Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Goodbyes (world version)

Gerald Ford was one of the last moderate Republicans, and his passing would have hardly been mentioned save for the odd chance that he was named to the Vice Presidency by Richard Nixon before the implosion of his Presidency. Ford had been a competent member of Congress, rising to the position of minority leader through hard work and dedication to the craft of politics. His position was one of bipartisanship, back when that word didn't mean capitulation to the arrogance of the right wing. His selection to replace the disgraced Spiro Agnew was seen by many as a Nixonian ploy to forestall the continued pillorying he was receiving because of the Watergate cover-up. By naming Ford, Nixon probably hoped that Ford's impeccable reputation would somehow create an aura of fairness and decency in his own Administration--either that, or he had already made sure that Ford would pardon him for his crimes.
It is for that shameful act, however, that Gerald R. Ford will be remembered. (Well, that, and Chevy Chase's devastating parody of his supposed clumsiness, of course.) This premature ending of "our long national nightmare" created a lasting sense of unease concerning the inner workings of the Executive Branch that has probably done more to help erode the trust our country places in government than anything else other than the Vietnam War. This distrust can be seen as the main underlying theme of the last 30 years' political narrative as the Republican Party has continually, and highly ironically, pandered to that public feeling in order to successfully gain the votes of the disaffected.
Ford's genial persona and obvious well-meaning has shielded him from much scorn deriving from his pardon. He has been seen more as a likable, slightly daft kindly uncle (his turn on "The Simpsons" cementing this characterization, as opposed to that of G.H.W. Bush, who was mercilessly portrayed as a meaner, unhinged Mr. Wilson of "Dennis the Menace" fame). Attacking Ford for his political gamesmanship and questionable morality for the pardon would have been seen as being somehow unseemly, and his defeat in 1976 at the hands of Jimmy Carter ("Who?" being the most common response to his candidacy) was probably deemed punishment enough.
Ford was 93, which seems older than I would have thought him to have been. His place in history, for now, is secure: he represents the last Republican elected to the Presidency who wasn't dedicated to destroying the government from within and killing as many "evildoers" as possible abroad. Would I accept Ford, pardon and all, as my President instead of Reagan, Poppy, or Smirky? In a heartbeat . . .

Goodbyes (work version)

I've never been one to keep a job for all that long, although to be fair to myself, I don't leave them that early either. I think my average has been 4-5 years of tenure--when given the choice--which isn't too bad given my previous lack of what one might call a "career". I've been at my current location for 3 years+ and am now leaving it. I'm not getting fired or quitting (for a change); my promotion will take me from a Central Library to a branch. The two locales and positions, though, call for wildly different skills and attitudes, so the job effect is much the same as if I had been switching employers again.
The real change, however, is more personal for me. I've seen the same co-workers--friends, really--on a daily basis for most of those 3 years, and even though I'll be working for the same organization, I'll be reduced to seeing these people once a month at best. As I've said previously, I have a wide streak of nostalgia running through me, and this kind of change activates that feeling to a great extent. My "nostalgia" isn't necessarily a looking backward in all cases; sometimes it's more of a feeling that I'm missing something that is happening with people I used to know.
In this case, I know that life will be going on here without me and I'll be on the outside looking in on those events. New friendships and relationships will be formed by the people I'm leaving, and I won't be a part of it. (Yes, I know that my life will be progressing as well, but that's only cause for more disenchantment, due to the fact that my "old" friends won't be a part of that, either!)
So, fare thee well my friends. See you soon.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Things to wish (and work) for in the new year

Corny topic, I know, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun and useful, right?
1) Always foremost--health to me, mine, you, yours. (Even if you are a rabid Republican Bush supporter, that is. In which case, I wish you better mental health, because you clearly don't have much of that now.)
2) Safety in all traveling. A lot of my closest and dearest fly and drive far and often, and I hope everyone in reading distance stays careful.
3) Greater tact. I committed some verbal faux pas this past year that hurt some people I really wish I hadn't.
4) To show that my priorities are in proper alignment, a Duck visit to (and lengthy stay at) the Big Dance in March. They're off to a good start so far . . .
5) On the political side of things, some serious oversight and a pure investigative process. Truth, the law, and public opinion are currently all on our side, and as long as we remain dedicated to the ideal of exposing secrecy and opacity in all its forms in our government--and remember to continuously educate and alert the public of our mission--we can right our seriously listing ship of state.
6) A renewed commitment by the vast majority of the media to do its job. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Keith Olbermann, and a (very) few others need not worry--they're already there.
7) An end to war as an element of American policymaking, before it's too late. We must regain the goodwill of the world, or we will shortly lose the ability to govern ourselves due to our extravagant indebtedness incurred thanks to the Republican Party.
8) An end to our national preoccupation with oil as the sole means of powering our culture. We have a rapidly shrinking window wherein we can retool our infrastructure to run on renewable (or at least cleaner, if not cheaper) fuels. If we don't start acting immediately, the damage to our economy (let alone the planet itself) will be catastrophic. It may already be too late . . .
9) And finally, the resignation of the entire Smirky Administration, right before they all get perp-walked to infamy as one.
(Hey, they don't call them "wish" lists for nothing, you know?)

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I'm a pretty nostalgic person. Not to the point where I think everything was better "back then", but I have been accused of living in the past more than once. I was a shy, seriously introverted person during my formative years, at least until my first quarter of college, and by then I had missed out on how I was supposed to behave in the "real world". So the mistakes I made before college were of omission, and those made since have been of commission. Some people think I have some sort of wisdom or intelligence (no, really, there are a few out there!), but all I really have is the sum of my gleanings from my own terrifically bad decisions or moves born out of a bad combination of desperation and naïvete. I have a lot of memories of actions taken or not taken that cause me regret and embarrassment, and from those I derive whatever hard-won "wisdom" I might have.
What does this have to do with Vegas? Those who know me best already know; one of my worst moves ever was my precipitate first marriage to Asmodeus. The Dark Lord. Beelzebub. Lord of the Flies. The Archduke of Hell. He-who-must-not-be-named. Satan comes in many forms, and at least one of them was female and was my first wife. We lived in Las Vegas for the longest 7 months in recorded history. Seriously, the abuses (mental and verbal) I suffered then at her hands scarred me straight--I was wiped clean of the last vestiges of naïvete about what the world was like and what I could do to make it better.
On the other hand, I like Las Vegas. I've had some pretty good times there, before and since my sojourn into the bleak depths of Hell. I like gambling and the fact that there is always something to do in Vegas means I never get bored. And I get to eat a lot of different things, all at the same meal, if I want! The nostalgist in me likes visiting places I've lived before, but living there was torturous--I get a weird mixed bag of emotions when I go there. The pain was so intense and nightmarish to me, though, it has become paradoxically easy to forget it. I know I did all I could to make that marriage work (to my lasting detriment, in some ways) but that means there is nothing about the experience to regret other than the choice to enter into it, which I did while living in SoCal. And any embarrassment I have about putting myself into a relationship like that is relatively muted by its attendant horrors.
I'm going to Vegas today with 3 of my most cherished people in the world. So, yay!