Last weekend, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson went up a few notches in my book. He proposed that congressional and presidential pay raises be linked to the federal budget deficit, echoing my probably-not-too-original proposal to link congressional salaries—never mind pay raises—be proportional to federal budget surpluses. That’s right, nearly two years ago I wrote about what was probably originally someone else’s idea to finally get the budget under control, putting me if not way ahead of the curve, then at least further ahead of the curve than Richardson and the rest of the presidential field. I should be President. But Richardson might not be too horrible in my stead.

Also last weekend, there was a minor kerfluffle over Barack Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the national anthem. Naturally, this reminded everyone who wants him to lose of his decision not to wear the flag lapel pin after 9/11, and caused everyone who wants him to win to search for video and pictures of other candidates failing to salute the flag properly.

I am embarrassed to admit that for years, I thought that you weren’t supposed to put your hand over your heart for the anthem. So I finally looked up the Flag Code.

§171. Conduct during playing
During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.


I think Obama deserves a pass on that one—as long as he’s smart enough to remember that he’s trying to get elected President and needs to salute the flag when appropriate.

In other presidential campaign news, I attended a Halloween party last night. I ran out of time to think of a costume, so I tore a sheet of college-ruled paper from a spiral notebook, wrote the word “COSTUME” on it, attached it to a lanyard, and hung it around my neck. “Lame” according to my dates. “Awesome” according to everyone else.

Anyhow, as the night went on, and people made their ways home, the few of us left over chit-chatted about a number of topics. The deepest one: “Would you rather have a lover with empathy or with compassion?”

Looking back, I should have answered, “Either, as long as I’m having her,” wiggled my greasepaint eyebrows and tapped the ash off my cigar. Instead, I answered, “Empathy. I don’t want a girl who’s going to keep bringing home all kinds of g*******d stray animals.” Actually, I’m not sure which answer was worse.

Later on, the topic turned to which presidential candidates we wouldn’t vote for. At one point, someone said, “I can’t vote for Giuliani. He’s gotta be in the mob or something.”

I bristled, almost certainly because of my own ethnicity. I hesitated to say anything, because I don’t like to see the Race Card (in this case, the Ethnicity Card) played, and didn’t want to be accused of defending him simply because he was paisan. But I also didn’t like the insinuation that because he’s Italian-American, he must be a “friend of the friends.” People who think that my ethnicity dictates a link to the Mafia can no longer be reasoned with.

So I spoke up in his defense, pointing out that though his father was a convict with mob connections, Giuliani made his career as a United States Attorney by prosecuting the Five Families of New York. That’s not exactly a cakewalk, and it ain’t safe. The Families went so far as to discuss putting a contract on him.

In short, there are more than enough reasons to dislike him, or to vote against him—but the mob isn’t one of them.

The Patriots are ridiculously good. They’re on pace to beat the all-time season scoring record by over 100 points. But their success reminds me of why the 1985 Bears were so good, especially the defense. The Great Buddy Ryan, Defensive Coordinator of the 1985 Bears, proceeded from a fairly simple assumption: if you murder the other team’s quarterbacks, they can’t win. I think there’s a lot of truth to this assumption: most teams need a quarterback to hand off the ball or throw it to receivers–but if they’re dead, or at least maimed, they can do neither.

In short, when is somebody who really, really wants to win the Super Bowl this year going to suck it up and accept the penalties and fines for hammering Tom Brady on every single play, even the spikes and the kneel-downs? When? It’s like no one else wants to win.

The Bears suck this year, period.