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Shaken To Their Liberal Core

The amazing thing about democracy is that no matter which side of the political aisle you may sit on, you’re going to be subject to the whims and wishes of the electorate. Sometimes they’re going to see things your way, and sometimes, they’re not. It’s a lesson as old as the concept itself, and one that must be taught over and over. Today, members of the Democratic Party are the unwilling students.

Tomorrow morning, Democrats will awake to the uncomfortable reality that the newly elected junior senator from Massachusetts, the man replacing the revered liberal Ted Kennedy, is a Republican. They already have their spin doctors working the news shows, trying to convince themselves that this isn’t one more repudiation of the Obama administration and rather just a statistical blip caused by a weak candidate who blew an election. Meanwhile, the Republicans are doing giddy “toldya so” cartwheels and thinking it means that maybe – just maybe – the public is willing to forgive them for trying to foist them with Sarah Palin.

But what does it really mean?

Barack Obama strikes me as a sincere, well-intentioned person who is doing all he can to execute the platform he outlined during his successful campaign for president. And, to be honest, I don’t disagree with much of what he’s trying to do. But anytime you hit the ground running and never slow down, you can miss the scenery – and when that scenery changes, you can be the last to know.

We all know the President inherited a mess, and he did a decent job addressing the recession upon taking office. You can argue about the scope of his plans, but there’s no disputing the number of projects in work or the people employed by them – you can’t turn a corner in SoCal without running into some public works project with its “Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” sign. But once he turned his attention to health care, without slowing to first take the temperature of the populace, things went south in a hurry.

There’s a reason health care reform has been a concern for so long, and it’s not because Congress is lazy – it’s hard! There are a lot of details, and options, and opinions, and it’s been very difficult to achieve a consensus. Thus, every new Congress butts its head against it until bloodied then moves on to other issues. But this Congress – and the President sending the orders – had something different … a super majority, and they weren’t afraid to use it.

You know that old saying about how power – and particularly absolute power – corrupts? Well, Americans on the right – and, increasingly, the center – saw how Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi rubbed their hands together in glee at what they could do with their filibuster-proof majority and began to worry. At their core, most citizens don’t trust politicians, particularly if the checks-and-balances built into the system are overridden. Once it became clear that the Democrats were going to shove health care through no matter what the opposition thought – and with little concern for the opinions of said opposition – a red flag was raised. One-time fringe groups like the Tea Party movement suddenly gained traction, and an increasingly large number of voters wanted to put on the brakes. At the same time, the speed at which the Democrats were moving prevented them from seeing the size of the wave that was about to break over their heads until it was too late to do anything about it.

To be sure, the campaign of Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts Attorney General who was the Democratic candidate for the senate seat, is as much to blame for the loss as anything. She stumbled badly and often, and did everything she could to lose the election. But in a state with as long a history of sending Democrats to Washington, this is a stunning blow.

The message has been sent to the President and his party – slow down. Think things through. Consider all the opinions, even those of the opposition. Now we’ll see if anyone is listening.

RIP Sarah Palin

Fear not – “Caribou Barbie” is just fine.  Her political career, on the other hand, just went to The Great Beyond – and I’m not talking Wasilla …

To me, Sarah Palin is an enigma.  On one hand, she’s carrying the banner for conservative politics, and clearly has a large number of supporters.  On the other hand, she seems at times to be dumb as a stump and not in the least bit politically astute – like right now.

TrickySarahPalin is currently the Governor of Alaska, not traditionally viewed as a steppingstone to national politics.  But when John McCain was looking for someone to share the Republican presidential ticket last year, his aides recommended the 44-yr-0ld self-described “hockey mom”.  I, like most others, had never heard of Palin, and was intrigued initially.  That pretty much ended when she opened her mouth, of course, but it did make for an interesting election season.  The last thing I expected was that nearly a year later, we’d still be talking about her – and yet here we are.

In the aftermath of a horrific defeat at the hands of Barack Obama and the Democratic party, the Republicans were desperate for fresh leadership.  Still stinging from McCain’s centrist brand of conservatism, many turned to Palin.  She’s unquestionably more conservative than McCain or most any other potential candidate in the party, but she comes with her own share of baggage, largely in the form of a series of ethics investigations back home in Alaska.

Many wondered if Palin would choose to run for office again in 2010, or opt to focus on a possible presidential campaign two years later.  But Palin shocked supporters and foes alike when she announced on July 3 that she’d step down from her position at the end of July, suggesting that it was a better path than serving as a lame-duck governor.

And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old “politics as usual.” I promised that four years ago – and I meant it.

It’s not what is best for Alaska.

I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable.

OK, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Of course, you could also look at it as someone who wants to exit the spotlight before it gets too hot, choosing to retreat and plan for 2012 rather than serve out the term to which she was elected. As our own first lady, Maria Shriver – herself the wife of a lame-duck governor – pointed out, how you choose to use the end of your term is up to you.

“You can be a lame duck..the entire time — or you can be inspirational, empowering, focused,” Shriver said.

Seems to me that Palin is losing sight of that which brought her onto the national stage in the first place – a fresh approach to problem-solving and a willingness to roll up her sleeves and get the job done. Instead, she’s going to run off and hide while others clean up the mess she’s left behind.

Much like a bloated corpse from the bottom of a lake, she’ll resurface at some point. When she does, and looks for your support – and she will – remember how she left last time, and ask yourself how she’ll handle the challenges next time …

The Dumbest Woman On Earth?

"Hi, I'm a dumbass ... "

"Hi, I'm a dumbass ... "

With the demise of Michael Jackson, there’s been a renewed look at the world of pop music, particularly back to a time when it was, well, relevant.  You remember – back when people had to actually sing, and didn’t have machines to clean up their sketchy voices and producers to surround them with so much noise that you can’t tell anyway?

That’s certainly not the case today.  For every solid singer who makes it to the big stage today – whether the hard way or the quick (read: AI) way – there’s a dozen performers who are cashing checks based on nothing more than image.  Leading the way is the queen of Yonkers, NY, Lady Gaga, who’s modern spin on electronic synth-pop is all over the charts these days.  I enjoy a decent dance tune as much as the next guy, but to hear her stuff you quickly realize the talent is the guy producing the tunes – her voice is just one more synthesized instrument to mix into the tune.  And to look at her … well, I just dare you!

Now, I don’t have anything against New York, or New Yorkers – although they do make me chuckle from time to time – but I do have an issue with anyone who tries to pass themselves off as “cutting edge” or “next wave” when in fact they’re just trend trash. That’s certainly the case with Gaga, who has convinced herself – and her fans – that somehow, she represents fashion and risk and the future, and anyone who doesn’t get it just doesn’t understand.  Count me among those who don’t understand, but that could be because I’m too busy doubled over in laughter to consider the cultural impact of her idiotic views.  I’ll give her credit, though, at least her latest getup covers most of her face, and her ass isn’t even hanging out.

To look at her is to consider her silly, but to listen to her is to recognize the basic delusion of it all.  Take this quote of hers from the latest issue of Esquire:

My concerts are about me being very private in public, but I’m very protective. My apartment is my stage, and my bedroom is my stage—they’re just not stages you’re allowed to see. When you let a bunch of people in there, they f*** with that energy and it becomes a circus. Put it another way: Everybody wants me to show my vagina to the world all the time. And the truth is, I don’t have to.

What the hell?  The pretentiousness of it all.  Look, it’s not like she’s the first person to play the ridiculous card all the way to fortune and fame. Pop music and reality TV are littered with the carcasses of her predecessors, bled dry and tossed aside, and I certainly expect her to be on the pile sooner rather than later.  Who knows – maybe she can follow in the footsteps of MC Hammer and burn out as a pop star and a reality star – now there’s something for her to aspire to!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Upgrade …

I swear, I think there are days when the fates just decide to gang up on me.

As those of you who’ve been with us for a while know, these are lean times for SCMO. Several large, well-financed competitors have come along and taken the wind out of our sails, along with most of our traffic. Admittedly, we were slow to react to the threat and deserve the hell we find ourselves in, but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

This year, we’ve been diligently working on site upgrades that, while not designed to compete with those other sites, will at least allow us to remain relevant in the internet sportfishing world. We rolled out the first batch of changes in March, and since then have prepped for the big roll of our new forums and photo hosting, which was planned for this past weekend.

Or not.

I was ready about a month ago to make the roll, but kept testing and poking and prodding, trying to learn the in’s and out’s of the new software – after all, I can’t just drop a dime and get it fixed the way those other guys can. By early last week, I was ready and raring to go. And then the aforementioned fates rolled in.

Saturday, I uploaded the new software and started the process of deleting the test data out of the forum database in preparation of importing the contents of the current SCMO Forums. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the database for some reason, and didn’t understand why until I noticed a message in my inbox from my webhost. Now, I should point out that we get about 500 pieces of email every day here at the Home Office, and a lot of it goes unnoticed. In this case, the message was one of those friendly, automated ones letting me know how much my webhost appreciated my business, and was going to prove my value to them by upgrading my hosting – over the weekend. Hence the lock out.

So, instead of busily executing a very busy plan on Saturday and Sunday, all I could do was cool my heels and wait. I blasted the webhost a couple of times on their support line, but it isn’t their fault – other, perhaps, than the exceedingly short notice. Being an impatient bastard, I was checking the status on an hourly basis, and even turned the site back on when I thought they were through – incorrectly, it turned out, leading to losing a couple of forum postings and a pair of exceedingly dull blog entries. I really should know better.

Anyway, the upgrade is past, and now it’s my turn. Not sure if I’ll roll the new forums during the week or wait for the weekend, but you’ll be able to tell because the old ones will be down for maintenance during the conversion. Once the new forums are online, you’ll receive an email from me with information you need to access them.

Just another exciting day in the life of a webmaster …