Monday, January 25, 2010

Chilling at Home

There's a lot to be said for not doing much. For making a totally ordinary breakfast or lunch. For lying on the couch and watching the football playoffs, even if you're not a fan of football. (Yay, Saints! Boo, Colts!) For taking the dogs on their walk twice a day. For hanging out with friends and talking about whatever comes up. For going to a movie. All these little things that we normally take for granted have a lot going for them. It seems like we have to do without in order to really appreciate them.

Janis and I went to P.F. Chang's a few nights ago with some friends. The food, as always, was fabulous, service was excellent, and the crowd was animated and noisy. It was so nice to have a great dinner that was cooked just for me. We're big fans of P.F. Chang's and go whenever we can.

We also went to see Avatar in 3D. It was fun, but definitely not a "great" movie. I thought that the plot was stolen directly from Dances With Wolves with a twist to the end; a friend said it was more like Ferngully (which I never saw). Whatever the case, it was very predictable: I knew what would happen long before it did. Still, it was good entertainment with fantastic graphics. Much better on a big screen than it would be on your home TV with a Netflix DVD.

This week, I'll be doing maintenance. My truck's Check Engine light is on - I had it looked at by a local shop, but it came back on again within a couple of miles, so now it needs to go to a dealer. The Land Rover needs to go back in for routine maintenance. My MacBook has to go into the computer shop because of some issues with the hard drive. I replaced the hard drive with a bigger one last year and it isn't perfectly compatible. Minor annoyances: you get "stuff", then sooner or later, you have to repair "stuff".

As I write this, it's early in the morning and I'm the only one up. My body clock is still slowly migrating from Baghdad to Mars Hill. So the house is quiet and Janis and the dogs are still sleeping ... and one of the dogs is having a great dream and yipping away at something. Rabbits, maybe?

Since being home, I've been inundated with politics on TV. I can pretty much ignore it in Iraq, but not here. Turn on the news and everything is tied to politics. So here are a few comments.
- This past year, despite all the promises from both parties, Washington has been as polarized as it has ever been. The Democrats are guilty of the same hubris that the Republicans displayed under Bush, only at least they're not goose-stepping off to a new war. The Democrats could have accomplished so much more if they'd worked together. But as a wise man once noted, "I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat." By falling into business-as-usual, Democrats squandered their opportunity.
- To be an elected Republican these days means to have no mind of your own. They're the party of Just Say No. Where the Democrats have no party discipline whatsoever, the Republicans are like clones of each other and fall mindlessly into line behind whatever their leaders tell them to do.
- Both sides are doing a great disservice to this nation. I want my leaders to work together to address the issues facing us right now: the stagnant economy, lack of jobs, Wall Street excesses, health care, growing deficit, conflict with Islamic extremism, and health care, among others. Instead, leaders on both sides are more concerned with making political points than with actually getting things done.
- The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts may be the wake-up call that Democrats needed. It seems like they finally got the message that they need to refocus. Like Bill Clinton said, "It's the economy, stupid." Dems have about nine months to get themselves re-tooled for the mid-term elections. Whether they do it remains to be seen.
- Republicans, meanwhile, are undergoing a hostile takeover by the Tea Party movement. The Tea Partyers are taking over the local Republican party positions that form the structure and determines who gets nominated. That's bad news for the party. Republicans are already a bit too far to the right for the majority of the country, but the Tea Partyers are way too far to the right. What I see happening is that the Tea Partyers ensure that only far-right candidates get nominated, but then they'll get clobbered in the elections. So the best news for the Democrats (as a party) is that the Tea Party is taking over the Republican Party.

So. That's my punditry for today. I hear Janis banging around in the other room now, so off I go.


  1. The best analysis I've seen so far.
    Glad you're home! Enjoy it!

  2. I received this very thoughtful email commenting on my post. It's too well-written not to share. - Skip

    Skip … not sure how I stumbled upon your blog, but I read the entry pertaining to R&R and politics. Like you, I am frustrated with our leaders (politicians), but more importantly the special interest lobbyists behind the scenes who, I believe, truly run this country. Politicians are mere puppets to special interest groups. However, it’s easier to sling arrows at the visible enemy than those behind the scenes writing legislation whom no one knows. The 1,990 page healthcare legislation is a classic example of that. Nobody wanted to take responsibility for the document, few legislators actually read it, but everyone wanted to argue it.

    Unlike you I am not a Democrat. Nor am I a Republican. I vote for the person be he/she a Democrat or Republican. I believe party affiliation is for those who feel the need to belong and follow someone else. I choose not to make up my own mind.

    From my point of view political labels are irrelevant and, in today’s context, are used to inflame the opposition. Then again we are a nation of profiles where everyone is supposed to fit into this or that box. However, I take exception to belittling the T-bagger term because I do not necessarily fit into that one either. Offensive as it is, especially in the context used by Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow who disparage anyone who doesn’t fit in the traditional Dem or left wing box, I relate to those who are frustrated with the ideologies and failed actions of both the Dems & Repubs. To me that is the reason t-bag movement exists. I disagree it exists to take over the Republican party or determine who gets nominated, but to bring a logical, centrist approach to governing.

    Will the movement succeed? I suspect it will. There are many liberals and conservatives just as frustrated with the past and present actions of our federal government as me. The November elections will tell. Change will come and it will not manifest itself as a glitzy mantra.

    Be safe.