Monday, June 27, 2011

If Nominated, I Will Not Notice

“Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said early Sunday that he would not become a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.....”
- The N. Y. Times - May 22, 2011

Mitch who? Oh, well, never mind. Given the ever-increasing number of declared non-candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, I felt that it was probably time for me to announce my intentions as well.
Despite the urging of virtually no one, I have decided not to enter my name for the Republican nomination. I regret the inconvenience my decision may have caused to my supporter but I have every reason to believe that he will get over it.
Some will say that I withdrew my name due to family considerations. Let me make this as clear as I possibly can. I am not withdrawing in order to spend more time with my family. In fact, if the truth be known, my wife and daughter were my two biggest fans and specifically asked that I spend less time with them. Sadly, their fondest wish will now go unfulfilled.
Others have speculated that certain closet-based skeletons and previously undisclosed personal scandals caused me to reconsider my position. Let me unequivocally refute that notion right now. Without commenting on my financial shortcomings and the several unfortunate animal-related allegations, I am proud of my record and would not be ashamed to discuss these matters publicly in a presidential campaign. Given today’s decision, however, such a discussion is not presently required.
Conjecture was rife (or perhaps rifeless) that I would not run due to my past political record. That is simply not true. There is nothing in my political record that I am ashamed of or that would cause me to withdraw my name from consideration. That is, of course, because there is nothing in my political record.
Initially I had thought that the Republican Party deserved a wide array of candidates for the upcoming nomination battle. Clearly there was no shortage of right-of-center candidates including those on the hard right, the ultra right and the just plain nutty right. But there was a definite lack of left-of-center potential nominees.
With that fact in mind, I was prepared to offer myself up as a candidate to appeal to that segment of the Party faithful. However, it turns out that there is not a great deal of demand for even a centrist candidate, much less a so-called liberal one. I have been advised that the Democratic Party also has no current need for nominees of that persuasion.
In the end, I decided to absent myself from the upcoming nomination race because I realized that there was already a wealth of qualified individuals. With sterling candidates like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich to choose from, there was no need to offer myself to the voters. I’m sure that one of those folks will make an acceptable Republican presidential nominee. At least that’s one thing Barack Obama and I can agree on.
In short, if nominated, I will not notice; if elected, I will not care.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Racing Canaries

This is an audio file which was slated for inclusion in a CD entitled "Writers' Block Party" but ultimately didn't make the final cut. A written version appeared in The Toronto Star a few years back. The MP3 icon will take you to the OverDrive site and the piece should start shortly after hitting the play arrow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

All in a Twitter

Washington is all in a Twitter about the latest sex scandal, this one involving Representative Anthony Weiner of New York. Weinergate tells us two things: (1) those who ignore the history of sex scandals are condemned to repeat it and (2) many male politicians are not too bright.

In the interests of avoiding future D. C. sexcapades, it’s time to provide the current crop of pols a brief handy guide to the dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts) of illicit sex in the nation’s capital. Here then are some useful guidelines gleaned from the historical record:

Don’t sleep with movie stars
Sure, JFK got away with it. And although I didn’t personally know the former president, I can guarantee you that you’re no JFK and you won’t be sleeping with the likes of Marilyn Monroe. Remember that movie stars crave publicity and you shouldn’t. If you absolutely have to sleep with a celebrity, make sure she’s a foreign star that Americans have never heard of.

Don’t share the stage in a burlesque house with a stripper
Back in 1974, Wilbur Mills, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had a late night incident involving alcohol, driving and his companion Fanne Foxe, a well known Washington ecdysiast who jumped into the Tidal Basin. Mr. Mills survived that incident only to later take the stage with Ms. Foxe in Boston which lead to his resignation. The moral of the story? If you feel the need for an illicit midnight dip, stick to a chocolate-covered ice cream cone at your local Dairy Queen.

Don’t challenge the press to follow you
Back in 1987, presidential hopeful Gary Hart answered rumors of infidelity by challenging the press corps to follow him around. They did and – surprise, surprise – they caught him and his paramour Donna Rice in a compromising position on the deck of the appropriately named "Monkey Business." Thus, if you’re engaging in hanky panky, no need to admit it but don’t get too bold in your denials.

Don’t smoke
As Sigmund Freud once said: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." If Bill Clinton had remembered that catchy aphorism back in 1995, he might have avoided all the hot water he got into with Monica Lewinsky. Better yet, since Clinton had earlier claimed that he never inhaled, it would have been better if he had avoided taking up cigars at all. Cigars or no cigars, he never learned the most important White House lesson: don’t cavort with interns.

Do try to avoid being a hypocrite
People who sleep with mistresses in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. One of the first to jump on the self-righteous, dump-Bill Clinton bandwagon was the then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. But all the time Newt was wagging his finger at Bill he was also carrying on his own extra-marital shenanigans not to mention serving his wife with divorce papers while she was receiving cancer treatment. Lesson learned? Always check your own behavior before attacking others.

Don’t use public washrooms
Larry Craig learned this lesson the hard way in 2007 in a public washroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Granted, sometimes you have no choice and simply can’t wait until you get home. But if you are forced to avail yourself of a public restroom, just be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the stall and absolutely no foot tapping.

Don’t send naked pictures of yourself by e-mail
Mr. Weiner’s current predicament is a modern cautionary tale. The only packages you should be mailing are by UPS. Nobody likes junk e-mail especially when it’s a photo of your junk. It didn’t work for Brett Favre and it won’t work for you. And if your name is Rod, Dick or Weiner, that goes double. After all, it’s one thing to be scandalized; it’s quite another to be ridiculed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Kitten Chow Mein

Harper posted a note on his official Facebook page asking people to pick a name for his family's new grey tabby. The options include "Stanley," "Smokie" and "Gandalf."

- The Canadian Press - June 5, 2011

Prime Minister Harper and his family have adopted a new kitten and invited Canadians to help name it. Eager feline fanciers had until Monday to vote for their favorite name.
The votes have now been tabulated and the winning name is "Stanley" in honor of the cup. Inside sources say, however, that some voters also submitted their own suggested names, all of which were rejected outright.
One Michael I. from Toronto apparently flooded Harper’s Facebook page with so many suggestions that his account was eventually terminated. Before Mr. I was shut down, he reportedly submitted the following names for the new cat: Nasty Guy, Auntie Democratic and Hidden A. Genda.
Jack L., also from Toronto, had a few suggested names for the Prime Minister’s kitty. Mr. L.’s first entry read: "I congratulate Mr. Harper on his majority but I urge him to rule from the center and, in that spirit, I suggest he name his new cat Moderate." His other proposed names included Parliamentary Decorum and Opposition Pussy.
Gilles D. from Montreal only made one entry but it was a forceful one presented entirely in caps. Mr. D.’s single proposed cat name was MAUDITES ORANGES!!
Elizabeth M. of Sidney, British Columbia was also a prolific contributor. All but one of her entries had an environmental theme such as Kyoto Kat, Green Tabby and Carbon Pawprint. The one exception was Debate Me.
It looks like some Conservative Party insiders also jumped on the cat-naming bandwagon. Probably looking to gain favor with the cat’s owner, John B. of Ottawa proffered the following possible names: Five Glorious Years, Our Beloved Leader and Top Tory Cat.
Based on a few not-so-rosy nominations, it appears that some Conservative Party lesser lights may be a bit bitter about their diminished roles in the new government. Two former ministers of state named Rob M. (Moore and Merrifield perhaps?) suggested Bound and Gagged and Kitten Chow Mein.
The new name has been announced and final approval was apparently contingent on a free vote within the Harper family. However, insiders say that Mr. Harper had a change of mind. At the last minute, he insisted the family vote be along party lines and his choice of Stanley therefore prevailed. Rumor has it that his alternate choices included Last Laugh, Alberta Firewall or Just Watch Me.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Crazy? You Betcha!

They say you’ve got to be a little crazy to run for president. Well, if Sarah Palin is any indication, that saying may well be true.
Just when we thought that Ms. Palin had ridden off into the sunset, she surprises everyone with a mystery bus tour to New Hampshire. Even her fellow Republicans are starting to wonder if she’s a few cubs short of a wolf pack.
The more I watch Sarah Palin in action, the more she seems to fit a pattern. A pattern that would qualify her as genuinely, certifiably cuckoo.
Now before you call me a biased liberal loony who’s just out to trash the finest potential presidential candidate from north of the 49th parallel since Ted Stevens, hear me out. All you have to do is check the official definition of something called "narcissistic personality disorder" to see that maybe what we’re dealing with is someone who, although she may well be playing with a full deck, just happens to have a couple of extra jokers.
Follow along with me as we assess each of the symptoms for this thing called narcissistic personality disorder:

Has excessive feelings of self-importance
If there’s one thing Sarah Palin has it’s an excessive feeling of self-importance. Notwithstanding a political resume as light as air, she still pretends that she’s in the same league as the big boys and girls of American politics.

Exaggerates achievements and talents
Less than a full term as Alaska’s governor seems to mean more to Ms. Palin than it does to the rest of us. It’s not clear that she did much during her brief tenure although she claims all manner of accomplishment.

Needs constant attention and admiration
Sarah Palin seems incapable of taking a break from the media spotlight. After the failed 2008 campaign, she spent a great deal of time capitalizing on her newfound fame and blaming John McCain for any perceived failures. Rather than take a break from the main stage, she elected to write her autobiography, become a television personality and then start her own bus tour.

Disregards the feelings of others and has little ability to feel empathy
Ms. Palin doesn’t hesitate to discard colleagues and supporters if it serves to advance her cause. Just ask her former Alaskan allies and John McCain about her empathic abilities.

Has obsessive self-interest
Whatever Sarah Palin does, it’s all about her. When it comes to self-absorption, she makes most teenagers look like selfless saints.

A preoccupation with power or success
Whether it was the mayoralty of Wasilla, the governorship of Alaska or the number two spot on the 2008 national Republican ticket, Sarah Palin is looking out only for herself. What looked to some as a bizarre resignation from her position as governor was merely a realization that there was nothing more to be gained for her personally.

Reacts to criticism with rage
We’ve all seen the surprising anger that Sarah Palin can visit on everyone from the "lamestream media" to her former running mate John McCain. She appears incapable of admitting fault and angrily deflects criticism by accusing others of wrongdoing.

Is preoccupied with fantasies of success and power
Sarah Palin would love to be president but she’s probably not that keen on all the work and responsibility the position entails. Her ultimate goal is to be a famous celebrity in her own right, someone who can get a daily fix of praise and adulation just by being herself.

So now that we’ve made a diagnosis, what’s the prognosis? Apparently the most effective treatment for a person with this condition is intensive psychotherapy. Perhaps the best thing for Sarah Palin (and us, for that matter) is for her to take over from Oprah Winfrey and have her own daytime talk show. She would gain all the attention she needs, might even benefit from some talk therapy and would definitely save the rest of us from a scary political future.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Dear Steve

An occasional advice column for the politically confused:

Dear Steve,
My pal Fabian and I are in a bit of a pickle. You see, a couple of months ago we both had cushy $132,000 jobs that didn’t require a lot of work. But then we thought it would be nice if we actually tried for elected positions. Everyone said we were shoe-ins but, guess what, we lost. Now we’re out of work and it really sucks. Anything we can do to get some easy work?
Larry S.

Dear Larry S.,
Leave it to me, boys. It looks like you were pretty happy with your old jobs. So why don’t we just get you reappointed? That should provide you with lots of long-term job security since, despite all the rumors, the last I heard was that no one would be touching those positions for a long, long time.

Dear Steve,
I’m at my wit’s end and I just don’t know what to do. We had this really great party and the leader kept saying that we should have an election so we could be in charge. Long story short: we lost big time and now we’re in lots of trouble. We’re looking to rebuild and someone mentioned a $2 vote subsidy we might qualify for. Can you help?
Bob R.

Dear Bob R.,
Sorry, no can do. I’ll talk to my friend Jim F. but I think he’s planning to pull the plug on that vote subsidy business. I hate to say it but maybe it’s time to roll up the carpet, take down the sign and put your party to bed. From what I hear, your former party is doing pretty well. Maybe you can find a home there.

Dear Steve,
Congratulations on your majority government. Much to my surprise, our party now forms the official opposition. I’m not sure exactly what that means but I think it’s a good thing. My members say that you can advise me as to what I should do to raise some issues that we could work on together.
Jack L.

Dear Jack L.,
Congratulations to you, too. Official opposition? That’s quite an accomplishment. As to working together, let me get back to you on that in about four or five years.

Dear Steve,
Remember me? I used to be a minister under Brian Mulroney but then I had a bit too much to drink, got on a motorcycle and rode right out of his cabinet. Anyway, good news; I’ve been reelected and was hoping to get back into cabinet. I heard that you want to reduce government and keep cabinet positions to a minimum. Any chance you could still find a spot for an old pal?
Bernie V.

Dear Bernie V.,
Yes, I’m a big believer in limited government and smaller cabinets. Nah, just kidding. Heck, we won a majority and that means if old friends need a helping hand, now’s the time to provide it. Don’t tell anybody but I’ve just upped the cabinet to a record 39 ministries. I’m almost making them up on the fly so how about we make you Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Francophonie? No kidding.

Dear Steve,
I’ve been hiding in the closet for a good five years now. A lot of people suspected I was there but I made sure the door was closed tight and never let anyone in to look at me. It’s been a shameful existence and I’d really like to come out now and let Canadians know who I really am. What should I do?
Hidden A. Genda

Dear Hidden,
Don’t be afraid. Come on out. It’s a different world today. People are much more accepting of philosophical, social and sexual differences. Just because you want to build more prisons when the crime rate is decreasing is no reason to hide. Nor does your desire to get rid of a functioning long gun registry make you a pariah any longer. Sure, a lot of people won’t be happy when you show your face but you have a right to be seen and heard. Welcome aboard.