Sunday, October 31, 2010

Palin in '12

I have always maintained that Sarah Palin would never run for President. I am often wrong and in this opinion I may be wrong. Given the demographics of the likely turnout on Tuesday, if we were electing a President and Sarah was running, she might well win. She undoubtedly realizes this and I am starting to think she might like to be President.

The 2012 Presidential campaign starts next Wednesday. It should be clear soon whether or not she's going to run and if she's not, there's not much else for her to do. I don't think she's ready to hang it up. She's having a good time and performing at the top of her game.

I think she'll go for it and I think there's nobody to stop her taking the Republican nomination. What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Maybe She's OK

There's this expose type article in The Gawker that's getting a lot of links, about Christine O'Donnell, by a guy that claims to know her.

The thrust of it is that she's actively heterosexual, friendly, will take a few drinks in a social situation and doesn't shave her pussy. Doesn't sound so bad to me. May be the best article I've ever read about her. I'm not sure it would get me to vote for her if I lived in Delaware but it does make me feel better about the possibility that she might be elected. To tell you the truth, I never thought she was all that strait laced anyway.

There are some cute pictures of her in a Lady Bug Halloween costume. Her tits aren't hanging out of it or anything like that.

What's the big deal?

New Senate Majority Leader?

It has always been my belief that the American people, while they might knowingly elect crooks, liars, drunks and perverts to high public office, usually will draw the line at complete morons. Sharon Angle, running for Senate in Nevada, may be the exception that proves that rule next week. I could never understand why the Republicans hate Harry Reid so much. He's a pretty reasonable guy, conservative even, for a Democrat.

If the Democrats don't lose control of the Senate, they may be in search of a new Senate Majority Leader. The two guys at the top of the list are Illinois' Dick Durbin and New Yorker Chucky Schumer. It's hard to believe that the Republicans would like either one of them any better. Dick Durbin is a little guy, with the smooth, mellifluous voice and verbal skills of a night shift, jazz station DJ but underneath it all he's a Chicago boy, with all the sensitivity and respect for consensus and reasoned debate as Al Capone. Chuck Schumer is probably the smartest guy in Congress today. He's not afraid to fight but understands that the best strategy for a guy like him is to keep smiling, get in close and never let the other guy see your first and best punch coming, then grab something blunt and heavy to finish off the other guy with. I like them both a lot but I think Chuck is more effective circulating on the floor. Durbin would make a better Leader. He and Joe Biden are spiritual brothers and he's been a mentor to Barry O since the beginning.


I'm not really fond of the BBC dramatic productions that American Public Television re brand and gift us with here. They are usually glacially paced, often miscast, poorly produced. Even with good material to rewrite into television, they can fuck up badly. For example, I've been following the Richard Sharpe novels for 20 years and looked forward to the broadcast of the BBC television versions. They started out horrible and got much worse. The two that came out this year were execrable. They could have been great TV.

My wife wanted to watch the new Masterpiece series, Sherlock, so I watched the first episode with her. It's a rehash of the venerable detective's adventures, set in modern day London. I was surprised. It's not bad at all. It's, well plotted, very fast paced, action packed, with lots of quick cuts but still manages to be comprehensible and easy to follow. Usually these 90 minute dramatic packages are punishing to get through. The contemporary Holmes and Watson are appealing and their interactions are well written. There is some good character development going on, at least so far. It's more fantasy than realistic but that's all to the good. You need to completely suspend belief to enjoy it.

It may become terrible later on but I'm going to watch at least a few more episodes. You might consider it too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA

Next Tuesday is election day. Me and all my liberal friends have a busy day scheduled. We all gotta get up early, spread out to the local precincts and rig the votin' machines.

Later. we're all getting together to do recreational late term abortions on completely healthy women who could easily afford to raise a child and would suffer no social stigma at all for doing so. We'll take those dead babies to the precinct and make sure they all vote the straight Democratic ticket.

Then it's down to the Unitarian church, we'll match those bloody, head crushed fetuses up, same sex wise and Gay marry them to each other, before callously tossing their mangled little preborn bodies in the nearest dumpster.

Then we do what we do every afternoon. Liquor. Drugs. Pornography. And little tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

God, I love the smell of Communism in the morning. It smells like victory.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

As This Town Deflates, You Can Kinda Hear A Farting Sound

My town is emptying out. If you look, you can see it. All the apartments have vacancy signs. Probably 12-13% of the houses are vacant. Storefronts in the strip malls and space in the office complexes are more, maybe 15-18% vacant. Industrial complexes even more and would be worse still but a lot of retail and restaurants have moved into them because of the lower rents.

There is noticeably less traffic on the streets during rush hours in the morning and evenings. At the big malls the parking lots are never full and there is never any real bustle, even on weekends.

The beaches still get a lot of traffic on holiday weekends but that's influx from the valleys and high desert, escaping the heat. They don't come into the neighborhoods. They don't eat at the restaurants. They don't buy anything. Maybe a tank of gas on the way out of town.

People are leaving. It's expensive here, that's why. You can go someplace else, not that far away and get an apartment or buy a little house for 30-40% less. If you're willing to go a little farther, it's even cheaper than that. Find a big house that they're renting out by the room and utilities are paid, you can get by with even a marginal income, out in a place like Rialto or Fontana, hard up against the base of the Cajon Pass. If the traffic is light, it's only an hours drive.

Beach towns are all about ambiance. When people start watching expenses, ambiance is the first thing a lot are willing to do without. If enough people leave, the ambiance may not be so damn good anyway.

We'll see, by and by.

Fun With Your New Head

When I was a child and growing up into a young adult, California was a crucible of emerging American culture and in those days, being in that crucible was kind of fun. It's true that it was a crucible for economic change, political change, and religious change and that wasn't always fun but there was a lot of other stuff going on. There was philosophy, lifestyle, literature, music, every kind of media all changing and spreading out around us and to ease whatever discomfort anyone was feeling, there were always lots of various narcotic substances to ease the anxiety and pain.

A lot of things that started in California ended up spreading all across the country. It never was exactly the same because everything kept changing as it spread from place to place but there was no question that a lot of the changes in American culture over the last 50-60 years started here.

A lot of people think that's changed. They're wrong. California is still the major crucible of changing American culture and that culture is spreading out to the rest of the country. The difference is that the changes of today aren't exciting or fun. The changes taking place in California today involve the assimilation into American society of huge new waves of immigrants. Immigrants from places that America has never had before. They have much different cultures, religions and racial origins than previous large waves of immigrants. Not all of them have come here covertly and illegally but a lot of them have. We're all here together, basking in the same Sunshine. Drinking the same water piped in from the Owens Valley and the Colorado River. Breathing the same air trapped under the inversion layer and shitting into the same sewers that flush into the Great South Bay. Hammering out a new society together. Always together.

Couple of things you should know before you scoff at us, call us bad names or blame us for the scourges we bring among you. Nobody here had any choice. No choice from the end of World War II to the 60s, when the fun stuff was happening and no choice now. This is just the place where all the stuff happens first and the basic rules get written. You do whatever you want with it. We're busy. We're starting on new stuff now that you're not even going to believe when it shows up in your town in a few years.

All the stuff is coming to you. Look around. A lot of it is already wherever you are and plenty more to come. You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mac World

We're booked for Mac World in San Francisco, Jan. 25-29. Flights were $60 R/T on Southwest from SNA to SFO, free baggage check, which is getting to be a big issue. Linda is not a light traveler. Hotel Carlton, on Nob Hill was $52 a night for 4 nights. With taxes and ancillary fees the whole thing for the two of us comes to $400.

For about $10 a night cheaper, I could have gotten a rooming house type of hotel. It wouldn't be as convenient to get to Moscone Center and would have shared bathrooms down the hall. What the Hell. You only live once and it really isn't worth the extra trouble, for the money saved. From the Carlton, you can take the trolley up and down the hill right to Market Street, close to Moscone Center. Never been there but it gets top reviews and three stars on Trip Adviser. I always find their ratings reliable.

It'll be fun to spend a few Winter days in San Francisco, don't you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Does America Mean To You?

I'm not opening up any new ground here. How often does any one do that? It seems like a good thing to write about with elections just a week away. So here goes.

The Republicans are now in a place. They are desperately trying to redefine themselves in terms that will give a greater number of people the opportunity to side with them against what they see as the forces of liberalism currently controlling the Democratic Party, whatever those forces might be.

The Republicans already have a base of support and it's important, no matter what they do or say otherwise, to keep that base of support firmly on their side and motivated to vote in large percentages. If they can't do that, they can't accomplish anything.

This Republican base sees itself as Conservative but what do they really mean by that? It means to them that they primarily value what they see as traditional American values and morals. The first and foremost way that they define these values is as Christian. They believe that America is a Christian nation. They believe that there should be a separation of Church and State but that in many ways it is unnecessary because they believe that most Americans are also Christian, like them and so bound to believe as they do. They see the most important protection within society as the right to life. The most important step toward a right to life is the abolition of any legal abortion. It goes beyond this though. They believe that White American society must be encouraged to the greatest extent possible to reproduce, multiply and aculturate their numbers or else it will be buried under what they see as alien intruders in the land. The next thing that they revere is the preservation of traditional marriage between one man and one woman. They believe that any factions that seek to break down traditional marriage do so with the express purpose of breaking down Christian American society and damaging its ability to thrive and multiply its numbers. These Conservatives believe that anybody that practices a mode of life that is not Christian, is a threat and internal enemy of the State. This includes people of any other religion, especially Islam, those who do not profess a willingness to practice heterosexuality and people that have no qualms about admitting in public that they have no religion. This then, is the Republicans Conservative base, that they must satisfy at all costs, if they want to win any elections now or in the foreseeable future. They have no choice but to give up the support of some other groups, if alliance with them damages their support by the base.

By all accounts, Democrats are not enthusiastic about voting next week. Turnout among them will be low. Enthusiasm is even lower among independents. Possibly as few as the 20-30% range of registered voters will turn out. With their small but energized Conservative base, the Republicans are likely to do quite well. They deserve to. That's the way the system is designed.

I hope you can see that I can never support the Republicans as long as their primary support comes from their traditionalist, Christian, Conservative, base.

Society rolls along. It bends, flexes and changes. A week from Tuesday it will do some more of that. It's OK with me. Nothing much will change in my neighborhood and it's a pretty nice place. I'm a lucky guy. I always was and it seems to be holding. Good for me.

Roll on, Big River.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm So Sorry, Uncle Clarence

So, what do you think about that emailed request for an apology from Ginni Thomas, for her husband Clarence, to  professor Anita Hill?

At the time of Thomas' confirmation hearings in 1991, I thought that Anita was telling the truth, as far as she went and that Clarence was lying but he seemed to be genuinely hurt and offended by her claims. It seemed to me that there was some sort of back story that we weren't getting. While some of the interactions between Clarence and Anita certainly seemed inappropriate, according to her, Clarence never actually groped her or pushed hard for a sexual relationship between them, which seems strange, given the intimacy implied by the verbal exchanges that went on between them.

I don't want to go into a whole conspiracy theory about this but it seemed to me that maybe Clarence thought Anita was a lesbian and maybe was trying in his own clumsy way to establish a collegial, "just one of the boys" relationship with her. I still think maybe she's gay and whether she ever stated such to Clarence, it was clear to her that he was aware of the fact and also she ws aware that however boorish his behavior towards her, it was no attempt at sexual molestation or discrimination, just a guy who didn't know quite how to act around her but was giving it his best, not very good, try.

Now, on the other hand, have you ever seen Ginni Thomas on TV? The way she looks, talks and dresses? Total, unmistakable dyke. At least as obvious as the Janet's Reno and Napolitano. So what does that make Clarence? Is he Gay too? You have to admit, he has shown a definite obsession for huge, black penis. The other explanation, is that he is the male version of a Fag hag, heterosexual but uncomfortable with sexually accessible women and more animated around lesbians, who support rather than directly engage his fragile masculinity.

Whatever. I don't think this episode is going to cause Clarence to turn in his choir robe in shame.  Even with the Gay wife, I think life is pretty damn sweet for him. It's an interesting postscript to a controversial American political episode after twenty years. I hope there are more developments. It's fun and we could all use a little fun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old Wine In The Closet

Back in the 80s, I used to buy cheap wine, usually at Trader Joe's. It was a buck or two a bottle. The difference between that wine and Two Buck Chuck, of today, was that it was small batch wine, made by serious wineries, that they couldn't sell, versus wine produced in huge volumes, using San Joaquin Valley grapes, specifically for sale at a low price.

Honestly, the Two Buck Chuck is a much better deal. The commercial wine making process has come a long way in the last 20-30 years.  Winemakers used to crush the grapes and leave the juice on the grape skins, stems and what few leaves might still be in the mix for way too long, hoping to produce a wine with complex flavors and give the natural yeasts on the skins plenty of time to activate. What they often got was wine that had way too much acidic tannins and vegetal components and if they were nearly undrinkable, would be pronounced "big" and worthy of further aging in the bottle. Two Buck Chuck is strained off the must right away. There's plenty of yeasts in the mix already and if they need to get the fermentation process going quickly, they can add some commercially produced yeast strains that they know won't produce any nasty flavors as a bi product of fermentation. They're fresh, have lots of fruit and you can quaff them down 'til you slide under the table

A lot of  "big", California, boutique wines in the 80s got sold off cheap through outlets like Trader Joe's for a buck or two a bottle because they were pretty hard to drink. I used to buy a bottle of any wine I thought might be interesting, take it home, crack it open and if it wasn't too chunky and didn't dissolve the gums away from my teeth immediately, go right back and buy a few more bottles for my closet wine cellar. At one point I probably had 120 bottles or so. That's twelve cases. Probably cost me closer to $100 than $200. Were talking economical drunk here, if you don't factor in future costs for dental prostheses and treatment for mouth and throat cancer.

I have a bunch of this stuff, still from the 80s, even a few from the late 70s. It's had plenty of time to age and my hall closet isn't that bad of a place to age wine, all things considered. When I decant one of these there is a thick crust of sediment and purple/black crystalline particulate stuck on the side of the bottle that was facing down. Some of it is a lot better than it was. Mostly they're still pretty "big" though. At this point, these wines are like a woman who was never really pretty when she was young but has taken good care of herself and whatever flaws kept her from attractiveness when she was young, now give her aging features character. She's still not pretty but you suspect she'd be a lot more fun to fuck than your best friend's cheerleader daughter and a hell of a lot more accessible and appropriate. Then, you move in for a little hug and peck on the cheek, get a quick whiff and bingo, it's boner time. The joys of maturity.

If we're going to somebody's house for dinner, sometimes I take along a bottle or two of my wine stash as a hostess gift. Most people don't like real red wine unless it's light, sweet and frothy, so I never get too many raves about it. They like that it's 25 years old though, so my investment of a dollar or two a bottle paid off.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Elections Coming Up

The mid term election campaign season is coming to a close. For me, it's kind of anti climactic. No big surprises. The last election cycle was a big emotional high for the Left. There was a lot of criticism against the Right and a big turnout on the Left, resulting in big representative gains for them and the election of a relatively inexperienced and previously unknown, dark horse to the Presidency. It's no big surprise, at least to me, that the Republicans have turned the tables. They have energized their base with a lot criticism and emotion of their own and will no doubt make a big recovery.

It doesn't really rile me up. Nothing changes too fast in America. It's like watching a glacier melt. It's happening but you need time lapse photography to notice it. I'm not conflicted about how I will vote and won't be too surprised or upset when the vote goes against me. It's not like it hasn't been happening regularly for the last four decades. Things have changed and I'm not all that unhappy with the way things are likely going.

I'm ready for the next election cycle to begin. I think there will be some big changes in the political climate. There always are and I'm eager to see.

The only result I really want to see is whether or not Marijuana gets legalized in California. I think it has a good chance and even though the Federal authorities state it will make no difference, I think it could really shake things up. How would you vote on the legalization of Marijuana? I'm thinking about growing a few plants in the backyard. Have a few baggies on hand. Housewarming and hostess gifts. Tips for the paperboy. That kind of thing.

Branson in the Fall

Branson was OK. Beautiful weather. The locals say that business is way down from what it usually is but it was pretty busy. The main drag down the strip was bumper to bumper when the morning afternoon and evening shows let out.

I was not sorry I went. Something to do, right? I bottom fished for everything on Priceline, so it didn't cost me much.

Probably less than 20 guys showed up. That's not many. No matter, there were three or four of us who sat over in a corner of the hospitality room, chipping away at the liquor, having a pretty good time. Some of the other guys would join us from time to time between the shows and other scheduled family activities on offer. It's funny. Talking to old sailors, because of shared experiences, you can often be more honest and express things that you have difficulty expressing to others. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to matter whether or not they knew you then or were on the same boat at the same time.

One of the most interesting experiences was on the last day. An 89 year old guy who had been on the 197, before it sunk, showed up. I talked with him for maybe 2 1/2 hours before he got tired and his wife took him home. In spite of different times and across all those years, we were just two sailors, learning a few things from each other. There were some guys from the 575, time frame commissioning crew, early 50s, to just after they replaced the sodium reactor, early 60s. They were pretty fun too. Even older and gimpier than us. Gives me something to look forward to.

The Captain showed up. Only officer. Tells you something about a guy, that he will travel across the country just to spend a little time with a few broken down old sailors that he was too preoccupied to get to know very well 35 years ago. We didn't share many points of view then and probably even fewer now but I always liked and admired the guy and still do.

Even with the small turnout, the only real disappointment I had was with one of my old shipmates. He was one of my heroes at the time. We stood watch in the same area. I knew him pretty good. He's a changed man. Total Christian, tea total, prays over a sack of burgers and fries before digging in. Still, I don't blame him. He always did what he wanted to and I'm sure he still is. It's just that we didn't get to spend too much time together in the corner, chipping away at the liquor and swapping stories. He was happy and healthy. Good for him.

As you can imagine I was odd man out politically. Not that many of these guys are hard core Christians but most of them are pretty far Right Wing. I didn't try to hide my views but wasn't there to argue politics either. Nobody else was either. It was no problem. There was some speculation about women coming on board submarines. I kind of would like to be able to be aboard a sub to watch that. It should be real interesting.

I'm not real interested in ever going to another submarine reunion, at least any time soon. Maybe if they ever have one close to where I live, California. I doubt that. Las Vegas would be more likely. I'd probably go for that. Only time will tell.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

No Likely Republican Sweep in California

In California, we have two very high profile political races to be decided next month, the junior Senate seat and Governorship. Republicans have two women running, both wealthy former private sector CEOs. Meg Whitman for Governor and Carly Fiorina for Senate. Both have far outspent their Democratic opponents and both are behind in the polls. Does this signify anything about anything? Maybe not.

Neither of these ladies has any history of interest or participation in the political process, not even as voters. Neither of these ladies have any kind of grass roots support, with supporters of budgetary austerity or the fundamentalist Christians who champion family values issues in the pro life and anti homosexuality categories that are energizing the Republicans nationwide. They've given no persuasive reasons to anybody likely to vote for them why they should.

The Republicans might have been better off going with people like Christine O'Donnell, or Rand Paul, who have some legitimate differences from the political status quo to hang their campaigning hats on. Even if they didn't win, they would be defining their message, building their base and setting the stage for future gains.

If Republicans lose the Governorship in California, it will be a big step back for them. Jerry Brown, running once again for the office, is the only Democrat to have successfully served a full term in the office, since the election of Ronald Reagan in the early 60s and he was able to do so only by hanging onto the coat tails of his father, arguably the last of the powerful, Depression era, American regional, political kingpins.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Cheap, Legal Dope Smokin' ? Maybe

I'm past the point where the idea of legalized Marijuana excites me very much. There is an initiative on the California ballot that would do just that this year, as well as give the State the right to regulate where it's sold, who it's sold to and tax the revenues from its sale.

It is looking a great deal like it's going to pass.

There is already a Federal law which, while it does not outlaw the sale of Marijuana outright, effectively blocks it's sale, at least for now. On the other hand, as long as interstate commerce is not involved, the Feds might have a difficult time blocking a legal, domestic Pot culture in California and as everybody knows, Pot grows real good here and the potential customer base is almost everyone.

I guess I'd like to see his initiative pass, even though it would put Marijuana culture firmly into the hands of big business. Any old hippies still making a living growing organic Pot could take a few college extension chemistry courses and produce some good quality LSD. I'd buy some of that from them.

Is Our Nation Unpatriotic?

America prides itself on being the land of the free and the home of the brave. When America becomes embroiled in war, national consensus usually manifests itself in patriotic support for these wars. Ironically, this was true even during the Civil War, when we were fighting amongst ourselves. This has certainly been representative in my family. Even though there is a strong strain of religious pacifism within it, there have been members of my family that served during every conflict from the Revolution through Vietnam.

Has something changed? Nobody in my family has served in the Armed forces since I got out and that was more than thirty years ago. Since that time we have been involved in Reagan's glorious liberation of a beleaguered Grenadan democracy and various Bush inspired wars of foreign aggression in Panama and the Middle East. While the Right Wing has tried to fan the flames of patriotic unity during these armed conflicts and they have been the longest and most expensive wars in our history, there has been little general support for any of them.

Nobody in my family has served during any of these wars or as far as I know, even considered it. None of my friends or coworkers have or any of their children. From the conversations I have been involved in at work, school or at social events, these wars might as well involve some other country than our own. One friend of mine, a member of a long oppressed minority community, joined the Army as a reserve officer, thinking to make the experience part of his own bootstrapping process of upward mobility. He quickly gave them all the money he had received back, asked for and was given a hasty discharge. I guess you can do that kind of stuff when you're an officer.

What do you think? Will Americans ever unite again in patriotic support for purposes of waging war?