Thursday, January 31, 2008

Love Fest

(Picture source: Reuters)

Hillary and Obama put aside their differences tonight and made it clear their real opponents were the Republicans. In fact, they made a point of not bickering or sniping at each other, much to the disappointment of Wolf Blitzer, who did his best to get them going.

Before the debate, the talking heads were hyping up the upcoming debate between the two remaining Democrats as if it were the Super Bowl, talking about "sitting on the ball" and who was going to start out aggressively. If I hadn't checked to see if I was really tuned in to CNN I'd have thought I was watching ESPN. It was that hard to tell.

Both candidates refused to take the bait when Wolf Blitzer brought up controversial issues that he obviously hoped would inspire animosity between them.

They discussed everything from health care to immigration to Iraq, and even while disagreeing, continued to hammer home that their views were much more similar than they were different, and miles apart from the views of the Republicans. This is how it should be.

The biggest applause of the night came when they were asked if they would consider an Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket ("There is a difference," quipped Barack).

I was impressed with Hillary's responses, as she kept her cool and had an answer for all the tough questions that were thrown at her, including when she was asked if she'd be able to keep her husband under control if she became President. She seemed relaxed and in good spirits. I hadn't watched more than a clip or two of previous debates so I was pleasantly surprised by her performance tonight.

Barack Obama was also strong, and spoke fluently about all of the issues. He seemed to have some pretty concrete answers to questions about his proposed policies for health care and other programs, which is what I was looking for. He too seemed relaxed and able to respond easily to anything he was asked. He did seem to harp a bit too much on the fact he didn't support the Iraq war from the beginning when discussing what his policy would be in Iraq in the future, but of course that is a key selling point for him, and he wants to make sure he gets it in.

At the end they parted cordially. I'm sure the media were disappointed that no blood was shed, no teeth were bared, and both candidates comported themselves with dignity and good humor.

All in all I'd say they both won the debate and Wolf Blitzer lost, since he couldn't get a rise out of either of them.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two Down

So, Rudy's gone. He staked it all on Florida and lost. I am not surprised, because from the beginning I couldn't imagine someone like Rudy would be able to stand the national scrutiny needed to become the Republican nominee, given his history in New York and the various skeletons in his closet.

John Edwards, sadly, also dropped out today. While I was not necessarily supporting his candidacy, I did feel he was sincere and had a lot of good ideas. It remains to be seen how his dropping out at this point will affect the other candidates, since he has not yet endorsed either of his opponents.

So, I think this calls for a few haikus:

Farewell to Rudy
His schtick didn't play elsewhere
Only in New York.

Three wives were too much
Nine-Eleven's not enough
What else did he have?

John Edwards is gone
But he won't be forgotten
His cause will live on.

Who will he endorse?
Where will his delegates go?
Time will have to tell.

Four of them are left:
It's Obama and Clinton,
McCain and Romney

Super Tuesday's next
20 states will be voting
It's down to the wire.

This process is wrong
Decisions are made too soon
"Choice" is relative.


Just heard Ralph Nader may run again. Will someone please tell this man to give it a rest? Does he WANT a President McCain?

One more haiku:

Ralph Nader may run.
He didn't learn the lesson.
He's only a spoiler.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. Yes, I know - you've seen this picture before. I must ask my Publicity Committee to take more pictures of Me, glorious Me. It is a Sin that they take more pictures of That Dog than of Me. But that's the way it is. Of course, as a Cat, I am not apt to sit still for a photo op; sometimes I'll pose beautifully in a most Adorable way, but when the Human runs and gets the camera, I will just suddenly turn over and completely ruin the Moment, or run off under the Bed.

I'd like to start today's Post with something a bit unusual and frivolous. It's a YouTube video, and it involves a Dog, and while as you know, I am not a fan of Dogs, this one is pretty amazing. A friend of my Female Human sent it to her and even I thought it was worth watching. I'll just post the link and you can check it out:

Carolyn Scott and Rookie

So, how about that Obama Human? He did pretty darn well in South Carolina, didn't he? 55% for Obama vs. 27% for Hillary. Of course, her Husband Bill likened his win to Jesse Jackson winning South Carolina in 1984 and 1988, implying that South Carolina wouldn't "count" since Mr. Jackson did not win the nomination that year (never mind that there are very few similarities in their candidacies otherwise). Dirty fighting, I say. But I guess that's the name of the Game when it comes to the Clintons. My Female Human has said she is disappointed in the way they are running their Campaign.

Me, I'm just a Cat, so I don't know a lot about this stuff, but sometimes when a Tomcat comes into the yard and starts fighting with the other Cats, the other Cats end up turning on him. Might be what was happening here. People who said that Bill Clinton's involvement in the campaign was important tended to vote 3 to 2 for Obama.

On top of winning South Carolina, Obama is also getting endorsed by Important Icons such as the Kennedy family. First, Caroline Kennedy put in a big plug for him on Sunday in the New York Times. Many Humans have been comparing Obama to the late inspirational President, including my Female Human, and now the Daughter of that Kennedy sees the similarity too:

"I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans." And then her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama as well.

Things are really hopping for this Obama guy. Let's hope he can keep his cool as the opposition gangs up on him even more ruthlessly in the days leading to the next Big Catfight on February 5. And that he can live up to all the promise surrounding him. One thing that may work against him is the news that his former supporter Rezko has just been arrested.

Other news items that have caught my Eye as I scan the Internets include this one, which is good news for Animals. Apparently scientists have designed a glass chip that may replace Rats and Mice in the Laboratory. The chip, which has Human enzymes and cell cultures on it, can be used to test toxic substances, thus sparing the Rats and Mice "discomfort or death." Of course, we Cats will still be inflicting discomfort or death on Rats and Mice, but that's beside the point.

I was Disturbed to read on that there is a large Manmade satellite that has gotten out of control and will crash to earth in a few weeks. What is even more Disturbing is that it could contain "hazardous materials," they don't know where it's going to come down, and the information is "classified as secret." Great...

Ending on a more Positive Note, the Super Bowl is coming up this Weekend and my Humans, as I mentioned last week, will be attending a Super Bowl Party without Yours Truly (or The Dog). It should be a good game. The Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady claims his Ankle will be fine, which is good, because who wants to win the Super Bowl with an Asterisk saying "Yeah, but the Patriots QB couldn't play because he had a bad ankle."

With that, I will wish you a good week and plenty of Catnip, because with everything leading up to the February 5th primaries, you're going to need it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What This Country Needs is a Good Depression!

"What This Country Needs is a Good Depression!"

This is a blasphemous thought that goes through my head every time I drive by a nest of new McMansions that have seemingly sprung up overnight...

...or see them sprouting like some kind of poisonous mushrooms on the outskirts of quaint towns like Newton, New Jersey.

I’ve also thought it when I see teardown after teardown of perfectly good, smaller houses, which are being replaced by huge monstrosities that don’t fit with the neighborhood.
(Picture source: The National Trust. )

It occurs to me when I see the endless stream of malls and shopping centers, all full of places to buy, buy, buy – as they march up and down the highways, encroaching on the farmland and open spaces like some kind of aggressive cancer.

It is a thought that occurs to me as I am almost run down by a Hummer in a parking lot.

The idea has come to me when I read in the New York Times about people who MUST get their preschooler into the “right” preschool or else the child will never make it into the “right” college. And that every kid who is going to apply to college has to have expensive tutoring lessons to ace the SAT exams.

And it has certainly occurred to me when I see the Dow Jones at 14,000 – or even 11,000 – are these companies really worth so much more than the Dow Jones was worth 20 years ago, when it was at 2,000? (See chart below – isn’t there something wrong with this picture?) (source: Generational Dynamics)

Do we really need all this conspicuous consumption? Is it really good for our country? I don’t think it is.

We have become a society that doesn’t value anything old – if it’s old, throw it out and get a new one; if it’s old, tear it down and build a new one; if a person is old, they’re no longer a valuable resource or a potential marketing target, so they become invisible.

We have become a society that doesn’t value saving, but instead values instant gratification.

We have become a society that considers “buying” to be a patriotic duty.

So I often think to myself, “What this country needs is a good Depression.”

But I hadn’t really had the nerve to say it out loud, because it is conventional wisdom that a growing economy is generally a positive thing.

So imagine my delight when I looked at Nick’s blog and found he has the same idea. Finally I can say it out loud!
What this country needs is a good Depression!!!!

Nick’s point is that continued, capitalistic growth is using up resources at a huge rate and this growth is not sustainable.

Quoting from Earth Meanders, his post says:

“Economic growth is a deadly disease upon the Earth, with capitalism as its most virulent strain. Throw-away consumption and explosive population growth are made possible by using up fossil fuels and destroying ecosystems. Holiday shopping numbers are covered by media in the same breath as Arctic ice melt, ignoring their deep connection. Exponential economic growth destroys ecosystems and pushes the biosphere closer to failure.”

Nick’s hope is that this disaster can be prevented by an economic downturn:

“Economic collapse destroyed the Roman Empire, and the Nazis’ dream of global domination. I'm hopeful economic collapse will shrink the USA's addictions to consumerism, material wealth, and global destruction of nature's resources.”

Another aspect of the constant drive for more capitalist growth is the continued need for more and more resources, which results in poor political policies. These policies have led us to war in various locations and have resulted in our reputation suffering throughout the world, to say nothing of the millions of deaths that have occurred.

I urge you to go read the rest of his excellent post. I know no Presidential candidate could possibly win if they started speaking against Capitalism. But even if he or she is able to rein in the excesses we’ve seen in the past 8 years, it would be a start.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Faux News as Usual

After we watched a "House" rerun tonight, we accidentally left the TV on and Fox News started. Being lazy, we didn't bother to turn the channel but, captive audience that we were, we mindlessly started watching.

The lead story was all about the death of actor Heath Ledger; with as many lurid details as they could find, plenty of pictures of his lifeless body being carried out of his building, and promises of more to come.

The second story was about the Super Bowl and the fact that the Patriots' quarterback, Tom Brady, has a sprained ankle.

The crashing stock market didn't come up until the third story, about 12 minutes into the newscast. And then they didn't even have their facts straight! They said that Bernanke stepped in to lower the interest rates after the market opened down >400 points. In actuality, Bernanke had taken the step BEFORE the market opened.

Not only does Fox ignore the real news, but when they get to the real news, they get it wrong. No wonder many members of the American public are not well-versed in current affairs...

Just to be clear, I am sorry to hear about Ledger. But should it have been the #1 story? And should they have continued coverage of this throughout the newscast? With teasers before the commercial to let the viewer know that more on this story will follow? I think not.

I think I'll end with some haikus to cover some other subjects!

Tuesday Haikus:

Obama is fighting back
Hillary is slinging mud
Edwards keeps his cool.

Stock market crashes
401k is tanking
When can I retire?

Thompson's dropping out
Was he ever really in?
It was hard to tell.

Diva is barking
She wants to go to bed now
Thus ends my blogging.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. I am looking a little cranky in this picture because The Dog had recently chased me up into my Cat Perch when it was taken so I had not yet regained my composure.

First of all, welcome to my third effort at Blogging. I am finding it a good Outlet for my Frustrations and Emotions. We Cats don't usually like to talk about our Emotions so it is nice to be able to let it All Hang Out.

Speaking of which, my Humans were letting it all hang out last night during that Giants-Packers game. I was trying to get some shut-eye, first on the Male Human's lap and then on the Female Human's lap. But they kept making noise when Something was happening on that box they like to watch.

I really wasn't paying attention to this thing they called the Playoff Game but I couldn't help it after awhile as they were making too much of a racket. Finally the Female one made a big screechy noise and scared the Bejeesus out of me and I had to run off into the other room in a huff. They came up to bed shortly afterward so I guess that was the end of it. They seemed very Happy. They were saying the Super Bowl Party they are going to be at on February 3 will be more Fun this way. Unfortunately Cats are not invited to the Party, so I guess I'll be sitting home sulking. My only comfort will be that The Dog is not invited either and she'll be sad.

Here's a picture of the winning field goal my Female Human screeched about (photo credit Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

In other news, there was a big To Do recently about the Obama Human talking about Ronald Reagan in what was seen as a Complimentary Way. Apparently the other Liberal Humans were not pleased with what he said because they think of Reagan as second only to that Nixon Human in the depths of his Evil.

But Liberal Values quotes the offending Speech as follows:

"I don’t want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what is different is the times. I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing." (emphasis added by Yours Truly.)

Now, call me silly (well, don't, because I'd be Offended...but I digress) but that doesn't sound to me as if he was necessarily endorsing the policies of the Reagan Human. What he said, if anyone actually paid Attention, was that Americans want optimism, dynamism, and entrepreneurship. It did not say they want Tax Cuts for the Rich.

My Female Human, the one who usually writes here, has thought of this comparison herself. She says Reagan was able to beat the Carter Human who had been talking about how the country was in a "malaise," because Reagan talked about the country as a "shining city on a hill." "Malaise" vs. "Shining City." Which would YOU pick?

Obama is saying he represents that sense of optimism that has been missing during the last 8 years; not that he wants to reinstate any of Reagan's policies. Anyone who doesn't Get that is just meowing to get attention, in my book.

There may be other reasons not to want to vote for the Obama Human but thinking he's an admirer of Reagan's administration should not be one of them.

On another subject, what is going on in that thing called the Stock Market? My Female Human says that when it comes to checking her 401k balance, she is making like the "three monkeys" - Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil.

As long as she doesn't see the decline she doesn't have to think about this:

Now, as a Cat, I have no interest in High Finance. It's no skin off my Nose whether or not my Humans have to work until they're 75 instead of retiring at a decent age. As long as my Bowl is filled with Cat Food I am a happy camper. But I know my Humans are a bit concerned. And I hear that the foreign markets are plunging today - lucky thing ours is Closed for the holiday.

Finally, I'll finish with another humorous, yet pertinent, LOLCAT.

Hope you all have a good week and have an ample supply of Catnip to get you through the ongoing Campaign of the Human Presidential Candidates.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tempus Fugit

Time really does's hard to believe it's Sunday again already and work is looming tomorrow.

This has been a busy week and I haven't had as much time to visit blogs or to post myself. Before we know it, it will be Baxter's turn to write tomorrow and I haven't written anything substantive since his last post!

I looked at the headlines this morning and realized that yesterday was the South Carolina primary for the Republicans - but not the Democrats. And McCain won it. This makes Romney's win in the Nevada caucuses a non-event, to me. I think McCain may be on the road to win the Republican nomination - which is probably bad news for the Democrats since I think he's the only Republican with a snowball's chance to win the Presidency.

In the meantime, Hillary beat Obama in the Nevada caucuses, 51% to 45%; but apparently, after some dispute, it has been confirmed that Obama has won more delegates (13 to 12).

And of course, we still don't know if Bloomberg is going to run, and he's out in California still giving speeches that have nothing to do with New York City. If he jumps in, all bets are off.

Today's date is January 20, and that date reminds me of the fact that it was 47 years ago today that John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President and gave his famous "Ask not what your country can do for you" inaugural address.

In two parts, here are the links to the video of his address:

First link
Second link

DH remembers watching this live on the old black-and-white Westinghouse television set on that cold January day when he was 8 years old. It made an indelible impression. On that day he held in his hand a letter dated December 9th, 1960, from President-Elect Kennedy, that said:

"I want to thank you for the very friendly message that you sent me after my election to the Presidency.

I am most heartened by the many expressions of good will which I have received. I'm sure that they reflect a broad unity of purpose in our nation. I hope that my record during the next four years will sustain your generous confidence.

With every good wish, I am,


John F. Kennedy."

The letter had come in response to the letter of congratulations he had sent to Senator Kennedy after his election.

The letter from Kennedy, and the autographed picture that accompanied it, are framed and hang on his office wall to this day.

Looking back on that letter today, he reflects that the words were sadly ironic, in that there were no four years of the Presidency for Kennedy. And the criminals in office today have stolen the promise of that Presidency.

Let's hope we can get back that hope and promise in November.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Changes to the Sidebar

One thing I may have mentioned before is I am a big procrastinator. I can always find something else to do instead of what I'm supposed to be doing. So today when I started thinking about what I should post about and found I was not inspired enough to really go into anything serious, I started getting distracted and thinking about my sidebar.

So, instead of posting, I went ahead and rearranged some things. I moved TCR (Little Bang Theory) back into the fold where all the rest of my political blogfriends are residing; I moved the blogs that were compilations of other blogs or written by more than one person into a new category of their own (Political Blogs with Multiple Authors) and added some more, such as American Street, Crooks and Liars, Firedog Lake, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, etc. And, I added Comrade Kevin, Mock, Paper, Scissors, Monkey Muck and Dr. Zaius to the "Politically Oriented" personal blog list. I am not going to bother linking all of these in the post since you can see them on the sidebar.

Sadly, I took out Women on the Verge from the list because they haven't posted in so long. If anyone finds out they are back, please let me know and I'll put the link back in!

End of procrastination.


Have also added Jen's Little Country Lost to the list. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Return to Regular Programming

I know it's a few days late in coming, but I'd like to take an opportunity to say, "Thank goodness Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are back on the air!"

Yes, it's not quite the same as the pre-strike days; and Jon Stewart is calling his show "A Daily Show" rather than "The Daily Show" in honor of the striking writers. But all in all, his satire is pretty much back on track and once again we are getting the insight and wit we need to get through this campaign.

I knew I missed these shows but didn't realize how much until this week when I suddenly found myself once again anticipating 11 p.m. so I could watch them.

Enjoy the clip, in case you missed this one!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. I'd like to say how pleased I am to be back for my second week of blogging. We Cats are not used to getting the limelight like this, especially in this household, where That Dog gets so much attention.

Why, just yesterday I was trying to surreptitiously insinuate myself into the lap of one of my Humans, and That Dog saw me and chased me out of the room. The nerve! I went off in a huff and decided that they did not deserve My Attention.

Well, enough of my problems. It seems you all have plenty of your own. This Democratic thing is really starting to heat up, isn't it? Man, and they call US "Catty." Look at the Hillary-Obama sniping going on. I haven't seen that much animosity since I was living in that household that had 17 other cats in it. (I kept a low profile there, but boy, there were some catfights between some of the others).

I was reading a good article on the Internet from Time Magazine (in between e-mailing DCap's cat, George - we've become quite good chums).

The article asks the question, "Could Race Destroy the Democrats?" Now, this would be a Bad Thing to have happen, in my opinion.

After all, we Cats know that Cats are Cats - doesn't matter if you're black and white, tiger, or calico. But Humans for some reason haven't figured this out yet, and are very oversensitive any time something is said that might be considered Racially Motivated, as the Humans like to say. And, of course, much of what is said is in some kind of Code that Humans tend to speak in. No Human actually comes out and says "Don't vote for X because he or she is this or that." They just make some hint that is taken the wrong way - or perhaps the way they really meant it - and then all Hades breaks lose.

It's kind of like when a tomcat (no relation to the real Tomcat of course) sees another tomcat in the yard and makes one of those yowly noises. The other tomcat could just ignore him, but instead he makes a yowly noise of his own. Next thing you know, both Cats are crouching in their corners making those horrendous howly noises that sound like a police siren. (Naturally, being Neutered, I am above such behavior). Eventually they may even come to a physical confrontation and injure each other!

That seems to be about what is happening between the Hillary and Obama Humans. Here is how Time Magazine describes this Situation:

"Clinton charged that Obama was raising "false hopes" with his soaring rhetoric that emphasized ends over means. Obama skewered Clinton right back in New Hampshire, asking where the nation would be if both JFK — in making a manned mission to the moon a goal — or Martin Luther King Jr. — in his 1963 Lincoln Memorial speech — had instead shut down their visions and told America they were simply too hard to achieve. Delivered with humor and always to soaring applause, Obama's was a devastating rejoinder.

But then Clinton came back and, far less artfully, said that King's visions were great, but it took an experienced politician like Lyndon Johnson to get them enacted. At the very least, Clinton had equated the sometimes crass master of the legislative backroom with one of America's patron saints. (The real problem is that Clinton seemed to put LBJ on a pedestal higher than King's.) That was probably not her intention, but neither was this her best example in the deeds — not — words crusade she was on. In any case, at that point, things began to unravel."

Now things have gotten even worse. There's this other Human called Robert Johnson who is a Hillary supporter who made a Snotty Remark about the Obama Human's youthful activities - obviously referring to his admitted use of the Catnip in his youth - and Hillary did not chastise him; he later claimed to be referring to Obama's community activism. Even I, as a Cat, can see through THAT one!

Things seem to be going from bad to worse. As Time says:

"the Democratic race is sidetracked on a direction that leads, like a scene from one of those Back to the Future movies, off a cliff. Yesterday on Meet The Press, Clinton said at one point she did not think either she or Obama wanted to "inject race or gender in this campaign." By the time she said those words, it was already too late."

I'd like to tell them all to shape up. Can we have them both carted off to the local Animal Shelter and put in a cage together until they stop fighting? It might be the only solution to avert disaster!

Well, enough of this serious stuff. I know that on Mondays you expect a little more variety from Yours Truly, since I am a Cat of Many Talents. In fact, you might call me a Renaissance Cat. Not only am I enthralled by this Human Politics stuff, but I also appreciate movies and music.

In fact, last night my Humans were watching an excellent film, La Vie En Rose, which just became available on their "On Demand" cable service. They had seen this movie in an actual Movie Theater when it first came out, as the whole Family (even The Dog) loves Edith Piaf music; also Billie Holiday. Those two ladies sure do have great voices. So when my Humans were watching the movie, I was trying my best to get into the room with them but as I mentioned earlier, That Dog chased me out. I had to sit outside the room and watch from the Doorway.

One of the things I learned about Edith Piaf is that despite her great success as a singer, she had an extremely unhappy personal life! It made my birth out in the street look like a picnic! At least I was taken in by a kind person (even if they did have 17 cats). I got 3 squares and a warm place to sleep.

Edith, on the other hand, got raised in total poverty by street performers who kept dumping her off on other people. The best home she had as a kid was with a bunch of what the Humans call "prostitutes." And that home she got taken away from. Everyone she really loved either left or died. No wonder she got into the Catnip.

The Female Human who plays Edith is fantastic. She really brings her to life. This movie is Highly Recommended by Yours Truly.

In other news, I saw on that there was an incident where some Male Human was trying to shoot Puppies - yes, shoot them! - because he didn't want to go to the trouble to find homes for them.

Well, three of them didn't make it, but when he got to the fourth one, he got what was coming to him. Yep, the Puppy pulled the trigger and shot the guy in the hand! Good for him, I say. The remaining four Puppies were taken to Animal Control to be adopted out to Good Homes. The Human went to the hospital to be treated for his Gunshot wound and will likely be arrested for Animal Cruelty.

Now, you have to understand, that as a Cat, I don't ordinarily care for Dogs very much. But these were Puppies, and some Ladies of my acquaintance have been known to nurse Puppies just like their own Kittens. And anyway, we Animals are all on the same side when it comes down to it. Cruelty to any of us is Cruelty to all of us.

To end my second Post on a lighter note, I'd like to close with a picture from LOLCats, which pretty much sums up my feelings when we got The Dog that we have now, after two blissful months without any Dog in the house.

Speaking of pictures, how do you like my Cat's Eye View up at the top? I am very proud of it. My Male Human took that picture awhile back and I think it is Intimidating. I like being Intimidating. It really works for me.

Have a great week, Bloggers, and enjoy some Catnip - but be sure to enjoy it Responsibly!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Mimi of Mimi Writes has tagged me for The Band Meme. I've seen this one making the rounds and knew it was only a matter of time that I would end up doing it!

"Here's how it goes. You are about to have your own band's CD cover. Follow these directions to the letter. It's fun and requires no thought at all. Go to......


The first article title on the page is the name of your band.


The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.


The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result as a comment in this post. Also, pass it along in your own journal because it’s more amusing that way."

So, here is my band! I am not very good at editing pictures with text on them so this is as good as it will get:

I'm not tagging, as I think quite a few of us have had this one! If you haven't done it and want to come up with your own band, go to it!

So, that's one meme down and one to go.

On a more serious subject:

FranIAm had a post a few days ago about Separation of Church and State. She didn't tag me specifically, but this is an issue close to my heart, and I support First Freedom First, which sponsored this list of questions that we should be asking our candidates. I'll answer each question below (my answers in blue).

1. Leaders on the religious right often say that America is a “Christian Nation.” Do you agree with this statement? No, absolutely not. I believe that the founders of this nation believed that people of any faith, or of no faith, had every right to worship (or not) as they see fit, and that there should be no religious test for holding office.

2. Do you think Houses of Worship should be allowed to endorse political candidates and retain their tax exempt status? No, absolutely not. Houses of worship should confine their communications to religious and charitable matters. And if they do not, they should lose their tax exempt status.

3. Do you think public schools should sponsor school prayer or, as a parent, should this choice be left to me? No, absolutely not. There should be no formalized prayers in school. Children should understand that if they feel a need to pray, they can certainly do so to themselves without it being spoken aloud. Parents should have the right to expect that their children will not be exposed to prayer when they are at school. Prayer is something to be taught at home or in church.

4. Would you support a law that mandates teaching creationism in my child’s public school science classes? No, absolutely not. This is not science and I object to anyone forcing this idea onto impressionable minds. The story of the Creation can be taught in church or at home. It does not belong in schools.

5. Do you think my pharmacist should be allowed to deny me doctor-prescribed medications based on his or her religious beliefs? No, absolutely not. It is not the place of the pharmacist to decide what drugs I may take. If he or she has a problem dispensing certain drugs, then he or she should not be a pharmacist. While some may say that those who own their own pharmacies should have a right not to dispense drugs of which they disapprove, I feel pharmacies provide a service to the public and should not be allowed to decide what the public should or shouldn't be taking. Sometimes there is no other pharmacy for many miles and it would be equivalent to denying someone medication that they had been prescribed if the pharmacist refused to dispense it.

6. Will you respect the rights of those in our diverse communities of faith who deem same-gender marriage to be consistent with their religious creed? Yes, absolutely. Marriage should be available to any couple regardless of gender or orientation.

7. Should “faith-based” charities that receive public funds be allowed to discriminate against employees or applicants based on religious beliefs? No, absolutely not. If they want to discriminate, then they need to forego public funding.

8. Do you think one’s right to disbelieve in God is protected by the same laws that protect someone else’s right to believe? Yes, definitely.

9. Do you think everyone’s religious freedom needs to be protected by what Thomas Jefferson called “a wall of separation” between church and state? Yes, definitely.

10. What should guide our policies on public health and medical research: science or religion? Science should be the guiding principle behind public health and research.

Then Tengrain added these:

* Do you think Abstinence-only sex education is working in our public schools? No: I believe that unwanted pregnancies have actually risen in states that have abstinence-only sex education. Abstinence-only education is unrealistic; and teens who plan to abstain and then don't are more apt to have sex without protection than those who plan ahead for it.

* Do you think public schools should include religious study, or as a parent, should that be my choice? Absolutely not. Religion should be taught in the home or church, not in school. A study of comparative religion is OK if it just compares the belief systems across major religions for educational purposes.

* Do you think libraries should censor information? No, absolutely not!

Now, please answer these questions either here in the comments or on you own blog. It is important to ALL of us.

Then please head over to First Freedom First and sign the petition for religious freedom while you are at it too!

Thanks, Fran, for pointing this petition out to us!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Charmin Ads and Politics Should Not Mix

I've been seeing these Charmin ads all over the place on TV lately - and I don't even watch TV much. So there must be a lot of advertising weight behind them. And I find it rather suspicious, to say the least, that they chose RED and BLUE bears to symbolize their two new kinds of toilet paper - "strong" and "soft."

Why not pink and blue? Or orange and pink? Or anything but the very obvious political connection? It implies that "red" means strong (strong on terrorism, defense, foreign policy perhaps?) while "blue" is weak and "soft." I don't think I'm being oversensitive here. It is an election year and blue and red have obvious meaning. And the folks who are posting it on YouTube seem to agree.

I am going to send the company a complaint about this ad. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

After last night's win in New Hampshire by Hillary, it is obvious that the primaries are not over by a long shot. Obama came in a strong second, but after the expectation that he would win big, it felt worse than it was.

I feel that the battle will really be between Obama and Clinton, but Edwards has not given up and may still surprise us. Whatever happens this year, at least it isn't dull.

In looking for a good picture of the two main candidates (Photo source: Win McNamee/Getty Images) I found an interesting point of view by Deborah White on

In this article, she compares the "profound differences" in communications styles of Clinton and Obama, and the way that they connect with voters. Ms. White explains:

"...the Obama camp uses symbols and personal contact to establish direct grassroots connections WITH people. In contrast, the Clinton camp uses images of feminine authority and pop culture allusions to appeal TO people."

She says that Obama "emphasizes bipartisan reconciliation and listening," while Clinton "boasts a long record of forceful, principled top-down leadership" and is "widely known less as collegial, and more as authoritarian. Based on her confident, experienced wisdom, Sen. Clinton emphasizes telling, not listening."

Ms. White points out that in recent times we've tended to elect authoritarian leaders, not conciliatory, diplomatic leaders. If past performance is indicative of the future, then Clinton may get the nomination, if not the election. But this is the year everyone says they want "change." It remains to be seen how much change they really want.

According to the article, "Obama is betting that younger voters will reject top-down politics as usual, and will opt, instead for authenticity and personal connection."

Ms. White goes on to describe an encounter with Barack Obama on a conference call:

"This past weekend, I participated in a brief conference call with Barack Obama, in which he took a few questions. Sen. Obama made me feel like it was just him and me and a few others. In everyday lingo, the senator warmly thanked me for making time for his phone call and for my support... and his gratitude felt genuine. Not one staffer or aide uttered a word.

That really happened. Except that a few thousand others were likely on the conference call, too. And they probably all felt the same symbiotic connection with Sen. Obama."

Interestingly, this is how I always heard Bill Clinton made people feel when he met them up close and personal. And we all know how compelling Bill Clinton could be.

As Yogi famously said, "it ain't over till it's over." And Obama and Clinton have a long road ahead. We'll see which communication style wins out with the voters.

Today's Haiku:

Hillary is first
Obama came in second
How could it be?

Women went for Hill
Independents for Barack
She came out on top.

Two primaries down
But still forty-eight to go
It's a long campaign.

What is it we want?
Competence or idealism?
Barack can inspire.

A few tears did help
Hillary is sensible
But now seems human.

Obama rolls on
His speech inspirational
He says "Yes we can!"

McCain won the day
Romney's looking rather tired
And where was RUDY?

On to Michigan
More primaries to follow

May the best ones win!

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Hello, Baxter here. I understand from my Female Human that my first effort at blogging was warmly received, and that my fans are now clamoring for additional words of wisdom from yours truly. Well, that isn't very surprising, I guess; it is to be expected once the wisdom of a Cat has been disseminated to the masses.

So from now on I'm going to be posting here on Mondays to round up some news stories I think are important, and, of course, including my very own, extremely pertinent, commentary on them.

First of all, you will be surprised to know that Cats actually follow what you people call "Politics." Why, you may ask?

Well, what is more important to a Cat than having food in the dish, a warm box to use, and plenty of heat in the house? That's right, nothing! Nothing is more important than that. And whether or not my Humans have jobs and are happy matters a lot to me, because otherwise the cat food might run out, or the heat may have to be turned down.

From what I understand from what my Humans say when I'm lying around on their laps with one ear turned to their conversation, there has been a major Doofus in the office they call "President" for seven years now, and as a result the economy isn't doing so well. The price of that stuff that heats the house has gone way up and my Humans keep talking about turning down the Thermostat.

I don't know a lot about this type of thing, but when my Female Human gets cold she goes and pushes a button on this thing on the wall and it gets warmer again. I don't want them pushing the button to make it colder.

So as a Cat, I would like to point out that it is Time for a Change.

And speaking of change, this Human called Obama seems to be doing quite well in some other place called New Hampshire. My Female Human is excited about this, apparently, so I will probably be supporting this fellow myself. He says he's all about Change, and that makes him OK by me.

I shall now move on to other subjects.

I was shocked, shocked, I tell you, by the following story:

"Man kills, cooks and possibly eats girlfriend, police say"

"TYLER, Texas (AP) -- A man killed his girlfriend, then filleted and cooked parts of her body before calling police to tell them what he was doing, authorities said Sunday

...When authorities arrived at the home, they found Shearer's mutilated body, one ear boiling in a pot of water on the stove and a fork sticking out of some human flesh sitting on a plate on the kitchen table."

Now, that is just disgusting. It's not as if she were a mouse or something. That I could understand. But this is like me trying to eat another Cat. It's just not the thing to do. In my younger days, I may have had a fight or two with another Cat but I would never really harm one. And certainly I would not demean myself to eat one. My Female Human says that since it happened in Texas, this person is going to "fry." I'm not sure what she means by that but it doesn't sound as if his future is very bright.

Another interesting bit of news comes from this article. Apparently scientists have ascertained that Monkeys pay for Sex. The male monkeys groom the female of their choice first in order to receive her sexual favors. Now, personally, I have not experienced Sex. As I mentioned previously, I was "fixed" when I was a young cat and had never had the opportunity to make an intimate acquaintance with the lady of my choice. But I do know we Cats do not do That Sort of Thing. We Males just grab the lady by the scruff of the neck and proceed from there. I know, because I used to watch some of the local couples in the neighborhood before the Nice Person brought me into the house.

The interesting thing is, my Female Human says that Humans sometimes do this as well. Perhaps there is more of a connection between Monkeys and Humans than some people want to admit (Thank you, Crooks & Liars, for that link).

Now, what about this "Writer's Strike" the Humans keep talking about? I understand that when my Humans are watching that stupid box they keep in their bedroom late at night (when I'm patiently waiting for the Dog to fall asleep so I can get up on the bed) that they watch some shows called "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." But because of this "Writer's Strike" they haven't been doing that lately and are getting very cranky about it.

But apparently tonight that is going to change, and the shows will be back on the air. Lord knows what they will be able to tell my Humans if they aren't supposed to write anything, but my Female Human says it will still be a vast improvement over the reruns of the past few months.

Of course, as a Cat, I don't see any reason to have Writers. We Cats are very good at improv and can always find the right words to say, so I really don't see what the fuss is about.

Now, to finish off my post, I'd like to talk a bit about my poor distant cousin, Tatiana, the tiger who was shot at the San Francisco Zoo after mauling a young Male Human to death. It is true she killed the Human but there are rumors that the young Humans were taunting her.

Now, everyone knows we Cats can jump. My Humans used to have a Cat who could jump from onto the top of the refrigerator from the kitchen counter with no difficulty whatsoever. In perusing the pictures of the moat and wall at the Zoo, it is obvious that any self-respecting Cat of that size could make the leap if she were goaded into it by young Humans without any Sense.

Now, apparently, it has come out that these Humans had been into the Catnip (or as they call it, pot and booze), and the surviving ones are not cooperating properly with the Authorities. So, it seems it was not all Tatiana's fault that this happened; however, it is important that the Zoo fix the height of that wall so that other Tigers don't end up meeting the same fate as poor Tatiana did.

That is it from where I sit today. I'll be gathering more news tidbits for next week's post on this thing called a "Blog." My Human is pleased not to have to blog on Mondays, as it is a hard day for her to get moving.

May your week be full of expensive food, Catnip and lots of naps.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Post on Medicana: Colon Cancer

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with colon cancer, please read my latest post on Medicana.

Even if you don't know anyone with colon cancer, please read it anyway - if you are at risk for it or are 50 or older, you should be getting tested regularly for this disease, which is preventable and very curable when found early.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Maybe There is Hope After All

The results in Iowa knocked me for a loop. I did not expect Obama to win, especially not by the amount he won. I definitely did not expect Hillary to come in third. These amazing results have made me realize something: I am rooting for Obama.

I thought I was on the fence. I thought what really mattered to me was whether the person who becomes our nominee is "electable." And I was nervous about both Hillary and Obama in that regard. Hillary because of all her baggage and the fact that so many Republicans hate her guts; she would mobilize their base like no one else. And many Democrats, including myself, have trouble feeling all warm and fuzzy over her.

I was nervous about Obama for two reasons - his "inexperience" - and let's face it, his race. I was afraid too many people in those Red states would consciously or subconsciously not vote for him.

So that left Edwards. I like his message, admire his dedication; I do think he is sincere in his populism, and I am impressed by the strength of his marriage and the way he and Elizabeth have gotten through hard times together.

But something was holding me back. Maybe I wanted this year to be different, a year when we got someone other than a white, Anglo-Saxon male from a southern state into the White House. Nothing against them, but it's been done to death.

So I was on the fence.

But these results have given me hope - the audacity of hope, to coin Obama's own phrase - that perhaps this country really is ready for an African-American president. That perhaps his so-called inexperience equals an idealism and ability to inspire that have not been seen since Bobby Kennedy. That perhaps it's more important to have ideals and principles than understand how to get bills through the Senate. That perhaps it's more helpful to have lived in other parts of the world and understand other cultures outside of our country than to have years of experience wheeling and dealing in the insular world of Washington or being governor of a state that hardly represents the world at large.

Obama gave a great speech at the end of the evening - you can see it here if you haven't already seen it posted on someone else's blog. He sounded presidential. He sounded inspirational. He sounded as if he could go the distance.

I realize it is a long slog ahead and anything can happen. But I think I've found my candidate. No one is perfect. But if we want change, I think Obama will give it to us.

I know not everyone will agree with this - some feel he is going to be as beholden as Hillary to those who support him. But I just have this feeling about him that I don't have about Hillary. I think he'll try to stick to his principles.

I may be wrong. But we never really know how a person will act until they are in the White House. As Bill Clinton said, it could be a roll of the dice. But sometimes we have to roll the dice in order to win.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Environmental Meme

FranIam tagged me for this one. It's not really a "meme" in the usual sense, but more of a challenge. A challenge to the participant to come up with one way to lessen his or her environmental impact in the coming year. Here it is word-for-word from Fran's blog:

Try to think of one way you and your family can lessen your environmental impact in 2008. You could consider doing something relatively easy--like giving up paper plates and napkins (yup, more dishes and laundry, but oh so worth it at trash-time)--or more difficult--like trying to carpool more (which can be a pain, but saves a ton in gas money, not to mention in saved emissions). It doesn't have to be hard--it could be something as simple as trying one of those new fluorescent bulbs in your desk lamp. How about it?

This isn't as easy as you might think. DH and I already do recycle our newspapers, bottles (both plastic and glass) and cardboard.

Luckily our town picks it up in front of our house or we'd probably be too lazy to take it to the recycling center.

I remember when I was younger my parents took their newspapers and bottles to the recycling center way "before it was cool" - before there was even curb pick-up of recycling. I have to admit I'd never have been so dedicated. It's easy to talk the talk about the environment, but not so easy to walk the walk. (I hate that cliche' but it's true).

We have been replacing our lightbulbs with the fluorescent ones throughout the house, so we can check that off.

DH used to take the train to work - which was environmentally good - but now drives due to a change in job location. And he doesn't carpool. Neither do I. And given how late I usually come to work and how late I stay, it isn't likely to happen in the near future.

However, we do have cars with relatively good gas mileage and do not own an SUV so we have to take some credit for that.

OK, so what can we do to lessen our environmental impact? Yes, it's the paper plate and napkin thing. I admit it. We use paper plates for dinner every night because we're so bad about getting around to emptying the dishwasher so that it's ready to receive new dirty dishes.

The funny thing is, when we're on vacation on Cape Cod and don't have a dishwasher, we actually use real dishes and just hand wash them. You don't need to empty the dishwasher first, you see. Another example of how modern conveniences actually make things more complicated.

The question I have, however, is this: What is the balance between the amount of trash generated, and the amount of waste of perfectly good trees, embodied in the use of paper plates, versus the energy and water used to run the dishwasher, or in the case of the cloth napkins, the washing machine and dryer? I would need to know which is worse before I commit to this!

Anyone have some statistics they could cite?

In the meantime I will make a partial commitment. Every other night I'll use real plates and cloth napkins. How's that? It can't hurt!

Now, who to tag?

Enigma4Ever (Watergate Summer)

Have fun with it!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Baxter's Story

As I promised Tomcat, I am turning over the blog to my cat Baxter for this post. It's only fair that he gets equal time, after Diva got to do an entire meme herself.

Hello, I am Baxter the Cat. Here you see me lying on the Dog's bed. (I hope this angle doesn't make my butt look too big. I'm very particular about having my picture taken.)

I live in a house with two Humans and a Dog. I will not dignify the Dog with a name, although the Humans seem to call her "Diva." She is the second dog I have lived with, and I must say I don't find her an improvement over the first one. The previous one chased me but I used to get back at her by hiding behind a door and smacking her on the rear end when she walked by. She wasn't quite as rambunctious as this one. This one is very noisy and barks loudly at me sometimes. I have to growl and sometimes I hiss in order to put her in her place. I always like getting the upper hand by being up high and then sometimes I can smack her on the nose.

I didn't always live here. I was found as a kitten by a nice person about two blocks away, but when they brought me into their house, I found to my horror they had 17 other cats living there! It was no place for someone like me. I like my privacy, and I expect to get all the adulation of the Humans in the household. I don't like to share my companionship with so many.

So after awhile they brought me to a nice place called The Homeless Animal Adoption League, or HAAL, which specializes in finding homes for cats and kittens. They had me what they call "fixed" - I'm not sure what was fixed, since there was nothing wrong with me in the first place. Then after I was there for awhile, this couple came in and started checking me out. They came in several times and I kept rolling on my back and flirting with them, because I know this works really well on Humans. Finally they decided to take me home, even though I wasn't a girl. Apparently for some reason they wanted a girl because their previous cat had been a girl.

Naturally once I got to this house I had to hide under the bed for a couple of days, especially when I found out they had a Dog living there. I'd come out from under the bed, stalk into the hallway carefully, see the dog, puff up all over, and run back under the bed. But I got used to the idea eventuallly and all was well.

My Female Human says I'm shy and that's why I don't come out that much when strange people are in the house. Actually it's because I am so far superior to them, I don't deign to interact with them.

However, if people come to the house often I do decide to grace them with my presence from time to time. Especially the one who comes to take care of me when my Humans are away on what they call a "vacation." After all, if she is the only companionship I get for a week or so, even I have to make the most of it. And I guess it's the least I can do when she goes to all that trouble to come over and scoop my box.

You'll notice I don't call my Humans "Mommy" and "Daddy" as the Dog does. They try to tell me to call them that but after all, Humans and cats are equals and we are all adults, so why should I call them such a juvenile title? "Humans" isn't a derogatory term, it merely describes what they are.

Although many people think cats just lie around all day, I actually do a lot of work around here. When my Female Human changes the sheets on the bed, I have to help. I immediately jump up on the bed and lie on the sheets so that she needs to pull them out from under me to strip the bed. Then when she puts on the new sheets, I need to be under them so she can play with me by tickling the sheet so that I can pounce on her fingers. Then she has to put the sheet over my head until I get tired of it and jump off.

Another task I have is to help her or my Male Human when they are on the computer. It is my job to jump up in front of the screen so that they have to look at me, glorious me, rather than that stupid screen. I know they appreciate this a lot because they often pat me. Of course, they sometimes make me move over for some reason. I don't know why they would rather look at that stupid screen than me, but there is no accounting for Human tastes.

For awhile I was studying to be an accountant, and specialized in shredding documents, particularly bills. However, my Humans now bank on-line, so there aren't many bills lying around within reach anymore, and besides, with Sarbanes-Oxley and all, there is much less call for this type of skill. So I just specialize in sheets, laundry (lying on clean clothes in the basket) and computer blocking.

I do sleep on the bed with my Humans most nights, once the Dog has fallen sound asleep. For some reason at that point she becomes helpless and no longer able to chase me. So we share the bed very nicely for much of the night.

I never go outside. I know some cats go outside but then things happen to them; they can get sick or hurt or run over. So my Humans don't let me out. I have no desire to go out anyway - if the door opens I run in the other direction. Why should I want to go out when I have everything I need here?

Being highly intelligent, I have a lot of opinions on things and my Female Human says that in the future she will let me post on this thing she calls the "blog" from time to time and express my opinions. I look forward to sharing them with you, as I know you will benefit from my vast wisdom.

Thank you for your attention. It's time for my nap now so I will sign off. We cats need to nap a lot. It's good for our stress levels. Humans should do more of it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My Slogan for 2008

Welcome To Mauigirl Country.

Enter a word for your own slogan:

Generated by the Advertising Slogan Generator, for all your slogan needs. Get more Mauigirl slogans.

As long as no one thinks it's like "Scarborough Country." Hmmm, maybe this isn't the best slogan...How about:

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Mauigirl.

Enter a word for your own slogan:

Generated by the Advertising Slogan Generator, for all your slogan needs. Get more Mauigirl slogans.

Thanks to Freida Bee for posting this cool "slogan generator" on her blog - go check it out and help her pick her best slogan! I could keep doing this all day...

But I digress.

It is New Year's Day and it is obligatory to have the look back on the previous year and perhaps make a few resolutions. I know, I know, we always break them, but if you don't have them in the first place you have nothing to regret at the end of the next year, and that would be boring.

I just want to say thanks to all the great blogfriends I've met during the past year - thanks for all your support and encouragement and friendship throughout the year. I've loved meeting all of you in cyberspace and reading all of your wonderful blogs.

I've only been doing this since September of 2006 and didn't really find my niche until later on, so this has all been quite a great learning experience!

I loved participating in NaBloPoMo and living up to the challenge of posting something every single day.

I hope to be able to keep up a frequent pace in the upcoming year and to post more frequently on Medicana and perhaps finally post at least another post on my travel blog!

OK, I guess those are two resolutions right there.

The others include the usual: losing weight, cooking dinner at home more often (which will result in losing weight), going back to yoga (I was really doing it faithfully once a week a couple of years ago and then just stopped), and yes, trying to get to work earlier. I mean, 10:15 is really pushing the envelope.

And last but definitely not least, I want to make more effort in some of the community activities I'm involved in, including historic preservation and my local park conservancy - and by actually producing four quarterly newsletters for my neighborhood association in 2008.

(The quarterly newsletter, of which I am editor, has been languishing as more of a "thirdly" newsletter the last two years, due to my usual procrastination. If "thirdly" is a word.)

Some of these resolutions will be more achievable than others!

Best wishes for a great 2008 to you all! And may all your resolutions come true!