As you undoubtedly know, John McCain and I have been working tirelessly over the past few days to rescue America from its worsening economic crisis.  John felt it necessary to suspend his campaign for the Presidency in order to spend more time on the phone asking people how things were going, while monitoring events closely on CNN.

I suspended this blog, vowing to contribute only “Freedom Bulletins” until the crisis was resolved.  This is Freedom Bulletin No. 2.

John also threatened to withdraw from the first Presidential debate, in order to dramatize the seriousness of the situation.  Simultaneously, working in close coordination with John's staff, I threatened to leave the dishes in my sink unwashed until Congress made meaningful progress on a rescue bill.

Our unprecedented actions bore fruit — Congress did make meaningful progress towards a bill, John showed up at the debate and I am making plans to begin work on my dishes any day now.

All of this has taken a terrible toll on John and myself, both physically and emotionally.  Last night I decided I needed to take a break from the almost unendurable strain, so I headed off to the Paris, Las Vegas casino to play some poker.

                                                                                                                     [Image © 2006 Paul Kolnik]

I played for about six hours and showed a profit at the end of the session of $31 dollars.  $31 may not seem like a lot of money in real terms, but it's actually very hard to win any money at all at a Las Vegas poker table.  Sure, there are a lot of tipsy tourists who are easy to best, but there are just as many local sharks who know how to strip you of your chips, your dignity and your sense of self worth.

Driving home at about 3am I heard on the radio that Hank Paulson believed a deal on the bail-out bill was done.  I raced home to await his call thanking me for my efforts to get America out of this mess, but he must have been too exhausted to contact me at that hour.  I understand this, and feel that no slight towards me was intended.

I poured myself a beer, averting my eyes at all times from the kitchen sink, stretched out in the La-Z-Boy and smiled.  I didn't feel like a hero — I had only done my duty.  I thought of the extra $31 in my wallet, the prospect of America solvent and prospering once again, and the dance Fred Astaire and Ann Miller do to Irving Berlin's “It Only Happens When I Dance With You” in Easter Parade.

I thought of one poker hand in particular from the evening now coming to a close.  I was dealt AK of spades.  There was a fair amount of betting before the flop — the pot was sweet.  I stayed in, of course.  The flop came with the makings of a low straight, but two of the cards were spades.  A guy bet 20 bucks, I called and everybody else folded.  I figured he was drawing to the straight.  The turn brought another card in the straight sequence.  My opponent bet 15 bucks.  I figured he'd made his straight and was feigning weakness, hoping for a call.  I called.  The river brought a jack of spades.  My opponent bet $30.  I raised him $30, sensing that was the most I could induce him to call.  He thought about it for a long time and called. 

At the showdown he turned over his nut straight.  I turned over the nut flush.  Life was good.