As we begin 2013, here are some observations about recent events and personal peeves:
- The adults in the White House and the Congress finally got together to resolve the “fiscal cliff.” Yes, it took until the last minute – or, more precisely, 24 hours after the last minute – but I think the fact of a deadline, whether it be legislative, collective bargaining, fiscal year ending, etc., makes that dynamic inevitable. That voices on both the right and left are displeased only enhances the idea that the deal is reasonable. Those on the left have never forgiven President Obama – who campaigned in 2008 as someone who could bridge differences – for, uh, trying to bridge differences through the necessity of compromising. It remains troubling, however, that the Tea Party continues to govern the Republican agenda even though it represents a minority of the GOP. One report I saw said that “40 to 50” Representatives were able to block passage of any legislation increasing taxes when Speaker John Boehner attempted a compromise two weeks ago. They are able to achieve that result because non-Tea Party members are afraid of being “primaried” – facing a more right-wing challenger in a Republican primary. To put it in perspective, less than 12 per cent of House members are often able to block action, although I guess that is more democratic than the Senate where one member can prevent some actions.
- He is often the subject of ridicule, but Joe Biden is the absolutely indispensable member of the Obama Administration. Yes, he sometimes makes impolitic remarks, but the guy gets things done, whether it is taking the lead on the “fiscal cliff” negotiations or on foreign affairs. Thanks to The Onion, we have an image of a shirtless guy washing his convertible while drinking beer. (It’s actually a portrait I enjoy.) Check out Andrew Sullivan’s post on this (which also includes yet another photo from The Onion.)
- Slate.com is running a daily count of those killed by guns since the horror of Newtown. I support the “right to bear arms,” but that does not mean that we should not have sensible restrictions on semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines and background checks anytime someone seeks to purchase a gun.
- I guess all it took for the Clintons to once again become the target of the right was for Obama to be reelected. Mitt Romney’s efforts to align with Bill Clinton were ludicrous, but the vitriol now being displayed against Hillary is downright nauseating. It is one thing to disagree with someone, but right-wing commentators saying that she is faking her current medical conditions borders on the depraved.
- Ross Douthat, one of The New York Times‘ designated hitters from the conservative side of the plate, makes this New Year’s resolution-worthy suggestion: each of us should read regularly a publication that has a different political perspective than our own. While I hate to make resolutions since my chances of sticking to them are limited, this is one I will make. You can see if I keep it from references over the coming year to those opinion-makers contrary to my 0wn (current) ones.
- Equidaily.com is an essential daily stop for all fans of horse racing. It aggregates notable pieces from around the horse racing universe. I have been flattered that they have often linked to my blog.
- Am I the only person in America who turns down the sound when Brent Musburger is announcing a football game? My earliest recollection of him was when he compared a college quarterback to the Mona Lisa whatever that meant. But I have since realized that the next piece of useful information he imparts will be the first. I foolishly left the sound on for last night’s Rose Bowl in which, at the outset, he attempted to inject a level of significance comparable to that of what the Second Coming may be like. Even in the second half he was telling us where a player was from. His sidekick, “Herbie,” is no better, and the pair regularly get confused if time is stopped, not knowing if it is for a penalty or timeout. And this is the only thing the two of them have to pay attention to. My fear, based on last night’s useless commentary, is that they will be doing Notre Dame – Alabama.
- But I may be too harsh. One of the towns a player is from is Chandler, Arizona that was featured on last week’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Arizona, the state that has brought us Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Secretary of State who doesn’t think Obama is American, and the Attorney General who thinks school principals should pack heat, has an even more distinctive quality. The Chandler City Hall has a sign over toilet bowls advising people not to drink from the toilet bowl. The sign is there because the water feeding the bowls is from a recycled gray water that is not potable. So … otherwise it would be OK?