Sayonara, Sweet Miata

Today is Opening Day for another season of major league baseball, the Wichita State University Wheatshockers basketball team is heading to the Big Apple for the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament, except for the Kansas wind the weather’s lately been good, and there’s probably other news afoot we should paying attention to. Even so, the big story here at the home office on Wednesday was our bittersweet farewell to a beloved Mazda Miata.
We bought the thing brand new way back in ’96, shortly after a devastating divorce, and boy was it a sweet ride. It had the elegant lines and quick acceleration and easy-shifting and road-hugging handling of a classic British roadster, but it also started up every time we turned the key, which is more than we can say for that stunningly gorgeous ’64 Sunbeam Alpine that preceded it. For most of the year we could put the top down, which could be easily done during a stoplight, and even a daily drive to our nearby downtown office felt exactly like what we imagined driving would be like when we were pedaling around in a very cool toy car our Dad bought when we were in kindergarten.
The car took us on a memorable trip to Las Vegas with our pal Michael Carmody, brought our late pal Balleau home from Albuquerque after he’d recuperated from an injury there, and there was another memorable trip to Minnesota with our pal Lori Fletcher for the wedding of a couple of mutual friends. There were countless trips up I-35 to Kansas City and trips down I-35 to Oklahoma City and San Antonio to visit the folks, and on a hot sunny day it was the perfect car for the scenic and curvy drive up U.S. 77 through the gorgeous Flint Hills of Kansas, well as countless more drives around town for both business and pleasure, and for the first 20 years and 150,000 miles or so it was blissfully trouble-free.
Even the best of us eventually get old and dilapidated, though, and after 21 years and 160,000 miles or so our beloved Miata proved troublesome. The “check engine” light would occasionally remind us that the catalytic converter had died, even though that didn’t at all affect the car’s performance, and did very little to affect the climate, and apparently there’s some regulation that President Donald Trump hasn’t yet deregulated that prevents a mechanic from disconnecting that damned sensor. There was a slow oil leak, too, but after so many years and miles we figured it was more inexpensive to occasionally pour in some lubricant than to have that fixed. Some idiot put a gash in the front driver’s side and sped away while we were having a beer at The Vagabond over in Delano, and we idiotically put another smaller gash in the rear of the driver’s side and damaged a roller arm in the process, but by that point we’d downgraded our insurance policy and figured that the repairs would exceed the value of even the sweetest ride with 21 years and more than 160,000 miles on it.
Around that same time our beloved Dad serendipitously decided that he’d grown too old to drive, and he generously gave us his beloved Chrysler Sebring. It’s bigger and bulkier than what we’re used to, and it has four seats and one of those old folks’ automatic transmissions, but the top comes down at the push of a button on warm Kansas day, and it’s also a pretty sweet ride.
For the past two years the Miata had been sitting in our garage and gathering dust and dirt from the Kansas winds, but earlier this week our pal Phil Burress “messaged” us on the internet that he’d heard we had a Miata we wanted to get rid of. We duly warned him about him the years and miles and other problems with our once-sweet ride, but he wanted to take a look anyway, as his son is rapidly approaching driver’s age and shares our fetish for classic roadsters.
After a cursory look our old pal Phil agreed to take it off our hands, and we’re glad that he did, and we hope that even after so many years and miles it will work out for him. Phil’s a top-notch guy and a first-rate bass player for several folkie and bluegrass bands around town, and he’s happily married to our aforementioned pal Lori Fletcher, who’s a damned good country singer, and their son, hilariously named Fletcher, is a prodigiously talented bluegrass fiddler and a classic example of Kansas boyhood.
After re-charging the battery and airing up the tires and filing up the crankcase with oil Phil was able to take a drive to nearby Park City with the top down on a warm but windy Kansas day, and you should have seen the excited look on Fletcher’s face as they pulled out the driveway, so we hope they’ll be able to get that Miata back in fighting shape for a few more years and a few more miles. Fletcher is a handsome and charming young fellow, and when you combine that with his musical gifts and a classic and fully-restored roadster all the chicks will probably dig him in his high school years. If he derives even half the enjoyment we derived from that old Miata, and we get to park the Sebring in the garage during the coming hail storms, we’ll call it a darned good deal.

– Bud Norman

On “Tweeting” and Terrorism

The good people of Great Britain suffered another horrific terror attack by radical Muslims over the weekend, the third in as many months, and the best thing America could do about it was to offer our sympathy and full support and try to discern whatever lessons might be learned. For at least a respectful moment or two, it was probably best advised to avoid any disrespectful “tweets” about it.
President Donald Trump did “tweet” to the British people his sympathy and promise of our country’s full support, with his apparent sincerity emphasized by many capital letters, but that came in the midst of a “Twitter” storm that wound up needlessly antagonizing many of them. He made some good points, too, but he didn’t make the complicated arguments very well in his allotted 140 characters. All in all, it was another argument for someone in the “deep state” to revoke the presidential “Twitter” account.
Which is a shame, because for all his faults Trump does seem to be one of the rare world leaders who somehow grasps some of the more obvious lessons to be learned from Britain’s heartbreaking situation. All of the recent attacks were clearly motivated by an Islamic ideology that has been a persistent if not always dominant force in the Muslim world for the past 1500 years so, and would not have occurred if Britain hadn’t unwisely decided to start allowing mass immigration from the Muslim world some 60 years ago, and there’s no compelling reason that America should repeat the mistake. Britain has also clearly erred by not insisting that its Muslim citizens and residents adhere to established western values and find some peaceable and productive role among it, and say what you will about Trump at least he also doesn’t fall for that multi-cultural and morally-relativist blather. Had Trump merely “tweeted” his sympathy and support, and otherwise stayed out of the way while the rest of the world absorbed the obvious lessons, he might have won a rare news cycle.
Instead, Trump “tweeted” some invitations to losing arguments. He renewed a long-standing “Twitter” feud with the Mayor of London, a fellow with the telling name of Sadiq Kahn, charging that “At 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!” London’s Mayor is usually one of those multi-cultural and morally-relativist blatherers, as far as we’re concerned, but in this case he’d called all the local constabulary’s literal big guns in response to the situation, and that was what he was actually telling his fellow Londoners to not be alarmed about. Most Londoners, if not most Americans, scored that a win for the multi-cultural and morally-relativist weenie. Trump hasn’t yet gotten around to getting an ambassador to the United Kingdom confirmed in the Republican-controlled congress, so even the Obama-holdover acting ambassador wound up siding with the Mayor, which is probably just as well for Anglo-American relations.
Trump’s reasonable resistance to mass Muslim immigration included an arguably unreasonable campaign promise to ban any Muslim whatsoever from entering the country, which for the coming months has his arguably reasonable restriction on travel from six certain countries all tied up in court, so of course he “tweeted” about that. None of the perpetrators of any of the recent British terror attacks would have been affected by Trump’s proposed travel restrictions, of course, and have no no bearing on the legal merits of the case, and Trump probably should have let his lawyers make the arguments.
Trump also injected the domestic gun rights debate into the issue, noting that the attacks were carried out with cars and knives, but we wish he hadn’t. We’re staunch advocates of gun rights, and in the context of our domestic politics we well understand the argument that killers won’t be deterred by the lack of handgun, and that their potential victims should be free to defend themselves by any means, but Trump simply handed the gun-grabbers the argument that the terrorists wouldn’t have been more lethal if they had access to the weapons that Britain’s extraordinarily restrictive laws seem to effectively ban. A well-armed citizenry might have limited the carnage of firearm-bearing terrorists, but an efficient police and a stiff-upper-lip citizenry that retaliated against the knife-weilding terrorists with nearby beer bottles also limited the carnage, so it’s an inopportune time to bring all that up.
There’s a British parliamentary election coming up that will also choose a new Prime Minister and cabinet, but we’re pleased Trump seems to have somehow not weighed directly in that. From our prospective from across the pond and another half-continent away, we’re rooting for the Tory incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May, who seems to have absorbed all the obvious lessons, and we expect that despite their awkward relationship Trump has the same preference. Trump is not very popular in Great Britain, though, and probably less so after his latest “tweet” storm, so we expect she appreciates the silence.
Trump’s supporters should hope for some more of it, too.

— Bud Norman