Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Simply Observations

First, last week was the adios from Piers Morgan of CNN.  Replacing Larry King was supposed to be hard because Larry was so good at interviews.  Well....Piers was never really an interviewer....he was more of an agenda guy.  I probably watched six pieces of his shows over the time he was there....and came away just shaking my head.  His interview skills were marginal at best, and I sometimes wondered if CNN realized who they signed or his actual talents.  You came to feel he was selling you something....which is not the deal that you got from Larry King (strictly an interview and nothing else).

Second, some anti-gun agenda guy came up on a Sirius radio interview Saturday night....advocating that if threatened...the first thing you do is call 9-11.  This got folks hyped up because they don't have twenty to forty minutes to wait out for some cop to arrive.  They might have thirty seconds of life left in them when they make this call.  The folks who generally talk anti-gun.....don't live in neighborhoods where cop reaction times are a joke.  Nor do these people grasp the number of nutcases walking around with no respect for life.

Third, I sat yesterday watching some global warming individual doing a big interview, and the last question posed.....what one thing should be done right now....as soon as possible.  The off-the-cuff answer?  Decrease any possible thing creating our emissions or carbon footprint.  Naturally, a rational guy....like myself...would say fine....let's go nuclear energy and really take our emissions situation down by massive amounts.  Well....sadly, amongst the sad crowd of worriers over global warming and climate control.....are worriers over nuclear energy.  I'm guessing that if we were agreeable to this energy shift.....they would go bonkers and get all upset about the nuke energy situation.

Fourth, yesterday....I had some German stranger at the bus stop in the village strike up a conversation.  Normally, it's odd that such an event would occur.  Germans aren't conversationalists with strangers.  This guy chatted up a storm.....switching from German to English....and within three minutes....let me know that he's got an estranged wife, commonly meaning that she doesn't want to see him.  And there's a eight month old kid involved (the guy only gets to see the kid once a week apparently, court order limits).  By the fifth minute, I was really hoping for that damn bus to pull up....this guy desperately needed a bartender to tell his woeful story.   The term "unfair" got mentioned at least four times.  By the ninth minute....the bus finally arrived, and I quietly found a seat at the back of the bus....hoping I was finished.  Germans don't usually tell life stories to strangers on the street....which kinda freaked me out (yeah, I'll admit that).  But I'm used to that after three years in Arlington (if you go to the cemetery.....you tend to get an epic life story told by someone chatting over a son or relative from ten years ago....they don't know you but they'd like to tell the story one more time).

Fifth, yesterday....after the stranger episode....I found myself in front of the Wiesbaden train station....waiting on a light to cross the street.  Some young German gal (maybe 17).....had a baby buggy and a really young kid.  Suddenly this guy comes up....maybe 25 years old....starts chatting, and I can sense her aggravation and frustration with this guy.  She won't talk to him.  Seconds pass, and she whips around me and moves eight feet over....trying to get out of range of this guy.  He moves over....continually trying to chat.  My opinion was that she hadn't been around for a while.....he might be the father....and she really didn't want to deal with him.  She moves again....he moves too.  Finally the light turns green, and we thirty patient folks are crossing the street.  This young gal is pumped up and racing across....trying to avoid this guy.  My sense is....these German guys are pretty stupid about the situations they got themselves into, and pretty stupid on dealing with non-existent relationships.  My sense is that I really don't want to get involved in these episodes and would prefer a quiet tranquil afternoon with teenies racing scooters down the street.....old guys sipping beer and talking weather.....and watching buildings being torn down.

Book Review: The Bully Pulpit

By Doris Kearns Goodwin

It is three books in one, which is the only negative I can say for the book.  It ties both Roosevelt and Taft into the big picture, it tells the story of McClure's Magazine (worth understanding), and lays out the 1912 election which is a disaster for the Republicans.  Long?  Oh my, YES.  It's a book that will consume at least two months.

There are five basic things I take away from the book.

First, McClure's Magazine is rarely if ever mentioned in modern history.  For roughly six years....they transformed America and ensured the 1904 election for Theodore Roosevelt (his re-election).  McClures was investigative journalism....coming into your house on a monthly basis, and really pushed middle-class America over to the Republicans for the next ten years.  Their owner was absolutely a nutcase and helped to cause the eventual failure of the magazine.....but he's the one to assemble the five-star team to make it what it was.

Second, William Taft was probably the most able-bodied legal scholar of the past two hundred years.  Sadly, when this guy was on track and would have been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in his early 40's.....he gets side-tracked and moves onto politics.  He would become of the ten closest friends of Theodore Roosevelt, and later one of his biggest enemies.  It's hard to find anyone who would say anything negative about Taft, or suggest corruption tied to his trail in life.  You come away liking Taft a great deal by the end.

Third, there are four versions of Theodore Roosevelt.....sadly.  There is the young dynamic guy, who is probably the most educated and competent political figure in his late 20s.  There is version two who is progressing as a great speaker....who runs off to Cuba for the war....returns to become New York's governor....and is picked to be the VP but greatly disliked by the Republican establishment (he's too progressive in their mind).  There is version three, the VP who becomes President after the death of the President.....and rallies the nation for roughly seven years.  Finally, there is version four, the guy who returns a year after leaving the office, sitting at a young age, and has nothing much to do.....which leads to this stupid act of running against Taft (his friend), and breaking the Republican Party into two....leading to Wilson winning the election.

Four, one single executive order concerning national lands and their ownership....given by Roosevelt at the conclusion of his seven years.....is what drives a wedge between Taft and him, and is more or less undone in the first couple of months of Taft's presidency.  It'd take forty pages to tell the whole story....but Roosevelt really screwed up when he issued this executive order, and I doubt if he ever understood that little problem.  I should note....the law was never agreeable to the executive order made....yet no one took it to the Supreme Court.

Five, you come away from the book with a fairly negative view of the Roosevelt who returned in 1909 from the African safari, and put himself back into Presidential politics.  For years, I had an extremely positive view of the Roosevelt years....and I've come to view the Taft-Roosevelt split....as a masterpiece of a story, but really negative.  During the lead-up to the 1912 election....there is a single speech that Roosevelt delivers....which basically says he's pushing for a new social environment in America.....which looks an awful lot like socialism.  Even some progressive thinkers were shocked at the suggestions made and you have to wonder if he'd won.....if things today would be radically different.

It is a great book....but it'll take you weeks to read, and I'd suggest putting it down occasionally to ask yourself what is developing and how it occurred.  Strongly recommended.