Friday, August 29, 2008

Into the Wild

Well, maybe Obama will have an easier time of it in November after all. “Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,” said Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesperson. Appointing a soccer mom to the number 2 spot sort of undercuts McSame’s claim that the most significant challenge facing America is the risk of international terrorism. Alaska has what, 670,053 people living in it? That's less people than live in Brooklyn. McCain took his strongest argument against Barak Obama's candidacy and just neutralized it by appointing someone with less experience in government than a New York City councilman.

So who is this woman? All the Patriot can say for sure is that she's anti-choice, an oil company handmaiden, and a creationist whack-job. Plus, this so-called "maverick" is under investigation for trying to have a state official fire her ex-brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper. (The brother-in-law was in the middle of a custody dispute with Palin's sister.) When the Public Safety Commissioner refused, Palin fired him too. Abuse of power and executive entitlement? Hmm, where else have I seen that in the last 8 years?

Governer Palin would probably be on my short list of people I’d want to go moose hunting with, but her lack of foreign policy credentials render her unqualified to take the position of Vice President. If Gramps McCain thinks this maverick choice will be a plus for the ticket I think he has made a serious miscalculation. Denali is not just a mountain in Alaska. (The picture is Governer Palin's head shot from when she was the winner of the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant winner in 1984. She was also a one time Miss Alaska beauty pageant runner-up, journalism major, brief sports beat writer, and former city council member turned mayor of a the megaopolis that is Wasilla Alaska. If that resume doesn't scream "Vice Presidential Material, " I don't know what does).

Mile-High Milquetoast Meeting

Ok, it’s over. The Democrats have had their historic convention, stage managed and scripted in a way that would make Joseph Goebbels proud. Another middle of the road Republican-lite candidate has been nominated by the party hacks and set loose in the ether. For anyone who is anticipating any sort of actual change in the way America comports itself, I submit the following for your review:

1. Influence peddling. There were more lobbyists in Denver throwing parties for Democratic lawmakers than are scheduled to be in Minnesota for the Republicans next week. I’d hazard a guess that these firms are not dispensing peeky-toed crab on toast points and Grey Goose martinis because of some new-found respect for the Democratic Party platform. The corporations sponsoring these lavish events have legislation pending before Congress and they know the Democrats stand to make substantial gains in November. Politics as usual.

2. An amazing failure to discuss of issues that are actually important. Glen Greenwald had a great column on this yesterday in Salon. He noted that while healthcare and the price of a gallon of gas are important issues, they are strange thing to focus on when compared against “the sheer radicalism and extremism of the last eight years. During that time, our Government has systematically tortured people using sadistic techniques ordered by the White House; illegally and secretly spied on its own citizens; broken more laws than can be counted based on the twisted theory that the President has that power; asserted the authority to arrest and detain even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil and hold them for years without charges; abolished habeas corpus; created secret prisons in Eastern Europe and a black hole of lawlessness in Guantanamo; and explicitly abandoned and destroyed virtually every political value the U.S. has long claimed to embrace.” The fact that Obama and the rest of the Party stalwarts hardly mentioned any of these insane perversions of the Constitution makes me question whether they have enough moral indignation to deserve the opportunity to govern.

3. Obama’s people edited Kucinich’s speech. Remember Dennis Kucinich? He actually spoke at the convention, although his speech was conspicuously absent from news reports. Obama's team edited out a line in the Kucinich speech which went "they want four more years, what they deserve is ten to twenty". Meaning that Obama has no plans to investigate or prosecute anyone in the Bush regime. As one letter-writer on Salon put it, “That would be divisive and we all know Obama is the MUPpet (Magical Unity Pony).”

I could go on and on, and I hate to rain on the parade of good feelings produced at the Mile-High Milquetoast Meeting, but take a look at what is being said between the lines. My guess is Obama won’t change a hell of a lot of anything too important. But aren't his kids cute? Isn't his wife glamorous? Aren't they tall and slim and sophisticated? It's Camelot all over again!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rocky Mountain Fever

The Patriot is blogging live from the Democratic convention, i.e. watching the public broadcasting coverage. I doubt I will have the stomach to watch the Republicans for more an a few minutes next week, unless McCains ex wife shows up to start some trouble.

Bill Clinton just made the greatest speech that I have heard him make since he left the White House. I am not a Clinton fan, far from it, but even I admit that his capacity for stirring oratory is unsurpassed by anyone with the exception of Barak Obama. In contrast, John Kerry has taken the stage and is making me very sleepy. I’m still not sure how he ended up as the party nominee in ’04. Nonetheless, it appears that the Dems have taken the gloves off. Kerry is fighting harder against the Republicans now than he did in the 2004 election. He did make some strange reference to Swift-boating, although he made it sound as if it happened to someone else. If I were him I would have said something along the lines of, “and those Republican rat-bastards had the nerve to question my military service while Dick Cheney and Karl Rove did everything they could to dodge the draft”. He didn’t say it in 2004 so I guess he isn’t going to say it now.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

The Democrat’s Dog and Pony Review pulled into Denver on Sunday with their weeping and overtly emotional vignettes polished just so for prime time television. As someone who hasn’t completely lost his faith in America, I was heartened by the tribute to Ted Kennedy and thought Michelle Obama did a credible job of Stepfordizing herself for middle America, but there was something missing…Oh yes, it was any mention of the fact that if you vote for John McCain you are a fucking moron. I am hoping that Joe Biden will take off the gloves and start swinging, but his voting record, yes to the war, yes to the bankruptcy bill, gives me little hope that he has the stones to take on anything more substantial than a dry martini.

Salon led today with a story on the PUMAS (Party Unity My Ass), who have been making a racket which is wholly disproportionate to their size. Despite the fact that this group of ostensibly maligned Hilary supporters is largely comprised of Republican operatives and slightly deranged illiterates, CNN and MSNBC have been devoting large blocks of air time to covering their protests. Never mind the fact that there were anti-war demonstrations with 100 times the numbers marching two blocks away, the main stream media has decided that the story of the convention is to be of a splintered Democratic party unable to unite behind its candidate. From my informal survey of the cable outlets the Clintons have gotten more press than the nominee in the last few days and the talking heads are playing up the posturing between the Hilary and Obama teams as if discussing the negotiation of the treaty of Versailles. Lost in all of this superficiality is any discussion of the poor, the disappearing middle-class, the economic meltdown, the housing crisis, the energy crisis, the failure of financial institutions and the war in Iraq. But really, do the Democrats really want to talk about that stuff? After all it was the Democrats who continued to fund the war after seizing Congress in 2006, the Democrats who caved in on FISA (with Obama’s support), the Democrats who failed to repeal the Patriot Act, the Democrats who put the bankruptcy bill over the top a few years back and the Democrats who have failed to take an aggressive stance against the predatory lenders and banks. In my opinion their credibility on these issues is somewhat lacking.

Nevertheless, Obama talks a good game, and that may be enough to get him in a position to thwart the electoral fraud that is sure to return for an encore in the swing states. He has to widen the gap in the polls by at least 7 points or the Republicans will simply rig the ballot boxes like they did in 2000 in Florida and 2004 in Ohio. In order for him to do that he has to start swinging the axe and chop the McCain campaign down to size. I'm not holding my breath.

Tonight we get to hear from the spurned prom queen with the big ego. I can’t wait to see who she is going to support in this election.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Surfin' Safari

So, while Russian tanks are rumbling through Georgia, Obambi (thanks Cormac!) takes a page from the John Kerry playbook and allows himself to be photographed engaging in water sports. In Hawaii. Who exactly is running that campaign, the ghost of Lee Atwater?

Meanwhile, back in the United States, McCain has been running around polishing his foreign policy credentials to a high gloss while issuing grave pronouncements about Russian aggression that are sure to resonate with the hillbillies in the flyover states.

I think Obama is starting to believe his own press and is starting to fancy himself the second coming of Christ. (Or Neo from the Matrix, or something like that). What Obama fails to remember, is that despite the adoring crowds and hotties singing for him on youtube, he is coming into this election with three strikes against him: 1. he’s a Democrat; 2. he’s black; and 3. he’s intelligent. McCain is taking full advantage of his supporters innate racism and ignorance by portraying Obama as an effete, vainglorious elitist. Obama's response to these attacks? ? Takes a vacation in Hawaii in the middle of a European military conflict and spend his days bodysurfing at Waikiki. The Democratic Party’s circular firing squad tactics are in full effect this season, aren’t they?

Obama is being assisted down the path of self-destruction by the mass media. I uncovered this little gem on today: “the images that are shaping Americans' lasting perceptions (of the Russia/Georgia dispute) are of a president playing in the sand with the women's beach volleyball team and the presumptive Democratic nominee alternately walking along Kailua Beach and playing golf in Hawaii.” Nice job, CNN, managing to link Obama with Bush, even placing them both on a beach engaging in frivolous activity! If only they could come up with a few photos of Obama patting the fanny of some tall girl from Santa Monica they could run it in a split screen in The Situation Room.

It appears that the main stream media has already decided the winner of the election. Witness the follow-up commentary from a paragraph or two later: “In contrast to both Bush and Obama, McCain conveyed strength and determination. While Obama timidly urged Georgia and Russia to "show restraint and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war," McCain took to the airwaves to deliver a blunt warning to Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.” See, McCain is the real man. Obama is just a pussy. The problem is that Obama isn’t doing anything to make the case that this isn’t an accurate analysis. Ultimately, I have to agree with the CNN piece to the extent that perception matters: “If he fails to cut this holiday short, he might soon wind up being remembered as the guy who blew his chance to be president because he played on the beach while the Russian tanks rolled through Georgia.” Yup.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Obama Problems

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill

Maureen Dowd in her op-ed in today's Times made an interesting observation. Dowd's column was mostly about the potential for Hilary to make a stink at the convention, but she also had this to say about the state of the Democratic Party:

"The Clintons know that a lot of Democrats are muttering that their solipsistic behavior is “disgusting.” But they’re too filled with delicious schadenfreude at the wave of buyer’s remorse that has swept the Democratic Party; many Democrats are questioning whether Obama is fighting back hard enough against McCain, and many are wondering, given his inability to open up a lead in a country fed up with Republicans, if race will be an insurmountable factor.”

This appears to be the real story, if you ask me. Obama is languishing in the polls and his tepid response to McCain’s nasty ad campaign is giving the Patriot that sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that he remembers from election season 2004. In fact, if I squint hard enough when watching Obama on TV, I notice a heretofore unrecognized resemblance to John Kerry.

Obama may be a great orator and a charismatic man, but he is a center-right Democrat who has come out recently in favor of the death penalty and the so-called “compromise” on warrantless surveillance. He is running a fairly traditional campaign from the ideological center and in this respect he is no different from Kerry and Pelosi, and Reid and the rest of the feckless Democrats who sold out the Constitution for a few more years of personal power. Those remnants of the Democratic Party who were still able to conjure up some sense of hope that all is not lost (and for a while I counted myself among them) are starting to realize that they were duped into supporting a sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Obama doesn’t represent change so much as the illusion of change. This has secured for him the backing of a percentage of the corporate elite that he needs to make a good run; they know he’ll play ball once he’s elected. The problem is he ahs to get elected. By allowing his followers to get a glimpse of the man behind the curtain so early in the election cycle, i.e. before the convention, he runs the very real risk of reenergizing the nutty Clinton supporters, making a huge mess at the convention, and ensuring another 4 years of right wing hegemony. This is a mistake that only a neophyte politician would make. It took Bill Clinton well over his first 100 days in office to exhibit the Republican-lite attributes that alienated the left wing of the party for a generation. It has taken Obama about three months.

Despite my revulsion at Obama’s stance on the death penalty and most constitutional issues, I may be forced to vote for him anyway. The Supreme Court must not be allowed to suffer any more Republican appointments in the next four years lest we run the risk of descending into complete, overt, totalitarian rule. Can we stand to allow McCain’s finger on the button with a conservative Court rubber-stamping every unilateral expansion of executive power? Not with a resurgent militaristic Russia in Europe. Not with the middle-east still in a state of near chaos, and certainly not with a weak Democratic Congress who has clearly indicated that they will not confront the President on issues of “national security”, or anything else.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Baaack.....

I’m back. I really would rather not be, but every time I read the paper or watch the vapid “reporters” on CNN hold forth on important topics like the “staycation” and the second Phil Specter trial, I start frothing at the mouth and my left eye starts twitching. I think holding in all of my anger at the fascist oligarchs running this country is going to start causing me health issues. So, it’s back to ranting and raving on the internet for me.

A random survey of the morning papers produced one item of immediate interest. In a spectacular victory for the 911 terrorists, the City of New York is now completing its transition to a police state with its plan to scan and archive the license plates of every car that crosses into Manhattan through the tunnels and over the bridges. The invasive program is desperately needed in order to “strengthen the city’s guard against a potential terror attack,” according to the NYPD’s chief spokesman. (I suppose it should pass without mention-but I’m going to mention it anyway- that such a plan, had it been in effect on 9/11, would have done nothing to deter the hijackers who flew the planes into the Towers. After all, they didn’t fly the freaking planes through the Holland Tunnel, did they?)

The plan to take snapshots of the subversive bumper stickers on your minivan is part of a much larger operation with the Orwellian name “Operation Sentinel”. The backbone of this plan is the integration of various frighteningly intrusive new technologies with the goal of encasing Manhattan in a web of surveillance. In addition to photographing and scanning the license plates of cars and trucks at all bridges and tunnels, and using sensors to detect the presence of radioactivity, data on each vehicle “including its time-stamped image, license plate imprint and radiological signature — would be sent to a command center in Lower Manhattan, where it would be indexed and stored.” (NY Times). Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, flush with Homeland Security dollars that would arguably be better spent on classrooms and improved transportation infrastructure, “has been urging the creation of a London-style surveillance system for the financial district that relies on license plate readers, movable roadblocks and 3,000 (!) public and private security cameras below Canal Street, all linked to a coordination center called the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative. The goal, according to Kelly, is to save the financial center from a possible disruptive terrorist attack. From what I’ve seen of the economy lately, I’m more inclined to think that the people need to be protected from the financial center rather than the other way around.

Operation Sentinel is also part of the NYPD’s 39 page vision for security at the 9/11 site. Call me crazy, but I kind of remember that right after 9/11, before the country went completely mad, the thinking of designers and politicians alike was that the public space that would rise on the ashes of the World Trade Center site should reflect the angels of our better nature; wide pedestrian spaces, a vibrant streetscape, etc. I am forced to admit that the current plan, with a dozen guard-booths to control pedestrian traffic and placing the entire area of the former WTC within a security zone in which only specially screened taxis, limousines and cars would be allowed through barriers staffed by police officers, to be much more reflective of the small-minded, paranoid, mean-spirited, war-mongering fascists we have become in the last seven years.

It's good to be back.