Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As I Keep Saying...

Every week on the way through the computer way stations that end with me staring at a blank "page" is a thing called the "Blogger Dashboard". Among the items there is the number of blog entries previously made under this name. That number today says "299", and so this makes the 300th blog entry, compiled over about six years.
I try to make an entry every week, with top priority going to politics, sports and cultural matters. I've been known to attempt humor, though everyone has their own idea of what "funny" is. If I'm writing about something I don't understand, I try to admit my ignorance up front. At any rate, I plan to keep going in hopes that people read it and find something that makes them go "Hmmmmm". If nothing else, Mona is spared having to listen to every idea fragment passing through my mind.

This morning the headlines say that Mitt Romney has won two Republican presidential primaries - Michigan and Arizona. Defeats certainly cause a person to rethink strategy no matter what the contest involves, but what about victories? Does a win, for instance, ratify some consultant's idea of having Mitt wear jeans during campaign stops in order to make clear what a down-to-earth regular guy he is? What about going to a NASCAR race site (Daytona, FL) even though he had to admit that while he knew an owner or two with entries in the race, he had never met any of the drivers?
sharing a stage with the grungy-looking Kid Rock a good idea, or was it just a reminder of how awkward it looked seeing Nixon shaking hands with Elvis? Or how about this - inviting Donald Trump, of all people, to record a "robocall" which was then sent to hard-hit blue collar workers all over Michigan?
But then, even if all this succeeds in putting Rick Santorum back in his rightful place of second tier candidate, aren't you then vulnerable when the Obama administration announces a possible game-changing agreement with ancient enemy North Korea, all of it hammered out in secret? It's like the decision to go ahead and make this new breakfast food called "cornflakes" compared to the decision of what to put on the box containing the flakes. One is important, and the other one's....fluff.
I don't mean to give fluff a bad name. Our society shows almost every day that under the right circumstances, a person can go a long way on...not much. That's exactly how we got the celebrity culture that gave us the Kardasian sisters, Larry the Cable Guy and Mike (?), the star of the cable hit "Pimp My Ride". Anyone heard of what Joe the Plumber is working on these days?
But I digress. At some point, Mitt Romney will have to demonstrate to people outside his smallish natural constituency (Wall Street, Mormons, Libertarians) that he would make better decisions than Barack Obama. I personally think that is a tough hill to climb, but it has been done, and not that long ago, 1992 to be exact. Am I ready to take a spin on the Mittmobile come November? Ah, that would have to be "NO".

Monday, February 20, 2012

Between the Super Bowl and the Oscars

How should we celebrate President's Day? Let's start by taking the day off, if we work in a government capacity, and forgo all delivered mail. May I also suggest trying to name the presidents of a chosen century. The 21st should be easy, as should the 18th. Give yourself a lollipop if you can name all the presidents of the 20th century, either forwards or backwards. Don't forget Harding or Taft.

A post I saw on a newspaper site suggested that "giving the power to run the various agencies of the federal government to people who don't believe in government is like asking the Amish to handle the nation's electrical power grid." I had to laugh.

I recall dimly having a conversation with our young children twenty years ago or more about the difference between being a short-term celebrity and one who could stand the test of time. That's a hard concept for someone young to grasp. I seem to also remember citing one person and predicting lengthy fame. And this person, if I'm recalling correctly, was.......Whitney Houston. Her passing, from whatever cause, is a sad event.

It would be nice to think that the days of one political party constantly selling itself as more pious and closer to God than the other are about over, but they haven't ended yet. Rick Santorum was speaking to a group of Tea baggers and let fly last week with the accusation that the President's religious beliefs were bogus, at least compared to his own. I doubt the two have ever met and am even more certain that there's been no theological discussion between them. Perhaps I should take this as good news, because the GOP seems out of ammo these days if the president's theology is all they can find to attack. Maybe it's Santorum's faith we should be calling into question instead of Romney's. All I know is that Santorum seems typical of this weak field of GOP presidential wannabes.

I have a new church assignment after more than five years at the old one. I get to sit up front next to our local leader, the bishop, who in real life is a county employee. Mona's gotten a little relief from her three assignments in the form of a guy who plays the organ every other week in her place. He's a nice young fellow, a dentist, who plays in a kind of theatrical style. But he's not perfect. During one song yesterday he hit a whole series of chords that gave new meaning to the word "dissonance". When it was over, the bishop turned to me and whispered, smiling, "I bet your wife really liked that." I didn't make much reply, but I certainly understood what he meant.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Club

Did everyone get a look at the picture of President Obama when he was testing out the marshmallow gun at the science fair this past week? I've said before that campaigns (and being president is the campaign that never ends) sooner or later reveal the candidates, warts and all. To me this picture revealed a feeling of "Wow. It is so cool being president. Here I am, a grownup, and nobody can stop me from playing with this kid's marshmallow gun. How cool is that?! Romney would probably just ask the kid how much he'd collected from selling the manufacturing rights. No way am I giving this up to a guy like him."

And, speaking of Romney, was it impressive that Mitt not only carried the Maine GOP caucus vote, but the neocon Red Meat vote that is otherwise called CPAC? You know - where the uber right gather annually to declare war on whoever stands in their way?
I guess winning those contests is better than losing them, but it's tough to pop the bubbly when you realize that the Maine folks had a week to vote and only about 2% of them even bothered. That's right. The state has a quarter million Republicans, but the total vote was under 6,000, of which Mitt's share was just short of 40%. He could have met every one of his voters in one day and slipped them each a Franklin for less than the value of his horses.
And the CPAC landslide? You could vote on line, but only about 3,000 people did, a tiny drop into a teeny bucket. Sure, Romney topped the others, but 40% was still just out of reach. I think New York alone has more millionaires than that, depending on how you count all the pro athletes who actually live somewhere else.

I'm the last one capable of spotting new tech trends, but I have noticed that non-TV networks have put a toe into the making of software, I mean, programming. Yahoo, for instance, has what must be a tiny investment going in a twice a week reality show called "Failure Club". Each show goes about 7-10 minutes. Since you're watching it on a computer, you can pick the time.
The idea isn't all that new. Take a handful of people with unfulfilled lifelong dreams, talk to them on a regular basis, give them a year to make the dream come true and send cameras out to follow their progress. One guy wants to rebuild a motorcycle in honor of his late father. A woman in her 50s wants to take up equestrian jumping. Another wants to establish a business offering handyman services. A young woman wants to establish herself in standup comedy. None of them want to change the world, just their lives.
I find it easy to root for these people, described as "brave New Yorkers". I didn't know there was any other kind. They are all, naturally, riddled with fear, but still they go forward. The camera is unblinking, showing their reactions to both good and bad days. They all have skills that have carried them thus far in life, and can therefore offer help to each other as well. Some have supportive spouses. The would-be equestrian's mother, who looked about 100, surprised me by offering her blessing to the daughter's quest.
It's of course too early to tell whose efforts will pay off, and it's possible that the whole thing could get tiring by the end of the year. The goals seem high enough that none will succeed without a struggle, but that's the whole idea. At any rate, it's kind of refreshing to see people working hard for something that doesn't involve a trophy, a lucrative new contract or a political office. Here's to personal fulfillment and making dreams come true.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A Minute of Being Mitt

Last week I was pretty hard on Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey for saying what I thought were dumb things about an historical movement, the American Civil Rights Movement of the mid 20th century, at which time Christie was a child. Here's what's happened since. Christie apologized for suggesting that Civil Rights should have been settled by public votes in the various states. Fine. Apology accepted. He didn't, however, withdraw his characterization of a New Jersey state senator as "numb nuts", claiming that it was an expression his mother (!) had used. You's Mom's fault?

Mitt Romney doesn't say things that are funny too often, and so when he does, it's all right to compliment him. Standing near Donald Trump in the Las Vegas Trump Hotel/Casino/Wonderland or what ever he calls it, Mitt said: "There are some things you just can't imagine happening. This is one of them." I liked that. Just the right amount of understatement. Maybe it's not screamingly funny, and maybe he didn't think it up, but at least he hired the guy who did, so he deserves a little credit. Gosh knows I haven't been slathering praise on the guy, so just this once, it won't hurt.
In fact, I can think of a whole load of things that might have crossed Mitt's mind as he pretended to enjoy getting The Donald's endorsement. Here's a dozen or so:
1. If I had that guy's hair I'd kill myself.
2. One step closer to Ann and he's going down.
3. OK, I agreed to come to Trump's place even though it's ugly, but I drew the line at wearing one of those silly pink neckties.
4. This bozo talks rich, but he's not in my league, baby.
5. Talk about a guy who could use a visit from the missionaries!
6. I speak French. All he can do is talk smack.
7. Man, they must sell moisturizer by the gallon around here!
8. I made him sign a contract on this - No bimbos anywhere near the cameras!
9. How did this guy miss the draft? Hey, how did I miss it?
10. I bet he doesn't even own one of those "varmint guns" that got me so many votes four years ago.
11. Can we wrap this up? It's been five minutes and I feel like I need a shower!
12. I had some poor people hired to fly in and balance out the photo op a little, but they all got arrested for "social climbing". I guess that's a million bucks I won't see again.
13. I'm phoning this guy the day after I've won the election, and the first and only thing he'll be hearing is "You're fired!"

All right, I will grant you that I can't confirm much of this. But it's a little like knowing how Pat Robertson refers to his prayers as "daily meetings", or that Levi Johnston was hot for the idea of becoming Sarah Palin's Postmaster General. As with those two items recorded in past entries on this blog - You'll just have to trust me.