Saturday, August 23, 2008

Things to Consider Before The Voting Booth

Here is a list of things to consider before you pull the lever or electronically record your vote when you go to the polls this November:

1. It will no longer do any good for the Dems to claim that Barack Obama will get us out of Iraq and John McCain will not. Now that the White House has done a 180 and sent Condi to formalize a withdrawal with deadlines, the next president, Obama or McCain, will be stuck with a formal agreement between the U.S. and the Maliki government. These things are not entirely set in stone, especially since the current president wants to sidestep Congress and reach an agreement with Iraq, and the once and future king may decide to shred the document on such grounds. (Treaties have to be ratified. Duh!) This might be unwise, as it could alienate Iraqis eager to see us go, prompting public demonstrations protesting the continuing presence of an imperialist invader.

2. Swiftboating will know no bounds, and most of it will come from GOP operatives. It may be that the party that airs the cleverest TV commercials during the other party's convention, will get a bump. Nobody, not even Jim Carville, can outdo Karl & Co. when it comes to dirty defamations, but rumor has it they're arranging to lure Larry Craig into the Minneapolis Airport, have him arrested in a toilet stall, and held till the convention is over.

3. Although John McShame touts his party's reputation as standing firm against governmental intrusion into our lives, the administration of George W. Bush, a Republican, invaded our privacy in unknown, unknowable, sinister ways that would make Joe McCarthy blush. Now that habeas corpus has been abolished, you can be charged in secret of being a terrorist, arrested, and kept incommunicado without resort to bail, a preliminary hearing, or anything determinative of probable cause. Perhaps Obama will fix that.

(To be continued as the contest rolls on....)


Why I Despise John McShame

Yes, McShame tries to hide behind his P.O.W. past as refuge from any criticism, as witness the silly "five years in one house" TV commercial, put out in a desperate attempt to justify John and Cindy's score or so of houses, condominiums, and other digs. But even Obama praises his "heroism" and "patriotic" service during Vietnam. What is lost upon both candidates is the fact that some of us thought Vietnam an immoral conflict America had no business getting involved in, and one that gave our generation a clear choice: to serve or not to serve. McShame chose to do so. I, and many others, chose not.

It really didn't matter that we had a draft then. Those of us who objected to the war on pacifistic and moral grounds found ways to stay home. McShame did not. Not even waiting to be drafted, McShame blindly followed his family tradition of signing up: he volunteered to fight a war that was odious to many of his generation. While some of us were participating in protests and sit-in's, Mr. Flyboy eagerly joined the fray. For all I know, he dropped napalm indiscriminately on the Vietnamese people, a latter day Arnaud-Amaury, the papal legate chosen to head the Albigensian Crusade, who, being asked how his troops would recognize a Cathar from an ordinary citizen, said: "Kill them all, the Lord will recognize his own."

Given his willing participation in an immoral war, McShame deserves no respect for his service, nor for his imprisonment. We know that many of our captured troops in that conflict were subjected to far greater deprivations and torture yet refused to cooperate with their captors. McShame was not one of them. He did a few cutesy things like telling his tormentors the names of professional football players when requested to list fellow "imperialists," but so what? He caved. Worse, he learned nothing by the experience. Not only did he support Bush's illegal, imperialist invasion of Iraq, he flip-flopped on the waterboarding issue, which made a mockery of his own captivity.

McShame is a dangerous man who wants to attack Iran, get tough with Russia (although we now know, clearly, the Georgians provoked their invasion of South Ossetia). The last person we need in the White House today is a militaristic, jingoistic, slavering warmonger like John McShame. As for all of his dwellings, I'm surprised he hasn't gone whole hog and, in response to queries some Iraqi vets are homeless, sleeping in underpasses, and going hungry, said: "Let them eat cake."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wag the Dog?

Has Hollywood repeated itself, or has history done so? It just occurred to me that perhaps when George W. said he'd looked in Putin's eyes and seen his soul, what he really meant was that he'd seen his evil twin. Psychologically, these two blowhards would seem to have been cut from the same cloth, and it may even be that they mutually agreed to be each other's film studio for their very own wag the dog.

Now that attention needs to be taken off Iraq -- although the right wingnut pundits still blab about surge success and goal-accomplishment ("we're winning the war"), there's that nagging question of political success, divvying up the oil monies among various sects and tribes, and reconciling Shia with Sunni so that there's no Balkan style genocide (what a euphemism, "ethnic cleansing"!). These matters can easily be taken off the 24/7 cycle if only....

That's it! Get Vladimir to invade Georgia. Between that spectacle and the Olympics, you outdo the Roman emperors' gifts of bread and circuses. You may think I am paranoid, but if I learned anything from the Sixties, it was the slogan, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean nobody's out to get you." Yeah, I know, lousy grammar, weak syntax, but you get the idea.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Light Sweet Crude

Nothing upsets me so much as seeing a big pickup or SUV with only the driver inside. When she or he pulls into the convenience store and fills the tank, they shell out three to four times what I do to fill mine, which allows me to think they're more responsible for the ongoing energy crisis because I was wise enough to buy a Toyota Corolla. In a post to one of the egroups I subscribe to, a member made reference to SUV's and parenthetically defined them as "Stupid Useless Vehicles." I soon enough entered my hat into the ring for Fool when I told another subscriber about the definition only to be informed that he owned two of them himself.

But, hey, let's face it: SUV's in particular look like dinosaurs, don't they? I mean, notice how many people have simply parked them in the garage, on the driveway, or (as is most often the case in South Texas) on the lawn. And check out what's going on in Detroit: billion dollar quarterly losses. And at your local dealarship. I even heard a commercial by a dealer offering fifteen thousand dollars off the price of a new SUV! And, now that crude has enjoyed a temporary slump in price (all the way down to $125 a barrel the other day), the SUV's and even the big pickups will see slowly rising sales.

It's all psychology -- and mass psychology at that. The current SUV owners are using them less because they dislike paying throught the nose. Amusingly, one wag put his frustrations on his posted price sign: "Regular Unleaded: An Arm and a Leg." I mean, you can only amputate an arm or a leg once. And when the other two have been cut off, there's nothing left but the head and the unmentionable. I am not about to contend that all of these vehicles at all times of the day, all week, all month, and all year have only one person inside and are only headed for the inflation station (read: grocery store). No, of course not. During the week, the pickup might hold the implements or inventory of the breadwinner's small business, and the SUV during the school year is put to use driving the most precious cargo of all to local schools.

But, generally, speaking, big trucks and SUV's chap my ass. Most have "BUSH-CHENEY 2004" bumper stickers. Some have N.R.A. Some have Jebus fish symbols or "In Case of Rapture, This Vehicle Will be Empty." I don't mind their naive notions about cosmogony, biology, &c., I just wish they didn't throw them in my face. (There are some aspects of Islam that I think have great value; for one, visual depictions of the founder of their religion, Mohammed, are strictly forbidden. That's why not-so-radical Islamists made such ado over the publication of cartoons showing their patriarch as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban.) Seems to me, you have a pretty weak religion if you have to run about with such proclamations of faith on your rear window or bumper. Reminds me of that old homily, "Fools' names and fools' faces always appear in public places."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

McShame, Obama, and the Real Race Card

As the presidential race moves through its pre-debate, mudslinging comic opera phase, we see McShame, lacking any innovative ideas of his own and using fear and race as his only weapon, trades barbs with Obama only to further waste time by making an issue of who used the race card first. The answer is simple: Karl Rove. Nobody could have come up with such a seemingly clever, archly ironic TV commercial as the Britney-Paris fiasco. But Barack seems loathe to explain his reasoning in pointing out the true culprit in the who-hit-first debate, perhaps because getting hung up on the race issue is perceived as crippling to his campaign.

Don't believe it? Have you heard about the GOP cash bonanza this one TV commercial brought in? Obviously, McShame's base wants more dirt. Obama probably would have only exacerbated his problem by pointing out that the juxtaposition of himself with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton -- young, svelte, attractive blonde caucasians -- would revive a stereotype that should have gone out, even in the South, with the death of Martin Luther King, the Rodney King riots, and all of the talk show ironing out of age-old recriminations in their wake. I mean, after all, has anyone seen the Gregory Peck movie, To Kill a Mockingbird?

"N-----s rape white wimin!" There, I said it. In the vernacular of the ignorant, the superstitious, the intolerant, the frightened.

When Obama accused McShame of raising the race card, both men knew what he meant (or Rove and Obama knew): all of the old (conscious and unconscious) fears of white voters all over America would be aroused, brought to bear on the current situation, and used to bolster the argument Obama is "elitist." (I actually learned from a white woman that she wouldn't be voting for Obama because "that's all we'll see in the White House is blacks.") McShame's card: fear of the unknown. It's really Bush III just as MoveOn says, only this time, not having fear of Islamists as a viable strategy, McShame is using fear of African-Americans.

The pundits asked their guests whether the race issue should be debated head-on, and since it appears to be an inevitable component of the '08 elections, how fully should it be investigated and reported? CNN has started a "Black in America" series. A few pundits have expressed views. But the bottom line nitty gritty is not being discussed. The pundits and the pols seem to be saying, "Don't go there." But maybe it's time we should.