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The Public Musings of

11/16/08 02:40 pm - A-Muse-Ment

I'm reduced to posting embedded YouTube videos now. But this one's pretty fun. It's the appearance of 3/5 of "In the Present", also known as this year's touring version of Yes, on the Mike Huckabee Show on the Fox News Channel. For real. Huck is a known rock fan, and a bassist, so you might think it's not that strange, but still...

LISTEN as Huck calls Chris by a name other than "Squire" (consistently!)
WATCH as Huck attempts to pronounce the name "Benoit"
LAUGH as Allen White attempts to speak intellgibly (does AW drink even more than Squire?)
GUFFAW as Huck refuses to play bass with Da Boys.

SPOILER ALERT - They do play a song with a couple of members of Huck's "band," which I think is just a couple of crew members that play musical instruments. He calls 'em the "Little Rockers." Get it? Cause he was the governor of Arkansas... Funny stuff. Back to the spoiler - there are no keyboards, so it's kind of funny to hear them play this song. And it's not much of a spoiler. So just watch the damn video, Eric Wallance, and stop being so uptight.

11/5/08 07:03 pm - The Speeches

OMG, I haven't talked about the speeches yet!  I won't be so wordy this time.  Let me just say this about that:

I loved Obama's victory speech.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I will go to hell and back for this man.  Just say the word, President Obama, and I'll do it.  I hope and pray that we as a nation will follow this man to the kind of healing, the kind of unification that ran all through his speech.  This is President-Elect Obama saying, "Dr. King, your dream is alive and well!  Only now, we've all crossed into the dream world, and left the old world behind."

I also have to say that Sen. McCain's concession speech was the best concession speech I've ever heard by a good bit.  (It's also the first time I've seen The Real McCain, the guy I once considered voting for, in many months.)  I've heard classy concession speeches before, but this one was much, much more than that.  This was a speech that said, "It's time to put away our disagreements and realize the magnitude of what we have just accomplished."  I thought it was truly honorable of the guy to bury his ego, right there in front of the whole world, in front of a crowd that would go to the ends of the earth for him, and say, "We just made history, and you need to go follow this guy now.  I will."  I hope people follow his lead, because his attitude is exactly what we need to be able to access all of the possibilities that Obama's speech was loaded with.  What a tremendous yin and yang those two speeches were.

11/5/08 06:23 pm - Obama and the Masses

One thing before my actual post: as I type, I'm sitting in the food court in Chicago Midway Airport, with a long layover between flights, as in greater than 3 hours.  If I were still 30, I would've left the airport and taken a train or a cab into downtown, just to see if people are still having afterglow celebrations.  But I've been to Chicago a lot of times before, and I haven't heard anything about spontaneous celerations here, so I opted for the gyros at the food court (tasty and cheap!), rather than racing into town, only to turn around and come bac.  But still, how cool would that have been if there were some kind of hubbub in Grant Park?

As I was on my way into the airport in the car park shuttle bus, the driver asked the passengers (a dude decked out in clothes that shouted WRANGLER in 4-6 inch tall letters, I kid you not (did I mention that I live in Texas?)) "So, what do y'all think about Obama?"  I quickly expressed my approval, and Mr. Wrangler got a really uncertain look on his face..."Well, I'm kinda nervous about it, really.  Not too happy about it at all."  I asked the driver how she felt about Obama, and she said, "I'm really happy, I think he's gonna be great!" 

I said to Mr. Nervous Wrangler, "I guess we'll have to wait and see how he does, won't we?"  Nice neutral statement.  He said, "Yeah, I'm just nervous because I actually like a lot of the things he's been saying lately, but I'm worried he's really very liberal and will take us way off in that direction."  We went on to discuss whether or not Obama's highly-effective coalition he built would simply be jettisoned as soon as he took office.  Mr. NW aknowledged that Obama's a smart guy, and admitted it would be dumb to do that.  I agreed that such a move seemed unlikely, since he'd lose all his momentum.

Then the guy proceeds to tell me:
 - It was definitely time for a change, but Obama might be too much
 - That doesn't mean he has a problem with race - he would've voted for Colin Powell in a heartbeat
 - He's mostly worried about Obama's "past associations," which, with some prodding, he modifies to "muslim asoociations."

I said I bet we'll find out REAL FAST if there's anything to that.  He agreed.  Then I politely said I thought the whole "muslim associations" bit was a load of crap stirred up by fearmongers (I didn't use the words "crap" or "fearmonger").  His parting words on the subject of Obama were basically, "I really hope this guy is for real, and means what he's been saying lately, because he could do a lot of good, if he just won't go nuts."

I think Mr. Hopeful Nervous Wrangler speaks for a lot of people.  In my opinion, there were an awful lot of folks in Texas and across the country who say they could vote for a person of color for president, if it were the right guy.  But, somewhere inside, below the exterior of manners we all maintain, they are afraid to do so.  They can't name any specific reason, just a general misgiving. 

It's the same thing as some people feeling uncomfortable when they walk or even drive through a poor part of town with a lot of highly visible people of color.  Nobody wants to say, "I'm afraid of this many black/hispanic/asian/whatever people in one place," but that's what it is.  It's not a sin to feel that way - but it's a huge missed opportunity for growth if you don't ask yourself why, try to do something about it, confront it within yourself.   It's a product of our collective social karma that we're working off, and working off karma can be really uncomfortable. 

So, along comes an incredible, smart, inspirational candidate who happens to be black, and there we are again, figuratively locking the car doors and trying not to stop at the light if not absolutely necesary.  Then, the haters bring out the Rev Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Lunch with a Palestinian, and whatever other red herrings they could come up with.  This is all that a lot of the vague discomfort folks needed to give a name to their fears. 

This is one of the reasons I am so excited right now.  A person could get really depressed that we collectively still have all these demons, but WE ELECTED THE GUY!  And now, we get the opportunity to see that he's not a secret terrorist, he's not a whack job, he's not a bad guy.  This will help us to heal this cancer, which is why I can be hopeful.

I think Obama is going to change the conversation in Washington, because so many of the Democrats rode his coattails to office, I think he's going to have a lot of sway.  I really don't like the way the Democrats have run Congress the last two years - I think if anything, they've had a tendency to increase the partisanship and divisiveness in Congress, and I believe that Obama is going to do his best to put an end to that.  I only hope, like I've said before, that his own party will go along with him.

I think Mr. HNW speaks for a lot of people who were McCain supporters in being really nervous, but willing to give the guy a chance.  In the end, this kind of leadership will have a tremendous healing effect on our nation, and will definitely represent Change We Can Live With if people will just let themselves go along.

Let's not screw it up, people.

P.S.: I told the driver as I exited the bus, "I think Obama's going to be fantastic, too!  But I had to be nice to the guy, because he's really nervous, and I have to respect that."   She smiled and wished me safe travels.

11/5/08 12:54 pm - Pride

Thank You! Change Can Happen

I couldn't be prouder to be an American today.

I am more hopeful for our great country at this moment in time than I can remember being before. Barack Obama's victory in this presidential election is our own Berlin Wall coming down.

Just think: in about 11 weeks, every child born in this country will be born in a country that's had an African-American president. My best friend's wife will be giving birth in February, and I know he's pretty stoked about this, which is what made me think of it.

I am so proud that we as a country have been able to get over ourselves, to get over our past, to get over a lot of the fearmongering that was thrown around, take a deep breath and punch that chad, pull that lever, touch that screen, press that button, or however else we voted, and elect this guy. I believe that we have before us an opportunity to come together to an extent that has only been possible, during my lifetime, immediately after 9/11 - an opportunity that was woefully squandered, in my opinion. I really, sincerely hope that the President-elect is as successful at building coalitions within government as he has been in communities, and that our elected officials will allow themselves to participate.

Go, President Obama! (Nope, I'm not tired of saying it yet.)

10/22/08 07:41 am - Breakfast in Trenton, NJ

Last night, I stayed in an Econolodge near the Philly Airport.  At work, we're under a "necessary travel only" order through the end of the year, and go cheap when we have to go, so I'm taking this "travel cheap" thing seriously!  While the Econolodge has a free continental breakfast, I wanted something a little more substantial (even though continental is my usual breakfast at home), and there wasn't much nearby.  I needed fuel for battle.  I was going to go to a diner in SW Philly, but didn't leave as early as I wanted to, so I figured I'd better head north(east) for Trenton, and I'd find somewhere to eat along the way. 
No dice.  I wind up in Trenton, the armpit of the universe (note that this is an upgrade from my usual terminology for Trenton, which is generally a different bisyllabic compound word describing an odoriferous body part), looking for breakfast.  After driving around for a while near downtown, I wonder if I'm lost, but realize that downtown's not all that big, so how can I be?  I remember that "Market Street" isn't the street I'm looking for, it's "State Street" and there I am, driving by the row of dicey-looking restaurants, slummy buildings, and government offices that make up downtown.  I park in the usual lot on Merchant Street (no wonder I was thinking Market Street!), and head for the aforementioned restaurant row, thinking that maybe Dunkin Donuts will do the trick.
The Dunkin Donuts in this particular block, which opens onto the Grand Foyer of the NJ Dept of Motor Vehicles, has no seating, so I decide to stop in at the Renaissance Grill, across the Foyer.  There's also a Quizno's.  I've been in the Renaissance Grill before, owing to the paucity of eating establishments in the area (maybe in the whole city), but never been impressed.  I think it's because I've never been here for breakfast.  This place is clearly a favorite of locals, mostly government employees, and nearly everyone who comes in knows the cook, Steve, and the apparent owner, Mr. Lee, by name.  A lady stuck her head in the door from the street a minute ago and hollers, "Hey, wake up, Steve!  [pause] Pork roll, Steve!"  Steve responds, "Pork roll," and goes to work while the lady's head retreats and she lights up a cancer stick.  Everyone that comes in chats with both Steve and Mr. Lee, football, baseball (the Phillies are in the World Series), car accidents, children, whatever comes to mind. 
Oh, yeah.  The reason I started writing this in the first place was the tip cup next to the cash register.  I wish my cell phone had a camera so I could take a picture.  Written in neat Sharpie on the cup:
Steve 100%  
Lee  0%
All of this makes a person realize that even the Armpit of the Universe has locals and personalities.  I always knew it did, but I never saw it before.  I'm glad I stopped here.  Oh, yeah, and Steve makes a pretty good "Mexican" breakfast burrito, too.  (I opted for bacon instead of sausage.)
Now, to go do battle with the mighty Forces of Ineptitude, the Solons of Stasis.

10/2/08 12:09 pm - Governor Palin's Legal Expertise

Take a look at the following.  You might want to wear some nice thick, fluffy winter gloves, or perhaps to don a "beanie" as the kids like to call them these days.  You'll be slapping your forehead for sure.  (BTW, you can spend the first two minutes of the interview, while you're still intellectually engaged, to don your personal protective equipment.)

Really, Governor?  You're pretty sure that there is at least one Supreme Court decision (probably several) somewhere in the history of the United States that you wouldn't agree with because it wasn't States Rights-y enough, but you really couldn't name it?  Not a single one?  I'll try to help. 

Here's one you might disagree with: Brown vs Board of Education.  OK, that was a cheap shot.  Nobody would really name that one as a bad decision any more.  Just snicker and move on.  (But before you move on, you do realize that "states' rights" to Southerners means "segregation is OK," right?  I know that states' rights is now also a euphemism for anti-choice, but before you get into bed with Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, you might want to realize that you're doing so.)

Gonzales v. Oregon.  This is the feds vs OR's physician-assisted suicide law.  That's clearly a pro-lifer issue.  So consistent with your statement in this interview, do you believe that the state of Oregon should be allowed to legalize physician-assisted suicide?  (The Supes ruled against the Feds on this one - you should agree.  Right?)

Gonzales v. Raich  Medical marijuana.  States rights, or no?  This one went to the Feds.  Bad decision, right?  States should be able to decide on medical marijuana usage.

Bush v. Gore Surely you've heard of this one?  Happened in 2000.  The Supreme Court overruled the Florida Supreme Court on how to count ballots in the election in Florida.  Remember that elections are governed by state law before you answer this one.  Bad decision, right?  State should've had the authority to deal with this one itself, right?  I happen to agree on this particular case.  (OK, maybe I'll let you off the hook.  This was kind of a trick question: SCOTUS really substituted their judgment for that of the Florida Supreme Court in interpreting Florida Election law, rather than asserting that federal rights are superior to states' rights.  I think that's unconstitutional, but on a different basis than the one raised by the Guvner.)

OK, I am really, honestly, trying to be fair in the runup to this election, and to consider all of the candidates on their merits.  But come on!  You're going to go into an interview with Katie Couric to talk about Roe v Wade, and you're not going to prep by thinking about a few other important Supreme Court cases?  Sitting here typing right after watching this clip, I can't think of what they are, but I hear conservative members of Congress spouting what they consider stupid (or Important and Precedential) Supreme Court decisions all the time!  And this VP candidate can't name one?   Not even one?

With this choice of VP candidate, I think Sen. McCain may have mavericked himself right into "Also Ran" status.  Despite a lingering respect for John McCain that he hasn't managed to obliterate entirely over the last 3-5 months (but he's getting closer every day), so far, I can't seem to muster any respect for Gov. Palin, despite my insistence on giving her the chance to prove herself.  I suspect she's going to have a much chillier winter than usual in Juneau this year.  I wonder how long the recall campaign will take to kick in for real?

9/26/08 11:09 am - Governor Palin's Foreign Policy Expertise

I think I'll just join the fun, and suggest that the ones of readers of this blog (I'm being generous to myself), go take a look at this Sarah Palin interview clip.

For the love of Dog, I just came across another one.  Gov. Palin believes that a diplomatic position supported by Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and James Baker is naive.  Really.  Because, you know, she knows a lot more about American foreign policy, like Putin's gonna invade through Alaska and that would be, like, totally bad and stuff.  For realz. 

All comments welcome.

9/22/08 11:15 am - What Rocks

You know what rocks? Black Sabbath's Paranoid. I mean, this isn't news or anything, but we just got a copy of it recently, and I've been listening to it a lot over the last couple of weeks. What a fantastic album. No wonder Black Sabbath was so influential. I've been digging some of the hidden jewels on the album as well as the old classics. "War Pigs" has always been one of my favorite Sab tunes; now it's been running through my head for several days, driving me nuts.

We just got this because Iain, my 13-year old son Iain, was at Barnes & Noble with my dad when he was visiting two weeks ago, and asked if his grandfather would loan him some money so he could buy the CD! This would be Iain's first actual purchase of a CD! I must be doing something right as a parent. My dad just bought him the CD. I'll bet I've listened to it more times than Iain has, but that can't really be helped.

The curent election season flashes through my mind every time Ozzy sings, "Satan, laughing, spreads his wings...."

9/21/08 10:09 am - Post-Ike Activities

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts did "Scouting for Food," in which they went door-to-door and solicited donations of food for the Houston Food Bank. The Houston Food Bank in turn supplies many of the smaller food banks, pantries, and missions throughout the greater Houston area.

To see pictures and more cute writing, and to find out which VIP the Boy Scouts, met, click here!Collapse )

9/20/08 05:15 pm - Shameless, but Appropriate, Plug

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