They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rogue Columnist

Jon Talton was until about a year ago a columnist for the Arizona Republic. He lived in Willo and also writes mystery novels, one of which I reviewed here. He has moved to Seattle and writes occasional columns for the Seattle Times. He has a blog called Rogue Columnist which is often worth reading, as he writes about urban issues, Phoenix and Seattle in particular, and also has insights into the national political scene. I have added a link section in the margin to the right.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Seeing a President

Unlike my sons, who saw Bill Clinton in Tempe in 1996, I have never looked at a U.S. President. I have seen a few people who ran (or are currently running) for President but never one who served as president -- yet.

In high school I was a member (one of two in my home town) of the TeenAge Republicans. I helped set up for rally in downtown Imlay City for George Romney, who was running for re-election as Michigan's Governor. This was probably 1964. He stood on a stage -- I think it was actually a haywagon -- at the corner of Third and Almont and addressed the curious crowd that had gathered. Romney was later the frontrunner for the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination until he told a talk show host he had been "brainwashed" by the government on the subject of the Viet Nam war. Apparently folks in those days didn't care that he was a Mormon but weren't too enthusiastic about someone susceptible to brainwashing.

Bruce Babbitt was Arizona Governor in the 80's and ran for President in 1988. I saw him several times in Phoenix, including once at the office of our pediatrician, where he was bringing one of his children. I had a brief volunteer stint working for him in the Iowa Caucuses and on my last full day there drove his van.

On that same trip to Iowa I saw Michael Dukakis, who would ultimately be the Democratic nominee, in the lobby of a Des Moines hotel. Boy is he short.

Somewhere in the early 90's I was in the snack bar of the Petrified Forest National Park with the boys. I think that this was in conjunction with one of our camping trips to Sunset Crater. In walked John McCain with a few other people, no ceremony, just people getting sandwiches and Cokes. I have no idea what he was doing there. When I ran for the legislature in 1986 I had been on the same ballot as McCain, who was running for the Senate for the first time. We were scheduled to both be at a debate at Shadow Mountain H.S. but he didn't show up.

And of course I saw Barack Obama at the rally at the Colisseum a couple of weeks ago.

This means that unless Hillary Clinton manages to come from behind and get the nomination, I have seen the next President.

The Man has a Way with Words

I disagree with him more often than I agree with him -- the man does have interesting things to say about baseball by the way -- but you gotta love George Will's command of the language. In a recent column, Will says:

Last week, in his ten-thumbed attempt to prevent his wife's Louisiana loss, Bill Clinton said that Obama has made "an explicit argument that the '90s weren't much better than this decade." The phrase "explicit argument" was an exquisitely Clintonian touch, signaling to seasoned decoders of Clintonisms that, no matter how diligent the search, no such thought could be found, even implicitly, in anything Obama has ever said. In his preternatural neediness, Clinton, an overflowing caldron of narcissism and solipsism, is still smarting from Obama's banal observation, four weeks ago, that Ronald Reagan was a more transformative president than Clinton.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

John McCain is a Dangerous Warmonger

(Keep in mind that I have no use for any of these people...)

So Bob Dole sends a letter to Rush Limbaugh asking him to calm down with his bashing of John McCain. Mitt Romney is asked by Fox News what he thought of that and he responded that Dole is “probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me.” Nowhere in this discussion was there any mention of Dole having been in the army in WWII and having been wounded.

McCain said this: "He’s a great American, and for Governor Romney, who has never had any military experience, to disparage the service and courage of an American hero, I think is disgraceful.”

So, if you have not been in the military, you have no right to ever criticize someone who has been in the military, even if the subject has nothing to do with the military. What an idiot.

John McCain has never stopped fighting the VietNam War. According to Pat Buchanan:

We are forewarned. John McCain intends to be a war president.

Where Bush has lately cleansed his administration of neocons, McCain offers the last best hope for a neocon return and restoration and more wars in the Middle East. And if, as seems probable, Bibi Netanyahu again becomes prime minister of Israel, he and a President McCain will find a pretext for war on Iran.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Boomers and Kennedys

John told me that he thought Caroline Kennedy was a lousy speaker and that she was costing Obama votes every time she opened her mouth. I told him that her appearance was significant to people my age (although I agree that she appears uncomfortable and doesn't really have much to say -- she spoke for about 2 minutes at the rally on Wednesday).

I got to thinking about that and what has been written about the Kennedys and the baby boomers. It is interesting how history gets skewed. You would think that boomers swept John Kennedy into office, celebrated Camelot, were the first to join the Peace Corps and so on. Wrong. Do the math. Wikipedia tells me that the generally accepted definition of the postwar baby boom is people born between 1946 and 1964. The oldest boomers were 14 years when JFK beat Nixon in November of 1960 and some had not yet been born. It wasn't us that lived Camelot, it was our parents (not mine, they voted for Nixon), or at least our older siblings. My two sisters were born in 1935 and 1937. The Kennedy/Nixon election was their first opportunity to vote for President. I was 9 at the time of the election.

How about Bobby? When he ran in the primaries in 1968, the boomers who had been born in 1946 and part of 1947 could vote for him, the rest of us could not. Some were as young as 3. I was 17 and quite politically aware, but I did not support Bobby Kennedy. Chris Matthews has a "Coke or Pepsi?" "Letterman or Leno" type question for people who were young and liberal in those days: Bobby Kennedy or Gene McCarthy. I thought of RFK as an opportunist. Gene McCarthy was the true antiwar candidate. Bobby came late to the cause and was trading on his name recognition and relationship to a previous popular president, much like Hillary Clinton today, or so I thought at the time. There were a lot of enthusiastic young people supporting both Gene and Bobby. Remember though, that the voting age was 21 in most states in those days, including California. The 26th amendment was ratified in 1971, which changed that. The first election in which a large chunk of the boomers could vote was 1972, which ironically was a landslide for Richard Nixon.

Still, the Kennedys do mean a lot to a lot of people my age. I confess that I was almost as excited to see Caroline as I was to see Obama. I'm not sure why. One odd thing was the realization that she is 50 years old. She is supposed to be young. Older than she was in the 60's but certainly not 50. In some ways I think that I understand what Caroline talked about in her op-ed piece, although she was talking about younger people. I didn't experience Camelot or the excitement around Bobby's campaign. I saw glimpses but I was not really there. Obama maybe gives us the chance to be there.