A Bit More Politics

Now, I have to admit, I was not prepared for the argument. Down below, on a recent McCain post, I had a good dialogue going with my pal Marc. Even brother Jerry pitched in and we all found common ground to talk and where we disagree, we agreed to do so. Marc runs left of center, Jerry and I both right of center. It was a good, sound discussion of events and situations.

But then there was this morning at school. I have good friends that I have coffee with in the morning for a little bit before class starts and someone, though I forget whom, brought up the Obama situation with his pastor and how he had to disown him. Now, these guys are definitely left of center, though most won’t admit it. They don’t like labels they say. But I was surprised at how they felt that Obama was being unfairly smirched with Pastor Wright’s comments.

They said they thought it not fair that Obama get painted with Wright’s brush. They said it was too much like guilt by association. They said that whole they don’t agree with Wright’s comments (some of which they’d read only this morning), they didn’t think that meant that Obama could be judged by them.

I said I didn’t understand. I said we’re talking here about a close personal relationship. Obama has said on numerous occasions that he was very close to Pastor Wright, that at various times it was Wright who led him to faith in Jesus, Wright who married him and his wife, Wright who baptized his children, Wright who served as his spiritual mentor. Then, he took several weeks to offer tepid defenses and denunciations of Wright. He didn’t agree with much of what he said, but then much of what he said was “taken out of context.” So, the blogosphere went to work and provided the context. If anything, Wright’s comments amplified a more mean spirited, racist and angry view of the world. Then, on Bill Moyer’s, Wright played the victim saying he was mis-understood, taken out of context, knew that Obama had to say what politicians say, etc.

Then came yesterday. Wright went off the deep end. He accused the US govt. of being as bad as Al-qaeda, he accused whites of being permanently racist and he said that in fact, whites and blacks were different and he even said that blacks have more rhythm than whites. Imagine John McCain saying that. Imagine President Bush saying that. Imagine….Look at recent history to see what happens when whites make racist comments: Don Imus, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy the Greek–the list goes on.

Now, I’m in full agreement that Barack Obama may not agree with his wacky, nutty, racist, xenophobic, far-out Pastor. I’ll even go so far as to say that maybe you cannot paint Obama with the same brush. But then, Obama did say that Wright was his spiritual mentor, didn’t he? And Obama did say he was a member of Wright’s church for 20 years, didn’t he? And many of the sermons we now have of Wright are from the 1990’s, aren’t they? And Obama has said that while there were some things he disagreed with, Pastor Wright was taken out of context, didn’t he?

Here’s the thing. I’m a church goer. And I’m very close with my pastor–he’s a good, close, personal friend of mine. And I know that we don’t see eye to eye on many subjects, politics among them. But my pastor has never said anything so inflammatory that I’ve been moved to leave the church. He has indeed made me uncomfortable, mostly in his targeted and right-on preaching of the Gospel, making me uncomfortable with the fact that I am, often times, not in line with the Word of God as I read and believe it. This, I believe, makes him a good, strong messenger for God. He’s a man of integrity and faith with a devout and deep faith. For all I know, he could be listening to Pastor Wright and sympathizing with him. But if so, he has not said it out loud to me or to anyone I know. And generally, he’s too busy preaching about Salvation by Grace, teaching how we are to love one another and be resources for good and messengers of God’s grace in the world to talk much about how the US is a terrorist state.

So, that’s what surprised me this morning. As I said, I’ll even go so far as to say you cannot paint Obama with the same brush: But, you can go as far as to say that a 20 year Pastoral relationship is a lot deeper than most people are willing to admit. And, I think you can go as far as saying that if Obama is just now denouncing Pastor Wright, it shows a serious lack of good judgment on his part. How’s he going to deal with bigger issues than his Pastor’s sermons?

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton is basking in the glow of…well, not glowing. She hasn’t been given the camera or the microphone as my friend Marc rightly points out, the press dogs this particular issue to death. And my man John McCain is still waiting for the other shoe to drop so he can finally have one opponent to face. McCain is savvy, he knows how to wait it out–and he knows how to handle the Democrats by not handling them. It’s rather like having an aquarium in front of you holding two rattlesnakes. You’re at a slight distance and you know that the snakes can get out at some point. Realistically, one will get out eventually. What you don’t want to do is knock the thing over and expedite the process. That’s McCain.

I think you should vote for him for President. But hey, what do I know?

Another Disney Day

I am truly in awe of yesterday and I apologize for the lack of posts. Home around 9:00 PM from Disneyland and I pretty much went straight to bed. It was about 90 degrees down in Anaheim yesterday, but truly, it was not unbearable. The crowds were down and we were able to navigate the park and ride rides pretty easily and well. We used the fast pass system for our first time yesterday for my favorite ride, Splash Mountain. Peanut claims not to like the ride, but she comes on every time and giggles until she loses her voice afterward. It’s priceless.

Sofie and Sue, Peanut and I went on all the biggies including the new Finding Nemo ride which is really fantastic. The animation done underwater, the sound effects, the movement of the submarines, all of it is a real treat and hearkens back to Disney’s roots of telling stories in their rides. When they do this, they’re successful. When they don’t, they’re not successful at all.

From Big Thunder to Pirates of the Caribbean, from Soarin’ over California to Space Mountain for the rest of the family (the only rough rides I’ll do is Big Thunder and Grizzly Rapids on account of my neck and such), we really had a great time and a fine family escape. It’s just what we needed except that Aunt Laurie didn’t come this time.

Well–another couple of articles to write and a few more lines to go. I’m sleepy still and ready for some shut eye, too.

Three Columns More

I’m afraid today was a three column day, gentles with all of the pieces dealing with wine. I did two pieces for WCTW and one for The Best of Everything and I’m rather tapped out. I got political on you last night, so I’ll refrain this evening.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a little cooler, a little more pleasant and we’ve hidden from Peanut that it will also be a family day at Disneyland. We’d been looking for an opportunity to go this spring and Peanut has been asking about it as has Sofie, actually. We know that taking the kids out of school is not the best idea, but to be honest I feel rather rebellious about it. My fondest family memories are of my parents taking us out of school on various days for family vacations, visiting relatives, what have you. And I don’t think that I missed a bit of pedagogy or curriculum. If I did, it’s probably a good thing. Somewhere inside me, the heart of an anti-authoritarian still beats. I know what’s best for my kids and I’ll be the judge of that, thank you. I, for one, am not abdicating my parental responsibilities to the state or the Feds.

OK–that’s my high horse. And now, I bid you all a fond good night. Catch you tomorrow.

McCain is Right

Hugh Hewitt pointed to Jim Geraghty’s response to the tapes of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He is, of course, Barack Obama’s Pastor. Hewitt has pointed out in recent weeks that in Obama, we are not dealing with a left-leaning Senator, but in fact a Chicago radical socialist who is as elitist as they come. I point this out because while it’s not an original thought, it is one with which I sincerely and whole-heartedly agree.

In fact, Obama packaged himself as a post partisan candidate, one who could unite the country. But as he has been vetted more and more, we see that he is in fact an opportunist who feeds upon those who are less fortunate by telling them that he can do better than they can, knows better than they do and will ultimately be a good President not because he will free up the industry and hard work of the American people as individuals, but because of what he can provide for you.

Mind you, Mrs. Clinton isn’t a lot different. In her Pennsylvania speech upon winning the primary there, she promised to cure autism, diabetes, obesity, cancer and a bunch of other things. Fascinating, isn’t it? We’re supposed to vote for candidates now because they will provide us largesse for which we do not have to work. When did that become the American dream?

And this goes back to the very basic argument that my brother and I discuss quite often. Big brother Doug is very clear in his political thinking, much more than I, and he has a gift for distilling his ideas down. Ultimately, the point is do you want to vote for more Big government or less government. Granted, John McCain is not the poster-child for conservatism, but on the big issues of small versus big, he’s in the correct spot: decrease Federal spending, lower taxes, allow Americans to take more responsibility for themselves and provide a net for those who cannot. In recent years, one could argue since the 30’s really, we’ve become a nation that has gone from providing a net to a nation that provides a cushion for the net and a new net every year–with a house on it and food, too.

The Reverend Wright will be on Bill Moyers’ show tonight talking to a sympathetic ear about his unfair treatment. The fact is, Reverend Wright may well be a compassionate, caring and dedicated activist with a heart for Christ. I don’t know, I cannot judge the man. However, his complaint that he has been taken out of context is simply silly and it may well backfire on both he and Obama. There will be plenty of evidence, indeed there already is, to show that he has in fact not been taken out of context–that he believes that America is as evil as Al-quaeda and that his rants against the President and American foreign policy in general–are not going to do all that well with those of us poor people out here clinging to our God and our guns because the Federal government didn’t take care of us better.

Had enough? Me too. So, go visit Senator McCain’s site and help us put the man in the White House. He’s the Right man for the Right time…and he’s Right.

More on less

I just finished traffic school and passed the test with 94 percent. It isn’t perfect, but it will do. I have to say I rather like the online traffic school. I must sheepishly admit that this is my second time taking it. My previous experience was based on a speeding ticket I got coming home from Las Vegas in November of 2004. The one I took this time was more efficient and more convenient just in how the web pages worked. Security it tighter now on the sites with timers so that you cannot just move on and take the test and with hidden messages throughout the pages. All of a sudden, you’re reading about backing a vehicle in a parking lot and a sentence shows up, “Ancient Egyptians shaved their eyebrows whenever they mourned their dead cats.” Fascinating tidbit, no? I never knew the Egyptians did that. From mourning their cats to the Pyramids to homegrown terrorists to peacemaking on the White House lawn. Who knew?

OK. It feels good to be done. Meanwhile, a heatwave has rolled in here in So. Cal. We expect temps in the 80’s again tomorrow, as they were today, and on Sunday. By Monday it’s supposed to cool down and significantly by Tuesday with a possible temperature differentiation of 30 degrees between Sunday and Tuesday. Now that’s something. And fairly typical for this time of year, too.

Sue has gotten a pretty bad case of bronchitis. When Peanut got hit two weeks ago with the crud, she came through it pretty well. But Sue seemed to be fighting it off after I got it and she never quite got over it. Well…with her asthma and such, it got into her chest. Luckily, her lungs are quite clear. However, her breathing has been affected by the bronchial swelling and the doc put her on anti-biotics, breathing treatments (inhaled steroids) and if her breathing doesn’t improve by tomorrow, she has to go on Prednisone which doesn’t make her happy. However, the breathing treatments have helped her a bit and the anti-biotics are already kicking in.

It’s a good Friday night and though I made a quick and stupid movement that caused my neck to flare up, I anticipate a fine and lovely weekend. Here’s to yours.

Still busy-Read George Instead!

I am afraid it is another short night, gentles. My deadlines are piling up–and one of them, unfortunately, is traffic school. I’m taking it online and it’s not bad, but it is time consuming and a lot of work. So, tonight is part four, the penultimate chapter and I’m almost there.

I read this today and sent it around at school. I got some interesting feedback that basically asserts that Mr. Will is short-sighted and simplistic. A friend of mine argued that Will ignores the reality of what we deal with in education. Since we are merely mirrors of society, claims my friend, we are failing because society is failing. On this point, he and I agree.

What he disagrees with and where I agree with Will, is that throwing more Federal money at education isn’t going to work. Indeed–it never has. We’ve known for sometime that it is the homelife of the child that is the determinant factor in education, not just what the teachers do. We’ve become “facilitators” and not educators. In some instances, that’s OK. But it’s not the way education works.

I think George Will is right. I think the time for Federally funded education is coming to an end. Turn it back over to communities and families and by doing so, “force” them to take responsibility for it. You can take the biggest, best and most wonderful school in the world–fund it to the hilt, if you’d like. But, if the kids aren’t prepared to learn–they won’t.

What do you think?


Yes, by the way–I am aware that the advertisement isn’t fitting exactly right. I have my best people on it and will resolve soon. Meantime, you’ll note the ad itself is a new feature. Told you things were changing.

I’m part of the Forbes Blog network, now–and I’m excited about it. I don’t know that it will change many things, but I think it a nice little feather.

The other news is of a more personal nature, but worth sharing. I sent two bottles of Tempranillo to big brother Jerry in Phoenix and he called me this evening and lauded Brian’s and my efforts in the wine-making. He was impressed, he said, with the wines merits. And that made my day and my evening.

Meanwhile, Brian and I are preparing to bottle the next 60 gallons of Tempranillo. The Barbera too is coming along, but it will be a bit longer in the process. We’ll bottle it sometime in August or September.

Testing week continues at school and I’m on a few stories for the paper, so tonight’s post–new digs and all–is a bit brief. Sorry, gentles. I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Simple is Better–new digs

Nick Fisher knows how to do wine. He opened up a small wine shop a few years ago in Ventura. The idea was simple…low overhead, a kind of small wearhouse look to it, no ambiance, no frills and no advertising. Just wine on the shelf, high product turnover and low prices.

He got so good, he opened a second one up in Carpenteria and it too is thriving. So when Nick found out about the enomatic Italian wine tasting dispensing machine, it blew him away. “I never did want to run a tasting bar. That wasn’t my idea. But the fact is, when you get people to taste wines, they’ll want to buy them.”

Off he went in pursuit of this strange new thing that was slowly being introduced in the United States. Taste, in San Luis Obispo has a couple and they were one of the first. It was very popular and it created a kind of virtual wine bar allowing people to dispense 1,2 or 3 ounce pours of their favorite wines by inserting a kind of credit card into the machine after loading it with a pre-determined amount of cash.

The long story short version is that Nick’s Ventura Wine Company moved across the street from its old home and now features not only low prices on great wines that you won’t find everywhere, but also The Cave. A smallish wine bar with a few tables sits in the back of the wine shop and you can purchase tastes of wine or even complete glasses. You can also order from the new Tapas kitchen he’s had put in. We went tonight and simply wanted to look around and buy some wine. We had a few tastes in The Cave and we were treated to a taste of the chef’s Potato leek soup which was creamy and satisfying.

It’s a great place and we’ll surely go back. If you’re in the Ventura area, look Nick up. Follow th links above and tell him Mark sent you. You’ll be surprised just how cool the place really is.

Simple really is better.

Speaking of new digs, you may note a few new features here at the blog. I’ve joined the Forbes.com blog network and will soon be setting up ads here for them. Yes, I’m a capitalist and so, don’t fret. You knew that going in, didn’t you?

Tired….lots of work to do. Happy Tuesday–

Going and Going Fast

As I write this, I’m online taking traffic school. Yessir, I earned a ticket at the end of March when, exiting the 5 on Hollywood Way at the Burbank Airport, I saw my mom’s plane. Yes, that’s what I wrote. It’s one of the joys and the things I love about Burbank Airport that it feels like it’s my own personal airport. Well, I knew what flight mom was on and that it was a Canadair Regional Jet and that US Airways only flies one or two of those at a time to Burbank from Phoenix. And when I saw it sitting there and that I might be late, I…ah hem….depressed the accelerator.

Mind, the Scion xB has 103 horsepower. It’s not a powerhouse. But, it does apparently get out of its own way and I was over the limit when Officer Do-Right picked me up with the laser beam. Result? I’m online taking traffic school, which is better than saying that I’ll be in class all day Saturday, no?

I’m amazed that the time has flown so fast. Sofie is now down to less than two months with us and we all cannot believe it. Tonight was so wonderful–and it’s Monday! She and I walked the dog down to the bowling alley where we met Sue, Peanut and Peanut’s friend. They were just finishing up a game and so we talked a bit–and then the two of us, and Scoop, headed back to the house. Sue dropped off Peanut’s pal and then went home where we all met. Sue went out to get a little “me time” at the grocery store (can anything be better?;-) and Sofie, Peanut and I played Jenga and Monkey Business–two grand games which Peanut adores.

After that, Peanut wanted to watch her “Thumbelina” video and so she sat–or rather lounged, across Sofie’s lap and introduced her to the joys of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale done in an almost Anime style. But they had fun and enjoyed each other’s company. It was great.

Peanut will miss Sofie most of all when she heads home. I expect I’ll have low days when she goes, but it’s Peanut we’ll have to keep busy. I keep telling her–“We’ll go to Belgium when you’re 10.” That’s no lie–we probably will go then. But it’s forever to Peanut, she cannot see 10 years old. And honestly, I don’t want her to. So, I’m left just trying to talk her into the experiences we’re having. She’s into that…for now.

Onward, friends.

Thela Hun Jingeet

I swear to you that sometimes on days like today, I feel like a King Crimson Lyric. Up with the sun on the phone to a total stranger talking about my mortgage. Didn’t sleep, trapped by decisions I made that I knew at the time I shouldn’t, but did. Consequences I can live with, but would rather not. Things being what they are…

Coffee, shower, off for Peanut’s performance which was fun, interesting and bizarre. She was grand, poor thing. All the little ones were. But, I wonder at those of us parents paying hundreds of dollars to get stage time for children in a rip-off of music and words, poorly staged, poorly acted, poorly done–but with expensive props and soundtracks and equipment because…well, because that’s my baby up there and my ego–and hers (hers, right? hers?) is on the line and I’m willing to pay to make her look good.

Gone are the days when kids, you know–earned something. Worked hard, made a decision and stuck with it. Now, it’s “you’ll do this because I paid for it and you made a commitment.” Pretty sure that at the bedrock, at the scene of the revolution–that’s one of the things that changed. “Make a choice, kid–work hard, earn your applause, earn your money and stick with it.” That’s kind of what I did–what my brothers did, what my wife did. We did that. We earned stuff, worked for it.

Out to dinner with good friends–their daughter, our daughter about the same age. Good friends. Sofie offered to babysit at friends’ house. Off we went, dropped off the kid and Sofie, they ate, we had a glass of wine–out the door and to The Melting Pot. Great food, cooked it ourselves, Sam the waiter’s from Minnesota and North Dakota and Lisa picks up the accent. They talk hockey. Spanish Albarino and Central Coast Pinot–and a lot of great, delicious food.

Laughter, stories, fun, parenting, friendship, faith—-back home, pick up the kids, pet the dog–and into the van. Home. Water. Brush teeth. Change clothes. Put Peanut to bed, Sofie to bed. Sit down. Write. Write. Write.

Things being what they are…