Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden His Time

It seems that Barack Obama has made the most sane, most reasonable, and least radical choice of VP candidates in the person of grizzled veteran and complete "Washington insider" Joe Biden. Biden adds immense gravitas (albeit of the liberal hue) to the ticket and could very well deflect concerns as to Obama's lack of experience, potential passivity in the face of opposition both domestic and international, and his tendency to go abstract and deal in generalizations rather than tangibles and specifics. Plus, Biden's two-fisted, in-your-face, traditional Northeastern urban liberal machine style of politics serves as a counterbalance to Obama's almost Gandhi-esque aura of tranquillity. Now, none of this is to say that the Democrat ticket is the least bit attractive to anyone concerned with liberty, or that their collective policies are going to spell anything but disaster for the economy and social structure; heavens no, I would never claim that! All I'm saying is that, given the baseline of liberalism today -- i.e. that it is a reeking cesspool of discharged political offal, and awful ideas -- the choice of Biden makes sense. What would _not_ have made sense, of course, is the choice of Hillary Clinton. She would have made Obama her -- if you'll pardon the expression -- bitch for the next four years, and wound up running things while her degenerate husband wandered around smirking and posing for all of his obsequious admirers. The good news also -- I think -- is that Biden, despite his innate aggressiveness, is unlikely to quite follow in the footsteps of Dick Cheney, who -- as they say, euphemistically -- "redefined the vice-presidency" by, basically, making it into the presidency and making the presidency into a ceremonial position (if that). I think Biden will, to use the term in a new way, "know his place" and keep it, while supplying consistent and strong support for whatever Obama comes up with, and acting as executive branch attack dog, in the time-honored tradition of Nixon, LBJ, Agnew, etc. when they were VP.

Of course, it's also possible that Obama/Biden won't win, and the polls do seem to indicate that Obama has not quite taken over the electorate as yet. And yes, there will undoubtedly be a "Biden bounce", but then we will have to wait to see if any of it sticks. In the meantime, McCain is successfully portraying himself as "mini-me" to Bush (who, in turn, is "mini-me" to Cheney -- so how pathetic does that make McCain?), threatening to attack everyone all the time the minute he takes office, while at the same time opening wide the gates to a tidal wave of unskilled immigrants, and adopting an attitude of benign neglect as far as "conservative issues" are concerned.

Bob Barr is looking better every day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

K.O. is O.K.

One unanticipated consequence of my recent time on the road is that I got to view the nightly "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" show on MSNBC. Now, I hate bland, pompous, stuffed-shirt liberals as much as the next guy -- _more_ than the next guy, in fact. I'm talking about people like Dan Rather, David Brinkley, Uncle Walter, and the like. But Olbermann is none of these. For one thing, he actually has a sense of humor -- rare among liberals these days, unless you count Al Franken, who traded in his sense of humor years ago, following in the footsteps of Dick Gregory. And sure, Olbermann gives a free pass to most liberal politicians, and has, on a regular basis, guest commentators from outfits like Air America. And yes, he considers people who are religious, or who espouse family values, or who are anti-abortion, to be nut cases. I will grant you all of this. But hey, he is second to none when it comes to skewering the folly, cynicism, and sheer criminality of the Bush administration and of the Neocons and Evangelicals, and that is no mean thing. And he does it with over-the-top hilarity on a fairly frequent basis. He is, in fact -- dare I say it? -- the Rush Limbaugh of the left, in that he totally has the number of the other side, even if he has a major blind spot for the follies of the people on "his" side. In other words, if you want to know the truth about liberals, tune into Limbaugh, and if you want to know the truth about Bush and the Neocons, tune into Olbermann. It's as simple as that. And you can safely ignore anything either of them say in _favor_ of anyone, or anything. And if this be a "via negativa", so be it -- it beats putting up with the pap on the "big 3" networks or the newsmagazines.

The Incredibles

Late summer is supposed to be a slow season for news, and what usually happens as a result is that the major media make a habit of trotting out all the shopworn "human interest stories" that have been on the back burner for months, just waiting for a break in the stream of serious events. This August has been a bit kinder to the media, what with the Edwards meltdown, the Olympics, Russia vs. Georgia (not an Olympic event -- at least not yet), and the "whack-a-mole" contest between "presumptive candidates" Obama and McCain, each of whose campaigns seem to have more ups and downs than the stock market. I think this election demonstrates what happens when the electorate, or their representatives, go overboard in striving for "parity". It's kind of like the NFL, which -- using the draft system and salary ceilings -- has succeeded in making the outcome of any particular season not significantly different from random. But that's the American way, isn't it -- "fairness" at all costs. Plus, it more than implies that it won't really make a whole lot of difference who wins in November -- nothing significant is likely to change. Either candidate, upon taking office, will find himself co-opted, thwarted, threatened, blackmailed, and thoroughly subdued -- rendered a figurehead in short order, and expected to sport a pasted-on smile for the balance of his pathetic term. The powers that be are entrenched. They know what's going to happen for the next four years -- i.e. what they will _allow_ to happen. It's like the auto makers who already know what each model car is going to look like for the next ten years. It might surprise the consumer (or voter), but it certainly won't surprise anyone who's in the know. But in a sense this is reassuring, in that it exposes primaries, and elections, as the empty exercises they are, and thus lets the voters (or the non-voters) totally off the hook. I mean, how guilty would you feel about government policies if you lived in the Roman Empire, for example? You wouldn't feel guilty at all, because you'd realize that it was completely beyond your control, or even your ken. We need to adopt an attitude more like that in this country, then we can relax and start enjoying life rather than being obsessed with politics.

But !! Having said all that, I do have to point out two instances of utter lunacy -- or potential lunacy -- that have gone virtually unnoticed by the MSM, which shows you how far they have gone in the direction of capitulating to the absurd. The first is the belief -- rumor -- urban myth -- what have you, that Hillary Clinton, along with her pet pit bull, might actually try to "steal" the nomination from Obama at the convention in Denver. Now, the fact that this is being seriously discussed tells you a lot of things. Number one, that people -- especially the Democrats -- believe that the Clintons are actually capable of doing such a thing. As far as that goes, they are right -- the Clintons are indeed capable of that sort of thing, and much more as well. And yes, they would rather be the co-captains of the Titanic than crew members on any other ship. But say, regardless of what the Clintons are or are not personally capable of, could this "palace coup" actually succeed? I mean, is it within the rules of the convention, and of the primaries? Because if it is, what on earth meaning did the primaries have? And what sort of voice do the primary voters have? If the "superdelegates" can march into Denver and steal the nomination from "the people", what sort of party is the Democrats anyway? Well, we already know the answer to that one.

The second bit of overlooked lunacy is that there is actually serious, calm, cool-headed discussion going on in Washington, and in the McCain camp, as to the advisability of us undertaking a direct, face-to-face military confrontation with Russia over Georgia. Yes, that's right -- we're going to start World War III (or IV, or V, depending on your count) over a place the size of Maryland that most Americans couldn't find on a map. (Of course, they couldn't find the State of Georgia on a map either, but let that go for now.) A war that we managed -- for 60 years! -- to avoid over equally- or more-important places or issues is now going to be waged over some little mountain hideaway on the Black Sea? In a country where sanity was still held to be a desirable trait for politicians to possess, anyone who proposed such a thing would be locked up immediately. But no, we have to put up with the spectacle of his running for president on the ticket of a major party. And of course, the Bush administration is kicking themselves for not fast-tracking Georgia into NATO, so we could already be landing troops on the beaches, mounting attacks by air, and talking about "troop surges" and "staying the course" and "not cutting and running". Putin is, of course, acutely aware of all of this and is playing us like a violin, making the efforts of Israel and Iran, e.g., look like amateur hour. He knows that Russia has all the cards in that part of the world, and we have none, and he's not the least bit shy about showing us that fact, up close and personal and in our faces. And rightfully so, I might add, in view of our continuing folly in Afghanistan and Iran. He might have been willing to grant us the upper hand in the Western Hemisphere, notwithstanding places like Venezuela and Bolivia -- but the "former" Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact are his turf, and he knows it, and we know it too, frankly... but no one wants to admit it. The "New World Order" is starting to look a whole lot like the old one... and guess who is having a hard time adjusting to the fact.

The China Syndrome

Well, it appears, from what little I can gather from the occasional snatches of news I accidently hear or see, that the Peking, er, "Bay-Jing", Olympics have turned out to be a success, without any of the anticipated total meltdowns (toilets, air pollution, Tibet, Turkestan, dog meat, etc.) that had everyone biting their nails for months. The Chinese judges have, of course, come up with their own version of the erstwhile Soviet stone-faced female (?) judges who always said "da" to the Russian athletes and "nyet" to everyone else, especially the Amerikanskis. But that's just the price the Olympics have to pay for even having judged events at all, and I still say that anything that can't be settled with a stopwatch or a scale or a yardstick isn't a legitimate Olympic event. But hey, in these days of "beach volleyball" who's going to listen to such nonsense? Of course, there will always be the "controversy du jour" and this time around it seems to involve Chinese "women" athletes who have to have their diapers changed between events. Yeah well, in response to that I have to ask if the American training programs are any less abusive, since they turn pre-teens into hyper-muscular androids and do heaven knows what kind of damage to their endocrine systems -- all for a few "steenkin" medals. Ah, but as they say, "tout pour l'art". And I also observe that, as tacky as the Olympics can get at times, they are miles ahead of college and professional sports -- and probably of high school -- oh hell, grade school -- sports as well. For one thing, the coaches seem to be a pretty benign bunch, and I have yet to see an Olympic parent take after another Olympic parent with a baseball bat. Plus, do Olympic athletes get free muscle cars and straight Bs for courses they never even attended? I think not. And when they retire, do they automatically go into auto dealership? Doesn't seem likely. So, as flaky as all of the peripheral issues are, and as politicized as they can be, I still nominate the Olympics as the cleanest -- OK, least dirty -- of all the major athletic entities. Now, as to those gayified opening and closing ceremonies... oh, never mind !

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

On the Road Again

The blogging is likely to be a bit thin over the next few weeks, as I'm going to be traveling much of the time. Well, obviously if I'm somewhere where there's an Internet connection, and I have something to say... ha ha... I might come up with a post or two. But in the meantime, enjoy the charms of late summer.