Saturday Sanity: The Antidote to the Madness (February 28, 2009) (The Garden Waking Up!) (Pic Heavy)

~~By InsightAnalytical–GRL

The movies I watched over the last couple of days just seemed to hit too close to home.  On Thursday night, Retroplex aired “1984, ” which was filmed around the actual locations and time of year that was described in George Orwell’s novel.  Richard Burton, who died in 1984, was chilling in the finals sequences as he tortured the man who “thought” and was caught.  It was terrifying in light of what’s been going on lately.  Then last night, TCM showed “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” followed by “All the King’s Men.”  Later, it was “The Manchurian Candidate.”   What a way to spend a Friday night!

Host Robert Osborne had a tidbit following “Mr. Smith” that I hadn’t heard before.  Apparently, it was this movie that inspired Ronald Reagan to began thinking about his interest in politics.  And we know how THAT turned out…As I recall, he had one of the most corrupt administrations in recent memory, with something like 100 officials, including Attorney General Edwin Meese, either hauled into court or somehow involved in legal proceedings/investigations.  Apparently, the inspiration of Jefferson Smith didn’t stick…

Anyway, I got out to the garden for a brief time today. The garden is my place of sanity and it’s waking up!  Here are some pics from yesterday (2/27) with some details of what’s going on.  I may do some more “Saturday Sanity” posts as the gardening year unfolds!

The plants are beginning to arrive and Thursday at Lowe’s I chatted with a guy who was looking over the tomatoes and he and I agree  that we are champing at the bit to start digging!  I bought some metal poles that I will use to support the two new grape vines that I will begin to train this year.  You have to plant a bit early here because by May it’s hot, so plants have to get a good start. That means protecting them from the winds and the sharp temperature drops from warm days to cold nights that sometimes occur. It’s that sort of thing that made my apricot tree lose all it’s blossoms last year (it’s second spring) which meant I had no apricots at all.  I have a peach tree in a warm corner which is already blooming and being pollinated, but it’s way too early, as usual.  By contrast, another peach on the sheltered side of the house is just beginning to have its buds swelling.  Talk about “micro climates’…

Here is the peach in bloom with the grapes I need to prune this weekend in the foreground:

Peach Tree & "Flame" Grape

Peach Tree & "Flame" Grape

The fig, which I finally got into the ground after several years in a large planter,  is starting to show a bit of green:

Fig Greening Up!

Fig Greening Up!

My pomegranate is budding out and so is the apricot.  I hope the birdhouse attracts a resident!

Apricot and Bird House

Apricot and Bird House

I have a mysterious visitor to the garden lately.  I think it’s some sort of thrasher, but the beak is VERY long and curved and sometimes crosses over. The “regular” thrashers have long, strong beaks, but nothing like this. My desert book doesn’t show this guy, so I’ll have to do more research.  This is a very bold bird and I can get fairly close to it!

Mystery Bird

Mystery Bird

Here’s the last of the mustard and what’s left of the winter lettuce that I’ll pick soon:

First Raised Bed

First Raised Bed

This is my second raised bed with the arugula going to seed. That’s a few clumps of swiss chard that overwintered just beyond my shadow:

The Other Raised Bed

The Other Raised Bed

I bought a couple of tomato plants and artichokes at Lowes.  I was so surprised to see the artichokes that I grabbed them. I didn’t have much luck with them in New Jersey, so we’ll have to see how they do here. It’s all about keeping them shaded, from what I’ve read.  As for the tomatoes–I plant them in the beds as well as in containers on the patio. I do the same with eggplant and things like basil and peppers. It’s my “insurance garden” just in case something happens and the veggies fry in the main beds.

Tomatoes & Artichokes

Tomatoes & Artichokes

Out in the border the purple stock is flowering, the sedum “Autumn Joy” in pots is on its way, and the Texas Ranger sage is looking good. I grew the sedum in the ground in Jersey and it got HUGE, but here in my yard I moved it to pots and it’s doing better than in the ground. That’s my composter to the left of the white fence:

Purple Stock & Sedum

Purple Stock & Sedum

There are some amazing things going outside the garden.  Near the street by my neighbor’s driveway, there’s a tire tread where he’s backed out onto the ground…and guess what has popped up there?  A little parade of flowers, with one already blooming:

Wildflowers in the Tire Tread

Wildflowers in the Tire Tread

There are buds on my little cacti, too.  March is also the month when you can take a pad from a cactus, let it dry a bit so a callous forms on the exposed end, and then stick it into the ground for a new cactus plant!

Hope you enjoyed the little tour! I have lots of work to do, so I better get to bed and get some rest!  Tomorrow I need to prune the grapes and fertilize the grass (all two feet of it!), the fruit trees and the border plants.

Obama Energy Plan Includes Nano-Generators That Bite

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s coming soon…as part of the Obama Energy Plan.  Forget about oil and clean coal and carbon trading.  This is the real deal.  We’ll be able to power our own mobile phones someday.

Thank goodness! We are SAVED!!

Hamsters in jackets harnessed for energy

Scientists have managed to harness the energy-producing power of hamsters by fitting them with tiny detector jackets.

Role Model for Humans

Proto-type for Future Human Nano-Generators

The devices are strapped to the animals as they run on their cage wheels, capturing the biomechanical energy they release as they exercise.

Experts believe the technique could one day be used to capture power produced by humans.

SNIP

Although it would take 1,000 hamsters to generate enough energy to power a mobile phone, Dr Wang said the technology could have practical applications when applied to larger animals and humans.

MORE

Personally, I’ve been a gerbil owner and think their personalities are better than what hamsters display.  Let’s give them a try, too…Never hurts to have a backup plan!!

Watch the Special W.A.M TeleEvent TONIGHT, Thursday 2/26 Exposing More of Obama’s Plans…Here’s How to Join In!

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Canadian Banks On the Move Buying U.S. Banks While Bailout Recipient AIG Sells Canadian Life Insurance Business to Bank of Montreal (“Picking over the Carcasses”)

“…Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S….”

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

A couple of days ago we featured a couple of stories about the Canadian banking system.  See: The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???]).  Here’s some more background on how Canadian banks are taking advantage of the current financial mess here in the States.

First, here’s some information on the status of the Canadian banking system which was part of a report issued back in October 2008 by the World Economic Forum. Read the “grading system” and you’ll understand completely why the U.S. has fallen to 40th place.

Canadian banks ranked soundest in the world

U.S. has fallen to No. 40 in World Economic Forum list

Canada has the world’s soundest banking system, closely followed by Sweden, Luxembourg and Australia, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found as a financial crisis and bank failures shake world markets.

Britain, which once ranked in the top five, has slipped to 44th place behind El Salvador and Peru, after its government pledged the equivalent of $97 billion Cdn this week to bolster bank balance sheets.

The United States, where some of Wall Street’s biggest financial names have collapsed in recent weeks, rated only 40th, just behind Germany, at 39th, and smaller states such as Barbados, Estonia and even Namibia, in southern Africa.

MORE

Over the summer, stories began surfacing about how Canadian banks were gearing up for an acquisition spree.

From June 13, 2008, this report from Reuters:

Canadian banks seen hitting U.S. acquisition trail

SNIP

“I think they’re in a position to really pick over the carcasses,” said Bushell, who runs the C$4.2 billion CI Signature Select Canadian fund.

Dennis Gartman, the Virginia-based author of investment newsletter The Gartman Letter, said at the same conference that Canadian banks would be “in the driver’s seat” for the next decade.

“They’re going to come around buying everything in the United States … they’re in great condition.”

MORE

The story goes on to report that Royal Bank of Canada had already acquired Alabama National Bancorp earlier in 2008 and how “Toronto-Dominion Bank just swallowed New Jersey-based Commerce Bank.”  Other big Canadian players were staying on the sidelines at that point.

By August 2008, more transactions were brewing:

Canadian banks may profit from U.S. banks’ pain

Doug Alexander and Sean B. Pasternak, Bloomberg Published: Monday, August 25, 2008

SNIP

Lenders including Bank of Nova Scotia and Toronto-Dominion Bank spent a record US$10-billion on U.S.-owned assets over the past year. Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal may also continue shopping, according to CIBC World Markets analyst Darko Mihelic, with potential targets including Regions Financial Corp. and Huntington Bancshares Inc.

Toronto-Dominion, based in Toronto, spent about US$7.1-billion in March for Commerce Bancorp Inc., New Jersey’s biggest locally based lender, setting a record for foreign bank purchases by Canadian companies. Scotiabank, also based in Toronto, is acquiring the Canadian unit of E*Trade Financial Corp. for US$442-million and has said it may buy more U.S. assets.

One reason for the gap is that Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S., according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals.

Royal Bank targets may include Regions Financial, the biggest bank based in Alabama, and BB&T Corp. in North Carolina, while Bank of Montreal could pursue firms such as Green Bay-based Associated Banc-Corp. and Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Mihelic said. Any of these targets would represent record takeovers for the two Canadian banks.

MORE

Again, get that amazing comparison??  “…Canadian subprime holdings amount to less than 5% of mortgages, compared with 20% in the U.S….”

That sums it all up in a nutshell.

By September 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the record, declaring:

Harper says no bailout for Canadian banks similar to U.S. plan

By THE CANADIAN PRESS

2008-09-19

SNIP

Harper said Friday the Canadian financial system is very strong and the balance sheets of the banks and insurance companies are solid enough that they don’t need any financial aid.

MORE

Then, on January 9 of this year, there was this story:

Canadian banks to be patient in the U.S.

Senior executives from the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal said at an investor conference in Toronto that they will be cautious and patient, though they added they will be on the lookout for small acquisitions, according to press reports.

“We’re looking at opportunities as a result of the turmoil to add to our existing franchises in a sensible way where we can take advantage of them,” Royal Bank president and CEO Gordon Nixon was quoted by Reuters as saying. “But in terms of significant dramatic transformational acquisitions, whether it be the U.S., Europe or Asia, we just don’t believe in this environment that it’s the appropriate time to be aggressively deploying capital.”

All three banks already have a beachhead in the United States:

  • Royal Bank, the largest Canadian bank, already owns the RBC Centura banking operation in the Southeast.
  • Toronto-Dominion operates TD Bank on the East Coast.
  • Bank of Montreal, the No. 4 Canadian bank, is the parent of Harris Bank in the Midwest.

The Globe and Mail added that TD chief executive Ed Clark said the Canadian banks have increased their capital and taken government funds because the market expects them to do it. But he also added the banks don’t need it and will emerge from the recession extremely well capitalized. “Canada will emerge, as long as we don’t do anything stupid, as the only country in the world where the banks didn’t need the government help,” he was quoted by the Globe as saying. It is an opportunity to redefine Canadian banking, and the country, “to say, ‘somehow you guys did it right,'” Clark said. “And so I think that’s worth fighting hard for.”

So apparently some government money is going to Canadian banks, but not for the reasons banks in the U.S. are receiving government money. (But don’t ask me the details of what THAT’s all about…)

A few days later, an interesting deal was reported involving AIG, one of the first companies to get U.S. bailout funds in September 2008, just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the government takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America. To refresh your memory about these 10 days of financial hell, see this article from the Washington Post, dated September 16, 2008 : U.S. to Take Over AIG in $85 Billion Bailout; Central Banks Inject Cash as Credit Dries Up/Emergency Loan Effectively Gives Government Control of Insurer; Historic Move Would Cap 10 Days That Reshaped U.S. Finance

The London Free Press

Banks in buying mood

ACQUISITIONS: With plenty of capital, Canadian banks are finding bargains

Wed, January 14, 2009

By GARY NORRIS, THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — Canada’s big banks are sitting on plump capital cushions, waiting for healthy assets of distressed foreigners to fall into their laps.

In what could herald a series of deals, Bank of Montreal is paying $375 million for the Canadian life insurance business of American International Group Inc.

The cash transaction comes as AIG, once the world’s biggest insurer, restructures following a US$150-billion bailout from the U.S. government after its near-death.

Last week, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., a U.S.-based brokerage owned 40 per cent by Toronto-Dominion Bank, agreed to buy online operator Thinkorswim Group for US$606 million. It’s paying about US$8.70 a share for Thinkorswim shares valued at US$16 a year ago.

BMO said yesterday AIG Life of Canada, bringing 300 employees and 400,000 customers, will add to the bank’s earnings within a year, expanding its array of investment, financial planning and insurance products.

MORE

At the rate things are going, Canada will be moving in to the U.S. banking sector bigtime.  Get ready to speak “Canadian” when you go into a bank to cash a check!  And it may be sooner than you think!

***

Click here for an overview on the “Big Five Banks” in Canada.

A Giant White Rabbit in Britain Reminds Us How “Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead”…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I did not watch Obama’s gig last night before Congress, but the TV was on in the other room for a few moments and I heard lots of applause coming in waves.  As I walked through the room I caught a glimpse of Biden and Pelosi sitting like self-satisfied fat cats and saw Mr. Hopey Dopey up there orating, sans the stern, serious scowl.  Pundits seem to be saying that Bill Clinton must have convinced The One to stop the gloom and doom and it seemed like Obama was bouncing around and pumping out a sales pitch that one panel member on Hannity’s Great American Panel called “Reaganesque.”

It bugs the hell out of me to see Clinton all over the tube lately coaching the guy who supposedly had all the answers and the “best” campaign evah!

I have to say that the ultimate for me was seeing Jared Osmond, a lesser Osmond singer, opining on Hannity’s Great American Panel.  Where did they dig him up? And Caroline Heldman of Obama’s Occidental College, who seems to be around a lot today on FOX these days, says that all this spending is not a “socialist move” (nobody had even brought that suggestion up, why was she so defensive?).  Later she said that the speech would improve consumer confidence and that she hopes that “people who have good jobs will go out and eat twice a week instead of once a week”—doesn’t that sound like SPEND SPEND SPEND a la George W. Bush??

I’d also like to know why FOX chose to repeat the speech after Hannity and crew got off the air.  Seems so UN-Foxlike, doesn’t it?

And I was pretty peeved when I heard that the pilot who got that plane down safely in the Hudson River,  Chesley B. Sullenburger III, was trotted out.  OK, I know that he’s on the cover of People Magazine and was chatting with a committee on Capitol Hill yesterday.and has been in the spotlight…but, this guy trained for years and was a fighter pilot  and to see Sullenburger  used (and apparently liking it) by Obama the fraud, who has no real accomplishments and a hidden past, really ticked me off (this contrast was discussed in piece at  The Confluence at the time of the incident compared the pilot’s experience to Obama’s “flash to fame” based on zip and not in a nice way).

Frankly, so many people are so blinded by this con artist, courtesy of the media and the Obama PR machine (which Bill Clinton is now part of) that it is mind boggling.  It amazes me, but it shouldn’t since the setup has been so complete and the media has been so complicit.

I happened to find this story from Britain just after listening to this drivel and it got the “association” center of my brain rolling immediately.

Two police officers given run-around by giant white rabbit

Two police officers were given the run-around for 20 minutes in a low-speed pursuit of a giant white rabbit on the loose in a town centre.

By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
WHITE RABBIT

Two police officers were given the run-around for 20 minutes in a low-speed pursuit of a giant white rabbit on the loose in a town centre.

Pcs Matt Jackson and Yasmin Mossadegh, of Kent Police, came across the two-foot long, 20lbs animal – the size of a small dog – hopping along a road in Canterbury at 2.20am on Sunday.

They admitted that at first it seemed like “something out of Alice in Wonderland”. But detaining the albino rabbit before it caused an accident proved to be more of a handful than they first thought.

MORE

The sight of that huge white rabbit and the reference to “Alice in Wonderland” lead me to the inevitable:

White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Recall Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said;
“FEED YOUR HEAD”

Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead”

Can’t say it any better…

The SCANNER–International/Political Edition, 2/24/09 (Which Deficit is Obama “Halving”?; Canada Rubs U.S. Nose into Its Stable Banking System; GM/Chrysler Beg for Bailout Help in Canada, Too; Half of Foreign Criminals in Canada Are Fleeing to the U.S. [???])

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

I heard a clip of The One yesterday talking about cutting that deficit on the news as I drove around town.

Obama said that he would halve the deficit….THAT HE HAD INHERITED.

Of course, the typical headline reads:

Obama pledges to halve budget deficit by 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama pledged on Monday to cut the ballooning U.S. budget deficit by half in the next four years and said the country would face another economic crisis if it did not address its debt problems soon.

Oh, this Reuters story finally gets to the real point, 6 paragraphs into the report, out there in the area which usually gets cut from local papers picking up the story.

“We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end,” he said. “Today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.”

Frankly I”m surprised the clip I heard on the radio even got aired…but I guess that most people driving around might be busy on the phone, talking to someone else in the car, or too busy drinking a Slurpee to really notice the magic words “deficit we inherited.”  And by the time they hit the TV “news”–well, I bet somehow those magic words will be buried in pictures and glowing reports. Since I don’t watch TV news, I don’t know if that forceful pledge will be played in full or if it will be truncated to just the first part of the statement and the “inherited” bit fades into the ether.  I guess it won’t matter in the long run, since it will go down the memory hole, unless some Republican decides to dust it off someday.

I do have a question, oh Messiah:  When do you cut the deficits YOU are creating by a half??

***

While we here in the USA wallow in this muck, the folks in Canada are trying hard not to smirk. Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was visiting touting the financial stability of Canada’s banking industry. From The Toronto Star:

PM praises Canada’s financial sector on U.S. TV

Feb 23, 2009 12:53 PM

Ottawa bureau chief

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper hit the Big Apple today — the heart of America’s economic meltdown — to boast about Canada’s stable banking system, warn against trade protectionism and note the insatiable appetite for oil south of the border.

SNIP

The prime minister sang the praises of Canada’s prudent banking and financial system, which he said can be attributed to “activist” regulation by Ottawa.

“We’re helped by the fact we have six major banks, three major insurance companies so it’s easier for the government to exercise moral suasion on the sector,” Harper said.

He said that Canada, while hit by the economic downturn, hasn’t suffered a meltdown of the financial sector or the mortgage foreclosures that have hit the U.S. economy so hard.

“We haven’t had to bail out any of our financial institutions,” Harper said. “There will be no government bailout of mortgages in Canada.”

***

But, it seems that Canada may not get off entirely scott-free of demands for government cash.  Guess who’s asking for help?

GM, Chrysler ask for billions in Canadian aid

General Motors has outlined a restructuring plan that would cut its Canadian workforce to 7,000 and seek as much as $7 billion from the federal and Ontario governments, while Chrysler is requesting around $2.8 billion in aid.

GM didn’t specify how much it will ask for, but Reuters quoted federal Industry Minister Tony Clement as saying the company is asking for between $6 and $7 billion.

MORE

The Canadian government doesn’t seem to want to bailout CAW pensions…time will tell.

***

I get a news summary from Radio Canada International every day (most of the news comes from the CBC) and noticed this short squib about how foreign criminals are heading out of Canada to the U.S.

2/22/07  10:37 PM

OTTAWA: REPORT CONCLUDES FOREIGN CRIMINALS ARE FLEEING CANADA

A new report to Canada’s government suggests that many foreign criminals might be fleeing abroad, mainly to the United States. It’s believed that about two thousand foreign criminals are hiding in Canada.  But a squad of special border police found that almost half of the criminals being tracked had left the country.  Last year, the auditor general criticized the agency for the large number of missing people.  There are concerns that the list of high-priority cases maintained by the Canada Border Services Agency is out of date.  The agency is responsible for deporting unwanted foreigners.  It has 1,973 priority cases for whom removal warrants have been issued.  The Agency removes about 12,000 people from Canada each year.  About 13 per cent are classified as criminals.  Three out of four of them are failed refugee claimants.

If you follow the link, you’ll get the current day’s news.  The funny thing is, however, the day I searched for this story, it wasn’t there. In fact, of all the story summaries I received in the RCI newsletter, this story about foreign criminals was the ONLY story that wasn’t up at the site.

The question is: WHY??

The bigger question is: WHO are these “foreign criminals,” how successful is the U.S. in finding them…and WHAT are they up to here in the U.S.?

***

By the way, the RCI site has extensive information on how to relocate to Canada, in case you want to get out of the U.S. (Scroll down a bit down the page to get to the information.)    Maybe if I were younger…

Maudlin Mawkishness in the Age of the Gush

~~By Kenosha Marge

Supposedly we are now in the “Age of Obama”. I find it more the “Age of the Gush”. To me it seems an era of adults slobbering all over their keyboards or a microphone in spasms of adolescent lovesickness that should be embarrassing for anyone over the ago of 12.

These over-aged adolescents more than likely don’t realize how silly they look and sound because there are so many other fools acting the same way. It’s always easier to make an ass of yourself if others are doing it too. Misery isn’t the only one that loves company. Thus we are presented with group foolishness and many find that acceptable. It is a large and loud choral group of nitwitted nincompoops twittering their lovesickness for the entire world to see.

Will Obama be one of the few great presidents we have had? According to many of the mawkish minions worshipping at the Obamessiah’s feet, he all ready is. Who knew winning an election, a nasty contentious election filled with race baiting and misogyny was a sign of greatness? Coulda fooled me. It certainly exposes the thought processes, or lack thereof, of a lot of folks if that’s what they find heroic.

I have always found it amazing when people hero-worship any one let alone a politician. There are a few, very few, politicians here and there for whom I can find some small measure of respect. You probably have a few of your own. There are even those that I find worthy of genuine admiration at times for some specific reason.

Russ Feingold and his lonely stand against the Patriot Act is one instance. That was an act of courage and integrity I cannot remember ever seeing in another politician. Others may remember others acts of which I am unaware or have simply forgotten. I do know at the time I was very proud to have voted for a person of character.

On other issues, Feingold being a politician, he disappoints from time to time. Thus I don’t hero-worship, gush or in other ways act like an adolescent about the Senator from my home state. Letting him know when I think he’s right and letting him know when I don’t seems like an adult way to act and react. Maybe I just lack the gush gene.

Respect and even admiration is fine with me although all too often neither is earned. If certain politicians vote the correct way that most benefits our country they aren’t heroes, they’re just doing their damn job. And damn seldom do most of them do that.

This tendency of supposed adults to go all maudlin and gushy over some politician makes me nauseous. Perhaps it was just the way I was raised. We respected and admired certain people, even some politicians. We saved the worshipping for church on Sunday. I was raised to never trust a used car salesman or a politician.

I also turned to the media for news. Just that. I wasn’t looking to be entertained nor was I interested in some reporter’s opinion. What I expected then and still would like now is news. All I want is the facts. Give me them damn old boring facts and I’ll make up my own mind about how I feel and what I think. Don’t expect me to hero worship some media type for simply doing their job. These over-paid people so seldom do their job that when they do we all go into spasms of joy. How dumb is that?

Media types like politicians aren’t heroes/heroines when they do their job. They shouldn’t be lauded for doing what they are supposed to do but should get a good swift kick in the ass when they don’t. For what they are paid the very least we should get is competent reporting.

One politician once said: “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal – that you can gather votes like box tops – is… the ultimate indignity to the democratic process. “

That politician was Adlai Stevenson at the Democratic National Convention on, August 18 1956. That was 53 years ago. Even then candidates were being put forth as “merchandise” and some people didn’t think it was a good idea. Wonder what ‘Ol Adlai would have thought of a PR Pres complete with acolytes fainting at his feet.

In this tech age where we are advertised “at” every waking minute many of our fellow citizens have allowed their cognitive abilities to deteriorate and just float along on a sea of admiration for people because they are told it’s the thing to do. God forbid that some over aged adolescent isn’t in with the cool crowd.

The adolescent raptures of people old enough to know better is a sign of our times. Not a pretty or encouraging sign. These people are old enough to know better. The cognitive discourse of the emerging generation is frightening. With some electronic gizmo residing in every available orifice, tats and piercings dominating their torsos and more misinformation stuffed inside their heads than would seem possible, they are the hope of the future.

Even the most rabid of gushers may find it hard to be hopeful about that. Even the dimmest of wits who finds their hero/heroine in the political arena may someday have a very small light go off in the back of their empty little heads and wonder why they were so exited about so and so. What had so and so done? What were their accomplishments? Why are they being touted as great?

Greatness may well be, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. In which case a lot of eye tests need to be scheduled. Educating about the difference between cool and great might help, too.

And for heaven’s sake stop with the mawkish, maudlin, histrionic, theatrical, schmaltzy, gushy crap! Grow up America even if you are afraid to grow old.