Friday, April 29, 2016

Draft Day One

Quickly:

  • Da Bearz drafted a speed rusher. Is he strong enough to hold the point?
  • The Lions drafted a tackle who will play for ten years.
  • The Vikings drafted a receiver who is either Dez Bryant or a step too slow and can't stretch the field.
  • The Packers drafted another UCLA guy who should be better than the last UCLA guy they drafted. Or so they hope.
Discuss.

Substitution mass confusion, clouds inside your head

Electric angel rock and roller, I hear what you're playing:
John Boehner excoriated his former Capitol Hill colleague and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz during a talk at Stanford University, labeling Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh.”

Boehner, who retired as speaker of the House last fall, laid out his opinion on the presidential race in a talk at the university. Cruz did not fare well.

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Boehner said, according to the Stanford Daily. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
As I recall, Boehner and his Republican friend Mitch McConnell are the faces of the Republican establishment. And the establishment hates Ted Cruz. But surely Boehner must really hate the true fighter of the establishment, The Donald, right?
Rival Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and John Kasich won good reviews from Boehner. Boehner said he and Trump used to play golf together, and that he “loves” Kasich, the governor of his home state of Ohio. If Trump is the Republican nominee, Boehner said, he would vote for him. However, if Cruz won the nod, he would not support him, Boehner said.
So if I understand the logic of this election, it rolls like this:

The Republican establishment (a/k/a the GOPe) deserves to die in a fire, as Ace Commenter Gino has gently suggested.
A key member of the establishment is a pal of Donald Trump and hates Ted Cruz
Therefore, the best way to ensure the GOPe dies in a fire is to support the GOPe golfing buddy, Donald Trump

It's a foolproof formulation.

You think you're so illustrious
Or maybe it's they are pals of pallor:

You call yourself intense

It's just a broken lullaby.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It probably won't matter, but

When the Republican field of candidates began to emerge last year, my preference was for Scott Walker. I also liked Rand Paul. I did come to like Carly Fiorina as well. Ted Cruz was someone I admired more than I liked.

As the campaign has progressed, Cruz has grown on me. I don't think, in the end, he's going to make it, but his pick of Fiorina for a running mate is a smart choice. She does know how to goad Trump and with a higher profile, her jabs will get some attention. If Trump were smart, he'd ignore the shots that are coming his way, but he won't. He always has to respond to any slight. How he responds could matter quite a lot in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Too clever by half

Bill Kristol republished a fascinating strategy memo in the Weekly Standard. The memo is the work of Rich Danker, a Republican operative working for a PAC supporting Ted Cruz. The whole thing is well worth your time, but a few insights strike me as spot-on.
 Political professionals have gotten so much power in presidential campaigns that they have diluted the candidates of a message and put up barriers to getting votes. They convince the candidates to run from most media interviews for fear of a gaffe (making them ultimately more gaffe-prone since they get rusty), stick to a boring, limited stump speech to give their talking points more resonance (even though saying something in a new way is more potent), and slice and dice the voters so that virtually everything the candidate says is geared toward an interest group rather than the electorate per se.

Why? Being stage-managed gives more power to the consultants. It makes the candidates more dependent on staff and vendors to navigate them through the torture chamber those people make the election into. The consultants become the smart people and the candidate is a commodity. This attitude is shared by the political media, whose access to the candidates is dependent on sharing a worldview about campaigns with those consultants.

It's giving Trump too much credit to say that he meant to expose the stupidity of professionalized politics, but that's what he ended up doing. And he got lucky in the sense that his final primary opponent – although in just about every other way the type voters were looking for in 2016 – was somebody who leaned on that professionalism.
In other words, Cruz followed the playbook like the good student he is. But he didn't break through to enough people because he was fighting the last war.

Cruz is a young man and will have another chance to run, likely as soon as 2020. If he learns from his experience, he'll be back. But I do think it's just about over now.

Le mot juste

I almost always avoid political discussions on Facebook, but I give my brother credit for something he wrote describing the state of the campaign, in terms of the current state of bathroom wars:
This is a false controversy that someone drummed up to keep us from focusing on important things like an asshole, a criminal, a socialist and two other goofballs trying to lead the free world. Wake up and argue over stuff that matters.
Even without explaining further, I'm guessing you don't need to figure out who is who in my brother's rather pungent description. And so, based on what we have seen the last two weeks, it's increasingly likely the general election choice on offer will be between an asshole and a criminal, although I'm willing to bet by the end of the process both candidates will reveal themselves to be criminal assholes. If you've been paying attention, it's not surprising.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Confirmation Day

Fearless Maria gets confirmed at the Cathedral of St. Paul:

Right in front of the bishop
If you've never been to the Cathedral of St. Paul, you really should visit it if you get a chance. It is a magnificent Beaux Arts structure that was completed just over a hundred years ago, mostly the product of the persistence of Archbishop John Ireland and the wallet of James J. Hill, the railroad magnate whose mansion home is down the street.

I've lived in the Twin Cities for over 23 years and I've only been to the Cathedral three times -- once for the ordination of a family friend, another as part of teaching a Boy Scout merit badge, and yesterday. As a symbol of the majesty of the Church, the Cathedral is unsurpassed, at least in the Midwest. It's a subjective judgment, but to my eye the Cathedral of St. Paul is a significantly more impressive structure than Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. It certainly has a better location -- Holy Name Cathedral sits on Wabash Avenue and is part of the grid pattern of streets in the area, while the Cathedral in St. Paul has a commanding perch on top of Cathedral Hill.

Confirmation is a hugely important sacrament in the Catholic Church, as those who are confirmed are full members of the Church. The issue for many Catholics is that they don't take that membership as seriously as they ought to. Following Jesus means putting aside your own desires and listening to something other than the sirens of the larger world. It's never easy to do. In his homily, Bishop Cozzens spoke of his own challenges as a young person and how he struggled to hear God's voice. It's possible that someone in the group pictured above could have a religious vocation some day. It's a path not often chosen, but as we've seen throughout the past year, lay people within the Church play a large role in faith formation as well. The challenge in the bishop's message is to listen more closely and find the role God plays in our lives.

I was confirmed a long time ago, back in 1979. In those days, the practice in our diocese was that Bishop would come to your parish, instead of traveling to the cathedral. I'm glad that we go to the Cathedral now; it serves as a reminder of the glories of the past, along with the challenges ahead. We don't have to rehearse the many scandals that priests and other religious have caused and the tremendous pain involved; it is an ongoing challenge and represents a stain that is impossible to remove. We build cathedrals to celebrate glories of God. We emerge from the cathedrals to find a world where God is always present, but also a world where it is often difficult to see the hand of God or the workings of the Holy Spirit. Those who were confirmed yesterday face that challenge today. Those who love and support those who were confirmed have the same challenge.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Still

Events remain in the saddle around here. Better days are ahead.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 

There will be children with robins and flowers
Sunshine caresses each new waking hour
Seems to me that the people keep seeing
More and more each day gotta say lead the way

Friday, April 22, 2016

RIP, Prince

There aren't too many Prince videos out there to post, so we have to go another route, with some of the songs he wrote that were big hits for other artists. And what a variety of artists and styles it was:




Light posting for the next few days

Events are in the saddle in our world right now. We may circle back to the reasons eventually.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

On fairness

The Donald won the New York primary on Tuesday and got almost 100 delegates for his efforts. An interesting little tidbit (h/t Allahpundit):
In fact, Cruz won more votes in the Wisconsin primary — 531,129 — than Trump appears to have won in New York. With 98 percent of precincts counted, Trump has 518,601 votes in his home state. On the other hand, Trump will win at least 90 of New York's 95 delegates to Cruz's zero; in Wisconsin, Cruz's big victory earned him 36 delegates, to Trump's six. 
Is that fair? Doesn't matter. The RNC allocated 99 delegates to New York and only 42 to Wisconsin. Those are the rules. You live by them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Never

Never is a long time. I'm not a fan of categorical statements, either. Still, I'm 100% certain of this much -- I will never vote for, or support, or otherwise aid, Donald Trump. He's a menace. He's run a low, mendacious, generally substance-free campaign. He's too lazy to learn the issues and his instincts consistently lead him in the wrong direction. He would be a disastrous candidate and, if somehow he won the general election, an even more disastrous president.

I have spent months trying to understand where Trump's support is coming from. I do believe many Trump supporters mean well -- the frustration many feel about the world is real and entirely legitimate. Still, the people around Trump and his campaign are cynics at best, nihilists at worst. At a time when we need the most principled conservative we can find to run against the utterly unprincipled Hillary Clinton, there's a good chance this process is going to deliver someone as unprincipled as she is. I can't be part of it.

To my mind, the Republican Party should do whatever it takes to stop Trump. If that means getting behind Ted Cruz or John Kasich, fine. It it requires a smoke-filled room, so be it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Post 5000

This is the 5000th post on Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood. We've been at this for over ten years. It's a lot of blogging.

My original tagline for the feature was "a befuddled suburban dad tries to make sense of the world." Ten years on, the world makes even less sense. I've made my peace with befuddlement.

It's easy, too easy, to fret, to live the words of a certain musician I fancy, recorded way back in 1971:

Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
I can't pay my taxes
Oh, make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Crime is increasing
Trigger happy policing
Panic is spreading
God knows where we're heading

God does know. And while this feature has been, from time to time, an exercise in hollering, and while the issues that Marvin Gaye sang about some 45 years ago persist, we can't throw up our hands.

Ten years ago, I was in the process of losing my job. I had two young children and we weren't quite sure what would come next. Now I know. A commenter wrote something back then:
Better things are in store for you. Stay encouraged.
And indeed, better things were in store. And yes, better things will come. Stay encouraged.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Home at last

We got home from Ohio last night. We'll get back to the usual fare in a day or so, but I wanted to say something about the interstate highway system. It's easy and generally appropriate to bash the federal government for its overreach and malfeasance, but one thing is clear -- the interstate highway system is a marvelous creation. Our route to Ohio included:

35W
94
90/94
39/90/94
39/90
39
55
74
74/465
465
70
75

While in Ohio we used 675 as we were bopping around Dayton

Our return trip included:

75
70
465
865
65
80/94
80
294
90
39/90
39/90/94
94
35W

We also used US Highway 35, US Highway 6, US Highway 30 and a few other state roads. It's really an amazing thing that we take for granted. We shared these roads with untold thousands of people and, except for the annoying toll roads in Illinois, our only expense was the gasoline and wear/tear on our vehicle. Yes, we all pay taxes for the roads, but it's a great value.