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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Television Journalism's 5 Most Attractive Women of 2012

In one year of television news watching, several female news talents have caught my male eye. From day to day, depending upon the age of and the amount of the makeup used, the attractiveness of various female news talents will vary. Some look good in it, while some don't(on that same wavelength, some will use too much, while some will use too little). With that said, only 5 female news talents really stand out to my eye as being of the highest calibre of attractiveness, regardless of the makeup content. This list is merely based upon my personal taste, and not on my view of the person's journalistic integrity. I won't take my precious time to explain why I consider them to be such, as I find that explaining one's tastes is a rather hard feat to pull off. With all that in mind, here is my list of television journalism's 5 most attractive women of 2012(listed from 5th to 1st):


5. Trish Regan(Bloomberg)


4. Brooke Baldwin(CNN)


3. Kate Bolduan(CNN)


2. Savannah Guthrie(NBC News)


1. Erin Burnett(CNN)

I hope you appreciated my 2 cents, and I hope you'll give your 2 cents in the comments.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

2012 Electoral Predictions

As we come to the close of the campaign for the United States Presidency(or, as I like to call it, "Protectorate of the Electorate"), one thing has remained constant: Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama has been able to break out of the currently tied nature of the Presidential contest and vault into a clear lead. With that said, many things have caught my eye which lead me to believe there will be a landslide win on Tuesday(I think we should have a call by 10:30 PM). Those things are as follows:

1. Independents: Mitt Romney has held a lead from anywhere between 8 and 13 points nationally amongst the pivotal Independent vote. In the states, the margin is generally much larger, with Romney, in some instances, leading by as much as 26 points(in the swing state of Virginia). Followers of elections must remember that, in 2004, John Kerry won Indies by 1-3 points nationally, but still fell a hair short of winning over then-President Bush. To win this voting bloc by double digits is indicative of a groundswell of support for Romney which will propel him to a landslide victory. With that in mind, it is worth noting that the winning of the Independent vote can usually be attributable to the enthusiasm which one party or the other holds for their nominated candidate.

2. Party enthusiasm: Right now, Republicans are more enthusiastic about their chances than are Democrats. Republican enthusiasm is two-fold. They are not only enthused about beating Obama, but they have also grown to like Romney as both a person and a policy maker. Democrats, however, are depressed and un-enthused for a few reasons, not the least of which is a stagnant economy and the handling of the fiasco in Libya. A prime example of these factors in action is the slipping of Obama's leads in predominantly Democratic states such as Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

3. Late Breakers: Those who are undecided at this stage of the election will usually do one of two things. They will either vote for the challenger(Romney) or stay at home on Election Day. If the state(such as, say, Ohio) is close enough in the polls, the undecideds will likely determine how the state goes. Undecideds will have likely perceive themselves as having too much at stake to sit this one out, so I see this small chunk breaking for Romney by a 5-1 margin.

So, without further ado, here are my predictions and musings with regards as to how this election will go down.

UNITED STATES PRESIDENCY

AL(9 EV's): Mitt Romney 63.7%-36.3% over Barack Obama.
AK(3 EV's): Mitt Romney 59.5%-39.8% over Barack Obama.
AZ(11 EV's): Mitt Romney 56.5%-43.5% over Barack Obama.
AR(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 62.0%-38.0% over Barack Obama.
CA(55 EV's): Barack Obama 53.8%-45.8% over Mitt Romney.
CO(9 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.7%-47.9% over Barack Obama.
CT(7 EV's): Barack Obama 49.7%-48.9% over Mitt Romney.
DE(3 EV's): Barack Obama 58.6%-41.0% over Mitt Romney.
DC(3 EV's): Barack Obama 71.4%-28.5% over Mitt Romney.
FL(29 EV's): Mitt Romney 52.3%-46.5% over Barack Obama.
GA(16 EV's): Mitt Romney 58.1%-41.2% over Barack Obama.
HI(4 EV's): Barack Obama 66.2%-33.6% over Mitt Romney.
ID(4 EV's): Mitt Romney 74.0%-25.4% over Barack Obama.
IL(20 EV's): Barack Obama 57.5%-41.7% over Mitt Romney
IN(11 EV's): Mitt Romney 56.0%-42.9% over Barack Obama.
IA(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 50.6%-48.8% over Barack Obama.
KS(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 58.7%-39.9% over Barack Obama.
KY(8 EV's): Mitt Romney 57.5%-42.5% over Barack Obama.
LA(8 EV's): Mitt Romney 61.5%-37.9% over Barack Obama.
ME(4 EV's): Mitt Romney 50.9%-48.5% over Barack Obama.
MD(10 EV's): Barack Obama 58.1%-41.9% over Mitt Romney.
MA(11 EV's): Barack Obama 58.4%-41.4% over Mitt Romney.
MI(16 EV's): Mitt Romney 50.5%-49.5% over Barack Obama.
MN(10 EV's): Mitt Romney 49.5%-48.5% over Barack Obama.
MS(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 64.5%-35.5% over Barack Obama.
MO(10 EV's): Mitt Romney 55.7%-44.3% over Barack Obama.
MT(3 EV's): Mitt Romney 55.5%-43.2% over Barack Obama.
NE(5 EV's): Mitt Romney 58.5%-41.0% over Barack Obama.
NV(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 50.7%-49.0% over Barack Obama.
NH(4 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.7%-47.7% over Barack Obama.
NJ(14 EV's): Barack Obama 53.5%-46.5% over Mitt Romney.
NM(5 EV's): Barack Obama 56.3%-43.3% over Mitt Romney.
NY(29 EV's): Barack Obama 61.0%-37.5% over Mitt Romney.
NC(15 EV's): Mitt Romney 54.5%-45.3% over Barack Obama.
ND(3 EV's): Mitt Romney 58.0%-42.0% over Barack Obama.
OH(18 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.1%-48.7% over Barack Obama.
OK(7 EV's): Mitt Romney 71.5%-28.5% over Barack Obama.
OR(7 EV's): Mitt Romney 49.8%-49.4% over Barack Obama.
PA(20 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.5%-48.5% over Barack Obama.
RI(4 EV's): Barack Obama 58.0%-41.5% over Mitt Romney.
SC(9 EV's): Mitt Romney 56.5%-43.5% over Barack Obama.
SD(3 EV's): Mitt Romney 57.9%-40.9% over Barack Obama.
TN(11 EV's): Mitt Romney 63.2%-36.3% over Barack Obama.
TX(38 EV's): Mitt Romney 59.5%-40.1% over Barack Obama.
UT(6 EV's): Mitt Romney 66.5%-33.5% over Barack Obama.
VT(3 EV's): Barack Obama 60.7%-39.3% over Mitt Romney.
VA(13 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.3%-48.7% over Barack Obama.
WA(12 EV's): Mitt Romney 50.1%-49.2% over Barack Obama.
WV(5 EV's): Mitt Romney 62.5%-37.4% over Barack Obama.
WI(10 EV's): Mitt Romney 51.0%-48.5% over Barack Obama.
WY(3 EV's): Mitt Romney 70.0%-30.0% over Barack Obama.

UNITED STATES SENATE

AZ-SEN: Jeff Flake(R) 54.5%-45.5% over Richard Carmona(D). GOP HOLD.
CA-SEN: Dianne Feinstein(D) 63%-37% over Elizabeth Emken(R). DEM HOLD.
CT-SEN: Chris Murphy(D) 52.5%-47.5% over Linda McMahon(R). DEM GAIN.
DE-SEN: Tom Carper(D) 62.2%-37.8% over Kevin Wade(R). DEM HOLD.
FL-SEN: Connie Mack(R) 50.8%-49.2% over Bill Nelson(D). GOP GAIN.
HI-SEN: Mazie Hirono(D) 56.3%-43.7% over Linda Lingle(R). DEM HOLD.
IN-SEN: Richard Mourdock(R) 51.3%-48.7% over Joe Donnelly(D). GOP HOLD.
ME-SEN: Charlie Summers(R) 47.5%-45.5%-7% over Angus King(I) and Cynthia Dill(D). GOP HOLD.
MD-SEN: Ben Cardin(D) 59%-26.9%-14.1% over Daniel Bongino(R) and Rob Sobhani(I). DEM HOLD.
MA-SEN: Scott Brown(R) 52.1%-47.9% over Elizabeth Warren(D). GOP HOLD.
MI-SEN: Debbie Stabenow(D) 53.6%-46.4% over Peter Hoekstra(R). DEM HOLD.
MN-SEN: Amy Klobuchar(D) 68.5%-31.5% over Kurt Bills(R). DEM HOLD.
MS-SEN: Roger Wicker(R) 67.8%-32.2% over Albert N. Gore Jr(D). GOP HOLD.
MO-SEN: Todd Akin(R) 53.3%-46.7% over Claire McCaskill(D). GOP GAIN.
MT-SEN: Denny Rehberg(R) 51.2%-48.8% over Jon Tester(D). GOP GAIN.
NE-SEN: Deb Fischer(R) 57.1%-42.9% over Bob Kerrey(D). GOP GAIN.
NV-SEN: Dean Heller(R) 52.9%-47.1% over Shelley Berkley(D). GOP HOLD.
NJ-SEN: Bob Menendez(D) 55.3%-44.7% over Joe Kyrillos(R). DEM HOLD.
NM-SEN: Martin Heinrich(D) 55%-45% over Heather Wilson(R). DEM HOLD.
NY-SEN: Kirsten Gillibrand(D) 68.4%-31.6% over Wendy Long(R). DEM HOLD.
ND-SEN: Rick Berg(R) 51.5%-48.5% over Heidi Heitkamp(D). GOP GAIN.
OH-SEN: Josh Mandel(R) 50.3%-49.7% over Sherrod Brown(D). GOP GAIN.
PA-SEN: Tom Smith(R) 51.3%-48.7% over Bob Casey Jr(D). GOP GAIN.
RI-SEN: Sheldon Whitehouse(D) 68.5%-31.5% over Barry Hinckley(R). DEM HOLD.
TN-SEN: Bob Corker(R) 73%-27% over Mark Clayton(D). GOP HOLD.
TX-SEN: Ted Cruz(R) 63.3%-36.7% over Paul Sadler(D). GOP HOLD.
UT-SEN: Orrin Hatch(R) 74%-26% over Scott Howell(D). GOP HOLD.
VT-SEN: Bernie Sanders(I/D) 67.7%-32.3% over John MacGovern(R). INDY/DEM HOLD.
VA-SEN: George Allen(R) 51%-49% over Tim Kaine(D). GOP GAIN.
WA-SEN: Maria Cantwell(D) 57.5%-42.5% Michael Baumgartner(R). DEM HOLD.
WV-SEN: Joe Manchin(D) 65.2%-29.8%-5% over John Raese(R) and Bob Baber(Mountain). DEM HOLD.
WI-SEN: Tommy Thompson(R) 50.7%-49.3% over Tammy Baldwin(D). GOP GAIN.
WY-SEN: John Barrasso(R) 71%-29% over Tim Chesnut(D). GOP HOLD.

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

GOP{+58(With the addition of 9 newly-drawn seats)}: AZ-1, AZ-2, AZ-9, AR-4, CA-3, CA-9, CA-21, CA-24, CA-41, CA-46, CA-47, CA-51, CO-7, CT-4, CT-5, DE-AL, FL-6, FL-22, GA-2, GA-9, GA-12, IL-12, IL-13, IN-2, IA-1, IA-2, IA-3, KY-6, ME-1, ME-2, MA-3, MA-4, MA-6, MA-9, MI-5, MN-1, MO-5, NV-4, NJ-6, NM-1, NY-1, NY-4, NY-17, NY-25, NY-27, NC-7, NC-8, NC-11, NC-13, OH-16, OK-2, OR-4, OR-5, PA-12, PA-13, PA-17, RI-1, SC-7, TX-15, TX-25, TX-35, TX-36, UT-2, UT-4, WA-1, WA-6, WV-3
Democrats(Sole "gains" are in newly-drawn districts): CA-29, FL-9, OH-3, TX-33, TX-34

STATE GOVERNORSHIPS

DE-GOV: Jack Markell(D) 62%-38% over Jeff Cragg(R). DEM HOLD.
IN-GOV: Mike Pence(R) 56%-44% over John Gregg(D). GOP HOLD.
MO-GOV: Jay Nixon(D) 57%-43% over Dave Spence(R). DEM HOLD.
MT-GOV: Rick Hill(R) 53.5%-46.5% over Steve Bullock(D). GOP GAIN.
NH-GOV: Ovide LaMontagne(R) 51.1%-48.9% over Maggie Hassan(D). GOP GAIN.
NC-GOV: Pat McCrory(R) 62.5%-37.5% over Walter Dalton(D). GOP GAIN.
ND-GOV: Jack Dalrymple(R) 59%-41% over Ryan Taylor(D). GOP HOLD.
UT-GOV: Gary Herbert(R) 66.7%-33.3% over Peter Cooke(D). GOP HOLD.
VT-GOV: Peter Schumlin(D) 64.1%-35.9% over Randy Brock(R). DEM HOLD.
WA-GOV: Rob McKenna(R) 51.7%-48.3% over Jay Inslee(D). GOP GAIN.
WV-GOV: Earl Tomblin(D) 59.5%-40.5% over Bill Maloney(R). DEM HOLD.

THE FINAL BREAKDOWN

Presidency:

Mitt Romney: 370 EV's
Barack Obama: 168 EV's

Senate: GOP 56-44, with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders(I-VT) caucusing with the Democrats.

House: GOP 300-135.

Governorships: GOP 34-16

FINAL THOUGHTS

Mitt Romney did what no other GOP candidate(bar maybe Santorum) could do: He drew the contrast between himself and Obama, put forth a plan, and gave the average American hope for the future in the wake of his imminent victory.

So, in conclusion, Democrats dug themselves into this hole by re-nominating a badly flawed President. His handling of the economy and foreign policy(which led to the Libya fiasco) are mere manifestations of his flaws. Had Democrats taken my advice(here and here), they would not be on the precipice of a historic loss such as this. Mitt Romney will, in fact, beat Obama like a weapon of mass percussion. Democrats=Too dumb for words.

Hope you appreciated my musings on how the election will go down.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Agents of Deception: Why Barney & Friends' Theme Music is Torture to the Intellectual Mind and Deceives the Masses


New torture techniques used against Guantanamo Bay detainees have been in the news lately. One such method of 'torture' is the playing of the "Barney & Friends" song which goes "I love you. You love me. We're a happy family." ad nauseum. From the jump, this appeared to be a mixed bag of marbles. On the one hand, those terrorists who've not grasped themselves a full and complete understanding of the English language(or those who are just too pea-brained to give a damn, regardless of knowledge of the aforementioned language) would not be negatively affected by this new method of torture. On the other hand, you have those terrorists who would suddenly and simply spontaneously combust over the love overtones emanating from the song. It's not just torture to terrorists, among other haters who are just gonna hate. It's also torture to the intellectual mind, as it brings to the fore a whole new level of deception and outright lies. The fact that we would trust our kids with Barney is concerning enough as it is, but the fact that we do so knowing that our children take to heart the far left, peace and love hokum espoused in songs such as "I love you. You love me..." is a cause for great alarm. All of this puts our society in the jaws of great peril, and I will explain why in the following paragraphs.

Aside from being too sunshiny and happy happy joy joy for my tastes, "We're a happy family" is not only a factual fallacy, but also is a massive blunder that would cost any candidate an election. First of all, who is this "we" that is constantly referred to? "We" has such broad connotations that I don't know where to begin. Back to the original topic, we as a nation and a planet are not one big "happy family." If we were, there wouldn't be all these endless wars, massacres, genocide, famine, corruption, and general strife around the world. And, on a more local level, rates of divorce, single-parenting, out-of-wedlock births, gang rape, armed robbery, drug usage, fraud, and murder would be at or damn near zero if we were actually one big "happy family." They are at all time highs, especially in the inner cities. And when do members of the big "happy family" fantasize about one another in a sexual manner? Never! We as a nation and a planet are not one big "happy family." Rather, we are a nation ridden to the core with malcontentment and misanthropy. Society has lost God and has got to get itself back to the garden. To say otherwise is serial deception. And we've not even gotten into the political ramifications of such falsehoods.

Let us not kid ourselves, a falsehood to this degree brings with it political ramifications. Some are small, but most are broad and encompass many aspects of our lives. Statements like "I love you. You love me" are massively hyperbolic and misleading. When you boil it down to its essential components, such claims are really just hipster brouhaha on steroids, and it has our nation in such a stranglehold that we might not ever come back from the brink. Whether or not you love me is your choice, but that does not make it safe to assume that I love you in return. Such assumptions lead to many a broken heart when our hopes are dashed. Broken hearts then lead to hostility, hostility leads to war, and war leads to thousands of dead people. So, in conclusion, broad-sweeping assumptions can inadvertently lead to war and death. So can lying. Lying is like backstabbing, but I've already delivered a screed on that. Broad-sweeping statements such as "I love you. You love me." can also fit into the category of lies, because, again, you don't know if I really love you, do you?

In conclusion, I hope to have made my points in a clear and reasoned fashion. I must note that I have got nothing against Barney personally(some of my fondest childhood memories were of reading those Barney children's books). What I do have misgivings with is deception, lies, and hippie propaganda disguised as children's music/theme music. It's indoctrination in the worst form.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

One Toke Over the Line: Why I Support Pot Legalization and Why Drug Laws are a Burden

In our lives, we hold many opinions near and dear to our hearts. Over time, however, our views on certain subjects change. While my views haven't changed that much through the years, there is one notable issue on which my mindset has changed, and that issue is the legalization of marijuana. I will explain why in the following paragraphs.

Before I deal with the specifics directly pertaining to this issue, I will first relate a personal story which brought me to my current position. A few years back, I met a guy who would become one of my best friends in life. His name was Tim, and he was a crusader for the legalization of marijuana, most notably medical marijuana. He believed that it was fundamentally wrong to deny someone their medicine, even if said medicine came in the form of a drug that was deemed 'illegal' and 'hazardous' to one's health. As many people with first-hand experience have related, the drug does not leave one with any long-term health problems when used correctly. My friend also used it as a means of escaping the rough life he led. And in reality, what is wrong with any of this? Our country was founded upon the basic principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How is someone who smokes marijuana any different from someone using his God-given liberty to pursue his happiness in such a way as not to harm others? It isn't any different at all.

Which brings me to the matter of the federal government's involvement in marijuana laws. Where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government has the power to penalize dealers and users of either marijuana or any other drug? The Constitution makes no note of marijuana specifically, but the Tenth Amendment clearly mentions that powers not stated in the previous nine amendments are delegated to the states. That should clear things up, shouldn't it? Apparently not, as the federal government continues to waste billions of taxpayer dollars, not to mention human lives, on a futile war on drugs(arguably as futile as the original endeavor in futility, Vietnam) which, if anything, has led to an uptick in crime and deaths, especially in inner cities where poverty is high and the street value for marijuana is just as high. Maybe if the federal government actually followed the Constitution and delegated the power over marijuana to the states, who are directly accountable to the people they represent, we may begin to see a decrease in crime and deaths from drug violence across the nation.

In conclusion, I hope to have, at least, made my position clear and made my points in a reasonable and logical fashion. Obviously, I will not convince everybody of my points, but I at least hope to have educated somebody and given one something to think about.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Predictions and Thoughts on the WI Recall

Scott Walker(R)-52%
Tom Barrett(D)-48%

When this recall first came to my attention back in February or March, 2011, I never doubted that, given the circumstances up to that point, this recall could be successful, but I questioned the need/necessity for it. After all, Walker had only been Governor for 1-2 months. I figured they needed to give him more time. They didn't, and I, like everyone else, saw this as mere knee-jerking on the part of the Democrats. Once the public got off the anti-Walker euphoria ride and opened there eyes, they saw the same as I did. As a result, not one poll has shown anything short of Walker having the edge in his bid to fend off said recall election. Maybe if the Democrats were more tactful, they might be in a better position. Instead, they are going to lose something that they, ordinarily, should have walked away with, and might possibly end up putting the state in play come November.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Musings on Depression

I was thinking of this as I was riding through a northern suburb of Atlanta yesterday afternoon.

You want to know the kind of setting that would weigh the most heavily upon a depressed man such as myself?

Try a hot summer afternoon in the city.

That hot sun beating down upon your face is like the weight of the world reining decisive blows down upon you.

And the cars whizzing by you can reinforce these preconceived notions you have that no one gives a damn about you.

And then there's those business types that make up the inner-city crowd.

Those types, battling it out for a position atop the company ladder, have lost all touch with everyone else, which also reinforces aforementioned preconceived notions.

And the gang violence really hammers home a bloody fine point.

If you want true happiness in a protracted depressed state, then surround yourself with the best of your best friends and hang out in the secluded countryside.

People may call this solution over-simplified.

I call it learning from what I didn't do.

Just my musings on depression.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Problem With the Arab World's Love Affair With English

From Fortune:

Marhaba and hello. In March, I visited the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Communications at the American University in Dubai, where I sit on the advisory board with prominent regional business leaders. After some students presented reports to us in fluent English, I was surprised to hear my fellow board members say bluntly that their native language is "in crisis."

It turns out English is fast becoming the only language of a new generation of educated Arabs.

This isn't a good thing for the region or the rest of the world. (I'll get to that in a moment.) The journalism school at the AUD is the only modern program in the Middle East that allows students to study in Arabic. Still, many students arrive poorly versed in written Arabic and the formal spoken language and require refresher Arabic language courses.

Literacy in the Gulf States is 98%, according to Unesco. But that literacy is increasingly in English, not Arabic.

This English bias starts early, with children in private "model" schools in the United Arab Emirates studying their full curriculum, including math and science, in English. But state schools are pushing a pro-English agenda too. Professor Patricia Abu Wardeh, who has lived in the UAE for 16 years and in the region for more than three decades, laments that the UAE's government-sponsored Zayed University offers no major in Arabic.

The trend appears to be taking hold regionwide. In Saudi Arabia, many upper-middle-class families speak English at home -- not just at work -- because, as one knowledgeable source told me, parents fear Arabic isn't sophisticated.

One Emirati CEO told me his own children do not speak Arabic fluently. He said he put them in English schools to help ensure they'd have great career prospects. But now he says he regrets that his children don't feel comfortable speaking the language of their forefathers.

As you probably well know by now, I make no bones about the fact that I'm in the pocket for her and her network. Putting that aside, this is a decent article which highlights the growing language disparity in the Arab world. Your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Lonesome Road: Why Lying is a Recipe For Disaster

In today's society more than ever before, people are putting getting ahead of the pack above all else, including honesty. People will even go so far as to lie in order to get ahead. I believe there is much more to be gained through honesty instead of through deceit.

Cheating on tests has become commonplace in our schools these days. Some kids believe that it is fine to cheat and pad their grade average because it will help them achieve their desired goal of getting ahead or perhaps of merely just staying on par with everyone else. This, I believe, hurts them in the long run because they are not really learning what they are supposed to be learning. Instead, they are simply setting themselves up for a precipitous fall. By being honest, they may neither do well nor get ahead immediately, but they may just learn something in the process.

The padding of resumes when applying for a job is also a fairly commonplace occurrence. People think that by padding their resume they are more likely to get a job than people who don't pad their resume. This practice may get them a job, but it won't be one that they're going to be qualified to hold. The employer won't know what hit him. By contrast, people who are honest in filling out their resume may neither be qualified nor get the job, but they will at least be giving their prospective employer an accurate description of whom he may be hiring.

Obviously, there are pitfalls in lying, and the benefits of honesty may not be immediately apparent, but the development of character will, I believe, prove to be well worthwhile. And there's never a sense of guilt. Honesty helps one to respect himself more.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From the Beginning: Remembering Timothy Leal(4/24/79-9/4/11)


"Seems like a dream now, it was so long ago"

    These lyrics, taken from "Saturday Night," track 9 on the Eagles' 1973 American Western concept album "Desperado," are an accurate description of how I feel about my three-year long friendship with Tim. 8 months is quite a long time to most people, and when you've not spoken to someone for that extended period of time, it all becomes very much blurred as the time goes on. I've been meaning to write this for a long time, but I was just a bit hard-pressed for words. Tim was one of my best friends, and I've yet to get over his death. In writing this, I still cannot, for the life of me, believe that he is gone. That said, this is how I remember my friendship with him.

    I met him on the political website "Politics1" in September, 2008. We first conversed about some local festivals in my area, but we never talked much. Considering how new I was to the blogosphere, there were some things I'd yet to learn, lines I'd yet to cross, and, overall, I was a considerable pain in the ass. Experience, I hope, has made me better. I offered my views and predictions, but I did so with a somewhat smug and otherwise unpleasant aire of me. We didn't especially get along at first, and he would come to welcome my banning for my antics. I apologized for my antics after I very nearly was banned, and we got along for the remainder of my time on that site. Eventually, I slipped up, and was banned in January, 2009. Even though I was history, I never forgot him, and he never forgot me, either. We occasionally conversed when I got around the IP ban, but over the next 5 months, we didn't talk much.

    In June, 2009, when I acquired an e-mail address, I fired one off telling him how I was doing and wishing him well. Five days later, he found my newly-formed Facebook account and sent me a friend request and a message congratulating me on the "well done" political site I had put together(Conservative State Project, which I closed 14 months later after I got tired of it). I, of course, accepted the friend request, and we were official friends until his death over two years later. We conversed on occasion, sometimes for hours, about random things which largely pertained to our one area of mutual interest: politics. During these first chats, one of his favourite sayings was that God loved me and that God was pro-life. One can't deny this, regardless of whether or not one has faith.

    On November 15, 2009, after a long day out in Dawsonville, GA, I plopped down on a rocking chair and chatted with Tim through the Facebook Chat mechanism. It wasn't long before he regaled me with a story about something he'd noticed while out on the town. His telling me the story changed the nature of our friendship for good. He stated that, while at a used record store, he saw the LP that featured the album cover that I used as my profile photo on Facebook("Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd"-Lynyrd Skynyrd), and was wondering how interested I was in having it. I was about as shocked as they came. All I had done for him at that point was sit around and listen to him and respond where my voice couldn't have hurt. We discussed it for a short time. After I while, I stated my interest. Had I known his financial situation, I might not at all have been inclined to say yes. At once, I thought of what I might do for him.

    Over a week later, I thought of something I could do for him. I had a Pink Floyd CD("Momentary Lapse of Reason") that I had no use for. Tim had once stated that he liked Pink Floyd, so I floated the idea with him. He was fine with it, and I immediately started scouting out shops that sold the packaging materials needed to mail it. After some looking, I found some bubble-wrap packages at various Dollar Tree's around my area. I soon got to arranging the package and its contents. I also enclosed within it a Christmas card wishing him well and thanking him for befriending me in spite of my earlier antics. It was sent back to me once due to my not putting the right amount of postage on it. I mailed it out a day or so later. He got it about a week later, and was about as elated as they came.

    We spent months planning out when we might meet up for him to exchange what he had gotten me. He had planned to incorporate his meeting me into his plan to drive out to Tuscon, AZ, to beat up a guy who had done him a great deal of wrong and ruined his life. I understood why he wanted to do this, but I didn't fully understand his willingness to risk his life for it. He ended up breaking his trigger-finger prying apart frozen hot dogs, which put an end to the idea of the Tuscon trip, thank God.

    Ultimately, when it got down to planning, I gave him directions to my place. Problem here was that I was operating behind my parents' backs. Needless to say, on my side at least, I completely and totally bungled the whole thing. Now that we had a plan set in stone, the only question was when we'd meet. The major problem was that our schedules never seemed to coincide. He'd message me, wait, fall asleep, and wake up later to read my response. This happened several times over a span of 2 1/2 months.

    In the late morning of April 9, 2010, he messaged me about troubles he was having at work(somebody was trying to steal a map, which was his business' property), and I reassured him that these things happen a lot. He then asked if it was a good time for him to come out and meet me. I said yes. Immediately, the plan started to crystallize. At 3:30 PM, he told me he was on his way out. It would be a quarter of four hours before I met him, but those hours were pretty nerve racking and tense on my end, as I had to break the news to my parents. Somehow, I made it out alive, and at 7:15 in the evening, he arrived. As soon as I saw his car, I quickly donned my hat and leaped out the door. He circled around the cul-de-sac and asked if my address was the right one. The answer was affirmative, so he pulled into the driveway and hopped out of his infamously psychedelic spray-painted car. He greeted me, and I was virtually speechless.

    This was the guy I'd given problems on Politics1, and now we were these great friends. After greeting my parents, he rummaged through his back seat and presented me with the LP, plus "The Man Who Was Thursday" by GK Chesterton(Tim always said that book described how we came to be) and a ball-jar of sweet tea. We conversed for a few minutes, and then he bade us farewell and departed. As far as I knew, I would never speak to him again, as I was still under the assumption he was going to Tuscon. In those five minutes or so, I saw a guy that epitomized everything I liked in a person. Kind, generous, cool, etc. To think I'd never see him again almost brought me to my knees.

    In the years I knew him, I gleaned many facts about him which painted a rather unsavory picture of his life. He's said all this in public venues before, so I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said before. He was born with Marfan's syndrome(which left him with a distended aorta), was frequently beaten by his father as a child, was sexually assaulted twice(in his twenties), raped(Also in his twenties. Was what he was going to Tuscon for.), suffered a stroke at 28, among other things I'm sure I'm forgetting. He used many forms of drugs to escape the pain he was feeling. He was a picky drinker, preferring only the most kosher beer(he also chided me for calling wine a 'girls drink.'). He was also a chain-smoker(He once told me he was 'in the trenches for big tobacco'). That said, he always advised me not to do what he was doing.

    I had never fully comprehended what a rough life he had led until I was telling someone about it. When I mentioned his being raped, it struck me. I barely made it out before I broke down. "How could somebody do that to him," I wondered to myself. To say the least, I felt really badly for him. I've always maintained that it was not he who failed society, it was society who failed him. I went to Facebook that night and thanked him for being such a good friend. For the first time ever, he punched 'like' on a Facebook comment. Meeting him was such a heartwarming experience.

    Days later, I asked if I could send him a birthday card(his 31st was 10 days away). He acquiesced, and asked me to keep him company, as there was another commenter on Politics1 that made him feel down(same fellow, by the way, who said my parents should be arrested for child abuse for letting me near Tim). In that same message, he linked to Queen's "You're My Best Friend." For once in my life, I felt useful. I felt I was providing a good man with some much needed friendship in his time of need. I sent the card to him days later, and he thanked me from the bottom of his heart.

    People always had the bad tendency of blurting out things around him. He was something of a legend wherever he went, based solely upon the fact that people perceived him as rather odd in appearance. Apparently, these people were into blurting out things about me when he was around. Someone even said something about me being raped(I wasn't), and Tim wondered if "it was time to get the pickup truck out of retirement and plow down whoever raped my lil buddy Jack." I reassured him that he didn't need to do that, as such actions against me have never transpired. He has also related stories of being called 'gay' while at Church. He ascribed to the old definition of gay(bright and merry), and since he said he was rarely ever such, he was forced to conclude that it was the other, more modern definition.

    Later on in the Summertime, some fellow posing as a friend of mine relayed information, through Facebook Direct Messaging, about me that I'd never intended to make public. Something about my name not being Jack(my real-life name) and how I was autistic. Tim, for the most part, disregarded the former. Regarding the latter, he stated his belief that I was misdiagnosed so that I could have medication forced on me. The fellow then pumped himself up in front of Tim by talking about how he'd always dreamed of going into the military. Tim, an anti-war crusader, urged him to reconsider, recommending the job of a firefighter to him. It didn't matter that the fellow was a bully for trying to influence Tim's view of me, Tim was nice to him just as he was to most others.

    Tim was also a good man to confide in. I remember back in May, 2010, I was talking to him about a girl I had taken an interest in, and he gave me many pieces of advice and regaled me with his own personal stories of love and lust. He said that candy was always a good ice-breaker, the most attractive girls often make almost everyone too shy to approach them, and that girls are often aware of a male's feelings. He talked of his shyness toward a girl, stating that, in order to mellow out, he would smoke profusely. It ended in mysterious, to say the very least, circumstances. While I have not yet used the advice I was given, I did appreciate it very much. He was also a very quotable person when giving his advice/views. On life: "For every table scrap WE beg for there is a steak WE never get to see." On the importance of venting: "Never be afraid to express your self in language. People usually are wrong when they try to GUESS what you are feeling." He's said much, much more that's quotable. An interesting person, no doubt.

    I had a pretty bad habit of thinking I saw him in local public venues, when I really hadn't. His appearance almost entirely escaped me, as his visit now seemed like a dream to both of us. On June 27, 2010, I thought I saw him at Lake Winfield Scott in Suches, GA. The fellow in question had brown, curly hair and had donned a brown shirt and light yellow trunks. I asked him about this later, and he said he'd never even heard of the place, adding he'd been to Anderson, SC, that morning, and in Greenville, SC, that afternoon. He also added that he was happy that I was giving him the thought that I was, noting that he believed I was perhaps the only friend he had left. I found that claim to be flabbergasting, but as time moved on, I found it to be simply sad. In January, 2011, I thought I saw him at an Ingles in Cleveland, GA. The fellow was a tall, thin guy with brown, curly hair and decked out in a green coat. I asked Tim, and he denied it was him. I only got his appearance firmly entrenched in my mind when I saw a picture of him posted after his death. The picture had been taken back in 2007, before we'd met. It is, to date, the only picture I've ever seen of him.

    Our routine internet conversions continued for months. In September, 2010, I decided to start sending him postcards, which were to describe what I was up to as of late. I asked his permission to send them, of course. He obliged me the opportunity, and my postcard arrived at his place in early October. I sent him another in November, and one final one in March, 2011. I was preparing to write another postcard in August, 2011, but because of my recuperating from wisdom teeth removal surgery, it completely slipped my mind. It was one of the last chances I ever got to talk to him. Even though I thought they were half-hearted, droning, boring rambles, he appreciated them very much, just as he did everything else I did for him. I told him shortly after the first one arrived that I considered him my best friend ever, and thanked him. He was quick to remind me that my family were also friends. I disagreed, but accepted his point of view.

    Though he always told me he wasn't the smartest person in the world(he actually used the words 'borderline retarded'), I did learn a couple of interesting historical facts from him. Two examples come to my mind. One day, we got onto the subject of Slavery, and he told me something he learned from the movie "Roots." Slaves apparently sold each other out so that they could avoid harsh treatment dealt by their masters. So much for blacks being a band of brothers. Another time, we were talking about Quebec's failed attempt at sovereignty. I said something to the effect of the United Nations being the ones who quashed the attempts. He corrected me, saying that it was voted down in Quebec on the state and federal levels. A lot of knowledge to be had for someone who was, by his own admission, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    By Fall, 2010, I was already contemplating what to buy Tim for Christmas. I thought the stock market was heading down the toilet, so I figured it to be prudent to buy the stuff now rather than later. I asked him through Facebook Direct Messaging whether he preferred Boston or Judas Priest, stating that I was already planning on buying up things for Christmas. He said Boston, but told me to surprise him. I did. On October 21, 2010, I bought him a Judas Priest compilation in Dahlonega, GA, and on December 4, 2010, I bought him Boston's debut album in Gainesville, GA.

    I asked him in November if he had much pertaining to the Confederate Flag(he was big into the Southern Pride thing), and he said he did have both a Bedford and an Irish Brigade Confederate Flag, so I abstained from buying him the Confederate Flag sun-catcher which I saw at a glass-blowing shop in Helen, GA. But I wanted to do something nice on that front, so I took out my coloured pencils and sketching paper and drew him one. I drew one for me first so that I could get the general feel of how to draw it. I, as a finishing touch, added chocolate gold coins(he told me that he always got them when he was at Cracker Barrel) to the package of gifts.

    When I told him I was going to mail it out soon, he thanked me and told me how nice I was. It was heartwarming to know I'd done something nice for him. I sent it out in mid-December, and it arrived several days later, but not without difficulty. I had not weighed the package, and, as a result, put too little postage on it. He ended up footing the difference for my slipshod work. Embarrassed though I was, we managed. He simply loved the package and its contents. He later told me that the hand-drawn Confederate Flag was the best part of the whole thing. This was the last Christmas I ever got to send him anything.

    Around this time, he regaled me with his plans for what he was going to do for a female friend of his for Christmas. He said he wanted to buy her a car(a pink one, to be exact). I ribbed him a little for the choice of the colour pink and then added that I didn't know that he had the money for such a transaction. He then told me that he was pretty much a poor man, which made his generosity toward her much more of a surprise. Days later, in response to my cousins playing sick again, I asked If he ever had any siblings that he looked forward to seeing at Christmastime as a child. He said that he enjoyed seeing his brother, Daniel, at that particular time of year, but that seeing his brother was always cool, regardless of the Julian Calendar.

    2010 became 2011, and the year started out very badly on my end. On the evening of January 7, I watched an episode in the middle of the sixth season of "ER" where a female cast member I cared for was murdered, which left a significant, to say the least, impact on me. For the first time in my life, I was dealing with depression. I was fully depressed for over two months, until I stopped watching the show after Dr. Romano was killed. I remember the day after I saw the episode where Medical Student Lucy Knight was killed, I was conversing with Tim through Facebook mobile, and for the first time, I was genuinely happy. Throughout that time, Tim was the one man who kept me from losing my mind. I remained in an off and on state of depression over that particular matter until the day he died.

    It was during this time that I started making claims which genuinely concerned him, claims driven by my newfound paranoia. Concerned, he found my cell phone number on my Facebook profile and called. We spoke for less than a minute, but I reassured him that everything was fine on my end of the line. We ended the conversation, and later conversed through Facebook chat. He talked about how euphoric the experience of calling me was, and sort of apologized for not noticing my number before. I accepted, as I never expected him to have use for it in the first place. We conversed a lot in those weeks after I saw the episode, which really kept me from going off the deep end. I mentioned the episode once, and while he didn't respond to it, I felt that he had at least read it and understood it.

    It was during one of these conversations that we discovered, to our mutual elation, that we had both watched "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" as youths. I immediately sent him a clip of my favourite moment from the series, which was where Uncle Phil punched out the father of the girl who was bullying Ashley. He also mentioned once that he was happy to see me link to "Tuesday's Gone" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, from the LP he'd gotten me, on my Facebook profile. Ahh, fun times. He would call me later that month, asking me if I was interested in joining him for the May 5 SC GOP Presidential Primary Debate. I missed the call, but contacted him through Facebook the following day. I declined the invitation, citing the fact that I'd probably not be able to obtain the permission of my parents.

    Winter became Spring, and with that, another good friend of mine came back home after vacationing in FL for three months. On March 15, 1011, I voiced my belief that that particular day seemed like the kind of day he'd be coming back. I also voiced my concern that Cody, the fellow who I later learned had sent Tim the aforementioned messages about me, would feed said friend lines of crap about me in an effort to get me cut off. Tim then engaged me in the discussion, and along the way, he got lost in that labyrinth of a conversation.

    Confused, Tim rang me up, and we talked for a total of 69 minutes. It was a wide-spanning discussion. We started off talking about the aforementioned topics. Shortly thereafter, he mentioned what Cody had told him about me. We then moved off into music, where he stated that he, unlike Cody and his pals, had no problem with my being into Jim Morrison's music. He reflected on his interest in groups like Pink Floyd(adding that he'd listened to "The Wall" back-to-back many times) and Queen(adding that he had their burgundy-coloured compilation album). He also talked about having posters of rock groups draped over his walls when he was younger, mentioning that one could have fun decorating his room with them and that one could get a decent one for $15(to which I replied that I'd seen some of them go for $8).

    We talked about Church, which led to my asking if the churches in Upstate SC were really the size of mini-malls, as I'd heard they were. He said they were pretty big. He also stated that he had gone to church on occasion, adding that he wanted to find out about religion from people who knew. He reminisced about his various experiences in various churches. I then asked if he'd ever gone to a Mormon Church. The answer was affirmative, and he voiced a misgiving over one of their policies. The policy in question was their separating the men from the women during church groups. I added that I thought that may be a shade sexist. I don't remember his response. He mentioned the weather, which led me to mentioned that I had tripped and fallen several times walking up and down my hill. He asked if I had something to keep that from happening, to which I replied that I had in my possession a walking stick, which he recommended vociferously that I use.

    Shortly thereafter, he branched off to something that he believed was a sign of the secessionist movement, of which he was a proud member, gaining steam. He said that, in a commercial that he had watched, the corporation, instead of showing the USA as one nation, separated the states and listed contact information for those individual states. I responded something to the effect of "uh huh." It was all I could do to keep from telling him that this was one of the craziest things I'd ever heard in my then 16 1/2 years of existence. We then went off into his favourite subject, politics.

    It was during this discussion that he made an admission that pretty much summed him up politically: That he, in 2010, had written his name in in every race except for Coroner. He said that he only wrote his name in after asking himself, "Well, what if I did somehow win?" As someone said of him when memorializing him after his death, he was colourful and all over the place. He also made an observation that would later become the official theme surrounding the GOP Presidential Primary: That a lot of people were coming and going. He mentioned Herman Cain, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and perhaps some others.

    I also gave him some news he'd not heard before: That the IL Elections Board had misspelled 2010 Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney's name in several poor neighbourhoods, spelling it 'Rich Whitey.' Not like he was gonna win, anyway! Tim had not heard about this, even though it was 4-5 months old, and looked into it after our phone conversation ended. Shortly after I mentioned the Whitney debacle, our phone conversation winded down. He told me to use my walking stick when I was going up and down the hill, wished me peace, and bade me farewell. It was the last time I ever talked to him over the phone.

    In April, I asked him if it was all right to send him a birthday card, as his 32nd was weeks away. He acquiesced, and received it in the mail about one week before his birthday. It was the last time I ever mailed him anything. On April 9, we both shared recollections of our meeting one year earlier. During these short conversions, I learned that he'd gotten lost 8 times on that trip(3 times on the way over and 5 times on the way back). Seems like a lot to go through just to meet someone, but it all turned out for the best. Days later, he addressed to me his concern that someone might be after him. Didn't find it in my inbox for weeks. I, after finding it, asked why he thought that way. He said that he'd made a lot of adversaries in life.

    On May 12, Tim and I conversed about the GOP Presidential debate, which had been held the previous night. I recalled that I only got to see Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum speak. Only remembered Gary Johnson after Tim mentioned him. I mentioned that I'd still wanted to see Donald Trump jump in and get the nomination. Tim responded that he thought Trump would be a strong candidate, while stating that this was different from wanting to see him win. He then told me about how he'd made the following day his personal holiday. I asked what he'd planned to do. He said he was going to smoke and don a green hat(as a nod to me, as I once told him about the idea of a green cowboy hat). I had planned a camping trip from May 23-27, so I was going to be away for a while.

    Unbeknownst to me, while I was away camping, Tim suffered a massive health relapse which left him in the ICU for 3 days and in the hospital for a total of 6. This was the beginning of the end of Timothy Leal. He had suffered an aortic aneurysm, which stemmed from the genetic disease "Marfans Syndrome." During his hospital stay, he was denied Medicaid for the third time in his life. The doctors had put off surgery, as it was a complex procedure and Tim did not have the money to pay for it. He started taking things very gingerly, as the aneurysm was deemed at high risk for rupturing. He told me that he felt as though he had the body of a late 60 year old. Even though it sounded grim, I was always confident he'd pull through. We talked regularly for the next 2 months. When he vanished in July, I kept a hawks eye on Greenville, SC, area obituaries, thinking that it was possible he could have died.

    In August, I turned 17. Of all the birthday wishes I received, Tim's was the one which stuck out the most, 'cos I knew he was without a doubt the most sincere about it. During this month, however, my paranoia had taken to an all new level. I felt as though I was at war with the world and that most everyone was conspiring against me(except for good old Tim). August 7 featured us talking about music. He asked what I was up to, and I told him I was listening to "Machine Head" by Deep Purple. He asked if it was done in a studio or live setting. I said studio, and he stated his preference for the studio versions.

    Days later, we talked about the Iowa GOP Presidential debates. He had a thing politically for Huntsman, whom he once said he thought he met at Boy Scout camp. He also believed that Huntsman would be a great threat to the overall method of attack by Obama. I had thought Huntsman and Tim Pawlenty flopped at that debate. Tim said Huntsman didn't flop, but that he didn't care for how he pointed his finger at the crowd.

    On August 11, after 4 months of vacation, I started going out on the town with my other friend again. It was around this time that my friendship with Tim seemed to be getting a little tired. Everyone always said he was crazy, but I actually thought of his views as kind of endearing. At this point, however, it seemed as if it all was more pronounced than ever. I decided to take a similar kind of vacation from my friendship with Tim. After all, it had worked so well with the other guy. How could it fail here? Tim was always gonna be there, right? It turned out to be the best medicine for my other friendship, so that was why I decided to take it.

    In retrospect, this was by and far the worst mistake of my entire life. I was taking time off in what turned out to be the final 2-3 weeks of Tim's life. Our conversions were sparse from then on out. I went in for wisdom teeth surgery on August 26, so I would ultimately spend some time recovering from that. But still...

    The following Sunday, August 28, I went through Tim's profile and read a comment he posted 9 days earlier(August 19). He was telling his sister he was not doing well. Instead of believing he'd pull through as I usually did, I found myself coming to the truly horrifying realization that Tim was, indeed, reaching the end of the line. I asked him what was going on. He never answered, and such was the last comment I would ever make to him. I quickly put the thought out of my mind, which made the events that transpired exactly one week later all the more shocking.

    Tim's last comment to me came the following day, on Monday, August 29, 2011, when he informed me that South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson had endorsed Jon Huntsman Jr. for the GOP Presidential nomination. This was the last chance I had to talk to him, but I couldn't think of an adequate way to respond, so I left it at that.

    September, 2011, began on some of the happiest notes of the entire year. On Friday, September 2, after recovering from mouth surgery, I went up to Blue Ridge, GA, with my other friend. I bought a Jethro Tull t-shirt, a Sammy Hagar LP, and numerous jigsaw puzzles. I also scouted out stores looking for prospective Christmas gifts for Tim, who I was warming up to again. I had figured I'd buy him Boston's 4th studio release("Walk On") and some Pink Floyd and Beatles related items.

    The following day, Saturday, September 3, I went down to Dawsonville, GA, and checked out a since-closed bookstore at the Outlet Malls. I had considered buying Tim "The Reagan Diaries(Tim was a fan of Reagan the man and idea, not so much his policies)," but since it was pretty far from Christmas, I abstained. I sat on a park bench that afternoon, thinking to myself. I thought of Tim and my other friend a lot. Later visited the Antique Mall which sold the Boston CD I was looking for. Again, I abstained, as Christmas was pretty far off. I came home that day tired. I spent some time on the internet and went to sleep around 10 or 11 that evening.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011, is a day I won't ever forget for as long as I'm alive. It started off like any other Sunday. I woke up, got out of bed, showered, and got ready for Church. I arrived shortly before 11 AM. At greeting time, me and my other friend greeted each other and spoke for the last time before he went to Charleston, SC, for a few weeks. Saw a very lovely young girl(few years younger than myself) at church that day. She had long brown-ish hair. Just beautiful.

    I was on my way home when I uncovered this compilation set of my mother's, which featured many songs I liked("Hitchin' a Ride," "Beach Baby," "Draggin' the Line," "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight," "She's Not There," etc.). I took it home and ripped the songs to Windows Media Player. As I was doing so, I thought of myself on-stage singing "Beach Baby" with a band, and Tim cheering in the audience. The day was turning out to be a pretty average day so far. I finished the burning around 3:30 PM, and spoke to my mother about Labor Day plans. She'd wanted to go back down to Dawsonville to return something. I'd considered that, as well as doing schoolwork(I'm Homeschooled). I preliminarily opted for schoolwork.

    At around 6 PM, I was in a state of deep thought about the year. It was that night that I finally made peace with what had happened in that dreadful ER episode(embarrassing as it is, it did take some time for me to get over something that minor). After all that, I fathomed a plan that would surely jump-start my year. I was going to make my way back to Tim, and we were going to be closer than ever. This vacation I had taken appeared to have been the good medicine that I thought it would be.

    By 7:30 PM, I was in a deep contemplative state about what to buy him for Christmas. In addition to Boston, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Ronald Reagan related items, I also considered the aforementioned Confederate Flag sun-catcher, a couple of records from my record collection that I hadn't gotten into, t-shirts, CD's, and DVD's. Simply put, I was intending to put a whole lot of money and effort into him for Christmas(though, in fairness, I would have most likely culled the list down to something more reasonable and co-ordinated). In fact, I would have gotten so much that I was contemplating even making a special trip out to SC to deliver them to him in person. It was a grand idea! I could just see the look on his face in my mind. He would have been so happy.

    Unfortunately, by the time I was thinking of all this, Tim was already gone. At around 8 PM, I was pacing the front lawn, thinking about the approaching weather(Tropical Storm Lee was about to make landfall). I immediately started envisioning myself in a scenario where me and Tim were talking, and I was regaling him with old war stories of my weather experiences. I actually felt as though he was listening to me, and he might very well have at that particular moment. I went back inside shortly thereafter and watched TV until a quarter of 11 that evening. I readied for bed and said goodnight, under the assumption that I was doing schoolwork the following day.

    I couldn't get to sleep that night. I thought a lot about Tim and that ER episode. I soon determined myself to go to sleep, telling myself that the sooner I did, the sooner I'd wake up and be able to send Tim a message asking what all he had so I'd know what to get him for Christmas. I almost got to sleep. Almost. At 11:26 PM, my cell phone went off. I'd gotten texts all day about Tropical Storm Lee from the Weather Channel, so I'd just assumed sit on that one. But something felt different about this one. I could feel a nagging sense of urgency about this one. 2 minutes later, my curiosity and paranoia complex ate me alive. I answered this one. It was not the Weather Channel(though I wish it was). It was Facebook. I immediately thought "Oh, hi Tim! How are you doing tonight?" I thought there might be storms in his area, which would have explained his messaging me. It wasn't like that at all.

    Tim's Aunt Mary had messaged me. As soon as I recognized the name of the sender, my heart sank. For her to message me, of all people, when she did(late evening), I knew it was bad. I couldn't quite make out the words, as I was pretty hazy-eyed from nearly going to sleep. The text stated that her nephew, Tim Leal, had "left earth" that morning. I'm thinking "Huh? What? Left earth? I...oh my God." Immediately, my mental image of Tim as a child popped into my head. He was playing in the front yard of a vast estate with who I assume were his siblings. James Taylor's "Fire & Rain" was playing in my head, and I was in stunned silence.

    Timothy Peter Leal, my acquaintance of 3 years and friend for 2 years, was dead at the age of 32. I had no clue the circumstances surrounding his death, and thought it to be inappropriate to ask at that time. I knew of his aortic aneurysm, and for days, that was my guess regarding a cause.

    Immediately, I went to turn the routers on so that I could inform the site that Tim and I frequented(Politicaldog101) that he was gone. I told my mother, and it hit me as it was rolling off my tongue. My best friend was dead. I soon got online and informed everyone. I went to bed around 1 AM, after the bulletin I'd posted had been bumped to the front page. I also asked for the day off the following day. It was after I turned out the lights that I simply broke down. Everyone was shocked at his passing, even the bitterest of enemies. The outpouring of support by his friends, family, and blogging community were moving.

    Monday, September 5, was a rainy, dreary day. I was in Dawsonville at a restaurant, and the radio station that was on was playing the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus is Just All Right." More than mildly inappropriate, as that was the last thing I was thinking at that moment. Tropical Storm Lee may have been producing tornadic thunderstorms in Atlanta, moving northward, but I couldn't have given any less of a damn. I remember managing to wade through the limitations and hurdles put in place by my little flip-phone(this was before I got an Android) and reading blog commentors' reactions to news of Tim's death. All very touching, as I sat out in the car in the ensuing downpour. It was perhaps the dreariest day of my entire life.

    September 6 marked 21 years since CCR founder Tom Fogerty had died, so I uploaded a "Who'll Stop the Rain" video. I also dedicated it in memory of Tim, just as the Allman Brothers Band had done with the albums "Eat a Peach" for Duane Allman and "Brothers and Sisters" for Berry Oakley. No song could have been a better choice. It was a dreary song for a dreary time. As I was reflecting on my 3 years with him, the lyrics to "Sad Cafe" by the Eagles made a little more sense to me.

    On Thursday, September 8, I hit rock bottom. As I read the funeral arrangements posted by his brother-in-law, it finally hit me that he was gone. Later that day, I read on his brother's Twitter feed the 'official' cause of death. Tim had, apparently, died of a heart attack at his home in Clemson, SC. At least I had some closure(That said, the term 'heart attack' is very broad-sweeping in nature, so we'll probably never really know what killed him that fateful morning). I, regrettably, couldn't make it to the funeral because I'd received the plans on such short notice. His obituary was posted in the Washington Post on September 9, and he was buried at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, VA, on September 10.

    When I was depressed over the ER episode and life in general, Tim kept me from going insane. After Tim died, I can't say my sanity has entirely remained intact. That said, this post has been a release of some pent-up emotions and experiences I'd always wanted to relate. My 3 years with Tim were truly a special time in my life. While I may have delved a bit into my own personal matters, I have only done so to put some of Tim's most notable actions and my experiences in context.

He would have turned 33 today. RIP, Timothy Leal! I'll never forget you!

Friday, April 20, 2012

In Which I Pull the Plug on Erin Burnett OutFront


There can be no denying that Erin Burnett is one of the most dynamic personalities to ever grace the cable news pantheon. She reports the facts fairly and backing down from her reporting is not the done thing. Yes, her ratings always were an issue, but I always thought she'd pull through. If these numbers, among the other recent numbers taken in since her return, are any indication, I may have missed the mark by a sizable stretch. I was an early backer of the show, and I still support it(and will go down with the ship defending her and her show), but the numbers don't lie, and even I recognize that this isn't good. Her numbers are in free fall, pure and simple. Yes, I feel she was railroaded, but the attempts of a few stoned lefties usually don't have this kind of a drag on the ratings.

When I started regularly watching in November, I was impressed with the delivery and format, and thought the masses would be as well. I thought her to be another Cronkite/Murrow. People just neither got into her nor even really noticed her. Mainly, they perceived her a certain way. I disagree with those perceptions, but perception is the name of the game. That's just the way it goes in news. It's all about ratings. When you get views, you get money. When you get money, you can expand your franchise. For ratings alone, I will now ask CNN to put the sick puppy out of its misery. CNN can ill afford to continue giving air time to a show that, if anything, is dragging down CNN's Primetime/Total Day numbers. CNN is a business, and as a business, they can ill afford to operate in the red in comparison to previous years' showings. I fail to see why CNN keeps them on, as I do not believe their ratings will ever improve much beyond 380K in total views and 120K in the key demographic, and I don't see where any amount of re-tooling will help them the way it did with "Piers Morgan Tonight." Hell, OutFront's ratings as of late make those already weak average numbers look stellar by comparison.

Simply put, "OutFront" has become ratings road kill in recent days. There is no noticeable way in which they can re-tool the show, so it will have to be overhauled soon. CNN makes the decisions, I know, but I believe it to be in their best interests to put it to sleep before they go even deeper into the red. Who should replace the inimitable Burnett when she goes? I think John Avlon would be a great choice. He shares her resonant qualities, while not coming off as a snarky know-it-all, which is what rubs many people the wrong way regarding Burnett.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Turn to Stone: Why the State of Modern American Politics has Depressed both Turnout and Interest in the Electoral Process

With every election cycle, it appears voter turnout is on a downward trajectory. Many factors have led to decreased turnout and depressed interest in elections. I will do my best to explain these factors in the next paragraphs.

A major factor in depressed turnout is the perception of an out-of-touch government. And who could blame them? Congress acts on its own accord, passing laws without public consent, and townhall meetings have been reduced to campaign rallies and canned stump speeches. Eventually, the public realizes that they're not given a real choice in the elections. They're just voting for the lesser of the two evils. And soon enough, the public gets bored with the whole thing. Why do you think turnout is, best case scenario, 30% in most places? People have lost interest in voting for a Congress seemingly independent of the people that voted them in and canned stump speeches. Then there's the matter of the endless campaigning.

Campaigns, it seems, tend to start the day after the last election was held. It is believed that the only way to remain visible is to do the political equivalent to Bob Dylan's "Never Ending Tour." Instead of campaigning all the time, the politician needs to represent the values of his constituents and be held accountable for how he votes. Townhall meetings should be utilized to get the pulse of the voting public regarding one matter or the other. But that would be too inconvenient for the politicians, wouldn't it? This is why Congress' approvals don't crack double digits. And have you seen some of the advertisements they run, which trash their opposition? Ugh.

When a politician hasn't done his job right and he knows it, he doesn't admit his sins to the public. Oh no. Instead, he seeks to define his opposition through the use of attack ads. These ads are considered his best option if he wants to survive this election cycle, and, to some extent, they are right. These ads have been known to swat on-the-fence voters who tune into the election later than most. But they can also leave a sour taste in people's mouths, resulting in a politicians' eventual defeat. These ads also play a pivotal role in turning people off entirely to politics, which often leads to depressed turnout.

These are what I believe to be the major reasons for the high level of disinterest in participating in our electoral system. I hope I have presented my reasons in a clear and ordered fashion, and have educated people in the process.

PS, 3 years ago yesterday, the Tea Party came to the forefront of modern American Politics. This is a tribute to them.

"Turn to Stone" is an unsung political anthem written by Joe Walsh and Terry Trebandt, which describes the frustrations of average Americans toward a seemingly corrupt, tyrannical government(written during the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's resignation). The term "turn to stone" alludes to Americans performing a sort of Midas Touch on the system, except the government is not deemed worthy enough to be turned into gold. They are, instead, turned to stones. In other words, the government officials are reduced to what the average American experiences on a day-to-day basis.

This is one man's interpretation of the song. Enjoy.

Rider on the Storm: Why I Admire Erin Burnett


In life, everybody has somebody that they admire. Usually, people admire somebody for bravery in combat, a willingness to speak out/report on divisive issues, or giving their life for a cause. For me, this person showed a willingness to report on divisive issues fairly and impartially. That person is CNN anchor Erin Burnett, and I will explain why I think so in the following paragraphs.

Burnett got her big break on the business network CNBC, and during her 5 1/2 years on that network, she established a reputation as someone who reported the facts and called it as she saw it. For example, on the market advice show "Mad Money," Jim Cramer, the host, did a report on a policy implementation by then-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, which was confirmed to have resulted in the deaths of many camels. Burnett, a camel lover in her own right, called out Rudd as a "serial killer." Cramer backed her up, referring to it as "camelicide." Based on the facts of the story and due to her reputation as a camel lover, she was willing to call it as she saw it. That, in my view, deserves much praise.

On the first airing of her new show, entitled "Out Front," she did a report on Occupy Wall Street, which garnered a lot of blowback, to say the least. The report featured her interviewing some of the protesters, which showed them to be the shallow fools that they were. She added that, if all they needed to know was that we had, indeed, made money off of the Wall Street bailouts, it seemed just a little pointless. In responding to critics, such as obscure media "critic" David Zurawik and that paragon of Leftism, legend in his own mind, and film-maker Michael Moore, she did not back down, and told them all to "get real." To me, reporting the facts about OWS and not backing down showed a lot of courage and deserved more praise than it got.

On the February 16, 2012, airing of "Out Front," Burnett did a report on Iranian nuclear capabilities. In it, she highlighted the great dangers these bombs posed, how the USA is responding, and how we would need to respond. She then interviewed Congressman and terrorism expert Peter King. They talked about the threats for several minutes, and then it was off to other stories. Blowback came the following day in the form of Glenn Greenwald and the long-ago irrelevant Matt Taibbi, and she would not back down from her reporting, saying she was proud of herself and her team for the reporting they had done. This also showcased her courage and deserved more praise.

These are but a few examples of the journalistic integrity and courage that Erin Burnett has shown and exemplified in her years of reporting. Obviously, not everybody will agree with my assessment of her, but I still hope to have presented my case in a clear fashion and hope to have, in the end, done her and her show some long overdue justice.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Crap Ain't King: Why we Appreciate Things More When They're Earned Versus When They're Attained Cheaply

It was Thomas Paine who once said that "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap we esteem too lightly." Many people either agree or disagree with this statement. I am one who agrees.

I agree with the first part of Paine's statement because history demonstrates the truth of it repeatedly. Thomas Paine was encouraging his fellow Americans to persist in the Revolutionary War. Fighting it wasn't easy, but the result was the beginning of the nation that became the strongest on earth. Another example of the truthfulness of Paine's statement is America's involvement in World War II. America and the Allied Powers fought against the Axis Powers for just short of four years. Overcoming steep odds, America and the Allied Powers won, resulting in celebrations worldwide.

History has also shown that we don't place high regard for what we attain at little or no cost. A case in point is the fact that President Lyndon Johnson won his bid for a full term with little difficulty. Johnson was thrust into the Presidency by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and was viewed as simply continuing Kennedy's policies. He went on to waste his capital on unsuccessful poverty programs and an unnecessary conflict in Vietnam. These policies, for the most part, alienated even his most ardent supporters. Johnson opted for early retirement, knowing he couldn't win another term.

Obviously, I thoroughly agree with Paine's statement because history has validated both parts of it. I'm sure, if time permitted, I could easily give similar proofs of the truth of Paine's statement by examining the experiences of both companies and private citizens.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't You Tell Me 'Bout Your Peace of Mind: Why Materialism is a Cancer that is Eating Away our Society

In recent decades, people have put ever increasing value on the acquisition of "stuff." Spending sprees are, nowadays, considered an instrumental part of life. Sometimes, people buy things for the sake of buying them. They may be trying to go out of their way for someone or trying to ease their own ills, such as depression. This epidemic is known as "materialism," and I believe it is a cancer that is eating away at society. These next paragraphs will explain why I believe this.

Before I get into the new normals of lapping up more and more luxuries that we see every day, I will relate experiences of my own. I have tended to spend decent sums wherever I go. Whether it is at record stores, book stores, or other stores, I find myself buying things to satisfy whatever interest I have. When I was depressed, and even looser with my money, I would buy up things that interested me so that I could fill a void, bring me back to my normal self, or whatever I was trying to do. I bought things that, as time went by, I found I'd not much need for. Some of those things were items I later chose to give away. I was merely trying trying to immerse myself in other things, instead of admitting I was down and needed to get up. This, I believe, is the root of all materialism, which is a root of evil.

The latest fashion fads never cease to amaze me. Here, we have youngsters putting their parents' money into clothes. These aren't just any clothes, mind you, they're "cool clothes." The kind of clothes that make you look "cool" to other people. Kids today are selling their souls just so they can "look cool" and gain "friends" along the way. It's all a futile endeavor, really. If one can't see someone for who he/she is, and instead they have to sell out to you, then that, my friends, is no kind of friendship at all. No respect is earned, and it all shows a certain lack of self respect. Self respect was what used to get people through the day, sweating, slaving, and saving to put food on the table. Materialism, particularly fashion fads, doesn't gain you any real friends. All it does is show that you've got neither character nor respect for yourself. Looking cool is great in the moment, but what will you do when the moment's gone?

Lifestyles of the rich and famous also bring the cancer of materialism to the fore. Take, for example, everyone's dream of, when famous and having other peoples money at your disposal, owning an expensive, luxury car. Many famous types own a vast collection of these type cars. For what, really? Are they for show like most of the female Fox News anchors? Are we aspiring to look "cool" while driving down the highway? It's all pointless, really. Driving is not supposed to be "cool." The places you're visiting? Yes. The driving itself? No. Driving is merely what you do to get from one town to the next. It's all a vain attempt to sell out to society's standards, and is, again, another indicator of a lack of both character and self respect. And I will never get the point of collecting Porsche's as if they are little Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. Never.

In conclusion, I hope to have clearly and educatedly presented and articulated my view of materialism. Even if you're not convinced of my point, I still hope I've given you something to think about as you go through your day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

CNN News Programming Grades as of 4/9/12

These are my grades of the weekday programming on CNN, the network I go to for news.

Erin Burnett OutFront-98%(A+)
CNN Newsroom-98%(A+)
The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer-96%(A)
Anderson Cooper 360-91%(A-)
John King USA-88%(B+)
Piers Morgan Tonight-86%(B)
Starting Point-82%(B-)
Early Start-51%(F)

My notes on the grading of the 8 shows.

1. Again, haven't seen much OutFront lately. Did catch a little on Friday, when Daily Beast Pundit John Avlon was sub-hosting for Erin Burnett. She'd better watch out, 'cos Avlon has a style that channels hers pretty well, and I can see him as more appealing to the kind of people she may have turned off. Brooke Baldwin, my favorite, will be sub-hosting for the next few days, paving the way for a blockbuster week ahead.

2. Baldwin is the only attention holder for me, and she does a pretty good job of it. She did a good job of covering the plane crash in Virginia Beach, VA, in which there were no fatalities. She also did a good job of covering the Texas tornadoes, which tossed 12,000 pound tractor-trailers all around. It was really quite something. It was, indeed, a miracle no one died in those tornadoes. Brooke's got a real future in the news business. I just hope that she doesn't end up at that rat trap beauty pageant that is Fox News, 'cos being made up in an ongoing effort on the part of Fox News to pander to the horndog quotient won't do her any favours. Same goes for Erin Burnett.

3. Joe Johns did a decent job sub-hosting for Wolf Blitzer on Friday. Blitzer still proves to be a good interviewer, as evidenced by his interviews with Nikki Haley, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, etc. Right now, Wolf is the closest thing CNN has to Fox's Geraldo Rivera. They're both paragons of journalism in their own right.

4. "Anderson Cooper 360" remains the top-rated show on CNN. The few times I'm actually in a room that has a TV tuned in to the show, it has been good. No major fumbles as of late, so they remain steady in the grading. That said, Blitzer seems entirely out of place when he's sub-hosting on AC360. Like Bob Dole jamming at a rap concert.

5. King's show is usually good, but having Gloria Borger sub-host is a bit much at times. She doesn't have a style that resonates in a good way. They need to have the lovely Kate Bolduan sub-host when King's off. Hell, even the atrocious Jeff Toobin would be a better sub-host than Borger. At least he would have more of a resonant style.

6. Piers did a good interview with Lionel Ritchie, but I think we all could have lived without Piers alluding to his sex life in the process. That said, the show has much improved over the past year.

7. "Starting Point" has avoided controversy as of late, so their grade average holds steady.

8. I smell something dead. Do you?

Monday, April 2, 2012

CNN News Programming Grades as of 4/2/12

These are my grades of the weekday programming on CNN, the network I go to for news.

Erin Burnett OutFront-98%(A+)
CNN Newsroom-97%(A)
The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer-95%(A)
Anderson Cooper 360-91%(A-)
John King USA-90%(A-)
Piers Morgan Tonight-84%(B)
Starting Point-81%(B-)
Early Start-51%(F)

My notes on the grading of the 8 shows.

1. Haven't watched OutFront lately, so I can't really judge. Haven't heard anything negatory, so the grade stays the same as last week.

2. Let's drop the cloak of impartiality right now. I only watch for Brooke, end of story, and I grade the series based on what I see in those two hours. The big story this past week has been her interview with Representative Corrine Brown(D-FL). Brooke really nailed her when she asked her the name of the white girl who was murdered, but to Brown's credit, she did tweet Brooke the name of the girl later on(I follow Brooke on Twitter. She follows me as well.). That said, not all that watch Newsroom follow either of them. It's all a matter a perception and mindset. I'm so glad that most people side with Brooke on this one, but it gives me a great deal of heartburn to think that there's a small, but vocal, crowd who is hating her for doing what no one else is doing, and that is reporting the facts, regardless of what may come next. That's real journalism, and I praise her.

3. This show continues to reign as the top political heavy show on CNN, but Wolf "We will watch OutFront, just as we do every...single...night" Blitzer still hits those potholes which arise from trying to be modern instead of trying to be the Jennings-style reporter that he is.

4. I haven't watched lately. Nothing bad has been said, so the grade stays the same.

5. "John King USA" is a good show, but continues to be a ratings drag. It's fallen behind OutFront, who's ratings are on the upswing, in the key demographic as of late. Maybe CNN should give him a White House job and give Kate Bolduan the time slot? Would help the ratings a good bit. Must also note that his substitute today, Jessica Yellin, has improved a lot. Maybe it's that JKUSA is easier to carry than "The Situation Room," or maybe she's just an acquired taste much in the way Tom "Goofy" Foreman is.

6. Improved by a good clip. Decent interviews with the likes of Lionel Richie(who's music I'm no fan of) and Rick Santorum. He and Erin Burnett will be there a long time.

7. Easily better than "Early Start," but this time slot's at its worst ratings since before 9/11. Will last longer that "Early Start," but, if they don't turn the ship around soon, maybe not by much.

8. That time slot's at its worst ratings since before 9/11. Need I say more? Never thought I'd say this, but I'm thinking I prefer Banfield to Sambolin. Banfield can play reporter, as evidenced by today's CNN Newsroom, while Sambolin's just another one of those MSNBC mentality ambush reporters. The show will not last long, IMO.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 Elections Predictions

Here's how I think the 2012 elections shape up 7 months out.

United States Presidency:

Mitt Romney/Rick Perry(337 EV's)(50.3%)-AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NH, NC, ND, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI, WY
Barack Obama/Joe Biden(179 EV's)(44.5%)-CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, MD, MA, NY, RI, VT, WA
Gary Johnson/Jesse Ventura(26 EV's)(5.1%)-ME, MN, NM, OR

United States Senate:

Arizona: Jeff Flake(R) 59-41 over Richard Carmona(D). GOP HOLD.
California: Dianne Feinstein(D) 57-43 over Dirk Konopik(R). DEM HOLD.
Connecticut: Chris Murphy(D) 53-47 over Chris Shays(R). DEM GAIN.
Delaware: Tom Carper(D) 62-38 over Kevin Wade(R). DEM HOLD.
Florida: Cornelius Mack(R) 52-48 over Bill Nelson(D). GOP GAIN.
Hawaii: Ed Case(D) 55-45 over Linda Lingle(R). DEM HOLD.
Indiana: Richard Mourdock(R) 58-42 over Joe Donnelly. GOP HOLD.
Maine: Charlie Summers(R) 39-37-24 over Angus King(I) and Matt Dunlap(D). GOP HOLD.
Maryland: Ben Cardin(D) 60-40 over Dan Bongino(R). DEM HOLD.
Massachusetts: Scott Brown(R) 53-47 over Elizabeth Warren(D). GOP HOLD.
Michigan: Pete Hoekstra(R) 54-46 over Debbie Stabenow(D). GOP GAIN.
Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar(D) 55-45 over Dan Severson(R). DEM HOLD.
Mississippi: Roger Wicker(R) 68-32 over Albert N. Gore Jr.(D) GOP HOLD.
Missouri: Sarah Steelman(R) 56-44 over Claire McCaskill(D). GOP GAIN.
Nebraska: Don Stenberg(R) 71-29 over Bob Kerrey(D). GOP GAIN.
Nevada: Dean Heller(R) 53-46 over Shelley Berkeley(D). GOP HOLD.
New Jersey: Bob Menendez(D) 51-47 over Joe Kyrillos(R). DEM HOLD.
New Mexico: Heather Wilson(R) 54-45 over Martin Heinrich(D). GOP GAIN.
North Dakota: Rick Berg(R) 52-47 over Heidi Heitkamp(D). GOP GAIN.
Ohio: Josh Mandel(R) 52-48 over Sherrod Brown(D). GOP GAIN.
Pennsylvania: Bob Casey Jr.(D) 51-46 over Tom Smith(R). DEM HOLD.
Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse(D) 69-31 over Barry Hinckley(R). DEM HOLD.
Tennessee: Bob Corker(R) 72-28 over Grover Mullins Jr.(D). GOP HOLD.
Texas: David Dewhurst(R) 64-36 over Paul Sadler(D). GOP HOLD.
Utah: Orrin Hatch(R) 61-39 over Pete Ashdown(D). GOP HOLD.
Vermont: Bernie Sanders(I/D) 70-30 over John MacGovern(R). INDY/DEM HOLD.
Virginia: George Allen(R) 52-48 over Tim Kaine(D). GOP GAIN.
Washington: Maria Cantwell(D) 55-44 over Michael Baumgartner(R). DEM HOLD.
West Virginia: Joe Manchin(D) 55-43 over John Raese(R). DEM HOLD.
Wisconsin: Mark Neumann(R) 51-48 over Tammy Baldwin(D). GOP GAIN.
Wyoming: John Barrasso(R) runs unopposed. GOP HOLD.

State Governorships:

Delaware: Jack Markell(D) 65-35 over Jeff Cragg(R). DEM HOLD.
Indiana: Mike Pence(R) 59-41 over John Gregg(D). GOP HOLD.
Missouri: Jay Nixon(D) 57-43 over Dave Spence(R). DEM HOLD.
Montana: Rick Hill(R) 55-45 over Steve Bullock(D). GOP GAIN.
New Hampshire: Ovide LaMontagne(R) 56-44 over Maggie Hassan(D). GOP GAIN.
North Carolina: Pat McCrory(R) 58-42 over Walter Dalton(D). GOP GAIN.
North Dakota: Jack Dalrymphle(R) 60-40 over Ryan Taylor(D). GOP HOLD.
Utah: Gary Herbert(R) 77-23 over Peter Cooke(D). GOP HOLD.
Vermont: Peter Shumlin(D) 56-44 over Randy Brock(R). DEM HOLD.
Washington: Rob McKenna(R) 55-45 over Jay Inslee(D). GOP GAIN.
West Virginia: Bill Maloney(R) 51-47 over Earl Tomblin(D). GOP GAIN.

Democratic Nomination Odds as of 4/1/12

Barack Obama(65%)-The DNC may be trying to roll him along, but the voters are beginning to smell a rat.

Someone else(25%)-A clear, coherent, reasonant argument for a brokered Democratic Convention has been coming together these past few months. Obama's constant under-performing has given the masses much pause.

Randall Terry(6%)-His shocking second place finish in OK, resulting in his gaining 7 delegates, has earned him some free press and is putting some wind in those sails. Maybe some come from behind victories in Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming will result in Obama bowing out of the Primaries. Maybe.

Jim Rogers(2%)-He'll soon be out, as his "Favorite Son" campaign in OK only netted him 3 delegates

Darcy Richardson(1%)-Q: Will his fame for being an internet blogger earn him any real support? A: Not in the very least.

Bob Ely(1%)-Bob who?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Does the Mittster get a Rise out of Being Hugged by Southern Girls?

Read this piece and determine for yourself:

In an attempt to reach out to Southern voters, Mitt Romney found a way to mix age, women and hugs all in one.

At a campaign rally in Mobile, Alabama, Romney emphasized that he wants voters -- specifically the female contingent -- to embrace his White House run.

"Please give us a big hug, that's the girls," he said, according to Politico. "I've been getting hugs from the Southern girls … from 12, to well, a lot more than 12."

While Mitt touted these lovable moments, he and the rest of GOP field have been criticized for their stances on contraception. Rick Santorum called out his rival for switching positions on the Blunt Amendment. Romney also faced some heat for not directly denouncing Rush Limbaugh's "slut" outburst. When asked about the explosive remarks, he said they were "not the language" he would have used.

So, Mitt gets a rise out of being hugged? Well, if he loves generic southern girls hugging him, then I know he'd LOVE to be hugged by the 2 southern girls I'm interested in. Could this fellow become the GOP's equivalent to Bill Clinton? Don't know, but it looks that way. The only question left is this: How will “Hug-gate” affect Romney’s showing in the April 3 Wisconsin Primary? Again, don't know, but it definitely wasn’t a smart move for him to say that. Shows how he thinks of women.

(PS, may God forgive me for linking to HuffPo)

CNN News Programming Grades as of 3/26/12

These are my grades of the weekday programming on CNN, the network I go to for news.

Erin Burnett OutFront-98%(A+)
The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer-95%(A)
CNN Newsroom(as a whole, 9 AM-4 PM)-95%(A)
Anderson Cooper 360-91%(A-)
John King USA-90%(A-)
Starting Point-81%(B-)
Piers Morgan Tonight-79%(C+)
Early Start-51%(F)

My notes on the grading of the 8 shows.

1. This show continues to reign as the top show on CNN. Recently, Burnett gained publicity for decrying the war on women in both parties. At first, I was inclined to be dismissive about it. After actually watching the segment, I can say she made her points clearly and coherently, and I agreed with her. Erin Burnett's a great journalist, without question, and the show is poised for international acclaim.

2. "The Situation Room" continues to be the one-stop-shop for news and Opinion. Wolf, however, is still trying to hit the 21st century sprinting. He tries talking up things of the modern day, but it just sounds so deadpan in the delivery. Kinda like Larry Kudlow's shouting at Jim Cramer at the end of "Mad Money." What will he do next? Don a hoodie for Trayvon Martin? Yeah, that should go over well. Like a cat in a sweater.

3. I freely admit to only watching when Brooke Baldwin(my favorite) is on, but what I do watch of her show, plus tidbits of the other shows, is quality news programming, nonetheless. Decked out with reporters/anchors who ask the tough questions, there's a reason these shows are the big ratings draw on CNN. And Brooke and her show are just amazing!

4. Don't watch him much. Haven't heard of any "Starting Point"-style scandals, so that's good. He's no doubt been all over the Trayvon Martin case in recent days, as someone of his caliber should be. AC360 holds steady, grading-wise.

5. King's show remains a quality news show, though not a ratings draw by any means. He and his sidekick Kate Bolduan continue to deliver the news we need to know as it happens. One recommendation: Since John King and Dana Bash are going their own ways, she needs to stop appearing on shows he anchors. Avoid the cringe-fests at all costs! CBS had rules opposing this kind of practice back in the days of Edward R. Murrow. Why should we not prohibit this practice today?

6. Now that the fallout from "Race-gate" has subsided, we can get back to reviewing the show on its own merits. I've not watched it lately, so I cannot say for certain whether they've improved. Let's just say their avoiding controversy for this short space in time is a plus.

7. Had the opportunity to, in between watching weeks-old airings of CNN Newsroom, see Piers Morgan's end of-show "editorial" regarding the issues on his mind. Pretty good, I must say. His show has improved, going from straight-up entertainment to a blend of entertainment, news, and opinion. Like Anderson Cooper plus the accent. This show(and, for that matter, OutFront) will continue to be a fixture on the CNN Primetime scene, even after Cooper is canned.

8. Wow, I thought Ashleigh Banfield was bad. I recently got the chance to watch Zorabia Sambolin's interview with Joe the Plumber, and GOD is she awful. An ambush reporter in its worst form, she wouldn't let him get a word in. What king of reporting is that? These shallow fools are a disgrace to CNN and journalism as a whole. "Early Start" sucks. Period. End. Of. Story.

Some other musings:

1. I take to my absolute favorite CNN female talents the way die-hard Led Zeppelin fans take to "Stairway to Heaven."

2. Lizzie O'Leary's usage of literal fairy tales to explain HCR is about as comical as Tom Foreman's Virtual Convention.

3. Wanna know how I knew Brooke wouldn't be on CNN today(3/26)? She didn't tweet today. She doesn't tweet much on days she's not on.

4. (Tweeted 3/25)I'm just elated that UNC beat OH. Brooke doing a cheerlead tomorrow for OH would have epitomized a "Hazards of Live TV" moment. Not that I wouldn't have found humour in it. I'm just looking out for the ratings. Some people just don't go for that. Not on par with Erin Burnett's "I'll Stop the World and Flick With You(or whatever the hell that was)" moment, but still...

5. (Tweeted 3/24, night of the LA Primary)Tom Foreman is on. Another virtual convention? Another journey to the center of his mind?

6. Have to say I prefer "John King USA" when John King is on.

7. Back in '08, Ben Stein said we weren't in a recession. Why should I listen to him? At least Brooke didn't ask him to say "Bueller, Bueller."

8. (Tweeted 3/24)Yuck! Don Lemon's trying to be Brooke Bakdwin. "Come on, you know you have." Have what? Thrown the remote through the TV? Yes, I just did. CNN's got the worst substitute anchors of any network. I can count only 3 or 4 that ever did a decent job.

9. (Tweeted 3/20, night of the IL Primary)Why's everybody not congregated at the CNN Center in Atlanta?

10. She's a great journalist(and nothing can change my view there), but the more I see of Erin Burnett, the less I like her.

11. Jimmy Carville is a "great Western Philosopher?" Could've fooled me.

12. I'm spectacularly amused at the Mediaite commentor who called the fellow, who called Erin Burnett a "little lady," a "little boy." +1! Little boys ain't got no influence over nothin'!

13. On 3/8, OutFront did a segment on...rap music! Jesus Christ, guys, stay on course. You're becoming more popular. There is no room for error!