Monday, January 22, 2007

Silver Platter

I'm starting to think that American politics are becoming intentionally difficult to pay attention to.

It's a field I'm meaning to get into -- at least as an observer -- so I feel a certain obligation to try to pay attention to what's going on. But the realities of day-to-day political headlines are so stunningly stupid that it's hard not to just throw in the towel and go look for stories about Apple's new iPhone.

Take, for example, the Democratic Party's front runners for the 2008 presidential campaign: Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. One is a woman, and the other is black.

Trust me. I'd love to believe that the United States of America, as a people who are supposedly so devoted to freedom and equality and human rights, are thoroughly prepared to elect a female or black president. We've beaten sexism and racism, haven't we? We certainly showed those damn communists what the score was.

But let's be honest. Does anyone think that the enormous expanse of backwardness that exists between America's two coasts is really going to vote for someone who doesn't look like JFK or FDR? Are we really at a point where the ethnic demographic a candidate falls into isn't going to matter?

Christ, has anyone seen an episode of COPS lately?

I think I can say without exaggeration that the GOP has done everything in its power to hand the next presidency to the DNC on a silver-gilded platter. Democrats, in response, have simply slapped that platter out of the garcon's hands and send it clattering to the floor. No, they're saying. We don't want to win. We'd rather show that we have inclusive principles.

Sorry, guys. The same red-state rubes who re-elected George W. Bush are going to be returning to the polls next November, and they're not about to have some colored gentleman running their blessed country. And God forbid they give the job to a woman... Hell, we'd be bombing some damn country every month or so.

The plans and agendas that Clinton and Obama bring to the campaign debate table will never matter, believe you me. And the DNC ought to know that by now... but they don't, and I'm wondering if they'll ever figure it out.

And the repercussions of electing a Republican president after eight years of this current maniac are too horrible to imagine.

A new GOP president with a referendum? It chills my blood.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Return of the PA Specialist

As quickly as it began, my leave ended. There were the tearful goodbyes, the pledges to keep in touch, and expressions of hope for the future -- when my tenure in the Army will be over and I'll return to New York state.

Time at home is always followed by a surreal plane trip back to Kentucky. I fly out of Syracuse and make the connection to Louisville at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, where I usually find time to stop at the Fox Sports Bar for a drink and a couple smokes.

This time, I found myself sitting next to a guy around my age who introduced himself as Bill. He was dressed in standard gear for a twenty-something -- a baseball cap covered unkempt hair, and his baggy jeans fell over a pair of well-worn sneakers. He told me he was heading to Washington, D.C. for "meetings." The way he spoke reminded me of Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which didn't exactly seem to befit someone heading to "meetings" in the capital.

But since I was feeling talkative due to two large glasses of Sam Adams, I asked him what he did.

Turns out, Bill works as an independent humanitarian aid consultant. He said he was working out of Ecuador, building homes and schools for street children.

I could hardly believe it.

"So, sort of Peace Corps-type work?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "But I work pretty much on my own."

He told me of the high-power connections he'd made during the year he lived in D.C., and how when he needed money for some kind of humanitarian project, all he had to do was make a phone call. He talked about meeting ambassadors and high-level dignitaries at house parties, and how a guy he worked with had once met the Dalai Lama.

I lit another cigarette. I wasn't sure what to make of his story, because it sounded fantastic to the point of seeming fictitious. But despite the surfer/pothead drawl to his speech, his story held together and I couldn't help but think he was telling the truth.

He told me he had no immediate intentions of settling down, and that he liked the element of world travel and the freedom his job afforded.

Eventually, I had to head to the C Concourse to catch my flight to Louisville. I wished Bill good luck and left the bar, shaking my head at the thought of how for some people, life just shakes out being remarkable.

Now I'm back at work on Fort Knox. I suppose a good New Year's resolution would be to make as much of a mark here as I can -- before the Next Phase starts in August.