Thursday, January 31, 2008

Election 2008: Entropy or bust!

The winnowing of the field of presidential candidates rolls inexorably on toward its desultory, entropic conclusion. Recently, three more candidates, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, and (scarcely noticed) Dennis Kucinich ended their bids for the White House.

Presidential elections in the United States are really little more than long, drawn-out compromises. Are they not? Let's tally the fallen:

Here is a man. Whence comes such another?

Alas for Dennis Kucinich, my first choice. I have known all along that he had no chance for the nomination. I supported John Edwards, bowing to that realization and also, accepting that, in this vast, diverse country, no one gets his first choice. Either one compromises or submits to the deadened numbness of non-participation. My heart goes out to Dennis, who subjected himself to the indignity of being ridiculed by persons far his inferior in the media and the Washington beltway because he actually held ideals. Here is a man, people.


Best of luck, John. And, thanks.

Alas for John Edwards, who took up the mantle of populism, who spoke out against the corporate hegemony that is destroying this country and civilization. John made his cause the eradication of poverty in America, a noble goal made anachronistic by fiends and shills of the plutocracy. Further, his wife, Elizabeth, is a personal inspiration, battling breast cancer. I'd like to think I could show as much courage when faced with a potentially mortal illness.


Back to the abyss with thee, creature!

Hisses for vampiric Rudy Giuliani, forced to retreat to his joyless crypt, there to nurse his hatred and pull ineffectively at the various strands of his webs of corruption. The death of his campaign is but a harbinger of a larger death to come: that of the neo-conservative movement.


Sigh....I suppose so

As I've said, Edwards was my compromise choice. But obviously I hadn't compromised enough. By default, my increasingly unenthusiastic support falls to Barack Obama. Why? Simply because he is not Hillary Clinton. Will it be enough, I wonder? Or will I be forced to abandon the last vestiges of civic dignity and cast a vote for Hillary in the general election? (Because I'll be damned if I allow a Republican, any Republican, into the White House without casting a vote against him.)

I hold out small hope that Obama can withstand the assault of the seasoned and ruthless Clinton machine, but, I suppose "Obama for President" is where it stands with me, at the moment.

As for the Republicans, it looks like McCain will get the nod. He's hated by the most rabid of Bush supporters, but, to their way of thinking he's something of a known entity. I'd like to see Romney put up a fight, but I'm afraid Mitt is a wimp. He'll roll over meekly. Huckabee, Christian warrior, could prove to be a fly in McCain's ointment, especially if the Huckster raises hell at the week-long hatefest that is the Republican convention. But, in the end, Huckabee supporters will fall in line, just like they always do. It's bred into them: submit to authority, bend to the lash.

All in all, the 2008 presidential race is progressing predictably. Compromise, concession, humiliation. Change the color of the drapes in the Oval Office. Put a new shade of lipstick on the pig. Just don't mess with the power structure.

Barak Obama for President!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Crown of Thorns


I wear my crown of thorns for all to see;
It comforts me to bleed before the world,
That all may know the suff'ring I've endured
Lest free from guilt or torment they would be;

A martyr's role it seems is cast for me
To call to mind affliction yet uncured:
Rest not upon the blessing ye've incurred,
My torment 'neath ye mattress is the pea;

And why, ye ask, must I berate ye bliss?
Cannot I find some happy state of mind
That might afford the mass a peaceful sleep?

Misunderstood, to this I am resigned;
Concern I scorn; thy pity I dismiss,
The juice for me is just to see ye weep!

Note: I've been experimenting with sonnets, as you can see. This sonnet is in the Italian form:
AB
BA
AB
BA
CDE
DCE

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monkey chatter: Junior drools, nation yawns

It is a telling gauge of Junior's fallen fortunes that today's media coverage provides scarcely a word about his largely ignored State of the Union speech (praise God, the last he will ever give), delivered with his usual appalling mispronunciations, in favor of the faux-primary taking place today in the swirling, insane vortex of all-that-is-wrong-with-America, Florida.

Monkey make doo-doo
I didn't watch but a smattering of the speech. Informed commentary be damned, I just don't have the intestinal fortitude to watch while the monkey makes verbal doo-doo. The spectacle is made all the more nauseating by the puppy-dog ovations provided by Congressional bobbleheads that wet themselves whenever the monkey flings dung (in the form of meaningless placations or folksy, tear-soliciting anecdotes) this way or that. Sorry, seen it all before.

And besides, now that the scales have fallen from the eyes of all but the most stupid of Americans, what can he possibly say?

The big news, for me, anyway, is that, judging from the resounding yawn of a response, no one outside the Washington beltway is listening anymore. Junior Bush is now more-or-less openly acknowledged as an abject failure.

The Republican candidates criticize his many failures indirectly, without using his name. Anything too direct is sure to upset the war-gives-us-meaning crowd. But, John McCain, for example takes pains to state that the Iraq war was mishandled under the "Rumsfeld" policy. And --watch and see --Junior won't be around much this fall when the Republican nominee, whether it is furious John McCain, or robot-like Mitt Romney, is on the general election campaign trail. Far from embracing Junior, the GOP nominee will spend his time apologizing, equivocating, trying to convince voters that he won't be nearly as much of a fuck-up.

For his part, Junior seems to have accepted his fate. Apart from a half-assed, way-too-late stab at peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, his speech was warmed over claptrap that he has himself debunked over the years. Troop increases in Iraq, lip service to fiscal restraint, a demand for increased authority to spy on American citizens, blah, blah, blah.

In a telling remark recently, Junior said "I'm sure people view me as a war monger and I view myself as a peacemaker." This remark hints at a resignation, a wounded realization that is hitherto unknown in his public psyche. (And hey, nobody can say he's not quick on the uptake, eh?)

But, regardless of any revelations that may have penetrated his unfathomably thick skull, the American public seems to have turned away from the train wreck that is Junior Bush. It's dangerous to do so --akin to ignoring a cancer diagnosis --but people can only take so much.

And beyond Junior, himself, it is his policies, his neo-conservative "philosophy," that seems to be wasting away. The post-Junior neo-conservative candidate for President, Rudy Giuliani, who, more than any other of the GOP nobodies, has based his campaign on the Rove doctrine of fear and hatred, and who has surrounded himself with neo-conservative nabobs, is tanking. In fact, the coup d'grace may be administered on this very day when Florida rejects him. Giuliani has banked everything on winning in Florida, sacrificing his efforts in earlier primaries. If the Republicans snub him today, he is doomed.

And, with him dies the neo-conservative movement. Now thoroughly exposed as the political meddling of armchair generals and sons of privilege, this monstrous movement is thrashing feebly in the filthy wreckage it has created. Not a drop of pity from me, I'm afraid. As ye sow, so shall ye reap, and all that.

This country is gravely weakened as a result of Junior and the people behind him. The cabal gained its unprecedented powers by manipulating a fearful post-911 American public. When the Twin Towers fell, they gave rise to a failure of a human being, a sorry puppet controlled by monsters of greed and power, who set about ravaging all that was good in America. Could Osama bin Laden have planned it any better?

Anyway, for better or worse, the historic chapter on Junior Bush is coming to an end. It remains to be seen if we, as a people, can recover.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Republicanos bailando el baile de tontos

Los parangones de la integridad republicana
¿Ahora es obvio, no? Hipocresía abierto es el camino de los republicanos. Ellos han aprendido bien las lecciones de la organización criminal de la Bush junta: Si se debe decir una mentira, diga una mentira grande; y la diga sin vergüenza.

Ahora, cuando los racistas más odiosos (como Tom Tancredo) han sido obligados para retirar del concurso para el nombramiento republicano, los contendientes restantes deben modificar sus mensajes sobre la inmigración. Por un lado, ellos deben acallar el base del partido por continuando crecer el temor de los hispanos. Por otro lado, ellos no pueden enajenar un bloque de votantes que crece cada día.

Como yo he dicho muchas veces: ellos están en un dilema de sus propias cosechas. La hipocresía es ambos repugnante e hilarante.

Considere estos:
  • Rudy Giuliani dice en el recorrido electoral: "El resultado final sobre a llegando a ser un ciudadano de los EEUU es que se debe leer el inglés, escribir el inglés, y hablar el inglés si se quisiera ser un ciudadano." Y no más que una semana después, su campaña publicó un anuncio en español en Florida, donde los inmigrantes cubanos son muy poderosos.
  • Mitt Romney recomenda que hacer el inglés como el idioma funcionario de los EEUU. Pero aparentemente, el no puede mirar la contradicción en comprando anuncios en español cuando hay votes para ganar.
¡Que chistoso!

Los otros candidatos republicanos parecen tener integridad (con este asunto, por lo menos), especialmente Ron Paul, lo quien que ha recomendado que acabar el embargo entre Cuba y los EEUU. Imagino que John McCain quisiera decir poquito del asunto. Ya, el base racista de su partido no le confia, pero él sabe, más que los otros candidatos, que el futuro de sus partido depende en su abilidad a ganar los votos de hispanos.

Bien, un día en el futuro, quizás pronto, el partido republicano necesitará dirigir el asunto de como acomodar la población hispana en los EEUU. Ellos no pueden parar el crecimiento. No cerca ni ley puede parar la migración demográfica que ocurre. Mientras tanto, gozamos mirar el espectáculo de hipócritas bailando como tontos. Detrás de sus caras sonrientes estan confundidos y estan asustados.

¡Bailad, tontos! ¡Bailad!

(Perdóneme por favor para mi español malo.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

The king is dead


His promise full, the tyrant falls to earth;
His wreckage dusts the waves about the throne;
The many mourners weep, recount his worth:
Small appetite have they to weigh his bones!

These peasants loved his clever wag of tongue:
Their cries alike to gulls lamenting rain;
But we, who by his sordid works were stung,
Perhaps, should wisely mute our sad refrains;

For how, pray tell, are tears spent nobly now,
When we who cried to gods stone deaf "Reprieve!"
Were, for our base assertions, forced to bow,
Lest from him blist'ring wrath we would receive?

Think not that love is smother'd 'neath my ire;
But ev'ry grief bequeath'd me lights his pyre...

Note: I've been experimenting with sonnets. This sonnet is in the English form:

AB
AB
CD
CD
EF
EF
GG

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hey, Nancy...stimulate THIS!!!!

Please don't make me do my job...

If Junior Bush possesses one quality that might, in the most tangential and misapplied sense, be termed "admirable" (and just writing these words makes me want to puke) it is that he is not easily intimidated. Throughout this seven year disaster, he has moved audaciously, spurred on, no doubt, by Dick Cheney, the monkey trainer/organ grinder: expanding executive authority, launching wars of aggression under blatantly false pretenses, shamelessly pandering to ignoramuses. In some perverted sense, one might construe this boldness or recklessness as admirable.

Well, none of us need worry that Nancy Pelosi might suffer from the same affliction. Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, is a profile in political cowardice.

Back in the bad ol' days of Republican control, not only of the executive branch of government, but of both houses of congress, Pelosi was full of tough talk and bravura even as she continally rolled over to each new Republican legislative outrage.

Back in May 2006, in the run up to the mid-term elections, when public animosity for the Bush administration was beginning to roil into full blown contempt, Pelosi, speaking of why voters should elect Democrats, said: “We will have subpoena power, and that’s why the Republicans are so afraid ... Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It’s about checks and balances.”

Or, how about this quote, from January, 2006, speaking of Junior's illegal NSA surveillance program? "I would not want any president — Democrat or Republican — to have the expanded power the administration is claiming in this case."

Sounds pretty tough, eh? And it was undoubtedly that kind of rhetoric that propelled Democrats to stunning and historical victories in the November 2006 elections, where they picked up 7 Senate seats and 31 House seats.

Well, almost immediately, Nancy proved that her tough talk was a lot of bluster. Two days after the Republicans were crushed and humiliated, Pelosi was already backing down from a confrontation with the administration for which voters had just cast their ballots:

"Impeachment is off the table....it's a pledge....it is a waste of time," Pelosi told 60 Minutes.

Since that time, Pelosi has reined in the most aggressive of her committee chairmen, including John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Henry Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Far from discouraging petty investigations in order to promote those that hold the most promise of discovery, Pelosi seems determined to squash any inquiries that might actually lead to criminal investigation, repudiation, or impeachment.

During the term of her leadership, Pelosi has knuckled under to the Bush administration's war-funding proposals, whining that she didn't have the votes to stop them. But such excuses seem rather hollow when one considers that the majority she enjoys is nearly as large as that held by the Republicans before the mid-term elections. You remember? Back when they ran roughshod over Pelosi's pathetic minority?

Pelosi has tried to obscure her cowardice by throwing sops out to the ravenous Democratic base. The latest of these is her highly-publicized negotiations with Bush flunky and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson over an economic stimulus package. There is speculation that legislation could pass wherein we would all be cut checks for $800 (individual) to $1600 (married).

Pretty nice, eh? I know I can use the money.

But what Pelosi is hoping we won't notice is that, in order not to jeopardize the negotiations, she is postponing a showdown on contempt of congress charges against key administration officials who are avoiding testimony about the US Attorneys scandal.

From the Washington Post:
There were signs that both sides were trying to avoid at least some provocations until an economic package is passed. House Democrats decided to hold off any action on contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers over the investigation of the firings of U.S. attorneys.
Viewed in context, the tax rebates of the stimulus package seem more like a pathetic and plaintive bribe to the American public: "Please don't make me do my job."

It is puzzling to me that she and her cronies, Steny Hoyer and the repulsive Rahm Emmanuel, seem petrified at the thought of confronting a deeply unpopular president. Could it be that they somehow fear a public backlash? Are they content to run out the clock on Bush's term, hoping that public disaffection will lead to even bigger majorities after the next election? Or, are they in some way complicit in the Bush administration's many crimes?

Regardless, Nancy Pelosi and her gang cannot be accused of displaying courage or competence.

It sure makes me proud to be a Democrat....

Yeah, right!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An apology to three good people


And cold and clear the dreary dawn before,
I wake again to see I am a fool;
Thin sunlight lights the wrongs upon my score;
Madam Disgrace bestride me: doltish mule!
A mirror shows the object of remorse
Another son of Adam gone to dust;
Fond mem'ries, have I sullied, being coarse,
And so, beg pardon sir and ladies must;
Obscurity from public can but mask
Specifics of my most abash'd transgress;
In pain sincere and shame I am to bask,
Please grant me open ear whilst I confess:
No malice, no, nor disrespect intend
I danced the jester's jig now knee must bend

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Movie Review: There Will Be Blood


If the roles that he takes are any indication of Daniel Day Lewis' outlook on life, it is amazing that he has survived for 50 years without blowing his brains out. In Paul Thomas Anderson's latest effort, There Will Be Blood, Lewis plays the role of oil pioneer Daniel Plainview, a joyless man driven by the demon of limitless ambition, and poisoned by contempt for humanity.

Based on the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil!, the story follows Plainview's 30 year rise in fortunes from a solitary silver miner to a powerful oil tycoon during the first part of the 20th century. Plainview is a man of singular purpose, determined to build an empire and willing to do whatever is necessary to make it happen.

Daniel Plainview, scheming
Early in the story he mysteriously acquires a son, H. W. (played by child-actor Dillon Feasier), the only human being for whom he displays any affection. (Apart, that is, from a creepy affinity he bears for his future daughter-in-law, a child of some 12 years.) Plainview sees his son as an extension of himself, his gateway to eternity: the boy will inherit the empire that Plainview creates, will extend it into perpetuity.

Pitted against Plainview is old-time revival preacher and faith healer, Eli Sunday (played by Paul Dano), who has the advantage of owning (through his brow-beaten and weak father) a tract of land that Plainview must acquire in order to drill for a sea of oil under the rock-and-sagebrush terrain of California.

As the story progress, Plainview and Sunday, each the mirror image of the other, perform a menacing dance. They recognize immediately how much they are alike in their ambition and in their shared contempt for humanity, and it serves only to feed the hatred that they bear for one another.

The film is an ambitious and complex endeavor. Anderson is clearly a talented filmmaker, as he has proven in previous efforts like Boogie Nights and Magnolia. The film is highly visual: the cinematography conveys the hardscrabble bleakness of the world as viewed by the film's principle characters. The dialog is sparse. Anderson seems to rely more on his actors' body language and facial expressions than on their words. The score adds to the effect: at times menacing, at times dreary, and never, never, never soothing.

But, at times, Anderson seems to break from this paradigm of visual conveyance. In particular, the penultimate scene between Plainview and the full grown H. W. and the final confrontation between Plainview and Eli Sunday are both rendered mainly through the actor's vocal deliveries. A bit of a jarring segue, but perhaps Anderson intended it that way.

Lewis' performance is, as usual, outstanding. His facial expressions are masterful: the sneer he wears as he relates his feelings about humanity, the simmering resentment he conveys in the set of his brow as his would-be brother asks him for money, the terrifying, insane menace of his eyes as he holds a gun to the head of a man he hasn't yet decided to kill. His verbal delivery is reminiscent of the great John Huston, as my friend Andre Danielson pointed out: sonorous, deliberate, and unhurried, but also plain and direct.
Eli Sunday
And Dano's performance is also noteworthy. He plays the sniveling Eli Sunday convincingly. His mockery of his flock hovers just beneath the surface of his frantic, fevered sermons. His passive face is a maddeningly impenetrable mask, obscuring his disdain for the pathetic creatures he sees praying fervently before him.

There are many layers and facets to this film, all of which bear further examination and analysis, and I'm still thinking about the film two days later. Nonetheless, I came away from it vaguely disappointed. It's as if Anderson overreached, bit off more than was necessary.

I give Anderson credit for challenging his audience. There Will Be Blood is subtle and intricate, and not a film to see if one is seeking easy diversion. But it seems overly complex, and offers few answers to the many questions it poses, both practically (who is H.W.'s mother?) and metaphorically (is self-contempt the ultimate price of ambition?).

If the film did not require so much effort, I would venture another look and see what I might glean the second time around. But it is not an uplifting story, by any means. Hence, I'll spare myself the trouble.

I do recommend this film. But it is a qualified recommendation. Make sure you're up to it; it's not a film to watch on a lark.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Count those blessings, people. Count 'em up.

Sometimes it is very, very difficult to maintain a hopeful, positive attitude in this world.

On the macro level, of course, are all those obvious things: warfare, famine, disease, and the very real possibility that we are entering the Final Days of humanity.

Or, on a more immediate, less abstract level, there are also the daily trials and suffering that we see around us: cancer and divorce, suicide and bankruptcy, and the myriad everyday disasters that disrupt our lives.

But it's important and rewarding to take a few minutes, every so often, to think about all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us, upon all of us, by the Great Whatever.

Consider:


For those of us that live here in the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with a beautiful land of plenty, where, God willing, we will never know war or famine. Consider the billions of people in the world for whom that is not true. In Iraq, in Kenya, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in the Sudan.



Or consider the blessing of education. If you have completed high school in the United States, when you consider humanity at large, you are part of the very select elite of highly-educated people throughout history. Just by virtue of the fact that you can read, you have access to a wealth of knowledge that even the most educated monarchs and emperors of history's highest civilizations would envy.



Or consider the blessing of having family and friends. With every intimate relationship, whether it is between a parent and a child, or between close friends, or between husband and wife, there is always some measure of pain. But to have someone to love and to be loved by is a blessing, indeed. In fact, the pain that is an inherent part of any relationship can serve as a crucible that tempers love, that promotes wisdom and understanding, that enhances one's knowledge of what it is to be human. Better to have loved....blah, blah, blah.

This is not a complete list. Each of us, if we take the time to do it, can quickly come to see that we have been bestowed with precious gifts. The challenge, in my mind anyway, is to find a way to make oneself worthy, to avoid squandering one's endowments.

This post, I imagine, might seem discordant from my usual doom-and-gloom, angry diatribes against what I see as injustice and ignorance. And it is certainly self-indulgent. I don't know. Put it down to my having seen a lot of pain around me, lately; and to my having recently taken myself off my happy pills (Paxil, to be specific); and to the fact that Maty and I are having discussions about family; and to general angst.

Whenever things get too hairy, I just try to remember all the blessings that I have received: not because I deserved them, but because the Great Whatever has seen fit to place me here, at this particular point in the Grand Scheme. The dice have been cast for me, and they came up snake eyes. Whatever may come, just by virtue of the fact that I am here, in this place, at this time, I am blessed.

It is vitally important to remember that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Filthy, filthy liars!

This video documents the lies that have been heaped upon the American public by this wretch of a human being, Junior Bush and his coterie of liars and criminals. If you can watch this and not get angry...well, there is probably no hope for you.



It makes me sick when I think of what we have become under this bestial administration.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

GOP yahoos just can't see who is to blame

Isn't it funny how down-on-their-luck Republicans always manage to find someone lower in the social pecking order to blame for their problems? They never look up, toward their cherished leaders, when they are angry about losing their jobs or afraid of crime or worried about the cost of health care.

Rather, the culprits they see are disadvantaged or marginalized people: Muslims, Mexicans, gays.

It reminds me of a joke I heard some years back:


The scene is Moscow, in the winter of 1968. The temperature is somewhere around -5 degrees Celsius and the wind is howling. Snow flurries lower visibility such that anyone more than 20 meters away is but a dark silhouette. A line of Muscovites has formed outside a butcher's shop, to await the shop's opening. There are rumors that the butcher will have beef for sale, despite the chronic shortages.

A low-level political commissar happens by, on his way to the subway station. In a tone of authority he demands to know what is happening.

"There are rumors that the butcher shop has beef, comrade," says one Muscovite, his voice muffled by the scarf covering his face.

"We'll see about that," the commissar says. He pounds on the door of the shop and is quickly given entrance.

After about 15 minutes, he emerges, wiping his mouth, and patting his stomach contently. He addresses the crowd: "There is beef available, but there is not enough for everyone. No beef will be rationed to the Jews."

He continues on his way, and the Jews in the line wander off, their shoulders hunched against the cold.

The temperature drops another 2 degrees, the wind blows harder, and the snow is unrelenting. Another commissar, flanked by 2 machine gun toting KGP agents happens by and demands to know what is going on.

"Beef!" says one of the Muscovites. He points a frozen mitten at the butcher shop door.

"We'll see about that!" says the commissar. He and his bodyguards enter the shop.

After about 15 minutes, they emerge, wiping their mouths and patting their stomachs contently. The commissar addresses the crowd. "There is beef, but only enough for Communist Party members. Everyone else should disperse." He and his guards go on their way, and the crowd lessens as the dejected non-party Muscovites wander away.

The temperature continues to fall, the wind begins to howl, and the snow falls even faster. A limousine with a phalanx of policemen happens by. The motorcade suddenly stops and a high-ranking Kremlin official pokes his head out of the limo to demand what is going on.

"There are rumors of beef, comrade," says one Muscovite. There is rime on his eyelashes.

"We'll see about that," says the Kremlin official. He and all the members of his motorcade file into the shop.

They emerge about 30 minutes later, wiping their mouths and patting their stomachs contently. As they are getting back into their vehicles, the Kremlin official shouts: "There is no beef. Everyone disperse." The motorcade speeds away.

As the last of the dejected crowd dissolves into the nothingness of the white-out conditions, one disappointed Muscovite is heard to mutter: "It's true what they say...the Jews get the best of everything."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

La doña de Valdivia


On the journey from Pucón, a world-weary man
Can only just see that the geese have plumes quite strange
To his North American eye;

Their tangerine beaks, too, serve as reminders that
A battle rages though he has for a brief time
Managed a respite --to gather;

She is at the station with her plaintive offer
Of a room, a room and a comfortable home
A place to feel welcome, wanted;

Her proper dress, motherly pride, and simple smile:
She, too, has worries and is in need of kindness;
Solitude, old age, await her;

Sleepy Valdivia cradles the two for now
With needed ease of warm sleep untroubled by dreams
That will only die anyway;


It is nearly Christmas; solstice stretches the days;
Los lobos del mar sleep in the sun and then swim
Gobbling fish while the strange geese float;


The Catholic girls playing music in the square--
They laugh when he cheers; they're too shy to meet his grin;
For a time, he likes being strange;

Three days pass like the glory of a well-spent youth
And he must board the south-bound bus for Puerto Montt;
She goes with him to the station;

She must find a new tenant for the empty room;
He must begin his journey back to the front line;
She smiles, waving as the bus leaves;

Her kindness and understated desperation
Leave an indelible mark on his lonely heart:
She is running...waving...smiling...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The descent into Fascism

Jawohl!

A while back, my friend Brian McLaughlin (photographer and inventor), sent me a link to an excerpt from "They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45" by Milton Mayer. The excerpt is a recounting of the transition that occurred in Germany, from a dysfunctional republic to a totalitarian fascist state, as told by a philologist who experienced the transition first-hand.

The account chronicles how the German people were slowly habituated to radical changes, like the proverbial frog in the pan of water, until, by the time they began to be alarmed, it was too late: they had lost their ability to stop, or even protest, the actions of the Nazis as they cut their murderous path across the world.

Check out this quote from the excerpt:
What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
Now, consider how we, the American public, have learned, incrementally and after-the-fact, about various constitutional transgressions and questionable expansions of executive power:
  • The use of torture to interrogate detainees is now the subject of legitimate debate
  • The federal government has been tapping and continues to tap the phone conversations and review the banking records of American citizens without a court order
  • Private armies are being used to kill, torture, and enforce order in Iraq and in the United States
Each of these outrages became public despite the best efforts of the Bush administration to hide it. And each time, after an initial dust up, the public settled into an uneasy acceptance of the new reality. After all, we were assured, the administration knew things that it could not share, for security reasons, that made all of it necessary.

And why do we, the public, come to accept these things? Well, referring again to the excerpt:
You see...one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
And here we are today, with a majority of the public aware that this administration has gone farther than any before it in seizing illegitimate power. But all eyes are now focused on the 2008 national election which, we imagine, will deliver us from the grip of tyranny. Everyone is waiting for the system, in which we have placed all our faith, to flush out the evil that has grown within it.

The Bush administration never fails to remind us that we are at war. Conveniently for them, the war is not against an easily-identifiable nation-state, but against a nebulous enemy that seems to be everywhere at once. And, there is also the pending war with Iran, which Junior seems determined to revive despite the lack of intelligence supporting his outlandish claims. If things ever get hot for Junior and the gang, the folks in Teheran had better head for the bomb shelters.

Well, people, the time is coming when we will have to choose how history will view us. Let me close with one last paragraph from the excerpt:
Once the war began, the government could do anything ‘necessary’ to win it; so it was with the ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which the Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake, not even the Nazis, until war and its ‘necessities’ gave them the knowledge that they could get away with it. The people abroad who thought that war against Hitler would help the Jews were wrong. And the people in Germany who, once the war had begun, still thought of complaining, protesting, resisting, were betting on Germany’s losing the war. It was a long bet. Not many made it.
Viel Glück, Kameraden!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Maty and I: how it all came about


Today is the second anniversary of my wedding with Maty Bombay Cariaga (nee Diop). I can't believe that she and I have been traveling this road together for two years already. And, believe it or not, I owe a debt of gratitude to none other than the cretinous Junior Bush for bringing it all about.

Our story, the story of Maty and I, if not interesting, is at least unconventional.

I have a friend, Stewart King, with whom I share the pastime of playing military simulation board games (Advanced Squad Leader, to be specific). (Something of an incongruity for an avowed pacifist, eh?)

One day, in the spring of 2005, Stewart told me about a young woman from Africa who had come to the United States on a tourist visa.

The woman, Maty, came to America in July of 2003 from her home country of Burkina Faso, to work as a nanny for a family in Tigard. (Out of respect for the family's privacy, I'll refer to them as the "Joneses.")

The Joneses were an interracial family: the husband was from Idaho, the wife, from Burkina Faso. They had two children, one of which has Downs Syndrome. Well, Mr. Jones was a member of the Idaho National Guard and was called up to serve in Iraq. Mrs. Jones, faced with the daunting task of raising two children (one of them developmentally disabled) by herself, turned to her family in Burkina Faso to find someone that could come to America to help her.

That someone was Maty. In one of those tangled and complicated chains of connections, Maty's sister, Mariatou, was the coiffure for Mrs. Jones' sister. Mariatou learned of the need for a nanny and alerted Maty. The opportunity to come to America is quite a boon in impoverished Burkina Faso, and Maty immediately sought to take advantage with the blessing of her family. Within two weeks, Maty was on a plane, bound for Portland, Oregon.

I learned most of this much later. But Stewart, during our conversation in the spring of 2005, told me that Maty's tourist visa had expired and she faced deportation unless she could find some legitimate legal grounds for staying.

If there was some implied suggestion in Stewart's story, I chose to ignore it. But, I was single at the time and looking for a partner, so I expressed an interest in meeting Maty and Stewart arranged for it to happen at an informal gathering at his house.

When I first saw Maty I ruled out any possibility of a romance. Firstly, she was 17 years younger than me. And, although she was 26 at the time, she looked all of 18 or 19. Further, living in a French-speaking household, her English speaking and comprehension were virtually nil. At the King's house that day, our interactions were limited to a few stolen glances and virtually no verbal communication.

So, I was a little surprised when I got a call from Maty about a week later, asking me to take her out. I couldn't imagine that she was interested in me, romantically. The poor thing is lonely, I thought. She wants to get out and make some friends. Well, I couldn't very well say no to such a request. So, we went out for a walk along the river at Waterfront Park and I bought her an ice cream cone. It was an exhausting date, since we had to struggle to communicate. But it was a nice time.

Maty on our first date

Over the next few months, we went out semi-regularly. Honestly, I viewed the relationship as a friendship. I even introduced Maty to some of my friends in the hope that she could develop a social circle. Then, one day, at a barbecue at the Jones' residence, I overheard one of the guests refer to me as Maty's "boyfriend."

I was a little puzzled by that, but I shrugged it off. Then, sometime in September (or was it August?) Maty and I were watching a movie at my house when she asked me, in her vastly-improved-but-still-shaky English, "Do you love me?"

I was taken aback by the question. And I answered honestly: I said no. In the American courtship process, it seems outlandish that one would claim to love someone that he/she knows so little about. But, I later learned, love is different in Africa. There, to love someone means to see the potential in that person as a partner and mate. It is different from the American view that love is something that grows by itself, that sweeps you off your feet and overwhelms you.

Maty later told me that she cried that night, after I took her home.

Nonetheless, Maty and I continued to "hang out" together for another month or so. Then, in another startling conversation, Maty related to me her tenuous immigration status. Her tourist visa was expired, and, unless she found a legitimate means to stay in America, she would be deported. Bluntly, she asked me if I would marry her so that she could earn her "green card" and remain in the US legally.

I didn't answer her that night. I had to think about the whole thing. My first thoughts were suspicious. Was this some kind of scam? Was I being manipulated? But I had known Maty for a while and from what I did know of her, she was honest and honorable and decent. I asked Stewart about it, and he confirmed my feelings about Maty's integrity. Still, I didn't want to marry someone just as a means to changing her immigration status.

After a lot of soul-searching and consultation with friends and family, I told Maty that I was interested in marriage. But not in a sham marriage: I wanted the real thing.

From my perspective, I was 44 years old, divorced and single, and facing a life more or less alone. And suddenly I found myself presented with an opportunity to have a young, beautiful, honest, and honorable wife. And as for love --well, it wasn't love in the traditional sense. But my previous relationships had taught me that being "in love" only went so far. Love is easy, but dedication and commitment to shared goals are the things that really make a relationship work.

When Maty consented to my proposal, I told myself "I am going to love this woman." And I set about doing it. Even though the feelings of being "in love" were not present, I behaved every day as if they were. I served and honored and cherished Maty as best I could. And guess what? After a time (and it wasn't long), love came. Now, I can't imagine life without Maty.

The supreme irony of the whole thing is that it was Junior Bush's war, which I reject with every fiber of my being, that gave me the best thing I've ever had in my life: my wife, Maty Bombay.

And, here we are, two and a half years after we first discussed being married. Together, we've set up our home, traveled to Africa, and started our life together. I'm as happy now as I've ever been in my life.

Merci, mon dieu. Merci beaucoups.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Folks


My folks and I ain't got no truck with strangers and their ways;
The things they bring is just plain bad; it seems that way these days;
My folks just want to live our lives away from all that fuss;
The world out there don't make no sense to simple folk like us;

My folks all dress like I do; my folks all talk the same;
My folks don't frown when I get drunk at Friday's football game;
My folks don't care for schoolin' much; our horse sense works just fine;
We just can't see there's too much need to cross the county line;

One time when I was just a boy, the valley floor caught fire;
The wind came, pushing flames ahead; it ate the world entire;
The tankers dropped the borate salts to try to save the land;
But nothing stopped the hungry flames from burning down to sand;

I 'spect the flames will come again and burn us to the ground;
But 'til that day we'll just keep on, a-headin' as we're bound;
My folks just want to live our lives away from all that fuss;
That world out there don't make no sense to simple folk like us;

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Patriotism" in Junior's America

Monkey see...
Patriotism, in Junior Bush's brave new America, is really nothing more than jingoism, tribalism, and a tool with which to intimidate and beat down political opposition. What passes for patriotism today is a facade to mask cowardice and greed, and to glorify ignorance and bigotry.

Apparently, to be a patriot today, all you have to do is dress in gaudy red, white, and blue attire, be white, hate Mexicans and gays, and support Junior Bush unreservedly.

...monkey do
But then again, the abuse of the term "patriotism," and the deliberate manipulation of a person's natural love for his/her home is nothing new. Here's what some other people have had to say about the matter:

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them! --Albert Einstein

A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbours. --William Ralph Inge

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him? --Blaise Pascal

Or my favorite:

The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? --Pablo Casals

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary Clinton wins New Hampshire: why that is a good thing

It's still anybody's game

Don't let the somewhat misleading title of this post convince you that I'm a "Clinton" democrat, longing for a return to the pro-business, anti-labor, right-of-center policies that indirectly brought about the rise of the freakish beasts that are today's Republicans. Hillary Clinton is my very last choice for the Democratic nomination. (And yet, she still comes in ahead of any of the Republicans.)

The Clinton campaign is not a forward-looking campaign. Hillary and hubby, just by their very presence, harken back to the good ol' days of the Clinton administration.

(And, whatever you may think of Bill Clinton, his 8 years in office were a time of relative peace and prosperity. Besides, it was reassuring to have a president that was smarter than I, regardless of how I felt about his policies. Alas... today such a sentiment seems like a luxury...but I digress.)

Hillary's campaign, despite its recent bleating about "change," offers the same old "triangulation" drivel that has slowly transformed the Democratic party from a populist coalition of the middle class, racial minorities, labor unions, and college-educated progressives to what it is today: a hackneyed, watery version of the Republican party. The Clinton administration defined and gave prominence to so-called "moderate" Democrats. These are the Democrats who buy into the Republican system of corporate lobbying, pandering to religious wingnuts, and for-profit military intervention. The milktoast Democratic congressional leaders (chief among them, the pathetic Nancy Pelosi) are the legacy of the Clinton policies of compromise.

So why is it good that Hillary won in New Hampshire?

Well, there are a few reasons...
  1. When Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, five days previous, the national media all but declared the nominating process to be over. Republicans like the perpetually-wrong Bill Kristol were already developing lines of attack that they could use in the general election. Now, with the nomination still in doubt, the Republicans, who are having fits over which of their slate of losers should get the nod, are further discombobulated because they don't know who they will run against this fall.
  2. With the race still up in the air, it gives other Democratic candidates a chance to get into the mix. John Edwards or Bill Richardson might win a primary somewhere along the line. If there are more viable candidates, voters will start to actually believe that they can make a difference. That can only be good.
  3. Lastly, and most importantly, with no clear frontrunner, the debate will continue as each candidate searches for the message that will lift him/her above his/her rivals. This means that, with all their polling and message testing, the campaigns may actually listen to what the hoi polloi are saying.
Personally, I'm pulling for John Edwards. And, please note, Barack Obama's surge in the days before the Iowa caucuses came after he started adopting much of Edwards' populist rhetoric. If Edwards can somehow identify himself as the real populist and show Obama to be the Johnny-come-lately...well, I'll keep my fingers crossed.

But, no matter what happens, with no pre-ordained nominee, the Democrats will have to keep exploring the issues, debating, and listening to voters.

As we used to say in my old stomping grounds of Klamath Falls, Oregon: ain't nuthin' wrong wit dat.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

¡Se atreva a esperar!

Es siempre peligroso a esperar demasiado, especialmente cuando implicando las políticas norteamericanas. Los acontecimientos pasados dados, parecería ser un recado del tonto a tener la fe en la publica general crédulo.

Ya lo sé esto muy bien. El día después de la "reelección" de Junior Bush fue un de los más peores de mi vida. No podría creer que bastante de los votantes norteamericanos aceptarían las mentiras de Karl Rove que los criminales podrían robar la elección. Un día negro, verdaderamente.

Pero, cuando se considera la manera que los acontecimientos despliegan en las elecciónes primarias, hay quizás unas pocas razones a ser optimista.

Primeramente, adverte que los republicanos han moderado sus declaraciones con respecto a la inmigración. Aunque los republicanos trataron hacer un asunto del xenofobia de su base ignorante, el monstruo que ellos crearon parece odiar ellos y sus políticas corporativas corruptas más que odia los mexicanos.

Lo que ha sido

Caso en punto es la campaña de Tom Tancredo, lo quien que deliró contra los hispanos, acusando ellos de traen terrorismo y crimen. Ahora, Tancredo ha vuelto a su hogar en Colorado, allí lamer sus heridas y cuidar su odio. Mientras tanto, Mike Huckabee, el "guerrero cristiano" continua dirigir en los sondeos nacionales con su mensaje de populista.

Los democratos, aunque nadie los acuse de valor, nunca han adoptado el asunto. Prácticamente, ellos reconocen que el futuro de política electoral exitosa debe incluir los hispanos; hacer de otro modo significaría el fracaso y la derrota. Los republicans aprenderán eso muy pronto.

Entonces, es posible que la manera en la que hablamos sobre la inmigración cambiará. El énfasis cambiará de cómo mantenerlos fuera a cómo integrarlos y aceptarlos.

Lo que será

Quizás, estoy engañado (algunos nunca aprenden, ¿no?), pero estoy optimista que el futuro, y la manera en la que la elección va, augura buenas cosas: un tiempo de la curación y la justicia, un tiempo de conciliación, un fin al temor exagerado.

Si nosotros lo creeremos, podrá venir a pasar.

(Perdóneme por favor para mi español malo.)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Al Qaeda: neo-conservative marketing tool

What is al Qaeda?

Can anyone answer that question? To be sure, there are many interested parties that are very eager to do so. Junior Bush and the neo-conservatives have a neatly packaged definition of al Qaeda that they pitch to gullible Americans in order to reshape the United States into their idyllic totalitarian state. Rudy Giuliani is basing his entire presidential campaign on that definition.

But what is al Qaeda, really?

First, there is the history

We know that a group of militant Muslims, the mujaheddin, came into being back in the 1980s as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Using a program dubbed Operation Cyclone, the Central Intelligence Agency (what a nice group of people, eh?) armed and funded these Afghani mujaheddin, who were conducting guerrilla operations against the Soviets.

Bin Laden: son of privilege and heir to power
One of the military leaders of the mujaheddin was Saudi prince Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, the son a a billionaire Saudi businessman, "made his bones" conducting military operations in the rugged Afghani terrain. (And, say what you want about him, Osama bin Laden showed a lot more physical courage fighting in Afghanistan than did Junior, getting drunk in the National Guard barracks in Alabama and staying far, far away from the war he claimed to support in Vietnam.)

But, throughout the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, there does not appear to have been an organization known as "al Qaeda."

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden was left with a structure and an army of followers. Rather than squander (from his point of view) these resources, or allow them to dissolve, like all power-hungry men, he looked for a new set of causes against which to direct them. It is hard to know his motivation, and impossible to know the secret alliances and betrayals that brought about the transition, but bin Laden eventually set his sights on Islamic resentment toward the United States for its imperialistic hegemony over the Middle East and its support of Israel, for which many Arab Muslims reserve their hottest hatreds.

The first time the name "al Qaeda" came to prominence in American public perception was in the trial of bin Laden and four other individuals for the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In order to try bin Laden in absentia, the US Department of Justice employed the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which required that there be a criminal organization of which bin Laden was the head. Prosecutors pointed to a loose association of veterans of the struggle against the Soviet Union who were attracted to bin Laden's anti-imperialist, pro-Islam message as evidence of such an organization. Voila! Al Qaeda was born.

Junior gets a royal gift

On September 11th, 2001, Osama bin Laden and his organization struck at the US again, killing over 3000 people in an horrific attack. It was at that point that "al Qaeda" was transformed from a nebulous and obscure entity used as a legal term to seek justice into a phantom threat, a bloody shirt, and a rally point for simple minds.

Junior: son of privilege and heir to power
Junior and the neo-conservatives recognized that bin Laden had given them a royal gift. And what an apt gift between sons of privilege! Immediately Junior's gang began to use al Qaeda, that shadowy, undefined enemy that "hate[s] us for our freedom," to justify unprecedented powers for the executive branch of government, to curtail personal freedoms, and to bring about their wet dream of an invasion of Iraq.

And, boy, did it work! Look at where we are today: Junior has admitted to tapping phone calls in the United States without a court warrant, torture is now being debated as a legitimate interrogation tactic, ostensible members of "al Qaeda" (including American citizens) are being held in American military prisons without access to legal counsel or judicial review. And with over 600,000 people dead, we are still bogged down in the Iraq misadventure. All in the name of fighting "al Qaeda" and terrorism.

Politically, the term "al Qaeda" is used like a cudgel to beat cravens like Nancy Pelosi back into their corners whenever they start to display any signs of listening to their constituents. And "al Qaeda" is the verbal ejaculate that all Bush supporters spit out in their red-faced apologies for this disastrous presidency.

"Al Qaeda" has also been used to tag any number of the Bush gang's military adventures, stretching all the way from the Phillipines to Iran. Other countries have even gotten into the act. Marshal law in Pakistan, anyone?

And, every so often, a video tape of Osama bin Laden finds its way into the world media from some shadowy, unidentified sources, wherein he supposedly makes threats and denunciations. Often, these tapes appear at politically convenient times, from a Bush perspective.

But don't think that all the benefits flow in one direction. The Bush reaction to 911 and its hyper-vilification of bin Laden has endowed bin Laden with a heroic status among angry Muslims. Bush and bin Laden, brothers in privilege, are each empowered by the actions and banter of the other.

Conclusion

If we consider that the Bush administration consists largely of business executives and corporatists, it becomes all the more apparent: "al Qaeda" is just a marketing term that the neo-conservatives are using to sell fear.

To be sure, Osama bin Laden and his gang of criminals are still out there, doing whatever it is they are doing. But it is not at all clear, in fact, it's doubtful, that they have any real network that extends beyond their own petty but dangerous gang. They're just another gaggle of criminals that should be found and prosecuted. There is one thing of which we can be sure: Junior and the neo-conservatives don't want to catch him. (Case in point, Tora Bora.) If they did, it would rob them of perhaps the last arrow in their quiver of lies.

The hopeful factor in all of this is that Junior and his people may have gone too far. Indeed, there are some indications that terms like "terrorism" and "al Qaeda," having been so thoroughly over-used, they may be losing their effectiveness.

As Americans slowly awaken to the realization that they don't need to be afraid, there is going to be a reckoning. That's bad news for Junior, bad news for Osama bin Laden, and bad news for the plutocrats and corporatists that brought all this to pass.

Ultimately, the Bush gang's enthusiastic and greedy abuse of people's horror and fear will destroy them.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Congratulations to Senator Barack Obama


In spite of there being more important things to talk about than the glitzy beauty pageant that is our nominating process, in spite of my candidate, John Edwards, finishing second, and in spite of the crimes of the Bush administration being, as yet, under-exposed and festering, today I want to talk about what happened last night in Iowa.

Last night I was a bit disappointed that John Edwards had not won. I still believe he is the best candidate for the United States, and is tough enough to fight back when the Republicans begin their filthy smear campaigns.

But, this morning, I find myself dewy-eyed and emotional as I consider Barack Obama's victory last night in Iowa.

Check out his victory speech:



Can anyone deny that the man has charisma? Eloquent, handsome, intelligent, and, as far as I can tell, sincere. And it is just possible that his victory is an indication that something is afoot in this country...something that I had given up on after the cruel and horrific travesty that occurred in November 2004, when the forces of ignorance and bigotry were triumphant.

First, consider the turnout. For the Democrats, the turnout was a record 220,000! That is roughly twice the number of Republicans that turned out (114,000) and far more than was projected (150,000). One reasonable interpretation of the significance of the huge turnout is that this is a repudiation of the Republicans generally, and of Junior specifically. People want change!

Now, consider the disappointing showing for Hillary Clinton, who was considered the inevitable Democratic nominee as recently as 3 months ago. This is delectable for so many reasons.
  1. The Republicans, who seem to have bought into the "inevitable" meme far more than Democrats ever did, will be ever more adrift and rudderless without their favorite bogey-woman to point at and shriek. Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan is probably, at this moment, hung-over and vomiting as his world spins around him. No Hillary? But how can I sell this load of s**t without her?
  2. The losers and defeatists in the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (Rahm Emanuel, James Carville, Paul Begala, et cetera) have been handed a defeat. These are the "triangulators" that, for the past 2 presidential elections, have conceded some 227 electoral votes to the Republicans because they believed that Democrats couldn't compete in so-called red states. These are the people who fought tooth-and-nail against Democratic National Committe Chairman Howard Dean and his "50 state strategy" (which, oh by the way, won the Democrats a majority in both houses in spite of DLCC whining). These are the people who sucked up to corporate lobbyists like the half-assed Republicans they are. Obama's victory repudiates them. (I'd like to think it would shut them up, but I'm no dreamer.)
  3. Corporate lobbyists and beltway prognosticators are, yet again, shown to be the fools that they are. Although they hate Hillary (and I can't understand why, given that she serves them so well), they know she won't stray too far out-of-bounds. Obama is a wildcard, and because of that, he scares the hell out of them.
  4. Congressional Democrats, and most especially cowards like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, had better wake up and smell the coffee. Grass-roots Democrats are tired of compromise and surrender. It is time to stand up and fight. Time to expose Republican lies, corruption and hypocrisy. No more conciliation, no more holding hands with fake patriots.
Lastly, and most importantly, consider what Obama's victory says about the American people. In this extremely racist country, Democrats and the independents and principled Republicans that caucused with them, looked past skin pigmentation toward an African-American man that offered hope, principles, and virtue. Mike Huckabee's tired victory, brought about by Bush hold-outs and ignoramuses, seems meaningless and trite in comparison. The American people want a change. The Bush/Rove formula of victory through fear and division is dead.

For me, personally, John Edwards is still the best choice, and I will support him for as long as he remains in the race. But, I can get behind Obama. (Besides, Barack does not have Edwards' baggage of a miscast vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq). If Obama gets the nomination, I'll be behind him all the way. And, if his support is an indication that my countrymen have moved toward virtue and hope, and away from fear, hatred, and bigotry...well, maybe the world isn't quite as ugly as I'd feared.

Congratulations, Senator Obama.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Whoop-di-doo! Iowa caucus time!

Judgement Day in Iowa

Well, today is Judgement Day for some dozen or so presidential aspirants. Sort of.

The obscure caucus ritual that lends Iowa its 15 minutes of fame every four years begins in just a few short hours. Iowans will gather and express their support for one or another of the human-like avatars that are today's candidates.

No one is sure how it will turn out with either party. So, here are my predictions. First the Republicans:
  • Mitt Romney - Bye bye, Mitt. Tonight is the beginning of the end. Romney will lose out to Christo-Facist Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Then he'll go on to lose to John McCain in New Hampshire. Then he'll drop out. Sorry, Mitt. Being filthy rich only gets you so far, even with the Republicans.
  • Mike Huckabee - Tonight's winner. But, in the long haul, a flash in the pan. His aw-shucks Christian fakery works well with Iowa's home school crowd, but doesn't sell with the more sophisticated (read "educated") voters in New Hampshire. He'll be king for about 5 days, just like Pat Robertson was when he beat out Daddy Bush for second place in Iowa back in 1988. New Hampshire will be the beginning of the end for the Huckster.
  • John McCain - Tonight is not his night, but he'll bounce back in the "miracle" of New Hampshire. When that happens, don't make the mistake of thinking that New Hampshire Republicans are enthused about him. It's more that New Englanders, even the Republicans among them, are realists. They see Huckabee, Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson as losers. McCain is their only hope for victory in the general election. In fact, I think McCain will eventually be the GOP presidential nominee. In Iowa, however, McCain tanks. The Christo-Fascist base of today's GOP have never forgiven him for dissing Junior.
  • Rudy Giuliani - Rudy's not even trying in Iowa. He knows a lost cause when he sees one. Giuliani has apparently pushed all his chips into the Super Tuesday pot, where he hopes to have a big day thanks to "moderate" Republicans. A daring move that shows a lot of faith: just as Huckabee's Christian armies place their faith in their warlike god, Giuliani imagines that there is some vast hoarde of GOP social moderates that will materialize and place him on their shoulders. I think it's a dream. Karl Rove and Junior, with their slash-and-burn politics, drove the last of the moderates out of the GOP after 2004. Rudy will drop out after a disappointing showing on Super Tuesday.
  • Fred Thompson - No signs of life here. He'll tank in Iowa, then again in New Hampshire and then quit. His campaign is already making noises about it. The aristocratic Republican fantasy of a new sock puppet has come to naught.


Now, the Democrats:
  • Hillary Clinton - She's got the money to keep fighting, but she loses tonight in Iowa. She'll fight like hell for New Hampshire and she may well win there. Her fate will be decided on Super Tuesday. So much depends on how rank-and-file Democrats perceive her. Has her political "triangulation" alienated her from her party and made her seem too compliant in the Bush administration's misdeeds? Well, that's the way I feel about her. Let's see what other Democratic voters think.
  • Barak Obama - He has a very good chance of winning in Iowa. The latest Zogby poll has him on top. If he doesn't win Iowa, however, his prospects become dim. He needs to win the caucuses to get the Big Mo with all those fat campaign donations. He is trying to win without getting mean and nasty. (Noble, I suppose, but I want retribution and accountability. The Bush administration must be made to pay for their crimes! Spare me the hopeful soaring rhetoric! The Bush crime family must hang!) If he wins Iowa, he's got a real shot at the nomination. If he loses, he isn't out yet, but New Hampshire looms large.
  • John Edwards - I think Edwards is going to win Iowa and surprise everyone, just like Kerry did in 2004. The Edwards campaign is well organized and dedicated. If he does win Iowa, Big Mo will bring him along, past New Hampshire, where he probably won't win, into the South Carolina primary, where he has a very good chance, as a son of the South.
  • Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson - None of these is going to win in Iowa, nor in New Hampshire. I like Dodd and Richardson, and I love Kucinich. But these campaigns aren't going anywhere. Speculation is that Richardson and Biden are angling for cabinet positions in either a Clinton or an Obama administration. Dennis is the valiant Don Quixote. Dodd is probably setting himself up for another run in 4 or 8 years.
Well, there they are. My prognostications are just like my advice: worth every cent it costs, and free to you!

Let's see how it all turns out...