Sunday, August 31, 2008

Deficit Graph

I found this graph of the deficit at Mike Bock's post on DaytonOS. The graph is from that most famous of graph makers, Ross Perot. The ironic thing about this chart is that the deficit started declining with the election of Perot-foe Bill Clinton in 1993, and became a surplus during Clinton's last four years. The Republican trickle-down economics of the 80s and 2000s, on the other hand, gave us exploding deficits.

I know, I know. There are lots of factors involved that the President has little or no control over. But there is a clear pattern here. I'll hook my star to the common-sense, non-ideological, bi-partisan approach of Clinton and Obama over the let-greed-fix-it right wing Republicans.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Congratulations to Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has an interesting personal history and -- dismissing for the moment her untra-conservative political views -- skills that would serve her well as a vice-president. Perhaps after four or eight years in that post she would have gained the foreign and domestic experience and skills to actually be a strong President. She reminds me a great deal of some of the strong conservative women in my own family, for whom I have great admiration.

That being said let's think about the two most damning grenades that John McCain has lobbed at Barack Obama,

1. Senator Barack Obama is dangerously inexperienced.
By tapping Sarah Palin to be a 72-year-old's heartbeat away from leader of the free-world he has chosen someone whose electoral experience includes less than 19 months as governor of one of our smallest states and mayor of a town of a few thosusand souls; whose experience in national issues is tiny; and whose experience in foreign affairs is nonexistent. For goodness' sake, John McCain had only met her once before he tapped her and spoke with her on the phone twice. So much for worrying about the Commander-in-chief's credentials in facing Islamic terrorism, the "trancendent issue of our times". Maybe facing Russia across the Bering Strait is her strength?

2. Senator Barack Obama puts politics above country.

The sleasiest McCain attack is his stupid and insulting accusations that Barack Obama is a traitor -- that is that he puts getting elected above the good of the country. The choice of Sarah Palin above Kay Bailey Hutchison, Mike Huckabee, Joe Leiberman, Tom Ridge, Condaleeza Rice, etc., etc., etc. -- is an unabashedly political choice. He cannot know that she is prepared to be commander-in-chief.

The first and most important Presidential decision of any candidate for President is his/her choice of Vice President. John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and even George W. Bush, chose running mates that, yes they hoped would help them be elected, but they also chose people that they knew could help them govern and who could step into the Presidency at a moment's notice with the knowledge, experience, and confidence to lead our nation in an emergency.

Sarah Palin is not such a person.

We've had choices before that were not highly experienced: Dan Quayle, Spiro Agnew, Geraldine Ferraro.

John McCain has chosen the least qualified Vice Presidential nominee that I can recall.

John McCain has failed the test.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, LBJ!

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the first Democratic Presidential candidate for whom I worked. As an idealistic teen I tacked up posters for LBJ on telephone poles around Rome, Georgia. I was very proud that this southern President was a leader in civil rights for black people. I think he would look on the nomination of Barack Obama as a fitting way to recognize the centennial of his birth. I hope he had a ringside seat up there as a gracious and enthusiastic Hillary Clinton moved to nominate for President an inspiring black American by acclamation today.

God bless the memory of this great President. And, as so many have said in the last two days, God bless America.


The shameful dishonesty of the John McCain campaign is breathtaking. You've seen the ad. McCain declares his approval of the message. Then an ominous voice talks of the "dangerously" unprepared candidate who considers Iran a "tiny" nation!!

Here is the clip of Barack Obama talking about "tiny" Iran.

For heaven sakes, John, "compared to the Soviet Union" most countries are "tiny". To pick out that one word and take it so wildly out of context speaks of desperation on your part.

Shame on you, John McCain.

What silliness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


"No way, no how, no McCain!"

Two nights and the two most outstanding speeches have been by a prospective first lady and a former one.

What a great convention speech! Hillary Clinton was fired up. She was on point. She surely erased any doubts about her support for Barack Obama.

“It is time to take back the country we love... And whether you voted for me or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. …"
"Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President."

“We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines, No way, no how. No McCain.”
“It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.”
“I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?”
-Hillary Clinton

Perhaps now the idiots in the media will shut up about Democratic division. No. That's too much to hope. And the other idiots who refuse to countenance a sliver of genuine feeling, an iota of civic conscience, a breath of patriotism in a Clinton, will find ways to interpret her words in some selfish way. But this was a major setback for the professional Hillary-despisers. And a very bad night for the Republicans generally. I was most pleased at the clarity of her point-by-point exposition of the differences in Barack Obama's proposals and the same old failed Republican policies of John McCain.

I have always admired the sincerity, intelligence, conviction of Hillary Clinton. She has consistently gotten a bad rap from the press, from the Republican wrong-wing, and even from some Democrats.

Way to go, Hillary! If you decide to run again in 2016 and I'm still around to help, give me a call.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in a couple of homes as some folks I know watched Michelle Obama tonight. Could anyone come away from that speech, from watching that obviously loving All-American family, those beautiful little girls with their Daddy and Mama, and not admit, regardless of his politics and how he will vote in November, this man, this woman, are not the caricatures that the wild right wingers paint. Our politics have gotten so crazy. Some Republicans see character assassination as their only winning path in 2008.

This is a good night for our ticket. I believe Michelle's was the most effective speech by a candidate's spouse that I have ever witnessed. She told the story of this good man. America knows more about what Michelle and Barack Obama care about and who they are. The vast majority of those watching will like and admire them. Most folks will agree, they're just people like us who love their country and want a good future for their children.

Way to go, Michelle. You knocked it out of the park!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Enriching Liberty

Almost a year ago Senator Joseph Biden wrote a very brief article for the Atlantic that I had not seen till this morning. Anyone who has visited The Limb knows that his words are in perfect harmony with mine. My greatest disappointment in the Bush/McCain Republicans has been their readiness to do for the Islamic extremists what the bad guys could not do for themselves. Reading this little piece reassured me that Barack Obama has made an excellent decision in tapping Biden as his prospective Vice President.

We don’t have to diminish the American idea in order to save it. Indeed, the only way to prevail in the struggle between freedom and fundamentalism is to enrich that idea in the face of threats.

Like the choice of Gore in 1992, Biden's VP choice does not add specific electoral vote possibilities, but does give a prospective new President better foreign policy credentials and a congressional tie that will help him accomplish his legislative goals.

The Republican response has been typical Rovian childishness: playing gotcha with Obama's word slip -- immediately corrected -- in introducing his running mate. Then, of course, all the standard ads noting the words of Biden and Clinton during the primaries. There is no traction in any of those arguments. The fact is Barack Obama made a very mature, even "Presidential", choice in the most important decision he has made as a candidate. Virtually everyone agrees that Joseph Biden is ready to be President if, God forbid, he has to fulfill the ultimate Vice Presidential duty. Obama and Biden will make a great team. No one who has watched Obama can believe there is any question about who will be the President if the team is elected. Good job, Barack!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Concert -- Mi Mancherai

Here is Josh Groban singing the song my voice teacher has me working on right now. Another Italian song with too many syllables for the notes ... but ain't it pretty!

Here are the lyrics and translation taken from another website.

Mi Mancherai

Mi mancherai se te ne vai
Mi mancherà la tua serenità
Le tue parole come canzoni al vento
E l'amore che ora porti via
Mi mancherai se te ne vai
Ora per sempre non so come vivere
E l'allegria, amica mia, va via con te

Mi mancherai, mi mancherai, perchè vai via
Perchè l'amore in te si è spento
Perchè, perchè...
Non cambierà niente lo so
E dentro sento te

Mi mancherai, mi mancherai, perchè vai via
Perchè l'amore in te si è spento
Perchè, perchè...
Non cambierà niente lo so
E dentro sento te

Mi mancherà l'immensità
Dei nostri giorni e notti insieme noi
I tuoi sorrisi quando si fa buio
La tua ingenuità da bambina, tu...

Mi mancherai amore mio
Mi guardo e trovo un vuoto dentro me
E l'allegria, amica mia, va via con te


I'll Miss You (Mi Mancherai)
I’ll miss you, if you go away
I’ll miss your serenity
Your words like songs in the wind
And Love, that you take away.

I’ll miss you, if you go away
Now and forever I don’know how to live
And joy, my friend, goes away with you

I’ll miss you, I’ll miss you, because you go away
Because the love in you is dead
Because, because...
Nothing it’s gonna change, I know
And inside of me I feel you

I’ll miss you, I’ll miss you, because you go away
Because the love in you is dead
Because, because...
Nothing it’s gonna change, I know
And inside of me I feel you

I’ll miss the immensity
Of our days and nights,us together
Your smiles when it’s getting dark
Your being naive like a little girl

I’ll miss you, my love
I look at myself and I find emptiness inside of me
And joy, my friend, goes away with you

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Contrast

A little of my reaction to the Rick Warren discussions (My paraphrasing. I have no transcript.)

RW: How should we approach evil?
John McCain: Defeat it.
If I have to chase him to the gates of hell I will get Bin Laden. And I know how to do it.
My take: Great, Senator, tell President Bush what you "know" so it can be done now. What hogwash! I think you have your hero's (Teddy Roosevelt) most famous motto backwards. You boast about a stick you don't and won't have. Yes, we should try our best to get Bin Laden. I think we will eventually. We don't need to brag about it -- reference Bush's "Bring 'em on!"
Barack Obama: Confront it. But be careful to do it with the humility that recognises that no one has a monopoly on truth and wisdom, and that sometimes good intentions have resulted in further evil.
My take: Obama responds thoughtfully to Warren in a conversation. More nuanced. Less platitude. Less evasion. He just answers the questions. McCain delivers soundbites directly to the camera.

RW: What is your greatest moral shortcoming?
McCain: The failure of my first marriage.
My take: It is "the failure" not "my philandering". He quickly jumps to other matters without confronting directly and forthrightly the sorry lifestyle he led as a serial adulterer and as a deserter of an ailing wife for a 25 year-old mistress.
Obama: I led a rough life as a youth. I experimented with drugs and alcohol. I was selfish.
My take: Again, Obama gives a real answer, honestly confronting his failings and thoughtfully explaining his interpretation of the failings AND what he learned from them.

Overall: John McCain reinforced my impression that he would be Bush's third term. He is simplistic. Blustery. Confrontational. He lacks the temperament and judgment that we need in a President.

And Obama renforced my impression that he is thoughtful, wise, reasonable, moderate, honest.

What an inspiring candidate! Vote Obama!

McCain's Lobbyist Ties Lessen His Credibility

We are all Georgians? What part of our Georgian-ness is due to $800,000 paid by the Georgian government to McCain's advisors?
Check out the Washington Post report.

Hat tip to If I Ran the Zoo.

We need an uncompromised President to confront Putin's effort to reconstitute a Russian empire. McCain ain't him.

On another note: Does McCain have no positive message at all? The Republican campaign is just silly. The stupid Britney/Paris ad. Pretending that the Obama vacation with his family in his home State of Hawaii is somehow unAmerican. They are still using the tire gauge gotcha ads - pretending that Obama's light-hearted answer to a question is his whole energy program!! Using ugly divisive negative ads during the Olympics when we are all cheering together for the American team. Maybe they have turned the campaign over to Limbaugh and Hannity ? Most of their stuff for the 71 year-old "straight-talking" candidate is that juvenile.

Then there's Corsi:

Remember when the McCain supporters were accusing Obama of being presumptious in his foreign tour. Now John McCain is on the phone "daily" with the Georgian president, and sending emissaries to Georgia, and otherwise generally trying to upstage the sitting President -- not a difficult task.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, iMac!

Today is the tenth birthday of the Apple iMac.

This year marks my twentieth year of using Macs. I bought my first Macintosh computer in 1988.
I was so proud of the capabilities of that all-in-one machine with its nine-inch black & white screen. I soon paid $1000 to upgrade to an 80 megabyte hard drive. I can now store 2000 megabytes on my thumb drive! I bought a back-up hard drive for $99 last week that will hold 500,000 megabytes!

I have owned at least a dozen Macs over the years. I am an unreconstructed Machead. I have used maddening PCs at work for the last eleven years. I have never understood why anyone would use PCs given the choice of a Mac. Many complain about the price, but given the powerful easy-to-use bundled software I can't believe one could do as well with a clunky, unintuitive, virus-ridden, inelegant machine, with a hodge-podge of software from different vendors, that still, after all these years, requires you to press "start" to stop the dang thing. Many fewer crashes with a Mac. Many fewer viruses --- and virtually none since the introduction of System 10. The "interactivity" (is that a word?) of the various bundled software programs with each other and with is another great advantage. And Apple has the most beautiful product designs anywhere.

My two 20 inch flat-panel iMacs are about three and four years old now, and they still elicit wows when I use them for presentations. (The pic above is a stock photo of a smaller 17" model. My first G5/20" is like this one except for size. The second -- a big splurge -- is the next generation that includes the built-in camera.) I use the first at home and park the second at work and carry thumb drives between them. This allows me to use the lousy PCs as little as possible. I often make presentations and slideshows to use in my classroom. The 20" monitor is large enough to use for that purpose. The iMac has a remote control which helps with that.

Steve Jobs, if you read this, please make the check payable to Terrell Shaw.

But Steve, don't read the following part:
Unfortunately, despite the greatest designs and most loyal (even evangelical?) customer base extant, the company itself is, IMHO, often extremely aggravating and as unfriendly as their products are friendly.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Concert -- Sheila's Song

The Bridge Over Troubled Water album by Simon and Garfunkel was one of a bunch that became duplicates when Sheila and I merged our record collections. Here are Simon and Garfunkel performimg the title song and one of our favorites. I post this in celebration of the 37th anniversary of that merging --- and to give Joan another song to hum this week. My sister Beth sang this for us on that glorious August day in Tallahassee, 1971.

PTSW : For my returning

I heard this on NPR's In Character recently. (Thanks for the tip, Tricia!) It is a love poem written for his wife by E. B. White. White knew spiders. After all, he created one of the most famous arachnids of all, and one of my favorite characters in literature, Charlotte A. Cavatica.

Natural History
The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,

A thin premeditated rig

To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,

In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place

From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do

In spider's web a truth discerning,

Attach one silken thread to you

For my returning.
-E.B. White
Y0u can hear an interesting discussion of White and his famous spider.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday Concert -- Brannon's Song

It was late in the evening on August third, 1983 - twenty-five years ago tonight. I was upstairs, frantically trying to finish painting so the carpet installers could come the next morning. Sheila had already gone to bed. She called me down to time contractions. About nine, we decided the contractions were close enough and consistent enough that we ought to head to the hospital. I remember a moment of acute consciousness as I drove down a dark Cedar Avenue, in that sharp curve just before crossing the little side track, Sheila performing rhythmic breathing in the passenger seat. I knew it was a moment I would never forget. Tonight would be a night of irreversible change in our lives. I was a little frightened by it, but eager for it.

We parked in the emergency parking lot, then on the west side of the hospital. The contractions were coming so quickly that Sheila could make it only from one car to next between them. She would lean on a car and expel those rhythmic hisses till the contraction eased.

It was a long night. Sheila bravely, determinedly, and without anesthesia, labored until three A.M. Finally the baby's hair appeared. At three thirty-one with a final brave push, she was born: kinda messy but beautiful. The nurses had prepared a little cloth-lined bath basin and, after her just-as-beautiful mother had held her a bit, I got to hold the most precious thing I'd ever held to that point in my life and bathe her. Yes, it was a "her". I had not been concerned to wonder about her sex, I'd been so wrapped up in the wonder of her birth and the counting of her fingers and toes.

By the time mother and baby were settled into a regular maternity room, I had to leave to finish getting ready for the carpet guys: we wanted the house ready when Brannon came home. I'll be forever in the debt of our wonderful friend Cotton Franklin who met me at the house to spend a couple of very early hours frantically getting the upstairs cleaned and ready for the carpet guys. Then I rushed back to the hospital.

I went to sleep on the floor of the hospital room -- probably drooling on the carpet. Our pastor, James Sanders, and several others came by to see us, only to find us totally unconscious during the first visiting hour. (Sheila has a very complete journal of those days, but I haven't reviewed it in a while. I think maybe my sister Joan and our friends Mildred and Philip were among the ones who found us sleeping.) We managed to be conscious by the afternoon visiting time.

I had never felt vulnerable in my life till 3:31 a.m., August 4, 2008. The world changed for me at that moment.

Brannon, the joy and fear and excitement and love and ambition and admiration and awe that you (and later your sister) have brought into my life could never be adequately conveyed in the pixels of a computer screen or in any combination of the hundreds of thousands of words in the English language.

I love you unconditionally.

Happy Birthday.

My silly song for Brannon has always been "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You". Here is A very young Ricky Nelson singing the song.

Here's the post and slideshow I made of Brannon pics for her birthday last year.