Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Bad Case of Bronchitis

Thank goodness for my love of reading!
by Charlie Leck

Sometimes I wake up Grumpy!
For years, my wife has kept this little sign above her desk. She thinks it’s cute. You be the judge…

“Sometimes I wake up Grumpy! Sometimes I let him sleep!”
Well, I’m laid up for a while. I’ve come down with a solid, miserable case of bronchitis. It started with a bad cold that wouldn’t go away. It just hung around and hung around and now it’s all settled into my bronchial system and I’m taking antibiotics to try to drive it out. This is not a good thing to happen just before Christmas, when I’m trying to finish up my shopping and get the house all ready for the big gift-opening ceremony on Christmas morning.

I cough so much that it tires me out and then I take to bed and sleep. When the cough is in neutral, I try to read. There’s no shortage. I have stacks of books I want to get through and the newspaper is always at hand and so is the Internet and the New York Times on-line and all those inviting, wonderful blogs.

Ross Perot and Freakonomics
For instance I just finished running through the Freakonomics Blog and its interview of Ross Perot about our current economic crisis and what he thinks of the Obama approach to solving it. It’s worth a quick read.

Tom Friedman: While Detroit Slept
Friedman writes about the new intensity of business competition in the world. In their youthful days, the big three auto makers only had themselves to compete against. Now, there is a whole world of innovation waiting to slam them if they doze. Well, Detroit didn’t doze, but it’s been in a long, long Snow White like sleep and there’s been no Prince Charming rushing to their sides to awaken them.

Sociopaths and Rod Blagojevich
My wife and I have been reading a lot of material about sociopaths lately. A joint study we’ve decided to conduct. Sociopaths possess natural charm and the ability to seduce almost anyone – intellectually, socially or sexually. Most of what we’ve read is pretty extraordinary stuff. Take a look at this list of the characteristics of the sociopath. Then if you’ve been reading about Governor Rod Blagojevich lately, think about how the characteristics fit him. [This list is from]

Glibness/superficial charm.
Grandiose sense of self-worth.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
Callous/lack of empathy
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral controls
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Early behavior problems
Lack of realistic, long-term plans
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Many short-term marital relationships
Juvenile delinquency
Criminal versatility (Hare, 1986)
Blagojevich is a sociopath and should never have been elected to any responsible office; however, these personality types are great at fooling people and selling themselves.

"There are psychopathic personalities in the highest echelons of government, and even within religious hierarchies in America. You can t just assume that a person with the title judge or hospital orderly got there honestly and won t manipulate the hell out of you." [Psychologist Schreibman]
Residents of other states around the union are taking some sort of perverse joy in reading about political corruption in Illinois. So are members of the Republican Party. Let’s not forget, however, that this governor had a 13 percent approval rating in Illinois, so there wasn’t really anyone who thought very much of him. Sure he’s corrupt, but, more than that, he’s also crazy, whacked out of his mind nuts. As one of my daughters, in an email from Chicagoland, said: “Yes, humiliating, but not a surprise whatsoever. In fact, it's somewhat a relief. He's terrible!”

Bobby Jindal watch!
The Indian-American governor of Louisiana is worth keeping your eyes on. One can only hope he doesn’t get too caught up in the politics of the region and its corruption. Jindal looks like a promising star of the future for the Democratic Party. Tobin Harshaw writes about Jindl at the Opinionator.

Chutzpah is a great word isn’t it? It’s probably the best of all the gifts we’ve been given by the Yiddish vocabulary! How else could you explain Governor Blagojevich right now? He’s got some Chutzpah!

Best and the Brightest II
I wrote last week about Obama’s ‘best and the brightest’ approach. It continues with the appointment of his new energy secretary who just happens to be Nobel Prize winner, a physicist and the former chief over at the Environmental Pollution Agency (EPA). Steven Chu will be named to the cabinet post today or tomorrow. He’s currently director of the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory. Chu is a personable guy as well as a genius. He’ll win easy approval and his appointment indicates how serious Obama is about global warming and the development of alternative energy sources.

Mass Murders in the Congo
These are the kinds of stories I’d just as soon pass up. Rebel forces and U.N. peacekeepers are clashing in the eastern Congo and it is not so certain that the U.N. is winning. This is an ugly and complex story and it is difficult to figure out what we should be doing about it as a nation – not that we’re loaded with resources and capabilities right now. The current NY Times story is about as thorough as anything in the press today. It’s not pleasant reading, but I think it’s mandatory.

Helen and Margaret
Now, are all of you out there reading Helen and Margaret regularly? Old Helen can produce some down-right good stuff. (I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that this blog isn’t some kind of hoax and that it really is written by these two old ladies. I’d be terribly embarrassed to find out I’d been jived.) Well, if you aren’t reading them you are missing one of the really hot and popular blogs on-line these days. I wouldn’t thinking of missing out on what these two broads have got to say for themselves these days: Here’s a little taste (a short clip from a very good and lengthy blog):

It seems that Palin is my cross to carry… my burden to bear. Clinging to what’s left of its dying reputation the Republican party has credited her with the Chambliss win down in Georgia. Delivering that win makes Palin the new Republican torchbearer. I don’t know about you, but I am impressed. If Palin can get an old white guy re-elected in Georgia, I would imagine walking on water is right around the corner. But maybe she’s not really carrying the torch as much as she has struck a match and is now playing with fire.

Folks, is anyone else out there laughing? You just can’t make this kind of stuff up. Well, I take that back. If I have learned nothing else these last 8 years, I have learned that the Republican party can make shit up… a lot! They made up weapons of mass destruction and suddenly the concept of “preventive war” became part of our foreign policy.

Now before I go any farther, I am going to ask each of you to do a little research on preEMPtive war, preVENtive war and the Bush Doctrine. When you finish you will have accomplished three important things. First, you will know that preEMPtive wars are a slippery slope. Second, you will know that preVENtive wars are really an oxymoron that only a moron like George Bush could rationalize. And third, you will
know more about US foreign policy than Sarah Palin did when she was running for Vice President.

So are you done with your research? Good then let’s continue.
So much from my sick-bed.
I’ve got to take a nap. I feel really grumpy right now.

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