The Sport of Politics

I’m going to write about politics today, but I’m not going to be political. There’s more than enough out there to read about the all candidates – or whatever you want to call them. Today I’m just talking about the sport of politics.

I think ever since the ’80s I’ve heard politics occasionally referred to as a blood sport. Hell, it’s probably been described as such since the EIGHTEEN-80s. This election cycle, though, makes me laugh a little. Not because of the folly that surrounds people like Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, but because the major media websites are now literally making it look like sports.

I mean, look at CNN’s Election 2016 home page.

the sport of politics
If we stay healthy and play as a team, I think we can have a shot at winning the whole thing. We have a good group in that dressing room.

I’m not trying to sound like an old curmudgeon, but that is ridiculous. Sports-like headshots with the eliminated “teams” greyed out? ESPN is probably jealous.

Did you notice that they now do the National Anthem before debates? And that the candidates are introduced over the PA? I don’t recall this ever happening until this election. It’s sports! Come on. It’s kind of hilarious.

One of my earliest memories is when I was five (almost six) and Jimmy Carter had just been elected president.  We had just moved to Lancaster, MA and maybe had been there for a year or so. It was March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, and Carter made one of his first public speeches since being elected – and it was about a mile from my house, over in Clinton, MA.

Unbelievably, there is no footage at all of this on YouTube.

I don’t remember a word of what was said, though it all appears to be here. I do remember being on someone’s shoulders. Likely my dad. I could have this wrong, too, but I think we were with my aunt and her family, though I may need to confirm that, because other times I think we were with our Lancaster friends the Lloyds.

Since then, each election cycle seems to have gotten more and more ridiculous, with each race an almost shameless sprint toward who can create the most buzz in the media. But I’m not going to bitch about that here today. I’m here to ask a simple question – where does it end?

I’m posting this almost 39 years to the day of Jimmy Carter’s speech in Clinton. Doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or a member of whatever party Vermin Supreme is in, but there’s no denying that elections were not as much of a spectacle back then as they are now.

Which leads me to this question: 39 years from now in 2055 (gulp), I want to seriously know what you think elections will look like. What will all of our kids be witnessing? Do you think it’ll be the same slow, weird burn we’ve seen in the last 20, 30, 40 years? Or do you think it’ll be a drastically different landscape by then?

I’d love to hear some predictions!


The Other Side

The Iowa caucuses are now a month away. Politics……sigh. Despite my huge interest in historical non-fiction and current news events, I generally don’t like talking about politics and usually I can’t put my finger on why. I’d just rather know and focus on a person’s core personality and demeanor before I know anything about their political views.

I don’t ever want political views to cloud my relationship with people because it’s not fair to anyone if they are pre-judged based on those beliefs. The only thing you are allowed to pre-judge people on is their musical taste. OK, I’m kidding. Maybe.

Anyhow, if you’re a repeat visitor on this blog you know that I tend to lean leftward and I don’t put it out there aggressively, nor do I push my beliefs on anyone. I don’t put signs on my lawn and I don’t post on social unless it involves a politician doing something really dumb or funny. Like this:

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One thing I do try, though, is to listen and understand the opposite opinion of the one I have. Which is why I’ve begun reading “The Life,” the new Ronald Reagan book which came out recently. Reagan was the head honcho from 1981 to 1989, a time period where I went from 10 to 18 years of age. Suffice it to say I wasn’t paying much attention to politics back then. It was more like hockey, school, girls and music. As time has passed, though, I’ve learned enough to know he was a polarizing figure, much like any other president.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.46.18 PM

However, in the modern era, he’s the one president that I don’t know all too much about and I need to fix that. I begrudgingly I bought his estate some dinner and purchased the book.

I’m only into the 1950s right now so it’s too early for me to pass any final judgements on him, but I can say that I am pleasantly surprised with the book. I always thought he was an A-list actor, but that’s actually far from the truth. He had a cup of coffee with a single nomination, but never got to the upper echelon for actors.

I also was surprised to learn that his interest in politics hit him much earlier than I thought. His failing to get acting jobs pushed him to be more involved in the union dealings of the off-camera/industrial part of the movie-making business in Hollywood and that’s where his foundation was laid in politics.

I have a good sense of how I am going to feel about Reagan at the end of the book – probably not well. With that said, there is a moral to today’s post – keep an open mind. You will come across great people and good friends in your life who believe the exact opposite of you. Whether it’s personal or professional, you’ll do yourself a heck of a lot of good if you try to gain perspective from the other side. I can’t think of a single time when it hasn’t served me well and opened my mind.

This song, by Tommy Womack, is a killer. Worth a listen and so well-written. Will make you smile.


Nothing To Believe In

Cripes. I drive a 2002 Toyota Camry, which I bought new off the lot. I’ve driven all 85,000 miles of it and I think I’ve had to bring it to the shop once, for a tweak on the brakes. Oh, there was that time it had to be fixed when our house painters dropped a ladder on it. Oops. Then there was that time when my neighbor side-swiped me in our shared driveway at our old house. Oops. But those weren’t mechanical failures. Of course, I bring it in every 5-6K miles for scheduled service and I’d like to think that’s helped with why I’ve had so little problems with it.

This recall, though, has so quickly spun Toyota from golden boys to rust faster than you can say “GM in the eighties.” It has turned the car industry on its heels! Suddenly it’s A-OK to buy American and Toyota will KILL you! Can you imagine saying that even one year ago?

My car is NOT on the recall list. But with all these stories coming out about how Toyota secretly danced around the fire on its production snafus and how they wiggled out of them, I find myself wondering what’s going on under my hood? Should I ditch the car? I paid it off in 2005 for god’s sake! I’ve been enjoying no payments and clean bills of health on it for almost five years now! But who knows?! And why should I even take .0005% risk when I have two precious boys often riding sidecar with me? Now that I’ll be driving to work every day soon, should I bite the bullet and get something else? It’s horrifying. It’s like the sweet girl from next door gets popped for robbing banks and selling heroin.

Then I read this, from this morning’s Boston Globe. Are there more out there that haven’t been recalled yet? I kinda think there are and that Toyota is just going to stretch out the recalls so the shit doesn’t hit the fan all at once for them. Who can you trust? What would you do?


Howdy Spoodle Time

My parents got a new dog last summer (cockapoo) and he’s a very cute and friendly little guy they named Murphy.  This weekend when we were visiting them the conversation turned to his hair, which my mother claimed was non-allergenic and then she added that “he doesn’t have fur, he has hair.” Honestly, I never knew that dogs could have hair. But facts is facts. The dog has hair. I guess I always thought that if you were a dog, you had fur. Of course, the conversation turned to the ridiculous when I made claims that Murphy actually just had a layer of cotton taped to his body. Steph than added that maybe it was synthetic turf. We all laughed about it when we were having the discussion, but in the end it’s true, the dog, because he is part poodle, has hair. For more on the hair vs. fur debate, you can read here, if you really have some time.  By the way, according to Wikipedia, Cockapoo’s are usually called spoodles in Australia. So that is what I will call Murphy. A spoodle.

In other news, it turns out that The Boston Globe may shut it doors sooner than I thought. This story lays it all out, but no matter what the result of the meetings, the paper is doomed. Whatever changes occur as a result of this NYT edict will leave the Globe a mere skeleton of its former self. At worst, it’ll shut down and at best it becomes even more of an Associated Press extension than it already is. All you local columnists better start thinking about your futures.


The Left Misses The Right

I woke up this morning in a hotel room in San Francisco. A brief work trip, one in which I won’t be able to do much except eat, sleep, work and have meetings. Work trips are different now – of course the tasks at hand must be focused on and work is at the forefront. I find myself working as hard as ever. I’m not sure if it’s because of the economy or just the thrill of the chase. Probably both. I know I’m as nervous as anyone with all the layoffs  going on and whatnot. Anyone who tells you any different is probably lying.

On the flip side, I want nothing more than to be home and be with my kids and wife, particularly on this day, a historic day. It’s days like today when you want to experience historic events with the people you love and not be marooned in a city 3,100 miles from home. But I do enjoy coming here and I enjoy seeing my co-workers out west. And I can’t say I don’t enjoy the weather – when I woke up this morning, it was to clear skies and sun, temps about 65 degrees. I mean, really. It’s January?

So I woke up and opened my hotel room windows and down below me was a place called the Moscone Center (I think it’s some kind of conference center) and in front of the center there’s a small “town green” style patch of grass – where people were already gathering to watch the inauguration. How cool. Something tells me that that hadn’t happened before for an inaugration ceremony. I ended up at work by about 8:15am pacific time, in time to catch the oaths and speeches in our CEO’s office. The positive energy today in geenral was pretty pronounced. The happiness around the office was divine. It was just a good day.

And I miss my wife and kids.

By the way, the jury is in – it’s going to be an IPhone. I was still wavering until I went into the Verizon Wireless store after work today and tried to fiddle with TWO Blackberry Storms, neither of which would work properly. Sad that I’m going to have to say goodbye to Verizon, but it looks like that’s the way it’s going to come down.

Addendum: I just flipped on the TV (11:09pm eastern) and Mary J. Blige was introduced at some concert on TV, she came out and yelled “no more segregation!” Now, I like to think I’m pretty aware of what goes on in this country, but I’m not aware of any segregation. Of course, the scar of racism will probably never go away, unfortunately, but segregation? Did I miss something there?