Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Palin and history

I was in the 6th grade in the fall of 1964, the year incumbent (but unelected) Pres. Lyndon Johnson was running against Republican challenger Barry Goldwater. Our class had a debate and as in many debates, you don’t know which side you’ll end up on until it starts. So you have to know something about both sides. I got picked to take Goldwater. I have no recollection of what I said or how my team did.

I didn’t have much of a clue about either one at the time but probably felt more comfortable with Goldwater since he was a Repub. and my extended family had some issues with Kennedy and Dems. – Maybe it was the Catholic thing. I don’t know but where I grew up I didn’t even meet a Catholic until I was in High school.

Digression – I did know something about Johnson. He was from Texas after all. My earliest memory of him was a rumor that some of the people who had voted for him in earlier state elections were dead. Not having died but dead when they voted. Something to do with compiling voter registration rolls while strolling through a cemetary. This practice came along before the ‘vote early, vote often’ mantra.

But this is not about Johnson or Goldwater but rather Sarah Palin.

I said it last summer and I’ll say it again. McCain’s choice of her as his running mate was inspired – he wasn’t going to win anyway and this was one more desperate effort to tip the scales. It didn’t work. That may or may not have been her fault. One other thing I said then was that her handlers weren’t handling her properly. They should have let her be herself – warts and all rather than coaching her to be something she isn’t/wasn’t. Based on what I hear about her book and her interview on Oprah (I watched) this seems to be partly true.

So where does that put us and by us I mean your average middle-America-Republicans? To hear the MSM talk, there are none of us. All of us are far right extremists who are willing to support a so-called populist like Palin.

I don’t know how people like me can get recognized by the media – that Rush, Palin, Beck et al do not speak for me all the time. Are they right some of the time – I should have said correct some of the time? Of course. But even Obama and his people are correct some of the time.

Before we draw too many comparisons, the race between Johnson and Goldwater wasn’t even a race. The Arizona man carried only 6 states and a whopping 52 electoral votes, making it one of the most lopsided races of all time. Johnson will not go down as one of our better or favorite Presidents and it needs to be noted that in less than 4 years, he was so out of favor that he decided not to run again, even though he could have. His decision no doubt brought us to Richard Nixon and we all know what that brought. I digress again.

Where am I going with this 45-year-old piece of trivia? If the GOP ends up nominating Palin in 2012, we’ll see another landslide like the one in 1964. On a personal level I like her but I don’t think she is Presidential. I didn’t know if she was Vice-idential last summer but it was worth the shot. But for deeper and fuller disclosure of where my head and heart were (and possibly still are), I wasn’t crazy about McCain. It reminded me of Clinton v. Dole a few years back. No excitement at the top. You can parse Obama a million ways but one thing he had going for him was excitement.

If the GOP intends to somehow anoint Palin for 2012 then we need to start planning for who will run against Hillary in 2016. My guess by then maybe the GOP will have been smart enough (I can hope!) to recruit some bright young Hispanics for House seats and one of them will have risen enough in experience and stature to be suitable for a run.

The days of old white southern men as President are over.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Health Care

I guess the Senate is going to fast track their version of a Health Care bill and the race is on.

I have many questions but one big one stands out: how exactly does the Government expect to pay for the almost one billion (or more) that the new plan will cost?

Quickly here’s how, they say:

a surtax or excise tax on really good health care plans. In essence if you are fortunate to have really good insurance through your employer, they (or you) might have to pay a tax for that privilege. Did anybody figure out how many of these so-called Cadillac plans might go away if their costs rose by the 40% excise tax the Senate proposes? This seems like counting on revenue from a source that isn’t guaranteed and the (dis)incentive is for people to reduce their coverage (and attached costs.)

The Senate lists annual fees on insurance companies, equipment makers and drug companies. Now maybe all of them are really bad greedy people but is this going to work? If I make MRI machines and now the government is going to tax or penalize me because they cost too much I can do at least one of three things: pay the tax, start making something different that is not taxed as much or just get out of the business altogether. The last two take away some of the projected revenue.

The NY Times says another revenue source is to “squeeze” (their word) some of the Medicare growth. With our elder population growing faster and needing more health care than any other segment; how’s that going to work without reducing the overall amount of care people expect?

A 5% tax on elective cosmetic procedures, the so-called “Bo-Tax”. I have no problem here but once again if the costs go up too much, people will just stop having face-lifts and tummy-tucks.

Bottom-line if anything like this passes, and then the expected revenue doesn’t materialize, the only other options are to raise more taxes or reduce services provided to people.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gran Torino

Risky business but I’d recommend you rent (or check out from the library like I did) Gran Torino.

Be forwarned. The favorite word in this R-rated movie begins with “F.” I almost quit watching because of the bombardment of this plus for the first 10-15 minutes or so, it seemed like Clint Eastwood was just going to be a grumpy old man. The only other thing to do was figure out how many different names he could use to show his dislike of Asians.

I stuck it out and am glad I did. I won’t give anything away but I thought it was a pretty good movie. Eastwood directed, produced and stars but he didn’t write it.

But when it’s over it’s not the language that will stick with you.

Blunt, Cap-n-Trade & a good spot

First up this is not pro or not-pro about Mr. Blunt. He has plenty of baggage but that’s up to him and his to defend or promote.

I saw an ad this weekend while catching a few minutes of the Cowboys’ sorry perf in Green Bay. The ad was well done with a clever gimmick. It was an oppo-ad against Blunt – by some group Id-d as a conservation group (who knows who they really are). Like I said well-done and good technique. Reminded me of a Frank Perretti novel I read years ago where some people had this stinking ooze coming out of them.

My one sticking point with the spot is the support (or rather the hitting up Blunt for his lack of support) for Cap and Trade legislation.

I’m not sure why this is important enough to run a spot now unless the group behind it is perhaps supporting Robin Carnahan in her run for Kit Bond’s MO Senate seat that Blunt is also running for.

Reasonable people can disagree but I hope folks in favor of this bill or anything similar realize that at least one major part of their monthly cash out-go is going to rise dramatically: the cost to heat and cool their homes. Almost all Missouri electricity is based on burning coal (again you may think this is good or bad – not the point – Missouri consumers don’t have a choice in who they buy their electricity from – in fact nobody anywhere unless you are off the grid and generating your own power) and the price of coal is going to go up under this legislation.

Somewhere (if not multiple places) between your house and where the coal comes from, taxes and/or penalties are going to be added. Those extra costs are going to show up in the electric bill. Utility companies will simply pass them through – not as rate increases which might require some local and state approvals – but simply an increase in their cost of doing business or cost of raw materials; whatever. But you and I will pay more – make no mistake about that.

Before anyone falls in love with earth-friendly legislation, count the costs. If you are willing to pay 10-15% more for your electricity to help reduce carbon, you can do that now by buying so-called green energy from your utility company. Most of them have alternate sources that cost more and they will gladly charge you more to appease your carbon-burning conscience.

Remember though, the power grid is agnostic; it can’t tell where the electricity being used in your home actually comes from. Green power gets mixed in with dirty power and who knows which kilowatts actually heat up your morning coffee.

My quibble is not with criticizing Blunt. The spot tried to do too much. I guess they thought if they threw enough oil at Blunt, some of it would stick. For me, the C&T accusation does not.

I have no idea who I might support in the MO Senate race. I hope that C&T dies a quick death before we get that far.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The soldier stumbled.

My kids’ school had a small ceremony for Veteran’s Day and they invited any local Vets to come and be recognized and honored.

I was able to go this year since I didn’t have to work that day so got to see my kids do a song (Good job girls!) and what the other classes did for the ceremony.

I’m surprised by the number of vets in our dinky little town of only 334. There were maybe a dozen or so present along with a few spouses.

A four-man color guard handled the flag duties.

As they wrapped up their presentation of colors, the youngest in the bunch barked the about face order and they tried to do what can best be described as a Michael-Jackson-move where they cross their feet and twist their legs, and in a flash like an Auntie Anne’s pretzel maker, they are facing the other way. (I’d have been mustered out of the Army quickly because I could never do that!)

Except for one little old man. I didn’t notice his footwork but when he started to walk the other direction he began to stumble. He lurched to his right and kept moving that way as he got his legs underneath him. It was one of those slow-motion things where you want to help but in my case I was way up in the bleachers on the back row and way too much distance between him and me.

The whole thing took maybe 5 seconds and a half-dozen steps and somehow he kept his balance and re-joined the other three.

I’ve been looking for some wise interpretation of this but so far have come up empty.

In a strange way it was sweet. Watching him fall would most assuredly not have been sweet. But since he kept his balance, it was a touching moment; at least for me.

Maybe because my own father and WWII vet is 87 years old and has his own issues with walking. Maybe with an Honor Flight leaving Springfield next Tuesday with 75 local WWII vets aboard for their once-in-a-lifetime trip to see their memorial in Wash. DC – Don’t know. Guess I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and somehow his stumble fit right in.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A copper bracelet and a thank you.

Most readers will be way too young to remember the PIO/MIA bracelets we wore in the early 70s to remember those missing or captured in Vietnam. But for our time these were the "LiveStrong"-things we wore on our wrists.

I still remember the last name on the one I wore: Etheridge. At the time he was in the missing/POW category. Don't know why I never checked the wall, you can look up anybody with almost any tiny piece of information.

I found him on Panel 40E - Line 73 and it shows he was killed in 1968. One of the more than 58,000 known dead or missing American soldiers killed during the long ranging conflict in southeast Asia.

While sitting here I found out through the wall again that he either has a son or father still living and his email was on the wall's website so I just sent off a quick short thank you to him. We honor our Veterans and rightly so and we also honor our dead Veterans on another day but I thought I should say thanks to one of those left behind.

So to Ralph Etheridge and the millions more he represents, thank you for giving up a family member so we can enjoy our freedoms - still - every day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The List

My wife bought this for me as an anniversary gift. Roseanne Cash's latest project. I like the album but wish she/her label/her producer had done just one more thing: I'm sure the project will sell well but I'd liked to have seen a double CD that included the original versions of the same songs.

These songs that Johnny Cash felt were classics in some form or another were first done by people like Jimmie Rodgers,Blind Willie Johnson, Don Gibson, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Guy Mitchell, Ray Price, Kingston Trio, for the Long Black Veil alone the list of people who've done this song is endless, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard,and of course the Carter family - in other words a list that spans several decades and styles and even perhaps genres.

A double CD with the chance to hear some of the old stuff would have made this so much better and possibly rekindled interest in the old time country stuff.

I grew up listening to some of this so I have an unnatural soft spot.

But in case my wife reads this I still like the CD just fine. Thanks!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but she’s warming up!

I’ve been watching some – not a lot – of the World Series. I just can’t get excited about the Phillies and not since Mantle played back in the 60s have I been a pinstripe fan. Wait, they don’t wear those anymore.

Remind me to make a wardrobe comment later.

I watched some of last night’s win by the Yankees and I’ll probably show some of my current baseball ignorance with the following but here goes.

When the commentators started talking about Lidge and how his regular season wasn’t so great and then Johnny Damon came to the plate, I said “this will be trouble.” Good rallies start with singles and what does he do? Through some sloppy coverage and heads-up base running on his part, he’s on third.

Of course he doesn’t hit the go ahead RBI or anything big but I think he should be getting front page credit for the win last night. You can’t ask for much more than a 2-out-single and stealing two bases. But who gets the headlines? A-Rod. Oh well. (UPDATE: NY TIMES did do a late afternoon article on Damon and gave him credit.)

Back to wardrobe. What is it with the Yankees uniforms? Every pitcher’s pants look like PJs. Sabathia may have a million-dollar arm, but he needs some fashion help.