Thursday, July 17, 2014

America 45 years after the first moonwalk...

The first moonwalk took place forty five years ago and thinks it’s a perfect time to reflect on where America was four decades ago, and where it is now.
When the moon landing took place all those years ago, America was in the midst of the biggest upheaval since the Civil War–an unpopular war in Vietnam was raging, the struggle for civil rights was marred by assassinations of major black and white leaders, and the nation was on the verge of its own civil destruction.
In the midst of all that, Neil Armstrong focused the attention of the nation and the world on what seemed to be the most important moment in the life of our country. And for that moment, we forgot about the strife that was threatening to undermine and destroy everything we had fought for all those years.
Today, we find ourselves similarly separated by internal and political strife. Our divided nation yearns for that one moment when we can all set aside our differences and look to a common future. Where is that moment?
Increasingly, we look away from Washington D.C. for solutions to our problems. Politicians have disappointed us one time too often and we are unable any longer take their promises of a rosy future with any seriousness.
Years ago when Richard Nixon was running for president, a desperate citizen held up a placard, begging the presidential candidate to help the nation in its hour of challenge. “Bring us together,” the placard implored. We know what followed. If the political parties of this country intend to regain any of their viability, they’d best remember that placard and what it meant–and could mean–for the good of this country.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Vlad, Vlad, Vlad. Is this any way to run a country? has some unpleasant things to say today.
So here we have three hundred innocent civilians killed today when a Malaysian Airlines jet is shot out of the sky by what seem at the moment to be Russian separatists in Ukraine. Immediately Russia claims to have nothing to do with the downing of the plane and Vladimir Putin is on the spot once again for behaving like...the tyrant we’ve come to know and love.
Even if it turns out that the whole thing was a terrible mistake, the onus for the three hundred deaths must sit squarely on Vlad’s well-oiled shoulders. Russia has been arming these separatists for a long time and anyone with any knowledge of these punks understands too well that these are not...brilliant minds with unlimited resources for training and military expertise. The chances of something going wrong, for example accidently blowing a civilian jet out of the sky, was always present.
Give these weapons to the untrained and overeager and this is what you have. Sleep well tonight, Vlad. Your finger is on yet another tragic, world-shaking atrocity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Derek Jeter's last all-star game

The All-Star game has just taken place and finally, America has something to feel good about. Derek Jeter has played his final All-Star game and this may have marked his last appearance before a national gathering, unless the Yankees make it to the World Series (that would be Jeter’s sixth sojourn). takes its hat off to Number 2.
Jeter is everything most of our politicians are not, and this has not escaped the attention of fans of baseball and fans of sportsmanship. In all the years of Jeter’s storied career he has never been caught with his pants down, his finger in the cookie jar or any of the other embarrassing pastimes so enjoyed by many of our national political figures. He’s human just like they are, but he has found a way to present a dignified persona to the public, and for this he has been honored with the unreserved enthusiasm of baseball fans across the nation.
Jeter will go on to a fabulous post-career, whatever that turns out to be. But we will be losing a real, true spokesman for the National Pastime. That’s baseball, not politics...

The Supreme Court's supreme f***-up

A few months ago the Supreme Court of the United States issued what was probably its most asinine, idiotic and downright troubling decision in a very, very long time. It allowed organizations and individuals to basically raise and distribute unlimited amounts of cash to any and all political causes.
Of course, this has, and will, open the floodgates of special interest money to all political parties and candidates in the future. Campaign reform? Forget about that. The Court has decided, for whatever reasons, that it is in the best interest of the country that powerful, moneyed and very activist individuals and groups be permitted to hold complete and unfettered sway over the political processes of this nation.
The reaction from “the little guy?” Silence, not a peep. The reaction from the nation’s media? Silence, not a peep. The media, in fact, couldn’t have been happier with the decision because the more money injected into the process, the more colorful the process, the more interest from the voters, the higher the ratings.
As for the people? The average Joe has no idea about how his politicians get where they are–he’s got his own problems to deal with. Washington sucks etc. etc. etc.
Want to run for office? Need cash? No problem anymore, thanks the to those terribly intelligent Supremes. It’s all there for the taking. And you count on this: there will be plenty of takers...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

America and soccer

Why Has America resisted the lure of soccer for so long? Suddenly Americans appeared to embrace the sport that is the most popular in the world, and the reason for that is so very simple. The United States team seemed to have a realistic chance to give a performance that would not embarrass the nation. That hadn’t really happened before.
Of course, our patriotic fervor was quickly dashed, as the American team went home, the somewhat satisfied loser. It had performed admirably, even bravely, and come thisclose to showing the world that soccer was OUR sport, too. Thisclose but not Thatclose.
Why has it taken America so long to jump on the international soccer bandwagon? Well, I’ve taken this break from the usual important issues I tackle at, to look at why America has been immune to the pleasures of soccer for all these decades. And I think it all comes down–as so many things do–to politics and nationalism. America loves all things American and soccer is just not an American thing, never was, never will be. Unless we’re real contenders. This year we seemed to be.
A lot of pundits speculate that we’ve finally joined the rest of the world in our love for the sport, but that’s wishful thinking. Unless Americans have a team to cheer for, the color and fascination with soccer will abate by next year. Swish, bam, dunk, gone. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, anyone?

Vanilla campaigns and voter apathy

Why do political parties and politicians insist on running the same deadly vanilla kind of campaigns year after year, campaign after campaign? Why do they focus on the same “safe” issues, attack the same supposed enemies, say pretty much the same thing over and over again, even when it’s apparent that nobody is listening? And why is it that, with each election cycle, we find fewer and fewer people bothering to go to the polls on election day?
The answer is boredom.
And that boredom is the result of a voting pool that no longer cares about the message and certainly, doesn’t care about the messenger. Everything we read tells us that the great center of interest is no longer where the interest of the public lies. People want answers the the issues of 2014 and beyond. They are not finding leadership in their politicians because their politicians are following a template that has been out of date for about twenty years.
People are interested in specific questions, not generalities, and today’s politicians are responding in exactly the way their predecessors did–with turgid, stock answers, and generalized pabulum. Voters are responding by decrying all parties and all present leadership, Democratic and Republican.
Until politicians recognize that voters are living in a digital world where information is easy to get and almost impossible to hide–and until they realize that engaged citizens want specifics, not fairytales–the numbers of registered party members will continue to decline, and voter apathy will continue to soar.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rick Perry vs Rand Paul

Imagine a world in which...politicians weren’t the most predictable people in any given room...Can’t stretch your imagination that far? No wonder, folks.
Texas Governor Rick Perry arrives on the scene just in time to issue a blistering attack on fellow Republican (although many inside the Republican Party don’t exactly consider this fellow a real Republican...) Rand Paul for being what Perry considers to be an isolationist on foreign policy.
Now, readers of my political blog would know that I am not exactly a banner-carrier for the little Rand guy from Tea Party world, but this missive from the good ole Texas cowboy seems a wee bit repulsively timed. Does anyone seriously think that Perry has suddenly realized how potentially dangerous Rand Paul is? That he woke up the other day to notice that Paul is a little hesitant to get America involved in any number of wars for whatever it is we’re supposed to be fighting for these days?
Perry’s attack on Paul is blatantly timed to coincide with talk of a Perry run for president–or, as Bill O’Reilly would say, “Am I wrong? Perry has been all over the tube and the papers lately giving his (presidential?) take on this and that, and as all political junkies recognize, there’s nothing to get the political blood flowing like a good, serious attack on a fellow party member.
Choosing sides between these two? I may sit this one out.