Friday, October 31, 2008

#102 John McCain in Wonderland

I mean the Alice and Lewis Carroll one, spilling over a bit into the Looking Glass, too. As the campaign sputtered out for McCain over the last few weeks, I got to thinking about shrinking--how the whole McCain/Palin mis en scene seemed to be getting smaller and smaller before my very eyes. Shrinking, fading from sight like a grinning Cheshire (Mc)Cat. It doesn't help matters that McCain is a short little man--you get perspective when he's on stage with almost anybody else, including his running mate--who (perhaps as a result of his war injuries, I don't know) comports/contorts his body in a shoulder-hunching, scrunched-up sort of way, as if protecting his privates. (Yes, I think I want you to think of another analogy while we're at it--the infamous Shrinkage! There's always SHRINKAGE when you get out of a pool! scene from Seinfeld when George is caught dripping-naked by Jerry's girlfriend, and constrained to defend the dimensionality of certain naughty bits.) The whole McCain thing has gotten somehow oppressively, chokingly claustrophobic and SMALL.

But the seeming physical shrinkage is only symptomatic of the tiny, petty small-mindedness coming out of the McCain campaign of late. One feels like Alice after quaffing too much of the "Drink Me" potion and finding herself Down the Rabbit Hole and in the twee surreal world of the mercury-tainted Mad Hatter yelling "No room, no room" and pushing his tea-partiers around the table in crazed confusion. (Think back to McCain scuttling about distractedly in the Town Hall debate.) And all the while uttering perfect nonsense, like John McCain. Yes, he's the diminutive and demented Mad Hatter, and Sarah Palin can play the part of either the oblivious Duchess character (with her "deformed" baby [sorry] that she she doesn't know is really a pig), OR the insane Queen of Hearts, whose simplistic "off-with-their-heads" mentality fits Palin's hatchet-"man" role perfectly. Take your pick.

And then there's the Caterpillar, who asks Alice over and over, "Who ARE you?" even as she continues to provide the most transparent information about herself. But it's never enough, like the McCain team's empty insinuations about Obama's somehow sinister back story that he's hiding from us. Or Humpty Dumpty (skipping this once to the later Through the Looking Glass), who famously plays fast and loose with the meaning of words: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean..." How about the glib and irresponsible bandying about of "socialist" "leftist" "Marxist" "radical" and worse, by the McCain camp? Humpty Dumpty-ish, eh? But we all know who "takes a great fall" in the end.

Alice ends of course with the protagonist waking up from her fun-filled nightmare no better off than she began. That's the point. It all ends in a babble of nonsense, but it was a nightmare nonetheless. Likewise. the McCain/Palin rallies are getting well-nigh frightening of late, what with the red-neck rabble shouting imprecations tantamount to "off-with-his-head" Red-Queen insanity. Not the harmless fun of the Mad Hatter's tea party. We'll all wake up on Tuesday, I hope. How about Obama in the Land of Oz? Later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

#101 A Political Limerick

Somewhat extended...


"THAT ONE..." with the surname Obama,

Has the gravitas of a Brahma,

The charisma of a Dalai Lama.

(He's also "Barack,"

As he's known by his flock.)

Hero of campaign high drama,

If he should lose ... Oh, Mama.

Nota bene:
This weblog will return to a more semi-regular, quasi-daily schedule soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

#100 Sunday Sundries

In no particular order...
  • Personal computer still down, but flu has improved--enough to say a few words commemorating the 100th episode of the Daily Mosteller. As is traditional with such a milestone--e.g. Seinfeld, Bonanza--the WebLog can now be offered for syndication to the major networks or cable companies or, in extremis, to local stations and even public access channels. Goodness knows, I could use the advertising revenue. I would of course have final say over casting. The late, great Paul Newman would have been great as Dr. J.D.--handsome, blue-eyed intelligence and all--but maybe his longtime partner in crime Robert Redford is available. The age is about right, anyway.
  • Speaking of which, my 100 posts have beaten out the mere 70 produced by that venerable old lady from Woy Woy, Australia (my post #27), Olive Riley, who gave up blogging only because she was dead. At 108. I take inspiration from that, and hope to follow exactly in her pioneering footsteps. There is a strange sort of dedication that one develops, I must confess--a dedication that I can't fully understand, but which I will address in a later post about this whole business. Meanwhile, as I pass the hundred mark, blogwise, here's a Thank You to the Myriad Readers who have read and commented (both in and outside the blog). I hope to be back on my game soon.
  • And a Happy Birthday to Granddaughter Ashley on her Eleventh!

Friday, October 24, 2008

#99 Friday Funnies--"Crashes" of One Kind and Another

Yep, the Economy crashed all right, but as either Hamlet or Horatio said, "Misfortunes come not one at a time, but in battalions." Attendant upon, it seems, the attack on our national financial structure by the armies of misfortune are the following major and minor skirmishes of this dark October week of 2008...
  • Computer crashed several days ago. I'm at this very moment keyboarding away in my inimical hunt and peck style (that's what she said) in my neighborhood public library. Wish mine were this state-of-the-art ... but, notwithstanding, this is why I haven't quite kept up with the "daily" part of the Daily Mosteller of late. It's not "due back from the shop" till next week. (I'll give the Myriad Readers a "consumer report" on the Geek Squad.) Meanwhile, expect only a post or two in the interim.
  • My body crashed last week. Intestinal influenza. No doubt due to the FOUL AIR excrescing from the political campaigns and "influencing" my very physical health (original meaning of the word/malady).
  • My watch stopped last Monday, kid you not. Needed a new battery.
  • I've had a bad toothache for a year.
Life does go on, however, minute-by-minute, in the most positive ways...
  • Grandson Marcus will celebrate his 7th birthday tomorrow.
  • President-Elect Barack Obama will move into the White House in February. Biden nearby.
  • Despite the vicissitudes of a random universe, here am I happily hunting and pecking on my 99th post. Who woulda thought...

Monday, October 20, 2008

#98 "Spread the Wealth," John McCain, Your Own Self

I'm tickled. Ha, Ha--you say: in these troubled times? But that's the point. If he weren't so apoplectically serious, I'd swear John McCain wuz jokifyin' ... hilariatin' on us. Can this be the magic slogan to hook and pull the "undecideds" or even the wavering Obamites to his side? "Beware Barack Obama! When he gets into office he's apt to Spread The Wealth around!" Well, order me up a BIG SLICE OF THAT!

Yes, Obama did say something to that effect (with a bunch of taxation rationale and context around it), but did the McCain team really think that the "socialism" tag would send Great Waffling Hoards screaming to his tent? That works about as well these days as the old bugaboo, "socialized medicine"--what with the gub'mint already knee-deep in the healthcare business (Medi-Care-Caid, etc.), and fornicating twixt the sheets with Big Pharm and Big Med and Big Insurance in a tawdry menage a' quatre. Sure, it's a desperation cry in the dark for McCain & Co., but the idiots in charge should have more carefully considered the following ...
  • McCain voted for the infamous BAILOUT, goshdarnit. Everybody knows that--he even cancelled Letterman to do it. And it's a prima facie redistribution of wealth--mainly to the wealthy, in this case. But he even went a further "socialist" mile in proposing the buying up of homeowners' bad mortgages.
  • He should talk. McCain's as rich as Croesus. What he didn't get from his beer-heiress wife, people are thinking, he got from his membership in the Keating 5 Gang, the very ilk that got us in such trouble today. He doesn't even know how many homes he owns.
  • And we wouldn't mind if some of these greedy folk paid a little indemnity on those ill-gotten gains. I'm talking about the outrageous salaries and severance packages (see #82) that these crooked CEO's are getting right and left, for essentially failing at their jobs and bringing this crisis upon us. Let's at least spread THEIR wealth.
  • Doesn't Team McCain rather risibly misread human nature, here, as well? Are we above taking a hand-out? How many turned down this year's tax rebate on some free-market principle or other? None, I would guess, and even fewer would today.
You can think of some more reasons, I'm sure, why the "scare-tactic" of rampant-socialism-at-our-gates just isn't very scary at all to most people right now. A semantic quibble, to be relegated to the economics classroom. Maybe Obama was being a bit demagogic in his little rant about spreading the wealth, but I have no doubt that it fell on receptive ears. Bread and Circuses will work every time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

#97 Sunday Sundries

In no particular order...
  • Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. They couldn't even get this one right. The rumor is that she even asked to be on the show. Which took some guts. Twee kudos for that. But, although it's probably too late now to save the flagging ticket, the McCain/Palin people could have collaborated with the SNL people to get the girl to DO SOMETHING on the show last night. She has been, after all, a beauty queen, a sports reporter, a campaigner for high office--she's got proven stage-presence and can read a script and do sound bites--why not get her into the act? She could have scored a few points for self-mockery to off-set the raving banshee persona she's been stuck with for the last few weeks. Instead, she got mocked again, bystandingly. She did well enough in the funny opening bit, being mistaken for her doppelganger Tina Fey by some cast members, but she had only a reactive line or two. In the only other sketch, much later in the show, she was forced to sit and bob her head to an elaborately-costumed, singing/dancing, hip-hop production number lampooning all her well-known deficiencies. Or so it was staged--with this truly lamo set-up: "Would you like to play yourself [or Amy Poehler's words to that effect] in this bit?" ... "No, it's too far over the edge," responds Sarah. Not funny, and most of the satirical lyrics were unintelligible, at least for me. It did nobody no good at all.
  • Here's another thing that does Sarah Palin no good, and it bothers me as a parent and grandparent. It's a matter of personal/historical/family legacy. Of honor. I just couldn't help thinking whenever she was "on" over the last couple of weeks: What are her kids and grandkids to think--if they have an ounce of ethical intelligence--of their mother's low-ball posturing for the sake of mere political gain? Hey, it's on tape. Forever retrievable and regrettable. She's lying half the time now, and her progeny will be able to play back the infamy at will. The McCarthyite, witch-hunting, insinuation-laden "Who is the real Barack Obama?" Or the best/worst example: "Obama thinks this country is so imperfect that he was pallin' around with terrorists [with the cutesy g-droppin']." As an everso evangelical Christianist, shouldn't she know that this is literally bearing-false-witness, ten-commandment-breaking behavior? We know--as any halfway inquisitive offspring would know too--the difference between the accepted meaning of "palling around," and that of sitting on some board with someone. "You did a lot of fear-mongerin' and racial-hatred-panderin' and truth-suckin' in that VP campaign of long ago, didn't you, Grandma?" Uhh...
  • But if the breathtakingly irresponsible act of picking poor Sarah Palin (I really am beginning to feel sorry for her) as his running-mate didn't deep-six John McCain's bid for the Presidency, as I predicted, Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today surely will. Whoa, here's a fellow-soldier, erstwhile friend, white-house collaborator, former Bush-loving guy slapping John McCain right in the jowls. I don't suspect for a moment that McCain broke down crying for a moment of his years of brutal captivity--he's not that kind of guy--but this thunderstroke event would bring even the stoutest-hearted to tears.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

#96 The Debates--Ave Atque Vale

No, make that a MALEdiction. Curse them, the nasty things. Glad to be rid of them, and may they never return ... EXCEPT as true debates in the classical manner. The Oxford Union model, as I mentioned once before (#83), which pretty much sets the standard for debating teams across the U.S., is what the candidates must irrevocably demand from now (or 2012ish) on. "RESOLVED ... etc. and so on." To restore some dignity, goshdarnit. This last one looked and sounded like a disciplinary hearing in the Principal's office.

They BOTH won it, though, in this respect: there are no more to go. One more losing night for the near-senile, Grumpy Old Man would have lost him more than just the presidency. He may yet go down as the debating successor of poor, confused Gen. Stockdale on the Perot ticket of yore (lampooned unmercifully by the late, great Phil Hartman on SNL). Already McCain is the butt and fodder of much late-night humor. As for Obama? I'm sorry, but his coolity under fire was just getting TOO familiar--read: boring. Yeah, he did win all three, on the issues or off, but diminishing returns were starting to set in, I fear.

But an Ave and Hurrah!--not the last one, thank goodness--for "that one," as McCain notoriously put it. Sen. Barack Obama, I mean. He's hung in there against all kinds of odds (fill in the easy blanks), and some formidable opponents. Hillary Clinton comes to mind. And now it looks like he's got it. Much to my (somewhat belated) satisfaction ... and apparently so for the whole Planet Earth! Readers Digest is just out with a world-wide opinion poll asking nationals from 17 countries their preference between the Presidential contenders--"It's Obama by a landslide ... most striking is the margin of his support." 92% in the Netherlands, for example (among pot-smokers asked: well over 100%). And so it is from Mexico to Indonesia and in between. At last a President we can be proud of on the World Stage, even if I ain't no Dixie Chick.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

#95 The Bailout--pt. 3: "What, Me Worry?"

The Mad Magazine motto worked itself out pretty nicely over the last couple of days, with record gains on the NYSE from the jumping-out-of-windows mark to the coming-in-off-the-ledge levels of moderate loss. It simply WAS to be that way, and hence forward for the next couple of years--no, no ... not soon enough, ye gods forfend, to infect the upcoming election day with any kind of McCain/Palin/Republican resurgency and turn the tide for them--as the Economy stabilizes. As it will, if only because echoing in the back of everybody's mind is the refrain, "the Democrats are coming ... the Democrats are coming." They'll fix IT, just like F.D.R. and Bill Clinton did. It's a 99% placebo effect, I'm convinced. Because nobody really knows for sure how to get a grip on this Protean/Procrustean monster.

Except Alfred E. Newman, and his school (see #92). Print lots of money; lend it to almost anybody. Treas. Sec. Paulson's now even shipping it overseas. And, as I predicted, it's working. (But please don't BUY anything, Henry. Way too far from free-market principles for me. Usury, OK. Outright purchase, no-no. Let the banks use the loan-money to buy back bad assets from themselves, if need be. They need the practice.) Of course this exaggerates 20th C. liberal economics, which was the the other side of my liberal education in the field. Sherill Cleland (see last post) in his Econ 101 class at K-College was the purveyor (indeed actor, in a minute) of the Pump-up-the-economy-when-necessary-with-federal-funds Theory. He had the aid of still-one-of-my-favorite books, Heilbruner's The Worldly Philosophers, still-in-classroom-use in later editions, I'm sure, across the known world. The text, as I recall, took us through the preliminaries and up to classical Adam Smith and Parson Malthus (Darwin's and Aldous Huxley's favorite), then ultimately to Marx and J.M. Keynes and the economic activists. In fact, there seemed to be a kind of Darwinian agenda to the book, as if really all that went on before was leading inevitably to Keynesian Economics (I don't know about later editions, where Friedman and his conservative ilk might come into play). And I was sold, just as I been on the tee-total free-marketers in H.S. Civics.

These were the Kennedy-Johnson years, after all, where the Keynsian J.K. Galbraith held sway at almost cabinet level, and where Dr. Cleland his-very-self was called upon by the that administration to help pump some good-will American money into several Latin American countries on the edge of what we're facing now. (He took a leave of absence as a kind of financial ambassador for several years shortly after I luckily had my class with him, and didn't return until after I graduated.) But that's basically the theory: modulate and moderate and even preempt the ups and downs of the economy with a "liberal" flow of funds from the government treasury.

What the heck: I swing back and forth in a bi-fiduciary kind of way, man. Let the ghosts of Adam Smith and Fred Hayek hover over a REGULATED (some of what's been going on smacks of simple fraud) Free Market most of the time. But when it's in extremis, as it is now, boogie down with a dose of Marx and Galbraith, and let the Monopoly money flow. Alfred E. Newman would approve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

#94 The Bailout Again--Two Views for the Price of One

I'm a Libertarian ... (slap!) ... No, a Liberal ... (slap!) ... Libertarian ... (slap!) ... Liberal ... (slap!) ... OK, I'm her mother AND her sister, Mr. Gittes. Please stop.

At least as regards Political Economy, I've always been a bit schizoid, even polarized. It all started I think with two charismatic academics from opposite sides of the Dismal-Science fence when I was right around college-entrance age. Our teacher for 12th-grade Honors Civics was Mr. Tip-Of-My-Tongue, a rabid anti-communist in bow-tie, pin-stripes, and wing-tips--a very dapper, graying-at-the-temples fellow--with an M.A. Unusual for a high-school teacher at the time, but I'm sure it was in History and not an M.B.A., because otherwise he would have been out earning a living in the real world, and not wasting his ideological fervor on us kids. I guess.

A couple of books, classics, as I was later to learn, stand out for me in that class: Sociologist David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd (with its "tradition-, inner-, and other-directed" business) and Economist Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom. The latter, along with co-conspirator Mr. TOMT, convinced me that any government involvement WHATSOEVER in The Economy would lead us to the salt mines of Siberia. Tax a piece of candy, and pretty soon the State would be telling you What Flavor, and soon be interfering in other areas of your political life, until ultimately getting right in between your bedsheets, and generally violating your moral privacy all-to-hell. Now that I've for sure mis-characterized him sufficiently--it was a rather slippery-slopery argument in retrospect (thus prima facie fallacious), but also classically Adam Smithian premise-wise, whose "invisible hand" laissez-faire-ism had a clean, simplistic appeal to an economically blank-slate senior in high school. Thus you could say that I was a sociologically tradition-directed and economically inner-directed upon graduation. Pretty much.

But that lasted for only a couple of years, until I took Econ 101 at Kalamazoo College from Dr. Sherill Cleland, a rabid Keynesian in bow-tie, pin-stripes, and wing-tips--a very dapper fellow, but too young for graying temples at that time. What is it about bow-ties and Economists?--but they couldn't have been more wildly apart on Economic Theory.

But more of this later. Must check on the NYSE, which at this very moment is setting sales records (upwards), and may, in so doing, prove my point while increasing my portfolio ... as if I had one anymore.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

#93 Sunday Sundries

In no particular order...
  • Can the Republican attack ads get more scurrilous and out-of-context deceptive? My favorite: "Obama favors sex-ed for Kindergartners [or some such]--sex before they can even read!" Wow ... Obama must be a pedophile. The earlier the better as far as I'm concerned, but the Kinder-class in question is a lot more innocuous--but absolutely life-and-death important--than these sleaze-spinners would have you believe. It involves "how-to" instruction on avoiding molestation by older folk. Sheer pornography, what?
  • Or, when not dragging the campaign through the mud, will they strain credulity beyond the breaking point? Case in point: Obama and the "liberal Democrats in Congress," according to a McCain-approved TV ad I just witnessed, are responsible for for the rampant DEREGULATION of our financial institutions, thus leading to our our current crisis (cue shot of a Joe Six-Pack out of work). Can you believe it?! The bedrock of Neocon-Republican mis-thinking since they have been in charge is now whipping-boyed on the back of Barack.
  • Or, can McCain/Palin partisan-defenders finally break through the ceiling of ultimate inanity? Not sure, but here's one that's breathtaking: OUTRAGE over the Palin Newsweek cover this week. Was it a scathing Tina-Fey-like satire or ironic New-Yorker-like caricature that stoked their ire? Nope. It's a life-photo of the Governor in extreme and not un-flattering (how could it be otherwise, really) CLOSE-UP. What's the problem? Well, for the rabid Republican women (including the anchor) interviewed in a Fox News program (uh, oh) the magazine's cover reflected extreme radical-liberal left-wing media bias because the photo WAS NOT RETOUCHED or otherwise prettified to their liking. Kid you not. And I guess you could see a blemish or two (haven't seen the hard copy). Regardless ... "For a major publication not to retouch a major celebrity [or some such] is an outrage--why, look at this one of Obama [as she holds up his not-very-flattering cover-shot]--obviously retouched!" Again, wow.
  • But at the same time, the moral-political Zeitgeist moves forward in a nicely Libertarian way, over in the state of Connecticut. The supreme court there has affirmed the right/rite of marriage for same-sex couples. Now only 49 left behind.
  • Global Warming continues right off my back porch. Love it ... Thunor-the-Weather-God help me. Record-high mid-summer temps in Raleigh next week. Great for my chronic S.A.D. Hey, I've got a condition--let the grandkids (all smart) handle the problem. They'll just have to grow up as quickly as possible. All they need to do is stop the Greenland ice-sheet from plopping into the North Atlantic (within 50 years probably), thereby preventing a gazillion cubic miles of fresh-water from disrupting the Thermohaline Circulation and thus blocking the Gulf Stream and thereby plunging us into an irreversible Ice Age culminating in another Snowball Earth. They can do it.

TammyRose could eat no ripe,

J.D. could eat no green;

So betwixt the two of them,

They peeled the platter clean.

Friday, October 10, 2008

#92 Friday Funnies--Economic MADness

What, me worry? Having been trained at the Alfred E. Newman School of Political Economy, I don't got none. Umm, worryses, that is. AENSOPE's admissions policy is strictly limited to folk with a certified G.E.D. diploma, so that when we graduated, after many, many hours of dedicated study, we could be intellectually proud of our B.S. degree in Economics. World economics, I might add. In fact, emblazoned on OUR diploma (which means "folded," I'm told) and on the gravestone of our Founder is this motto: E pluribus pecunia. Mutuam commodo plus. Caveat promissor non illegitimi. Which is a universal cure for every kind of economic ill plaguing the Body Politic. Roughly translated from the Latin (I'm told), it means: "Print up lots of money ... lend it to whosomever ... but make sure the bastards pay you back ... at interest."

Why not? It's all on paper, anyway. About as artificial as the so-called "national debt." We can always fix bad paper with more paper, and it has ALWAYS worked ... eventually. I'm serious.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

#91 The "Town (Without Pity) Hall" Debate

This'll be short, because that's all it's worth. Let's play the "blame game" again: Who-in-the-bloody-Hell came up with the idea for this fright show?! Whoever it was, he/she would have been in danger of their life had they shown up on the set--the pugnacious little time-bomb McCain, pacing murderously throughout, would have beaten Whoever to a pulp right then and there. The incredibly composed Obama might even have jumped in to help.

The first debate had a few sparks, at least ... short of a conflagration. But the faux-format here (about as far from a real town meeting as you can get) dampened down the proceedings from the git-go. Gosh-darn-it, we got two different debates again, like the VP affair, but this time it seemed all but planned that way. Here's what we saw: one-at-a-time questions to the candidates one-at-a-time, separately and randomly, with no follow-up or rebuttal or cross-referencing to speak of--providing the candidates with the luxury of two-minute sound-bites from their already prepared and well-rehearsed speeches that we've all heard before ... too many times now. High drama. And where did they get that zombie-like audience?! I know, having lived in Nashville during my Vanderbilt years--right off the drugged-out avenues of Music Row. Out-of-work "session" back-ups maybe. Well, they might have been Belmont College shills, after all, but I swear if you had shone a strobe-light on the proceedings, the only object in motion would have been the peripatetic Mr. McCain.

Who won? Nobody. Which means Obama did. It occurs to me that after the upcoming third-and-last Presidential debate, I may not even be alive to see another one. OK.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

#90 The Campaign Lately--Words That Haunt

My words, that is. I was hopeful back in mid-August (#48) that I could be everso proud of our candidates for national office, and show those "snooty Chinese" that the American system of government (in such profound contrast to theirs--despite their world-class Olympics) could produce world-class, would-be world-leaders from either party (or even one or two more--though Nader's a bit of a joke this time), and in either the Prez or VP position.

How have those hopes been dashed! I should sound the partisan-alert here, but I won't, because I think that, except for the most blinkered, evangelical Republicans, most everyone would agree that the campaign on both sides is plumbing toilet-flushing depths. But let the "blame-game" begin. (Divigation: I hate that facile term of denial, a smoke-screen glibly invoked by those most often blame-able. E.g: the Katrina aftermath, where the term became au courant--but come on, somebody's got to take responsibility for bad behavior.)

Who "started it"? By my lights, the drain started to clog with McCain's choice of running-mate. The standards for reasoned political debate were thereby axiomatically lowered. Sarah Palin = world-class leader? Ha, of course. But she was not even, as it turns out, a very good mayor of her tiny-toon town, or yet, in her short tenure, an exceptional state-governor. And could her administrative venues be any more on the primitive borderlands of American politics than they are? She can even see Siberia, wink-wink. I had some problems with Biden, but he has more than redeemed himself, in my opinion.

So now it's come down to the guilt-by-association and thinly-veiled race-baiting tactics--"Is he a person that Americans would want to vote for?" ... "Just who is Obama, anyway?" (or some such)--ask the McCain ads. Obviously, Barack HUSSEIN Obama is an unpatriotic, black-radical from the Sixties (the Ayers thing, when Obama was 8 years old!). Well, somebody recklessly let the dogs out. For now the past peccadilloes of Palin and especially McCain become "fair" game. SHE can be linked to the anti-American, secessionist Alaskan Independence Party, and HE to some right-wing, white-supremacist organization of long ago. And they deserve it.

But it's much worse than that for McCain. As I pointed out in my 9/5 post (#65), McCain couldn't very well bring up much more than Republican platitudes about domestic policy in his RNC acceptance speech, especially about the Economy, because it might remind people that he was directly involved in the "Keating 5"/Savings-and-Loan scandals (second only to the one of late) of the early 90s, which cost the taxpayers billions, and for which he and his four congressional co-conspirators got off way-too lightly. Infuriatingly so. It was out-and-out influence-peddling. All of this led to the huge (for its time) unprecedented (for its time) federal BAILOUT of 80 billion or so. Talk about cosmic convergence! McCain will be hoist by his own foul-smelling petard. He was even quoted at the time as saying that no matter how the thing came out, his gravestone would somehow have "Keating 5" etched upon it. How words can haunt.

Monday, October 6, 2008

#89 Joe Biden, I Take It All Back

Let's just forget about my #58 and #59 where I probed your past plagiarism episodes as evidence "tantamount to sociopathy" or some such, and let's just wipe that off the face of a troubled earth ... which I do believe you have a chance of UN-troubling as Vice President. You proved it the other night with heart and mind, especially in stark comparison with what's-her-name.

You might say she played the "parent-card" on you, Joe--kitchen-table "hockey-mom" and regular Mrs. "Joe" Six-Pack--since she couldn't hide her vacuity on the real issues. Your forbearance was admirable, but if only you coulda, but you couldn't, point out that she's really not a very good Mom. I'll shift the sociopathic label over to her, or at least let's agree that her moral conscience is far short of unambiguous. Her first child was born 8 months after her marriage. Her teen-age daughter "has to get married"--as it was put in my day, but make no mistake: Mother Palin admits she's calling the shots. Yet she hypocritically opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools, adhering to the totally proven-to-be-ineffective abstinence-only approach. An abortion for Bristol? Not a chance. It would effectively neutralize the ambitious Palin's neo-con, christianist base, and dim her prospects for staying in, or competing for, higher office. But shouldn't she know that the choice between single teenage-parenthood OR forced teenage-marriage is no choice at all? Either one, in most cases, is statistically doomed to poverty and failure. No real compassionate circumspection on the mother's part here.

And a stickier issue: should Palin have chosen (we'll assume this one was planned) to have her last child at such a risky age? Or then to go ahead and "have it" anyway even though forewarned that it would be a Down's child? Most people of minimal moral comprehension might have some thoughtful reservations about bringing such a child into the world, given that his life and those around him will be fraught with its brevity and pain. But no, "didnt blink," as she often mindlessly says, even as she winks. Much worse, she uses the child as an anti-abortion, political talking-point.

And let's see about how that dubious motherhood might be extended to the public domain, in which she seeks power. Not only would she impose her dark-age religious bigotry on sex-ed classes, but would ban "un-Christian" books from the library, re-institute (always-fractious) prayer-in-school protocol, pollute science-education with creationism and young-earth beliefs (she's got dinosaurs on the Ark, forgodsake), and generally sabotage the public school system for our children. Theocracy stalks, and one of thy names is Palin.

Finally, she's obviously no Cindy Sheehan. She looks forward to her son's deployment to Iraq with unwholesome glee (reminding me of the war-crazed Mater Volumnia in Shakespeare's Coriolanus, who wants to see her son's corpse, should he die in the Roman cause, and bathe her hands in its blood)--as it provides martyrish support for Bush/McCain's "100-year war," and another political talking-point. If she would so gladly send her first-born into the jaws of death, how many other young men would she sacrifice so as not to "throw up the white flag of surrender," as she so heedlessly puts it? Talk about throwing up ....

No, I'm with you Joe. Of course your positions on the issues were just right, almost by default, because she had none. But you nailed it with that catch in your throat near the end of the debate. Some might say it wasn't genuine. Impossible. Let me tell you why I choked up along with you, as I hope did everybody else. I knew the story before I tuned in. First, Palin pipes up with HER glad/sad routine about Track (cheap-shot alert: she also needs help in the child-naming department) being deployed to Iraq. Then it was your turn a few minutes later, as the "debate" was still focused on the war. No contest. For you had gone through this before. The son who is now to serve in Iraq was many years earlier a critically-injured survivor of the automobile crash that claimed your first wife and daughter. Would he pull through then? Will he pull through now? What an incredible and heart-wrenching convergence of time and event ... overwhelming for most mortal men. So please go ahead and be Vice President of the United States, thank you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

#88 Sunday Sundries

In no particular order...
  • Good news for fat people and inflexible non-yoga folk: you can see Uranus with your naked eye this month, if you look for it in the right place. Because of its close conjunction with Earth (ha, Ouranos was the son/husband of Gaia = Earth ... very kinky mythology), discovered by Herschel (William, not his namesake telescope), can be found, unaided but better with binoculars, on a clear, dark night, in the Aquarius constellation. OK, so the astronomers would prefer you pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable ... but what's the fun in that?
  • Two versions of parenthood in Thursday's debate: Sarah Palin, self-styled "hockey-mom," making happy-happy political hay out of her son being deployed to Bush/Cheney murder-machine in the Middle East; OR Joe Biden choking-up at coincidentally the same prospect--his lawyer son, survivor of THE traffic accident that killed his mother and sister, will serve as judicial/governmental advisor of some sort in that dangerous land. Take your pick.
  • Polls are way up now for Obama/Biden, BUT 'tis pity, in my mind, that it took the Economy to do it. I'm sorry, but do we always have to look to our pocketbooks to make the right decision about who might inflict themselves on our very lives for the next four to eight years? Isn't it enough that fellow Americans are every single minute of the day DYING in hospital emergency-rooms across the country for want of proper health care, and DYING across the ocean in the Middle East and elsewhere for want of a proper government in this country?
But I always take comfort in another line from Steven Wright: "I got a paper cut from my suicide note today ... it's a start."

Friday, October 3, 2008

#87 Friday Funnies--Palin v. Biden Show

Unfair. FOUL, I say. That we should have to award points for not falling FLAT on one's FACE.

After the Obama-McCain debate, I declared a TIE between the principals (#83), with the winner being the Issues transcending the debate ... ergo: an Obama win. No tie last night, though: (pretzel-logic alert) they each won their own separate debates. They might as well have been on opposite sides of the planet and 24 time zones away from each other ... for all their interaction. Face it: Palin could have appeared on an empty stage one hour before Biden and her verbal adventure would have been the same. No debate, really: "You Washington D.C. people, I don't care what kind of ... you know ... Senator Biden ... questions ... moderator ... I'm gonna speak directly to the American people ... darn right ... nookyuler ... you betcha (wink, wink)." I'm sure most of the Idiocracy were happy that she could manufacture real Words, one after the other, in whatever order. Substance doesn't much matter.

Of course she evaded the questions: she had no answers. Gentleman Senator Biden called her on that but once. But what could he do? Be accused of picking on a self-made ex-beauty-queen with an autistic child and a pregnant teenage daughter? No. He really did have to hold back. Had to defer to the out-positioning (girly-wise) and low-expectation-ing (perfomance-wise) that were framed in everybody's mind (including mine, admittedly) before the debate began ... lest he come off a know-it-all Bully-man.

But he won HIS side of the debate-with-self, too. Decisively. Like Obama, he had all the issues going his way. Except half-a-one: the War. He initially voted for it (and overall he's a bit too interventionist for my Libertarian money), before he was against it. He made up for that, I think, by being ever-so-much now: "We will end this war" (again and again)--please, if only for the sake of Sarah's recently-deployed son, Track Palin, who may at this very moment be DEAD (sorry) ... another innocent victim of the killing-machine that Bush built. And like McCain, she wants to keep it running!? "The Iraqi government will tell us when they want us to leave." Wow.

I couldn't help thinking all through the debate why John McCain couldn't have chosen an even prettier and smarter-by-a-long-shot running-mate with just as much experience ... the real thing => Tina Fey.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

#86 Wednesday Words--Work and Bufonidae

This is Wodnesdaeg, after all, a day that can legitimately be earmarked for a little WISDOM, maybe even some not my own (see #75). For Anglo-Saxon Woden (G. Wotan, O.N. Odin), Beowulf's god, besides being Allfather of everything (the Germanic Yahweh), he was especially revered for his Wisdom, which he attained at a terrible price. To drink from Mimir's Well and thus gain the knowledge of past, present, and future, the god had to sacrifice one of his eyes. (I'm only 80% blind in my Right, darn it.) No wonder, henceforth, that one of his epithets was: Grimm. That ordeal made him, as well, Divine Master of magic, prophecy and poetry. Here are two poems I've chosen (on the occasion of a Special Person) with thoughts on the quotidian world of Work. Enjoy:

by Philip Larkin

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts--
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of people live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines--
They seem to like it.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say. one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both. (1954)

He was a librarian all his life--to finance his poetry, but also, though not at one sitting, his fame and girl and money. Note: the word "Stuff" in the fifth stanza made this Blogman an English major. I'll come back to that, and the poem, later, but meanwhile here's another view:

Work by Confucius

Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life. (500 B.C.)

Easy for you to say, Kung Fu Tzu. Quite often circumstances leave us little choice in appeasing Larkin's inner Toad. By the bye, the toad/frog has semi-sacred status in China and southeast Asia, only slightly lower than snake and dragon. One never know ....