Give the ball to Norton

It’s true what they say about the benefits of joining sports teams in general. You learn a lot of life lessons not necessarily having anything to do with the sport you’re involved with.

Just for the hell of it, my junior year in high school I decided to go out for football. I hadn’t played in a couple of years and sort of missed being on a team and the fun of Friday nights. I guess I didn’t want to let all of my high school years go by without joining in on something besides golf.

I was a 5’7″, 145# junior who practiced with the linemen, mostly at center because that’s the position I played in middle school. You can see the problem here already. If I’d had any wheels at all, I would have entertained receiver or tight end, but such was not the case. I was slow as hell, and still am.

In mid August we reported for “daily doubles” which was 2 a day workouts that definitely tested your mettle. Since I was practicing with the centers, I was privy to a life lesson that summer which has stayed with me and I think relates to the current political environment.

One hot sunny afternoon we were working out with centers, quarterbacks and receivers on some basic routes for the receivers. Varsity and JV practiced together early on as they don’t split up the teams until it gets closer to the start of the season. There were about 4 or 5 centers who rotated hiking the ball to a few guys vying for the starting quarterback job, and a line of receivers on both sides ready to run routes.

We had 2 seniors competing for the starting center job at the time. I won’t mention their names because it’s not important to the story, but if I recall correctly, they were pretty close in size and ability, so it was going to be a close call for the coaches on who gets the starting nod.

It was probably the coaching staff’s fault a little bit for not making it clear what the depth chart was at the center position, but I remember an incident where the coaches yelled out “line up by the depth chart” at each position for some receiving route reps. Both seniors thought they were the #1 center so a fairly ugly scene ensued where they fought over the ball for a couple of minutes while the rest of us looked on in disbelief. One guy grabbed the ball and inserted himself at the front of the line and the other guy snatched the ball from him and shoved him back. This repeated a couple of times while the coaches grew impatient with the situation because it broke the rules about being a team player and good sportsmanship.

In a rather stunning move, the coach blew the whistle and sent both seniors to the back of the line, and handed the 3rd string guy, Rob Norton, a junior in my class the ball. He never relinquished the ball for the rest of the season. He was the starter from that point on.

I’m reminded of this as I watch the toxic, hostile environment between Republicans and Democrats today. The unwillingness to compromise on anything.

I write frequently about my disdain for the Republican agenda and I feel strongly about it. At the same time, I see Democrats as the other senior in this fight. Participating in the toxic nature of partisan politics and too far out of touch with what has historically been the party of the working man. They lost the working man this time for not paying enough attention to jobs.

The current battle over classified leaks, obstruction of justice, pathological lying and programs to reward the wealthy makes me sick. But I’m tired of the fighting and I do not root for the Nancy Pelosi wing of the Democratic party to gain ground in this fight.

No, I’m on board with a youth movement. Let’s give the ball to Norton. You two clowns get to the back of the line.

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Out with the old

I’m a Sunday morning news show junkie. I hardly ever miss Meet the Press or Face the Nation. I just find the dialog of the analysts extremely interesting.

One of the main themes on Meet the Press today was “The first 100 days” of the Trump administration and what it had accomplished. Reince Priebus did a reasonable job of defending Trump’s record so far I thought. About as well as you could do for someone with a 40% approval rating. Then Nancy Pelosi came on and countered.

Just watching her reminded me of some things I have been thinking about for a long time. As a self proclaimed ‘lefty’, I probably agree with Nancy on 95% of her liberal policy positions. But at this point it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see her retire.

I’m not here to write about or otherwise add commentary on women’s looks, but it struck me that she just looked terrible. Not surprising when you’re 77 years of age and still getting up early on a Sunday morning to be interviewed in front of millions of viewers. I’m sure the makeup artists did what they could, and who cares what she looks like anyway, but it’s the first thing that struck me was that this country is being run by too many old people. It’s time for younger voices to start getting air time.

Pelosi is a polarizing figure. There are people on the right who HATE Nancy Pelosi. I do not hate Nancy Pelosi, in fact as I said, I probably agree with her on most of her positions, but I think if she were to retire and we could get a fresh, new, youthful liberal voice in there, it would energize the younger generation to get out and vote.

The same thing is true in music. I saw a picture if Iggy Pop on TV this weekend. The guy is still trying to look like what he looked like in the 1970’s, and it looks ridiculous. At some point it’s time to step aside and let the next generation take the stage. Bow out gracefully.

I can tell just from dialog from my children, the youth of this country feel disaffected and disengaged to some extent. The Boomers have held power for far too long and history will record that we didn’t do a particularly good job of stewardship with respect to fiscal policy, educational direction, or protecting the environment. Our foreign policy is dangerous at best.

I am a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, but he’s 76 years old. Bernie did a pretty fine job of inclusion of the younger generation in his bid for the White House in 2016, but unfortunately, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who I will never forgive, had her thumb on the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton and Bernie could not overcome the inside bias against his candidacy, though he came pretty close. Bernie embodies everything that needs to happen in the U.S. He’s got the perfect message in my opinion. But he’s too old now. He’s 75 and will be close to 80 in 2020. That’s just much of an age gap to run for President. I would love to see Bernie pick an heir apparent to the Democratic Socialistic movement and support that person in 2020.

I like Elizabeth Warren as well. She’s a fireball that doesn’t take guff off of anyone, and a true progressive. But again, at 70 years of age, she’s too old to be the messenger / leader of the younger generation.

It’s time to pass the baton to the next charismatic leader who can connect with our youth. We Boomers have had our turn in the barrel and it wasn’t a particularly great ride. “The Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw wrote in his book of our parents’ travels through WWII, we are not.

But I have witnessed the youth of this country up close and personal. In a previous role I went to college campuses and interviewed engineering candidates who impressed me to no end. There is no shortage of really smart, well educated, thoughtful, hard working youth in this country, contrary to what the right wingers will tell you. They get labeled the trophy generation for the way we raised them and for sure that approach didn’t help, but make no mistake, there are some high achievers in this group and we old fogies would do well to step aside and let them lead. It’s their future.

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Fox and the Far Right

Conservatives like to point out that when liberals look down their noses at them as imbeciles, this is exactly the reason Republicans won the 2016 election. It was perceived snobby elites vs. the lunch bucket crowd and this time around, the lunch bucket crowd bought the Make America Great Again sales pitch, such as it is.

I’m no literary genius as most of you are keenly aware, so full disclosure up front. I’m a life-long 3.1 student who underachieved in the interest of being a well rounded person with other things to do besides just read books.

I say this because the main theme of this post has to do with just how dumb average Joe Republican has become, but I don’t want to sound like an elitist, because I’m average IQ at best. I just think I’ve given these issues more serious mind-share than most Republicans have and am sharing some observations from my own personal experiences.

The best example of mindless followers are the evangelicals. These people give the pastor full reign over their brains to the point where he can stand at the pulpit and literally say “And the Egyptians used the pyramids for grain silos” while the faithful shake their heads in unison with agreement. There are some highly educated people in this crowd too, so go figure. But when it comes to once they get inside the chapel doors, all critical thinking goes out the window and they morph into sheep.

Fox News is a master exploiter of this level of blind faith / ignorance that exists in the evangelical community. They cater their message in the same way the paster’s do and the sheep get in line.

In the 2016 election, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity should have been credited with an assist for the election victory. Hannity just spews vitriol for 60 minutes and is not a serious journalist but he does have a following and they eat it up. O’Reilly would literally try to use his on-air time to ‘coach’ Trump into managing his campaign in ways that would benefit him. He was not interested in a deep policy probe, it was all about helping frame a strategy that would beat Hillary Clinton. To his credit – and our detriment – he was successful. After today’s news of his unexpected departure from Fox, it’s too little too late. The damage is done.

But my main point is that there is a lack of critical thinking that goes on, especially in the Republican party. I know some pretty smart Republicans and they vote GOP for their own reasons, but they are in the minority. The vast majority are people who are easily fooled into voting against their own self interests. Things like tax cuts for the rich / trick down economics. The American Health Care Act ( Paul Ryan’s baby ). Climate change. Military spending. Women’s health issues. Even though all of these things have been debunked by the experts and will hurt them personally, the Duck Dynasty crowd likes to back the candidate with the GOP moniker. I haven’t been able to figure out other than to resign myself to the dumbing down of America. I ain’t no Robert Reich with a PhD, but I listen to him as well as Dr. Krugman to try to learn from truly smart people. That’s why I can’t get into debating the Duck Dynasty crowd. Colossal waste of time.

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Town Halls

A Facebook friend recently ‘liked’ a post about a friend of theirs who was lamenting the fact that recent Greg Walden town halls in The Dalles and Hood River were difficult to listen to because there was so much shouting.  I was tempted to chime in but it wasn’t a Facebook friend of mine so I decided to keep my mouth shut (yes, every once in a blue moon this happens).  But I really wanted to chime in.   I deserve some credit for resisting the temptation.  Seriously.

I have no sympathy for Greg Walden.  Zero.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  He deserved every ticked off constituent he had to face.  To his credit he faced them – unlike Marco Rubio who begs out of town halls altogether because they are too contentious.

His constituents are trying to send a message to him that if he goes back to Washington D.C. and gets behind Healthcare legislation that screws the common man in favor of yet another tax cut for the 1%, stands up there smugly with Paul Ryan on the national stage and pretends the bill is a ‘good deal’ for the average American, he’d better think twice because he’s not representing the interests of the people who put him in office.

The Affordable Healthcare act of 2009 turned out to be not as affordable as everyone had hoped.  Yet more Americans are covered than ever before and many literally depend on keeping their coverage to stay alive.  It’s recognized by both parties that there are obvious ‘fixes’ that can make it better.

Are the Republicans interested in fixing The Affordable Healthcare Act?  No.  Their primary intent is first and foremost to destroy any positive legacy from the Obama Administration.   As an example, selling across state lines has been proffered by both parties as a way to improve competition and lower prices.  Do you think this idea could possibly get any traction for the good of the American people?  With the Republicans governing, not a chance. To me it’s laughable that the bill failed the House because it wasn’t abhorrent enough for the so-called “Freedom Caucus.”

The primary thing that crossed my mind when I read “Why can’t we just listen to each other better” were scenes from my own childhood.  Remember a few times when you got in trouble with your mom?  Like, really in trouble.  You were getting a what-for for a reason.  To prevent future what-fors.

Walden’s support of Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which benefited the top 1% and kicked 24 million people off of covering under the canard of ‘choice is better’, was worthy of a tongue lashing from Mom.  His constituents gave him an earful and he deserved every rude interruption he received.

Normally I would be supportive of civil discourse.  If it were just a disagreement over a policy issue, sure.  Be polite.  Listen.  Wait your turn and voice your opinion.  But this is different.  Walden sold out.  He chose party over Country and he was getting called out for it.  I couldn’t be happier about that.  I only wish I could have been there.  I would have participated in making him as uncomfortable as possible.

I’m sad to say we’ve reached the point where civil disobedience is a reasonable option.  When the sins are so egregious that lives are at stake, courtesy can go out the window and I’m fine with it.  Sleep tight Congressman.  And welcome back to Oregon.

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The Godfather, Part IV

With each passing day I’m reminded of the opening scene from The Godfather Part I where business associates or “friends” of Don Vito Corleone wait their turn to ask a favor.  If you’re a friend of The Godfather and someone is hassling you, come to Don Vito, kiss the ring and he’ll take care of it.

The tough guy approach has its appeal with a significant number of voters as we found out on November, 8th.  Recall from the Art of the Deal, his negotiation strategy is to start at an extremely high price and then come down to what you wanted in the first place.  It’s used car salesmanship 101.

But if things aren’t going so well, he quickly falls back on intimidation.  I simply cannot separate him telling President Enrique Pena Nieto that Mexico is going to pay for the border wall from Don Corleone’s “Making him an offer he cannot refuse.”  I keep waiting to read about President Nieto waking up to a horse’s head in his bed in the near future.

Just this past week, after being told of a Texas state senator who wants to require convictions before the state can forfeit property, Trump asked for the senator’s name and said “We’ll destroy his career.”

Whenever he refers to Iraq he talks about how we should have kept the oil (never mind the experts are saying that’s easily classified as a war crime).

We are America.  We are exceptional.  Kiss the ring.

Don Vito’s story didn’t end particularly well for him, and I don’t think Trump’s attitude about the United States’ role as world citizen will serve us well either.

I’ll be curious if anyone else sees the same Mob boss mentality that I do.

 

 

 

 

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Keeping up with Technology

Those of us old enough to remember the musical progression of LPs, 45’s, 8 Track Tapes, Cassettes, Reel-to-reel, etc., I remember seeing a funny article a while ago where a guy who had converted his library of music from each of these formats to the ‘new’ format of the day, at considerable time and expense, claimed that “If they change it one more time I’m going to shoot someone.” At the time I thought it was funny because I had gone through the same thing and as a kid, was on a low-budget.  It was frustrating.
Next came CDs (yet another library upgrade. Okay, sure I’ll take all my cassettes and import to CD format using my 1980’s technology… probably about an hour per tape.  No problem.
For 10 years I’ve had a rather large case of CDs, some imported to iTunes, most not.  The stuff I had on my phone was a small library and getting old and stale.
iTunes playlists are a pretty cool way to organize things into libraries but first you have to get the music in there.  So for 10 years I’ve had this backlog item I’ve procrastinated on to import the worthy CDs we own into iTunes and make a legitimate library out of it.
Over the Christmas break I finally bit the bullet and over the better part of 4 days, imported several hundred CDs ( a few thousand songs ) into iTunes and organized the libraries.  Musical Nirvana!   And it’s even backed up on a separate Disk.
Next I ordered a Bluetooth receiver that will be able to connect into the overhead speakers in the house wiring and in a few days, we’ll be able to point and click our iPhones playlist at this wireless device and presto, your musical mood of the moment shall be granted.  Same thing with the car and its Bluetooth receiver.
If they change it again however, I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it.  This better be the last format change!

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Happy New Year

I’d like to write a really upbeat blog post about the upcoming year, but I just don’t have it in me.  I am sorry.  Apologies ahead of time.

I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that our system of government is by design a very slow change management system.  It’s nearly impossible to get changes pushed through (witness the last 6 years of Obama’s presidency).

It’s also true that the Executive branch gets too much credit and too much blame for what happens on his/her watch.  An example of this would be that Obama wanted to invest in infrastructure / jobs but the Senate Majority blocked him every step of the way, initially to ensure Obama was a “one term” president, and subsequently, out of spite, they wanted his record to be clear of anything that smacked of an accomplishment.  It worked.  Ironically, Trump now wants to invest 1 Trillion into infrastructure and the GOP is split as to how to move forward with this idea.

Even more interesting will be to see what happens with immigration.  Trump campaigned on the radical idea of deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and got support from the rust belt states who are still hurting from globalization / NAFTA.  The majority of people in this country want something constructive done and there are many options on the table from mass deportation to full amnesty.  But here’s a prophecy for you.  Nothing will get done during the next 4 years for the same reason nothing has gotten done for the last 30.  Both parties’ establishment wings benefit from illegal immigration.  Major corporations want the cheap labor.  Progressives want the votes.  For Trump to get his way, he’s have to flip the bird at major corporations and the cynic in me says that’s going to be difficult for him to get through.  Anyone heard anything about the ‘wall’ lately?

Maybe we’ll press on with the status quo for a period, but having lost the White House, Senate, House and soon, the Supreme Court, I suspect change is coming in spades.

Not all of it will be bad.  Should the welfare roles be reviewed every year for fraud?  Yes.  I have no problem with the idea of cutting wasteful spending.  I do however have a problem with blanket cuts or privatization of Social Security and Medicare that hurt Grandma.

Progressives including this writer are in fact guilty as charged of elitism.  I’m guilty of staying mostly in the debate realm on social media and not getting up off my arse to do anything constructive about it.  That will change in 2017.  It’s time to transition from elitist to activist.  On my to-do list is to dig up some sign materials, find the spray paint can and a few staples.

I’ve been watching the country split in half since Bush v. Gore.  I’m learning not to be surprised by the outcomes.  I seriously thought Gore waxed Bush in 3 consecutive debates but alas the voting population felt otherwise.  I was initially skeptical of Reagan’s “trickle down economics” plan and it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.  I remember very specifically getting an extra $35 in my paycheck in the early 1980’s.  Boy did I ever stimulate the Marysville, WA economy with that!   Meanwhile, Reagan’s cronies were ordering new yachts ( to his credit, the yacht building business did boom during those years ).

I was not a supporter of Reagan or Bush, but I didn’t loathe them.  Critical policy differences, yes.  Loathe, no.  Both displayed tolerance for all faiths, minorities, and generally tried to be inclusive as the leader of the free world.

Trump however, cannot seem to go a day without be-clowning himself on Twitter.  I mean, what President Elect in history has stooped to the level of pouring salt on the wounds of his rivals with a faux New Years wish?

So I enter 2017 with a glass half empty I’m afraid.  Just being honest here.  As a very young man in my early 20’s I had my first encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness which resulted in several deep conversations where I learned what they were all about.  In the end I said “No Thanks”, but not before learning much about Armageddon and the End of Times prophecies.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to why I’m reminded about these events to start off 2017.  There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wonder if the Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t perhaps right.

Finally, I’ve read several articles on the 7 deadly sins as they relate to the ego of Donald Trump and as an exercise, you can Google each of them next to the word Trump and fill up 100’s of pages of results.  Just for my own personal amusement, I’ve done that.

Happy New Year!

-Bill

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  1. Lust
    1.      This is my favorite, with Falwell.   playboy    unadjustednonraw_thumb_23ca
  2. Gluttony
    1. 120719055137-trump-international-course-golfing-full-169
  3.  Greed
    1. Trump’s Views on Greed
  4.  Sloth
    1. chemprtwkaex6or
  5.  Wrath
    1. 160331200050-trump-quote-11-super-169.jpg
  6. Envy:  No A-List Celebs at the Inauguration.  Gee, I wonder why?
    1. 49442915-cached
  7. Pride
    1. An astute article on Trump’s pride issue

 

 

 

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