Friday, February 29, 2008

Remember That Bridge?

If you work at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, you can’t really forget it because not only is the site just northwest of the campus, but the twisted pieces of the original bridge are laid out on the west bank of the Mississippi River for investigators. It’s a daily reminder of what happened last August.

This week, the state legislature overrode a veto of a transportation bill by the governor. He vetoes anything with a tax increase attached because of a pledge he made to a special interest group before he was elected the first time, and it’s the opinion of many, including myself, that he has his sights on national office. He can’t very well renege on his pledge now, can he? Even if he has hamstrung the state government and passed on higher fees and property taxes to the citizens of Minnesota in order to “keep his promise,” hurting our schools, neighborhoods, and families in the process. What will really matter is that he can say that he never technically raised taxes.

The bill has passed, and Minnesota drivers will start seeing gas taxes go up by two cents per gallon in April of 2008. It’s being phased in over the next few years with 3.5 to follow in fall of 2008 and 3 more over the next three years. Republicans are grandstanding about government spending and burdens on taxpayers, but legislators who pushed a stadium bill raising taxes and the republican governor who signed it can just shut right up, I think.

While the governor is saying that this tax will propel us from 28th to 7th, Minnesota is actually number 35 out of 50 in the rate at which we tax gas; the first increase puts us to 30th, and the fall increase would put us at a tie for 21st. Including the whole increase over the next three years and figuring that no other state will raise gas taxes, Minnesota will still be number 16 (Rankings from the National Petroleum Institute, further information from Minnesota 2020). Beyond that, a new survey shows that Minnesota has some of the lowest gas prices in the country. We pay an average of $3.03 per gallon, which is 13 cents cheaper than the national average, and only Wyoming, New Jersey, and Missouri have lower average prices (StarTribune, AAA).

Furthermore, MNDoT is essentially broke, and our transportation infrastructure is 20 years behind and in need of upgrades and repair. Again, see: that bridge and the numerous other bridges and roads in need of attention. MNDoT has been spending half its money on new projects and expansion as opposed to preservation and repair, and revenue from the existing gas tax has been going down because it has not even been adjusted for inflation over the last twenty years.

I don’t get it, and I don’t get all the bitching. Where do people think the government gets its money? Government grants? When the government does anything; when the government pays itself; we pay for it. That’s the deal with taxation. Are the governor and opponents of this tax suggesting that this money should come out of nowhere when we are already facing an almost billion dollar deficit? They would probably say that it should come out of all those programs for old, sick, and poor people because it's spending that is out of control in this one-sided coin. It's not a lack of revenue. Taxpayers complaining about this are probably also complaining about their property taxes going up in the last few years. Well, guess what: our property taxes have been going up, in part, because our governor has been passing on costs to the counties and local governments, which have to pay for local roads, schools, and infrastructure.

Apparently, it’s OK for the citizens to pay more in sales tax for a professional sports stadium and subsidize a billion dollar private industry that most people won’t witness, but it’s bad to raise revenue for our roads, bridges, and transportation initiatives.

I know that this is not a debate about the Twins’ Stadium. That’s a done deal, and the taxpayers were not given a say. What I find amusing is the relative furor over this gas tax and what it actually means. It will provide funds that will put Minnesotans to work, and it’s estimated that the economic benefits of such investment outweigh the cost as much as 8-1 (Texan Governor’s Business Council). It’s long over due, and the revenue will still not make up for the ground we have lost over the past 20 years.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Lip Balm is owned by Clorox

I won't allow Clorox in my house, let alone on my face. Now, of course, I am not literally putting bleach on my lips, but I am putting Burt's Bees there, and they are owned by Clorox.

After my bottled water rant, I realized that I had not checked up on my organic food companies in a while to see who had been bought out by whom. For instance, I knew that Cascadian Farms was owned by General Mills and Boca was owned by Kraft which is, in turn, owned by Phillip Morris, but I figured that things had probably changed a bit since I last checked in.

I made a quick pass through my kitchen and bathroom and wrote down the brands I have. I then checked through a few sources to see who I was actually giving my money to.

Tom's of Maine: Colgate
Bearitos: Hain Celestial Food Group
Burt's Bees: AEA Investors (Clorox)
Avalon Organics: Hain
Westbrae: Hain
Muir Glen: General Mills
Santa Cruz: Smuckers
Spectrum Naturals: Hain
Celestial Seasonings: Hain
Kashi: Kellogg
Rudy's Organic Bakery: Charter Baking Company
Barbara's Bakery: Weetabix
Seeds of Change: M&M Mars
Annies: Solera Capital

I am still looking into:
Dr. Haushka (I believe this is a German nonprofit)
Country Choice Organic
Republic of Tea
Good Karma

These guys seem to still own themselves:
Aura Cacia: Frontier Co-op
Frontier: Frontier Co-op
Pacific Natural Foods
Newman's Own
Eden Organics
Cliff/Luna Bars

Other companies still unsullied by takeovers:
Organic Valley
Seventh Generation
Peace Cereal

It's not easy to shop. Now I have more decisions to make and questions to ask about certain products.

1. Is there a locally produced, independently-owned alternative?
2. Can I make it myself?
3. How much do I love the product?
4. How nefarious do I find the controlling interest or parent company?
5. Do I even need this thing?

In many cases, I do have alternatives. We get our organic milk from a local farm in returnable bottles. There's a great salsa company just down the street. We joined an organic CSA for the upcoming season. I can get a lot of locally produced, organic, bulk grains from the co-op and make certain things. I make my toothpowder. There are other organic seed companies. We get our coffee from Peace Coffee.

It just adds one more level of awareness to my shopping habits and opens up new areas where I can improve what I do in our home. It reminds me of how far away we are from our food. Do I really want beans and tomatoes in cans? Sure, it's convenient, but there's bisphenol-A in the lining of over half the cans of food out there, and that's a chemical that mimics estrogen and can lead to reproductive impairment (this chemical is in the plastics of many water bottles as well). Yum!

I know that I can't be perfect in all things, but I can be better. The first step is always finding the information, and passing it on.

Organic Industry July 2007
Organic Industry January 2008
List from Seventh Generation
Organic Investors July 2007
Hain Celestial Food Group

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Blog?

But of course!
Four was not enough.

Please welcome the new arrival, babywhumpus.

It's pretty self explanatory, really, but you might want to go back to the beginning, anyway, if you are at all interested.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

America's Next Top Genius Ape

Wednesday night was Television Night. Dorkchic got me into America's Next Top Model because she might be evil, and the new cycle started that night. Lest my IQ drop too far, we planned to watch Nova directly afterwards. Little did I know how comparable these two shows would be.

On the Model show, there was pushing and screaming and crying; women were being held off from having actual physical fights within the first few hours of meeting each other. We were witness to pettiness, arrogance, stupidity, greed, immaturity, and instability all rolled up into 35 women aged 18-24. It makes me proud of my gender.

On Nova, it was "Ape Genius," where there was teamwork, culture, love, grief, learning, and snacking. Researchers are learning about the capabilities of the ape brain and finding that it far surpasses what we had initially thought. Observation of chimpanzees over the decades has even forced us to reevaluate our definition of "human." It was an excellent program that made me look at my nearest relatives in the animal kingdom in a new way.

In the Nova program, they showed studies that were done first with human children and then with chimps. In one study, they had to watch the researcher go through a series of tasks to get to the gummi bear. Both chimp and kid were able to get the treat. I wonder if the models would have been able to do it. The treat would probably have to be something other than a gummi bear though. Maybe a cigarette or a packet of Sweet-n-Low.

Another study dealt with delayed gratification. The kids were shown two plates. One had a single gummi bear on it, and the other had five. They were told that if they waited until the researcher came back, they could have five gummi bears, but if they wanted the single gummi bear right away, they could ring the bell and eat it. One kid ate the gummi bear before the researcher was even out of the room and then rang the bell. This study was originally done with cookies by sociologist Walter Mischel. I have not seen the tapes, but I guess that one little boy just sat there in front of the single cookie and wept. But he waited.

I could not picture the models participating in this experiment because I doubted that they would understand the instructions, and I could not imagine that they would be tempted by sweets in any case. I do think, however, that perhaps the 14 models remaining from ANTM should be put through some of the chimp experiments in which they use teamwork to procure food, pass on survival skills though copying and observation, and assist humans in accomplishing tasks.

In exchange, Miss J can teach the chimps to walk on heels, work their runway walks, and style their own photoshoots. If the models can understand the pointing experiment, where they must choose the cup that is pointed to in order to get the prize (again, an inappropriate snack), demonstrating the ability to share new discoveries, then they will be ahead of the young bonobo who found the experiment deathly boring and rolled around, exasperated, knocking over cups and not cooperating at all.

I can picture quite a few of the models reacting in the same manner as the bonobo to a number of different situations; time will tell.

But I don't think that ANTM was quite what Darwin had in mind.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ringling Bros. O.R.

I guess I found this so terrifying, that I could not write about it for two years, but some crazy Italians did a study in October of 2005 determining that the presence of a clown can reduce children's anxiety during operations.

Of course, the image that jumped into my head was similar to the Gumby Surgery skit on Monty Python's Flying Circus, only the Gumbys are in clown make-up and giant shoes, flailing about with scalpels. Maybe there is also a monkey somewhere. They often travel together, I hear.

I cannot think of anything more horrifying, and the thought that clowns don't scare the bejezzuz out of all children is beyond me.

The doctors took 40 children, around seven years old, and divided them into two groups: the "Clown Group" and the "Control Group." The clown group was graced by two clowns for 30 minutes in the waiting room and for 15 minutes in the operating room. They used magic tricks, music, games, puppets, and bubbles to entertain them. A parent was also present, thank goodness. The control group had only their parents with them. No clowns. Oh, and psychologists observed and rated the anxiety levels of the children. I am presuming that the psychologists were attempting to blend into the background and were not wearing squirting flowers or dressed up as Sigmund Freud.

The study showed that anxiety levels were the same in the waiting room for both groups, but that in the operating room, the clown group showed lower anxiety levels.

I may need some reports on the psychological well being of the psychologists who observed this experiment; it just does not sound objective to me. They could be pro clown. They could be clowns in their spare time. They could be marginally insane with severe emotional problems. Who knows?

It turns out that 84% if the health professionals involved called the clowns a disturbance in the operating room. Really? Clowns? A disturbance? Pratfalls in the operating room getting you down? Juggling clamps and retractors not such a good idea after all?

I can't imagine walking into a waiting room and finding clowns. I don't know how I would have reacted as an child; I would hope that I would have burst into tears immediately in response to something foreign and scary in the already unfamiliar environment, but who knows? I know that there is a lovely slide of me as a child of around 3 perhaps, screaming and crying on the lap of the most terrifying Santa Claus ever, so I have reason to hope that my reaction to clowns in the operating room would have been similar.

What's next? Male strippers in the delivery room?

For future reference, I would not appreciate that, either.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Knitting Cheater

When it comes to relationships, I am all about one man; especially now that I found the right one. I am a monogamist and proud of it.

When it comes to knitting, I am a whore.

My polyamorous knitting habits are well established and have been since I began this habit a year ago. I can't settle for just one project. I need many. Different yarns, different garments, different sizes.

On Saturday, I had four projects going.

Now I have seven.

It's Monday.

I was not feeling excited about the almost-done fingerless mittens. It's my third pair, and we are so comfortable together that it's boring. The patches baby blanket will be colorful and cute when it is done, but as a work in progress, it's just not that interesting. I did not feel like working on the socks that I probably should just break up with; they do not seem right, but I can't bear to let go. The lace pattern shawl takes so much concentration for what seems like so little reward, though the yarn is gorgeous. Pretty, but complicated, and I can't take it out in public because it needs all my attention, the diva.

I kept looking at the pile of new yarn. It was so tempting and sexy, hanging out over in the corner of the room, acting aloof and emitting an aura of promise. We had no past, no hang ups. The future was a bright palette of possibility. There were no expectations and no preconceived patterns of behavior. No conditioned responses or lamentable repetition. It could be whatever I wanted it to be.

I could not resist. The sage green baby alpaca grande is becoming the Carie Cropped Cardigan. The organic cotton is going to be a Circles and Stripes Stroller Blanket. And I dug out some remnant cotton to make a Chubby Bunny. The new Malabrigo and Worsted Magic are shaking their cute little butts at me, and the Trendsetter Dune and Malabrigo Chunky are practically panting for it, but they will all have to wait. I can only juggle so many...

Friday, February 8, 2008


My husband is a musician. And he's a good one, so he plays a lot. He usually has at least one gig a weekend and one rehearsal during the week. This means that he comes home late, and I am already in bed.

He had rehearsal this past Wednesday night and came home at 12:48. I woke up, as I almost always do, and so, unfortunately, did the cats.

For some background, this is my life:

Cute, right?

Yeah, adorable. That's my bed, the part of it where my feet should go. And yes, that is three cats. They like us, unfortunately, so they like to sleep with us. Why they sleep on me is a mystery, but they do, even though Pete should take up considerably less room.

It's not so cute when you look at it this way:

When Pete came home, Max, that's the stripey grey one, decided it was time for some exercise. This involves tossing a Christmas elf hat about, running around, and warbling the entire time. He can't do something without talking about it. I was already mad that Pete had come home so late on a week night, and I viewed Max's freak out as his fault. Even worse that I had to get up and put him downstairs.

Fifteen minutes later, Hazel, the black one, started doing the same thing, which she does not normally do. It was like she was filling in for Max while he was in the penalty box. I got up again, and put her downstairs, too. I could hear them down there, running around, and early in the morning, Max started yowling.

It was not a good night. I was not pleased.

I knew that Pete was a musician, but I did not realize the effect that would have on my cat life.

That Tax "Rebate"

Just to be clear, so you don’t think you are getting something for nothing when that “rebate” check comes in May.

That check will be a credit based on the 2008 tax year—-the one we have just begun. Basically, it will be an advance on the refund that you will get for 2008. If you are used to sitting down with your tax guy in February and getting a hefty refund, don’t get your hopes up. The money you get this spring will come out of the money you would have gotten next spring. Plan accordingly.

What the government apparently thinks is that we are going to spend that money on consumer goods. Instead, like most people, we are going to use it to pay off debt. If we did not have debt to pay off, we would put it into savings. It’s clear to me that this is merely an election year ploy; a measure it would be politically perilous to oppose. It does not get at the type of reform, investment, or stimulus that the economy (and the country) really needs. It's a chance to look and sound good while not really doing anything to help.

By the way, if you often owe taxes in April, this “rebate” amount will be added to your bill.

I have never felt so stimulated in my life.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Obama didn’t vote for the war; I can't fly

As I listened to the analysis of the returns from “Super Tuesday,” I heard one Obama voter say “I like him because he did not vote for the war.”

It may sound like nitpicking, but of course he did not “vote for the war.” He was not a United States Senator, and any votes he cast in the privacy of his own home had no bearing on the outcome of the Resolution to Authorize Force, which took place on October 11, 2002. Senator Obama was sworn in on January 5, 2005. I know that in this instance, Senator Obama did not make that statement himself, but it got me thinking.

I was against the resolution, and I did not vote for it either. I don’t know if this will help my in my upcoming bid for Supreme Ruler of the Universe; that remains to be seen. I was not pleased that it passed so easily, and I take issue with the decision that many Democrats made at the time, including Senators Clinton, Kerry, Harkin, Feinstein, and Edwards, when they cast their “Yea” votes.

Only 23 senators voted “Nay,” in fact, and I was happy that both my elected officials, Senators Dayton and Wellstone, were among them.

I don’t know if anyone else remembers, but the legislation was timed in the hopes that it would derail the reelection efforts of senators such as Paul Wellstone, John Kerry, Tom Harkin, and Dick Durbin. It was thought that voting against the resolution would make democratic incumbents seem unpatriotic and soft on terrorism, and they would therefore lose their elections. If they voted for it and went against their perceived principles, it could hurt them as well.

It was a good plan, only a month after the one-year anniversary of September 11th. In the case of Paul Wellstone, I believe he put a lot of thought into the decision and in the end went with his principles, and it paid off. People respected him, even if they did not agree with him, and his polling numbers went up. He most likely would have won his election had he not been killed in a plane crash two weeks later.

It’s easy to say “I did not support this war” and to declare that you would not have voted for it, but it’s another thing to have been in the situation, experiencing the climate of the times and the pressures brought to bear. Ms. Clinton has not done the best job of explaining or justifying her decision, but I argue that there is almost nothing that she can say about it that will not anger many Democrats. She has stated that she regrets her decision and that it was the wrong decision. Mr. Obama has the luxury of not being in the Senate when the resolution came up for a vote, and it's easy to say what one would have done, were one there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Caucus Night

I walked up through the crowded hallway at 7:42 with my little square of neon red paper in my hand. It listed all the democratic presidential candidates. I had not checked a box, but the ballots were due at 8:00, and it was time. As I came to the table, I chose, and handed it to the woman sitting there.

I don’t feel great about it. I don’t think I would have felt great about it either way.

But what I do feel great about is that 348 people cast presidential preference ballots at my precinct caucus. I don’t know how many the other precincts had, but we packed the Hancock School, and it was excellent. I don’t have any memory of the 2004 caucus, though I went, and I continued as a delegate to the district convention, but I will remember this one.

Our presidential preference results looked like this:

82 Clinton
260 Obama
6 Undecided

The greater results from the state reflect the same thing. People turned out in record amounts, and I think it had a lot to do with Senator Obama, judging by the numbers, though Hillary Clinton received more votes than any Republican candidate by a substantial margin.

In Minnesota, you attend your party’s caucus at separate locations. On the Democratic Farmer-Labor side (DFL, Minnesota’s Democratic Party), you can come and cast a preference ballot and leave, or you can stay and participate in the resolutions and delegate selection section of the night. The great thing is that your preference ballot actually relates to the number of delegates awarded to a candidate, it’s not just a straw poll. I am not sure how many people stayed around, but the hallways were full of people sitting and standing, and numerous people brought resolutions, only one of which was not passed. All the resolutions will be compiled and brought to the District convention on March 8. I signed up to be a delegate, which is another bustling event that I enjoy. That will be more concentrated for our Senate race, where we are trying to win back Paul Wellstone’s seat from Norm Coleman.

We got home at around 9:00, and I turned on Jim Lehrer. Governor Huckabee was the first to speak, and it seems that he wants to abolish the IRS. Popular with people who don’t think things through, no doubt, but... does Governor Huckabee want to get paid if he is president? Next up was Governor Romney, who I privately refer to as “Chompers” because of his remarkable teeth and newscaster aura. He seemed to think he was still going to be in the race. Senator Clinton gave a good speech, from notes, and I thought she was very personable. She was the first to mention that there had been a tragic weather occurrence in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and it surprised me that Governor Huckabee had not brought this up. Senator McCain read from a teleprompter and reiterated how conservative he is, while praising his two opponents. Senator Obama, surrounded by his red and blue Change signs, gave what I guess is his regular speech and did it very well. He also mentioned the disaster in the south (the weather, not Huckabee). I did not hear Ron Paul speak.

The most startling thing that I discovered before I went to bed, aside from states being called with 1% of precincts reporting, which I will always find appalling, was that Governor Romney had won Minnesota. People here are just so... lutefisk. I did not think a flashy Mormon would win, but I guess the caucus system tends to favor the more conservative candidates on the Republican side (sorry, Mr. McCain), and it turns out that Governor Huckabee’s results were close to Senator McCain’s. Neither Mr. McCain nor Mr. Huckabee campaigned in Minnesota; Mr. Romney came here on Saturday, which was dwarfed by Mr. Obama’s rally.

By the time I walked up that hallway, my ballot was curled and rather damp. John Edwards’ name glared out at me, confusing me. I checked the box next to Hillary Clinton, and handed it in. I cannot get over the possible problems with Barack Obama’s healthcare plan.

30 minutes later, I was wishing I had just checked John Edwards.

A few notes:
So far, with 89.18% of precincts reporting, there are 212,287 votes. It is estimated that the final count will be near 250 thousand (DFL only). My brother and sister-in-law went home without voting or even parking because the crowds were so large, and I imagine that plenty of people did the same thing.

The 2004 caucus number was 56 thousand. No wonder I was a delegate. The all-time record was around 80 thousand, during the Viet Nam war.

Our precinct and many others ran out of preference ballots, and people had to write on scraps of paper.

The caucus system was reinstituted in Minnesota in the 1950’s because the party bosses thought that they had lost control over the nominating process to the masses. They thought that a caucus would restrict the number of people participating in the process. They were right, but this year may cause some people to revisit that decision. And in fact, it has. The DFL is considering a change; the GOP is not. I would be in favor of a process that includes a primary vote throughout the day with a 7:00 caucus for resolutions and delegates, for those who want to be personally involved. It is a great way to see and meet neighbors and make your voice heard.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Undecided

There was a four-person wide line snaking around the venue, across a bridge spanning a four-lane highway, and down a few more city blocks. People were standing in that line for two hours or more on a 27 degree early February day. Were they giving away front loading washers? Free tickets for the Superbowl? Naked ladies?

The crowd was racially diverse and varied in age. They were all waiting for the same thing, outside of the arena that normally houses our losing professional basketball team as well as national musical acts. They were waiting for Senator Barack Obama.

My friend Christine and I went downtown for the purpose of attending what I thought would be a rally. We arrived at the door time, which was 1:30, the line was already blocks long, as I described above, and it was not moving.

I was already in a bad mood about it. My candidate had dropped out of the race, leaving me with no idea of what to do in the caucus. You needed tickets for this event, you could not bring a bag, and you could not bring your own signs.

I was thinking that these were all security and organizational issues, being that both of the democratic candidates are probably in significant danger because of who they are, and what America is, but once I arrived at the venue, I could see that it was definitely not organizational because there was a pungent lack of organization or thought put into the matter.

It was exciting; I understood that from a rational place in my head. It is rare to see 20,000 people moved to attend political event in the nominating portion of a presidential campaign. Normally, I would have been elated. Practically weepy with delight.

I wasn’t.

I was appalled at the fact that this event was so poorly organized as to leave people standing outside for two hours in the cold. Granted, 27 degrees is warm compared to what we have been enduring, but it's not the best conditions for, say, the old or the very young or the disabled. The choice of venue bothered me, too. I guess I am just used to my union hall or campus rallies, and I should get with the 21st century. But something about using a venue like the Target Center and then not using the security and organization that is, I am sure, easily available for such an event is either a gross oversight or was done on purpose to get into the papers.

I think it was the latter. It makes good film to have 20,000 people snaking through the streets of a major metropolitan area to cheer on your candidate.

Christine and I started to walk to the back of the line, but we did not make it over the bridge before we decided that we did not care enough to be out there for hours to hear a stump speech that I could hear on the radio or online later. After all, I was just browsing, not buying, and it’s my weekend.

Granted, I am bitter that candidates like Dennis Kucinich do not stand a chance in America and that John Edwards dropped out just six days before my caucus. I understand that Dennis Kucinich is fringe, like candidates on the right who would not stand a chance with their radical conservatism. I resent that a candidate like John Edwards did not stand a chance because of media and money.

I am also disappointed in both the candidates who are left. I have been tired of their sniping for months. I wanted to hear policy ideas and plans for how they would be achieved, not a rhetorical cage match between two people who are supposed to be on the same side. I know that verbal sparring make for good press, so that is what the media chooses to report, but were there an absence of that, perhaps they would have to report on matters of substance.

Back in 2004 when Senator Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, I was impressed with his poise, intelligence, and eloquence. I believed that I was watching our first president of African American descent; I still believe that. I was hoping that he would wait until 2012, but he had electability. I bought his book "The Audacity of Hope," in hardcover, even, and I thought that it was impressive in that it elucidated policy ideas, showed an understanding of American political history, as well as gave the reader some insight int the man writing the book. I got bogged down, however, in the "Faith" chapter, and I did not finish it.

His campaign, however, has devolved into a personality competition with a polished marketing edge, replete with buzz words. It turns out that they did have signs at the event, but they must have handed them out to people inside--they were all the same, emblazoned with the "change" message. All this talk about working together and creating change. Practically no one on the right has ever tried to legitimately work with the left or make concessions to us, and furthermore, I don’t see that change actually comes from conciliation. They seem to me to be anathema. It’s all lip service in any case. This country is partisan and has been since the federalists and democratic republicans were going at each other in the 18th century and early 19th century. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson may have died as warm and friendly correspondents, but they did not begin as such.

I heard afterwards that the was energizing and amazing; like a rock concert. The photos showed the homogeneous signs and a packed house with a tiny Senator Obama on the stage at the end of the arena. I don’t regret our decision to go home instead of waiting in line. I guess that at 37, I am a political dinosaur, and I am incapable of the change that Senator Obama is calling for.

I don't want to caucus tonight for someone I don't feel good about and, honestly, I feel better about Senator Clinton than I do Senator Obama, mainly because of her health care plan, which has been deemed the most comprehensive and workable by many analysts. But this is America, and Ms. Clinton cannot beat Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama may be able to accomplish that feat, though he is polling the same as Ms. Clinton against Mr. McCain at this point. But this country elects a black man before it elects a woman, no matter who the candidates are. Which puts me back in the same place I always seem to be: caucusing or voting for the person I think can win, not the person I wish would.