1. The fact that we have the first global candidate ever in Barack Obama has enlivened the coverage of this campaign overseas and gotten many more interested in our political process. We noted in a previous blog that Barack has very proud Kenyan relatives. Now his Irish cousins on his mother's side are speaking up as well with a hardy drink at the pub. Barack did not return phone calls to admit or deny these assertions, but I'm sure he wishes they could vote.
2. Speaking of overseas, the Brits have taken a liking to Barack as well, particularly David Cameron, head of Britain's Conservative Party. Yes, that's the CONSERVATIVE party. Mr. Cameron speaks, like we have, of how inspiring are Barack's oratory skills: "I'm enjoying watching Barack Obama. I think he's a brilliant speaker; I think his optimism and sense of hope for the future is inspiring a lot of people. It's great to see." The WSJ goes on to say that "a person close to Mr. Cameron said he is watching the US election 'closely,' and that it is Sen. Obama's meteoric rise that has most impressed him." Him and Hillary both.
2. The Democratic Convention is in Denver this year and to celebrate the event JW Marriott at Cherry Creek is offering two packages commemorating the contenders through August. Listen up, you might not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime offering: "Guests choosing the Hillary Clinton Package start the morning with a speed walk through Cherry Creek North and Denver Country Club neighborhoods. Guests receive a $50 Cherry Creek North gift card and a chocolate treat at turn-down--one of Mrs. Clinton's self-professed guilty pleasures. Prices start at $249 per night, not including tax." We won't ask what one of Bill's guilty pleasures might be, but then he's not running, is he(?)
Now, if you are of the Barack persuasion, here's what the Barack Obama Package has to offer: "Two guest passes to the Denver Athletic Club and dinner at the Prime 121 steakhouse. Then it's back to your room for a viewing of 'Lawrence of Arabia,' one of Mr. Obama's favorite movies. Prices start at $299 per night, not including tax and gratuity." Both obviously include a room, in this case a deluxe model, whatever that means. One might think that for the prices charged and the lame accouterments provided, appearances by the candidates would be in order. In lieu of that, but in distant second place, I suppose the staff could situate an autographed picture of Hillary or Barack on your pillow with the turn-down service. Sweet dreams.
3. On that same note, the Horseshoe Bay Resort in the Texas Hill Country is offering a package to celebrate President's Day later this month as well as the elections. For only $149 a night from February 14th through 19th, you get a one bedroom luxury villa. That's all. But in order to get this discounted rate, there is a catch: to qualify, guests must have the same last name as one of the U.S. Presidents or 2008 Presidential hopefuls. The management must be expecting a run on the place because the offer was just announced yesterday in the WSJ. So, how many Huckabee's do you think will be calling? Or, I was thinking, with all the money Ron Paul has in his campaign fund and no place to spend it, he might just take the resort up on the offer himself. No one could argue that he has the same last name as a 2008 Presidential hopeful.
4. Angela Merkel, the Prime Minister of Germany, took WSJ to task for calling her Ms. instead of Mrs. It is reported that she wanted the same treatment given to Hillary Clinton by the newspaper, which was more than happy to comply. We will have to keep an eye out to see if all reports on Mrs. Clinton call her, well, Mrs. Clinton. Used to be Ms. was hip, but that must have changed when I had my back turned.
5. On the eve of Super Tuesday, the WSJ informed its readers that Mrs. Clinton got emotional again when speaking to female voters at Yale University where she went to law school. While talking about health care, she is quoted as saying, "Well, I said I would not tear up. Already we're not exactly on that path." The next day the Yale Daily News endorsed her opponent. I guess sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
6. In the better late than never category, President Bush announced his administration's intentions to save 480 trees by e-publishing the 4-volume, 2,000 page, $3 trillion federal budget. It will be available free on line for the first time. According to the OMB and reported in WSJ, "The change is expected to drive down demand for hard copies, sparing an estimated 20 tons of paper, or 480 trees, and saving tax payers about $1 million over five years." (Actually, giving credit where credit is due, this administration has been adamant in requiring a change-over to electronic submission of material relating to it. So, for those readers who think nothing good has come out of DC in the last 8 years, this enlightened initiative has received little fanfare but has pushed the government into the 21st century electronically and probably saved millions of trees in the process.)
And finally, before we leave this covey of politicians behind, I would like to send them a few words of advice: take the high road, OK? Self-deprecating humor is so much more flattering than ad hominem diatribes about the other guy or gal, as the case may be. Besides that, the world may be getting to be a better place to live, as recounted in The Economist on January 26th:
"The number of very poor people in the world is falling fast. Some 135 million people emerged from destitution between 1999 and 2004 a 'stunning' sign of progress that owes much to the growing control of people in developing nations have over their own fertility. There have been huge gains in access to public services such as clean water and corresponding improvements in child-mortality rates. These advances can also be attributed to economic growth, which has been spread fairly evenly across the globe. There are twice the number of fast-growing countries today than there were from 1980 to 2000. Living standards are getting a boost from another development--a decline in wars and in deaths from violence. While terrible violence persists in such places as Sudan, Congo and in parts of the Middle East, the overall toll is dropping" (WSJ, 1-26/27-08.)The magazine concludes that the pervading sense of doom is overwrought. So, candidates listen up. Negativity has a price, particularly when used to illustrate views that are less than truthful for political gain. Stay positive and truthful. So far, we have exactly one candidate who even comes close to that. Would anyone like to join him?
Of note: Marie Huffman contributed the beautiful sunset picture at the beginning of this blog. Thank you!
Today's Weather Report: 20 degrees and lightly snowing in the morning even with the sun shining. The sun was glorious to see. Terrible tornadoes ripped through the South last evening and Racine expects 18 inches of snow today.