Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blog #55: A Twitteresque View of the Debate

Afterword on the debates: Alessandra Stanley writing in the N.Y. Times summed up Friday night’s debate this way: “Mr. Obama was not particularly warm or amusing; at times he was stiff and almost pedantic. But all he had to do was look presidential, and that was not such a stretch. Mr. McCain had the harder task of persuading leery voters that he can lead the future because he is so much part of the past.

He tried to remind viewers of his greater experience and heroic combat career, while also casting himself as a maverick outsider ready to storm the barricades. Mr. McCain wanted to be the true revolutionary in the room, but his is the Reagan revolution, and for a lot of people right now, it doesn’t look like morning in America.”
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The Huffington Post, one of the web’s most electric news sites, has an excellent post debate analysis from a wide range of contributors, everyone from former secretary of state Madeleine Albright to the likes of Rosanne Barr and Sherryl Crow. I have tried to distill the essence of many of these posts, and have decided to replace most of this week’s blog with this, as I believe it is more timely. I retain only excerpts from Maureen Dowd’s column in the New York Times which featured Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant piece describing an imaginary meeting between Barack Obama and West Wing president Jed Bartlett, figuring this is in step with the rest of this post.
And now from the Huffington Post:

Anyway, as I say, the impression that McCain had won lasted about a minute, when we began flipping through the stations expecting all our fears to be validated by the dozens of commentators ready to offer their views. To our amazement, the only overlap between our room and the pundits were the boxing references. Obama had won. Even the people who thought McCain had won more rounds than Obama thought Obama had won. McCain had been patronizing. He'd referred to Pakistan as a failed state,which turned out to be untrue. Even Charles Krauthammer thought Obama had done fine. A focus group of undecided voters in Nevada on the Fox Channel (Fox!) had responded more positively to Obama than to McCain.

Could this possibly be true? I don't know. But I decided to do the only thing I could under the circumstances: stop watching the pundits on television for fear it would all change again. They will be on all night discussing the heavyweight championship of the world, but I am going to sleep. • Nora Ephron
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Tonight was a breakthrough for Senator Obama, who showed himself truly ready to be president. He responded knowledgeably, thoughtfully and confidently to the toughest questions on the economy, Iraq, and terror. Meanwhile, Senator McCain spent so much time attacking his opponent, he neglected to show how a McCain-Palin administration would differ from Bush-Cheney. As a result, Obama answered the threshold question about his candidacy; McCain did not. • Madeleine Albright
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It was a good night for Obama because, when 83 percent of the country believe we are on the wrong track, standing toe-to-toe with McCain on foreign policy is all you need to do. And Obama clearly did that – scoring strong points on the lessons of Iraq, where he pointed out all the ways McCain had been wrong on the war. He even landed a zinger: "John, you like to pretend the war began in 2007."

It was a good night for McCain because, after a week in which he'd been bleeding like a hemophiliac in a barbed wire factory, tonight stanched the bleeding. He was able to keep the debate about the economy focused on taxes and cutting spending, as opposed to the crisis brought on by the free market, deregulation religion of which he is a devout follower. • Arianna Huffington
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Trickle down economics is when the rich piss on the poor, and John McCain thinks that's swell. Obama tried to remind Americans of what is morally right and what is morally wrong, and that was fantastic to witness. McCain defends the status quo instead of the moral right. • Rosanne Barr
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Where Senator McCain was unserious and petulant, Senator Obama was forceful, sharp and, at times, magnanimous. Hell, Senator McCain couldn't even look Senator Obama in the eye. Not once. Instead, Senator McCain snickered and smirked during the discussion of very serious issues. Where have we seen that behavior before? • Bob Cesca
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John McCain, celebrating himself as a maverick, reinventing his voting record, and name-dropping world leaders, simultaneously re-exhibited his enduring ignorance of the cultural dynamics that led to his misjudgment on Iraq in the first place. Senator Obama, at least gave a little nuanced oxygen to the conversation in his statement that Ahmadinejad may not be the most powerful man in theocratic Iran – an often mis-advertised political and cultural evaluation. • Sean Penn
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Barack Obama was crisp, reassuring and strong – in short, presidential, as he has been throughout the financial storm of the past two weeks. McCain was not as bad as he has been recently; but much of this debate was fought on what was supposed to be his high ground. As the encounter ended, Obama not only controlled the commanding heights of the economic issue – and he not only held his own on national security – but clearly passed the threshold as a credible commander-in-chief. McCain kept repeating that Obama doesn't "understand." But he clearly did. McCain made up no ground. That's similar to what happened in 1960 when Nixon ran on the slogan "Experience Counts" but found it didn't count that much when voters decided JFK was up to the job after the side by side comparison they saw in the first debate. • Robert Shrum
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I keep trying to figure out why Obama – who I so admire, seems to underwhelm in these debates. All I can come up with is that while everyone else aims up for these events – they aim to score, to excite, to appeal – Obama, who is so brilliant, has such understanding of the issues at play, such insight in how to re-shape where we are and how to proceed where we need to go... it seems like all his energy is spent pushing down: containing his thoughts. Suppressing the 20 sub-thoughts that follow each main thought. Speaking in measured tones lest he be perceived elitist or too academic. Keeping in check his healthy sense of the absurd – like when he kept trying to get a word in with McCain plowing away – actually saying , "John...? Uh John...? Like a guy who's lost the connection then just smiles and hangs up without re-dialing. • Paul Reiser
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Watching the "debate" with the blue, red and green lines rising and falling, it was stunning to watch the lines go flat as voters of all persuasions dozed off. McCain seemed intent on giving us a tour of all the war zones he'd visited and I'm afraid he occasionally dragged Obama down to his snooze-fest level. He mentioned Ronald Reagan almost as much as he mentioned his war-zone visits and everyone fell asleep. He seemed to think "You're wrong!" was a rhetorical flourish.

I wish Barack Obama had lifted himself above Mc Cain's snooze-lines. At times, he seemed infected by McCain's lethargy. But Obama was clearer and cleaner in verbal style than he's ever been. I wish he weren't so generous in acknowledging McCain. Perhaps he is too kind to his mean-spirited rival. He is more gentlemanly than he needs to be. It must be a great burden not to seem "uppity." But his new clarity was certainly welcome. • Erica Jong
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Obama clearly illustrated his in-depth understanding of foreign affairs. While McCain has an immense amount of experience in the military, there was never a moment that I perceived him as a levelheaded peacekeeper but instead looked like the same kind of defensive leader we've had for the last eight years. While Obama was talking about Afghanistan, Senator McCain was still selling the surge and the idea of "winning the war," a war that no one feels can be won. John McCain's entire message revolved around Iraq. He seemed to be in complete denial that our country is in a much less secure status than before 9/11, when it is clear that we have thrown a rock into a beehive. • Sheryl Crow
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I thought Barack was terrific – strong, clear, knowledgeable. I thought McCain, to be fair, showed some of his knowledge in a good way. But he's too old, he's from the 20th century, the country doesn't need him now.

Plus I thought in some ways McCain lost the debate on his face, the way his face turned red and an uncomfortable smile came on him that seemed to cover a lot of anger. This happened many times in the debate; the first one may have been when Barack said strongly but without nastiness that McCain couldn't pretend to be disconnected from the catastrophic economy or the enormous deficits when he had voted 90% of the time with Bush and had voted for every Bush budget. Forced to be quiet while Barack went through his pro-Bush voting record, McCain looked like an angry poached egg, who wanted to scream at him. • Chris Durang
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Accountability was not present in tonight's debate; just the repetitive refrain that the taxpayers have to pay for the mistakes of Wall Street, no matter what the cost might eventually add up to.

On foreign policy, I was getting dizzy with all the places they want to inject our military forces. Both McCain and Obama need to be reminded that our military comes under the Department of Defense, not the Department of Offense. • Bob Barr
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We haven't seen a lot of grace from our government over the past eight years. We haven't had a lot of it in our society in general and we certainly haven't seen much grace in the various campaigns. We're all guilty of it. I'm guilty of it too. But what we saw in the first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain was nothing less than the rebirth of such grace. Unfortunately it was fully embodied by only one candidate, while at the same time we witnessed the sad and profound gracelessness in the decaying integrity of the other.

John McCain displayed himself for all to see as a deeply angry, petty man, locked in a blood-war somewhere deep in the rice paddies of his frustrated and confused mind. He personalizes every conflict to the point that he can't even look at his opponent, as if by ignoring him he might be able to deny the man his dignity. • Michael Seitzman
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Wednesday was truly a Red Letter Day. Maureen Dowd, the columnist for the New York Times, turned over her column to West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin to conjure up an imaginary meeting between Senator Obama and the West Wing’s fictional President Bartlett. Excerpts of it follow, and the URL for the full column lies below.
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BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET: Senator.

OBAMA: Mr. President.

BARTLET: You seem startled.

OBAMA: I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET: I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a LancĂ´me rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.
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BARTLET: That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA: Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET: I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA: Look —

BARTLET: — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA: Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET: Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA: I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET: I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA: Why not?

BARTLET: I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET: He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET: And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA: Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET: Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA: I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

BARTLET: Well, it seems to me your problem is a lot like the problem I had twice.

OBAMA: Which was?

BARTLET: A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA: I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET: I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.

OBAMA: What do you mean?

BARTLET: I’m a fictional president. You’re dreaming right now, Senator.

OBAMA: I’m asleep?

BARTLET: Yes, and you’re losing a ton of white women.

OBAMA: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: I mean tons.

OBAMA: I understand.

BARTLET: I didn’t even think there were that many white women.

OBAMA: I see the numbers, sir. What do they want from me?

BARTLET: I’ve been married to a white woman for 40 years and I still don’t know what she wants from me.

OBAMA: How did you do it?

BARTLET: Well, I say I’m sorry a lot.

OBAMA: I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET: There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA: That would make it easier.
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OBAMA: They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET: Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.
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OBAMA: The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET: Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA: What would you do?

BARTLET: GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

OBAMA: Good to get that off your chest?

BARTLET: Am I keeping you from something?

OBAMA: Well, it’s not as if I didn’t know all of that and it took you like 20 minutes to say.

BARTLET: I know, I have a problem, but admitting it is the first step.

OBAMA: What’s the second step?

BARTLET: I don’t care.

OBAMA: So what about hope? Chuck it for outrage and put-downs?

BARTLET: No. You’re elite, you can do both. Four weeks ago you had the best week of your campaign, followed — granted, inexplicably — by the worst week of your campaign. And you’re still in a statistical dead heat. You’re a 47-year-old black man with a foreign-sounding name who went to Harvard and thinks devotion to your country and lapel pins aren’t the same thing and you’re in a statistical tie with a war hero and a Cinemax heroine. To these aged eyes, Senator, that’s what progress looks like. You guys got four debates. Get out of my house and go back to work.
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And so goes life in the busy U. S. A.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blog #54: The Calm After the Storm = Boredom

(The following paragraph was cribbed from this Blog to add as a postscript to Blog #53. However, because it really belongs here with my storm report, I am using it again here at the beginning of #54. #54 will be somewhat shorter than my usual blog, because a week without any news of the outside world rather limits what you can write about.)

Hurricane Ike came on shore at Galveston Island late Friday afternoon, Sept. 12, and hit Houston some seven hours later, in the middle of the night. The family that lives in my house with me, had left for Dallas to escape the storm. It was smart of them, for I hesitate to think what life would have been like with five children and three adults trying to use a toilet whose tank had to be manually filled with water from the bathtub after each flush. I elected to stay with the house, to take care of the dog, and to watch over things here. My house, at 12022 North Fairhollow Lane., in northwest Houston, is well built enough that I did not notice the high winds and excessive rain, and I slept peacefully through the height of the storm Saturday morning. Power went off sometime between 12:45, when I got up for bladder relief with the power on, and 3:25 on Saturday morning when another trip to the john found the power off.

The power remained off all day Saturday, and the rains continued falling all the livelong day, as the song goes. The wind had pretty much ended by daylight Saturday, but not the rain, although Saturday’s daytime rain was pretty light. That was one huge storm though, it pretty well filled up the Gulf of Mexico, and like the Energizer Bunny its rains just kept going on and on. On Sunday, Sept. 14, the power came on for about 10 seconds at approximately 7 a.m. This at least showed that the house was still connected to our power source, but it was frustrating to know that electricity was possible but not available. It stayed on just long enough for my computer to begin the startup process, before shutting off again. The family that lives here with me returned on Sunday afternoon, but probably because of the uncertainty of not having power they slept Sunday night in their sleeping bags on the floor of my large living room. The rain had quit sometime Sunday morning, although it had remained cloudy for most of the day, the sun only making its reappearance in the late afternoon.

The power came on again Monday, Sept 15, also at around 7 a.m. and remained on for about 25 minutes, which was long enough to allow my Cusinart Automatic Brewer, Grinder to make me the first pot of coffee I had since the storm. But the coffee was rather thin because the power went off again before the cycle was complete. It was really nice having coffee again. I highly recommend it the first thing in the morning. The power came back on Monday at 1:07, and hopefully it’s now back for good. For there hasn’t been as much as a flicker since electricity’s return.

My trusty computer is working again as if it had never stopped, however the internet is down, as is cable service plus we also have Comcast for our phone service. A Triad of Services – All Kaput. So I guess the Mighty Comcast has a storm related problem or two on its hands. (A call to Comcast got a recorded message that cable, the telephone, and the internet service may be off for as much as two weeks. I guess Hurricane Ike must have sent Comcast’s satellite dishes a’flying.) If and when internet service resumes I will post a little addendum to my blog #53 to let one and all know I truly did survive the Mighty Ike.

Electricity is something we take for granted in this day and age, something that in a normal course of events we don’t think twice about. That is until we are somehow deprived of it. Then all of a sudden the bottom drops out of our civilized world, and we lose all of our normal creature comforts. For in a modern house, not only are we cooled from the summer’s heat with air conditioning and ceiling fans, but freezzers thaw and we lose our frozen foods, and what is worse, we lose the power to cook our meals. For two days all I had to eat was ham and cheese sandwiches, kept at a glorious room temperature in our refrigerator turned room temperature box. The lack of electricity also affected things you would not normally relate to power, such as water pressure. Fortunately I had heeded my younger son’s good advice and filled my bathtub with water, because for the two days of the power blackout the only way to flush the toilet was by scooping pots of water from the tub, and pouring it into the toilet’s tank.

But the worst thing about the power being out, is that there is no television, no computer, no escape; you are faced with only yourself for company. You can read a book if you sit close to the light, and if you haven’t forgotten how to read a book. I spent the two days sitting by the door in a rocking chair, reading the latest issue of MacWorld magazine and also the History of My Life by Giacomo Casanova. That is what I normally read a couple of pages at a time while daily moving my bowels. It was interesting to use it to pass the time during the aftermath of the great storm. However, it gets dark by 8 p.m. these days and so when there is no power there is nothing to do when it gets dark but go to bed. And it doesn’t get light until 7 a.m. and so you have an eleven hour date with yourself in your bed. Of course my digital clock is electric and so there was no alarm to wake me up, and no reason to arise before daylight. During normally powered times I go to bed a midnight, and get up at six in the morning.

Boredom was uppermost during the two powerless days of my post Ike experience, but I’m happy to say that I did manage to survive the blackout with bells on. However, for the record let me say, this idea of going to bed at dark and sleeping until daylight is shift for the birds, if you get my drift. However, it’s really good to be back in a world powered by electricity. I highly recommend it, and in the future will always dutifully pay my light bill right off the bat.

Here follows a report on how 12022 North Fairhollow Lane survived the storm. Actually the house weathered the storm in noble fashion. Not one iota of damage meets the eye. However, two large trees in our front yard did not survive the storm, they were broken off about halfway up, and their myriad branches and leaves blocked our walkway and made our front yard into some kind of leaf and branch wonderland. And the wind has also caused two of our three fences to lean mightily. However these are still together, and I think a few well placed posts will return them to the straight and narrow. Claudia borrowed enough money from a friend to buy a chainsaw, and by three o’clock on Monday all of the downed wood in our front yard had been cut into manageable lengths, and it is presently stacked as neatly as possible placed between the sidewalk and the road. Hopefully at some point the city of Houston will haul away our remaining souvenirs of Hurricane Ike.

However, even after the return of electric power, with its corresponding return to refrigerated food, and a working stove on which to cook it, there was still a horrendous lack in my life thanks to dear Comcast. For there was no telephone, no cable television, and so no news or contact with the outside world. And I am what you might call a news junkie. And not only was there no television, but to make matters worse there was no internet, meaning no access to the Houston Chronicle, the Washington Post and the New York Times. I was determined to somehow make it through, despite being deprived of all the amenities which help make life in this world interesting and somewhat bearable.

Of course, I did have power, and that meant I had my computer. And though I could not access anything outside of my house, I had access to the novels of my favorite erotic writers, Wizard, Russell Hoisington, and Nick Scipio, all of whose stories appear on: Fortunately I had the good sense to download and format many of their stories, and those of many other fine erotic writers as well, so there was much literature residing on my hard drive awaiting opening and reading. However, take it from me that old saying about “ignorance being bliss” is somewhat exaggerated. Whereas I must confess that it has been a pleasure not having to see John McCain as he demeans Barack Obama, and while he is about it, twisting the truth and distorting the facts. Why McCain must try to demean Obama is perfectly clear. When you have nothing positive to run on yourself all that is left for you is to belittle your opponent. If John McCain ran on what he and the Republican Party really stand for, they would most likely get themselves run out of the country on a rail.

In addition to rereading my favorite stories, during my solitary week I got a chance to replay the first season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which I had downloaded just before the storm, and which I had written about in Blog #53. I would read a story for a couple of hours, then watch an episode of SNL. I started at the beginning, with the show George Carlin hosted, and was going straight through the first year, shows hosted by Paul Simon, Rob Reiner, Candice Bergen, Robert Klein, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor when suddenly Friday afternoon at around 4:30, cable, the internet, and my landline telephones all came on together, once again feeding my news Jones, as well as giving me a chance to reacquaint myself with the Chronicle’s Tech Blog. Oddly enough, Friday’s Tech Blog LinkPost, which I had dearly missed during the week’s internet blackout, was the first LinkPost since the Storm, and so it turned out that I hadn’t missed anything after all.

My week of dreadful isolation was finally over. I managed to actually live with myself and survive the process. And perhaps even grow a little bit while doing so. It was nice returning to the outside world. After the novelty passes of again keeping up with the news on cable, I will surely go back to watching episodes of that first year of SNL, and continue rereading my favorite erotic authors, but I’ll be able to do all of that while being tuned into what's happening in the outside world. And so Casanova move over, Hurricane Ike and its aftermath now takes its rightful place in the History of My Life.

The Real Little Eddy

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blog #53: Posting ahead of the storm

Because Hurricane Ike is bearing down on Houston, and threatening to shut down power for an unknown amount of time, I’m going to post Saturday’s blog a day early. It’s either that, or wait until power comes back, which could be days, or perhaps even a week or two. In the meantime we wish all of you who live in Houston good luck. And if you live in Galveston, I hope the hell you got safely away. There are two basic subjects for this week’s post. The first, still more ruminations on the presidential campaign.
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It would have been so simple. There would have been nothing to it. Those hard fought Democratic primaries between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had resulted in record breaking registrations on the part of the Democrats. Barack was winning heavily among the young and after initially holding back to see if he was for real, finally blacks began crowding into his corner. Hillary was winning big with older women and with white men, especially blue collar white men, and she especially won the large, populous states like New York, California, and Massachusets, etc. (And Hillary’s Massachusets win was a particularly impressive one for the state’s three leading politicians, governor Deval Patrick, and Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry were all actively supporting Obama, but Clinton won the state anyway.)

Barack had the dreams, Hillary had the experience. So what would you have done when you finally got around to choosing your running mate? John Kennedy went against his grain and made sworn enemy Lyndon Johnson, who had campaigned bitterly against him in the primaries, his running mate. And George Herbert-Walker Bush who had campaigned bitterly against Ronald Reagan in the primaries (remember his calling Reagan’s economic program “voodoo economics?”), saw Reagan in turn make him his running mate, paving Bush’s way to his own presidency eight years later. Both men, for different reasons, had sailed into the presidency. Even Wolf Blitzer of CNN had called it like it was, the potential of a ticket featuring both Barack and Hillary he called a Dream Team.

If Barack Obama had only had the guts, the balls, the self confidence to have included Hillary Clinton on his ticket, those legions of white blue collar men and those pantsuits brigades of women, as Hillary herself defined the army of middle class females who had flocked to her support, would have put the presidential race securely in Obama’s pocket, and considering the increased Democratic registration, he would at the very least have had an 8 to 10 percentage point statistical lead over McCain in the polls. But no! In his regal omniscience Barack Obama passed over Hillary Clinton leaving many Democratic women with bruised noggins as Clinton and her followers bumped heads against that seemingly unending glass ceiling. Clinton’s campaign against Obama had truly helped define him, but Obama expressed his thanks by not even considering her. And whereas it is true that when he selected Joe Biden, he got foreign policy expertise plus gravitas with the white, catholic working class types of the industrial states, but in bypassing the legions of women who had supported Hillary, his Biden appointment did nothing for the many Hillary supporters who he had cast adrift.

And so what did John McCain do, but the unthinkable? He annointed the female governor of Alaska, a real energizer bunny type, with the vice presidency on his ticket, and dangled her alluringly before the legions of the Hillary brigade as if to tempt them: “Red Rover, Red Rover, why don’t you cross over?” Talk about lipstick on a pig, as everyone seems to be doing these days, Ms Palin seems such a natural, and John McCain must be lovingly patting himself on his own backside all the way to the polling bank.

However we will say this, Ms Palin certainly does know what pork is. When she was mayor of Wasilla she hired a lobbyist to go to Washington and lobby for more US taxpayer dollars for her tiny Alaskan village. And she has a few other qualities to distinguish her from your average Hillary supporter. For one thing she’s a creationist , and would you believe? A creationist who speaks in tongues? And what could possibly be next, a charter membership in the Alaskan Flat Earth Society? But best of all for the Christian right, she’s venomously against a woman’s right to choose, and, get this if you please, she’s even against a woman’s right to know. Meaning that she has come out strongly against the teaching of sex education in schools, as well as the use of all kinds birth control paraphernalia. And at least two of her own children reflect her bizarre positions.

She claims to have cut the fat out of Washington’s state government, and she even put the Alaska governor’s private jet up for sale on eBay, to much loud Republican applause, but it turns out that she didn’t sell it on eBay after all, but she actually sold the jet to a friend for far less than it was worth. She has also proven herself to be not the least bit shy as she attempted to have her state trooper ex-brother-in-law fired and when the State’s Public Safety Commisioner wouldn’t fire the man, she fired him. And her hand-picked replacement left shortly after being appointed over sexual harrassment charges.

And so as a direct result of Barack Obama’s shortsightedness in failing to put Hillary Clinton on his ticket, the Republicans must be ecstatic to be getting their chance to bamboozle the American voter one more time. In this corner meet John McCain, newly labeling himself an Agent of Change. Could you possibly believe that? If so would you please give me a toke of whatever it is that is you are smoking? After agreeing with and voting with George Bush 90% of the time, NOW John McCain is suddenly declaring himself an Agent of Change, AND PROUD OF IT! PUL-EASE!! But as absurd as that claim might seem, a certain percentage of the American electorate must be buying it, for McCain now seems to have the Big Mo (Momentum) on his side, and in spite of all of his advantages, what with that beautifully orchestrated Democratic convention behind him plus the increased registration and the nation’s inherent hunger for change, Barack Obama is either tied in the polls with John McCain or he’s leading by a percentage point or two.

Meantime Ms Palin has tongues wagging up and down the web, and Charlie Black and McCain’s other Republican handlers must be positively euphoric that their traditional slash and burn tactics consisting of lies, distortions and doublespeak are once again working like the proverbial charm. And undoubtedly thanks to that energizer bunny Sarah Palin, McCain has caught up to Barack Obama in the polls, even eking out a lead of a point or two in some polls.

I wish I had an answer for all of this. Of course, the Obama campaign needs to l0se its distaste of offending Republicans and relentlessly parade the truth in front of the voters of this country. But damn it, after 82 years of mostly watching Republicans pull the wool over our national eyes, and seriously damaging the structure of the federal government in the wake of their victories, I am damn near ready to give it all up. When, oh when, are the American people going to wake up and smell the coffee and see where their true interests lie, and then cast their vote accordingly.

For a Republican’s true interest lies not in helping the average American with their problems. In spite of numerous denials, every Republican’s true purpose in running for election is to serve the very rich and the large corporations, entities which already have all the power they need and all the support which their money will buy. The few regulations that have been put on the banking and financial institutions and other businesses, were put there only after abuses by said industries were serious enough to cause people to demand regulation. And yet with every reelection Republicans continue to try and strip these regulations away, so that those carefree robber baron days of yesteryear can return full bore, I suppose. So that they can attempt to replicate the wild excesses of the nineteen twenties, which of course will likely cause a massive depression like what happened in the nineteen thirties, which, also of course, will likely bring on even tighter controls.

Unfortunately, it seems as if it will take a massive depression like the one of the nineteen thirties to truly wake the nation up and see its people voting their true interests. Bill Clinton was an exception to that rule perhaps, but he was aided by George Herbert Walker’s complete lack of knowledge of the price 0f a dozen eggs, and also by the recession caused in the wake of the first Gulf War. Clinton’s presidency was charmed, delivering eight years of that winning combination, both peace and prosperity, albeit under incessant scrutiny by the Republican Smear Machine piloted by Kenneth Starr, which ended in a House Impeachment trial which failed in the Senate.

However, Al Gore’s rejection of the Clinton record was certainly a major factor leading to his subsequent defeat by George W. Bush even though Gore had won a majority of the popular vote. And John Kerry’s fatal ignoring of the Republican Smear Machine in 2004 until it was too late, lead to his defeat. (In all fairness to Kerry, it would seem unbelievable that a group of rich Texas oilmen and disgruntled Swift Boat veterans (who had turned on Kerry because he had turned on the Vietnam War) could spread such absurd lies about Kerry’s record that they would lead to his defeat, especially since the man he was running against was a well known Vietnam slacker of the first order, George W. Bush, who had used his father’s position as Congressman to secure himself a place in the Texas Air National Guard. And it was a position to which George W. eventually went AWOL from. No novel or motion picture would have been declared believable with such a plotline, but in 2004 the voters evidently bought it hook, line and sinker.)

And so is it really going to be the destiny of the American voter to suffer deja vu all over again? Are we doomed to another four years of a weekly 10 billion dollar handout to Iraq, a skyrocketing national debt with the auctioning off of still more of our country to foreign entities like China and the Saudis. And for what it is worth, four more years of the GOP’s chipping away at that institution which really belongs to all of us Americans, the federal government. All of this with the undercurrent of knowing that if something should happen to John McCain during the next four years that combination creationist, bloodthirsty hunter, and violent opponent to a woman’s right to control her own body will be catapulted into power. The big question that Republicans don’t want you to ask is this: do you really want a person of such mentality in power in Washington? Think about it. Time is running out. November lies just around the corner.
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Enough of politics, if you love comedy, and music, I would like to tell you about a real find. The first season of NBC’s Saturday Night Live is available on DVD. lists the series new at $49.99 and lists 88 new and used copies from $27.97. Amazon lists only Dan Aykroyd and three muppeteers, Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Fran Brill, but of course all of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, who really weren’t ready perhaps at the very first, but who certainly warmed to their roles as the season went on, are there. In addition to Akyroyd, of course, they are, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner. And of course, all the the first year’s hosts parade by: George Carlin, Paul Simon, Rob Reiner, Candice Bergen, Robert Klein, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Elliot Gould, Buck Henry, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Dick Cavett, Peter Boyle, Desi Arnaz, Jill Clayburgh, Anthony Perkins, Ron Nessen (Gerald Ford’s Press Secretary), Raquel Welch, Madeline Kahn, Dyan Cannon, Louise Lasser, and Kris Kristofferson.

I should at this point note that Saturday Night Live has a special place in the hearts of my sons and me. As a divorced parent I got to take my boys from Friday after school until Sunday morning, when would I deliver them to their Sunday school. And 1975-76 was the inaugurating year of the program. The local NBC station was Channel Two, and the program ran Saturday nights from 10:30 to midnight, central time. And as a bonus, Channel Two followed SNL with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, 30 minutes of delightful aburdity which also knew few bounds. Most of SNL’s first year’s programs I saw live, and so running into them again was a super treat.

Watching the series in order is a real revellation. Every minute of every one is here. The very first show, hosted by George Carlin, had little else but Carlin’s running monologue as the Not Ready for Prime Time Players were busy living up to their name. Show number two turned out to be an extended musical concert, with a Simon and Garfunkel reunion headlining the program, but also featuring appearances by Randy Newman and Phoebe Snow. Very important in those early shows were Jim Henson’s Muppets featuring Frank Oz. The Muppets created the land of Gorch, and of course, the Great Favah, a rubberized face bearing a remarkable resemblance to Nelson Rockefeller, then Governor of New York, who dispensed favors in response to chickens and other gifts. The skewed Muppets of Saturday Night Live were really one of the highlights of the early shows, but by mid season they had left for England, where they ended up syndicating their own television show, The Muppet Show. Early SNL shows were also brightened by appearances by Andy Kaufman, back when he was hysterically funny.

One of the remarkable features of SNL was the wide variety of the musical guests it featured. Producer Lorne Michaels had each guest host pick the musical guest of his choice, and the result was sweeping. Janis Ian, Billy Preston, Gilbert Scott Heron, Randy Newman, Leon Redbone and Phoebe Snow were just a few of the many guests gracing that first season. And of course a highlight of each show was the opening monologue, especially those of George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor. Pryor’s show was especially funny, containing a skit with Aykroyd, Curtin, Belushi, and Radner where Aykroyd raved about how the neighborhood was turning black, and members of his family would leave the room, only to return having turned black, with Aykroyd failing to notice the difference. Various police lineups during the show always ended with the victim picking Pryor, the one who was black and handcuffed. But the sharpest routine of the night had Chevy Chase as a job interviewer and Richard Pryor as the applicant. Chase played a word association game, where Pryor was supposed to respond with whatever word came into his head: “Dog?” “Tree”, “Bean?” “Pod”, “White?” “Black.”, “Tar Baby?” (Pryor’s face twists suspiciously at this point.) “OhFay!”, “Colored?” “Redneck!”, “Jungle Bunny?” “Pecker Wood!”, “Burr head?” “Cracker!”, “Spear Chucker?” “White Trash!”, “Jungle Bunny?” “Honky!”, “Spade?” “Honky, Honky!!”, “Nigger?” “Dead Honky!” Well, you get the idea, I’m sure. Another gem on this show is Richard Pryor as a priest in Exorcist II, with Laraine Newman as the bedeviled child.

The honor for one of the best opening monologues in the first season belongs to Lily Tomlin. A few of her better lines follow, but although they read well off the page, the real treat is in watching Ms Tomlin as she delivers them on the show, and so we would urge you to make your haste to Amazon. “I wonder what it would be like if we all became what we wanted to be when we grew up. I mean, imagine a world filled with nothing but firemen, cowboys, nurses and ballerinas. . . . . I’ve decided that New York is always knowing where your purse is . . . . And I’ll tell you something else. I resent losing the ozone layer just so we can have Pam. . . . . Have you ever actually seen someone laughing all the way to the bank? . . . . Being a New Yorker is never having to say you’re sorry. . . . . And most important of all, wouldn’t it be nice if all those people who wander around the streets of New York talking to themselves were paired off in couples, so it would look like they were having a conversation?”

A high point of all of the shows were the pseudo commercials, and particularly funny was the one with Tony Perkins was host, announcing the Norman Bates School of Motel Management. Gilda Radner and Larraine Newman did a pretty funny one with Chevy Chase about Gilda’s “uvula” which, as Chevy explained was on the fritz, and which Gilda promised to take better care of. On one program the film showed a SNL flatbed truck roaming the suburbs with the crew on the truck shouting “Show us your guns,” and one after another people showed them. (This was a parody of a deodorant commercial of the time where men in a truck went around asking people to show them their deodorant.) New Dad was another fun commercial where Dad Dan Aykroyd after a family scene with son and wife, is suddenly out of the picture. However the family had a New Dad insurance policy, and Chevy Chase bounds in making up for the emotional loss of old dad. A picture of Akyroyd and wife suddenly has Chevy’s face pasted over it, and the legend “New Dad – Tops in Pops! apppeared.”

Among the high points of the first season was a skit entitled The Final Voyage of the Star Ship Enterprise. John Belushi was Captain Kirk and Chevy Chase Mister Spock. The enterprise sensors picked up a vessel coming upon them, which the computer identified as a 1968 Chrysler Imperial with a tinted windshield and retractable headlights. In spite of all attempts to elude the vessel it caught up with them. It was the NBC network’s head of programming, played by Elliott Gould. He announced that the show was being dropped, two years short of its stated five year mission. He had the stage hands disassemble the set, and he removed Spock’s ears. Captain Kirk’s final log follows: “Captain’s Log, Final Entry. We have tried to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before, and except for one television network, we have found intelligence everywhere in the galaxy. Live long and prosper. Promise!”

And on that happy note we will leave this week’s blog. If you have no money SNL is available on bit torrent. We are sorry to have to check out early, but I do have one or two things to do before Ike comes roaring in on us. Have a good week, and we’ll see you when we can. When my lights come on again I will ad an addendum to this p0st reporting on surviving the storm. Cheers.

Post scriptus to Blog #53: Hurricane Ike had come on shore at Galveston Island late Friday afternoon, and hit Houston some seven hours later. My house, at 12022 N. Fairhollow Ln., is well built enough that I didn’t notice the high winds and excessive rain, and I slept peacefully. Power went off sometime between 12:45 and 3:25 on Saturday morning. It was off all day Saturday, and came on for about 10 seconds on Sunday, Sept. 14, at approximately 7 a.m. It stayed on just long enough for my computer to begin the startup process, then it turned off again. Power came on again Monday, Sept 15, also around 7 a.m. and remained on for about 25 minutes, which was long enough to get me a pot of coffee ground and dripped before yet another blackout. Power came back for good on Monday at 1:07, and hopefully it’s now on for good, however although I have my trusty computer working as if it had never stopped, the internet is down, as is cable service itself plus we also have Comcast for our phone service. The magic trio. All kaput. So I guess the Mighty Comcast has a problem or two on its hands. Or three. (A call to Comcast got a recorded message that cable, the telephone, and the internet service may be off for as much as two weeks. I guess Hurricane Ike must have sent their satellite dishes a’flying.) If and when internet service resumes I will post a little addendum to my blog to let one and all know we survived the Mighty Ike.

Addedendum II: Cable, the internet, and my telephone returned Friday, September 19, at 4:30. I posted this addition to my column at 5:10. Tomorrow morning I will post a more complete story of my week “without.”

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Little Eddy

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Blog #52: Of Lemmings and Republicans . . .

Well, if there truly is a Lord up in there in Heaven, or indeed any Entity assigned to the task of constantly watching over us earthlings, He was indeed on the job and paying close attention as the Republican monkey business began down here on earth. For the Good Lord, from whom all blessings flow, seemed to have smiled on the Republican McCain convention by sending a major hurricane code-named Gustav to revisit New Orleans on the convention’s first day, thereby saving the Republican confab from being compared to the highly compelling Democratic assembly that had occupied the week before. This also resulted in the cancellation of scheduled speeches by President Bush and vice president Cheney, which of course spared John McCain the embarrassment at having to deal with their presence at the convention.

And of course no one watching the coverage from Louisiana could help but be reminded of the Bush administration’s second most glaring failure, it’s callous reaction to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. (It’s primary failure of course was invading Iraq under false pretenses, and then trying to run the resulting occupation on the cheap, a tactic which resulted in countless needless deaths.) We didn’t get to see much of the destruction in Iraq, but who will ever forget the tv images of bodies rotting in New Orleans streets many days after the hurricane had roared through. Katrina will stand alongside Iraq as the true legacy of the Bush/Cheney, a legacy of supreme indifference in regards to the land which elected them and to which they had pledged to serve.

Of course I admit to being highly prejudiced. I thought the four days of the Democratic Convention were the finest four days of a political convention that I can remember seeing in my lifetime. It had real drama: Will Ted Kennedy make an appearance? (He did!) Will the Clintons really support Barack Obama? (They did, both giving completely sincere and eloquent speeches on behalf of Obama’s candidacy.) Will the crowd be boisterous and full of energy? (Yes, and who could ask for anything more?) And my worry that on Thursday Obama wouldn’t be able to fill that 80,000 seat stadium turned out to be specious, as there were 84,000 people crowded in there and not an empty seat as far as the camera’s eye could see. And Obama’s speech was specific and pointed and remained a deft climax to an exciting, drama filled week.

However, on the Friday morning following the Democratic convention John McCain attempted to one-up Obama and the Democrats by naming as his choice for vice president a little known governor from the state of Alaska, a woman few had ever heard of before. Her name is Sarah Palin, and over the weekend a steady stream of compelling facts about the lady began to surface, each one eclipsing the one preceding. {One} Several years back she and her husband had attended a meeting of a group whose sole purpose seems to been to have Alaska secede from the United States. {Two} She is currently under investigation in Alaska for improperly using her influence as Governor to get her state trooper ex-brother-in-law fired, and when the head of the troopers wouldn’t fire the man, she terminated him. Her replacement was a personal friend who had to golden parachute his way out of the job a short time later because of a sex scandal.

{Three} Ms Palin, the darling of the right wing christian conservative wing of the party, is a registered member of the National Rifle Association, and according to legend has been known to hunt Moose before breakfast. {Four} She is violently against a woman’s right to choose, and brought her downs syndrome baby to term to prove that she lives her position. And Ms Palin is all for abstinence and against sex education and equally against any and all forms of birth control. And it turns out that her 17 year old daughter is five months pregnant. (It’s alright though, she and the boy’s father will be married, and talk about High School Musical, what a High School wedding that ceremony should be. Will they be married in the school auditorium, to be followed by a reception in the cafeteria capped off by a dance in the gym? (We won’t speculate where they will bed down, their home room might be a little public. And will Disney get the video rights?)

After harking on the premise that Barack Obama lacks the experience necessary to lead the country, and promising that he, John McCain would appoint a veep ready in a heartbeat to assume the presidency, what does this 72 year old four time cancer survivor (melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer) do but appoint a woman whose only experience was as mayor of a 5,000 person Alaskan village, and who is in her second year of her governor ship of what must be the least populous state in the union? So much for his promise of experience and readiness to serve in a heartbeat.

It has indeed been a revelation to listen to the McCain camp attempt to justify her appointment as to her qualifications to take over the presidency should McCain falter. Campbell Brown, who does an election centered program on CNN got into a fascinating verbal tussle with a McCain campaign spokesperson named Tucker something-or-other. She was relentless to the point of extreme hardheadedness, but always friendly and sporting her wide smile as she begged and pleaded with this Tucker person to come up with just one example of how Ms Palin’s governing experience directing the Alaska National Guard qualified her as being with foreign policy experience. Tucker insisted over and over again that she did indeed have foreign policy experience, though he could not come up with a single example, and the upside of the exchange was that the McCain campaign canceled an interview that had been scheduled for McCain to appear on Larry King, undoubtedly out of spite in response to Ms Brown’s relentless questioning of the Tucker man. A prime example of the Republican party’s penchant for cutting off its nose to spite its face.

On the convention’s second night, following a pleasant but bland in-person speech by Laura Bush, our erstwhile president George W. did address the convention, albeit via satellite. He was his usual happily projecting self, giving no indication that he feels the slightest bit of guilt over the deficient way he has governed during these past seven years. The program also featured in-person addresses by 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate and notable turncoat, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who told cheering delegates: "I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party." Next actor and former senator and Republican presidential candidate, Fred D. Thompson, also weighed in with praise for the GOP’s present day Caesar. "This man, John McCain, is not intimidated by what the polls say or by what is politically safe or popular," said Thompson. Well, according to Dick Cheney’s recent interview with that ABC newsperson, that would make three of them, Cheney and Bush having inaugurated the trend of not giving a tinker’s damn as to what the people of this country might think.

Failed presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee led off Wednesday evening’s festivities, followed New York’s Rudolph W. Guilliani, who peppered his talk with examples of Obama’s inexperience, as compared to McCain’s top heavy experience. He ended his tirade with an introduction of McCain’s vice presidential pick, Ms. Sarah Palin. Ms Palin introduced herself to the convention and to the nationwide television audience with an extremely feisty speech, also tying into Candidate Obama’s lack of experience, claiming that being mayor of a village of 6 or so thousand people gave her an edge over his having been a “community organizer,” implying that mayors, unlike community organizers, have areas of responsibility. The convention attendees murmured darkly at every instance of the phrase community organizer, for in Republican lexicon “community” is a dirty word, and the word “organizer” is downright felonious. However, as Anderson Cooper was later to point out during a round of CNN post speech analysis, Obama’s marshaling of the thousands of campaign aides and supporters, his putting together an organization capable of raising huge sums of money, so much so that he has decided to pass on public funding, and his running a long and successful campaign for the Democratic nomination, gives the lie to the Guilliani, McCain, Palin line of reasoning which in vain attempts to belittle Obama’s accomplishments.

An example of Palin’s rhetoric: "In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change." We assume she is confusing McCain’s calling for “surge and more surge” as change. Certainly nothing else in McCain’s vision of America where he freely admits voting with President Bush 90% of the time, indicates even a loose connection with the word change. She did have one sarcastic bite that drew blood. "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," she deadpanned. "I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening." For Ms Palin’s edification, to us Obama supporting types his remark indicated that he was frustrated, and is, indeed, human after all. And like any of us, he is capable of saying something he would surely like to take back at a later date. However one remark is far from the end of the world. Ms Palin went on to further allude to firearms during her talk. I’m not really sure how well her promoting firearms is going to go over with most Americans, and particularly female Americans, a gun being only good for one thing, the killing of an animal or a fellow human being. Guns have no other use.

Ms Palin’s most memorable line was this: "The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?" she asked. "Lipstick." Again I wonder how many soccer moms truly visualize themselves as lipsticked pit bulls. However, any who do now have truly found a role model.

In summary, Ms. Palin is sharp, outgoing, personable, witty, and friendly, almost unbelievable qualities in a Republican female. In the words of one reader to the N.Y. Times (who cribbed his comment from Bill Clinton) “Ms Palin hit it out of the park.” There is absolutely no doubt that she has fired up both the convention attendees and the Republican conservative base. What is in doubt is her reach beyond the party’s base? If McCain chose her as an attempt to lure the votes of frustrated Hillary Clinton supporters to his side of the great divide, then he could not have picked a more inappropriate candidate. Ms Palin is likely to have exactly the opposite effect, once and for all illustrating the dangers of a Republican victory and the immediate need (in the words of the old typing practice phrase) for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of their party. My younger son the doctor, listened to her speech and decided to make an immediate $2,300 donation to the Obama campaign. And it turned out that he wasn’t the only one, for according to the Associated Press the Obama campaign raised in excess of $10,000,000 immediately following Palin’s speech, from more than 130,000 donors. "We're up over the previous record, and the number is still climbing the more Palin's attacks are covered on cable and network news," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. Undoubtedly relishes many more speeches from the Republican v. p. candidate.

And for the record before the election Ms Palin needs to sit down with some competent journalists and answer a slew of questions that any candidate for public office is required to answer. The American people have every right to know the full extent of her beliefs before we cast our vote for her, and these are not likely to come out during campaign speeches where she is mostly directing invective at the opposition. The McCain/Palin ticket should proceed to election day only after full disclosure of Ms Palin’s seemingly rather checkered background in the event that (god please forbid) it might win the election.

And so the drama did build going into the convention’s final night, Thursday. McCain was formerly elected as the candidate in the early afternoon, as was Ms Palin as the vice. Tension and speculation abounded that McCain, not known for his oratory, would be able to compete favorably with Palin’s speech from Wednesday night. For in spite of speeches by veteran campaigners Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Rudy Guiliani, it was the novice governor from Alaska whose speech had towered over the evening. To assist McCain in his task the campaign’s properties director had a platform built overnight reaching from the stage to well into the crowd, as McCain prefers a Town Hall type situation rather than projecting his message from a distant stage. John McCain was preceded by a short discourse by Senator Lindsey Graham, and by a more lengthy address by his wife Cindy about the man and their 30 years together. Then McCain walked out on that long platform.

J. McCL “Change is coming," he promised the roaring Republican National Convention and the vast prime-time television audience. • L.E: Change? From the man who admits voting with Bush 90% of the time? What kind of change would that be, pray tell? Small change, to be sure.

J. McC: "Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right for our country!" • L.E: Said by a man descended from a long line of admirals. Is this man recruiting for yet another war? He seems to only think in military terms.

J. McC: "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us," he said of the Republicans who controlled Congress for a dozen years before they were voted out of office in 2006. • L.E: You got that right, Buster, but how can you claim to be an agent of change when you fully support the Bush foreign policy, support the continuation of tax cuts for the immensely wealthy, and join Bush in the opinion that the country’s economy is fundamentally sound? And your chief economic adviser calls us a “nation of whiners?”

J. McC: "I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it." • L.E: Would you believe, a line cribbed from Walter Mondale? Where’s the beef? Wake up and taste the coffee, J. McC. Obama’s plan actually cuts taxes for the poor and middle classes, he will increase taxes only for the very wealthy who have been under paying for the past eight years. You know the type don’t you, those who don ‘t know how many houses they own. And Obama will deliver real value for the taxes we do pay, unlike your gang who only extends value to large corporations, and to those of wealth who have already been well rewarded by the system.

J. McC: "And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big-spending, do-nothing, me-first, country-second Washington crowd: Change is coming." • L.E: Yes, John McCain, change is coming, change in the form of Barack Obama. For the change that people need is real change, change like out with the old and in with the new, not four more years, not 10% change. For like in the bible, McCain is not Abel, as in able.

J. McC: “You know, I’ve been called a maverick, someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it’s meant as a compliment and sometimes it’s not. What it really means is, I understand who I work for. I don’t work for a party. I don’t work for a special interest. I don’t work for myself. I work for you.” • L.E: Yes, John McCain, you do work for we the people - the richer the we the harder you work. And you will do well by them. But they have had eight years of golden parachuting under Bush43, do you really think they need another four years? Or is it high time to allow the rest of us a chance to reap some of the benefits from our taxes?

Does John McCain’s selection of the feisty governor of Alaska indicate that candidate McCain truly has a Midas touch? Our answer is no way, for his choice for vice president has stirred almost as much talk as did Gustav during intermittent cuts from the hurricane coverage to the convention. And as fact after fact floated to the surface, not one objective reporter failed to question McCain’s judgment and vetting process, because obviously you want your vice presidential pick to reflect your good judgment, rather than having each and every surfacing tidbit detract from your message. An interview with Sally Quinn, a reporter for the Washington Post was suddenly terminated by Soledad O’Brian of CNN when Ms Quinn began to seriously explore the ambiguities of the Palin situation. This was done in the wake of Campbell Brown’s tussle with the McCain campaign’s Tucker, which subsequently caused cancellation of McCain’s appearance on Larry King, and which undoubtedly made CNN overly sensitive concerning Ms Palin ever since.

CNN’s convention cameras managed to single out one woman’s straw hat which was covered with political slogans, and two prominent handwritten notes on it read ‘We Support Unwed Mothers.’ This from a member of the party whose majority boasts itself as oh so moral. And although some Republican outsiders questioned the effect of McCain’s v.p. pick on the campaign, not one Republican staffer interviewed would concede an ounce of foreign policy deficiency on the part of the governor of Alaska. What know nothings members of the media are? Of course any idiot knows that you gain extensive foreign policy experience regularly gunning down moose and caribou on Alaska’s tundra.

In short, Obama’s candidacy has never looked stronger. That is not to say that for him to get himself actually elected he must engage in the candidacy of his life. For John McCain does have the Republican Swift Boating team to fall back on, even though it hasn’t quite found its sea legs from three years of focusing on Hillary Clinton. All of those out there who are conservative and truly scared to death of change will of course flock to the G.O.P.’s died in the wool Republican cadre, in spite of Senator McCain’s advanced age and Ms Palin’s patent lack of foreign policy experience and the fact that the Republican establishment is steadily driving our nation off the financial cliffs and into the abyss of fiscal ruin.

Like a herd of dedicated lemmings it makes all the sense in the world for the U. S. taxpayers to continue funding the rebuilding of Iraq to the tune of 10 billion dollars a week while Iraq stashes it’s excessive oil profits (much of it coming from the high price of gasoline in America) in banks all over the world. And they gleefully watch its interest grow while they patiently wait for us to go away. We invaded Iraq without the slightest bit of provocation, and so we certainly do owe them something. However that something need not be a lifetime financial commitment. John McCain seeks victory in Iraq, but he wouldn’t know victory if it kicked him in the teeth. To him we say this: the “surge” to the contrary, there is no such thing as victory in a war which was fraudulently entered into by a merry band of slackers (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Wolfowitz, etc.) each of whom had artfully avoided serving in Vietnam, and therefore had no idea of what happens to people in a real war. Leaving the Iraqis alone to make their own fate and future would be a long overdue first step towards bringing real victory to Iraq. And electing Barack Obama in November is the one sure way of bringing this dream to fruition. Perhaps in lieu of the weekly 10 billion we could send them the big four (named above) who had the audacity to start this mess in the first place. I’m sure Iraq could figure out some way for them to serve and earn fair restitution. They could become “community organizers” maybe.
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And to wind things up, lets have a beer, a beer dating back millions of years. Gabe Oppenheim, writing in the Washington Post, tells of one Raul Cana, who is a real-life “Jurrasic Park” scientist. The day before that movie opened in 1993, Cano announced he had extracted DNA from an ancient Lebanese weevil entombed in amber, just as the employees of InGen do with a mosquito to create their dino-amusemment. After several failed attempts, last month a breakthrough. The product? Beer.

"I was going through my collection, going, 'Gee whiz -- this is pretty nifty. Maybe we could use it to make beer,' " says Cano, 63 , now the director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The result is Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., which ferments a yeast strain Cano found in a piece of Burmese amber dating from about 25 million to 45 million years ago. The company – in which Cano is a partner, along with another scientist and a lawyer – introduced its pale ale and German wheat beer with a party last month at one of the two Bay Area pubs where Fossil Fuels is made and served.

In April, at the World Beer Cup in San Diego, "we had one judge give us the highest marks, one just below and one who didn't like it," says Chip Lambert, 63, the company's other second microbiologist. "We learned that the issue was that in these competitions, you brew to match the traditional concept of the style, which these yeast just don't do." William Brand, the Oakland Tribune beer critic, says the ancient yeast provides the wheat beer with a distinctively "clove-y" taste and a "weird spiciness at the finish." (The Washington Post Style section's summer beer critic pronounced it "smooth and spicy, excellent with chicken strips.")

And with this revelation we take our leave.

The Real Little Eddy