Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dr. Elyse to Hank Paulson: Defibrillate Us, Daddy, So We Can Feel Our Left Arm Again

The Houston Chronicle recently notified us that it would be raising its monthly subscription rate by a dollar. This news briefly led us to consider whether it was time to cancel. It wasn't the extra dollar itself---hell, the market's burned through so many of our retirement dollars* in the past two weeks that we're hardly going to miss a measly buck a month---but the principle of the thing. After all, here's a business asking for more of our money while visibly cutting back on what supposedly is its main product---news coverage**---by laying off or buying out veteran reporters. (And since much of the front page during the presidential campaign and ongoing financial crisis is being given over to dispatches from the New York Times, why not just skip the middle man and go straight to the Times while getting whatever local news we need from the electronic media or the paper's Web site? Huh, why not?)

Then we thought about what we'd be missing with our morning coffee---not just the predictable offerings of the paper's Teen Columnist and the meanderings of Rick "The Hurricane Was But a Mere Electrical Storm" Casey but the much-appreciated relationship advice of working girl "Whit" and the entire page of valuable newsprint the Chronicle devotes to TMI (a painfully tone-deaf gesture in this day and time, we'd say). Most of all, we'd miss the reportage of doughty society correspondent Shelby Hodge on the comings and goings and chowing-downs of the rich and fatuous. (Close readers with long memories will recall that the newspaper, in another strangely tone-deaf gesture, dispatched Mlle. Hodge to cover the big fund-raiser that compact socialite Rebecca Cason Thrash tossed for the Louvre in Paris some months ago. We believe this trip fell between rounds of layoffs and buyouts, so that was OK.)

If we had let our Chronicle subscription lapse we most likely would have missed out on Hodge's Tuesday column, which launched off with a chatty nod to reality
The economy might be tanking and most of us have given up on retirement,*** but some fortunate Houstonians are still eating high on the hog ...
before interrupting regular programming to deliver this important pronouncement from everybody's favorite port commissioner from the 70019 zip code:
Speaking in medical terms,Elyse Lanier offered her analogy for the current economic climate. "Our country is in ventricular fibrillation," she said Friday night at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball, which, by the way, brought in $1.3 million. "It needs a defibrillator to shock our system back into sinus rhythm."**** In layman's terms — a normal heartbeat.
If we remember correctly, Elyse's husband, the former Mayor Bob, has himself been defibrillated, perhaps on more than one occasion, and used to be in the banking and S&L rackets, so we're confident that the port commissioner knows of which she speaks.

If only our president could be so articulate.

*We know---it's only paper losses.

**Oh, we're not really that naive.

***Except for her colleagues who were forced to take the buyouts, of course.

****Would a $250 billion semi-nationalization of the banks qualify?

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