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Blogus Interruptus

It's not easy to limber up for serious blogging when the lights conk out every time a man feels a blinding insight coming on, so here's a batch of short bits, quick hits and dim wits:

Exactly four months from today, we'll be voting for the next president (if it seems the campaign has already lasted four years, it's only because it has), and as of today, the election is clearly Barack Obama's to lose. Bottom line: every political campaign comes down to three factors - message, money and organization - and at this point, it's hard to imagine John McCain gaining an edge on any of them.

Count Hall of Fame political writer and author Lou Cannon, Summerland's own, among those who think McCain made a shrewd move by bringing on Steve Schmidt as campaign manager, pushing aside the increasingly ineffectual Rick Davis, a former Pete Wilson aide. Schmidt is best known in California as the pilot of Gov. Terminator's 2006 triumph and is "a real pro," in the words of Cannon, who nevertheless sees McCain facing a decidedly uphill fight.

Speaking of Schwarzenegger, the governator's tongue got the better of him again last week, when he warned homeowners facing evacuation in the Big Sur fire not to be "ballsy and all those things" by showing false bravado and trying to stay in the face of danger. By the time the official transcript of his press conference came out, "ballsy" had been changed to "boss," which made even less sense than the original.

As Democratic euphoria builds, this time over Obama's plan to deliver his Denver convention speech outdoors to 75,000 Barackheads in what used to be called Mile High Stadium (now "rebranded" Invesco Field at Mile High grrrr), Peter Nicholas of the L.A. Times casts a gimlet eye on all the extravagant spending the Democrat is promising, and finds he comes up a few bazillion short.

Scott Hadly, the best reporter in Santa Barbara County, or perhaps all of California, is on assignment in Iraq for the Ventura County Star. Check out his blog, "Embedded," here, including a moving piece on how hard it was to leave his family, a deeply personal experience that Scott, characteristically, uses to shine a light on the emotional difficulties faced by those serving in uniform.

While the Hannah-Beth Jackson-Tony Strickland 19th state senate race has gotten all the ink, a behind-the-scenes mini-drama is unfolding in the 15th senate district, a seat now held by GOPer Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria. A moderate who miraculously!- ended up without a Democratic foe after playing ball with the D's on key votes, including the budget, Maldonado could still face November opposition from Dennis Morris, a failed write-in candidate who's citing an obscure state constitution provision and petitioning five county central committees to get on the ballot. Shockingly, Morris is a lawyer.

Don't miss movie: "Encounters at the End of the World," now playing at the Riviera, is the latest tour de force documentary from the delightfully twisted Werner Herzog, director of the memorable "Grizzly Man." This time, Herzog is off to Antarctica for a scieno-spiritual journey that brings back extraordinary images of nature and the absurdity of man, set down amid the mysteries of the origin of life, bizarre sea creatures, crazed penguins and killer glaciers.

While we're on the subject of what your journalism chrome domes like to call your "recommending function," Nixon-era political junkies will savor "The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate." James Rosen, a Washington correspondent for Fox News (but we won't hold that against him) spent years uncovering, sifting and analyzing a previously unreported trove of diaries, tapes, notes, transcripts and recollections from the scandal that just keeps on giving.

A final note: Okay, so the blackouts were kind of fun the first 13 or 14 times, with the candles and the wine and the earnest talk, sigh, about how much we take for granted in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, blah, blah. But enough already. A community of people constantly struggling with the crushing stress of being forced to reset all the clocks multiple times a day stove, microwave, coffee maker, cable box, radio, etc. - is a community at risk for an outbreak of stark raving loony tunes. Please drive safely when the traffic signals are out...again.

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