h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f r a d i o   f r e e   d o g p a t c h

daily dog archives 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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Up from the grave it rose

  The roller-coaster ride that is the DogSite (Hosted WordPress Edition) continues. The shamans in Waxedstringandacanistan resurrected it sometime whilst Herself and I were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with my sis, the bro'-in-law and his brother. How long this happy situation lasts is anybody's guess, so pop on by and visit it before the poor devil winds up in ICU again.

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Technical issues

  The WordPress blog is buggered for some unknown reason, and as usual, tech support at Hostcentric is non-existent. Stay tuned.

  Much later that same day: Sheeyit. No joy to be had atall atall on the hosted-WordPress front. The wizards in Waxedstringandacanistan have yet to wave their magic wands, or even reply to my e-mails, though I expect that billing is proceeding with the usual rigid efficiency. So it looks like I'll be blogging over at maddogmedia.wordpress.com until we can either get Hostcentric up off its fat ass or find another hosting provider that's a touch more accommodating. See y'all there, and have a delicious Thanksgiving.

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Ruling overturned

  Oh, it's still death for this site — but the whole maddogmedia.wordpress.com thing ain't happenin' for me. The long and the short of it is limits on the size and type of files I can upload. So it looks like we're going with the hosted WordPress, which can be found at www.maddogmedia.com/wordpress. That is all. Dis-miss.

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The jury has returned a verdict

  And it looks like death to this site, but life for maddogmedia.wordpress.com. It's easier to assemble and use, and free to boot. The less I spend on Al Gore's Intertubes, the more I have for grub and grog. I'll keep this site up for another month whilst I make arrangements for the funeral, but henceforth expect to see me raving at the WordPress-hosted site. Update those bookmarks and come on down.

  Those of you still using the ogrady (at) maddogmedia (dot) com mail address should switch over to maddogmedia (at) gmail (dot) com, too, as the first will go blooey when I pull the plug on this site.

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'Tis a privilege to live in Colorado

  'Cause, like, you never know what the hell you're gonna be faced with when you drag your ass out of bed in the morning. Shorts and short sleeves yesterday, snow and subfreezing temps today. Never a dull moment. I'd better go hunt up the snow shovel. Probing snowbanks for the bugger is not my idea of a good time.

  Meanwhile, I'm still dithering about the future of the DogSite. The WordPress install on the back end of this site will save me effort, but not money — so maybe I should let WordPress do all the work for free and croak this site. So with that in mind here's what the DogSite v3.0 might look like: maddogmedia.wordpress.com. Frequent visitors will recognize it as something I was dicking around with earlier this year; I've figured out a few more of its angles since then.

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Sunny side up

  Man, this whole global-warming deal works for me. It's 66 sunny degrees with some high cloudiness here in scenic metropolitan Bibleburg, and I just got done with an hour of riding the old 'cross bike on the Palmer Park single-track wearing shorts and short sleeves. Took arm and knee warmers, but never needed 'em. Many smiling types enjoying the trails. Enjoy it while you can, sez I — winter is out there somewhere, lurking around a blind corner, with an icy blackjack clutched in one frosty hand.

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Living simply

  A while back, I asked you for tips on keeping one's head above water as the economy circles the bowl, and I got quite a few thoughtful responses. Here's a representative sample:

  Steve O. is a schoolteacher whose wife works at the corporate office of a sporting-goods company, and he considers that his family is in the lower-middle-class bracket "that's going to take the brunt of the downturn."

  "The thing is," he adds, "our budget has been whittled down to the necessities to start with, so finding places to cut back is a chore in and of itself."

  His wife car-pools four days a week and dinners are planned so that there are leftovers for lunch. "I drive by three grocery stores on my way home, so I'm already in the habit of hitting a different one each day and checking out prices for staples. It costs me an extra 20 minutes each day, but now I'm an expert on the price of bread and eggs, as well as figuring out whether 46 cents per ounce is cheaper than $7.50 a pound."

  Home maintenance has become a do-it-yourself deal. "Last year, the whole neighborhood paid $40 each for a lawn service to drain out the sprinklers for the winter; this year, a couple of guys with air compressors went door to door and we took care of each other for free."

  And luxuries like lift tickets and bike jewelry are right out.

  "Your bosses won't want to hear this, but I'm not going to buy anything that isn't 100 percent necessary for my bikes. No new clothes, no matter how big the sale. Now that's it's getting chillier, you might see me on a trail wearing old Army cold-weather gear that I'm pulling out of storage. No upgrades or replacements for the sake of replacing something. If it ain't broke, I'm not going to fix it, and if it is broke, I'm going to try duct tape or baling wire first."

  The upshot of all this nipping and tucking? A 10 percent savings on food bills and a couple hundred bucks per season from the family's recreation budget.

  "That's not going to help much when one of us gets laid off or when the recession really hits home. So I'm looking forward to hearing what your other readers have to offer."

  Larry T. says his family gets by without a mortgage payment and with just one car, a '93 Mitsubishi with 90,000 miles on the odometer. "Zero payments, next to nothing for insurance on the worthless thing, and a twice-a-year Mobil One oil change keeps her running just fine with a now-and-then visit to the automatic car wash."

  He does have cable TV as part of an internet package "since only the cable rat bastards will hook a brother up in our cheapskate neighborhood. And I gotta be able to watch John Stewart so I can laugh at the news instead of cry." But he keeps a tight grip on the credit card, paying it off every month while collecting airline points for academic travel (the wife is a college prof).

  "Our big restaurant splurge is the local taqueria on Wednesday night — two plates of a couple of carne asada or carnitas tacos, beans and rice for each of us, washed down with a couple of Modelos sets us back a total of $12."

  Bruce M. is a retired clergyman with a pension and good health insurance, and considers himself fortunate indeed.

  "I'll do quite well with the pension, in the form of a guaranteed annuity, plus my 503b (non-profit version of a 401k). Oh yes, Social Security too. I'm taking it in the neck on the 503b; I can't stand to look at it. Still, even that is shepherded by with a large group with billions to invest. It hasn't been doing too badly. I don't need it right now, so I'm hoping it comes back ... eventually."

  Like Larry, Bruce pays his credit-card balance off promptly. "If I can't pay the balance when the bill comes, I don't buy. Credit cards can be very useful if used properly. You can get free use of someone's money, but you must never, ever, run a balance. Too many of us ignore the interest, using credit cards to leverage their way into a false sense of wealth."

  Bruce has two cars, one 9 years old and the other 2 years old; both are paid for. He also has a fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage, but bought at the bottom of the rate slide.

  Like me, Bruce has a fondness for toys. Also like me, he has a practical wife who helps him avoid those impulse purchases that can bust a budget.

  "I survive by learning the difference between a 'want and a 'need,'" he says. "I survive in finding peace and satisfaction in things that don't cost. I had a great 10-mile bike ride today. It's a great fall."

  Ben S. takes the long view, trying to do as much business with local merchants as possible in order to keep his money in the community.

  "I have a comfortable income and a secure job. Both boys are out of the house and their college and early working-life support costs are not too onerous. I do not buy stuff to buy stuff so the mall isn't even a monthly stop for me.

  "I have good friends who own nearby bike shops — I spread my purchases between both of them, even the inconveniently located one, and do not order parts, etc., from online stores. I'll shop at Home Depot, but if the price is not too far out of whack I'll give my business to Scott at the local True Value. My next-door neighbor is a class carpenter/contractor — he built my first house and rebuilt the one we are in now. All jobs that are worth his while go to him even if it has to be scheduled in sometime down the road. Our dentist is a long-time friend; so's our doctor. Neither are hurting, but they are local and their money goes back into the local economy. Connectedness matters.

  "Don't go to the mall — buy from folks you know when you can. In many situations the product is going to be the same, but money spent locally will circulate locally more than money spent at the big box or national chain. Be somewhere and support the folks who are there with you."

  Khalil and Meena S. are avoiding credit cards, shopping at Trader Joe's and Vitamin Cottage instead of Whole Foods, and cycling or using public transportation. They have two cars, one paid off and the other due for payoff in December.

  "We could sell one car and cut our insurance and operating costs. Like you, I thought of selling the Subie and taking the depreciation hit and driving the old beast ('93 Explorer), but it needs a lot of work for a 16-year old beast with 150,000 miles on it.

  "Being meatless helps keep the budget down somewhat. Tofu is still cheaper than steaks. Wine budget is pretty much on a par with yours. In fact, seems that wine is the biggest home item we could give up, but that would be traumatic."

  Sharon H. and spouse got right down to brass tacks:

  • Planted a garden
  • Started a compost bin
  • Save seeds from flowers to plant the next year
  • Took a job I didn't want so could get a company car, retirement, health benefits
  • Quit eating out unless could expense
  • Don't go to the movies at theater anymore
  • Put all bills on draft — saves stamps and time, watch checking like a hawk to be sure everything is good
  • Pack lunch four days a week
  • Eat meat rarely (better for planet as well)
  • No debt — paid off house, land, cars
  • Built 300-square-foot cabin at land so go there for price of gas for vacations (put in solar so no electric bills)
  • Do all work at house ourselves
  • Started changing our oil instead of going to store (saves time and money)
  • Put fluorescents in all lights

  Like Sharon H., Jon P. compiled a hard-and-fast list of do's and don'ts:

  • We hit the local farmer's market for as much as we can, because the food there is cheaper.
  • We plan meals and buy what we need for those meals, to cut down on the impulse purchases at the grocery store.
  • The kids get new articles of clothing as we can afford them, and they'd better be on sale.
  • No allowance for the kids anymore.
  • No allowance for the adults anymore. Going out for lunch? A thing of the past. Dining out for supper? Nope.
  • Car pool with a co-worker. Effectively doubles my gas mileage on the '93 Saturn from about 30 to about 60.
  • No new clothes for the parents.
  • Music comes from the library, and we copy what we want to keep onto the Mac.
  • The thermostat only goes up to 65, and goes down to 63 at night.
  • 63 on the stat means 59 at night in the kids' rooms.

  Brian, who lives in Portland, Oregon, says he and his wife unloaded one of their cars a couple of years ago "and take full advantage of public transportation and riding our bikes to and from work, shopping, movies, etc."

  "It's good for our health, good for the environment, and good for our wallets. Talk about a huge cash savings."

  Race promoter Andy B. is sending event proposals electronically. "That way, when I get rejected (three so far), I haven't spent a dime on postage." He's also buying reposado instead of añejo when it comes to rum and tequila.

  Beth R., a massage therapist, took a full-time job as a form of economic insurance, but says the wolf remains far from her door.

  "I have pared down my magazine subscriptions, get the Times only Monday to Friday, turned off my landline, bike to work as much as weather permits, and brown-bag my lunch every day. That said, I still eat out at least once a week, always have a couple bottles of wine in the house, have a Netflix sub, belong to a gym, buy organic milk and eggs, and still pursue the expensive hobby of bike racing. So there is lots to trim on this piggie.

  "Thankfully, neither my parents nor my grandparents are around to see this economic clusterfuck. However, I imagine that my mom would just laugh and say, 'Wuss. You think this is tough?'"

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Don Henley must die

  I was listening to a "Sound Opinions" interview with former Eagle Don Felder the other day; he was recounting what dicks Don Henley and Glenn Frey turned into over the years, and I was reminded of Mojo Nixon's musical assault on the perpetually dour Henley — "Don Henley Must Die." Ho, ho. Good stuff that. You can scan the lyrics here.

  Meanwhile, here in Dogpatch I find myself with too much free time on my hands and thus have resumed fiddling around with blogging software as an alternative to this hand-cranked website. This time, I've installed WordPress software on the back end of my own site (Hostcentric lets you do that for free, and in these dire times free is good). The two or three of you who still drop by might like to examine the latest iteration at maddogmedia.com/wordpress. It remains very much a work in progress, but it allows all the usual bloggy goodness, like capture of individual posts, feeds, comments, the works. Take a squint and gimme some feedback, please.

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Change in evidence already

  Isn't it refreshing to watch a president-elect who isn't peevish? Who can speak English? Who can pronounce "nuclear?" I may not agree with everything Barack Obama said in his first press conference post-election, but come January I will no longer automatically dive for the radio's power button every time an announcer says, "Today, the president of the United States said. . . ."

  Meanwhile, the jobless rate is at a 14-year high and could hit 8 percent by mid-2009, the wise guys say. The bike business has long considered itself recession-proof, but I'm not exactly eager to take on any additional consumer debt based on past performance. This, alas, is part of the problem — in an economy based on consumer spending, a slowdown in spending accelerates the collapse. But do you feel good about rushing down to the mall and indulging your inner consumer right now — even if keeping your billfold shut means a neighbor might wind up on the dole?

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Form a circle: Ready, aim . . . .

  The Magoo-Barbie campaign continues its dishonorable behavior post-election, pitching a very public bitch about the geezer's running mate — a preening, vicious nitwit, to be sure, but a preening, vicious nitwit that the campaign selected. Nobody forced Magoo to chain that particular anchor to his pasty leg before jumping into the deep end of the electorate. Notes Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, citing reports from the Guardian, Newsweek and Fox: "Earlier today, I had in mind a post about (Sarah) Palin that would have started out by saying that I didn't think she was stupid, just completely uninterested in national policy issues prior to August 29th. Needless to say, I'm glad I didn't write that post."

  Far from the reality-based community, meanwhile, Berkeley Breathed has put Opus to sleep at the Bloom County Animal Shelter. You can see his final strip in two parts, the first here and the second here, and read a note from Breathed here. His website is here. I was a fan of "Bloom County," but never warmed up to "Outland," and having stopped taking a daily paper some years back I'd never had a chance to see "Opus." I'm glad to see Breathed sent the ol' penguin off in style — you wil recall how Monty Python treated penguins — and more power to his arm for writing a fat check to the Humane Society, whose local outlet we have to thank for our delightful kitten Little Miss Mia Sopaipilla. Herring for everyone, and a tweak of the Mad Dog bowtie to Pete for the tipoff.

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Yes, we could — and we did

  Thirty-six years ago, my father refused to allow me to bring two black college roommates home for Thanksgiving. Last night, Americans handed a black man the keys to the White House. It was something to see, and my opinion of the electorate is much more favorable as a consequence.

  But what's equally impressive to me, after eight long years of watching a witless blueblood and his hired thugs dismantle our Republic, waste its citizens' lives on endless, mindless wars, and bleed the Treasury white, is that we elected a smart man, with an amply demonstrated capacity for hard work. It's long overdue.

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Live-blogging Election Day

  9:18 p.m.: McCain concedes, and makes a gracious, if robotic, concession speech before a collection of yahoos. We've cracked the Alsace champagne, and man, is it tasty. After 36 years of voting, I finally picked a winner.

  9:01 p.m.: PBS says Obama is over the top, courtesy of California.

  8:45 p.m.: PBS just called Virginia for Obama. That should just about nail the lid down, no? Assuming the actual voting mirrors the punditry.

  8:11 p.m.: Mom's state, Iowa, just got called for Obama. Dad's, Florida, is still up for grabs, but Obama is clinging to a small lead.

  8:06 p.m.: Wow. The Denver Post just called Colorado for Obama and Udall.

  7:48 p.m.: Magoo spokescreature Douglas Holtz-Eakin, interviewed on PBS, sounds like he's given up hope.

  7:22 p.m.: PBS calls Ohio for Obama. David Brooks looks like he'd like to take a long walk off a short pier.

  7:20 p.m.: Reader BP reports in from New Hampshire:

Ayup, voted the old-fashioned way here in Newport, New Hampshire - checking boxes on a paper ballot with a pencil. All voters in our town of 6500 vote in the Opera House - a true town hall. I was about 20th in line at 7:40 this morning, and the line had grown to 60 or so when the polls opened at 8:00. Probably 100 in line by the time I finished.

Here, you get in line one of three lines (by last name) and when you get your ballot your name is crossed off the checklist. You fill in the ballot (there were about 3 times as many booths today as there were for the primary, when I waited in line for over an hour) then get in another line (again by last name) to have your name checked off again. You then hand your ballot to the town moderator, who announces your name and drops the ballot in the box.

Although making a mark on paper gives me more confidence in the system than a Diebold touch-screen, I think I'd feel better if the ballots weren't marked with those miniature golf pencils, and if the ballot box wasn't a 50 gallon Rubbermaid trash can.

  7:12 p.m.: PBS calls New Mexico, my old home state, for Obama. Tom Udall gets the Senate seat there, too. Salud, Bill Richardson. Let's hope Colorado follows suit. ¡Venceremos!

  6:45 p.m.: Former Weather Underground honch' Bill Ayers finally speaks, telling Peter Slevin of The Washington Post that Caribou Barbie's allegations regarding Barack Obama "palling around with terrorists" are absurd. "Pal around together? What does that mean? Share a milkshake with two straws?" Ayers said. Ho, ho.

  6:30 p.m.: NPR projects John Sununu and Libby "Godless" Dole shitcanned from the Senate. Good riddance. That's three pickups for the Donks. I want to see Joe Lieberman starring in a TJ donkey show come January.

  5:45 p.m. Early returns trickling in; lots of jabber, nothing concrete yet. Anyone out there vote the old-fashioned way, on Election Day? Shoot me a note at maddogmedia (at) gmail (dot) com and tell me how things looked in your neck of the woods.

  4:15 p.m. The polls are closing in Indiana, Kentucky and New Hampshire. Party time.

  3:30 p.m.: McClatchy reports that glitches and machinery failures are affecting voting in five states.

  3 p.m.: I had to run some DVDs back to Blockbuster, and while I was out I decided to take a quiet scooter tour of a few polling places, including Centennial Hall downtown. All seemed peaceful, though the local cage-liner and its readers report a few hitches in the ballot-casting getalong. The county clerk says we're on course to croak the 2004 voter-turnout record of 242,000 — which, given the preponderance of wingnut asshats in our neck of the woods, may not necessarily be a good thing. Meanwhile, Steve Benen at Political Animal gives us a quick rundown on what we might to expect to see as the evening unfolds.

  Way too early in the morning: Hammer time, folks. Barack Obama is not the Messiah — hell, he's not even Luke Skywalker — but he's the first step on the long road back to America. You remember, the United States of America — land of the free, home of the brave? That place. The one we called home before a bunch of elephants shit all over it.

  If you weren't able to cast an early ballot, get on down to the polling place and get 'er done. Don't take no shit from nobody. Any button-down butthole tries to disenfranchise you, get with the ACLU. And if you have to wait eight hours to vote — do it. It may cost you a day's pay, but just think about what eight years of Daffy-Fudd have cost you, and what four years of Magoo-Barbie will add to the tab.

  I've never picked a winner in a presidential election, beginning with Nixon-McGovern. I'd like to break that 36-year streak. Hare-lipping a bunch of riding buddies and in-laws would be a bonus. Gimme a hand, f'chrissakes. And think of poor Tina Fey. You think she wants to spend the next four years doing that all-too-accurate impression of Caribou Barbie, especially if Magoo flatlines a year into his first term? Puh-leeze. Thanks in advance, for Tina and me. And stay tuned to the DogSite for election-night coverage.

  On the Big Day, here are three sites you want to keep an eye on: Talking Points Memo, Political Animal and Kevin Drum's blog at Mother Jones. It goes without saying that The New York Times should be on your reading list, too. And pop by here from time to time. I'm sure to have something vile to add to the national conversation.

  The Nation's John Nichols lays out what to watch for this election day.

  Still undecided? Check out this tidbit from "Writer's Almanac":

McCain wrote in his second memoir, Worth the Fighting For (2002): "I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to become president."

  "Country First," my large Irish ass. Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog tinfoil beanie to K and M.

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Where else but Boulder?

  No, I'm not talking about day one of the Boulder Cup cyclo-cross weekend — I'm talking about the 10th annual Naked Pumpkin Run.

  Elsewhere, The New York Times reports that as much as 4 percent of the electorate remains undecided as regards the presidential race. I have some advice for these poor muddled folks: Stay home on Election Day. You have no business casting a ballot. You are not qualified. Spare the nation your coin-tossing, please.

  In entertainment news, we have another entry in the Shitty Movie Sweepstakes: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Good God, what a steaming pile of rancid poo. Everyone connected with it should be stuffed into a space shuttle full of hungry rats and launched into deep space.

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Cleveland, city of light, city of magic

  From our Get Away From Me With That Getaway Department comes this, on a receipt from Blockbuster, where Herself rented an appallingly stupid movie last night:

Wanna Get Away Sweepstakes
Log on to mycokerewards.com for details on how you could win a trip to Cleveland, OH, compliments of Southwest Airlines.

  Maybe the folks who actually liked "Baby Mama" might crave a Coke and a free trip to C-town, but not me, not even if Drew Carey is buying the beer.

  This just in: Darth Cheney endorses Magoo-Barbie, especially Barbie. Given his penchant for shooting folks in the face I suppose there might be a simple bukkake fetish at work here, but one has to wonder whether Cheney's nod is simply a matter of pounding the final nail into McSame's lid. "We always hated this guy, and anyway, who cares which Donk gets hired to be our custodian; drinks on me at the Petroleum Club. Make Condi wear the leather rig with the nipple ports again. Maybe we'll name a nuclear sub after her this time."

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Be afraid; be very, very afraid

  The scariest thing I can think of this Halloween is "President McCain," because that means "Vice President Sarah Palin." The second scariest is that these asshats are still in charge until we elect a new crop of asshats. The third scariest is that 220 million people pay at least some attention to what James Dobson says.

  Meanwhile, from the Us vs. Them Department, en route to the grocery today I see two middle-aged white males dealing with fallen leaves in their respective yards. One is using a gasoline-powered leaf blower, the other a rake. Guess which yard had the Obama sign and which the McCain? *

* Oh, come on, now. Even Sarah Palin could get that one on the first or second try.

  In media news, CNN is giving right-wing shitbags an hour of free airtime this weekend — hosted by one of Pat Robertson's stooges, right before the election — for some yakfest called "Election Countdown: View From the Right." As Steve Benen at Washington Monthly notes, there will be no corresponding "View from the Left." Only one of the many reasons we haven't subscribed to cable TV for years.

  And sadly, Studs Terkel — author, activist, radio host and chronicler of the American experience — has died in his Chicago home. He was 96. Studs borrowed his nickname from the "Studs Lonigan" trilogy by Chicago writer James T. Farrell (if you've never read it, you should) and gave voice to a parade of average Americans in books like "Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression," "The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two" and "American Dreams: Lost and Found." Reading him you took away a sense of how ordinary working stiffs — not just generals and captains of industry — dealt with warfare, depression and other calamities. His is a voice that will truly be missed in this era of sound bites, situation rooms and other such dreck.

  And oh, yeah: In case you wondered, I'm dressed up as a besotted, baldheaded malcontent for Halloween. It's much of a stretch, but at least the getup was cheap.

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Après Bush le déluge

  As the economy continues to circle the bowl, what are you, dear readers, doing to keep your head above that swirling, funky water? If you're anything like us, your investments have taken a big hit below the waterline and suddenly there's a largish school of sharks between you and that retirement hammock on the beach. So what's next?

  Happily, Herself and I both have jobs. Actually, she has a job, with weekends off, paid vacation and sick leave, retirement fund, the whole enchilada; as a free-lance cycling journalist, I have work, which is not the same by a long shot. Journalism is a leaky vessel at the best of times, which these are not, and unless I shift the old bullshit machine into overdrive, my income seems likely to decline in '09.

  Still, we both earn, albeit toward the low end of middle class, and our expenses are not outrageous by American standards. We're seven years into a 30-year mortgage, have two car payments — one of which, on Herself's Outback, is going away next month — and the usual incidentals; utilities, telephone and high-speed internet, and insurance, which is a real big eater. No cable TV — why pay hard-earned money to watch what passes for entertainment in this day and age? — and more important, no credit-card debt. Thanks to years of ruthless penny-pinching by Herself, we have cut that anchor chain and pay off our single Visa card month to month, so no further debt accumulates.

  But still, damn. With even low-risk investments tanking, anyone with an ounce of self-preservation has to be thinking about cutting costs and banking the savings in some federally insured institution, or better yet, burying it in the back yard. But where to start?

  Herself and I have had some preliminary chats along these lines. For starters, I have been forbidden to buy stupid shit, one of my favorite pastimes. I had already decided against a new Mac, patching up the old beast instead, but now my iPhone lust will go satisfied as well.

  Paying off her car loan will save a bundle, but we're not quite ready to get out from under my Forester payment. I could always sell it and drive the '83 Toyota 4WD, but that beater needs at least $1,500 in fix-'em-up to be roadworthy — more than four months' worth of Forester payments — and I've gotten kind of used to independent front suspension, heated seats and not having to clamber out into the slush to lock the hubs when the weather goes south.

  We've cut back on the visits to Whole Foods, spending more at King Soopers and Vitamin Cottage, and our idea of a top-end bottle of wine these days maxes out around $15. We could realize some minor savings by unplugging the landline, since we both have cell phones, and croaking this website in favor of a freebie WordPress blog. But we're not exactly talking big bucks here.

  So what are you doing to keep the wolf from the door? Shoot me a note and I'll post a few of your handy household hints for keeping cat food and Dumpster delights off the menu as we trudge dolefully into the Great Recession.

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Another voter for surrender, socialism and sex ed for toddlers

  I did my civic duty yesterday, voting early (but only once, alas) for Barack Obama. I urge you to do likewise. I pulled various secondary levers to throw some rascals out while installing others, gave the big thumbs down to a number of constitutional amendments and referenda, and was in and out in under 20 minutes. I can't understand why half the electorate finds this process too onerous to endure.

  My fellow voters were a diverse bunch. Young and old, black, white and brown, able-bodied and handicapped. From my biased viewpoint they looked mostly Democratic, barring one cantankerous old redneck who couldn't make his Diebold voting machine do what he wanted of it. He was interested in one race only, and I suspect his goal was doing his part to deny the presidency to that uppity nigra. He looked to be the very model of the bitter, downtrodden hick clinging to guns, religion and a deep antipathy to those unlike him.

  But then again, he could have been so pissed at the Pachyderms for turning his America into a junkyard of broken dreams that he just couldn't wait to give Magoo-Barbie the back of his gnarled hand. Who could know?

  Meanwhile, The New York Times just printed the obituary for the dead-tree edition of The Christian Science Monitor, which will continue as an online-only publication. If someone had called a doctor in timely fashion, this newspaper would be alive today.

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  The boys are back in town — but this time, they're not selling Bud. Whasssssssup?

  Meanwhile, Caribou Barbie's hometown newspaper endorses (wait for it) Obama-Biden. Says the Anchorage Daily News, in calling Mister Magoo "the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation:"

(D)espite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

  Here in scenic metropolitan Bibleburg, meanwhile, Obama is actually raising more money than Magoo. The story is from the Gazette and therefore suspect, but if it's correct — whew. Back in the late Seventies, when I worked for the rag, Bibleburg was home to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan (the David Duke model). What a difference 30 years makes.

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Mr. Natural lives!

  If you're anywhere near Philly, slide on by the University of Pennsylvania's Institute of Contemporary Art and dig "R. Crumb's Underground," a look at a half-century of comics from the man himself.

  Another sort of comedy altogether is taking place in the Magoo-Barbie campaign, which apparently has decided to take a page from the Democratic playbook and convene a circular firing squad. Difference is, the Donks usually wait until they've lost to start capping each other. Notes CNN:

With the presidential race in its final days and polls suggesting that McCain's chances of pulling out a win are growing slim, Palin may be looking after her own future.

"She's no longer playing for 2008; she's playing 2012," Democratic pollster Peter Hart said. "And the difficulty is, when she went on 'Saturday Night Live,' she became a reinforcement of her caricature. She never allowed herself to be vetted, and at the end of the day, voters turned against her both in terms of qualifications and personally."

  Over at The Nation, meanwhile, William Greider takes a brief look at the presidential campaign of Ralph Nader, whom he calls "a man of political substance trapped in an era of easy lies." Plenty of Donks will never forgive Nader for 2000, but the cruel truth is that Al Gore fucked that one up, thinking it was a coronation instead of an election — the race never should have been so close that the Supremes could queer it.

  "I see a lot of anger around the country, but I don't see it organized," says Nader. "Anger that's unorganized has no power." He'd like to see a grassroots progressive movement to counter the old two-party, zero-choice business as usual, but concedes "more likely it's going to be some billionaire — a progressive or liberal billionaire who makes it a three-way race. If people get used to voting outside the two parties, then things can change."

  I see the same unfocused rage against the machine that Nader does, but if Obama actually wins this thing and can't deliver a little solace to the working stiff I think we're a lot more likely to see some far-right movement emerge, with a charismatic leader a la George Wallace and driven not by deep thinkers but by deep debtors with a gun fetish, that old-time religion and a freshly cemented distrust of anyone darker than David Duke.

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The Strait Jacket Express

  John McCaint's in town today, my friends, but he won't even tell our local neo-libertarian newspaper where or when. He probably doesn't even know himself.

  Meanwhile, Herself is up in the air again, this time bound for a family reunion in Abilene, Texas. I can think of worse places to go, but not many. Me, I'm stuck here with the cats and a flat wallet, thanks to a bidness-office snafu that sent one of my checks into the ether, so expect frequent updating of this site throughout the weekend 'cause, like, it's free.

  Free is good, especially these days, with the markets crashing more often than the young McCaint. "Whoopsadaisy," says Alan Greenspan as our modest little portfolio mutates into a crumpled wad of pissed-on Icelandic krönur. The good news is, gas is down about a half-buck per gallon since I took my little trip to Santa Fe, so now I can afford to drive to places where I can't afford to stay.

  In dire times like these, restaurants are a luxury, so I've been looking around for some new recipes. We test-drove this one last night, a chicken-poblano chile with cannelini beans, and it wasn't half bad. A little monochromatic, what with white meat, white beans and a white sauce, and a tad sissified, with only three mild poblanos for heat; next time out of the blocks I'll go for some Hatch mediums and maybe a roasted red pepper for color. Still, I was awakened this morning by a thunderous fart that pasted sheets and blanket to the ceiling, so the straight recipe does have some authority.

  Tonight I'll take a whack at this dish, a puttanesca from The New York Times. In "Just Before Dark" Jim Harrison recounts teaming up with Doug Peacock to make a version with sausage at 10 degrees above zero in New Mexico's Animas Mountains. I'll skip the sausage and the freezing-my-ass-off parts.

  Late update: Jesus H. Christ. Here's a bit of happy news. JPMorganChase has both our bank account and our mortgage, unless I'm greatly mistaken, and they seem as eager to lend as the pre-redemption Ebenezer Scrooge. Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

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First snow

  Well, there goes the neighborhood. I woke up far too early to find a light blanket of snow coating the leaves I didn't rake yesterday. This will be quite a shock to Herself, who returns this afternoon after a pleasant three days in Monterey. And thanks to everyone who chimed in with restaurant recommendations — she ate more fresh seafood than a great white shark and I haven't heard any reports of a bum meal.

  I've been busy my own bad self. VeloNews held its annual staff retreat in Winter Park on Monday and Tuesday, and while I traditionally dodge such grim, dung-flinging stints in the monkey cage (Darwin was wrong), this year I decided to take in one day's worth. You may recall that VN now belongs to an investment group out of San Diego and it never hurts to take the corporate temperature, especially from a safe distance. The good news is the Suits love what we've done with VeloNews.com. The bad news is they want us to do more of it, and we're still light on staff and resources, including them little green pictures of dead presidents. So it goes. This is why they call it "work," so you can differentiate it from the fun stuff you do for free.

  Safely back home it was time to catch up on overdue work for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News. I had screwed the pooch on a deadline and needed to crank out a cartoon at high speed, but my humor chip was enjoying a kernel panic. My original notion didn't pan out, and neither did a series of subsequent stabs at a saleable tee-hee, but I finally generated a functional funny that (as per usual in these desperate circumstances) seemed all too familiar for some reason. You draw these things for a few decades, you're bound to repeat yourself from time to time.

  Meanwhile, the mighty Turkish finds the change in the weather not at all to his liking. I'm surprised this dusting hasn't melted under the heated glare he gives it from his window seat.

  Elsewhere in the news, Wal-Mart has noticed a "disturbing" change in its customers' buying habits. With their plastic maxed out, they're buying with cash, going after staples and house-brand items, and shopping early in the month or close to payday when they still have a few uncommitted bucks. But this isn't a problem for everyone's favorite Mooseketeer — Sarah Palin and her family scored more than $150,000 in clothes and accessories from the Republican National Committee via John McCain's chief robocaller.

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Life's a beach

  Herself will be road-tripping next week, to scenic Monterey, California (and without me, goddamnit). I haven't been in Steinbeck country since I last helped cover Sea Otter for VeloNews, so I have no idea where the good eats are these days. Anyone out there care to recommend a restaurant or two or three? Being landlocked, we don't get to eat much fresh fish, so she's particularly interested in seafood (and good wine, of course).

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Just look over your shoulder

  Peace out, Levi Stubbles; I'll be making an iTunes purchase in your honor.

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The bottom of the McBarrel

  Anyone who watched last night's debate and still thinks John McCain is a credible candidate for president of the United States is in dire need of a brain scan. He looked like Grandpa Munster on acid and gave out with more ugly growling than a dumb junkyard dog. Obama made him look like the sour, worn-out old hack he's become over the course of the past 10 years. It would be almost sad if he didn't so have it coming.

  Meanwhile, Oliver Stone's "W" tops the list of movies I will not watch this weekend (or any other). What, it's not bad enough the real deal is still squatting in the Oval Office like a foreclosed-upon homeowner intent on trashing the place before giving it up? We should pay eight smacks to see a facsimile on the silver screen? Puh-leeze.

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Yesterday v. tomorrow, round three

  Oh, Lord, here we go again — another one of these faux debates is upon us this evening. Herself and I will be watching, sampling an equally fake chicken stew provencal from The Washington Post via Runner's World, and drinking an authoritative yet inexpensive Spanish red. But I will not be live-blogging this bastard. The only way it could get interesting is if McSame goes all Mike Tyson on Obama and bites something off of him. But I may chime in later with some drunken, half-bright snark, so stay tuned.

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Crapple from the Apple

  The rumor that Apple would be entering the netbook fray proved greatly exaggerated today as the Black Turtleneck Mob announced a revamped MacBook line whose biggest gee-whiz moment involved how they're manufactured. Ho hum. Thinner, lighter, faster, greener — but still expensive as hell and thus not something I'll be buying in the near future, not with our portfolio looking more like a ceramic pig full of Iraqi dinars.

  Call me retarded (you won't be getting a cherry), but I think a lot of people would jump at an Apple netbook priced under $800 that let them read and send e-mail, browse the Web and handle some simple bidness tasks (Word, Photoshop Elements, etc.). Think the old PowerBook Duo line here — a featherweight computer that a guy could take on the road, train or plane without catching a hernia, then bring home and plug into a dock that included all the peripherals, monitor, printer, full-size keyboard and mouse, etc.

  But what the hell do I know? I am a demographic of one. I'd like a hybrid Subaru pop-top RV, an Apple netbook and an economy that rewarded people for actually making things instead of making shit up.

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A two-cat night

  You just know you're gonna be looking at a chilly fall morning when you wake up at midnight wearing a squirmy blanket of cats. Turkish (a.k.a. Turkenstein, Big Pussy, The Turkinator, Mighty Whitey the Blue-eyed Bully of Bibleburg, The Rare & Wonderful Albino Tree Weasel, et al.) was cuddled up alongside me like a furry tube of traction sand, and Mia Sopaipilla was draped over my calves. Any shift in my position triggered a similar feline reconfiguration, which made for a spotty night's sleep. And sure enough when I arose, belatedly and groggily, to greet the day it was clear that I'd need the long sleeves and knee warmers on my morning's ride. The cats, naturally, were bagging some Zs, resting up from the trials and tribulations of their long night's sleep.

  Meanwhile, barring any unpleasant surprises (and God knows we've had plenty of them over the past eight years), the Magoo-Barbie ticket seems to be losing solidly to That One, a.k.a. The Anti-Christ — you know, Mister Uppity Hussein Hussein Hussein Osama or whatever he's calling himself these days — which means that the Daffy-Fudd administration may have fewer than 100 days to complete their destruction of the American way of life. So we've got that going for us.

  The finger-pointing has already started, in Florida and elsewhere. But let's remember, the reason they hold the election is to find out who is best equipped to steal it. So don't get cocky. Vote early, vote often.

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I'll get you, my pretty, and your little job, too!

  Hilzoy at Washington Monthly reads the Troopergate report so you don't have to. Seems the Wicked Witch of the North is every bit as McNasty as her running mate, Ol' Whatsisname. Writes Hilzoy:

The state has enormous power, and one of the things that keeps it in check is that public officials are expected not to use it to advance personal vendettas. Sarah and Todd Palin obviously disagree. This fact alone should disqualify them from high office.

We pay public servants to advance our interests, not theirs. When we discover that someone has put their interests above ours, we should punish them, at least if we want to give them any incentive to do their jobs right. We should not reward bullies who try to use their power over their subordinates to advance their own agendas. And if this report is at all accurate, Sarah and Todd Palin are bullies.

  Here in Bibleburg, meanwhile, it is fall with a vengeance. Forty with a light rain, and I've already raked up one jumbo bag of leaves for a neighbor's compost heap. This big ol' maple in the front yard generates a dozen bags per year, and the neighbor is equally generous with homegrown tomatoes and greens.

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Focus on the Family? No, focus on the economy

  Author Timothy Egan visits Bibleburg for The New York Times and discovers that (a) we're not all batshit crazy and (b) we might just push Colorado into the Democratic column come November.

  In other news, VeloGear — the outfit that sells those stylish Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter duds and official Mad Dog Media team kit — is on the auction block. Seems the private-equity types who snapped up Inside Communications just can't see a living in it. So whip out those credit cards and buy like there's no tomorrow, because there probably isn't.

  And down San Antonio way, who you callin' a maverick? It's an interesting piece on the historically progressive Maverick family, which finds McShameless's claim to be one "just incredible." Thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog tinfoil beanie to my old comrade Chris Coursey.

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My friends . . .

  I give you Robert Crumb on last night's debate. Actually, that panel is from "Fuzzy the Bunny in 'The Same Old Crap'" from "Despair," a Print Mint comic circa 1969. Seems oddly appropriate nearly 40 years later, given John McCain's witless, wandering performance last night.

  Speaking of last night, Steve Benen of Washington Monthly flags a few examples of the McCain mendacity here. The man is truly shameless. McCain, not Benen.

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Round two

  Tonight brings us another one of those so-called "debates," with all the spontaneity, vivacity and unpredictability of a primary-school theatrical production. If Mister Strait Jacket goes off his meds and his talking points tonight, we might get a moment's entertainment. Otherwise we're in for an evening of Obama struggling to make thoughtful points between intervals of McCain stolidly lying his ass off. I'd give a healthy organ to see Mister Strait Jacket distractedly gobble a fistful of uppers instead of the usual tranquilizers, if only to give Hunter S. Thompson something to chuckle about in Hell.

  I will be watching, and sipping, and occasionally chiming in here on the DogS(h)ite. But I think I'll do without Twitter this time. I haven't had a chance to explore it much, and I find it more convenient to rant and rave in the old, familiar style. So stay tuned. And keep a bloodshot eye peeled to Talking Points Memo, Washington Monthly and Mother Jones in case you'd like a little fact with your fiction. I started making shit up pretty early in the veeps' debate.

  Speaking of making shit up, listen for some blather from McInsane about what The Nation's Ari Berman has termed Obama's "flimsy ties" to Bill Ayers, the Sixties radical who was present at the birth of Weatherman (later the Weather Underground) as the old Students for a Democratic Society started coming apart at the seams.

  I have a motheaten copy of "Weatherman," edited by Howard Jacobs, a book I recall picking up while hitchhiking through the Midwest in 1972, and a determined election mechanic could really give Middle America the heebie-jeebies with a few choice selections from some of Ayers' writings from that period — if so many of us of a certain age hadn't had our own revolutionary heads so firmly up our own dialectical asses at about the same time. Hell, McInsane says dumber shit every day, four decades later. Who's the real threat to the Republic here?

  There should be a statute of limitations on youthful ignorance: The Weather Underground planted some bombs, John McCain dropped a few bombs, and I'd rather not have either Bill Ayers or McCain in charge of the nation's armed forces come 2009. Happily, only McCain seems to want the job these days, and all it takes is a simple yes-or-no vote to send him back to where the formerly militant Ayers is — in the history books.

  Here we go:

  7 p.m.: Whaddaya know? McCain actually looked at Obama.

  7:04 p.m.: Obama rips W and McCain on their hands-off handling of the economy.

  7:07 p.m.: Mister Three Decades in DeeCee talks reform. Buy up them bad loans. With what money, I have no idea. He knows how to get America working again. Meg Whitman as Treasury secretary? Mmm hmmm . . . .

  7:10 p.m.: Obama: Warren Buffett, maybe. But let's save the middle class..

  7:11 p.m.: Bailout v. rescue. McCain talks about how he "suspended his campaign" to deal with the crisis, which is so much ice-cold horseshit.

  7:14 p.m.: Obama: Deregulation is the problem here, and McCain is a jive-ass muthafuckah. Wanders off into a screed and then says: "You're not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers."

  7:18 p.m.: McCain: Americans rock.

  7:19 p.m.: Best question yet: How can we trust either of you? Obama: Well, if things suck now, think about McCain, who has spent the last eight years with his liver-lips pressed to W's butt.

  7:21 p.m.: McCain: I'm a bipartisan (not a maverick, but it's early yet). More baseless attacks and a bizarre detour into energy independence.

  7:24 p.m.: Tom Brokaw: Health care, energy, entitlement reform — which takes priority? McCain: Talking points! Talking points! My friends, talking points! Obama: Energy is a priority. In 10 years we can be free of Middle Eastern oil. Next, health care. Third, education. And finally, McCain is full of shit to his non-existent sideburns. He wants a $300B tax cuts for Big Bidness. Won't work.

  7:28 p.m.: McCain: Earmarks! Spending cuts! Freeze everything except defense and veterans affairs. Say fuckin' what? Is this fascist Italy or what? Meanwhile, blabble gabble glabble.

  7:31 p.m.: Obama invokes 9/11. Attacking problems within and without government. How do we use energy? We're gonna have to find new ways to find oil. Clean coal. Safe nuclear energy (and he can pronounce the word). And we must all conserve energy, happily using products bought in the USA. Also, ramp up the Peace Corps. The Army ain't the be-all and the end-all.

  7:34 p.m.: Obama: No across-the-board freezes. Let's see to it that sacrifice is shared.

  7:36 p.m.: McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes and cripple small business. I am in favor of reducing taxes, including his fabled $5,000 refundable tax credit for health insurance.

  7:38 p.m.: Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare? Obama: The Straight Talk Express lost a wheel on that one. We have to look this bad boy over. Meanwhile, I want to provide a tax cut for 90 percent of Americans. And McCain wants to give his rich buddies a pile of money. Let's save the middle class. Then we can deal with the rest of this mess.

  7:41 p.m.: McCain: I'll take 'em on. All of 'em. I'm not too popular with my own party, much less his, but I'm bipartisan (what, everybody hates his dumb ass and he's still gonna get something done?). Even Brokaw is starting to think he's full of shit.

  7:44 p.m.: McCain is seriously raving now. Maybe he did mix his meds in the green room.

  7:47 p.m.: Obama: Rips McCain for screwing the pooch on alternative fuels in his nearly three decades in Congress. Talk is cheap, and drilling won't help.

  7:48 p.m.: Brokaw: Manhattan Project or Silicon Valley when it comes to cranking up energy alternatives? And off McCain goes again, jabbering about "goodies" and offshore drilling and "bridging the gap" by drilling offshore, my friends, my friends, my friends.

  7:50 p.m.: Question: Is health care a commodity? Obama: Moral and financial imperatives demand that Americans have the same options as senators. Nice big pool. McCain wants to tax your employer-based health-car bennies.

  7:53 p.m.: McCain: Health records online. Walk-in clinics. Obama's a dick. Talks about "gold-plated, Cadillac plans" — like the one he's had all his life as a military dependent, Navy vet and retiree, and congresscreature. That this asshole talks about "government mandates" and what "employers understand" when he never worked in the private sector is like me talking about nuclear physics.

  7:57 p.m.: Obama: Oh, Lord, is this guy full of shit.

  7:59 p.m.: McCain: America is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Paints himself — the dude who stacked three American aircraft fucking the duck and backed W 95 percent of the time — as Mr. Judgment. What does Obama know? Ti ti, GI.

  8:02 p.m.: Obama: It's true, I don't understand some things. Like why W and McCain have flushed the country, its alliances and its economy down the Iraqi crapper.

  8:04 p.m.: Brokaw: Absent national-security interests, what is the Obama Doctrine regarding intervention in nightmarish situations? Obama: We can't be everywhere all the time. Work with allies.

  8:06 p.m.: McCain: Iraq. Petraeus. Victory with honor. A cool hand at the tiller (this from a guy whose nicknames at Annapolis were "Punk" and "McNasty."

  8:09 p.m.: Question: Drive into Pakistan a la Cambodia during Vietnam? Obama: Naw, pressure them, don't give them money, expand non-military aid, and if we have OBL in our sights, then we act.

  8:12 p.m.: McCain launches into much bad noise about Teddy Roosevelt. Aw, shit. Where's the wine?

  8:14 p.m.: McCain: Speak softly and carry a big stick? This from Mr. Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran? Puh-leeze..

  8:16 p.m.: McCain: @&#%$@!!!

  8:18 p.m.: McCain is on again about "the surge" and honor and victory — this time in Afghanistan. Never mind that both the strategic and tactical situations are entirely different. No wonder he was at the bottom of his class at Annapolis.

  8:22 p.m.: Russia v. Georgia: Both McCain and Obama tromp all over their wieners on this one.

  8:25 p.m.: Question: Defend Israel against attack? McCain: League of Democracies. Serve, sacrifice, never again. Obama: Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. I will do everything that is required to prevent it. Military actions not off the table, but sanctions, energy conservation and diplomacy first.

  8:30 p.m. Brokaw: What don't you know, and how will you learn it? Obama doesn't answer the question. Talking points. Sounds tentative and full of talking points. McCain goes off into pure, unadulterated horseshit. Oh, fuck, this is awful. Say g'night, Gracie.

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Maverick or horse's ass?

  According to Rolling Stone, John McCain is the latter:

This is the story of the real John McCain, the one who has been hiding in plain sight. It is the story of a man who has consistently put his own advancement above all else, a man willing to say and do anything to achieve his ultimate ambition: to become commander in chief, ascending to the one position that would finally enable him to outrank his four-star father and grandfather.

In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. John Sidney McCain III and George Walker Bush both represent the third generation of American dynasties. Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity. Both developed an uncanny social intelligence that allowed them to skate by with a minimum of mental exertion. Both struggled with booze and loutish behavior. At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward. And both shed their skins as Episcopalian members of the Washington elite to build political careers as self-styled, ranch-inhabiting Westerners who pray to Jesus in their wives' evangelical churches.

In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot.

  Read it and weep. Meanwhile, at upper right, Field Marshal Whitey von Turkenstein can be seen inspecting the perimeter of the heavily fortified Mad Dog Media compound, keeping an eye out for sneak attacks by drunken admirals' sons and Bible-thumping moose killers.

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Big bucks for bikes

  There's one bright velo-spot in the Wall Street bailout — employers stand to gain a tax credit of $20 per month for each employee that cycles to work. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, told Bicycle Retailer & Industry News that the measure had been attached to a variety of previous bills without success.

  "It's ironic that it would wind up in a financial rescue package, but we'll take it," he said. "I'm not going to quibble with the method; I'm glad to see it done. It may not be a total game changer — it's still a relatively small break — but it gets us closer to the kind of treatment that cyclists in the U.K. and other parts of the world have had for years."

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There can be only one

  The single debate between the vice-presidential candidates is behind us, thank God; 90 hideous minutes of my life that I will never get back. Here's a handy household hint: Never play a drinking game that involves taking a swig whenever Sarah Palin lies or says something retarded, insane or incomprehensible. We were going through the wine faster than a Mafia wedding. Well, I was, anyway, whenever I wasn't busy beating my head on the table and screaming.

  Today, the undamaged portions of my brain tried to absorb the news that our elected representatives had agreed to flush $700 billion down that gold-plated, diamond-studded toilet called Wall Street. The ailing economy did not immediately sit up, rub its eyes and say it felt better. No, the Dow Jones ended the day sharply lower, down 157.47 points, following the news that 159,000 jobs went poof in September. Ditto the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ. But Henry Paulson will be getting free Scotches and blowjobs as long as the money holds out, and gosh darn it, that's what really matters, you betcha.

  Regarding said bailout, William Greider at The Nation warns that "the public interest has not been served and the crisis will not recede until it is." Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich says America has gone "from the New Deal to the Raw Deal." Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive charges that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi "betrayed their own party — and what remains of its populist roots — in pushing through the bailout bill." And Joe Bageant, author of "Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War," gives the conventional wisdom his personal redneck twist, saying, "Folks, they've got us all by the nuts and nipples."

  Me, I'm just thinking my retirement date has gotten pushed back a year or so in the past couple of months. And that's bad news, 'cause I was on the Work Unto Death plan. So expect periodic smoking dispatches from Hell.

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