Wednesday, March 15, 2006

#247 - Happy Is as Happy Does

My, oh my. What an interesting report. Pew Research Center has published a report titled "Are We Happy Yet?" that purports to gauge how Americans are feeling these days. If I may skip briefly to the bottom line, I find most interesting the idea that nearly 84% of all Americans, based on the sampling, report themselves to be "Pretty happy" or better. In fact, 50% said "Pretty happy," while 34% indicated that they were "Very happy."

That 84% figure becomes significant in an election year because, according to liberal doctrine, a majority of Americans are required to be pretty miserable so long as a Republican sits in office. (Any office, by the way... it's certainly not limited to the White House. All campaigns down to Municipal Dog Catcher are based on the premise that constituents must be miserable. Why else would anyone run?)

Oddly enough (and of great concern to Democrats, I'm sure) is the idea that of those in the "Very happy" category, 45% were Republican, while 30% were Democrats. (The fact that 29% were reported as being "Independent" points out a slight mathematical, um, irregularity of 104%, but I'm sure there must be a rounding error in there somewhere. We programmers love rounding errors.) The report even makes the case that this happiness advantage really has little to do with who is in power. The numbers, according to Pew, have remained more or less consistent since 1972. This means they've had two Democratic administrations in which to get happier than the Republicans, but have yet to overtake them.

I'm not entirely certain why Pew chose to concentrate primarily on the "Very happy" category. Some might think that "Pretty happy" wasn't bad. "Pretty happy" might seem to indicate that things are under control, at least. It acknowledges that life may be a constant struggle, but that we can derive happiness even when circumstances seem to conspire otherwise. If you were to catch me off guard and ask the question, I might be inclined to say "pretty happy" as opposed to "very happy," but I would also tell you that "pretty happy" also means "quite satisfied." And it would be true. I am, on the whole, satisfied with my life, even as I realize that things could be better. My wife and I, for example, could be healthier than we are today. On the other hand, I think it improbable that we could possibly be any happier together as a couple. That, for me, is the definition of satisfaction. I'm pretty happy, and life is good.

Now, it could be, I suppose, that I'm merely delusional. Perhaps I'm choosing to overlook all the tribulation and sickness in the world today. But I doubt it. I worry constantly about such things. I'm always worried about our ongoing war in Iraq, and the war on terror in general. I see no real end to it in the near future, and, yes, I wonder whether Iraq has become the quagmire our opponents claim it has already become. But I am comfortable with the idea that combating terror is our current Cold War. It probably won't end in the next decade. My girls may very well become adults with the understanding that Islamic extremism has become their communism. I worry, but that doesn't mean I'm not happy. Perhaps it's because I refuse to feel guilty for every wrong found in the world today. Democrats, on the whole, don't have that ability. Maybe that's why they're so unhappy. Maybe they're so busy trying to ascribe blame for every evil in the world that they don't have time to enjoy the lives that are their gift from God. Who needs that kind of life?

The Pew report, taken at face value, seems to offer some sort of formula for those who wish to achieve "Very happy" status in this life. In no particular order, these are the attributes of a very happy person:

  • Be a Republican

  • Attend church weekly or more

  • Be married (Woody's enjoinder: It helps to be married to your best friend!)

  • Have money. The happier ones earn $100K or more. I guess I'm still satisfied with "Pretty happy."

  • Health and education count. Health may be obvious, but "education" is less so, in my mind. I don't have a graduate degree. However, I am constantly expanding my personal knowledge. I think that counts.

Taken as a package, I find the report to be a nice vindication of the life I lead. I am a happily married, church-going Republican with enough money to meet our needs. Does it matter to me that I am more or less happy than anyone else? No, not really. I gave up on comparing my life with anyone else's just about the time I hooked up with Mrs. Woody. We're so busy building our happiness together that I guess I just don't have time to worry about the comparisons.

Happy as charged.

Monday, March 13, 2006

#246 - Funny...

...because it's true.

#245 - Sound Bite Politics

Desperation runs deep in the ranks of the politically unhinged. Believe it or not, I can understand their frustrations. It's the same sense of dark foreboding I always felt whenever a Democrat was in control of the White House, whether that was Jimmy Carter (the first one I was old enough to be scared of) or Billy-Bob Clinton. There was always that underlying sense that the liberals were selling the country into slavery, and it seems they're still on that warpath.

Just a recent sampling from Drudge should be enough to illustrate the point.

Let's start with everyone's favorite sore loser, Al Gore. Gore is still chafing from having had the election taken away from him by the manufacturers of the ballots used in Palm Beach, Florida. And why, exactly, would the country be better off today, Mr. Gore?
"How many times have we listened to the current administration and in (state and national Republican offices), and after a few years, we wake up and say that what they have been telling us is completely wrong," Gore said. "I'm not calling it a lie," but a "false impression."

During the Clinton administration, Gore and the president got regular bulletins about potential terrorist attacks, resulting in a sort of "fire-drill," a soul-searching approach to learn "what else can we do? What are our sources? And make sure we're prepared," he said.

Does that mean, Al, that you and Billy-Bob had a plan to thwart the 9/11 attacks? Did you, perchance, share that plan with anyone? I mean, anyone who wasn't your official biographer?

I didn't think so. Must've been a false impression.

If Palm Beach was Gore's Waterloo, then Ohio certainly qualifies as the state that robbed John Seared Kerry of his chances to lead us into a glorious hedonism. His take on why he lost in 2004:
Kerry said that he had exceeded his goals in every precinct of America in the last election. “That means we have to set bigger goals,” Kerry said, stressing the need for the Democrats to gain control of one of the Houses of Congress.

Bueno. I understand now. "President of the United States" isn't as big a goal as "bloodless coup of one or more houses of Congress." Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Finally, we have a Hollywood A-lister who's been eating his Wheaties. George Clooney tells the stories no one else cares about. Except other Hollywood liberals, that is. Still, his successes of late have fueled his intense desire to run the country, much as it did for Rob Reiner a decade or so ago. Hit it, George!
"It's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences," he lectures.

"We can't demand freedom of speech, then turn around and say, 'But please don't say bad things about us.' You gotta be a grownup and take your hits."

The actor vents frustration that "liberal" has become a dirty word. "Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper, 'I'm a Nazi.'"

But as for Clooney, "I am a liberal. Fire away," he taunts.

Yes, George, yes... you're absolutely right about questioning our government. And I do, really. I take nothing for granted, no matter who happens to sit in the Oval Office. But - and here's the beautiful thing about the First Amendment, George - I also have the right and the duty to question our Hollywood luminaries. So the question, George, becomes, "What have you, personally, done to foster and encourage a constructive dialog between the opposing sides of these thorny issues, George?" I've heard a lot of invective coming from your side of the argument, George, but not many practical solutions. "War is bad, even stupid," you say. Sure, I can get behind that. I happen to agree. But what practical solution do you offer for ending it? Bring the troops home? Simple as that? And what will we do when the next 9/11 attack occurs on our soil, George? What will Hollywood do then?

Complain, would be my guess.

Well, liberals Clooneys, you know the solution, don't you? If you really want to run the country (I mean, more than you already do), put together a coherent argument and sell it to the voters.

Simple as that.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

#244 - Our Point

This is precisely why our church relies on continuing revelation.

Just sayin'.

#243 - Woody's Oscar Live-Blogging - UPDATED

Huh? The Oscars are tonight?


Wonder what's on PBS...?

UPDATE: 60 channels. 59 reruns. 1 exercise in gratuitous self-congratulation. Time for a DVD.

Friday, March 03, 2006

#242 - How Does One Eulogize Someone Who Ain't Dead Yet?

(H/T: Drudge)

Art Buchwald is, according to this report, refusing kidney dialysis. He chooses instead to face death on his own terms, having no idea what awaits him. He feels this is a natural way to go, and continues joking with friends and colleagues. He feels, truth be told, no different even after a month without the procedure that's supposed to save his life.

This is vintage Buchwald.

I suppose that, in at least one way, it's ironic that Buchwald has always been one of my favorite columnists. I first became acquainted with his prolific wit in the closing days of the Nixon administration, where Tricky Dicky was one of Buchwald's favorite dart boards. Since I didn't realize just how conservative I truly was until well into adulthood, I had no idea that I was supposed to disagree with his Kennedy-esque perspectives. I just enjoyed the well-sharpened barbs he threw into the politicians, public figures, and hypocrites that are rife in today's world.

Art Buchwald is, let's face it, one of the reasons why I first began to write for a hobby. He, along with Erma Bombeck and, later, Dave Barry, are also the primary reasons I choose to write humor. I have always appreciated their abilities to turn politics and societal anomalies into fodder for gut-busting laughter. I can only aspire to follow weakly in their footsteps.

So, if Art truly has one foot in the grave, God bless him. I can only pray that his slide into home plate is a smooth one.