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Random Observations by Pat Ostrye

"An Age of Extremes" 

    I'm snatching these four words from the title of Ron Suskind's controversial book, "The Way of the World and Hope in an Age of Extremism", which hit the stands August 5th with a resounding bang!  At least I'm snatching the thought.  It seems that everything that makes the headlines and/or affects our very being these days is extremely extreme: housing, gas prices, food, healthcare.

    For instance, have there ever been in our history such extreme measures taken to elect a President?!

    It has been two years just trying to settle on the nominees, and how extreme is it spending mult-millions before we're even into the "Labor Day to November" general campaign period!

    The first words I heard on TV this morning, before I put my two feet on the floor, were: "John McCain has to burn off $37 million in campaign money before September 4th", when he will be officially proclaimed the Republican nominee for President.  This is Primary money and cannot be used after that date because of his earlier decision on how he wanted to fund his campaign.  Six million of it will be spent on ads during the Olympic Games. 

    With only three weeks to go, the operative word really is "burn".  I presume there's no small print anywhere that allows surplus millions to be used to feed a few hungry children here and there along the campaign trail or we would have heard about that "too good to be true" possibility by now.

     Obama has designated five million for the Olympic ads and will depend upon whatever money he raises all told for his entire campaign, with no time restrictions.  Think of it!  What kind of horse sense has brought the entire country to these obscene extremes?!  Will there be even one legislator in Washington with enough courage and foresight to change the system before the next-go-round, say, immediately after the Inauguration in January, as the horse race for Governors takes off!

     Before I had a chance to fully digest all of that extremism, the home page of my computer declared in capital letters that Charlie Sheen is the top-paid TV actor, hauling in $20 million a year for his work on One and On-Half Men.  Next in line is William Petersen at $600k for each episode of CSI.  On down the line: Mariska Hargitay, $400k for each episode of Law and Order, Oprah, $385 million/year, Simon Cowell, $50m for American Idol and on and on.

     Then I open the morning paper to find that there is a giant passenger airbus, A380-800 that Emirates Airline displayed 10 days ago at L.A. International Airport, to promote service between Dubai and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.  Talk about extremes, the $327 million double-decker is about 240 feet long and 80 feet high, with 480 seats.  It is equipped with two shower-spas, two lounges and 14-first-class suites fitted with vanities, mini-bars, wide-screen video displays and seats that convert to beds.  A round-trip ticket for all of this can be had for a mere $18,000, according to the L.A. Times.

     I sound more like my Dad every day!  What is this world coming to?!

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