Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Do Dynasties Rule America?

The family business is going gangbusters in the US. No sooner do
republicans have a presidential candidate than they've got sons and
daughters coming down the track. Have we seen this phenomenon before
in American history?  Adams, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Bush clans are
the most famous, and they're not done. But what happened to Carter,
LBJ, and Nixon? Shouldn't their daughters be running for something?

While the American family as a traditional unit has fallen on
extremely hard times, and the family farm, too, has virtually
surrendered to corporate America, the secret to keeping a family
together here appears to be: Run for office! Drag the kids along! Get
the spouse in on the act--if s/he can wear designer clothes but not
like a Kardashian. Multiple marriages just mean more kids and spouses
to add to the entourage.

Clinton's problem is that she has enough offspring and in-laws to
create a soap opera but not a basketball team. She didn't divorce
Bill, though, so now she's encumbered with a spouse whose legacy she
must defend, while he muddles along with his track record in the Oval
Office. If he had divorced Hillary, how many ex-wives would now be
endorsing Bill for the position of America's ambassador to the United

Maybe the cartoon Adams Family created the real American dream. They
lived in a haunted Victorian pile. They accepted their relatives'
flaws as entertainment. They never divorced because who else could
manage their kids' careers? Cousin It handled their communications
systems, and Uncle Festor could always be counted on to relieve
boredom. "Swanky is as swanky does" could have been their campaign

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hillary Is No Wrestler

This point is fact: For months, Hillary Clinton evaded competition. What was she doing while the republican candidates snarled and circled--having her nails and hair done? In sports, if a competitor doesn't show up, s/he's OUT! This observation especially applies to wrestling. Whether a competitor participates in professional, Olympic, or amateur wrestling, that athlete must get into the ring before he can be thrown OUT. Refusing to compete is a major fault. It suggests cowardice, lack of readiness, procrastination, and/or tardiness.

It doesn't matter if Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the DNC chair, plotted a strategy to favor Hillary over other democrat candidates. Wrestling is merciless in shining a spotlight on the individual. If s/he doesn't show up, fans see a big empty space. Immediately, frustrated fans get restless, just as they did waiting for Ray Charles, who was notorious for lateness, too. If a late competitor does show up eventually, then fans expect a performance which justifies their investment of time and anticipation: They demand the most outstanding exercise of skill, finesse, and even elegance in hoisting the opponent and whipsawing him/her outta that ring!

So, with a limited schedule of matches, Hillary looked like a loser BEFORE she ever made a visible move. When she finally did appear smiling and waving to a crowd--or at carefully arranged sit-downs with a few friendly souls--she looked like the girl who'd arrived at the prom without her date. Her smile was forced; her corsage had wilted. No one could quite remember what the fuss was about. Wrestlers don't behave this way, if they plan on winning anything--and Donald Trump has not participated in World Wrestling Entertainment for years without learning something.

The Donald takes care to move like a heavyweight. He plants his feet. He signals briefly with sharp hands to security or assistants. Whether he's entering or exiting an event, he is accompanied by a sturdy crew. His words are sharp, too, like hand chops. "Lying Ted!" he jabs. "Crooked Hillary!" he jabs again. His phrases are short, so no one can forget them. He eschews complexity for a crowd that's longing to boo and rave. He courts the spotlight because that's where the wrestler always is. His behavior speaks volumes, and voters get the message: The medium IS the message, said Marshall McLuhan.

It is not accidental that the business world is littered with former athletes. They come renowned for perseverance, teamwork, and a competitive spirit. They show up not only because it's expected, but because they live to win. Before anyone protests that everyone's a winner one way or another, consider how it felt to lose four Americans in Benghazi. Consider, too, how it felt to see the opposition retake Fallujah after American lives had been lost so memorably there. Do Americans want to spend another four years whining and complaining? Or do they just want to see the US get back into the ring?

                                                                    *   *   *

For more complaints, see also Borchers, Callum. "Why Hillary Clinton should go on Fox News again." The Washington Post. <

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Three Priceless Aids to Education

How can a parent set a child on the road to genius status? The most important choices cost nothing. Nevertheless, they will determine success or failure in that child's record.

1. Socialization begins with awareness that a child needs to pay attention to fundamentals. Thus, a parent needs to direct a child's attention to priorities: Is that child looking up, ready to learn, or is that child dragging around a bag of candy, intent only on a sugar fix?

2. Readiness to learn appears the second that children open their mouths. Are their favorite words obscenities, slurs, and baby talk? Or have they mastered those signals of constructive interaction with the rest of society: Hello? Please? Thank you!

3. By the age of three, if not before, does a child understand that a cardinal role in learning requires listening to instructions, following warnings, and rejoicing in rewards for cooperation with adults? Or does that child dash into traffic, screaming, "I wanna play!"

Teachers know what a child has been doing since birth from the first moment of encounter. Does the teacher's lesson result in love at first sight, or get me the heck out of here? Make constructive learning fun, and then throw a great party for parents who love their kids into life!

Bringing up a Baby Basset

My twelve week-old basset hound puppy climbed into my lap today. He needed a boost because he's two feet long but only about eight inches high. 

He looks like an El Greco painting as he snoops his long nose up my arm. The closer he comes, the longer his nose appears. Then he stabs me with those luminous eyes: brown as dark opals and gleaming like pearls.

He makes me realize what El Greco does: that artist extends arms, robes, and flames like an intake or sigh of breath which simply escapes intention. He draws our eyes up, and then he closes them. From his perspective, everything is too long, and we don't care. We just want this vision to continue like mist rising with dawn.

For the first time, my new dog came to me just to snuggle. He lapped his ears over my knees. He pressed his colossal feet against my arms. He kept juggling his back legs until I offered a corner of my chair. Then, he slid his head slyly so he could look me in the eye sideways: I'm happy here, he announced in his elongated language.

I had to slide him down from his perch, of course, to take another puppy trek around the lawn. Then, he could contain himself no longer. In true basset fashion, he leapt in every direction, and completed two flips, I am sure. He actually chose me as a playmate today, over his collection of toys.

Now, the only question is this: How will I juggle him on my lap when he is five feet long and weighs seventy pounds? Since he's so sly, and I am so curious, we'll have about a year to find out. By then, maybe El Greco will supply the answer.