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Monday, May 2, 2016

One solution to the election problem

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Red-state public radio general managers must have blanched Saturday night when Garrison Keillor started his annual joke show.

Let's hope right-wing public radio listeners have a sense of humor.

Wait a minute -- you'd have to have a sense of humor to be a right-wing public radio listener, so I guess I'm being redundant.

Early on in the show, Keillor, author of the new book, "Homegrown Democrat," offered a solution to what he sees as the main "problem" with U.S. elections.

While I heard the program live, I was on a walk and didn't have a chance to transcribe his exact words.

What I did find online, however, was a transcript of his talk Wednesday at a new children's hospital in Chicago, as reported by the Chicago Maroon, the independent student newspaper of the University of Chicago.

"I am a Democrat -- it's no secret. I am a museum-quality Democrat." Keillor told the crowd at the hospital dedication. "Last night I spent my time crouched in a fetal position, rolling around and moaning in the dark."

Then he made the proposal he recycled for Saturday night's show:

"I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to born-again Christians," Keillor smirked (as the student paper reported).

"I feel if your citizenship is in Heaven -- like a born-again Christian's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If born-again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

(Note to NPR fund-raisers: blanche here. And, pray that conservative listeners forget it by the time the next listener-support drive comes around.)

But I expect most listeners to cut Keillor some slack; at least he's honest and up-front about his views. The fact that his comments Saturday were part of an annual Joke Show might explain why there hasn't been more of an uproar.

Or perhaps it's because there really aren't all that many Public Radio listeners out there.

If you don't believe me, try this experiment:

"I was listening to Car Talk the other day and ..."

Nine times out of 10, you'll be greeted with a blank stare.

It doesn't help that public radio reception is so lousy in McCook. The best way to pick up "All Things Considered" is to string a 10-foot length of bell wire from your radio's antenna, and hold it at arms length while standing on one foot on a chair. Make sure the chair legs are insulated, and you're wearing a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse red hightops.

Perhaps the network should look at another means of delivery in Nebraska. Cable, satellite radio or even streaming Internet could probably serve just as many listeners as the current, expensive taxpayer-supported broadcast infrastructure.

Which reminds me; I have a recipe for this week's column. I call it:

Poor Man's Satellite Radio Stew

1. Computer.

1. Internet connection (a good dial-up will work, but faster is better)

1. Copy of streaming software such as Real Player or Windows Media Player.

1. Mini FM transmitter, available at your favorite electronics dealer.

1. Home stereo with an FM receiver.

1. Google search of your favorite type of music or talk.

Plug transmitter into headphone jack on your computer, log on to the streaming site you find in the Google search, turn on the transmitter, tune in the radio and enjoy the show.

It will even work in your car; as long as it's parked in the driveway, or can rig up an Internet connection through your cell phone.

The only drawback I can see is the fact that the my mini-transmitter runs on triple A batteries that don't last very long.

This week's Newsweek is devoted to a rehash of the entire election, and when I'm through being disgusted about the political process, I plan to spend some time reading it.

The magazine includes a piece by liberal columnist Anna Quindlen, who lists gay marriage as one of the issues that divides America.

Amendments to ban same-sex marriage passed on all 11 state ballots where voters had that choice. They passed by at least 3-to-1 margins in six of those states, and the closest was Michigan, where the ban still passed 59-41.

That's divided?

One enlightening graphic is a county-by-county red/blue, Republican/Dem-ocrat map of the United States.

It looks like a red picnic tablecloth with a small package of blue M&Ms scattered across it.

When pundits write about how divided we are after the election, check out that map. We don't look very divided to me.

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