedy's assassination and the day he became internationally recognized as the detective handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when Jack Ruby shot the assassination suspect. A Q&A follows the presentation.

November 20, 11:00 AM -- Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix and Wes Wise, veteran Dallas news reporters and authors of When the News Went Live, present their personal accounts of the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath, including how radio and TV news has changed since 1963. A Q&A and book signing event follows our talk.

November 20, 7:00 PM -- The Reverend William Holmes, minister of Dallas' Northaven United Methodist Church in 1963, was provoked by the assassination of President Kennedy to preach a sermon critical of Dallas' social and political climate at the time.

November 21, 4:00 PM-- Author John Kelin discusses and signs his book, Praise from a Future Generation: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the First Generation Critics of the Warren Report. Kelin gives a history of the early Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists who did not accept the commission's conclusion.

November 22, 8:00 PM --Now the anchor and managing editor of HDNet's Dan Rather Reports, Mr. Rather shares his experiences covering the Kennedy assassination and other major events over the past 50 years. He served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News for 24 years.

The Sixth Floor Museum sits on hallowed ground. Hope you visit the site sometime.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strike up the band

Ours was an excused hiatus. The semi-annual migration between Texas and Minnesota consumes more energy than you might think. Usually takes us about a week or so to adjust to the new humidity. Did you know you can see Mexico from Mount Bonnell?

This season, the trip had unintended consequences. We had to quit watching political news for four days straight. That’s cold turkey.

We are still on the wagon. But we wander the house looking for something that isn’t there. When we do turn on the news, our old familiar friends are still there talking too loud, but it’s just not the same.

I think I’ll take up the guitar. Poetry, maybe.

Soon enough, we'll learn whether Obama is as good at governing as he is at campaigning. For the sake of our nation, I hope so. And that's what the polls are showing. There is more hope afoot in the nation since the election.

Thus far, Obama has taken the high road. But the wingnuts still campaign with angry, racially charged emails. Sinister stuff. Give it a rest. Daunting problems ahead. Daunting.

Maybe I'll take up the drums, too.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Snowbirds R Us

OK class. Today, we’ll do weather. This may be more than you want to know.

Click onto that bulge on your weather map – the one howling from Wasilla to Des Moines. You can see Canada from Des Moines. Especially today. Can you spell b-r-r-r-r!

We are into Day Two of our semi-annual migration between Minnesota and Texas. Weather-wise we are headed in the right direction: South.

Earlier, we had planned a side trip through the Black Hills just to wash the election grime from our souls. But the blizzard dropped seven inches of snow in Rapid City. This is a very serious storm.

Recognizing the chill was headed our way, we chose to make our getaway straight south via I-35 for as long as we can stand it.

Back to the weather map. You’ll notice snow is predicted for Des Moines, where Canada is actually falling from the sky. It is snowing in Minneapolis. We win!

But I wander. Back to the map. See that red spot slipping down the warm side of the front (the eastern edge)? That’s us, cruising: the Mystery Woman, Virginia, the matriarch, and Bella, the ailing and loveable little dog. With luck, we’ll miss the heavy rains of yesterday.

In a few minutes, we are leaving Cameron, Mo. Next stop: Van Buren, Ark. Has everybody made a pit stop?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The song in our hearts

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bring us together

Can he bring us together? No matter who wins today, that is the question. Can he bring us together?

Americans are tired of hating each other. We are weary of wedge issues, campaigns based on fear, based on going negative. We are tired of this crap. And with the Internet, we can now dig through many of the lies.

Full confession: it will be a helluva lot easier for me to come together with my conservative brethren if the liberals win.

Why? Consider this. Today, a member of the Texas State Board of Education refuses to retract her claim that Barack Obama is plotting with terrorists to attack the U.S. She also suggests Obama would try to expand his power by declaring martial law throughout the country. She actually believes the crap she is spewing. What a nutcake. I have never been so proud of my home state.

That kind of ignorance is difficult to take. And we have Karl Rove to thank.

OK. OK. If facts won’t work, maybe humor will. I was heartened by a NYT article in Science Times purporting that conservatives do indeed have a sense of humor. Maybe even better than liberals. Outrageous, but possible, I suppose. Clearly, we need a recount on the research.

Sex won’t work either. Liberals and conservatives have long debated which side gets more action. Each thinks the other does. Duty trumps booty?

Now we’re getting to the other question of the day: why do people vote at all? Surely each of us knows that our single, solitary vote does not an outcome make. Your chance of changing an election is about the same as getting hit by lightning bolt (which might help that dame from Texas).

We vote because it is the right thing to do. We vote because of patriotic duty. We vote because we believe in America.

And maybe today’s victor can build on that. Hope so.

So go vote if you haven't already.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Breaking News Everywhere You Look

It’s difficult to maintain my election frenzy. The falling leaves are so beautiful. I keep getting distracted by their grace and whimsy. Much better than Zoloft.

We have become election news junkies. I probably devote four hours daily glued to the computer, the TV and the newspapers.

You, too? We are not alone.

Researchers have been checking regularly with 20,000 registered voters. Recent findings: 61 percent of the voters had browsed the Net for political info in the last week, 50 percent has succumbed to political e-mails and within the past 24 hours, 53 percent had shared some low talk about a candidate.

Beer has been an election night staple for as long as I have been voting. This year, however, both hands will be full. One with the remote, the other with the mouse. I told you we were hooked.

This year, we’re keeping track of election stats by more than merely “Breaking News” on the cable news shows. We’re following raw data via media outlets that were not around just four years ago. Think of it. YouTube did not exist the last election. Facebook was mainly Ivy League. No Huffington Post. I’m not sure about when Politico ginned up. News aggregators. E-mail alerts. Weather out west.

Which is the relevant news source anymore? The answer: there is no single source now that each of us has control of the information joy stick. No longer will we be content to be spoon-fed by Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. Full disclosure: I’ll miss Katie more than the others.

If you think election coverage is snappy this year, just wait until the election four years from now. Chances are, we will be watching one interactive screen that combines data streams, video streams, and perhaps newspapers, too. Plus probably some device or application we haven’t thought of yet. One day in the future, we may even be able to vote from home.

Here’s the good news: That should leave the other hand free for the beer.

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