Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Soap Opera Continues

Christiane Amanpour decided that her Sunday talk-show...."This Week"....would be another Tucson-filled episode.  So the producers arranged this big forum.  Naturally, they wanted it balanced so they invited a Republican politician and a Tea Party member to be major participants.  Along with them....James Eric Fuller (63) who was one of the shooting victims from last Saturday.

Mr Fuller had been hit in some fashion but actually got up and drove himself to the local hospital afterwards.  This kinda amazed folks but he is a Navy vet.

Somewhere in the midst of this taping of the forum....the Republican and Tea Party guy....made a comment or two that rattled Mr Fuller a bit.  Mr Fuller whipped out his camera and took their picture and made some misappropriate comments (amongst them "you're dead").  Naturally, the cops were in full force at this event, and quickly took possession of Mr Fuller.  He was arrested and taken out for a psychiatric evaluation.  So far, the hospital and the cops have said mostly nothing about his mental state.

The comment that rattled Mr Fuller?  That's a curious thing.  They both went with the idea that any talk of  gun control should be delayed until all the dead were buried.

At the very least right now....Mr Fuller faces a misdemeanor disorderly conduct and probably a threat charge.

I did some reading on Mr Fuller.  He is a major political activist in the local area, and had been on Representative Gifford's team during the last election.

I have three observations over this fracas.  First, it's hard for me to see how ABC and Amanpour can use this piece on national TV on Sunday.  Everyone is going to watch it but it really hurts the argument that the Tea Party is to blame for threats.   For an entire week.....the media has tried to tell a story where the shooter was a Tea Party player and this whole event comes from talk radio's words.  For this nut to make a threat on national TV....it hurts the media's story.

Second, while only 32 percent of the public believed the story that the shooter from last weekend was heavily influenced by talk radio, Limbaugh, and Beck....this story moved along likely Democratic voters and probably influenced them to take more firm stands.....as Mr Fuller took on Saturday.  This type of comical rhetoric from the media made Mr Fuller more hostile than what he should have been.

Third and final.....my own observation here....townhall-like meetings aren't exactly a place where people can debate in a friendly fashion.  That's been known for 300-odd years.  You can go back to various arguments in towns, counties, and states....where topics inflamed the public and made townhall meetings more than just a friendly atmosphere.  I think people have kidded themselves over the past decade in thinking that people can gather and everything will be ultra-friendly.  Most of the townhall meetings that President Obama has arranged, as a candidate and President, are all neatly arranged and have selected group within the audience.  Everyone tends to believe that heavyweight arguments can be done in a friendly basis.  I would strongly disagree that this is the norm.

My humble feeling?  The soap opera merely continues on.  Sadly, folks are taking things to an extreme.

This Won't Be Difficult

I've often heard this expression, and I've learned over the years that this typically is a double-edged sword when someone says this.  They want to encourage you by hinting that effort is minimal or that this is worth all the effort.  Typically....I've come to be skeptical about things the minute this is spoken.  So this is my list of events...in my life...where this expression "this won't be difficult" came up:

1.  Swimming.  To this day, I can't swim.  Somewhere in my youth, around age thirteen....I had an entire week of introduction at the local pool to swimming.  The instructor made everything seem so easy.  By the end of five days of "this won't be difficult"....the best I could say is that I could not swim but I didn't quite have any fears (having jumped from the 6 foot board into the water and I was able swim on my back).

2.  German language.  I had two months of German in high school.  I took a class via the University of Maryland.  I took a four-month class via a German school in Kaiserslautern.  I even lived in Germany for over fifteen years.  My German ability revolves around 500 words at best and it probably won't improve much.  I think I reached a point with the last class where I realized the complexity of the language and the three 'the's', and I really began to shake my head over learning a language.  I consider myself lucky to just speak English as badly as I do.  The amusing thing?  I can list a dozen folks who've used the expression "this won't be difficult" in learning German.

3.   Learning to ski.  As a kid growing up in Bama....the last thing on my mind would have been learning to ski.  I reached a point in 1984 where I decided that it might be interesting.  I ended up in Bavaria and spent two weeks in a ski class.  The emphasis of the instructor?  This won't be difficult.  In this case, I came to actually learned to stand up, turn left and right, and stop.  Remember though....it took two weeks to get to that point.  In this case....the guy might have been right.

4.  Cooking.  I've had numerous opportunities in life to cook.  The emphasis I've always heard....'this won't be difficult'.  Frankly, to this day....I'd rather change all four tires on a car than cook a meal.  I could take a simple menu and plan....and ruin it for the most part.

5.  Offsides in soccer.  There are really only a dozen-odd rules in soccer that matter.  I could explain most of them to a guy sitting in the bar and feel like an expert.  Then we come to this one topic....offsides.  I can still remember the comment in my mind.....'this won't be difficult'.....as five or six folks have tried to explain this to me and it makes no sense.

6.  Doing my own taxes.  I remember the comment in 1978 as I got ready to do the first tax form in my life, and the guy at the legal office on base said "this won't be difficult".  I actually read through the instruction book, and it took me twelve minutes to fill out the form completely.  Over the years, I've done all my taxes myself.  I have yet to pay a guy to do my taxes.  That may change this year as I have to mess with Virginia state taxes....but for some reason.....it hasn't been difficult (thank the good folks at Turbo-Tax).

7.  Disassembling and assembling a M-16.  I remember the first time that the Air Force instructor sat there and proudly said "this won't be difficult" when taking the weapon apart and putting it back together.  As he hinted over and over....it only goes together in one fashion.  You can't screw this up.  Adding to this....there are only fifteen-odd parts that you can toss onto the table anyway.  For some reason, I can't visualize the weapon in this parts situation and this simple three minute assembly usually takes ten to fifteen minutes.

8.  Sitting in a dentist's chair.  I've heard the expression 'this won't be difficult' from a Dentist about a hundred times in my life.  Frankly, my blood pressure goes up twenty percent every time I sit in such a chair and I don't believe the words ever.  It could be a simple cleaning.....and I just don't see it as easy.

9.  An all-in-one fax/scanner/copier.  I went out and bought a cheap Canon product when I got to Arlington.  It's my first all-in-one.  Typically.....I've always bought each independent item and chained them up.  I figured 'this won't be difficult' as I dragged this out of the box.  Other than printing from the screen of the laptop....nothing has ever worked easily with this all-in-one.  Maybe it's the functionality of the machine, but I'm beginning to feel it's just me and my issues with the system.

10.  Using a different car.  I rent cars on occasion.  In the last twelve months....I've probably rented five different vehicles.  Getting into a car back in the 1980s was kinda simple.  Today, I get this anxiety of 'this won't be difficult' as I enter a new vehicle and am amazed over the various gadgets and buttons in front of me.  Typically....you will only have the rental for a weekend or a couple of days....so this becomes a huge issue when you sit there and try to figure out how to make the vehicle work.  Three years ago, I rented an Italian car and I came to the last hour where you had to refill the fuel (it was a diesel).....and I could not find the cover release to the cap.  I wasted thirty minutes circling the vehicle interior and got nowhere.  I finally turned it in and just let them fill it up.  Last year, I rented a SUV that had a dozen buttons on the steering wheel, and I wasted fifteen minutes trying to figure out what the heck they did.

So when someone comes up to me and hints....this won't be difficult....I just don't believe them anymore.