Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mixing Politics and Memorial Day


The Republican campaign for President will kick into high gear starting now – just when Obama has risen in popularity and respect. It should get very interesting now.
by Charlie Leck

This was a good Memorial Day weekend. I spent most of it in Chicago and I liked the quiet, calm respect that everyday residents were paying to the memory of men and women who have served this nation in times of war or in preparation to defend us. The rah-rah-rah sense of blind patriotism seems to have been replaced by more considerate gratitude. People are thankful, but they want to know how we can get ourselves out of this blind and frenzied war mentality. That's the reading I got, anyway!

Why does it always need to be the U.S. that leads the charge? After awhile, it gets to be too much. The nation wearies from seeing its extraordinary young people falling in faraway nations. The people themselves cannot easily explain to themselves why we are there and what the bottom-line mission is.

I think it is why Obama moved so carefully in Libya. We simply couldn’t lead the charge there. There are several reasons why: (1) We’re spread thin and our fighting forces need to complete the tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq; (2) The economy at home demands that we spend less on the military and our own defense and not more; and (3) We need to get other allied nations involved in the process of stopping inhumanity around the globe.

Obama’s moves may be seen as a sign of weakness, but, in fact, they show great personal strength on his part. And, they all show political wisdom.

The President’s political standing has grown since the killing of bin Laden. People – regular people and world leaders – are willing to look more carefully at him and his actions and tend now to give him the benefit of the doubt. His approval numbers have risen at home and around the world.

This high regard won’t last. The economy appears to be tanking again. The President is forced to make political concessions and compromises that will anger some of those who voted for him. He’ll need all his political acumen to fight through this.

The Obama campaign (2012) has set a goal to raise a billion dollars to spend on the election. That will be an all time record. To do that, Obama’s campaign structure will need to resurrect all those who so excitedly gave to him in 2007 and 2008. That will be a tough task and Obama will need the Republicans to commit a few frightening blunders to get his base motivated. In this day and age that doesn’t seem to be too hard to imagine or for which to hope.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Tampering with the Minnesota Constitution


The constitution should not be written or rewritten in moments of frivolous frenzy by slim majorities of the voters!
by Charlie Leck

Our Minnesota Governor vetoed two abortion bills over the last two days. Good for him! They both sucked and they were both discriminatory. One would have removed any state funding of abortions for poor women.

“All women deserve to be healthy and safe,” Governor Dayton said in a letter to the state legislature that accompanied his veto.

A second bill would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks. Dayton said we should leave that to a woman and her doctor.

“Our place is not between a woman and her doctor,” the Governor wrote, “Imposing civil penalties and making it a felony to deliver care that is in the best interest of the patient is unconscionable.”

Now, of course, conservative legislators are threatening to propose the two laws as a constitutional amendment. If they could pass it that way the Governor could not veto it. It would go to the voters to decide.

The Constitution of the State should not be written or altered in the heat of emotional moments of frenzy by 51 percent of the voters. The proclamations of, and the laws established by, the constitution should find their base in nearly 100 percent of the citizens of the state and not in slim majorities.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

By the Sea!


The sea can roar and pound and swish and splash, but it leaves us quiet and in wonder!
by Charlie Leck

I’m a member of Sojourners, a Christian organization that tempers all that bogus stuff that comes out of the Christian fundamentalist and far-right movement. If you’re looking for a reasonable, rational and intellectual way to get in touch with your spiritual side and express your Christian faith, Sojourners might make sense for you. A drop in visit to their web site certainly wouldn’t hurt.

About once a week I get interesting email from the organization and occasional emergency notices that alert me to disturbing national and/or international events – things to which I should be alert and about which I should, perhaps, take action. I also subscribe to their monthly magazine.

In today’s general email, as the voice of the day, came a simple quotation about which I’ve been thinking a lot this morning:

“Sit with God as you might with the ocean. You bring nothing to the ocean, yet it changes you.”
[Sean Caulfield, from The Experience of Praying]

This has given me something to think about this morning. Have you ever sat quietly by the ocean and watched it and listened to it? It’s amazing what the ocean does to one. It kind of empties one out, makes one feel at peace and refreshes one’s spirit. I like the analogy to prayer.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Individual Responses to Natural Disasters


I don’t ever remember a run of natural disasters and tragedies like the current one!
by Charlie Leck

The savage tornadoes that ripped through Alabama early this spring seemed like the ultimate of storms. Such wide spread devastation, ruin and home-wrecking seemed more horrible than the mind and heart could take. Yet, as you all know, it was only the beginning of the storms of terror that would rip into our nation. High winds and flooding have left thousands and thousands of Americans homeless and struggling to handle the normal, everyday demands of life.

A category one tornado hit Minneapolis a few days ago. It left a thousand or more people without places to live. A lot of the people involved were already low on resources and didn’t have much backup. Looking at the photographs of that damage and reading the reports of the pain the storm left in its aftermath, I am left in awesome wonder at what a category five storm, like the one that hit Joplin, must be like. Now, last evening another monster tornado struck in Oklahoma.

I can barely look at the news reports of the losses and the chaos down there or up here. It is too painful.

One can only figure out some way to give of oneself in the face of such agony. As I wrote to a fellow blogger, I’ll forget that new golf club I was going to buy and that little trip I had in the back of my mind. I began searching for the safest and most effective way to make financial donations to these areas of suffering.

Here at home, I gave through a project of the Minneapolis Foundation – Give Minnesota (Razoo.com). I’m confident my money will get right to where it’s most needed. Nationally, I give to the American Red Cross. I’m not as confident with that big, bureaucratic organization, but I can’t come up with better ideas. If you’ve got any, let me know.

I only hope that all of you will give. Even if you have just a little, try to find a way to give to your fellow Americans in this hour of tragedy.

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TJ


We had an email from TJ today and it cheered us greatly! She’s almost like a daughter – this kid – even though she was in and out of our lives in a matter of weeks!
by Charlie Leck

You meet the damnedest people at farmers markets. That’s where we met TJ. She came rushing in and touched our lives and shot an arrow through our hearts and then, woosh, like that, she was gone.

Anne was just standing around by her booth at the market one day, a couple of years ago, when this pretty little thing, about the age of our youngest daughter (26 or so), just came up to her and announced that she was looking for a little work. Did we need help? Her parents lived in Oregon and she knew a little something about sheep. And, she spun wool.

“Sure,” Anne told her. She could help around the booth on Saturdays if she’d like. It would give Anne a chance to take an occasional break. We’d give her $10 an hour and let her take some lamb home as well. The kid’s eyes lit up. I think she was somewhat hungry. So, she helped us out for a good part of the summer. She took home several cuts of lamb each week. Though she was very slight and had some arm, shoulder and neck pain, she managed okay.

She learned how to sell quickly. She made a big impression on customers. She talked to many of them about spinning and knitting. She often sat behind our table knitting away and it drew the curious.

She had a significant other. She called him her sweetheart. I met him. Like most fathers react, I didn’t think he was good enough for her, but he was a gentle and kind person.

It was pain that drove her away. It got worse each week and we could see it in her eyes. She was of the naturalist school, you know, and she was trying strange remedies and treatments. I wanted her to go down to Mayo and told her I’d pay for it. No! She thought she’d head up to the north shore region where she knew some people who dabble in cures of this sort and that.

As summer wore down, she went off. Whatever she tried didn’t work. She showed up at market in the late autumn and told us she was heading back to Oregon. Maybe she’d find something there and maybe she’d discover some treatment or other, too.

I hadn’t met anyone like TJ since the 60s, when I was her age. She was like a child of that era and reminded me so much of young friends I had back then – a bit loose, irresponsible, irreverent, confused and wonderful.

“I’m doing well for the most part,” she wrote. She’s living in a commune for, at least, the growing season, “feeling it out, trying to find my right rhythm of work and rest. I still struggle with my arm, though it’s far more functional than it was when I met you.”

Oh, my! She takes me back to another, younger time and I see so many old friends when I look into her face.

It won’t do any good to scold her. It never worked with my own kids and I tried it enough. You just have to give them some rein and back off the bit – let them out, to try out their legs. But, in the end, there’s no reining them back in and no convincing them. They just have to grow out of it and settle into a nice even pace at sometime or other.

I could get really upset at her, but, when I look at her closely, I see too much of myself in her. She’s looking for a brave new world that isn’t out there. I can’t tell her that. She has to discover that on her own.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is Mitt Romney All They’ve Got Left?


So who is left to run for the Republicans now that Huckabee, Gingrich and Daniels are all eliminated?
by Charlie Leck

A few days ago – much less than a week ago – I gave you my predictions for the three most likely GOP Presidential candidates for the 2012 election campaign against President Obama. [GOP Presidential Candidate]

Geez, Louise! Already two of them are shot down. Newt Gingrich put his foot in his mouth (as I predicted he might) and Republicans have turned away from him like rabbits fleeing a rattlesnake.

Now Mitch Daniels has very emphatically declared that he is not and will not be a candidate. Unequivocally!

Jeepers, creepers! That leaves me with only Mitt Romney and he isn’t faring very well with many Republicans either – what with the Obama like health care plan he got adopted in Massachusetts a number of years ago. He’s having lots of trouble with the Tea Party wing of the GOP.

One wag was heard to say yesterday: “I guess the Republicans will need to depend on the charisma of Tim Pawlenty.” Pawlenty is not well enough known to appreciate the comedy in that statement.

Well, there’s still Michel Bachmann! And, of course, Sarah Palin! Maybe they can get John McCain to run again. Mike Huckabee has declared firmly that he is out, out, out! He’s in a reckless feud right now with the actress, Natalie Portman, for glamorizing “out-of-wedlock pregnancy” at the Academy Awards. Holy Moley, Mike, we’ve got wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and revolutions going on in a half dozen Arab nations. You want to talk about the evil of single moms? Congress may soon close down our government, Mike. You still want to quibble with Natalie Portman? It’s just as good he isn’t going to run, I guess.

I’ll cling to the final shred of my earlier prediction. Mitt Romney will get the nod to run against President Obama. I’ll think he’ll pick either Michel Bachmann or Natalie Portman as his running mate. Or, maybe he’ll ask that Arnold guy – you know, the fella out in California – to run with him.

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Did the Sun Rise Safely Today?


Are you all okay? Did the world end? Is it all over?
by Charlie Leck

It is Saturday; yet, I am writing my Sunday blog very early in the morning – an hour yet before the sun rises. I will finish it and schedule it for a 7 a.m. posting on Sunday. You, of course, may or may not be reading this. In fact, none of us may be here anymore.

Harold Camping, an 89 year old radio evangelist, has indicated that today, 21 May 2011, is the day for the Rapture! The world, as we know it, will end today says Mr. Camping.

Well, frankly, there’s hardly anyone who believes him. Camping has a total of 70 children, grandchildren and/or great grandchildren and none of them believe him.

Camping has made these predictions before and been wrong, wrong, wrong! But, this time he is sure, sure, sure!

Mr. Camping is a retired engineer who has accumulated a wealth in excess of 100 million dollars. He is not theologically trained and does not claim to be a minister or preacher. He calls himself a numbers expert and a scholar of the Bible. He’s devoted himself to Bible study for years and years and years. Using that intimate knowledge of the Bible he has determined that this is the End Time.

If you are reading this tomorrow, Mr. Camping was wrong again and we have more time to repent and change our wicked ways. So, get on with it while you can. As for me, I think I’m going to go out tonight, kick up my heels and raise a little hell!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Cutters in Minnesota do Great Damage


Let there be compromise in Minnesota politics!
by Charlie Leck

We are struggling here in Minnesota, as many states are, with how to reduce expenditures without injuring the heart and soul of the state. In an opinion column in our local paper yesterday, Mike Sweeny, the newspaper’s Chairman, put it this way:

“The pounding of local government aid and of higher education has gone far enough. It is beyond efficiency and beyond forcing reform. It is now at the point of threatening the mission. And the voters know it. Significant majorities say they want a mix of cuts and revenue to solve our budget crisis.

The reduction of expenditures in the state has reached a crisis point. The cutters argue that the voters have demanded this. Yet, no one really wants to injure the state to the point that it will not be able to compete for a talented labor force and creative business leaders. The cutters are damaging our state’s transportation system – both its road and highway infrastructure and its mass-transit system. The cutters are weakening the state's education system at a time when it is already reeling. No department has escaped – law enforcement, parks, recreation, fishing and game, the environment, health and medical care – and all of them will be weakened.

The cutters have gone too far and public opinion around the state has said so. Minnesotans are a proud people. This has always been a state a cut above most. The cutters are bringing great injury to this state and those who follow them will need to rebuild, at great expense, what is being destroyed.

The Governor has called for reasonable compromise. The people of the state agree with him. The revenue stream must be increased.

Tony Sutton, the head of the Republican Party is the road block. His opposition to compromise is sickening and the people of the state are finding it so. He is single handedly destroying his party by his stubbornness and the people will have a 2012 message for him if he does not desist.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

It’s nice to be remembered fondly!


I was crazy that day when I offered this little kid a job doing a man’s work!
by Charlie Leck

Sometimes you feel so damned proud that you just puff out your chest and buttons start popping. You laugh some and your eyes tear up too. As you might expect, at my age it’s happened a lot.

A wonderful email came from Afghanistan today – from a young man who is doing his 10th year in the military.

“The Air Force has been good to me in many different ways,” he wrote. “It’s helped me grow up as a man even more. I have seen and experienced places I never imagined possible. Made some very close friends.”

Oh, my! It was so good to hear from him. Anne and I have worried about him over the years. We knew he was serving in Iraq for some time and then in Afghanistan. We had no local contacts for him anymore, so we couldn’t check on his safety.

We met him back in 1994. We had taken horses to a parade at the request of one of our dearest friends. She wanted us to provide a carriage and horses for the mayor of Minneapolis, Sharon Sayles Belton, for the Juneteenth Parade. (Well, if you don’t know what that is you’d better google it and find out!)

It wasn’t a usual kind of outing for us or our horses. We had to go into crowded part of the city where there was little parking and where our security and safety wouldn’t be as comfortable as the usual fancy horseshows to which we went. We parked on a side straight, a block or two away from parade route. We drew lots of attention with our big, gleaming horsevan and trailer. Children came out of their yards to close around us and to see what was going on.

One of the kids was a very young, but strong-looking African-American boy – and he was just a boy. He had a kind looking face and huge smile. He wanted to know if we could use some help. One of my worries was that something would happen to the van and trailer and the items inside it while we were off doing the parade. I explained the situation to him and winked at him, wondering if he could arrange some protection.

He nodded at me in an understanding way and I knew it would be done. I put him to work cleaning out the carriage we were to use for the parade. I showed him how to clean it up and make it shine. He went to work. The June sun was hot. His grandpa, with whom this young fellow lived, came out of his yard to see what was going on. When he saw his grandson working away and when he saw how hot it was, he sent the boy scurrying home to get a big bucket of water for the horses. He remembers the occasion better than I do.

“When I came,” he wrote, “I remember you tasting the water first, before you’d let the horses drink (which impressed grandfather very much). Somehow, through all of that I must have impressed you because you offered me a job. Lil’ ole skinny me.”

Yes, I remember. I remember wondering how a kid too young to drive would ever figure out how to get out to our farm in the country to go to work for us – especially from a neighborhood that was pretty much segregated and gripped with poverty. It was a safe offer on my part and a nice gesture; however, it was not realistically a job offer.

Yet, but come hell or high water, he showed up again and again, day after day and lifted heavy bales of hay out of the field and threw them up on the hay wagon and then helped us empty them into the hot, hot hay barn. He mucked out many a horse stall and never complained. The broad smile he must have been born with never left his face. His white teeth glistened in his dark face and big pearls of sweat sparkled on his forehead.

“Charlie, I’m not sure if I ever told you this but that day you offered me a job and the years working with you changed my life! For real. I will always appreciate what you did for me and what you were willing to do for me.”

He was such a boy then. He had no business working so hard, but he loved it. He had to start out so early in the morning to get here. He could only get a bus to within about 10 miles of our place, but I was so impressed that he was willing to make the effort that I would drive to the last stop on the bus line to pick him up every morning and bring him to the farm. At the end of the day I’d take him back to that spot and he’d take the long bus ride back into the city (and I’m betting he was smiling all the way).

One evening our work took us way past the time for the last bus. A storm was approaching and we had beautiful hay bales in the field. They had to be loaded on racks, and then unloaded into the barn, and then the racks needed to be taken back to the fields for reloading. The work went on long after dark and long after the last bus left for the city, but we finished before the rain came and that put a big smile on my wife’s face.

We told our young worker that he’d need to spend the night, but that we had plenty of room. We showed him where to shower and got him something from one of our boys for him to sleep in. We cooked up some good beef steaks and sat on a screened porch and watched the rain pass through. When it cleared, the evening had that fresh washed smell you often get in the countryside. It would be a good night for sleep. We put our young friend in the guest room and opened the windows so he could experience the clean, fresh air of the evening.

I know we slept well and we thought he would too; but in the morning we inquired about his sleep. It wasn’t good he told us. There were too many strange, unknown noises – the hooting and screeching of owls, the occasional howls of the coyotes off in the distance, and chattering of the raccoons that came out in the dark of night. He’d heard our burrow bellowing out his loud hee-haw and so too the sound of the horses galloping in the darkness. A cacophony of bird chirping and singing greeted him when the sun began to rise.

“Didn’t sleep,” he told us. It was all too frightening for him. His tired face convinced us it was true. He had missed the whaling of sirens in the city and the screeching of cars rounding the corner outside his house. He didn’t like night in the country.

We’ve laughed about that so many times when we’ve laid in bed listening to the wonderful sounds of the country.

“I just can’t say enough of how much I appreciate you trusting me and letting me work on your farm. Not many people have done what you have done for me. I’m forever in your debt. I really don’t care what you say either.”

He has a daughter now. He calls her Hayleigh Jo. She’s seven and lives in South Carolina, waiting for her dad to come home from Afghanistan.

“She just graduated from second grade with all A’s and B’s. I’m so very proud of her!”

Well, I want to meet Hayleigh Jo some day and tell her what a wonderful dad she has. I’ll tell her, too, that he’s afraid of the dark – at least the darkness out here in the countryside.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Apple of my Eye

There is no better face-to-face retail operation in America than the Apple Store!
by Charlie Leck

In a blog a week or so ago I told you about my tendency to quickly ruin expensive toys – and said that it would be better to stick to the lower priced items that I wouldn’t feel so bad about ruining [read the blog here if you’re interested]. I told you about my Apple iPhone getting run through the washing machine lately and about dropping, on its absolute face on a stone-tiled floor, my Apple iPad2 on the very first day I owned it.

Well, thanks to a buddy who helped me get there (I’m still hobbling with this very new hip), on Tuesday I paid a visit to the incredibly beautiful Apple Store in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. This friend had grown pretty tired of not being able to reach me on the phone and not getting his text messages through to me.

Well, when I saw the new store my sox were knocked right off my feet. Oh, my! What a beautiful place.

And, like other Apple Store locations, you are greeted very promptly when you walk through the door and by knowledgeable, friendly and perfectly cheerful clerks who stand ready to help. I told them my woeful tale about my iPhone and my iPad2. They suggested an appointment at the Genius Bar (which is a helluva genius idea all in all).

I took their suggested appointment and that left us plenty of time to have a friendly and cheery lunch. My buddy took me and another friend to the Blackbird CafĂ© out south on Nicollet Avenue. Great place! It gets nothing but raves from me. I recommend it heartily. I feel so behind the times in this great city now that I live so far out in the country. I wish I could get into the city more often – especially in great weather like we’ve had this week.

We drove around south Minneapolis and the guys pointed out a half dozen wonderful new places to eat -- cozy, small and happy looking places.

We got back to the Apple Store just in time for my appointment. A very polite and cheerful “genius” looked over both my iPhone and my iPad2.

“You purchased an Apple Care package on both of them,” he announced with a broad smile on his face.

“Really,” I said. “And what does that mean?”

“I can replace them both for you at no charge,” he said. “And, I’ll get them both set up for you so all you have to do is plug them into your computer and Apple’s iTunes Store will restore all your old information, like your contact lists and your calendar.”

“No charge?” Asked I.

“None,” he said. “Just give me about 10 or 15 minutes.”

As he worked, clearing my old, broken gadgets of any information I might have had on them, and getting my new items all ready to go, he joked merrily with me and whistled a happy tune. His flingers flew as the extremities of a tech genius should. Tap! Tap! Tap! Yuk! Yuk! Yuk! And he was finished.

“You’ve still got a year left on your Apple Care package,” he said, “but don’t put these through a washing machine again. I was stretching our coverage a bit to replace them for you. Won’t be able to do that again!”

Geez, I wanted to give him a hug.

While my friends waited for me, they had a zillion gadgets to play with and they got all the attention they needed or wanted from a dozen or so techie-clerks who wandered around in the store.

Up and down the aisles of the store I saw happy, pleased and excited customers. They were being helped the old fashioned way in this store – patiently, merrily and smartly. There is no retail operation in America like the Apple Store. They believe in excellence in their products and in their service. Wow!

How I wish all my computers and peripherals were Apple products! It would be tough to change now, but I can dream – can’t I?

My old man, who believed in top-notch service in the retail business, would be very pleased with Apple. He’d rate them A+ and that’s the best compliment I can pay them.

Thanks, Apple!

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Newt’s Foot-in-Mouth Disease

I no sooner said it than he did it!
by Charlie Leck

In my blog yesterday about the 3 hottest potential GOP presidential candidates, I wrote about Newt Gingrich’s tendency to put his foot in his mouth – about his gaff potential…

“One of Gingrich’s weaknesses is his real gaff-potential. He does make mistakes and say dumb things – as does almost anyone who runs so hard and fast at the mouth.”

Well, no sooner had I said it than Newt Gingrich went and did it. Actually, he did it last Sunday on Meet the Press, but it only became hot news for the talking heads yesterday. Gingrich criticized portions of a budget plan that Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has been promoting vigorously lately. Ryan’s response was to say: “Who needs Democrats when you’ve got Republicans like that?”

Ryan’s plan also called for a restructuring of Medicare. Gingrich indicated Ryan’s ideas were “right-wing social engineering.” If you want to read a transcript of the Meet the Press interview you’ll find it here.

As blogger, Jennifer Rubin, who posts Right Turn on the Washington Post website said: “There is no trip wire between whatever notion pops into his mind and his mouth.” [Read her entire post!]

Newt did himself enough damage with his comments that he also knifed a third of my predictive power right in its heart.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

GOP Presidential Candidate


Here’s my prediction for the 2012 Presidential Race
by Charlie Leck

It’s a long way out to be making predictions about the final candidates for the Republican nomination for President, but (what the hell) it’s great fun to take a run at it. You can put this blog away somewhere safe and pull it out again next summer, after the Republican Convention, and whop me over the head with it if you like.

There are three possible final candidates as far as I’m concerned. One of them makes me tremble. One makes me yawn. The other could actually be a pretty damned good President.

Newt Gingrich
makes me tremble. This guy is a brilliant George W. Bush. He constantly runs at the mouth, but with a touch of brilliance in his oratory. I think Gingrich has a strong touch of the libertarian in him. Programs that protect the poor and the elderly would suffer under him. He frightens me because he has raised an enormous amount of money for his effort and he has the ability to raise an awful lot more. When the Koch brothers alone are hinting that they’ll throw far more than 50 million corporate dollars into this campaign (thanks again, Supreme Court), you just know they wouldn’t mind putting it behind a guy like Gingrich. Gingrich could win an election. His weakness will be his personal life. Remember how harsh he was on Bill Clinton for having a number of sexual dalliances while in office. Well, Newt was carrying on in a big way himself – at the very time he was so harshly attacking the President. However, America has changed a great deal in the last generation and this kind of stuff doesn’t seem to affect the voter as much anymore. One of Gingrich’s weaknesses is his real gaff-potential. He does make mistakes and say dumb things – as does almost anyone who runs so hard and fast at the mouth. There would be a stark, detailed difference between the presidential candidates if Gingrich is in the race. The people would have a real choice to make and the Democrats would have a good chance of winning.

Richard Cohen, opining in Washington Post (May16) really nails Gingrich on his tendency to hyperbolize and out-right fib:

“This core dishonesty is what separates Gingrich from the rest of the Republican presidential candidates, committed or not-quite-yet. Some of the others say things that are untrue — Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” for instance — but these untruths spill out of the mouths of ditzes. Not so with Gingrich. He is a former history professor with a doctorate, someone who knows his way around the stacks. He talks in neon, using gaudy words such as socialism not because they’re true but because they’re ear-catching. He employs the ugly language of demagoguery not because he is oblivious to its history but on account of it. He mimics. He was, however, brilliantly original in explaining to the Christian Broadcasting Network why he had committed adultery. It had to do with “how passionately I felt about this country” — a genuine contribution to the annals of sexual fibbery.”

Political candidates these days seem to get away with such chicanery, however. Lying has become a part of the political campaign routine.

Cohen explains exactly why I tremble at the thought of Gingrich being President.

“There is more than a little Richard Nixon in Gingrich — the same lack of place, the same keen intellect, the same petty fights and imaginary enemies, the same hallucinatory grievances, the same willingness to lie, exaggerate and smear. On a given day, Newt Gingrich could be a brilliant president. On any night, he could be a monster.”

Mitt Romney
puts me absolutely to sleep. I guess he’s not a bad guy. He’s more moderate and closer to the middle of the road than Gingrich for sure, but he’s simply as boring as all-get-out. He’s loaded with personal money and he’ll be able to raise a significant amount of other money also. I think he would be a less vicious opponent for Obama than Gingrich. Romney is more of a statesman and more diplomatic. I’d be surprised if the GOP, in the end, gives him the nod just because he’s so damned boring.

Lots of people think Romney should apologize for signing into law in Massachusetts a health care bill after which the national health care law was patterned under Obama. To Romney’s credit, he wouldn’t do it.

“I presume that a lot of folks would think that if I did that [apologize] it would be good for me politically. There’s only one problem with that. It wouldn’t be honest. I did what I think was right for the people of my state.”

Romney seems like a decent guy – boring, but decent.

Mitch Daniels
would make the best President of these three. Daniels has a lot of the same statesman-like characteristics that Romney has, but not in such a boring way. Daniels actually has a strong wit and very subtle sense of humor. He knows how to laugh at himself. He also knows himself. He’s a strong, intellectual conservative. He’s thoughtful enough to listen to the opposition and he’s flexible enough to occasionally compromise on issues. He’s not an exciting orator, but he’s a solid, thoughtful speaker. He’ll be tough in debates. Money would not be a problem.

As conservative writer Reihan Salam said…

“I can’t help but think that a common-sense conservative like Daniels would be the perfect match for Obama.”

Daniels is only 5-7 (that’s in significant heels) and he appears a bit unsure of himself in mannerisms. He is balding and it appears he tries to hide it with a funny combing job. He couldn’t ever be called charismatic. Yet, he has a strong sense of confidence and he’s extremely bright. He speaks with confidence and he speaks well. He also has a record of significant achievement in government while running Indiana.

The Indiana Governor has been clear on some things the federal government should do – like raising the retirement age, reducing Social Security for the rich and rethinking our military expenditures and commitments. In Indiana he wanted to raise taxes on those making more than $100,000 but his own party wouldn’t go along.

Daniels is the darling of many of the GOP’s wealthiest backers. In the end, I don’t think Romney or Gingrich would beat Obama. Daniels might! He’s undecided about running, but, if he does get in the race, he’s my prediction as Obama’s opponent. And, he’ll be a tough opponent. He’ll also be an honest one and there will be real and meaningful debate.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paul Simon sings Duncan


Well, a lot of you enjoyed the video on yesterday’s blog as much as I did and that makes me feel just great!
by Charlie Leck

Well, more than a dozen of you responded to yesterday’s blog by emails to me, asking about the lyrics of the Paul Simon song, Duncan. A quick google search would have brought them up for you, but, nice guy that I am, I publish them here for you. I’m glad so many of you liked the blog and had a good time with it. I’ve watched that video a dozen times now.

Couple in the next room

Bound to win a prize

They've been going at it all night long

Well, I'm trying to get some sleep

But these motel walls are cheap

Lincoln Duncan is my name

And here's my song, here's my song.

My father was a fisherman

My mama was the fisherman's friend

And I was born in the boredom

And the chowder

So when I reached my prime

I left my home in the Maritimes

Headed down the turnpike for

New England, sweet New England

Holes In my confidence

Holes In the knees of my jeans

I was left without a penny in my pocket

Oo-we I was about destituted

As a kid could be

And I wished I wore a ring

So I could hock it, I'd like to hock it.

A young girl in a parking lot

Was preaching to a crowd

Singing sacred songs and reading

From the Bible

Well, I told her I was lost

And she told me all about the Pentecost

And I seen that girl as the road

To my survival

Just later on the very same night

When I crept to her tent with a flashlight

And my long years of innocence ended

Well, she took me to the woods

Saying here comes something and it feels so good

And just like a dog I was befriended, I was befriended.

Oh, oh, what a night

Oh what a garden of delight

Even now that sweet memory lingers

I was playing my guitar

Lying underneath the stars

Just thanking the Lord

For my fingers,

For my fingers

If you want to hear Paul Simon sing Duncan as it was originally recorded on his first solo album, take a look (listen) to this video…

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