Category Archives: The Outside World

Twitter

I basically hate Twitter, and I especially hate the fact that it has become the universal forum for expression of thoughts.

I don’t hate social media in general. I have a blog and I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, ello, Ravelry, Disquis, Flickr, and a dozen others. I just hate Twitter.

The problem with Twitter is that it’s awful to use on a phone. It’s okay on a full sized monitor, but so what? On a phone it’s small, crowded, confusing, cramped, clunky, and a no doubt some other C words I’m missing.

For example, say you like someone’s tweet. In other apps there are icons right there to like, share, recommend, etc. In Twitter you click the tweet and get a list of options, most of which I don’t get.

I don’t like the competitive aspect of who has the most followers. When Trump has a zillion followers, how can it be a sign of wit or wisdom?

I don’t understand Twitter ratios and I’m not interested in learning a new math formula.

I mostly hate the way Twitter has defeated my attempts to use it. I am old it’s true, but not technologically illiterate. I have a website for which I did all the Xhtml coding. But for some reason, every time I reload Twitter on my phone I end up deleting it. I hate Twitter.

#twitter

Michael Cohen

A great thing about retirement is that I can watch Cohen testimony all day, and my observations are:

Cohen is telling the truth. (This time.)

I knew he was skeevy, but was surprised that he’s also quick witted.

Elijah Cummings is a good person.

The Economy Explained

There are, according to the last census, 308,745,538 people in the United States and we come in all varieties, racially, economically, socially, spiritually, gender-ly, etc. etc. Plus there are scad-zillion businesses, organizations, groups, churches, schools, and other outfits to consider. All of which tends to make “the National Economy” seem impossibly complicated. Throw in a little jargon (think: hedge fund derivatives, unsecured debentures) and we’re just as happy to leave it to the experts, since who could possible understand the problem, much less the solution.

Balderdash.

I’ve decided that the issues troubling our economy are essentially the same as those of an imaginary large family, writ large. So:

Let’s say your family has fallen on hard times and is going deeper into debt. You’ve already cut out all the obvious luxuries – you don’t eat out, have cable TV, go on vacations, or buy new clothes. You cut each other’s hair, grow your own vegetables, and reuse plastic bags, but it isn’t enough savings. Now you’ve started skimping on significant things – the driveway is impassible and Grandpa needs to see a doctor.

What do you do?

Suppose there are ten people in your family. Three are too old, too young, or too sick to work, so they don’t contribute any money. Four work at lower or middle class jobs and chip in what they can, but it isn’t enough to keep the family afloat. Two make lots of money at professional jobs, but have resisted paying more than the family members employed at jobs like parking lot attendant or kindergarten teacher. One has millions in savings, but doesn’t think he should pay anything, because he isn’t presently working.

See where I’m going with this?

Introduction to the Law, Chapter One

There are two basic kinds of law – statutory and common law.
Statutes are the laws passed by state and federal legislatures.
Federal law includes:
Rights guaranteed in the constitution. These are a “floor” but not a “ceiling.” In other words, states may pass laws that give their people more rights than are guaranteed in the constitution, but the states must provide their people at least these rights.

Example: The United States constitution has been interpreted to require that all indigent criminal defendants facing a possible sentence of 60 days or more have an appointed lawyer if they can’t afford them. The U.S. constitution does not require a free lawyer for appeals, but the states provide one anyway.

Federal laws also govern things considered too important to have variation among the states, or that concern the country as a whole. For example, it was long ago decided that it would be better to have one postal system, one armed forces system, and one type of money, rather than letting states create their own. Federal regulations also govern issues that are considered to affect everyone and that it’s important to have standardized, such as the testing of new drugs and regulation of air travel.

State laws include all the statutes that a state passes governing whatever they want to have rules about, as long as these statutes don’t violate the federal constitution or try to govern a subject that the feds already have a claim on. So, a state cannot have its own special laws on the cost of postage or the requirements to join the army.

The theory is that it’s better to allow the states to “experiment” with laws in various areas, and then maybe the more successful ideas might spread to other states. Areas of life governed by state law include:

Laws about schools and education.
Laws about marriage, divorce, and the rights of parents.
Criminal law – which behaviors are a crime, the punishments, the procedures.
Laws addressing state institutions, such as state parks, the state budget, the state police, and so on.

But, no matter how detailed these state and federal laws are, there are always new situations that aren’t covered by any law, or that require a court to interpret the laws on the books. Plus, people hate to lose, so they often appeal the result of a trial. The appellate courts then decide whether the trial judge made a mistake that requires reversing of changing the decision.

For example, under North Carolina law, once a court has decided who has custody of a child, the custody arrangement cannot be changed without a “substantial change in circumstances.” You can imagine how quarrelling ex-spouses fight over what is a substantial change of circumstances.

Let’s suppose that someone appeals a child custody determination and argues that since their ex-wife has joined the army, there is a substantial change of circumstances. What would you consider in deciding this? Whether she is stationed overseas or in the U.S.? Who else is in her household? Other factors?
Okay, so let’s suppose the appellate courts of the State of Confusion rule that when a parent enlists in the armed forces, this is automatically a change in circumstance that entitles the other parent to seek a change in custody.

That rule, whether it’s a good one or a stupid one, becomes the law in that state. Because this rule was announced by a court interpreting the statute, it’s called a “common law” rule. The “common law” is all the rules, holdings, and decisions of appellate courts. Statutes are laws passed by a congress, and the common law is found in decisions in appeals that interpret the statutes

So, if there is an outcry in the State of Confusion, maybe the state legislators in Confusion will pass a new law stating that “the trial court may not consider a parent’s service in the armed forces as a change of circumstances unless there is additional evidence showing that the parent’s service has caused a substantial change in the child’s daily life.” Then that statute trumps the common law.
But as soon as that law is passed, people will be back in court arguing over what is required to demonstrate that a parent’s enlistment has “caused a substantial change in the child’s daily life.” And round and round we go.

Retirement Party Contest!

Retirement for TrendSpeak Phrases:

I’ve decided to retire a few phrases I’m thoroughly bored with.

First up: “It is what it is.”

Contest:

If you have suggestions for other words or phrases that should be retired, let me know.
Winners will be selected and will receive a Really Great prize, of some sort.

Where’s Joe?

I’m looking for Joe Biden.
Has anyone seen him since the election?

I mean, besides that one time when he drank a beer
in the Rose Garden with those other guys?

If you see him, ask him to contact me, ‘k?

Where's Joe?

I’m looking for Joe Biden.
Has anyone seen him since the election?

I mean, besides that one time when he drank a beer
in the Rose Garden with those other guys?

If you see him, ask him to contact me, ‘k?

Time to Stand Tall

Dear President Obama,

I really do admire and applaud your bipartisan spirit and efforts to find common ground with the Republicans in congress. Perhaps I’m naive, but I actually hoped and expected that your approach might prove contagious and usher in an era of cooperation.
Such has not been the case. Unfortunately, the branch of the Republican Party getting the media attention consists of those who have not shown any sincere desire to cooperate or to reach any bipartisan agreement on any issue.
Worse yet, we’ve been subjected to a parade of absurd, baseless distractions, instead of a substantive debate.
Remember these “issues” –
1. Is Barack Obama really an American citizen? We’ve seen his birth certificate and the birth announcements in the paper, but can we be sure?
2. If doctors are allowed to get medicare reimbursement for consultation about end-of-life issues, doesn’t this mean there will be “death squads” and we’ll all have to justify our existence to a “death panel”?
3. Health insurance reform is socialism!
4. False outrage over “indoctrination” when you tell school children to study hard and stay in school.

We already have roads, a postal system, armed forces, schools, libraries, police and fire protection — all paid for with taxes. These aren’t considered “socialist” institutions. Why is it any different to add basic health care to this list of things that we as a society want to guarantee our citizens? We don’t buy special insurance to be allowed to drive on the roads, call the fire department, or attend public school.

But, let’s get to the point.
You’ve been kind of wimpy about this.
Time to man up, dude.
Out here on the front lines, we’re getting a bit restless. Brows are furrowing. This isn’t about reaching a compromise with folks who don’t want to compromise. It’s about reassuring us that you’ve got the strength and the nerve to stand up for us.

Bipartisanship is a worthy goal. But, doing what’s best for the American people is more important than a political abstraction. People are getting sick and dying while congressmen bicker. Trust me on this – we’d rather see you lose swinging that keep on being so timid.
Stand tall on Wednesday.
The masses out here need to know that you can and will do that.

Excuse me, can I have a hand, I need to hop off this soap box.
Hop!
Here’s hoping for a fiery speech tomorrow!
Give ’em hell!

Photos from Bellingham

See the banner picture of sunset?
Sunset, I might add, which was occurring at 4:30 in the afternoon!

I took it with a cell phone while in Bellingham.
Here are a couple of others:

This was in the Bellingham Farmers’ Market

bellveg

And some posters in a window, with artistic reflections –

bellwindow

Harlow – most adorable celebrity baby ever.

nicole_richie3_300

OPI’s South Beach Collection!

Here it is, the spring lineup of glorious new OPI polish colors!

southbeach21

And here they are in their little bottles,
with their cute little names!

southbeach1

OPI's South Beach Collection!

Here it is, the spring lineup of glorious new OPI polish colors!

southbeach21

And here they are in their little bottles,
with their cute little names!

southbeach1

Pete & a Grammy & My Cousin-in-Law

Time for some bragging. Y’know my cousin Mai?
mai
I knew you’d remember her.
Well. Y’know Mai’s husband, David Bernz?
davidlrg2
Right, that’s the one.
Well, Pete Seeger won a Grammy award for folk music, for the CD
Pete at 89.
pete-seeger

David Bernz, my cousin’s husband, or as I’m calling it cousin-in-law, was the Co-Producer of the album. I think that’s pretty cool!

Let's Talk About the "Suleman Eight"

I’m a little irritated by outrage over Nadya Suleman,
the California woman who had octuplets.
So, maybe if I write for a few minutes, it will become
clearer exactly why the furor bugs me.

I don’t dispute the Obvious Conclusions drawn
by Everyone Out There.
Of course! it’s ridiculous to have eight babies at once,
still crazier for someone who isn’t married, and
weirder still if you already have six kids.
And, yes, the mom might have a screw loose,
or be seeking attention, who knows?
Furthermore, the doctor did indeed
take a big foolish risk.

So, okay. We all agree.
Ms. Suleman showed bad judgment by seeking fertility
treatment, given her circumstances and
the large brood she already had.
The doctor showed bad judgment by accepting her as
a patient and by implanting so many embryos.

But . . . what?
Well, for one thing, on any given day a zillion people
use bad judgment regarding choice of mate, timing of
child-bearing, family planning or lack thereof,
marriage, divorce, family size, child-rearing, and every
other aspect of family life.
Every single day some folks have kids without having
a spouse, and other people marry the wrong person,
leave perfectly good spouses, and still more people
decide not to have kids or to have more children, even
though it’s the wrong decision for them to make.
Every single day some folks bribe children with candy,
others allow too much TV, or hit their kids, or they’re too
strict or not strict enough, or whatever.

Most of the zillion daily instances of bad judgment
never require Official Action, but when bad judgment
crosses certain agreed-upon lines, then the Law or
Social Service may intervene.

Other than that, why is it anyone’s business?
Wait!
I hear a voice saying “it’s our business because it’s
going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money!”
Nonsense.
Of course children in an impoverished family
will use more tax-supported services than children in a
middle class household. But – these eight don’t use up
any more tax dollars than eight kids dispersed among
three or four poor unmarried mothers.

Plus, since when is “costing taxpayers money” enough to
make someone else’s mistakes into my business?
Cigarette smokers cost us all more money than these babies
ever will, and what about tax money spent on
injuries and illnesses that are traceable to alcoholism,
addiction, obesity, riding motorcycles, etc.?

Don’t get me wrong – If Nadya Suleman were my daughter
or sister, I would have stronglyadvised her against having
octuplets. But, being as she’s a total stranger, I guess I don’t
think it’s our business.
I think We All should just Back Off and Butt Out.

Besides, am I the only one anywhere who is kind of curious
about them? Nadya is pretty – I bet the octuplets will be
cute! And what if, against all the odds, she makes something
of her life and is able to raise them? I mean, I know it was
a dumb thing to do, but it’s done now and it’s not the babies’
fault, is it? Here they are – Welcome to the World, babies!

Let’s Talk About the “Suleman Eight”

I’m a little irritated by outrage over Nadya Suleman,
the California woman who had octuplets.
So, maybe if I write for a few minutes, it will become
clearer exactly why the furor bugs me.

I don’t dispute the Obvious Conclusions drawn
by Everyone Out There.
Of course! it’s ridiculous to have eight babies at once,
still crazier for someone who isn’t married, and
weirder still if you already have six kids.
And, yes, the mom might have a screw loose,
or be seeking attention, who knows?
Furthermore, the doctor did indeed
take a big foolish risk.

So, okay. We all agree.
Ms. Suleman showed bad judgment by seeking fertility
treatment, given her circumstances and
the large brood she already had.
The doctor showed bad judgment by accepting her as
a patient and by implanting so many embryos.

But . . . what?
Well, for one thing, on any given day a zillion people
use bad judgment regarding choice of mate, timing of
child-bearing, family planning or lack thereof,
marriage, divorce, family size, child-rearing, and every
other aspect of family life.
Every single day some folks have kids without having
a spouse, and other people marry the wrong person,
leave perfectly good spouses, and still more people
decide not to have kids or to have more children, even
though it’s the wrong decision for them to make.
Every single day some folks bribe children with candy,
others allow too much TV, or hit their kids, or they’re too
strict or not strict enough, or whatever.

Most of the zillion daily instances of bad judgment
never require Official Action, but when bad judgment
crosses certain agreed-upon lines, then the Law or
Social Service may intervene.

Other than that, why is it anyone’s business?
Wait!
I hear a voice saying “it’s our business because it’s
going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money!”
Nonsense.
Of course children in an impoverished family
will use more tax-supported services than children in a
middle class household. But – these eight don’t use up
any more tax dollars than eight kids dispersed among
three or four poor unmarried mothers.

Plus, since when is “costing taxpayers money” enough to
make someone else’s mistakes into my business?
Cigarette smokers cost us all more money than these babies
ever will, and what about tax money spent on
injuries and illnesses that are traceable to alcoholism,
addiction, obesity, riding motorcycles, etc.?

Don’t get me wrong – If Nadya Suleman were my daughter
or sister, I would have stronglyadvised her against having
octuplets. But, being as she’s a total stranger, I guess I don’t
think it’s our business.
I think We All should just Back Off and Butt Out.

Besides, am I the only one anywhere who is kind of curious
about them? Nadya is pretty – I bet the octuplets will be
cute! And what if, against all the odds, she makes something
of her life and is able to raise them? I mean, I know it was
a dumb thing to do, but it’s done now and it’s not the babies’
fault, is it? Here they are – Welcome to the World, babies!

Afghan for an Afghan!

I admire the group Afghans for Afghans,
and not just because the name is so cute.
Recently I joined the Ravelry group Fans of Afghans for Afghans
Earlier this week I noticed that my knitting had gotten all tangled up, literally and figuratively. I’ve been knitting too many things on tiny needles, too late at night, and thought about it all too much.

As an antidote, I put down all my other projects and began a baby blanket to send to the A4A folks. From the website and the Ravelry group, I learned that we don’t have to worry about whether the yarn was safe in the washer and dryer, because the recipients are not likely to have access to a washer and dryer. The main rules seem to be to (1) make the blankets within a certain size range, (2) make them out of all-natural fibers, no acrylic, and (3) to not include any representations of people, animals, plants, etc., as this would violate Muslim tradition. I also learned that green is a favorite color in Afghanistan. Aha! The perfect use for my skein of spring green yarn from Frog Creek Fibers –
frogcreek

I’ve started a blanket using an invented checkerboard pattern. I’m planning to make it in blocks, using this as a way to learn more about joining squares. I’m using a size 5 needle, so no squinting in the dark. And it’s fun to be making something for a child far away.

Duke Hospital Visit: Review

Sunday morning:
I have to take my father to the Duke Eye Center this morning.
(crossing fingers)

Monday morning:
Review of Duke Hospital:
1. Medical care – the important thing.
The nurses and doctors were kindly, patient with my dad’s longish answers to questions, competent, and reassuring.
2. Physical facility:
Really dirty, like no one cleaned/washed/vacuumed in a week.
3. Cafeteria:
Okay. Par for the course.
4. Gift Shop:
Substandard: crowded, understocked, and staff lacked information.
5. Security:
Ridiculous!! They actually have a rule against knitting!
Even the airlines don’t do that!
It’s just stupid, since they have never ever ever had any kind of incident in the hospital involving knitting needles. No, it’s NOT a matter of “better safe than sorry” it’s stupid. There should be SOME dim connection between the item being seized and the likelihood of it’s being misused, other than “Um, it’s sharp?” ANYTHING can be used for ill, including ballpoint pens, fists, a pocketbook slung at someone, a waiting room lamp thrown at someone, a shoe, etc.
Rant, rant rant . . .

Prayer on Inauguration Day

Heavenly Spirit,
Grant Barack Obama wisdom, strength, and humor.
Keep him safe as he leads our country forward.
Grant us patience, resolve, and humor. Give us the
ability to change habits that no longer serve us well.
Grant the peoples of the world compassion, kindness,
and tolerance towards each other.
Thank you.

Annual Meltdown – Watch for It

I have observed that during the last three weeks of December
the psyche of – well, everyone – kind of runs off the tracks.
Is it Holiday Stress?
Economic Anxiety?
Ancient Childhood Traumas haunting us?
Too much awful Mall Music?
Sugar Overdose?
Visiting Relatives?

Or maybe that old standby, All of the Above.

Regardless, I hereby predict that many of your friends and relatives
will become strangely neurotic, cranky, and difficult –
not to mention stark raving mad –
at some point in the next few weeks.
Plan on it.

What or who is the stressor for you in December?

Black Friday Shopping Bargains!

Wow, what a day!
My husband and I sayed up ALL NIGHT in order to hit the first sales at 4:00 a.m.!
We planned our strategy and it really paid off.
4:00 a.m.
I went to J.C. Penny’s and scored a crockpot and faux-leather handbag
while hubby was at Sears getting a new flat screen TV
(the old one is six months old, after all!)
oh, and new tool sets!
5:00 a.m.
On to Belks and Macy’s for more bargains galore!
6:00 a.m.
Target and WalMart!
Then on the way home, a quick stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods,
for some, you know, sporting good stuff.
Time for breakfast!

P.S. Anyone who believes a single word of this
doesn’t know me or my husband very well.

Excerpt From Sam Harris Column

By Sam Harris | NEWSWEEK
Published Sep 20, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Sep 29, 2008

The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth’s surface (she didn’t have a passport until last year), or that she’s never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska’s geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Yes oh yes Wonkette

What they said:

“Is This Tomorrow?”

Talking to Teens About Sex, Part Two

Part Two – In which Mom explains why she has made an unenforceable rule. 

“Suzy, you don’t have permission to have sex before you’re eighteen.”
What?  Yes, I know I can’t follow you around.  I can’t possibly enforce this rule.  But, I can still tell you what the rule is, and if you have sex when you’re 15, you’ll know you’re breaking the rule and doing something you do not have permission to do. 

Why? Because you aren’t ready. 

First, there are the well-known physical dangers.  I know they’ve talked to you in school about std’s and about pregnancy.  And there’s a lot of talk about condoms, as if they were a magic answer.  Well, the truth is the “barrier” methods of birth control are great for a married couple who are going to have kids anyway, and it isn’t the end of the world if they start their family a little sooner than planned.
But for kids?  There is a big failure rate for condoms, because kids are more likely to skip it “just this once” or – this is the biggest problem – put the condom on too late.  One little drop is all it takes for a baby to get started. 
And then what?  The choice between an abortion or becoming a mother at 16 is not a happy thing to face.  Even if you end up sure it was right to have an abortion, or sure that you love being a young mother, there are some real difficulties with either one.  It’s a whole lot better not to be in that position.

Secondly, even if there was no such thing as a baby or an std, young teens aren’t emotionally ready for a sexual relationship.  It’s just – Suzy, I know this sounds goofy, but it’s true – it’s not as much fun as dating lots of guys more casually.  Think about it – the kids who have sex are in these monogamous relationships, lots of jealousy and only dating each other – that’s marriage not dating. 
This is the stage where you try out romantic dating with lots of different boys.  You just can’t do that if you’re having sex with someone.   And, even if you were ready, chances are the boy isn’t mature enough. 

When you’re a young woman in college, you will be emotionally and physically grown up enough to have a pretty good idea what kind of man you like, and to be ready for more serious relationships.  But, not until then.

Sarah Palin makes me want to scream. Part 1

If I have to listen to one more media type seriously and respectfully discussing Sarah Palin’s “qualifications” for office, as though there were any remote way on earth she has the intelligence, education, skills, or background to be even a cabinet member, I will just scream.

Sarah Palin is lamentably ignorant, narrow-minded, uneducated, small-minded, and lacks ANY experience in the kinds of thinking, analyzing, compromising, or big-picture seeing that a president or vice president does.
Let’s put aside (although it’s hard), the lies and misrepresentations in her speech, her ethical lapses in Alaska, all the family & baby dramas, and let’s even set aside (although it’s hard), her extreme right wing views on so-called “social” issues.
Putting all that away, the real problem is that there is NO indication that she has ever taken even a passing interest in foreign affairs or international relations, or has EVER engaged in thoughtful study of economic  policy, environmental science, globalization of labor and production, the social dynamics of largely Muslim countries, climate change, constitutional law, the role of the judiciary in our society, financial markets, the structure of our tax code, health care, space travel, infrastructure repair, educational issues, effective consensus building (she’s been a bully in Alaska), or any of the other issues that the next president & vice president will have to deal with.  Does she even speak a foreign language?
Honest-to-Pete, I could care less who is more “down to earth” or who has a “story” I can “relate to.”  Haven’t we learned anything from eight years of a president chosen on the basis of who would be more fun to have a beer with?
What is “elite” anyway, besides the newest insult?  If elite means more intelligent, better educated, more practiced and adept at analysis of complex multi-faceted issues, better spoken, better able to interact appropriately with world leaders, possessed of a greater fund of general cultural knowledge, and being the Law Review editor of Harvard – then, yeah, I want the elite one.  Field-dressing a moose, watching kids’ hockey games, firing state officials who won’t fire your sister’s ex-husband – these are neither the things the president does, nor are they preparation for being vice-president.  It’s not who has more “executive” experience, or who is the best speaker, whose family is the most engaging, or who is “just like us.”  Leading the free world – damn right, I want someone in the top percentile of everything.
Far as I can tell, Palin was overmatched as mayor of Smallville, Alaska.  I shudder to think of her with potential responsibility for the whole country.

Richardson for Vice President!

Yesterday I sent Barack Obama an email. Of course, I realize he doesn’t have time to read emails, but it did me good to organize my thoughts. The main reason was that it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks what a great choice Governor Bill Richardson would be for a vice presidential candidate. Here is most of the email:

Dear Senator Obama,
Hi! It’s me again, your new best friend. It’s been awhile since I’ve written and I was starting to think you wouldn’t need anymore amateur advice, but alas, you are floundering just a wee bit. So, here goes, in order of importance:

1. Pick Gov. Richardson as your running mate. Biden would be a BAD choice because (a) he’s a loose cannon; (b) picking him looks like you’re insecure about foreign policy experience; and (c) a lot of people dislike him (I like him fine.)
Richardson, is a GREAT pick because (1) he has boatloads of foreign policy experience; (2) he contributes in those poll-driven ways such as being a Catholic Hispanic from a Swing State; (3) he’s nice! People like him!; (4) choosing Richardson would be a surprise to everyone but you and me, and would fit the “new” image.
So, are we agreed? Richardson for your running mate.

2. Please don’t ever start another sentence with “Understand.” It is patronizing and lecture-y. Understand, I’m not trying to criticize you, but the pointing finger and the “understand” have to go.

3. McCain is really playing dirty with the lies, etc. Understand, (ha!) there is a difference between staying above the fray in terms of policy and being a passive doormat. Do something about him. I don’t know how, ask your strategists.

4. It bears repeating that nothing is gained by ignoring their attempts to “frame” the race or by whining about how they aren’t playing fair. What you have to do is challenge the underlying assumptions.
Example: “Obama is an elitist liberal.”
Underlying assumption = there is something wrong with being intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, and progressive. Unlike McCain and Bush, you clearly are not “elite” in the sense of being to the manor born.
Any “elitism” you have is based on your own God-given gifts and hard work. So, presto – “If getting a college education makes me elite, if being elected to the Senate makes me elite, then I’d like to promise every child in America the chance to join such an elite.” “If being liberal means extreme left-wing views, then no, but if being liberal means adopting policies that start and end with YOU the American people, then I’m proud to be that kind of liberal.”

Them – “Obama won’t admit the surge is working. Obama doesn’t want to win the war.”
You: “The Bush-McCain approach is to keep lowering and changing their definition of ‘victory’ rather than to define what our goals should be.”
“Talking about this quagmire in terms of win or lose is a simplistic approach. We aren’t fighting against a nation with a leader who can officially represent a country or who will one day officially announce a surrender. We’re fighting against shadowy insurgents and terrorists with no central leader and no real agenda except destruction. This war is not a footrace in the Olympics, with a single clear winner. We must take a more thoughtful approach.”

5. Finally, you have to find ways to summarize your specific plans in bite-sized ways that (unfortunately) don’t capture the particulars or the nuances. Sorry, but there are a lot of attention-challenged voters out there.
How about Americans Deserve Better, does that work?
All Americans deserve fairness and integrity in their government.
Every child deserves a great education.
Every American deserves health insurance – every single one.
Every serviceman deserves respect for their service and proper benefits when they come home.
Every American deserves clean air and water.

“I will make it harder for companies to go overseas; I will make it easier for them to stay here. I will make it easier to get retraining, and easier for companies to relocate in areas in economic difficulty.”

Okay, so I’m not a political writer! Thank you (or your staff) for taking the time to read this. I’m truly grateful that your campaign allows regular people to make suggestions.