Saturday, September 6, 2008

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

1 comment:

mama said...

Hey there! How's life. Remember me? I used to be Zhag at MrD's. I'd forgotten I'd bookmarked this months ago when one of the members there had given it to me after I stopped hanging at Mr. D's.