Friday, October 29, 2010

Well, la-di-dah

Today's paper, front page, is a picture of "Batman"
and a story of "prominent Republicans" in our state,
endorsing my favorite candidate, the "Independent Democrat" - !

They're crossing over to support him, instead of their own party's guy. (!)
It's very interesting.

If the "prominent Republicans" are thinking the same as me, then one or the other of us must be in trouble. (?!)
What is "prominent"?
Is it the same as fancy schmancy?
Or, is it more like la-di-dah?
The story says, "If elected, [the Independent Democrat candidate] said he would gather a team of Republicans, Democrats and Independents around the governor's conference table to work on solutions to the deficit.

'Problem solving has to trump partisan politics,' he said, adding his election would not mean a winner-take-all process."
------------------------------ Several important key words/phrases in there:
a. team
b. problem solving
c. partisan politics, and
d. winner-take-all...

In what I read, the modern-era (1994 to now, I think) stalemate / gridlock / locked-down / ambience in Washington is caused by entrenched partisan warfare (item c), resulting in a petulant, bullying, "winner-take-all" (item d) culture -- and it leaks back-and-forth from politics to business, and back, I think.

Meanwhile problems (item b) don't get solved because politicians are too busy fighting with each other and raising Money.
Working as a team (item a) -- it's like, Hello, define that, please. We don't know what that is, anymore.

A woman who chaired House Appropriations (state level) in the nineties is quoted in the front-page story, also, saying she recognized his "strong ability to lead" even as a young Republican legislator from a small town west of here.
The story adds, The candidate "has since switched to the Democratic Party."
(It's as if by proving himself, and yet quitting one party to join another, which can tick off power brokers, still, now, he's created -- or discovered -- an opportunity to bring people back together again and get them working together in a positive way.

Our veteran Appropriations Chair was quoted in the article -- the candidate's "most outstanding quality is his willingness to stand up for an issue and for people and to make tough decisions."

Batman, babe.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

"the usual suspects"

"Round up the usual suspects!" was the line used several times in the movie Casablanca -- Louis (pronounced "Loo-ee") Renault is the local police captain in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. He wants to be a good guy, but the Nazis are in control so he pretends to go along with them because he has to.

(I think he generally sent all of "the usual suspects" right on home again after he was through proving to his superiors that he had investigated whatever incident it was.)

The Independent Democrat running for governor of our state has a Republican running mate, for Lt. Gov. A true hybrid ticket. Also -- the gov. candidate, now an Independent Democrat, used to be a Republican.

(And -- in our Republican primary there was a guy running who used to be a Democrat.)
Our "I.D." (Independent Democrat) candidate got one of my bills passed, once.
(My memory is searching -- was it Pass our bill, or Kill their bill, or was it Amend something?)
Anyhow, it affected only a small number of local government entities -- failure on our part would have meant some closings and / or local taxes having to be raised in some rural areas.

The Governor candidate, (at that time -- late 90s -- a Republican State Senator) represented one area which would be adversely affected if my effort didn't succeed. During the time when my bill (or amendment, whichever) was being heard in Education Committee, he was in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Our plan was, I would go and let him know when our bill was coming up.

(State Affairs is sort of the most important committee. They handle the Biggest topics. It is the most prestigious. For example, if there's a bill which would affect taxes, it will probably land in the Taxation Committee. But if it's a bill affecting taxes which the governor wants, then it will most likely be assigned to State Affairs.)

So I went to Senate State Affairs and he came with me to Education, walking fast. He strode in and testified standing up. (There's a microphone and a small table and chair, where you can sit to testify.) But our Gov. Candidate told it while standing.

He was energetic, and to-the-point and was telling it to them kind of -- hard.
I recall thinking, "Carefully -- don't scare 'em!"
What he was doing was what I would term "call-their-bluff" testimony.
(Mine would always be gentle / reasonable / giving some examples.)

Gov. Cand.'s brief testimony was along the lines of, "If what we're trying to do is force consolidation, then we need to just say so and not hide that agenda behind pieces of legislation like this." Very firmly.
(I'm thinking, "Don't offend them -- aaauuugghhh!")

But he didn't offend them.
He has more power than me. He can kick some ass if he wants to.

It was short and sweet, and it went our way.
And he took off back to State Affairs.
He was like Superman!
He was like Batman.
He was the man.

A few years after that he was no longer in the legislature, and read in one of the papers his answer to the question of whether he was running for governor -- must have been 2002 -- and his answer was something like -- "No I'm not running this time -- I don't know how that rumor got started -- someone just threw my name on the list when they were rounding up the usual suspects."

A reference to Casablanca.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Orders up!

Next Tuesday
I'm putting in my "two cents":

Republican to the State Senate!

Democrats to the State House!

"No" on all the ballot issues except for Lucky number 13.

Re-elect our congresswoman to the U.S. House.

and last but not least -- an INDEPENDENT DEMOCRAT (what's that?!) for Governor.
My statehouse votes are all three to re-elect incumbents. They are doing a good job, and no reason to start all over from the ground up and re-invent the wheel with people who are new and have no power.

I listened to our congresswoman speak about the health care bill on C-SPAN, and something I noticed was, while some of the other congressmen spoke "off the cuff" -- pausing to say "uh" or some other filler while they thought of which direction they wanted to take next, our congresswoman was well-prepared. No "uh"'s. She had enough respect for her constituents, for the listeners & viewers, and for her colleagues in the House to prepare and give a strong, coherent, and concise talk about the topic.

She lacked the conceit of the "off-the-cuff-ers."
After watching medical marijuana get voted down by state legislators who were too chicken to vote to help people who may be in pain, now I get to vote for it myself. (Why would you not?)

And one of those ballot items is to further limit places where people can smoke -- regular cigarettes, that is.
I say, Haven't we (society) beat up on smokers enough??! Leave 'em alone!!
a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:
"A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve."


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nice and rough

A guy I work with told me a few weeks ago that I am "not a normal person."
Then last Friday he told me I was "nothing like Tina Turner."

He's cruisin'.
You know,
Every now and then,
I think you might
like to hear something
from us, nice --
and easy.
But there's just one thing.
You see, we
nevah --
evah --
do nothing --
And easy.
We always do it nice --
and rough.
Now we're gonna take
the beginning of this song--
and do it --
But then we're gonna
do the finish --
That's the way
we do
"Proud Mary."
Aside from being a white woman with no talent,
I am (wish to be) -- EXACTLY.
Like Tina Turner.
The name of the book (reviewed last week in NYTms) I've referred to is, Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.
Looking at the Times review, I found so much that seemed relatable.
The review (written by David Brooks, October 15, 2010) says,
"Moynihan, for much of his public life, wrote long, substantive letters. These were neither gossipy notes nor dishy character sketches. Though a skilled writer, Moynihan didn't have a literary mind....
Instead, his letters recorded the evolving intellectual adventure of a restless mind. Moynihan explored the grand themes of history and tried to understand the times in the most ambitious of ways: the cultural implications of the shift from the industrial to the post-industrial society, the disaffection of the intellectual class, the foreign policy implications of ethnic tension in a post-Communist world."
Trying to figure things out.
Moynihan became an adviser to a series of elected leaders --
Gov. Averell Harriman, New York;
and Presidents
and Nixon.
(I liked the bipartisanship of that. He wasn't stuck with only one party. And THEN -- look how he advised...)
Brooks writes, "He [Moynihan] urged Nixon to lead an administration of 'Tory men with Liberal principles' -- a characteristicallly hybrid formulation, this time blending opposed ideologies."
That's because of course there are good ideas on both sides.
Political leaders and people in government, just like in any environment, need to Get Their Work Done, not spend their time fighting and saying terrible, mean things about each other.
Not a complex idea.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ike, Nixon, and Grandma Snow

And Mickey Mantle.
If anyone on planet Earth (or other planets) reads my blog, and they don't want to read about political parties, they may skim down, on this post, to where the dotted line is: under the dotted line is content about Mickey Mantle. Below the dotted line: a politics-free zone.

I thought of Grandma Snow (passed, 1982, I think) because of the Republicans. Was thinking, "This is not my Grandma Snow's GOP."
Trying to get hold of a thought, or concept: probably the best Leadership, Politics, Vision, whatever occurs when the person (a President or someone else) takes the position, or makes the statement, or takes the action which observers might have expected someone in the other political party to say, or take, or do.

Two examples:
1. President Eisenhower in his farewell speech, Janury 1961, warned us about the military industrial complex: he wanted people to be aware that "war is good for business" and that the Pentagon and the big corporations that make trillions from war-time expenditures can, together, get too much power. If that warning had come from a Democrat, particularly a further left-leaning one, it would have been taken somewhat differently. "Ike" (campaign buttons in the fifties read, "I like Ike" - !) had been president 8 years and before that, had an outstanding military career. So -- he could talk.

(You can get this on You Tube. Some of the shorter [1-2 minute] uploads of a segment of the speech are backed up with sort of annoying piano music which, I'm relatively sure, were not part of the original farewell address! If you keep trying different ones, you can get some without that piano.)

2. President Richard Nixon opening up relations with China. (1970-whatever it was.) As little as 10 years earlier, if a Democrat president had recommended talking with the Chinese leadership, some would have called him "red." Not nice, or accurate, but that's the way they would have played it. As a former red-baiter, ironically Nixon was somewhat uniquely positioned to Do The Right Thing. And he did.

When I was thinking about my party Friday, and feeling bad about the Republicans, I thought about it later --the thing is, it isn't that the original Grandma-Snow-type Republicans have become crazy, it's just that some Nuts have "attached" to our party.

But they haven't simply attached, they've, I'm afraid, sort of infiltrated, stomped over, and corrupted the way the party used to be. If Grandma Snow were living today, and she could see (and hear) the moronic antics of some of the politicians and the ever-redundant pundits, she would be horrified.

And I think they could all just hold their breath waiting for her to send them any money.


Last week, reading the New York Times Review of Books, two stood out -- a biography of Mickey Mantle, and a collection of letters written by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. I want the Moynihan book. After my book sells and I make enough money, 1st thing I'm gonna do is have some repairs on the Buick I'm driving, 2nd thing -- buy the Moynihan book.

The Mickey Mantle book, I'll probably never get read -- there's not enough time in life to read everything that looks interesting. But -- here's the part of the review I liked (and that's the good thing about the reviews, you DO have time to read those, and you learn a lot, even about the books you're not going to have time for.
___________ [quote] Mantle's 565-foot home run at Griffith Stadium in Washington in April 1953 was not merely one of the longest ever hit, nor was it just Mantle's true self-introduction on the baseball stage. It also sealed the sport's obsession with the "tape-measure homer," largely through the artifice of the anecdotal report by the Yankees' public relations director, Red Patterson, that he found the boy who had come upon the Mantle baseball where it finally stopped, in somebody's backyard. More than half a century later, Leavy [the author] tracked down the man, by then 69 years old, and managed to get just enough detail from him to produce a true picture of the transformational blast.
______________[end quote]
"The transformational blast."
The author asked an expert -- a Nobel Prize winner in Physiology / Medicine, Eric Kandel -- to try to explain both Mantle's explosive swing, which made the bat seem of double width, and his inability to explain to others how he did it.

Kandel answered: "I think your question is not dramatically different than asking, 'What makes Mozart Mozart?'"


Friday, October 22, 2010

Questions with no Answers

Political Parties:
When I turned 18, we were a month away from a presidential election.
When I was in grade school, people still had to be 21 to vote, so I had this idea that it was a Big Good Thing to be able to vote at 18.

After my 18th birthday (probably the day after), at my request, my dad drove over with me to the county seat so I could register to vote. I registered as a Democrat because my parents were Democrats, and that seemed good, to me at the time. I knew I could vote for any candidate I wanted to, whether Democrat or Republican, so I didn't feel like I was tied down, or limited, or trapped.

I think my history teacher in high school (who was beautiful and stylish and articulate) explained it to me that if you registered as an Independent you wouldn't be able to vote in the primaries. (Or maybe I learned that at home, cannot remember.) Somehow I had it in my head why it was better to belong to either one party or the other -- because you got to vote more, that way.

A few years later I switched parties.
Because I really liked a particular Republican candidate for president.
And I think taking a course from a professor who claimed he was a "Marxist-Leninist" (whatever happened to those -- they don't even have 'em in Russia anymore...!) somehow pushed my political thinking further to the right.

But not that far.
Like most Americans, I'm in the middle --
we like America, and we're -- not crazy.

When I hear
anger taking the place of common sense
insult taking the place of constructive policy outlines
personal attacks taking the place of lively public discourse
I get disappointed and consider changing my registration from Republican to Democrat.

Two reason why I don't:
1. If you change parties every time someone in the party you're registered with said something hostile or stupid, (particularly these days), you'd be down at the courthouse every day, ping-ponging back and forth. And
2. Right now, the scariest extremists are in the Republican party. I stay in the party so I can vote against the worst extremists twice -- once in the primary and again in the general election (if they got past the primary without my vote).

Maybe what I'll do is only switch from Repub. to Democrat sometime in the future if things change and it looks like the most frightening extremists are in the Democrat party.

That's like so negative: I would rather register with a party because I like them, not because I think they have the most candidates who need to be stopped. I never forecasted that phenomenon when I was 18. I wanted to vote for stuff.

Has politics devolved into contemptible behavior and rhetoric because our Society is doing that?
Or the other way around?
Or does Society (including the political community) follow Hollywood's influence?
A Republican state representative I used to know said once that he learned, "You get what you reward." And somehow our current public life and entertainment / communications seem to reward bad behavior / outrageous antics / most-insulting soundbites, etc.
More extreme behavior seems to be going mainstream. I don't think this phenomenon, if I'm correct, is going to make our lives any better.

In his book, The Audacity Of Hope, President Obama called it "the industry of insult."
He wasn't wrong.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

yearning for elegance

I am a registered Republican.
And I am wondering, "Is my party a party of sore losers?"
Acting like babies --
no that's wrong, a baby who needs changing doesn't tantrum like this.
Acting like -- what? Animals?
My cat behaves way better than that.
There's, like,
nothing to compare it to.
I am at a loss for words.
And that's rare.
And I am beginning to see why
some of the people I know
don't vote.
Because they are disgusted and turned
by the stupid behavior
and ugly remarks and ranting.
I still think the people I know
who don't vote
should vote
because when they don't,
they leave election of people who
govern us
to the people who are somehow
impressed by mindless anger
and ridiculous antics.
Would you let those people
run your house?
Or mow your lawn?
Do you want them deciding who
runs the government?

"News" too bizarre to even look at;
I agree there.
Most people just want to
live. And take care of things.
I am an optimist.
And I am concerned.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"That was no olive branch, that was his wife!"

A voice-mail from Mrs. Clarence (Ginny) Thomas
to Anita Hill.

(A lawyer told me once they had trouble confirming Clarence Thomas to Supreme Court because of "a definition":
judge Thomas didn't know whether
"harass" was one word or two.)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

no more books?

"They" -- (who are THEY? -- those people who warn us about stuff)-
"They" say there aren't going to be any books anymore, due to kindle.

Great. Just when I can project my book being ready for the agent, they are not even going to HAVE books anymore.

------------------ On other hand -- when movies were invented there was not supposed to be any more radio; the advent of television inspired predictions of the end of the movie business ...and now -- what? -- the internet is the end of everything...?
Or the beginning?
Or both?

Do I have the energy or the expertise to worry about all this?
Am I going to allow worry about the Future Of Publishing to deter me from finishing my book?
Hell no.

And every week The New York Times Review of Books gives us a list of new titles. Of books.
B-B-O-O-O-O-O-K-K-K-S-S !!
(Apparently, not yet over.)
This week -- THREE biographies --
Mickey Mantle
David Susskind
Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Moynihan one is -- Wow -- so relatable, to me, & maybe shouldn't call it a "biography" -- it's a collection of his letters. He observed stuff and thought about stuff and wrote letters and made suggestions. I can totally relate to that.
His name is like the music of Fleetwood Mac, to me -- sort of part of the background of my life -- just -- always there.


Monday, October 18, 2010


[a passage from Grace And Power, by Sally Bedell Smith. Copyright 2004, Random House, New York.]
Jackie...competed as a "surprise participant" in the Loudoun Hunt Horse Show. She took third place in one of three classes, riding Minbreno, a horse she owned jointly with Eve Fout. Jack had debated the political wisdom of letting her participate in such a fancy public event...even asking Mac Bundy for advice. His national security adviser replied with some doggerel:

It is a sign of pride -- a horse,
But not a thing to hide -- a horse,
Assuming you provide -- of course,
A brave and lovely lady who can ride.
For voters dare to admire the fair,
And voters crave to honor the brave;
Only the rich are likely to bitch,
But which rich itch for us anyway?
So smothering doubts the President shouts,
"I who decide say, 'Let her ride!'"
[end quote]
(Doggerel?! I thought it was a darn good poem -- so much for my "good taste"-!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

What is courage?

A worker got his hand caught in a machine last night.

The men who work in maintenance took the machine apart so far as it was necessary to free the kid's hand from it -- ("kid" -- he seems so young --)

I'm filled up with amazement when I see how these people who can Fix Everything
(that's some kind of a God-given talent -- not everyone could do it -- you have to "solve the mystery" AND create the solution, AND physically Do It -- That's what Courage is: doing it; Taking Care Of It) --
...when I see how these people who Fix Things
-- Take Action, with this low-key, casual, self-effacing heroism --
HELP the guy
TAKE the machine apart
GET his hand out with the least amount of pain and damage
MAKE a plan --
Plan A, We get him out of the machine and out the door to the ambulance; Plan B, if ambulance arrives and we haven't got him loose yet, one of our people goes up front to meet the ambulance people and lead them back to the guy.

Instantaneous; highly competent; and with all consideration and focus toward the young man who got hurt.
I said later, "You got him out really fast" -- and all the lead man said was, "I'll bet it didn't seem very fast to him."
All he could think of was how they could have done it better.

Getting hurt and being in pain is bad, but it's also bad, or challenging in a different way, for people who are seeing the person who is in pain.
The various ramifications ping-pong around in their minds -- will he lose his finger? two fingers? three fingers? his whole hand?
Outside in the dark, the man who got hurt sat, hand wrapped -- pain. Three or four men who work here, plus two policemen. Waiting -- ambulance.
One employee who is fluent in both Spanish and English talked to the guy, and translated.

One of the policemen told him, "Ask him, on a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt?"
An odd question -- but then I thought, "Maybe it's a strategy, to keep the guy talking and prevent him from going into shock -- keep him focused, or something..."
Today the translator said he was thinking the same thing.
First -- "That's a dumb question!"

That "scale-of-one-to-ten" thing is such a common expression in English -- but I don't think it translates -- the guy who was hurt seemed perplexed and he asked something. The translator wanted to understand it better, too -- he looked at me, so I said to him the same thing the policeman had said, only added, "with one being small amount of pain and 10 being the most pain" -- translator tried again, and the guy answered emphatically, "Mucho!!"

The rescuers who had been standing, mostly silent, or speaking in low tones, heard "Mucho!" and someone smiled, and somebody else chuckled -- only a little. (In those situations, something has to relieve some of the isn't that you're laughing at the guy...)
One of them said to another one, "Mucho."
And somebody else -- "Mucho."

"Mucho. Mucho. Mucho." out there in the dark.

I imagined the supervisors from the contracting company the young man works for were going to, in the very near future, gather their employees together and have an intense Safety Meeting -- (when I worked in politics they used to call that type of caucus, or strategy session, a "Come-to-Jesus meeting"). I imagined -- next week, or something.

Turned out it was in the VERY VERY near future -- an hour after the ambulance arrived, the supervisor and his supervisor came back in with the injured man, who was walking -- and he immediately held up his hand to show me, four fingers all bandaged, but all ON.
He got out of that with -- it sounds like -- no permanent damage. He was lucky.

And they had the intense Safety Meeting ON THE SPOT -- brought everybody out, to see the bandaged fingers and to hear a Sermon on the Mount about Safety.
Courage. It's -- doing the thing.
Taking care of it.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

born on a morning when the sun didn't shine

If you go on You Tube and type in
Sixteen Tons

there are several versions of that song -- the one with Tennessee Ernie Ford singing it, uploaded by "curleyb3" --
play that one --
someone (Dinah Shore, I think) introduces him
to a roomful of people;
they're formally dressed, and seated at round tables with white tablecloths.
They get into the "finger-poppin'" at certain parts of the song.

Listen, and scroll down and read some of the text messages listeners have sent in: they're great! --
"This song freakin rocks!!!!!"
"Ern Dog OWNS!!!!!"
it's pretty funny.

I can totally relate to that enthusiasm.

also, there's another version uploaded by

that one has even better "text" comments, I think -- a couple of them (I picture teenage guys) -- they -- rather than say, "This song is great" or whatever, they just
type in some lyrics of the song --
"If you see me comin'
better stand aside
A lotta men didn't, and a lotta men died.
One fist of iron, the other steel,
If one don't get you then the other one will..."

One of them typed that -- the other typed that part plus the chorus.

It's a certain way of paying homage, rather than use one's own adjectives, they just type the lyrics right in there and leave 'em stand. Respectful.

born on a morning when the sun didn't shine...

the straw boss said Well-a bless my soul....

Country - blues pure magic.
Sung by a guy in a tie -- looks like a banker.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

trick of memory

Yesterday I was typing in a post here -- read it over and saw a mistake --
one of my favorite state representatives I ever knew would NOT have been wearing his hat -- ten-gallon or otherwise -- in the Taxation or any other committee.

My memories of him wearing his hat -- outside -- must have got mixed in -- blended -- with memories of him chairing the committee, and his easy, smooth manner, and stimulating questions.

But he wouldn't wear his hat indoors.
Memory can do that -- you remember things, and while each memory, or picture, can be accurate in itself, they can get mixed in, stacked up, superimposed--one with another: you remember the guy, the hat, the committee, the style, and your mind can make connections which weren't there in the real experience.

Memories, on the other hand, are real, too -- as far as they go.

Eight days ago an article in N.Y. Tms -- "Paris Rediscovers Monet's Magic at Grand Palais": it said the French expressionist artist Claude Monet would look at the thing he was going to paint, and go back to it many times, but finish the picture later in his studio based on what he remembered.

So -- like, not painting the what he sees, but rather what he saw, as he remembers it.
Little different dimension.

The article (written by Michael Kimmelman) says,
No wonder Proust revered him [Monet]. Proust also wrote that his pictures "make us adore a field, a sky, a beach, a river as though these were shrines which we long to visit, shrines we lose faith in when we see." Reality, with its mess and noise, fails to live up to what Monet painted.
[end quote]
That's the thing -- art is an opportunity to make things better. To render them as nice as they can be, or as nice as you can make them.

The article also says:
The style, precisely what shocked and appalled old-school Parisians, masqueraded as an instant take on the subject. Former fishing villages on the Norman coast like Etretat were already turning into resorts catering to vacationing urbanites who wanted to experience such places as if unspoiled by people like themselves.
[end quote]
" if unspoiled by people like themselves...."! -- Like -- the only way to enjoy it is to not go there ! Sort of like -- "Let's don't and say we did."


Monday, October 11, 2010

Of politicians, poetry, and a glass of whiskey

(a poem written by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in October 1953)

Meanwhile in Massachusetts Jack Kennedy dreamed

Walking the shore by the Cape Cod Sea
Of all the things he was going to be.

He breathed in the tang of the New England fall
And back in his mind he pictured it all,
The burnished New England countryside
Names that a patriot says with pride
Concord and Lexington, Bunker Hill
Plymouth and Falmouth and Marstons Mill
Winthrop and Salem, Lowell, Revere
Quincy and Cambridge, Louisburg Square.
This was his heritage -- this his share
Of dreams that a young man harks in the air.
The past reached out and tracked him now

He would heed that touch; he didn't know how.
Part he must serve, a part he must lead
Both were his calling, both were his need.

Part he was of New England stock
As stubborn, close guarded as Plymouth Rock
He thought with his feet most firm on the ground
But his heart and his dreams were not earthbound
He would call New England his place and his creed
But part he was of an alien breed
Of a breed that had laughed on Irish hills
And heard the voices in Irish rills.

The lilt of that green land danced in his blood
Tara, Killarney, a magical flood
That surged in the depth of his too proud heart
And spiked the punch of New England so tart
Men would call him thoughtful, sincere
They would not see through to the Last Cavalier.

He turned on the beach and looked toward his house.

On a green lawn his white house stands
And the wind blows the sea grass low on the sands
There his brothers and sisters have laughed and played
And thrown themselves to rest in the shade.
The lights glowed inside, soon supper would ring
And he would go home where his father was King.
But now he was here with the wind and the sea
And all the things he was going to be.

He would build empires
And he would have sons
Others would fall
Where the current runs
He would find love
He would never find peace
For he must go seeking
The Golden Fleece
All of the things he was going to be
All of the things in the wind and the sea.

I've read several places that Jackie Kennedy made points with her (then) new mother-in-law with this poem, which was inspired by "John Brown's Body" by Stephen Vincent Benét)

I liked the part that says,
"Part he must serve, a part he must lead
Both were his calling, both were his need."

(And what is the Golden Fleece? Is it like the Holy Grail -- the thing everybody's searching for??
OK, Googled it -- Greek mythology, 8th Century BC -- yes, it's something people wanted to find...not enough Time for the fine points. ...)

When I read that about "serve" and "lead," thought of this: when you win elected office it's called "public service." When I was working as a lobbyist, it occurred to me a few times that for some, once they get elected the first thing they forget is "the public" and then the next thing they forget is the "service."

That's cynical, though -- true but cynical, and most Importantly -- Not True Of All Of Them. Working with state senators and representatives, was privileged to know some people for whom I had terrific respect.

The chairman of the House Taxation Committee in 1989 (and several years after that, I think), would sit there with his ten-gallon hat and bang the gavel, and run that committee with precision and efficiency -- letting people have their say and yet keeping it rolling -- very professional, and yet self-effacing, humble, never even "driving down the highway past arrogant." He operated with Class, and with an attitude of, "Aren't we fortunate to get the opportunity to do this work, to conduct the people's business and participate in democracy?" -- which was how I felt.

In private, he was a great story-teller and appreciator of people and had a wonderful manner and sense of humor -- he could talk to anybody and was interested in many things besides his centers of expertise -- a sort of "Renaissance man."

I wanted him to write down all his good stories and get it published -- he always said, "I'd rather just sit and have a glass of whiskey and tell the stories...."


Friday, October 8, 2010

I Want To Pay Higher Taxes

I want to pay higher taxes because the people who pay the highest taxes are in the higher income brackets. When I arrive in a higher income bracket (see that's Positive Thinking, I say "When," not "If") then I will ENJOY being in that bracket, and I will pay the higher taxes gladly and never complain.

The people complaining about high taxes --
a) have it made, and
b) are full of baloney.
A flurry of thoughts and Trying To FIGURE THINGS OUT --
read in NY Times: "The End Of The Tunnel" --
an editorial --
the story, and many of the accompanying Comments from Times readers were sort of --
relating to thoughts and
things I'd been wondering about for
some time

One of the most conservative Republicans I ever knew (and loved, as a friend) said when Pres. Bush (first one) was going to lift tax on windfall profits, "That's wrong. The best time to pay taxes is when you've just made some money."
He said it with emphasis.

Since that time it seems like -- appears -- that our government is pretty much engaged in just shoveling more and more Money toward, and onto, some of the people and corporations that already have it.
I am not typing this with a bunch of anger or psyched-up"ness" -- I'm just saying what it looks like. Just saying.

I read these comments on the editorial and found myself making notes -- stuff I've thought of before...I have never in all my life really ever thought our country would or could "collapse" -- always felt like people who spoke of that were either a little too radical and emotional, or simply engaging in hyperbole.

In the present, I now -- wonder.
Or -- "slow decline."
Collapse -- scary.
Long slow decline -- depressing.

Notes made from the editorial and Comments --
"collapse" "the madness will pass"
The Big Money (whomever that is -- the corporations? Rupert Murdoch (owner of much media)? Insurance -- NRA -- Medical (the three Biggest Lobbiest in Washington)? --
The Big Money is paying for two things:
1) the politicians to do their bidding -- low taxes, low regulation (oil spills etc. resulting);
and 2) big chunk of media (cable and possibly networks too) to fool us and control us -- to get us mad at the wrong people, about the wrong stuff

people not voting -- my hairstylist says it's generational -- that people in "my" generation voted, but the next generation doesn't, as much -- they don't participate because -- Why? No hope? A sense that the game is played at a higher level and they're really getting nothing out of it...?

My "generation" -- the ones who Vote -- were steeped in the recent history of our parents' generation, then only a few decades behind us -- FDR's "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" (why doesn't Pres. O say that now??) and the idea that America was Good, we were lucky to live here and it was our Obligation and Duty to vote, (and even to become involved -- stuff envelopes, etc.) -- and we were supposed to be Grateful and Happy to have that obligation and to -- you know -- not live in Russia or some other communist country.

Fair play. What happened to that? After Tonya Harding's crew had Nancy Kerrigan's knees bashed before the skating competition in (when was it, 1994 or so??) -- did that become the new standard, or was that indicative of an attitude creeping into our national psyche of "win-at-all-costs" instead of the "Fair play" which we used to all grow up with?

Business -- the new priority of using money to make more money for -- I don't know who, definitely not for an awful lot of us -- and the point is to churn the Money around and create large bank accounts for somebody somewhere but to de-emphasizing producing Goods and Services that are excellent and people want to buy -- the producing has been and continues to be (it sounds like) moved overseas.

And then we're like, "Where are the jobs?" Well duh -- the corp.'s sent them away. On purpose, apparently.

a winning formula
BIG MONEY manipulating and controlling what people think, through the media
reasonable -- want it
rational -- (want it)
short-term thinking (don't want it)
the public good (want it) -- and very few politicians are working for it, now
people attacking the Government: (Stupid! The government is US, hello?!) It's OURS.

The infrastructure is being allowed to decay
The LYING -- in the media and everywhere -- just plain untruths and "political" (in my view, "unreasonable, irrational, and borderline insane") commentators lying right to us with angry, attacking language, really not political, just Show Business, ramming Stupidity down the throats of the public and if some people don't know better they believe it -- it plays to the worst in human nature, if the listener isn't guarded, and Really Thinking for himself --

(Remember "It's the economy, stupid"? Now the phrase should be -- "It's the lying, silly!"
people saying America is becoming like a third world country.
I can remember having it explained to me when I was a child that the reason America was a prosperous and comparatively wealthy country was because we have a strong middle class, not just A Few Rich and A Lot of Poor.

Now -- statistics and some people tell us we are headed that direction -- toward being a society with a much diminished middle class. I'm no economic expert, or historian, or whatever -- and I'd like to be wrong about this, but I feel that I DO know that if we aren't the middle class-type society that we were in the 50s and 60s and even the 70s, it isn't going to be the same country that most of us in my age group grew up in and really expected to last forever, as long as we were good citizens, voted, Worked Hard, loved our Country, and didn't listen to the communists.

But maybe newer generations won't miss the Middle-Class, American-Dream-minded, Hopeful and Optimistic Lifestyle which was given to us because they -- don't remember it. There's a blues song -- "You can't lose what you never had." This would be like, "You can't miss what you never had."
Any readers of this blog, hope you can forgive the form of this post -- just throwing it down because -- well, for 2 reasons --
1. am out of time; and
2. I haven't figured all this out -- it's an ongoing process.
If you (anyone) reads this, I Love ya for it -- thanks!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Circling Dog Idling Tempo

Remember about ten years ago there was a movie called
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ?

I never saw it -- think it won some Academy Awards.
That quaint and exotic title made you want to think up other words to "plug in" to create other titles like it.

Yesterday I was thinking / writing about this lost dog that found me last week when I was out walking.
It made me remember another time that happened -- don't know what year -- maybe late 90s:
I drove this blue Ford Tempo with an excellent sound system (the first New Car I ever bought -- got it Paid For, and drove it for several years with no car payments!)...I was parked on Third Street, facing west; went to do something, returned to my car, started it up, slid in a cassette, and suddenly this large dog came running from my left, on the street.

He ran past the front bumper of my car, up onto the curb, and, assuming he would keep going in some direction, I put the car in "Drive" and was about to pull out into the driving lane when the dog ran past the driver's-side door, coming from behind the car, and ran around in front of the car again. Again, was about to pull away from the curb and drive away, when -- here comes the dog, around from the left again, and past the front of my car, and I realized he was heading for the back of the car again, so he could circle again.

"This is weird. Damned if this dog isn't running in circles around and around my car...!?"
It was dusk, getting darker by the minute. The running-and-circling continued and since I didn't want to grow old and retire in that particular location, in my car, thought -- well, I'll get out and see if I can find out where he lives.

I went up and down the street with the dog (it was a big one --maybe a lab) following me and running around ( he knew about "Come on!") and knocked on doors and rang doorbells. People came to the door -- "No he's not mine. No, he doesn't look familiar; I don't know who he belongs to."

Finally, down the street a feed store was open -- lights on, and trucks. I went there with the dog, and there was a guy in there, in charge. We phoned police; yes somebody had called about a lost dog...

The owners were from a town about 50 miles west of here. The man was so happy to come in and get his dog back. He offered me money -- $50, I think.
"No, that's OK; I'm just glad you got your dog back."
Some women get approached by wonderful men who want to date them and fall in love with them.
I, on the other hand, get approached by lost dogs -
(What's up with that?)

There is a school of thought which would say I should have taken the $50. You know -- 'If someone offers you money, you take it!"
I don't know -- the way I handled it felt right. It made me feel really good to see him get his dog back.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

why don't we do it in the road

Trying to help somebody's lost dog get off the main street (four lanes traffic), a guy stopped and took out his tiny key-chain flashlight and read Dog's tags, took out his cell phone and called Dog's humans, then said to me,
"There's got to be a better place to do this than the middle of the street."
However -- that's where the dog was.

Last Thursday night (I think), Walking, sidewalk by main thoroughfare -- traffic relatively busy, though 11:30pm, and I'm alone thinking my own thoughts and I see this low -- thing -- sort of barreling bouncily toward me -- it's one of those long, low dogs, don't know which breed. Low to the ground, with short legs and a thick, round, sturdy body. Running right at me.

("Is it a pit bull?"
"A dog in the dark!"
"What do I do now?")

I like dogs but am never to bold about petting ones I don't know. They may growl or bite.
So I made a U-turn with my Fast-Walk: "Nice doggie, stay out of the street!" -- and I just headed back toward home, away from the dog.
Who promptly trotted out into the street, keeping pace with me, heading same direction.
Right after I thought to myself, "It isn't my problem," and "I just want to go home,"
I went out into the street to try to "shoo" the dog off street-onto sidewalk.

More cars coming;
"Shoo! Nice doggie! Come on!"
Fear of being bitten by the dog lost out to fear of seeing it get run over, so I put up my hand to try to let drivers know they -- like -- shouldn't run over me and the dog and kill us -- you know, might be nice if they didn't,
and took hold of the dog's collar, didn't get bitten or killed, and started trying to pull dog toward curb, but he's just huddling, heavily, by my ankle, thumping his tail against my leg.

But almost immediately a big van stopped in the street next to us and a big tall guy got out and helped us -- he was so efficient and effective: grabbed the collar, petted the dog, got hold of the tags, had that flashlight handy right there, got a phone number off of the tags --
meanwhile, he had a sidekick with him, a shorter guy, coming around from the other side of the van -- the first guy goes, "Gimme my phone!"

So with the cell phone, he calls, starts talking;
I thought, "Oh good! He reached the dog's owner!" -- then realized from the monologue the guy was doing, with no pauses to listen, he was speaking to a voice-mail. Crap.

HOWEVER -- the saga continued.
Right about then Guy 1 (the tall guy) said to me, "There's got to be a better place to do this than in the middle of the street."
Couldn't agree more.
THEN -- he says, "I'm gonna take the dog home, that way they won't have to pay pound fees." He said it again, to Guy 2 (the one who had apparently been riding shotgun) -- "..gonna take the dog home, that way I can give it back to them -- if the police take him in, they're gonna have to pay pound fees."...
[Spoken like a man who had himself, at some point in time, paid "pound fees" and didn't enjoy it.]

The dog was thick and awkward to handle -- I couldn't even drag it -- but together those two guys got him (or her -- name was "Allie") loaded up onto the floor of the van, in front of the back seat, where Allie seemed to be quite content and even enthusiastic upon landing.

(We must have looked like a comedy routine -- like the Keystone Cops out there on the street -- cars driving by us, and around us, drivers thinking charitable, generous thoughts such as, "Dumb-asses...!"

The van started to drive forward, (everybody in), I was walking to the sidewalk, and then the van was pulling over into my neighbor's driveway; in the darkness, there was a suburban partway up into my front drive, and behind that a police car (why weren't they helping??).
The dog's owner got out of the suburban: "Thank you SO MUCH! I'm sorry! Thank you!" Allie went with him -- everybody happy, blah blah blah....

That happened so fast -- the dog's person must have been out looking for Allie already -- there was no way he'd had enough time to come from home. That's how fast things go, these days -- with cell phones etc.

That Van guy was terrific. He went way beyond Basic Polite and Helpful -- he helped the dog; he helped me; he helped the dog's owners; he helped the passing drivers because none of them had to run over the dog and feel bad or swerve to avoid the dog and cause an accident -- and I mean, thinking about the "pound fees" and following through like that, being willing to take someone's dog home with him. That's above and beyond the call of duty.

I have Vast Admiration for men like that, who can Make Decisions, Do The Right Thing, and Take Care of It.
I was amazed.
I was still thinking about it, a couple of days later.


Monday, October 4, 2010

133,000 songs

A slammin' song about getting low-down on the dance floor, and a country song about having your toes in the water and [something else] in the sand were popular requests of the DJ at a Wedding Dance Saturday night. (That song -- Zac Brown -- sort of puts me in mind of Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" -- similar vibe, and sentiment....)

A wedding dance -- so much Happiness!
It had been a long time since I had occasion to attend one of those.
(Several people greeted me, "You CAME !" -- I got invited, and so couldn't imagine where else on God's green earth I'd be, that night - !)

Bride and wedding party all so beautiful.

The D.J. (a college guy with a "posse" of two guys who are, the D.J. explained to me, "in high school") -- had an object, sitting in front of his laptop. The object, about 3 x 5, or 4 x 6, looked like you could put just a short stack of index cards in it -- it holds, the D.J. told me, "133,000 songs."

One more Technological Thing to get my mind around.

Also, he had speakers with the firepower to get them dancing clear over in China, I think.

One of the D.J.'s "posse" teenagers danced with me -- R. Stones. He was very much like me, in that he's there for the Music and for the event. The experience, whatever.

It was a cool, clear night, going home.