Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Chickens Wander Home

I want to make something perfectly clear.

I am a parasite.

A succinct definition of a parasite is that of a creature that lives upon, and feeds upon, a host creature. My worn, tattered American Heritage Dictionary says a parasite is: (a) an often harmful organism that lives on or in a different organism; and (b) a person who takes advantage of the generosity of others.

Owing to the twisted path of my life, I am a child of the government. That is to say, for a majority of my adult life, the federal government has housed, fed, and clothed me. Oh, I had to give some things in return—possibly including my mortal soul—but most of the money that went into my pocket, the food that went into my stomach, and the doctors who looked down my throat and into my other bodily orifices were paid for by the government.

In simple terms, the things that benefited and sustained me and mine were paid for by your tax dollars. Every week, when Uncle Sugar and that mysterious Mr. FICA picks your pocket, as delineated on your paycheck stub, a tiny portion of that rolls downhill into my wallet.

This causes me no end of personal anguish, since I frequently rail about “nanny state” collectivism, the expansion of government, and entitlement mentality. Ten years ago, when I was first crippled and began collecting benefits on the public’s dime, I went to my preacher and told him about the conflict. I still harbor his advice close to my heart: “You paid into the system all your life, and now you need it. Learn how to accept help, smile, and for God’s sake learn how to say ‘thank you.’”

I am no stranger to working for a living. Back in the day—starting when I was about 14—I prided myself that if I needed a job, I could leave early in the morning and come home that evening preparing to start work the next day. The jobs may not have been career-level quality, but they were an honest exchange of labor for recompense. Those jobs included washing dishes in a restaurant, pumping gas, managing a convenience store, being a garbage man and a striker in a lumber yard, driving a truck, busing and waiting tables, bartending, painting houses, slaughtering chickens and other aspects of working in a processing plant, bookkeeping for a furniture factory, being an industrial-grade chef for a daily average of 1000 people, and raising cattle for my grandfather. At times I invented my own jobs: growing and selling organic sprouts for chain restaurants; operating a stable for other people’s horses, and being a partner in a company that supplied equine logistics and other considerations—like stunt work—to movie productions.

I know what the sweat of my brow smells like, and it’s pretty stinky. Still, at the end of the day, it showered off, and there was food on the table and a roof over our heads.

Somewhere along the line, I hitched my wagon to the monolith I refer to generically as “the government.” Like two drunken strangers in a bar, I’m not sure who picked up whom, but it happened. I won’t give great details, but I gave what is proverbially called “the best years of my life” to services that were a wholly owned franchise of the federal government. In return, I thought I had defied my father’s advisory lectures, and perhaps the world did owe me a living. I figured it was a “win-win” situation: I lack the imagination and courage to be an entrepreneur, so if I did the bidding of others, I would be taken care of from the cradle to the grave.

What a young fool I was!

I am blessed, no doubt about it. There are two adult children wandering around out yonder; I own a three-bedroom home on a small mountainside—The Possum Den on Scorpion Hill—and the love of my life is reconciled with me after a lot of ups and downs on both sides. There is a check that arrives at the bank every month, so the electricity stays on—most of the time—the furnace pumps heat in the winter, the water flows when the faucets are opened, the telephones ring and there is food in the refrigerator. There are several thousand books piled up in the basement. I have had the thrills of driving a Corvette and several motorcycles at over 100 miles per hour. I’ve been exalted by having several thousand people applaud and scream when I played a few large venues in my rock & roll phase. I have shaken hands with famous people, and had interesting conversations with some of them. A movie star once saved my life. I eat steak once a week, and enjoy the comfort of new pants and shoes on occasion.

I’ve also been shot, stabbed, severely burned, blown up, beaten up, and been in five car wrecks that I can remember. I’ve had a one-ton horse roll completely over me and plant my face firmly into Mother Earth. My nose has been broken four times; a couple of those were from punches thrown by people who disagreed with me about something. I have shrapnel fragments in my neck too close to my jugular vein for surgical removal, and scars in my scalp from over 30 stitches for blunt instrument trauma. I have played for mortal stakes on occasion, and at the age of 57, I am continually amazed that I have made it this far.

So…these days, I’m a little feeble. 2 July marked my tenth year in a wheelchair. I got hurt along the way, from a totally unexpected source, and my life changed. I can still stagger around on what’s left of my legs, and my “social” life wasn’t affected, so I continue to be blessed.

I don’t know what I did to deserve all this goodwill from God. I went through a time when I questioned the existence of a Higher Power, because I had seen a lot of ugliness, and convinced myself that a “real” God wouldn’t allow such things to exist. I still have the lingering notion that God has left me around this long to serve some as-yet undefined purpose and further recant my agnosticism, but despite my prayerful entreaties to set my foot on the right path to that end, I remain baffled. However, I regained my faith, made the leap, and have seen prayers answered. I like the image of a lump of coal passing through fire and intense pressure, and becoming an unpolished diamond. Let’s leave it there. God exists.

Y’all paid a lot of the freight for this lifetime. I rant a lot about the government, but the bottom line is that “the gummint” sustained me for a great many years. I suspect I have developed my own “entitlement mentality”, without having to claim victim status. I’m a heterosexual Christian WASP who was crippled relatively late in life, so where can I go to sign up for official victim status?

Full disclosure and too much background having been stated, I got shelled today.

I related a little vignette last winter about getting a prescription filled for antibiotics to treat a respiratory infection. I presented it as a cautionary tale and a precursor of what socialized medicine might mean for us all. It was just the prelude to current events.

Today the chickens came home to roost, as my grandmother used to say.

Part of my government-subsidized health care includes an annual review by the parent agency that provides my weekly home nurse visits, non-emergency medical transport, and meals-on-wheels, as well as peripheral services like wheelchair accessories and safety rails and a chair for my shower. My case worker with this agency called and showed up today for said review, which is usually simple paperwork and a few questions. This time, before she even clicked her pen, she prefaced our dialogue with a dire pronouncement.

“Funds have been cut drastically. People who don’t require nursing-home-level care are being dumped off the client list.”

Then she flinched, as though I was going to erupt into a tantrum of rock-throwing and cursing. Later in the interview, after I’d initially reassured her that I understood it wasn’t her fault and I don’t kill the messenger, I joked that if it would make her feel less disoriented, I would be glad to cuss and throw furniture in her direction. She gratefully declined the offer.

Something the case worker let slip during the conversation was that she had already been required to tell families with “special needs” [i.e. retarded] children who cannot dress or feed themselves that they will henceforth be denied home nursing services. This was by way of reply to my assertion that I already know there are people out there who need personal care much more than I do, and what’s up with that? In some instances, the case worker had been cursed, screamed at, and possibly threatened with physical violence. She obviously expected a more vociferous reaction from me—and was grateful for the respite—but I am a cold-blooded mammal; I don’t get mad, I get even. Today’s bombshell was not completely unexpected, but in my pantheon of doom-and-gloom, it was a worst-case scenario. For most of the past decade, the quality of my life has been enhanced by the services I receive. There are a few things I can’t do for myself. I have taken my preacher’s advice, and learned how to say “Thank you!” when someone does something for me. If I believed the lies attending the foisting of Obamacare on the nation last spring, I would think that every living person in the United States would now be receiving the same attention and personal care that I have been blessed with because of my parasitism. Instead, I hear that those less fortunate than me are already being cut off, and I’m next.

I took a left-handed cheap shot at the erstwhile case worker before she left. I calmly remarked that if she thought it was distressing to tell people that essential lifestyle services are now being denied because the government has spent itself into a hole, what was she going to do when the death panels start denying treatment to people with terminal conditions?

What I got was a bleak look of such despair that I instantly regretted what I’d said.

When Obamacare became law, a progressive fan of collectivism publicly remarked that “it ain’t the end of the world.” Okay. Losing the services of my home nurse and those ersatz meals isn’t the end of my little world. I have made conscious attempts to never abuse the few perks that have rolled in my direction in life. I am an excellent cook, as Miz Possum reminded me this evening when I told her what had transpired this afternoon. We know where to find the raw ingredients for meals, and I openly admit those frozen, pre-cooked dinners are a luxury. I am a notoriously slovenly housekeeper, but with one or two exceptions, there isn’t anything I am incapable of doing in that regard. Answering questions for the case worker about my ability to dress, feed and wash myself, I joked that I was further damning myself with competence. She smiled weakly and promised a favorable write-up of case notes, but my own experience with bureaucracy leaves me no illusions.

I can transcend my own “entitlement mentality” fairly easily, but I shudder to think of those truly needy people who are going to go begging because “funds have been cut.”

Quoth Madame Nancy Pelosi: “We have to pass the bill to know what’s in it.”

Now we know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some Top Tens

I suppose the madness started about 4 July, with the movie “marathons” on various channels that cross carrier-waves with my satellite dish. The Reelz™ channel teased an episode of “Hollywood’s Top Ten” about a segment on their ten best war movies, and that captured my fractured attention. I can’t seem to catch this particular episode to compare notes, but as a relief for the political insanity engulfing us, I got in touch with my inner movie buff and started making my own lists.

I consider list-making to be anal-retentive behavior of the worst sort; a sure sign of senility. Still, David Letterman has gotten mileage out of Top Ten lists for years, and since the comments sections at UPI have been flagging lately, a sure way to get responses is to push a cultural button. It’s cheap, easy, and keeps me from going ballistic with comments about the “race card” politics that are wreaking havoc on what’s left of my mind.

What started as a mental amusement to occupy myself during endless commercial breaks—since all I seem to do in my geezerdom is watch TV—finally found its way onto paper. I began to make a mental list of Vietnam movies that possessed verisimilitude, and the exercise expanded into different categories: Nam movies, War II movies, gangster movies, and Westerns. Then, for good measure, the genres broke down into cop movies, crime thrillers, science fiction, alien movies, and love stories. A simple three-minute exercise turned into a few weeks of musing between bouts of rhetorical abuse by ersatz politicians. Certain standards began to assert themselves. “Honorable Mentions” suggested themselves.

The bottom line was fairly simple: to make a Top Ten in any category, a movie has to do one thing; it has to bring something new to the viewer every time it is watched. No matter how many times it’s been seen—and I have watched some of these flicks dozens of times—there has to be a new twist, a different element that applies to the moment in which it is viewed. With this consideration in mind, I discarded a lot of potential candidates, although I love movies for the sheer fun of the visceral experience most of them bring.

There are too many categories for a single blog post, so let’s start with the original inspiration—Vietnam movies—and my favorite Westerns. Readers will have their own favorites and opinions, and I await your feedback. Here, in semi-favored order, are some cinematic favorites and notes on why they made the cut:


1. “Apocalypse Now” [1979] When I think of a Vietnam movie, this is the first, defining title that comes to mind. This is the only Nam movie I dragged my parents to see in the theater, because it explains the sheer madness of that war more clearly than I could. My father told me afterwards it gave him nightmares; my mother remarked that there certainly was a lot of profanity in the movie.

2. “Full Metal Jacket” [1987] Before he got into movies, Stanley Kubrick was a photographer for Look magazine. He is a visual perfectionist as well as an outstanding storyteller, and the combat scenes are the most chilling I have ever seen. I wasn’t a Marine, but R. Lee Ermey is every drill sergeant every veteran ever knew. This is the second title that comes instantly to mind when someone mentions movies about Nam.

3. “Casualties of War” [1989] Allegedly a true story, albeit from a notoriously anti-war director. People who are profligate with war stories are suspect in my book, so the origins of the incident are dubious. I only tell two war stories: how I got a medal for running away, and one involving dueling machine guns, tracers, and LSD. Brian DePalma gets the details right, and the last scene, where the Vietnamese girl tells Michael J. Fox “You had a bad’s over now” makes me cry every time.

4. “Hamburger Hill” [1987] This B-list classic could be a documentary. Soldiers climb a hill at great cost, then give it back to the enemy. The characters are sharply drawn, and the cost of what they give to duty is breathtaking.

5. “We Were Soldiers” [2002] Before he fell into cussing drunkenly at his girlfriends, Mel Gibson could touch on truth. Based on Joe Galloway’s book and General Hal Moore’s memoirs, this is a documentary.

6. “Go Tell the Spartans” [1978] This is a little-seen drama set in the earliest days of American involvement in Vietnam. I can’t vouch for a lot of the detail, but it feels right.

7. “The Boys in Company C” [1978] R. Lee Ermey’s first movie—portraying a sergeant; now there’s a surprise!—and a sort of feeble follow-up by Hollyweird when they realized that “Apocalypse Now” was hitting a nerve in our collective consciousness.

8. “Good Morning Vietnam” [1987] For every soldier in the field, America deploys ten soldiers in support roles. Not a front-line piss-ripper, but the expressions of attitudes and emotions are genuine enough.

9. “Off Limits” [1988] Again, not a front-line look at the war, but the overall tone of madness and the ambiance of Saigon are resonant.

10. “Platoon” [1986] Oliver Stone was there, has the tee-shirt, and knows whereof he speaks. I don’t buy the overall plot and some of the characters, but there is an emotional truth that can’t be denied. The closing narration is a tear-jerker that makes me overlook Stone’s junky trash movies.

Honorable mentions: “Bat*21”—the real thing came down differently, but it catches the moments. “Flight of the Intruder”—the frustrations of pilots forbidden to bomb strategic targets in North Vietnam were very real, and a final scene of an A-1-A “Sandy” seeming to rise out of the ground to strafe some NVA troops is alone worth the price of admission. “The Deer Hunter”—yeah, we all got worked over emotionally by the war. At least the actors played Russian roulette with revolvers…like that really happened. The few times I put a pistol to my temple, it was a magazine-fed semiautomatic, and I knew what the outcome would be if I pulled the trigger. Visually stunning, but puzzling in its message. Michael Cimino fared better with his failed Western.

Speaking of WESTERNS…

I grew up spending my summers on my grandparents’ cattle ranch. Granted, it was in eastern Georgia, and the cattle were tasty Black Angus cows, and not the fabled and dangerous longhorns of the Wild West, but the horseback riding and general cowboy mentality was somewhat similar. The cinematic image of the cowboy is as uniquely American as jazz is to the music world, and my Western selections are chosen accordingly:

1. “The Wild Bunch” [1969] As with the previous genre, this is the defining title when someone says “Western.” The themes of honor, loyalty, dignity, and dealing with the twilight of one’s place in changing times are indeed timeless. Sam Peckinpah was a tortured genius and a visionary philosopher.

2. “The Searchers” [1956] No mention of Westerns would be complete without mention of John Wayne. He should have won his Oscar for this John Ford classic, instead of for “True Grit” in 1969. “Grit” is very good, but this one is outstanding.

3. “The Shootist” [1976] The Duke’s last movie was a perfect summation of his life and career. He’s still playing himself onscreen, but the self-effacement of his legend and the terrible irony of his death from cancer are poignant to the max. Miz Possum and I still choke up at the last scene.

4. “Open Range” [2003] Proving that the cowboy ethos is timeless; this modern take on it has surprising emotional impact. The simply expressed notions of right, wrong, and love rock my socks off every time. The climactic gunfight—with its misses, wild shots, and pauses for deep breaths and “What are we doing here?” moments, is one of the most realistic I think I’ve ever seen. Kevin Costner won multiple Oscars for the next movie on the list, but when he says “People are going to die here today, and I’m going to kill them,” I shudder from the base of my spine.

5. “Dances With Wolves” [1990] A modern classic, pure and simple. If only it t’were so. No cowboys and Injuns, no good guys and bad guys…just people doing what they hope is right, and trying to survive, change, and adapt.

6. “The Outlaw Josey Wales” [1976] Again, not so much good guys and bad guys as people trying to live, find redemption, and be free. Clint Eastwood has done a lot of Westerns, but this is an epic tale, and Eastwood's favorite movie. I always get something fresh out of it when I watch it. It should be #2 on the list.

7. “The Long Riders” [1980] Aside from the inspired casting, this is the most accurate recounting of the Jesse James legend ever made. The screenplay falls short on filling in all the blanks, but if you read books, know the details and the history, and catch the onscreen references, it is a masterpiece.

8. “Tombstone” [1993] A meticulously-researched, mostly accurate re-telling of the Wyatt Earp legend. At the OK Corral, Virgil Earp really announced “This isn’t what I want!” just before the shooting started. During the 45 seconds of gunfire, Wyatt really screamed at Ike Clanton to “Get a gun or get out of the fight!” Dying of tuberculosis, Doc Holliday really regarded his bare feet and remarked “This is funny!” with his last breath. The Earps were Republicans, by the way, and John Holliday was from Georgia. Outstanding.

9. “Unforgiven” [1992] An unrelenting examination of the dark side of the cowboy ethos. The basic story could be morphed into any given time period, because it’s an examination of spiritual values. The second-best Western Clint Eastwood ever made.

10. “Ride the High Country” [1962] When Joel McCrea explains to Randolph Scott why “I want to enter my house [in Heaven] justified”, it says it all. Sam Peckinpah had it going on in terms of dealing with moral ambiguity, dignity, honor, loyalty and duty, all set in the context of the old West. This was the forerunner to #1 on this list, “The Wild Bunch”, but the theme and overall message is the same.

Honorable mentions: “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” [1973]—another Peckinpah classic, and originally #4 on the list. Again, honor, duty, and who you give your word to. “Heaven’s Gate” [1980]—Michael Cimino did better with his studio-bankrupting Western than with “The Deer Hunter.” Although the acting is superb, there is too much set-up and back story for the apocalyptic climax. Still, any movie that has a Harvard graduate showing Russian immigrants how to build Roman siege engines so they can throw dynamite at marauding cowboys gets high marks in my little black book. “Major Dundee” [1965]—a failed movie, but Peckinpah was orbiting around his themes from “Ride the High Country” before he succeeded in expressing them with “The Wild Bunch.” Unlike “Heaven’s Gate”, there is not enough back story on the characters, and both the director’s cut and the original release suggest that too much was left on the proverbial cutting room floor.

Speaking of which…

I have a final advisory, should you somehow be gripped by a desire to see any of the movies I’ve listed here: the director’s cut is always better. Movies are communal enterprises and perhaps the best realizations of “group-think” in modern society, although they speak to us, the viewers, individually. This might explain the collectivist mind-set of Hollyweird, but on the other hand, movies are singular visions passed from screenwriters to producers to directors, with realizations of character achieved by actors.

There is some overlap of directors and actors on my lists. That is simply because they are the best at speaking to what affects me when I sit down in the darkened house, dip my fingers into the buttered popcorn, and catch my breath when the curtain parts and the lion roars. (Sorry, Warner Brothers, you United Artists, Twentieth Century Foxes, and folks on that spinning globe at RKO, but I like the MGM logo and Clarence the cross-eyed lion.)

I know that through neglect, indolence, or personal preference I have left out some of your favorite movies. Feel free to chime in and correct me on what’s good and bad in cinema. Just as the movies offer us momentary escape from the harsh world we live in, I’m just biting my tongue and making lists.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Rode Through the Desert on a Post with No Name (apologies to the '70s group "America")

How hard it is to overcome a writer’s block dating back to 1989 when one is torn between gales of hysterical laughter and fits of angry cursing because, to paraphrase a line from “Apocalypse Now”, the BS is coming so hard and fast it’s like trying to hand out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.

The original title for this ramble was “The Imam in the Moon.” I had a few choice observations about the announcement that NASA has been directed to begin some sort of bizarre “Muslim Outreach Program” to thank those stolid folks for their contributions to the invention of algebra while the rest of us were living in caves, or something like that.

Then the title shifted to “Let the Games Begin!”, when the Democrat party began their inevitable implosion last week on the heels of mealy-mouthed Robert Gibbs—the White House Press Secretary—admitting the obvious; the Dems are going to lose both houses of Congress in, oh, about 100 days.

I’m better at writing headlines than I am at following a coherent thought. Newspapers actually pay people to do nothing but read the stories that are being pasted up as they go to press, and try for summations in as few words as possible.

Other headlines occurred to me during the past week; including some scalding racial invective concerning the Ministry of Justice’s refusal to prosecute thugs for violating civil and voting rights because said thugs are black. Then there was Ben Jealous—great name!—of the NAACP calling a black entrepreneur beaten up by SEIU thugs an “Uncle Tom,” and his further assertion that those ubiquitous “Tea Klanners” are racists who want to lynch President Obama from the nearest, tallest pine tree they can locate.

There was also VP Joe Biden sounding off at the Grand Ole Opry, blaming Bush for the failure of the current administration to produce more than hot air. That’s sort of a no-brainer gimme, though, like Biden himself.

Then there was Fearless Leader, saying the other morning that “we” have capped the Deepstar Horizon, or whatever that blown-out well in the Gulf is called. He kept using that third-person possessive tense, like he had gone down to the ocean floor and screwed the damn cap onto the pipe himself.

Madame DeFarge-Pelosi busied herself chewing poor Bob Gibbs a new one for speaking truth to power and hinting that this fall might see American Marxism cut off at the knees. Meanwhile, Harry Reid said there are no illegal aliens working in Las Vegas, and Congresswoman Shirley Jackson Lee of Texas channeled Sarah Palin’s faux pas by bloviating about North and South Vietnam—even though that country has been unified since 1975. I mention the latter because the vile Kathy Griffin took a cheap shot at Governor Palin—something about trying to teach “that nutbag” there was a North and South Korea—before Ms. Griffin called Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s daughters “prostitutes.”

As I used to mutter in a bemused tone in the throes of powerful LSD-marijuana-whiskey psychoses, when the world was literally swirling around me at a dizzying pace: “Wow…things are happening fast!”

I haven’t used recreational drugs in decades, and I quit drinking hard liquor. Who needs them? The world is so twisted these days it’s all I can do to maintain a center of sanity with a cup of coffee and a cheese muffin under my belt first thing in the morning.

The last headline leapt to mind when Bobama showed his hatred for the South by his choice of vacation destinations. Despite all the rhetoric by British Petroleum and El Presidente about the rest of the country hauling ass down to the Gulf of Mexico and availing ourselves of the unpolluted beaches that remain, when it comes to taking Plethora, Urethra, and Diarrhea—the First Family—out for a day at the beach, they chose a place that was as far from the Gulf of Mexico and potential tar-balls as they could travel without leaving the continental United States. (Apologies to the Obama kids; they couldn’t choose the circumstance of their parentage any more than Chelsea Clinton, Amy Carter, or Tricia Nixon. My mama was a possum, and my daddy was a junkyard dog, so I know about the accidents of birth.)

I suppose I should address some of the aforementioned madness in order.

I thought “The Imam in the Moon” was a cute lead-in, but frankly, the whole concept of a “Muslim outreach” concerning the space program befuddles me. Do people grounded in 16th-century theology really care about the exploration of the universe? They may have come up with some ground-breaking mathematical formulas back in the day, but somewhere along the line, they stalled out. My general idea of “Muslim outreach” concerning the space program is simple: Bobama made a lot of noise about closing the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and finding another location to hold the ters pending trial. How about we refurbish the space shuttles for a couple more trips, send the squirrels to the moon, and issue them space suits and shovels? They can be the first Muslims into space, and when they get to their destination, they can lay the groundwork for the first international colony on Luna. (I feel particularly nasty about this one; if they act out on the moon the way they have at Gitmo, we delay sending oxygen re-supplies. We could also delay the return of their lawyers, thus promoting true “tort reform.”)

Madame Pelosi chewing on the hapless Robert Gibbs is just the opening act. She is the modern equivalent of Cleopatra: the Queen of Denial. I have postponed putting up dire warnings that anyone passing this way who disagrees with the current regime needs to register and vote this coming November. Like the rest of the swirling world rushing past, I am overridden by circumstance, and don’t yet feel a compulsion to do so. Mind you, the right to vote is one of the few untrammeled rights remaining in this country, and no matter how apathetic or cynical you may be about how much your voice counts in the cacophony of an election, it does count. The polls are on my side; if you want real change, the time to start is in 100 days, on 2 November. There is a radical housecleaning coming; it’s traditional for the opposing party to gain congressional seats according to which party holds the White House, but this year is different. My principles dictate that I should vote for something, but come November, a lot of people will be going to the polls to vote against something, i.e. the socialist megalomania that has gripped America for the past few years.

Oh, did I mention that the government took over the banking industry this week? Let’s see, automotive, health care, and now Wall Street. Once again, the ruling party decreed that we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. I had more situational awareness when I was stoned, tripping, and drunk, simultaneously. It’s boring stuff, and didn’t get the attention the health-care takeover did. “Ho- hum. There’s the government again.”

The Biden-Blame-Bush thing is, as I mentioned, a gimme. Does Joe “The Plagiarist” Biden have a shred more more credibility than, say, Dan Quayle? The standing joke when Bush 41 chose Quayle as his VP was that it made President Bush impervious to assassination. No one wanted Dan Quayle to step up to the plate, because he couldn’t spell “tomato.” (Or was that “potato?”)

(I still have trouble deciding whether to place punctuation marks inside or outside of quotation marks. I guess that disqualifies me from government service. I do know there is a North Korea and a South Korea, because there is only a cease-fire between those countries since the year I was born, and Vietnam, like it or not, is a single country today. I also know Scott Brown’s daughters are a model and an athlete—basketball player—respectively.)

As for the President’s choice of vacation destinations, I have only a few closing words:

Back in the 1990s, I tried AA and the twelve-step stuff. I came to realize that full embrasure of the program was trading one addiction for another, and eventually made my own separate peace with the demons that possessed me. I learned stuff from twelve-stepping, but just as godless secularists regard the Ten Commandments as “The Ten Suggestions”, I found it difficult to hang my life around someone’s earthly commandments that I have to live a certain way or die.

(This approach works for many, and I say more power to them. I am not denigrating AA and the positive influence it has wielded over so many lives.)

One of the life lessons I learned in AA was the most succinct definition of insanity that I have ever encountered. “Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome.”

When Bobama turned up on TV hiking in Bah Habah, Maine, I had to raise that 12-step question: "What did you expect, really, Robert? He hates the South more than we ascribe to Billy Sherman marching through Georgia, so what did you really expect?"

By that strict definition, I have been insane for a good portion of my adult life. Not just in dealing with the subtle influence of alcohol, but because I keep seeing politicians who promise something besides the same old song-and-dance. I want to believe them, just as I want to believe that if you set a quart of bourbon in front of me, I won’t try to drink it all in one sitting.

Optimism is in the air, and a sea change is coming. The American people are waking up to the hard fact that the “change you can count on” was a fraud; a manipulation of hopes and dreams by Chicago machine politics as cynical as the “good will” of Al Capone’s Mafia-funded soup kitchens during The Depression.

Call me crazy, but I expect a different outcome this year.

(I have deliberately overlooked the “race card” politics of recent days and the aforementioned outrages. If I go there—which I will—I’ll be getting in touch with my inner redneck. I’ll be channeling the worst of what I grew up with, and it’s going to be ugly. I’ve never had a Constant Reader “unsubscribe”, but if I write what I’m thinking about the racial politics in play today, I’m betting some of you will abandon this site because you’ll decide I’m an irredeemable racist.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Red Liz revisited (I get mail)

I love and respect my liberal friends, but sometimes I try too hard. Case in point:

Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2010 23:19:55 -0400
To: [Red Liz]
Subject: A serious question

You're still my best source for an unabashed liberal point of view on things.

How's this Bobama thing working out for you?


From: [Red Liz]
Date: 02-Jul-10 7:30:24 AM
Subject: RE: A serious question

A hell of a lot better than McCain and Palin would be.
But seriously though...I wish Pres. Obama would be stronger against the GOP in Congress and not be so willing to compromise. In this violent new political climate, I fear that compromise = weakness. If he was more trenched in and stuck harder to his principles, maybe more things would be resolved. But that's just me.

And if you think I'm an unabashed parents make me look like you.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

From: Possumtrot
Date: 02-Jul-10 2:38:03 PM
To: [Red Liz]
Subject: RE: A serious question

What the hell? The man has had an unprecedented opportunity in Congress, with majorities in both houses. He never had it so good! (And he never will again, come November. That's about 124 days, give or take a couple.) I haven't seen him "compromise" on anything so far; his goal has been to advance his socialist agenda. The only thing that's slowed him down has been bureaucracy and the machinations of the career politicians who place reelection over the common welfare. That "bipartisan consensus", "post-partisan" crap of the campaign was just that: bullshit.

I was rather hoping you'd state a realization that Bobama's policies are running contrary to the will and welfare of the people. Unemployment is at a record high. Housing—and the ripple effect—are at a record low. Even the socialist utopian leaders of Eurabia cautioned Bobama at the recent failed G-20 summit that he must rein in spending; he can't continue writing checks with his mouth that our asses can't cash. Instead, I'm gathering an implication from your reply that you think a little more federal spending is suddenly, miraculously going to solve everything.

If you want to see something more disturbing than the web-cam at the BP well, go take a look at the national debt clock. [Google™ it!] We're rapidly reaching a point where the balance will tip, and the national debt will become totally un-repayable. When we declare bankruptcy, we'll have to back that declaration with military force, and the entire world will be thrown into chaos. (You can't collect a debt when someone shoves a gun in your face and says "F--k you!", and we still have the biggest guns.)

You know that I have an ingrained disdain for both of The Big Two. There's not a nickle's worth of difference between Dems and the GOP. They're all a bunch of careerists who seek nothing more than a lifetime sinecure, and screw anybody whose ass they have to step on to climb a bit higher and retain office. Their only thought of tomorrow is the next election result. Their notion of "public service" is that the public is here to serve them; not the other way around. The cynicism and ruthlessness of politicians makes my career as a paid assassin look saintly in comparison.

By the way, when you speak of "this violent new political climate", who exactly is being violent? Was it the Black Panthers, who stood outside the polls in '08 with truncheons and ran white folks away from exercising their constitutional rights? Was it the SEIU thugs who trashed an independent entrepreneur for handing out American flag pins and bumper stickers at a Tea Party protest? Was it the misguided youths smashing storefronts at the G-20 confab in Toronto? (I thought not. Are you buying into [Minister of Homeland Security] Napolitano's myth that disaffected Army vets are potential terrorists because we can manufacture an IED and hit what we aim at? No one wants Bobama dead, but 59% of the people in this country don't want him to be president any longer.)

Bobama has already conceded the loss of Congress this year; he's looking to 2012 for his own reelection. The massive housecleaning that's about to take place, and the one that will follow year after next, reflects the true will of the American people. Bobama is already floating proposals of amnesty for illegal aliens, to expand the Dem voting base. He has lost the moderates, the independents, and even the far Left—who, like you, don't think he's moved fast enough to cement the death grip of socialism on what's left of the country.

Oh, yes, and a recent poll indicates he's lost the Jewish vote, owing to his alienation of Israel and pandering to the Islamic fanaticism of his ideological brethren. Talk about "weakness"! The only straw he has left to grasp is the gratitude of the wetbacks for an amnesty and open border, and last night's gunfight near Nogales should tell you how that'll work out in the long run.

That $100 bill is still under the paperweight atop my desk. I'll put it up this far in advance that Bobama is a one-trick pony; he won't get reelected in '12.

I am astounded—but not completely surprised—that you continue to hold faith with this failed president. As Hunter Thompson said: "Buy the ticket, take the ride." It speaks well of you personally that you'll stand by what you believe, but it's shocking that someone of your intelligence will continue to believe in the false promises borne of a political campaign. Campaign promises are like parking tickets; the longer you take to pay them off, the more expensive they become.

Dangerous though assumption may be, I'll assume you know this may be fodder for the next blog post. As with General McChrystal, nothing is personal or totally off the record. (After all, I learned my journalistic standards from Rolling Stone.) Please keep me posted, and let me know when the epiphany arrives regarding our new messiah.

I'll take that comment about the liberalism of your parents making you look like me as a compliment. I'm sure the Rosenbergs meant well when they handed over the nuclear secrets in the 1950s. It was all done for a better world, and utopia is a common dream.

Let me know when the betrayal hits home.