You've heard the phrase "The jokes write themselves." Sometimes it's true. And when you're driving two teenage boys to Dick's Sporting Goods to buy a basketball, a soccer ball, and some ping-pong balls, the jokes are simply unavoidable.
"Hey, we're going to Dick's to buy some balls." Huh-huh.
"I like Dick's." Huh-huh.
"Yeah, me too. Dick's has good balls." Huh-huh.
And that was just me.
I kid. I kid. Speaking of jokes ... I wish the Democrats running Congress and the White House would stop fooling around and act like grown-ups. They're supposed to be in charge, remember?
Fifteen months ago, the economy was in free-fall. The people were weary of Bush and Cheney. The Republicans, led by an elderly senator and a ditzy governor, were in disarray.
President Obama rode a wave of popularity and hope into office. The Electoral College vote margin was overwhelming. The popular vote margin was decisive. The Democrats won a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and an 80-seat advantage in the House. If ever there was a mandate for changing the status quo, this was it.
To make things even easier, for months after the election, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh was the titular head of the GOP. Republican leaders were on the ropes, waiting for the knockout blow, groveling in front of El Rushbo on the radio.
So what did the Democrats do with all that clout? They made a drawn-out attempt at "bipartisan" legislation to fix our chaotic and inefficient health-care system. The stated goal was to provide affordable medical care for all Americans. The result: a health-care bill so bloated and laden with favors to Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and individual states that it seems destined to implode under the weight of its own obesity.
Bush and the Republicans were much better at getting what they wanted. And that's because they didn't give a crap about being bipartisan. And they kept public policy simple. If you couldn't fit it on a bumper sticker, it was too complicated. With a tiny margin in the Senate, Bush & Co. managed to ram into law just about anything they wanted.
Obama and the Democrats need to quit playing touchy-feely while the other side plays tackle. They've got the votes; they just need the moxie. Or maybe they just need to go to Dick's and buy a pair.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
Time moves in one direction, memory in another. — William Gibson
This week, an old friend sent me a photo of myself, circa 1978. In the picture, I was thin, long-haired, and standing barefoot on the porch of an old farmhouse where we lived, just outside of Columbia, Missouri. It was a shock to see it. I don't remember my friends and I taking many photographs, and I didn't remember this moment ...