Oddities and observations

Ben Clarke Political Consultant and Speechwriter
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I was back at Fenway Park a few weeks ago for the pilgrimage to Opening Day that my father, brother, brother-in-law and I undertake every year. If I were commissioner of baseball, I would mandate that all stadiums must go back to the days where the only music played emanated from an organ.

In addition, I don’t mind if someone wants to go to a bar on occasion and get liquid obliterated; I have done it a few times in my day. Just don’t do it at a baseball game. If you need 14 beers to enjoy the game, you are not a real fan.

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I have been living in airports lately; at least 20 flights in the last two months. A question: when did being overweight come to meet pre-boarding criteria? There is nothing quite as grating as watching someone — and his or her relatives, for that matter — pre-board merely because they are afflicted with a rolling gut. I am not exactly in tip-top shape myself. If you can walk, you can wait in line with the rest of us.

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Gas prices. I take pride in my carbon footprint. But that pride has been rattled by $4.00 per gallon gas. Even more so when I stop and think that a hearty helping of that money ultimately ends up in the hands of putrescent Middle East dictators blessed to reign over a sea of oil. I will grudgingly pay $4.00 for a gallon of gas; what makes me ill is the notion that some of that profit will eventually and indirectly fund the purchase of Muammar Gaddafi’s leopard skin underwear and Soul Glow hair spray.

For the record, gas could hit $37.00 per gallon and I would still not buy a hybrid car; it’s like driving a vacuum cleaner.

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I was in Washington, D.C. last week and caught a middle-aged man doing karate — or some derivation thereof — in the park. If it was for purposes of personal serenity, more power to him. If the end goal was fending off an attacker, good luck. It occurred to me: when a conservative gets mugged, they buy a gun. When a liberal gets mugged, they learn karate.

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Speaking of violence, have you seen the graphic viral video that captured the savage beating of a 22-year-old transgender woman at a Maryland McDonald’s? For three minutes, two women brutally beat her while a cadre of so-called men looked on and laughed. It is repulsive. I am reminded of a quote from the classic 1999 film “Boondock Saints.” The film begins with the monsignor recalling the tale of a woman who was murdered in broad daylight while onlookers did nothing to stop it.

“They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”

The two women who beat this 22-year-old woman — one of whom was just fourteen — belong in prison. The “men” who watched and did nothing should be executed.

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If you have not yet seen the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” watch it. To be safe, hire an anger management consultant to mitigate your assured reaction after seeing the documentary. It relays a dismal depiction of inner-city public schools and underscores the depressing obstacles to opportunity faced by many parents trying to enroll their children in charter schools. If, after seeing it, you can still muster the capacity to look one of these students in the eye and say “teachers’ unions have your best interest at heart,” you should be a lobbyist.

I finally got around to doing my taxes last week; my savior of an accountant filed my forms hours before the deadline. I failed virtually every advanced math course I ever took. However, by my best effort calculation, well over fifty percent of my salary went to local, state and federal taxes last year. Perhaps I could tolerate that … if I lived in Europe. I don’t. And last I checked health care and college tuition are not free in this country. Needless to say, the IRS has been removed from my Christmas card mailing list this year. I don’t know what “hacking” really is, nor how to do it. But if I did, I would pull an epic e-prank on those dastardly minions at the IRS. For now, giving the building the middle finger every time I drive by will have to suffice.

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In closing, a quote I read from Garrison Keillor a few days ago: “Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”

Ben Clarke has worked in Washington, D.C. as at political consultant and speechwriter for the past 10 years. During that period, he has served as chief political writer for GOP strategist Frank Luntz, speechwriter for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and communications consultant for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign. He has worked on countless House, Senate and Gubernatorial campaigns across America. He has also worked on or covered campaigns in Ukraine, Georgia and Greece. He may be reached at benclarkeopinion@gmail.com.