Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open Letter to the New Mexico Republican Party

To Matt Kennicott, Executive Director of the Republican Party of New Mexico.

Dear Sir,

Today I received a 'robo-call' from your party seeking to blame your rivals, the Democrats, for abuse of budget earmarks (also known as 'pork' spending). You have reached a family of registered independents who think both our major parties stink, and one reason the GOP and the asses can both go to blazes is hypocrisy.

According to a report from Reuters on April 2 of this year, the leaders in porkbarrel spending last year - in both houses of our Congress - were Republicans. In the House, the winners were Mr. Wicker of Mississippi (at $176.3 million) and Mr. Young of Florida ($169.5 million). A Democrat came in third place, thanks to Mr. Murtha. In the Senate, the top three pork harvesters were Republicans: Senators Cochran, Shelby, and Stevens.

Your recording even had the audacity to mention the infamous "Bridge To Nowhere" while bashing the other party, as if we are too stupid to recall that that project was the baby of Republican Senator Ted Stevens, and supported by the current Governor of Alaska, who is now a candidate for national office and pretends she opposed the project.

Mr. Kennicott, this ad is an embarrassment to your party. Bad enough interrupting working people during dinner time, but to feed us this hypocritical rubbish is to piss into the wind.

Most Sincerely Yours,

A

Traffic Cameras

Our brand new computer has a defective memory card, and it shuts down suddenly without warning. So this blog will be quieter than usual.

This morning's Las Cruces Sun-News has a letter from a concerned citizen about cameras at intersections, which Las Cruces is considering putting up at intersections to catch people who run red lights. These cameras are common in Deming, and increasingly common in Los Angeles, where I previously lived. The cameras in Los Angeles are bigger, more obvious, like the clumsy lumbering daleks from the old Dr. Who TV show. The Deming cameras are much more subtle, perching on the power supply wire overhead like a sparrow.

The citizen's concerns seem almost quaint. What about the studies that suggest an increase in rear-end accidents at intersections with cameras? Do the cameras have any deterrent effect at all?

Oh, sweet person. It's not about any of that. The cameras are there to raise money. That's all it's about.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Play Airs This Week

On Friday, my play, Do You Hear What I Hear, airs on San Francisco public radio, and can be heard on the internet at http://www.shoestring.org/ throughout the week. I do hope you'll give it a listen and enjoy. An amusing play, I think, that was great fun to write.

And I am most grateful to Debbie Falb, Rudy King, Andrew Schark, Alisha Seaton, Justin Simien, Devra Zabot, and Sarah for reading the play aloud and/or listening to it and giving me their feedback, as well as Lance Roger Axt of Play It By Ear Productions for his encouragement and promotion of the piece.

Memory Card Problems

Updates to this blog may be intermittent for the next week or week and a half.

We had to replace our computer less than a month ago, and the brand-new computer is having memory card problems that cause it to shut down abruptly at random times.

It is training us to hit 'save' a lot. However, blog updates may be intermittent while we pack up the computer to ship it to the hospital for the surgery it needs.

Sorry folks! More Gabriel pictures and madcap observations from the zany depressive are on the way...

Friday, September 19, 2008

That Ain't Workin'! Money For Nothin'!

Political blogger Steve Benen writes, "I've never fully understood the right's penchant for Hollywood bashing. Americans seem to like the entertainment industry quite a bit, and voters who might be swayed by cheap shots at movie stars are probably already inclined to back Republicans anyway."

He then quotes Senator McCain as saying this at a campaign stop: "Just a little while ago, he flew off to Hollywood with a fundraiser for Barbra Streisand and his celebrity friends," Mr. McCain said of his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, his voice sounding strained at the end of the day but still dripping with scorn. "Let me tell you, my friends: There's no place I would rather be than here with the working men and women of Ohio."

Oh, I know something about this. People have very conflicted feelings about actors and everyone else in "the entertainment industry." There is a persistent notion among those who do not understand the demands that performers aren't really working. Remember this song by Dire Straits? "That ain't workin'...that's the way you do it...get your money for nothin' and your chicks for free...WE got to move these refrigerators..."

If a politician finds it useful to drive a wedge between artists and working-class voters, of course they are going to do it. It is made easier, however, by the old prejudice against actors and entertainers, the old idea that a career in the arts isn't real work.

It is, in fact, a demanding job that requires ongoing training, with few job opportunities compared to the number of competitors, jobs are not always awarded on the basis of merit (*ahem* Paris Hilton *ahem*), there is no job security, work is on a contractual basis, and "the show goes on" even if you are coughing up radioactive glue. As an actor, you are hoofing around on elevated platforms (sometimes raked) passing the flu to each other and speaking so as to be heard by 700 people, and if you're lucky enough to have a full-time contract, you are doing that six days a week, 9 to 13 shows. If you're in the union, you get a decent salary for this, but actors are facing rollbacks in their health coverage and pay just like everyone else.

Indeed, actors in Los Angeles - the majority of them not working, or scraping along with an appearance on House here and an ad for car insurance there, temping or waitering between gigs, maybe landing a play down at South Coast Rep or in another state - have most of the same concerns as those who labor in Ohio.

If they are well-known and live in Malibu, however, they are clearly effete and out of touch with the real world. They are privileged dilettantes unless, of course, they are endorsing a Republican.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cabaret Voltaire May Close

It was a haven for frustrated creative minds in Zurich, a nightclub founded in 1915 by a gentle and strange poet named Hugo Ball and his amour, also a poet, Emmy Hennings.

It was the birthplace of dadaism, which united poets, actors, dancers, visual artists, and musicians looking for some way to respond to World War I and the insanity of the times. Music-hall cabaret commingled with avant-garde aesthetics and radical politics, in a venue that refused to take any of it seriously. A young man by the name of Vlad Lenin sat here writing in a notebook about a big idea he was having, while Tristan Tzara wrote hilarious manifesti and read them through his monocle, Ball put on his weird costumes and read long nonsense poems in an imaginary African language, and where on occasion the audience would attack the performers on stage. It was a raucous and irreverent place reacting to insane events outside. They inspired, and were soon left behind by, the surrealist movement.

The Voltaire aged and began to flake apart. At the beginning of this new century, some artist squatters seized the building to protest its announced closure, and began staging artistic events there that drew thousands of participants over several months. Those folks were evicted, but the popularity impressed some government officials who arranged arts funding to keep the venue open, and for the last few years there have been about 100 events per year at the old Cabaret. It is a tourist draw because of its history, and a current draw for artists of many disciplines.

The spirit of this place has influenced arts venues in America like AS220 in Providence (where I used to live) and ArtShare in Los Angeles. At the former, where I took in a lot of performance art and frequently participated, I was present for some exhilarating Voltaire-ish moments of inspired lunacy, irreverent and seditious hilarity, and sometimes barking mad at the performers on stage. I was present for more than one "riot" where the audience revolted against what was happening and seized the stage. A poet friend of mine staged a "happening" in which the audience participated in a conceptual 10-minute version of Hamlet that ended in a playful melee that sent every table and chair flying around the cafe and spilled out onto Empire Street. These were my salad days, the mid 1990's in Providence. I don't miss all of the art, but I miss the spirit. I've been missing it for a long time.

It started in Zurich, where some have decided you just can't have this sort of behavior. Public arts funding is only good for drawing yuppies downtown and maybe pulling some tourists. Once that has been achieved and the housing market has bounced, people begin to notice what the artists are doing and suddenly feel extremely selective about what constitutes valid art, and that is sometimes true even in Europe.

Thus in Zurich the funding has been challenged by a faction within parliament and once again the Cabaret Voltaire faces the possibility of closure, as soon as this month.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Seems Obvious

Robert was sweeping the floor of my classroom until this week, when the office switched him to a different part of the building. Robert would come in around 3:15 and we would talk while we both worked, mostly stories.

My favorite story of his had to be the time he and his friend were out hunting nearby. Two guys with shotguns, enjoying some quiet time outdoors, in some of the beautiful open space out here. They weren't finding much to shoot at that day, to hear Robert tell it, but it didn't matter. It's nice to be out with another male friend walking around.

Out in some unincorporated area they found some kind of campsite near a couple of outbuildings, some kind of shed that was old and decrepit. Since it was out in the middle of nowhere, the gentlemen got curious as to what might be inside, so they looked in either through a window or perhaps even through the wall, as that's how decrepit this shed was.

What they see inside was somewhat surprising although not unheard of at all out here, a laboratory with camp stoves and batteries and cans of Drano and acids of one kind or another, paint thinner, rock salt, hoses running in varicose patterns through pans and tubes. He didn't mention an odor but it might have spelled like ammonia.

They looked at each other. Fathers, both of these guys. Men who have raised children and know other people's children and love their town. They had shotguns. They did what seemed obvious.

Not the safest move, mind you. A place like this usually has gasoline or other accelerants in some casually-contained manner and adding hot gunpowder to the room is a volatile notion. But Robert's still here, sweeping floors early in the morning until suppertime, listening to a boom box with Christian rock music at 7:30 AM and greeting the children with a smile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We're All Mad Here

Not all lies are obvious howlers. The usual kind of politician's lie involves taking things out of context or telling half-truths, to make statements that may or may not be defensible of themselves while lead a listener to make certain conclusions that are false.

The Obama campaign practices this kind of conventional political lying. For a good analysis of one of their recent ads, and how they play around with the truth, click here. Despite a promise to change our politics fundamentally, this is a classical style of dissembling on the part of Obama. It undercuts his brand with people like me, but the fact is it will be overlooked by most of his supporters. Not forgiven, but overlooked. They will not even acknowledge that he lies like - well, like a politician.

Yet Obama's mendacity passes below radar next to the larger-than-life, "up is down," stupendous bullshitting of the Republican campaign. Talk about a party that has been hijacked by its worst element. It goes beyond audacity into the realm of the psychotic with the McCain campaign.

Time was, a politican might get caught in a lie and then backpedal, or at least stop repeating it. Yet McCain and his running mate repeat lies that have been proven, documented, and emblazoned on the heavens as deliberate and purposeful falsehoods. During the last week, Governor Palin impressed me particularly by telling a lie in her speeches at the RNC and in Ohio, backing off from it in a network news interview, and then going back out on the stump and returning to the same lie after she had already backpedaled!

The manager of the McCain-Palin campaign, Rick Davis, has become famous for 15 minutes by saying to the Washington Post: "This election is not about issues." That ain't the half of it, folks. This nation has become a mad tea party in which truth has no relevance, and it seems impossible to say anything sensible.

Indeed, I despair of returning to current affairs at all in this blog, and yet given the stakes, ignoring them also seems absurd (not to mention the risk of moral failure). Vonnegut wrote towards the end of his life that the flaw in our nation is that only nut cases run for President. Much as I would cherish his companionship these days, the statement was already out of date by then. As the cheshire cat said, "We're all mad here."

Might as well enjoy a song about it...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Off to California

Going to perform a wedding, friends. Solemnizing a lovely wedding, and then attending a precepts ceremony at my old Zen Center in Los Angeles. Be well, hug your families, and see you in a couple of days.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Terrible Anniversary

It is the anniversary of a terrible event, and in my view the event is still taking place, a smelting fire still burning seven years after ignition.

It is not my view that the event itself instantly changed the country and made it into what it is now. No terrorist has ever had the power to change the character of our country. We are doing that ourselves. The choices have always been ours, even though our government is clearly not in our control or accountable to us.

Our own response has to begin with how we individually treat other people, especially people who are different. I don't know where else a sane response can begin. My neighbors across the street annoyed me with their dogs and their shouting and the trucks revving their engines, so my response was to walk over there and admire their baby and start saying hello to them. Without a human connection, what is possible? Now, at least, we exist to each other.

Some of the new airport security rules are crazy and don't make us safer, so when I was in an airport last month I said hello to the TSA employees and made a fleeting personal connection. Without a human connection, what is possible? There is, at least, a possibility that the absurdity of the situation will poke a hole and let a little bit of light in. One day we might actually wake up and make sensible decisions about what makes us safe.

On the terrible anniversary, I won't be walking around with a solemn expression. I will be walking around saying hello to strangers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lies and Damned Lies

I am watching this election between my fingers, peeking occasionally to see how stupid it has become. It has become immeasurably stupid. It is a neutral zone in which reality and fact have no meaning at all. This morning's big news story is that one of the candidates used the old expression "you can put lipstick on a pig - but it's still a pig" to describe Candidate B's platform. Candidate B is now crowing, "He called me a pig! Did you see that?? He called me a pig!"

Reminds me of my kindergarteners. Unfortunately, the press is only too willing to report lies without identifying them as such, even though it takes one click of a mouse on the internet to look up what was said and say, "Wait a minute..."

Which I did this morning about another story. A new ad by Candidate B says that Candidate A supported "sex education to kindergarteners...learning about sex before they can read!" Now why would I be suspicious of a claim like that?

The internet is a wonderful tool. It is very easy to look things up, like the actual bill. The bill, which passed through Candidate A's committee but did not even list him as a sponsor, and never became law, would have mandated that existing sex education programs be medically accurate.

Apparently it is necessary to write laws requiring that sex education programs contain accurate information. Now that's a story.

So where do kindergarteners come in? Matter of fact, no one was advocating detailed sex instruction for kindergarteners - as a sensible person would expect. It included a provision for teaching young children about appropriate and inappropriate touching, and how to seek help if they are touched inappropriately.

In other words, it was actually something highly responsible and necessary.

Now I am going to name names. Candidate B, whose campaign is advancing a monstrous lie about their opponent, is John McCain. It is profoundly sad to see the Arizona Senator running a campaign so bereft of honesty and "straight talk." John McCain and his family were the victims of political smears by candidate George W. Bush in 2000, and now McCain has completely gone to dark side of vapid, dishonest, smear politics.

He might win the election with these tactics, because negative politics work. Sadly, the American public is not very diligent about checking out these claims, and they are easily swayed by emotional arguments and smears. It is a great fault in us.

Even if he does win, McCain has spent his personal honor and on some level I think he's got to know it. Although there will no endorsement of Barack Obama in this space, I credit his campaign with taking a higher road and attempting to discuss issues and policy ideas. The Republican Party, a distinguished and old political party, remains mired in the worst kind of politics.

I hope they aren't rewarded for it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stalking the Elephrich

The cold has been hanging on for a week and a half and today I had to go in extra early for morning playground duty. Mint tea, cold medicine, hanging my head.

The first children tell me that a snake was seen on the premises and a few of the children who have decided that I am cool follow me around as I watch the playground and the large grassy area where the children congregate in cliques, some of them throwing a football around.

A boy tells me that his daddy found some young copperheads and is keeping the snakes around. Much discussion of snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous. A girl changes the subject to rabbits and the different kinds of rabbits she keeps. I ask her if she has seen any poisonous rabbits near her home.

"Poisonous rabbits?" she asks. "There is no such thing."

"No such thing! Haven't you ever seen a rattle-rabbit?"

"A rattle-rabbit?"

"Absolutely. Great big fluffy rattle on them. They are cute, but deadly if cornered."

"Oh, you. There is no such thing."

"Fine. If you approach a big cute bunny and hear a warning rattle, don't say I didn't tell you."

She looks at me uncertainly and says, "Well, we can settle this. I have my book."

She produces from her backpack a book of animals. She flips around and finds the section on rodents. Triumphantly, she informs me there is no entry for rattle-rabbits or any poisonous bunnies.

Snorting in derision, I say, "That book is incomplete. I suppose they don't even have a listing for the Elephrich!"

Long look of suspicion from the growing ring of children. "An Elephrich?"

I sigh. "Don't they teach you anything in science? The Elephrich is related to the ostrich. It has thin legs, but it is 20 feet high and needs a trunk for drinking water. Stupid looking bird, really. It digs a massive hole in the ground and buries its head out of embarrassment."

Now the children know they are being put on. We move on swiftly to the dental needs of killer whales, and the plight of the killer whale's orthodontist.

Suddenly the bell rings and off they go to homeroom.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wishing You A Happy Affair

Overhead announcement made shortly before 3:00 PM today over the school's PA system:

"Staff and students, we just want to note that today is Mrs. Marquez's last day, and we wish her very good affairs...um...good luck with her affair...a fair...good luck with everything."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

My First Trip To Wal-Mart

As in, ever. Your correspondent never got around to entering a Wal-Mart until today, 6 September 2008.

It's not a brag, really. A long time ago, when I was reading disturbing things about Wal-Mart, I conscientiously avoided going to any Wal-Mart. Lately they have been getting some better press and perhaps doing some more good things besides making money with their hyper-competitive behemoth stores. For the last little while, it's just been a matter of preference.

Businesses project something like a personality, and I like Target more than I like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is sort of like that super "Type A" guy who doesn't care about anything in the world except getting something for the best price, and being the biggest and most important guy around; the guy you have to wonder about: would he sell his mother for the right price? Does this guy have any other life? A poem he cherishes, a song in his heart, anything? Wal-Mart is the guy who doesn't understand what anyone would care about except getting Robitussin a buck cheaper.

Target has good prices, too, but Target doesn't go on and on about it; and Target doesn't force itself on towns that don't want it there. Target renovated part of the youth center where I used to work because it looks around for nice things to do for people. Target's a friendlier personality. Successful, but doesn't take himself so seriously.

I've never been part of the "Wal-Mart is evil" crowd. At times, Wal-Mart strikes me rather as amoral, the way large corporate entities often are.

Subjective, sure. I'm allowed. It's nice being a consumer in a competitive economy. If my neighbor Joe has a hardware store and sells brooms for five bucks, and Wal-Mart sells them for three, I'll still give Joe my business if I can. Because I care about Joe, and Wal-Mart definitely doesn't. I'd rather see Joe running his own shop than wearing a blue smock and selling Wal-Mart brooms. It's a matter of value for the dollar, and there is something in my purchase that Wal-Mart doesn't value, doesn't even understand.

But I live in a smaller town now, and my kid is under the weather, and the doctor told me to buy some Pedialyte. The supermarket doesn't sell it, and neither does Page at her health store over on Copper Street, and that means going to Wal-Mart.

So I spent five bucks at Wal-Mart and the cashier in the blue smock said, "Have a nice day." Done and done.

An Open Letter to Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma

Dear Senator,

You disgusting jackass.

No, honestly. You do not deserve to speak any of the languages spoken by intelligent and decent American citizens. Not english, or spanish, or any of the romance languages, for those are all spoken by citizens loyal and patriotic. Not arabic or farsi, or other langauges spoken by naturalized immigrants from the middle-east. None of the languages of India, for the same reason. The Germanic languages are out. We may have to compromise and let you speak Esperanto. Please go curl up with an Esperanto phrasebook at a KOA campsite somewhere and feel free to die while you are there.

Perhaps your campaign-season rhetoric is earning you applause from your fellow party members, and perhaps that is all that matters to you, but as an American with a real job, Senator, I take personal offense at your false-patriotic mudslinging at Senator Barack Obama, and Obama isn't even my candidate in this election. I take offense because discourse like yours demeans all Americans at once, including yourself, although like a sick hog you don't realize you are wallowing in your own filth.

Here is what you said at the Republican convention: "Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loves his country? That's the big question."

When reporters asked you to clarify, you provided this in a written statement: "I am not questioning Sen. Obama's patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin."

In the last eight years, I have watched my countrymen die unnecessarily because of bad government. Literally, sir, I have watched bad policy produce dead Americans who need not have died. With mounting horror and nausea I have watched it happen both at home and abroad. I am less interested in assigning blame for these matters than seeing serious analyses and solutions so that fewer of my countrymen must suffer and die.

This is not, apparently, what is most important to you. What is most important to you is that a Republican win the election, and that the Democratic candidate be smeared personally in order to help the Republican win. And you speak of patriotism, you cockroach? Take that pin off your lapel, sir, because on your person it is a desecration of our flag. Remove it at once, sit down, and be ashamed.

With disdain,

Al

Friday, September 05, 2008

Keeping The Ball In Play

It's wild when the 'problem kids' turn up at the school's open house, pulling their parents into the theatre room and introducing them, showing off, telling them what we've been doing in the theatre class.

With these wild kids my job is just to be the goalie. They come flying off the field, and I find some way to kick them back into play.

We play catch with an imaginary ball, and when it comes to me I change the shape of the ball and ask them to deal with the size and weight of the ball. Sometimes I shrink the ball and then eat it to see what they will do.

The boy who immediately created a stomach pump got a star in my notebook for the day.

There are boys who have to spend some time in a chair while the rest of class proceeds, but even they turn around and watch what's going on.

The acting-out is almost always creative impulse. It presents a certain problem, sure, but the real problem is shyness. It is rampant among the girls more than the boys. There are girls who cannot, cannot, announce their own name in a room full of people.

By the end of the year, they will have announced themselves to the room with conviction in themselves.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Laughing at Double Standards

Thank God for people who can help me laugh at the double-standards at work in the Presidential campaign.

As long as my hopes for an intelligent debate about issues and policy have been shot down like so many provisions of the Constitution, at least someone can research news clips and put things into a comical perspective.

Titter titter. Take it, Jon.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Baby Stockhausen and More

Recent offerings in the classical-music-arranged-for-baby genre are getting weirder and weirder.

Baby Stockhausen is said to be mystifying but delighting infants with several Glockenspielstucke, the Kontra-Punim, a Stimmung composed for six gargling daddies, and his Mantra played on toy pianos and an electronic mobile. There are, however, reports of suicides among fathers who begin beating their heads against hard surfaces in their home while the CD is playing.

Baby Wagner is surprisingly good if you listen to it enough times. Likewise, Baby Cage and the babies reciting Hugo Ball in Baby DaDa.

My favorite of the new selections, however, has got to be Baby Trotsky. This stirring collection of Russian labor songs and patriotic folk songs, accompanied inevitably by glockenspiel and soft keyboard effects, actually comes with an implement of destruction for when the parents get sick of hearing it. It's an ice-pick, of course.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Best In Show

Bob Barr (L). John McCain (R). Cynthia McKinney (G). Barack Obama (D).
Man. Even the "alternative parties" are fronting candidates from the hypocritical Washington establishment! It must be the Year of Experience!

The remaining four candidates are all worthy of consideration, and not just because I refuse to grant the Republican and Democratic parties exclusive rights to my vote. (I am willing to pretend we live in something like a democracy, but acquiescing to two-party rule is too much even for my imagination. Especially when the two parties concerned are so lousy.) Both the Greens and the Libertarians have nominated well-known former members of the United States Congress, all of whom have federal experience outweighing that of Sarah Palin.

But this isn't an election about "experience" any more than it is a race about issues. It's about look and personality. Even those who vote entirely on ideology are frustrated this year. We might skip the debates and instead have a human dog show, where the candidates run and jump and catch a biscuit (tossed by their major corporate donors of course), are rated by judges, and the highest score wins the office. Spare us the charade and let's just have a presidential dog show, award Best In Show, and go on praying for the Republic.

Let's have a look at the homely personalities who would be our next president. One of them will win, you know that?

Bob Barr is best known for being the subject of a real-life political farce. He was a leader of the partisan Congressional team that impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998. The impeachment was perceived as being about Clinton's marital infidelity, if you remember, which is why we had a good laugh in 1999 when Barr himself was 'outed' for marital infidelity and branded with a lacey "H." For this reason, I still smirk at the mention of his name, but Barr is interesting for another reason.

Barr was an author of the PATRIOT Act of 2001, and later regretted the legislation for giving government too much power and for the way it was abused. Which makes me wonder how he could have been so naive. Government taking advantage of power and exceeding its mandate to use it? Gramercy, since when?? The Libertarians are not naive about this - but they need a candidate with name recognition, and Barr is an experienced candidate.

McCain is a long-time Senator who has run for President before. In 2000 he got steamrolled by some ugly smear politics. In 2008, McCain has hired the people who smeared him - and their acolytes - to make him President. Being 72 years old and a cancer survivor, his choice of running mate is significant, and he chose a right-wing ideologue with an impressive personal story yet a resume even shorter than Barack Obama's. McCain purports to be ready from day one, but in the event of a God-forbid, would President Palin be ready and what, then, would she do?

If any left-winger resorts to rumor-mongering about McCain's temper, be sure to ask them about Cynthia McKinney, the latest celebrity candidate embraced by the Green Party. McKinney was a Democratic Congresswoman representing Georgia who sadly upstaged her accomplishments by slugging a cop in 2006, denying it, and then apologizing for it. She is now using the Green Party to give her political career a little more life, and the Green Party is unaccountably desperate to participate in presidential politics and thus we have her candidacy. I wonder if she can recite the Ten Key Values without consulting her palm pilot? Oh, let's not be naive. Both she and the party stand to benefit and hey, if we're going to talk about experience, compare her resume to Sarah Palin's.

Barack Obama, legal scholar, civic activist, state senator from Illinois, United States Senator, renowned orator and, to look at his voting record, a play-it-safe "centrist" (on a map that has been pushed to the right) Democrat. A guy who swore he would filibuster any bill that included retroactive immunity for telecoms who helped our government spy on us; and weeks later threw his support behind a bill that did exactly that, and endorsed expanded surveillance powers for an abusive administration. I don't think he has the courage of his rhetorical convictions.

Trot them out like dogs at a show, folks, and hold up your score cards. Their political handlers have them on leashes and they are trotting them around for our polite applause. Someone cue the national anthem.