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February, 2011

               "Swing your partner, do-se- do... this bad dude doesn't wanta let go!"

I've always operated on the somewhat cynical philosophy that there's no point telling people about your problems because half don't care and the other half are glad you're getting what's coming to you.

After a prolonged health crisis brought thousands of messages from well-wishers, some revision of that policy seems in order. So here's the short version of the reason for my five-month absence from these pages.

In September shortness of breath prompted a quadruple bypass. It went well, but was followed by essentially unrelated complications that prompted a total of four surgeries within one month. Only  persistence and advocacy by Susan, my wife, kept me alive in the face of several doctors' predictions of my imminent departure. I was in a coma for sixteen days.

I was given Last Rites by a priest three times; remarkable, since I'm not Catholic. The gesture is appreciated, however. In extremis, a person can't have too many friends.

Various complications and setbacks put me on a course for five hospital months and a fifth surgery.  I am completing my recuperation at home, which never looked better.

I thank all those who sent good wishes; I wish time permitted individual answers to all. I do want to express my gratitude to the remarkable people at Tucson Heart Hospital and Cornerstone Acute Care Hospital; they are the best.  

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To answer a recurring question: I have no plans to return to broadcasting. Whatever humble opinions I have to offer about the passing scene will be on display in this space.

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During my career in the travel industry, I spent a fair amount of time in Egypt. I am only surprised that it took so long for the lid to be blown off, because the poverty level is staggering. One example: people living in the tombs in the graveyards.

While we Americans worship the very word "democracy", it means different things to different people. As we have seen repeatedly in Africa and elsewhere, it often means "one man, one vote...one time."  In other words, the opportunity to oppress others. While we hope for a better long-term outcome in Egypt, one can hardly suppress the concern that we may be seeing another Iran developing in slow-motion.

The obsession with democracy in our media as the highest of all values bespeaks the childlike simple-mindedness of many of those who purport to inform us. Wonder what they'll think if an electorate in Egypt or elsewhere democratically votes to behead all non-Muslims?

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While our domestic budget battle drags on, a couple of eternal verities should be recalled. Number one: few things are more difficult for a politician who must face the voters than taking away a privilege/benefit already granted, and it takes a giant leap of faith in the electorate to do so. Number two: most Democrats will always demagogue any such effort.

Gov. Christie and the voters of New Jersey, fed up with government employee unions draining the budget, provide a heartening alternative view.  May their numbers multiply.

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It's good to be back... still "on the right side of the dirt."

While November's election fired up Republicans and right-leaning independents re Obama's re-election  prospects in 2012, there is still reason for trepidation. It's this. People become accustomed to the person filling the role of president. He becomes the known figure opposed to... well, the Republicans have no towering figure who carries the aura.  Thus it is extra-important for congressional Republicans to keep emphasizing the economic failures of our eminently unqualified president, lest people become too comfortable with him and therefore more tolerant of his shortcomings.

Let us not forget the Clinton lesson.  A disgraceful person and manipulator, yet the public continued to see him as acceptable in the role of chief executive, re-elected him, and now he's regarded as his party's icon!

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Recent events in Wisconsin serve to remind us of the union/Democrat axis, with mobs in the state capitol looking like Bolsheviks. Only missing were the signs proclaiming, "Workers of the world, unite!" This was pure Democrat demagoguery on display. Class warfare. Taxpayer-paid government workers using intimidation shakedown tactics to extract more from overburdened taxpayers, led by the most useless union of all. That would be the teachers' union, which clearly bears primary responsibility for a failed education system that's become the joke of the industrialized world.

And what keeps this machine running? Simple and obvious. Unions extract money from their members to give to Democrats who, once in officer, make sure ever-more money flows to those union employees so that they, in turn, can give more to their Democrat shills.

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It is perhaps belaboring the obvious to take note that, in this coldest winter in years, with blizzard following blizzard over much of the country, the buffoons in the global-warming crowd have little to say. They've run their scam for several years, bilking governments out of taxpayer money for bogus research grants and projects that never bear fruit in any useful way.

Electric cars: failed in the 1890's and remain an expensive joke.

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Citadel/ABC Radio, from which I have extracted my pound of flesh, is reliably reported to be on the brink of absorption by another company of scavengers as Citadel CEO Farid Suleiman scores a major payoff for himself.  From my twenty-five-year home-base, San Francisco, the ratings show that Farid's leadership has taken longtime market-leader KGO down to #5 and still falling.  And KSFO, which for years was in the thick of leadership competition, has become an insignificant player. Guess who's glad to be out of that ongoing disaster?


Otherwise sensible people who were taken in by Obama's "hope and change" rhetoric are surely by now awakening to the reality of having a left-wing, anti-American, anti-western-world rabble rouser in the White House.  "Community organizer", indeed! Sponsoring the busing-in of union zombies to join the selfish union crazies in Madison and exacerbate an already difficult situation is emblematic of the  priorities of this two-faced fanatic.

There are reports of death threats to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who presented a real profile in courage as he clearly (and without teleprompters!) enunciated the budget-balancing plan for which he was elected by a majority of voters. Since Obama has attacked him as a "union buster",  one wonders if he'll hasten to blame himself should misfortune befall the governor.  After all, he's shown no reticence in blaming talk-show hosts for acts of individual craziness.

Wisconsin's Democrat state senators  have presented themselves as cowards out to subvert the Democratic process by running away to scenic, exotic Rockford, Illinois, to avoid voting on the budget plan that would put state employee union members on a more nearly equal footing the with taxpayers who provide their paychecks.  There is now a movement to recall some of them from office. Let us hope it is successful.

The Wisconsin struggle brings to the forefront a problem discussed before in this column as well as elsewhere; the stranglehold government employee unions have on budgets. The Washington Examiner did the historical digging that should remind liberals that even their maximum hero, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a supporter of collective bargaining in private industry, opposed such a privilege for government employees:

Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: “Meticulous attention,” the president insisted in 1937, “should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government….The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” The reason? F.D.R. believed that “[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

Clear enough, liberals?

By the way... Although one date is hardly a basis for marriage, doesn't Gov. Walker present himself as a (someday) credible presidential candidate?

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As an Arizonan, I'm grateful that my state will be spared the embarrassment of the head of the Department of Homeland (in)Security, Janet Napolitano, running for the U. S. Senate. Her non-performance on the border control issue has made her a laughingstock here where gunshots echo across the border nightly.  And her governorship, before being replaced by the estimable Jan Brewer, put Arizona on the path to fiscal catastrophe that has gripped other states.  Fortunately, the process was not far along before Napolitano
departed to join Obama's Socialist Revolution.

Footnote: A nagging worry of many Arizonans is that too many California transplants may bring with them the seeds of the insanity that has made their home state a disaster on many levels.

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Thanks to all who have responded positively to the resumption of this column. During my five months of hospitalization, readership understandably dropped to zero. If you see fit to forward this link to friends, it would be appreciated.

Is the humor lost in the irony of Obama suggesting that a family in tight financial circumstances might "put off a vacation" while the president of a country that is functionally bankrupt has his family take a ski vacation in Vail at a resort where suites run upward of $2,000 a night. No doubt about it!  The Obamas are going to take this presidential joyride for all its worth!
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Personal shots: Does anyone find the racist harridan Wanda Sykes amusing? And other than a few brain-dead teenagers, is anyone interested in the endless Lindsay Lohan saga of drugs and ciminality?

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I watched the CPAC speeches from a hospital bed, but my thinking was clear enough to discern that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels had the most relevant observations about what would be required to clean up the Obama mess. And yes, the one-man circus, Donald Trump, was correct when--to a chorus of boos-- he told the conservative audience that Ron Paul has zero chance of being elected president.
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It is indicative of the sewage being poured into young brains by some "educators" that a Purple Heart veteran of Iraq, shot eleven times, was booed by the  nincompoop students at Columbia University. Their professors must be very proud.

And speaking of "educators", in Madison, Wisconsin, some unprincipled quack has been handing out medical excuse notes to teachers skipping their classroom duties in order to attend their demonstrations against a legitimately-elected governor.
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A sharp point that's overdue to be made: the leftist leaders of the Democrat Party respond to the efforts of Wisconsin's governor by charging him with union-busting. As Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed our years ago (see previous column), giving collective bargaining rights to government employees was a bad idea. So, where government-worker unions are concerned...bust 'em!

It is perhaps fitting that this showdown is taking place in schizophrenic Wisconsin, a state with a history of being a hotbed of socialism (Madison, home of the state university, is correctly called "the Berkeley of the midwest") yet also sent Joe McCarthy to the U.S. Senate.

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Suggestion to Wisconsin's disgruntled government employees. Direct your anger toward the liberal politicians who made promises to you that, in the real world, cannot be kept. (Not that I expect any such thing.)

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Did anybody really believe that Libya's Muammar Gaddafi (or Khadafy; your choice), the toast of his countrymen for decades, would peacefully step aside? Did anyone really believe he'd be attentive to the entreaties from Obama to react with "moderation"? The only U.S. president to whom the Libyan thug has paid the least attention was Reagan, who bombed him into attentiveness.

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Transparency report: B. H. Obama is following the same path as liberal politicians since time immemorial:
buying love from the proletariat with government giveaways, secure in the knowledge that he'll be gone from office when some future clear-minded president will be left the task of trying to clean up the chaotic mess---and will suffer public opprobrium for even daring to discuss it.

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How can even their own party members have any respect for Democrat politicians who persist in saying,
"The American people want Obama's health plan" when every responsible poll shows the exact opposite?

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A Christian church offering the use of its facilities by Muslims whose prophet tells them that all infidels (i.e., non-Mulims) must be killed is akin to offering a murderer the knife with which to cut your throat.  This is open-mindedness carried to the point of absurdity. As a wise observer once pointed out, it's possible to be so open-minded, your brain falls out.

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It is hard to believe there are still people so ignorant of Islam that they truly believe a western-style democracy can be constructed atop civilizations that for years have acknowledged Muhammad as the fount of all wisdom and anyone who disbelieves should be killed. Alas, among those who believe this fantasy are the leaders of our country.


We've seen this play before, and the absurdity is always evident. Sec. of State HIllary Clinton tells Libya (which the White House misspells "Lybia") that the massacre of anti-Khadafy protesters is "unacceptable."  The use of that word implies serious consequences if the behavior continues--as it has.  And just what consequences can the most toothless administration in memory be expected to deliver?

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Libyan oil, of course, is a major concern.  Take not of the disconnect between skyrocketing oil prices and the plethora of ads for ever-more-powerful motor vehicles.  Four-hundred, even five-hundred horsepower cars and pickup trucks whose mileage claims are suspect, at best.

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Of all the stupid, money-wasting schemes conceived by BHO to buy votes, it's hard to find a more glaring example than the call for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, Florida.  The governor has refused to accept it, knowing it would be an endless drain on the taxpayers.  Mapquest says it's a one-hour, twenty-nine minute drive, downtown to downtown.  Who would exchange that for a drive of indeterminate distance to a railway station, pay for parking, wait for the next scheduled departure then take a car at the other end to your ultimate destination? Obama's reaction to the governor's rejection?  "We'll build it somewhere else!"  That makes it clear that his objective is not useful infrastructure, but makework jobs for his union supporters.  Four states have now rejected this boondoggle, so California, it's all yours!

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Wisconsin, where enslaved, downtrodden teachers are collecting pay while using bogus doctors' excuses to skip work in favor of demonstrating against the governor, are turning out 8th-graders, two- thirds of whom cannot read proficiently.  This despite the most generous pay in the entire midwest.

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Romney, Huckabee, et all, had better be alert lest the conservative parade pass them by.  While Gov. Christie of New Jersey is actually accomplishing substantial parts of the agenda, Romney is left to defend his installation of an Obama-like health plan when he was  governor of Massachusetts and the Huck keeps enumerating all the reasons NOT to run.

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Let us take a moment to show respect for Joseph Mingolello of Bridgeport, Conn., who may justly claim the title of Nation's Best-Smelling Thief.  Mr. Mingolello, obviously a fastidious man in the personal hygiene department, has been arrested for shoplifting 58 containers of deodorant stuff in his pants.


With oil prices bounding upward toward previously-unreached highs, there's a potential jewel to be found in this frightening muck. The fantasies of the "clean, renewable energy" crowd are about to be revealed for what they are.  No rational person acquainted with reality can possibly believe that our energy needs, including one as basic as getting to work, are going to be solved by solar panels and windmills.

We have delayed for so long empowering real energy solutions that, given the volatile nature of the middle-east, we may be in for years of economic hardship before practical solutions yield enough to ease our pain.  Even if the fence-sitters now admit that a deliberate government policy of forbidding the exploitation of our own energy sources--oil, coal and natural gas--must be reversed to prevent national collapse, it must be remembered that this all takes time. Perhaps more time than we have. Ditto atomic energy. A drilling project, mine or nuclear plant  approved today will not yield its product for years.

While it is true that if Barack Obama had deliberately set out to trash our economy and make us co-equal with less successful nations he could hardly be doing a better job of it, another fact must also be remembered in apportioning blame: the EPA, the instrument most-used to prevent development of our own energy sources, was created by ... Richard M. Nixon.  

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It is the task of the executive branch, specifically the Justice Department, to defend all laws passed by the Congress and carrying a presidential signature.  Whatever one's view of gay marriage, that principle remains intact.  What, therefore, is one to make of Barry Soetoro's order to his Justice Department not to enforce the duly-enacted federal Defense of Marriage act?  There is only one conclusion: this man has the mentality of a dictator, in that he will only enforce laws with which he agrees and therefore violates his presidential oath.

By the way... one of my most teeth-grinding experiences, oft repeated, is reading opinions that Obama's many acts of malfeasance call for his impeachment.  For those who missed it in high school civics (or government) class, impeachment calls for--first--indictment by the House, then conviction by the Senate.  The Senate is still controlled by Democrats who would never cast such a vote, doubtless joined by several RINOs. It's not in the cards.

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Not for the first time, I stumbled across (perhaps on MSNBC) another lefty proclaiming that the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was politically motivated. Since I live in the Tucson area and watched closely the more intensive local coverage of the event and the shooter, it is clear that politics had nothing to do with it, other than the desire of a lunatic to be "somebody" by killing a well-known person.

The performance of the local sheriff in the aftermath was, of course, disgraceful and doubtless provided useful fodder for defense attorneys.

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A match made in heaven: Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.

How bad can it get?  The Brits who, like us, have their own oil supplies (the North Sea oil fields) are now paying $9 a gallon for gasoline. Anybody seriously believe Obama wouldn't be delighted to see such prices here?

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Out-of-bounds idea: Since the budget squeeze enforced by AWOL Democrat Wisconsin state senators is forcing the governor to fire hundreds of state employees, wonder what might be the result if the Governor sent the job-losers out to corral those Democrats whose absence forced their firing? Think they might savor the task?

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Like many broadcasters, I've plied my trade in numerous places.  The old "WKRP in Cincinnati" theme song captured the essence of it: "Town to town, up and down the dial." Actually, my career had been a model of stability compared to most, the last twenty-five years being on the air for ABC in San Francisco, with a one-year hiatus at KIRO in Seattle. KIRO was CBS to the core; I had a special agreement aside from my contract that I didn't have to wear a shirt and tie at the station! Lovely it is, but Seattle is the most provincial hick-town big city I've ever experienced. I couldn't wait to leave.

The other major stops in my remarkable stable career have included Chicago, Miami and that garden-spot of the midwest, St. Louis. I turned down New York because at the time it was in one of its interminable garbage strikes, and when I had to walk out into the street to get around a twenty-foot tall pile of smelly refuse in front of the legendary Twenty-One restaurant, I decided my alternative choice, Miami, was more inviting. I never regretted it. I lived in Coral Gables, across the street from the University of Miami. The views around the pool were ... spectacular.

All this is preface to answering an oft-heard question, "Why did you settle in Arizona?" Ironically, the answer lies in that oft-misused (by Democrats) word, "civility."  They, of course, try to use it as a political weapon in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords by an unhinged lunatic.

After ten years of using vacation time to explore the arc from the Oregon coast south and eastward as far as San Antonio, Susan and I settled on 'zona and specifically the Tucson area partly because on repeated visits we found the local folk almost uniformly congenial and, yes, civil.

Two examples sealed our choice. During a two-week exploratory visit, I took the car in for routine service. The air conditioning was also performing poorly.  The woman manager of the shop said her people couldn't fix it, but her boyfriend ran an AC facility a mile or so away. She called him... we drove over... and he quickly determined that the AC system was low on Freon. He put in two cans and I--a driver of a car with California plates--asked him what I owed.  He said, "Drive it for a day or two, and if it's still working well, then you can stop by and pay me!"  I did ... it did ... and I was glad to return and pay someone who treated a total stranger so well.

The other example was on Christmas morning.  With no traffic, we took a leisurely sightseeing drive south of Tucson.  We saw the Mission San Xavier a mile or so off I-19 and decided to stop and take a few pictures of the beautiful structure, the "White Dove of the Desert."   I'm not Catholic, but was very pleased to accept the priest's kind invitation to "come inside and see our beautiful church."  The mission is located on an Indian reservation, and the parishioners are largely from the Tohono o'odham  tribe. At the conclusion of services, some of them, not fluent in English, came over and invited us to their homes for Christmas dinner!

We decided then and there that these were the kind of people who'd make good neighbors, and shortly afterward purchased land not far away and hired a builder for the southwestern-style house we'd always wanted. With rare exceptions the climate is excellent; we're at 3,000-feet elevation, escaping the worst of summer desert heat. Yesterday, our February temperature was 72 degrees at its high. The view from my backyard pool is a 9500-foot mountain. And there's a sort of timeless comfort in going to the local supermarket in our little town and seeing cowboys, in from the range, unselfconsciously wearing six-shooters on gunbelts. It is a reminder that a well-armed society is a polite society.      

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Final thought: It's been observed that it is only a matter of time before Muammar Gaddafi concludes that the unrest in his country has been caused by--who else?--Lindsay Lohan.

It is a time-honored axiom that people get the kind of government they deserve. You and I may not individually deserve it, but the voting population at large: yes.  There is also enduring wisdom in the words of the great Pogo Possum, who perceptively observed, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Let us apply this wisdom to the current state of the nation... and states ... and cities and counties. Virtually all are in serious financial trouble for one basic reason: living beyond their means. And how do John and Jane Q. Voter bear responsibility?  Because instead of listening to politicians with a critical ear, most cheerfully swallowed promises that said, in essence, "I'm going to give you goodies, and I'll make somebody else pay for them."

That path could lead to only one end, and we are now there. And the promising pols are still trying to convince the gullible that they can make all the bad stuff go away painlessly. The most popular formulation with the great unwashed is, "We'll tax those rich people more."   This overlooks a piece of history that even liberal icon JFK recognized. Lower rates on the wealthy bring in more actual dollars. For some reason, it never seems to occur to hourly wage workers that people smart enough to accumulate serious sums of money are also smart enough to know how to protect it, via complex trust funds, tax-free investments or--in the case of state and local taxes, the simple expedient of moving.

Protectionism is also popular. While our balance of trade bears watching, many who want to stop buying imports overlook the fact that their neighbor may make his living producing products that are sold overseas.  The biggest flaw in this arrangement is the blatant failure of our education system, populated as it is with thousands of not-very-bright crybabies who want more and more freebies from the taxpayers.

The plain fact is, we are in economic trouble not because of a shortage of government income but a growing excess of government spending. As the late Sen. Everett Dirksen once observed, "A billion here and a billion there, and first thing you know, you're talking real money."

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Note to Wisconsin's Bolshevik protesters: There is a difference between "rights" and "privileges."  A collective bargaining system that effectively allowed you to negotiate with your own employees, the Democratic party being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the union movement,  put you in a position of privilege. You should hardly be surprised when the people who've been picking up the tab for you got tired of doing so.

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Is anyone surprised that Facebook has become a prime advertising venue for hookers?


If you're sleeping too well, here's a question to ponder that should serve to keep you awake nights.  Saudi Arabia sits on top of the largest pool of oil in the world. If the Saudi self-appointed "royal" family should fall to the kind of uprisings taking place elsewhere in the region, what would we---our economy---do then?   

On a related topic: just how long before our political power structure gets the guts and sense to tell the goo-goos who block exploitation of our own resources to get the hell out of the way so we can get on with serious, adult, vital work. We have tolerated these destructive namby-pambies far too long, already.

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Further proof that wealth and intelligence don't always coexist in the same people:  Starting with the assumption that you have to be in-the-chips, big time, to afford an ocean-going yacht, why do these fools keep sailing into the pirate-infested waters off Somalia to get themselves kidnapped or killed?

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Is anyone really surprised to learn that FBI files reveal that Sen. Ted Kennedy once bought out an entire whorehouse in Chile for the night, as well as arranging meetings with communists? No word on the political inclinations of the accommodating ladies. Or the sexual talents of the communists, for that matter.

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Another warning against complacency regarding the 2012 election. Some surveys are showing that a growing minority of voters is entirely content with Obama's presidency. As pointed out here before, time brings tolerance; people get used to the man bearing the presidential title and become inattentive to his flaws, however blatant.

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My ribs hurt. Today I saw a news report headlined that contained two words rarely seen in close proximity. "Chicago" and "ethics". As a former resident, I was unable to contain the gales of laughter. Too bad my former neighbor, Murray "The Camel" Humphreys, the Mafia moneyman in Chi-town, wasn't around to see it.

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Suggestion for America's medical schools. In training our future psychiatrists, you could do worse than simply expose them to tapes of the Charlie Sheen interviews on radio and TV.

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Summarizing (the entire) upside of the Oscars show: Anne Hathaway was beautiful. End of review.

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Sights I never expected to see: In Tucson, where bright sunshine is virtually a daily fact of life .... a tanning salon.
Lee Rodgers"...and now, if you'll excuse me..."