Monday, September 17, 2012


All summer long, my niece has wanted to go out on the ski boat with us. And all summer long – while we had extended stretches of hot, dry weather – her work schedule conflicted with ours.
Being a single mom, working full-time, and going back to college – two classes this semester – creates a tough schedule for her. I’m very proud of her!
Finally, on Tuesday of last week, she was off, so I took off early and we headed to the lake.
For those of you not familiar with Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, they are a couple of the least-appreciated treasures in our area. I grew up around these parts, but never really enjoyed the beautiful lakes that are just 20 minutes away.
We enjoyed the late afternoon on the lake – the First Mate, my niece, and her 6-year-old daughter who takes to water like a fish! The sky was clear and the air was warm. But when they jumped into the water, the report came back, “It’s a little chilly!”
As we headed back to the marina – looking full into another beautiful sunset – I noticed the wind had an unfamiliar chill to it. The temperature was dropping into the lower 70s. It was then I realized that the long, hot summer of 2012 was just about over.
Those who know me will vouch for it when I say I have a very narrow window of comfort. 100° is okay; I can tolerate heat pretty well. 80° is great. But at 75°, my body starts to tense up – right at the edge of uncomfortable – and I opt for something other than the Hawaiian shirts I wear all summer. At 70° I put on a jacket and spend more time gazing dreamily at tropical scenes on my computer screen.
Today is Monday. It’s 72° and raining outside.
Summer is almost gone.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wrong Question

When I was a teenager - during the late 70s - a popular church youth group program was to discuss “Life-Boat Ethics”. This was a philosophical exercise in which we were to imagine nine individuals from different stages and stations of life adrift at sea on a life-boat with only enough survival supplies for eight. The questions we were asked to wrestle with were, which one has to go? Who is more critical to our survival? Who is more important to society?

I never liked that activity.

And now that I think about it, it’s not very “Christian” either!

One reason I didn’t like it was because there is no “right” answer. It just led to a lot of arguing.

But more significantly, it asks the wrong question.

The right question, at least in my mind, is not “Who has to go?”, but rather “How can we all survive?” In my mind, every person on that life-boat is equally important… the bank president, the “hippie”, the young mother, the old man.

This memory came to mind last week as I watched the Democratic National Convention.

I promised I would write an assessment of the DNC as I did for the RNC. I want to be fair…

I realized while listening to President Obama’s speech the difference between the two parties and the two candidates, and why I will vote to re-elect the President in November.

While I would love to vote for Jimmy Buffett – I do think he has what it takes! – that would just be throwing away a vote… especially since he’s not really running!

So at this point in my life, I support the Democratic Party and its candidate because they see the world the way I do. Their hopes and dreams resonate with my hopes and dreams.

You may disagree with my choice. Many do… some quite ferociously! I have found that in the same way Huffington Post ripped apart the RNC, Fox News ripped apart the DNC. We all have our opinions, perspectives, beliefs.

But in the end, this is my blog… my opinion…

I am not at all saying that I am all knowing and all wise, especially concerning politics. I am paying closer attention this year, but I may still be completely wrong... about almost everything!

But I am who I am. And who I am is the one who argued as a teenager that we are not going to throw anyone out of the life-boat.

If we live, we live together; if we die, we die together!

America is extremely polarized today. Republicans and Democrats seem to disagree on almost everything!
There has to be a way for us all to survive. But in order to do so, we must reframe the question. Put nine people on a life-boat with only survival supplies for eight, then debate what it would take – what sacrifices we would each have to make – in order for everyone to survive.
What I heard from the Republican Convention was promises of what the “future President Romney” is going to do for us – cut taxes, create jobs, keep the country safe from gays, etc. A lot of people are going to be thrown out of the boat! Then, in just a matter of years, those who survive are all going to be rich!

On the other hand, what I heard President Obama say at the Democratic Convention was that if America is going to be great again, we must all roll up our sleeves and work together to make it great once again! Everyone survives!
So, while Governor Romney made incredible promises of tax cuts, a decrease in the national debt, more money for national defense, and the creation of “12 million new jobs in my first term”, the President – who inherited a huge debt, two wars, and a global recession - told us,

 “I won’t pretend the path I am offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you want to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve the challenges that have built up over decades.”

This is what I asked for four years ago!
As the economy was coming unglued and two candidates were sugar-coating it by telling us what a great country we have, I wrote in a blog ("Sacrifice" 10-28-2008) that I would vote for whichever candidate would look straight into the camera and say, “There aren’t going to be any more tax cuts. Freedom isn’t free, but we have been acting like it is. We have had a free ride for too long. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and make some sacrifices. It’s not about ‘what’s in it for me’; it’s not about which political party is right; it’s about protecting our country! And that will take sacrifice on the part of us all!”
Rather than the “bread and circuses” promises of the Republicans two weeks ago, my spirit resonated with the President when he said, “…this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.”
Being an American is not about me, it’s about us. We DO have a certain obligation to one another! No one can be thrown out of the life-boat! Together we can must find a way for everyone to survive!
“I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don’t turn back!”

I am still hopeful!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Last Man Standing

Okay, here’s what I am afraid of.
[Deep breath…]
Our country is so messed up that nobody wants to be President.
Seriously. Think about it. Have you ever seen so many supposedly seasoned politicians screw up so royally as during the 2012 Presidential race?
Here’s how I think it went down. Newt, Mitt, Jon, Michele, Herman and the two Ricks were sitting around on one of Mitt’s yachts one fateful evening in 2011, drinking heavily and playing high-stakes poker, and laughing about Sarah Palin’s latest gaffe.
Speaking to a crowd in Boston, she recounted Paul Revere’s famous ride in her now-famous “I Could Be President One Day” style: “He who warned, uh, the ... the British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms, uh, by ringin' those bells and, um, by makin' sure that as he's ridin' his horse through town to send those warnin' shots and bells that, uh, we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free ... and we were gonna be armed.” (*These are her exact words.)
Jovial laughter filled the air.
“But seriously,” asked Newt, as he folded yet another losing hand, “who do you think the Republicans are going to run against Barack in 2012?”
“You couldn’t pay me enough to take the job,” Mitt said, reminding the gang that he is filthy rich.
“You know what would be funny?” Herman piped in, taking another swig from the half-empty bottle of Gentleman Jack they were passing around. “One of us should run!”
Chortles of laughter filled the room as Mitt dealt the next hand. “No,” said Michele, pulling another puff off a large Cuban cigar, “we should all run!”
“Why not?” Jon chimed in. “The Party tried to sell McCain/Palin last time. We couldn’t do any worse!”
And so, in a moment of drunken jocularity, they all agreed to throw their hats into the ring, each thinking surely the Party would come up with a real candidate before things got too serious and they could drop out.
The next morning, nursing some serious hangovers, they all began to question what they had done the night before – hoping that no one took photos with their cell phones – and began planning how they could undo it before it was too late.
But it was already too late. They were the Republican candidates for the once-coveted office of President of the United States of America!
Michele was the first to look for an “out”. She didn't want to appear to obvious. When asked a foreign policy question, she answered, "Now with the president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our special operations forces in Africa." (*These are her exact words.) Of course, she knows all along that Libya is in Africa!
Herman, taking his campaign with all the gravitas of a pizza commercial, was also asked about Libya in another interview: "Okay, Libya… President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of [Muammar] Gaddafi. Just wanted to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say, 'Yes, I agreed. No, I didn't agree'. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason… Nope, that's a different one." Herman shifted uncomfortably in his chair, reaching absent-mindedly for the bottle of Jack that wasn’t there, adjusted his jacket and looked up again. "I got all this stuff twirling around in my head." (*These are his exact words.)
How else but intentional could you explain this exchange at the debate last November:
     Rick: "It's three government agencies when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the um, what's the third one there. Let's see…" (He turned to Texas Rep. Ron Paul – who was not at the poker game that night – looking for some help, but got nothing but a remark from Paul that he would eliminate five agencies.) "Oh, five. So Commerce, Education, and, uh, the uh, um, um."
     Mitt (having some good-natured fun with his poker buddy): "EPA?"
     Rick: "EPA, there ya go."
     CNBC moderator John Harwood: "Seriously? Is EPA the one you were talking about?"
     Rick: "No sir. No sir. We were talking about the, um, agencies of government. The EPA needs to be rebuilt."
     Harwood: "But you can't name the third one?"
     Rick: "The third agency of government. I would do away with the education, the um, Commerce, and let's see. I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops." (*This is the actual transcript from the debate.)
And how else can you explain Mitt’s $10,000 wager with Rick – on live television – in the Iowa debate a month later?
Michele, solidifying her chances of losing, nailed it again when she told folks in Iowa, “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit I have too!” (*These are her exact words.) Of course she knew that John Wayne was from Winterset, Iowa, and that John Wayne Gacy was from Waterloo. What do you think she is… stupid?
Newt, hoping to end his candidacy quickly, promised the country that he could make the price of gas magically drop to $2.50 per gallon if he were elected!
Sadly, the gaffes kept coming, but the Republican Party didn’t send in anyone else. One by one – using every excuse from sick children to sex scandals to “My dog ate my acceptance speech” – the poker buddies dropped out.
“Crap, I almost won that primary!”
In fact, before Mitt could come up with a good excuse – he was sure his Mormon faith would knock him out of the race – he found himself to be the last man standing!
And even when it became obvious that he was to be the candidate, he kept the gaffes coming, hoping for a brokered convention. “I’m not concerned about the very poor… I like firing people… Big Business is doing fine!” (*These are his exact words from different speeches.)
“Heck,” he said, because Mormons don’t cuss, “if Sarah Palin wants to be President, she can have it!”
He even went so far as to select Paul Ryan to be his running mate, but even that didn’t help get his name off the ticket!
Now, if you think I’m just slamming the Republicans yet again, you are wrong. I suspect there have been similar poker nights recently among the Democrats as well. And in 2012, after presiding over a recession, dealing with two wars overseas, and four years of hell in the Oval Office, I don’t think President Obama wants to be re-elected either. As proof, think about this: after being elected in 2008, why do you think he refused to release his birth certificate for so long? He was just pouting and hoping someone would make the 2008 election go away! And this year, with the economy still recovering, he announces, “The private sector is doing fine!” (*These are his exact words.)
And, I mean, seriously, Joe Biden as his Vice President? Biden is a veritable “Gaffapalooza!” He even falls asleep – on live television! – during the President’s speeches!
So what I fear we are witnessing today is a big game of “Last Man Standing”, in which the “winner” takes all… in this case, that would be a four year sentence as President of these “not-so-United” States of America.
And nobody wants that!
Lord, help us!