Declining To Make Do With Low Expectations

The consensus seems to be that Bill Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention was hugely effective for President Obama’s reelection campaign.  Many people have pointed to Clinton’s statement that no one — not even Clinton himself! — could have done a better with the economic challenges President Obama inherited as a key point in the speech.

Whether you agree with that sentiment or not — and I don’t agree with it — I think that viewpoint, by itself, represents a kind of sea change for Americans.  We always want things to be bigger, faster, cheaper, better.  We don’t settle.  We expect our sports teams to win and call for the coach’s head if they don’t.  We celebrate victors and shun losers.  If Americans are buying Bill Clinton’s argument, that says something about our country, and I think it says something sad.

We’ve never been cold realists.  This is a place of dreams, of surprising success stories, of Horatio Alger and “constant improvement.”  If we now just shrug and overlook or excuse crappy economic performance without holding people accountable, where are we heading as a country?

Oh, by the way, today the Commerce Department announced that durable goods orders fell by 13.2 percent, the worst drop since the depths of the recession.  That suggests that factory activity is down, and the economy is nowhere close to rebounding.  Bill Clinton might think that’s as good as anyone could do.  Sorry, Bill, I think you’re full of it.  I refuse to lower my expectations, and I think the performance of our economy right now is just unacceptable.  I suspect that many other Americans share that sentiment.

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Neither Rain, Nor Snow, Nor Gloom Of Night . . . .

Kish and I like to think of ourselves as patriotic Americans.  So, when Russell asked us to ship something to him, we decided to use the U.S. Postal Service.  Hey, we subsidize it, so we might as well use it!

We boxed up some sturdy stoneware plates and glasses and other dishes, using bubble wrap and newspaper to cushion and protect them on their journey to Brooklyn.  We took them to the post office and sent them by first-class mail.  It cost about $13.  That was weeks ago.

The box never arrived.  We don’t know if it was mis-delivered, or stolen, or destroyed by some maddened postal worker who decided to take out his frustrations on our parcel rather than his co-workers.  Whatever our package’s unhappy fate, it didn’t make it to its intended Brooklyn destination.  In fairness, Kish points out that this is the first time one of our postal deliveries to Richard and Russell just . . . disappeared.  To that I can only respond that it has now happened, where that has never happened to a package I’ve sent by FedEx or one of the other private delivery companies.

I like those new Postal Service commercials where the agreeable postal worker convinces nutty people that shipping really isn’t that complicated.  That’s right — it isn’t, or shouldn’t be.  How would that affable postal worker react when a package just vanishes, and your plates, and your $13, just go poof?

On The Road (Again)

Back on the road and in the skies today.  More time for me to appreciate the wonders of air travel, the sturdy beauty of our modern jet aircraft, and the inner workings of airports, with their finely timed dance of baggage handlers, runway workers, and cockpit crews.  More time for me to consider just how many people work for the TSA, and how much all of those blue-shirted uniforms and shoulder walkie-talkies cost, anyway.  More time for me to appreciate the simple joy of sleeping soundly in my own bed again, with my lovely wife beside me.