Sunday, August 24, 2008

BinGo Joe

Now that Joe Biden is officially on the ticket as Obama's running mate, I'm really fired up about the convention! Despite the exorbitant $50 million being spent for security alone (how many bridge and school repairs does that represent?) and despite the Denver City Council having outlawed carrying buckets of feces onto the premises, the important thing is that the excruciating loneliness of the long-distance runner has finally ended.

For nearly two unrelenting years, David has been wrestling Goliath all by himself--kicked around like a football on a daily basis, not only by opponents and detractors, but often by supporters as well. Thus far in the story, the hero has behaved with grace, poise, concentration, and self-confidence. His opponent on the other side, a prankster and the Father of Lies, has deprecated him for all of his real efforts, delighted in trying to shoot him down and destroy him, convicted him for his charisma. With the energy that comes from envy, he has raged at his specialness and seemingly emerged victorious.

Finally, however, we've arrived at the classic moment in the fairy tale when, just as all seems lost, the magical helper arrives whose guiding hand allows the hero to complete his impossible task. BinGo Joe! Obama says of Joe Biden: "He's what others pretend to be." About his old senatorial buddy John McCain, Biden says: "I don't recognize the guy anymore."

So the hero gets to "cross the Delaware" with Joe Biden: someone who has great admiration for him and respects his capacity for leadership and self control. Perhaps the symbolic father he never had will now be at his side, egging him on, cheering for him and covering his back. In choosing Biden, I think Barack has made a game-changing choice, one that may even prove to have been a "checkmating" one. The loneliness may be over, but there is still the big sprint to the finish line. With a bit of luck, things may go a little easier from now on, because, as somebody else put it, the Democrats finally have a Fight Club. Speaking of fighting, let me share these wonderful images I found in a random blogger's commentary (complete with misspellings and all):

"A couple of years ago, i had a pizza dream... one of those dreams where one thing after another happens and it all seems logical at the time.

When i woke up the vivid thing i remembered was Joe Bidden in the Senate slapped Dick Cheney's face with a kid glove. Then, we raced to the Washington Mall in time to see old Joe in a wig and velvet cut-away coat brandising a sword. He then proceeded to cut all Cheney's clothes off his back till Cheney stood white, fat and naked in front of a big crowd. Very statisfyin', i can tell you. I have recognized my crush on Joe Bidden ever since. A real man. Sometimes you just need to send in a real, stand-up guy."

And speaking of fighting, here is Obama responding to a Newsweek interviewer this week about whether he may or may not be too soft for this unsavory political contest:

"...the world out there can be tough... there is evil in the world and not every problem can be solved by mutual understanding, and power will assert itself and may not stop asserting itself until it hits a wall. I think that's true in American politics, and I think that's true in foreign policy. [You need] countervailing power. Which is why you have very rarely seen me in my campaigns throwing the first punch. But I'll tell you what, if I get punched, very rarely have you seen me not hit back hard."

"Ours is not an age that wants heroes," write the authors of "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover," Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. "Ours is an age of envy, in which laziness and self-involvement are the rule. Anyone who tries to shine, who dares to stand above the crowd, is dragged back down by his lackluster and self-appointed 'peers.'

"We need a great rebirth of the heroic in our world. Every sector of human society, wherever that may be on the planet, seems to be slipping into an unconscious chaos. Only the heroic consciousness, exerting all its might, will be able to stop this slide toward oblivion. Only a massive rebirth of courage in both men and women will rescue the world. Against enormous odds, the Hero picks up his sword and charges into the heart of the abyss, into the mouth of the dragon, into the castle under the power of an evil spell."

Anyone who views what is going on over these next couple of months as anything less than an archetypal struggle for the future of our world is missing the entire political point.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Georgia on my Mind

"If the American army can take over Baghdad, why can't Russia take over Tbilisi?" It's a reasonable question that was asked by a Russian soldier to an NPR reporter in Georgia. He has a point, you have to admit. I'm not expert in international affairs, but I'm going to take a wild stab at answering it.

Do you find yourself smiling inwardly, or maybe cringing outwardly, when you hear George Bush scolding Vladimir Putin, indignantly demanding that Russia stop the bullying and intimidation, and respect Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity? Do you squirm with any discomfort at this?

Bush knows what to do, according to one female Georgian refugee. Why wouldn't he save them? A major thoroughfare in the Republic of Georgia is named in his honor, and Bush is a strong advocate of Georgia becoming a member of NATO, the Western alliance in which members agree to come to each others' aid if militarily attacked.

Georgia is another of those neocon pet satellites of "democracy" in the heart of an otherwise anti-Western and hostile region right on Russia's flank, known as the Caucasus. Georgia helps the US secure access to another of those big, beloved sources of black, sticky stuff that wars are fought over these days. US forces have trained the Georgia military.

Not surprisingly, the Kremlin is not happy about this mini-kingdom of pro-American democracy on its doorstep. It is even less happy about having a US missile interceptor system, ostensibly meant to block missile attacks from the Middle East, installed on Polish soil. Have no fear, though, because Bush has already sealed the deal. When you know how to do a thing you do it right. Now Russia has signaled to Poland that, assuming the Polish government sticks to the plan, it is exposing itself to a possible nuclear attack by you-know-who.

So, it's time to choose your sides, guys. John McCain has already made his choice crystal clear. With utter sham seriousness, he was all over television articulating the message that "We are all Georgians now." Had he been within arm's reach, I'd have smacked him. Still, once affirmed, it turns out to be true: Randy Scheunemann, his campaign's chief foreign policy adviser, is a big cheese Washington lobbyist who has many dealings with Georgia. In a gross display of supreme commander-in-chiefness, McCain has already dispatched his stooges, Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman, to the region. The red telephone has never seemed more compelling, immediate, or visceral. The good guys are off and running on Day One to thrash the bad ones. And they haven't even made it to the White House yet.

And what about Barack? Poor Barack! Presumably he lies, bewildered and sleepless, in the school room, reduced to battling Swiftboaters and staving off the bad effects of his "popularity," while the big boys take real action with their sticks and stones. "Obama Nation" (otherwise pronounced "Abomination") has just come out and is already at the top of the charts--the latest smear book vomited up (and purchased in bulk) by the Republican slime machine. Smirk! Smirk! That should keep the rock star busy and off the streets! Distracted by distraction.

I've written before of my concern about a possible "October surprise" right before the election. We all assumed it would be a bomb attack on Iran's nuclear facilities--if only the American people hadn't had enough already of wars in the Middle East. So look Ma, no hands! Now that we've all become Georgians, how about a nice Russian surprise instead? And don't forget the sour cream!

I've decided to make my remarks from now on as if Cindy McCain and Laura Bush were in the room with me. That way I won't embarrass or shame the women who sleep with these men every night with my own very critical remarks. I don't want to disturb anybody else unnecessarily with my thoughts.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Big Star Spangled Smear

I was so outraged by John McCain's undercutting Obama's superb job on his overseas trip with kryptonite ads, shot mercilessly all week across tv screens like Elsa Maxwell out of a cannonball, that I wrote the following letter to my local newspaper, the Roanoke Times. (The ads succeeded so well that the week was spent by the media discussing the pros and cons of these ads. Nobody bothered to assess Obama's trip.)

Letter to the Editor:

While Barack Obama was abroad, working hard to restore America's standing in the world and succeeding wherever he went, John McCain was busy at home plotting his opponent's downfall. For a solid week McCain lashed out at Obama with scurrilous and degrading television ads, hoping to delegitimize Obama's potent popularity and make him out to be nothing more than a tawdry glitz queen, on a par with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Afterwards, he said it was all meant to be a joke. Forgive me if I fail to get the joke.

Pundits say this election will be a referendum on Barack Obama's fitness to lead. This is to intentionally omit the other crucial half of the equation. Someone needs to say it, so let it be me: there ought to be a referendum on John McCain, who so far has demonstrated a lethal combination of stupidity, desperation, and ruthlessness that clearly makes him unfit to fulfill his tragic ambitions to be our president. The difference between these two candidates is so dramatic as to be almost unbearable.

Thumbail portrait of McSmear:

McCain appears at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis SD/Mayhill Fowler

"President Johnny!" the bikers shout as John McCain takes the stage. VROOM-VROOM-VROOM! The choppers add their chorus. "I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day," McCain says in reference to Obama's crowd in Berlin. "FREEDOM!!!" the poachers at the press table roar, and the table shakes as if under attack. McCain mentions his rival again, saying Obama wants to save gas by inflating tires, and some of the bikers cry, "Fuck him! Fuck Obama!"

McCain outlines his campaign strategy at the National Republican Senatorial Committee gathering while running for the Senate :

I play to win. I do whatever it takes to win. If I have to fuck my opponent to win I'll do it. If I have to destroy my opponent I won't give it a second thought.

John McCain's team has decided, given the gale forces against his candidacy, that he must destroy his opponent. Nine out of 10 political strategists, when faced with his playing field, would probably take this route. Barack Obama is struggling with a more complex strategic question: How does he counter the mud and not tarnish his own brand? A casual attempt this week to flick McCain's charges off his shoulder dragged Obama into a silly and distracting discussion of race. The ghosts of losers past must haunt his team -- will Obama be Swift-boated if he doesn't strike back hard?