Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP

Paul Newman will always be one of my favorite actors. The world is a smaller place because he is no longer in it, but he has left a legacy not only of fantastic characters in top-notch movies ("Fast" Eddie Felson, Butch Cassidy, Judge Roy Bean, Henry Gondorff, Sidney J. Mussburger, Cool Hand Luke), he lived his life according to his convictions and put his money where his mouth is.

Several years in a row, I had the great pleasure of working for one of the many projects he financed with his "Newman's Own" line of products - a summer camp in rural Connecticut for kids with cancer and other terminal diseases. It was a place for them to be normal kids for a time, playing in the sun, fishing, making buckskin purses and moccasins.



Kids with cancer.

(gulp)

At that summer camp, the kids stage a variety show at the end of the season and Newman's friends show up not just to see it but to participate. Broadway folks show up, too, including stagehands to work the event. It always has a wonderful party atmosphere and the kids are inspiring and heart-breaking and beautiful. That Paul Newman never made a big deal out of this noble corner of his empire, never did a People Magazine spread or Entertainment Tonight segment about it speaks to his humanity and commitment to the cause. It really, truly was all about the kids.

He was a man of noble character, of class and conviction and always with a self-deprecating sense of sly humor. That despite his myriad accomplishments he never took himself too seriously should be a lesson for us all.

Farewell, Mr. Newman. You truly were one of a kind.

UPDATE:
Dahlia Lithwick write about the camp over at Slate.com.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Even Better

So, driftglass has fucking nailed it. I wanted merely to throw the assholes who created this crisis in prison, but this is a much better proposal. I could get behind this 100%:
Well tell you what, since no less of an authority than John Fucking Boehner has come right out and said this latest calamity is “the worst financial crisis the world has ever known”, before we declare economic martial law and hand over the equivalent of the Gross Nation Product of Spain to one guy who can dole it out without any oversight whatsoever, this time I would like some volunteers.

This time, I propose a trade.

A very simple trade:
One limb = one million dollars.
One head = one billion dollars.
I am not proposing capital punishment, because I oppose capital punishment. I also never have and never would support mob action.

What I propose is a simple, voluntary quid pro quo.

After 30,000 men and women have been wounded in Iraq for a soldier’s pay in a war they didn’t cause, surely no one can say the Chairman of Lehman Bros’ arm – voluntarily offered and surgically removed under sterile conditions -- is too great a cost to bear to help save the world from a financial collapse he helped to create?

Surely no one could possibly argue that taking Phil Gramm’s head – voluntarily offered and decapitated very quickly and humanely – would be any more of a loss to humanity than any of the over 4,100 vital, young men and women with their whole lives ahead of them, who have died in George Bush’s Iraqi Debacle on our behalf?

Sorry, Republicans, but somewhere between the burning of Baghdad and the drowning of New Orleans you used up your reserve of “Trust me” for the next thousand years.

You're a Party of liars, looters and whores who have cried “Wolf!’ while you picked our pockets far too many times for anyone in their right mind to give you the unsupervised access to a gas-station shitter, much less the keys to the Treasury.

You are also the Party of bomb first, ask questions later. The Party of the Electric Chair. The Party of the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” school of criminal justice when it comes to poor and brown people.

Fine.

You tell me we are on the brink of Fannie Maegeddon, and I tell you that this time, flashing some scary adjectives and a sweaty brow on the Mouse Circus is not nearly enough.

This time, you don’t get to ship other people’s children off to be crippled or killed for your failed policies: this time, you have to do the bleeding and dying yourself.

Almost 2,500 years ago, a handful of Spartans were willing to stand against the Persian hordes at the Hot Gates and lay down their lives to save their nation from genuine disaster. And to this day --
Go tell the Spartans,
stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws,
we lie.
-- they are still remembered.

I will believe we are in the “the worst financial crisis the world has ever known” when I see those that created it are willing to prove it to the Middle Class by offering to give up something more dear and permanent than one of their vacation homes.

When I see the silk-sleeved arms and pinstripe-clad legs of the captains of America’s financial industries stacked like Lincoln Logs on the Washington Mall, then I will believe the fate of the nation is at stake.
driftglass, you're my hero.


Call Your Representatives

Call your congress-critter and tell them to vote against the bail-out.

Here's the number to the main switchboard. Call it and ask for your representative's office:
(202) 224-3121

If you don't know who your representative is, here's a webpage to help you find him/her:
https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml

Don't let Nancy Pelosi and the Wilting-Violets in the Democratic Caucus in Congress obediently scrape and bow to the "wise" old crooks in pinstripe suits (GOP-ers, to a man) who will frown and scowl and in patient "I have special knowledge that you must respect so don't fucking question me" tones tell them that this no-strings-attached $700 Billion bail-out is The. Only. Way. To save. Our economy.

I would like to note that the proposal conveniently has the following Wall-Street-Masters-of-the-Universe approved Fact Cat-protection clause:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
Ahh, checks and balances. Give us your fucking money but don't ever question anything we say or do, peon. What's mine is mine and whats yours is mine, too. Welcome to AmeriKKKa. As thers writes today over at Eschaton:
"[R]ight now the choice is, Bush's Plan, or Something Else. Kill Bush's Plan now, worry about Something Else later."
Fuck 'em. Let 'em swing. Our petroleum-dependent economy is going to go down the tubes whether we actually enact this bailout or not, so why not just let it happen now? Sort of like ripping off the band-aid instead of pulling slowly.

And, just for spite, I reiterate my point from my previous post that we throw the entire lot of them in prison and make their families buy them out. We'll see how attached their families are to those yachts and private jets and multiple homes when they would have to give them up, and I mean give them all up - in toto - to get their respective patriarchs out of the clink. Besides, why do we have to bail these assholes out when they get to keep all their stuff?

Once again, I leave it to digby (full disclosure - I once was an avid follower of Ayn Rand, then I realized she was full of shit and a crappy writer, to boot. It was college. I was young and foolish and taking lots of drugs):
(SEC Chairman Chris) Cox is just a natural symptom of the illness of modern conservatism's Randian philosophy, which, at its core, really does hold that the Big Money Boyz should be allowed unfettered freedom to make money without restrictions or rules. And when they gamble on the wrong thing, they believe that it is the right thing for the rubes to bail them out. Their basic philosophy holds that the taxpayers are parasites who benefit when the John Galts of the world make money so they should shoulder the burden when they fail. Indeed, they believe the serfs should be grateful for what they got out of it
Know your place, serf.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pauper's Prisons

Now, granted, I am a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak, but if the bailout for all these financial firms is going to total in the trillions, why not get the bulk of that money from the people who were so well compensated for being at the helm when the place failed? I like the idea of a bailout being predicated on the people who got rich(er) running a company into the ground giving back all the money. And I do mean all the money. Or the government gets to seize and auction off their assets until the bill is covered, just like we get to do to the drug lords and mafia goons who are their moral and ethical fellow-travellers.

I know most of that money is sunk into yachts and seaside homes in the French Riviera, or hidden in numbered accounts from Switzerland to the Caymans, but if we told them that if they don't pay it back we'll throw them in prison, I'm pretty sure they'd find a way to cough up some of the dough. Pauper's prisons for the plutocratic class. A little global class war to usher in the new century.

I know our overlords will never allow that to happen and we the average taxpayer will be required to cover the bills these fucking self-designed Master of the Universe have racked up. I hate them and think the iron bars of their precious gated communities should be overrun and their silk drapes burned, a'la Russia circa 1917.

Fight the Power!

Schadenfreude

Watch this video (via Wonkette):



Then read this news story:
GOP delegate's hotel tryst goes bad when he wakes up with $120,000 missing


Say it with me now: Schadenfreude.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Respect Street (closed until further notice)

No time for a really decent post, but I want to highlight two things. One, I think digby gets it exactly right when she argues that "Conservatism Is A Luxury":
When things are going well, people have the luxury of being able to argue over lipsticks on blowjobs and whether a blastocyst has more rights than a stem cell. When they aren't, they don't want the blastocyst and lipstick people in charge.

Why would they? Essentially Republicans are entertainers. When times are good, they bring you fun homegrown culture wars and violent foreign shooting wars. (Let's go shopping!.) People barely pay attention and when they can't help watching, as with the impeachment or 9/11, it's turned into a media porn spectacle: Shock And Awe starring Jenna Jameson. It's very cathartic.

But they don't actually govern the country because they don't believe in government (at least for anything but helping them wage their wars for profit and skimming from the taxpayers.) So, when people's lives actually start to become affected by their malfeasance, it's only natural that they get serious. They may just get serious now.
And Two: Obama, finally, has used the unpleasant economic news to hit McCain without the tired old bromides about McCain's "honor" or "integrity" or "service" and instead just goes after him full-bore. Serves him right. John "I was a POW" McCain obviously doesn't respect Barack Obama, and doesn't consider him a worthy adversary, so why should Respect Street always fucking be one-way? Like I said in my last post, why do we have to always be nice and they get to behave like poo-flinging monkeys? Chris Bowers at Open Left gives Obama props for dropping all that homage crap:
The absence of such compliments to McCain is refreshing, and conveys a real confidence from Obama. Back when Obama was prefacing all of his attacks on Obama with a statement on how much he deeply respects John McCain's service to America, frankly it made what he said afterward sound like he was walking on eggshells. Honestly, apart from repeating McCain's message, and apart from irritating many of his own supporters, paying tribute to John McCain before attacking him just made the criticisms that followed sound weak and wimpy. These attacks, by contrast, sound confident, on message, and sharp.

[snip]


I like Democrats when they talk like this. Makes me proud. Wish I would see this side of them more often.
Amen to that, bro. Keep hittin 'em hard, Barack.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wingers Ain't Funny (UPDATED)

So, the main reason these motherfuckers aren't funny is that their entire reason for being is to behave like the cackling Gremlins from the eponymous films of the early 80's. They seem to exist only to smash and destroy and belittle and otherwise gleefully wreck the whole notion of civility. It's much more fun, I suppose, to act like a poo-flinging monkey than a grown-up who understands that sometimes people will disagree, and that's OK. Their only real joy in life comes from acting like a bully against whoever they decide to gang up on. The usual target is a liberal, since in their pinched, dessicated world "liberal" is tantamount to "wimp", "pussy" or "weakling." Malicious offense is fun for the whole family.

Glenn McCoy's cartoon here is just simply not funny. At all. I ran across it at Slate.com's Cagle Cartoons, far from the first unfunny "conservative" cartoon I saw, just the final one that pissed me off enough to knock together a blog post. This POS cartoon perfectly illustrates the winger mindset crystallized by Atrios when he wrote this:
It's long been the case that what really gets the Republican base excited is anything that pisses off liberals. There are genuine policy differences, of course, but to get an audience of Republicans on their feet and cheering you need to mention something, no matter how pointless, which pisses of liberals. It's the glue that keeps them together.
'Nuff said.

UPDATE:
Last night, I threw together the above post in a wicked fuckin' hurry, so I wasn't able to be as thorough as I wanted to be in my analysis of the "humor" in the above cartoon. First, I want to include this cartoon from October 2003, penned by the much funnier, more incisive and defiantly liberal Tom Tomorrow (he has his own blog, too!), which our buddy Glenn McCoy shamelessly ripped-off:

Anybody see a difference?

I'll give you a hint, it has to do with the items misidentified as provocations. In the McCoy cartoon, his Wingnut Warrior Hero lists three things which are, in order: a regurgitation of discredited White House propaganda, a non-sequiter and a sleazy mischaracterization of a crucial progressive issue which has no bearing on a liberal's feelings about Sarah Palin and thus amounts to a red-herring. This comes, of course, from the manufactured outrage people, of late "lipstick on a pig" fame, so why should anyone be surprised?

On the other hand, look at the items on the Tom Tomorrow list of provocations. They seem quaint, looking back on them now. Everyone at the time made fun of us, said we were traitors and chicken-littles and alarmists and rancorous partisans. Yet, nothing in the second cartoon is anything except true, however dated. The reeling, shambling horror show this country has become at the hands of these incompetent, hate-filled criminals is as heart-breaking as it is unsurprising. The GOP is run by a bunch of thugs, goons and gangsters and the ranks are filled out by mental & emotional children who are either too stupid to understand the ontological ramifications of temporal reality (actions have consequences - life ain't a physics-free cartoon nor is it the ethically & morally malleable world of your average Hollywood action flick) or they are too corrupt to care.

Either way, fuck 'em, because I'm tired of being lectured by fatuous TV gasbags and haughty print news demi-gods about how I'm supposed to be tolerant of them and their views, even as they call me a traitor (and much, much worse) and imply that my candidate for president is a pedophile. Why am I and my fellow progressives, liberals & Democrats expected to take the high road every single time? Why is the onus on us to make nice and maintain civility while the other side gets to wreck and rob the place with impunity, spewing hate and flinging poo like a monkey? Why are we supposed to just sit there and take it? It is almost as though they know these people are over-grown children and, like children, we grown-ups are required to be patient and tolerant while they go through some adult version of the terrible twos, except sustained and culture-wide.

Well, we've been tolerant and patient all the way into the sewer. You ever had a friend over who brought his poorly disciplined kids? You sit around your own house trying to have a civil conversation while they run around the place screaming and throwing things and wiping their grimy hands on your furniture and generally behaving like something out of Lord of the Flies, or maybe some kind of feral primate, and the parents just grin and act like they are the cutest thing in the world.

In fact, here is the American political system as surmised in one scene from "Raising Arizona":





Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hate Junkies

"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
from the Bhagavad Gita
quoted by Robert Oppenheimer at "Trinity," site of the first atom bomb test
Alamogordo, New Mexico
July 16, 1945

Sarah Palin scares the shit out of me. She is the distilled perfection of everything that is wicked, sanctimonious, self-righteous, venal, condescending, venomous, ugly and cruel in the American character, as refined by the post-Nixon crime syndicate known as the Grand Old Party. All wrapped in a curvy, buxom package with a winning smile that makes her inner-ugly all the more harrowing to recognize.

For the bulk of the Rethugli-bot Party, it will always be the 1960's and no matter how much they use "The Vietnam Experience" as an umbrella code-word for all the turmoil of that decade (so they don't have to openly bitch about the Civil Right Movement - which is actually what has kept them pissed-off all these years), the truth is that they are simply authoritarians at heart. The ultimate goal of that authoritarianism varies from the cornpone Christo-Nazis of the Dominionist Movement to the hyper-macho corporatist gangstahs of Wall Street to the draft-dodging Old Money cowards in the Ivy League ranks of the neo-cons to the woman-hating frat-dudes across Middle America to the Confederate battle-flag waving red-neck hillbilly race-warriors of Old Dixie, but they can stand united in their HATE of the Dirty Fucking Hippie. It has been the glue that has held the GOP together since the waning days of Nixon's criminal enterprise and because the Rethuglicans have over these forty years grown more and more powerful without ever fulfilling the deepest desires of any of the above-mentioned groups, not even at the pinnacle of their power with Newt and Delay and the Impeachment (and vindictive humiliation) of a President (for a blowjob), the Coalition of Hate has been unraveling ever since. McCain inherits the final tattered remnants of this once-mighty Orc Army and has found in Sarah Palin an Uruk-Hai to unite them in their hatred for one last time, for one last, desperate lunge at power before the whole lumpy group finally disintegrates into bickering factions with their own unique, Balkanized puddles of hatred to nurse.

They are Hate Junkies and Sarah Palin is just the Tony Montana to give them the main-line red-meat they so desperately crave.

She is not the political light-weight many took her to be only a week ago. She is a pit viper. She is a one-woman wrecking crew and she will destroy all she touches because the Rethugli-goons would rather blow up the world than see the dirty fucking hippies get anything except beaten back, beaten down and beaten to death.

You cannot negotiate with someone who wants you dead.
It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
"The Terminator" - 1984

Monday, September 1, 2008

Our Energy Future

So, I got a little tip in the comments from my (now old, in blog years positively pre-historic) post about a post-oil future from July 22nd. Doctor Biobrain (who I once read daily, until I wasn't on my computer daily, so now I read him every couple of days - whenever I can get time on my computer... you know what I'm saying) clued me in on a little secret - and I quote:
Dilithium crystals are created by filtering unicorn farts at high speeds through fusion-induced rainbows
Wow. If only I had known it was that easy, I wouldn't have been so gloomy about this whole Peak Oil business.

But I'm mostly stoked that Doctor Biobrain read something I wrote.

I love blogging.

Coming up for air...

So much has happened. Sorry for the long, looooong pause between posts. Work has started to overwhelm my schedule. No relief in sight, at least for another month+, but I wanted to take the time to make the following observations:

Regarding New Orleans and Hurricane Gustav:
New Orleans is in a geological bowl. Recall that after Karina the water needed to be pumped out because it will never, ever drain on its own. New Orleans is several feet below sea level and that will never get any better since it doesn't rest on "land" as we in the rest of the country understand it. The whole city essentially sits on water-saturated river mud of varying densities and a building will slowly sink under its own weight on that kind of surface, so it only gets worse over time.

Making things worse still is that the Gulf of Mexico is also a gigantic geologic bowl into which the Mississippi River has been pouring sediment for millions of years and thus is itself sinking into the Earth's crust, pulling down the edges of the Gulf with it. Texas has slip faults as far inland as Austin as a result. So the bedrock on which the mud NOLA is sinking into is also itself sinking.

And, third, the Army Corps of Engineers has, since WW2, diked and dammed and leveed the shit out of the river to control flooding, which has had two major negative results: 1.) the protective fresh-water swamps around the city, which soak up storm energy and act as a natural buffer between the salt-water Gulf and the fresh-water inland lakes and streams, are not being replenished with the silt from the Mississippi's once annual floods and thus are eroding at an ever accelerating rate as salt-water from the Gulf kills the fresh-water ecology that maintains the swamp and 2.) the River is dumping silt and sediment farther out into the Gulf than it has ever in geologic history which means it is not replenishing the deep-sea mud "shelf" that shores up the Louisiana coast-line, which also accelerates the erosion process.

As bad as this scenario seems, all of the above assumes everything will simply continue as it always has. If you also factor in Global Climate Change and the accompanying rise in sea level plus the increasing intensity of storms as a result of a warmer ocean, New Orleans doesn't have a prayer. Katrina wasn't The Big One. Katrina was the shot across the bow. It is not a matter of if New Orleans will ever get a direct hit from a Category 5, it is simply a matter of when.

Sadly, I think this jewel of our civic firmament should be abandoned. It was always more of a frontier outpost akin to something on the banks of the Congo or the Amazon than to a proper city anyway - a commercial enterprise that once served a specific economic purpose and now survives simply because it has survived up to now.
Regarding McCain, Gustav & Palin:
I think, as much as it pains me to say it, that McCain and the Rethuglicans are in the right to modify their convention plans. Their reasons for doing it, however, are suspect and deplorable. One, they are doing to it neutralize the baggage the entire GOP establishment carries from the aftermath of Katrina - no "Heckuva job, Brownie" moments this time around. Two, we all know that W will once again allow McSame to step in, act all bossy (like he did a few weeks ago during the Russia/Georgia dust-up) and more or less appear to rubes and nitwits who constitute the bulk of the GOP voting bloc to already be running things as part of that appear-to-be-winning-by-acting-like-a-winner strategy. Also, this is akin in their minds to the idea from any dictatorship (and we know W and the Rethugli-goons do love them some dictatorishness) where the party and the government are seperate, but nevertheless function as one. Think of the Communists in Soviet Russia or the Nazis in WW2 Germany. The government in both cases (and anywhere a country suffers under one-party rule) was kept separate from the party for appearances sake, but was still completely subservient to the dictates of the party.
We're not fully a dictatorship yet in this country, but the police state tactics currently underway in Minnesota (h/t Mr. the Broadway Carl) are in keeping with our slide into fascism. I was in NYC in 2004 for the GOP convention and I remember how much the NYPD, already something of a violent occupying force in this city on a good day, turned into full-riot-gear and machine-guns-and-dogs enforcement mode. This devolution will only accelerate as the actual mechanisms of government and law enforcement are increasingly populated by like-minded people who gleefully and proudly cleave ever tighter to an ever more authoritarian political party. The US Attorney scandal is part of this same seizing of the reigns of power, a politicization of the actual structures of law-enforcement, wherein political opponents are jailed simply for dissent in the name of law & order (Siegelman anyone?), just like a third-world banana republic (which I think they want to turn this country into anyway). This is the country we've become thanks to the thugs, goons, know-nothings and nitwits who constitute America's modern Republican Party

We should henceforce call them Banana Republicans.

In that way, McCain isn't so much a "maverick" really. On the contrary, he's a natural to now take the helm at the GOP. The GOP has been on a relentless march to authoritarian power since the racist Dixiecrats bolted the Democratic party for friendlier territory in Nixonland. One of the weapons in their arsenal during this march has been our collective national memory of the Vietnam War, which they have labored hard to re-shape in the intervening decades, building up a Dolchsto├člegende mythology around it - we could have won, "if only...".

Finally, after all this time, they get a Vietnam vet at the head of their ticket. Not only that, but in fact they get one of the ones who actually believes we could have won that immoral imperial occupation were it not for all the pointy-headed liberals and bleeding-heart war doves and dirty fucking hippies and Jane Fonda, just as the polarizing power of "the Vietnam experience" - when used as a red, white & blue code word to condemn all the purported excesses of the 1960's in the cultural battles of the last four decades - has finally started to fade. Sad, really, and sad that Vietnam vets are getting too old to even seek the job anymore. Just got one in under the wire, I suppose.

Whatever.

Vietnam has been the GOP's cudgel to beat the Democrats into meek submission for 40 fucking years. In so doing, they have successfully shifted the center of gravity in American politics oh-so-slowly to the right, ever more militaristic, authoritarian and plutocratic, to the point that even though our military budget is larger than all the other nations on the planet combined, nobody deemed "serious" in either party would even consider raising the slightest objection to that kind of spending on the machinery of death - if only on fiscal grounds, much less moral. The Dems have let it happen, sure, but the cultural turmoil of the 1960's that so upset the Establishment and the good (white) people of Main Street America and sent the whole herd flailing and fainting into the greasy hands of Saint Ronnie of the Ray-Gun in the 1980's simply don't matter anymore. The Boomers are dying off and the college campus battles they carried from their youth all the way into retirement are finally dying off with them. It is a new century and the GOP's bullying and beating of anyone to the left of Pinochet stops right here, right now, laid at Johm McSame's mangled feet with a toe-tag marked "I was a POW."

If anyone had any doubt about this dawning of a new age, Obama's speech last week should have sufficed to awaken them. More on that in a moment.

In the meantime, I will make the following prediction: Sarah Palin will drop out before the election. She will get him through the convention, shore up his Dominionist credentials with the drooling Jesus freaks, score him a few free points with the PUMA's on the other side of the aisle, then she will cite family concerns, drop out and go away. The Man Called Petraeus will retire from the Army and join the ticket with McCain sometime in early October. That will be the October Surprise, 2008-style.
Regarding The Speech, Barack Obama and What It All Means:
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Electric. Intergalactic. Dazzling. Wish I'd been there.

It is the most amazing political speech I have ever seen and will likely ever see, even if I live to be 103 (a lady in my building died this weekend at the age of 103, so that number sorta jumped out at me). The tone of the speech generally conveyed the idea that this Democrat is not going to take it from those guys anymore.

I loved it.

I dearly wish he could become our next president, but I don't think the plutocrats will let him have it. America has a way of robbing us of those who really give us sincere hope and no one has lifted our hopes like this since the men cut down by assassin's bullets during those hated 1960's. Remember, Stalin once said that it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes. This one will be "close" in "key" districts in "key" states, but will ultimately, somehow, magically break for McCain. If it starts to look like Florida 2000 again, Obama will be persuaded (like I'm certain Kerry was in 2004) to bow out gracefully or else. Obama seems tough enough to test the "or else" which I fear will not be pretty.

I hope I'm wrong, but eight years of this criminal enterprise known as the "Bush Administration" has kept a lid on so many putrid kettles of K-Street fish that a government run by an opposition party intent on shining a light on every cockroach in Washington can simply never be allowed to happen. Ever. Too much money at stake, to say nothing of jail time.

But even if all that doesn't happen and the McCain/Petraeus ticket is somehow allowed to lose, the Cheney Administration will likely launch a war with Iran sometime in December or early January, just to make sure that either the Obama Administration is hamstrung by a national emergency from its first day in office or to construct a pretext for suspending the results of the election until the emergency has passed - sort of like those guys in Gitmo held until the war is over, except that we've declared war on an idea "terrorism" and not a state or government who can surrender, ergo: endless war. Sorry, Abdulluh.

Hell, even if they do manage to steal it for McCain/Petraeus, Cheney will still probably launch a war with Iran to keep McCain toeing the party line (for there is nothing like a fresh, shiny new war to keep the press jingoistic and the public stoked, dude), McCain will cite age-related health reasons early in 2009 and resign and we'll have General Petraeus as our Commander in Chief before next summer. I expect him to deliver his first address as C-in-C in full general's regalia so that we can finally end this charade that we are a free country and the Pentagon can assume it's regularly scheduled take-over of our government.
Regarding that Big Picture:
Which brings me to where I think we are now. We are at the end of history, or at least so many over-lapping sine waves of historical ontology all converging down into one huge conclusion that it will seem like the end of history. The battles of the 1960's are ended, yes, and the wave that crested with the Reagan Revolution and broke on shore with the Bush EPIC FAIL has mercifully receded to reveal the form of that skinny kid from Chicago. But what kind of country is Obama going to lead (if he is allowed to take office)? A country so exhausted that it cannot revive one of it's major cities nor extricate itself from an intractable resource war half a planet away. We have the smell of death about us, like the British did when the Zulus kicked their ass 100 years ago. When Roosevelt took office, despite the Depression, he took the reigns of a nation still rich in natural and intellectual and human and economic resources that only needed to be nudged into motion again. Granted, it took a war (and the widespread implementation of an oil-based economy) to fully revive the American economy, but there was something there to be revived. What about now? We are saturated with pollution and exhausted of spirit with crashing natural stocks of fish and game, forests that are dying of thirst and burning up due to climate change, a crumbling national infrastructure starved of funding for decades due to an ideological fetish for privatization. Where would a President Obama find the means to rejuvenate a country so bereft of resources on a dying planet?

But yet another subsiding wave of history is what driftglass recently called "The Negrological Constant." Our struggle with racism is far from over - to wit, a clearly qualified, energetic, charismatic young man like Barack Obama is nevertheless neck-in-neck with a gaffe-prone fuddy-duddy who can't even keep his own opinions straight from week to week, much less actual facts and still the pundits are positively mystified that Obama can't close the deal. Whatever could it be, I wonder? What could possibly make some people think twice about voting for someone like Barack Hussein Obama? You know, someone smart and funny and, uh, smart? What is it? What IS it? I dunno. It's a mystery. Must be Obama's fault, somehow. I'm just not sure what it could be.

At any rate, the fact that a black man has finally risen to the candidacy of a major political party says a lot about the continuing power of the racist meme as it wends its way through our collective national consciousness because it took so damned long to actually happen. Were it not for the fucking Electoral College, lo these many years, I don't think politicians would have been as able or as prone or as eager to play the race card to appeal to the rubes and crackers and redneck fuckwits in the third-world shit-hole known as the American South and we could have possibly seen a black man at the top of a ticket sooner than a century and a half after we fought a war to free his ancestors.

Possibly. But maybe not.

We have been amid the last gasp of that way of politicking since the Dixiecrats stampeded to the Party of Nixon. Viewed as the lancing of a boil, we have lived the expulsion of the puss and disease in the form of forty years of coded hate speech that has kept a dying GOP in power as they collapse into a minor regional party centered in the South. Well, you gotta dance with them's what brung ya. The fact that the best the GOP could do this time is Candidate John McCain (and the twittering chorus of disbelief in the ranks at his ascension) says a lot about how shallow their bench is these days. As a party, they represent the end of an era of history that began when the Virginia colonists traded with a Dutch ship for the first African slaves in America in 1619 and ought to have ended when Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but in fact can only be said to have ended once "right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." A President Obama could one day be seen as just such an historical marker.

Another wave of history is the End of Oil, which drove America's post-WW2 prosperity. But I have argued before that the End of Oil also represents the end of the western dominance of the world. That era began when the first explorers left Europe 600 years ago and began to colonize the world, and specifically the New World, in the name of Christian civilization - which was always and without exception merely an ecumenical pretext for robbing the locals blind. European prosperity - the glamour of Paris, the industrial might of Britain, the soaring beauty of Spanish cathedrals, the refined culture of the Dutch and the Italians and the Germans, et al, was financed by and can be traced directly to the literally tens of thousands of shiploads of gold stolen from the Americas. All those sailing ships shooting at each other in the pirate movies the kids are all watching these days were fighting over stolen gold. America paid for the Europe we so admire today.

So much of our history is embroiled in that Grand Crime. America itself was founded in the genocidal middle of it, which I think blinds us to our place in it. We began as a commercial proposition - the fancy words and high-falutin' philosophy got added later. From the legacy of slavery to rampant corporatism to the echoes of Manifest Destiny we hear in the rhetoric of America as Global Policeman, we are the product of our national DNA. We were born in a whirl of racism, violence and abject greed (with a facade of brittle piety to make it all the more cloying), have never really stopped, and every time we've tried to be honest and come to grips with our origins in some kind of nationwide reckoning, we've usually erupted into a violent cultural spasm that has on more than one occasion devolved into an open shooting war.
In his own way, for better or worse, Obama represents the end of that longer era as well, at least some manner of sea change. Whatever's on the other side, I hope we can get there in one piece.
I'll be on again, off again for a while but I hope I've given you something to talk and think about. Please feel free to comment. In fact, I'm not proud - I'm begging you to comment.