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Friday, October 27, 2006

Passing thoughts on the political scene...

As the November elections approach, perhaps my first thought is simply that I cannot wait until these elections are over. Each election season seems to grow more and more bitter, more and more cynical, more and more tedious...I know I'm getting burnt out on it (more on burn out below.)

First, I shared with a few folks earlier this year (and without giving away too many secrets!) in the race for Massachusetts Governor Kerry Healey is toast. Seldom has a sitting official (she is the current Lt. Governor) had such negative ratings, both her current favorable/unfavorable numbers, and earlier simply her recognition numbers. She and her people have run a terrible campaign (one not helped by Governor-in-absentia Mitt Romney- this guy has done little-to-nothing to boost his Number Two's chances...and re. Romney? I do not understand how, or why, he is getting such great pub in so many national conservative media and punditry circles as Presidential material in '08. He talks a good game, and he looks the part, but his actual record of accomplishment is truly underwhelming, and he's changed positions and flip-flopped so often he could be confused with John Kerry.) With Healey, the problem truly is the messenger, not the message. On issue after issue, she is clearly on the Right, if not right, side, and in line with the views of a majority of Mass. voters, at least as polled. Her stated views are in line with the Republicanism of previously popular and successful MA Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci. One hates to say she is an empty suit, but... Her Democratic opponent Deval Patrick has run a pretty flawless campaign, managing to sidestep the many- some quite legitimate- issues surrounding him. His numbers are good, his support seems solid. Sadly, he is a doctrinaire liberal (eg, no to the- voter mandated- reduction of the state income tax back to 5%, supporting in-state public college tuition for illegal immigrants, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, expanding many/creating new social programs with only the vaguest platitudes of how to pay for them, etc...), one whom under his leadership I fear Massachusetts will quickly revert to the excesses of the late 80's, when the Democratic establishment mortgaged this state's future on the Presidential aspirations of former Governor Michael Dukakis. Patrick's two opponents in the Dem primary were more moderate, and would have served the taxpayers of the state better had either of them been nominated. But he does have a likeable, winning way about him, he seems to be almost Teflon in his ability to avoid criticisms sticking to him, to his credit he hasn't attempted to play the race card/induce white liberal guilt (he's black.) Unless he is caught in bed between now and the election with the proverbial live boy or dead girl, he is going to win, relatively easily. But it has been a slimy Gubernatorial campaign, on all sides, one that I'll be glad to see ended. (Senator-for-Life Ted Kennedy is also up for re-election, with a weak Republican challenger, and should win all but the 30% or so of the vote that is reflexively anti-Kennedy...Admission- I'm pretty reflexive! ;)

Nationally...again, just as slimy, just as seamy, just as sleazy as locally. Anyone who has read this blog or perused my site should know where my usual affinities lie, and I'll stack my Right-leaning bona fides against anyone's. But...I suppose the short answer is that the current incarnation of the Republican Party is not my brand of Republicanism, conservatism, what have you. I came of age politically in the 80's, when a great leader and principled, committed adherent to the ideas of limited government, individual rights, and personal responsibilities named Ronald Reagan became President. This was a man whose economic, political, diplomatic, and military policies engaged and defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot while laying the groundwork for economic growth that, with a few minor bumps, has continued unabated, under Admins and Congresses of both parties, since his tenure (read Our Philosophy of Government .) The 80's were a time when "the Right" was the venue of bold and new and exciting ideas and proposals, contrasted against the sclerotic old-style statism of much of the Democratic Party. It is a conservatism with it's roots in the ideas and ideals of Barry Goldwater (read his 1964 Acceptance Speech.) And it is a conservatism that saw rise to the reforms of the Contract With America and the early years of the Gingrich speakership. But today...with the election in 2000 of a conservative, business-backgrounded Republican President and with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, there were real hopes that the aspirations of previous conservatives, never fully realized, would at least come to fruition- smaller, more limited government, fiscal restraint, a strong, capable, but sheathed military, expansion of individual rights and responsibilities while limiting the "interest group" politics practiced by the Left, less entanglement in non-vital foreign affairs, and more. But with the exception of the economy (and on this score, this President and these Congresses do not receive the credit they deserve) this President, and these Republican Congresses, have, in large part, not delivered. (One area where I'm apt to give them more of a pass than many is on the initial decision to remove Saddam. Given the intel available, and given the timing- 9/11 still fresh, remember- and the known intercommingling of various and sundry terrorist orgs and state supporters of same, as well as Saddam's decade+ of violations of UN sanctions and mandates, these taken together did present a compelling case for our actions. And our President and those who supported this need not apologize for that decision. And the initial phase was successful- Saddam was removed with relative ease. Where the Admin and supporters failed was in anticipating and preparing for the aftermath of Saddam's ouster. On this score, they are deserving of considerable approbation.) This has been an Admin and a Congress that has spent on levels approaching LBJ's Great Society. This Congress has virtually ignored any and all restraints, on spending, on earmarks, on reforms, on ethics. Too often they've sought to pervert our concepts of federalism, nationalizing local issues (be it Terri Schiavo, same-sex marriage, and more,) they've Nanny Stated (the inclusion of the insipid anti-Internet gaming legislation slipped into the Port Security bill as but one recent example;) in short, they've acted just like the Democrats did when they had power, as a party of Big Government, only the particulars of the issues having changed. Much like the Democrats of the mid/late 70's, who as a party were driven further and further from the mainstream, further and further from their traditional base by pandering to their extreme elements and taking extreme stands (be it on abortion, busing, affirmative action, tax policy, business regulation, an activist judiciary, entitlements, and more), alienating much of that broad base in the process, so now the GOP is perilously close to doing the same, Bill Frist or Sam Brownback (or Mitt Romney) attempting to micromanage the lives of Americans no more palatable than Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi (or Deval Patrick) doing the same.

None of the above should be construed as reasons to support the Democrats as a party. As a party they have put forth no reasonable, realistic, rational, positive reason to support them. They have no coherent vision or plan equivalent to the '94 GOP Contract. Their activists and extremists are no palatable than those associated with the fringes of the GOP. My only suggestion, my only endorsement: in this election, moreso than in recent years, look most carefully at each individual candidate, not the R or the D after their name. See where they stand, what they support, what they propose, on issues across the board. If you find a Dem who supports, say, increased gun rights, sensible taxation policies, and other issues you care about, vote for him. If you find a Republican who supports increased lgbt rights, sensible health care reform, and other issues you care about, vote for her. Or if you find a Libertarian, or a Green, or whomever, who best espouses your POV, vote for them. This time out in particular, look far less at the party, because as parties, as institutions, none is deserving of support.

I'm not sure if I'll blog on any of this again before the elections. On a more personal note, I am truly getting drained. I feel as if I haven't been up for air in a l-o-n-g time. I've been in this grind for so long of late, with seemingly no let-up. I've disappointed countless folks, as well as myself, by not being there. I'm pretty burnt out right now. I've said it before, but as soon as I am able to catch my breath, create a little space, I need to better address just what I'm doing and where I'm going in my life, find/make/create more time for those things that I value, those things that are important to me, those things I need to be a more fulfilled person, instead of just being on autopilot as I often seem to feel of late.

"She leads a lonely life..."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tradewinds- Rod Stewart

Here I stand looking, looking around me
While all around me what do I see
Unhappy faces behind a painted smile
Heartache and loneliness dressed up in modern style
Unhappy people living in sin and shame
Reflections of myself, life is no easy game
We're caught in the trade winds
The trade winds of our time.

Here I stand looking, looking around me
While all around me what do I see
Young girls who'll soon become
Streetwalkers in the night
Young boys, the restless breed looking for a fight
Children both rich and poor
They're searching for the truth
If they don't find it
God help tomorrow's youth
We're caught in the trade winds
The trade winds of our time.

Trade winds are blowing, blowing around me
While all around me what do I see
Hatred and jealousy
Brotherhood is dying
Love is the answer
But nobody's buying
Good people turning bad
Some don't but they are few
The winds are blowing
The choice is all up to you
We're caught in the trade winds
The trade winds of our time.

Yes we're caught up in the trade winds
The trade winds of our time
We are riding on the trade winds
The trade winds of our time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

An item I had meant to opine upon earlier...

Ex-Boston City Councilor Scondras nabbed in underage sex sting
Former city councilor is arrested on sex charge
Background, via the Globe piece:
David Scondras swept onto the City Council in 1983, a Harvard-educated tenant activist from the Fenway who wanted to fight for the less fortunate. He was reelected five times, serving as the city's first openly gay councilor when few politicians spoke about their sexuality.
But a series of problems hastened Scondras's fall from office. He was caught making rambling calls to police...another episode in 1997, when Scondras was accused of trying to fondle a 16-year-old boy in a Back Bay movie theater. That charge was dropped when the youth refused to testify in court.
Scondras was a multi-term Boston City Councilor, an "out" gay activist and an espouser of- take your pick- "progressive", or radical, causes and politics. None of which should bear any blame for his personal- and apparently serial- prediliction toward sex with minors. I bring this up only to draw the comparison- will those who were quick to blame the recent acts of- what?- attempted pederasty on the part of now-former Rep. Mark Foley on his support of/for conservative and/or Republican politics and causes (or for being a closeted gay man) now also blame support of/for "progressive" and/or Democratic politics and causes (or for being an out gay man) as the source of Scondras' attempted pederasty? Methinks their silence will be deafening...

The morals of these stories are two. First: it is unwise to cast broad judgments and blanket condemnations- toward any group- based upon the acts of individuals. Second: adults, do not seek sex with minors.

(PS- Fair warning; as our elections approach, I will be opining more on the political scene, and some folks may be surprised with certain of my thoughts...)

On a lighter note, just when did Huey Lewis & The News become fodder for the local oldies station?! Yikes- I'm getting old!

"Cuz she's heart and soul/She's hot and cold/She's got it all, hot loving every night...."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sippin' on a Harpoon Octoberfest in the afterglow of a Pats win, heading into their bye week @ 4-1...

I've a lot of thoughts swimming around in my mind, on a variety of topics, but I wanna keep this kinda light tonight...We've had some great October weather so far! Today was actually pretty warm, and not a cloud in the sky, that super clear, deep blue fall sky...but we've had a few nippy mornings, great for running, and just being out and about...and with that nice autumn smell, the damp, fallen leaves on crisp air...maybe the only negative thing about fall (besides that winter follows it, grrrr!) is the loss of daylight; it is still pitch dark @ 5:30am, and gets dark again by 7pm. But I luv this time of year, always have...

Speaking of the Pats: my new favorite Pats-related radio program is the- sigh...- Russ Francis Show on AM 890! The schedule seems to vary, but it's usually on Sat. mornings from 9am-11am, and Sunday mornings from 10am-12pm. It's definitely worth a listen (tell him Kellie sent you...please! ;)

Not especially profound, but it is true- we almost always regret the things we haven't done/didn't do moreso than the things (including the mistakes) that we did do... Regret is a killer...nuf ced on that (for now...)

I saw a fantastic grey suede mini that I think I may hafta buy. Of late I've been good about avoiding most impulse purcha$e$. But... I'm thinking I'd like to drop one more size before I buy it (been doing pretty well w/ my diet and exercise, but dang, those proverbial "last five pounds" are a b*tch to lose- waaahhh!)

"Take me down, little Susie, take me down/I know you think you're the queen of the underground..."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A brief HBO/On Demand recommendation...

Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater A documentary on- who else?- Barry Goldwater, produced by his grand-daughter CC Goldwater. I've always had a fascination with Barry Goldwater; politically I believe he was ahead of his time, but more, he truly was that oft-cited breed, An American Original, and the embodiment of his home state (Arizona) in a manner few politicians, heck few people, are, or have been (as comparison, while many tend to regard the Kennedys as quintessential Boston Irish, Tip O'Neill would be much more apropos as the political archetype.) The program itself was pretty well-done (albeit a bit long; could have been condensed into 60-75 mins, not 90+) with interesting interviews, anecdotes, and archival footage. Many of the interviewees are liberals and/or Democrats (Hillary Clinton, James Carville, Walter Cronkite, Helen Thomas) and, both from them and from reviews of the program, and also from some recent articles and opinion pieces, there has been an almost revisionist history of Goldwater, depicting him as- almost!- a liberal, particularly when compared with the current version of Republicanism. There may be some truth to that (tho' one might say that, ala Ronald Reagan and the Democrats, Goldwaterism didn't leave the GOP, the GOP left Goldwaterism) but it might also be just as true to say that many of the excesses of the brand of liberalism in vogue thru the 60's and 70's has largely been left behind as well, replaced by a more pragmatic- if grudging- acceptance of the libertarianism that seemed to infuse much of Goldwater's views. We could use a truly straight-shooting, no BS, man like him today; either party could.

Anyway, if you're a geek like me who enjoys these sorts of programs, this one is worth a watch!

Monday, October 02, 2006

A quick thought on the Foley/Congressional Page scandal I've already read and heard too much already to the effect of "See? He's just another hypocritical/scumbag conservative/Republican!" No. Apparently he is a hypocrite, and a scumbag, and, if these allegations are half as true as they appear, deserving of the full force of our justice systems. But his politics have nothing to do with it. It is no more fair to taint all conservatives/Republicans, et al... because of his corruption than it would be to taint all gay men. (Lest anyone believe illegal activity with underage Congressional pages is solely the perogative of the GOP, two words: Gerry Studds.) Too often in our society we- and by we, I mean almost all of us- have a tendency to use misconduct by individuals we disagree with as vehicles to cast broad aspersions upon all who may share their views, lifestyles, etc... At times I'm as guilty of it as anyone else. But it is lazy thinking, and ultimately it usually serves to point out our own prejudices, biases, intolerance, and such as it does to "score" points against the "other" side. We do best as a society when we view people as individuals, not as members of one interest group or another.

Last comment- similar to the Catholic clergy sex scandals of recent years, those in the Congressional leadership who were aware of these substantial allegations vs. Rep. Foley (and apparently there were specific ones going back to '05, and his predelictions, as well as his homosexuality, were apparently open secrets in DC) and did nothing about them should also be held to account for their inactions.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sometimes I wish I could sleep later. No matter what time I go to bed, or fall asleep, invariably I'm always awake by 6am at the latest. I've always been this way; as a little kid, while in high school, even in college- I could be up, um, "studying," until 3 or 4am on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night, and still be up by, at latest, 8am. I'm an early bird, and I don't mind. But still, it might be nice to be able to sleep in on a Sunday morning (especially since I don't usually run on Sunday mornings!)

Speaking of high school and college, lately I've begun to realize just how much of those years were/are a blur to me. Largely self-inflicted, much of it I don't really remember all that well, it just seems to be, well, a blur, kind of running all together. I mean, I remember the highlights (Reagan was President, the Challenger exploded, I spent half the decade in Amherst, the Pats made a Super Bowl, the Sox a World Series, and the Celtics and Lakers seemed to always play for the NBA title) but so many other things, culturally, personally, and more, specific memories of personal/individual events and such, well...At times I envy people who have firm, cherished, specific memories of times' past...

I get colder than I once did! Back when I was younger (and not all that long back, either!) I never seemed to get cold, to mind the cold...I was one of those folks who would wear shorts to class in the middle of winter (and Januarys and Februarys in Amherst could be cold!) But this past week I've already had to break out my running pants for my morning runs! Brrrrrr! Must be 'cuz I keep my legs shaved and smooth ;)

"'Cuz I'm holding out for that teenage feeling..."