Wednesday, August 29, 2007


It’s early in the election cycle, but here are my opinions of the presidential candidates of whom I have formed an opinion. I scratched this out rather quickly so don’t be surprised if, in my haste, I did something crazy like predict Hillary Clinton to be the next president of these United States. It could have been worse; I might have picked Ron Paul, although such a wild prediction would have required not only haste, but also a good deal of alcohol and other forms of undue influence.

Anyway, here goes. I expect some feedback on this. My only compensation for running this blog are your thoughtful comments and hateful insults, and I value them all so dearly.

Mitt Romney was a much more attractive candidate when he won the governorship of deep-blue Massachusetts as a Republican, than he is today after repositioning himself for a national run. The Mormon thing doesn’t bother me, the flip-flopping thing does.

Barack Obama cuts an impressive figure, but I’m coming to the opinion that there isn’t enough there, at least not right now. And as someone who is fairly conservative when it comes to matters financial, his talk about redistribution of wealth leaves me wary, John Edwards even more so. Capitalism isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system currently on the market and when government starts monkeying around with who can earn how much and who should get a free ride, then the system is bound to sputter.

I want to like Rudy Giuliani. He reminds me of one of my friend’s dad. I just don’t think he’s up to the challenge of leading the most powerful country in the world. It will be interesting if he gets the Republican nomination, given his stance on social issues. It’s to his credit that he is holding firm on his positions.

I don’t know much about Fred Thompson, except that I confuse him with another actor turned pol, Fred Grandy of Gopher fame. I’ve never seen Law and Order, so I don’t know if he could play a good president. I did read a long piece on Thompson in New York magazine, but it was obvious the author thought little of him so I’m not sure that I received an unbiased perspective. He is a southern conservative and seems to know how to work a room so I think he’s got a shot at the nomination. But he’ll never beat . . .

Hillary Clinton will probably be our first woman president. This doesn’t scare me as much as it probably does some of you. She’s proven herself to be fairly moderate and I don’t fear an impending socialist state under her leadership. If she’s anything like her husband, she’ll be mindful to keep her polling numbers favorable, which means she won’t do anything revolutionary such as fix healthcare, but she also won’t do anything monumentally stupid. She wouldn’t be my first choice to run the country, but she’s not the worst.

The candidate that intrigues me most isn’t even in the race at this time, Michael Bloomberg. He’s no longer a Republican, he never really was, but the fact that he could get elected in NYC under the GOP banner says something for the man. The fact that he has turned out to be a pretty popular and effective mayor says even more. But the reason I might feel comfortable in handing him the reins to the country is because he’s earned billions of dollars. Now lest you think me a money grubbing pig, or at least a deep admirer of money grubbing pigs, allow me to explain how massive wealth accumulation is an indicator of effective leadership skills.

One of the main problems with our political system is that the people in charge are too often afraid to do what they know to be right because they’re afraid it will anger the voters or betray their campaign contributors. As for Bloomberg, a person cannot earn that kind of scratch by kowtowing to public opinion or any other interest that conflicts with making the decisions that provide the most benefit to the organization. So Bloomberg, as president, I’m presuming, wouldn’t be afraid to make unpopular decisions provided that those decisions are the most profitable.

When I speak of profitability, I’m not referring only to economic matters. No matter what the issue, you want to make decisions that will provide the most return on your investment. Obviously, you want to educate the most children, feed the most hungry, and treat the most sick without spending more than you have to.

Plus, Bloomberg would run as an independent and thus loosen the stranglehold that the two major parties have over government.

So in summation: Bloomberg in ’08, but more than likely, Hail to Hillary.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fair to Middling

Here are some idle observations on the 2007 edition of the Illinois State Fair. I'll try to return with something you can argue about later in the week.

The Jobs Americans Don’t Want to Do
You can consider this in relation to the immigration debate if you like, but it’s really just an observation. The carnival ride employees who appear to be of Mexican persuasion are friendlier – or if not, at least more cognizant that they’re dealing with children and not livestock – than their Caucasian co-workers. Some of them even smile.

On the other hand, the gruff white man operating the swing ride was huffing-about because the children in line didn’t appreciate the stress he was under as the ride’s lone operator. And when my daughter fell in the moon walk, something that would seem to be acceptable in a giant air pillow, the disgruntled woman working the flap yelled in: “No slipping!” Let that be a warning to your children.

Giant Swindle
I may have mentioned this when blogging on fair’s past, but one of the biggest rip-offs in the fair is the Giant Slide. It will cost you $3 to bump down the oversized, playground ride. I’ve always said that the Giant Slide should be a loss leader for the State Fair, a great bargain to lure people through the gates and then on to all of the other overpriced fare. Considering that maintenance costs on a ride powered exclusively by gravity have to be minimal, they could charge a buck a ride and still come out ahead.

Indolent Boys, Indolent Boys, What Cha Gonna Do
It used to be that the state troopers stationed at Gate 11 would come out and direct traffic on Sangamon Avenue during periods of great congestion. Due to decreasing fair attendance, heavy vehicular loads haven’t been a problem in recent years.

But you could still observe them in action when an ambulance approached or departed the grounds. A trooper would man the intersection to halt the east bound traffic and keep the north- and south-bound lanes clear. This year, perhaps due to the heat, they eliminated that duty as well. In fact, the only time I saw a trooper step out of the gates was to stop traffic so the governor’s motorcade could enter the fair without slowing down for the stop sign.

All idleness aside, the police presence in the carnival area was reassuring. I felt comfortable that any acts of civil disobedience would be squashed posthaste. It made the seediness much less threatening.

Good God, What is That Smell
There’s an indescribable stench that radiates down the center of the carnival area. It should be dealt with or the reputation for wholesome, all-natural entertainment that carnies for so long have worked to achieve, could be in jeopardy.

On a Positive Note
After parking cars for the past ten days, I feel comfortable in saying that fair goers, as a rule, are polite and friendly. Even those that looked as if they might disagreeable or ornery exchanged at least perfunctory pleasantries as I extracted the first of many, many dollars that would be liberated from their wallets during their fair adventure.

Who said Germans don’t have a sense of humor?
The highlight of my car parking duty happened on Saturday. During the late morning downpour, I parked a blue SUV. As the rain drenched me, the driver, who had apparently descended from one of the Germanic tribes, rolled down his window to pay and said in a perfect Rainer Wolfcastle accent, “If you’re not careful you might get wet.” That he then didn’t pull out two AK47s and mow down everyone on our lot was a bit out of character, but probably better for business.

A Pecan, for Example
When my son and his friends exited the Frog Hopper ride, one of his buddies’ moms asked him if the ride “tickled his tummy.” “Yeah,” my son replied, “and it tickled my (another area of his body where the sensation was pronounced)s.”

Shameless Promotion
Here’s my Sunday AM column on the great tradition of letting people park their cars in your front yard. And here’s another article I wrote on a very talented musician.

Blue Ribbon Day
Although the fair is rife with competition - from fattest pig, to tastiest pie, to fastest dirt car - what they don’t have is a best blogger contest. But the Illinois Times does. And voting is now closed. Since any groveling will be for naught, I’ll be a standup guy and ask you to vote for one of my more worthy fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where BFS Is

I’m on special assignment this week, so blogging will be light – just as it is most other weeks. But this week I have an excuse, because I don’t have computer access for much of the day and evening, and when I do return home to the DSL, I’m too sun-zapped and beat to think of anything bloggy.

When I set out on assignment, I considered doing some “from the road” reports, in the spirit of Where Dave Is. Unfortunately, my sober adventures don’t lend themselves to much regaling. To the extent that they can be immortalized, I’ve already attempted to do so for my Sunday SJ-R column. Be sure to look for it.

Well, that’s it for me, then. Here’s to cooler days and better fair attendance.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blago Hears a Boo

The big issue in the newspaper and on talk radio today is how people should respond if the governor does indeed participate in the fair parade tonight. The SJ-R favors a silent snub, while Jim Leach is calling out for a chorus of catcalls. I’m still not certain the governor will even show up. I don’t think he wants to risk the publicity should the crowd turn sour, and you have to believe it will.

Laura doesn’t believe the governor will be deterred by a negative reaction, in fact, she suspects he would probably relish it. She may be correct. I could see the governor strutting down 11th Street like one of those WWF villains, occasionally stopping to hold his hand to his ear and then basking in the boos that come cascading down on the parade route. Maybe he’ll even wear pink wrestling tights and a big feather boa, he does seem to fancy himself the gorgeous type.

If the governor wants to maintain the appearance of popularity, I wouldn’t put it past his PR team to round up a few busloads of supporters from up north and plant them along the parade route. Maybe one of them will mistake him for Mayor Daley and then the governor will have a cute story to tell the next time they all get together at the Madigan’s.

We’re probably going to skip the parade this year. Seeing grossly-proportioned kids pounce on scattered candy like they haven’t eaten in weeks tends to make me ill. Actually, it’s their parents fault for allowing them to indulge their feral thirst for sugar so ravenously. As much as my kids like to see high school-aged tuba players sweating profusely and politician smiling profusely, they’ll just have to settle for going to see Shrek the Third and gorging on a silo of popcorn.

If I were to attend the parade and the governor were to pass by, I don’t think that I would boo or otherwise sling barbs, especially if his children were with him. No child should have to see the person they look up to more than anyone else being verbally assaulted.

That said, I don’t recall the governor bringing the kids to the parade in the past; he seemed to make a big deal about running the entire route and his daughters lack the testicularity to keep up. If he does bring them along this year, I can only assume that they are intended to act as a shield to discourage the barrage of insults that state workers had prepared to unfurl. If the governor should stoop to such a tactic, it would be even more despicable than the time he hit Tom Cross on the back with a folding chair when the referee wasn’t looking.