Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Bush, What are the Priorities of A Better Nation?

Is it fair to say that, in the Rose Garden at the White House, everything is not coming up roses?

I don't think that ever before have the insulting priorities of the Bush administration been in such stark contrast. Inwith just a few days, Mr. Bush has said he will veto a program to provide more care for children and that he will ask Congress for a record $180 billion in spending for the war in fiscal 2008.

The war is currently costing us a half a million dollars a minute.

Again and again, Mr. Bush says he would like to support domestic programs, in theory or with the "right" bill. Yet he is willing to support a war full of flaws. At home, he is at a standstill (or actually taking us backwards), but at war, he loves to say "stay the course," which means plowing ahead no matter what. Mr. Bush likes to think he is courageously persistent, but his persistence is really nothing more than bland stubbornness, myopic, unimaginative and in fact cowardly.

The brave lead us with an authentic compassion and with their resolute passions for peace and for people, for all people and "we the people." Including children.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eulogy to Beauty

As was Everett Ruess, I am a "vagabond for beauty."

Life is not a painful experience without one or more of three things, the three thrilling L's of my philosophy: longing, loss, and love.

The world is not a painful place without a passion for these things.

After politics and headlines and cliches and the petty trappings of "practical" lives, there are these three things.

The leaves on the trees. Leaves, green, turned to colors of rust and rot and fire and forest and endings, loss, longing, love.

The smile remembered. The moment, the time, the instance, the instant of that smile, a smile made for you, there before you, given to you.

On these things, leaves and smiles, life rests and falls.

Into autumn, falling into fall.

Monday, September 24, 2007

On Meeting Someone: Online & Otherwise

[A post in progress. I'd be glad to receive comments from your theories and experience.]

I've "done the personals" for some years now, and the process still fascinates me, though perhaps, as for so many others, it may frustrate me even more. Meeting online is both age-old and newfangled. Our ancient natures, wanting to latch onto the nuances of sparky, physical cues like facial expressions, eye contact and those oh so mysterious pheremones, go up against both the false intimacies and haunting disconnects of modern technology.

Friends aren't made in a single post or first phone call. We often, at first, try too hard, or, at first, expect too much.

Online, we meet sober (?), for one thing, not in some rowdy bar, not at a party, not through friends. There is very little to help lubricate the situation. Our initial "flow" is more like paddling a kayak in Class 4 rapids AND rowing a jon boat against a headwind across a lake. We are, at first, nothing more than our wits and perseverence, after a series of e-mails long or short, a voice, try as we might to be "real," selling ourselves, acting as product. It is at first such a delicate situation, no wonder it's chances of working, of sparking real chemistry, are rare (no matter what those smiley/kissy ads say).

We have this deep feeling that, of course, we want to be loved for ourselves, without pretense, much less perfection, and forget "perfect fit." Yet we feel we have to market ourselves, to fit the demands and prerequisites of a virtual stranger, who is, after all, a real person, most likely full of lovely and lovable desires and needs. And that is the shame: that the online medium is nothing more than a market unless we are caring or cunning enough to make it more.

No doubt, online and in person, we look at faces first. That's one of the ancient things about us. Animals look at faces, and in the old-fashioned up close and personal venues, they look at bodies and body language and all sorts of physical nuances as well, the things that add up to what we call "chemistry."

We can even find a "kindred spirit" and still not feel the chemistry. Are we so stuck on the list of green lights and red flags that we aren't willing to see chemistry as a thing which doesn't necessarily already exist between us? After all, we haven't even met! How about growing into chemistry. Now that is another old-fashioned and time-honored way of coupling.

We can shop for months and even years to find just a few people who clear the first few hurdles, but we are still just about clueless on chemistry. Resumes are not even remotely enough. We look for clues and touchstones and shared tidbits and still come up short. What we are really needing to find is a complimentary attitude toward life. And the older we are, the more our attitudes do seem to be set. Mating is increasingly difficult when we seem to be ever more "set in our ways" and when we are old enough or cynical enough to want to hide any shadows of our neediness. How can we want a partner and yet not seem wanting? How can we desire intimacy and yet think we have to seem especially self-sufficient and even independent?

Online, especially, without the usual social lubricants, it takes real bravery to reveal our desires. We tiptoe around "neediness," yet that is often where love grows, in sharing our true, unadulterated neediness, our desires to NOT search, NOT talk, not have to CHOOSE, but to just BE, to relax, to lie down, to share, to accept. It takes real bravery to be that vulnerable, even though we are often at our most beautiful when we are most vulnerable.

It takes bravery to be kind, to be patient, to try again, even after a rough start in the rapids or a listless start plowing into the headwinds on a big lake.

[This is a post in progress, and I will come back to revise it. Feel free to comment and help "flesh out" (so to speak) the themes to be presented here.]

Friday, September 21, 2007

Into the Wild: A One Way Trip

I don't usually read movie reviews before seeing a film, accepting that a review is just that, a review, to be considered after seeing the work itself. I try to see the movie first, without prejudice or pretense. But my curiosity about Sean Penn's making of "Into the Wild" has, over the last few weeks, gotten the better of me, and I have read just about everything I've come across.

"Into the Wild" opens in limited release today and in wider release Friday the 28th. This is my (rare) before-seeing-the-movie take. I'll report again after seeing the film.

The book and perhaps the movie are the Heart of Darkness, the "Apocalypse Now" for the wilderness lover. As Capt. Willard said in Coppola's film, "Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were goin' all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin' program."

Chris McCandless got off the boat and went all the way. He split from the whole fuckin' program.

Chris McCandless, fresh-faced flake, fiend, friend, fake, fatalist, cut up his credit cards, burned, buried and gave away his cash, and got off the boat. We'd like to think he was all there, kid/man/boy to the end, choosing his destiny, but he wasn't all there, and that is what haunts us and, ironically, what makes his story so compelling to us. We want so much from people. We want even the zeros to be heroes. But Chris was no hero. Closer to zero. But he went all the way, and we wonder what that's like. Some of us always will.

Many of us idealist/nihilist wannabees ate up every word when Jon Krakuer's book came out, and, no matter what it's prejudicial beauties and cinemagesic discrepancies, we road hounds and wilderness loring hangers on will eat up every frame of the film.

There's been a lot of talk about Kerouac and On the Road this month, and Chris McCandless' journey fits into that genre of episodic, wandering, orgiastic romance, American style. Kerouac took us along for the ride. Chris took only himself. He didn't report back, but a journalist's work brought back some of the pieces. Sociable as he may seem to have been before he got to the end of the road, Chris McCandless seemed to want to be alone, perhaps caring about people butnot driven toward them. He was driven toward nature, raw, up close and personal, and so where we are going as voyeurs in this movie, there were, we must remind ourselves, no witnesses. This is about going it on the edge, then beyond the edge, then leaving all the rest of us behind and going it alone.

We are reminded how books, movies and movie reviews are, by necessity, such slapped together, superficial simplifications of the raw, uncooked truth of a thing. Still, inexorably, McCandless joins Thoreau, Kerouac, Abbey and others in my gang of road tripping/wilderness ghosts.

Those road ghosts, and why is this so compelling. Maybe a bit of James Dean meets Outward Bound or Jesse James meets hypothermia and well beyond the canned beans, a last shred of carcass. Like others who gamble with their own wits and nature, he left behind the domesticated lap dogs. But still, why? Because for most of us, our final adventure is not our greatest. For Chris McCandless, his was.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Green Life Meets A Better Nation

I am signed up to receive a "green tip" Monday-Friday from "The Green Life," an online publication of the Sierra Club. Recipients of the tips are encouraged to comment. Here is today's Green Tip, followed by my comments, slightly revised:

How many parts of your outfit could be green? Take a look at your shirt, nylon and polyester suck up fossil fuel during their manufacture. These synthetics are a fashion don't -- keep an eye out for recycled polyester or alternative fabrics, like bamboo or hemp. Moving on down to your feet, why not try investing in shoes that use vegetable-tanned leather or organic materials, like canvas or cotton. Once they are worn out, try getting them resoled instead of buying a new pair.

Again, another CUTE tip, but more a (goody two green shoes) fashion statement than real change. Someone has already compared this to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; that's a great analogy. Let's keep our eyes (and efforts) on the prize. Green Tips, the Green Life and the Sierra Club often think INSIDE the Green Box. It's almost as if they are more concerned that we FEEL good than that we DO good.

Yes, synthetics save enough dryer time to make up for their manufacture (I hang all of mine even in the winter, indoors, so NO dryer time). And what of the efficiency of making clothes in big batches, as opposed to boutique clothes that do cost more, partly based on the inefficiency of their manufacture, and which may not be as convenient/close to find?

Yes, as has been said, buying more items of all sorts second hand is a great way to go. How about the economics of buying cheap clothes and using the money you save to support environmental organizations such as the NRDC, Earthjustice, or The Wilderness Society, those fighting the legal battles to protect what's left. That's the ticket.

The money is more important than the material, even leather. Example: don't buy $150 "Earth friendly" shoes, ever! Find some shoes on sale for $60, send $25 to an environmental protector, and save the $65 for a rainy (or globally cooked) day. Example: don't buy a $60 shirt, ever, even if it is hemp! Buy a $25 shirt on sale, and spend $25 on supporting the legal battles that do the most good, and have $10 in savings -- compared to one $60 shirt. Find a shirt used for $10, just once, and have $50 to spend or save wisely. Doing this just a few times a year, especially if you make that $25 contribution to a good cause, really makes a difference.

Also, for gosh sakes (and we know this but need to be reminded often), don't make special trips to shop for clothes or anything else. You know the scoop: combine errands for your basic needs only. And this year, how many new clothes do you really need? Clothes moratoriums build more character than owning cute vegan shoes.

The problem is, in forums like this (a list of Sierra Club devotees), we are preaching to the choir (and it turns out even a majority of the choir want to stick to the pretty songs that don't get down and dirty testing their faith). The real work is to see if we, we of the deep green, we the a-greedy do-gooders, the faithful choir with our friendly foibles and self-righteous local tips, ironic trials and global targets, can reach the congregation, more than a few billion strong. The real work is to see if we can reach the helmsmen in time to steer than big ship away from the iceberg (before it melts and leaves us high..... and dry).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Honorable Exit from Iraq?

Is there any such thing as an honorable exit from Iraq?

We know what President Bush would say. He recently went on record in Robert Draper's new book, Dead Certain, saying that he wants to see the American occupation not end any time soon and, in fact, last far into the future.

Mr. Bush knows two things: firstly, that the military industrial juggernaut is super powerful and that it is, as Eisenhower famously warned us, self-perpetuating; and secondly, Mr.Bush knows there is no other way to have a hand -- make that an Iron Fist -- in "stabilizing"/securing that source of oil for the United States. And in both things, Mr. Bush is right.

But at what price? And at what danger and dishonor? To him, a protracted occupation is a win-win affair. His friends are awash in billions of borrowed cash.

Because of all the talk, many tend to think that both sides of the aisle in Congress feel differently, and it is true that some members of Congress do feel differently. But however vocal, they are clearly in the minority, and the majority rules. The majority of Republicans and Democrats, speaking nearly in step, say that we have to keep funding the war to "support the troops," as if anything but "staying the course" means we'd be leaving the troops there, point blank, to fend for shelter and food scraps.

That is like Henry Ford saying, "We can't bring out the Model A because we really have to keep supporting the Model T. We've got to fund all the old jalopies already in the field." Or like Bill Gates saying, "Hey, Windows 2000 is as good as anybody really needs, so why not stay the course?" Nuts.

The American war against the country of Iraq has been a morally bankrupt and unAmerican (preemptive) war all along, so get out and the sooner the better. Why not ALL Americans out of Iraq?

In the mid-70s, when we got out of Vietnam, at last and after way too long, we got out completely. We might have made a horrendous mess, but we cleaned the slate as best we could. We didn't wait for the Vietnamese to secure everything and, in the name of freedom, set up a likable/puppet government, and recent history proves Vietnam was better off without us.

The same goes for Iraq. What other honorable choices do we really have? If you follow Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule, you pay for what you broke, and you apologize profusely, but you don't stay in the store, and you don't even loiter in the neighborhood after hours.

So make the cleanest break you can of this big mess: Don't leave a single American public servant in Iraq or even near what becomes of Iraq. Clean the slate. Empty the embassy. Clear out. THEN, if the future independent (or any part of the sub-divided) Iraq wants an American diplomatic presence there, start over.

THAT'S freedom. That's the freedom we would demand post-haste from any occupant of our country.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sustainability Salon

Gosh darn, I was on the road and missed my local, monthly, ideas salon last night.

The topic was sustainability and the limits to growth. I hear that, in my absence, the session's instigator, ring master and sage leader read a statement of mine, as follows:

Since capitalism (especially multi-national corporate capitalism) seems to be the most "growth-oriented" of all economic systems, how can we reconcile capitalism with the obvious limits to growth? And what about the personal freedoms on which capitalism depends, such as the private ownership of multiple houses, multiple cars, multiple children, the accumulation of piles of stuff, and the private ownership of increasingly fragile and valuable crop land and water resources?

Won't we, at some point, have to legislate the END of this free reign? Whether we like it or not, won't we have to set limits on private ownership and consumption to stave off ever more burdensome and dangerous catastrophes?

I hear that the reading of my questions and concerns raised the hackles of some in attendance, especially, it would seem, the free-marketeers, even to the point of heated debate. (In the salon, as here and elsewhere, I see my role to be that of rabble rouser, as we need more "out of the box" risk-takers in our dithering diatribes.) What? Do Americans cherish the freedom not only to make fools of themselves but to lead the way in wrecking a planet more than they cherish communal virtues and our responsibilities for each other? (OK, don't answer that!)

Perhaps my Big Q's were out of the box -- but not out of line. Good lord, what a bunch of political pussyfooters! Even liberals are closet conservatives in this country! My concerns are in line with those of Paul Hawken in his book Natural Capitalism, with those of Herman E. Daly in his book Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development, and with those of Bill McKibben in his new book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On Being a Contrarian

I have two kinds of friends: those who expect that I will agree with them and those who don't much care if I agree or not.

The former are the closer but more delicate friends. We share a lot, and so they seem to expect that we share more than we do. The latter are friends for other reasons besides agreement and reinforcement. They are more independent sorts, more accustomed to having their own opinions no matter what others think.

Generally, I got a lot of important things in life figured out early on, mostly because I was a contrarian. You've got to go against the grain to find much to be wise about, since the majority are short-sighted middle of the roaders muddling through, keeping the status quo going strong.

And so, to think, one almost certainly IS a contrarian, not just a chooser of sides, like liberal or conservative. Rote liberals are often no more "thinkers" than rote conservatives. Most people think from their lounge chairs, which is not the same as "think on your feet."

And even contrarians had better watch out. Just saying "no" or the opposite of what others are saying is not a sure path to anything, much less wisdom. But bucking trends is helpful, at least. You do sort of have to kick start yourself to be sure you are still a free thinker.

For example, some of my friends have this religious thing for Al Gore and for Toyota and for organic foods and home ownership and for the nominee of the Democratic Party and for AMERICA and America the Good and for "freedom" and for capitalism and the wisdom of the markets and for "green" products and for their own children (if indeed no one else's) and for the future and ffor "technological solutions" and for things "working out" and generally for the ascent of science and culture.

Hmmm, just not sure what to make of that, except to say that hope springs eternal. And let's hope that another things springs eternal to keep hope in check: contrarianism.

Think free. Make that: think freely.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thompson-Huckabee: The Clinton-Gore Ticket Updated for 2008

Thompson-Huckabee. Yep, Thompson-Huckabee.

How about this for the lucky Clinton-Gore (winners '92/'96) ticket next year?

One candidate from Arkansas, one from Tennessee.

OK, Thompson is more red meat red pick-up Reagan than blue boy Bubba/Elvis sax player. And Huckabee is more guitar-pickin' Ward Cleaver stand-up than wonky-stiff Clark Kent Inconvenient Truth Man (though both Huck and Gore proudly claim their Baptist roots). But hey, here we have two, TWO Southerners with more character and charm than the smarmy used-car salesmen (Giuliani, Romney) taking the early lead in this war-and-peace epic horserace.

The Dems only have one southerner of note, and he's a pretty-boy lawyer gone Mr. Goodhair. (Mr. Edwards, take note: looks can be seen as a silver spoon, especially in the South, and especially if one has a conspicuous, custom-built and brand spanking new McMegaMansion, a far cry from frumpy old Graceland. And to the other Dems: OK, so you're not John Kerry, but to the old-fashioned core, you're still carpetbagging Yankees.)

Meanwhile, the Republicans have a passel of Southerners, and when's the last time somebody from outside the South (or Southern California) won the presidency? Ummm, that would be... For the Democrats, that would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and for the Republicans, that would be Dwight D. Eisenhower, who himself was actually born in Texas but who, after he entered the army in 1919, had a neutral home state, Kansas, but no place he called home until 1950, when he and Mamie bought a farm adjacent to Gettysburg, notably not far from Washington.

So when it comes to political fashion, we've been a nation inclined, since the Great Depression and World War II, toward the South.

Thusly: Thompson-Huckabee '08.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11/07: For All the Living & the Dead

The day's date had slipped my mind for a few days, most of the last week or so, actually, and so it wasn't until after 1 PM that I was reminded that this is September 11th. I'd been out visiting friends at a remote ranch, without a mention of any news, and spent most of the morning and early afternoon riding my bicycle through the Texas Hill Country alone in a spooky rain storm. Then, I walked into a homey little place for lunch and happened to see the splashy colors of a cable news channel frothing from a TV on the wall, reporting observances of the 9/11 anniversary.

What a difference six years makes.

On the first and second anniversaries of 9/11, in 2002 and '03, I was in New York City, at Ground Zero, watching the ceremonies in person. My brother had been in the World Trade Center that day in 2001. He smelled a strange fire near the elevators (burning jet fuel), escaped with his co-workers (fellow urban planners redesigning the subway and PATH stations that would soon be destroyed) and ran a few blocks away before turning to look back to see what had happened, none of it making sense even then.

Though he tends to be a liberal when it comes to social services and public facilities, my brother is a cultural conservative. He reacted with qualified anger to the attacks. He wanted the United States to go to war with anybody or group or country remotely associated with the attacks.

A year later, when I went with him to Ground Zero on 9/11/02, already enough time had passed to leave retribution mostly out of the conversation. We went not really as mourners but as curiosity seekers, wanting to see how the ritual ceremonies fit our views of the future, not the past.

Some aspects of the 2002 ceremonies did bring chills, but by 2003, a similar ceremony already seemed to have lost the one-year-later buzz. The remembrances seemed a bit calcified and maudlin, unoriginal and pre-packaged, more about politicians' speech writers than about healing and moving on. The visceral feel of the tragedy had faded, and most of us were only muted, indirect victims, survivors in fact, many thriving, others getting along or at least getting by. And by then, of course, our own ongoing wars were already wearing even more heavily on many of us than were the memories of the infamous day itself. In September 2003, the war against Iraq had already been going on for almost six months.

Here we are six years after that stunning day in 2001. Some heal, sort of, some not so much. Some struggle, some move on. Of course there is a range of emotions and reactions. It's not ancient history yet. But most of us know other people who have died since 9/11/01, and every death reminds us that people die in many ways, in ways and at times that startle us and even shock us. Over 3000 people were killed that day. Since then, many hundreds of thousands (and perhaps millions) have died in wars, and many tens of millions more in car wrecks, accidents, crimes, of cancer and of disease, despair and other causes, natural and not natural.

Maybe what is sad to some is that life DOES go on. It flees or fights or accepts or ignores dangers and just keeps on going. We're remembered some, a bit, for a while, but really life is about us, the living, those here now, trying to make sense of what it means to be alive, trying to reap rewards and comfort and happiness and even joy.

May virtue and peace prevail.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Love Field

Long before I'd ever heard of sojourners such as Jack Kerouac or Don Quixiote or Henry Thoreau, much less Bruce Chatwin and Bill Bryson and Peter Matthiessen, I heard the sound of turbo-props revving up at Love Field.

When I was just three, my family moved to Dallas, on Midway Road, just a few blocks from Lemmon Avenue and the eastern edge of the 3rd busiest airport in the United States. Playing outside, and even from inside, I could easily hear the engines of the planes taxiing, taking off and landing.

The "new" terminal, circa 1955, off Mockingbird Lane, was the center of action, but the old '30s era Love Field terminal on Lemmon Avenue was still being used by charters and companies. My family never went to see a drive-in movie, but we did used to go park near that old airline terminal to watch planes take off and land. And when the wrecking balls came to knock down the old terminal, we went to watch that, too.

I got the biggest thrill out of seeing my favorite passenger planes, curvaceous Lockheed Constellations, parked close to the fence. I never got to fly in one of those, but compared to the rather bland looking (and LOUD) 707s and DC-8s that dominated the 1960s, the Constellation sure was exotic looking, a kinetic blend of the feminine and the masculine wrapped up in an aluminum skin.

My father would pull off to watch planes, at the end of the runway near Bachman Lake or there beside the old terminal, and it was more special than going out to dinner or just about anywhere else. It was as if we lived in a port city to the globe. Because even inland, mid-continent, in the new jetsetting world of the airways, with Love Field almost in our backyard, we did.

The sound of those planes, props and jets, day and night, got into my sense of how big the world was -- and how busy. All that roar of going places, coming and going, even at night. Somehow, this figures into my mythology of wanderlust in modern times.

You could be on the road, and you could be in the air, and either way, it was the journey that mattered. It was all great to watch, but then there was some serious envy: the thing was to move.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"On the Road" Turns 50 Today

I didn't read "On the Road" until I had already become a bit of a bohemian road bum myself. I probably read the book as an undergraduate, around about 1978 or so, just a little over 20 years after it first appeared. Now, the book is turning 50, and it is apparently still going strong. I remember the copy I had and may still have somewhere: the mass market paperback with the blazing sun on the mostly orange cover.

In a few months, I'll be turning 50, but I don't feel 50, not by a long shot. I've never been married, chose early on not to have kids, and I'm just not invested in the conventional culture like so many people my age. All of these things, and an ongoing hunger for wandering, meandering road trips have kept me young for my age, if not in every way "young at heart."

What does that mean, "young at heart"? It means showing some stubborn adolescent streaks. It means not "settling down." It means hungering openly for ideals and experiences and tastes and taboos and satisfactions. The irony is, then, that some of the classic satisfactions escape us or do us little good. Some friends of mine have encouraged me to stay unfettered, free, loose, uninhibited, non-committal, saying the world needs more of us, that there are plenty of conventional, settled down people already raising families and keeping the juggernauts of normalcy running at near full capacity.

Jack Kerouac was indeed young at heart. He never let go of a particularly boyish adolescence. Even in his last years, he oogled girls like a horny and clumsy 19 year old, and he wrote like he was fondling his own friends or his own romantic blue id. He put it all out there, and some of us still envy him that, even if in so many ways he seemed immature. Oh, to be immature and write a masterpiece, a CLASSIC! Oh to be a sufferer of mad joy and to feel so much. And so that is the crux of being young at heart: feeling the flowing juices of passion and the rhythms of music and the love of life, however bittersweet but never bland, and for the lucky few, getting it all or even just some of it down on the page.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Oprah for Obama

I have been saying for many years, maybe 15, that the most powerful woman in America is Oprah Winfrey, and that was years before she ever endorsed a presidential candidate.

Now she's got her man in mind and her eyes on the prize.

If Oprah gets her way, Hillary will be given the honor of continuing to serve the people of the great state of New York.

And Barack? Oh, he's a good enough guy, alright, but Oprah would make a better President.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Kucinich, Dean, and Online Candidate Popularity

When polls are taken online these days, often some of the second-string candidates do very well, much better than their coverage on the major news networks and in the mainstream press might lead you to believe.

For example, among the Democrats, Dennis Kucinich has a hard-core following, and he polls very well indeed. Among the Republicans, Ron Paul has not only a dedicated national following but quite the international following as well.

But it's probably not wise to say this online popularity will translate to votes come January and beyond.

I think the rock star status of the Dean campaign in late 2003 proved that online buzz does not translate to power on the ground or in the caucuses or voting booths, at least not yet, outside "hip" areas such as big cities near the east and west coasts. Iowa 2004 was the proof in the pudding. Dean's hot rise was only luke warm out on the prairie.

The current caucus/early primary system is a crock, I feel. It is arbitrary, no matter what the candidates say. Except for the problems of getting enough money and sleep at night, I can't imagine why the candidates defend anything but a national primary day.

And we are going the wrong way, because of the competition between states to get in on the action. The national primary day should be set much later in the spring, not in the deepest days of winter. I think the first Tuesday in May sounds good.

Set it then, and we wouldn't have to exhaust the electorate a year before the election.

But still, Kucinich, good as he has been in the past, has lately marginalized himself in other ways, making rather goofy and flighty statements to webcast audiences, those curious about his young bride, and more. He could have played this as a "good guy from Ohio," but instead he's starting to look like a Leave It To Beaver Hollywood wannabee. Kucinich talks about diet for male enhancement; that's like Edwards shooting down SUVs. Good for a sound bite, not a meal.

Meanwhile, Clinton has learned that, until you've got the nomination, you've got to take on the role of candidate with the utmost in serious gravitas.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Comments @ Lawrence Walker's Blog, A Better Nation/abetternation

Greetings readers, friends, and countrymen (& women),

New scientific research shows that every civil and reasonable comment you make @ A Better Nation (and especially those which are unabashedly encouraging) adds a day to my life. Further studies may show that leaving said comment adds a day to your life as well.

As of late, I have gotten a bit spotty in my blogging. In fact, I am going back now (in September '07) to fill in some of the gaps, as my original goal and intention were to file a blog post five days a week, Monday-Friday. I have been finding, as the summer of 2007 wears on with no escape from Texas after my one foray "abroad," leading a Wisconsin bike tour in mid-June with its attendant road trip through the Ozarks and up the mighty Mississippi, that I was slinking down the downward doldrum slide of discouragement and disconnection (the summers of '05 and '06 was the same, but then some of us CAN experience seasonal affective disorder two, three or even four seasons a year). I just don't mix very well at all with late summer in Texas. And so, by mid-September, slogging and slip sliding but with the weather taking a distinct dip toward autumn, I wandered over to A Better Nation, and the spirit moved me. I have begun to blog again. Maybe writing each post adds even more than a day to my life, and I am slouching around past 500 or so posts so far (even before some gaps are filled). Not bad for a free enterprise; that's over a year added to my life so far.

And you can do your part! Leave a comment! Even a sentence will do! Even a phrase will do! Even the right WORD. And remember, encouragement gets bonus points, I am sure. At least that's what studies suggest.

Cheers to you, and thanks!