Monday, August 25, 2008

Ah the life of a Reporter: McCain tried to kill me & Obama doesn't want me backstage!

[Photos are of the Alegio chocolate shop in Berkeley (the place where I get my best flu medications), some of the hundreds of the private jets lined up in Aspen while their owners went off to hear John McCain speak -- photo courtesy of Karen Day -- and proof that I'm not wealthy enough to get credentialed for the Republican convention -- sorry, I don't have a maid.]

It's hard being a reporter. You always gotta be coming up with hot stories.

The highlight of my life as a journalist so far -- aside from the time I missed getting blown up in the Iraqi parliament by mere minutes, the time the Red Army tried to arrest me in the middle of the Yalu River, the time I almost got trampled to death in Mecca and the time in Hebron when irate Israeli settlers threatened me with Kalashnikovs, etc -- was when John McCain lied to a bunch of us reporters at a press conference in the Green Zone, telling us that it was safe to walk around the streets of Baghdad. I keep telling that story again and again. It's become my granddaughter's favorite bedtime story. "If I had listened to John McCain," I always tell baby Mena, "and followed his example and gone into Baghdad myself, your poor sweet grandma would probably be dead right now!"

That's a heck of a story -- that America's current Republican presidential candidate actually tried to kill me? What could I possibly write about to top that!

Of course, I could always write about how I am now suffering from a horrible case of the flu after returning from my fourth-and-a-half trip to Iraq -- but no one wants to hear about that. Eckhart Tolle is always telling us to "live in the Now". Yeah, right. YOU try living in the Now when you're down with the flu. I hurt too much to live in the Now. At this point in time, all I wanna do is go off and live in the Past -- preferably the pre-George W. Bush past. (Does that make me a Conservative?)

I had hoped to find something to write about at the two national political conventions, but that idea fell through. I applied to get credentialed to cover the Republican convention in Minneapolis in September but, honestly, why would the Republicans want ME at their convention? I hate George Bush. He's a liar and a crook. And John McCain? That man tried to KILL me. Why would I want to write anything nice about him?

Not only that, but most of the really juicy McCain stories have apparently already been written. For instance, there's that one about him using Ambien to help get to sleep at night -- yeah but. If our John becomes the President and is off in pharmaceutical dreamland at 3:00 am, will he still be able to wake up in time if he needs to press the Red Button? Yawn.

Then there's the story about McCain having PTSD, left over from his POW days -- that would have the opposite effect. What if he got hit with another one of those flashback nightmares at 3:00 am, walked in his sleep and pushed the Red Button while thinking it was the call-button for room service at the Hanoi Hilton!

And several people have already written up that story about how the Veterans Administration has certified McCain as being 100% totally disabled, opening up the distinct possibility that he might croak at any minute, which would leave America with only his vice president in charge -- probably still Dick Cheney.

And of course there's the seven-houses story and the one about him cheating on his loyal and faithful first wife, but those have already pretty much been done to death.

What could possibly be the big story that the Republicans in charge of credentialing me for Minneapolis might be afraid that I would scoop? I bet it's the one I could score if I was actually allowed to get a good look at McCain up close. Then I could write an article about their presidential candidate's many face-lifts. Hey, no worries there! I got nothing against face-lifts. I want a face-lift! But of course my big question there would be, "Will the Israel lobby or the weapons manufacturing lobby or the pharmaceutical lobby pay for mine too?" Not hardly.

According to Sterling Greenwood of the Aspen Free Press, McCain's backers are so wealthy that when they came to Aspen to hear him speak, their Lear-jets caused a traffic jam out at the airport! "One limo driver told the Aspen Free Press that there were 200 private jets parked at the Aspen airport, but officials only would say that the figure was less than 150." Sorry. I don't own a Lear-jet. So my idea for getting a hot story out of the Republican convention is toast.

Then I got all hopeful that I could get a story out of the Denver convention and so actually paid $25 to enter that contest to go "Backstage with Obama". But that didn't happen either. Sigh.

Maybe I could convince some members of the RNC and DNC's billionaire base -- all those obscenely wealthy weapons manufacturers who seem to LOVE the war in Iraq and appear to be gleefully looking forward to the next wars in Afghanistan, Georgia, North Korea and Cleveland -- to donate funds to my PayPal account (go to and type in so that I can hire a blimp and report the news while flying over Obama's acceptance event at Invesco Field in Denver or over the convention center in St. Paul-Minneapolis, while a huge sign saying "Goodyear" flashes on and off over my head. But that's probably not going to happen either. Why would billionaires want to donate to ME? I don't even have a seat in Congress.

So. Where in the world am I going to get my next big story from? Who knows.

As I was bicycling through Berkeley the other day, I passed a newspaper stand with a headline photo of a group of middle-class Americans trying to break into a bank to get their money out before it was too late. I was so shocked that I almost fell off my bike. Good grief! "Bank run!" screamed the headlines. I could write a story about that....

According to ABC News, "The worst of the global financial crisis is yet to come and a large U.S. bank will fail in the next few months as the world's biggest economy hits further troubles, former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff said on Tuesday. 'The U.S. is not out of the woods. I think the financial crisis is at the halfway point, perhaps. I would even go further to say the worst is to come, he told a financial conference. 'We're not just going to see mid-sized banks go...'"

Can you believe that major banks in America are actually in danger of failing? Maybe there's a hot story there.

Or maybe I should just give up trying to scoop the world's next catastrophe. Maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe America doesn't NEED any more hot stories.

Maybe America just needs to bring all her troops home, elect honest men and women to our government, enforce our Constitution, throw all Constitution violators and self-interested lobbyists in jail, concentrate on rebuilding our decayed infrastructure, use our creativity to invent new ways to stop global warming, buy products at home instead of buying everything from abroad, stop handing out corporate welfare to the rich hand-over-fist, and start taking care of business in our own back yard right now -- while we still can.

Nah, that wouldn't be a big story. No one would want to read about that.