On The Wings of an Eagle*

golden-eagle

Golden Eagle in Flight

We Dare to Dream Again of Friendly Skies As We Give Thanks

Okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write a blog about what I’m thankful for. A Charlie Brown blog, if you will. I debated whether or not this subject matter would be too trite, too overdone in the blogging world, but then I decided that my cynicism would prevail, especially in light of my recent entries, which admittedly, have been a tad on the nostalgic side. I’ve decided to write about unlikely things for which we, as in the collective we, can be grateful, in spite of the dire times we seem to be facing.

Here goes:

  • The nation’s first president of color, a man of incredible presence, intelligence, and insight. I can only hope that the fates are good to him and surround him with good karma. If he runs his presidency with just one half of the calm, executive demeanor that surrounded his campaign, then there is hope that his White House will never be likened to a college fraternity without any adult supervision.
  • A new administration, one headed by a president who won’t mangle the English language. No matter what your political leanings are, you have to be grateful for a man who is articulate
  • An apparent real goal for an end to the Iraqi war, or at least a major draw down of troops in that country, even if it means that we will have an increase of troops in another country
  • An attempt to provide access to some kind of health insurance for everyone in the country, even if it takes a couple of years. Hillary Rodham Clinton first attempted this during Clinton’s first term in office and was roundly criticized for not sticking to her role as first lady. After that aborted attempt, nothing has ever been done nationally until now.
  • A chance to regain our status in the world as a nation that can be respected as a leader
  • A chance to turn our economy around and stop the practice of “Trickle Down Economics.” The plan, of course, was that everything would trickle down in an equitable manner. Um, so sorry, but WRONG. When Ronald Reagan took office, our country could be described as a diamond, with most of the country falling in the middle of the socio-economic ladder. What we have now is an hourglass, with almost no middle class, an upper class and a very bottom-heavy lower socio-economic part of the ladder. Anyone who tells you that America is a class-less society is still in their naive idealistic phase.
  • A commitment by an administration and apparently a nation to harness alternative energy and preserve resources. A long overdue wake-up call has finally been answered, and more and more people are doing what they can, in big ways and in small, to help the environment. As someone who has been recycling for over almost two decades, it is refreshing to see the changes all around. I don’t care if it’s trendy, as long as it makes an impact.
  • More awareness of post traumatic stress disorder as a real problem with far-reaching issues that can affect people for years
  • The fact that Sarah Palin and her family are back in Alaska, at least for most of the time, but the governator still can’t seem to find enough work to do as governor, so she hits the road every other week.
  • A big win in the House and Senate, but the pressure is on to deliver. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility Spider Man.
  • Law & Order, the original, is back on Wednesday nights.
  • Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC is kicking butt big time.
  • Virginia went blue for the first time since 1964, and Thelma Drake lost her seat in Congress to newcomer Glenn Nye thanks in large part to a grassroots effort.
  • The first amendment allows people like me to write things like this whenever I want, which still makes this the best country in the world in which to live.
  • colorado20river20from20deadhorse20point
    The Colorado River from Deadhorse Point
  • With any luck, President-elect Obama will be able to reverse some of the more egregious laws that Bush has signed into law, in particular, those that allow drilling near state parks in Utah and Colorado, and those that ease pollution laws. Because after all, it would be nice to leave a legacy to our children, you know, something like majestic trees, clean rivers, the Grand Canyon, some Golden Eagles, and maybe some uranium-free land. Or maybe I’m being naive and full of youthful idealism in spite of my age.
  • And finally, with any luck, the next few years we will see some glimpses of that hope we held onto so tightly when we stood in line to get into those rallies. When we stood at those rallies waiting to hear the words we needed to hear. When we heard those words of hope and better days and we actually allowed ourselves to dare to believe, even when our cynical hearts did not want to. Yes, we can dare to hope. Yes, we will believe.

These are the things that I am thankful for as an American this Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’ll write about what I’m thankful for personally later, or maybe not. But it’s nice to think that maybe this time next year, there will be a change a coming.

Peace be with you.

*On the Wings of an Eagle, song by John Denver
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Remnants: Hillary, Karma, and Rick Rolling?

If It’s Friday, It Must Be Leftovers

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton? You Betcha

The Obama Campaign was renowned for its lack of leaking. Reporters bemoaned their inability to penetrate what was dubbed the tightest campaign ship in history, especially in comparison to the leaky frigate U.S.S. McCain, from which new leaks sprung hourly. Hence the surprise over the leaks that have come from the President-elect’s camp since the election: his choice of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff, and now the word that Hillary Clinton is being eyed for Secretary of State, a position that is much coveted by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Would Clinton be effective in the position? She is already widely recognized by world leaders and is on a first-name basis with many of them. She is a tough negotiator, articulate, and well-schooled in foreign policy. In fact, Clinton’s foreign policy experience was often thought to be superior to Obama’s during the campaign, and many thought that it would be the one thing that would trip up the junior senator from Illinois. There is no doubt that Clinton is qualified. 

She has already made the trip to Chicago. The big question now is whether or not she would accept. The bigger question is whether or not it would fit in with her larger plans because there is no doubt that Senator Clinton, in her indubitable wisdom, has bigger plans.

My Son Would Be So Proud

I have admitted to being an avid “Rachel Maddow” fan, so you will imagine my surprise when her “Just Enough” segment featured her being RickRolled! My youngest son finds this pasttime hilarious for some reason, and every member of the family has been RickRolled at least twice. He hides the link behind other links so that you never know when you are going to hear that obnoxious song.

For those of you lucky enough never to have had this experience, being RickRolled is a prank involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The person RickRolling you provides a web link that they claim is relevant to a topic you might be interested in and sends it to you in an e-mail, or posts it on their MySpace, but the link actually takes you to the Astley video.

I’m sure that neither Maddow nor her “Just Enough” segment companion Kent Jones planned the RickRoll, but it was priceless nevertheless. I can’t wait to show my son. He’ll love it.

 

Obama Roll/Rick Roll (not the one on Rachel Maddow Show)

 

Don’t Drink This Wine. Savor It.

Remember Michael Vick? How could you not? After all, what a fine specimen of a human being he is, taking all of that NFL fame and fortune, buying a bunch of dogs, a large house, 15 acres of land, and living a life of quiet leisure in the off-season. No wait. That wasn’t Michael Vick, was it? Oh Michael Vick, that sleazoid who thought it would be really cool to buy a bunch of dogs and train them to rip the flesh of each other while a bunch of other sleazoids bet money on which dog would die first. That Michael Vick? Well this section isn’t actually about him. It’s about the dogs.

Seems that the dogs who were saved from said sleazoid had a piece written about them by AP news and featured on “Today.” The dogs have been undergoing retraining and rehabilitation at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. One of the founders of the sanctuary, artist Cyrus Mejia, began painting the dogs after they arrived. The portraits have captured the dogs souls, not their pain.  And Matt Hahn, co-owner of Carivintas Winery, decided to combine the art with his wine. And voilà: The Vicktory Dogs Wine Collection, which features colorful portraits of the 22 dogs confiscated from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.

Each bottle includes a portrait of one of the dogs on the front, and a brief story about the dog on the back. The entire set includes 22 bottles and two others commemorating Best Friends’ 25th anniversary, and costs $672. The set can be split, and each half sells for $380. Individual bottles are $40. Ten percent of each sale goes to Best Friends. The money will be used to oppose dog fighting and to fight laws targeted against specific breeds of dogs.

What a great ending to what began as a portrait of a man with too much money and time and not enough humanity and heart. In the end, the dogs won, and not in the way that Vick had planned for them. He’s sitting in jail eating macaroni, and the dogs’ visages are gracing the labels of fine wine. Karma is a good thing.

More later. Peace.

And Now For Something Totally Different

At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner

It was a refreshing things to see: John McCain in white tie and tails, getting big laughs at his own and Barack Obama’s expense at the Alfred E. Smith Foundation Memorial Dinner. The dinner, which is traditionally held a few weeks before a presidential election, honors former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated for president of a major political party. The event, which raises money for charity (this year $3.9 million to help underprivileged children), has but one requirement of its speakers: that they be funny, both both Senators delivered with self-deprecating humor as well as jabs at other politicos, including Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Senator John McCain Get Big Laughs

McCain spoke first, and actually, I think that his delivery may have been better than Obama’s. After all, he’s had more practice on the late night circuit, and he knows how to time his punch lines better. One of my favorite lines from McCain’s 15 minutes:

McCain joked that because he and Obama are friends, he has a nickname for him: “I just call him ‘that one,'” a reference to an awkward moment in the second debate, but McCain went on by saying that Senator Obama has a pet name for him as well: “He calls me George Bush.”

Senator Obama and Alfred E. Neuman’s Ears

I particularly liked Obama’s opening line: “I feel right at home here because it’s often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Newman.” If you don’t know who Alfred E. Newman is, you are too young to be reading this blog.

Obama is one of those people who likes to tee hee at his own jokes. It’s an endearing quality, but it makes him less effective than McCain as far as the deadpan delivery. I did, however, love this line: “I got my middle name Hussein from somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president.” And then he quipped that his middle name was actually Steve.

The Guy in the Third Row

Did anyone notice the guy behind the speakers who just kept eating throughout the whole thing, seemingly oblivious to the cameras? No one was going to keep him from his chocolate torte? Now there’s a man after my own heart. Candidates? What? This is damned good chocolate. Cardinal Egan, are you going to eat yours?

Wish I’d Been There

Political humor done well is truly an art form. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are just two of the more skilled pundits who deliver on this kind of lampooning in the media today. Rachel Maddow is particularly skilled at political wit and repartee (which she more than proved in her face off with half wit David Frum), and Keith Olbermann has an acutely ascerbic bite to his commentaries of which I am probably overly fawning. So to watch these two adversaries put aside their campaigns for one evening and come together on one stage to trade quips for the evening at a white-tie, charitable affair was more than worth the interruption of the Rachell Maddow Show, and actually more interesting than Debate #3. As a matter of fact, this half an hour of television would probably have drawn more viewers and done the McCain campaign more good than the debate.

Never mind.