Again, apologies for running so far behind this week, I know I have a LOT to catch up on. Let's start with Gulf turbulence...
The pictures coming in from the Galveston and Houston Texas areas in the wake of Hurricane Ike are jaw-dropping. For a Category 3 storm, this did a lot of damage. Of course, the areas in question took a direct hit, something comparatively -- and thankfully -- rare historically. We're talking sustained winds over 100 mph with gusts in the 130+ range. The tidal surge totally inundated the beach areas, destroying everything.
I was amused, however, to see one lone house still standing amongst the carnage near the Galveston-area coastline. It seems that when these homeowner's original dwelling was destroyed by Hurricane Rita a few years ago, they decided not to play around when rebuilding -- they hired a contractor to build a home that could withstand a Cat FIVE storm! Apparently, the contractor was legit, because from the air the home looks virtually undamaged. The owners may feel a little lonely in the near future, however, as the surrounding neighborhood has vanished (and I mean about as far as the eye can see). Well, look at the bright side -- no noisy neighbors and their "yard" now extends to the horizon.
This is such a touchy subject I've avoided saying much about it except on the message board and even then, not all that much there either. I'll try to be brief so I can make my points in short order.
I've long regarded the Bush/Kerry campaign as being the meanest, nastiest race for the presidency in my memory. To me, attacking each other's service records in an attempt to delineate who's the more patriotic by explaining who's supposed to be the most bad-ass war hero was beneath contempt. The only funny thing to come out of it was Dubya's service records disappearing for, like, two years (remember, the ones that cost Dan Rather his job at CBS) while he publicly re-imagined his frat-boy days into a new version of Top Gun. John Kerry, despite his three purple hearts, never really had a chance anyway, as he was simply not a good candidate at a good time.
The current Obama/McCain campaign, while being more typical in terms of of mud-slinging, has also taken on the air of a circus tent and freak show. This is unbelievable sh*t.
Barack Obama is an amazing success story when you think about it. He came out of nowhere and with only two years as a Senator under his belt, he sailed past Hillary Clinton, who could've become the nation's first woman president, to perhaps himself become the nation's first black president. His shadowy past cavorting with fringe elements (Rev. Wright, et.al,), a birth certificate still in dispute (is that lawsuit claiming it's a forgery still winding through the coursts?), Muslim alliances as a child and young man, and no real experience as a leader (but BIG plans) has done nothing to slow down his virtual rock-star status in the political world. His pick of Joe Biden as his VP was intended to "balance" the ticket with someone of more experience, but that choice may be ill-fated as it turns out. (For those mystified as to why Hillary wasn't chosen, ignoring the obvious personality conflicts, we don't really know but that she might've been approached but turned it down.) Obama's plans to tax only the rich (above $200K) to fund various social programs appeals to blue-collar workers. His plan to immediately withdraw troops from Iraq really only draws fire from only the most radical right-wingers who'd basically like to see us stay there forever.
I don't remember how many times John McCain has thrown his hat into the ring, but I think it goes back to the '80s. A soft-spoken man with an admirable service record (Vietnam POW), his reputed hot temper is about the only thing he was ever criticized for. Well, OK, not exactly. Right-wing extremists traditionally see his politics as too modest, almost liberal, and anything even modestly liberal in this day and age is, to a conservative, tantamount to calling one's mom a whore. Still, he's been a Seantor for decades (plenty of experience), he emerged from the recent debates unscathed (something Obama still has problems with), with only his age (72) and, up to two weeks ago, any running mate that could define an image that could go up against Obama seeming an obstacle. His plan for staying in Iraq mirrored Bush's too closely for too long which cost him possible Democratic switch-voters unimpressed with Clinton/Obama.
And then came Sarah Palin. Within 48 hours of Obama announcing Joe Biden as VP (and the dust not quite having settled on that lackluster announcement), John McCain surprised the world by going against conventional wisdom and picking the sexy young governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin to be on the ticket, which she instantly accepted. The media exploded, both pro and con. I immediately saw this as a f*ck you to the Clintons, in that if McCain is elected and does not survive office, Sarah Palin becomes the first woman president (if not the first woman elected president, but whatever). And Obama certainly couldn't attack any lack of experience. Nevertheless, the "balance" was complete for McCain to an almost surreal degree, as Palin was not only more conservative than McCain, she was a gun-totin', bible-thumpin', evangelical hellion totally at home with the right-wing wackos who'd just as soon have her bikini pictures on their swimsuit calendars as go moose-hunting. Her religious affiliations, her alleged pursuit of book-banning when she was governor, her choice to have a child with Down's Syndrome (anti-abortion), and her belief in Creationism is dead-on perfectly central to the groundswell worship of their new-found messiah, at the same time the antithesis of everything the extreme left hates and fears. The "scandals" involving her pregnant teenage daughter ("family values" shake-up), and the abuse-of-power charges revolving around "trooper-gate" (another quasi-family matter) have not done much to stem the movement. So obsessed are her enemies, they recently hacked her personal email account, which is a low blow and extremely invasive and I hope they get prison, but didn't come away with anything more revealing than family pictures and personal phone numbers. How deliciously divisive this all is.
Obama's pictures on the covers of Time, Newsweek, et.al., have been replaced with Palin's to the extent that you'd think she is the one running for president. McCain seems content to sit back and watch (which he's done from the beginning), and Joe Biden is virtually off the radar entirely.
The debates are coming up next week. Obama's weak spot has been thinking on his feet away from the teleprompters, McCain's is separating himself from Bush regarding the Iraq war, Biden's is avoiding becoming the next Dan Quayle with foot-in-mouth disease, and Palin's may be similar to Obama's, i.e., unscripted answering of questions, especially as she's still coming up to speed in something of this magnitude. This is going to be a bumpy ride. I can't wait.