Monday, October 15, 2007

You Heard It Here First!

Each week I sit down at my computer and write about whatever suits my fancy on that particular day. Some days, it seems, nothing particular suits my fancy. On those days I write about… well, actually… nothing! I just sit down at the keyboard, and whatever comes out, comes out. It’s a column about nothing… sorta like the Seinfeld TV show used to be. Actually, it has been pointed out that those “nothing” weeks outnumber my “something” weeks about 10 to 1. Ten weeks of nothing, then one week of something.

This, however, happens to be one of the something weeks (if you count politics as something.) I have something to write about, and here it is:

I believe our Governor, Mark Sanford, may well be the next Vice President of the United States.

I should quickly point out that, even on the weeks like this when I write about “something”, it’s typically just my personal opinion… which is the handy thing about publishing your own newspapers. You can write whatever you want. (Publisher’s note: Since we know a lot of people who do NOT own newspapers, we let them write about their opinions, also. It’s called a Letter to the Editor, and anyone can write one about anything at any time… and we’ll print it!)

But I digress. Back to this week’s topic: Vice President Sanford.

Now, it’s no secret that, in addition to publishing a handful of small weekly newspapers, I also dabble in politics (which I regularly try to disclaim so as to avoid conflicts of interest.) So I get to hear a lot of the “inside story” from time to time. My conjecture that Sanford will be the next VP, however, is not based on inside info, but purely on my political instincts, and the various published reports I’ve read. Here’s how it goes:

First, let’s look at the likely GOP nominee for President. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani is the current front-runner, and frankly, should emerge as the winner, because the whole point of the 2008 Presidential Election should be to choose the person best able to lead America through the next eight years of our long-term battle against terrorism. Rudy is the candidate who seems to have “proven” himself on this front, with his handling of his city post-9/11.

If any Republican can beat Rudy, it may be Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Why Romney? Simple: MONEY. He has lots of it, and can afford to pay to get his message to the voters with TV ads.

If either Romney of Massachusetts or Giuliani of New York becomes the nominee, they’ll be looking for a Southerner to put on the slate to “balance” the ticket. They’ll be looking for a running-mate with solid conservative credentials. And they’ll be looking for someone who is NOT in Congress, because the approval rating of Congress is currently at an all-time low. That pretty much leaves southern Republican Governors to choose from.

Of the handful of southern Republican governors – seven to be exact -- they’ll end up with Sanford.

First, he’s an economic conservative, more than a social conservative, which means he would not be in conflict with his running mate. (They’ll be looking for economic, rather than social, conservatism. The Republican base vote – the religious right – which they’ll need to be highly energized for the November election, will already be extremely motivated to “Stop Hillary”. So, there’s no need to put a social conservative on the ticket.) Second, he’s safe: no major scandals in his background (the product of a silver-spoon lifetime)… although the minor controversies will come out if he becomes the nominee. And third, he’s a FORMER member of Congress, which neither Romney nor Giuliani have on their resume. Voters want either their Prez or VP to have a little bit of congressional experience.

But reasons number four and five are the real clinchers.

Fourth is this: The VP nominee needs to be a southerner to help deliver the Southern states to the Red column in November. Any southern state will suffice. The most important “swing” southern state, however, is Florida... as we all know from the 2000 election. And as soon as he gets the VP nomination, Sanford can start claiming his home state of Florida again. Florida is one of the states around which national campaigns must build their strategy. Sanford can help deliver it to the GOP.

And reason number five: The South Carolina Primary!!! Our state’s early primary has a history of choosing the eventual GOP nominee. Every time since our first Republican Presidential Primary in 1980, the winner in the Palmetto State has gone on to become the nominee, because of the enormous momentum gained from winning only three days before other, bigger primaries. Winning South Carolina is the key to winning the nomination… even more so for a couple of Yankees like Romney and Giuliani.

For Rudy, winning South Carolina would stun the world and virtually guarantee smooth sailing the rest of the way.

Sanford, enormously popular among most of the Republican faithful (who love his non-stop bickering with the legislature, oblivious to the fact that his eight years of failure to cooperate is leaving our state exactly where it was when he took over: the status quo guaranteed by his unwillingness to sacrifice his own anti-establishment persona for the sake of accomplishing anything) is in a unique position to deliver a win to either Romney or Giuliani. With several viable candidates – McCain, Thompson, Huckabee and the two Northerners – none of whom have yet “pulled away from the pack”, Sanford’s endorsement in the weeks before our primary could probably deliver a win to either candidate. That is likely why Sanford is carefully courting each of the candidates, but focusing on Romney and Giuliani, the two who might need him on the ticket. Of late, he’s focusing on Giuliani, believing him to be the likely nominee, and the most likely to choose him as Veep.

My guess: Watch for Sanford to endorse Giuliani, and help him become the nominee, for which Giuliani would logically add him to the Number Two slot. (No, I’m not suggesting they would make a deal… more of an understanding.)

Of course, the hard part would be in November, 2008, when Giuliani would be called upon to defeat Hillary Clinton in order for Sanford to actually become the Vice President.

There you have it. Vice President Sanford. And you heard it here first.

The rest of the story, of course, is that our long-time friend, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, would suddenly become Governor Andre Bauer.

And we’ll write about that another time.

Spring Cleaning in the Fall

It’s time once again for my semi-annual Spring Cleaning. One of my twice-yearly cleanings occurs in the Spring, and the other one, awkwardly, occurs in the Fall. Unless, of course, I forget one (or both).
For me, “Spring Cleaning” AND “Spring Cleaning in the Fall” are both comprised of the same activity: emptying my pockets, glove compartments, desk drawers, and assorted boxes, to find the little scraps of paper on which I have scribbled notes about ideas for future columns.
Most of those ideas don’t ever make it into my weekly column, primarily because I never see the scraps of paper again… until Spring Cleaning. By this time, the moment has usually long-since passed. Whatever inspired thought I had at the time has faded into oblivion.
Additionally, I suffer from ADHD: Attention Deficit Handwriting Disorder. I frequently lose interest in mid-sentence… occasionally in the middle of a word… and sometimes even in the middle of a letter!!! (You may think that’s impossible, but trust me… it’s not! Say for instance, you’re trying to write “Aren’t you witty?”, but lose interest before getting back to cross the “T”s. Now you’ve written “Aren’t you willy?”, which is totally different than what was intended, and makes it pretty near impossible to recall what the subject was on which I had once intended penning a column!!!)
So, between not being able to read my own handwriting, and not being able to recall exactly why I scribbled the word “banana” on a napkin, very few of my most inspired thoughts ever make it to my keyboard.
Out of the few sniplets which remain, however, I usually am able to string together some of these leftover thoughts into a “Spring Cleaning” column… or in this instance, “Spring Cleaning in the Fall”: a collection of random thoughts from the last few months, or perhaps, last few years. So here goes…
-- I can’t remember names…. but I’m no longer embarrassed about it. I’m old! Absent-mindedness is not such a bad thing, after all, now that I have a good excuse.
-- Many years ago, the comic strip character Pogo, said: “We are faced with insurmountable opportunities.” It was true. We were. And, we still are.
-- In the ninth grade in high school, I had to choose between taking Latin or Typing. All the college-bound kids were encouraged to take Latin. I just couldn’t see how that was going to do much for me, so I opted for Typing. As it turns out, I once knew how to make good decisions…. apparently in the ninth grade. Typing has come in very handy for me, like right now for instance. Had I chosen to other option, you would now be reading a column written out in long-hand… in Latin.
-- Do you get tired of being put on “hold” for what seems like hours at a time whenever you call a toll-free “customer service” number? I do. We have no choice but to wait, because it’s usually the only way to resolve our problem. But here’s an idea I came up with: After you conclude your important business, but before you relinquish the call, put THEM on hold for a change! When they ask, “Can I help you with anything else today, Mr. Turnipgreen?”, you reply, “Yes, can I put you on hold for one moment, please?”… then proceed to the kitchen to make yourself a sandwich, read your mail, and wash your car before returning to the phone. It will make you feel much better.
-- If I ever appear to be staring at you sort of sideways, there’s a very good reason: I wear contact. Not contacts… contact. Only one of them. I’m supposed to wear both of them, but when I do, I can’t read small print. Wearing one contact works well for me, except occasionally I appear to be staring at people a little sideways. (Also, I sometimes don’t recognize people… which is okay, because I probably can’t remember their names, anyway.)
-- At my house, exercise machines make good clothes racks. Especially the stationary bicycle.
-- I hope you’ll patronize our advertisers. I really do. I don’t say it often enough, but this newspaper could not exist without the support of the business which advertise on these pages, and our community would not be as strong as it is without a community newspaper of its own. So I hope you’ll remember to do business with those businesses who support us with their advertising dollars… and maybe even tell them thanks for doing their part to keep the community strong.
That’s it for this year’s version of “Spring Cleaning in the Fall”. Now I can throw away the scraps I used. (I’m still hanging on to the illegible ones, clinging to the possibility that some day they’ll make sense to me again.)
See you next week.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Return of the Duck

The Return of the Duck

I know this is hard for you to believe, but Yours Truly, Your Publisher is now in his 19th year of publishing newspapers.

“How can this be?” you are undoubtedly asking yourself, marveling that Rod-Boy must have begun publishing at the tender age of, say, ten years old. “Certainly,” you are thinking, “he couldn’t be much older than that, could he?”

But alas, it’s true. Yes, your publisher is slightly over 30 years old.

Back in 1989, there was only one newspaper, and Yours Truly was not only the publisher, but also did most of the writing, editing, designing, advertising, filing, bottle-washing, and floor-sweeping. (But NOT the headline proofing or speell-checcking! No one did.… a tradition that continues to this very day!)

A few days ago, while I was glancing through a copy of our little gazette from October, 1989, I came across some of my earlier writings. Back then, it seems, I personally penned so much of the weekly newspaper, that I took to writing some of my columns under pen-names. One such pseudonym was “Dr. Red Duck”.

Dr. Red Duck wrote a weekly column for a year or so, under the heading: “Dr. Red Duck: Weather Forecasts, Medical Advice, and Waterfowl Commentary”.

And, since it’s now again October, albeit 18 years later, and the State Fair is approaching, I thought I’d share a little vintage nom-de-plume newspaper writing with you… if only to make you appreciate my current colums a little more, from an “it-could-be-worse” point of view.

From October, 1989, I’m pleased to present the Return of Dr. Red Duck with a segment from his weekly advice column entitled “It Just Ain’t Fair”:

It's that time of year again. Time for the fair. But actually, it should be called the UNFAIR because it is unfair to ducks.

How is a duck supposed to enjoy such an unfair event? Is there no justice in the world? First there are those ridiculous rides. How is a duck supposed to ride on of those horses on the merry-go-around? And what about the rides that go round and round and round and round and round... I get dizzy just thinking about it!

And then there's the Midway. The most crowded mass of humanity imaginable. Quite unpleasant if you are an 18" tall duck.

And fair gunk! How would you like it if you had half-eaten candy apples, partially dissolved cotton candy, grilled onions, egg roll innards, polish sausage, pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, ice cream, hot dogs, and all other kinds of sticky goo oozing between your webbed feet - not to mention the latest horror - chocolate covered elephant ears! It's disgusting!

And how about the poultry judging? What a disgrace! Beauty pageants for people are nothing compared to this pathetic parade of pompous poultry. So much as a feather out of placeand its everything but your head ona silver platter.

Of course, there are a few things that are average and acceptable. Alright, I'll say it…a few things are FAIR.

The best, of course, is picking up ducks. Many fairgoers enjoy the game of "picking up ducks". But as a duck, it's more than just a game!

And I'll have to admit the poultry pageant had some pretty cute chicks. One really cute chick has a great pair of drumsticks – mama-mia!!!

The flower exhibit is also great. Great, that is, if you like to eat flowers. Begonias, daisies, petunias, rhododendrons, roses, sunflowers, poppies... it's pure t-heaven!

And finally there are the sideshows. The Amazon Duck Women -- you gotta see them!
My advice for the week: When you go to the fair watch your step. If you're a duck you might step in some fair gunk; if you're a person you might step on a duck!

I'm Dr. Red Duck