Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year Remembered

Never Let Them See You Sweat

As Warren Zevon pointed out in “Werewolf of London,” his hair was perfect. I’ve really got to hand it to Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich. He looks confident, composed and in control as he holds a press conference to appoint the replacement for HRH Obama to the US Senate. Perfectly coifed, not even a glisten of perspiration on his pursed lip, he stands before us. Yes, he is under indictment for an entire menu of indiscretions, as they are called in Illinois. But it is his right under the laws of the state to make that appointment as long as he is in office.

It is apparent that his profit margin on the deal was reduced considerably, but it is a period of market decline and many businesses are offering loss leaders just to maintain their viability. The business of governorship shouldn’t be immune from the market vagaries. If he makes this sale, a lot of the bad press goes away for him. His hair was perfect, he didn’t sweat.

But there is a problem on Capitol Hill.

Can They?

It seems that the Democrats don’t wish their hallowed halls to be tainted with a Blago selection. They hang their hats on the Constitutional authority to expel a member and to set their own rules. But, does their authority under that clause trump the right of the state to set their own, even if flawed, appointment process? While Blago might be rotting on the inside beneath that slick exterior, he’s the bad one, not his appointee. At least not as far as we can tell. Roland Burris is just the pawn in this game.

The choice was a master stroke for the Guv. He’s older, meaning he can serve as a placeholder until an election comes up. At that point, he might dutifully step aside so his Rodship can properly ascend—and don’t doubt that he would! He’s also suitably black to replace the pointedly black Sen. Obama and maintain the tradition of Illinois established by the now discredited Carol Mosely-Braun. Yep, blackness is a real trump in this game since it immediately forces the currently all-white Senate to look like bad guys if they try to block him. Bringing former Black Panther and incidental Congressman Bobby Rush forward to blatantly point out the racial aspects of this was an additional finesse demonstrating that Blago still has his mojo.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

None So Blind

Consider how many “truths” we accept because they seem “right.” I remember a TV ad during those exciting days of the unpleasantness in Southeast Asia. A young, wholesome maiden in pigtails, granny dress and fashionable pastel tint sunglasses offered a tiny fistful of wildflowers to the viewer and intoned solemnly, “Peace. It’s the natural order of things.” Why, of course it isn’t! The natural order of things is the Hobbesian reality of survival of the fittest; a life in the jungle. The natural order of things is a violent and remorseless food chain. It isn’t peace.

Or take Global Climate Change (previously known as Warming.) If you sweated last summer it is because man, we puny humans, have become so powerful that we can control the long established cycles of warming and cooling of the planet. It is because we are inherently profligate and wasteful of our resources without concern for our environment—particularly we Americans who have such riches to squander. If only we drive a battery-powered roller-skate to work, don a hemp sweater and adjust our thermostat and simply go to bed when the sun goes down, we can save the planet and all of humanity. Flagellation is our only recourse. Guilt is the solution. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

But, today’s rant is about diversity. Who could possibly argue against the benefits of diversity? How about this giant who passed into that dark night recently:

Speaking Truth

The complimentary terms are legion: diversity, multiculturalism, celebration of our differences, and on and on. The pejoratives outnumber the compliments: nationalist, fascist, supremacist, jingoist. We’ve built a whole educational system that exalts the acceptance of differences. Suggest that we have a single dominant language for the nation to conduct business and you are decried as a thug and unwelcoming of our Spanish visitors. Demand that it be English and I’ll give you an argument on free market principles, however. Our earlier colonists and immigrants didn’t diversify our society, they assimilated and integrated. That’s the critical difference.

Examine the most successful democracies, then take a look at the most violent, unpleasant areas of the world. Consider where former peace is deteriorating and society is eroding. What can you conclude? If you can make any sort of case for diversity over homogeneity in culture, heritage, morality, ethnicity or language, I’ll be surprised.

Possibly the most successful and long-lived democracy has been Great Britain—an island nation with a Caucasian population, a long established parliamentary monarchy, a protestant religion common to the people, a single language (more or less), and a shared culture. Problems today? Yep. Cause? Diversification! The long-standing and heretofore fairly limited in practice policy of British citizenship to all former colonials and residents of the dominion who immigrate is now leading to huge enclaves of south Asians and Middle Easterners who simply refuse to assimilate. British common law versus Sharia?

Notice the riots in France the last couple of summers? Are these French people simply lashing out at society? Hardly. More fundamentalist transplants who don’t embrace the basic principles of French culture. How about the “former Yugoslavia”? That’s a veritable Petri dish for study of the diversity vs homogeneity question. Israel/Palestine? Recent Mumbai events?

I’d like to buy into the diversity-is-better thing, but the evidence doesn’t support the thesis. Melting pots should melt, not curdle the components. There is nothing to be lost by understanding others. Isolationism isn’t the answer. But kneeling at the idol of diversity at the expense of the very basics of our society is a grave error. Samuel Huntington noted that, and he wasn’t ashamed to write it, publish it, and defend it. He Got It Right

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pricing Policy

I just hacked the end of the stiff cardboard box off my new Verizon Blackberry Pearl. I had to do it to fulfill the detailed requirements for a $100 rebate. Then I had to fill out a tedious form, putting all of my name and address info into individual letter boxes, and not forgetting to go through the list of 673 different phone types with their rebate amounts on the flip side to check mine. Finally I had to figure out which of the “Customer Receipts” (there were three) was the one desired by the rebate paperwork and make a copy of it. Address a self-supplied envelope, affix postage and then hope/pray for six weeks or more.

Now, I’ve been a long time Verizon customer. I’ve got another phone from them, as well as my landline, DSL and data service. They’ve got the record on me for billing, credit history, and vital life signs. They supplied me with the phone in the first place, so they know I’m the guy entitled to the bloody rebate! Why then must I go through all of this to get my $399.99 phone for $149.99 with a $100 rebate to net me a cost of $49.99? If the damn phone costs $400, then charge that. If it’s a buck-fifty, then charge that. Is that too complex?

Frankly, I hate rebates. I despise them. I will choose not to buy a product which offers a rebate if there is a reasonable alternative at a fixed price. I’ll even pay more for freedom from rebates!

I used to buy clothing from a menswear place called Jos. A. Banks. They’ve got some nice stuff; shirts, suits, polos, sweaters, accessories. Good selection, lots of stores around the country, and a pretty good online outlet as well. But, everything they sell is priced at double or triple what it is worth. That’s so they can continually have a half-price or two-for-one or “everything goes for $99” sale. If you ever buy anything at Jos. A. Banks for the base price, you are a fool. If the stuff can sell for half the sticker price, why don’t they sell it at that price to begin with? Am I supposed to believe that I’m really getting a $900 suit for $400 because they want me to be happy? Sell it for what it costs you to market it, plus a reasonable profit. I’ll come back.

Been watching the car sales recently? I can buy a $72,000 Cadillac Escalade for more than $15,000 less than the sticker price! What does that tell me about the sticker price? If GM could sell vehicles for that price as a standard policy and have any sort of margin, why don’t they do it all of the time? Does that tell me I’m really stupid if I believe the sticker price has any relevance at all to the value of the vehicle?

Next time you fly somewhere; see if you can ask a handful of your fellow travelers what their ticket cost. I will guarantee no two people you talk to will have paid the same price. Does the seat at the front of the airplane get there any faster or more comfortably than the seat at the rear? Is it less expensive for the airline to take a window seat passenger than an aisle? If all of the seats leave and arrive together, and the cost of fuel/staff/equipment/processing is the same for all passengers, why don’t we have single pricing in effect?

I’m just an ignorant fool, but I would think that if I wished to produce a product and sell it to people as my business that I would calculate my cost of producing the product and delivering it, then add a reasonable percentage and sell it in the competitive marketplace. I couldn’t sell it for less and survive. I couldn’t sell it for appreciably more or my competitors will beat me. It would be a quality product, at a fair price and the customer would know they paid what it was worth.

Why wouldn’t that work?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Senior Legislative Chamber

The founder's of our nation were deeply suspicious of the two extremes of populist government. On the one hand they recognized the emotionalism of the masses and the tyranny of a majority. Majority rule of democracy is neither just nor wise. It simply satisfies the simplistic need for a methodology of choosing which is understandable, even if not correct.

On the other hand, the Framers had just overthrown a monarchy and even as they penned the Constitution they were observing the meltdown of French society as the people took to the streets and laid the foundations for the Reign of Terror. No monarchy or aristocracy, hopefully, for their new nation.

So, they designed a republic. As we look at the original Constitution, we might note that only the House of Representatives was popularly elected. The chief executive wasn't. That was the Electoral College's business--and it should be noted that in those days there was no provision for a general election even to provide guidance to the Electors. The judiciary wasn't chosen by the people. Federal justices were chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The one popularly elected branch, the House, wasn't involved there either.

And, we have the Senate. Again, no popular election there. Senators were appointed by the legislatures of the states. This would assure experienced leaders of the legislative process; individuals educated in the law and governance who could communicate in debate to insure that the laws and decisions of this land would be reflective of the conditions. They would explain what the issues were, what the choices might be, and what the solutions were meant to accomplish.

Now, take a look at this:

The Inarticulateness of Fame

Here are some quotes from that interview:

"I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't, you know, part of the system, who obviously, you know, stands for the values of, you know, the Democratic Party,"

On a competitor for the position:

"You know, I think, you know, we're sort of, uh, sharing some of this experience. And um, as I've said, he was a friend, a family member, and um so, and uh obviously, he's, you know, he's also had an impressive career in public office."

How she deals with another supporter:

"I know how important it is to, you know, to be my own person. And, you know, and that would be obviously true with my relationship with the mayor."

Imagine, for a moment, if this same potential leader of our nation had been subjected to the same scrutiny and parsing of communicative skills as the recent Republican candidate for Vice-President. It makes an occasional "golly" or "gee whiz" seem the highest rhetorical skill. Ummm, you know?

Saturday, December 27, 2008


He makes a couple of excellent points here about the hypocrisy of the adulatory press:

Male Cheesecake

While the current President is a regular exerciser, remarkably fit for his age after eight years of the oppressive responsibility he has faced, and with an excellent, resilient disposition, he gets no respect. The Messiah, on the other hand, is the first chief executive, head-of-state, to embrace the trailer trash culture of wearing a baseball cap for any and all occasions. He lavishes in luxury rather than clearing brush on a Texas ranch, and he bowls 38 to show he's a regular guy down on league night. Amazing.

Then there is the brouhaha about ministers. Clearly the Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger business was noteworthy. I mean these guys were pretty flagrant in their disdain for all things America. Their comments would be inflammatory in a barbershop or barroom, let alone as part of a religious service. Unless, of course there is to be human sacrifice or a Krystalnicht scheduled after adjournment.

Now, we've got outrage over Rick Warren. C'mon folks, get over it. Warren is a "big name" preacher and he's tapped to read the invocation. Nada mas! It is a reach across the religious aisle and should be viewed as commendable in that perspective. It isn't a wholesale embracing of Warren's moral philosophy and he need not be vetted as if for a cabinet post. Obama couldn't have invited Wright, and he actually does a commendable thing in choosing Warren. Give credit where it is due.

Yet McCain, at that link above, notes that the deeper religious convictions issue for Mr. Obama seems overlooked. Hoist on the petard of Trinity Church in Chi-town, Obama must now seek his moral and spiritual counsel from another source. He has not, however been very aggressive in filling that void. When I was growing up as a staunchly practicing Catholic, the nuns in school always cautioned us about the "twice-a-year Catholics"--those who only come to church on Christmas and Easter. It appears that Mr. Obama, who sought religious solace for twenty years in the pews of Rev. Wright, now doesn't need a moral anchor even on Christmas day.

Maybe his search for the meaning of life is going to be conducted with as much sincerity as OJ Simpson's search for the real murderer?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gone Too Soon

Remember when songs, even rock-n-roll songs, told a story that we could identify with? No gutter language, but definitely a soap opera episode in this classic:

Now, some folks can't leave a classic alone. They've got to explore the nooks and crannies of the music, but meanwhile, I think Sally went home long ago with the dapper Mr. Palmer:

Some Friends of Mine

The Chicago Tribune, on Dec. 23rd, devoted a lot of space to a couple of friends who deserve a lot of recognition for their unceasing efforts to keep the record straight:

American Heroes

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obfuscating the Situation

Never try to make sense of the statements of a gun-banner. They don’t compute. Somehow they deny the obvious: that more gun crime is committed in jurisdictions with draconian gun laws, that criminals aren’t constrained by gun restrictions, that licensed CCW holders are certified, trained and registered, or that the Second Amendment opposes the concept of their ideas.

Here’s a typical East Coast hoplophobe warning of the carnage on the horizon:

Keeping 'em Helpless

Read his whine carefully. Notice that he thinks the National Parks will become more dangerous if CCW holders prowl the countryside. He points out:

US Park Rangers are the most assaulted federal officers in the country.

And also this:

"Low staffing levels are leading to a substantial and critical lack of law enforcement coverage and capability at many refuges across the system. At many refuges, law enforcement coverage is insufficient to ensure the protection of resources and the safety of visitors and refuge staff."

He even throws a little crap at the wall by suggesting that CCW holders might increase poaching. Apparently the fact that poaching would remain illegal whether or not I was capable of self-defense during my park visit seems to escape his logic.

I can conclude nothing from this idiot’s rant beyond that he is totally clueless.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Senatorial Lottery

So, we’ve got an administration upheaval in Washington. A new President-elect is heading into the White House and he’s bringing a new leadership team. As is traditional, he is choosing from those who helped him along the way to his victory—and in some cases those who opposed him as well. One result is a number of vacated seats in the US Senate, including his own. Since “advise and consent” is one of the particular powers of the Senate, it is critical that the President’s party have control of that august body. They do now and they will after replacements are made.

At issue, however, is the policy in most states of gubernatorial appointment of an interim replacement until the next election. Since incumbency, even for an appointee, is virtual assurance of fund-raising prowess, name-recognition, and re-election, it is a dead certainty that appointees will lock up the seats when the next election rolls around.

Two issues are stirring the national pot, but you can be sure there will be other local outcries as well. Obama’s seat in Illinois and Hillary Clinton’s in New York have already caught the eye of the media, the pundits and the blogosphere. Many express outrage that the democratic process is side-stepped by the appointment process.

Why is it not mentioned that APPOINTMENT of Senators was the original intent of the Founders? Look it up. The Constitution specifies that US Senators will be appointed by the legislatures of the states, not popularly elected. The idea was to gain a more experienced, better qualified, more mature, and less populist membership to the upper house of the legislature. It also cemented the elitism of the period into the new structure of government.

It apparently served us quite well for the first 126 years of our republic. No Senator was popularly elected until ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913. We’ve actually got more time logged with appointed Senators than elected ones!

Maybe the old ways were better!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Inaugural Poet

I never realized that the inauguration of a President required a poet. It seems a bit out of place to me. We are celebrating democracy and the electoral process which gives us a turning of the page. We are demonstrating to the less fortunate of the world our rare ability to transition power without violence. We are exhibiting the glory of our capitol and the strength of our nation. We are coming together to heal the partisan divisions of a brutal campaign. We are welcoming the new administration and saying farewell to the departing. But, as the Mexican bandit might have noted, "We don' need no steenkin' poets."

That, of course, was before our first "black President," William Jefferson Clinton's inaugural events. He had Maya Angelou reciting something which, I will confess, made little sense to me and seemed out of place. I recall much discussion of the reading and, since I've got a couple of books in print, I note that Ms Angelou's writings suddenly were in great demand.

So, now we've got our first "real Black President." And, he's got the requisite poet chosen. And, not surprisingly that laureate is both female and African-American, once again. Her name is Elizabeth Alexander and she comes with great credentials--if one believes that Afro-centric studies at Ivy League schools is a stepping stone to greatness.

Here's an exposure to a couple of works which she herself presents. I note that she draws heavily on other people's words (an apparent tradition of modern Left intellectuals), and her poetry consists not of dynamics of verse, but simple declarative sentences which seem to this pedestrian observer totally superficial and mundane. Judge for yourself:

Elizabeth Alexander is Barack Obama's inaugural poet from Neil Astley on Vimeo.

I went to to check on poet Alexander's "books" and find them to be less than weighty tomes. Her "Venus Hottentot" runs a massive 64 pages. Two other contributions are 96 pages each. They might be called pamphlets rather than books. Why am I flashing back on Balph Eubanks?

Naturally she waxes literary for the Wall Street Journal:

WSJ Interviews the Artist

I like some of these quotes:

When I compose poetry, I don't think themes, I begin with language. I do believe that form and function are united, that they go together. But I don't start with an idea that I wish to express in poetry.

So it's a bit Lewis Carroll jabberwocky, I guess. Or maybe this:

We aren't listening for a message but rather listening for we don't know what exactly, but we're allowing ourselves to be stirred in some kind of way. That's the power of good poetry when people are open to it. To create a contemplative moment in the midst of this grand occasion, and to say every single word matters as we communicate with each other, that's what the presence of poetry accomplishes.

Isn't that clear? No message, simply stirring. Contemplation of single words which matter and say nothing!

Oh yeah, definitely Balph Eubanks.

Internet Dependence

Here's a bit of breaking (excuse the pun) news from across the globe:

Good News--Bad News

What it means to you and me is less spam this week. It also means you probably don't need to bother calling technical support.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Looking Back

Something that has been rattling around in my head for the last couple of days is the inability of the American people to remember for only a few short weeks the profound pronouncements of our elected masters. It is much like the attribution of particular wisdom to rockers, athletes, movie stars and the inheritance-blessed wealthy. We eagerly wait for Oprah, Barbra, Bono, Hanoi Jane, Penn or Affleck to speak ex cathedra on economics, the environment, morality, justice and the world while totally ignoring the fact that they possess no expertise in these disciplines beyond a fame which gives them a platform to blather.

Similarly the political class seldom possesses any credentials other than the ability to raise campaign funds, milk a social network, promise everything to everyone, and then run the nation into penury. Consider for a moment the academic credentials of Al Gore. Here we have someone who has received an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize for pronouncements on global warming yet he has absolutely no credentials on meteorology, climatology, environmental science. Amazing ain’t it?

Remember last summer when gasoline prices at the pump soared past $4 a gallon? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid along with their eco-Nazi fellow travelers prognosticated on a continued climb to $5, $6 and more. The cost of oil had gone to $147/bbl and the talk was $200 or more with nothing that we could do about it. When wise men said that we possess abundant untapped resources, they looked past their pince-nez and tut-tutted that even if we started drilling that very day, it would take ten years before the supply adjustment would swing the market and then it might amount to a penny or two a gallon.

That was five months ago. Today, gasoline is $1.49 a gallon where I live and oil closed yesterday at $36/bbl. That wasn’t a result of adding supply, it was a result of dropping demand as the financial crisis loomed. The market responded quite clearly and government never got around to intervening. Does anyone hold Pelosi, Reid, accountable for their blatant ignorance?

Malone Vandam expounds on our Brit friends and “stabilizing” oil prices there:

Laissez Faire Redux

And, he’s got it exactly right. An interference-free market is a wonderful thing for commodities, for labor, for credit and for virtually all resources requiring allocation.

Iraqi Cabinet Meeting

Here's some footage from an Iraqi cabinet meeting which took place just a few days ago. They seem quite aware that there might be security leaks, therefore to confuse the press they have donned non-traditional, yet undeniably Middle-Eastern garb. They also employ code words, but it should be fairly obvious that the discussion is about the continued American presence.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Global Climate Change Accelerates

So the trip to Las Vegas is delayed. The airport is closed by snow!

Poolside Chaisses Available Without Tipping

And the beautiful people of Malibu are staying indoors:

Surfs UP--Wet Suit Required

Of course it isn’t uncommon in Chicago:

Daley's Plows to Work Overtime

But it is in New Yawk City

The power has been out in New England for a week. Guess they need to raise the taxes and improve services.

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

Now, the question I’ve got to ask myself is, “Does a Prius with half a ton of batteries in the trunk get good traction in the snow?”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Modern King George

Increasingly the dictum of Santayana echoes in my mind: those who will not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. He may not have said it exactly that way, and he may not have meant it the way we interpret it today, but it makes sense to me.

The lesson today is the history of the founding of our recently less than great nation. You might recall that the figurative straw that broke the back of our local camel was King George III and his need to finance the defense of his colonies. The logic he applied was irrefutable: it cost money to supply all those redcoats, the American colonies were what was being protected, the best folks to pay for that were the colonials. So, he taxed. He taxed commerce and correspondence. He taxed every transaction. He taxed their whisky (which would have bugged me,) and he taxed their tea, which vexed them severely. They revolted, they won and George was out a very profitable enterprise.

Now, we've got a bunch of folks who haven't read their history or learned their lesson:

Tax & Spend Illustrated

The good folks at New York, are among the most heavily taxed in the nation. The NY City people are among the very few who pay not only federal and state income tax, but also a city income tax. They pay sales taxes and property taxes and excise taxes. Now, the state is going to tax virtually everything else.

Will the fine citizens of New York be as vexed as the Boston Patriots who dumped the tea? Somehow I doubt that. It is probably too late for them.

The lesson needs to be learned on the broader scale of the entire nation. Is New York the vanguard of fiscal irresponsiblity? Will they lead the way for the entire nation to tax our entire lives to fulfill the promise of no business failures, no mortgage forclosures, no healthcare bills, no tuition expenses, and no discomforts that can only be offered through government mandates?

Certainly there is every indication that the lesson of George III was not internalized and might need a quick review. Dust off the history books and maybe the economics texts as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wisdom of Tuco

A thought for the rest of your life:

What I Want For Christmas

Caroline Kennedy submitted her Christmas letter to Santa this week. Oops, it didn't go to Santa, it went to visually disadvantaged Governor David Patterson of New York. Last week he was blind, but that was before Saturday Night Live pointed it out so vividly that even he could notice. One wonders whether Ms Kennedy offered her resume in a braille version so the Governor could quickly scan the essential qualifications to become one of the 100 most powerful people in America.

My first thought was, does she even live in New York? I quickly dismissed that as being a foolish query. It made no difference with Hillary Clinton, and it shouldn't apply now. After all, Caroline IS a Kennedy. She's niece to Uncle Ted, the patron saint of submerged automobiles. Her other uncle, Bobbie was senator from NY and her father was a president, renowned for giving us the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and his most long lasting legacy, the Vietnam War. If relationships mean anything, she must be qualified.

Stylishly Slim Resumes Now Demanded

Why, take a look. She's had a job where she worked three days a week! And, she held it for 22 consecutive months! That's more work experience than President-Elect Obama.

Is it just me, or is the governance of this country looking more and more like aristocracy and less and less like the voice of the people? Or is it simply that the people have gotten so celebrity-indoctrinated that they demand to be ruled by such an aristocracy?

Screw the cake, I want to be governed by Marie Antoinette.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An Opportunity I'll Pass On

We've got to take our joy where we find it these days, and I found mine today in this email to "all faculty" at the quaint small town community college where I tilt against the windmill of small minds several days a week:

  • Each summer the National Endowment for the Humanities supports study opportunities in the humanities for faculty who teach American undergraduates.

    Landmarks of American History and Culture workshops are rigorous national, residential workshops for community college faculty. The Landmarks workshops are 1-week projects that take place at sites of historical or cultural significance across the nation and provide educators with the opportunity to engage in intensive study and discussion of important topics in American history and culture. Participants receive stipends to help defray travel and living expenses. This program is open to full-time, part-time, and adjunct faculty at community colleges.

    The list of Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops for Community College Faculty, along with eligibility requirements and contact information for the directors, is available on the NEH website at:

    The six workshops for 2009 are
    • Concord, Massachusetts: A Center of Transcendentalism and Social Action in the 19th Century
    • Encountering John Adams: Boston and Braintree
    • The American Lyceum and Public Culture: The Rhetoric of Idealism, Abolition, and Opportunity
    • Landmarks of American Democracy: From Freedom Summer to the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike
    • Progress and Poverty: The Gilded Age in American Politics and Literature, 1877-1901
    • Passages to Cleveland: Community Memory and the Landmarks of Migration.

I'm sorry, but I'm too superficial to consider Concord a "Center of Transcendentalism"--I thought it was liberty and freedom that were of concern. I confess that the "Rhetoric of Idealism" was something that only surfaced in my mind during the Obama campaign. I wonder if the Landmarks of democracy aren't a bit more fundamental than "Freedom Summer" (which sounds a lot like the burning cities of 1968) or the garbage men of Memphis. Honestly, I've got my doubts if 1877-1901 was a particularly gilded age for either politics (do Chester Arthur, Rutherford Hayes or Benjamin Harrison come to mind?) or literature (although Mark Twain, Henry James and Walt Whitman do merit a nod.) As for Cleveland and its position as a landmark of migration only leads me to ask, "Is the Cuyahoga burning?"

Wonder why education is so screwed up in America? Maybe the National Endowment for the Humanities has a hand in it.

A Chicago Story

Of all of the summaries and impressions we’ve gotten in the last ten days about tarnished Illinois governor Blago, this one may be the most detailed and insightful:

All About the Benjamins--and the Hairbrush

Several things have been jumping out at me as this evolves. One of the most remarkable, and largely uncommented upon, has been the fact that this governor of a major state eschews the state capitol and the governor’s mansion. He set himself up in an office across the street from Chicago’s City Hall and Cook County Building on Daley Square. And, he doesn’t apparently show up there very often! He apparently feels no need to be in regular contact with the legislature, or even to be available to major departments of the state executive branch. It is apparently more important to him to be close to the power levers which are the Daley machine and all of that is in Chicago, not Springfield.

Then there was the language, of both the Guv and his wife. Now, I’m not isolated from the patois of the streets. I’ll venture that the language in a typical tactical fighter squadron is as gritty, although slightly more articulate and varied, as that which you’ll hear on the edges of Cabrini Green. Yet, there is a time and a place for everything and when one is the governor then it is a time to communicate in a slightly more formal language. You can still be aggressive and even insulting, but you need to detach from the crude and seek the more sophisticated forms of expression. Maybe the Guv should spend some time reading the quotes of Winston Churchill to get some hints on the richness of the English language.

Consider from that link above the focus on $$$. A poor staffer comes back and says there is serious illness and loss in his immediate family. Sympathetic Blago says, “oh, too bad. Get me a big campaign contribution…and I’ll send a get-well card.”

You know what’s next, I’m sure. This is when the governor holds the tearful press conference with loyal frau standing beside him and announces that he’s had a problem with drugs, alcohol, lusting for nubile women or teen-aged boys, gambling, or all-night sessions with his PlayStation. He’ll beg our forgiveness, denounce his evil behavior and go into “rehab”, preferably at a Caribbean resort for six weeks, after which all will be back to normal. Then he’ll appoint Bernadette Dohrn to the vacant Senate seat.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Am I paranoid, or are they really out to get me? Maybe I’ve been a Pollyanna for too long. I’ve long taught in my government classes that our elected officials occasionally are corrupt, venal, stupid and petty. But the huge majority of those who seek elected office at all levels in this grand experiment in democracy are honest people trying to give something back to their communities and maybe to build a better life for their posterity. The good ones don’t get the headlines.

Now, we’ve got Blago and Duke and Foley and Craig, not to mention the vacant suit who seeks welfare housing in Washington DC to tide him over until his government sponsored digs become available. Already Booked And, don’t get me started on Barney Frank, Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, and Nancy Pelosi. Maybe I’ve been too optimistic about democracy.

Similarly, I’ve often disagreed with the folks who characterize Microsoft as an evil empire sucking the life out of computing and commandeering the hard work of entrepreneurial programmers who otherwise would succeed. I’ve touted the fact that their OS prevailed, even when giant IBM was in the game. They ruled over Mac to the point that Apple only succeeded when they went into the cellphone and music player business. They entered the word processing market as an underdog and simply offered a better product that made Word Perfect a distant memory. Ditto for Lotus 1-2-3 in spreadsheets and Netscape in browsers. They competed, I said, and prevailed in the marketplace.

But, that was then. Now I’m getting paranoid. And, it may be because there is skullduggery afoot. I’m talking the fascinating behavior before my eyes of Firefox. Yep, the wunderkind of browsers that is more than eroding Internet Explorer’s hold on that niche is apparently being targeted by the Redmond behemoth.

I tried Firefox about six months ago when version 3.0 came out and noted in these pages that they finally got it right for me. I liked it and over a period of about ten days found myself launching it more often than IE. Eventually I saw a heavy layer of dust on the IE icon in the task bar. It had been at least six weeks since I’d clicked on it. I made Firefox my default browser and simply loved it. I almost forget usernames and passwords after I became dependent on Sxipper’s add-on which autofilled them for me. I got research dependent upon the in-depth results of searches augmented by Surf Canyon. I loved my FF.

Of course, it is the nature of Vista that it continually morphs. The hard drive spins incessantly at random times when no demands are being made on the system as the lords of Microsoft keep trying to get it right in the background. Once a week a popup tells me that “critical” updates are ready to install. I gave up looking at the explanations. They seldom tell me much beyond the fact that they are “plugging a security leak” or correcting some obscure function with a cryptic name that leaves me clueless. I accept the recommendation like a docile sheep and click “Install.”

Which, of course, fuels my paranoia when Firefox now simply won’t load my default homepage tabs. I’ve only got five, but the major ones like Fox News and Drudge simply spin the busy icon for a minute and then the browser quits. Restarts don’t help, virus scans don’t help, remove/reinstall doesn’t help, adware removal doesn’t help. The clear conclusion is that there seems to this paranoia that the last fifteen or so critical updates from MS have included a poison pill for the competitor. Firing up Internet Explorer gives me a browser that doesn’t crash.

Am I neurotic in this belief?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Print It Faster

Once upon a time in a fairytale land that no longer exists there was a term applied politically that meant something. It was “Lame Duck.” What it referred to was an injured fowl which didn’t have the capability to function. What it was applied to was an elected official or a legislative body during that period of limbo from an election day until the first day of their term. The outgoing group was deemed unable to act. As Mark Twain or Will Rogers might have described it, they couldn’t do any more damage for at least a while. Your money and your property might be safe for the moment. In fact, it has become the practice that our typically do-nothing Congress simply takes the period off every four years and goes home to trim the Christmas tree, drink eggnog and moonshine, and pick up thick envelopes from favor-seeking constituents.

Now, we’ve got a not-so-lame duck flapping incessantly in Washington. They are on a mindless, pandering roll. Ducky-Lucky has listened to Chicken Little and Turkey-Lurkey and now is dealing with the falling sky by building huge columns of worthless currency to prop it up. These are the guys who were in maximum honking mode about a billion or two a month for a war against terror in the Middle East. Now, they’ve taken a $700 billion TARP (which really went out the showroom door at $850 B) and started discussing another $500 billion “stimulus” package, AKA welfare handout. They’ve had a couple of hundred billion for AIG, cherry-picked CitiBank, stiffed Fanny and Freddie, dissected Wachovia, decided to pick up a couple hundred thousand bad mortgages and now they are going to design some cars for us.

For a clear and concise discussion of where the US automakers problem came from, read this piece:

Why Yes, We're In the Union's Pocket

Did you get that? Given a free choice, Americans want SUVs, pickup trucks and large comfortable sedans. We’ve had the luxury of low cost fuel and we’ve got a nation with large distances and wide-open roads that work well for those vehicles. Sell what the public wants and make profits. At a buck and a half a gallon for gas, I think the market could surge!

But Congress, knowing better and being beholden to enviro-whackos and unions, says we must build vehicles with high gas mileage to balance these cars Americans want. Auto-makers, you must meet a corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) which is unrealistic across all the vehicles which you build. So, build econo-boxes which don’t sell in large numbers because we want to go green. And, don’t build them where the people will buy them like Europe or Asia. Build them in the US where union workers will have jobs. Can that sort of policy bring anything but business failure? Have you ever seen one of those SMART cars on a US highway? Would you send your teenager to high school in one? Would they go?

Well, there are two sides to every story, so here’s a “Community Opinion” writer from the Dallas Morning Worker, writing about the poor US union worker and those nasty little imports that aren’t really imported, but are built right here in the US of A:

It's the Fault o' Them Imports

Remember as you read his whining, that when he says “American automaker” he means the Detroit Big Three bankruptcy cartel. And when he says imports, he means successful global companies building cars in America.

I’m getting that 1984 feeling again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Learn to March

Well, we've been discussing the new administration, the military in the future and throwing in a bit of rock-n-roll guitar, so it seems only fitting that we learn how to march.

I have got it on good authority that the standard 120 beats per minute marching cadence and the John Philip Sousa melodies of "Washington Post", "Stars and Stripes Forever" and others will be displaced in favor of this more upbeat, "Army of One" technique.

Learn how to march here:

Hometown Boy Makes Bad

As a Chicago born and bred product, it pains me to watch the Cubs implode each year. I long for the Bears to return to the glory of ’85. I recall the Tribune as a conservative bastion under the leadership of the McCormick family and I remember when Dick Daley was the mayor…What? He still is? Never mind!

Now, the Tribune corporation, like most of the mainstream print media is both in the tank for liberals and in bankruptcy for finances. Yet, they gasp occasionally with some dramatic and necessary investigative reporting. I guess when you are deeply immersed in the cesspool which is Chicago politics, it becomes the low-hanging fruit which simply can’t be ignored. What amazes is the lack of outrage or reaction from the proletariat at the abject corruption of the entire state. My God, we’ve sent Barak Obama to the White House!

Check this story out for part of the whirlwind being reaped:

Chicago Politics and the US Senate

I hope you’ve got the time to explore the story with other sources. One which I quickly found was this:

This Seat For Sale

This raises hubris to a new level. The guv’s under federal investigation for corruption and he gets nailed by a taping discussing first how to reap profit from award of the Senate seat to a sycophant, then how to strong-arm the President-Elect for his own benefit, and even how to prep his own run for President in 2016. I guess he figures he will have been released on parole by that time to mount a campaign.

In the comments at Hot Air, there’s a familiar refrain from the Watergate days, “What did Obama know, and when did he know it.” It really becomes irrelevant. The essential here is that the corruption is wholesale throughout the entire Chicago and state political scene. The issue is the product of that system, not what was known when.

I keep getting these parallels between America and Rome after Marcus Aurelius. Caligula and Nero cannot be far behind, nor can barbarians be long in arriving at our gates.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Is A

The issue went to the Supreme Court, and they apparently will be found wanting.

Here's a detailed discussion of what we've got, what we need, and what the outcomes could be:

Simple Cure

Now, let us stipulate something very basic here. The US Constitution is the supreme law of this land. It says things in language which is sometimes clear and sometimes obtuse. When the language is clear, the discussion ends easily. When it is obtuse, the Supreme Court is obligated to interpret.

For pundits and pontificators to simply declare that "it makes no difference" is not a solution that can stand.

The Emerging Cabinet

Something not to be forgotten in observing the unfolding political circus is that the truth is seldom what we find in the “common knowledge” which we acquire from the well crafted spin-meisters of the nearly bankrupt mainstream media. Take for example the oft-repeated classic that Army general, chief-of-staff, Eric Shinseki was cashiered for challenging SecDef Rumsfeld and obstructing President Bush’s headlong rush into an ill-founded war in Iraq. Remember the assertions? Shinseki was fired because he had the temerity to offer his professional estimation that we’d need several hundred thousand more troops to conclude hostilities in Iraq after overthrow of the Sadaam regime.

This week the Man Who Would be King from the “Office of the President-Elect” (which is located wherever there is a podium with a picture hook on the front), announced that former General Shinseki was to be the Director of the Veteran’s Administration. As a military retiree, I’m a veteran, so I’ve got an interest. Here’s this from the National Review:

Compliant Generalship or Political Expedience

That’s a new perspective, isn’t it? It certainly revises the question of summary dismissal and puts it to bed with facts. It also overturns the common assertion that Shinseki said something in conflict with Bush/Rumsfeld as the cause of the non-firing. “Right but for the wrong reasons” is an entirely different story. And, the quite true conclusion that Shinseki was allowed to leave at the completion of his term is coupled with the acknowledgment that he was one (of many) in the Pentagon who failed to understand or reorganize the military to the growing emphasis on special operations and true counter-insurgency warfare. Many of us who were shaped by the Cold War for thirty years or more suffered from the same malady.

It should be further noted that some of the most vocal former flag officers who kowtowed to the Messiah along the campaign trail (and wound up under the bus at appropriate moments along the way) such as Wes Clark and Tony McPeake are totally missing from the coterie as it emerges. The lesson to be learned is that a uniform is a nice adjunct, but a total suck-up might not be successful, even in this administration.

Will Shinseki be good for the VA? Well, let’s first note that the VA deals with vets and not with military retirees. It does some great medical and rehab work for guys wounded in action and going through therapy to return to civilian life. It doesn’t do that much for the veteran-at-large unless that veteran is “welfare-grade.” The disability claims process is bureaucratic and arbitrary. The medical facilities are means-tested for eligibility and require full disclosure of all of your financial information before access. I won’t go that far. The hospitals and clinics range from the exceptional to the abominable. And the history of justifying their existence through fostering of questionable claims against the government such as PTSD, Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome is a dark chapter which doesn’t make for easy reading.

The question to be answered is will the new administration be aimed at improving resources for all veterans or will it be focused on welfare distribution to that segment of the vet population which would never have made it in civilian society but which now credits their drug addiction, alcoholism and welfare dependence to their military experience.

Will you need a beard, dirty pants, and a patch festooned field jacket to get benefits?

Monday, December 08, 2008

River Rat Thunderbird

Over the years we've had a lot of River Rats fly with the Thunderbirds, the USAF demonstration team. For a decade after the great unpleasantness of Southeast Asia it was more common than not to have one or more Rats on the team. For those unaware, the River Rats, or more formally the Red River Valley Fighter Pilot's Association, is a group of military aviators formed initially from those who had flown combat in the Red River Valley of North Vietnam--the heavily defended area around Hanoi.

The group was formed in 1967 by Robin Olds, Scrappy Johnson, and Larry Pickett--Robin from the Wolfpack Phantoms; Scrappy and Pick from the two F-105 wings. "Practice" reunions were held annually until the war ended and the POWs were returned, then in 1973 the first "Real" reunion was held. We meet every year and though we get old, the stories get better with the retelling. We've set up a scholarship program for family of MIA/POWs and a foundation to aid military families with severe medical problems. We've contributed a couple of million bucks in the process.

Rather than become a tontine, where the last man alive drinks the brandy, we opened membership to US military combat aviators and now have a lot of active duty folks in the group. That's why it is such great news to see this piece regarding one of our guys making the T'Birds for 2009. Richard "Face" Goodman, currently an F-15E Strike Eagle Pilot at Nellis AFB, will be flying the opposing solo position for the next two years:

River Rat Now a Thunderbird

In case you haven't seen them lately:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Remember Woodstock?

Watching this makes my foot tap and my fingers cramp:

But not all guitar playing is the same, even at Woodstock:

Of course you could also play a somewhat spastic air guitar:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Cutting Room Floor

The completed manuscript for the compiled memoir of Robin Old's remarkable life went to the publisher this week. Depending upon priorities at St. Martin's Press, the book should be in stores by the end of next summer.

Here's a piece that was considered but didn't make it to the final manuscript:


The drive up Rabbit Ears always seemed to make him feel younger. As the road wound upward out of the Yampa River basin he seemed to shed years, aches and worries. The sky seemed bluer and the air fresher as the black Mustang turned the last left hander just after the summit and he anticipated the peaceful run through the wooded park ahead. He had thought his dad would show up this time, but he hadn’t made it for some reason. Then things began to look a bit unusual. The expected right hand bend wasn’t where he thought it should have been. The road eased slightly right and then back to the left entering a stand of lodgepole pines. Maybe he had forgotten this section. Highway 40 continued a gradual climb as he dropped the transmission down into third gear. Something was different.

Slowly, almost without a perceptible change in the pavement, the road seemed to become much smoother. The trees gave off the most beautiful scent and he could hear the birds singing with the top down. The sunshine seemed incredibly intense and he was feeling better than he had in an incredibly long time. He didn’t mind the strangeness of the road; it seemed as though all was as it should be. He looked over the gleaming polished hood and ahead there seemed to be a bit of mountain fog drifting over the road. He slowed a bit and moved on.

It seemed that the foggy patch didn’t last long at all, then he was in a grassy meadow and ahead the road took a hard right hand turn at what appeared to be a huge golden entryway. Two men were standing at the gate. They were of indeterminate age, but clearly strong and fit. Each slightly over six foot and Robin thought momentarily that they reminded him of his own prime. They waved and summoned him to stop. As he pulled the car to the shoulder and started to get out he realized that he was wearing a clean, freshly starched, Nomex flying suit. Somehow it didn’t seem strange in the least.

The two men at the gate were unusually dressed, but their garb did nothing to detract from their demeanor. They seemed to exude power, grace and confidence. However they were costumed they were clearly men of stature to be respected. The one nearest the gate entrance was apparently wearing a jerkin of chain mail and a doublet of white with a large red cross. He resembled nothing so much as a knight of medieval times. The other had long flowing black hair and was clothed in a gown of shimmering gold cloth, but the scabbard holding the jewel-hilted broadsword at his left hip allowed no questions of his masculinity. Maybe there was some sort of costume party going on?

Robin approached, wondering what this place was and how he had found it and why he was in a flying suit. He began to get an inkling of what was going on, but wasn’t yet quite sure. He approached the gowned figure and extended his hand in greeting, “Good afternoon, I appear to be lost a bit. The name is Olds. Where am I?”

The mailed knight grinned and the gowned man smiled as he shook Robin’s hand. “Don’t you have any idea where you are? Remember how you got here?”

“I came up Rabbit Ears on US 40, but must have made a wrong turn.”

“No, you made the proper turns, but it took you a lot longer to get here than simply coming up the highway. Some say it takes an incredibly long time to get here. Others do it fairly quickly. It depends upon where you start.”

Robin began to ponder what he saw and how he felt. He looked at the golden entrance and then at the two men. Could this be what it seemed? “Would you be Peter?” seemed like a logical question considering.

“No, Robin, I’m not St. Peter. He’s down the road a bit further at the main entrance. I’m Michael, and this is George. We’re here at the annex to welcome you.”

“Really? George of dragon-slaying fame? And, you’re the Michael that cast out ol’ whatzisname? What is this place?”

“This place has many names, some call it Valhalla but I’ve got to confess that we’re woefully short of Valkyries to lead you in. You’ve pretty much got to find your own way around here. As for who we are, that dragon business is pretty much a metaphor for bad things and my friend George tends to exaggerate it a bit when he tells the story. As for me, let’s simply say that the casting out activity I was involved in took a lot of help from my friends. When the boss said you were coming, we thought it better that some warriors be here to welcome you rather than having you face Pete. He can sometimes seem a little bit stodgy to new-comers.”

“So, this is what I think it is? I made it?”

“Yes, you made it. I think you’ll like it here. There are a lot of folks have been dying to meet you…oops, excuse the pun. I didn’t mean it but as an archangel, I occasionally slip up on how sensitive man is to the issue of his mortality.”

“I could hardly take offense to anything you say, sir. I’m honored, and I’ll confess that I’m very surprised to get here. Who’s here?”

“Lots of folks you know and even more that you know of. We’ve got Luke and Immelman and the Baron here. There’s Galland and Bader and Gabreski as well as Bong and McConnell and I can’t even begin to list who all else. It would take too long, and we’ve got eternity! Why don’t you come on in and meet the group. It’s right through that gate, and the stag bar is always open. The boss just got us a great single-malt that’s quite literally heaven in a glass. Just don’t start any MiG-sweeps on your first night in the place, OK.”

“I guess I can live with that…oh, I see what you mean about terms up here. I’ll try to be on my best behavior, but as you probably know I occasionally get carried away. Will the car be OK on the shoulder there?”

“We’ll take care of it, Robin. We also do valet parking.”

He passed through the gates and began to understand Magee’s vision of “footless halls of space.” It seemed to stretch endlessly before him, yet his passage was smooth and swift. He saw a broad doorway ahead and from within the sound of voices came. It was a familiar song. They had just reached the crescendo when he entered the vast room. “The women all muster to view that great cluster…” Heads turned to see who had arrived, but not a beat of the song was missed as the voices soared.

“And they stand and they stare at the bloody great pair…”

When it ended, one of the men turned and raised a glass his way. “Let’s say hello to the new guy!” he led, “Heellllooooo, Asshole!”

Another voice and another glass raised, “Let’s say hello to the asshole! Heellloooo, Robin!” It seemed that all of the customs he was familiar with were still in play. He was home at last.

And so the pantheon of warriors gained yet another. The stories were told, the whisky was drunk and the songs were sung. It was a pretty good duty station. They even got to fly.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I’m a Believer

I didn’t believe for the last two years. He stood before us nightly and explained in broad, nebulous terminology that he was “the agent of Change.” He was not in the mold of venal Washington insiders. He was bipartisan, despite no evidence at all of ever having been involved in a bipartisan initiative of any sort. He was audaciously hopeful, clear-eyed and brilliant. He was “change we can believe in.” And, I didn’t believe.

He told us that John McCain was “Bush III.” That was not Change! That was not different. He told us that Hillary Clinton was wrong in her view of Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror. That was not Change. He told us that the Bush administration Defense Department was incompetent and inefficient. That he, despite absolutely zero military experience or familiarity was going to Change the DOD. He told us that Bill Richardson was wrong on trade policy and NAFTA and immigration and commerce. That wouldn’t be real Change. He told us that Bill Clinton wasn’t a populist, President of the people and his legacy Justice Department was as badly flawed as George Bush’. He told us he would bring change. But, I didn’t believe.

Now he is in elected office. I know he’s in elected office, because the sign he stands behind each day says so. It says it’s an “office” and it belongs to the President-elect. So he’s in an elected office. QED.

He announces his cabinet choices each day. And, I can see the Change taking place. He has changed virtually everything he said during his campaign. He promised he would bring Change and he delivers daily. We see a Clinton cabinet re-forming before our eyes. There’s Hillary; the flawed diplomat who made so many mistakes in his view with her foreign policy positions on the campaign trail. She’s in charge of his foreign policy.

He promised a new approach to defense. He delivered there, by Changing from his dissatisfaction with the administration to retention of the SecDef. It’s the first time that has ever been done in history! That’s Change!

He returns the ol’ “pardon-meister” to Justice, and free-trader Richardson to Commerce. That’s sure a Change from his policy proposals on the campaign stump.

Yep. I doubted he would bring Change, but I was wrong. He Changes everyday from what he promised to what is expedient for the moment. And he continues to prove he is clueless with regard to assuming any sort of responsible leadership position. He’s a drowning man grasping at hands which he thinks are reaching to help him. They might be intending to push him under.

But, now I’m a believer!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Style Over Substance

Last week, the CEO's of the Big Three auto manufacturers went to Washington to plead for a government subsidy of their collapsing welfare distribution agencies. That's what the union mandated fiscal outrages are, welfare for undereducated and unproductive workers making less than attractive products which can't compete in a free market.

Their faux pas was that they traveled to the Senate hearings in their corporate jets. The showboating Senators fixated on that tidbit and the slavering media highlighted the irony of pleading bankruptcy while enjoying corporate perks. But take a minute to exercise some common sense here.

We're talking about $25 BILLION in corporate bridge loans and subsidies, not a three million dollar Gulfstream. We're talking about folks at the highest rung of the corporate ladder whose time is precious and who are expected to conserve that time and apply it to the benefit of the company. We're talking about corporate jets which are already owned and were purchased for exactly the purpose that they were used for. In other words, the companies did what most major companies do. They provided modern tools for their management leaders to do the most productive work. The cost of the flights was minuscule in the big picture here compared to the waste of booking on a scheduled airline with all of the hassle which that entails these days.

But, they learned. This week we have this:

Not As Good as Camry or Altima

Yep. The three high-rollers return to the Washington carnival, but this time driving! And, they are driving suitably "green" vehicles. They are putting along in their finest mid-size sedan hybrids. Getting 34 miles to the gallon, feeling the cuddle of the cloth seats (leather not available with hybrid engine), rubbing their uncalloused hands along the luxuriant plastic dashboard and interior facing, and hopefully listening to liberal talk radio shows as they languish in traffic jams and bounce along deteriorating Interstates.

Is this meaningful? Is it practical? Is it economical? Is it justifiable? Is it monumentally stupid?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bus Man's Holiday

Here's Formula 1 driver, Ricardo Patrese taking his wife out for a quick lap around the track in a nice new Honda. He's simply doing what he does, and he does it better than one in a billion human beings on the planet. She's simply doing what Italian wives do when they think their demise is imminent.

Divorce Imminent

Wonder if he'll get lucky tonight?