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Hope and Prosperity

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This is the old freight train depot in Hope, Arkansas. The railroad built Hope as a whistle-stop in the 1870s, but by 1971 the passenger trains no longer would stop. The freight trains still roar through town every 10 minutes or so. Gary Johnson, director of the Visitor Center in the refurbished passenger train depot (it's got tons of Clinton memorabilia) says the trains are always east-bound. They carry cars, grain, coal, who knows what, going who knows where. Important places in the East.

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Clinton's first home is where he lived with his mother and his grandparents for the first few years of his life. They've fixed it up a bit. There's a sandbox in the side yard like the one Billy Blythe played in. Looming over the property is a much bigger house, the one where Vince Foster grew up. They played together as little kids. The Foster house is empty today.

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The folks in Hope were mighty friendly. ("Mighty" is, as I can report from long experience, a good Southernism. "Mighty fine," said a local man at the end of a phone call, instead of the more traditional "Goodbye.") I got to Hope last Monday, in the afternoon, around 4 p.m., in a light drizzle. I managed to get Huckabee's aunt on the phone, and she gave me some good advice on who to call. From there, things started to cascade nicely in my favor. At the Visitor Center, the director, Gary Johnson, offered political background on the town while a cardboard Bill Clinton stood behind a vintage cashier's window.

While we were talking I got a callback from Huckabee's dentist friend, Lester Sitzes III, and soon I drove down to his office. When I showed up, he was there with his father and brother. Many stories ensued. Huckabee is all over the walls, in camouflage. He doesn't work, Huckabee - he just hunts. That's the obvious message of all the photos.

Then I drove down the street to see the mayor, Dennis Ramsey, a banker. He gave me a ride around town in a nice, very clean car, and showed me the Clinton and Huckabee homes while giving me the background on the town.

I later ran into the mayor at the Dos Loco Gringos restaurant. He invited me to join him and told me more about Hope.

In small towns, the journalism is easier. In the South and Midwest in particular, people tend to be pretty open, not at all on guard, and you don't need an appointment. They got nothing to hide. They're who they are. Tell it like it is.

At one point the mayor said, out of the blue, "You gotta see the FEMA trailers."

Saw them after dinner, lit up by the car headlights. They're about three miles north of town - thousands and thousands of FEMA trailers parked cheek by jowl in a vast field. They're a mighty impressive sight in their own tragic way.

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Mary Nell Turner says she's named after her grandmothers. Southern women often have two names. Trust me, you want to be as sharp as this lady when you're 88 (or, come to think of it, 47). She just did a presentation at her book club on the writer Willie Morris. They're going to read Flannery O'Connor next.


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Hope did always have one claim to fame: Monstrously giant watermelons.The Visitor Center features a plastic replica of a 200-pounder. The mayor says the record is 268 pounds. In his memoir, "My Life," Clinton says his future wife first laid eyes on him at Yale Law School while he was holding forth to friends about the giant melons of
Hope.

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Downtown Hope has seen better days. "This was a shoe store, right here. Penney's was right here," said the mayor, Dennis Ramsey, as he drove me around at night. In the dark, in the rain, the place doesn't really show well, as they say in the real estate business. Deserted. Some businesses hang in there, including a bakery and a hardware store. But as with so many small towns, much of the commerce fled toward the nearest interstate highway interchange, in this case toward I-30.

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Huckabee's childhood home.

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Clinton's boyhood home (the second place he lived in Hope).

Now let's take a quick peek back at South Carolina:

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Some towns have attractive names. Others, not so much. Years ago there was a town in South Carolina called Frog Level, but when the trains started come through the railroad company insisted on a name change. So was born Prosperity. That's what I was told by a local at a Fred Thompson event. The train station could use repair.

--

Here's my story in the paper on Hope:

HOPE, Ark. -- Bill Clinton's first home is a modest frame structure that looks out over the railroad tracks, a poster-plastered tobacco shop, a car lot and a Sonic fast-food drive-in. Mike Huckabee's boyhood home, just on the other side of downtown, is a small brick house that's only peashooter distance from where young Billy Blythe -- years before he changed his name to Clinton -- went to Miss Mary's Kindergarten.

If Huckabee defies the odds and makes it to the White House, political scientists and anthropologists may descend on Hope to find out what's in the water.

Could this humble place in southwest Arkansas, population 11,000, a town that can only dream of being as cosmopolitan as Texarkana, turn into the Birthplace of Presidents -- plural? Is there something about this place that makes possible the dreams of little boys?

"What made them think they could win?" asks Mary Nell Turner, 88, the unofficial town historian. She's known Clinton since early in his political career, and she taught Huckabee at Hope High School, where she recalls him as smart, mature and opinionated, but hardly future-presidential material. She taught journalism, and she poses all the right questions: "What drove them into politics? Why politics? Do they think they're going to change the world?"

Huckabee's chances of joining Clinton as local-boy-made-president will depend a lot on what happens on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, when Arkansas holds its presidential primary. The Republican candidates will be fighting for 34 delegates here, and scores more in the evangelical-laden Southern states of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Arkansas neighbors Oklahoma and Missouri will also hold primaries that day.

Clinton's return to the White House -- this time as a spouse -- also will depend a lot on Feb. 5, when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), who served as Arkansas' first lady before going to Washington with her husband and then launching her own political career, faces off against Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). The Clinton campaign is counting on Arkansas as a bulwark in the South after Obama's victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

Unlike South Carolina and other Southern states, Arkansas never experienced the dramatic switch in party affiliation that occurred among Southern white Democrats after the civil rights era. Arkansas has elected only one Republican as senator since Reconstruction, and for only a single term. About half the state legislative races are not competitive -- the GOP doesn't even field a candidate.

"It is not your traditional red Southern state by any stretch," says Janine Parry, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. Arkansans, she says, "are going to vote more on economics, on bread-and-butter issues, than they are on flash-in-the-pan social issues. It's what makes Arkansas different from the rest of the South."

Huckabee is the populist of the Republican contest, the candidate most likely to talk about the travails of the poor. That might cost him some support on Feb. 5 in the northwestern part of the state, the power base for hard-line Republicans who, according to Parry, have a great deal of animosity for Huckabee.

Some Arkansans may also support Hillary Clinton because they feel that her husband got a rough deal during his presidency, Parry says. She sums up a common attitude: "We're going to come out all guns blazing for our girl and our first family."

Turner says Hillary Clinton never spent much time around Hope because she was busy being a lawyer in Little Rock. But she vividly recalls a speech that Mrs. Clinton gave on education in the 1980s, just up the road in Arkadelphia. Turner has been sold on Clinton since. "I really think of her as an Arkansan," she says.

Hope is a Democratic town through and through, but Huckabee's aunt, Emilie Prescott, is a proud Republican. "The Democratic Party used to be the conservative party," she says. "And it's not anymore. It's the liberal party. They're not associated with the Christian principles that I feel like Mike has. And he's not ashamed to say it. We act like God can't be part of our land, and we are a Christian nation."

If Huckabee defies the odds and makes it to the White House, political scientists and anthropologists may descend on Hope to find out what's in the water.

Could this humble place in southwest Arkansas, population 11,000, a town that can only dream of being as cosmopolitan as Texarkana, turn into the Birthplace of Presidents -- plural? Is there something about this place that makes possible the dreams of little boys?

"What made them think they could win?" asks Mary Nell Turner, 88, the unofficial town historian. She's known Clinton since early in his political career, and she taught Huckabee at Hope High School, where she recalls him as smart, mature and opinionated, but hardly future-presidential material. She taught journalism, and she poses all the right questions: "What drove them into politics? Why politics? Do they think they're going to change the world?"

Huckabee's chances of joining Clinton as local-boy-made-president will depend a lot on what happens on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, when Arkansas holds its presidential primary. The Republican candidates will be fighting for 34 delegates here, and scores more in the evangelical-laden Southern states of Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. Arkansas neighbors Oklahoma and Missouri will also hold primaries that day.

Clinton's return to the White House -- this time as a spouse -- also will depend a lot on Feb. 5, when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), who served as Arkansas' first lady before going to Washington with her husband and then launching her own political career, faces off against Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.). The Clinton campaign is counting on Arkansas as a bulwark in the South after Obama's victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

Unlike South Carolina and other Southern states, Arkansas never experienced the dramatic switch in party affiliation that occurred among Southern white Democrats after the civil rights era. Arkansas has elected only one Republican as senator since Reconstruction, and for only a single term. About half the state legislative races are not competitive -- the GOP doesn't even field a candidate.

"It is not your traditional red Southern state by any stretch," says Janine Parry, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. Arkansans, she says, "are going to vote more on economics, on bread-and-butter issues, than they are on flash-in-the-pan social issues. It's what makes Arkansas different from the rest of the South."

Huckabee is the populist of the Republican contest, the candidate most likely to talk about the travails of the poor. That might cost him some support on Feb. 5 in the northwestern part of the state, the power base for hard-line Republicans who, according to Parry, have a great deal of animosity for Huckabee.

Some Arkansans may also support Hillary Clinton because they feel that her husband got a rough deal during his presidency, Parry says. She sums up a common attitude: "We're going to come out all guns blazing for our girl and our first family."

Turner says Hillary Clinton never spent much time around Hope because she was busy being a lawyer in Little Rock. But she vividly recalls a speech that Mrs. Clinton gave on education in the 1980s, just up the road in Arkadelphia. Turner has been sold on Clinton since. "I really think of her as an Arkansan," she says.

Hope is a Democratic town through and through, but Huckabee's aunt, Emilie Prescott, is a proud Republican. "The Democratic Party used to be the conservative party," she says. "And it's not anymore. It's the liberal party. They're not associated with the Christian principles that I feel like Mike has. And he's not ashamed to say it. We act like God can't be part of our land, and we are a Christian nation."

Anyone on the Huckabee trail in Hope has to pay a visit to a local dentist, Lester Sitzes III. Huckabee and Sitzes are hunting buddies. Just about every room in Sitzes's dental office has a signed, framed photo of Huckabee in camouflage, dangling unfortunate ducks. Sitzes says Huckabee aspired to be a baseball player, but he wasn't much of an athlete.

"He has very flat feet. He has no arches in his feet," the dentist says.

The things they know back home.

Presidential ambition may never yield its ultimate mysteries. There is nothing in Hope that suggests the town is uniquely suited to the cultivation of powerful men. In fact, the place is as ordinary as ordinary can be. When you see one of the boyhood homes of Clinton or Huckabee, your first thought is, "That's it?"

Myra Reese, Clinton's second cousin, still lives in Hope, and she recalls the sweet and rather chunky little boy she used to take to the movies. He was smart from the get-go: "We always credited it to his grandmother, who insisted that he read at an early age."

But lots of little kids have doting grandmothers. At some level, Hope's politician-spawning is purely a coincidence.

Turner and her friends came up with an interesting theory at a meeting of what they call the Dear Old Town Club, which spends a lot of time discussing Southern writers. The nature of Arkansans, the group decided, is that "they work hard, but when they have time to play, they have fun," Turner says.

Here, perhaps, is the secret to Bill Clinton's national success, and Huckabee's improbable rise this year: They look like they know how to have a good time. They don't seem to take themselves too seriously. Clinton played the saxophone, Huckabee jams on bass guitar (when not hanging with his buddy Chuck Norris). The homespun persona, the gosh-shucks demeanor, might conceivably backfire, but politics today depends so much on personality, and Arkansans seem to have personality to burn.

Next to a Clinton or a Huckabee, a lot of politicians seeking high office look like stuffed shirts -- like prigs who relax by reading exit polls or fussing with their hair.

"No doubt they're two of the most persuasive people you'll ever meet," Sitzes says. "When you talk to Mike or Bill, you feel they're really caring about you. They're not looking over your shoulder."

Hope's mayor, Dennis Ramsey, recalls that when Clinton was governor, people in town didn't pay much attention to his local roots. After all, he left after the first grade. He grew up in Hot Springs. But then political opportunity converged with biographical geography. In 1992, Clinton leveraged the name of his birthplace, turning it into a famous campaign slogan: "I still believe in a place called Hope."

The mayor notes the obvious: "He couldn't say, 'I still believe in a place called Hot Springs.' "

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 28, 2008; 8:26 AM ET
 
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Front page news here today:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jbrVGFpUygWdi8BQhz7y0cQ_fyLwD8UECV800

reported by Mark Stevenson, AP

Women in this Indian village high in the pine-clad mountains of Oaxaca rise each morning at 4 a.m. to gather firewood, grind corn, prepare the day's food, care for the children and clean the house.

But they aren't allowed to vote in local elections, because -- the men say -- they don't do enough work.

It was here, in a village that has struggled for centuries to preserve its Zapotec traditions, that Eufrosina Cruz, 27, decided to become the first woman to run for mayor -- despite the fact that women aren't allowed to attend town assemblies, much less run for office.

The all-male town board tore up ballots cast in her favor in the Nov. 4 election, arguing that as a woman, she wasn't a "citizen" of the town. "That is the custom here, that only the citizens vote, not the women," said Valeriano Lopez, the town's deputy mayor.

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Frog Level? That's nothing. What about Toadsuck? Bugtussle? Cut and Shoot? Old Dime Box? Pep? Notrees? Dead Horse? Bowlegs? Monkey's Eyebrow? Hygiene?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 28, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Nothing says great small town name like Intercourse, Pa.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Front page here this morning, Mark Stephenson, AP (retrying, since don't see first post):

Women in this Indian village high in the pine-clad mountains of Oaxaca rise each morning at 4 a.m. to gather firewood, grind corn, prepare the day's food, care for the children and clean the house.

But they aren't allowed to vote in local elections, because -- the men say -- they don't do enough work.

It was here, in a village that has struggled for centuries to preserve its Zapotec traditions, that Eufrosina Cruz, 27, decided to become the first woman to run for mayor -- despite the fact that women aren't allowed to attend town assemblies, much less run for office.

The all-male town board tore up ballots cast in her favor in the Nov. 4 election, arguing that as a woman, she wasn't a "citizen" of the town. "That is the custom here, that only the citizens vote, not the women," said Valeriano Lopez, the town's deputy mayor.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jbrVGFpUygWdi8BQhz7y0cQ_fyLwD8UECV800


Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The kit seemed a little long and repetitive to me until I realized that there is a large block of text printed twice within it.

Posted by: Gomer | January 28, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I drove through Yeehaw Junction on Saturday.

The story from Oaxaca is a reminder that for many in Mexico and Central America, Spanish is a second language. A senior biology professor at the University of Panama (himself an Afro-Panamanian)commented that students with wobbly Spanish have difficulty getting good grades. Which reminds me of similar comments from Florida International University to the effect that some bilingual students were a bit wobbly in both Spanish and English.

The flip side is that learning a second language is demanding mental work, and it may be better/more useful to be good at two languages than a master of one.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 28, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I see everything twice! I see everything twice!

Posted by: kurosawaguy in white | January 28, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

When I lived in West Palm Beach, I would visit my folks about once a month in Tarpon Springs. I used to get off the Turnpike at Yeehaw Junction to pick up SR 60 across the state. At the one stop light is a old wood board clad diner that always had a special on fried green tomatoes. I never stopped to eat there and kind of regret, because I doubt I will ever be through Yeehaw Junction again.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Joel, you might think about a whole series of articles about birthplaces and\or hometowns of former presidents, about what happens after the White House correspondents and satellite uplink trucks move on to the next place and the town's brief glory begins to fade. I remember Johnson City after LBJ left office and went home to the ranch for the last time. The media center reverted to its former life as a dusty poolroom, half the gas stations went out of business, and the souvenir business went right straight into the dumper. How are things in Tampico, Illinois these days? Plains, Georgia? Omaha? Yorba Linda? Stonewall? Brookline? Denison? And remember, Joel, Barack Obama was born in Honolulu.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 28, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, nobody goes to Honolulu these days. Ghost town...

Posted by: Gomer | January 28, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

"And remember, Joel, Barack Obama was born in Honolulu."

I thought you had to be Murikin to run for president.

Posted by: Reactionary Republican Creationist | January 28, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

My Parents have been to Hope and visited Clinton's boyhood home. In fact my mother would drag my father to all the little quaint places and birth places of presidents this country has to offer.

After my father passed away in 1999,I decided to take my mother to all those fun places. I have a friend who bought a home in Mercersburg PA which just so happens to be the birthplace of James Buchanan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Buchanan

We walked around Cove Gap, read about it's history and the Buchanan's family history.
We had lunch at a small place at the bottom of the mountain. We also toured Mecersburg,walked the quaint streets,went up to see the Mercerburg academy. I have a picture of my Mom sitting on a stone wall,that I really treasure. We had a great day.

I recommend doing fun things with your parents,visiting quaint little towns and checking out the birth places and home of our former presidents.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 28, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes: If Huckabee defies the odds and makes it to the White House, political scientists and anthropologists may descend on Hope to find out what's in the water.

Not likely for ol' two-buck Huck. Maybe anthropologists will descend on Hope to try to figure out why Huck resorted to "pander-monium" in South Carolina.

I would not get all whoop-de-doo about the Caroline and Ted Kennedy endorsement of Barack. There are schisms within the Kennedy family as well. The New York Times had the story after the conclusion of the SAG awards that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and several sibs would endorse the Clintons.

"I respect Caroline and Teddy's decision, but I have made a different choice," Ms. Townsend said in her statement, adding: "At this moment when so much is at stake at home and overseas, I urge our fellow Americans to support Hillary Clinton. That is why my brother Bobby, my sister Kerry, and I are supporting Hillary Clinton."

Do you remember when Mudge and I had our discussion about the Kennedys and I called out passages from Taylor Branch's book in which Branch wrote about Kennedy's nickname as "the reluctant emancipator"?

Have you read Caroline Kennedy's endorsement of Obama in the weekend's NYT? (Too) long on inspiration, short on specific policy proposals that attract her to Obama's camp. Since Joel reduced Hillary's tears to the acronym "EM" for "emotional moment," I'll respond in kind with "AFI" for "absent-father impact." My mother dealt with it, my best friend's kids deal with it, Bill Clinton deals with it, Obama deals with it, my civil rights lawyer friends deals with it, and Joel, too, I believe. I see Caroline's endorsement as an attempt to lovingly burnish her father's image (in particular, his poor record on civil rights).

Perhaps, the same can be said for Teddy's endorsement. Consider also that Teddy will be flying to California to campaign for Obama, trying to dampen the enthusiasm of the Latino vote for the Clintons. Yet, it was Bobby who really forged a relationship with Latinos and Cesar Chavez, and it's Bobby's kids who are supporting Hillary. Abd does anyone want to talk about Clinton's rocky relationship during his tenure with Democratic senators?

And what's with NBC News's morning show this ayem? Don't they read the papers? *l* They mentioned Teddy's endorsement, but not Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's, she former lieutenant governor of Maryland. They mentioned Clinton's mention of Jesse Jackson at the end of the South Carolina contest, yet nothing about the fact that Obama asked Jackson not to campaign for him, Obama, in Jackson's home state. Shallow, one-sided reporting. That, coupled with teaming Williams good cop vs. Russert's bad cop during the Republican debate is really turning me off.

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey! Joel got linked to in Wonkette:

"Fluff pieces about places Bill Clinton has lived? Sure. How about two?"

Remember, all links are good links.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

KKT is hardly a national political figure like Teddy or an iconic reminder of Camelot like Caroline. And I wouldn't want Jesse campaigning for me either, because there's only one person he's ever PUSHing and that's himself.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

More goings-on about the Tahina palm at PalmTalk. "TPIE" is a huge annual nursery trade show in Fort Lauderdale. John Dransfield is a world expert on palm systematics and Scott Zona is a palm expert at Florida International University and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

http://palmtalk.org/cgi-bin/forum/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=1;t=9576;st=40;r=1;&

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 28, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

A very informative kit, and the pictures are really nice, but the kit shows in glaring light the two worlds we live in. And it is so sad. Same planet, same needs, but two different worlds, and that subtle, but definitive smoldering underneath it all. And no one seems to notice this or if they do, it's disregarded. I suspect many of the Southern small towns look like Hope, I know mine does. Downtown makes one want to cry.

Slyness

The former sheriff was an in-house selection. The present candidate isn't. The present candidate is an attorney, but doesn't like to work for free. The present candidate doesn't have enough experience to run the sheriff's department of Mecklenburg County because he's never done it before? As to the election process, from what I saw on television news, the people they talked to in many of these districts didn't understand what they were being asked anyway. From the candidate or the reporter.

Let's not fool ourselves here. The sheriff's job has always been held by a white male, and changing that I suspect would bring no end of growing pains even if the candidate was more than qualified and still Black. In county government, and especially here in the South, the sheriff's job welds a lot power. What do they want to do? And if this person is not qualified, so you say, then what? You pick someone else? And please tell me, who?

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes: Saw them after dinner, lit up by the car headlights. They're about three miles north of town - thousands and thousands of FEMA trailers parked cheek by jowl in a vast field. They're a mighty impressive sight in their own tragic way.

Why is Arkansas the dumping ground for federal projects gone awry? Why, I remember President Carter dumping a very large number of (percentage?) the Cuban immigrants at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas?

http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4248

Several grafs:

Arkansas played a part in the international drama of 1980, when 125,000 Cubans left their homeland for a new life in the United States. Roughly 25,000 of these Cuban refugees--called Marielitos because they had departed Cuba from the port of Mariel--were housed for a time at Fort Chaffee in Sebastian County. Their presence in Arkansas created social and political tension widely thought to have had an impact on the Arkansas governor's race of 1980.

That month, a political commercial for Frank White, Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas, suggested that Governor Clinton had failed to protect the citizens of Arkansas from having dangerous Cubans in the state; the TV commercial included footage of the 1,000 Marielitos leaving Fort Chaffee on May 29. Though it is impossible to measure all the factors that determine the outcome of an election, Clinton is among those who felt that the association of the Cuban refugee problem with Clinton's term as governor led to White's victory.

Aftermath
On January 4, 1981, 5,893 Marielitos remained at Fort Chaffee; the last twenty-three Cubans left the fort on February 4, 1982. Records report that 25,390 Cubans had been housed at the fort after arriving in Florida.

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

SD, Mont-St-Anne sounds familiar, but bear in mind this was 1980.

No go on the Vanessa Paradis. After that disapointing venture to the local Blockbuster it dawned on me that I've seen 'Girl on the Bridge' not 'La fille sur le pont'. On my next visit I'll get an English translation of her movie titles and cross my fingers. But I'm not really expecting any luck, oh well.

Jumper I got that Zodiac for $3 at a used book store. This doesn't really classify as SciFi though, just a good novel.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

True smalltown MN headline:

Fertile Woman has Twins

Another, perhaps apocryphal:

Fertile Woman Dies in Climax

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra writes: A very informative kit, and the pictures are really nice, but the kit shows in glaring light the two worlds we live in. And it is so sad. Same planet, same needs, but two different worlds, and that subtle, but definitive smoldering underneath it all. And no one seems to notice this or if they do, it's disregarded. I suspect many of the Southern small towns look like Hope, I know mine does. Downtown makes one want to cry.

Cassandra, if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend the Oprah-backed movie "The Great Debaters." I cried twice yesterday, my husband teared, but over burgers afterward, he would not admit to crying. He said he "misted up." Which led us to a debate over the meaning of "cry."

The movie makes a tremendous case for the importance of a good education, a stong family with strong values, strong leaders in the form of good teachers, exceptional educational institutions, and a powerful sense of justice and morality. As very good as the performances were by Denzel Washington and Forst Whitaker, the cast members who steal the show are the young actors, particularly Denzel Whitaker (named after Denzel Washington and no relation to Forest Whitaker. He's a 16-year-old playing a 14-year-old.)

I would recommend this movie hands down over the more violent "There Will be B1ood." It's got humor, tension, passion. We came away loving it.

I do have a SCC from past discussions. "No Country for Old Men was filmed in both New Mexico *and* Marfa, Texas (as was "There Will Be B1ood"). This info from our local film critic, backed up by a Web search I did.

"The Great Debaters" was filmed, as listed in tthe credits, in Marshall, Texas--site of Wiley College--and Boston for the Harvard scenes. The epilogue at "Debaters" end says it all.

I just wish the political debates--both Dem and Rep--could be so strong and elevated. *sigh, sigh, sigh* Romney, McCain, Clinton and Obama could "take a lesson" by seeing the film.

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

omni, the skating tracks were there in that era (late 70's-early 80's). This area has been paved with condos and hotels now.

Joel's Rainy Tour of America continues in Mc Cain's state I see. He's working his editors toward an Honolulu visit in the dying days of Winter. By then, especially if Barak is the dem candidate, it will be difficult to say no if BHO's Honolulu is the only birthplace of one of the serious candidate he hasn't visited yet. Pretty clever plot I say.
I've said it before but my favourite name for a small place is my father-in-law's birthplace, L'Avenir/The Future. Hi, I'm Bob and I am from The Future.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | January 28, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Great article, Joel, and a nice touch of folksy in there.

Still, I cannot believe that no one has mentioned Mianus yet.

On the other hand, I doubt anyone would want to see a photo essay of a visit there.

Though it would be curious to interview a politician from Mianus....

(note: Mianus is still available as a location for the G W Bush Presidential Library).

bc

PS. Let the hilarity ensue.

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Just an historical reminder (June 2001):

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,140027,00.html

In retrospect, you could say they married too hastily, heedless of how different they really were: one charming and vain; the other fusty and proud. And both of them so needy. Then came the bickering, the betrayal, the recriminations--and the long, frosty silences. Now the question is: Should Bill Clinton and the Democrats in Congress stay together for the sake of the family, or would the party be better off if they went their separate ways?

There were signs of trouble even before Clinton came to Washington. In his 1992 campaign, he blasted the then Democratic House's "midnight pay raise," and even ran ads about it in New Hampshire. He railed against the 1992 House banking scandal and promised to cut congressional staffs by a quarter. Nor did the Democratic Congress have much experience working as a team with the Chief Executive. When Clinton took office, more than two-thirds of House Democrats and half of Senate Democrats had never served under a President of their party. Clinton aides called the relationship an "impossible embrace."

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, too many towns all over North America look like that.

What a wonderful bunch of pictures though. The picture of the SC station says a hundred things. In a perfect world, my job would be just traveling round talking to people. Wouldn't it be grand to just do that?

Course if I had to meet deadlines all the time in order to travel like that,as Joel must, that would pretty much kill the fun.

Posted by: dr | January 28, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

thanks, loomis, for the movie tip, but I seldom go to the movies because of the hearing impairment, and there aren't any subtitles at theatres. Is there a book?

Here in the county I live in, I voted for the sheriff, but I don't know anything about the man. He worked as a deputy before becoming the sheriff, and I believe he was related to the sheriff. The sheriff retired, and this person took his place. So much of the time we don't know these folks. And with the sheriff office, one rarely knows if these folks are well versed in the law, because it could be a family thing or even a favor to someone. When he's up for election, I usually vote for him, and still don't know. It doesn't seem to bother anyone, and I could name all kinds of reasons why it doesn't, but hey, I'm not even going there.

And I am talking too much. Gotta go.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of impossible embraces, "Dos Loco Gringos" is available as a Boodle handle for anyone with multiple personality disorder. yello, you and mo modo and mo mo mo and Pop Socket might want to think about it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra,
Some theaters in my area have special days or showing with open captioning and several have systems where you wear special glasses to see captioning. Still, first run movies are an expensive choice for entertainment when there are a lot of other options if you don't mind waiting. My dad used to go to the dollar movie places, but now relies on the DVD selection at the library.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and judging by the WaPo front page photo up at the moment, Sandra Oh wins this year's Cherize Theron Big Ugly Bow award.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Very nice Kit. The pictures really help tell the story - it is too bad they can't be printed with the article as well. Cassandra is right about how they show the two worlds, and as dr says that is true across the country. Small towns are dying everywhere. Some of them are mostly black, some are American Indian, some are white -- it just depends where you are. Those pictures of downtown Hope reminded me of several small downtowns here in Oklahoma I've driven through in the past couple of years. We have a thriving Main Street program, trying to revitalize small towns, but some are just not able to muster what they need. This is the part of Edwards' message that resonates with me. The class and economic divisions in this country cut through racial, ethnic and religious identities, and they're getting worse.

The most divisive split in the Oklahoma legislature is, and always has been, between urban & rural (pronounced "ruuul").

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 28, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Bad Tune Cootie Alert®:

Andrea True Connection from 1978

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wP_kUzaRlY

Ooh, how do you like your love
Ooh, how do you like your love

But if you want to know
How I really feel
Just get the cameras rolling
Get the action going
Baby you know my love for you is real
Take me where you want to
Then my heart you'll steal

(Chorus one)
Mo, mo, mo
How do you like it, how do you like it
Mo, mo, mo
How do you like it, how do you like it
Mo, mo, mo
How do you like it, how do you like it

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Joel, If you do go out to Honolulu in February to explore Obama's birthplace, make a side trip over to the Big Island and come visit Mauna Kea. Round-trip inter-island airfare is maybe $175 these days. I'll be on the mountain from Feb 5 through the afternoon of Feb 23.

By the way -- where's Aloha these days?

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 28, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Breaking news at the Chicago Tribune. Tony Rezko arrested for suspicious movement of money.

Things get curiouser...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-rezko-arrested_webjan29,0,2320595.story

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 28, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"I got to Hope last Monday, in the afternoon, around 4 p.m., in a light drizzle."

I like this. We all get to hope at different times in our lives, especially when there's a light drizzle. Thanks, Joel.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 28, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Front page alert. Headline: The Hope of Clinton aand Huckabee.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | January 28, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Apropos of the "Canadian" kerfuffle the other day, Gawker has a hilarious thread on what to call real Canuckis. My favorites are "frostbacks" and "moose jockeys".

http://tinyurl.com/ypc3qg

I had to tinyurl the site because the full story title violates several WaPo rules. You've been warned.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of where is??? how about a Happy Australia Day shout out to Achenfan...

(Hope this isn't an insulting Faux Pas)

Also, in weather news: Back in 2006 on Jan 28 the city of Fairbury Nebraska was pelted with hail measuring 1" in diameter covering the ground with 1"-2" of ice. Yikes.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll take a light drizzle of hope most any time.

*adjusting mask and diving back into the scrum*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 28, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

You know, not every person who chooses to endorse, or vote for, a person does it as a result of sociological forces. Sometimes its because of one individual liking another individual.


Also, that's one might impressive melon.

Posted by: RD Paoduk | January 28, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

A little ice fishing humor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-zlQ-Hui44

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody heard of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil's_Trill_Sonata

Another link for Mudge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ798THmR5Y

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Those of us who are lying around at home eating bon bons are watching the live Obama rally at American Univ. with Teddy, Caroline, and Patrick Kennedy.

I'm watching it on MSNBC.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 28, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I won't be able to shake that tune anytime soon, yello. But since contact cement fumes are filling the room ( I had to glue the formica back onto a desk that one of my students volunteered to loose), here's my best shot:

Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-oh I wanna be sedated
Just get me to the airport put me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no no no no no
Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go....
Just put me in a wheelchair, get me on a plane
Hurry hurry hurry before I go insane
I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain
Oh no no no no no
Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated
Nothin' to do and no where to go-o-o I wanna be sedated
Just put me in a wheelchair get me to the show
Hurry hurry hurry before I go loco
I can't control my fingers I can't control my toes
Oh no no no no no

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated
Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

My boodleization is complete. Read this story from the Tampa Trib "Pair Arrested At Tampa Airport Had 99 Fake Licenses" and the part of the story that poppled out at me was this on-previous-boodle bit: In addition, Blake is charged with felony grand theft and with giving a false name to a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor.

The whole story is here
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/jan/28/police-pair-arrested-tampa-airport-had-99-fake-lic/

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

SCC-popped out at me, not poppled, sheesh.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The "two Americas" is real. The majority of small towns were there for a reason--something was being done there, whether it was a textile mill, a railroad yard, a manufacturing plant, something that paid the freight. We've gotten to a place where we don't make much stuff anymore. Most of those small plants disappeared in the face of global competition. Agribusiness has taken away most of the small-town needs for farm implements, seed grain, etc. The textile mill left New England for non-union pastures down South, then went overseas. The railroads have consolidated and turned themselves into massive conveyor belts to survive. The interstate highways gave trucks a big boost in competition. That coupled with the loss of those small plants changed the entire shipping landscape. Big metropolitan areas will survive for a while on their service to the global economy and whatever industrial infrastructure we have left, but there will be coming a big jolt in the balance of economic (and hence world influence) status within the next 50 to 100 years.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 28, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

You want a tune that you can't get out of your head? Try the spinning leek girl:

http://dojo.fi/~rancid/loituma__.swf

Yes, it is an endless loop. You can turn it off whenever you want, just by closing the window -- if you have the willpower to fight the addiction.

I have sent it to Weingarten's chat. We'll see if he shares it with the world.

Posted by: Tim | January 28, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Let me be curmudgeonly for a moment (note the small 'c' -- it's just an adverb) and note that the disappearance of small towns is not necessarily a bad thing. Sad, yes; wistful, sure; but not necessarily bad. Concentrating humans into big urban centers, and abandoning the multitudes of little ones, probably is better for the overall environment and gives us some economy of scale in power-generation, water treatment, and sewage treatment. Economy of scale can decrease the per capita environmental impact from these activities. That is, it can provide these benefits, if we do things intelligently. Which we don't. But we could.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 28, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

SciTim,
Yet oddly, most zoning and planning laws unintentionally encourage sadly wasteful suburban sprawl.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Mauna Kea sounds like an invitation no science correspondent could refuse. Of course a visit to Chile would then be appropriate. And maybe the relatively small telescope at Palomar?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 28, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

What about Jacqueline Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary?

They [Jackie and Hillary] had met several times before [Hillary's trip to New York], most recently the previous May. Jackie and her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., had been among the first contributors to Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, even before he had formally announced his candidacy, while he, Hillary, and Betsey Wright [from Alpine, Texas] were raising money through an exploratory committee. In May 1992, while Hillary was still recovering from the Gennifer Flowers ugliness, Jackie had invited Hillary to lunch at her apartment on Fifth Avenue. Much of their conversation was about how to keep Chelsea shielded from the press; Jackie had been remarkably successful in protecting her own children in New York through their teenage years.

Later, Jackie told friends that of all her successors as first lady, she was most fond of Hillary. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg said her mother was immediately struck by Hillary's intelligence, her interest in isues related to the well-being of children, and her appreciation of the arts and culture. When Hillary said that she liked the ballet, "that sealed it forever," said Caroline.

p. 263, Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge"

[Lest we forget, Jackie attened Miss Porter's in Connecticut. *l*]

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

SciTim-I would agree with your entire 1:11 if the choice was as it once had been-small town vs. city. Instead it is often small town vs. endless sprawl. A small town with its core intact, where people can live and work, is not the drain on resources that many "city" locations are.

As an aside, Mr. F has been calculating what we saved by not buying a "cheaper" house in suburban Tampa vs. our home in the city just 5 miles from his office. Despite still owning a car that had to be insured and maintained, and not calculating environmental costs, he has determined that he has saved about $3000 and 500-600 hours per year. I argue the 500-600 hours should also be pegged with a $ value (though IIRC Mudge is critical of this approach). My argument is not one of lost productivity, however. I contend he and Frostdottir save on the food budget because he uses some of that time to cook instead of defaulting to the "let's eat out" option that so often comes at the end of a long commute.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

What about Jacqueline Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary?

(Sorry if I'm double-posting, but this appears to be lost?)

They [Jackie and Hillary] had met several times before [Hillary's trip to New York], most recently the previous May. Jackie and her son, John F. Kennedy Jr., had been among the first contributors to Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, even before he had formally announced his candidacy, while he, Hillary, and Betsey Wright [from Alpine, Texas] were raising money through an exploratory committee. In May 1992, while Hillary was still recovering from the Gennifer Flowers ugliness, Jackie had invited Hillary to lunch at her apartment on Fifth Avenue. Much of their conversation was about how to keep Chelsea shielded from the press; Jackie had been remarkably successful in protecting her own children in New York through their teenage years.

Later, Jackie told friends that of all her successors as first lady, she was most fond of Hillary. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg said her mother was immediately struck by Hillary's intelligence, her interest in isues related to the well-being of children, and her appreciation of the arts and culture. When Hillary said that she liked the ballet, "that sealed it forever," said Caroline.

p. 263, Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge"

[Lest we forget, Jackie attened Miss Porter's in Connecticut. *l*]

Posted by: laloomis | January 28, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I see that at 1:16 yello was much more succinct than I. A thousand pardons.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Cool, I didn't know the dead endorsed.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

fb,
Great minds and all. I live in a townhouse 14 miles from my work. For the same money I could have double the square footage, an acre of lawn to mow, and triple the commute. No thanks.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

and they endorse twice!

Posted by: nellie | January 28, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Posthumous Endorsement would be a great title for a rock album.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Heck yeah, the dead endorse candidates. In fact in certain counties in south Texas they used to form the largest block of voters. IIRC in one of his Congressional races LBJ got more votes in Jim Wells county than the county's total population. Texas had a poll tax, and as long as the tax was paid the voter stayed registered to vote. The tax acted as a way (one of several) to discourage the "wrong people" from voting.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 28, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

What about history? And the really "bad b1ood," to use a familiar phrase, between Ted Kennedy and the Clintons?

The most staggering blow [to Bill Clinton's re-election campaign as Arkansas governor] was especially painful for Hillary and Bill because it was administered inexplicably, by Jimmy Carter, to whom they had been unceasingly loyal. Carter had been challenged for the 1980 presidential nomination by Senator Edward Kennedy. Most of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party supported Kennedy, including many friends with Hillary and Bill since the McGovern days in Texas. But Hillary was steadfast in her support for Carter...

[President Carter dispatched 18,000 Cuban refugees, of the 100,000 who arrived in Florida in the Mariel boatlift, to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas].

On June 1, more than 1,000 rioted and breached their quarters at the Chaffee resettlement camp. Bill's performance under pressure as governor was cool and impressive, including his justifiable assignment of responsibility for the incident to Army personnel who failed to maintain order at the facility....But it was inevitable that Bill would pay politically for the riot, because of his and Hillary's close identification with Carter. Frank White [Bill's Republican opponent for governor of Arkansas] used pictures and film footage of the rioting--showing only black rioters [nasty Republican campaign tactics using race a la Willie Horton]--to great effect in his ads, associating Bill with an aura of anarchy. And then it got even worse: Careter broke a promise to Clinton that no more prisoners would be sent to Fort Chaffee. On August 1, he sent word to the governor's office that all remaining Mariel [Cuban] refugees from resettlement camps in Florida, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would be shipped to Fort Chaffee, and that a single holding operation would be established there for the whole boatlift operation.

pp. 157-8, Carl Bernstein's "A Woman in Charge"

So, you think there's not history between Teddy Kennedy and Hillary and Bill?

Posted by: laloomis | January 28, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Not sure that Bernstein quote counts as a ringing endorsement. I can see the bumper sticker now:

Clinton and Kennedy: We Both Like The Ballet.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

My favorite Fado singer Mísia:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsMOivk6qn0

http://alicenopaisdasmaservilhas.blogspot.com/2008/01/garras-dos-sentidos.html

You may need to get the kleenex out for that, even if you don't understand Portuguese.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I may be wrong but I don't believe attorneys are required to represent the poor for free. Their remuneration may be small, but it's not free work. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office has a budget (FY08) of $104,014,585 and 1,375 employees. It's a tall order for an outsider without management experience to walk in and do a good job.

Were you aware that Harry Jones, the Mecklenburg County Manager, is African-American? I understand he is a good manager and well-liked, but he came up through the ranks in the organization.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Interesting bit--in light of the furor recently about co-presidencies [If you don't think the current one isn't a co-presidency, you're crazy.]. Hillary stopped by nepotism rules...Bernstein, pp. 251-2.. You could award a cabinet position to a bro, obviously, but not a wife.

That Sunday on "Meet the Press," the conservtive columnist Robert Novak blamed the first lady for settling the {baird] debacle in motion. He contended that she was more interested in finding a woman attorney general than appointing a legal scholar or a capable, qualified candiddate whom her husband could trust. This, he insisted, reflected "the hidden hand of Hillary Clinton trying to play Bobby Kennedy at the Justice Department, but unable to get the job on a de jure basis because of the anti-nepotism law." The comparison to Kennedy was more than apt than Novak might have imagined. Bobby was JFK's must trusted confidante, the person with whom he shared private information and expressed unvarnished views that others were not privy to. If there was a good cop/bad cop routine in the Clinton White House, Hillary, like RFK, most often emerged as the bad cop.

Posted by: laloomis | January 28, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, thanks for that link, omni. Now I'm listening to several more of her works. When listening to her violin work I like to close my eyes and...oh, he11, who am I kidding? You couldn't GET me to close my eyes on that lady. The music reminds me a bit of Trans-Siberian Railroad.

Frosti, don't think I ever objected to that calculation. Don't recollect, it, anyway, and it sounds reasonable at the moment.

Tim, it may be better for the environment to collect people in cities ... but is it better for the people? Many would argue otherwise, methinks, albeit at an environmental cost. (Stress, people packed together, lack of grass, trees, parks, "open spaces," nature, mountains, etc.) This is simply a variation of an "efficiency" argument that holds efficiency or environmentalism or whatever above other factors. This is where we start to get into large-scale social engineering, which is always troublesome and contentious. There are many intangibles in small-town life (as well as in rural life, and in urban life) that are lost when people are forced to change urbanalities like that. I daresay that perhaps 3/4s of this Boodle would strenuously object to being (gently) forced (coersed?) into switching their locals from urban to rural or rural to urban, or suburban to either of the others, etc.

Boko, your 1:35 was a step ahead of me.

The teaser for Novak's blathering is "Hillary Clinton's strategy for winning on Super Tuesday could tear at the very foundations of the Democratic Party." As though Novak had any notions of either Hillary's strategy, or what the foundations of the Dem. Party might be. I can't even bring myself to read it.

Joel's Hope piece is referenced twice on the front page. Cool.

There is something very existential in linking hope with drizzle. I like it. Kinda "Don't rain on my parade." (Or should that be, "Don't reign on my parade"?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

omni, if it's beautiful songs of lamentation in foreign tongues you're after, you cannot do better than the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" by modern Polish compser Henryk Górecki.

this from Wiki-
"A solo soprano sings a different Polish text in each of the three movements. The first is a 15th-century Polish lament of Mary, mother of Jesus, the second a message written on the wall of a Gestapo cell during World War II, and the third a Silesian folk song of mother searching for son killed in Silesian Uprising. The first and third movements are written from the perspective of a parent who has lost a child, and the second movement from that of a child separated from a parent. The dominant themes of the symphony are motherhood and separation through war."

This will not only have you crying in your beer, you'll need a second glass just for the tears.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 28, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Dead Ballet Lovers for Hillary

Bumper sticker or boodle handle?

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Neither, frosti. Government acronym: DBLH.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Is that pronounced double-h?

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"There is something very existential in linking hope with drizzle."

Au contraire mon frere, as in "Waiter, I hope you'll drizzle some more of that hot fudge sauce over my dessert." Very, very concrete and unquestionably beneficial.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 28, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

No, k-guy, I just happen to like fado because I love Mísia.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Something for the Onion, maybe.
The late Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the mormon church endorses Mitt Romney. Sen. Ted Kennedy endorses Senator Obama.

The recently and nearly dead can endorse too!

Why is Ted K. still tooling around the Senate after 42 years of service and approaching 76 years old? They have a crummy pension plan or what! Geez, let it go man.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | January 28, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Just goes to show I'm not a coffee drinker: http://encarta.msn.com/quiz_244/Morning_Coffee_Quiz.html

6/10

Except I got #4 and #6-#10 correct.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

7/10 on coffee. I missed the questions dealing with latte, expresso, and cappuccino. I stay away from $tarbucks, so I have no knowledge of these things.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 28, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

ebt, your 1:05 gets at the heart of what's wrong with our so-called "service economy." In order for an economy to thrive, it needs to produce something of value (i.e., something that others want to purchase). In the absence of creating something of value, the economy justs shifts money around between dwindling sources. Or, as my Econ professor used to say, "Two guys don't get rich doing each other's laundry."

Posted by: Raysmom | January 28, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Raysmom, the only coffee I drink is Brazilian when I'm out for Saturday brunch. So I haven't the slightest clue as to how I got as many, and the one I did, correct.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

8/10 on the quiz, though I did a lot of guessing.

omni, have you heard Vanessa-Mae performing "Classical Gas"? (And darn you, I'm listening to my 8th or 9th YouTube of her playing.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

5/10 on coffee quiz. I drink all my over-priced highly-caffeinated drinks in milkshake form, so my credentials are suspect from the get-go.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't drink coffee at all and got 9/10 on the quiz. Nothing like a good strong cup of luck in the afternoon.

Posted by: pj | January 28, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Vanessa Mae is nice, if a bit on the kitschy side.

If you guys are into hawt girls bowing some strings, check out the Ahn Trio.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhiynSgx09g

Or for real sensory overload try Twelve Girls Band. They are Chinese but are also huge in Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxoAl72qDhI

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Red-head alert...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/22859368#22859368

Hope that works.

Posted by: DLD | January 28, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I have now Mudge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKlLgZZCtgc


all I can say is holy wow.

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Although I understand the desirable link to JFK and Camelot, I also see a great, huge, blimp-like (pun intended) irony in perhaps the oldest of the Dem Old Guard endorsing an "agent of change."

6/10 on the quiz *quaffing another cup*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 28, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Will Teddy tell all per the stipulations of his $8.5M book contract?

http://www.nypost.com/seven/11282007/gossip/pagesix/pagesix.htm

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

DLD,

I saw the redhead alert and a MSNBC url and thought you were linking to Maureen Dowd's appearance on Meet The Press yesterday. It was a Clinton bashing festival.

http://dowdreport.blogspot.com/2008/01/meet-clinton-bashers.html

Except for the extreme cougar fans, Ariel is definitely cuter.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | January 28, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

9/10 with two lucky guesses, and one where I meant to pick something else but my mistake turned out to be right. Sharing a cup of luck with pj.

Mudge-must have been someone else who objected to the calculations of the cost of time lost commuting to the economy in general.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

And the lyrics for DLD's link: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/classicdisney/partofyourworld.htm

Posted by: omni | January 28, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten, thanks for your feedback today and previously on the ID issue. Thanks also to Bob S. and everybody else who responded to my question. What I'm finding in my research is that the right not to carry ID is such a no-brainer that nobody even addresses it. The controversies are around refusal to identify oneself or presenting fake ID, and those are not the issues I am looking for information about. I'd like to find a statement by someone authoritative that spells out this particular American freedom.

Here's Dave Barry on the Presidential Primary system:

http://www.miamiherald.com/dave_barry/story/395207.html

Posted by: kbertocci | January 28, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Slyness

Most of the folks that need help in getting an attorney can't afford to pay one, regardless what the rate is, so I suspect attorneys see that as free work. And when one adds in the comparison of what an attorney can make, it more than likely is free work. Lord knows I speak from experience. Experience on any job is a good thing, but not the only thing. I would not rule out other candidates because they lack that.

I just think if there was/is a legitimate reason for this person not to be the sheriff it just should not have taken so long to do what needed to be done. All the messing around makes it look and smell suspect. I hope it gets worked out before it flares up to the really ugly department. And I hope everyone is satisfied with whatever the choice.

yello, I tend to wait until the movie is on DVD so I can watch at home and get the captioning. I don't really get a chance to see really good movies. I miss going to the movies a lot. I miss music, and conversations, just a lot of stuff. I think the music most of all. I know I would be a more relaxed person if I could hear music. Oh, folks you are so blessed to be able to hear. And I used to love talk radio. Not that hateful stuff, but people talking about different things, health, religion, politics, just a bunch of stuff, books, all of it.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

My son watches movies with the captioning on and his hearing is better than mine.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Hi All! I'm still here, just lurking only once in a while. I had my right hip replaced right after Christmas and have been out of commission for the last few weeks. Been doing PT and trying hard to follow doctor's orders on what not to do. That's the hard part.

If Obama does indeed become president, I wonder if his boyhood home would become a tourist stop? Don't know where he grew up but know that his school, Punahou, will certainly benefit from the attention. It's a high-end private school that would only get richer from the association.

Tim - Mauna Kea has some snow right now I think. You gonna do any skiing or snow boarding?

Posted by: Aloha | January 28, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* Leave it to Tim to go to a tropical paradise most of us would die for, only to encounter snowballs and frostbite. Astronomy sure is a heartbreaking business.

yello, I don't know how to break this to you, but the Ahn Trio and the Twelve Girl Band can't hold a candle to Vanessa-Mae. (Perhaps if I turned the volume on, I might have a more-informed opinion...)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

hello, aloha, good to hear from you. I hope you mend quickly.

As a country, why don't we create anymore? Won't we get stale? Lose something?

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Silly me. I was judging them on talent.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Not only do I believe in a place called Hot Springs, I believe Hot Springs eternal.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone! Just off the road for a day or two before going back out. Sigh.

10/10 on the coffee quiz; no-one should be surprised by that. I *love* coffee.

Posted by: Yoki | January 28, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Well, Yoki, there you are! We missed you. Whatcha been doin'?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

In Froomkin today-

James Carroll writes in his Boston Globe opinion column: "You and everyone you love are riding on a large bus. The bus driver, unskilled and careless, drives too fast, ignores traffic signals, and barrels off the road occasionally. Because the bus is huge, other vehicles swerve to get out of its way, with cars crashing repeatedly. But your driver just keeps going, leaving carnage in his wake. Naturally, you are terrified - but your reactions are irrelevant.

"Finally, the bus itself crashes, killing many. Miraculously, you and your loved ones climb out of the wreckage. A second bus is standing by, and you gratefully scramble aboard. The engine starts up, but then the bus lurches dangerously onto the road, going too fast. Only then do you see that this new bus has the same driver, and he has learned nothing. Welcome to the United States of America. And welcome to the annual State of the Union address."

Posted by: crc | January 28, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Well, that certainly describes the last seven years, doesn't it, crc? Did you see the Cannons article on Bush's legacy yesterday?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR2008012502781.html

Cassandra, this sheriff thing is a train wreck to end all train wrecks. We'll have to agree to disagree, because I don't think it's about race but competence to do the job.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Today's tune cootie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2nwSwD3gig&feature=related

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Only hit 6 of 10 on the coffee quiz. I'm a tea man myself--coffee turned on me back in my late 20's. Drink any and I'd resemble that East African goatherd. Raysmom, you got the point--moving money or goods around is just moving the money around without creating any new wealth source. At the bottom of the capitalist system there has to be some product that starts the system rolling. Someone here in the boodle might know how much "stuff" we actually make in this country these days on a per capita basis (ah, for italics ;-) ), compared to what we used to churn out say, 50 years ago. I'm put in mind of Pittsburgh, which in my view is kind of like a brontosaur that has had its head removed. The "auxiliary brain" in its spine keeps the beast moving for a while, though without much direction. In the same way, the 'Burg essentially lost its reason for being when the steel industry devoured itself in the '70's and '80's. The region tries mightily to replace the mills with service, tech and medical sector business, but that hasn't been able to replace all those blue-collar and semi-white collar jobs that the steel business generated directly or indirectly. Duquesne can't afford its own high school any more. McKeesport went from 55,000 in the 1940's to about 15,000 today, and most of that loss has been in the last 25 years since the National Works shut down.

Allentown-Bethlehem PA--much the same story. North Jersey, much the same thing. And so on. Not good in the long haul.

Posted by: ebtnut | January 28, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The boss said, "In his memoir, "My Life," Clinton says his future wife first laid eyes on him at Yale Law School while he was holding forth to friends about the giant melons of Hope."

I can't believe that nobody cares about Bill's interest in huge melons. Yesterday's news, I guess.

"Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday to me, Happy birthday, dear Daaahhhnnnn, happy birthday to me"

I'm outta here.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | January 28, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

kbertocci - I still think that the guiding case is "Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)". Here's a link to the decision:
http://supreme.justia.com/us/461/352/case.html


To quote briefly from the decision:
---------------
Held: The statute, as drafted and as construed by the state court, is unconstitutionally vague on its face within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. As such, the statute vests virtually complete discretion in the hands of the police to determine whether the suspect has satisfied the statute and must be permitted to go on his way in the absence of probable cause to arrest.
...
JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

This appeal presents a facial challenge to a criminal statute that requires persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a "credible and reliable" identification and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer under circumstances that would justify a stop under the standards of Terry v. Ohio, 392 U. S. 1 (1968). [Footnote 1] We conclude that the statute as it has been construed is unconstitutionally vague within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect provide a "credible and reliable" identification. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the court below.
----------------

I'm pretty sure that this decision is generally cited as barring any local laws which make it illegal to go about one's business without identification.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 28, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Don. I think we exhausted the giant melon discussion the other day, didn't we?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

13/10 on the coffee quiz, but I had to guess on a couple. The answer to the U.S. economic decline is: lower taxes, smaller government, larger military, more wars, and voting Republican, 'cause it's all worked so well so far.

I saw the cootie--perhaps that's too complimentary--but where was the tune? More Vanessa Mae!

Posted by: BoJoless | January 28, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Oops, I almost forgot: re-segregate our schools!

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0125/p01s01-ussc.html

Posted by: BoJoless | January 28, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

How come any headline that begins, "Bush Vows Action on..." scares the bejeebus out of me?

Gotta run for the bus.

Later, dudes. (Perhaps we can all gather together here on the Boodle and make sarcastic comments and/or weep piteously during the Grand Address?)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

You mean somebody's actually going to LISTEN to the speech? Why?

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

No, no, I'll be watching Jane Austen or a Japanese movie during the "Grand Address". The only thing grand about it is that it's his last - yay!

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 28, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I got Mansfield Park on DVR just for the occasion. Let me know if Chimpy embarrasses himself in any way.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I think you should all turn on the tv, and pelt the screen with something that will not harm your screen. Like grapes.

They are round, they toss nice. They stay self contained unless you really really throw them hard. And you can wash them and re use. See? Its a very green concept.

Then again, you could toss something that would break your screen. You would individually assist in the recovery of your economy, at least as it relates to TV purchased in 2008.

A consumer economy really is just a magnificent pyramid scheme. It works so long as there is something new to buy or replace. Trouble happens when you are not replacing as fast as you can make things.

Posted by: dr | January 28, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I did manage to watch Mansfield Park last night. I admit I was not really pleased with it. It was fine for what it was, but what it was, was half. Just half of a fine book. Everything that gave any kind of a background to why a character was doing something, was cut out. Some things made no sense at all. Our heroine, Fanny didn't seem to exist at all till half hour into the thing.

Fanny was badly miscast, though Edmund was bang on character. Jemma Redgrave plays an excellent Lady Betram. But those two things were about all I liked about the show.

Posted by: dr | January 28, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm also starting to think there should be a law written for the entire world that no one but Emma Thompson should be allowed to adapt Jane Austen for the screen, and she must be involved in the filming in some significant way.

The penalty should be worse than death if they don't get it right. Or at least can I pelt them with grapes?

Posted by: dr | January 28, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Howza 'bout that Japanese Oscar?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Emma is a little long in the tooth for a typical JA heroine. Maybe Vanessa-Mae is available. As long as schlock-pop electric violin playing can be incorporated into the script.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

She could have carried off Maria Crawford (who plays a harp) quite well. The right sort of hair tossing, and they could have substituted the violin for the harp. It wouldn't have mattered.

I'm sorry, I'll stop talking about Jane Austen now, but only if you promise to pelt the screen tonite when you watch the SoTUA.

Posted by: dr | January 28, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

This Japanese Oscar:

http://www.richard-seaman.com/Aircraft/Museums/Oshkosh/Oscar10oClock.jpg

or this one:

http://www.impawards.com/2003/last_samurai_ver4.html

(For the nitpickers, he was only nominated.)

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Happy b-day, d-I270.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 28, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. And small towns are good.

Major environmental degradation occurs when sprawl merge to form one huge metropolis, such as is occuring on the Boston-Washington corridor (Bos-Wash).

Who wants *^&*%^ gridlock for 400 miles straight? Anybody who votes for major metropolises should visit Delhi, or indeed almost every major metropolis.

By the way, I found this interesting study on gun ownership and violence correlation, based on a study of various countries in the E.U. and of Russia.

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

One point mentioned in this is that African-American gun ownership rate is much lower overall than of whites.

This is NOT new. Slaves weren't necessarily allowed to handle, let alone own guns, and there are many historical reasons afterwards why gun ownership would not have reached normal rates, except for the african-americans who had military service.
Even as late as WWII, African-American soldiers were normally consigned to support staff duties, rather than being in the firing lines.

It's just a thought there. Controls on gun ownership is usually seen as a way to control crime especially in cities. This paper points out it doesn't work this way at all.


Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 6:47 PM | Report abuse

the giant melons of Hope? wheee-oo
Is there a monument for Bill Clinton's first melon peeling? There is nothing more American than supersized, juicy melons.

I still believe in a place called Frog Level. I still believe in the Valley of the Melons.

Perhaps if he was born in a place called Espere, he would still be topping melons with cream to this day. Prude Nation is no place for hope. I still believe in a place called Hot Melons. They evoke the spectre of hot springs shooting from the loins of the earth and irrigating melons as far as the eye can see.

Posted by: Pastor Ted | January 28, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

You think having ID will save you?
Think again.
According to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, "The burden of proof is on the individual to show they're legally entitled to be in the United States."
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/25392.html

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Frog Level, VA is on US 301 North of Richmond.

Posted by: Hoppy Toad | January 28, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

*frantically searching for the TV brick in anticipation of the SOTU speech...no grapes*

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 6:53 PM | Report abuse

As I said, Slyness, I hope it works out for all concerned, and yes, it is a nightmare.

Happy Birthday, Don.

I think I will look at the speech. If that's not possible, sleep is the next best option.

dr, your suggestion sounds fine, but don't have the grapes. If it gets that bad, I will switch channels. There are probably folks that want to throw worse things I suspect, not for the speech so much as for the last seven years.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday Don. Aloha, hope you are feeling better. I had a hip replaced a few years ago, do everything they tell you, all the exercises and stuff, and you will be almost as good as new. I lost a bit of flexibility, which shows up in yoga class, but otherwise, I'm fine and pain free, which is the best thing.

Teddy is an old-timey pol. His personal life hasn't always been something to be proud of, but he's done great things for our state. I don't think he'll ever retire, he'll be a senator until he drops.

I wouldn't watch the speach tonight if you paid me. Well, maybe if you paid me plenty, but not a dime less than six figures.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 28, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Missed you, Yoki, and all the good talk about food.

I got something in the mail from Life Line Screening. Is this on the up and up? Can I trust these results? Anyone know?

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneaker

Six figures, and here I am planning to do it for free. The story of my life. I laughed when I read that. The President may dread doing this at all.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree Sneaks.. it would take at least six big figures to get me to watch the State of the Union tonight. Ugh.

I loved the Crazy Bus analogy only I would say that after the first big crash that half the passengers tried to get on a new bus and the other half insisted the driver was doing a fine job, despite the calamities.

So as we kept on schedule with the original Bus Driver, those folks in the "winning" half realized what a mistake they'd made.. but only after everything they owned had flown out the windows and they themselves are tumbling around, trying to hold on to their seats.


Back from The Big City. Lots of fun, especially embracing the precious time spent with my daughter. She's a lot of fun to hang out with, daughter or not.

So... what did I miss?

Posted by: TBG | January 28, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I think its wonderful that Preident gets up once a year and gives enouragement to those enrolled in the country's literacy programs.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

SCC blech

Posted by: Anonymous | January 28, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Do you mean this, Cassandra?

http://www.lifelinescreening.com

They explain how results are evaluated and their quality control procedures. It may be on the up and up.

http://www.lifelinescreening.com/inthenews/Pages/news.aspx

Whether you think it's worth it, is another question.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Do you mean this, Cassandra?

http://www.lifelinescreening.com

They explain how results are evaluated and their quality control procedures. It may be on the up and up.

http://www.lifelinescreening.com/inthenews/Pages/news.aspx

Whether you think it's worth it, is another question.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Boko

Please, I'm laughing so hard my stomach hurts. Was the bad spelling on purpose? I don't know if I'm going to do this. How can I keep a straight face and pay attention after reading the comments listed here.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Boko

Please, I'm laughing so hard my stomach hurts. Was the bad spelling on purpose? I don't know if I'm going to do this. How can I keep a straight face and pay attention after reading the comments listed here.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Slyness

I meant to ask you about the coyotes in Charlotte. There was a man on the news this morning that had been attacked by one. He was trying to run him off his property and the coyote turned on him. I did not know such an animal lived there. I thought they lived in the west.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Grand Address? Grand Address?

I thought the Grand Address was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Anyone know how Obama's grandparents got the bucks to send their grandson to Punahou?

http://starbulletin.com/2007/02/08/news/story02.html

Long before he became Barack Obama -- junior senator from Illinois and presidential candidate -- he was just Barry, the good-natured, unassuming kid.

He loved basketball. He loved books. He always wore a smile. He got along with everyone.

He did not come from privilege, but was able to attend the exclusive Punahou School based on his achievement and with the help of financial aid.

He was, according to former classmates, just one of the guys.

The importance of exceptional teachers (Obama's favorite)--as I mentioned earlier today:

http://starbulletin.com/2007/07/29/news/story04.html

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 2, 1915, Hefty earned her bachelor's from San Francisco State College in 1935 and started teaching at Punahou in 1947. She was a veteran fifth-grade teacher by the time Barack Obama entered her class in the fall of 1971, hoping to fit in like any other kid.

Hefty had recently completed a sabbatical in Kenya, where she taught as part of an educational advisory team appointed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0703250359mar25,0,4596397.story?page=4

Then and now, Punahou and Hawaii liked to see themselves as more diverse and colorblind than the rest of the nation. But the reality felt far different for the handful of African-Americans attending classes there.

Rik Smith, a black Punahou student two years older than Obama, remembers a Halloween when white students would dress as slaves, coming to school in tattered clothes with their faces painted black with shoe polish. "Like being black was a funny costume in and of itself," recalled Smith, now a doctor who specializes in geriatrics in California.

"Punahou was an amazing school," Smith said. "But it could be a lonely place. ... Those of us who were black did feel isolated--there's no question about that."
...

Whatever misgivings Obama had about Punahou, attending the school was largely his decision.

When his mother, a woman said to have been born with a keen sense of wanderlust, announced she was returning to Indonesia, Obama, then a teenager, asked to stay in Hawaii, according to Soetoro-Ng, 36, who still lives in Honolulu. Once again, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, who had been as much parents as grandparents throughout the young man's life, said he could live with them....

Adept at nailing long jump shots, Obama was called "Barry O'Bomber" by teammates. Alan Lum, who later would coach the basketball team at Punahou as well as teach elementary school there, recalled Obama as always being the first to confront coaches when he felt they were not fairly allotting playing time. ...

Every senior graduating from Punahou gets to design a quarter-page in the yearbook. They compose notes to friends and family and include photos or quotes that best represent them.

On page 271 of the 1979 Oahuan, Obama's entry reflects the crossroads he found himself at as he prepared for life beyond Hawaii. He thanked "Tut and Gramps," his nicknames for Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, but didn't mention his faraway mother. ...

As Obama's senior year drew to a close, his mother sent him letters from afar, about life in Indonesia and her work there with non-profit groups doing economic development. She also sent advice about his future. College would be his next stop. She mixed encouragement to keep up his grades with laments about American politics. ...

"It is a shame we have to worry so much about [grade point], but you know what the college entrance competition is these days," she wrote. "Did you know that in Thomas Jefferson's day, and right up through the 1930s, anybody who had the price of tuition could go to Harvard? ... I don't see that we are producing many Thomas Jeffersons nowadays. Instead we are producing Richard Nixons."

Posted by: Loomis | January 28, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

LOL, Sneaks, I'm afraid I'd have to go higher than that. Cassandra, remember to tell me what he said!

Welcome home, Yoki. Aloha, good to hear you're on the mend, it's always a positive thing to be on the healing side of surgery.

Happy birthday, Don. I hope it's been a pleasant one. What are the scouts doing these days?

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Just watched Mansfield Park - have to agree with dr - it was ok, but not great. On the LibraryThing Jane Austen group, someone said they thought the dapple gray horse was perfect for the part. Which about sums it up! I did like that in both this and Northanger Abbey, the women were riding sidesaddle, which at least is realistic (I can't imagine doing that myself).

Posted by: mostlylurking | January 28, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

"From Sharecropper's Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States of America" by Joycelyn Elders, M.D., is a very good book. Although the last third is a bit political, the first parts, especially about growing up in south Arkansas, is a wonderful and harrowing story. Here's a decent map of Arkansas, by the way.
http://www.arkansas-map.org/arkansas-road-map.gif

I guess I was the only one who saw Cheney's vice-presidency as completely unconsitutional, as he was resident for years in the same state as Bush. The completely transparent fast change of residence to Wyoming didn't fool me. Who said that qualified as anything real? Fake, phony, expedient. Never surrender!

Posted by: Jumper | January 28, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Please excuse the double posts.

And yes, Wilbrod, that's the company. It is pretty expensive too. Thank you.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I was born near Hope. My grandparents lived in a small town like it. It was a wonderful place to visit when we spent some summers there.

However, Joel should have acquired some of the local water and had it analyzed. We might learn something.

The Cheney rant has nothing to do with any of this.

Posted by: Jumper | January 28, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Slyness

I will tell you if I don't go to sleep through the whole thing, and if you tell me about the coyotes in Charlotte!

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Love the pictures in this kit. Some of them remind me of the small town in which I was raised.

It is, of course, a coincidence that the same town produced two successful politicians. Still, there is something about the small town environment that fosters ambition. There is a complex mix of high expectations and confidence that comes from being a big fish in a small pond, combined with the realization that there is a much larger world out there just waiting to be discovered.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 28, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the well wishes everyone. I appreciate it!

Bad Sneaks - after your surgery did you find your repaired hip now had a longer leg length than the other leg? I am now 1/2" longer on one side and am trying to figure out what to do about my shoes...sigh. I am grateful that I am now pain free in my joint. And, yes, I am doing everything they tell me, I'm being good!

Posted by: Aloha | January 28, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Another cool thing about coming from a small town is that you really appreciate the wonder of being part of something big. For example, today I poked my head into someone's office and asked, "So what's the deal with this failed satellite"?

And she told me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 28, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes Aloha, one leg is longer by about 1/2 inch. At first it bothered me but I adjusted my stride somehow so that it isn't apparent except when I wear heels, which I hardly ever do. (I think I bend my knee more on the leg with the new hip, but I'm not sure.) My doctor did say that I could get orthotics (sp?) for my shoe if I wanted to, but I decided against it as there is so much footwear, sandals for instance, where they wouldn't be usable. In short, I think you learn to adjust to the difference after a few months. Let me know if you have any other questions that I may be able to answer.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 28, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Coyotes are now in the East, Cassandra. One was captured in NYC last summer, and I saw what looked to be either an rare fox normally seen in the West or a coyote trotting in the brush by the train tracks on the VA express a few years ago.


Of interest to Jack:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_5dogs.6246599jan28,0,1963697.story?track=rss

Of interest to ALL VA animal owners:

http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2008/hb999/

This is only 1 of 4 poorly-thought-out laws up right now before the VA assembly concerning animal ownership.

An well-known animal trainer posted a very excellent point as a comment.

One, humane investigator is poorly defined; most animal control agencies are privately contracted and do not have actual law enforcement authority OR the restrictions that come with it.

It can and should never be legal for anybody to trespass on your property to consficate your animal (or anything else) without due process of law.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Aloha. I was just thinking of you today because I was going to mention something about Hawaii's private schools and the relative importance of having attended Punahou or Iolani. However, you must have a better handle on it than I. Suffice it to say, I have never lived anywhere else where the school a person attended holds such importance, and they're talking high school not college. I doubt that even in the military two "ring knockers" (service academy grads) feel as much kinship as do two graduates of the same Hawaii high school.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneaks, so this isn't a big deal then? Maybe I just need to figure out how to adjust my stride too. I wear a lot of sandals as well, I wasn't sure if I could still do so. I'm learning how to walk again and haven't got the hang of it with this difference in leg length. It just feels so strange, kind of like I'm walking with one foot on a stair. I'll keep at it though. Thank you!

Posted by: Aloha | January 28, 2008 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I missed the coyote story completely! I'll check and see if I can find it.

In our wanderings over the weekend, Mr. T and I encountered two herds of deer, each with 12-16 members. Such graceful creatures.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

My father-in-law had his hip replaced last summer. It made a huge difference in his quality of life. He can golf again. Which, to him, means life once more has meaning.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 28, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

thanks, wilbrod. I guess the gentleman that got bit will have to have rabies shots. That's scary.

Time to go. I don't want to get too comfortable or I might fall asleep and miss the whole thing. Have a pleasant evening, achenblog.

Night, boodle.

Posted by: cassandra s | January 28, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Aloha, when my mother broke her hip the first time, the leg on that side ended up shorter than the other. She got shoes with a built-up sole to compensate but she never liked them. I think she finally just dealt with it like Sneaks and got on with life.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I frequently saw coyote in the woods behind our house in NoVA in '03-'05, which put them just yards from I-95 between Potomac Mills and Quantico (for those familiar with the area). They always looked a bit forlorn, but not as skinny and mangy as you'd expect. Eating well from a smorgasbord of pets restrained by invisible fence I presume. (Sorry, irresistable cheap shot.) Except for the constant guilt over contributing to sprawl I loved living on the urban/wildland interface. Never knew what might trot, crawl, slither or fly into the yard next.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Mudge, I'll meet you all back here for the SoTU.

Should we play a drinking game?

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Bad Sneaks, so this isn't a big deal then? Maybe I just need to figure out how to adjust my stride too. I wear a lot of sandals as well, I wasn't sure if I could still do so. I'm learning how to walk again and haven't got the hang of it with this difference in leg length. It just feels so strange, kind of like I'm walking with one foot on a stair. I'll keep at it though. Thank you!

Frosti - yes, we have this interesting cultural phenomenon called "Where did you go to high school?" It's one of the defining factors of who you are if you grew up in this state. Where you went to high school tells people your economic status, what your social circle was like, what neighborhood you came from (for public schools) and instantly starts the, "Do you know so and so from class of 19##?" I guess it's sort of a six-degrees-of-separation kind of thing and gives people perspective on who you are. Not that it's good or bad, it just is.

Going to an expensive private school here gives people a leg up in the world, at least that's what Hawaii people believe. I don't think it's necessarily true but people's fear of public school in the islands has families working three or four jobs to pay the tuition. It's insane.

Posted by: Aloha | January 28, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

No Cassandra, just my usual lousy spelling, grammar, and punkeduation.
I just wanted to praise the President on his reeding ability.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge et al-you may wish to live in the past and wait for the SOTU address, or you can join me in the future here
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

where it says the address started at 9:01PM EST and ended at 10:08.

I have not read it. I prefer not to cringe in anticipation of mispronounced words and hope for a few surprises that might yield a giggle or two.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

From the Chicago Tribune (link above):

It is a shame we have to worry so much about [grade point], but you know what the college entrance competition is these days," she wrote. "Did you know that in Thomas Jefferson's day, and right up through the 1930s, anybody who had the price of tuition could go to Harvard? ... I don't see that we are producing many Thomas Jeffersons nowadays. Instead we are producing Richard Nixons."

Any **MALE** could go to Harvard through the 30s who had the tuition. I'd like to check around on the facts of this some more...regarding possible ethnic [non-black] discrimination...

Richard Theodore Greener graduated from Harvard College in 1870, the first African American to do so. W.E.B. Dubois, the first black to earn a doctorate from Harvard.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 28, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Er, frosti, that's the SoTU from 2003.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

bc-my bad (blushing,and reaching for reading glasses)

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, aloha!
I'm glad to hear that your convalescence is going well. Don't worry too much about the difference in leg length, as your stride should tend to straighten itself out. My left leg is almost an inch shorter than my right, and all it has given me is scoliosis. I tried what amounted to an elevator on the sole of my left shoe for a couple of months when I was eighteen and gave it up because it made me look like Herman Munster. I ditched it and decided that I'd live life with a short leg. Not to sound trite, but things will even out.

The pictures in the kit could have been taken in almost any small town in any of the 50 states. I agree somewhat with what tim said about losing small towns in favour of centralisation, less pollution and the like, but I still like our sparsely populated county.

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 8:57 PM | Report abuse

And your point is, bc?

Our busy Warmaker-in-chief can't be bothered to learn a new speech EVERY year, can he, really?

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 8:58 PM | Report abuse

But, bc, it still applies today, doesn't it?

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

i like the supplemental photos and captions to the hope story.

i'll pass on the sotu address. the wapo article says arbusto's going to talk about his governing philosophy. yeah right.

one chug for the governing philosophy, two chugs for the legacy.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 28, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm strapped in. bc, what's the drinking game?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 28, 2008 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I noticed that too, Wilbrod.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Er, we drink every time he says "earmark" or "veto?"

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Did Nancy just goose him, what else would cause that suppressed giggle?

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

"... a [federal] budget surplus by 2012...

Harumph.

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, how about "trust?"

That's a *good* one.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and any form of "empower."

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

A White House summit to help private schools? How long do you think it would take the federal government to ruin them?

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Isn't nucular good for two drinks?

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

An international agreement to reduce greenhouse gasses? Er, weren't they called the Kyoto Accords?

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I took two sips of port for that one, frosti.

Uh oh, he's getting into science. This should be good.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to stay here, I'm learning all I need to know about SOTU from the comments. The bonus is that I don't have to listen to POTUS!

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

He said trust again...chug.

*spitting my shot of coffee up*

...appoint justices that will uphold the letter of the law...

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

bc-I must call uncle on "empower." I fear I'll be MN's third binge drinking death of '08 if I try to keep up. He clearly doesn't plan to stop.

Wow, he can name all three countries in North America. I'm impressed.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Jack-obviously he's talking about "signing statements" not actual "letter" of the law.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

...we will uphold our pledge to rebuild Now Orleans...and hold the North American summit of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in the great city of New Orleans...

I wonder if it'll include a tour of all the neighbourhoods and industrial parks that are rotting in the New Orleans environs, or maybe a tour of the FEMA trailer parks? Better than ever...Harumph.

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Time Machine!
Here's the enitre text of the SoTU for anyone that wants it:

He's about 1/2 way through it at this point.

STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

As Prepared for Delivery

Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Seven years have passed since I first stood before you at this rostrum. In that time, our country has been tested in ways none of us could have imagined. We have faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy, and the health and welfare of our citizens. These issues call for vigorous debate, and I think it's fair to say we've answered that call. Yet history will record that amid our differences, we acted with purpose. And together, we showed the world the power and resilience of American self-government.

All of us were sent to Washington to carry out the people's business. That is the purpose of this body. It is the meaning of our oath. And it remains our charge to keep.

The actions of the 110th Congress will affect the security and prosperity of our Nation long after this session has ended. In this election year, let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibilities and are determined to meet them. And let us show them that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes and cooperate for results at the same time.

From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we have made good progress. Yet we have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get it done.

In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our Nation great. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. So in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free people to make wise decisions, and empower them to improve their lives and their futures.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace. Wages are up, but so are prices for food and gas. Exports are rising, but the housing market has declined. And at kitchen tables across our country, there is concern about our economic future.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that growth is slowing. So last week, my Administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader Boehner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment. The temptation will be to load up the bill. That would delay it or derail it, and neither option is acceptable. This is a good agreement that will keep our economy growing and our people working. And this Congress must pass it as soon as possible.

We have other work to do on taxes. Unless the Congress acts, most of the tax relief we have delivered over the past 7 years will be taken away. Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm, and I am pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders.

Most Americans think their taxes are high enough. With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about the Federal Government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks. There is only one way to eliminate this uncertainty: make the tax relief permanent. And Members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it.

Just as we trust Americans with their own money, we need to earn their trust by spending their tax dollars wisely. Next week, I will send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs totaling more than $18 billion. And this budget will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets, and so should their Government.

The people's trust in their Government is undermined by congressional earmarks -- special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I will send it back to you with my veto. And tomorrow, I will issue an Executive Order that directs Federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by the Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, the Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote.

Our shared responsibilities extend beyond matters of taxes and spending.

On housing, we must trust Americans with the responsibility of homeownership and empower them to weather turbulent times in the housing market. My Administration brought together the HOPE NOW alliance, which is helping many struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. The Congress can help even more. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, modernize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. These are difficult times for many American families, and by taking these steps, we can help more of them keep their homes.

To build a future of quality health care, we must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions and empower them with better information and better options. We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The best way to achieve that goal is by expanding consumer choice, not government control. So I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This one reform would put private coverage within reach for millions, and I call on the Congress to pass it this year. The Congress must also expand health savings accounts, create Association Health Plans for small businesses, promote health information technology, and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits. With all these steps, we will help ensure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor's office -- not in the halls of Congress.

On education, we must trust students to learn if given the chance and empower parents to demand results from our schools. In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams -- and a decent education is their only hope of achieving them. Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. And African-American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs. Now we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for States and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, and provide extra help for struggling schools. Members of Congress: The No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And we owe it to America's children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law.

We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we have expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let's apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools.

On trade, we must trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas. Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods, crops, and services all over the world. So we are working to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We are working for a successful Doha round of trade talks, and we must complete a good agreement this year. At the same time, we are pursuing opportunities to open up new markets by passing free trade agreements.

I thank the Congress for approving a good agreement with Peru. Now I ask you to approve agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Many products from these nations now enter America duty-free, yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers. And they will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say "Made in the USA."

These agreements also promote America's strategic interests. The first agreement that will come before you is with Colombia, a friend of America that is confronting violence and terror and fighting drug traffickers. If we fail to pass this agreement, we will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere. So we must come together, pass this agreement, and show our neighbors in the region that democracy leads to a better life.

Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology.

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, the Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.

On matters of science and life, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of the past by extending the frontiers of medicine without the destruction of human life. So we are expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. So I call on the Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.

On matters of justice, we must trust in the wisdom of our Founders and empower judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says. I have submitted judicial nominees who will rule by the letter of the law, not the whim of the gavel. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed. They are worthy of confirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt up-or-down vote.

In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past 7 years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the Federal Government. And to help guarantee equal treatment for faith-based organizations when they compete for Federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice.

Tonight the armies of compassion continue the march to a new day in the Gulf Coast. America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. We reaffirm our pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I am pleased to announce that in April we will host this year's North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans.

There are two other pressing challenges that I have raised repeatedly before this body, and that this body has failed to address: entitlement spending and immigration.

Every Member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford. And we all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits, or crippling deficits. I have laid out proposals to reform these programs. Now I ask Members of Congress to offer your proposals and come up with a bipartisan solution to save these vital programs for our children and grandchildren.

The other pressing challenge is immigration. America needs to secure our borders -- and with your help, my Administration is taking steps to do so. We are increasing worksite enforcement, we are deploying fences and advanced technologies to stop illegal crossings, we have effectively ended the policy of "catch and release" at the border, and by the end of this year, we will have doubled the number of border patrol agents. Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border until we create a lawful way for foreign workers to come here and support our economy. This will take pressure off the border and allow law enforcement to concentrate on those who mean us harm. We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally. Illegal immigration is complicated, but it can be resolved. And it must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals.

This is the business of our Nation here at home. Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world.

Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace. In the last 7 years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. We have seen citizens in Georgia and Ukraine stand up for their right to free and fair elections. We have seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. We have seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban to choose a new president and a new parliament. We have seen jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers and celebrating their freedom. And these images of liberty have inspired us.

In the past 7 years, we have also seen images that have sobered us. We have watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin's hand. We have seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets, and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs. And on a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists -- evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.

Since September 11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to the enemies of America.

We are engaged in the defining ideological struggle of the 21st century. The terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear. Yet in this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on: In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will reject terror and refuse to live in tyranny. That is why the terrorists are fighting to deny this choice to people in Lebanon,

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Territories. And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom.

In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies, and 15 partner nations are helping the Afghan people defend their freedom and rebuild their country. Thanks to the courage of these military and civilian personnel, a nation that was once a safe haven for al Qaida is now a young democracy where boys and girls are going to school, new roads and hospitals are being built, and people are looking to the future with new hope. These successes must continue, so we are adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight the terrorists and train the Afghan Army and police. Defeating the Taliban and al Qaida is critical to our security, and I thank the Congress for supporting America's vital mission in Afghanistan.

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty and to establish safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, our enemies were succeeding in their efforts to plunge Iraq into chaos. So we reviewed our strategy and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. And we gave our troops a new mission: Work with Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in its strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country.

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened. Those who had worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service Officers and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction, and they have the gratitude of our whole Nation.

The Iraqis launched a surge of their own. In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaida's brutality and started a popular uprising called "The Anbar Awakening." Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. And today, this grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward as well -- adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year.

While the enemy is still dangerous and more work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just 1 year ago:

When we met last year, many said containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, and sectarian killings are down.

When we met last year, militia extremists -- some armed and trained by Iran -- were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. A year later, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize that defeating these militia fighters is critical to the future of their country.

When we met last year, al Qaida had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaida that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaida leaders and operatives. Last month, Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaida and admitted that Coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt. Al Qaida is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated.

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home.

This progress is a credit to the valor of our troops and the brilliance of their commanders. This evening, I want to speak directly to our men and women on the frontlines. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen: In the past year, you have done everything we have asked of you, and more. Our Nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments. And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge: In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our Nation. And I ask the Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women by fully funding our troops.

Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead. Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy. American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission. As part of this transition, one Army brigade combat team and one Marine Expeditionary Unit have already come home and will not be replaced. In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit. Taken together, this means more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home.

Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders. General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the "disintegration of the Iraqi Security Forces, al Qaida-Iraq regaining lost ground, [and] a marked increase in violence." Members of Congress: Having come so far and achieved so much, we must not allow this to happen.

In the coming year, we will work with Iraqi leaders as they build on the progress they are making toward political reconciliation. At the local level, Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds are beginning to come together to reclaim their communities and rebuild their lives. Progress in the provinces must be matched by progress in Baghdad. And we are seeing some encouraging signs. The national government is sharing oil revenues with the provinces. The parliament recently passed both a pension law and de-Ba'athification reform. Now they are debating a provincial powers law. The Iraqis still have a distance to travel. But after decades of dictatorship and the pain of sectarian violence, reconciliation is taking place -- and the Iraqi people are taking control of their future.

The mission in Iraq has been difficult and trying for our Nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Iraq will deny al Qaida a safe haven. A free Iraq will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. And a free Iraq will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world.

By contrast, a failed Iraq would embolden extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland. The enemy has made its intentions clear. At a time when the momentum seemed to favor them, al Qaida's top commander in Iraq declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated. We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight, and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. Palestinians have elected a president who recognizes that confronting terror is essential to achieving a state where his people can live in dignity and at peace with Israel. Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state will be a source of lasting security. This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace.

We are also standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the regime in Tehran. Iran's rulers oppress a good and talented people. And wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon. Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, we respect your traditions and your history, and we look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, and cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf.

On the homefront, we will continue to take every lawful and effective measure to protect our country. This is our most solemn duty. We are grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since September 11. This is not for a lack of desire or effort on the part of the enemy. In the past 6 years, we have stopped numerous attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles and another to blow up passenger jets bound for America over the Atlantic. Dedicated men and women in our Government toil day and night to stop the terrorists from carrying out their plans. These good citizens are saving American lives, and everyone in this chamber owes them our thanks. And we owe them something more: We owe them the tools they need to keep our people safe.

One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.

Protecting our Nation from the dangers of a new century requires more than good intelligence and a strong military. It also requires changing the conditions that breed resentment and allow extremists to prey on despair. So America is using its influence to build a freer, more hopeful, and more compassionate world. This is a reflection of our national interest and the calling of our conscience.

America is opposing genocide in Sudan and supporting freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma.

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We have also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative.

America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half the world's food aid comes from the United States. And tonight, I ask the Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine.

America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, we are working to cut by half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people. We can bring healing and hope to many more. So I ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success. And I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next 5 years.

America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate people, and some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us. We must keep faith with all who have risked life and limb so that we might live in freedom and peace. Over the past 7 years, we have increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent. As we increase funding, we must also reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation. I call on the Congress to enact the reforms recommended by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, so we can improve the system of care for our wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope, promise, and dignity.

Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to childcare, creating new hiring preferences for military spouses across the Federal Government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children. Our military families serve our Nation, they inspire our Nation, and tonight our Nation honors them.

The secret of our strength, the miracle of America, is that our greatness lies not in our Government, but in the spirit and determination of our people. When the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, our Nation was bound by the Articles of Confederation, which began with the words, "We the undersigned delegates." When Gouverneur Morris was asked to draft the preamble to our new Constitution, he offered an important revision and opened with words that changed the course of our Nation and the history of the world: "We the people."

By trusting the people, our Founders wagered that a great and noble Nation could be built on the liberty that resides in the hearts of all men and women. By trusting the people, succeeding generations transformed our fragile young democracy into the most powerful Nation on earth and a beacon of hope for millions. And so long as we continue to trust the people, our Nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the State of our Union will remain strong. So tonight, with confidence in freedom's power, and trust in the people, let us set forth to do their business.

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I'm with him on earmarks. What a waste and a joke on the legislative process.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

"...we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves."

Hmmm. I imagine that there are some people in the world who are surprised to hear that line come from GWB.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Is he being interrupted at all by applause? Can't imagine there would be very much of it.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 28, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

When he gets to the part about brigades rotating out of Iraq and not being replaced, just remember they've been there 15-18 months and there aren't any brigades left to replace them with.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes, sneaks, he's being interrupted a lot.

On the other hand, there are a lot of folks in the chamber who are yawning *hugely*. No attempts to stifle them either.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

One person's worthless earmark is our town's hiking/biking path. Seriously, I don't know how we'll ever get a safe pedestrian route in our town if Congressman Oberstar is stripped of his ability to bring home a little pork.

However, I would gladly volunteer at a lifetime of bake sales to build the thing if we could get away from every yahoo elected official who lives near a military installation claiming bringing home the bacon is "being strong on defense" or "pro-military." Hogwash! If the local industry was manufacturing chop sticks they'd be for that instead of the military.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

disembolden those pesky terrersists!

Posted by: Boko999 | January 28, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Bad Sneakers and mostly...just can't bring myself to watch. Like Slyness, I agree that earmarks are out of control and just think....he might have some credibility on the subject if he'd done the slightest thing about them when the Republicans controlled Congress. Yechhh.

Happy Birthday, Don. Hope you have a great one.

Like dr, I was mighty unimpressed with Manchester Park. Billie Price (?) was spectacularly miscast and the whole show was disjointed with no sense of story progression. Oh well, I've enjoyed the others.

I saw Atonement and Away From Her this weekend. I loved Away From Her, very poignant and Julie Christie was wonderful. Atonement, it was ok but nothing to write home about. Keira Knightly is starting to get on my nerves with the way she walks with her shoulders pulled back and arms akimbo. Other than that, it just didn't build up to anything, just kind of meandered along with a very anticlimactic end. I loved the book and this was pretty faithful to it, but I think it could have been a lot better. Don't ask me how it could have been better, but there you have it.

Hope everyone's week got off to a good start.

Posted by: Kim | January 28, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Is it over yet?

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 28, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I saw John Dingell seriously napping and decided a diversion for more background was in order. He has held his seat for 53 years-all the while pushing for single payer health. he wrote this and read it to congress in '05.

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House

No bills were passed 'bout which Fox News could grouse;

Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,

So vacations in St. Barts soon would be near;

Katrina kids were nestled all snug in motel beds,

While visions of school and home danced in their heads;

In Iraq our soldiers needed supplies and a plan,

Plus nuclear weapons were being built in Iran;

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell;

Americans feared we were on a fast track to...well...

Wait--- we need a distraction--- something divisive and wily;

A fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly


We can pretend that Christmas is under attack

Hold a vote to save it--- then pat ourselves on the back;

Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger

Wake up Congress, they're in no danger!

This time of year we see Christmas every where we go,

From churches, to homes, to schools, and yes...even Costco;

What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy,

When this is the season to unite us with joy

At Christmas time we're taught to unite,

We don't need a made-up reason to fight

So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter, and those right wing blogs;

You should just sit back, relax...have a few egg nogs!

'Tis the holiday season: enjoy it a pinch

With all our real problems, do we honestly need another Grinch?

So to my friends and my colleagues I say with delight,

A merry Christmas to all,

and to Bill O'Reilly...Happy Holidays.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Frosti, glad to hear that you got something good out of an earmark. In this community, we have spent an awful lot of earmark money on fancy equipment to respond to terrorist attacks. What we don't have is the funds to maintain said equipment without borrowing from operational accounts. Actually, make that stealing from operational accounts.

Posted by: Slyness | January 28, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

That was great Frosti, and unfortunately, still true. I give up, I'm going to watch Tony Bourdain on the travel channel, he's in Greece.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 28, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

It's over, FWIW.

I hardly used any of the Nitrous Oxide I'd saved for the occasion.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, here's the Democratic response on NBC, and they say they're going to have Sen's. Obama and Clinton on afterward.

This should be interesting, too.

bc

Posted by: bc | January 28, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I hope the camera pans on them snoring, sound asleep; that'd be comment enough.

I was watching a re-run of a Mary Pickford bio on the local PBS instead.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Our pup has the shizzly drits. Similar to the content of parts of the address given to the Nation. I gotta move fast.

Posted by: jack | January 28, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Slyness-we don't have the trail yet, and it looks like congress might actually do something about earmarks before we get it. Story of our municipal life. We got electricity thanks to FDR, but it's been pretty much downhill from there.

I know what you mean about the anti-terrorism money. Let me go on record, as a mayor, that my city is in absolutely no danger from terrorists and even if we were in AQ's sights we'd be happy to divert their attention from more lucrative targets.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

G'night boodle. Want to give the Daily Show and Colbert Report my full attention. Still over +34F here, supposed to drop about 40 degrees in the next 12 hours. Just as well, I don't want Mr. F thinking winter here is all high 20s and sunshine.

Posted by: frostbitten | January 28, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, especially if you could get an emergency terrorist hunting season opened, Frostbitten. It'd be good for the local economy.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 28, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Can I come out now? Is the SoTU all over?

I was unable to muster enough cynicism equal to the occasion.

Posted by: dbG | January 29, 2008 3:16 AM | Report abuse

SCC: cut out enough. Or something like that. It *is* 3:1x AM.

Posted by: dbG | January 29, 2008 3:17 AM | Report abuse

dbG - I'm actually interested: Why capitalize "The" in SoTU?

Posted by: Bob S. | January 29, 2008 3:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm trying hard to convince myself that tonight's message from POTUS was more full of empty wind than most of the recent statements that I've heard from the up & coming candidates to the post. I s'pose that I almost think so, but it's a tightly run race.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 29, 2008 3:40 AM | Report abuse

And I say this as one of the more idealistic folks in this particular forum. Mudge and Loomis have both been known to take me to task for my rose-colored view of the world!

[For newcomers: Mudge and Loomis don't often agree on much!]

Posted by: Bob S. | January 29, 2008 3:42 AM | Report abuse

Belated Happy Birthday, Don!!! :-)

I'm sorry, there was some sort of important speech last night? Dang.

I can't wait for the days to really get longer... I find myself really draggin' this time of year. Not good when work is crazy allatime. Oh well.

*mustering-a-little-more-silliness-for-my-friends Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 29, 2008 5:04 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Scotty, I'm sensing your work has gotten crazier than usual over the past couple of months; sorry to hear it.

Bob, sorry if you feel Loomis and I have been hard on you; please remember we are both cynical old ex-newspaper types, and our growling can (and should) be taken with a grain of salt. I *do* agree that Arbusto's speech was basically bereft of anything useful -- or even completely true (see the fact-checking article in the WaPo this morning). I had the speech on, as background noise, but was working on something and paid almost no attention to it. Every now and then I'd look up and notice the Repubs were bobbing up and down like Catholics in church, and applauding, while the Dems were always sitting quietly and contemplating their navels like Quakers in the Meetinghouse. Even Obama looked a bit sour. I'm always amazed how badly Bush can ruin the syntax of any sentence. The man can't even read properly. And whenever I'd look up, there'd be Cheney sitting behind Arbusto's right shoulder--a chilling thought.

I'm mad at myself because that new shrink show starring Gabriel Byrne was on HBO at 9:30 and I wanted to see it, but missed it.

Gotta go find food and ablutions. Later, Gator.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 29, 2008 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Don, in my flyby boodling yesterday, I forgot your birthday. Happy birthday a couple hours late. May your day have been filled with unpelted grapes. (I mean good clean unused ones, versus the ones you may or may not have tossed at your tv last night.)

Good morning everyone. I awoke in the middle of the night because the furnace was making me nuts. It would not shut off.

The airport temperature is rreporting -35. However, at the R household, there was no little red stuff outside of the ball. Well, ok, there is a sliver, but Celsius and Farenheight are pretty much one. If the wind dies down it won't be too bad.

Calgary is -32 with a wind chill warning taking them to -44.

Wool socks are just about perfect this morning, and right now sitting here, I'm wondering how fast I could knit honest to goodness wool longjohns.

Posted by: dr | January 29, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

dr, you'd sure have inspiration to knit fast!!! :-O

Hey, who's interested in a February Eve BPH on Thursday, anyway?

'Mudge, crazy goes with the territory here, I guess. Or maybe it's just me. ;-)

*somewhat-perkier-after-an-apple-bran-muffin-and-more-coffee Grover waves*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 29, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

-32C.

Temperatures like that are what I miss most about Canada.

Posted by: byoolin | January 29, 2008 7:58 AM | Report abuse

And it's so good to see our bicameral legislative branch at work...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/28/AR2008012802431.html?hpid=topnews

*choking sounds*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 29, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

There's two camels in the Capital?

Posted by: jack | January 29, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Nah Jack, I think it has something to do with CSPAN and CSPAN2.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 29, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Calgary must be -32C, which works out to -26F. Ouch. A Wyoming town where I once lived regularly got that cold, but was blessedly free of wind.

Voted. Mainly against a property tax proposal that would elaborate the 3% cap on tax increases on homes by allowing homeowners to move and take their low tax rates with them, leaving new residents of the state or first-time homeowners stuck with much higher taxes. Which is probably contrary to the state and federal constitutions.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 29, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I saw on the TV news this morning that the wind chill in Regina was -60F. Pretty brisk if you ask me. We actually spent a nice evening getting some dinner at Jackie's, then catching up on our reading last night. Kinda nice when there is nothing on TV. Even the cable channels had virtually nothing of any consequence to offer. Saved on grapes, too!

Posted by: ebtnut | January 29, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Just when you think you know nearly all that's important to know, enlightemnent comes in the form of how birds may have first taken flight:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7205086.stm

Posted by: jack | January 29, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Bob S., although Mudge and I have disagreements--on balance, I would say that we agree more than we disagree.

Although the following has nothing to do with last night's SOTU, it was an interesting exchange between a Washington Post reader and Robert Kaiser post-denate during Kaiser's chat last night (several dozen questions came in last night for Kaiser as compared to hundreds of questions the years before, according to Kaiser)--the subject is LBJ.:

Stewartstown, Pa.: I strongly disagree with your comment that Lyndon Johnson had a "failed presidency." Yes, Vietnam was a disaster, but in my opinion, Johnson was the greatest domestic president of the 20th century. He did more for civil rights than any president since Lincoln. Overall, I'd rank Johnson at least as a "near-great" president.

Robert G. Kaiser: Those of us who were in Vietnam and who can visit the Vietnam memorial on a regular basis here in Washington will never be able to embrace the idea of a great Johnson. It is a prejudice, for sure.

But I really had in mind his own perception then--HE saw himself as a failed president after he cried uncle and announced he wasn't running for reelection. That happened in April, 1968, as I recall; in other words, three months from now,comparably. Another sign of how crazy our electoral calendar has become.

Thanks for standing up for LBJ.
***

If you remember Mudge's earlier assessment of LBJ, it was similar to Kaiser's comment, but gave LBJ more credit for his domestic programs. That said, Kaiser was in Vietnam as a reporter, lived it.

I did bring you the schedule of events that the San Marcos paper published, events both in Texas and D.C. to commemmorate LBJ on the 100th year since his birth. The fact that I brought it to everyone's attention here doesn't mean that I'm an avid LBJ fan. One had to live through the years of the LBJ presidency. Additionally, since I was an intern in one of LBJ's Teacher Corps projects, I can, in both summary and retrospect, say that I was deeply troubled by a number of aspects about how the program was run, both locally and nationally--and its costs.

LBJ's daughters and family will be at some of these upcoming events this year to honor their father and his "legacy"--much like Caroline Kennedy and Teddy were trying to do yesterday for JFK when they endorsed Obama.

But what I appreciate most, for those of us who, like Mudge says, are old cynical ex-newspaper or current newspaper types (Robert Kaiser) is the honesty. I intend to return in several minutes with an example of another article at washingtonpost.com that troubled me in the wee hours of the morning when I read it (up with some GI tract problems).

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Morning boodle!

Anyone doing a bathroom remodel really needs to check this out- the twodaloo
http://www.wiserep.com/productDetails.php?id=5769

Here's a pretty good take on why such a thing exists-
"...Today, strangers know more about each other than spouses of earlier centuries did. iPhones and BlackBerrys keep crushing solitude at bay in movie theaters, grocery stores, and any other place not packed with our favorite confidants. Yelp.com, Web 2.0's version of the Yellow Pages, isn't just the source of restaurant addresses and nail salon phone numbers; it can also lead us to new lunch pals and manicure buddies.


For friendship, this is a boon. For true love, it's a challenge -- when raging intimacy is the lingua franca even amongst strangers, a new market for intimacy enhancement emerges..."

Read it all here at "The Smart Set"

http://thesmartset.com/article/article01280801.aspx

Posted by: frostbitten | January 29, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with Mudge and yellojkt here. I watched both Vanessa Mae videos and the Ahn trio and Twelve Girls Band again. Mudge you understated the case here. yello's bands don't even hold a spent match to Vansessa.

And just for the record I'm talking talent AND musicianship. You can look it up if you like. You may not have a taste for her style. Compare and contrast the achievements of each.

But then again, I've only watched/listened to the two links yello provided, while I've listened to five (the two linked here yesterday, and three others) of Vanessa. I'll finish with this: Vanessa knocks my socks off every single time. Especially her own 'Red Hot' (co-written with Ian Wherry).

Posted by: omni | January 29, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

From Neely Tucker's writeup of the Kennedy endorsement of Obama in the Style section:

"The Kennedy family, more than any other, has always stood for what's best about the Democratic Party, and about America," he said. "That each of us can make a difference and all of us ought to try."

Hope! Inspiration! Longing!

Yes!

Bay of Pigs! Marilyn! No need to mention these sorts of things today.

(From Taylor Branch's "Parting the Waters," p. 918, in which he compares both JFK and MLK. ...Like Roy Wilkins, he [MLK] was deeply hurt not to have been invited to the [JFK's] funeral Mass at St. Matthew's. King still identifed with both kennedy's, especially the President. They had many things in common, such as a coarsely overbearing fathers, and a penchant for noble romance. Each was a closet smoker, catnapper, and skirt-chaser. Between them they delivered most of the memorable American oratory of the postwar period.)

It was a big-canvas day in the new America. This was designed, the pundits say, to get votes from blue-collar Democrats, from Hispanics in big-ticket states where Hillary Clinton leads and Obama trails.

Nothing wrong with that. This is politics.

We are never more than the myths we tell ourselves we are. Yesterday, the ideals of one of the nation's most beloved presidents were handed down for a new generation. It should make for a good story.

Funny, I don't see Tucker putting the mythological gloss on his telling of the story of AIDS in Africa in his book, "Love in the Driest Season:A Family Memoir." Why invoke Camelot in his piece that runs in Style?

Did you hear Caroline Kennedy say that the reason she endorsed Obama was because of her kids' enthusiasm for him. What do her children know? Please tell me of their worldly experience. I found Caroline's comment as over-the-top ridiculous as the recent Washington Post story about how actress Scarlett Johanssen loves Obama, she just coming back from a USO-type tour of the Middle East. How much more I trust veteran reporter Martha Raddatz's comments last Friday night on the Bill Maher show about how she learned on her most recent trip to the war zones about the enthusiasm of the very young troops for Obama. That I'll buy.

And not too many people talk about the timing of the highly stage-crafted event yesterday--what other story this "glamorous" endorsement may have pushed to a back page.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/horoscopes/chi-rezko-arrested_webjan29,0,12002.story

Antoin "Tony" Rezko was roused at daybreak Monday from his Wilmette mansion by federal agents and ordered jailed by a judge who was disturbed that the politically connected businessman concealed a $3.5 million payment from overseas.

Rezko's sudden arrest came days after his name became a point of controversy in the presidential campaign because of his past ties to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

ABC News' morning show was even hawking the mythological Camelot theme. As John Stossel likes to say, "Gimme me a break."

Posted by: Loomis | January 29, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Gotta admit, the Lame Duck Special Edition SoTU was completely anti-climactic for me. As, I suppose, the Arbusto Presidency will be.

The big question on my mind - aside from the Uber Bowl and the State of The Boodle meeting on Thursday - is whether Obama is *really* picking up enough momentum to take the Dem nomination.

Oh, and the fact that the GOP seems to *want* Obama as the Dem Presidential candidate. As I've said before, that idea alone worries me, and makes me wonder what *they* know that we don't.

For that alone, I'm not sure I'm ready to get behind Obama yet. If the GOP wants something to happen, I'm suspicious of it.

bc


Posted by: bc | January 29, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

One of Lyndon Johnson's big programs was Medicare. It provided funding only to hospitals and such that did not discriminate. The South's segregated health care was swept away almost instantly. This was terribly hard on black health professionals, but at least did away with patients suffering as their ambulances drove past by white-only hospitals.

On the side, Dionne's column is interesting.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 29, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I've seen first hand the enthusiasm that many young soldiers have for Obama. It occurs to me that the "experience" issue is not a big deal for them. In a culture where a 25 year old company commander can be referred to as "the old man" and Mr. F is ancient (21 months older than Obama)the appeal of someone who might have a clue about what the world is like today, not "back in the day" is remarkable.

Great Jon Stewart line last night-shows a clip of the Kennedy endorsements ending with Ted's speech. "Was I just inspired by Ted Kennedy?!"

I think this overstates the case a bit, but here's a 3 Quarks Daily column on Bill Clinton's "Jesse Jackson won in '84 and '88" comment-
http://3quarksdaily.blogs.com/3quarksdaily/2008/01/below-the-fol-1.html

Posted by: frostbitten | January 29, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

bc, thank you for describing the SOTU speech correctly as anti-climactic. Many would have said "anti-climatic," and while much of GWB's legacy is in fact anti-climatic, you used the correct term to describe the speech.

Multi-user facilities are nothing new-

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://brentwood.thefuntimesguide.com/images/blogs/tennessee-outhouse.jpg&imgrefurl=http://brentwood.thefuntimesguide.com/2007/07/tennessee_outhouse.php&h=2283&w=1883&sz=952&hl=en&start=15&um=1&tbnid=0Kk3w2sUFQ-YcM:&tbnh=150&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Douthouse%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN

Posted by: kurosawaguy | January 29, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Yes, of course! Any BPH Thursday would obviously be the State of the Boodle edition...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 29, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

new kit!

Posted by: frostbitten | January 29, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the spell-check, k-guy, I was just tossing it out there...

bc

Posted by: bc | January 29, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Giant melons of Hope" is a spectacular name for a band, but the group must include a sax and a bass guitar.

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