Friday, October 24, 2014

Never Been to Spain

The days are getting shorter and the nights crisper here in Southern New England (how oxymoronic is that descriptive? I always expect someone to say ‘pahk yer cahr, y’all’ so I just typed it (and you read it out loud, right?)) though we’re still a long way I hope from requiring, as our friends Down Under might (in July), a three dog night.

Like Cory, Chuck and Danny, I, too, have never been to Spain nor have I been to Oklahoma. But I have followed from afar a truly original public life in public service as lived by Dr. Thomas Coburn, who doesn’t make house calls because of his day job, senior Senator from the state of Oklahoma.

As you’ve probably gleaned by reading this screed on almost any given day, I am not considered a Friend of the Republican Party, unless we’re talking the Roman Republic, and yet Senator Coburn, along with (the late) Jim Jeffords, (the once and future) Bernie Sanders and (more recently) Elizabeth Warren are my most favorite members of the United States Senate and notice, please, how two of them at one time called the Party of Lincoln home.

I have not so secret hopes that Sanders and Warren might join forces on the same ticket in pursuit of  the Office of the President of the United States in 2016-perhaps with a no-nonsense slogan like “what’s left to f*ck up?” Senator Coburn is bowing out after a very long career in Dodge City in the service of the people of his home state of Oklahoma and all the rest of us, too.

For quite some time he has been a voice in the desert crying out about what he sees as inappropriate extravagance, or waste. As he closes the chapter of his life that has photo views of the Potomac, he authors one last edition of his Wastebook (and I smile at the cover thinking of my brother Kelly, whose birthday it is today and his dislike of monkeys is beyond epic.)

How can a nation with the talent assembled at the National Science Foundation fear tomorrow when we’re engaged in life changing and affirming research such as teaching monkeys how to play video games and gamble. This, ISIL or ISIS or whatever your name really is, is why we’ll always triumph no matter how many bandannas without eye holes you wrap around your head or how tightly you wind them.

Speaking of whom, on page 45, is this eye-popper/head-shaker: “The State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) is responsible for crafting the official online presence of the U.S. government on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with the mission to counter the sophisticated propaganda machines of terrorist groups around the globe. This year, a portion of the $3 million taxpayers entrusted to CSCC was used to create the Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, which currently counts more than 2,000 tweets and 7,654 followers.”


I concede that’s 7,653 followers MORE than I have. But I’m going for quality, not quantity. So what does it matter?

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