The debt the next generation will be paying was not started by our government, but by ourselves

Alice Paul c. 1930s

In her article in the WSJ, Peggy Noonan uses an example that has been kinda turning over in my head ever since I read it early yesterday morning. In it, she quotes Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee that many in the Tea Party crowd are grandmothers and that:

“Women are always focusing on a generation or two down the road. Women make the education and health-care decisions for their families, for their kids, their spouse, their parents. And so they have become more politically involved. They are worried about will people have enough money, how are they going to pay the bills, the tuition, get the kids through school and college.”

Ms. Blackburn suggested, further in the conversation, that government’s reach into the personal lives of families, including new health-care rules and the prospect of higher taxes, plus the rise in public information on how Washington works and what it does, had prompted mothers to rebel.

And that really got me thinking about who these “grandmothers” and women are, the timeline of their lives and the unintended consequences of history.

These women — who are older and are now “livid,” concerned and intuitive — were most likely responsible for inadvertently starting the ball rolling toward our ever-increasing crushing debt load by supporting the most politically and socially active woman’s issue of the time; the Equal Rights Amendment.

Now before you all start in on me for beating up on grandma, just hang with me for a moment. Growing up Catholic and as a kid of a mother forced to go to work second shift to afford us, my formative years were spent at ground zero of this issue. One thing that came out of the ERA was that women were an emerging force in the employment scene. With the political and cultural tides turning the way of equal pay for equal work and looking like the ERA was going to be ratified, companies slowly, reluctantly began paying women more and promoting in an effort to ward off legislation. Women were also becoming more educated and getting better jobs. The country was getting used to the dual income. And that flush of cash was too tempting for corporate America not to scheme a grab.

And grab they did. From 1964-1980, the average house price went up from $13,050 to $68,700 while average income went from $6,000 to $19,500 per person. That calculates to 217% of annual income for a house in 1964 v 352% annual income in 1980. In addition, a car which cost an average of $3,500 in 1964 now cost $7,200 in 1980. In 1964 when most families were single income, they only needed one car. In 1980 when the dual income family had firmly taken root, a second car was necessary. So was out-of-the-home day care. Women had fought the right* to be equal in the workplace, but so too had this fight created a dependence on a dual income for a typical family to afford a home to live in. Women could no longer leave the employment world at will and their men could no longer afford them to.

Life got too expensive to maintain and none of this was due to the Federal government meddling with significant entitlement programs (except Medicare, which every senior in the Tea Party loves and would kill any candidate who takes it away.)

But we really didn’t learn that large social shifts will always be taken advantage of by our free market economy and corporations incessantly hungry for more profit. In this last decade before the Recession, universities were watching the housing market climb up and up and jumped into the fray with their version of the cash grab. They raised their tuitions, knowing full well the middle class would dip into their easy home equity to pay for Johnny and Suzie’s education, regardless of cost. Now, their grandkids are saddled with large bundles of debt nobody is willing to forgive.

And men are losing their jobs at record rates, reducing the dual income family to a minority. And I was left wondering, “Were the grandmothers in Ms. Noonan’s article the same women who foresaw the staggering and unsustainable private debt we are now faced with as they marched for women’s rights back in the early ’70s?” All these women wanted was the right to be treated equally and have the right to do the same job as a man so they could have a higher quality of life. Unfortunately, all corporations saw was an opportunity to grab more disposable income.

I’m finding it hard to believe the average grandma is more “livid” and worried about the US Government going broke from entitlements than they are about their own grandkids being $50,000+ in debt from student loans and not being able to afford a house to live in because homes are priced to a dual-income standard. Maybe I’m missing something.

*I know, the ERA Amendment is still shy of 3 states ratification and died in 1982, but it gets reintroduced every year. Maybe someday. But for purposes of creating a dependence on dual incomes, women have won these rights.

Send to Kindle

Risk as a downhill ski run, Bode Miller style

I was reading my Wall Street Journal today, page after page of blah, blah, blah and then I came across this story on page B8. It stopped me dead in my tracks.

I am not following the Winter Olympic Games nor am I really a fan of Bode Miller. I didn’t even read the article, but what I did do is stare at the photograph.* Here’s why.

Notice how much of the ski is touching the surface of the snow. Notice how “off center” Miller’s body is. Now, imagine how that feels at 90mph (I don’t know how fast he is going, but pretty dang fast.)

And it strikes me that downhill skiing is a lot like doing something that you are passionate about. You hurl yourself headlong into it without thinking about the risk. Your actions and reactions are instinctive, you trust in yourself and your skills and when you doubt yourself for a split second or become aware of the cheering (and sometimes jeering) fans along the fence, it all unravels quickly.

You may crash, you may win a gold medal, but if you don’t hurl yourself out of the gate, you’ll never know.

*I kinda stole the photo from the WSJ and they may find out about it and not share the same enthusiasm I have for showing it to you… so, until I get that cease and desist letter, posting it up here is my downhill ski run of the day. 🙂

Send to Kindle

Being naked is not a sex crime*

nakedrun

This is a response to Police Chief Mark Beckner trying to ban the annual Naked Pumpkin Run in Boulder, Colorado.

Here is the logic of “being naked is a sex crime.” Genitals and breasts are used during sex. A display of genitals and breasts in public is a crime. Therefore displaying your genitals and breasts in public is a sex crime. Furthermore, anyone who commits a sex crime is a sex offender.

The lack of nuance and the gross level of denial that all humans have bodies and those bodies have parts, by a society that purports to be intelligent is staggering in itself. But the willful and ignorant misapplication of logic is not only stupid, but embarrassingly so.

Yet, the few who misappropriate legal definitions for their own purposes are allowed to do so because being labeled a “sex offender” is about the scariest thing any person in a position of authority can do to another human being in this country. Being a sex offender means additional time in prison, a prison existence that is made less than pleasant by the other inmates, a lifetime of registering with the local sheriff, being denied employment and in more and more cases, being denied a place to live.

In Ohio, it is against the law for you to take a photo of your kids bathing in a bathtub. It is probably even more risky to actually take a bath with them or change them in public. If you get caught with a photo of them bathing, you will be arrested and charged as a sex offender. Your kids will also be taken from you. Ask AJ and Lisa Demaree of Arizona how they feel about bathtime photos.

In Boulder, Colorado, the local Police Chief Mark Beckner will be using sex offender laws to try and stop the annual Naked Pumpkin Run. A lot of people will be spooked into not participating, not because they are afraid to be arrested (public nudity is not illegal in Boulder) but because the chief will be applying the State’s indecency statute, which “makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly expose his or her genitals in circumstances ‘likely to cause affront or alarm.'”

This is not about sex offender laws or public indecency laws. Those have their place and when applied correctly to real sex crimes, they save lives and protect minors. This is about the abuse of power by elected officials.

As expected, the American Civil Liberties Union fired off a letter ranting about freedom of expression, blah, blah, blah. As usual, they ignored the larger and more egregious issue; the abuse of power by an elected official.

A blind application of laws without regard for appropriateness has led to zero tolerance in schools where Cub Scouts are being thrown into reform school for bringing a pocket knife to school and where teens are being charged as sex offenders for sexting. Both equally dumb, but not intentionally criminal to the extent the laws applied were intended.

The separation of the “intent to commit a crime” and “committing a crime inadvertently” is producing more criminals daily. While ignorance of the law is never an excuse, so too is a misapplication of the law by authorities. One assumes they were elected as caretakers of the law to be able to reason through the nuance and apply common sense rather than black or white interpretations. Moreover, they should not be overreaching their authority by “warping” laws around behaviors that laws were not intended to cover. Clearly the citizens of Boulder do not have a problem with public nudity and can tell the difference between being naked in public and being a sex offender as evidenced by existing public nudity laws.

Even more disturbing is the lack of citizen journalists, bloggers and news journalists who are either oblivious or apathetic to the issue. (Do a Google search…) It is a small one now — one town, one police chief — but if allowed to grow, one can only predict Boulder will eventually have more sex offenders per capita than any other town in America. (If you say it can’t happen, I give you the town of Jordon, Minnesota in the early 1980s where every parent, it seemed, was a child molester due to the unrestrained exuberance of the town’s prosecutor and the silence of good citizens.)

I leave you with a fitting poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The Internet has given the citizenry tools to monitor elected official even closer and in real time. Instead of blogging and twittering the latest on “Balloon Boy” or the latest happenings of Jon Gosselin, we should be turning an even more vigilant eye on local officials who believe laws are theirs to bend at will.

This is my take of why citizen journalism will not be successful. If it were, Chief Mark Beckner would not be allowed to legally terrorize the citizens of Boulder.

*Can I link bait more than putting naked, sex and crime in the same headline? Maybe, but then I’d really have to think harder than I want to. Also, the photo is a blurred version of something I lifted from http://nakedpumpkinrun.org/

Send to Kindle

Why celebrities on Twitter need journalists and PR folks

malariaI’m pretty sure I was not the only puppy watching Kutcher’s video where he broke 1 million followers on Twitter, scratching my head at the $100,000 check he was holding up as a donation to the Malaria No More organization. Why was this important? Where was the tie-in? Is malaria really that important to stamp out? Isn’t AIDS, cancer and heart disease more pressing?

Today, Peter Chernin wrote an article in the WSJ on why Malaria is an important disease to stamp out. Now, I get it.

Malaria kills 1 child every 30 seconds. It is easy to wipe out with enough money and it eats up limited resources that could be applied to solving the larger problems. It is the “day job” that keeps you from “changing the world” by sapping your energy. I get it because Chernin was able to write clearly.

I found out through the WSJ that April 25 is World Malaria Day. Surely, @aplusk was all over this with his 1 million+ followers on Twitter. Nope. His latest tweet as of this article was a musing over wanting a trap door to have people fall through.apluskfeed Maybe he was promoting it a few days ago. Nope. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

Malaria No More has a Twitter account @malarianomore. If you do a search on malarianomore, you will find a ton of pleas by average twitterers urging @aplusk to promote World Malaria Day.

Does @aplusk have a moral obligation to promote World Malaria Day using his 1 million followers? I think he does. I think the Twitter community would probably agree, especially after his claim that “One man can have a voice that’s as loud as an entire media company.” I think the folks at MalariaNoMore.org would agree that he does as well. Especially since it would take almost no effort.

I’m pretty sure the folks at MalariaNoMore.org are scratching their heads in confusion over Kutcher’s apathy and resultant silence on twitter about World Malaria Day. They have probably gone through the usual cycle of emotions of sponsorship: excitement, exuberance, confusion, anger and resignation. They probably realize by now that they have been and will be all alone in the effort, despite Kutcher’s “support.”

By contrast, If Guy Kawasaki with only a few over 100K followers were to make an impassioned plea to his audience, how many of us would fail to listen? I can’t think of one person.

Should Kutcher suffer the pains of a Twitterstorm for his apathy? We skewered Amazon, Dominos, Motrin, and Target. And these are just brands. Nobody is dying because the brand ignored Social Media. With malaria, people are dying because the awareness is not known, because Kutcher could make a difference but chooses not to.

However, with good journalists and PR folks, Kutcher would not have the option of letting this opportunity go wasted. As it is, he has less than 24 hours to pull something together for World Malaria Day.

Whatever it is, it will come across as half-baked and rushed. I eagerly await the first World Malaria Day tweet from @aplusk.

Ok, now give. DogWalkBlog is giving $100 tomorrow to help with World Malaria Day. If each of @aplusk’s followers gave $1.00, that would be $1.3million. But, I’m not sure why they would as it doesn’t seem all that important a cause to support when nobody is looking.

PS: Proof of the Existence of God. As I was writing this post, I received an email linking to this AdAge article. 🙂

Afterthought: On April 18, 2009 I tweeted out:

Should we listen to @guykawasaki about twitter any more? After all, he only has 100K and @aplusk has 1M, @mileycyrus has 300K+ Thoughts?

Guy came back with an “are you kidding?” response. I was thinking through a thought and it took a week and an article from the WSJ to get to some clarity.

Send to Kindle

How we are all connected

Today, I heard from a long-time reader who emailed me just to let me know she was still reading and that she had been enjoying the blog ever since she first saw it.

Wow! Whenever I get an email like this, it is truly a humbling experience. Even though the DogWalkBlog gets lots of traffic, when a reader takes a few moments out of the day just to say she enjoys reading it touches. That is what blogging and Twittering and all this stuff is about; one touch, one moment.

I’m writing this immediately after looking at the pictorial spread in the Wall Street Journal. In a sea of 1.5 million people, photojournalists are able to pick out one genuine smile, one face full of hope and one little girl who gives her dad a “thumbs up” with an orange glove.

I aspire to be that lens. Always.

Send to Kindle

Sarah Palin, please grow up, shut up, go away or learn some English

Sarah Palin (on loan from CNN.com)
Sarah Palin (on loan from CNN.com)

In a CNN.com blog post yesterday, Ms. Palin is quoted as saying:

I would think we all tear up during the national anthem at the beginning of a baseball game, don’t we? That’s an alikeness between Alaskans and New Yorkers.

Sigh. I think she meant to say something like “common bond” or “the bonds that united as as a nation” or even “similarity.” I am beginning to suspect she makes up words as she goes. She reminds me of Damon Wayans’ malaprop character on In Living Color. Malaprop is a big word, so I linked it up, in case Ms. Palin is reading… oh, never mind.

It really is time for the smart guys to be in charge. The beer-drinking buddies, the “Joe the Plumbers” are not the future of this country, they are its past. It is not cool to be dumb. It never was.

In recent decades, we’ve seen the damage one dumb man can do. We’ve also seen the damage a highly provincial man can do. Neither was good for this country as one led to high inflation and a hostage crises and the other led to wars, loss of a moral compass and submission to mob fear.

I’m not sure how many bloggers remained “anonymous” about their feelings on Sarah Palin. That women created a blog wake so deep and fast that if you didn’t attach your name to it, your blog was a waste of time to write or read. There was nothing about anonymity or boredom in that ride.

We’ve had a taste of what a smart Sarah Palin would be like. We call her Tina Fey. And the real thing pales in comparison to the imitation.

Send to Kindle

I know nothing, but let me tell you about it anyway

Few things make me more upset than “journalists” who have no knowledge of the facts of a story, write about it or get on television, answering phantom questions about hypoteticals. Then the anchor or host treats their answers like they relate to the story at hand. Then they guide the reader or listener through the “facts” of a story based on the answers to these hypothetical questions as if they are relevant. Unless you are paying attention and reject the entire story when this occurs, you will get the facts of the story all wrong. Is it any wonder Americans are so ill-informed about so much?

The latest example of this type of “journalism” can be found right here in my local newspaper, the Dayton Daily News. Not only does the writer start by asserting an unsubstantiated “fact” (…dying from [a seizure] is rare) but early in the article she states:

Medical specialists who did not treat the boy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that while Kawasaki syndrome is poorly understood, it’s extremely unlikely the disease had anything to do with the teen’s death.

Let me repeat: “medical specialist who did not treat the boy told…” And, AP, why are you lapping this up? What kind of journalism institution are you anyway?

And now, we have Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the worst offender of them all*, slated for the Surgeon General. Has he not done enough damage with his glib, over-arching generalizations of the American health care scene at CNN? I’m sure Dr. Gupta is a competent doctor, but it is unethical and immoral to lead people down a path that is so generic as to be dangerous to their health. Whatever you believe about Dr. Gupta’s competence, his words have weight.

I attribute this “fact-filling” as a desperate attempt by media to be the first on the scene and to fill 24/7 airtime with breaking news stories. Here is a bit of advice from the the old school: If you have nothing to say on the matter, just shut up before you start sounding like an idiot.

*No, I have no supporting evidence he is the worst, but go to YouTube and sift through the video.

Send to Kindle

Extra blogging stuff pulled from my brain

Brain dump
Brain dump

I collect newspaper clippings for blog ideas. Mostly, the articles are things that sent my blood pressure over the edge or got me wondering “what if it were different” or just things that make me go “hmmmmmmmmmm..”

These clippings sit on my desk, tugging at me to write a blog post about them. But there just isn’t enough brain material for an entire blog post. So, they stack up, hoping to bump into other clippings that glue them together in this big “human condition” context. And, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

And all the while they are tugging and screaming at me to do something with them, often culminating to a deafening roar. So, to quiet the clippings, sweep them off my desk and hopefully into a discussion with you, I am going to just knock out short thoughts of each and then let them go. Hopefully my readers will take off where I could not.

Nov 28, 2008, WSJ, Page A13
Breakfast with St. Peter My thoughts on this article are conflicted. I at once want to find a St. Peter for myself, but mostly I want to be a good enough person to be a St. Peter for others. I hope I am lucky enough to be one or the other before I meet the real St. Peter.

Dec 30, 2008, WSJ, Page B1
Claiborne CEO Flies Commercial to Cut Costs This was supposed to have been a blog post about the value of TIME and how important it is for a CEO or any leader of any multi-million dollar company, hospital emergency room or Oval Office to have enough sleep to be able to function. I know the “perception” of using a private jet to the average Joe is like burning dollar bills while dancing on a grave, but do we really want our leaders — corporate or otherwise — flying the crappy skies? I don’t. Read the article and decide for yourself.

Dec 21, 2008, DDN, Page C5
Motor City’s woes extend beyond auto industry One passage made me pause and think about my own retirement plan in America.

“…I’m seeing guys make a conscious decision they’ll be better off in prison than in the community, homeless and hungry…. In prison, they’ve got three hots and a cot…”

Here’s my retirement plan, given the current state of my 401(k) and less than 20 years left of a working career: On my 65th birthday, I will commit some sort of Federal crime bad enough that will get me sent to prison for life, but not death row. There, I will not have to worry about getting my medication, food or deciding between heat and food. If I am good enough, they may even let me keep a canine pet with me. That is the plan, unless Obama can turn around this “all for me and me alone” culture we have created for ourselves. Or, some foreign country will let me expatriate.

Jan 2, 2009, WSJ, Opinion Page
Treasury to Ford: Drop Dead Part of me wants to scream out, “Jesus H. Christ, Mulally, did you not see the GMAC bank thing coming? What the hell is wrong with you?” and another part wants to slap Mulally on the back and congratulate him for doing the right thing, for taking an ethical stand. I’m conflicted, but am almost certain Ford Motor Company is toast.

And my last clipping…

Jan 3, 2009, WSJ, Opinion Page
Blame Television for the Bubble Just when I begin to wonder where all the common sense, level-headed real people are, they do something crazy like write an opinion article in the WSJ. Yeah, I’m sick of all these 20-something yucks buying $500,000+ houses.. Where the HELL do they get the money, assuming that to make the kind of money they need to be making to afford a house that expensive at their age they had to go to one hell of a good school and have student loans coming out their butts. I have owned my home for 23 years and I STILL find home ownership expensive. What the heck am I doing wrong?

Ok, that is it. The clipping tray is now empty and I have dumped my thoughts out onto this blog post like Dumbledore’s thoughts into a pensieve.

What, can’t a dog be a Harry Potter fan?

You’re such a muggle.

Send to Kindle

Zune couldn’t play Auld Lang Syne at midnight

Zune
Zune
Apparently, a Microsoft Zune model couldn’t do the leap year calculation for 2008 and ending up freezing for it’s owners yesterday. In the WSJ, they reported that “… Zune owners flooded blogs and Internet chat sites to complain they couldn’t listen to music…”

What? How much of a flood could 12 people worldwide create?

All I know is that all three iPods and my iPhone were capable of playing Auld Lang Syne at exactly 12:00am on January 1, 2009. Even if I had to wait an extra second.

Send to Kindle

Congress getting ripped off by relatives

AP Photo: House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel is currently facing four investigations by the House ethics panel for possible misuse of his office.
AP Photo: House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel is currently facing four investigations by the House ethics panel for possible misuse of his office.
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel paid $57,500 from a campaign account to a Web-design company owned by his son over two years, paying more for Internet services than any other House member during the same period, according to federal records.

My first thought was that perhaps the web site was worth that much and more. I get a bit miffed when people tell me Internet services should be really cheap (including the WSJ!), so I assumed perhaps Rangel’s son put a lot of extra features on the site and the Congressman actually got a lot of value for a little bit of money. After all, $57,500 doesn’t buy a whole lot more than the basics in the private sector.

But then I got a Tweet from the Alltop.com folks, saying the RSS feeds for both the Senate and the House were on line. So, I went there. Nope, no Charlie Rangel site.

Small oversight. Surely, there is an RSS feed.

But, there isn’t. Neenz is just not that sloppy! You can check it out for yourself.

So, it looks like more Congressional nepotism and the taxpayer paying for something that doesn’t quite compete with the private sector. And I like Charlie Rangel.

So, Congressman Rangel, for $57,250, I will rebuild your site and include an RSS feed so you can be on Alltop where you can kick ass with the best of them.

Send to Kindle

Never confuse ‘clear thought’ with crap

Last Saturday, Mark Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia University, wrote an article in the WSJ titled The Perils of ‘Populist Chic’, What the rise of Sarah Palin and populism means for the conservative intellectual tradition. It was well-thought out and objectively argued. In short, it explains why presidential candidates need to go bowling and drinking beer, why smart girls get teased in math class and why nobody like a know-it-all. Kinda.

Anyway, I tell you this so that you are intriqued enough to read the article and draw your own conclusions, but also to introduce Mr. Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D who wrote a letter to the editor, saying, among other things:

Prof. Lilla proves that highly educated minds can be small and prejudiced when he describes Gov. Sarah Palin as “ignorant” and “provincial.” What this Columbia professor really means is that she isn’t Ivy League educated and isn’t from New York City.

Well, I’m just a mutt that grew up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul and graduated with a BA in English from the public university, the University of Minnesota and even I think Sarah Palin is ignorant and provincial. Moreover, I think she is rather stupid in that she does not show a capacity to learn as evidenced by her more recent interviews (still reading the keywords off the notecards!) Furthermore, she exhibits distain for others around her and appears incapable of empathy. 

But mostly, she is stupid. No, really she is.

The president should be really smart, almost geeky smart. The fact that we have a smart president-elect who is also a great orator and empath is a giant plus. Let’s stop “mocking him” through sneers, jokes and sarcastic asides. After all, he did what Sarah Palin and John McCain could not.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Send to Kindle

How to profit from stupid and sloth

I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. So do hundreds of my neighbors and I know exactly who they are.

The WSJ gets delivered to my front door every morning by a carrier with the Dayton Daily News. About a year ago, I noticed that the mailing label in the upper right hand corner of my copy of the WSJ was not me. It was a neighbor who lived in another part of the subdivision or worked at another business. 

So, I started saving these labels. Sometimes I would get my own label, but most days, I would get someone else’s. Eventually, I reasoned, I would probably get everyone who subscribed to the WSJ on my carrier’s route. I think I am right.

Now, I have a mailing list of neighbors with whom I have something in common. When I want to refer to an article in the WSJ that I think might affect them, I can send out a cheap postcard, with a URL to my blog to the list and I know they will most likely have read the same article as me.  And, they will most likely go to my blog, read, comment and maybe pass it along.

They may wonder how I got their name, how I knew they also read the WSJ. Or, maybe not.

Or maybe, they have been getting my newspaper and tracking me the same way.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Send to Kindle

No party for old men

It is sad what the Democrats are doing to Joe Lieberman. The only “sin” Sen. Lieberman committed was having opinions that did not quite align themselves with the new leadership. 

I looked up the Senator Oath of Office. It reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

There is no mention of party loyalty, no mention of suspending personal beliefs and opinions when taking the oath, no mention of “with us or against us.”  To paraphrase from several Obama speeches, there is no Democratic Senate or Republican Senate, there is the Senate of the United States of America.

I want my senators to think for themselves. I want my senators to take risks. I want my senators to have the freedom to have liberal opinions on social reform, but conservative views on national defense. I want a healthy, authentic discussion of ideas in the US Senate. That was the mandate we gave Barack Obama, not a mandate to further divide the country with the “victor” handing out spoils of war. 

Joe Lieberman knew the risks he was taking, but I think at some level — perhaps naively, perhaps with more hope than was pragmatic — that this election cycle held two candidates, each had the ability, political capital and personal stones to rise above partisan government and lead a country. That he chose to back John McCain who eventually did not prevail is incidental to the academic argument.

President-elect Obama needs to show strong leadership with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He need to put a face of cooperation, but firm leadership, on the “New Democratic Party.” All three are at a crossroads at this very moment, with Joe Lieberman being the turtle in the road.

If you have not yet read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, read it now. Focus on the turtle. The question remains; will the Democratic Party be the truck driver that swerves to try to hit the turtle for sport or Tom Joad who shelters the turtle in his jacket. (Spoiler: the turtle prevails, despite setbacks…)

These are the tests that determine the character of a man. I hope Obama passes.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Send to Kindle

Today, I am a man?

I was reading an interview of Sarah Palin by Kimberley Strassel that appeared in the November 1 WSJ. I got a few paragraphs into the interview and was stopped cold by the following paragraph.

The tasks of “fixing” Washington and “shaping up” the GOP are no small things, whether from inside the West Wing, or depending on Tuesday, from some future role as a party leader. And so, after a firm handshake and an introduction to First Dude Todd, I ask the governor if we could forgo the stump speech and talk about her contribution to this ticket, and the future of the party. Why, exactly, are Republicans as a whole struggling so badly? Are the liberal pundits right that modern conservatism has run its course?

The emphasis is mine. I read and reread it and was struck by how men are really not men anymore. They are “dudes” and “guys” and “buds”, etc. But hardly ever men.

I got to thinking about how I define myself and while I am on the uphill part of 40 and have two fully grown offspring (23 and 17) I find the assertion “I am a man” a bit odd to hear and I don’t know why.

Is it because the past couple generations of women have redefined what a man is? Having children doesn’t make you a man, but being a good father after the children are born does? Providing for your family doesn’t make you a man, but being there for every significant event in your child’s life while also providing for your family does?

Or, is it because this generation of men simply do not want to grow up and old. By calling ourselves “dudes” and “guys,” we avoid old age.

Most women know the point at which they are comfortable calling themselves a woman. But, I wager that the vast majority of men under 60 are uncomfortable with the title. I also wager that the vast majority of women under 60 won’t grant men that title, preferring to call them “my dude” or “my guy.”

At 44, does Todd Palin consider himself a man? Does Sarah?

Send to Kindle