September 2008

It’s Going To Be Painful.

It’s like the Palin campaign is a Biblical story.  Recall God’s forgiving words to Eve upon discovering her sin of curiosity.  Genesis 3:16, “Unto woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.”  I love this stuff.  There it is.  Right there in black & white.  In sorrow Sister Palin, you shall bring forth your campaign to be Vice President.

And, oh, has it been painful to hear.  If I’ve heard it once from friends and acquaintances, I’ve heard it half a dozen times, “Palin is dumb.”  I respond that Palin is not dumb.  She is unprepared.  She’s better prepared, however, to be a cult leader than President of the United States.  Have you watched yet the video of her being prayed over, to be protected from witches?   Yes, two days before she announces her candidacy to be Alaska Governor, one of her church ministers implores God to protect Palin from witches. Witches!?!

No, Palin is not stupid.  Her upbringing has seriously handicapped her to function in the modern world.  If you believe witches are real and Biblical end-times just around the corner, is that who you actually want on the trigger of America’s nuclear weapons?  Seriously, “I can see Russia” Sarah Palin is not a thinking, modern American.  Or, is she?   Do you believe in witches?  Do you believe God has it in for humanity such that he’s shortly going to destroy us (unbelievers) all?  In our lifetime?  If you do, Palin is your girl!

Her nomination is about John McCain.   He selects an air-biscuit conservative, an attractive woman who speaks fluently in tongues to the Republican base.  It ain’t pretty, it’s politics.  Imagine our conversation and McCain’s campaign today if he had picked Mitt Romney.  But he didn’t.  He chose Sarah Palin.

Listening to Sarah Palin makes me both laugh out loud and uncomfortable.  I admit it, I laugh at Sarah Palin.  I laugh at her ineptness, her simplicity, her circuitousness of argument, her platitudes and her craven appeal(s) to the conservative voter.

I am uncomfortable, too when she speaks.  I sometimes cannot watch and if I do, it is with splayed fingers across my eyes.  She seems so out of her league, so ill prepared, so deer-in-the-headlights caught.  Her eyes and demeanor seem to implore, “What do I say now?  Oh, God please let this interview be over!”  I don’t like my leaders to make me feel uncomfortable with their competencies and Sarah Palin does that in spades.  We’ve had quite enough of that already with President Bush. Sarah Palin makes me question her readiness, her ability to lead because she clearly does not understand the complex issues of our times and the options.

Palin also makes me uncomfortable with her simplicity of thought, her black & white approach to world and national problems, when what it is required is the ability to make distinctions in the many shades-of-gray-world we actually inhabit.  As Obama said of McCain in the first debate, we don’t need a President wielding a hatchet when a scalpel is called for.

Thursday’s debate between Sarah Palin (Elucidatory seppuku onstage, please.) and Joe Biden is going to be painful to watch.  I do not envy Joe Biden.  He needs to stay focused on John McCain and that McCain as President will be just another four years of Bush.  Perhaps, worse.  If Palin is pressed to produce anything but superficial sound bites, she’ll wilt like week-old lettuce on a stale old moose burger bun.  Palin has been portrayed as a mile wide and four inches deep.  We’ll see that Thursday night.  Bush was once described as all hat and no cattle.  Palin is all smiles and little substance.

Sarah Palin has not adequately prepared herself to be substantive.

Even conservatives of note are questioning McCain’s choice of Palin.  George Will.  David Brooks.  Catherine Parker has actually called for Palin to do the right thing, resign her candidacy now and return to Alaska to take care of her newest child.  From a female, conservative columnist no less!

Palin’s nomination was Biblically predicted to end in sorrow. Don’t-cha know, don’t-cha see.  I won’t call her actual nomination a stillbirth as it did “enliven” the faithful but for the rest of America, Sarah Palin is a sorrowful reminder to what depths we have descended, when politics is the only consideration when determining what is good for America.  Palin was McCain’s determination (decision).  His alone.

Rather this cheerless, prophetic allegory from the Bible, let us consider another story about birth.  I offer Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s sorrowful portrayal of conception. Of a birth.  I’ll leave to each reader her own metaphorical interpretations, but John McCain did create Sarah Palin.  It is a fact.

It is understandable that many Americans are terrified by the prospect—of what has, willfully, been given life.


When Pigs Fly

There are two international examples (models) I offer as appropriate options for dealing with America’s financial “crisis.” One is Japan, the other is China.  Both are acceptable to me.  Both include death and humiliation.

In China, when confronted with gargantuan issues of fraud and malfeasance, the executive responsible is summarily executed.  I particularly like this approach for its salubrious affect on business practices.  If greed and corruption become the standard operating principles, what better way than execution for eliminating such cancers?

In Japan, we have examples of company executives performing seppuku (better known in America as Hari-Kiri).  This ritualized ceremony consists of the humiliated business executive to voluntarily get on his knees, take a razor sharp knife of suitable proportions and insert said knife inches above the pubic bone and pull up with force into the chest cavity and if this is done correctly the offending businessman then falls neatly onto his knife, completing the act of contrition.  It saves the nation court costs and the offending family members continued humiliation.  A win/win situation.

I lean to the Chinese model of dealing with “greed.”  As an aside, I have a local example that if I were emperor for the day (or Pope) I would employ the Chinese standard.  It became cruelly apparent after the deluge of Tropical Storm Fay that there are numerous Florida housing subdivisions that had no business ever being approved and built (Think: in Debary & Deltona).  Why not hang a few government officials (former city council members, county commissioners, water management district administrators, etc.) for approving said subdivisions as well as the owners of the development corporations.   Granted, some of these gentlemen may no longer be living, but those that are, let’s hang an appropriate number. I recommend right at the entrance to the submerged, destroyed subdivisions.   Leav’um up till the crows pick their eyes out.

Long Live The Emperor!  The Emperor is dead.  Capitalism is dead, folks.  Whatever myths you have been operating under, let’s put this one to bed.

Capitalism (American corporate style) is when, by gawd, you leave business the hell alone.  Get rid of the onerous regulations, the oversight and let the Adam Smithian, invisible hand of unfettered markets unleash the power of the American worker!  Let capital flow.  Let profits ring forth and build that shining city on the hill!  Can you feel it? Is the spirit in ya!  GA-LA-Glory. Hallujuah!

Well, uh, Golleee Gomer, we done gotter-tit in a’ringer!”  And the pigs are flyin!

Hey, all you lemmings who once so proudly put “W” bumper stickers on your cars, what do you think of your President Bush now?  Oh, I know he got us into (and you so support it!) the never-ending war cycle America so loves and seemingly requires to keep its Mo-Jo.  War Yesterday!  War Today!  War Tomorrow!  War Forever!  Think:  the invaluableness of amorphous terrorism.  (Please recall now Eisenhower’s January 17, 1961 exit speech.)

But what do you think of capitalism now?  Your Republican President calls for and is going to preside over the biggest act of governmental intervention (socialism?) imaginable. Oh, let’s call it what it is: a bailout.  Capitalism had a bit of a stumble, don’t-cha see, and now requires a crutch or two just for a bit.

Yes, let me see how this is going to work.  Capitalism is good when it is good for “me,” particularly. Bad decisions were discussed, planned, voted upon (or not) and implemented.  The wheels came off the car (America).   And, Golleee Gomer, we shore do need da’ family car.

Solution: take the banks' bad loans, giv’um to America (that’s you and me, kids), express contrition, take the regulation (It’s only temporary don’t-cha see).  And be real, real sorry and say, “I’ll do better, boss.”  Oh, and publically perp-walk a couple of the more egregious financial types (preferably a Jew and a Wasp) and call it a day.  Take everything they have and get a picture of the pampered wife, crying, forced to move into a doublewide in Santa Barbara.   Sigh.   Soooo sad.  (Wipe tears now.)

That seems to me what is going to happen.  We assume the bad debts.  The banks (financial institutions or iterations) express contrition and reluctantly accept regulation.  And, if the stars are aligned, and the gods are distracted or supportive, we’ll survive.  America will pull-up its boots, we’ll pull-in our financial belt and put the spurs back on and get back to focusing on our real enemy.  Terror!  Islamic fascists!  WAR! Now and forever! (Question: How many armed troops does China have in the Mideast and they pay what, for their petroleum?  Hey now!)

What is it that is said about paying the Piper?  To do anything in America takes money. Save the wetlands. Pave the roads.  Hire the police.  Even to wage war.

America’s financial house seems out-of-order.  In so many ways.  Get America’s brightest businessmen and women together, ones who first have a conscience for their employees and their nation and “plan the work and work the plan” to right our economic house.  I nominate Warren Buffet to be a Team Leader.  And legitimately, government is a player.

When pigs fly.  If you said George Bush would someday willingly preside over the biggest corporate bailout in American history, many “W” Republicans would have said, “When pigs . . .”

Well.  No matter how much lipstick you put on this pig, my “W” Friends, you’re wearing it, too, you, you socialistic liberals, you.

Welcome to the barnyard, citizen.   Lemme hear an, “oink!”  C’mon, pucker up.

Fondly recall now, comrade, that timeless question playfully asked of Ned Beatty in the movie, Deliverance

More lipstick?


On Little Women and Little Statesman

The ignorant classes are the dangerous classes.  Henry Ward Beecher

I’ve started asking folks what they think of their fellow Americans.  The people I query invariably question the intelligence and/or sanity of those supporting the McCain/Palin ticket.  This divide in the nation is the most pronounced I have seen since the Vietnam War.

Let’s be clear about one thing.  Palin was selected strictly on the basis of her gender. Talk about Affirmative Action.  And I thought Republicans wouldn’t have any of that.  Too funny.   I have to laugh at what has happened to Mitt Romney.  He is soooo yesterday in the Republican Party.  And Mike Huckabee.  And Rudolf Giuliani.  They are so history.  McCain has ensured a never-ending cultural war for America with Palin’s anointment.  Oh, woe for America.

A number of years ago I was sitting in a restaurant and a drop-dead gorgeous woman walked in and joined a party at a nearby table.  I was momentarily transfixed by the sheer physical perfection of her physiognomy.  Such exquisite beauty is utterly random although more beautiful people tend to have more beautiful children.  Regardless, I sat there almost reluctant to gaze her way.  But as circumstances had it the restaurant was virtually empty and it is my habit to eavesdrop.  I listened acutely, anticipating honeyed words to leave her perfect plump lips.

And out of her mouth came the most shrill, high-pitched nonsense imaginable.  It was such a staggering disconnect that I had to turn and look, I could so not believe what my ears were hearing. She might as well have been the village idiot and I laughed out loud at myself and the words, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” rattled through my rearranged mind.  And I said, “Thank you cosmos for that slap of reality.” Or some such acknowledgement as that.

Sarah Palin is indeed nice to look at, particularly for a man and particularly when contrasted to John McCain.  She’s obviously ambitious and resourceful.  When I hear that white male voters are especially taken with her, I get it. I do.  She’s political eye-candy compared to the usual fare.  But, to me, when she opens her mouth her beauty evaporates, lost in the vacuous simplicity of her rightwing doctrinaire dribble. Pretty is as pretty does.

One thing, for me, above all, sums up Sarah Palin.  I am unequivocally and unapologetically pro-choice.  No ifs.  No buts.  No maybes.  A woman is born in/with complete ownership of her body.  Forever. Just like a man.  An American girl doesn’t sign her body over to the state when she becomes fertile. Any decisions made regarding birth control or family planning is the woman’s to make and to the degree she ever involves a man in that process is totally up to her.  Sarah Palin would have your raped (now impregnated) daughter forced to deliver that “love child.”  What staggering hubris on Palin’s part.  As offensive as that is to me, there is a worse indictment of the candidate.

And it is not that she would introduce creationism into America’s science curriculums.   Because I have some unsubstantiated beliefs (myths) on how we (the universe & humanity) came to be doesn’t mean that that trumps peer reviewed science.  Present such “doctrine” in a comparative religious course, not in our science curriculums.  As egregious as that is to rational thought (creationism as a legitimate scientific explanation), there is worse.

When I heard the following, that Sarah Palin (as mayor of Wasilla) approached her town librarian on how to ban books I thought, “NO! That cannot be!”  No modern thinking, Western educated woman would embrace censorship. It is so 14th century, so religiously doctrinaire. So backward.  So ignorant.

It is a fact, however, that at a Wasilla town council meeting Mayor Palin asked the city librarian how to remove books from the library.

According to the local Wasilla area newspaper, on October 28, 1996, Mayor Palin asked city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons, "How would I deal with her saying a book can't be in the library?" To her credit the librarian told Palin it was patently unacceptable.  The librarian was fired within two weeks only to be re-instated due to a town uproar.  Google: Sarah Palin and book banning.

What an abomination of what America is all about.  We’re going to elect officials who would ban books and censor ideas?  Is that our idea of what America is, a book-banning, quasi-religious state of the morally certain and of the hubristic intolerant?   Oh, woe is America.

The divide in America is based on ignorance.  Ignorance of Western (European) history, of the Western trajectory of man and freedom.  America’s Self-Righteous Republican Party would eagerly turn back the hands of time and retool the nation (Frankenstein like) into some Caliphate of Fundamentalist Christianity.

A divide in America is based on how much uncertainty your mind will embrace. I am reminded of Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s quote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

None littler than John McCain and Sarah Palin.


What It Means To Me

To be an American.  Where have all the jokes gone?  To the Republican Party.  I jest.  My father’s generation told jokes as a matter of daily discourse.  I have several good friends in their 80s and they tell jokes. Lovely Nancy invariably asks, “Have you heard a good joke?”  She then proceeds to rattle off a timeless story in impeccable English, punctuating the punch line with a measured flourish of her hand.  I laugh.  We laugh.

I grew up with dumb Dane jokes.  Ole & Sven.  Ole and Lena.  “Ole and Lena were just married and driving away from their marriage reception and Ole gingerly, shyly placed his hand on Lena’s thigh.  Lena breathlessly told Ole he could go further.  Ole drove her all the way to Duluth.”  Love it.

Of course, Swedes and Norwegians all took it on the chin.  I didn’t hear stories about blacks or Mexicans.  I did hear on occasion Jewish jokes.  My father had lot of Jewish acquaintances and friends.  We’d walk into their business and dad would be invariably pulled aside by the owner, a minute or two would pass and then an outburst of raucous laughter.  When my father died all his children received little yearly pocket calendars full of jokes dad considered worthy of recording.  They are in his impeccable handwriting.  I have several.  1974 is a favorite.

The jokes I grew up with provided many illustrations of ethnic, racial or religious humor.  My father could do wonderful hair-lip stories and while I didn’t as a youngster always understand the punch line, the telling sure was funny.  None of this is politically correct today.   Then you had to be confident that if you were telling a story as a Jew (to a non-Jew) with a punch line about Jews that regardless the “butt or gist” of the story, it is understood that, “There but for the grace of God . . .” Go all of us. Sexually, financially, selfishly or stupidly.  But can we laugh about it.

We come to our prejudices, our preferences naturally. Via our parents and external forces.   I do believe, however, we are born with both an innate curiosity and cautiousness of the different.  Our parents (and society) do their jobs (good and bad) and we end up as adults thinking the way we do about those different from ourselves.  What does it mean stereotypically speaking to be black, Hispanic, Jewish, male, Scandinavian or handicapped?  Obviously I’ve just scratched the surface of categories.  Females, fundamentalists, fatties, free-loaders and feminists, too.  On and on.  Small town rednecks, tongue-talking fertile Alaskans, children having babies, etc.

At some point last week I was pondering the nature of stereotyping and humor (See last sentence.).  What makes something humorous?  Is there a nugget of “truth” that is exploited for the laugh?  I’ll tell you one stereotype I do not get.  Mexicans and laziness.  I just don’t see it.  They seem to me from my observations of who does the roofing, yard work and construction in America to be extremely hard working, industrious and entrepreneurial. Perhaps they are “lazy” in Mexico and laugh among themselves over “ol’Pedro’s” idleness but I don’t see many Pedro’s lolling around Central Florida.

My thinking evolved to considering what it means to be an American.  What are the qualities and characteristics that comprise an American?  We’ve all heard the jokes about the rube American in Europe, clad in shorts, wearing white socks in black shoes, frequently fat, loud, obnoxious, camera around his bulbous neck, insisting his food be smothered in ketchup and loudly claiming we need none of this stinking “effete” art in America.  And that America is the grandest, bestest country in the entire history of planet. Don’t-cha-see, don’t-cha know.

And then, of course, you have the ugly, imperialistic American of Eugene Burdick fame (irony acknowledged). Two prominent stereotypes of Americans.  One a doofus and the other, lethally hubristic.  What a winning combination.  What a joke.

But at the close of the discussion I was having with myself I ended up asking: “What does it mean to me to be an American?”

This presidential election on one level will further the discussion of exactly that idea.  Ask yourself specifically that question.  Do it now (take a moment). Briefly (in a sentence or two) describe your answer to yourself.

To me.  This election is about how some people see America. There are those who feel “fact” trumps “process.”  To “some,” facts are supplied by one’s sacred texts.  One illustration: “Atlas Shrugged” has become a religion.

I salute, applaud and if it makes you feel good that you are saved, I am sincerely happy for you.  I am.  Follow your bliss.  And if your bliss has you reciting religious text as truth, let me say, “You go, girl!”

On the other hand, the processes of life have to be free.   “America is not about truth.  America is about freedom.” I am paraphrasing Richard Rorty.  I want the freedom as an individual to choose and live one’s “facts” from an infinite many.  And I will extend to you the same prerogative.

I believe that reciprocity is the lubricant of life.  They will identify a gene for that.   Freedom is the lubricant of life, too.  We need both for a harmonious society.  I, from the Left, say to the Right, “Go your way with my blessings, extend to me the same consideration(s).”

What it means to me to be an American?  In a word.  Freedom.

“Did you hear about Ole's nephew Torvald who won the gold medal at the Olympics?    Yeah, he had it bronzed.”

Sounds like what Republican rule is doing to America.


Obama Rally September 5th

Hey now!   I have to say that John McCain’s vice presidential pick clearly demonstrates Senator McCain’s position on the issues. Sarah Palin, Governor of Austin, Texas, ur, excuse me, Governor of Alaska (Austin, one smallish city, is actually bigger, population wise, than Alaska), is undoubtedly the best Republican pick for the office. Undoubtedly.  I actually applaud Mr. McCain’s selection of Governor Palin because it so clearly crystallizes what is at stake for the nation.

Let’s review the intellectual vitality of the woman.  But first let’s clear up one matter.  Do you remember that infamous Bridge to Nowhere, a boondoggle of pork-barrel politics that had U.S. taxpayers funding a $320 million bridge to an Alaskan island (population: 50), well, Sarah Palin was for the pork before she was against the pork.  How expedient and how timely.  That sounds like John Kerry’s position on the Iraq war. Check it out. Google: Governor Palin & the Bridge To Nowhere.

One of my favorite qualities of Sarah Palin is her intellectual vigor.  Governor Palin believes Creationism should be taught in America’s science classes.  Not in Comparative Religion classes but as an actual peer reviewed scientific explanation for life on earth. I love it.  It’s so, so, so intellectually uh, um, creative.  Consider the following explanation.

I was once at a loss as to why there are no unicorns.  My daughter once asked that very question. She might have been age four.  But now that Sarah Palin is our Republican VP nominee it all becomes clear.  You see, Noah in his mandate from God picked up all the creatures before the big flood, unicorns, too.  A day after the two beautiful unicorns boarded the Ark, one of those nasty, beastie ol’ Tyrannosaurus Rex’s gobbled’um both up, horns and all. They were a mere hors d’oeuvres.  Noah was beside-himself-distraught but the rain had started and well, that’s why we have no unicorns today.

Now you might legitimately ask what were dinosaurs actually doing on the Ark?  That, too, Governor Palin can explain.  You see God made Earth 7,547 years, 246 days ago at 4:47 a.m. (God’s an early riser, don’t-cha see) but in order to confuse mankind, he ordered Noah to collect dinosaurs, too. God wanted to sprinkle their remains in stones to imply they were millions of years old when we all know that isn’t Biblically possible.  It was all just to play with man’s mind.  What a sense of humor that God. Google: Governor Palin & Christian Dominionist.

One of my all-time, indoor, outdoor favorite parts of Governor Palin’s intellect is her position on abortion. Rather than let a woman decide if it is “right” for her (as an individual) to determine her own fate, she would turn the matter over to the state.  How refreshingly novel.  I jest. I suppose at whatever age a girl becomes woman, at that point, her uterus becomes federal property.  How else would you describe the elimination of abortion rights?

Let’s briefly examine this position.  Say your daughter, a vigorous, competent, newly graduated professional is out jogging on the trail, say in eastern Orange County, say near Blanchard Park and she is grabbed one early evening, brutally assaulted and raped. Broken teeth, broken jaw, broken spirit, nearly blinded, perhaps even in a coma for a week and lo and behold she is pregnant from the assault.  If Governor Palin has any say in the matter, your daughter, your wife, your mother, your sister would be forced to take that “love” child to term.  No choice.

It doesn’t stop there. Say you go down to Key West for a weekend away from the kids. This is a true story.  You drink a little wine, you dance a little dance, you have a lotta, lotta “BIG” fun and your contraceptive fails.  You wake up the next morning distraught but then you realize there’s the morning after pill.  Voila!  You are saved. Not if Governor Palin has her way.  No morning after birth control. Palin opposes all birth control, even the use of condoms among married couples!  Does this define intrusive extremism to you?  That is Governor Palin.  Google: Governor Palin & Birth Control.

I don’t know about you but Governor Palin comes across as the purrrrfect Republican Vice Presidential nominee.  She reflects exactly to what level the Republican Party has sunk.  Let there be no doubt, no ambiguity what is on the line for America if Republicans achieve another term in the presidential suite. The choices are bleakly stark.

To avoid that end (in every sense of the word), for a better America, I invite all of Winter Park and Maitland to an Obama Rally on Friday, September 5th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the parking lot outside of the new Obama office located at 200 North Denning Ave, Winter Park 32789.  The phone number is 407.975.9111. (Call for new date if rained out.)  Jazz singer Jacqueline Jones and her band will perform. It’s free.  It’ll be fun.  Be there for America!  Be there for intellectual and reproductive freedom!