Archive for August, 2008

Clinton vs. Obama

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

It’s funny. The only real news angle at the carefully staged Democratic Convention is the extent of the rift between the Clintonistas and the Obamaniacs. The pundits, whether on Fox or The News Hour or MSNBC, all agree that the rift has nothing to do with policy. Barack and Hillary are essentially in agreement on policy. The primaries were decided on personality, Clinton fatigue, the young fresh image of Obama, blah, blah, blah.

This just amazes me. It is such utter nonsense. Hillary Clinton lost the nomination of the Democratic Party for two reasons. Number one, she refused to apologize for her vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq. And number two, the Black, Democratic primary voters, heretofore the Clintons’ most loyal supporters, voted 95% for Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton was rejected by the Democratic Party for being too supportive of the war in Iraq, and for being White. There were also some shenanigans in the caucuses by Obama people, to be expected of a politician who cut his teeth in Chicago politics, but that’s Hillary’s own fault for not paying attention. Why won’t any one state these obvious truths?

Of course these weaknesses on Hillary’s part would have been strengths in the general election, and vice versa for Obama. His primary strengths are now general election weaknesses. He was, and is, wrong about Iraq, and Black people always vote for the Democrat anyway. Hillary’s attacks on Obama as being too inexperienced had no resonance in the primaries, but they do now.

If the Democrats don’t have buyer’s remorse, then they are even more out of touch with reality than, well, I was going to say than I imagined, but actually they are as out of touch with reality as it is quite easy to imagine.

If Obama had picked Clinton as his V.P., McCain would be toast. Now, John McCain may very well win in a landslide.

Derangement Syndrome?

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I really don’t like this guy Barack Obama. At first I was like, this guy’s OK, I don’t agree with him mostly, but he is a breath of fresh air in many ways. Wouldn’t it be great at home and abroad to have a partly Black President? Of course it would. It would be great. The war in Iraq is already won. He can’t really screw that up. And he can’t do much of anything else because there’s no money. The worst thing that might happen is that he and the Democratic Congress will raise taxes on people richer than me.

But now? I hate him. I can’t stand to even watch him on TV. I have to flip the channel. It’s just like Bush Derangement Syndrome, which I have had some trouble understanding. What is this? Am I like totally susceptible to the great American political polarization that all the pundits are using for column fodder? Or is Obama really an a**hole?

I’m sorry. I know he’s part Negro and all, but I think he does just happen to be, racial DNA completely and utterly aside, an a**hole. I’m telling you, this guy Barack Obama respects Bill Ayers and the most Reverend Jeremiah Wright (Rev. Wright seems so long ago, thanks to the MSM). I mean I know he was just using them to get ahead in Black Chicago politics, and I understand that, but nevertheless, in spite of that laudable, manipulative, political ambition, I think there actually is some deep sympathy, on Obama’s part, for the “ideals” of the 60’s that Ayers and Wright represent.

He keeps talking, for example, about how guilty we are for consuming so much energy, and, in general, for being so undeservedly rich and powerful, as if America (and George W. Bush) were the primary source of the problems in this otherwise beautiful world of ours.

And now His handmaidens are spreading rumors to the effect that McCain somehow cheated and listened in to His SaddleBack interview, and that he stole his most poignant Hanoi Hilton story from Solzhenitsyn. Just for the record, that anecdote, about the cross in the dirt, does not appear in any of Solzhenitsyn’s works. Questioning the integrity of a man who spent five and a half years being tortured in a Communist prison camp, on behalf of myself and all Americans, seems like a rather desperate tack.

Obama may believe that the American people are ignorant, racist, selfish, whiners, and I’m not saying there is no evidence to support that point of view, but I don’t think it’s a winning message. And I think that, obese and bellicose as we Americans are, we’re not as stupid as the Democrats think we are.

Georgia On My Mind

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The ideological battle lines have been drawn. On the Right is the usual multiplicity of opinions about the Russian invasion of Georgia and the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the various possible U.S. responses to it. On the Left is the usual lockstep agreement that this is all George Bush’s fault, because of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, and the Russians are just doing what anyone would do when threatened by American imperialism.

Do they really believe that invading Afghanistan to get rid of the Taliban and invading Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein, were the moral equivalent of invading Georgia to get rid of its democratically elected government, the same thing as the intimidation of the other nations bordering Russia? Is the entire concept of there being such a thing in the universe as good guys and bad guys rendered invalid, once and for all, by postmodernism?

I’m not saying that mistakes have not been made. I’m not saying that the independent nation status of Kosovo is an unalloyed good. I am saying that George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, and the United States of America and Russia, are not peas in a pod. There is a difference. There is still a role for discrimination among alternative realities.

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party seem to be making that moral equivalence. John McCain knows better. Kick Russia out of the G8? Sure, why not? They didn’t belong there in the first place. Block Russia from becoming a member of the World Trade Organization? Absolutely. Form an organization of democratic nations to parallel the U.N.? Yes, I’m in favor of that.

Make Georgia a member of NATO? I don’t know about that. I would hopefully like to have the members of NATO be willing and capable of allocating sufficient resources to their military defense to be of some use. But then, by those criteria, we would have to boot most of Europe out of NATO. NATO has become almost as irrelevant as the U.N. As far as military and moral force (are they separable?) are concerned, in the West there is only the United States.

Here is a diatribe from that notorious neocon, Zbigniew Brezezinski. Of course he must be forgiven, having had the unfortunate experience of actually living under Russia’s benevolent boot.

The system administrator I hired at sfgate.com, when I was Director of Technology there, Sergey, a brilliant guy, was a Russian from Latvia. He served in the Russian Army. He spoke Latvian and Russian. He was born in Latvia, grew up there, and now, after sojourns in San Francisco and Amsterdam, is back there again. The Latvians don’t like the large Russian population that still lives there. Sergey told me about the big parade in Riga, his home town, where the Latvian Nazi collaborators marched. Back in the day, the Latvians welcomed the Germans as liberators from the Russians, and they still honor the Nazis. The Jews weren’t too popular in Latvia either. It’s a complicated, dare I say nuanced, business. The National Socialists are a distant, buried memory in Germany, but the Russians are as bad as they ever were.

The First Shall be Last

Friday, August 8th, 2008

I’m beginning to think that perhaps the Democrats have nominated yet another lame-o candidate, in the tradition of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry. Barack Obama is a hard man to get to know, but the more we know, the less we like, it would seem, if the polls mean anything.

I think I understand some things about Obama’s personality. I was an Air Force brat. We moved frequently, all over the country, and outside of the country. I went to high school in Germany for three years. By the time I had left home, at age 17, I had lived in at least ten different places; South Dakota, Kansas, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Germany, North Dakota, not necessarily in that order, and a few other places I don’t remember. Since leaving home I have lived at numerous addresses in Iowa, California, and Tennessee.

Obama had a similar background, having lived in Hawaii, Indonesia, Cambridge, Chicago, etc., having had a Kenyan father and a peripatetic white mother. The effect of this, as I can testify from personal experience, is to both endow and saddle one with a certain detachment. It is hard to work up a lot of enthusiasm for the home team, if this is the sixth or tenth home team you have been called upon to root for.

Obama has a previous reputation for detachment, at Harvard and the University of Chicago, and a current reputation for throwing anybody or any issue under the bus that gets in the way of his ambition. I’m not a politician like Barack, but I can relate to that. I think I understand how he got that way. I’m not knocking it, but I have to ask myself, would I vote for me for President of the United States? I assume you realize, dear reader, that is a rhetorical question.

John McCain, on the other hand, is one of those straight-ahead guys, whose future direction, and bedrock principles and beliefs, were laid down at an early age, and have sustained him ever since through unimaginable ordeals and pressures.

He may have had some measure of adolescent identity crisis, I don’t know, but I very much doubt that it came close to what Barack and I have had to deal with. Obama wrote a whole, prize-winning, book about his search for identity. On the other hand, McCain has had to deal with circumstances that neither Barack nor I can conceive of, not only as a resident of the Hanoi Hilton, but in the cockpit of his fighter jet before it got shot down, and in his long political career since his torture and release.

Even though I possess the requisite hair and narcissism, I would never presume to throw my hat in the ring for Prez, or even Senator or Governor. Of course, I never went to Harvard, taught at the University of Chicago, had a best-selling autobiography, or got elected to the Illinois State legislature and the United States Senate. And I am terminally white. I have no trouble admitting Obama’s superiority to moi, as a candidate, or generally, as a remarkable human being. I hope that doesn’t make me a racist?

I don’t like Obama’s ideology, to the extent that I can figure out what it is. It appears to me to be an America-disdaining, quixotic mirage that I have, in my twilight years, rejected in favor of an embrace of things as they are, America-affirming and cautiously optimistic, despite the nightmare of history.

I think he, Barack Hussein Obama, the One, is going to lose, and oh, will there not be a great gnashing of teeth when he does?

Demographics

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Interesting article about the new urban monoculture. This is one of the reasons why I was glad to get out of San Francisco. Now that we’re in Murfreesboro, 30 miles from Nashville, we long to move to the city, to enjoy all the delights of the urban fantasy. Nashville has become not all that different from San Francisco.

It’s not quite as off the charts crazy as San Francisco. It’s not as much of a gay Mecca, for example, and the Mayor and Council members are pretty sane and sensible. There are no resolutions to harbor illegal aliens or to ban high school ROTC, but the city has a similar feel nevertheless. Candace played a gig at the Whole Foods in Nashville. There were beautiful, young, left-wing people everywhere. Everyone we know in Nashville would fit in in San Francisco without the slightest need for readjustment, other than financial.

Nashville, unlike my memories from back in the day, has world-class restaurants, a symphony, a ballet. It has always had world-class music coming out of its ears. Bill Frist endowed a very respectable art museum, not as fancy a building as San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, but arguably with a better collection. There are beautiful parks, the Cumberland River, a happening NFL franchise, and it’s a day’s drive, more or less, to Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Savannah, Louisville, Washington DC, Bay City Michigan, New Orleans, not to mention Knoxville, Chattanooga, the Great Smokies, and Asheville, NC.

It is now too expensive for us to live in Nashville. Not as bad as SF, but bad enough that we’re stuck out here in the burbs. And people around here think 30 miles is a lot further than do the citizens of the Bay Area.

In 1969, my wife Susan and I, and our two children, Jason and Jennifer, were living in San Francisco. I was working downtown in the financial district for a consulting company, pulling down a very respectable salary, something like $12,000 a year, enough money to have afforded the down and payments on a nice, three story Victorian in the upper Haight. However, held back by my beliefs as I was, we did no such thing. Instead we paid $160 a month for a beautiful seven room, third floor, Victorian flat on Page Street, 4 blocks from the corner of Haight and Ashbury, two of the local streets.

That hypothetical three-story Victorian is now worth somewhere around $2 million. In those days, San Francisco, groovy as it was, was still a local place, not all that different, economically, from Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was of course the emerging bummer of the Haight, but there were also neighborhoods, families, children, blue collars. It was more or less as affordable as anyplace else. Silicon Valley did not exist. The peninsula was a rural landscape of apricot and pomegranate orchards.

So it goes. Now the Democrats have a lock on the urban poor, who don’t, fortunately, vote, people who think of themselves as being “of color”, and the young, urban, professional elite, who, fortunately, also don’t vote. And the Republicans have the middle-aged, white, middle, and working class, and old folks like me, who vote like crazy. Did you see the recent Gallup poll that had McCain ahead of Obama by five points among likely voters?

As I read the comments at the end of this article in the LA Times, I see a fair number of them, coming from those of the leftward persuasion, that advance the notion that the mainstream media is so in the pocket of the right-wing extremists, who have betrayed and bankrupted this country, and who should be prosecuted and shot, that of course Obama has not seen a bounce in the polls from his inaugural tour.

This is indeed good news. If Obama, and the Democratic Party, are even slightly as delusional as these commenters, even a crazy old Republican fart like John McCain has a chance. These are the people Obama still has to be careful not to offend. McCain has already offended all of his crazies.