Citizen Cain, Again

Today Herman Cain announced that he is “suspending” his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.  Cain said he was dropping out of the race because the continuing allegations about affairs and sexual harassment were a distraction and were hurting his family.

I have no doubt that Cain’s decision was motivated, at least in part, by the claims about his personal life and his desire to avoid the pain they were causing for his wife and family.  I suspect, however, that his decision also involved cold-blooded evaluation of the political reality.  Cain had a brief boom of popularity and attracted lots of attention with his 9-9-9 tax plan, but by the time of the most recent claims about his personal conduct the bloom already was off the Cain rose.  He’d had debates where he had nothing much to say about anything other than his 9-9-9 plan and his campaign website, as well as other incidents that fed into a growing perception that he simply lacked the broad base of knowledge that you would prefer to have in a president.  My guess is that Cain and his advisers realized that he wasn’t going to overcome those issues, and that he should get out while the getting was good.

With Cain’s departure, the Republican field narrows and the remaining candidate debates will become more manageable — and more comfortable to watch.  In the meantime, Herman Cain has raised his profile, has increased his opportunities for speaking engagements to the faithful, and probably has sold a few books, besides.

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A Milestone For Coach Matta

Today Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta notched his 300th career collegiate coaching victory.  It is a milestone for a man who helped to haul the Ohio State basketball program out of the mire and vault it into the stratosphere — and therefore is a milestone well worth celebrating.

Most of Coach Matta’s wins — 198, to be exact — have come in his 7 1/2 seasons at Ohio State.  From the moment he set foot in the Value City Arena, he has recruited studs, churned out NBA players, and won at least 20 games.  Under Coach Matta, Ohio State has won three Big Ten championships, played in the Big Ten title game two other times, made the NCAA tournament 5 times, advanced to the Sweet 16 twice, and produced two Big Ten players of the year.  You could not have asked for a more complete — and more welcome — turnaround than Coach Matta has provided.

I went to today’s game, thanks to the generosity of my friend JV.  The Buckeyes didn’t shoot very well, but played terrific defense and crushed a thoroughly outmatched team from Texas Pan American, 64-35.  (Next up for the Buckeyes — Texas TWA, then Texas USAir!)  Jared Sullinger was out with back spasms, so we got to see a lot of the Buckeyes’ bench players, and they look to be a very talented young crew. They represent what you get from Coach Matta — lots of tough, athletic kids who play well as a team.

It was fun to watch the youngsters, and fun to be there for Coach Matta’s latest milestone.  Congratulations, Coach Matta!  I hope to be there for win no. 400.

Worst Space Mission Name Ever (II)

The travails of the hapless Russian space probe Phobos-Grunt continue.  In addition to being saddled with the worst space mission name ever, its mission has been beset by bugs and failures.

Since its launch last month, Phobos-Grunt has been circling the globe, largely incommunicado.  With two brief exceptions, stations on Earth have been unable to exchange signals with the satellite, and the European Space Agency has stopped trying.  Because no communication has occurred, Phobos-Grunt was not able to reach its intended orbit or fire the rockets necessary to send it on its trip to Mars and the Mars moon Phobos.  Now the opportunity to reach Mars has passed, Phobos-Grunt’s orbit is unstable and decaying, and its likely fate is to come crashing back to Earth.

I’m not suggesting that all of the bad things that happened to Phobos-Grunt happened because it was cursed with an awful, uninspired name.  However, I suggest that when the Russians are planning their next mission, they give some very careful thought to selecting a more uplifting name.

Mornings Without Coffee

The other day we were removing the coffee pot from the dishwasher while it was still hot.  An unintentional, yet undue, amount of pressure, and the pot cracked — and now we are without coffee in the morning.

This is probably, oh, I don’t know, the thousandth time we have broken a glass coffee pot.  Why do they have to be so absurdly delicate?  I wonder whether we might just be better off returning to the stainless steel percolators of my youth.  Those sturdy devices could be dropped by a clumsy kid charged with drying the dishes — or, for that matter, hurled full force against a brick wall by an angry Dick Butkus — and still be fully operational.  Now that I think of it, I might be willing to endure a subtle metallic tang in the morning roast in exchange for the security of increased durability.

Of course, we can get a replacement pot.  However, it is a Cuisinart coffeemaker, so you can’t get the pot just anywhere.  We’ll now have to brave the parking space hell and frenzied hordes of holiday shoppers at Easton, thereby raising our blood pressure and stress levels to stratospheric heights.

In the meantime, the coffee maker looks kind of forlorn, sitting there with a gaping void at its black heart. And the absence of coffee in the morning leaves a pretty huge hole in the morning routine.

Going Viral – A Short Speech Worth Listening To

For those of us older folks the definition of going viral on the Internet means becoming extremely popular in a very short period of time and the following video has had more than 13 million hits. Back in 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court decided that gay marriage would be legal in the state, but earlier this year the Iowa House of Representatives now controlled by Republicans introduced an amendment to ban Gay Marriage and Civil Unions.

Zach Wahls this nineteen year old had the opportunity to speak in front of the Iowa House of Representatives back in January and spoke briefly about his family because you see Zach has two mothers. Although the Iowa House of Representatives passed the amendment the Iowa Senate decided not to take up the issue in essence killing the bill.

The speech speaks for itself. In my mind the well spoken words of a nineteen year old will hopefully make us realize that marriage should be between two people who love each other !