where the writers are
"I Guess God Don't Like Ugly."

KidThree gives the funniest non-apology apologies.  It took her several years to get to where she could give an apology at all--she was so protective of herself that she couldn't bring herself to admit to anyone else that she had erred--but now she can give actual apologies sometimes and non-apology apologies the rest of the time.  Tonight, about half an hour after her tantrum, she grinned wryly as she scratched her worsening ringworm and said, "I guess God don't like ugly."  In other words, "I behaved badly and karma got me.  Sorry, Mom."  Getting that within half an hour of the negative act is really something.  At first, she couldn't give apologies at all; then when she got to where she could, they would come days later; and then she got to where she could cool off and dial it back within a day; and now it's down to half an hour.  If anyone out there is wondering why I haven't shot this kid yet, that is why--she's coming from so far back and is working so hard.  Sometimes I'm the only one who sees the progress, as she doesn't always show it outside the home, but it's there, it's real, and it's wonderful to see.

But, Teenagers Can Still Be So Irritating!

And now for some notes on the debate: 

I've spent the hour and a bit watching commentary and have to wonder if some of the analysts saw the same debate I did.  In a nutshell, I think Obama won.  McCain appeared tense, then tense and defensive; he looked uncomfortable throughout, blinking and grimacing and then grinning weirdly when he remembered he wasn't supposed to grimace.  When the two candidates stood up at the end, McCain was actually bouncing on his feet, full of nervous tension and unable to vent it.  I don't want a president who's belligerent, I want diplomacy; we've had enough of the other to last us for decades.

Re: Actual comments.  Hmm.  The 'Joe the Plumber' schtick got old really fast.  I know he will get razzed on that for days or weeks to come, and I'm not looking forward to the news jokes about it.  I don't want a president who can't tell when the joke is worn out.

McCain and Obama and Ayers:  McCain said he wanted Obama to explain 'his relationship' with Ayers; Obama then explained his 'relationship' with Ayers; and McCain robotically repeated that Obama needed to explain 'his relationship' to Ayers.  I don't want a president who can't listen to the person he is debating.

Abortion:  McCain dismissed the concern about exclusions for 'the health' of the mother.  I know what he was objecting to, he was objecting to the elastic definition that doctors sometimes used to justify abortions for those who knew the right buzzwords (best example of that ever is in the movie, "Vera Drake," which I strongly recommend).  But to make fun of the entire concept?  Not to say it has been stretched beyond the bounds of reason but to dismiss it completely?  That isn't very sympathetic to women, especially not for the father of three daughters.  I don't want a president who doesn't understand that my daughters and nieces and sisters and cousins and I might have very real ''health issues to worry about, even though others might abuse the definition of term.

McCain looked at Obama as though he seriously, intensely disliked him, even hated him.  I don't want a president who is unable to control himself, especially in such a relatively controlled and formal situation.

The negative attacks on each other:  First of all, how dare McCain imply that the right-wing negative attacks on Obama are Obama's fault, that they could have been avoided if Obama had just agreed to those ten town hall meetings that he (McCain) wanted.  Also, I see a real difference in words like "dishonest, dishonorable, and liar," and "erratic, out of touch, and 'lied'."  The former (from Republicans about Obama) are actual character attacks, the latter (from Democrats about McCain) have to do with behavior and actions, not essential character.  And then McCain said that both groups got "fringe peoples" showing up at their rallies (in other words, it wasn't his fault people at Republican rallies shouted out, "kill him," about Obama), but a couple of sentences later he said that every single person who showed up at the Republican rallies was a fine, patriotic, hard working person.  Excuse me?  Those fringe people may be out on the fringe, but since it was his fringe, they were fine and patriotic nonetheless?  You can't have it both ways.  Fine, patriotic people do NOT yell "kill him" about a political opponent.  (I can't right off the top of my head think of any time it would be appropriate for a fine, patriotic person to yell that about anyone, but am conceding the possibility that such an instance could theoretically arise.)  At least McCain did defend Obama against his (McCain's) fine, patriotic, hard-working follower who made the dastardly accusation that Obama was an Arab.  I mean, "kill him!" isn't nice, but being called 'an Arab' is really uncalled for.  (Please, dear reader, in case you didn't get it, that was sarcasm.)  I've seen several Obama speeches where people yelled out nasty things and Obama called them on it.  I don't want a president who lets his followers get by with ugly, racist, murderous remarks.

Really, I tried to watch it objectively, I did, I did, I did!  But still I saw McCain unable to let go of his points even after they'd been refuted, unable to control his displeasure at his opponent's statements, and unable to hide his distaste for his opponent.  Obama just sat cool, getting a little heated two-thirds of the way through but almost immediately and imperceptibly reining himself in.  He maintained, he explained, and he out-logicked his opponent all the way around.

And that's what I want in a president.

A