Dylan Cormack

In the late autumn, the yellowing leaves don’t always stop falling just because it’s night time; that’s why even in the dark and strange cold of Amsterdam in November, the canals will still fill up with leaves and other trash no matter what the streets are stirring up, no matter what the sweeps are sweeping up.

People bumble slowly down the narrow walkways and the city glows with an eerie darkness that lets through a fraction of the light scattered by the soft haze. A dead leaf floats gently on the cushion of the thick air that hangs between buildings and eventually lands softly onto the liquid below. An alerting cold started at my toes and threatens to crawl up my ankle. I am tense tonight and I know exactly why.

Tuesday is coming, and with it, November 4th. On three quarters of any other year this day would pass by with the meaninglessness of all of those fallen leaves resting on the surface tension of the waterways of Amsterdam, but not this year. This is Election Year.

There is a bad noise coming from the birds that occasionally swoop over the canals but not tonight. People who know Seagulls tell me that the birds always go out to sea to die but I suspect this is not always the case. No sir. The various alleyways and narrow canals of Central Amsterdam are crawling with things that are ready to die but seem to want one more fix of whatever it is for which they yearn. And a quick glance outside tells me that this is Seagull country. These birds are waiting for something too or they’d be long gone.

The mansion across the water continues to shine its bright light in my face and will until 2008 is over. That’s when the city will take the celebratory thing down off of the Tripp Family building and things will change then. It won’t, of course, be just this bright white box hanging on the building I see from my Dutch window that I won’t have to deal with anymore. Indeed, 2008 will die and will take with it a very dark stain on the American Way of Life.

But first, Barack Obama must defeat John McCain. Until then, I will have to put up with these goddamn birds.

Make no mistake about it; we are headed into a dark week and things are only going to get weirder from here. John McCain and Sarah Palin may indeed go silently into the good night but I wouldn’t count on it. I have put my money on getting more laughable sound bites from that jackass pimp, Tucker Bounds, to aggravate anything with a functioning cerebellum and at the same time energize the republican base to show up and vote their black little hearts out. What a fun night Monday will be.

I’ve also doubled down on some more absurd rhetoric in Pennsylvania and Florida, even though it’s Nevada, Ohio, Missouri and Virginia that are flippable at this point. Pennsylvania and Florida are just the ones that would cause damage to some very big Egos if they started going Red right now. And no one is ready to talk about that, so we here won’t either. Call it “solidarity”.

You betcha. The politics will get heavy this week, and don’t lose sight of that because other things will be happening as well. This will be a very good week for ugly things to come out of the closet. No one will notice anything – from illegitimate babies aborted on the supreme court bench to corrupt senators being ousted from their states like feculent rats, straight into federal prison for 35 years. Except you and me because, well, we’re here, taking note to not be duped, right?

Indeed. The only way to miss the main event this week will be to bury your head in the sand like a blind animal or a Raiders fan living in a fairy tale. It’s possible, of course, to overdo it and lose yourself in the quagmire of whiskey and despair, a phenomenon that CNN is calling “Election Obsession”. There are many people in the continental US that are affected by this horrible psychosis and flee to the woods for days at a time in order to escape stimuli. Imagine that. Regular fathers, mothers, doctors and plumbers, suddenly realizing that they’re struck/stricken with an uncontrolled obsession with election year politics and can’t get away from any media that won’t shower them with the same information in a dozen different formats. Foaming at the mouth and snapping at strangers, they get a grip just long enough to make a lucid decision to make for whatever back country woods they can find in their home state, searching for shelter and an absence of an internet connection to calm their woes. The symptoms for Election Obsession include spending hours in internet chat room discussions that go nowhere and nervous ticks, primarily in the corners of the eyes that are strained from trying to read into the vague statements made by campaign staffers. Foaming at the mouth occurs in rare instances and may be more linked to babbling than anything else.

But that’s not me, folks, and I have different plans. Though I haven’t yet decided if I’ll be on a flight between here and Norway or perhaps Eastern Europe, I will certainly be connected once I land. And god help the stewardess that tells me I can’t turn on my laptop during landing. A night like next Tuesday only comes every 4 years and I hope to avoid a repeat of 2004 and 2000 this time around. I will be prepared for the worst, and expect Nothing. This will take Concentration, of course.

Total. Concentration.

Which is why I’ll be in midair for a large part of it. Matters are different this time and that could complicate things. 2000 caught millions off-guard and we couldn’t even articulate what happened before our very eyes. In 2004 we overestimated the intelligence of the average American in time of war (or at least, in a time when war rhetoric is spewed from every orifice of government) and we watched in many different ways and with many different eyes as the tragedy unfolded itself from the weirdest corners of idle minds somewhere in a strange place called Ohio.

Sure, there were some of us that didn’t even know it was happening and went on with our midterms and our Christmas shopping and our reality TV. But some of us sat glued to the tube counting counties in abject disbelief and struggled to accept it. Others perched on their rooftops, howling at the moon and throwing half-empty bottles of Tecate at their neighbors and passers-by, climbing down briefly every 10 or 15 minutes to refresh their browsers for updates. Others couldn’t handle the crisis and did horrible things like dig holes in the sand on a dark beach, or sit on tall bridges over places like the Golden Gate and ponder horrible actions. Meanwhile the CNN logo flashed on a screen flickering in the empty dark of their distant living rooms filled only with the gnarly sounds of Wolf Blitzer’s mouth.

Yes. This time it will not go unnoticed by anyone. The ratings for CNN are as high as the market is low and the prices of ad space for Tuesday Night is starting to look like the Superbowl. If you miss out on the fun this year it will be not just by choice but by active effort. Some people will still perch on their rooftops and hurl bottles and others will dig holes, as always. Most people will have a 24-hour news channel on mute as they go about domestic chores. There are those that will try to have a normal night, maybe go to the movies, maybe hit the bars. But the only consistent topic of conversation will be The Outcome.

Even the traditional pornography sites will have political leanings on Tuesday night for those who think they can get away from it by dodgier avenues, like non-stop masturbation or else by watching Fox News. Certain prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam have been investing in costumes and paraphernalia for the event. Bill Clinton dick sheathes and American flags with sperm instead of stars were popular a few years back but shop owners in Amsterdam have been mum on what’s popular this year.

“The girls have been asking us to keep it a surprise for their patrons, and we respect that,” said the floor manager at the Casa Rossi sex shop. Well, ‘said’ is a strong word, but it was heavily implied by his demeanor.

But not everyone is so keen to produce an opinion on the touchy matter, even in a place like The Red Light District of Amsterdam. Bouncers at strip clubs claim to have no events or gimmicks planned for election night, insisting it’s business as usual.

“Just another Tuesday night here,” said a large, bald Russian who then quickly shooed me away with his stare. I asked some of the regular girls in the windows if they’d bought any costumes or fun toys for election night to get the crowds excited on but they were, surprisingly, very shy about the topic.

“I don’t really care about any of those guys,” said ‘Sasha’, squirming in that thin and cold air, asking me to “come in and have some fun for 25 minutes.” All it would take was €50.

“Oh, come on,” I pressed. “You’ve got to have SOME kind of opinion…who would you rather have visit you here?” She thought about it for a little longer.

“Obama,” she said, “because he’s younger and pretty tall.” No denying that, I thought.

But ‘You’re not much if you ain’t Dutch’, they say around here, which is strange because it might turn out to be the other way around. The Dutch ways of discretion and moderation owned the situation with the hosts of “The District”. But the patrons were something else entirely. A stroll through The District quickly illustrates that discretion is a concept wasted on anyone in the red-light district of Amsterdam. No one wore their colors on their shoulders, but opinions here are as pervasive as the natural sexual desires and perversions that often only see the light of day in this alleyway of narrow boats and bimbos and decked out pimps that walk with the gait of a clown or a goose out of water. Or Tucker Bounds.

With the lines between locals and tourists, hosts and patrons and winners and losers continuously blurred by a tenancy towards anonymity in those dank streets, it seems that even the direct approach may be too dangerous an endeavor for this election.

So pollsters, go home. Sit back and wait for the real numbers. That’s about the only thing we can count on now.

Dylan Cormack

Republicans,

Democracy depends on people who have the courage to stand up and be critical; for it is only from the crucible of disagreement among Americans that the best decisions are made.”

In this light, you and I are a cornerstone of democracy at the moment, eh?

Indeed. Are we calm yet? Are we willing to talk without thrusting insults never called for? Maybe. You tell me. But in the meantime, things are happening – crazy, bad things – and some of them have very much to do with the 6th district of Minnesota.

And so much for all that. Fine. Fuck it. We have our disagreements, both in politics and in the other’s decency. That’s a two-way street, though, kids.

But – and this concerns you, District 6 of Minnesota. Pay attention.

On Oct. 17, your crazy-lady representative, Michele Bachmann, appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball and called for a McCarthyite investigation into the “anti-American” activities of the people she considers liberals. Given her view of the spectrum, that’s a shitload of people. Since you’re politically educated, as you say, I trust you know what McCarthyite investigations” refers to. And if you don’t, look up words like “doom” and “shameful” and you’ll probably come to it somewhere.

Her words are, no matter how you slice the dice of your leanings, a little scary for the 21st century and I hope you’ll look beyond the jerk you think is feeding you lines. I’m only bringing something to your eyes in a different light – you deal with it how you will, and you’ll disappoint no one on this side of the thread since there is nothing to live up to. I just hope you actually consider what these words mean coming from someone Inside the halls of your (our) government.

“I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?”

Then, to make matters more weird, yesterday in a Minnesota Public Radio debate, Bachmann dismissed the significance of her remarks, saying that no one in the state even cares about what she says.

From what I hear, Minnesotans were paying close attention to her comments one way or the other and “it’s not what people are interested in” is hardly the best way to describe it. Nevermind that 40% of voters said they were less likely to support Bachman after her comments on Hardball.

“I, for one, would like to know exactly how one qualifies as anti-American in her eyes.”

“The ghost of Joe McCarthy is back and representing the Sixth District of Minnesota.”

I mean, Jesus Christ. This is the first step towards a society of Fear and Loathing in its ugliest form. This is what breeds the first steps of a police state. This is bad stuff. Someone – all of you in the 6th District – get this woman out from where she can do some serious damage. Put in someone evil, someone corrupt, like Alaska did…whatever. Just don’t reelect a lunatic to the office, you know?

In case you didn’t know who’s running against her (she IS up for reelection), the man’s name is Elwyn Tinklenberg.

Yes, he’s a democrat.

Yes, it’s an unfortunate name.

No, he’s not a terrorist.

No, he doesn’t stand against all of your “values”. He just disagrees with a few of them. Healthily. Read about the man in a source that you consider neither red OR blue. Make a judgment and vote according to what you Know, not what you feel.

Or just stay home. That works too.

Dylan Cormack

Stuck now in early October, the winds cooling themselves and slowing while still in the afternoon, without waiting for dark. The leaves are dancing wildly in raging colors to compensate but it’s barely enough to sail on. Oktoberfest is over, the harvest is finished and the winter looms on the edge of the horizon, like night.

Meanwhile, somewhere between Wisconsin and Ohio, a failing campaign inexplicably prods on with all of the expected twists and turns, all of the pestilent rhetoric that we’ve heard so many goddamn times before that one wonders why we bother covering it in the first place.

Indeed. It’s the October wall, the second wall for me just this year. I remember when I hit it for the first time in 2004 after the swift boat thing. I hit it with less steam than I did this year, but that’s also because I wasn’t writing as much then. It happens much like an out-of-control binge. You usually don’t plan on it, you enjoy it while it lasts but then it takes over and ruins your weekend, and in the end you find yourself uttering very familiar words like “no more of that” or “never again.”

It’s not just a matter of quantity, of course, but of RATE. You’ve got to keep the stream steady, more like an IV drip than shotgunning a beer. Politics is a toxin just like any other substance that alters your body chemistry and this is well-known in the press circles. You’ve got to take it easy. Calm down. Pay attention to the heart rate. And the word count. Don’t over do it. Keep it steady.

Focus on one topic at a time.

That’s the trick, of course. And my situation for the last few weeks wasn’t helping ANYTHING. Seriously. Caught in a maelstrom of worldly proportions that fails all description other than my itinerary, I made my way from city to city…

New York…

Brussels…

Amsterdam…

Oslo…

Tromso…

Oslo…

Amsterdam…

Oslo…

Riyadh…

Budapest…

…it went on. You start losing your bearings.

“Doesn’t the jet lag affect you?” my flatmate asked me.

Please. My body has been so torn and twisted from 4 years of this shit – pulled from one timezone to another, crossing 8 of them in a single bound, yanked from that one to this one, going from the tropics to the arctic, from 3 degrees Celsius to 35 in a few hours – that it can’t even FIND itself on a map, let alone be oriented enough to know to be jet lagged.

Besides, I get a shit load of miles from all this.

I stopped in each place briefly enough for a load of laundry and a nap. But when you’re stuck in hotel rooms at odd hours, in a place where you can’t buy liquor, beer or wine outside a restaurant (or at all, in Riyadh), and it’s negative 5 degrees outside with no snow yet, where the sun starts setting at 2 in the afternoon and doesn’t actually set until 6… well, in a place like that, you read a lot.

And then you write a lot.

So I got a little carried away, and I went in too deep. I sucked too much marrow and when it slipped over the edge I choked on the bone, I guess.

There are some that refer to this feeling as a kind of Campaign Bloat, of there being too much in your system and you can’t take any more. Normally the reporting and the discussing and the writing are an outlet for the poison to flow through you, stimulating this nerve or that gland but in the end, being processed and expelled just like every other foreign substance. But when one starts to realize that the campaign is utterly meaningless and that you have neither sympathy for the two grabby little maggots nor the patience to pretend otherwise, you lose your will to expel, to express, and a buildup occurs. Things slow down and you don’t even realize that no matter what kind of reverend shows up on the scene, no matter what old terrorist contact your candidate had, no matter what policy disagreements exist in either camp… nothing will affect the polls from here on out except the slow rot and wear that time exerts on numbers in a system such as presidential politics.

People will forget about the sparks and remember the embers. People will forget the facts and remember the feelings, the angst, the confusion, the fear, the uncertainty… and they will vote accordingly. There won’t be speculation about dials, and colored lines on stupid charts on CNN. There won’t be visions of Karl Rove discussing what was true and what was untrue. There will only be a vague notion of what they might have seen on cable TV and how it made them feel, either at that moment or over a series of many more or less identical ones.

…and in places like Wisconsin and Ohio, and Florida and Nevada and New Hampshire and Missouri, those morons unclear enough on the state of things to still lack a position by now will decide the future of this country.

That’s a sad commentary in and of itself.

Some people, those that get very SERIOUSLY into the game even show physical symptoms of Campaign Bloat. Take a long look, not at people like Wolf Blitzer or anyone in the White House Press Corps that’s over 50. They know better and they have other means of digesting their internal rot.

But look to the younger reporters, those with a glint of hope in their eyes, a twinkle of energy in their words that says this election still means something to them and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Bloggers probably exhibit these traits more than journalists but you don’t get to see many of them very easily, so don’t bother trying.

But if you do you’ll see what the breakdown of an unstimulated adrenal gland can do to a person. Blood-shot eyes are the first signs as the flesh swells and the blinking reflex is suppressed. An abundance of drink and lack of nutritious sustenance suddenly retained by the body causes swollen bellies, drooping skin on the arms and hair that is far greasier than it should be. As the brain fills with terrible things the mouth is constrained and you see people chewing their tongues raw in an effort to THINK about something meaningful and righteous to say. But it probably won’t come until it’s too late.

Like I said though, it’s not EVERYONE who show physical signs, just those on the front lines, those that do this during DAYLIGHT hours as well. Here at the top of the world, I don’t have many of those these days.

Yes. And who knows? I might stumble my way out of this rut. Wash my hands of the weirdness, so to speak and get back to THE ISSUES. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, as I started saying, somewhere between Wisconsin and Ohio two desperate leaves from the old tree we know so well are starting to see things in a very different color. Their numbers from Gallup are starting to sound optimistic and it seems that even they know that the point spread is much higher than we’re being led to believe. We’ll only know on November 4th, of course.

Let’s hope we all make it till then.

Dylan Cormack

Why are house republicans REALLY against any kind of deal whatsoever?

Welcome to Washington D.C., the sign says. Hunter Thompson wrote about coming to Washington when he covered the campaign trail in ‘72 and it wasn’t a pretty town then, either. The roads leading into the district were just as foul and littered with vermin and swine and new lawyers. There was probably more acid then and a little more tact, but it stank to holy shits back then too. According to Hunter.

But now it’s worse. Every since John McCain swooped down over Washington and it’s hordes of frantic legislators in the midst of reaching a middle ground where this financial bailout package is concerned, something has really started to stink.

Actually, it started to smell bad earlier than that. John McCain was due to be on David Letterman’s show in New York last week and canceled at the last minute, saying that he had to “suspend his campaign activities” to “immediately return to Washington”.

By “immediately”, of course, McCain meant that he was going to

  • go straight to Katie Couric’s show, also on CBS

  • get his makeup done (I’m not making this up)

  • give her and interview at the same time he would’ve given Letterman his

  • go to dinner

  • RETURN TO HIS HOTEL for the night

  • sleep

  • have a nice breakfast AT ANOTHER HOTEL

…and then catch a flight to Washington.

And why? Because he couldn’t “phone this one in”? Not only has he not phoned ANYTHING in since April 8th but while he was physically in Washington he didn’t go to the hill, where the discussions were being had. Mostly he stayed in his campaign headquarters, except when he went to the White House photo op or when he went out to dinner with Joe Leiberman. Did he not think we’d find out about this?

Of course he knew; he’s an obscene and gross little maggot but he’s not unconscious or stupid. Something else was up.

We don’t, at this point know what that was, and it’s starting to look like we never will. The debate went as well as McCain could’ve hoped for, with Barack Obama merely spanking him rather than full on embarrassing the aging senator. And now we have Chuck Schumer questioning Alberto Gonzalez about who sent him to the hospital to strong arm then sick Attorney General, John Ashcroft, into cooperating with the Bush Administration’s illegal wiretapping initiative. Wouldn’t you know it? The little runt wants to talk! He wants to answer questions and say that he “was there on behalf of the President of the United States”!

You’d think this was a great way to get attention off of the financial situation but the American people are too focused, too myopic for that. Remember, illegal wiretapping is sooo last year. The American public doesn’t have time for remembering the things their government broke last year and haven’t fixed yet. They’re too focused on what their government is breaking THIS year, and this kind of distraction won’t get them very far.

Well, it’ll get Alberto Gonzales pretty far. From employment, that is. Nobody with a soul or a concept of hygiene has been able to stomach hiring the man since he “resigned”. And after this weaseling and finger pointing that resembles retired generals, Scott McLellan and many others who after leaving the Bush Administration decide they’ve seen the light and want to tell the truth again as if they’ve been under the Imperius Curse or something, well, let’s just say that a woman in white gloves wouldn’t GIVE him her ketchup popsicle.

But. I’ve strayed from John McCain, and how much he stinks, which is, I guess what they wanted me to do. Those of you still with me here, well, you’re winning.

More on topic: it stinks. House Republicans have been urging no bailout, no bailout as if someone was listening. But they know, just like everyone else seems to, that something like this, in some form or other, is necessary. To refuse it outright would be foolish. To do nothing would be even worse, though I’m not sure anyone is seriously proposing that.

(Any interesting quotes you’d like to contribute, representative Bachman?)

So why would they oppose it? Let’s see…

They could genuinely feel that it’s unconstitutional to give someone this much power over funds and not stand for that…but they’re house republicans and everyone who’s been around knows that they always end up getting some of the pie so let’s not kid ourselves here.

It’s really a politics thing.

Going along with this would mean that if it works, Democrats get credit for working bipartisanly…if it doesn’t work, your name is attached to something that failed…again.

Going against it means that if it works, you can claim that they got lucky and you didn’t want to take that kind of irresponsible risk (which is superficially, at least, similar to Obama’s position on the surge in Iraq though I think he’s not nearly vocal enough of the fact that the surge won’t have “worked” until they define what “working” means – just because violence is down doesn’t mean you’ve removed any part of the problem…it could be any number of things like, say, 30K extra troops suppressing the problem, which is hardly a solution.)

Whew. I almost strayed again on that one. But I’m back.

So there’s no political reason for the House Republicans to back up this deal. The democrats, if they want to be responsible and pass something they think is necessary, might have to go into it without them, and take some ownership of the solution. Imagine that. Balls.

But remember: doing SOMETHING is not the goal here. Doing nothing can’t realistically happen but they must do the right thing. And any democrat who votes for a bill with the wrong provisions (see the previous article) will not receive my vote again. It’s as simple as that.

Dylan Cormack

So all of this talk about getting the right information from the right sources and who do you trust and who do you question and in the end, what the hell is real?

Well…

Don’t go looking to CNN. They’ll just a have a round-table discussion and let you watch, but forget about them taking ownership of any facts. That’s for journalists, dammit, and we’re entertainers. We have flashy little dials and heartbeat lines that judge the reactions of 30 people IN OHIO that might give you a sense of what THE PEOPLE are really thinking and how they’re responding to the presidential debate points.

Imagine that. 30 people pent up in a wooden-paneled room made to look cozy and American, like a rich colonialist’s living room. Ten republicans, ten democrats and ten independents all sitting on bar stools with pong controls in their hands that wirelessly transmit their oh-so-accurate readings to the colorful lights on your screen. When I heard that I remember wondering how long they keep them there for one stretch at a time. How often are they fed and how often do they get to see news from other places?

How often do they get to see sunlight?

Can you imagine a team of FBI agents consoling families of these victims in a white and green government building somewhere in Dayton while a group of SWAT maniacs tears down the doors to the situation room? They’d find, after a few hours that the lot would be reduced to snarling animals frothing at the mouth, clawing at the walls and each other with their pants around their ankles, howling unholy things at Wolf Blitzer while he paces frantically along his widescreen podium. Two rookies would vomit in the corner and the rest of the team would have to stomp them all like rats in a closet.

Shit. You won’t find that gibberish here.

What you will find is help. If you don’t yet understand your opinion on how to fix the financial situation, here are two brilliantly-written articles from The Nation:

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081006/greider3

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081006/galbraith_black

To the skeptics and others not familiar with The Nation: yes, it tends to be a left-leaning paper, and yes, they support Barack Obama. No, they do NOT support John McCain. That said, they do, in my opinion and as far as I can tell in my research, report factually in their journalism. Their articles tend to be on the short to medium size and  usually include plenty of analysis based on experts with clear and well-respected credentials. They often speak to the electorate but offer options that a person in Congress would do well to read.

I don’t know how well their rhetoric reflects that of the American Mass, or the Global one for that matter. It suits me, however, just fine.

If you simply don’t understand this financial mess at all, let alone have an opinion on it, fear not; I will give you more of what you trust:

…Jesus. I’m looking around but not finding any one stop shop to explain the important parts of this situation. So. I’ll do it myself:

I’m not going to explain to you about interest rates and the different kinds of mortgages or anything at all that has to do with bonds, mortgage-back securities or other such things beyond what normal people care about. I mean, I COULD – I did read about it.

Seriously. I went to wikipedia and spent 3 hours reading through wiki’s tangled web of links and trying to finish a sentence without opening another page and well… you don’t want to get into that mess. Initially I just started reading about the terms and then I got into history and recent events and now? Now I have a subscription to like, 10 different financial newsletters, I might’ve purchased a stock portfolio closely resembling George Soros’ and as a result of it all, I can no longer remember some small things like whether it’s Corn Flakes of Special K that I prefer. I’m sure it’ll come back to me, though.

But I’m not going to do that to you here. Instead, here’s what you need to understand about this financial fiasco:

**What it means to be “in a financial crisis”:

** The current crisis is only a crisis in the sense that some very big corporations that used to have a very high stock value now have stock that is worth very little. If you had money invested IN them, like, if you owned their stock, then you lost a lot of it, maybe all of it. If you had money WITH them (like a banking customer) then you’re insured for 100K by the FDIC and *technically* you don’t have to worry about your money (though you should really consider how much the government would actually pay of 100K to each citizen, right? – THAT’s thinking critically).

How this will affect the general economy and eventually, you:

Yes, Mr. President, it turns out there ARE “linkages” across the entire financial system. When these large banks start going bankrupt and can’t get any loans to pick themselves up, other institutions that are doing ok (Bank of America, for example) will still be more hesitant to loan money. To anyone. That’s what will trigger the actual “crisis”. This thing that’s going on now is just a few rich yoyos losing a lot of money. The actual crisis will be when small business can’t get loans and start closing down, not hiring, not building, not expanding. It will be when even comfortable employees in large corporations are still receiving their salary but can’t get credit to buy that new TV, or refrigerator, or a loan for a new car, or equity in their home to remodel. This will snowball into fewer plumbers, construction workers and electricians with work to do; fewer cars being sold, leading to layoffs in the auto industry and a fall in stock prices there; fewer demand for consumer electronics, causing layoffs and stock decline in that industry as well…

Yes. It’s then that we’ll begin to recognize how much like the Great Depression this fiasco could become. But that’s a few weeks or months away. For now, all we have is, like I say, a lot of rich yoyos losing a lot of money and asking the taxpayers to give it back to them so that they can pay their CEO’s severance packages of a few million dollars.

**Why did the stock price all but disappear over a few days?

** These companies were running so low on money that they started being forced to report their accounts, what they earned, how much debt they really had, etc. in order to sell off their dead/dying parts. Suddenly the numbers were too low and people didn’t want to pay so much for a share in the company.

**Why did these companies have no money?

** These companies invested heavily into risky scenarios like bad mortgages (SUB-prime… that’s literally what it means, if you didn’t know that). When those risky people started defaulting and not being able to make their home payments, the banks (as they should’ve known) didn’t have the money to cash out on it. Instead of letting people know there was a problem developing, they kept it to themselves. No sense in letting the stock price go down by telling people that they have no money. Right?

That’s the “greed” of Wall Street that you keep hearing about. It’s the notion that they could get more clients and charge more interest by taking large risks in loaning money to people they should’ve known wouldn’t have been able to pay in the long run. They DID know, and instead of not doing it, they found creative ways to loan the money “for now” and worry about the rest of the deal later.

And that’s the gist of it. Bad loans to people they knew couldn’t pay the whole thing but would pay a lot NOW. Banks that made bad decisions sold these debts to large financial institutions who gambled (with tax-payer-insured guarantees) that the housing market would stay up (nothing does) and when it didn’t, they kept it to themselves.

Until last week. Then all hell broke loose.

Wanna wait and see for what’s going to come out of Washington in terms of a salvation? I didn’t. I’ve written to both of my senators and the congresswoman for my district and told them all what I want to see in any bailout package on which they vote and that if they vote Yes on anything that doesn’t include what I consider to be basic and decent provisions necessary not only to ensure success but also to preserve the dignity of the American people and the office they hold, I will vote them out in the next election cycle. It took all of 3 minutes to find all 3 of their home pages and the “contact me” link therein. It took another 5 minutes to draft a decent and clear letter stating what I wanted. It took another 3 seconds to copy and paste that letter into the email boxes of the other 2 legislators. It’s WORTH it.

Look, I’ve already received my absentee voter ballot. I’ve already read through all of the measures and taken a position on them. The only bubbles that haven’t been filled in yet are those for Ellen Tauscher, my congresswoman who’s up for re-election this term. Come next week, when a vote should be taken, her name WILL have a darkened bubble next to it. And it’ll only take a second.

I’m making this simple for them. Maybe you should too.

Dylan Cormack

God dammit, this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. You people put scoundrels in office, seemingly without knowing anything about them, basing your political views on gut feeling and cable TV. You vote for the guy or gal who at best “represents the values important to you”, and in some cases, the one whose name happens to be next to the donkey or elephant, the “D” or the “R”, whichever suits you.

This is idiotic.

How some of these people manage to get on the ticket, let alone get elected is inexplicable. That most of them stay in office long enough to get rich and get out before they’re caught doing some atrocious thing is is inexcusable. The worst ones? Hypocrites. Next in line? Idiots & Bastards. And let’s not forget the Crazies. They deserve some mention.

Have you had it with the abstracts? Good, because there are an awful lot of examples and I usually wouldn’t know where to start. But a few weeks ago I sent an article about a blurb from Michelle Bachman, the always quotable republican representative from Minnesota to a friend of mine living in the same state. I knew she was a republican and I wanted to let her know that there’s a good chance her rep was certifiably insane and that she should be sure and not waste her vote on the next election cycle.

You know, a friendly jab in the rib cage to wake up and do something, in case she wasn’t.

What I got was the political equivalent of a giggle and a snort, and I figured she had heard and that the congresswoman must be some kind of local joke and probably harmless because no one really pays attention to the crazy person.

Right?

…right?

Uh-oh.

More recently a picture of Michelle Bachman and Mitt Romney went up on her facebook collection and I realized the problem was bigger than I’d thought. I took some time to ponder the meaning of the image.

By “took some time” I mean that I forgot about it for a bit and it wasn’t until the middle of a flight from New York to Brussels, 3 whiskeys in and no sleep in sight that I had cause to think about it again. I sat there, half-drunk, decidedly not asleep and wondering things in the dark. Somewhere over Reykjavik I was deep into the horrible pondering of this hardcore two-party system; the foundation of the miserable animosity between republicans and democrats. I couldn’t think of more ideal circumstances, I guess. Winston Churchill would’ve been proud.

And nevermind all that. I was bored of reasoning away with those to whom faith is more important than reason, and having been duped into another Saudi Arabian project did me in. Reason and coherence were dribbling away all around me like the chocolate coating from a popsicle: you know, when it starts to crack and the chocolate flakes lean off and you can’t rescue them all? Just like that.

What is the true problem with this two-party system, I wondered. Where does the disconnect come from? Is it a disconnect? Or is it something more sinister? One side has clear political advantage over the other…what causes this idea that things only have two sides and, goddammit, pick one? What is the problem here?

Could this nation be filled with people too simple to grasp more than two options for an issue? Unlikely. We’re too diverse, too filled with different histories, different nurtures to our natures. And so on.

Are we too busy, too caught up in our own day to focus on more than two options when it comes to what has become this vague abstract of government? That’s likely, but it seemed like something is missing.

Here’s the thing: The problem is not “conservatives” – or as some of them are keen to point out – republicans. Labels are so important to people who love to judge labels. Funny thing: in principle I agree with a handful of those “smaller government” concepts that the GOP lot seem to talk so much about and yet do so little to progress. Re: $700 billion bailout package socializing the financial infrastructure of the country for the benefit of a few mega corporations at the direction of an unelected official appointed by the most incompetent man in government since time immemorial, and doing it ahead of health care or social security. Nice. I wonder where my cynicism comes from.

No; the problem is a lack of understanding. It’s the arrogance and the bastard mentality of self-promotion in the face of the adversity of others. The problem is people who:

  • think they understand the will of the people

  • think that comments they don’t feel comfortable with have anything at all to do with left or right leaning ideals

  • think that the information they’re fed from whatever sources they consider are true without much examination

The first mistake is something that I think is passed on to us by the attempted reverse psychology of anyone on TV with an agenda, which is to say, everybody on TV. Everyone loves to use that phrase: “the American people are too smart for  blah blah blah,” or “The American people can see past this charade that so-and-so is pulling.” What we tend to forget is that even Gallup, an organization whose sole reason for existing is “to learn the will of the people on the planet” has a significant margin of error and can only give us an educated guess about what’s really going on in the minds of the many many poorly informed citizens of this country, let alone this world. And how convenient that “what the American people understand” is always on par with furthering the well-known agenda of whoever is using that line. It’s a disgusting tactic because the smart money says those who do it know exactly what they’re doing, who they’re manipulating and that what they’re saying is either provably false or factually baseless. Or totally incredible. Don’t presume to understand the will of a people without doing thorough research that you honestly feel is unbiased. Empires have fallen on more information than that.

The second mistake is something that many people do, usually because they’re hearing what they want, not what’s being said. This too, is typical. My personal feelings for the clinical insanity and unfit-for-public-office-statements of Michelle Bachman aside, my criticisms of her here are purely journalistic. The following is a chronicle of the factual points of what she is on the record as saying. Explicitly note that I have sources for these. This is recorded text. Let your judgments be your own, and let mine stand as my own.

  • Michell Bachman has, even within the House of Representatives, used her religious beliefs to influence legislation. On many occasions saying things like: “Nancy Pelosi is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she’s just trying to save the planet. … We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet — we didn’t need Nancy Pelosi to do that.” This kind of religious presence within the walls of my government is such a blatant betrayal of public trust and the foundations on which this country was built that I am truly terrified for the future freedom of religious expression in this country every time I hear nonsense like this.

  • Michelle Bachman has openly said that she’s “a fool for Christ.” [commentary] Hardly appropriate statements for someone serving public office in a country that was founded on the separation of Church and State.

  • Michelle Bachman has twisted the statistic that more people are forced to work a second job in Minnesota in order to make ends meet than anywhere in the country by saying, “I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the [workingest] state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.” Twist that into ‘proud Americans’ all you want but to do it to create a talking point is a fucked up thing for a mother of two to hear when she has to go to her second job and be away from her kids. Even worse since it wasn’t her talking point, but rather President Bush’s from a while back.

  • Michelle Bachman on Global Warming, “The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” Please. No sensible person talks like this anymore. That part of the politics is over.

  • Michelle Bachman held onto Bush’s shoulder for a creepy 30 seconds just after the final state of the union address, only letting go after getting a kiss from the President. Some time later, in Minnesota, when he asked her for a kiss she told him she thought it would be inappropriate. Interesting symptom of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. I can’t tell which one is worse for Minnesota.

  • Michelle Bachman has made the claim that drilling in ANWR would not harm any wildlife because there is no wildlife there, just miles and miles of tundra. She said this after touring the region from the small window of a small jet flying at about what looks from her pictures to be 14000 feet. Hardly the right altitude to spot wildlife. Not to mention that her claim completely contradicts reality, which is that the ANWR is home to caribou, musk oxen, snow geese and many, many others. A ridiculous claim understood by anyone who’s ever been to Alaska. In fact, anyone who’s ever been out in the wild knows that there is no such thing as an area with no life on planet Earth. Much less in Alaska. Just because you don’t see it from a passenger jet doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  • After voting against legislation for clean air and wind energy tax credits, Michelle Bachman went on Laura Ingraham’s (all but explicitly right-wing) radio show to blame house democrats and acting as surprised as a schizophrenic in the morning. This one needs a psychiatrist’s note more than a comment.

  • Michelle Bachman has, in support of a Mexico/US fence, cited Israel and Palestine, claiming, “Look at Israel and Palestine. Fences work.” Where has she been since 1948 that she thinks anyone who knows a damn would not balk at such a statement?

  • Michelle Bachman has claimed, repeatedly and without any stated retraction that Cuba and China are drilling off the coast of Florida. Even Dick Cheney has acknowledged that these claims are false though only after the republican senator from Florida, Mel Martinez, debunked them on the floor of the Capitol. Notice the lack of a need for an actual comment on this point.

  • Michelle Bachman made claims to know of a secret plot by Iran to expel the US from Iraq in order to partition the country. “There is already agreement made,” she said in a February 2007 interview. “They are going to get half of Iraq, and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more attacks in the Middle East, and come against the United States.” She later retracted the claim. This is one of those moments when you’re a fool to not ask “why?” on so many different fronts.

How a list such as this one doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from public office seems like a criminal act of negligence on the part of those whose task it is to uphold and defend the constitution.

As for Mitt Romney? Well, I just plain don’t like Mitt Romney.

The third mistake is based on only seeing what you want to see. I suppose we’re all a bit guilty of this to some degree, though some of us are paying a little more attention. With all the biased reporting that is done on cable TV and passes for journalism, Americans have little hope of a functioning fourth branch of government, that which checks the potential for greed and corruption in the other 3: namely, the Press. I had been tempted for so long to think that it’s not most people’s fault for not knowing, or for being steered in shady directions: after all, people have jobs, have lives… they can’t be reading 10 different newspapers every day like I do sometimes when work is slow, going over 4 different versions of articles on the same topic, just to weed out the bullshit and be able to form an opinion of their own that is based on more than the twisted and skewed view that Sean Hannity gave them.

Then I turned 15 and got over it. I realized that no piece of information that is fed to you is done so without an agenda. Nothing. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something. The only option is to THINK CRITICALLY about what you see and hear.

Republican? Watch O’Reilly? Fine. Liberal? Watch Olberman? Fine. But they all have an agenda, and whether it’s unethical or whether it’s innocent, it’s there. You have to always ask things like “why?” and “really?” Otherwise you just end up saying ridiculous and idiotically empty things like, “Fish love oil rigs,” or “Alaska’s Caribou will love oil drilling because of the heat of the pipeline,” or, of course, the now infamous, “I can see Russia from my state, so I’m in touch with foreign policy.”

Absurd.

And since it’s the issue today that is most talked talked about without saying anything (and while I’m on the 4th little mini-bottle of scotch) here’s a topic that is madly incoherent: the next president of this country. Hilary voters that swung over to McCain or are considering it out of either spite, bitterness or Palin, you really are retarded. An explanation for why is superfluous since you’re not thinking clearly anyway, so here’s a reason that makes as much sense as your reason for swinging: baby dragons.

There. That takes care of that demographic.

Now for the conservatives who can’t debate unemotionally or without citing false sources or factually incorrect statements: goodie.

“When an intelligent comment is absent, liberals often times find themselves name calling”

&

“Liberals are afraid to show themselves to the American public because they are out of touch. This explains liberals difficulty winning the white house”

  • proud republican

There is name-calling only where the loathing for the absurd manipulation is due. Frankly, though, my patience runs light and I scoff at the assertion that name-calling is a liberal trait, as if conservatives are above the low game of political mud-slinging. Ah, spare me, kids. What does an empty statement like the one above even mean? How arrogant to assume that one party or the other is more in touch than I or anyone else in this vast nation of dissenting opinion and diversity of definition can be. How arrogant to assume that “you” can know what “we” want. Be careful with that kind of statement. America is a very large dartboard and a pinpoint definition of American Values might poke somebody’s eyes out if it misses the mark.

And you don’t have to guess: I’ll tell you flat out what explains the liberals’ difficulty winning the White House since 1968. It most certainly has NOT been this silly notion that the Democrats are out of touch with “real” America. What most easily explains that the democrats have only had 2 presidents since then is Howard Dean’s ineptitude as a human being coupled with the fact that the democrats do indeed SUCK at politics, not to mention the alleged corruption scandals of campaign financing and political rigging that has been all but unrefuted public knowledge anywhere outside of middle America since ‘68. But leaders would do well to take caution. This notion that “either you’re with us or you’re against us” is a phrase uttered by the prince of many a falling empire.

Who I will vote for is not a secret, though I have no particular love for the man. Especially after he voted with the phone company in the FISA legislation, on which, I might add, John McCain didn’t have the sense of decency to even vote, just like every piece of legislation that’s been discussed since last April. Senators with recent brain surgery have been more responsible that that. But I digress.

If the argument against Barack Obama is an alleged backtrack on a tax increase that the public most likely does not understand and has in all likelihood been misrepresented by BOTH sides, I suggest you try again. If it’s that he has no military experience, take a look at the current commander in chief and let me know how well that’s turned out. Or at your potential one, for that matter. Ask yourself what you know about John McCain’s service record except that he served and was captured? Have you seen his prison cell in the Hanoi Hilton? I tried. Did you know it doesn’t exist anymore, even though he claims it does? How many planes did he crash? How was he captured? And much, much more importantly: does any of this matter? How does serving in the military make you a great leader of the nation?

We’re more than a military. Way more.

Besides, John McCain needs to knock off the experience card. He gave that one up the moment he tapped a VP he didn’t understand and who’s idea of international travel is flying over Canada. It’s embarrassing that we live in a country where a person can be considered elitist if they’ve seen the world but experienced because they theoretically can see Russia from their state. Assuming she’s actually been to Wale, AK for a peek…no one’s reported on that one so far. How republicans have, at least since the election in ‘68, managed to make a presidential run be about comfort rather than issues is the failure of the democrats. Or Nixon’s legacy, whatever you prefer.

Why is America so infatuated with electing someone with whom they identify? Too many people in this country have an education beyond rescue and frankly, I WANT someone leading the nation who is smarter than I am. Why should the class clown take the wheel?

Besides, that’s small potatoes compared to someone who doesn’t know who the prime minister of Spain is, can’t get his facts straight about the fundamental differences in Sunni and Shiite Islam that are at the root of so many problems in that region, has lied about his prison cell in Vietnam for political gain, supports keeping too many of my friends in Iraq indefinitely with no concrete plan for success, ignores the fact that though Iraqis can finally watch their national symphony orchestra show inside the IZ, American soldiers bypass security and get choice seats while the citizens of the country longingly wait in long queues in their dark ties and evening head-scarves to be sniffed by bomb-detecting dogs; practical, but inarguably absurd. It’s insignificant when the same man has backtracked more than Kerry, sometimes even on his own legislation when it suited him, won’t admit to mistakes any more than Barack won’t admit that the “surge worked” (I’ve yet to hear from anybody what the success criteria is for that, by the way, and no one is winning that debate until that’s good and defined, period), picked a running candidate based on what she would contribute to his campaign instead of his presidency, and wants to convince me that it wasn’t the oil companies that wanted him to tell people how the fish love the oil rigs.

So here I go: Really?

Listen, we all support one thing or another for a whole slew of different reasons. It’s not surprising that young people and progressives identify with Barack Obama and Vietnam veterans identify with John McCain… they have things in common. But electing a president is not about identifying with the would-be leader. It’s not about electing who most resembles you, who has values most similar to your own. What continually astounds me is not that different people identify more with one or the other, but rather that the conversation is always dominated by that identification, and that that is what dominates the media and consequently, the vote.

Elections are not about personal feelings; they’re about putting someone in office who will be responsible for better economic results, more prosperity for the country, fewer headaches like wars and recessions, more allies in the world and so forth. Elections are not for people to pass emotional tests and demonstrate that their home is most like yours. It’s about changing the future of the country. John McCain fails to convince me that he can do this on so many levels that were I more naive, it would surprise me he was even running.

Here’s the thing: we can have these debates on end, ad infinitum. Those who disagree within the bounds of their own logic can do so to their heart’s content. They won’t convince me and I won’t convince them: we are as different as I am to my Saudi Arabian colleagues. But the empty 2-week old talking points are… well, empty. The soft-but-blind contempt for “liberals” are as meaningless and superficial as the misguided notion that joining the military would help fix our public schools. Or Medicare. And I’m bored of hearing the same thing on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and then the Daily Show and then 2 weeks later have people argue with me, reminding me that they too, “watch the news” and “are politically educated.”

Please. It’s not what you hear that defines your education. It’s what you understand. I’m still trying to understand what the hell we all think we’re DOING in this country, but it’s entirely unrefreshing and unsurprising to hear that some people think they do understand.

And THAT, I think, is the real problem.

Dylan Cormack

“Whadya mean, you ‘can’t get back’?” Joe asked into a borrowed phone. “We told that asshole exactly where to go!”

“I’m telling you man, I’m in trouble here. I told him I’m Brazilian and now all the guy wants to talk about is football. He’s relentless. I think it’s all he knows how to say in English but he obviously doesn’t understand a word I say. He keeps rambling on about Roberto Carlos and some dude named Alex.”

“What?”

“I know, it sounds familiar, but I don’t know what to make of it, man. He’s driven around so many tiny little streets with nothing but darkness and stray cats for what seem like miles, and I might as well be in Baghdad.”

Joe didn’t panic. The Wolf. I, on the other hand, was trying to get back to my hostel after spending the day with this guy, whom I’d only met the day before. Our mother’s were walking friends (you know – mothers) and when mine heard I was coming to Istanbul for a week of work, she’d put me in touch with Joe. My kid brother had already met him a few months before on HIS trip to Turkey and completely recommended the guy.

“Oh, you’re going to Istanbul?” The kid had asked me. “You should totally call Joe.”

“Yeah, mom said the same thing. What’s his story?”

“Joe? He’s totally cool, man. Very likable guy, all chill. He’s been there for like, 4 years or something, teaching English or some shit. It’s awesome. He loves it.”

“Cool, it sounds like he’s my guy. Do you have his number?”

“Yeah, I’ll send it to you.”

He forgot, as it sometimes goes, so I got it from mom. “Oh, you’re going to love Joe!” she said.

“I know. Paul already told me he’s awesome.”

So I’d gotten in touch with him when I arrived in Istanbul and agreed to meet hime between the Blue Mosque and the Ayasofia, also known as the Hagia Sofia, two of the most well-known mosques/churches/museums in Istanbul. We met by the fountain on a very warm and clean-aired day, where people were walking, talking, reading and eating corn, which must be a Turkish thing. In general, people were out enjoying their weekend and judging from all the Turkish flags everywhere, their independence day.

Joe turned out to be the bald guy I’d missed on my first pass around the fountain. Like my brother, he sported the bald look well, though instead of the hideous chops that Paul dons occasionally, Joe had a typical Walnut Creek goatee. His pretty girlfriend, Zeynep, was with him, tanned skin, light hair, light eyes and a girlish figure that attracted the attention of most guys around. I thought she looked more Iranian than Turkish, and I would later learn that I was right about that.

“Hang on. Zeynep will talk to the driver. Give him your phone.”

“Give him my pho… No! Joe! Wait! Are you nuts?”

“Alo”, responded Joe’s girlfriend.

“Shit, hang on, Zeynep. Hey, Ronaldinho! Yo! Driver dude! Yeah, Kaka! Robinho! Woooooh, futbol! Right On! Here: talk to this chick.” I handed him the phone.

They talked for a bit and then I got the phone back with Joe on it.

“Dude, there’s a marathon going through the city right now. It’s cutting off the roads that go back to your part of the city.”

“goddamn health nuts…” I heard myself mumble.

“Wait,” paused Joe. “Didn’t you say you’d run a triathlon last year or something?” Apparently, he wasn’t as drunk as I’d pegged him for earlier that night.

“Well, yeah, but that was like, more than a year ago, Joe. And besides, I had the decency to run in the middle of central California, and the only people I’d disturb were yokels from highway 46 who had no business being out in that heat anyway.”

“Fair enough,” said Joe.

“Right. And that’s not important right now. What should I do? Just get out of the cab and wait?”

“No! Under no circumstances should you get out of the cab. Listen: Zeynep knows where you are. Let the meter run, talk football with the guy. It takes 5 minutes to get to where you are. We’ll be there in 2.”

Zeynep, I should mention, could qualify for most Grand Prix spectacles. A true Turkish driver, she paid no heed to lines on the road, only other cars. And she saw them as obstacles, points to watch for and pass with the greatest expediency. And having grown up in Istanbul, she’d learn to do so better than any man I know, Italian, Brazilian or Turk. I believed him.

And sure enough, before homeboy could get me acquainted with Turkey’s multitude of teams, I saw them pull up behind me. I paid the man and got out of the car, being sure to say ‘fish’ which means he gives me a receipt. Important when you’re traveling on business, you know.

We killed the remaining 20 minutes of the marathon, the mass of people passing over the Bosporus Bridge and through and around the old part of town (old: talk about an understatement!) by having Zeynep drop us off at a Metro somewhere and taking it to the end of the line and back. Joe has good ideas like that.

We eventually got off as Taksim Square, the center of the European side of Istanbul and took a cab from there. I dropped Joe off at his place on the way across the Golden Horn, and thanked him for the evening’s adventures.

“Sorry about the troubles, man. I had no idea about this marathon.”

“Are you kidding me?” I jabbed him. “Without shit like what happened tonight, this would just be WORK!” And with that, we parted ways.

“Wait, one more thing,” Joe warned me. “Watch these guys. Taxi drivers in Istanbul are all run by the Mafia.”

Whatever, I thought. Everybody says that about their cabbies. And I’ve always had a watchful eye in foreign places, which, for me, is everywhere.

“Nonsense,” I said. “This is a good man.”

“No, seriously. Watch the meter. This shouldn’t cost more than 50 Turkish lira.”

“Okay!” I shouted out, not paying much attention. “Thanks for the fun day, man. I’ll call you next week!”

And with that, I was off to Asia.

The ride took me up and around what must be every corner of the center of the world. In the distance, when we cleared a hill and I could see the ocean, the tankers of the world floated on, some moving and some anchored. Lights flickered everywhere and there was little movement off the road.

On the road was another thing altogether. Cars zoomed passed us and we passed them. Stone walls were a blur on every side, and the poorly kept Constantine roads of stone occasionally showed through the asphalt, and that’s when we’d really rock. At 160 kph on city highways, almost anything can happen. When we finally crossed the Bosporous Bridge over to Asia, I almost didn’t see it for fear of my life over that busy waterway.

But despite the driver’s confident nod when I gave him the address of the corporate hotel and said, “Okay?”, the drive took far longer than I was expecting. And went through far darker and more remote-looking areas than I cared to expect.

“Relax, Pete,” I told myself. “This is just a sensation of disorientation that happens every time you’re in a country you know nothing about. Remember Prague?”

And I did, I did!

Deep into the Asian side of Istanbul now, my worries took more form – my fear took more shape. Where am I? Where is he taking me? Does he know?

Do I? There are silent and square concrete buildings at every line of sight. I’ve wandered into the 3D version of Lewis Carol’s mind. Wonderful. My mind was tired and the shisha we’d smoked earlier was mixing with the beer. Things were getting strange, but could I maintain? Would I make the sanity last? That was the real question.

What am I doing here? Few people in my life even know on what continent I’m ON right now. Let alone where I am. Hell, I don’t know where I am. What hope is there that others do?

All good questions, I thought to myself, once I got a grip. But now was not the time for their answers. We’d  passed a few closed rug shops and kabob stands that went long into the night, reminding me of Saudi Arabia and the fact that Iraq was literally touching the same country I was in, and that reassured my position on the globe, reminding me that things here would not, no matter what, resemble what I could possibly expect. Or manage to explain.


And despite all the wandering, despite all the wondering, he suddenly pulled into an intersection and realized he wasn’t on the right track. My body jerked forward, knocking me out of my reverie and causing me to lean just enough towards the front of the car that I could see the Hotel’s name in the distance.

“There! There!” I pointed to him like an idiot. “There it is!”

I’d lost it, clearly. Joe had told me to watch the meter, to pay attention to this guy, and here I was, slapping the seat like a giddy child, hoping the nice man would just take me where I was supposed to be. This was more than I had expected. But the incident brought me to my senses a bit and by the time he’d pulled against the hotel’s sidewalk, I had my wits back about me. I think.

“Hundred fiftin,” he said, pointing to the meter. I looked at it intently. Sure enough, there it sat, reading 115.24.

‘This shouldn’t cost more than 50 Turkish lira,’ Joe had said. But how could I challenge him now? I didn’t know these things! Besides, my employer was paying for it and I was in no mood or condition to argue or even haggle with a cabbie. Especially not in Turkish, and I could hardly expect that this schmo was going to do me the favor of suddenly bursting forth with Anglo-sounding discourse. ‘Hundred fiftin’ it was.

I reached back for my wallet and remembered that I had 4 50′s in there, with the spare 5′s crumpled uncomfortably in my front pocket. I pulled 2 50′s from my wallet and then grabbed the glob of crumpled 5′s. I was pretty sure that I had 3 5′s and 2 50′s in my hand when I shoved it towards the front of the car and said, “fish?”

He hesitated and then said, “No, sir – hundred fiftIN!” and showed me 4 5′s and 1 50 in his hand.

“Really?” my mind wondered. I was sure I’d grabbed 2 50′s out of my wallet, so I checked again, while he pestered me, saying “No, sir – hundred fiftIN! Hundred fiftIN!”

Flustered, and with unrecognizable coins on my lap mixed with notes of Turkish Lira in the darkness and heavy eyelids that clouded my thoughts, I said, fuck it, and gave him another 50, taking the 5 he offered me. I stumbled into the hotel with a receipt and before falling hard on that bed, barely remembering to set the alarm for work the next day, went over the bills that I had on my person, in all my pockets.

I could not account for the missing 50.

The next morning on the way to work, one of my colleagues warned me about taxi drivers in Turkey, and how they are very good with their hands, changing bills between 5′s and 50′s, which happen to look very much alike.

“Bunch of thieves, eh?” He said to me.

“I know,” I said. “I’ve heard.”

Wombat’s Terrace, Berlin, Germany – September 2008

Dylan Cormack

People, people, people…

PEOPLE!

There are some truths that we must recognize and stop talking about so that we can move on to the good stuff. Luckily, you’re all primed to hear about them because they have to do with THE ISSUES – which you love – and that’s what this election in November is going to be about.

Right? Right.

Abortion

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at this point that Roe v. Wade will not be repealed without some kind of voodoo on the Supreme Court. It would be a travesty to the American Way of life, but not because it goes against our values, necessarily. Roe v. Wade has become like Fenway, like Thanksgiving, like Drive Thru’s, like Labor Day Sales, like hot dogs and watermelons and like frivolous lawsuits. It’s an American Institution. You can’t get rid of Roe v. Wade. What the hell would we bicker about pointlessly in presidential races?

So, seriously, shut up about abortion. It’s legal, and besides, the President of the United States is just about the least powerful peg on the totem pole when it comes to changing the constitution. Even Franklin, Adams and Hamilton agreed on that. Hell, even Ahnold has more sway with that document than does the Prez. The best chance the chief executive has is to stack the deck, and that’s only if you get lucky like W. and have 2 freaking seats give way to you. In a matter of months. Weird.

National Security

It’s pretty obvious to anyone counting the ciphers at the NSA that National Security has been mostly an efficient way to make my tax dollars go from one magical place to another magical place as inefficiently as possible. We could’ve been more efficient in wasting so much money as what we spend on the TSA: we could’ve put it all in a pile in the middle of the desert and taken a match to it.

Furthermore, the disaster of national security, aside from the poor planning, poor execution and poor response, is really the fact that the mentality of people has now changed to one that more closely resembles frightened hamsters than Americans in pursuit of their life, liberty and/or happiness. Seriously. You can cause panic, fear and a total disruption of commerce simply by putting an empty briefcase at a street corner. Or you can hang a circuit board with wires hanging from it on electrical wires around a city. Or you can leave a note in the seat back pocket of an aircraft saying that there’s a bomb in the airport.

Watch how people react. It’s insane. Frightened rats make more sense in their flee tactics and threat assertions. We suck at that kind of thing.

Health Care

It’s pretty obvious to anyone that has lived abroad or been injured abroad while traveling that American health care is the shite of the civilized world. Embarrassingly complicated, impossibly expensive and totally overrun by insurance companies and staff infections, and god help you if you use Kaiser Permanente. I mean, you may as well just amputate your own head.

Ideas float rampantly in political campaigns, but if you pay attention, no one has ever really got hold of one of these “ideas”; not really. Promises are made like it was an algebra problem, but it always falls short on explaining anything. It’s not impossible, I’m sure. But with 300 million people, nothing’s really easy. Obama’s new plan is no different, though the man can sure tell a good story, eh?

I feel like buying some health care already.

Foreign Policy

It’s pretty obvious to anyone looking out instead of just looking in that the world is a big place, and that America doesn’t fill up anywhere near enough of it to behave the way it does. Being abroad has shown me that if there’s such as thing as “stark contrast” it’s what you see when you put the “typical” American image that the world has come to have next to the image of an American who has traveled. The world seems to think (mostly rightfully so) of bumbling idiots that are as loud as they are rude, unrefined and totally despicable animals of no taste or class. But American’s who travel, who have a chance to look back as they leave borders behind are almost unanimously disgusted by their brethren. They think very much like Europeans, that America is doomed and there’s nothing the world can do about it. Which is too bad, I should say, because the place had so much potential.

Economy

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying a mortgage or taxes or dividends or just about anything that the economy has tanked. And I don’t mean like, a cycle, where if you just sit tight this thing will get figured out in 5-6 years and we can all go back to day trading while at work, shopping on amazon while driving down the road and checking out the nicer rims on the other Explorers who all pay the same $1.40 for gas.

No, no. This was a bad time for the US to fall flat on its face and drag the civilized world with it and the consequences will be more than just the sum of its parts. We have finally gotten past the Chinese Olympics (which everyone has already forgotten by now) in which China came out of the economic underground flashing the ownership title of all of our debt in its left hand and a fisted up can of whup-ass in the other. And everyone knows China is right handed.

While we distract ourselves and spread what little worth our economy has throughout the middle east in pointless ventures that haven’t had a hope of success in 5 years, China, India and Russia are being smart and silent. Europe can’t protect America because it’s got its own problems. Last week in Edinburgh I saw a comedian from the Isle of Mann poke fun of the housing market and those in it. How much more “rising of the proletariat” can you get? I mean, the Isle of Mann! Who’s ever heard of that place and they’re taking the piss out of the entire rest of the continent for getting swept up in this mess.

By the time this is done, not only will America be paying at least what it is now at the pump, but we won’t even have gallons anymore. Ever heard of the metric system? I suggest everyone take a steep course in Mandarin and look up the word “meter”. We’ll all be seeing it a lot more very soon with the learning curve that is around the corner.

Iraq

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at this point that Iraq will not have a pretty ending. Or even a clear one. And won’t somebody stop this shit about it being about supporting the troops? Wars aren’t about supporting the men and women you send to die. War is about something else. What do we do to mitigate a war? Do we provide equipment and healthcare for the fighters? Do we provide proper funding to the cause? Sure. If this were actually a war and not a terribly mis-guided joy ride on the taxpayer’s grandchildren.

How about supporting them by saving their lives and bringing them home, not by saving the egos of their leaders. Do I REALLY have to be the one to say that?

Global Warming

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at this point that we will not reverse this carbon problem. We should’ve been doing something about it in 1993. And only now are we even having discussions about it, and they’re not even productive. It’s still a talking point. That’s it, man. We’re fucked. The republican’s refuse to even use the term, “global warming” and the democrats are too incompetent to make the issue visible beyond some powerpoint slides and and green posters. Polar bears are melting (because, you know, they’re made of ice. I bet you Michelle Bachman would buy that) and we have people who think that unrestricting industry is more important than maintaining a sustainable growth. And no action.

You can have the congress set out resolutions upon resolutions about 50% of cars produced in the US must have 20% fewer emissions by the year 2156 or whatever, but that’s not action: it’s theater. You know and I know that nothing will happen except that there will be more hybrid commercials. And don’t even get me started on those damn things.

The End

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at this point that the options are limited, like always. John McCain is either a habitual liar or else that he has his memory systematically erased by Karl Rove every night before bed. Unofficially, of course. The corollary to that is that everyone in the mainstream media seems to have no capacity for short term memory. Don’t you people record the shit he says and then contradicts less than 24 hours later? Weren’t you there both times he said diametrically opposing things?

Yes, yes you were. So why don’t you stop him and point out his contradiction on the spot? Why don’t you get him on track when you ask him about his 7 houses and he replies with a POW story that sounds more like Abe Simpson drolling on about an incoherent and unrelated story? And why stop just because he gets visibly angry? Why don’t you just warn him before the interview that if he tries anything funny that we’ll put a stink bomb under his kitchen table, but that we won’t tell him which one it’s under?

What Else

It’s pretty obvious to anyone paying attention at this point that…

Oh, what the hell? Screw this shit – let’s have the hope. Sure. Have it. Fill your mouth with it like whipped cream or Velveeta from the bottle. Roll around in it like bushels of hay and make all the love you want, or don’t want. John McCain is either an idiot or a lying bastard and we’ve had enough of both for too long. Obama is not perfect, and he’s fucked up big on at least one occasion that I can think of off the top of my head (I’m looking at you, FISA Bill). And Biden… he ain’t perfect either with his big mouth and politician’s smile that I’ve so learned to distrust. But an Obama-Biden ticket… that’s some sweet sugar we’ve been so long without. We’ve been putting up with the bitter taste of Zombies and Frankensteins and recoiling in the sour shower of corruption and lies and outright thievery that we’ve forgotten the taste of real honey.

Dylan Cormack

another political mess… I’m glad you keep coming back for these.

“Let’s see, what do we have in this frigid box tonight… there’s something old and stagnant there behind the Gruyere…”

“ooh, gross, I think that’s Nancy Pelosi, still pretending like she did anything except drive away moderates.”

“Gnarly. What’s that next to the white bread?”

“Dude, that looks like John Edwards.”

“Yeah, totally. But I thought he usually stood with the jam.”

“No, man. He used butter a few times, just as the jam started getting bad.”

“What a dick. Are these pickles any good?”

“Never were really. But even if you liked the stuff, it’s been on it’s way out for a while.”

“Is that Kerry next to the ketchup?”

“I think so!”

“Jesus, what happened to him?”

“He got bold, man. Utter rejection will do that to you.”

“Wow, and is that John McCain there with that pretty little banana?”

“No, that’s just a dead rat.”

“Oh. Are you sure?”

“Yep. I put it in there to fuck with the new flatmate last week.”

“Gross. It really looks like him.”

“Trust me, dude. Dead Rat. Here, try this new pie I found in here yesterday.”

“Is it good? It looks… I don’t know. Different.”

“See that white stuff around the edges? That’s the sweet stuff.”

“What about this darker center here with all these… fresh-looking things?”

“That’s hope.”

“Any good?”

“We’ll see.”

What are we dealing with here? What’s the score?

How is it that the Democrats have EVERYTHING a political strategist could covet and still all these doubts and uncertainties fly around the internets. Hmm? How is that?

What the hell is wrong with Howard Dean that he can’t even keep political capital like the freight train that Obama’s been fueling in a straight path to victory? While we should be careening across middle America, taking nothing but eager followers, we have a nitwit with a chairmanship who doesn’t even know that Obama spoke in front of the Parthenon for his acceptance speech.

Hilary Clinton, who can’t seem to convince even herself of what she’s saying has had to (seemingly) drag Bill into doing what he does best, twinkle his eyes at Americans horny for grace and charm and a presidential political flame instead of a couple of blades of grass that seem too wet to catch the spark. Every other politician who approaches a podium these days from stage right seems to have a severe deficiency in public speaking skills…

Why won’t the DNC throw out clips of republican flip-flops and contradictions on the media… or shit, YouTube? Why do I have to go read the fucking Christian Science Monitor and ThinkProgress.org and The Nation to learn that all the shit you hear McCain and Grahm and Palin and Rove and well… you see where this list is going… and learn that all the shit you hear these assholes declare are in diametric opposition to what they said as recently as last week? Lies! Blatant, insulting, outright lies! Every word these fuckers utter carries dishonesty, and yet, Obama is barely in the lead in all the poles, and if history is any indicator, McCain even has an honest SHOT at this thing. Could we BE that fucked?

The media won’t press any question that wasn’t happily answered on the first go and continue to insist that talking about why talking to one candidate more than another is fair vs. not fair can still be considered journalism.

The only things that seem alive on the floor of the convention is that fat guy who thinks he can dance, Denis Kusinich, who seemed possessed by David Copperfield, and John Kerry, who somehow found his way into some bold leadership since 2004. Good timing there, Jack.

As if the present dire situation in America wasn’t enough to give every democrat a wet dream for their chances in November. Right now, Hurricane Gustav, the category 2 (give it a few hours and it’ll be 3) monster that is about to finish off what Katrina didn’t is taking all the wind out of the Republican National Convention. And they’re in such dire straights that they’re probably thankful for the opportunity to not have to put their faces on Television, secretly hoping that people will forget what they never saw much more quickly. Maybe even in time for the the elections in November.

Why are the Dems so pathetic when there is so much energy going for the left? Where is that sense that HST wrote about in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the sense in the 60′s that what they were doing was right, and that their energy would carry them through; prevail… that their wave of vibes would overpower without force the works of Nixon and that lot…

Why don’t we have it? What are we missing?

WTF?

I decided that articles were going to do me no good. I’ve been reading the blogs out in the tubes, and listening to the coverage in and around St. Paul, Washington, Juneau, etc… there’s nothing of help there. It’s all more of the same.

Don’t forget: that’s why you come HERE. For the good stuff.

So I decided to scour the comments sections of these things to better understand what PEOPLE think, not just what the newspapers that want to sell ad space want them to think. Here’s what I thought were representative samples of comments from an article on Sarah Palin in the Christian Science Monitor. Please note that it was basically all I could do to not put little comments next to them, or draw in caricatures of what I think these people look like. Also note that I’m not listing all of them here because… well, because you won’t read it anyway. Go on, though… I dare you:

_Moderate 08.29.08

Woman or not, she’s still an extreme right-winger who knows more about commercial fishing, snowmachine races and basketball than representing the real issues of middle America._

_Stephanie 08.29.08

I think she knows how to be a true leader; to stand up to political pressures and she can attract the younger generation. Her family resonates with the working class._

_indepenpol 08.29.08

A smart political move! Now convince me that she is qualified to be

president in the event that something happens to McCain if he is elected.

They will get my vote simply to try to prevent one party rule again. One party rule by the GOP proved to be a disaster and could be even worse with one party rule by the Democrats._

_Nin 08.29.08

I think this is a very interesting choice that should play out nicely. McCain is experienced and qualified and is running with sensible ideas. He’ll choose a good cabinet. That heartbeat away **** is non-sense. If god forbid something happened to McCain, Palin would take over surrounded by McCain’s advisers so her lack of forein policy experience is really not that big of a deal. Obviously this is a choice that will help bring women aboard McCain’s campaign._

Obama on the other hand, has stupid ideas and has already surrounded himself with psychos, cough Rev. Wright and plenty of other bimbos including Bill Clinton’s people. So to top off his inexperience he makes poor choices when it comes to advisors.

_Mom 08.29.08

Good choice she could be McCain’s trump card. They will get my vote. The Dem no nothing about running our Country. Besides someone who will not honor our flag is really low down. Race has nothing to do with it. I vote for the person not the color or their skin._

_Joyce Moul 08.29.08

I am glad we have another choice. I can’t vote for Obama and I was afraid to vote for McCain. They could write a movie about this woman if McCain wins, dies of health problems and she ends up as President. The Republicans get my vote._

_Brian from WY 08.29.08

I am pleasantly surprised at a very wise choice for Vice-President. Being from Alaska I’m sure she is familiar with the issues of resonsibly developing resources. We can’t let our country be held hostage by environmentalists forbiding development._

_orangebear 08.29.08

Great choice. The first women president will be a republican. They are the party of progress. She is working class middle america._

_Republican4Obama 08.29.08

I’m so ashamed of my party and its mouthpieces these days, it’s killing me. I am a fiscal conservative and small business owner who voted for Nixon, Reagan and Bush Sr., but in the past eight years we’ve seen decisions such as the one John McCain just made time and time again. It’s pathetic. This isn’t conservatism. The Republican Party — the party I loved and cherished for more than three decades — is, for all intents and purposes, dead. It no longer thinks; it reacts. Sarah Palin doesn’t believe in government for the people, she believes in breaks for the rich, just like Bush and McCain. Her big issue is guns. Good, let Ted Nugent vote for her. I challenge REAL conservatives — fiscal conservatives — to break away from that sinking ship and join me in voting for only solid leaders we have in this election: Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Ever since Bill Clinton helped recover this nation from its economic slump, the real conservatives are, dare I say, to the left of the center. I haven’t switched parties yet because I always have hope for my beloved GOP. But my hope is waning and I’m loving the Democratic Party more and more these days. The Republican Party has become a joke. I hope that changes. In the mean time, I’m voting for Obama-Biden. Then we’ll see if the Republicans can kick these spoiled, economically irresponsible neocons out of the party once and for all. God bless America — and God save her._

_SoccerMom 08.29.08

Bold choice – conservative women (yes there are many) are going to be energized about this ticket. At last a woman who shares my views on important fiscal and defense issues._

_Rep 08.29.08

What is McCain trying to do to us? There is no way she is ready to be President. I am so disappointed I could cry._

_Awesome pick! 08.29.08

s I listened to her speech today, tears welled up in my eyes. She is an awesome pick–a thoroughly decent person who can bring about the changes that are needed in this country.I was lukewarm on McCain before–now there is no question in my mind that this party is the right choice. I feel a totally renewed sense of hope that things can be changed in this country for the better.This woman strikes me as having the strength of character to really make it happen._

_Yrreb 08.29.08

I think shes reelly hot. And she used to be Miss Alaska or somthing. Whats rong with having a hot presidint? Also she likes to shoot guns. I like guns. And food._

_Ron H. 08.29.08

Go get them Sarah !! I am a Father of a daughter that will turn 11 in just a few days, I am proud to tell my daughter that she can do anything she wants to in America if she works hard enough and is honest. I agree with Pro Life, Pro Family, Conservative Values that support the American Family — the McCain / Palin ticket supports what we believe in. I do not trust Obama, he has no experience to speak of to qualify him for the top spot on anyone’s ticket. He is Pro-Abortion and I will not in good conscience vote for anyone with values I don’t agree with._

_Kenny Hott 09.01.08

Sarah Palin was raised up by God to be nominated as the next vice president. Surely if God could take a sheered boy named David and make him king of Israel, He can surely can give her the wisdom and the ability to be vice president. People forget that a president has a cabinet with people that are given wisdom to help them by God. Furthermore she was also was raised up by God to speak out against abortion which is one of the greatest sins of the US. Just because the US laws says abortion is legal does not make it legal in the sight of God. The US is being judged by God for this sin of murdering innocent babies. I wonder how many people who are pro-choice would have wanted their mother to have aborted them. I would think not many yes answers to that question._

I mean, really. Really? Yes. No, YOU’RE a reasonless ideologue. No YOU are.

Yeah.

But here’s the staggering thing: it’s not overwhelmingly to one side or the other. That’s crazy. It means that of people who bother to post comments on web articles (bless their hearts, and yours, if your name is Clair) the country is not overwhelmingly intelligent… there’s a serious split over something that should be as obvious as not throwing yourself out of a 10 story building.

I’ll tell you what: Ben Franklin was right, and I hold this truth to be self-evident: the American Public cannot be trusted with reason. And given this obviously well-balanced split of season less stupidity to reckless adherence in outdated ideology, who KNOWS what will happen in November?

I guess we’ll just see.

Dylan Cormack

A friend recently asked me for a political opinion.

“Uh-oh,” I thought, remembering what a famous New York columnist said when she first made it big. “I’m not ready for this.”

Arguably, this doesn’t count as ‘making it big’, but consider it a first step. Clair, a cheery red-head from Alaska who loves to weed as much as she loves to read the things she finds here recently asked me for my take on the Georgia-Russia crisis.

“What Georgia-Russia crisis,” some of you will ask.

right.

I had assumed she was asking because she’d seen reports on TV, the tanks rolling in, the bodies piling up, the accusations and the denials fluttering about the breezes like bullets in Anbar. I was going to start with the immediate reaction of rambling off about some background, who’s the aggressor and who’s the victim? Trying to see who’s right, who’s wrong, and who’s stupid, as is always the case.

But I thought: there is a bigger problem here, isn’t there? This is just another story that two days from now will be wiped from everyone’s conscious thoughts, might surface again 3 days after that, and by week’s end they will have show you all you will ever see of it on CNN, MSNBC, and whatever the hell other 24 hour shit stations wanna touch this one.

The things is, I don’t fit into that cycle. There’s no place for me there. Mine is not to tell you what’s REALLY happening, the raw facts, the DATA. That’s for reporters. That’s for journalists. That’s for people on the ground. No, no. I’m here to ask other questions, to comment on the things that are not being discussed out in the ether because there’s no place for them there. Nobody wants to hear it, and if they do, they don’t want to do anything about it. They don’t know how.

So I paused a bit longer before answering her email, I considered what is really happening here, or perhaps, what is it that she REALLY wants to know about this situation. There is only one answer.

Jesus, what are you people DOING over there?

This “explosion” in Georgia is a tragedy of greed & incompetence. Nothing new. People are reacting now only because of circumstance, which is to say “Olympic interruption”. Nobody would’ve been watching the news closely enough to comment on Russia’s invasion (which was ironically timed, I guess with John Edwards’ confession of an affair some time ago, and you know, who cares?) had they not been checking constantly to see if Michael Phelps had won another medal. To be surprised by the conflict over there would be as silly as being surprised at how many are dead and dying in Darfur, but that will only happen when China decides to stop investing in that country. Obviously, because Bono couldn’t draw enough attention to it.

And that won’t happen. Business is business, and altruists and idealists are poor.

As for the details of the conflict, l have what you have, I’m sure. Which is what John Q. averagely informed citizen has. You don’t need more because you don’t have to take sides: they’re both wrong, and they’re both right, and they’re both suffering. The only ones to come out on top are the people with money (on both sides). Fundamentally, this is no different than any other ethnic struggle of differences between people that simply live too close to those that are different from themselves. Tribal affiliations, blood lines, sectarian opinions, religious conflicts, economic interests, language, food, freedom, limited resources… these are the things that hold us together when needed, and drive us to murder and destruction when we’re afraid. Indeed Ireland, Israel, Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tibet, Taiwan, Vietnam, Euskadia, The Balkans, Haiti, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Kenya, Somalia… well, most of Africa… all of Europe for the last 2000 years…

This is what happens when there are too many people in one place. We’re too different, too intolerant, too panicky and too easily frightened. We’re too stupid and too short-sighted, too greedy and nowhere near open-minded. We cannot live together. Not this closely.

Those are my deep thoughts. I’ll develop them a bit, but that’s the outline.

More immediately to her point is the fact that Rice and Bush and the Congress all went on vacation and refused to come back for this mess… that’s not helping. It’s their prerogative but it’s also irresponsible. Not the first time the leaders were caught jacking off and butt-slapping beach volleyball Olympians when they should’ve been working. I mean, they should at least have been sitting at their desks pretending to work when the call came in. But that doesn’t make the image of the thing any better, you know?

I don’t expect much from Congress, because this is a focused situation, the abilities to solve them falling on the shoulders of about a handful of people. And besides, they haven’t really done anything since their first 100 days in office anyway. But you know… that 3 am call they keep talking about on Fox News? Have you noticed that no one is answering the phone at the White House TODAY?. So who cares, you know?

Bah. The answer to all of this eludes me too, and I make no claim to resolve… only to method. But that’s not what she’d asked for, so I didn’t bother. I will say this though: kicking Russia out of the G8 is simply a stupid idea with no front and no back, and I wish McCain would shut up about that and find himself a new foreign policy. He’s good at changing his views, so that shouldn’t be too hard. What the hell would that even accomplish? He hasn’t said, but you can bet he doesn’t know either. Sure sounds tough, though, eh?

The fact that his close advisers are financially linked to Top Georgian officials is not helping the situation either. Then Rice goes to France on her way to mediate the talks and says NOTHING of value at the press conference. Way to inspire me to wonder what makes you think you’re worth anything at all.

What else? I don’t know, but seemed like it was worth a post. Maybe I’ll think about it some more while I’m traveling in Scotland next week. Not bad, eh? By then the media should have latched on to something fresh and just as useless, and maybe then I can get back to writing a novel or something.