Thursday, December 10, 2009

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Maggot

It occurs to me as I watch the ever-weirder and increasingly-uncomfortable details of the Tiger saga emerge that we are - as a society - getting a bit of our own just rewards. What really sparked this thought was the news of a new book coming out in February revealing all of the sordid details of the John Edwards affair.

So why are we getting what we deserve? Well, to be clear, I should start by saying it isn't ENTIRELY our fault. Just as it isn't ENTIRELY an alcoholic's fault for falling off the wagon, even as his friends drag him into a beer-pong tournament.

What we've learned in the last few days is simple: Tiger Woods is a whiny, foul-mouthed, skirt-chasing malcontent. He also happens to be the greatest golfer ever to live, and herein lies the problem for us. We've been lulled into believing that Tiger Woods is everything we want our kids to be, when in fact none of us knows ANYTHING about him besides 1) what we see on the golf course, and 2) what sponsored TV ads tell us. I call this parenting by Buick. Remember the “Be Like Mike” campaign? Seriously?

The same problem applies - though in a more subtle and complex way - to our elected officials. However, the consequences for us are MUCH worse. Ironically, as media scrutiny has gotten tougher and more pervasive, one could argue the professional quality of those who are left standing in the race for elected office has declined; I mean seriously, what upstanding civically-minded do-gooder would want to subject his or her family to the rabid voyeuristic feeding frenzy of the mass media and 24 hour news cycle?

What modern media and its pursuit of the hottest news story HAS left us is a bunch of people, of varying moral fiber, who are unable to do what we most need them to because they must spend their time worrying about doing the things that WE all do without fear of public scrutiny (and embarrassment). Which is a damn shame, because some of the smartest, most talented, decent people in the world have every reason to NOT run for office, in many cases leaving us with, well, just read a newspaper and fill in the blank.

That isn't to say everyone who runs for office is a dirtbag. I personally know that many of the people who run for elected office are decent, intelligent, hard working patriots. But all too often, the human foibles that we are all guilty of, such as vanity, hardheadedness, even infidelity, somehow become benchmarks, measuring sticks, for how we evaluate our elected officials. If I wanted a paragon of moral virtue to be my elected Member of Congress, I would vote for my rabbi, your priest, perhaps even your grandmother. But what I WANT from my elected officials is an acute mind, a dedication to public service, and a willingness to make tough decisions in the face of terrifying policy choices. Why is that so terrible?

Now, when we evaluate our sports heroes to a lofty position of “virtuous role model,” that just makes us look foolish. But when we do that to the people we choose to make and execute laws, that just makes us stupid. These are lawyers, doctors, travelling salesmen, even pest control experts. But their JOB is to make laws. That's all.

So whether it's Tiger Woods or John Edwards or any other well-known celebrity-type figure, it's high time that we take a little responsibility for the culture we ourselves have created and enabled, one that holds people to a set of standards that have very little to do with what they SHOULD be focused on, and reevaluate what is truly important. As a parent, my job is to teach my children what is right and wrong, how to be a good neighbor and good citizen. That isn't something I want to leave up to Tiger Woods, nor to John Edwards. But as long as we allow our media-mad society to put others in a role that we ourselves should fill, we will continue to suffer by our own hands.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mike Signer for Lt. Governor, Virginia

Yet another attempt to revive the blog....

SO I have decided to throw my support toward a candidate in a state in which I do not live. That's right. I actually don't even TRAVEL to Virginia because it's a pain in the butt for me to get there.

But there's this guy named Mike Signer. He's really, really smart. And committed to making the world a better place. I really believe that. And so I'm trying to get involved in his race. Here's my shpiel:

I am, along with members of Foreign Policy Professionals for Obama, hosting a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate for Virginia Lt Gov, under the theme of the importance of electing foreign policy/national security progressives to state-level office because today’s state legislator is tomorrow’s Member of Congress!

Mike Signer was a foreign policy advisor to John Edwards during the last Presidential campaign, speaking frequently and passionately about the importance of how America engages the world. Mike also has a very strong background on Homeland Security; he was deputy counselor to former Governor Warner on Homeland Security and National Guard policy. He also served as senior policy advisor and director of the Homeland Security Presidential Transition Initiative at the Center for American Progress, and is a principal at the Truman National Security Project.

The event will be the evening of June 1 on the rooftop terrace of the Universal South building at 1825 Connecticut Ave, and we are asking for donations of $100, $250, or $500. Larry Korb and Rudy deLeon will be speaking, along with the candidate.

If you would like to be a part of this, please email me at jboxt1@gmail-dot-com, and donate to the campaign using my name, either directly (, or through me (which I wouldn't mind at all!) by going to Paypal and paying my email address.

If you are in the DC area and would like to come, I think that would be great!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

One month, three days

Is it me, or is the fact that baseball is the most vulnerable that I've ever seen it an attractive thing? I'm actually looking forward to the baseball season this year - mostly because I want to see how the league reacts en masse to the whole steroids scandal. Will players totally drop the juice, and see their stats decline as well? Will there be a new, breakout player who is clearly juice-free? Will an oldie but a goodie step up and blow folks away?

And this year's Nationals have all the feel of the Cleveland Indians in "Major Leagues" to me.

I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey Dems: Do The Right Thing

It seems to me that the following story is an example of how NOT to conduct Congressional business in an era - real or merely proclaimed - of bipartisanship, not to mention fiscal responsibility and economic hardship.

Fiscally-moderate Dems like myself are likely to get a little peeved if this is the "new" status quo....

Blue Dogs Register Unease With Handling Of Omnibus Bill
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009
by Humberto Sanchez and Christian Bourge

In a sign of possible intraparty tensions to come, some members of the Blue Dog Coalition today raised objections to the $410 billion omnibus spending bill that House appropriators are trying to pass by week's end. As the House began debate, Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., raised a point of order arguing that the package likely contains unfunded mandates in violation of House rules. He said House members had less than 48 hours to vet the bill's 9,000 earmarks and therefore cannot know all that is in the bill. "We have to pile through ... to see if there might be anything untoward," he said. Although the House overruled Flake's point of order, 234-177, eight Democrats joined Republicans to express their qualms with the handling of the bill incluing four Blue Dogs. Reps. Allen Boyd of Florida and Dennis Cardoza of California were seen huddling with Majority Leader Hoyer on the floor, and Boyd later voted with Flake. He told CongressDaily the two were discussing the need for regular order, which Boyd considers necessary because changes were made without full debate. "There is not any issue that wouldn't be resolved by regular order," said Boyd. Other Blue Dogs who sided with Flake included Reps. Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Gene Taylor of Mississippi.

The House proceeded to consider a rule for passing the omnibus, which would complete appropriations for FY09. The rule passed, 398-24. The bill includes a provision canceling an automatic cost of living increase scheduled in FY10 for members of Congress. During debate on the rule, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey said Congress must pass the bill to ensure that the federal agencies have the needed resources to carry out the provisions in the $787 billion stimulus package. "It provides the base funding for programs that are funded in the recovery act, without which the additional recovery funding could not succeed," Obey said. "The bill also funds numerous critical programs not funded in the recovery act. We only touched about 25 percent of government accounts in the recovery act." He and other Democrats argued former President George W. Bush was responsible for delaying FY09 appropriations work because he refused to negotiate with Democrats unless they cut spending to his requested levels. House Republicans questioned the need for the omnibus package in light of the recent passage of the stimulus plan. House Republican leaders have called on Democrats to implement a spending freeze and extend the CR, which funds the programs covered under the nine bills at FY08 levels.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Signaling a Change.

It is incredible to me to that in the state of Maryland, one of the most intelligent states in the union (a point that is backed up by data), there is no law that mandates the use of turn signals while changing lanes.

(I should now immediately apologize to the thousands of people I have yelled at in the last eight years. My old friend Andy coined this phrase, one that I have since used liberally: "Blinkers aren't optional (expletive)!! Itslaw!!")

It is even MORE incredible to me that there are OPPONENTS of this soon-to-be-law in Maryland. Here's to YOU, Mister McDonough of Baltimore County: you care so much about the civil liberties of we Marylanders, that you would publicly, ON THE RECORD, oppose a new turn signal law lest police feel emboldened to pull us over under the GUISE of a turn signal infraction and, say, find dead bodies in our trunk.

For years I have posited that DC-area drivers are some of the worst in the country; I am comforted in knowing that legally speaking, we have an excuse.

At least for now.

One last name change.

I'm not inflexible, and I'm willing to change when a better option avails itself to me.

And so, thanks to Team CalTort for "The SoapBoxt."

Friday, February 20, 2009

20 Funny Things My Kids Do.

1) Pick their nose – in public and in private. They do it with such nonchalance – I’m sometimes a little jealous.
2) Eat dessert midway through dinner. And then finish dinner. I can’t get my head around chocolate chip cookies and fish sticks.
3) Pee in their pants. Admit it – you wish you could sometimes.
4) Mimic their mother’s mannerisms.
5) Mimic their mother’s speaking habits.
6) Mimic their mother in general. Mini-Hers.
7) Have animated conversations with inanimate objects. It’s considerably less funny when I see adults doing that.
8) Wear their clothes backwards and/or inside out.
9) Every once in a while, Tahlia (my older girl) makes very adult observations – often more adult than most people I know.
10) Get lost on a bed with more stuffed animals than you can count (feel free to mentally reference Drew Barrymore in E.T.)
11) Watch the same movie time, after time, after time. On the same day.
12) Fart and then immediately say “Excuse me!” And then giggle uncontrollably.
13) Run with complete and reckless abandon. All elbows and knees.
14) When they meet someone new, they quickly turn and stick their heads between my knees, which might be the kids’ version of “home base.”
15) They lick their ice cream bowl. My two year old’s head practically disappears in the bowl, only to reappear, completely glazed over in a vanilla sheen.
16) They lie. Now, that might not sound funny, but since I know they’re doing it, it’s manageable. “Honey, did you wash your hands?” “Yes.” “Honey, did you wash your hands.” “I did! Really!” “Honey?” (She then turns around on a dime, and proceeds to march to the bathroom, with a sheepish grin on her face).
17) Lay their coats on the floor, upside down, in order to put them on. A feat of graceful physics.
18) Teeth-brushing is always a visual treat. The only thing funnier is when they run up to me and breathe directly in my face to prove they’ve done it correctly.
19) They laugh uncontrollably at physical humor. Fall down on your ass, and they’re in stitches for hours.
20) There are moments when they act like best friends, and sit for hours playing, hugging, and laughing. It isn’t particularly funny, but it always makes me smile.

Wait - you mean Israel was right?!?

Everyone who said Israel was rattling sabres (as if people use sabres anymore - really now) may have something new to think about.

What I want to know is this: do the same people believe that the Financial Times is now also under the woolen blanket of the Zionist-controlled media?

Or perhaps - PERHAPS - Israel has been right all along to be screaming bloody murder about the Iranians and their ultimate goals?

And more importantly - do we continue to poo-poo the Israelis, or do something to avoid a nuclear armageddon??

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gone Baby Gone

Finally - an upside to the economic crisis.

And the winner is....

The Sandboxt

Thank you all for playing! My pal Lauren down in Miami showed true inspiration.

Stay tuned for a new post soon!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Need a New Blog Name,

or "Please start acting your age."

My mother always used to tell me if I wanted to be taken seriously, I needed to stop wearing clothes that belonged on a ninth grader (I was in tenth grade at the time). Ok, that isn't entirely true, but the point is still valid: if you want to be taken seriously, you need to take yourself seriously. Not TOO seriously, mind you, but at least have a name that people aren't embarrassed to cite.

SO, in that spirit, I need a new blog name. Nothing too long, or too modern (spare me names with words like "tech" or "future" or any other word that implies I have an innate grasp of modern technology. Because I don't.)

But I would like to have a more serious name.

Winner (if there is one) gets the first ever "Guest Post."

Monday, February 16, 2009

De-Deifying the Deity

If 2008 was the Year of the Deity, than 2009 has certainly started off as the Year of De-Deification.

It should hardly seem surprising that a new President with an emboldened Democratic leadership should experience a few missteps upon donning the mantle of “World’s Most Powerful Man.” Heck, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t slip up a little in the face of such a daunting title. Add to that our nation’s greatest economic crisis (one could argue that’s a narrow view – this is a global thing), and you have the ingredients for some really nasty “welcome to the neighborhood” soup.

So then, why is it that people are surprised – nay, SHOCKED – that Barack Obama has had some slip ups, some goofs, some real Mulligan Moments since taking that historic oath one nearly month ago? I mean, it’s not like he’s the messiah now, right?


Somewhere along the way, and I’m not sure who started this, the idea got perpetrated that Barack Obama, if not the actual messiah, certainly had some messianic qualities about him. That somehow he of the foreign-sounding name could do no wrong, and that many smart people – smarter than me, at least – all bought into the con. That this guy, before setting foot one in the Oval Office, was the Greatest President of All Time.

Needless to say, what many people failed to predict (I’ll pat myself on the back here – I called this) was that the greatest obstacle to a President Obama – at least early on – would be a guy named Barry Obama. In an almost stunning sequence of embarrassments, the President’s veneer of infallibility was fairly ripped from his back, and suddenly the true man was revealed: a 47 year-old former State Senator from Chicago who on his first day in office had EXACTLY the same amount of Presidential experience as 43 people before him - NONE. And boy, did it show.

So, what does this mean for the future of democracy and of American greatness? Not much. In fact, I think in many ways Obama will be more likely to succeed in part BECAUSE of his early gaffes. In the game of setting expectations, I feel like Team Obama needed to get knocked down a couple of notches – if people think you’re the Son of God, you better be able to turn water into wine. Maybe now that people can see that this is just a guy from Chicago, with a wife and two kids, not much different than they are, maybe now he can get on with his business without the fear of failing to meet people’s expectations.

Because everyone makes mistakes. Even deities.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Welcome (me) Back!

Yes, yes, I know it's been several months now, and yes, yes, I know all of you missed me terribly.

I've decided to get back into the game, get back on the horse, give it the ol' college try, once again. My wife is tired of hearing me complain, and this is more productive than searching the web for cheap deals to Vegas.

So, starting in a day or two, I'll try to reengage in the debate, as it were; to provide some cunningly insightful, deeply moving and astonishingly profound thoughts on the state of the world, blah blah blah.

I'll use my Facebook page as an ongoing status update to the blog, so keep your eyes open and mind, well, open. Damn, I hate being redundant.

Until then, too-dah-loo.