What Do House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the iPad Have In Common?

24 01 2011

 

 

 

Both are small and partially made of plastic? No. Both are viewed as smug symbols of elitism by some Tea Party-ers? Maybe. It sort of depends on who you’re asking. The answer is that the public will be receiving both the iPad 2 and Pelosi 2.0 this year. If you’re wondering if this post is going to be both a bit of political theorizing and some nerd-girl swooning over a yet-to-be-released, shiny, new tech toy, the answer is yes. Why? Because I’m just that geeky.

Yes, technophiles are waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the iPad 2’s release date and many, myself among them, will head out to reserve one as soon as they are able to and then, once the happy day arrives, they will wait in insanely long lines for hours to, at long last, hold in their hands the second generation iPad. The clouds will part, beams of sunlight will pour warmly down from the heavens, celestial choirs will sing, and it will be Christmas in … whenever… for thousands of Apple lovers. The announcement has been expected for months and there are various theories about when it will come, many stemming from people with too much time on their hands analyzing every one of the few details they can get ahold of.  Those details are very few indeed and speculation is rampant, so take it all with several grains of salt. I’ve been casually following the iPostulating at Beatweek and I’ve also looked at Mac Rumors, where I pulled this picture from, and while there is a lot that’s just talk, these are some features that are generally accepted due to the surfacing of the photos of what are supposed to be iPad 2 cases made in China. Apparently, somebody doesn’t know how to keep a secret.

No doubt some of the silence surrounding the release date has to do with Apple’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, taking another medical leave of absence – this time without setting a date when he’ll be back. Jobs took a medical leave in 2006 in order to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer and another in 2009 to undergo a liver transplant. With a medical history like that, the level of concern expressed by everyone from stock market analysts to run of the mill Apple fans is understandable. I join the chorus of those wishing Mr. Jobs a speedy return to health.

So nobody who’s able to confirm anything to the rest of us knows when the iPad 2 is coming or what fabulous things it’s going to be able to do when it gets here, yet many people are anxiously waiting, blogging, and talking about a device that Apple won’t acknowledge even exists yet. The question then becomes why. Why are so many people so excited by the sequel to the iPad? History. Apple functions on a very predictable schedule and has for several years now. They come up with a great product and then, within a year or two, the second generation is released and they have:

* Fixed all of the inevitable bugs that go along with anything 1.0.

* Created a buzz which results from their 1.0 being so good – a device that has become the gold standard in its category or damn close. For example, nobody says mp3 player. We all talk about iPods.

* Figured out what “it would be awesome if this thing had/could do ____” and added that feature to the second gen. product if it’s at all possible.

A bit of patience tends to be rewarded if the newest Apple gadget is your heart’s desire. As a bonus, most of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc generations don’t change a whole lot from the second gen. device – maybe they’ll have more memory or look a little cooler – until

there’s a major innovation (think classic to iPod touch) that really warrants an upgrade, so your second generation product stays current for a few years and you get your money’s worth which always feels rewarding when you’re dealing with techno toys. Since the iPad’s debut I have been waiting for all of the reasons I have described. As I recall, the iPad didn’t have much in the way of new device bugs. There were, however, things people wanted to see added or improved. The speakers could’ve been stronger. Many people want to see a camera added. I’m not among their number, but nobody called to ask my opinion. More

memory is a plus. The biggest thing I heard about was the screen’s glare issue, so that might be dealt with. The newest iPhone has a super high-resolution Retina Display screen. While this article says the iPad 2 won’t have it, an improvement in resolution and less glare is all but a given, especially given that an ad for Amazon’s Kindle e reader took a swipe at the iPad over the glare-prone screen. Throwing my own hat into the release date guessing game, I’ll say that we’ll have an announcement before June and I’ll have my iPad 2 in hand by December 1st.

On the political front, the House Minority Leader’s public image upgrade is looking to be on about the same time-table as my future iPad2. Starting well before the mid-term elections Nancy Pelosi had become the arch-villain in the Republican’s fairy tale of why everything that’s wrong with DC and perhaps even the world is the fault of the evil, no good, country-destroying, monolithic left. Even though sensible people on either side can take a look around and see that laying the blame for problems that were quietly growing in complexity for decades – even reaching back to the Reagan years in some cases – at the feet of Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid, or even the Democrats as a group as the foolishness it is, Nancy Pelosi has become the personification of every one of our nation’s ill and all that’s hated about the nature of bureaucracy in general for many on the right. Her name was invoked to great effectiveness in campaigns by conservatives against then-incumbent Democrats during the mid-terms and conservative commentators on TV and in radio take every opportunity to skewer her for whatever’s making them unhappy at that particular moment. Glenn Beck was already joking about poisoning her in 2009. Some might say the character assassinations have worked a little too well. Last April, a man was arrested for threatening the then-Speaker of the House and I’m sure that not the first or the last threat she’s received. Unfortunately, it seems death threats are par for the political course. That’s nothing new of course – Abraham Lincoln kept a file of his in his desk at the White House – but just because it’s an old idea doesn’t make it acceptable. In short, whether you like Minority Leader Pelosi or not, you have to admit that she’s become politically radioactive – a pariah even among some members of her own party.

Despite her notoriously gaffe prone, generally nervous performances in press conferences and such which I attribute to a touch of stage fright (You can actually see her freeze up before she starts to trip over her words.), she is, contrary to popular belief, not a dumb woman. You don’t work you way up through the congressional leadership and become the most powerful woman in American political history by being an idiot. While the American public at large might decide to vote a likable doofus into the presidency, our Representatives take voting for their majority leaders, minority leaders, and speakers of the House very seriously. They vote for the one among them who can get things done and, whether you like the results or not, Nancy Pelosi got a lot done and she was able to keep most of the House Democrats in rank even after the Republicans took control at the beginning of the month. The fact that only three broke ranks to vote for a repeal of Healthcare Reform is a testament to her abilities. Still, she can’t do much when her public image is this toxic. She has to do some damage control… and it looks like she is. She has, for the most part, been able to avoid a lot of media attention with the exception of a few interviews. There are not many pictures of her coming out, so she’s generally under the radar. She wasn’t front and center at the memorial for the victims of the shoot in Tucson. She was the only member of the congressional leadership to attend the state dinner that was held for China’s President Hu Jintao, but I challenge you to find a picture of her there. Even the fact that she stuck around after losing the Speakership reflects well on her and casts a new light on someone reportedly only in it for the power and the parties and such. By just lying low and keeping as quite as the House Minority Leader can be expected to be, she’s keeping herself from become the story. That doesn’t sound like much but in six months, when the 2012 election cycle really gets underway, it will be much harder for Republicans to use her as the poster woman for why all liberals should be despised if she hasn’t said or done anything overly controversial in the last several months. If she can stay in the background while Speaker Boehner and the Republicans try to get their agenda legislated and take the political flak that comes with doing so, she’ll begin to look more like a person and less like the demon she’s been cast as. In fact, the Republicans might come to regret posting that “Hire Pelosi” sign over the RNC. They underestimate her at their own peril.

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Snow, Chaos, and the Merchant of Hate

12 01 2011

According to this, we got the most snow this state has ever seen in one day. That’s saying something considering the state is Connecticut. It’s up to my hips. I don’t think I’ve seen this much snow at one time. I have dug out and am feeling the results.

This is the Amalfi Coast in Italy and that is where I have been wishing I was all day today. The warm sun, a glass of wine, and gorgeous men sounds great right now.

There’s too much going on in the aftermath of the shooting in Arizona, my previous post‘s topic not to go back to it and, since I couldn’t do much other than dig out I’ve had a decent amount of time to work on this. Here is my opus magnum. On Monday evening, Bill O’Reilly said on his Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor that those calling for the political debate in this country to take a more civil tone in the wake of the shooting of a congresswoman “Merchants of Hate” because some on the left had taken the opportunity to go after various conservative voices, naming them as potential (unintentional) accessories to the crime before anything was known about the shooter. Go figure. He singled out national publication which had specified specific individuals like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann or groups like the Tea Party-ites, conservatives, or the right in general but expanded his point to include anyone who had put out ideas about lowering the intensity level of our nation’s partisan tone. So you say “can’t we all treat each other properly ’cause somebody could get hurt” and you’re labeled a Merchant of Hate.

I expected being an evil, nation-destroying villain would be different to tell you the truth. I mean, do I get a costume? Do I get a scythe? A mace? A cat o’ nine tails? It seems like a Merchant of Hate should have something dangerous, painful, and medieval in their hand. I’m envisioning a combination of the grim reaper, a ringwraith, and a dominatrix (or the male version thereof). “Beware, you are in the presence of a Merchant of Hate. Hey, are those BBQ potato chips? Sweet!”

Mr. O’Reilly also made a claim that it was all due to a great liberal fear of the left-wing dissolving. That’s madness plain and simple. The left-wing isn’t going anywhere. Even in the good old conservative days of Father Knows Best, mandatory prayer in schools, the acceptance of the use of every racial, ethnic, religious, and social slurs except those pertaining to white, protestant, middle or upper class men – the days before the Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation, or the first Pride Parade was ever thought of – there was still a left-wing. Don’t believe me? Look up “Joe McCarthy” to see how scared they got people. They were always there and, no matter how small or large their number, conservatives have always been screaming that they would destroy the country and should be stopped. News flash, Mr. O’Reilly, the left is not going away. There’s been a political shift, a common occurrence in this country, but, barring some large-scale, Mao-style re-education effort or the far right wingnuts getting the right to make arrests on sedition or treason charges, there will still be a population of liberal thinkers in this country involved in politics, voting, and serving in elected office. If the our system of national government can accommodate the views of the likes of Ron Paul in can also handle those held by people like Nancy Pelosi and everyone else on the spectrum. It’s been making things work in spite of our elected officials’ flaws for 235 years and I have faith in it. I find it strange that some who would wrap themselves in the mantle of patriotism and Americana would view the building blocks of our country as so easily able to be broken. Come on, we’re stronger than that.

I might be a Merchant of Hate according to Mr. O’Reilly, but I stand by my statements in my last post. I don’t care what the shooter’s motive was. If thousands of people – not the usual punditry suspects, but average people – hear that a member of congress was shot and start talking about tempering political rhetoric, that should be a hint that maybe there’s a problem there. Why not be proactive and curb our collective enthusiasm before it gets someone hurt and for goodness sake don’t ramp it up just for the hell of it ,or because you like controversy, or because you think your base will love it. I still believe that the caustic nature of our national climate is unhealthy and should be diffused, not through the passage of legislation, but through a little self-restraint on the part of our leaders and those who put their political opinions out for all to see (myself included).

This evening, The President spoke at the University of Arizona at a memorial for the victims of this senseless act. His eloquence served him well. I found his thoughts about the youngest victim, nine-year old Christina Taylor Green – words about public service viewed as nobel through the innocent lenses of a child’s eyes. “I want to live up to her expectations,” he said. Why not try? Seriously, let’s make the effort. There’s no downside that I can see to treating politicians like people instead of demons. A few paragraphs back, I mention having faith in our governmental process. Well, since I’m in a quoting mood, Ella Grasso, the former governor of Connecticut – the first woman elected governor in her own right – is quoted as saying “It is not enough to profess faith in the democratic process; we must do something about it.” We need to do something about the way we debate. We need to not take the easy way out – the systematic shredding of an opponent’s humanity as opposed to taking them to task on the more academic, less sensational realm of stands on issues, and economic plans, and polling data and all the other nuts and bolts of policy wonkery. Another politician who is way before my time said in his inaugural address “So let us begin anew remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” The topic of John F. Kennedy’s quote was the Cold War. Compared to that, partisan hyperbole seems a lot easier to handle.

If you missed it, this is the President’s speech and the University of Arizona.





One More Day ‘Till It’s Over

1 11 2010

Am I the only one who is tired of the endless election cycle this country seems to be caught in? I remember when there used to be actual news reported on “the news” – you know, stories about people, places and events that are in no way connected to voting. Ah, those were the Good Ol’ Days! Now we’ll get a few weeks to recover and then the airwaves will be filled with who is or isn’t running for president. It’s maddening and I can’t help but wonder what we aren’t hearing about thanks to all this election coverage, speculation, pontificating, and general crappola. What are we missing? A lot, I’ll bet, but honestly, would you rather be knowledgable about the world or the Tea Party candidates chances of “taking the country back”. I’m not sure where they plan to take us to, by the way, but they’d like to take us somewhere.

My own predictions? Yes, the Democrats looks like they are about to get monumentally spanked. Yes, they will most likely lose the House of Representatives and the presumptive new Speaker of the House is John Boehner – the Man with the Tan. If they don’t take the Senate it will be very close. Angle will beat Reid in Nevada and O’Donnell will get pwned by Coons in Delaware and prove that just saying you hate DC and liberals and Obama and masturbation isn’t enough to get you elected – you still need at least an ounce of qualification. As for my state, I think Blumenthal will pull out a win, but I doubt that we’ll give up our 20 year love affair with Republican governors – a love affair that I don’t think has been good for us, but hey, what do I know?

I would be lying if I said that I was anxious to vote, or that I thought I would make a difference or anything else like that. I’m apathetic at best and totally unmoved by my choices. There isn’t even a candidate running that I am all that pleased to be voting against. I’m voting because about a month ago I wrote a post about how people shouldn’t complain about the outcome of elections they don’t bother voting in and I know that it will be impossible

for me to not fuss if we end up with two Republican senators misrepresenting my interests. In my opinion, if you campaign for a Republican, you are one. Someone just hasn’t told Joe Lieberman that yet. So I have to vote because otherwise I will be a hypocrite, which would be bad enough, but I know people who read this blog and when I see them they will call me out on not voting. So I will leave my home and go and vote – I’ll even vote for one of those two fools running for governor – in an effort to avoid hypocrisy.

I think that this election will be blown out of proportion by everyone. Democrats will ring their hands and cry “Woe are we” when everyone knows we work best under a bit of pressure. Plus when legislation eventually gets bogged down and fails, the Republicans will have some failures to deal with instead of just a list of things they don’t like. They will now have a stake in the outcome of things and that is a good thing. While the Democrats are “woe”ing, the Republicans will be crowing about how fabulous they are and how they are the voice of everything patriotic and they will ratchet up the anti-Democrat/Obama rhetoric. I won’t be surprised if we hear rumblings about finding a reason to impeach the President and everyone in his cabinet before Christmas. They will have forgotten that the only thing the public at large usually dislikes more than a sore loser in a sore winner.

And then there will be the Tea Party-ers and the pundits who love them. They will decree that this one election proves that the nation as a whole a ready to be “Tea Party-ized” back to simpler times. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there were never “simpler times”. As much as we love to romanticize our history, people have always been the same. Their motives have not always been admirable. Their actions have sometimes been less than noble. Sometimes we were right as a nation and sometimes we weren’t. Also, most if not all of the issues we view as “modern-day”  have always been there in one form or another and have always been contentious. They won’t be disappearing any time soon and they aren’t as easily solved as some might think. Not everyone desires a return to the financial and social climate of the 1890’s or the 1950’s and even if everyone did, you can’t go backwards. The past can always be learned from, but never recreated. So, while I do think the tea party people will have gotten a few of their own into positions of power, I think they are in for a rude awakening as far as how much of their platforms they will actually be able to implement which doesn’t break my heart.

I could be wrong about all of this. Hate my predictions? Well, go vote and maybe something else will happen. Even if you are as apathetic as I am, go out and vote so you can complain about it later.





A Brief Note on the Great American Wedding

1 08 2010

In case you’ve been hiding in a cave or lost at sea all week, I’ll fill you in. Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former president Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, got married yesterday to her longtime boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky, in Rhinebeck, NY and the whole country is talking about it. The total cost, which designer’s gown the bride would be wearing, and the guest list were sources of speculation for weeks and nearly everyone from style columnists to world news organizations to blogs devoted to the possibility of a “Hillary 2012” presidential run all had something to say about the event. Rhinebeck took all of the hullabaloo in stride and seemed to throw a party of its own in honor of the bride and groom.

In the end, the ceremony was not as opulent or star-studded as some had claimed. The bride wore a gown by Vera Wang. Her mother’s dress was by Oscar de la Renta. Chelsea’s 92-year-old grandmother, seen in the background of the photo above with her daughter, the Secretary of State, also looked great and earns a mention for no other reason than she is the bride’s grandmother and must have been very happy for her. Actually, aside from a few notables like Ted Danson and Madeleine Albright, the guests were unknown to the general public – family, friends, and co-workers of the bride and groom. No Oprah. No big political donors. No random stars. This was not about the bride’s famous parents. This was, as a wedding ought to be, about the bride and groom and everyone looked thrilled for them except one person at one moment. Walking his only child down the aisle, the former president vaguely resembled a man being lead to a firing squad, but I think that’s par for the course for fathers of brides. In this article from the New York Post, the Secretary of State/Mother of the Bride made some comments on this very thing.

“You should assume that if he makes it down the aisle in one piece it’s a major accomplishment,” Hillary Clinton said of her husband in comments to NBC broadcast Monday from Pakistan.
“He is going to be so emotional, as am I, but we’re both looking forward to it and very happy about it,” she said.

Mission accomplished, Mr. President.

Weddings are always optimistic affairs. They’re full of hope for the future regardless of who’s getting married. I think the national fascination with the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding is actually good for the Great American Psyche particularly now in the midst of a miserable recession, two long, costly wars, and millions of other more personal problems for those that were paying attention to the news for details of the marriage of two young people in Rhinebeck. The pre-wedding rumors were fairly innocuous considering what has been said about the Clintons over the past twenty years or so. It was mostly about the cost of the event and which rich and famous people would be there. The media coverage was pretty mainstream as opposed to photographers trying to climb fences or repel down from trees – generally a bad idea when the Secret Service is on patrol. Several photos and a statement were released promptly by the family following the ceremony to give the country its fix so those in attendance could party the night away in relative peace. This is that statement which I took from here.

“Today we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends,” the Clintons said in a statement. “We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family.”

Everyone seemed to respect the views of everyone else. The people of Rhinebeck made a sizable deal out of playing host to what some are calling the wedding of the year but, in the end, they left the family and other guests as alone as they are ever allowed to be. The media didn’t invade Astor Courts , the wedding venue, and the Clintons and Mezvinskys understood and accepted the curiosity of a generally well-intentioned public. The day was beautiful and everything went well and all that’s left to say is congratulations and best wishes to the bride, groom, and their newly-united family.