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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain's "Black Wednesday" Op Ed by Frank Rich, NY Times

McCain’s Suspension Bridge to Nowhere

Published: September 27, 2008
WHAT we learned last week is that the man who always puts his “country first” will take the country down with him if that’s what it takes to get to the White House.

"Senator McCain, where have you gone? It's sad to see a man I admire - still - brought so low by whatever forces have driven him so madly, so destructively, these past weeks.... Whatever he has become, it certainly is not the stuff of which Presidents are made."

For all the focus on Friday night’s deadlocked debate, it still can’t obscure what preceded it: When John McCain gratuitously parachuted into Washington on Thursday, he didn’t care if his grandstanding might precipitate an even deeper economic collapse. All he cared about was whether he might save his campaign. George Bush put more deliberation into invading Iraq than McCain did into his own reckless invasion of the delicate Congressional negotiations on the bailout plan.

By the time he arrived, there already was a bipartisan agreement in principle. It collapsed hours later at the meeting convened by the president in the Cabinet Room. Rather than help try to resuscitate Wall Street’s bloodied bulls, McCain was determined to be the bull in Washington’s legislative china shop, running around town and playing both sides of his divided party against Congress’s middle. Once others eventually forged a path out of the wreckage, he’d inflate, if not outright fictionalize, his own role in cleaning up the mess his mischief helped make. Or so he hoped, until his ignominious retreat.

The question is why would a man who forever advertises his own honor toy so selfishly with our national interest at a time of crisis. I’ll leave any physiological explanations to gerontologists — if they can get hold of his complete medical records — and any armchair psychoanalysis to the sundry McCain press acolytes who have sorrowfully tried to rationalize his erratic behavior this year. The other answers, all putting politics first, can be found by examining the 24 hours before he decided to “suspend” campaigning and swoop down on the Capitol to save America from the Sunnis or the Shia, or whoever perpetrated all those credit-default swaps.

To put these 24 hours in context, you must remember that McCain not only knows little about the economy but that he has not previously expressed any urgency about its meltdown. It was on Sept. 15 — the day after his former idol Alan Greenspan pronounced the current crisis a “once-in-a-century” catastrophe — that McCain reaffirmed for the umpteenth time that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” As recently as Tuesday he had not yet even read the two-and-a-half-page bailout proposal first circulated by Hank Paulson last weekend. “I have not had a chance to see it in writing,” he explained. (Maybe he was waiting for it to arrive by Western Union instead of PDF.)

Then came Black Wednesday — not for the stock market, which was holding steady in anticipation of Washington action, but for McCain. As the widely accepted narrative has it, his come-to-Jesus moment arrived that morning, when he awoke to discover that Barack Obama had surged ahead by nine percentage points in the Washington Post/ABC News poll. The McCain campaign hastily suited up its own pollster to belittle that finding — only to be drowned out by a fusillade of new polls from Fox News, Marist and CNN/Time, each with numbers closer to Post/ABC than not. Obama was rising most everywhere except the moose strongholds of Alaska and Montana.

That was not the only bad news raining down on McCain. His camp knew what Katie Couric had in the can from her interview with Sarah Palin. The first excerpt was to be broadcast by CBS that night, and it had to be upstaged fast.

But even that wasn’t the top political threat McCain faced last week. Bigger still was the mounting evidence of the seamless synergy between his campaign and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage monsters at the heart of the housing bust that set off our current calamity. Most of all, it was the fast-moving events on that front that precipitated his panic to roll out his diversionary, over-the-top theatrics on Wednesday.

What we were learning — through The New York Times, Newsweek and Roll Call — was ugly. Davis Manafort, the lobbying firm owned by McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, had received $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac from late 2005 until last month. This was in addition to the $30,000 a month that Davis was paid from 2000 to 2005 by the so-called Homeownership Alliance, an advocacy organization that he headed and that was financed by Freddie and Fannie to fight regulation.

The McCain campaign tried to pre-emptively deflect such revelations by reviving the old Rove trick of accusing your opponent of your own biggest failings. It ran attack ads about Obama’s own links to the mortgage giants. But neither of the former Freddie-Fannie executives vilified in those ads, Franklin Raines and James Johnson, had worked at those companies lately or are currently associated with the Obama campaign. (Raines never worked for the campaign at all.) By contrast, Davis is the tip of the Freddie-Fannie-McCain iceberg. McCain’s senior adviser, his campaign’s vice chairman, his Congressional liaison and the reported head of his White House transition team all either made fortunes from recent Freddie-Fannie lobbying or were players in firms that did.

By Wednesday, the McCain campaign’s latest tactic for countering this news — attacking the press, especially The Times — was paying diminishing returns. Davis abruptly canceled his scheduled appearance that day at a weekly reporters’ lunch sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, escaping any further questions by pleading that he had to hit the campaign trail. (He turned up at the “21” Club in New York that night, wining and dining McCain fund-raisers.)

It’s then that Angry Old Ironsides McCain suddenly emerged to bark that our financial distress was “the greatest crisis we’ve faced, clearly, since World War II” — even greater than the Russia-Georgia conflict, which in August he had called the “first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the cold war.” Campaigns, debates and no doubt Bristol Palin’s nuptials had to be suspended immediately so he could ride to the rescue, with Joe Lieberman as his Robin.

Yet even as he huffed and puffed about being a “leader,” McCain took no action and felt no urgency. As his Congressional colleagues worked tirelessly in Washington, he malingered in New York. He checked out the suffering on Main Street (or perhaps High Street) by conferring with Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the Hillary-turned-McCain supporter best known for her fabulous London digs and her diatribes against Obama’s elitism. McCain also found time to have a well-publicized chat with one of those celebrities he so disdains, Bono, and to give a self-promoting public speech at the Clinton Global Initiative.

There was no suspension of his campaign. His surrogates and ads remained on television. Huffington Post bloggers, working the phones, couldn’t find a single McCain campaign office that had gone on hiatus. This “suspension” ruse was an exact replay of McCain’s self-righteous “suspension” of the G.O.P. convention as Hurricane Gustav arrived on Labor Day. “We will put aside our political hats and put on our American hats,” he declared then, solemnly pledging that conventioneers would help those in need. But as anyone in the Twin Cities could see, the assembled put on their party hats instead, piling into the lobbyists’ bacchanals earlier than scheduled, albeit on the down-low.

Much of the press paid lip service to McCain’s new “suspension” as it had to its prototype. In truth, the only campaign activity McCain did drop was a Wednesday evening taping with David Letterman. Don’t mess with Dave. Picking up where the “The View” left off in speaking truth to power, the uncharacteristically furious host hammered the absent McCain on and off for 40 minutes, repeatedly observing that the cancellation “didn’t smell right.”

In a journalistic coup de grĂ¢ce worthy of “60 Minutes,” Letterman went on to unmask his no-show guest as a liar. McCain had phoned himself that afternoon to say he was “getting on a plane immediately” to deal with the grave situation in Washington, Letterman told the audience. Then he showed video of McCain being touched up by a makeup artist while awaiting an interview by Couric that same evening at another CBS studio in New York.

It’s not hard to guess why McCain had blown off Letterman for Couric at the last minute. The McCain campaign’s high anxiety about the disastrous Couric-Palin sit-down was skyrocketing as advance excerpts flooded the Internet. By offering his own interview to Couric for the same night, McCain hoped (in vain) to dilute Palin’s primacy on the “CBS Evening News.”

Letterman’s most mordant laughs on Wednesday came when he riffed about McCain’s campaign “suspension”: “Do you suspend your campaign? No, because that makes me think maybe there will be other things down the road, like if he’s in the White House, he might just suspend being president. I mean, we’ve got a guy like that now!”

That’s no joke. Bush has so little credibility he can govern only through surrogates (Paulson is the new Petraeus). When he spoke about the economic crisis in prime time earlier that same night, he registered as no more than an irritating speed bump en route to “David Blaine: Dive of Death.”

It’s that utter power vacuum that gave McCain the opening to pull his potentially catastrophic display of economic “leadership” last week. He may be the first presidential candidate in our history to risk wrecking the country even before being voted into the Oval Office.


The Los Angeles times reports:


Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct -- the teacher said.

After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.

The idea of a "young Earth" -- that God created the Earth about 6,000 years ago, and dinosaurs and humans coexisted early on -- is a popular strain of creationism.

Though in her race for governor she called for faith-based "intelligent design" to be taught along with evolution in Alaska's schools, Gov. Palin has not sought to require it, state educators say.



Always room for a true football fan, no matter what team you root for. Come on aboard friend. Talk soon.

Helmet Hut
----- Original Message -----
From: Lawrence Heagle
To: Helmet Hut
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2:40 PM




On Sep 30, 2008, at 1:32 PM, Helmet Hut wrote:

Thanks Larry,

Hate but do respect them very much. T.O. is an entirely different matter ;-)

Thanks for the email and hope Rodgers is OK for next week. If he is gone I really think the season is over for the Pack.

Helmet Hut
----- Original Message -----
From: Lawrence Heagle
To: Helmet Hut
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2:26 PM

Hey, guys!







"Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what he's talking about."
-Sam Ewing

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baking Bread Continues -- With Autumn Near, Can Home Made Soup Be Far Behind?

Still very much into trying different recipes from my new bread book. The "sticky caramel rolls" pictured are just incredible with a good strong cup of coffee in the morning. I almost doubled the amount of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon called for and the result was what you see -- a wonderfully stick-to-your-fillings chewy caramel topping that stays with you long after the bread part has been swallowed!
Although I have never been much of a whole wheat fan, I am giving it another try as witnessed by the above loaf which I just pulled from the oven less than 20 minutes ago.

It calls for a half cup of honey to offset some of the bitterness that can be found in whole wheat flour.

It was the right kind of morning to be baking bread -- cold and wet. However, I just set foot outside the office to get some stove wood to take the chill off the office before I jump in the tub or a long bubble bath soak and the sun has come out! Looks like maybe Kim and I will be able to get a bike ride in yet today.

The first thing I noticed when I got outside the door was the cacophony of the grackles -- this is one of the first sure signs that summer is over -- the birds are beginning to assemble for their long flights south. Man! They can make a racket!


"Hammy-Bammy" and "Stella-Bella" Rule!

Here is a photo taken just this morning of two of the coolest cats in the world -- Hamilton and Stella! Yes they are looking none the worse for recent surgery and have already returned to their playful ways. Their appetites are good and Kim and I are truly blessed with two of the sweetest, most cuddly cats we have ever experienced!

We had to buy them different (deeper) cat boxes because the first ones we had did not have a high enough lip on them! I spent 10 minutes a day vaccuming up the litter they had thrown out of the boxes while covering.

They -- like all cats -- have individual traits. These two like to jump into the cat boxes just after I have cleaned them and roll around in the clean litter, then dig and throw litter about.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP -- What's That Sound Emanating From the Packer Offices High Above Lambeau?

My good friend Liz Fischer started it -- every time things start going wrong on the playing field for the Pack, she starts in with the sound: "tap, tap, tap" --

"What is that sound you are making?" I asked.

"That's the sound of nails being pounded into Ted Thompson's coffin", she replies..

And with today's loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs, nail inventory dropped noticeably at the Home Depot. When Rogers left the game with a shoulder injury in the third quarter (just after throwing a touch down pass) I wonder how many Packer fans, as I did, started mumbling about "putting the old man in".

Oh, that's right -- The Old Man was busy at the time, picking apart the Arizona Cardinals on his way to a ridiculously high scoring victory.

Side note: How many Packer fans out there think that Brett Favre would have taken himself out of the game after having just thrown a touch down pass while in a great deal of pain because of landing on his shoulder a few plays earlier?

With the game on the line as it was, we all know that Brett would have gone back in there as long as that arm was still attached to his body.

Instead, we had to go to Matt Flynn, who got an illegal procedure penalty on his first call from scrimmage.

I mentioned to my wife at the time that there was no way Brett Favre would have taken a series of downs off as Rogers did. Tap, Tap, Tap!

Suddenly, the prediction my buddy from Distant Replays down in Atlanta made yesterday seems easier to swallow: 10-6.


First of the "Last" Finished -- Salute to Tiki Barber

Pictured is one of two Schutt helmets I snapped up from eBay this week as I had been looking for a metallic blue helmet on which to use my NY Giant decals -- I was able to purchase this one for $15.50 as it is a bit battle scarred.

Still I think it came out well. I put the number "21" on it as I have a Tiki Barber jersey to accompany it and I admire the fact that he, upon making his decision to retire, stayed with it.

His "bad-mouthing" of the coaching staff after retirement was unfortunate, but justice prevails as the G-Men went on to win the Big Show without him.

I also have an Eli Manning jersey so I suppose I could peel off the "21" in favor of "10" somewhere down the road.

I am still waiting for the yellow Schutt helmet I won just this past week and have ordered a lineman's face mask for that helmet, so it will have to represent a Packer line man, I guess.

More later today -- Gotta run -- Sunday mornings are Kim and my traditional pick up the Sunday paper and pour over them at Perkins days!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Keeping Distracted! Finishing NY Giants, Packer Schutt Helmets

For the last six months I have had decals for a New York Giants helmet (one of my favorite designs of all the NFL) and one final set of Green Bay Packer decals.

I decided some time ago that I wanted to apply both sets to Schutt helmets rather than the more populary used Riddells, so I have been combing eBay daily in search of a metallic blue and a mustard yellow.

Oddly, I found both of the helmets i needed from the same source and got them on really rather low bids. Both helmets are used and show signs of "combat", but since all of the rest of my collection look brand new, these will be a nice contrast.

I will post pictures of both as I get further into the project.

One of the really cool side effects of immersing myself in this hobby is that now when I attend UWEC football games (I am a season ticket holder again this year)I can point out exactly which company's helmet any particular player is wearing and the model as well.

Being a "traditionalist", I don't really like the new and improved Riddell Revolution helmets -- they are, I suppose better from the stand point of protection, but asthetically, I just don't like them.

If you want to see the difference between the regular Riddell and the newer "Revolution" model, Brett Favre wears the older model and Peyton Manning sports the new Revolution model.

The Schutts, on the other hand, are not as rounded as the Riddells and you can see evidence of padding both along the front sides of the helmet above the cheek bones, and extra padding juts out below the helmet line in the back of the helmet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kim's Former Student Shines as Beacon For Her People

I first met her when she was five years old and a kindergarten student in my wife Kim's class. Pa Moua, even then, showed a lot of innate intelligence and a deep sense of wanting to learn everything.

I have such fond memories of taking the little five year old and my two sons, David and Jonathan, (not that much older) on inner tube floats down the Red Cedar river from just below the Menomonie power plant all the way to Downsville, laughing and clowning all the way.

There were trips up to the lake where Kim's parents lived in the suburbs of Minneapolis and watching Pa catch the small sun fish and blugills with her hands. She spent hours at a it -- very industrious!

As she got older, she moved away to LaCrosse and although we heard from her once in a while, we lost track of her much of the time.

We always knew she would turn out to be a very good citizen and contributor, especially with and for her own people, the Hmong.

The Hmong who are with us should be treated with the greatest respect as they were our strongest and finest allies against the Viet Cong in that terrible war.

God knows how many of our own soldiers lives were saved through the bravery of the Hmong tribesmen who, along with the Montagnards, acted as scouts for out special ops fighting men that crossed into Laos to seek out enemy caches of weapons and supplies.

Now, some thirty years later, the Hmong are still living in the jungles, on the run from the Communist government that hunt them down and kill them if given the opportunity. And what has the American government done to help? Other than to grant some asylum here in this country, very little if anything.

I received an e mail from Pa just today, catching me up on her life. Much of what she is involved in to try to help her fellow countrymen she has asked me to keep under wraps and not convey publicly. Suffice to say that she continues to be a strong voice for her people who has traveled extensively on their behalf and has experienced first hand the terrible conditions in which they are forced to live.

I just want to say God bless you. Pa, for carrying the beacon of love and answering the calling for which you were destined. I am so very proud of you and your people.

Americans need to understand how much the Hmong have done for us and be grateful!


McCain's Image As Reformer Takes a Hit

Thursday 25 September 2008

by: Stephen Braun, The Los Angeles Times

Washington - Charges about the pervasive influence of lobbyists have been constant refrains in the 2008 race, but new reports that a company owned by John McCain's campaign manager received a $15,000 monthly stipend from a major mortgage firm at the center of the credit crisis are clouding the Arizona senator's effort to portray himself as a Wall Street reformer.

Even as McCain suspended his campaign Wednesday and sought to show leadership by returning to Washington to join negotiations over the stalled bank bailout plan, his operatives sparred with the Obama camp over the role that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis may have played in helping troubled home loan behemoth Freddie Mac.

Along with the crumbling finances of Wall Street investment houses and Fannie Mae, another teetering government-backed home loan provider, Freddie Mac's mortgage woes helped stoke the credit meltdown in the financial markets.

The sniping between the two campaigns followed reports this week in the New York Times and Newsweek that Davis Manafort, a public affairs firm owned by Davis, was paid $15,000 a month from 2005 through last month under a retainer he had arranged with officials at Freddie Mac.

The possibility that Freddie Mac paid Davis while he shaped McCain's campaign for the presidency has alarmed several nonpartisan groups backing lobbying reform -- and raised concerns about the substance behind McCain's long-cultivated image as the scourge of the lobbying community.

"This is a sticky wicket for McCain," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics. "This is a key advisor and manager of his campaign and, from what we're hearing, possibly a hired gun for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for years."

Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for Common Cause, cautioned that both campaigns "cater to special interests through their relationships with lobbyists and influence peddlers." But she added that "it certainly jumps out when you have a candidate like Sen. McCain, who has made his name as a reformer, dealing with these sorts of problems. He says he's fighting lobbyists and special interests, but we'd hope he'd have higher standards than what we're hearing about."

The McCain campaign trained most of its fire Wednesday on the New York Times, accusing it of being a "partisan paper of record." The campaign said that the Times report was "demonstrably false" and that Davis "has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero."

The attack on the Times followed a similarly blistering riposte from day-to-day operations manager Steve Schmidt, who complained after an earlier report on Davis' work for mortgage firms that the Times was "totally, 150% in the tank" for Obama. The Times had reported earlier in the week that Davis made $2 million between 2000 and 2005 as head of an advocacy coalition that represented both home loan giants.

After disbanding that effort, according to both the Times and Newsweek, Davis' firm began receiving $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac under an arrangement approved by Hollis McLoughlin, Freddie Mac's senior vice president for external relations and a former top Treasury official in the first Bush administration. Freddie Mac spokeswoman Sharon McHale said Wednesday that McLoughlin would not comment on the reports.

Davis had been scheduled to attend a lunch with reporters Wednesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor but suddenly canceled his appearance. McCain's political director, Mike DuHaime, who appeared in Davis' place, said the sudden switch had nothing to do with the lobbying reports. "Rick's company -- that he has been on leave from since 2006 -- certainly has had no effect on what Sen. McCain has said or done," DuHaime said.

The Obama campaign leaped quickly on the Davis reports. Obama alluded to McCain's troubles during his speech on the economy Wednesday in Dunedin, Fla.

"He talks about getting tough on Wall Street now, but he's been against the common-sense rules and regulations that could've stopped this mess for decades," Obama said, adding: "He says he'll take on the corporate lobbyists, but he put seven of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in charge of his campaign."

Dan Pfeiffer, communications director for Obama-Biden, said Davis and McCain "did not tell the truth about Davis' continuing financial relationship with Freddie Mac, one of the actors at the center of this financial crisis."

Arguing that Davis "apparently was being paid simply to provide access to the McCain campaign," Pfeiffer questioned whether Freddie Mac "or any other special interests buy access to John McCain by compensating top officials, including Rick Davis."

One former Fannie Mae executive downplayed the McCain connection in the decision to retain Davis' firm. "Rick's broader experience as a GOP operative is what drew people to hire him," said William R. Maloni, Fannie Mae's former chief lobbyist and a Democrat. McCain wasn't on the banking committee and wasn't particularly influential on such issues, he noted. "The McCain relationship was icing on the cake."

Still, it is an uncomfortable line of inquiry for the McCain campaign. Just last week, the McCain team ran a television ad alleging that Obama had relied on behind-the-scenes advice from Franklin D. Raines, the former chief executive of Fannie Mae, who was criticized for his lax stewardship of the firm. Obama aides responded that Raines was not an official advisor, although Raines had acknowledged in one media report that he had taken calls from Obama officials.

The McCain camp has also repeatedly tweaked Obama for taking more than $126,000 from employees of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while McCain took only $22,000.

And the McCain campaign has repeatedly lambasted Obama for briefly hiring former Fannie Mae Chief Executive James A. Johnson to head his vice presidential search. Johnson dropped his campaign role after reports surfaced that he had received a reduced-rate home mortgage from Countrywide Financial Corp., another failed mortgage firm.

"I would view donors as one step removed from someone who is a key advisor in the campaign," said Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics. "But there's mud flung on both doorsteps. The candidates are judged by the company they keep."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain Wants a "Time Out" -- But Why?

Why does John McCain suddenly want to suspend his presidential campaign and postpone Friday's debate? His campaign surrogates are saying it's a typical "maverick" move, that McCain is simply "putting country first." Let's look at the evidence:

1) As Ben Smith notes, McCain's move "is a mark, most of all, that he doesn't like the way this campaign is going. ... The only thing that's changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling."

2) The idea of uniting the campaigns to find a bipartisan solution to the Wall Street crisis wasn't even McCain's idea. A few minutes ago, Obama spokesman Bill Burton emailed to reporters:

"At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama's call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details."
3) John McCain has skipped more votes during this session than any member of the Senate except for Tim Johnson, who had major brain surgery. He hasn't cast a single vote in five months, since April 9. All of a sudden, McCain is demanding that the presidential race shut down so he can return to Washington?

4) A reminder: President Bush was able to debate John Kerry while he was president. For all of his sudden urgency, McCain acknowledged just yesterday that he had not even read the administration's three-page bailout proposal.

5) It's not at all clear that having McCain and Obama back in DC will actually help. "What does seem apparent, though, is that putting the two candidates in the negotiating room is far more likely to distract--and derail--negotiations than having them out on the hustings," Jonathan Cohn writes at the New Republic.

It's impossible to know why McCain chose this course, but it sure seems like more of a political stunt than a maverick moment.


Our little kitten-charges returned home yesterday and although they are stepping quite gingerly because of the declawing, they seem to be doing quite well (if appetite is anything to go by).

Overall, Hammy seems to be the brighter of the two. He is already playing with his toys and slept on the bed with us last night. Stella, I think, has more to deal with and she kept to herself most of the day yesterday.

It was quite obvious, however, that they recognized that they were "home" when we let them out of the cat carrier.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Is McCain Stonewalling?

As the presidential elections draw closer, it becomes more apparent that the upcoming debates are gong to be very very important. One of the questions that desperately needs to be leveled at McCain is why he has not released his entire health records for scrutiny. Here's what some physicians have to say:

It is standard practice for the people of the United States to be kept informed of the President's state of health. It is even more important that we citizens be made fully aware of the health and health risks of our potential Presidents. John McCain has had more than one melanoma, a particularly lethal cancer. That statement that his cancer is "in remission" does not equate with cure. Melanoma can be undetectable and "in remission" for a dozen years and then recur. - Nancy V. Bruckner, MD

It is inconceivable that America would vote on who will be their next president without complete disclosure of every detail of the health care that each candidate has undergone. With one of the candidates having had a very serious form of cancer and being 72 years of age, the American people need to be reassured that their decisions at the poll are being made with all available information. - David R. Meldrum, MD

Transparency as far as medical history is concerned is essential for those running for public office. The public deserves that. It is a prerequisite for being in office. - Robert Buxbaum, MD

I have to release my medical records to get insurance, to get hospital privileges and for things of far lesser import than seeking the presidency of this country. Unless Mr. McCain has something to hide, he should release his records. If he refuses to release the records, then the assumption must be that he is, indeed, hiding something. - Gerald F. Cambria, MD

I am a registered Republican. As a dermatologist with over 20 years of experience, I would have to believe that there is a very significant probability that McCain will die of his melanoma, probably within the next few years. As I understand it, his first episode was in 1992, and he has had a total of 4 melanomas, one of which was deep enough to require a lymph node dissection. My experience has been that patients whose immune system clearly does not fight off melanoma (I've never had any patient who had more than 2 once we began observing them closely with consistent skin checks, as I know McCain gets), and eventually die of their melanoma, especially when it has been on the head or neck. Everything may seem to be fine for 5-10 years, then all of a sudden all the micrometastases reach critical mass, and there are lesions in the brain, bone and lungs - and the person is dead within three months. - Laura E. Skellchock, MD

Americans should know what they are "getting into" if Sarah Palin becomes president by default. Here's what REPUBLICAN senator Chuck Hagel has to say:

Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel says it's a 'stretch' to call Palin qualified to be president
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel said his party's vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, lacks foreign policy experience and called it a "stretch" to say she's qualified to be president.

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview published Thursday by the Omaha World-Herald. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."

Could Palin lead the country if GOP presidential nominee John McCain could not?

"I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel said.

McCain and other Republicans have defended Palin's qualifications, citing Alaska's proximity to Russia. Palin told ABC News, "They're our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

Hagel took issue with that argument. "I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In July, Hagel traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Though he didn't expect to be asked, Hagel had said he would have considered serving as Obama's running mate.

Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, population 6,500, before becoming Alaska's governor in December 2006.

Palin visited soldiers in Kuwait and Germany last year and said in an interview with ABC News that her only other foreign travel had been to Mexico and Canada. She also said she had never met a foreign head of state.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jewish Rye Just The Latest In Wonderful Fare

It is alarming to awaken every day to the realization that the United States of America is not only still very much divided red/blue but that the hatred is so deep and vile that I cannot foresee any change in the near future. At a time when we need more than ever to be a united force for good in the world, we are instead so filled with a negativity in world view.

It is extremely frightening to hear political ads that are blatantly filled with lies -- not small half truths, but out and out BIG LIES. I can only compare it to the Nazi regime when the Geobbels theory was: Make the lie big (the bigger the better) and repeat it again and again, and the lemmings of the general populace will believe.

I really believe that America's total undoing is very near. Faced with a Republican administration that has purposely misled and lied to us for not four but eight years and to know that many Americans are willing to cast their vote for more of the same makes my blood run cold.

Ultimately, my deepest fear is that in the privacy of the voting booth, most Americans will not vote for a black man. Couple this with the fact that the Republican candidate refuses to let his health history be opened to scrutinization and that the presidency could ultimately go to yet another "faith-based" bible-beater, and I can only conclude that we are in for four more years of George Bush.

I have to stop thinking about it as it is much too depressing. I pray each day that there are enough of us who are fed up with the lying and still have enough of a brain to vote intelligently. But I think that would be giving Americans way too much credit.


So I will speak of better, more uplifting things -- like producing one's own home made bread.

Pictured is my third go round from the pages of "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes" - a loaf of home made caraway rye I baked early this morning while we made preparations to take the kittens in for the big day of operations -- spaying, neutering and declawing.

As pictured, I couldn't resist a taste and lopped off a chunk of the "heel". It is wonderfully fragrant, chewy and crispy at the same time, and will make an excellent accompaniment with hearty soup or cheeses.

Last week, using the recipe for Jewish Challah, I made several pans of sweet rolls which were the very best I have ever had!


Medical Report: Hammy and Stella came through their respective operations today with flying colors, will be kept overnight at Westgate Animal Hospital, and returned to us tomorrow afternoon.

Hooray! Are hearts have been stolen by the little ones and we are both so very pleased they came through okay!


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Enjoy The Sunshine -- It Won't Last!

I am just back from enjoying a very sunny, warm afternoon at the UWEC Blugold football game. After losing a disappointing but close game to Whitewater (rated #1 in the country in our division) last Saturday in the rain, this was a wholly enjoyable turn around as the Blugolds trounced the "Flying Dutchmen" of Holland, Michigan 28 -6.

The highlight of the game was a 92 yard run from scrimmage by EC halfback Corey Sartorelli of Appleton, Wisconsin. I had the pleasure of sitting in the row right in front of his mom.

This was my one week of work! Thursday night I entertained WAHA (Wisconsin Association of Housing Authority) -- the show went really well but I was disappointed to find that the "lady with the checkbook" had flown the coop so it became the old saw of "the check is in the mail". -- and we all know what the other famous last words that go along with that one are!

Last night, despite an onset of the fibromyalgia, I worked at Sammy's Pizza with a three piece consisting of Denny Marion (playing everything with strings and singing as well), my regular drummer and new daddy, Dave Barneson on drums, and Too Tall Tim Keilholtz on bass and vocals.

I ain't gonna lie -- my ass was draggin' big time by the middle of the third set!

This evening I have an early gig and the kind I love the best -- I am doing an opening act for a country show in Menomonie at 6:15PM -- fifteen minutes for three hundred dollars! Thank you, Lord!


Here are some interesting tidbits sent to me by e mail:

From my good friend Alice Hampton:

A woman decides to have a facelift for her 50th birthday. She spends $15,000 and feels pretty good about the results.

On her way home, she stops at a newsstand to buy a newspaper. Before leaving, she says to the clerk, 'I hope you don't mind my asking, but how old do you think I am?¢
'About 32,' is the reply.'
'Nope! I'm exactly 50,' the woman says happily.

A little while later, she goes into McDonald's and asks the counter girl the very same question.
The girl replies, 'I'd guess about 29.'
The woman replies with a big smile, 'Nope, I'm 50.

Now she's feeling really good about herself. She stops in a drug store on her way down the street.

She goes up to the counter to get some mints and asks the clerk this burning question.
The clerk responds, 'Oh, I'd say 30.'
Again she proudly responds, 'I'm 50, but thank you!'

While waiting for the bus to go home, she asks an old man waiting next to her the same question.
He replies, 'Lady, I'm 78 and my eyesight is going. Although, when I was young there was a sure-fire way to tell how old a woman was. It sounds very forward, but it requires you to let me put my hands under your bra. Then, and only then can I tell you EXACTLY how old you are.' They wait in silence on the empty street until her curiosity gets the best of her. She finally blurts out, 'What the heck, go ahead.'

He slips both of his hands under her blouse and begins to feel around very slowly and carefully. He bounces and weighs each breast and he gently pinches each nipple. He pushes her breasts together and rubs them against each other.

After a couple of minutes of this, she says, 'Okay, okay...How old am I?'

He completes one last squeeze of her breasts, removes his hands, and says, 'Madam, you are 50.'

Stunned and amazed, the woman says, 'That was incredible, how could you tell?'
The old man says, 'Promise you won't get mad?'
'I promise I won't,' she says.
'I was in line behind you at McDonalds!'


All the way from Italy via Matthew Capell:

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself,'Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.'

- Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)


I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: - 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.'

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement.

- Mark Twain


The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

- George Burns


Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.

- Victor Borge


Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

- Mark Twain


By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.

- Socrates


I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

- Groucho Marx


My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.

- Jimmy Durante


I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.

- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.

- Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.

- Rodney Dangerfield

Money can't buy you happiness .. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

- Spike Milligan

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.

- Joe Namath

I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.

- Bob Hope

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.

- W. C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.

- Will Rogers

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

- Winston Churchill

Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.

- Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.

- Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist's diet: - If it tastes good spit it out.

New Wine for Seniors

California vintners in the Napa Valley area, which primarily produce Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines, have developed a new hybrid grape that acts as an anti-diuretic.
It is expected to reduce the number of trips older people have to make to the bathroom during the night.

The new wine will be marketed as




Let's see ..just what are the differences between the candidates.....???????

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're

"exotic, different."

Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American


If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well


If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the

first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter

registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as

a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator

representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of

the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years

in the United States Senate representing a> state of 13 million people

while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on

the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's

Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city

council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people,

20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then

you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking


If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising

2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a

real Christian. If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your

disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a


If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including

the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no

other option in sex education in your state's school system while your

unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a

prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city

community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values

don't represent America's.

If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with atleast one DWI

conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until

age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession

of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

If you respect science, you're spiritually bankrupt.

If you believe Adam & Eve and Satan shared acreage with the dinosaurs

and the world is about 6,000 years old, you're qualified to appoint

Supreme Court justices.

OK, much clearer now.


Monday, September 15, 2008

When Things Are Going Your Way -- or -- When You're Hot You're Hot

There was a time I gave up drinking alcoholic beverages -- it was some time ago now, and it only lasted for three weeks (much to my own shame) -- but I am getting ahead of the actual story.

Leinenkugel's invited me to entertain at "Camp Leinenkugel" - an occasion where they brought in distributors from all over the country and treated them to the best the Chippewa Valley had to offer (and me).

This particular "camp's" conclusion was a golf tourney at the Chippewa Falls golf course. My younger brother was visiting me for the weekend and I invited him to come along for the festivities.

I know it was late August because we arrived early at the tent that had been set up on the edge of the course, and after setting up my sound gear and lights, and with the invitation of Jake Leinenkugel, who had just left for the second nine holes, we helped ourselves to the free Leinenkugel's beer and listened to a Green Bay Packer pre-season game.

The golfers took an inordinately long time getting around the course and by the time the last of them straggled in, it was already nearly dark and my brother and I had done quite a bit of damage to the tap beer and our brain cells.

The "campers" then dug into provided food -- but my brother and I continued to quaff the taps -- why spoil a buzz being the theory.

It finally came to be show time and it is as show that i don't remember a lot about but I couldn't have done too badly because they asked me back again the following summer.

At the conclusion of the show, Jake bade his guests farewell for the evening with the announcement of what time and where breakfast would be held Sunday morning. The crowd melted away into the dark, leaving the Heagle boys to the tak of tearing down equipment.

It was now very dark, with not so much as a street light, so we packed all gear away except the spot lights, which we saved for last.

While I was dismantling the light standards, unbeknownst to me, my brother parked a full plastic cup of beer on the dash of my van, just above the steering wheel.

With all the lights finally stored away, I asked younger brother if we shouldn't pick up a Sammy's pizza on our way back through Eau Claire. He agreed that food would be good. I reached for the mobile phone -- (remember when they looked like walkie-talkies and weighed about 10 pounds?) and I called in our order.

I started the van, put it into gear, stepped on the gas, and dumped an entire cup of beer across my person.

But we wanted that pizza -- so undaunted and reeking like we had fallen into a vat of beer, we rolled towards Eau Claire. We made it safely to Sammy's pizza, picked up the pie and I returned to my driver's position. We rolled over to Farwell Street and hadn't gone but a block when the red and blue lights came on behind us.

I could not comprehend why we were being pulled over -- God knows, I knew that I would have to drive carefully, maintaining the speed limit and not swerving whatsoever. Was I speeding??? I looked down at the instrument panel. I couldn't see the instrument panel! I had forgotten one important thing! The headlights!

I knew I had but one chance. I signaled a pull over, turned on my headlights, rolled down my window and watched my rear view mirror.

When the officer stood up just outside his vehicle door, I leaned out and yelled: "Thanks, officer! I forgot to turn on my head lights!"

"Okay!" he yelled, waving in return.

He got back in his car, I dropped the van into gear, and signaled to pull back out into traffic. We turned left at Johnny's convenience store and the officer did not follow us.

My brother and I said nothing until we reached the house -- at which time we bubbled over with excited babble about how lucky we were.

I swore I would never drink again!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

As I mentioned earlier, I no longer am able to get ESPN on the "big dish" so I joined friends Tiit and Ann Raid to watch the game this past Monday.

during the course of the evening, Ann, knowing ow much I like to cook and bake, gave me an outstanding new book to add to my collection.

Entitled: "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" (the discovery that revolutionizes home baking), it is a terrific addition to my collection! For years I have tried, with little success, to make Italian-style bread, so the first recipe I turned to was on page 81 and it came out beautifully!

Here are the steps in making truly tasty bread that you DON'T have to do:

1. Mix a new batch of dough every time you want to make bread.

2. "Proof" the yeast.

3. Knead the dough.

4. Cover formed loaves.

5. Rest and rise the loaves in a draft-free location - it doesn't matter.

6. Fuss over doubling or tripling of dough volume.

7. Punch down and re-rise.

8. Poke rising loaves to be sure they've proofed by leaving indentations.

This is why the book is titled "Bread in five Minutes a Day" (not including resting and baking time.) I made up enough dough for four one pound loaves and it stores in the refrigerator for up to 12 days -- no problem!

The book is by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois and retails in hard cover at 27.95 and to my way of thinking is worth every penny!


More and more I am disgusted with the average American's view of the world and what's important.

With the advent of "American Idol" it became evident what most Americans consider important -- being "entertained".

When a program like "Idol" overwhelmingly outdraws presidential debates it says something about our psyche.

The latest? We are all agog over Sarah Palin's glasses. The TV talking heads were covering it again today. Is this really worth any coverage at all?

Word is that women are rushing out and buying the exact or similar style eyeglasses by the droves. Whoppee!

Meanwhile, that damn war and suffering continues unabated in Iraq and Afghanistan and gets minimal if any coverage on the national news.

New Orleans still struggles to regain its balance and our economy is in the toilet. But have you seen Sarah Palin's glasses?

No wonder Europeans think that Americans are self-absorbed imbeciles. We are.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Check Out The End Zone Viking Fans!

After studying this photograph, I just had to publish it on my blog!

Compare the joy on the faces wearing Packer green to the two sad sacks from Minnesota! How did that credit card ad go? PRICELESS!

____________________GO PACK GO! _____________________________

Sarah Palin: A Trojan Moose Concealing Four More Years of George Bush

Arianna Huffington

Did Sarah Palin wrongfully push to have her ex-brother-in law fired? Was she really against the "Bridge to Nowhere?" Did she really sell Alaska's plane on eBay, or just list it on eBay? Did she actually have any substantial duties commanding the Alaska National Guard?

The correct answer to all these questions is: who cares? Which isn't to say these aren't valid questions, or that Palin and the McCain camp aren't playing it fast, loose, and coy with each of them. The point is that Palin, and the circus she's brought to town, are simply a bountiful collection of small lies deliberately designed to distract the country from one big truth: the havoc that George Bush and the Republican Party have wrought, and that John McCain is committed to continuing.

Every second of this campaign not spent talking about the Republican Party's record, and John McCain's role in that record, is a victory for John McCain.

Her critics like to say that Palin hasn't accomplished anything. I disagree: in the space of ten days she's succeeded in distracting the entire country from the horrific Bush record -- and McCain's complicity in it. My friends, that's accomplishment we can believe in.

Just look at the problem John McCain faced. George Bush has a disastrous record, and the country knows it. John McCain -- the current one, not the one who vanished eight years ago -- has no major disagreements with George Bush (and I'm sorry, wanting to fire Donald Rumsfeld a bit sooner doesn't qualify) and wants to continue his incredibly unpopular policies for another four years. The solution? Enter Sarah Palin, a Trojan Moose carrying four more years of disaster.

And the plan has worked beautifully. Just look at what's being discussed just 57 days before the election. Is it the highest unemployment rate in five years? The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The suicide bombing yesterday in Iraq that killed six people and wounded 54 -- in the same market where last month a bomb killed 28 people and wounded 72? That the political reconciliation that was supposedly the point of "the surge" is nowhere near happening? That Iraq's Shiite government is now rounding up the American-backed Sunni leaders of the Awakening? That the reason 8,000 soldiers may be leaving Iraq soon is so more can be deployed to Afghanistan where the Taliban is steadily retaking the country?

No. We're talking about whether Sarah Palin was or was not a good mayor, whether she was or was not a good mother, whether her skirts are too short and her zingers too sarcastic.

Contrary to what we're hearing 24/7 in the media, the next few weeks are not a test of Sarah Palin. The next few weeks are a test of Barack Obama.

He needs to dramatically redirect this election back to a discussion over the issues that really matter -- the issues that will impact the future of this country. A presidential campaign is a battle and this is the time for Obama to show some commander-in-chief skills. I'm not talking about calling Palin out for lying about his record and demeaning community organizing. I'm talking about grabbing the political debate by the throat. The country is already angry about what's happened over the last seven-plus years -- he shouldn't be afraid to give voice to that anger. Obama has spent years adopting a non-threatening persona; but he can't let his fear that appearing like an "angry Black man" (a stereotype not-too-subtly fueled by Fox News) will turn off swing voters keep him from channeling the disgust and outrage felt by so many voters --swing and otherwise.

McCain's team, in an effort to distract, is going to keep doing what they're doing -- diverting voters and the media with a tantalizing combination of personal trivia and small lies. It doesn't matter if they're caught in them -- in fact, all the better. Because they know there is no way in hell they can win if this election is about the big truth of the Bush years.

McCain's real running mate is George Bush and the failed policies of the Republican Party. Even if they are dressed up in a skirt, lipstick, and Tina Fey glasses.


Because I am a Big dish "C-Bander", fed up with the high prices and bullshit that came with Directv, I do not receive ESPN any longer, forced out by the corporations who sold out to the little dish boys.

I toyed with finding a "Sports Bar" to watch Monday night's contest between arch-rival Packer/Vikings but decided that I would go there only if I could not beg someone I knew who had ESPN to let me watch with them.

The very idea of sitting in a bar with a crowd that would more than probably be a mixture of local Green Bay fans and snot nosed Minneapolis/Edina college students who have recently returned to flood Eau Claire's University campus was far too repugnant!

I found my respite and solace with Tiit and Ann Raid in Fall Creek, where I put together a large sausage pizza just before game time.

As the news announced this morning, The Packers scraped by, thanks to an Atari Bigby pic in the waning moments.

It's all well and good that the Green and Gold are 1-0 and that Aaron Rodgers just may have shaken the monkey from his back. Still there are things gnawing at me this morning. How long can Rodgers go without getting injured? Is he tough enough to last a season? This gnaws at me.

It also gnaws at me that although he played a good game (check his stats), he is vanilla ice cream to Brett Favre's hot fudge banana split.

He's just not that fun to watch. I know, I know. I am spoiled by the boyish exuberance of the hillbilly from Mississippi. Perhaps I can get past this.

A win is a win is a win!

I perused an article this morning that talked of the tremendous hit Adrian Peterson put on corner back Al Harris last night:

Peterson: Collision with Harris was no accident
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We have an answer. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson acknowledged Monday night that it was no accident he ran over the player responsible for his right knee injury last season.

As we noted earlier, Peterson ran over Packers cornerback Al Harris in the first quarter of Green Bay's 24-19 victory. Harris, of course, was the player whose low -- but clean -- hit on Peterson resulted in a torn lateral collateral ligament in the teams' 2007 matchup at Lambeau Field.

"No grudges," Peterson said. "But I definitely wanted to come out and, if I had the opportunity, put a little boom on Harris."

Peterson finished with 103 yards on 19 carries, the seventh 100-yard game of his career.


Sunday, September 7, 2008


Eleven o'clock P.M. and I am already in bed, evening meds downed, teeth flossed and brushed.

From the kitchen I hear one of those involuntary female blood curdling screams that only a woman can emit when she sees one of two things: a rat or a bat.

I am out of bed in a flash, heading for the sound, now making sounds of my own: "What the hell is it?"
"It's a bat!!" Kim screams and we both immediately begin to try to corral the kittens as they are following the bat's every flight movement and looking to pounce on it if it comes in range.

This, above all else, we do not want!

In a minute or two, we have established a "safe room" in the bed room. Kim and the kittens huddle in there while I try to figure out just how I am gong to kill a bat that has full range of an A-frame house which is almost 40 feet high at its peak!

The bat continues to try to find its way out, flying end to end, circling from the loft to the front of the house.

"Where's the broom?" I shout to Kim.
"In the basement", she calls back.
"Get it!" I command, keeping an eye on the flight of the winged intruder.

This is not something she wants to do, but she slips out of the bed room and tiptoes down to the basement to retrieve the broom, then after depositing it on the floor outside the bed room, she slips back into the safety of it.

The bat lands.

Three feet from the very peak of the 40 foot ceiling on a rafter. The broom is useless.

I remember the snow scraper with the 10 foot extensions that I use to remove snow from the A-frame in winter build ups. Hoping for the best, I open the sliding doors to the deck, then head out to the garage.

I have difficulty locating the scraper but finally do, return to the house with the sections in tow in hopes of looking up at the rafter to find the winged monstrosity gone --- but no such luck.

I assemble the unwieldy scraper and start lifting it, scraper blade first towards the hanging draculean offspring. I inch closer and closer -- it takes to the air and I lose sight of it!

I then go to the garage and get my fish net, which is on a long handle, and duct tape it to the snow scraper, first removing the section that has the blade. Still no sign of the bat.

I get a flashlight and search every beam -- no bat. I finally give up and join the rest of my "family". We decide that we had best hole up in the bed room for the rest of the night so I get the kitty food and the cat box with litter and move them all into the bed room.

Kim insists that I close the deck doors for fear of letting God knows what else into the house overnight if left open.

I return to the bed room and we convince ourselves that the bat has flown out the open door without my seeing it.

The next morning we cautiously leave the relative safety of the bed room and spend the day nervously looking upwards. I examine the house for openings to try to figure out how the little bastard got in in the first place. the only thing I find is an open flu in the basement which was put there when the house was built in case the owner wanted to add a stove in the basement.

I go to Menards and purchase a batten of fiberglass insulation and stuff the chimney flu tightly.

Saturday night arrives. Darkness descends. Midnight. No sign of a bat. Satisfied that we have won, we go to bed, letting the kittens have the run of the house.

Three AM. I awaken. I want an Oreo. I round the corner of the bed room door and look down the long hallway. I see a small pile of what I think, from my observation point, is kitten throw up.
"IT'S THE DAMN BAT!" my brain screams. Thanking my lucky stars that the kittens have been sleeping with us, I close the bed room door quietly and wish to hell I hadn't returned the broom to the basement.

My mind is racing to what I read after googling "bats": 'bats need to get a start in flying by dropping from some place high and then putting the wings in gear -- they are almost helpless if on the ground'.

Still -- this one is moving and wants to get away. finally I remember the recent purchase of a Bissell non-motorized carpet sweeper which is just inside the bed room door. I seize it and make my move, smashing it straight down on the bat, much like tamping cement.

Bam! Bam! Bam! I hit him three times without checking for results. One of the bristled rollers skitters across the floor! Now I check him and he is not doing very well -- still jerking a bit. I discard the sweeper in favor of the flat ash shovel near the fireplace and deliver one more flattening blow, scoop the thing up in the shovel, throw open the deck door and flip him out onto the deck.. well, I thought onto the deck.

I return to Kim in the bed room and I don't need to tell her what h as happened. She has heard the battle. But now I am "adrenalized". It is an amazing drug. I babble for some time before I stop fidgeting and attempt to get back to sleep.

Next morning in the light of day, I find him in the position you see in the photo, on the metal patio table which sits on the deck.

I manage to get the bristle roller back in place on the carpet sweeper, but the handle has a bit of a lean to the left.

PLEASE! NO MORE BATS! one is enough.


Alaskans Speak (in a frightened whisper): "Palin is Racist, Sexist, Vindictive and Mean"

by Charley James –
“So Sambo beat the bitch!”
This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.
“It was kind of disgusting,” Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the “lower 48” about life near the North Pole.
Then, almost with a sigh, she added, “But that’s just Alaska.”
Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.
Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.
But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg. According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We’re talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive.
No wonder the vast sea of white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it’s in their genetic code. So much for McCain’s pledge of a “high road” campaign; Palin is incapable of being part of one.
Tough Getting People Who Know Her to Talk
It’s not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin – especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that “all circuits are busy” or numbers just wouldn’t ring. I should think a state that’s been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.
On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they’re afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.
“The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here,” an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. “It’s corrupt and arrogant. They’re all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to.”
“Once Palin became mayor,” he continued, “She became part of that inner circle.”
Like most other people interviewed, he didn’t want his name used out of fear of retribution. Maybe it’s the long winter nights where you don’t see the sun for months that makes people feel as if they’re under constant danger from “the authorities.” As I interviewed residents it began sounding as if living in Alaska controlled by the state Republican Party is like living in the old Soviet Union: See nothing that’s happening, say nothing offensive, and the political commissars leave you alone. But speak out and you get disappeared into a gulag north of the Arctic Circle for who-knows-how-long.
Alright, that’s an exaggeration brought on by my getting too little sleep and building too much anger as I worked this article. But there’s ample evidence of Palin’s vindictive willingness to destroy people she sees as opponents. Just ask the Wasilla town administrator she hired before firing him because he rebelled against the way Palin demanded he do his job, or the town librarian who refused to hold the book burning Walpurgisnach Mayor Palin demanded.
Ironically, Palin was pushed into hiring the administrator by the party poobahs who helped get her elected after she got herself into trouble over a number of precipitous firings which gave rise to a recall campaign.
“People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day,” states Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla resident and one of the few Alaskans willing to speak on-the-record, for attribution, about Palin. In fact, Kilkenny actually circulated an e-mail letter about Palin that was verified and printed by The Nation.
For good measure, Palin booted the Wasilla police chief from office because, she told a local newspaper, he “intimidated” her.
Running on Extreme Fringe Evangelical Views
Sarah Palin drew early attention from state GOP apparatchiks when, during her first mayoral campaign, she ran on an anti-abortion platform. Normally, political parties do not get involved in Alaskan municipal elections because they are nonpartisan. But once word of her extreme fringe evangelical views made its way to Juneau, the state capitol, state Republicans tossed some money behind her campaign.
Once in office, Palin set out to build a machine that chewed up anyone who got in her way. The good, Godly Christian turns out to be anything but.
“She’s doesn’t like different opinions and she refuses to compromise,” Kilkenny notes. “When she was mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t hers. Worse, ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits but on the basis of who proposed them.”
Sound familiar? Palin may well be Dick Cheney’s reincarnate.
Something else has a familiar Republican ring to it: Her tax policies, and a “refund surpluses but borrow for the future” attitude.
According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food. The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny insists that many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian’s with whom I spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.
To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor – especially since nothing was spent on things such as improving the city’s infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin spend the taxpayer’s money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?
For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.
Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at least half of the original estimated price of the facility.
She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.
For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.
Sarah Barracuda
En route to the governor’s igloo, Palin managed to land what Anne Kilkenny says is the plumb political appointment in the state: Chair of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC), a $122,400 per year patronage slot with no real authority to do anything other than hold meetings. She took the job despite having no background in energy issues and, as it turned out, not liking the work.
“She hated the job,” an OGCC staff member who is not authorized to speak with the news media told me. “She hated the hours and she hated what little work there was to do. But she couldn’t figure out a way to get out of the thing without offending Gov. Murkowski” and the state Republican Party regulars, some of whom were pissed off they didn’t get appointed.
But ever the opportunist, Palin quickly concocted a way. First, she waged a campaign with the local news media claiming that the position was overpaid and should be abolished – despite the fact that she lobbied Murkowski hard to get it. Then, mounting what she saw as a white horse, Palin raised a cloud of dust by resigning from the OGCC and riding away with an undeserved reputation as a “reformer.”
But when a local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.
“She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids,” said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage. “I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it’s nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you.”
Not surprising since some of her high school classmates still openly call her “Sarah Barracuda,” Kilkenny insists.
Still, as a Republican Party hack Palin managed to get herself elected running under the false flag of a “reformer.”
And what did she bring to the job? No legislative experience other than a city council of a village of 5,000 people, which is smaller than some high schools in Chicago. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; after all, she needed to hire a city administrator to run Wasilla. No executive experience, except for almost being recalled as mayor. A philosophy of setting public policy based on one word: No.
And what has she done since winning the job?
According to Kilkenny, nothing. Well, nothing other than suggesting the state’s multi-multi-million dollar, oil-generated surplus be distributed to residents and finance future state needs by borrowing money. Gee, doesn’t that sound precisely what George Bush did with the surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 and we all know in what great shape Bush’s economic policies left the nation.
It may explain why, when asked by reporters, including me, what she thought about Palin being picked to be McCain’s running mate, her mother-in-law replied with a sardonic, “What has Sarah done to qualify her to be vice president?” Of course, when the woman – said by many I spoke with to be well-respected in Wasilla – was running to succeed Palin as mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her, so that may explain the family tension.
As Governor, Palin gave the legislature no direction and budget guidelines, according to the chair of a legislative committee. But then she staged a huge grandstand play of line-item vetoing countless projects, calling them pork. “They were restored because of public outcry and legislative action,” the aide said. “She vetoed them mostly because she had no idea what they were or why they were important.”
But it was enough to get the McCain, who is mostly unobservant of the world around him anyway, to think Palin has a reputation as being “anti-pork”.
In fact, Juneau observers note that Palin kept her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork ladled out by indicted Sen. Ted Stevens. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be politically unwise to keep supporting it, these same insiders assert. Then, Palin fell back on her old habits and publicly humiliated him for pork-barrel politics.
As for being “ready on day one” to be commander in chief, despite the repeated public claims she’s made, the Alaska National Guard commander said that, “she has made no command decisions, other than sending some troops to help fight a few brush fires and march in parades at county fairs.”
“Sambo Beat the Bitch”
“Palin is a conniving, manipulative, a**hole,” someone who thinks these are positive traits in a governor told me, summing up Palin’s tenure in Alaska state and local politics.
“She’s a bigot, a racist, and a liar,” is the more blunt assessment of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two years ago and is now a businessman in Idaho.
“Juneau is a small town; everybody knows everyone else,” he adds. “These stories about what she calls blacks and Eskimos, well, anyone not white and good looking actually, were around long before she became a glint in John McCain’s rheumy eyes. Why do I know they’re true? Because everyone who isn’t aboriginal or Indian in Alaska talks that way.”
“Sambo beat the bitch” may be everyday language up in the bush. Whether it – and the outlook, politics and worldview Palin reflects when she says such things in public – should be part of a presidential campaign is another thing altogether. The comment says as much about McCain as it does about Palin, and it says a lot of things about Americans who overlook such statements (as well as her record) and vote anyway for McCain.
by Charley James
Charley James is an American journalist, author and essayist who lives in Toronto.
Reprinted with permission from The Progressive Curmudgeon
Emeritus Professor of Music
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



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The following is a list of books that Sarah Palin tried to get banned when she was mayor of Wasilla.

This information is taken from the official minutes of the Wasilla Library Board.
When the librarian refused to ban the books, Palin tried to get her fired.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Does this sound like someone that you want to be a heartbeat away from the presidency???? God help us!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Of Chicken, Minnesota Vikings, and Bicycles

Kim, Gordy Bischoff, Alice Hampton, and I made the thursday night trek over to the Durand Rod and Gun Club for the delicious John Harmon Chicken Dinner. That makes my string of attendance 3 for 3 this year!

We had a great time albeit we were served last. In fact, being served last gave us an opportunity to sit with "the help". A good laugh was had by all when one of the gals came by with an errant purse and asked if it belonged to any of us. Gordy said (in his best falsetto): "Yes, that's my purse!"

Then our attention was drawn to the young lady pictured as the rest of the staff was ripping on her all night in the kitchen for wearing the tee shirt she is displaying. (In case you are having trouble deciphering what it says on her shirt, it reads: My favorite team is the Minnesota Vikings and anyone who beats the Packers." Such venom!

I found it imperative to go out to the car and get my Packer jacket to strike a balance in the photo! Her name is Becky
Sobota and I asked if she wore the shirt because she is originally a Minnesota "mud duck" -- to my amazement she told me she is an Arcadia, Wisconsin, Sobota! (that's tantamount to being a Bauer from Durand).

Not only that, she is a Wisconsin Badger fan as well as a Milwaukee Brewer follower! I asked if her mother had dropped her on her head when she was a baby!

At any rate, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, BECKY! (She was born on Labor Day). How very fitting, eh?

After several trips to the Eau Claire Cycle Shop on 'Water Street, I could no longer resist the bike that I fell in love with on our first visit there some weeks ago to get our bikes tuned up.

I put a down payment on this beauty and hope to be able to pay off the balance in time to ride it during the Fall color season!
Terry, the store owner, is just one of the nicest people you could ever do business with. If you are looking for a bicycle, please visit him -- you won't be sorry.

They also do an excellent job of repairs and tune ups and are very accessible with parking behind the shop next to Racy D'lene's Coffee House.


Excerpts From Dog/Cat Diaries

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary...

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary.

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed

hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. ................For now.