Friday, October 31, 2008

A final answer on Sen. Obama's birth certificate

There was a Chicago Tribune article about the Obama birth certificate controversy in the Oct. 30 edition. I wrote the author to ask about a specific point.

Dear Sir:

The argument I heard on The Savage Nation from the guy who runs is that Sen. Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate is actually a "Certification of Live Birth" and is not a valid birth certificate. Did your research reveal any evidence to that effect?

Great article. Thanks for clearing up the conspiracy-fueled confusion.

--Ken Salkover

His response:

Ken, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health, Janice Okubo, says the Certification of Live Birth IS the birth certificate. The two terms are interchangeable. Obama’s certificate, when shown to her, looks identical to hers, she says (except for the name).

I followed up with your exact question to her today. Her response is as follows:

“There is no difference. Both terms are interchangeable.


Thank you for reading the Tribune, and for your questions.

-- James Janega
Chicago Tribune

It's different in swing states

It’s different in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia

Here in a solidly blue state, the presidential campaign is just a rumour. Oh, sure, Obama ’08 National Headquarters is somewhere in River North, near downtown, and his home is in Hyde Park. But he’s rarely here, and there have been no official candidate visits, as far as I know. We don’t see presidential campaign commercials, unless they’re aired to bleed into northwest Indiana.
The first three aforementioned states have been swing states since at least 1992. But the other three haven’t gone Democratic since 1964 (LBJ landslide) or earlier. With Sen. Obama’s geyser of cash fueling an unprecedented advertising and campaign appearance onslaught, he made those three red states competitive. So much for assumptions! As I just noted, it benefits all of us when votes are not taken for granted. That’s true on a voting bloc level as well. Democrats should target Christian conservatives and other values voters. Republicans should target black and Jewish voters. Democrats should target married couples (among whom they perform poorly), and Republicans should target single college graduates.
I read an interesting article about Ohio voters, who put up with constant ads on tv and radio, mailings, phone calls, and volunteers knocking on doors almost daily. They’re exhausted! The media in Ohio and other swing-state markets are counting the money as campaign funds flow in for more advertising. Onslaught, assault, wall-to-wall—they all apply, and most voters in swing states will probably be glad when it’s over on Tuesday.

True blue states

After a political discussion with a friend in California (oh, fine, Anne Marie), I realized California and Illinois have something in common: their recent electoral history. They both gave Ronald Reagan strong majorities in 1980 and 1984. They both barely went for Vice President George H.W. Bush in his 1988 run for president. By 1992, both states were leaning “blue,” voting strongly for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. The next two presidential elections weren’t any different, and that isn’t expected to change this year. So it’s been 20 years--a generation of Democratic victories in two states once considered swing states and major electoral prizes for a presidential candidate.

What happened?

If the Republican Party can figure that out, it might have a chance at recapturing Congress and rebranding itself instead of entering the next decade as the embarrassment it is now. If McCain wins on Tuesday, I don’t think the GOP will care about its underlying problems. That would be a missed opportunity.

We all suffer when there’s no territorial competition. The GOP conceding the Northeast Corridor and the Midwest (except for Indiana) hurts that party and us. The Democrats conceding the South hurts that party and us. I would add the West as well (Mississippi River to California’s eastern border), but the Democrats are now making a play for that region. So good for them.

What is the deal with Kissimmee?

And please don’t ask me how to pronounce it. I’m not sure whether the emphasis is on the first or second syllable. Anyway, when it’s not an automatic stop for presidential candidates—and I’m still trying to figure that out—it’s mostly notable for having dozens of hotels that provide easy access to nearby Walt Disney World. So Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) stopped by with former President Bill Clinton earlier in the week, which I noted because the Chicago Tribune reporters accompanying the campaign wrote that Clinton won Florida twice. (Thanks to me, a correction appears in today’s Oct. 31 Tribune on page 2.) Now I come across a Tribune photo of Gov. Sarah Palin (R.-Alaska) appearing at a campaign rally in Kissimmee. I guess one explanation of Kissimmee’s prominence is that it lies along the I-4 corridor, considered the swing part of the most populous swing state. BTW I-4 is an “interstate” highway that is entirely in Florida. Odd.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prop 2 wants Calif. farm animals to have more room

A few days ago, I wrote a critical item on Michael Savage and his radio show, The Savage Nation, because I felt he had descended into demagoguery as far as the presidential campaign was concerned. On yesterday evening’s show (Nov. 29), he spent a lot of time talking about Proposition 2, a ballot measure in California easily overlooked due to the hotly-contested Proposition 8. Prop 2 requires that farm animals have more room in their confinement, and Savage was very, very supportive. He even cited the kosher laws as early anti-cruelty measures. (He also incorrectly stated the Torah’s ban on pork is strictly for food-poisoning/trichniosis concerns. No, it isn’t. But that’s another matter.) So I’m glad he stuck his neck out for animal rights here on a measure the Big Farm lobby strongly opposes. Betsy, Anne Marie, and Susan: this is far down your ballot, but don’t forget!

Bill Clinton hits Central Florida with Sen. Obama

There was an article in this morning's Chicago Tribune (Oct. 30) about former President Bill Clinton appearing with Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) in Kissimmee, Fla., a town full of hotels just a few miles from Walt Disney World. The article mentioned that Clinton won Florida twice. I thought that was incorrect, and here is my email exchange with one of the article's authors.

Dear Reporters:

I just read your report about former President Clinton campaigning with Sen. Obama in Florida. I believe a review of state electoral victories would reveal Clinton won Florida in 1996, beating former Sen. Bob Dole, but not in 1992, losing to President George H.W. Bush. Your article said Clinton won Florida twice.

Great report otherwise.

--Ken SalkoverRE: Clinton won Fla. once
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2008 11:10:40 -0500

Thanks for your note. I erred in writing that story on deadline and failed to double-check. You are indeed right. And I have set in motion the internal process to publish a correction. Apologies for the mistake. And thanks for taking the time and attention to so thoughtfully read our work.

Mike Dorning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sleeping at work

One point on which my wife and I wholeheartedly agreed: every workplace should have a facility where employees can bust a nap. I remember reading a New York magazine article in April, 2007, as we sat at the departure gate at O’Hare waiting to board our flight to LaGuardia. The article was about a growing trend among companies to offer in-house napping facilities. It pointed out the high number of employees—I don’t remember the statistic—who unintentionally fall asleep at their desks. It said that eighty percent of employees who do nap at work are forced to do so in their cars because there are no sanctioned napping facilities at their offices. (Costanza credenza, anyone?) This isn’t always feasible; either there is no car, or the outdoor temperature/sunlight combination does not allow for comfort without running the engine.

With each new position, I have often struggled to adjust to the hours or commute time, with sometimes disastrous results—falling asleep in meetings (like President Reagan obm) or in front of other people. At two positions, my solution was napping in vacant offices. And at one of those, I had a lot of company! I certainly cannot admit to napping at my current position, but I will concede being very sleepy for two reasons: staying up late working on pressing legal matters; and getting to work very early to make up hours lost to yontif and shabbos. Waking up at 5:10am to begin work at 7am is quite a shock to the system.

Workplaces should offer separate-gender sleeping facilities for those who choose to lie down during their lunch hours.

Gun violence in Chicago

Let’s turn around Mayor Daley’s pathetic blubbering about gun violence for a moment.
If Jennifer Hudson’s sister had had a gun to protect herself, perhaps this tragedy would have been avoided.
How did the Tribune run a series on domestic violence without once suggesting that women protect themselves with firearms?
Firearms in the homes of law-abiding citizens provide a deterrent to break-ins and violent crime. Mayor Daley refuses to admit that, and the violent crime rate in Chicago continues to climb.
Is the IOC paying attention?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Michael Savage is off his rocker

I'm much more comfortable listening to conservative Republicans discuss foreign policy and Israel than election-year politics and Democrats. Since the Republican National Convention, Michael Savage (born Michael Weiner) just makes me want to yell at the radio. (No chance to get through on the phone. Yelling at the radio works almost as well.) On Sept. 2, he wanted McCain to dump Gov. Palin in favor of Gov. Romney, like Romney was some sort of conservative savior. Yeah, right. Savage intimated a conspiracy that derailed Romney's campaign, when the fact was most Republican voters didn't like him all that much. He thought McCain-Romney was a dream ticket. Right. It's so awesome when the president can't stand the vice-president. Works all the time! Obama-Biden wouldn't have needed to produce new tv ads. The campaign simply could have used Romney's series of ads that he ran in Iowa and New Hampshire against McCain.

He kept harping on Bristol Palin's pregnancy. I heard a caller chime in, saying the Republican Party was now the party of unwed teenagers. Nice. If any voters are voting for McCain because Bristol Palin is pregnant: shame on them. She's keeping the baby! Oh, so terrible! I don't care whether Gov. Palin warned the campaign about Bristol's pregnancy or not. It shouldn't matter.

Later, after he was finished bashing Gov. Sarah Palin, Savage did a show suggesting Obama has an Oedipus complex. (For those of you who didn't have Greek tragedy or Freud in school: that means he is suggesting Obama has sexual feelings for his mom.) Disgusting. Beneath the dignity of a radio talk show host. And then the next day, instead of backing off, he said he thought it was one of his best shows ever. Great. The best show ever is the one sending independents back to the soft-rock station and Obama.

For me, last week was the last straw. (Oh, I'll still listen. But I "don't approve of the job Michael Savage is doing as conservative talk show host.") On most talk radio shows, each segment or topic lasts about an hour. Savage spent at least two hours last week talking to the guy who runs about the possibility Obama is a naturalized U.S. citizen and therefore ineligible to be president. Savage took to calling Obama a "foreigner," which is not what "naturalized citizen" means, even if it does refer to Obama. A caller correctly pointed out that anyone born to at least one American parent, regardless of birth location, is a "natural-born" citizen, not a naturalized citizen. The guest replied that in 1961, the year of Obama's birth, the law at the time was that a baby born abroad had to be naturalized. I find that hard to believe as that would seem to go against the U.S. Constitution. I figured the guy for a quack despite his website's 59 million hits (according to him). Is this the desperation level, I wondered, that some in the Republican camp have descended? (Not the McCain campaign, thank G-d.) Savage is an intelligent guy, with a doctorate in botany (?--whose team does he play for? not that there's anything wrong with that), and the author of 25 books, as he likes to remind us. He should have dismissed this guy out of hand.

And that's exactly what Charles Johnson did. Johnson is the blogger of, one of my favorite blogs. It is staunchly pro-Israel, anti-Islamofascist terrorism, and as a result unabashedly pro-Republican. (Johnson is not Jewish.) In 2006, Johnson broke the story of a Reuters photographer doctoring images of Israeli military action to make them appear more lethal. The photographer was subsequently fired by Reuters, and the syndicate reviewed all his photographs for accuracy. Last week I saw a note from Johnson in the blog that said under no circumstances would he permit posts relating to Obama's birth certificate. I'll take Johnson's judgment over Savage's any day.

The birth certificate flap puts Savage's credibility into question, not Obama's. Savage could be appealing to independent voters to vote for McCain by discussing Arab-Muslim Islamofascist terrorism, or the massive new government spending progammes Obama is planning, or how Obama has waffled and flip-flopped on the right to bear arms. Instead, he wants to discuss whether Obama is eligible for the White House. Against a senator born in Panama. I'm going to relabel my station preset for the Savage Nation (WIND-AM 560) as "ridiculous."

McCain 2008: laying blame--woulda coulda shoulda

Where did McCain-Palin go astray?

1. Bill Ayers rather than bin Laden
Clinton-Gore '92 used focus groups like they were the Oracle at Delphi. The McCain-Palin should have taken a page from a successful campaign's playbook. Tell a focus group who Bill Ayers is and see how that plays. Not well, it turns out. Or indifferent to an unrepentant terrorist/university professor. Instead of trying to link Sen. Obama directly to a domestic terrorist who is obviously no longer a threat, how about reminding voters of the threat of international Arab-Muslim Islamofascist terrorism? I'm not suggesting Obama is any way connected to such terrorism or that he supports such terrorism. I am suggesting most voters would agree that McCain has more experience and is better equipped to handle terrorist attacks and similar international crises. It seems to me the McCain campaign forgot about that, and so did voters. Because voters, apparently, can only concentrate on one issue at a time. Bush-Quayle '88 kept that axiom in mind and used it very well to hammer home its twin messages (credit Bill Clinton for this): no new taxes, and the other guy's a bum.
2. Sarah Palin rather than Joe Lieberman
Again, I highly recommend the article in The New Yorker's Oct. 27 issue ( on how Gov. Sarah Palin (R.-Alaska) entered the v.p. conversation among the conservative punditocracy, and how McCain ended up picking her. At first she pushed McCain into the lead; now it appears she's costing the ticket a few precious points, and McCain will ultimately regret his decision to pick her. If he is really putting the nation at risk by picking her, as one Republican charged in the aforementioned article, that's the second time in 21 years a Republican nominee has done that. The article confirms a badly kept secret that McCain's first choice was Sen. Joe Lieberman. He didn't want to risk a floor fight at the Republican National Convention, in which social conservatives may have revolted and refused to nominate the pro-choice independent. McCain could have asked them: do you want to be right, or do you want to win? I do agree that a "maverick" choice was almost mandatory. A conventional choice like Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R.-Minn.) would have seemed to voters like just another couple of Republican white guys.
3. President George W. Bush: can't shake him
At this point, the president is probably at peace with being the least popular president in the modern era. (And by "modern era," I'm not referring just to this century.) Still, I suspect he looks wistfully at the White House portrait of President Richard M. Nixon and says, "Gee, if only I were as popular as you when you waved goodbye to your staff on the White House lawn Aug. 8, 1974."
Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) stuck like glue to the president for eight years, being the loyal soldier, counting the days until he could ascend to the office he felt was rightfully his. He is now paying for that fealty. Shortly after he won the Republican nomination, McCain and his staff should have prepared some major policy speeches--foreign and domestic. The speeches' theme would have been "I'm not George Bush," which McCain tried so lamely to announce at the final debate Oct. 15. In each speech, he would have said, "Here's where I think our friends in the White House have gone astray. Here's where my term is going to be different." He wouldn't need to insult the president directly by mentioning him by name. But this speech tour would have made it clear: "I am a Republican. But I don't believe this administration has served us well. I'm John McCain, not George Bush, and I'm going to take this country in a new direction."

I remember reading that before the 1988 presidential campaign got underway, Vice President George H.W. Bush made a series of five policy speeches in which he outlined to conservatives where he stood on issues important to them. At that time, his popularity among conservatives loyal to President Reagan was rather poor, and he was vulnerable to a challenge from a more conservative Republican presidential contender. These speeches helped him solidify conservative support and hold off Sen. Bob Dole (R.-Kan.) and Rev. Pat Robertson. In much the same way, by separating himself from the president, McCain could have worked to court independent voters, who feel betrayed by Bush, are flocking to the Obama campaign and likely making a difference in this election.

4. The experience argument disappeared
It's interesting how the two presidential tickets balance each other out. One features a first-term U.S. Senator for president and a six-term U.S. Senator for vice-president. The other features a four-term U.S. Senator for president and a first-term governor for vice-president. Opposite and opposite! I concur that McCain's selection of Gov. Palin made his experience argument rather weak. Without that argument, how does a 72-year-old run against a 41-year-old superstar? Throw in Obama's massive fundraising advantage, and I like one Republican strategist's metaphor: "Like skiing uphill in downhill skis."

5. Telling independent voters to stick it
Okay, Sen. McCain didn't really say that. But when he planned to skip the first presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 26, I'm afraid many independent voters took it that way. Initially, Sen. McCain had the edge in the "Who is willing to debate more" contest as he had suggested a series of town hall meetings over the summer at which he and Obama would both answer audience questions. Afraid of embarrassment, Obama declined. At the voters' first opportunity to see the presidential contenders discuss economic issues, Sen. McCain tried to hide behind the economic crisis. I have read this was when the tide turned for the McCain campaign. He couldn't have stopped the financial crisis. But his attempt at handling it went very badly. He pretended he had to suspend his campaign. Look, he's not Treasury Secretary or Federal Reserve Chairman. He's running for president. Act like it!

GOP's last presidential win without Nixon or a Bush

The last time the Republican Party won the White House without Nixon or a Bush on the ticket (president or vice president): 1928. Herbert Hoover.

That's amazing.

If the GOP loses next week, I hope it doesn't revert to its winning formula in 2012 with former Gov. John "Jeb" Bush (R.-Fla.) in the presidential or vice-presidential slot. Hey, Elephants, isn't it time to move on?

$150,000 wardrobe

I'm quite sure everyone knows who I'm talking about. It was the big discussion topic when I switched to the Bill Press Show this morning to avoid the six-minute commercial block on sports radio.
This is so unfair.
Could we review a few accepted axioms of politics?
1. Presidential candidates need to dress well and look good because they're always on tv and speaking to thousands of people on a daily basis in the course of the campaign.
2. Women's clothes cost more.
3. There is an expected dress code for presidential candidates, which reflects the Capitol Hill/White House dress code. This dress code is not business casual. It's what I would call business formal: suit and tie, or jacket and tie for men; suit, or blouse and skirt for women. (And please don't ask about pantsuits. I can't stand them. So unattractive. Maybe that's why she lost.) The male candidates can dress down, depending on the crowd: loosening or removing the tie, removing the jacket, and rolling up the sleeves. I suspect the female candidate(s) has/have less leeway and opportunity to dress down.

So please: Leave Sarah Palin alone! We have an economic crisis and serious issues facing this nation. Yet the media decide to focus on the Republican National Committee's shopping extravagance? Come on. The media wouldn't touch multimillionaire Cindy McCain and her stylish outfits, probably because she knows her place--right beside her husband. But Gov. Palin dares to make a run for national office, and it's open season. I'm sure that in constant dollars, Mrs. Reagan's wardrobe for inaugurations and state dinners was far more extravagant. But her top-name designers were delighted to design her outfits at their own expense. The RNC actually had to pay cash--perish the thought!--for Gov. Palin's campaign wardrobe. Admit it, please: for her national debut at the Republican National Convention Sept. 3, and for the Vice Presidential Debate Oct. 2, you really wanted to see what she was going to wear. She looked fantastic. Gee, is that so bad? If this was taxpayer expense, sure, let's turn the dial to "tizzy." But if the RNC wants to blow 150 large? Money well spent, as far as I can tell. Could we stop acting like there's nothing important to discuss in this election? Sigh.

WRP Singles scene cont'd.

Judging from the number of comments from my first post, I apparently touched a nerve.
Okay, Yakov is right: I shouldn't be passing along rumours or impugning rabbis, either in general or by name. Fine. And of course it's grossly unfair to paint all rabbis in a community with such a broad brush.
In terms of kosher certification and the determination of whether an establishment can earn hashgacha, it is true that cRc initially refused certification to the live deli, live fish market and Chinese restaurant in the Howard Street Jewel. How did that turn out? It was a celebration in the observant Jewish community that we have now more culinary options than before. So I think there are times when cRc errs too far on the side of caution in terms of hesitating to grant hashgacha. It should be encouraging food establishments and entrepreneurs to "go kosher."
And no, I'm not bitter! I'm not worried about getting married; at this point, I have more pressing concerns. For those who work hard at helping single people get married, I salute them. I do believe that what I sense is an occasional duty should be an ongoing passion. There is a shidduch crisis in the community. The situation can be greatly improved, in my opinion, by encouraging and persuading more people to be actively involved in the shidduch process. It's not just for professionals.

As for criticizing or blaming rabbis: I consider this matter closed. Criticizing cRc: that discussion has a life of its own without my help! The shidduch crisis: worthy of an ongoing discussion. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Keys to weight loss

Keys to weight loss:
1. Increase water intake. Drink first when hungry to avoid eating until full. By drinking first, one is more likely to eat less in one sitting.
2. Reduce food intake. Yes, this is hard. Never said it was easy. When I first lost weight in Summer 2004, I was hungry much of the time. I began to see hunger as a sign that my programme was working. Keep meals small and light. In 2004, I would typically just skip dinner. Not necessary, but it worked.
3. The diet continues on shabbos. It’s okay to splurge a little but not hit the Kiddush table like before. No second helpings at dinner or lunch. No feasting at a shalom zochar, and just one shalom zochar per week! One cookie, no cholent at Kiddush! If one follows protocol, one can go through shabbos without gaining weight that had been lost during the week. There are plenty of opportunities for excuses, e.g., “This is a seriously kickass Kiddush,” but such an event is so frequent one would never lose weight if one kept breaking his diet so easily. Eyes on the goal and hands off the food.
4. Step on the scale six mornings a week, before breakfast. No more, no less. If the diet works, then stepping on the scale is an occasion to look forward to and hastens the wake-up process. Every threshold divisible by five is celebrated.
5. Keep busy! Walking helps. Being in places where only inedible food is available helps—Houses of Treif like downtown entertainment venues. Doing something at night to forget about dinner helps.

About eight months ago, I spoke to someone who needed to lose about 50 pounds. His wife of 15 months really wanted him to do it. He had been overweight for all of his adult life and was apprehensive about changing his routine. I told him how he needed to downshift on shabbos meals to make his diet a success. “That would be very hard,” he replied. “I know it’s hard,” I said. “I went through it myself.” But one can’t expect lose weight while eating two large and two or three small meals every shabbos. (Dinner and lunch; plus Kiddush, shalosh seuda, and a shalom zochar or oneg shabbos.) It just isn’t going to happen.

9FM-We Play Anything disappears from Chicago radio

There's a sad message at

Wow. One of my three favorite stations just disappeared in favor of its owner’s all-talk radio station. That leaves me just two music stations during my morning drive time: Love-FM (100.3), and WFMT classical (98.7FM). I realize the Eric & Kathy Show (101.9 FM The Mix) is extremely popular, but I don’t like it at all. And I think The Mix’s music selection is terrible. Also Love-FM apparently dropped the Friday at Five Express (dance music for about 28 minutes beginning at 5pm) and the Saturday night dance party with the same format. What the hell! I'm running out of options. The Bill Press Show? Look, I liked him on CNN's Crossfire. But it's not the same as music in the morning.

There's a signpost up ahead: 5769

Most people don't suffer through the kind of year I had. If we're close, Dear Reader, then you know the unseemly details. If not, you can ask. I don't want to spell them out here, nor do I want to write about what transpired in 5768. I want to write about how I can make 5769 far, far better.
Being single (and "Sleeping Single,"--thanks, Roxette) and the possibility of a long-term recession are serious concerns. Improving one's status--social and professional--takes time, energy and commitment. Where do we go from here? My father, of blessed memory, unfortunately dealt with multiple periods of unemployment, mostly due to job elimination. (And in one case, an antisemitic ass of a boss.) He became quite experienced at job search, and one part of his advice I distinctly remember was, "Try every day to make some headway toward finding a new job." I think that's true of each goal I've set for myself: improving my social status*, improving my career, and losing weight. I don't have time to put off until tomorrow what I can accomplish today. Even on the holy Sabbath, I am capable of not backtracking on weight loss. (And holding to that is a true challenge--one I will address in another message.)

I have been looking forward to next month (Nov. '08) as a new beginning, when the tumult of 5768 is behind me and I leave town for the first time since early March**. I now know the changes I want in my life start with me, and they start now.

*Social status means "single," "dating," "engaged" or "married," not "popular."
**Milwaukee doesn't count.

A WRP singles scene would be nice

"Rumour has it" that the reason there's no strictly kosher coffee shoppe in West Rogers Park or Skokie is the RABBIS are afraid men and women might actually go out on DATES if one were to open.
Men and women DATING.
It's almost as though orthodox singles must flee to Lakeview just to speak to observant members of the opposite sex. The community celebrates every engagement and wedding, but does it actively facilitate the means for men and women to meet? Women under 22 have their pick of yeshiva and college graduates. Men under 28 (?) who are top learners or financially successful can date any number of Bais Yaakov alumnae. But it seems men and women who don't fit those categories are left out. If I were wrong, there wouldn't be a shidduch crisis across America, and dating in Chicago would be just fine! Just one sign of the grave situation: at one time in 2006 or 2007--and I'm not sure this is still true--there was a $2000 reward for arranging the engagement of any Chicago woman over age 22.
When I was married, we wanted to help singles overcome the obstacles that exist in dating. I recall talking to a strongly observant friend of mine--now happily married for five years--who suffered the label of being "the diet Coke of frum"* despite his commitment to yiddishkeit. Why put up with that type of abuse? He found someone who cared more about who he was than about how shtarck (observant) he was.
Shidduchim are everyone's responsibility. Everyone should be working on a regular basis to match singles who may not fit the mold.
*Like "the diet Coke of evil--not evil enough," only worse.

Weight loss

Yes, I'm serious. Ten pounds by Chanukah. If I don't work on this, the next 5-lb. weight gain could send me into the 160's, which means flab. My family is dead-set against this. My mom will have my head if I lose ten pounds. I'm thinking, "Cool. If I lose my head, that's another eight pounds."
154.5 this morning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chicago Tribune editorial endorsing Sen. Obama

I’ve been following the Chicago Tribune editorial board’s presidential election endorsements since 1988, when I was but a child. (Ahem.) Until this year, the quadrennial October endorsement for president was little more than a rubber stamp for the Republican candidate or incumbent, who was “Bush” in four of the last five elections. The natives—the Tribune’s loyal readership—became increasingly restless over the last few years, and in 2004 their anger boiled over, bashing the Tribune with cancelled subscriptions and complaints that the board should not endorse candidates at all, especially candidates for president. The Republican endorsement had become so predictable and automatic I was tempted to agree with such arguments. The only side benefit to the endorsement was what transpired when the Tribune’s endorsee was actually elected. The board then spent the president’s entire term criticizing him. That didn’t seem to make much sense, but the centrist board considered both Bushes to be extreme disappointments.
After encouraging Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) to run, the board probably would have felt uncomfortable turning its collective back on a candidate it had long supported. I am surprised it seems to be comfortable with Obama’s experience and how he would apply that experience to the Oval Office. Did the editorial even mention terrorism? If not, it shares that sentiment with voters, only 4% of whom consider terrorism a serious problem. (How idyllic.) I believe one of Sen. John McCain’s (R.-Ariz.) best attributes is that if our country suffered another large-scale terrorist attack during a McCain Administration, the president would know what to do. I can’t be so sure of his opponent. Instead, the editorial board focused on McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin (R.-Alaska), who comes across as untested, unprepared, and as far as Troopergate goes, a wee bit sleazy. I strongly believe that the vice presidential choice is the most important decision for a presidential candidate. How he handles it goes straight to his character and judgment. Is his choice a seasoned veteran of politics capable of handling the presidency (Biden, Gore, George H.W. Bush)? Or is s/he a political neophyte and intellectual lightweight, chosen in hopes of currying favor with white female voters (Quayle, Palin)? It’s a critical distinction when one considers the consequences of a poor choice if that vice president does indeed take over, G-d forbid.
When predicting probabilities, a coin flip or roulette wheel spin is considered an “independent event”: the next event is not affected by the previous event(s). A blackjack hand, however, is affected by previous hands, as a deck loaded with 10’s and face cards favors the player. Conservative radio talk show host Michael Medved seems to think vice presidential succession is like blackjack. In a July sequence surprising for its poor taste, Medved said he thought Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-Ill.; I mean, D.-N.Y.) would take the v.p. offer from Obama because it’s been 34 years since a vice president has taken over the presidency, and “Something bad is bound to happen.” The average time between vice presidential takeovers is only 11 years. So Medved thinks the event of a vice president assuming the presidency (other than via election) is long overdue. Is that like betting on “00” in roulette? For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he is wrong.
I still think McCain would be better for America than Obama for a number of reasons. I’m disappointed that he has come across this month as angry and whiny rather than the elder statesman he is and should exemplify. I was initially very pleased at his pick for vice president mainly because Gov. Palin was not former Gov. Mitt Romney (R.-Olympics). I can’t stand Romney. I know he is going to run for president in the first election that McCain does not run (looks like 2012), and I didn’t want him to have the inside track of the vice president’s office. Many of us recall that Vice President George H.W. Bush effectively used his office to spend four years running for president, achieving his goal in 1988. He never should have been president, and neither should Romney. Back to Palin: so I was delighted her first name wasn’t “Mitt.” But as a political cartoonist cleverly put it, portraying her as a flower, “The bloom is off the rose.” I am pro-choice but understand and respect her “no exceptions” anti-abortion view. If abortion is murder, then it’s murder regardless of the circumstances surrounding conception. I just wish she had articulated her position better for Katie Couric. Here is where Gov. Palin and I part ways:
· Shooting wolves from helicopters. I’m against it.
· ANWAR. I agree with Sen. McCain and the oil companies, which don’t want to drill in ANWAR anyway.
· Inhaling congressional pork courtesy of the taxpayers of the Lower 48. I’m against it, and I deeply resent it. Pioneers? Hardly. Those Alaskans are living off federal government largesse while complaining about government intrusion. That’s not Alaskan. That’s Southern.
· Bridge to Nowhere. I was always against it. Gov. Palin was for it before she realized it was politically untenable. Then she was against it and lied about her position, claiming she was always against it. In fact she lied to the American people about it in her Sept. 3 Republican National Convention speech and for several weeks thereafter on the campaign trail. I find that dishonesty aggravating and irritating. She could have told the speechwriter when she first saw the speech, “Oh, no, that’s not true. I’m not going to lie up there.”

I’m a big fan of admitting mistakes, apologizing, and moving past them. After the Bridge to Nowhere and Troopergate, Gov. Palin seems to be a big fan of cover-ups. That’s a shame. How Nixonian!

In October, 2004, I carpooled to Madison, Wis., to see a rally featuring Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.), Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl with a group that included a guy who insisted the polls weren’t counting all the young voters. There was going to be a surge on Election Day, he believed, that would push Kerry over the top. I’m sorry that he was wrong. Either the current polls are very, very wrong, or we can start planning the Obama victory party in Chicago on Election Night. The polls won’t swing six points in two weeks.

Can the Washington Redskins predict the presidential election?

The Redskins are 16-1 in predicting the presidential election result by winning (incumbent party retains White House) or losing (incumbent party replaced) their last home game before the election. They were only wrong in 2004, going back 17 elections. In those games, their won-loss record is 8-9, and the incumbent party's retention record is 9-8. Given those statistics, can you predict what would be the likely correlation of two seemingly independent events? And what is the likelihood of the Redskins' 94% accuracy rate? Pretty slim, I bet.
You can check this on The Redskins host Pittsburgh Nov. 3.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Republican continuity

Apologies if this is already in my blog. Every presidential election year since (and including) 1952, Republicans have nominated a ticket with one of these three names on their ticket: Nixon; Dole; Bush. One exception: 1964, Goldwater-Miller. That loss was historic, eclipsed only by McGovern-Muskie's loss eight years later and matched by Mondale-Ferraro's loss 12 years thereafter. So the GOP went back on track to its Nixon victory plan in 1968 and has been winning regularly ever since. (It lost both times with Sen. Bob Dole on the ticket.) The streak snaps this year, and if the polls hold up, the Elephants will be thinking, mistakenly, "We should have nominated Jeb."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Are we too hard on Sarah?

Let’s take a look at vice presidential candidates and their experience before joining the ticket (excluding incumbent vice presidents):
2008: Joe Biden, six-term U.S. Senator.
Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska.
2004: John Edwards, U.S. Senator completing his first term, 2004 presidential candidate.
2000: Joe Lieberman, two-term U.S. Senator.
Dick Cheney, former U.S. Congressman, former Defense Secretary.
1996: Jack Kemp, former U.S. Congressman, former HUD Secretary.
1992: Al Gore, U.S. Senator, 1988 presidential candidate.
1988: Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. Senator.
Dan Quayle, U.S. Senator.
1984: Geraldine Ferraro, U.S. Congresswoman.
1980: George H.W. Bush, former U.S. Congressman, former head of CIA, former U.S. Ambassador to China.
1976: Bob Dole, U.S. Senator.
Fritz Mondale, U.S. Senator.
1972: Sargent Shriver, U.S. Ambassador to France.
1968: Spiro Agnew, first-term governor of Maryland.
Ed Muskie, U.S. Senator from Maine.

More here:

At least seven of the men on this list were veteran Washington insiders when they ran for vice president. Any candidate who previously ran for president, such as Gore and Biden, would have been well-versed in policy issues that vice presidential candidates face. Members of Congress (Senate and House) also are privy to issues facing the nation. My point is that a state governor is really out of her league in terms of running for vice president on just a few days’ notice. There is just one other governor on this list. On Aug. 28, Sarah Palin was freshman governor of Alaska. On Aug. 29, she was the Republican candidate for vice president. That’s a big jump. Then she’s expected to digest all the policy minutiae of the McCain platform in time for no-holds-barred media interviews and a “World is Watching” debate just five weeks later? Of course Sen. Biden was smooth as silk in the debate. He had done about two dozen of them as a candidate for president. Of course he had done about 100 interviews after his selection by Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) as running mate. He has been a Senator for almost 36 years. He could do Meet the Press in his sleep! (And he probably has. Would anyone notice?)
I’m not sure what the expectations should be for someone thrust into her role so suddenly. Obviously, the expectation of the American people is that the vice president be able to succeed her boss, G-d forbid, on a moment’s notice if the president were unable to continue. That is her #1 job, one we hope she need not accept. But we want her to be ready. Back to the campaign. Is it reasonable to expect Gov. Palin to sit with a policy advisor for a couple of hours a day to learn the details of Sen. McCain’s policy stances on Iraq, taxes, the economic bailout, and health care? I wouldn’t expect Sen. McCain to know the peculiar details of Alaskan politics and be able to run for governor there. So maybe we should cut Gov. Palin some slack? Or maybe not? Maybe vice president is too big a role to trust to a maverick outsider from Alaska unfamiliar with national politics.

Shalosh seudah with a federal marshal

By chance, I had shalosh seudah (the third meal) with a federal sky marshal and pilot for a small domestic airline. I asked him about gun bans. He replied that any criminal who practices street crime and home burglary/robbery would much prefer to work in an area with an unarmed populace (with a gun ban in force, like Chicago) than in an area with an armed populace (where gun possession is legal). He believes such criminals gravitate toward areas with gun bans.
Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) repeatedly promised Virginians he didn’t want to take away their guns. I wish he would say the same to Chicagoans. But he doesn’t want to embarrass his good friend and supporter Mayor Richard J. “No Guns in Chicago” Daley.

Dr. Laura on Palin: better barefoot and pregnant!

"I’m stunned -- couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for vice president with McCain? I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a 'mature' woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age. But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down syndrome, and then goes back to the job of governor within days of the birth?"-- Dr. Laura Schlessinger, on her blog

Sox stunner

I can’t stand it when baseball games run over three hours (most of the time, especially in the American League), so I doubt I would have watched the Red Sox game last night anyway, even if I had TBS at home. But it was certainly time well spent from the bottom of the seventh to the end of the game, in which Boston roared back from down 7-0 and seven outs from vacation. 8-7 Red Sox; game time elapsed: 4:08. Paying attention, Cubs? How’s that for never-say-die? The Cubs need a spark, like David “Big Papi” Ortiz (3-run homer after a 1-for-17 playoff slump), to kick some ass in a clubhouse full of guys who played dead once the regular season ended. (Uh, Manny Ramirez is available.) Red Sox ace Dice-K allowed five earned runs in five innings last night, but his teammates didn’t give up.
On Aug. 30, when the Red Sox were in town to play a series on the South Side, I saw a woman in Lakeview wearing a Kelly-green t-shirt with white lettering, “GREEN MONSTAH.” Say no more! A Red Sox fan through and through.

Nov. 5: taking the blame for McCain's loss

When it comes to the White House, the Republican Party doesn’t like to lose. After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, the Democratic Party lost the South and seven of the next ten presidential elections, from 1968 to 2004. Only Jimmy Carter’s post-Watergate triumph in 1976 and Bill Clinton’s three-way victory in 1992 (plus his reelection) broke the GOP’s remarkable 40-year streak. This streak ended Democratic dominance of the White House from 1928 to 1968, in which the Democrats won seven of nine elections, including five straight. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the only Republican president during that period. (BTW America wasn’t so great as people now fondly think it was during his two terms.)
So if Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) loses in 3½ weeks, the Republicans will be looking for people to blame. While McCain may regret his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin (R.-Alaska), the sulking Elephants will train their guns on McCain himself. Too liberal, too environmentalist, too cozy with Democrats, too old. He breezed through the Republican primaries with a sense of entitlement, staying above the fray while Govs. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (Mass., Ark.) conducted their own primary Smackdown. Much to the Republicans’ delight, Hurricane Ike kept President Bush and Vice President Cheney away from their national convention. A newly energized McCain and surprise nominee Palin enjoyed a big post-convention bounce. But then….Palin did three interviews and looked pretty bad in all three. (After his selection as running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D.-Del.) did 100 interviews. And Joe the Plumber has done more interviews in one day than Palin since Aug. 29.) Her cute canned responses at the debate didn’t help. And then Wall Street crashed. People panicked, and they drifted away from a nominee who admitted he was weak on economic issues. McCain had initially planned on selecting an economic wizard for v.p. but apparently dropped that idea.
My friends and family know I’m a terrible predictor of politics. I previously had assumed the Republican Party couldn’t possibly find anyone more conservative than the president. Then Romney and Huckabee showed up, and McCain remade himself into a right-wing ideologue. Surprise! If Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) is elected, the Republicans won’t blame themselves and change their strategy. They’ll blame McCain and, I’m afraid, nominate Romney in 2012. McCain could still make me look ridiculous by winning. Make my day, Senator.

An election of firsts

A few “firsts” or “first in a long time” for this election:
First sitting senator elected president since 1960, and only the second ever.
Oldest first-term president or first black president.
If McCain wins, first woman vice president.
If Obama takes Florida or New Hampshire, the first time for the Democrats since 1996.
If Obama takes Virginia or North Carolina, the first time for the Democrats since 1964.
If Obama takes Colorado, the first time for the Democrats since 1992.
If Obama takes Ohio and loses, the first time a Republican wins the White House without Ohio.
If McCain takes Wisconsin, the first time for the Republicans since….1988? Or 1984.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How is Sen. McCain taking this?

Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) surely feels a sense of entitlement to the presidency he felt he had earned by 2000. He did his time in Vietnam, and then he did his time on the Hill--four years in the House, and now 22 in the U.S. Senate. So along comes this brainy Democrat from "back East," as Arizonans call anyplace east of the Mississippi. He makes a big splash with a kick-ass speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. He's easily elected to the Senate--he's now a colleague--and 24 years younger. He spends the next four years running for president, a goal McCain spent a career working toward. And now it looks like "that one" is going to win.

That must be harsh. Obama has no military experience and almost no experience on Capitol Hill. McCain, of course, is a Vietnam War hero and a Hill veteran--after 26 years of service, a creature of Washington. And losing to this neophyte? Who is black? It was bad enough that then-Gov. George W. Bush (R.-Tex.) beat him in the South Carolina primary eight years ago by intimating that his adopted daughter was his illegitimate black child. He has been the team player for these eight intervening years to reach this point. And now, with the economy in a tailspin (his admitted weak spot), his campaign falters and almost disappears. A sad denouement to what might have been.

Lulav and etrog: what a scam!

Every year, there's a rush of Jews ordering lulav/etrog sets to pray with during the sukkos holiday, which starts with the first full moon (exactly two weeks following) after Rosh Hashanah. Every year, the cost gets more ridiculous for a fruit that looks like a lemon plus some greenery tied together. A few years ago, it had been $35/set (to start--more luxurious sets up to $100). One year there was a "shortage" and a $10 surcharge. This year basic sets ran $50. What the hell! I thought about not buying a set, but going to shul without a set reminds me of that Far Side cartoon of the Duck Club meeting and the one guy who forgot to bring his duck. Other guys in shul will lend their sets to the guy who doesn't have one, but it's unbecoming. Fortunately there was a fire sale in the neighborhood: $30/set, while they last. So I scored. But really, it looks like it should cost about $8.95 plus shipping. It's enough of a scam, in my opinion, for a big discounter to move in and take over the market. The profit margin must be obscene. The market, I suspect, is ripe (sorry) for some serious competition.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do losing candidates have ulterior motives?

I always wonder about presidential also-rans secretly rooting for their party’s candidate to lose in November so they can run again in four years. Did Sen. McCain really want Gov. Bush to win in 2000? Sure, he played the good soldier, but if Vice-President Gore had won in 2000, McCain could have run in 2004. Instead, he’s running now, and many people think he’s too old to be president. Does former Gov. Mitt Romney (R.-Mass.) really want McCain to win this year? If McCain wins, then Romney won’t be able to run in 2012, which is his current plan. He would need to wait until 2016, and by then he’ll be too old. Does Hillary really want Sen. Obama to win this year? Same problem! But if Obama doesn’t win, then Gov. Palin will be v.p. And Hillary wants to be the first woman as president or vice-president.

Stereo Sinai rocks Starbucks in Skokie

Big round of applause to my friends Alan Jay Sufrin and his kallah, Miriam Brousseau, for their performance last motzei shabbos in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd at Starbucks Slice of Life in Skokie. Soak up the sun!

Election cont'd.

At this point, Oct. 13, I think the election is over and that Sen. Obama won. With politics, I’m often wrong. But that’s how I see it. I heard on one of the news shows Sunday morning that in 1980, Gov. Reagan (R.-Calif.) overcame a mid-October polling deficit as large or larger than Sen. McCain suffers now to win the election. How Reagan was so far behind President Jimmy “Pathetic” Carter is beyond me.

I loved seeing that woman at that town hall meeting in Minneapolis tell Sen. McCain that Sen. Obama is an Arab. Where did she get that idea? She’s been reading too many email messages, in my opinion! He’s an Arab, he’s a Muslim, he’s an antisemite, he’s a foreign agent, he’ll make the U.S. government a Hamas ally, he’s a traitor, he’s the anti-Christ, and he’ll appoint too many “coloreds” (according to a few white male voters). And Michael Savage says he has an Oedipus Complex. Where did all this fear and loathing come from?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is the presidential election over?

The Obama campaign is working hard at winning Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. The first two are Republican strongholds which have not gone to the Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 (LBJ landslide). Bush won Florida twice. If Obama wins two out of those three, I don’t see how McCain can win the White House, unless he snags Wisconsin and Pennsylvania while holding onto Missouri. The McCain camp already conceded Michigan and is far behind in Minnesota, a Democratic stronghold where it thought it could compete.

Redskins can predict presidential victory

The Washington Redskins have an uncanny ability of picking the winner of the presidential election. I don’t remember exactly how it goes. I think it works this way: if the Redskins win on the Sunday (or Monday night) before the election, the party in power retains the White House. The Redskins were wrong in 2004, but they’ve been right far beyond what would be expected between two completely unrelated events.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Eric Zorn's blog entry on McCain's latest strategy

Politics of personal distraction
Rather than answer critics, Sarah Palin will try to distract you from noticing that she never answers the serious and legitimate questions..It's as if somehow the usual rules don't apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Gov. Palin seems to think she is above all that...from a political speech yesterday
Exactly! The putatively brave moosehunter won't hold a news conference and is apparently terrified of sitting down for a live, one-on-one with the hosts of the Sunday-morning network news shows. She ignored questions from the moderator and from her opponent during the recent debate, preferring to launch her cloying, mendacious canned soliloquies and --
What? Oh, sorry. I misread the quote above. The subject of the attack was actually Barack Obama, not Sarah Palin, and the speaker was John McCain, Palin's running mate (the Swamp has a full report).
Salon's Glenn Greenwald has this take on McCain's speech:
One of the ugliest, nastiest, most invective-filled personality attacks a major candidate has ever delivered, blatantly designed to stoke raw racial resentments and depict Obama as a Manchurian candidate funded by secret Arab Terrorist sources -- a truly unstable and hate-mongering rant ...delivered with an angry scowl to screaming, howling, booing throngs, while Cindy McCain stood behind him shaking her head in disgust at each fact she heard about the Black Terrorist daring to challenge her husband.
Dana Milbank offers this report of true ugliness from a Palin rally in Clearwater yesterday:
Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."... Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. ...."Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.
Take note, now of this passage from "Worth the Fighting For," by John McCain with Mark Salter (2002):
I decided (in the late 1980s) that not talking to reporters or sharply denying even the appearance of a problem wasn't going to do me any good. I would henceforth accept every single request for an interview ... and answer every question as completely and straightforwardly as I could.

Try educating one's boss about strict Sabbath observance

I think a synagogue website should have a “To whom it may concern” letter, in PDF form, signed by the rabbi, that explains to employers the requirements of shabbos in terms of leaving early on Friday afternoons in winter. It might indicate that the whole congregation (100+ families), and indeed the whole community, leaves work Fridays in time to be home an hour before sunset (at the latest) to welcome the Jewish Sabbath. Once the Sabbath commences, all work-related activity ceases, including electronic communication, entertainment and transportation. This of course makes working regular hours on Fridays in winter impossible.

Perhaps Agudah could have a similar letter signed by Rabbi Fuerst, its head rabbi, on its website. My sense is that in their relative insularity, many leaders of the community don’t fully understand how difficult it is to explain to employers that leaving early on Fridays isn’t a tactic to get a head start on the weekend, but to participate in an ancient day of rest custom as our ancestors have done for generations.

Dress code for religious observance

I had a discussion with my shabbos host Saturday afternoon in which he expressed annoyance at receiving dirty looks while at nearby Sha’arei Tzedek for wearing a blue Oxford short-sleeve shirt and no tie. While it’s wrong to be critical rather than welcoming, I replied that for Sha’arei Tzedek, a recently remodeled shul with a beautiful interior, he should throw a jacket on if he wants to attend on shabbos. In our society, occasions that require formal dress have fallen almost completely by the wayside. They are often limited to job interviews and life-cycle events such as weddings and funerals. (Just six percent of men wear ties to work daily. Fascinating.) I appreciate the orthodox Jewish expectation to dress formally for the Sabbath. While I don’t expect all men to go full jacket-and-tie, as I do, I maintain that the Sabbath is not the occasion to bust out the business casual. Short-sleeve polo shirt? Stay home! At least reach deep in the closet for the rarely-used Oxford shirt (long sleeve, please), and add a tie. And ladies: all Hillarys aside, the pantsuit must go! Please wear a skirt. I’m not saying that for modesty reasons, although at an orthodox shul it’s expected. It just looks nicer and more formal, and it’s a step away from another day at the office. A pair of ladies’ slacks sends a message: I’m not trying that hard, and I don’t much care about how I look.

I posted a Chicago Tribune article a few ago about dressing for church. It’s worth re-reading. “G-d cares about what’s in our hearts, not how we dress,” says a woman in a workout suit. Yes, but….there are occasions for workout suits, and there are more formal occasions that require people to dress accordingly. Church and shul included.

Leaving one's canine unattended

I hate to see this: some people leave their dogs outdoors, alone, for hours on end. Dogs are social animals with a pack mentality. They see themselves as members of the pack or leaders of the pack to which their owners also belong. When they are left alone, they seek out others with whom to socialize. Thus I heard a dog in a backyard bordering an alley Friday night barking at anyone who walked by. I walked over to investigate and came upon a beautiful female Alaskan, about 60 lbs., with a grey and white coat. She jumped to put her forelegs on her fence and stopped barking when I came up to her. “Sasha,” read her tag. Very friendly, she just wanted someone to keep her company. I felt bad that I couldn’t stay. Her fence proudly displayed a very funny “BEWARE OF DOG” sign. “She’ll lick you to death,” joked a friend who also stopped by. A few houses south in the same alley (2900 block of Jerome to the 2900 block of Birchwood), another dog also barked for attention. I worried about him because he was sensitive to my touch and wore a very heavy collar; I thought perhaps he was being abused or trained for fighting. I didn’t think I had enough evidence to call 311 to report the owners, though. It just isn’t fair to keep dogs alone for hours on end. Just being in the same room while ignoring the dog is a far better option; the dog considers that sufficient companionship.

How long is the Cubs' season-ticket waiting list?

There was an item in the Chicago Tribune about how certain Cubs playoff game attendees acquired their tickets. One woman won the lottery. She has been sitting on the Cubs season-ticket waiting list for five years, and she’s still No. 1234 in the queue at last count. Yeesh! And she’s been waiting five years! How long IS that list? Longest in baseball? Some NFL waiting lists are decades long. I just read the Broncos list is 190 years long. The Packers, Steelers and Redskins lists are also on that level. The Bears’ list is probably about 20 years long. That means someone who joins the list today could expect to receive an invitation from the Bears to purchase two or four season tickets around 2038.

Election '08

I still believe an Obama-Biden White House would not bode well for the next four years in this country. Higher taxes, larger government, a liberal Supreme Court, and a softer stance toward international Islamo-Arab terrorism are all aspects of that administration which we could expect. However, I understand the viewpoint of my friends Laura and Steve who included “Republicans out of the White House” as one of the top three issues facing America in this election. If Sen. McCain were elected, I would worry about the ability of the Democratic Party to nominate serious candidates for president in the next two elections after three consecutive losses* (2000, 2004 and perhaps 2008).

Whoever wins in 28 days, this election will finally, after 56 years (!), break the death-grip the South, Texas and California have had on the presidential ticket. Every successful ticket since 1952 (Ike-Nixon) has had at least one candidate from the South, Texas or California. That streak is due in no small part to a pair of California Republicans, Presidents Nixon and Reagan, who won six presidential elections between them, including Nixon’s two terms as vice-president.

*”Three consecutive losses” reminds me of the Cubs in the playoffs.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Joe Six-Pack

Do we want Joe Six-Pack being represented in the Vice Presidential Mansion, or do we want him in the Vice Presidential Mansion?

Suddenly, we celebrate mediocrity

from The Week.

A rising tide of political mediocrity
Dick PolmanThe Philadelphia Inquirer

America used to be a meritocracy, said Dick Polman, but is now becoming a mediocracy. In a nation where every Little League team gets a trophy, we’re now “dumbing down the standards for public service,’’ requiring only that candidates remind us of us. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is just the latest beneficiary of this new celebration of ordinariness. Before her came U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, whom President Bush lauded as “the best person I could find.” In reality, Miers’ chief qualification was handling the paperwork on Bush’s fishing cabin. Or consider the case of George Deutsch, a 24-year-old political appointee who barred NASA scientists from discussing global warming and ordered the word “theory’’ appended to every mention of the Big Bang. And then there was Michael Brown, the former FEMA chief who learned everything he knew about disasters while working at the International Arabian Horse Association. Four decades ago, the late Sen. Roman Hruska of Nebraska defended an unqualified court nominee by saying, “There are a lot of mediocre judges and people out there. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they?’’ Hruska was mocked for his comments, but it turns out that he was just a little ahead of his time.