Get the stretcher.

Well, this has certainly been an …interesting campaign season, hasn’t it? Two weeks ago, I thought there was a good chance Obama was finished. Last night, it’s looking as though McCain is toast. All of it — “suspending the campaign,” Palin’s foreign-affairs cram course (which, unfortunately, brought the “Caribou Barbie” image home — world leaders and colorful native costumes sold separately!), the Letterman thing — makes him look desperate and weak, and that’s a very bad thing to be when you’re running for president at a time like this.

(“The Letterman thing,” I realize, makes me sound like one of those “low-information voters” who votes based on who did better with Ellen and Tyra, but the truth is, no one has aged into his Jack Paar elder status quite as gracefully as Dave. Doing the late-night chat shows is as important as doing “Meet the Press,” and McCain should have known that.)

Today, though I know the chat about this will be lively, let’s try to give one another a break. One reason I’ve come to hate the four-year election cycle is how easily I allow my buttons to be pushed, how culture war pushes everything else to the side. Deb spoke yesterday of yelling like a crazy lady when she sees a McCain yard sign, and I know exactly what she’s talking about. I’m grateful there are so few signs of any sort on my block, because I really don’t want to start doing the same thing. For a while when the war was going very badly, one of the houses in the next block had a sign in the yard that was phrased as a command: SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH AND OUR TROOPS. I had to avert my eyes. I didn’t want to put a human face to the house. I wanted the social lubricant of neighborliness to remain intact as long as possible.

I bring this up because we’ve already had a player carried off the field here, our old pal Jeff the Mild-Mannered, who wrote me last night:

I seem to be provoking more unpleasantness than is my preference, and it isn’t a position i’m used to occupying; that, and at 47 i’m already on lisinopril, and don’t need to up my dosage, so i’m just going to gracefully bow out through the election week. When i’m tempted to be extremely un-mild mannered in response to others, it’s a sign i need to pause and reflect and (forgive me) pray.

Others have written similar thoughts, and have taken shorter time-outs, and surely others have simply stopped commenting and reading without announcing it. One of my conundrums as a blogger has always been how I might “monetize” this site, and it reminds me of how I was always told to monetize my career when I was a columnist. People would say, “You need a niche, a cause, something people will associate with you,” but I could never do it. If I made this site all about politics I would doubtless pick up more outside linkage, and traffic, and maybe 35 more cents in my Google Ads account at the end of the month, but I’d hate doing it. I’d rather keep this blog about a lot of different things than one big thing, and attracting people who are interested in a lot of different things and like to comment on them.

One thing I like about Jeff is his willingness to take unpopular positions here, and I’ll miss him. Even though he’ll be back in six weeks or so.

Let’s keep talking about the events of the day. Let’s just try to remember that the other guy is not necessarily the enemy.

If you need to, when feeling overheated, you can play this video, and repeat as needed:

Puppies! All better now.

A little bloggage:

“Mad Men” fans, take note. Emma turned me on to this Flickr set of an artists’ images inspired by the show, but did you know this same artist has a shop at Zazzle? I’m getting the Betty-smashes-a-chair T-shirt as soon as I hang up with you.

Amy Welborn, Catholic blogger, left Fort Wayne earlier this year and has written about her impressions of her time there. You Fort people might like it. Or might not.

Gym-bound. Back later.

Posted at 9:46 am in Current events, Housekeeping, Television |

27 responses to “Get the stretcher.”

  1. Julie Robinson said on September 25, 2008 at 10:13 am

    News breaks have been more and more frequent for me too. I’m sorry to lose Jeff and even sorrier that he feels he has to apologize for praying. Hopefully everyone is doing their venting instead of yelling at loved ones. If you don’t want to get upset, don’t read. And if you feel that strongly, I also hope you are putting those energies into supporting a campaign. Otherwise it’s a waste of your energy.

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  2. LA Mary said on September 25, 2008 at 10:35 am

    We’ve decided that the puppy singing guy is the nicest person in the world. I don’t care who he votes for.

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  3. moe99 said on September 25, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Bill Clinton: the Democratic Party’s Iago

    Thought of the Day via Mattew Yglesias

    It sure was nice of Bill Clinton to put important national concerns above petty partisanship by agreeing to host a John McCain campaign speech and help the GOP nominee burnish his bipartisan credentials. You might think a former President would be so committed to an axe-grinding agenda that he couldn’t see the big picture. But not Bill — he puts country first, not some personal agenda. Oh what’s that you say? His wife ran for the Democratic nomination and lost? Think that might be relevant?”

    Then here is a bit from Letterman two days ago, where Clinton was on and Chris Rock followed him:

    And given Palin’s jaw droppingly dumb performance with Katie Couric, he should be ashamed of the following:

    Bill Clinton said Monday he understands why Sarah Palin is popular in the heartland: because people relate to her.


    Associated Press Writer

    NEW YORK —
    Bill Clinton said Monday he understands why Sarah Palin is popular in the heartland: because people relate to her.

    “I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there,” Clinton said. “Why she’s doing well.”

    Speaking to reporters before his Clinton Global Initiative meeting, the former president described Palin’s appeal by adding, “People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.'”

    Clinton said voters would think, “I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They’re wonderful children. They’re wonderful people. And I like the idea that this guy does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy.”

    Palin, the governor of Alaska, became an overnight star when Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped her for his running mate. Her family, including her Down syndrome baby, Trig, her pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, and her husband, Todd, four-time winner of the 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race, have garnered intense media interest.

    “I get this,” Clinton said. “My view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”

    The global initiative, a project of Clinton’s foundation, will hold its four-day annual meeting in Manhattan starting Tuesday.

    After that, Clinton said he will be busy campaigning for the Democratic ticket of Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

    Gee, Mr. Clinton is like the woman who asked Mary Lincoln, “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

    and part two of the Sarah Palin interview:

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  4. alex said on September 25, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I think Amy Welborn’s assessment of Fort Wayne is very accurate and fair, and I know exactly of what she speaks. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to move back here from Chicago, but I certainly knew what I was getting into.

    Funny what she says as regards the festivals. Tonight’s the annual Trolley Tour of the art galleries. This year I’m not going. Why? Because for the last three years, I’ve seen exactly the same damn unsold art on the same damn walls of the same damn places, except for the few that have folded in the interim.

    Not that people go to see the art anyway. They go to see each other. It’s all about drinking and people-watching without having to go to a meatrack nightclub where horny twenty-somethings and pathetic forty-somethings are carousing for some carnal fun.

    Yes, it’s very provincial here. I’m not sure what Amy means by inward-looking, though, because by and large there are very few people who evidence any sort of self-awareness. I think she must mean that few people have any idea that there’s a world outside of their own limited social spheres, and even if they do, they have no interest in seeing it.

    I’m happy here with the high quality of life I can have for relatively little money, and after two decades of the diametric opposite in Chicago, it’s not a bad change.

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  5. whitebeard said on September 25, 2008 at 11:15 am

    I loved Letterman, played it a couple of times to get the digs just right in my mind, befuddled Canadian that I am. You guys have exciting campaigns and poll-watching as a sport beats watching the snow melt in August. I too am saddened that Jeff, the mild-mannered one decided to hibernate because I respect a different opinion; I may not agree with it, but I respect it. My wife tells me to stop talking about politics but I have such great fun telling Republican jokes (wait a minute, they aren’t jokes; they are true).

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  6. Colleen said on September 25, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Alex..that’s how I interpreted the “inward looking” comment as well. They aren’t that interested in exploring what’s out there.

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  7. ellen said on September 25, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Brian, answering you on this thread. I think he is talking about Sadat and the Egyptian political/economic system as creating the climate that breeds terror. Unemployment among young men throughout Egypt, the Palestinian territories, and elsewhere is staggeringly high. Idle, disgruntled young men are easily exploited by those who use religion to promote their political aims through terror. You can see this in Iraq now, too. Did he talk much about the Muslim Brotherhood?

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  8. Catherine said on September 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I can relate to Jeff’s point about the meds, and will miss his willingness to reason, explain and discuss. FWIW, I was able to go off the BP meds when I quit my job at a certain studio whose mascot resembles a rodent. I recommend quitting things, it can be very positive. Hope it helps him.

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  9. beb said on September 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    The Michigan Humane Society is having a “Meet your New Friend” event at the Detroit Zoo this weekend. Lots of puppies and kittens will be there for adoption, for a nominal fee, to cover spay or neutering. My wife will be there helping find the best pet for them. My daughter and myself will be exploring our favorite zoo.

    When you have pets, who needs politics?

    Someone once said to never pick a pick with a guy who buys ink by the barrel /truckload. I think McCain learned that lesson last night when he pissed off a man who owns an hour of primetime television (Letterman.)

    As if Dave’s constant “something doesn’t smell right” criticism of McCain’s blow-off didn’t hurt enough, Letterman turned around and fill the hole in the night’s program with McCain’s biggest critic, Keith Oblerman.

    Detroit’s new mayor, Ken Cockrel, admits to being a nerd and a Star Trek fan. I like him already! It’s easy to laugh at Star Trek fans for being obsessed with the show, but at least they are no being obsessed with politics 24/7 or their own personal greatness, which was the undoing of our previous mayor.

    I’m sorry to hear that Jeff(the mild mannered one) has decided to take a hiatus for the good of his health. He has taken a lot of abuse because of his positions. But a wise man knows when it’s time to walk away from a fight. Take care of your health and I look forward to seeing Jeff post here again.

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  10. Dexter said on September 25, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Jeff MMO if you are lurking: be careful with the Lisinopril. It works in mysterious ways, as I found out. Along with lowering BP by slowing the heart, it can disrupt the lungs by sending crazy signals to receptors there. I was on Singulair for breathing problems before the doc figured it out.

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  11. brian stouder said on September 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Did he talk much about the Muslim Brotherhood?

    Ellen – no.
    He addressed what folks here in fly-over land should consider, and what we should keep in mind, when big terms like “Muslim world” or “Islam” get tossed around on the Sunday talk shows, or the cable gabfests every night; a subtheme was really an appeal to critical thinking

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  12. James said on September 25, 2008 at 1:10 pm


    Great Minds think alike…

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  13. Scout said on September 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    After what BushCo did to this country over the past 8 years, the newest grab for $700B with the same disingenuous smirk and assurance that we can trust them is like one big extended middle finger to all of us. Combine all that with the knowlege that McCain is not only on record as having bought in to all of it, but has the audacity to lie about every single thing including his own health status and then choose a running mate as frighteningly incompetant as Palin, it is no wonder people who advocate for 4-8 more years of Republican madness would find themselves in a situation equivalent to an online mob armed with torches and pitchforks. Jeff definitely seems like a nice, well meaning guy, and once Obama wins and we can all get back to talking about something else besides the trainwreck that is our country under Bush, I hope he does come back.

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  14. moe99 said on September 25, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    “Whenever a major national figure talks about ‘putting politics aside’ for the good of the country, it’s time to hang onto your wallet.”

    William Hartung @

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  15. Gasman said on September 25, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Music definitely hath charms. I do that for a living with kids and it sure beats some of the crap jobs I’ve had in the past.

    Jeff(tmmo), please take care of yourself. Politically, we are polar opposites, but we seem to be in much agreement theologically. I would second the prayer idea and I’ll even toss in a few of mine your way. Try singing and dancing with your wife. I guarantee that will help, too. If the Dr. and the meds allow it, a bit of wine can work wonders as well. My wife and I started a “Friday Night Sangria” tradition a few years ago and it has been a welcome end to many a hectic and/or stressful week. We make our own and it is quite civilized. Take care and hurry back.

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  16. Jolene said on September 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Like others, I’m sorry that Jeff has decided to decamp. He’s taken some hard hits here, and I’m sorry if my political passions and fondness for argument contributed to his decision to leave.

    But, OK, I’ll say it, it makes me a little mad too. Based on what Jeff has told us about himself, he does more good things for other people with his life than I do–no question. He’s a charming writer and has a nice sense of humor. But he also likes to drop indefensible bombshells–like linking Obama to eugenics. What’s with that? If it’s a real argument, why not stick around to defend it?

    It would be easier, in some ways, if we all knew each other, or if we saw each other and our arguments were interwoven with dinner, errands, laundry, sailing, making videos, eating popcorn, and all the other things we do. In writing, they can seem to become us.

    I dunno. I’m angry, sad, and puzzled. Not just–or even mainly–about Jeff. I’m mad that we’re stuck w/ soundbites and disingenuousness, if not outright duplicity, in our politics, and I’m sad that it’s so hard to talk to each other when we disagree, and I’m puzzled about what we’re supposed to do instead of argue.

    Any ideas? I’m going to have lunch.

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  17. alex said on September 25, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Jeff, you’ll be missed, hope you know. Disappointed in both parties regarding the bailout. I think they’re not looking before they leap. They’re trying too hard to appear to be doing something, anything. The executive compensation compromise and the other stuff — now that’s the lipstick on the pig.

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  18. brian stouder said on September 25, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    …now that’s the lipstick on the pig.


    Hey, one thing I WANT for my part of the $700,000,000,000 –

    I want to see some high-paid sons of bitches get the perp-walk out of the glass towers and into ankle-bracelet-wearing work-release programs and ‘community organizing’. I don’t care how inconsequential and pointless it is, at least 200 or 300 of these bastards need to be publically pilloried.

    Hell – some of ’em will get a best-selling book out of it, and others will become ‘born-again’….and it will please me to see the spectacle

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  19. jcburns said on September 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    See, this is where economic turmoil brings us. It is, deep down, a class issue…and I of course strictly mean that in economic terms. The ultra-haves versus the have-somes plus the have-not-much-at-alls.

    I think there exists a fairly broad swath of people who would like the, uh, let me quote: “high-paid sons of bitches get the perp-walk out of the glass towers and into ankle-bracelet-wearing work-release programs and ‘community organizing’. I don’t care how inconsequential and pointless it is, at least 200 or 300 of these bastards need to be publically pilloried.”

    I think I know countless Democrats and Republicans who could get behind this sentiment. I’m having trouble visualizing someone who makes 30K a year, or even 80K a year, who is fighting to keep his or her gas tank filled and mortgage paid, who would say “there’s no point in penalizing the people who lied, screwed up, acted in bad faith. Let them keep their ginormous salaries, options and benefits..their happiness will trickle down our way soon enough.”

    Change we could agree on!

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  20. deb said on September 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Cokie Roberts suggested marching the lot down Wall Street in sackcloth and ashes. Positively biblical…and fitting. I’m down.

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  21. LA Mary said on September 25, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Catherine, I think leaving the rodent house is a well known cure for BP issues. I work across the street from that place.

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  22. Deborah said on September 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm



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  23. joodyb said on September 25, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    i want jeff to come back, but i can see how this zone is possibly hazardous to one with BP issues. with any luck he’ll see how much he is loved and, after a decent rest, return to the fold.

    deb, i wondered which ones Cokie was talking about, specifically.

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  24. basset said on September 25, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Those t-shirts looked mildly interesting till I saw the one about abandoning the dog. How ironic, how sophisticated… guess I’m just not hipster enough to appreciate that.

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  25. alex said on September 25, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    Now that I’m home on my computer with sound I get to hear the puppy whisperer. Awwww!

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  26. CW said on September 26, 2008 at 9:32 am

    As a Chicagoan and Fort native, I think Amy’s assessment was solid, and Nance, your points were well taken, too.

    A couple years ago, I was at a club volleyball tournament here in Chicago to watch my niece, who is from the Fort. A group of Ft. Wayne parents sitting courtside was just going on and on endlessly about the awful Chicago traffic (admittedly, it is bad) compared to the ease of getting around Ft. Wayne.

    I finally had to ask “OK, you can get around fast — but what is there to get to?”

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  27. Terry WAlter said on September 26, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I too have left until the election. Can’t see much use in talking to people who aren’t going to be swayed by anything I say. Socialism obviously appeals to many here, not me. I was happy to hear some conservative Republicans ,what few there still are, threw a wrench into the gears of the rapid ripoff plan. So hopefully we will all benefit to some degree from their ‘obstructionism’. As I posted some time ago, the biggest ripoffs seem to come when the government & private sector ‘co-operate’.

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