I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system — one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of incompetence and recklessness by the people charged to run it.
Thomas L. Friedman
October 1, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Since I watch all talk TV all the time, I have heard many strange and revelatory things in the last few weeks. Chief among them, from the opposition media, is a bald faced admission, when pressed by the likes of Anderson Cooper, Chris Matthews, David Gregory, et al, that: "Do you think John Q voter is going to be interested or concerned about this kind of hair-splitting?" Of course, the hair-splitting that had just occurred, or the reason for the question, was that they had just been caught in a lie and admitted that the spin they were placing on the issue du jour was total spin or total prevarication by design.
So I was struck that they assumed no one was watching and so they could admit their lies and deceit because John Q public really didn't care what the facts were, they knew the voters were tuned in to some other (read:culture) frequency. I don't know that I agree with that assumption, altho I will confess I probably watch more talk TV than the average bear -- but maybe not, or more specifically, maybe not this time or this election. One of the benefits of "ratcheting up the base" on both sides, and I do believe both sides have accomplished that 'no mean feat,' is that voters are more attuned to nuance. And altho I despair at the protracted length modern presidential campaigns have grown to, one of the chief benefits is longer exposure to folks you aren't quite sure about. So that gives fence sitters (if indeed there are a lot of them still extant) more time to see the poseurs for what they are. Or are not.
I think in 2000 the country went along with Bush's selection because they were just bone tired of Clinton and his antics. A national shrug of the shoulders. And in our collective innocence, the nation knew not what devastation lay ahead domestically, financially or strategically. So we didn't give much thought to the kind of mettle we might need in the Oval Office. The lull that happens in a peace time economy makes us forgetful of the mental strength and vision we need at the helm when all hell breaks loose, and believe me, all hell broke loose once we had a true jackass in the White House. If ever there was a rationale for us to elect someone Jed Bartlett like, who has a natural inquisitiveness backed by years of hard won learned scholarship to their credit, THE TIME IS NOW.
Which brings me to my most surprising discovery of last night.
I was burning the 2am oil this morning trying to escape infomercials, and came upon a recent edition of AFTERwords... hosted by David Broder and featuring George Will, discussing his new book. IT WAS FASCINATING. Since Will has always been an arch conservative and I have always been his polar opposite, I never pay him much mind, altho I love reading his columns because I love to analyze his very gifted mind. Thru the course of the interview or discussion, most of which went specifically to the history of the world as it has played out over the last 2 weeks, he spoke of the next president in singular terms: Barack Obama. Every question he fielded from Broder about what the next president would need or would bring or would find once in office, was told singularly from the Barack Obama perspective.
Initially, I felt like I had awoken from some 2 month sleep, election day had already occurred, and Barack was already confirmed. And he spoke of Obama with equanimity rather than enmity or rancor, suggesting ways he might pull us out of this morass, enumerating the assets he held as a human/scholar/leader etc that would assist him as he began to lead the country. Perhaps I dreamt it, but if I indeed was conscious, at least one learned arch conservative (and probably John McCain hater) has already conceded the election to Barry. And Will seemed to have confidence in that concession.
Of course, Will also suspects that like all ultra liberal presidents before him, Barack will also usher in all manner of 'over the top' new social programs that will break the bank and tax the country back into believing in arch fiscal conservatism in due time. But he wouldn't be George Will if he believed otherwise.
But like Renee Zellwenger in Jerry Maguire, George Will had me at hello when he admitted toward the end of the interview that writing was his first love, even above baseball, which has been his passion since the age of 7. He spoke so nakedly about the act of writing and the shear "almost physical" pleasure he derives from writing, that I felt an immediate kinship with him that READING his writing has never sparked in me. Not that he isn't a classically trained and remarkably astute or even gifted writer -- those are all givens. But the confession was worth the price of admission, even at 2am EDT. At that moment, we were complicit lovers.
On to November 4th -- Barack Obama '08!
Monday, August 25, 2008
But I'm not whining ...
This has been a wonderful summer in every way I can measure!
The weather has been darn near perfect!
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
OK, it wasn't Camelot but close to it.
I had friends visit from home and spent some wonderful evenings in their company, reminding me that distance or time away are not barriers to the joy and easy camaraderie of friendship.
I met some quality correspondents online, and exchanged ideas and viewpoints with them that bridged the mileage that will keep us virtual friends.
I reconnoitered with a few folks from the recent past whose connection had frayed acrimoniously, and learned that an olive branch makes a good bridge between past and future, hurt and healing.
I spent some good face time with the ocean on days in August we usually can't expect here until early October. The high cost of gas has kept the seasonal crowds and road gridlock to manageable levels. And
I put some good time into my yard and this year it paid off.
The books and workshops...
I read some very good books that were not "how to's" for the passion du jour. One of the books, Three Cups of Tea, sparked an interest in learning more about Central Asia and the pros and cons of battling terrorism with education in the Taliban's back yard.
I took a workshop for "creative artists" and discovered I was one, when they gave my photo top honors. Who knew???!!!
The body and mind...
I have had a 'come to jesus' moment with myself about getting in better shape. That includes a couple new daily rituals: a 30 min walk, a 30 min bike ride, eating more protein and less junk, eating more often but smaller portions, eating more fish and less pasta, and snacking on fruit and roasted soy nuts instead of Jujyfruits, potato chips and ice cream.
I am still plagued by a few physical irritations: the Achilles has not healed to perfection and makes sustained mobility-driven exercise fatiguing. Long hours at the computer have weakened my lower back muscles (poor posture!) and golfing only seems to exacerbate the problem. But as with most physical issues, pushing through or past them is always worth the effort, either in results or psychic enjoyment.
I have come to accept that my family won't visit nearly as often as I'd like them to, and that has brought a heightened appreciation and gratefulness to me when I do see them.
Given all of the above, I seem to have finally struck a balance in retirement, after working at it for the past 4 summers.
The bottom line...
If Justice is getting what you deserve;
Mercy is not getting what you deserve; and
Grace is getting what you don't deserve...
I live in a perpetual state of Grace.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
This week, the State of California made history by overturning the ban on same-sex marriages. Across the nation, gay and lesbian couples celebrated the news and online GLBT social networking sites were abuzz with what that might mean in their own states, while same-sex celebrity couples made plans for their own nuptials.
I was certainly glad to hear the news, but it didn't create the groundswell of hope and longing in me that it did for many of my friends.
At first thought, this was a puzzler, since I am pro-justaboutanythingGLBT-related. But as I sat this morning drinking my coffee on the front porch of the house I share with two darling corgis and no other humans, it came to me that I am not a joiner. I am a dropper-inner. And while I love being in the company of good friends and enjoy a wide variety of interests and hobbies and addictions and fads, in truth I am a very social loner.
In my life, I have enjoyed the company and soul-connection of a handful of very quality women. Some for a few months, and a few for several years. To my mind, each of those women brought a vision or glimmer into my life and my world that was lacking or unrealized. And while we might mutually cite a million reasons for why we came together in the first place, and a million more for why we eventually parted, I am certain that the prime factor resides within me.
And while I continue to seek out my soulmate - at least in theory - in practice, I am quite comfortable living my solitary life, enjoying those chance connections with like-minded women when they occur, reveling in the passion and shared bliss that we create for that moment in time, and mourning the loss when it inevitably runs its course. Hindsight may or may not always be 20-20!
Experience has taught me that I am not a good cohabitor. Relationships are 75% hard work and compromise, and for the last 15 years, I have equated compromise with 'settling.' When I review the qualities that stood my first relationship in good stead for 13 years, I can only attribute it to dumb luck.
Absent that first love, I really don't have a reliable relationship model to copy or emulate.
In the poet's heart that beats in my breast, I want to believe that every choice in a partner is inherently good, if both are willing to work and make good decisions and informed compromises. I can see that relationship in my mind's eye, off in the distance. It is so clear and real I can almost taste it. But I have lost the roadmap.
So while I applaud and celebrate the news that sprung from the "activist judges" in California, I do so from the cheap seats high in the far reaches of the stadium -- not the box seats that lead onto the playing field.