Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama Makes the Right Call

After an article in the Telegraph reported that Bill Clinton said Obama had to come to him to ask for support in the general election (as well as a less euphemistic way of putting it) things didn't look promising for a Bill Clinton-Barack Obama rapprochement.

However, as usual, Barack Obama has the right instincts and political know-how. He made a call to Bill today after landing in Missouri for a campaign stop. During the 20-minute conversation, which both sides reported was cordial, Obama asked Clinton to campaign both with him and on his own. A spokesman for Clinton confirmed that Clinton renewed his offer to do whatever he could to make sure Obama wins the election.

This was an important step in unifying the Democrats and a wise move on Obama's part. After this bitter primary battle, some Obama supporters have felt that he can do without Bill Clinton's support - "who needs him anyway?" - but Obama knows better. He knows he needs Bill Clinton.

From what I've seen so far, Obama has learned from the mistakes that were made in the past by previous Democratic contenders and seems determined not to repeat them. To this day many people wonder whether Al Gore would have won the election in 2000 (decisively enough so the Supreme Court decision would have been unnecessary) if he had had Bill Clinton campaign for him. But he spurned his help and this may have contributed to his loss. Obama won't make that same mistake.

Another thing he has learned - probably from Kerry's campaign - is not to allow rumors or smears to stick. Today he made sure to refute the rumors that he is not patriotic, at an event in Independence, Missouri.

"...Mr. Obama traveled Monday to Independence, Mo., to proclaim his patriotism in an appearance linked to the Fourth of July holiday. He defended Americans’ right to differ with the majority, in a speech that traced a history of dissent going back to Jefferson. And he tried yet again to beat back persistent rumors, kept alive by conservative blogs and the rumor mill, that he is less than a true patriot.

'The question of who is or is not a patriot all too often poisons our political debates, in ways that divide us rather than bring us together,' Mr. Obama said. “We can no longer afford these kinds of divisions.'"

I think Barack Obama knows how to win this election. I just hope he will stick to his principles while he does it, and afterward.

Given some of his recent positions, such as his response to the issue of the death penalty for child rapists, there is reason for concern.

However, his tough stance on the death penalty for child rapists may just be another lesson he learned from another Democratic presidential campaign that failed. Remember when Michael Dukakis was asked in a debate how he would stand on the death penalty if someone raped and murdered his wife Kitty? Obama is no fool; he learned his lessons well.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I've Been AWOL This Week

And I'm happy to be back. It was the Week from Hell at the Big Corporation - our busiest time of the year - and on top of that, I finally got the neighborhood newsletter that I edit finished, printed, and mailed out. Whew...

So where does that leave me? With about 50 unread blogs that I desperately want to visit, and 6 days of no posts on my own blog! Where do I begin? I guess I'll begin here...

So let's see, what have I missed commenting on this week?

First of all, the Supreme Court struck down the handgun ban in Washington D.C. and affirmed the individual right to bear arms.

I am rather conflicted about this decision. On one hand, I hate guns and would never have one in my house. If someone I know told me they owned a gun I'd be nervous. I don't even like the idea of people having guns for hunting. I am a staunch believer in regulating gun ownership.

On the other hand, I think the Supreme Court got it right. If their job is to interpret the Constitution, I have no doubt that they did it correctly. When the Constitution was written, the American colonies had just finished fighting a war of independence from England and I'm sure one reason the Founding Fathers enshrined gun ownership in the Constitution as an individual right was because of that recent war, as they could probably imagine another future situation where they might need to do it again.

As for the theory that the right to bear arms is inextricably linked with serving in a militia, I read a good op-ed piece in the newspaper this past week (unfortunately I can't find it or I'd link to it) that pointed out that it would be odd if the framers of the Constitution would have stuck one collective right (to bear arms only as part of a militia) in with all of the individual rights that are in the Bill of Rights. It simply makes more sense that this would be an individual right. So I think the decision was a correct interpretation of the Constitution.

I found an interesting article that looks at this issue from both sides. While it is still not certain exactly what the framers of the Constitution meant, it seems likely that the people of that time felt their right to own a gun was an individual right.

That said, where do we go from here? America is one of the most violent Western countries, and obviously a lot of people here have access to guns who shouldn't. Luckily the Supreme Court did not close the door on regulating gun ownership; it just said Washington D.C. couldn't prohibit handguns completely. However, gun proponents always like to point out that registration and other gun control laws just apply to law-abiding citizens; the criminals continue to get them illegally. And they are correct.

I don't know what the solution is for this problem, and this decision has just made it more complicated for those of us who are concerned about the prevalence of guns in our society. But I think it's something we as a nation need to come to grips with. Perhaps we need to be cracking down on the gun manufacturers; perhaps they shouldn't be making Saturday night specials at all, but be required to make only high quality, more expensive guns, that would be less easy to afford. Perhaps the government needs to declare a "war on illegal guns" the way government loves to declare war on other things like drugs or poverty. It might not solve the problem but it couldn't hurt either.

Moving on...Obama and Clinton got together this week in Unity, New Hampshire, and Obama is leading McCain in a number of key states, so it looks as if the Democrats are on their way to being united enough to move forward.

In Unity, Hillary said:

"'Today we are coming together for the same goal: to elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.'

She spoke directly to her supporters so embittered by the primary that they’ve pledged to support John McCain over Obama. 'To anyone who voted for me and is now considering not voting or voting for Senator McCain, I strongly urge you to reconsider,” she said. 'In the end, Senator McCain and President Bush are like two sides of the same coin, and it doesn’t amount to a whole lot of change.'"

I'd like to commend Hillary for her strength in coming out to support Barack Obama after this difficult primary season. Unlike Eugene McCarthy back in 1968, who refused to endorse Humphrey until much closer to the general election, and even then did it without enthusiasm, Hillary Clinton has come through for the Democratic party. I know it couldn't have been easy for her but she is doing it and doing it with grace.

Last but not least, on the home front, here's an update on our wrens.

The mother and father wren are busily feeding their growing babies. We first heard them peeping in the birdhouse a week or two ago; now they are big enough to be making loud chattering noises that sound just like their parents. The two adult wrens are working furiously just to keep them happy. One wren stands guard while the other one flies off and gets a moth or bug, flies back and feeds the babies. Then the other takes off while the first one stands watch. Sometimes one will pass the moth to the other and the second one will feed the children.

The wrens had a close call earlier this week. I got up one morning and from our bathroom window, which was open, I heard a terrible commotion out in the yard; the wrens were chattering much more loudly than usual and I noticed the bird house was turned sideways. Both wrens were chattering up a storm and fluttering about.

I threw on some clothes and ran outside. I heard some peeping in the birdhouse so I knew the babies were OK, and I'd seen both parents so I knew they weren't harmed either. But something had tried to get them.

Sure enough, while I was standing near the bird house assessing the situation, one of my neighbor's cats suddenly took off from under the bushes that are beneath the bird house, ran off and squeezed under our gate and returned to its own yard. I went back to the house and let Diva out, and she came and inspected under the bushes to make sure there were no more cats, and the wrens got back to their business of feeding the babies. Crisis averted...for now.

Let's hope these wrens grow up and fly away soon. I'm a nervous wreck just keeping an eye on them!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. This is a new Picture of Me. I hope you don't think I look too Fat. I am a little self-conscious about my Belly. It really isn't that Large. It's the pressing on the Floor that makes it look that Way. I'm really just Big-Boned.

My Humans finally got around to downloading some Pictures from their Trip to the Cape. None of them are very Good in My Opinion, because they forgot to take any Pictures until after the three days of Sun that they had; so they only took a few Pictures, all on cloudy Days. So these Pictures are all rather Dreary in my Personal View.

However, I will share them nevertheless.

As you will see in this Picture, the Lake was very Calm on this day.

The Female Human's Mother stayed in this Cottage, which had a lovely Rhododendron in full Bloom. My Human told me there were many Rhododendrons blooming while they were there, even though most of them had stopped blooming here at Home by then.

I understand since the Weather was not Very Good, the Humans and That Dog spent more time Indoors than usual. Here is a picture of my Male Human and That Dog on a Rainy Afternoon. It certainly doesn't look Too Exciting at this Cape Cod place.
That Dog did a lot of Sleeping. Here is another picture of her. She is not Very Modest.
So those were the Highlights of the big Vacation. They tell Me that they also walked a lot on the Beach and went for long Walks in the Woods but apparently have no Record of this Activity.

Personally, it looks like a Place I could do without. As an Indoor Cat, I'd just as soon hang out in my Own Home as go to some other Place that is Smaller and not as Well-Appointed, and hang out there.

I will be back again soon with my incisive Commentary on Current Events and perhaps even some Pictures of the Wrens that are living in our Back Yard. They sure look Tasty. I see them flitting about in the Yard when I look out my Window. I hear from my Humans that the parent Wrens have Baby Wrens now. Mmmmm. Baby Tender and Succulent. Oh well, I will have to Make Do with Cat Food - and of course, some Catnip. Until next time, I will say So Long For Now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Blog: "How Not to Act Old"

Thanks go to Baristanet for pointing out this hiliarious - and yet sadly too true! - blog, How Not to Act Old.

It is full of appropriate advice for those of us who are, shall we say, well past the first blush of youth, or "of a certain age," as they used to say (and we shouldn't say it because, yes, it would make us seem old).

You'll be happy to note that Pam, the author, includes "Don't Vote Republican" as a way not to act old. To quote:

"All Republicans are, in spirit if not in years, old. They’re conservatives, which by definition means they’re against change and for the status quo. They’re pro-money — and why not, since as old white men, they have plenty. And against abortion — again why not, since as old white men, they can’t get pregnant.

Even if, for some bizarre reason, your politics line up with the Republicans, I still implore you to resist voting with them. Think of how old their presidential candidate is compared with the Democrats’. Think, even more important, of your image."

So check it out - I think most of us can relate to it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain and Bush, Perfect Together

Just one day after John McCain called for the ban on offshore driling to end (completely reversing his previous support for the ban back in his 2000 campaign), Bush chimed in, pushing for offshore drilling and, for good measure, reiterating his support for drilling in ANWR.

Ironically, his own father, George H.W. Bush, banned the practice back in 1990 when he was President, perpetuating a Congressional law that had first been put into effect in 1981. W's brother Jeb, former governor of Florida, has also opposed offshore drilling.

As usual, Bush complained that the Democratic Congress is standing in the way of his solutions to the nation's problems.

"So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production. Unfortunately, Democrats on Capitol Hill have rejected virtually every proposal -- and now Americans are paying the price at the pump for this obstruction."

Bush would like us to believe that the only reason the oil prices are high is because Congress hasn't allowed oil drilling in offshore areas or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Obama and other Democrats quickly rejected the call for domestic drilling in environmentally sensitive areas.

"'This is not something that’s going to give consumers short-term relief and it is not a long-term solution to our problems with fossil fuels generally and oil in particular,' said Obama. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, lumping Bush with McCain, accused them of staging a 'cynical campaign ploy' that won’t help lower energy prices.

'Despite what President Bush, John McCain and their friends in the oil industry claim, we cannot drill our way out of this problem,' Reid said. “The math is simple: America has just three percent of the world’s oil reserves, but Americans use a quarter of its oil.'"

Let's face it, the fact that the oil prices are suddenly skyrocketing out of control is not due to an oil shortage. There is plenty of oil. And while there will be a shortage in the future due to developing industrial nations like China and India using more and more of it, that doesn't explain the sudden change over the past year.

No, it's speculators that are the problem. And something called the "Enron Loophole" which was explained tonight on Keith Olbermann's "Countdown."

It's a long and complicated story, but basically the story is that Phil Gramm, now McCain's chief financial adviser and a close friend, back in 2000 was responsible for including an Enron-backed provision in the Commodities Futures Modernization Act that exempted energy trading via electronic platforms from any regulation. (The act was approved without even a Senate hearing).

This led into the whole Enron scandal, where Enron worked to create false energy shortages in California, defrauding consumers to the tune of $40 billion. And guess what else? Gramm's wife, Wendy Gramm, was serving on Enron's board of directors at the time!

It is very likely that this loophole, which encourages speculation in the energy markets, may have something to do with the high oil prices. According to Jason Leopold in the Baltimore Chronicle:

"Last week, a study sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, concluded that speculative futures markets were partly to blame for the surge in oil prices that have pushed gas at the pump toward $4 a gallon.

At a May 15 news conference, Levin said the skyrocketing price of oil is 'not the result of supply and demand. Speculators have taken over most of the futures market.'"

No wonder McCain is changing his tune about the offshore drilling. He doesn't want anyone to look too closely at the whole situation and see how connected his chief financial adviser and good friend was with the whole Enron scandal.

Luckily, Congress recently overrode Bush's veto to pass a Farm Bill that included a provision to authorize the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to oversee energy trades on electronic platforms and to impose limits on traders' positions.

So we may yet see the oil prices decline again. But let's hope they don't go down too much - the American public has a very short memory, and the moment gas prices fall by a significant amount, people will immediately flock back to their SUVs or the next big powerful vehicle to come along, and forget all about saving gas and developing alternative energy sources.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Al Gore Gets on Board

(Photograph source: NY Times)

Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama tonight in Detroit, giving a heartfelt and rousing speech which touched on all of the most important reasons it is so important to elect Obama in November, including the war, the economy, the environment, the Supreme Court, and many other key issues.

DH and I caught it from the beginning on MSNBC tonight and we were both very impressed. We couldn't help but think if Al Gore had been this good 8 years ago we wouldn't be in the situation we're in now.

Some people are wondering whether Gore may be Obama's choice of VP. It's certainly food for thought.

As for whether it might be Hillary, Obama just hired the campaign manager (Patti Doyle) whom Hillary had fired during her own campaign, to be the chief of staff for his future VP. Some commentators wondered if this was a signal to Hillary that she won't be the VP (since she and Doyle are not on speaking terms now); or whether it might be seen as a positive for Hillary as a possible choice. Time will tell.

Haiku for the Occasion:

Obama's smiling
Gore has given his blessing
Now we're on a roll.

As for the VP,
Hillary could be the one,
Or maybe Al Gore.

Polls are looking up
Women want him, not McCain
Pundits were all wrong.

Party unity
Will be a reality
Democrats unite!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. It's about time I got my Opportunity to Blog again. My Humans were Away last Week and I had no Access to the Internet. Then on Top of That, we had a Power Outage in our Neighborhood on Tuesday night because of Record-Breaking Heat followed by Severe Thunderstorms.

My Humans spent a Lot of Time at the Apartment Building where my Female Human's Mother and Aunt live. Everyone there is Very Old, and Heat is Bad for them. So having a Power Outage is a Very Bad Thing. Even the Elevators were not working, as the Emergency Generator kept shutting down. Luckily the Storm blew through before the Building had a chance to get too Hot, and they were able to open their Windows and let the cool Breeze - and the Very Wet Rain - come into their Apartments.

Then while my Humans were Upstairs at their Relatives' apartments, the Rain caused a sudden Flood on the First Floor. There is an underground Stream that runs under the Building and a Flash Flood just burst upward into the lobby. My Humans told Me that by the Time they came down the Staircase, there were several inches of Water all over the Floor. They said it was like a Scene from something called a Disaster Movie. My Female Human said it reminded her of "The Poseiden Adventure," whatever that was about. It was Before My Time.

It is Amazing how many things depend on this Power called Electricity. Even Blogging. My Female Human forgot that the Internet has to be run by Electricity and thought she could Access it on her Laptop since it runs on Batteries. But NO!

Our Town is still a Mess and some People still have no Power. Luckily, We are not Among Them so I can be here Today talking to You, for which I am Sure you are Grateful.

In other Weather-Related News, Des Moines, Iowa is being Evacuated due to Flooding. A Hospital in Cedar Rapids was also Evacuated. Seems as if the Weather is not being very Nice this Spring. My Female Human actually spent time in Cedar Rapids in the Distant Past on a couple of Business Trips. It is always Easier to Imagine a Disaster in a Place you have Been to than someplace you've Never Seen. (Similarly, since I never go Out, it is Hard for me to ever Visualize the Places my Humans go to, like this Place called the Adirondacks, or the other Place, Cape Cod. They tell me they are Nice but I am Skeptical. But I Digress.)

On the Political Front, it's going to be a Long Election Season. Instead of real Issues, the two Humans running for President, Obama and McCain, are Picking at each other's Advisers.

"McCain's campaign targeted Jim Johnson, a former CEO of Fannie Mae and a Washington insider whom Obama had tapped to help vet vice presidential nominees, for receiving a mortgage with favorable terms from Countrywide.

Obama has criticized the mortgage company for its lending practices.

Obama initially defended Johnson, but the advisor stepped down earlier this week, saying he did not want the controversy to distract from Obama's campaign."

Now, not Satisfied with Getting Rid of one of Obama's Advisers, McCain is going after Another One - Eric Holder - who is tied in with Bill Clinton's pardon of the Fugitive, Marc Rich (he was Deputy Attorney General at the time).

Both of these Advisers were supposed to be Helping find a Running Mate for the Obama Human.

"A spokesman for the Obama camp said Friday that the controversy over Obama's vetters has gotten "a little bit out of control."

'I think Eric Holder, obviously, is a very honorable man who worked the majority of his life in law enforcement. He has done nothing wrong, and I think this is sort of gone a little bit out of control,' Robert Gibbs, Obama's communication director."

Not to be Outdone, Gibbs then went on to criticize McCain's Choices in Advisers.

"Gibbs also raised questions about the person McCain has tasked with vetting his vice presidential candidates, Arthur Culvahouse.

Culvahouse is a registered lobbyist who had represented Fannie Mae, Johnson's former firm, and is chairman of Omelveny & Myers, a lobbying firm that has represented Exxon-Mobile and Enron.

'Not to get into guilt by association or things like that, but let's look at who John McCain has vetting his vice presidential prospects,' he said. 'He's a former lobbyist and the head of the legal team in the Reagan White House during the Iran-Contra hearings.'

The attack on Culvahouse comes after the Obama camp has for months blasted McCain for having two lobbyists -- Rick Davis and Charlie Black -- head his campaign. Davis is McCain's campaign manager, while Black is as senior adviser to the Arizona Republican."

Ah, Politics! It's always Fun, Fun, Fun! I'm glad I'm only a Cat and don't really have to Think too hard about All This.

In Other News this Week, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that Detainees in Guantanamo should have their Day in Court. It's about Time. Just because the United States Humans who are in Charge of the Government say that a Place is Outside the Rule of Law doesn't make it so.

"Justice Kennedy declared: 'The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.'"

It still leaves Unanswered Questions, but it's a Start.

Those voting in the Majority were: Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg, Stevens and Breyer.

It is Important to Note that these 5 Justices are a Fragile Majority; if any of them Retire in the next Four Years, the next President will be the One to Choose their Replacements.

Since, as a Cat, I can't Vote, I urge all of my Human Friends to think about this when they go into the Voting Booth in November. Think About what kind of Supreme Court Justices would be Chosen by the Obama Human compared to those who would be Chosen by the McCain Human. Just promise you'll Think About It before pulling the Lever (or whatever you do in your Voting Booths these days).

That's all for Now. I'm going to go Relax with some Catnip and Lie on my Humans' Bed for awhile. It's Naptime for Cats.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Could Bush Be Any More Out of Touch?

This morning I heard on the news that Americans are buying significantly more cars than trucks or SUVs now that gas prices have passed $4.00 a gallon. According to this article in the LA Times,

"For nearly a decade, Americans bought more light trucks -- a segment that includes pickups, SUVs and minivans -- than cars. But starting in March, cars edged ahead. The gap widened in April, and in May, 193,559 more cars than light trucks were sold."

It is about time. For too long our government has had policies that actually encouraged the purchase and manufacture of trucks and SUVs.

Finally the gas prices have managed to do what all of the environmentalists' scoldings were unable to accomplish - make people realize they were using too much gas and switch to smaller, more efficient vehicles.

Back in the 1960's America had lots of really big cars with really big engines that used a lot of gas. Gas was cheap and seemingly limitless so no one cared. But then came the energy crisis of the 70's and suddenly big cars were out, little fuel-efficient cars were in, and even diesel became popular for awhile.

But once the lines at the gas stations decreased and gas became plentiful again, everyone forgot about the lessons they learned and went back to buying big vehicles with big engines, and the American car companies kept churning them out instead of looking into alternative fuel sources and ways to make engines more efficient and burn less gas.

Now that people finally realize gas prices just aren't going to get cheap again, the U.S. car companies are in deep trouble as they were overly dependent on SUVs and trucks.

"General Motors posted a sales drop of about 27% from a year earlier and said it would close four truck plants, prepare its Hummer brand for a possible sale and focus on making smaller cars. Chrysler's 25.4% sales decline put it behind Honda in monthly sales for the first time.

And, after 17 years, Ford's F-Series trucks were dethroned from the top sales position, falling to No. 5 behind the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord."

So, in the midst of this mess, what does our esteemed president have to say as he's about to go off to Europe?

"...the United States has an opportunity to help increase the supply of oil on the market, therefore, taking pressure off gasoline for hardworking Americans, and that I've proposed to the Congress that they open up ANWR, open up the Continental Shelf, and give this country a chance to help us through this difficult period by finding more supplies of crude oil, which will take the pressure off the price of gasoline."

This is the "vision" of our "leader." He's still focused on his obsession with drilling in ANWR. He still thinks this is the solution to the CURRENT gas prices. Analysis shows that even if Congress had allowed drilling in ANWR back in 2002, there would still be no oil available for another 3 years! And that comes directly from the Energy Information Administration, an arm of our own Energy Department.

"The Energy Information Administration, which is the Energy Department's independent analytical arm, estimated that if Congress had cleared Bush's ANWR drilling plan the oil would have been available to refiners in 2011, but only at a small volume of 40,000 barrels a day -- a drop in the bucket compared with the 20.6 million barrels the U.S. consumes daily."

Anything approved now would have absolutely no effect on our current situation and would not have an effect for years to come. Even if ANWR reached its peak production (which would not happen until approximately 2020 according to this article), it would only change our consumption of foreign oil by a measly 2%. Yes, 2%.

"With ANWR crude, imports would have met 60 percent of U.S. oil demand in 2020, down from 62 percent without the refuge's supplies."

So for a 2% difference in our dependence on foreign oil, Bush and his cronies would be willing to sacrifice the pristine environment in the Alaskan wilderness.

While Bush always pays lip service to developing alternate energy sources, his continual focus on drilling in environmentally sensitive places as a solution to the problems we face is just an excuse to blame the situation on someone else. (It was all Congress' fault that gas prices went up, for not letting him drill in ANWR).

It continues to amaze me that this ignorant man is our president. He must think the American public is stupid. I wonder, do even those who supported him believe anything he says anymore?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Week's Worth of Blogging in One Post

We have arrived in Fairhaven (our usual stop either on the way up or back from Cape Cod, so that we can go eat Portuguese food in Fall River), and thankfully the Holiday Inn here has internet access, so I have been avidly catching up on blogs.

This past week at the Cape was a particularly bad one to be without the internet. The first three days were wonderful - sunny, warm and totally enjoyable - but then the rain came on Wednesday, along with a Northeast wind. Although the initial forecast was for just one day of rain, as soon as I heard it was a Northeast wind, my hopes sank, as Northeast winds bring three days of lousy weather exactly. Always three days. And that's what we got. Luckily it didn't actually pour rain for three days; we were able to go walking about on Thursday and Friday, and do some of the things we like to do while we're at the Cape. But it was cold. Not nice at all. And depressing. So having the internet would have been a nice diversion.

I kept thinking of things I wanted to blog about while I was sans blogging ability, so I'll try to compile them all into one post. It may seem a bit schizophrenic, but what the heck.

On the most serious note, I did start to write a post about the assassination of Robert Kennedy on June 5.

Here is how it went:

It isn't often that I can remember exactly how a certain day began, especially not one 40 years ago. In fact, I often can't remember what happened two days ago. But June 5, 1968 is as clear to me as if it happened yesterday.

I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school, at the time. My first year of school in a new town was nearing a close. I hadn't made that many friends yet, and brought up as an only child, was used to the company of adults. My parents, staunch Democrats, had always discussed politics around me, and I had already developed a strong interest in current events. I became addicted to listening to the recently-created all-news radio station, 880 WCBS AM, and had been following the political scene with avid attention. Every morning I awoke to CBS on my clock radio, to the comforting voice of a young radio announcer named Charles Osgood, who had the morning news shift at that time.

On that morning 40 years ago I awoke to hear a jumble of voices rather than the single voice of Charles Osgood. Yes, his voice was there, but so was the voice of seasoned newsman, Charles Collingwood, and other commentators.

As I listened in increasing horror to the conversation, it all became heartbreakingly clear. Robert Kennedy had been shot by Sirhan Sirhan after winning the California primary the night before.

I still had to go to school, and I remember that morning very clearly - a beautifully sunny, perfect June morning with a clear blue sky.

We all remember the rest of that year. The contentious convention in Chicago, the riots, the police, and the ultimate victory in November by Richard M. Nixon - by a margin so narrow that it wasn't clear until the following day that he had beaten Humphrey.

If not for what happened on June 5, 1968, it might have all been so different. But now we'll never know.


Of course, on a much happier note, on Tuesday Barack Obama finally became the official Democratic nominee for President. Hillary did not concede that night, to the consternation of some Obama supporters, but she made up for it with a very supportive speech endorsing him on Saturday. Let's hope that the wounds can heal and that the party can come together to defeat McCain in November. We don't want another 1968.


As for our vacation, it was filled with the usual activities we always enjoy - going to the beach, taking walks in the woods with our dog, relaxing and eating lots of fish, lobster and fried clams and oysters.

Diva had a wonderful time swimming in the lake at the cottages, chasing after her ball countless times and swimming back with it in her mouth, snorting loudly as the water went up her nose.

We also saw my mother's cousin and an old friend who runs the motel we used to stay at before discovering these cottages, which allow dogs. And Saturday dawned sunny and warm, so we spent some time on the beach after leaving our cottages, to make up for the three days of rain. So all in all, we had a very nice time.

Each year we go to the Cape, however, there is always at least one major change since the last visit. This time we discovered to our dismay that one of the restaurants I'd been going to since I was a kid (the Eastham Lobster Pool) had closed and is for sale. It had been sold to new owners last year and they had changed the menu and made it a little more trendy. I'm not sure that caused its demise but I do always believe in the old maxim, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We'll see whether someone else buys it and reopens it by the time we come up to the Cape again.

The good news is, the Orleans Army Navy Store, which was closed last fall when we were at the Cape, has reopened under new ownership and is still, thankfully, the Army Navy Store. Some traditions just shouldn't die.

Whenever I'm at the Cape I feel surrounded by ghosts of my own past, since I've been going to the Cape since I was 2 years old, and it tends to make me nostalgic. This year was particularly poignant, as my mother, now 89, is no longer able to do as much as she used to, and it made me rather melancholy this week; or maybe it was the rain.

At any rate, my mother is getting less steady on her feet and this year for the first time I found she had to take my arm to walk just about anywhere we went, or else she would wobble and lose her balance. My mother was always the one who dragged me on all the nature walks at the National Seashore sites. Now she can barely walk from her cottage to ours.

But my mother and I never stand on false sentimentality. We tend to laugh about things like this rather than let them get us down.

My mother has a cane. It's sitting at home in a corner of her apartment, never used. It's not even hers; my aunt gave it to her because she wouldn't use it either. I have asked my mother why she won't use the cane. "Because it will make me look old." "Mom, you ARE old." "Well, I think it would make me look even older to have a cane." "Mom, it makes you look old to have to lean on my arm everywhere!"

So as my mother and I shuffled along from place to place this week, my refrain was, "Mom, you are SO going to use that cane when we get home!"

I think she may actually try it. I hope so, because after walking along at a snail's pace trying to match my steps to hers all week, I am the one who feels old now!