August 29, 2008

And so Senator Barack Obama has finally delivered THE SPEECH

Accepting his party’s nomination for President of the United States, regardless of the content, it was the realization of Dr. King’s beautifully articulated Dream.

America is a great country.  Not perfect.  But great.  If you don’t agree, show me another place with better opportunity, or more profound potential.

Right now, Barack Obama stands as living proof that the incredible American Experiment has worked — and worked with incalculably grand result. 

Truth be told, I don’t feel Barack Obama is anywhere near qualified to occupy the Oval Office. 

Not nearly. 

His supporters seem singularly unable to articulate one single accomplishment that reflects Executive capacity.  And frankly, his pandering to lowest common denominator sensibilities reveals a politician essentially no different than the Nastian caricatured rotund pundits of days gone past.

Obama speaks of home values going South, apparently unaware of normal economic cycles and the grossly inflated price-tags that left many of us potential home buyers sidelined.

He preaches words of personal security, but honestly, does ANYONE think Barack Obama would offer a stronger, more capable presence against AlQaeda and Islamic-fascism than John McCain?  Honestly.

If you were Usama bin Laden, who would you want to be the next President?

This is not a knock on Barack Obama.  It is simply an honest question seeking an enlightened and honest answer.

While I made this point 6 months ago, an African-American delegate (for Mrs. Clinton) given air-time by CNN said it best by asking if one would immediately give a neophyte, albeit with a Harvard degree, the position and responsibility of being CEO in a corporation holding the responsibility for 300 million lives.

Most would not offer this opportunity, and, let’s be honest, most inexperienced candidates, exuding a modicum of personal wisdom, would decline.  It frightens me that Senator Obama hasn’t waited a tad to take on the reigns that will dramatically influence world events.  I wish he’d at least been a Governor, for a term, perhaps two.

Finally, and herein lies my proud bias, I don’t believe he presently holds a fraction of George Bush’s integrity — a man who he seems to believe he’s running against.  The number of “present” votes he cast as a state politician is both shocking and revealing.  Someone with more courage and conviction would not have done so on such a regular basis.

Certainly Mr. Obama doesn’t bring nearly as much as John McCain to the table of actually being President. 

At this writing, I hope John McCain will be our next Commander in Chief.

BUT, I believe Barack Obama is a good and well- educated man.  I truly couldn’t care less what his ethnic heritage is.  His ability to run so successfully is something that should make all of us very proud, regardless of his actual capability to lead.

Should he win election, apart from my vote, he will be my President and I will support him.  I will pray for him and wish him the very best. 

That is what good Americans do.


Where are you going, my little one, little one?

August 25, 2008

Returning from our two-week holiday, our 1 year old Sheltie seemed more “adult” and my youngest daughter tearfully asked why puppies had to grow up so fast.  As she lamented this dynamic relative to her dog, I felt myself thinking the same about her…

We talk about the present, but what enormous expertise it takes to actually live there.  Constantly on the move from what was, to what will be, the moment at hand is so difficult to apprehend, let alone appreciate.  Somehow, in just the last few days, I came to notice that my smallest progeny had changed.  Like her beloved pup, she too now seems more mature.  Apart from a smooth continuum, it is as if she has entered a distinctly new phase, connected to what has been, but undeniably and entirely unique.

The opportunity to fully embrace the child I had only a fornight ago is forever gone.  Surely I have missed so much of what transpired in intimate proximity right before my eyes.  I know I have.   

Yet, there is real consolation, and a definite challenge in knowing that even as the little one I once held in my arms is past, there is an even more beautiful and special one always to come.  

To have the awareness of what used to be, that heightens the ability to grasp and give thanks for what now is…

Over a Barrel

August 15, 2008

Just a few weeks ago, the Venezuelan maroon, Hugo Chavez, claimed that oil could soar to $200. a barrel. Since then, it has dropped like a stone and now rests precariously at $114. Demand has been well down for months, but as fear-mongers have sown uncertainty, speculators have had a field day — costing us all a lot of cash and concern.

Lately, in so many ways, the price of crude has had no more rational basis than the run on Wonderbread at the prediction of a two-inch snowstorm. Alas, producers and speculators know very well that with investors and consumers, panic and greed can be as powerful as logic and reason.

On the other hand, I still can’t fathom how anyone even remotely familiar with the hostage-bound Jimmy Carter era of 2-mile gas lines, odd/even rationing, and empty filling stations could allow themselves to fall into the vulnerability of V-10 trucks and 12MPG SUV’s.

Personally, I come from a proud tradition of Depression based miserly paranoia, where Grandma recycled tinsel from the Christmas Tree for use the following year, placed a brick in the toilet tank to save water, and expertly ensured that the last 16th of an inch worth of ketchup never went into the garbage.

I for one do not blame the oil companies or OPEC or GM for our current energy issues. Credit where it is due. With memories gone foggy and myopic sensibilities regarding the cost of energy, we have done it to ourselves.

If there is a conspiracy, it is one based in stupidity. With homes so many can’t afford, and gas tanks so many can’t fill, we have found ourselves too quick to spend our cash and too slow to use our brains.

It will be interesting to see if government bailouts and rebate checks will keep us all, wise and foolish, from paying a very high and hard price.

The lessons of today are rather expensive, and they are a commodity as precious as petroleum.  Unlike what we have done with those from the past, let us never allow the wisdom of present day experience to lie in waste.

China Gold, with a High Five

August 12, 2008

All credit to the Chinese men’s gymnastics team for earning the Gold medal at the Beijing Olympics! And isn’t it wonderfully informative that their much deserved celebrations were liberally laced with copious HIGH-FIVES (not to mention team huddles)!

But I thought HIGH-FIVES were an American thing!?

Indeed, they are. But like so many examples of modern “Americana”, the HIGH-FIVE has been warmly embraced as a sign that one has made it.

Whether watching most young people in Serbia and Croatia wearing Levi’s and ‘t’s, or hearing older men in Sarajevo answer their cell-phones with, “Wassup?”, it is awfully difficult to miss the zeal with which people from around the world yearn to be publically associated with decidedly American things.

I know some local pols would like to score points by asserting that they will restore our broken relations with the rest of the the world. Yet, how is it that Germans elected the party led by Merkel and the French did likewise with Sarkozy — BOTH unabashedly pro-American (actually, so did Canada)?

Hmmm? How can this be?

They must deeply resent our President’s unparalleled efforts to eradicate malaria and AIDS in Africa. And, let’s be honest, it’s SUCH a shame that we took out Saddam Hussein. What a crime.

Forget the HIGH-FIVES, the jeans, the music, the movies, the reliance upon for food and medical (and military) aid. Ignore the hero’s welcome for George Bush in places like Tanzania… The Germans and French must really hate us. Everyone does. Especially our former enemy, China. That MUST be true. At least that’s what’s been portrayed in the American media.

I’m leaving, on a jet-plane…

August 5, 2008

The first vacation I remember happened around 1963, in Pittsfield, Massachussetts.  It was the time my dad showed us the stars, pointing out, and naming the constellations like they were old family friends.  Under the inky-black night canopy we watched ECHO-1, the helium filled American response to Sputnik, traverse silently overhead.

On holiday, no matter where we go as a family, or don’t go, I think, regardless of the actual destination, I am still seeking to find the spots and experiences of my childhood.  Thus with my own kids I have tried to recapture and re-create the wonder of the new and different — irresistable proof that beyond the ordinary and mundane, life is a gift, a panic, a thrill.

Apart from sensory encounters not appropriate to fully unfold on a public website, what beats the fearsome rush of lying prone, facing the shore and suddenly being lifted high under the welling power of a massive Atlantic Ocean wave?

What can surpass the terror of hurtling headlong in the front car down a rattling old-fashioned roller coaster?

How is it that a man about to exceed 51 years of age STILL remembers the hole-in-one on the 18th “fairway” of the Point Pleasant Arnold Palmer Miniature Golf Course, securing a free game that we didn’t have time to stay for?

Ah yes, now I know why, in the Third Commandment (or the Fourth, depending on how you divvy them up) God requires that we take time off!  Imagine, a Lord Who demands rest!

Why?  I think because in days characterized by sandy-laced sandwiches and clothing we wouldn’t be seen dead in during the rest of the year, we come to find who we really are, beyond what the world says we have to be.

In our recreation, we are indeed, re-made and renewed.  Perchance to rekindle, not what was, but the promise of what will be.

Have you ever wondered…?

August 4, 2008

Have you ever wondered why, when a drink goes down the wrong way and you’re choking, people ask if you need water?  What does THAT do?!  The reality is, you need air!  So are they trying to help, or finish the job?  I don’t get it.

Always, when I was a kid, if I was gasping and coughing, it was, “Here’s some water!”  Have I missed something here?  Imagine getting food stuck in your esophagus and people saying, “Quick!  Get some spaghetti!”

How is it that common responses can be so uncommonly bizarre?