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Tag: election

Cliche’ Alert: “The Camino provides”

….but, if you allow it, the cliche' becomes true.

After a very relaxing afternoon and restful night at La Morena, an oasis of its own, we hit the trail at 7am and sunrise for another day. Their last day on their Camino.

Another beautiful Camino morning for all who are up to enjoy it.

Our morning went on with searches for breakfast and allowed us fresh zumo de naranjara , as Brierley's book was no so bueno.

We finally found a crusty couple who opened up their bar fashionably late, seemed to be irritated by pilgrims, but actually had real food that was not commercially wrapped in plastic. More zumo and croissant pour moi. It was delicious and came with a healthy serving of disgust. Buen Camino.

Hours later, we made it through our walk, very personal conversations, and fine vistas to reach the ceremonial mid-point of the Camino. For Jen & Ron, it was time to stop, for now, stay the night in Sahugan, train back to Madrid, and fly home to Massachusetts.

I've never met a happy, American couple on the Camino like them. Americans are rare anyway. We are typically solo and have reasons to be here alone. Jen and Ron had been here before. Time only allowed them their St Jean to Sahagún Camino over two weeks, as they still have careers back home….and a sweet beagle and two grown kids too.

We hugged, exchanged phone numbers, and settled up the €3 each for beers and ample, free tapas that we inhaled quite nicely on Sahagún's Plaza Mayor. And off I went…

My Camino continues for a couple of more hours and I pass a young lady that seems to be grinding out each step and an Italian couple who is about done like me.

Another small village awaits to provide a nice bed and lots of delicious food and conversation over vino tinto . First, at check-in, the nice Italian couple walks in and kindly offers me Italian and Spanish lessons about requests for non-peregrino menu options….nice effort. Hot shower and clean clothes later, and I'm outside with all cafe tables occupied. Very nice German couple that I had exchanged pleasantries with over days had a seat at their table. I asked. They obliged with smiles. Lovely, lovely couple. After an hour or so, they had to go and meet a bike delivery van to help speed up their Camino to fit their German life back home. Peddling to Astorga tomorrow. Not moments after they left, a young girl leaves her table and her parents as well. I recognize them from the last few towns too and ask to join them. Another sweet couple from France and their 3 teenage kids, with two other families, totaling 14 on their walking Camino. Lots of stories there. We talked about family, politics, and other cultural things until their sleeping kids arose and joined us for tapas and cola drinks.

A young man sitting beside alone finally chimed in when I was inspired to whip out my jaunty, Cockney accent to make a point "there guvnah!" He is a philosophy graduate from London, who's father is Indian and mother is Nordic. Handsome chap with a wealth of conversation. Thus, he must join me for dinner.

He reminded me of that fellow in "Lion" and the "Marigold" hotel movies. Young, smart, global, and fairly seasoned for a man of 25.

We both shunned the peregrino menu and ordered the grilled steak and chips (double insalata for me, no chips). Delicious slab of beef was devoured by each of us. €9 each with a shared bottle of vino tinto. Like our long, very personal conversation, that meal was a joy and nourishing beyond food.

We settled up at the bar, since no one auto-presents the check here…take your time in Espana….and we said our good nights.

That was one remarkable, global day that will never be repeated. I love that.

Most of us shall meet again. No doubt.

Buen Camino.

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What America do you want to take back?

http://wp.me/p2kJMT-2b

2000 redux. No joke. Sad.

Is this 2012 or 2000? Twelve years wasted by two guys I voted for. I gave up today. No vote. That’s my privilege. My passport is ready…

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve pretty much stopped watching all cable news shows and all the minions that derive from those shows.  I’ve even enjoyed  my own personal ban on watching the political conventions over the summer and presidential debates this fall.  It may just be that I’m tired of the “take our country back” thing.  Are Americans really trying to take this country back from something evil or are we trying to take this country back in time?  It’s another rhetorical question. 

However, I’m going to give the rhetoric a shot.  I won’t give evil any credibility in this blog.  No evil  people rule our country right now. Just people. That’s all. Just human beings. Flawed as they may be.  Thus, let’s take a look at taking America back in time, to a much better time and place.

I can only assume that we want to look at the last 100 years or so and not prior to that. I think that the indoor plumbing, less disease, really good life spans, & lower infant mortality century is probably the best place to start.

Do we want to take America back to the horse and buggy era?  Probably not. Henry Ford knew what he was doing.  What about the Roaring Twenties with that fun, free loving, drinking, just do what feels right time…in other words, the 1990’s.  Both decades experienced great economic times, great fun and faux wealth generated, and a huge bubble that was about to pop in a very big way.  Shall we go there again?  How about the thirty’s and forty’s with the Great Depression and World War 2?  We call those folks the greatest generation for good reason. No joking there. Do we possibly want to take America back to those significant challenges? 

Hey, the 1950’s! That was a time of peace and prosperity the likes we will probably never know again!  Oh, but, let’s think about our children huddled under their school desks trying to fend off a nuclear holocaust.  really?  The Cold War probably did make people shiver just a bit.  No thanks.

Oh, but those swingin’ early JFK 1960’s…love songs and cigarettes and booze…you know, the Rat Pack thing.  classic.  The kind of era that leads to fantastic liver disease, hearty melanoma, lung cancer, and, worst of all, an excess of ex-wives to torture us. No thanks.

Baby Boomer alert!   Do you remember that America of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s and, really, all through the depressing 1970’s?  Failure of real leadership was all around us, plus high interest rates, gas lines, plus terrible economic conditions…and….disco.  Need I go on?   

The next decade was my favorite. Actually, it still is my favorite…if looking backwards is healthy. Ronald Reagan was the grandfather I never had. He was a hero to me as a child and still is as a middle age man today.  That very decade may never be repeated, since we just don’t have any leader right now who can bring opposing sides together for a consensus and actually move America forward in a constructive and fiscally responsible way. 

Much like the 1920’s, the 1990’s came with huge growth, explosion of faux wealth, and then a big ol’ bubble that just had to pop!  But, enough about Monica Lewinsky. Let’s talk about the 2000’s.

“Help is on the way!” That was the sign that was in my yard through the 2000 election process and even through those 42 days or so I remember into December, as we couldn’t figure out who our next  president would be….yikes, what a decade that followed.  Past justifiably blowing up a country that attacked us, we went into a war that really wasn’t necessary. And we’ve lost thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives, in the process of senseless war.  Is that the America we want to take back?

Now, here we are. Hope & Change, part deux.  Re-elect Prez No Hope …or…elect Prez No Change.  That is our choice, it seems.

I do believe that I will take door number 3, Monty!  (1970’s game show reference, y’all).  I simply choose not to vote for either guy. I know. I know. Many men and women have died for my right to vote. However, I see any sacrifice on my behalf as simply offering me the ability to not vote, if I so choose.   That, my friends, is real freedom. 

I have no desire to take America back from anyone, anything, nor any ideal that we imagine was better than where we are today.  I just have a remarkable desire for my kids to grow up happy and healthy…and for anyone, who wants to find their new America,  wherever that be… in Central America, South America, or the America we all know here in North America…to each his or her own.

Rest assured, there’s no taking back of America in any way, shape, or form.  America is always a work in progress. 236 years of remarkable performance, lacking, succeeding, starving, thriving, and whatever else you want to throw at it… and here we are.  No one leader can possibly fix what ails us, as a nation. There are hundreds needed to seek consensus in Washington DC. There are thousands more in state capitals all across America. And millions of Citizens who can make real things happen for real change. It’s not about 1 guy in the White House.  

This first Tuesday in November, 2012, will have no effect on the destiny of America. The Destiny of  America is determined by its people. And its people can find its own America in its own little home towns or somewhere in some country of Central America or whatever America you wanna make wherever you want to make it.  Horace Greeley said “Go West, young man”, way back in the day. But, today, it’s go wherever life takes you, young man. Go find your freedom, wherever it maybe. Go find your success, wherever it maybe. Go find your love, life, and pursuit of happiness for your family wherever it may be, young and not so. 

Let’s not take America back to anything. Let’s just take our own America, whatever that may be, to a much better place.

God’s speed. God’s speed, to you all…wherever He may lead you.

p.s. timely link. Heady read @NYTIMES :

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/the-self-destruction-of-the-1-percent.xml

Emancipation….no, really….

Emancipation. That word has almost a singular meaning to most  Americans. You know. That part of our history that we don’t want to think about. That part where President Lincoln emancipated a group of people that shoulda been free to begin with.  This week, that word took on a totally new meaning for me.  A new meaning that almost motivates this guy to drive all the way to a particular state capital and kiss a particular old governor on the lips….but, I digress. 

We really should be free. This country was billed as the “land of the free”.  This week, according to our current vice president, we are headed back to slavery in one form or another if the wrong guy is elected to the White House.  Politics is a really funny thing sometimes. 

To what extent it can be controlled, the election is not about tax returns, who’s better in the White House, who’s more American, etc…this election is truly about who’s facing reality and who’s not. 

Politicians are quick to condemn those who don’t live within their means over the last few years yet will not to face the fact that the government has not lived within its means for 15 years.  Typical politics and hypocrisy go hand in hand right off the fiscal cliff that everyone’s talking about today. 

Mitt Romney doesn’t have to release his tax returns to prove what kind of successful businessman or shrewd ROI guy he is. We all know that. We also know the real hope and change is really hard to come by. So the President has no credibility with his record of little change and very little hope.

In the words of Joe Biden himself, we need to “unchain!!!” America in more ways than one and believe in people to do what they can do to make their lives better… better for their family, better for the community, and better for the country, as a whole.  

As individuals in this country, we need to unchain ourselves from stuff. Stuff.  You never own stuff. Stuff owns you.  That is a fact. 

If we can eventually elect the right people who actually balance rugged individualism with a level of government  only for the most basic safety nets & promises fulfilled… well, we will have a future for this country that’s promising, hopeful, and delivers real change we really need.

That’s the emancipation that every man, woman, child, and business needs in this country very soon.  Alas, I think we’re 4 to 8 years away before any reality check really hits Washington DC. That’s why Panama, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Belize seem so darn attractive to me. 

As for this election in 2012, I’m not holding my breath and you shouldn’t either.  

Find your own emancipation! 

Bedwetters unite! Brilliant.

“The Bedwetter Caucus” via WSJ editorial page today

“That didn’t take long. Much as we predicted last week, the Republican Party’s Bedwetter Caucus has emerged on schedule to explain why Mitt Romney can’t possibly win the election with Paul Ryan on the ticket.

“GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan,” reported Politico, the website with perfect Beltway pitch, on Tuesday: “In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives—old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike—the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.”

Mr. Romney’s catastrophic blunder, it seems, is that he chose a running mate who does more than talk about reforming government. He’s really tried to do it, and this is simply not done in Presidential politics.

“I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big,” said one of the “pros,” Mark McKinnon.

Since advising George W. Bush, Mr. McKinnon has moved on to co-found “No Labels,” an outfit that claims to promote the Golden Mean in politics. A better name for the group is No Principles, so it’s understandable he’d be uncomfortable with a conviction politician like Mr. Ryan. But give Mr. McKinnon credit for at least going on the record, unlike the other worry-warts.

Republicans who believe in something can console themselves in knowing that these “pros” are reflecting the Washington conventional wisdom. Nearly everyone in the Beltway thinks it’s impossible to reform entitlements like Medicare, and or even to restrain the size of government, so why would a candidate be foolish enough to try?

This crowd is good at forecasting the political future as a repetition of the past and present, but as Irving Kristol used to say, they aren’t very good at predicting the turns. We’ll see if this year is one of those turns.

Meantime, the “pros” willing to shoot their candidate in the back are one more reason that voters have contempt for the political class, and why most Republicans who don’t live in Washington are delighted with the choice of Mr. Ryan.”

A version of this article appeared August 15, 2012, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Journal

Dependence Days

So much to reflect upon this time of year, when we celebrate independence day again with our family and friends. We celebrate freedom like no other country in the world, yet we are dependent on other countries like no other country in the world.  America’s greatest days are probably behind us at this point. It’s just a hunch. True leadership and heroes of this generation and generations to come seem to be in very short supply.

Real leadership and heroic decisions have been replaced by pure politics and the art of distraction.  The old right to life vs. right to choose has been replaced by the new healthcare-for-all vs. Obamacare. No compromise. No leadership. No solutions. Just arguments and the futility of politics. That is the new American way. 

There is one glaring, major issue in this upcoming election to be settled. But, I fear it will not be addressed over the coming four years. Both candidates have very similar art of distraction game-plans. And I’m just not that impressed with either. Dual citizenship is a real option and I think it may just be time to take a look at such a solution for our second half of life.  Why now? Simply put, we are now facing 15,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt with 20,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt coming fast.  Once we get to $20t or $25t, how do we ever come back?  Well, maybe Governor Chris Christie knows, but, certainly, two presidential candidates do not.  The math re: revenue vs. expense projections makes me cringe.

Today’s America resembles nothing of the truly independent America of 200 + years ago. Thank God, in one way. Abolishing slavery was the greatest social triumph known to the American experience ever.  However, why are we so ambivalent to the debt crisis that enslaves this country today?  Healthcare will not ruin this country. Obamacare will not ruin this country. Abortion debates will not ruin this country. Taxes will not make or break this country. But, if we ignore increasing debt and never balance our budget again, it will rip apart any positive future of America, as we know it.  As the election of 2012 approaches, it looks like it may be too late. 

One of my many cliches has been “hope for the best …but, plan for the worst”. It’s just a good philosophy and it will serve this one family very well in the future.  Our founding fathers’ America is no more.  The America of my childhood is no more.  There’s no more Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, nor Ronald Reagan left in the bunch of so-called “leaders”.  Unless we’re on the public gravy-train of some form or fashion, we are left to our own devices to figure out this life, what’s best for our families, and just how to take on the future.  This 21st century is looking more like the new 18th century where we replaced England’s suppression with the suppression of entitlement and the debt it requires…and the upcoming election of 2012 will do nothing to change that. 

Recent tweet from @GovChristie : “We need leaders who are willing to take risks.” 10min worth watching @

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