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Election Time

With that season of insanity upon us, with Rick Santorum flitting about uttering some of the most diabolical and divisive rhetoric imaginable, with Romney floundering about trying to  guess what his listeners want to hear (without much success), with Gingrich doing his politcal immitation of Don Rickles, with Ron Paul wandering about like the Mad Hatter, with Super Pacs undermining the strength of a once great nation, maybe it’s time just to look at a pretty picture. After all, there was a dance band on the Titanic.

Paul Ryan, Fantasyland and the price of Chinese Tea

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a fairly privileged upper-middle class world. I’m a third generation engineer whose routine involves contact with others of my social and educational background. For some reason, many of my friends have more conservative tendencies than do I. In many ways, I too remain conservative, especially on fiscal matters and sometimes even on social issues. But I’m definitely not an over-the-top, dogmatic, blind faith type of person. I like to look at things from different angles and think my way through them.

Having plenty of contact with the right wingers provides me with an unending source of entertainment and humor. Unlike trying to have an intelligent conversation with the likes of the Tea Party Patriots, many of my friends enjoy the sparring. They’ll actually “engage” in discussion and almost without exception, our conversations are spirited and fun. One of my more conservative friends recently sent me an email on the subject of Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal. Like many populist conservatives, Ryan’s siren song has its appeal – at least until you look under the covers. When my friend sent his missive, I responded to some of his “points”. For thought, I include his email (black) and my responses (blue) below.

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Who Shot Gabrielle Giffords?

I was in the middle of writing a column on the Republican grandstanding surrounding the idea of repealing the healthcare bill or as they call it, ObamaCare. That’s when the news flash arrived saying Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had been shot. My heart dropped much like it did on that fateful day in 1963. I was saddened, disgusted and shamed to be a member of a society that breeds the kind people that can perform such heinous acts.

Giffords was a supporter of universal healthcare. She cared for her constituents, rich and poor. She answered to her conscience and used her strong intellect to make the decisions she felt were best for America. As I write this, the identity of the killer hasn’t been released. His motives remain a mystery.

As I do my best to resist anger and frustration, I ask “Who shot Gabrielle Giffords?”

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The Absence of Allen Sherpa – A Visit to the Tribal Areas

Everyone has at some point heard references to the “tribal areas” of northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, but few grasp the significance of the term. Our perceptions are colored by the books we’ve read, Hollywood movies we’ve seen and the pseudo-news coverage to which we’ve been exposed. They’re painted as dark areas where bandits lurk in the shadows that would exist if the sun ever shined. The people are sinister, uneducated and clannish. They view all outsiders with suspicion and distain. They know little about the outside world other than that it is bad and its influence should be resisted when its extermination isn’t possible. As our efforts in Afghanistan continue to meet with great frustration, I wanted to know more about the tribal areas in the hope of getting a better understanding of the “big picture”.

Upon my arrival in the tribal area, I found much of the stereotype justified. It was almost like a walk back in time. The levels of civilization varied substantially. It was obvious there was some wealth, but it was clearly concentrated in the hands of a very few. Most of the “houses” were more basic than those to which I am accustomed. Some had electricity, intermittent as it may have been, but some did not. Plumbing (with the exception of sewer) was common, but not taken for granted. The lucky ones had firewood piled high. Others had to forage for wood on an “as needed” basis when the severe winter cold made it a matter of survival.

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Taxes, Texans and Tea

Conservatives from shore to shore rail against the evils of taxation. Tea baggers stand on street corners hoisting their signs skyward bemoaning the taxes they view as unnecessary to pay for the programs that will ultimately care for them such as social security and medicare. “We’re mortgaging our children’s future,” they shout.

For the most part, their time would be better spent singing the lyrics of the scarecrow’s song from the Wizard of Oz.

Oh, I could tell you why the ocean’s near the shore.

I could think of things I never thunk before.

And then I’d sit, and think some more.

I would not be just a nothin’ my head all full of stuffin’

My heart all full of pain.

I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,

If I only had a brain.

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John McCain to Enter Nursing Home!

Alright, alright . . . that may not be the appropriate headline, but it should be. The man has truly lost it. He has gone over the edge and is looking back at senility from the other side of the fence. It’s time to wipe the drool from his chin and strap him into his wheelchair. We knew he had fallen into the abyss when he picked Alaska’s State embarrassment, Sarah Palin, as his running mate and thus blew himself out of the race for the White House. But now, John McCain has truly cracked.

John finished at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy so he has never been viewed as an intellectual behemoth. But just like rock breaks scissors, honor and character trump cranial horsepower, hence John prospered. Despite his well documented character failings over the years, I believed in him enough that I not only contributed to his 2000 campaign for President, I actually worked on his campaign team. But that was 2000 and ten ticks on the birthday calendar have gone by since then. Aging takes its toll on all of us lucky enough to live long enough. John is no exception.

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Babs’ Quote of the Day – 2010.2.9

The entire country appears to be hiccupping uncontrollably, caught in a vortex of mass hysteria, jumping up and down like Rumpelstilskin while yelling, “The tea leaves have told you that! The tea leaves have told you that!” Slap a paper bag over your head and suck it up people! Stop hyperventilating with a bunch of fear-mongering Nashville-bound Libertarians and Conservatives who worship at the altar of Sarah Palin. You’d think she had the answers to world peace and fiscal responsibility when her claim to fame is shopping at Neiman and Saks and that evolution is blasphemy.

The hazards of debt, death panels, out-of-control government spending, pulling the Medicare rug out from under senior citizens, voting irregularities – there’s more political tripe floating around in the news, in Nashville and on the internet than what you’d find in Menudo on New Year’s Day.

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