Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Party Of Schizophrenia

On the one hand, the Republicans are doing their damndest to unleash the far right wing of the party, led by Rush Limbaugh, to weed out the infidels.

On the other, they're trying to be more inclusive?
In the two weeks since President Obama made Judge Sonia Sotomayor his pick for the Supreme Court, outnumbered Republicans on Capitol Hill and conservative activists have struggled mightily over how to mount a credible opposition.

Conservative efforts to frame a coherent case against the nation's first Hispanic nominee took on new urgency Tuesday, after Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that Sotomayor's confirmation hearings will begin July 13, months earlier than many GOP leaders had wanted.

The GOP is still debating how to make that case against a nominee who, barring a disqualifying revelation, is expected to emerge from her Senate review as the newest justice. But consensus is emerging over how to use Sotomayor's confirmation process —and its three or four days of televised hearings — as a jumping-off point to appeal to the moderate and independent voters whom the party has been rapidly shedding.

Hm. Considering the point man for the Republicans on Sotomayor has been Jeff Sessions, one has to wonder how delusional they are?

The events of the past few weeks indicate to me a party that is not licking its wounds, trying to re-establish itself as a player on the national stage. Indeed, they seemed resigned to grabbinb power in whatever cheap and base form they can.

Not that there's anything wrong with stealing power where you can, especially if Democrats are going to be asleep at the wheel, but still...this was the party that had it all just three years ago.

It's sad to see.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Palin In Comparison

You know, when the Democrats shot themselves in the foot in 1994, things were never this chaotic:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Newt Gingrich was the keynote speaker at Monday night's fundraising dinner for the Senate and House Republican campaign committees, but it was Sarah Palin who stole the show.

The Alaska governor's last-minute appearance at the GOP's biggest fundraiser of the year ended 24 hours of speculation that the she might skip the event. A late attempt to have her speak at the dinner fell through when organizers feared she might upstage Gingrich, the onetime House speaker.

Hours before the event was slated to begin, an aide to Palin would not confirm that she would be attending. But when Palin and her husband, Todd, sauntered across the stage with Gingrich and his wife, Callista, shortly before the program commenced, their appearance was met with cheers from the audience of 2,000 party loyalists.

OK, on the face of it, not so bad, right? Even digging just a little bit further and realizing that Gingrich was the febrile ground in which the so-called "Permanent Republican Majority" withered and died, so why in the hell should he be anywhere near a podium speaking to Congressional candidates, yields little to mock.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin attended a monster Republican fundraiser after all, despite floating the possibility she wouldn't because she was uninvited to speak.
Which she didn't, it should be noted.
So you have the heir apparent to the conservative wing of the Republican party, Sarah Palin, who has enormous appeal in the more conservative and more economically predatory wing of the party, thrown under the bus to give a man who has no ideas, no vision, and no real power in the party.
You have the nominee presumptive for 2012, certainly the front runner, being pushed off the biggest fundraising stage in her brief national career for someone who is irrelevant and immaterial. Denied access to the networks that create a national candidacy, the ground troops and connections with local officials and fundraisers, she decided to show up anyway.
So the question is, is this her Scarlett O'Hara moment or her Donna Reed moment? That is, did she get all gussied up in her $1500 dress from Neiman-Marcus and make a spectacle of herself, or was this Palin getting back into the kitchen for the good of the patriarchy?
Given what we learned about her during the McCain campaign, my gut tells me she took Gingrich to the mess he left and stuffed his nose in it.

[Palin's] was the only table in the vast ballroom that had a crowd gathered around it -- and despite their distance from Palin's table, multiple television cameras kept their lenses trained on the governor for much of the night.

I think we have our answer.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Escape To Which Mountain?

When life throws a curve, or when the world weighs heavily, we all seek an escape clause.

There's nothing wrong with that. Our primitive ancestors had to deal with problems that were right in front of them: Hungry. Need food. Cold. Need fur. Horny. Need sex.

Modern man, and in this case, anybody born after 1950, does not have it so easy. You and I are aware of the larger world around us.

OK, so maybe that includes mostly just the progressive liberal side of American society unless cheap political points can be scored by conservatives whining about children, but I digress.

We have retirement accounts. We have paychecks that we live off. We have homes to pay for and cars to maintain and children to raise.

In short, the North Korean government has a nuclear sneeze, and you and I pick up a Kleenex.

Humans aren't made for that kind of stress. We fight or flight, which implies we have to have an immediate stressor, a confrontation. We don't have strong tools that allow us to be under major stresses constantly for a long term.

Enter the concept of stress-relief.

Much like the concept of Daylight Savings Time, stress relief is an attempt to alleviate a situation that shouldn't occur in the first place: the feeling of being trapped by circumstance, of seeing no way out, of not being able to fight or flee.

Some people drink. Some take drugs. Some turn to religion. Some find a hobby. But we all of us have some way to cut the tension down a bit to at least almost-manageable proportions.

I'm about to admit a vice...ok, two vices...vice, in that they are escapes from reality.

This all sort of hit home yesterday afternoon. It was about 2:30 and I was sitting at home, restless and bored, and took a walk. As I strolled through a local park, I found myself suddenly very depressed and sad. I couldn't shake the feeling, nor could I very easily understand what was going on in me.

In fact, just after I took that picture, I had this feeling of doom as I glanced at the sunbathers gathered on the small lawn under that bridge tower. And it hit me: I had to go back to work today.

And it pissed me off.

Why did it bug me so much? As I walked, the stiffness in my legs and the soreness of my back whispered loudly to me.

You see, I had ridden my bike for about 50 miles over this weekend. The weather was nice, and I had the energy, so for roughly four hours, I was free.

Free, as in free to deal with my situation as it occured. No thoughts about tomorrow. No insurance worries. No bank accounts. No work. Just me, my bike, and some small amounts of traffic and the occasional hill.

Life, the way it's supposed to be lived.

To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, here are some photos I shot this weekend. I made myself carry a point-and-shoot camera:

Kinda sweet, huh? It would be fun to get on my bike and keep riding, carrying my camera and just shooting pictures.


Yeah. It's the "but." A big "but."

We all need escapes. We all need the kind of vice that for a few moments, or hours, allows us to deal with life on our terms. Something that stops us from thinking, and starts us dealing with who we are and what we want to do.

Something that reminds us of our humanity. We are human beings, not human doings...