Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
The following is an excerpt from a chapter on world religions from John McCain’s upcoming book: “I Spent Five and a Half Years in a Vietnamese Prison Camp and My Mind is as Sharp as a…Ooh, look, a Birdie!” Published by Harper Collins.
Purim. The Jewish version of Halloween, in which children dress up in costumes and go door to door, though instead of saying “trick or treat” and receiving candy they say “we are your only ally in the region, give us money and guns and support in the U.N.” In this ritual they often employ a ceremonial noisemaker called a grogger which, when twirled in the air, simulates the sound of machine gun fire. This is done every time someone utters the name of Haman, a traditional Purim hobgoblin.
Easter. Christian Ground Hog Day. A holiday commemorating the time when Jesus came out of his grave and saw his shadow, which meant six more weeks of lent, a traditional period of self-denial in which Christians are forbidden from drinking Scotch, playing golf at restricted clubs, wearing plaid pants, or attending pancake breakfasts. Instead they must send all their money and pancakes to the fattest religious leader who, like the traditional sin-eater, takes on all their impurities and because of his heightened spiritual awareness can get rich and fat without his soul being tainted. (See Rev. John Hagee.)
The Burning Bush. A traditional Jewish sports ritual similar to our Super Bowl. When Moses saw the burning bush, it was not a mystical revelation, but a bonfire celebrating the First Annual Desert Classic Inter-Tribe Football Championship. Written on two stone tablets were the lineups of the two finalists. The golden calf was their equivalent of the Lombardi Trophy.
Ji-had. The Islamic version of the American expression “Yee-Ha!” often heard at rodeos by cowboys riding Brahma bulls and waving hats in the air. Only in the Islamic tradition the expression is used when someone drives an old Mercedes into a lunchtime crowd and blows everyone up. This is followed a week later by a holiday similar to our Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, called Orphans’ Day, sort of a “those without Mothers or Fathers Day.” All children are given Hershey Bars. If they save 15 wrappers they can be turned in for a free trip to Disneyworld.
Ramadan. A month-long fast and purification ritual in which devout Muslims often make a pilgrimage to Mecca called a Hajj, in which they circumambulate a large square block, until the music stops at which point they must sit down immediately, much like in our game of musical chairs, where whoever is left standing is out. Though instead of having to move to the side and have a cookie, the loser is decapitated. Traditionally, this is played with two teams – Sunni and Shi’a – a rivalry similar to our Yankees/Red Sox match-ups, only with less animosity.
Passover. A holiday commemorating the Jews’ escape from Egypt, beginning their 40-year trek in the desert in search of the Holy Land. This is celebrated by a traditional dinner called a shwarma, in which a large slab of pressed meat referred to as Charlton Heston is slow roasted, signifying the suffering of the Jews under the oppressive heat of the desert sun. Fortunately, like in Phoenix, it was a dry heat.
Yom Kippur. The Jewish Day of Atonement. The High Holy Day, in which Jews fast as a way of apologizing to the world for not being perfected Christians.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
With all the fear-mongering and 3 am ads to come between now and November, I don’t know if the country is smart enough to keep from having its buttons pushed. If we have brains enough to trust someone with intelligence and integrity to bring the best and brightest into government or will, like some abused wife, run back to the abuser out of fear of the unknown.
After 8 years of an abusive relationship with the dumbfuck-in-chief, the country is starved for actual leadership. But we’ve also been conditioned to live in fear. Having been bludgeoned with the notion that Islamo-fascists are hellbent on taking away our Ipods, the only one we trust to protect us is someone equally psychotic. And, like the reincarnation of Curtis LeMay, McCain has picked up the ball. Like grandpa with a hit of Cialis, he grits what, for argument’s sake I’ll say are his teeth, and starts that crazy blinking like he’s telegraphing the launch codes. You just know he’s itching to get in there are fuck up someone. And with all Hillary’s 3 am talk, at best, she’s been power-adjacent. The one arena in which she has been battle tested is in fighting the Republican hate machine which will shift into hyper drive the moment a democratic nominee is chosen, unleashing the dogs of war to discredit, dismiss, and dismantle their opponent.
As the campaign continues its descent down the low road the problem for Obama is that he’s caught in a double bind. If he jumps into the trough and gets dirty with the other two, then all his talk about sticking to the issues was just bullshit campaign rhetoric. If he actually tries to stay above it all, he’ll get too bloodied and ultimately look ineffectual and, sadly ironic as it is, not tough enough for the presidency. Clinton and McCain are so hungry for power by the time they’re done they’ll have Obama accused of snorting lines off the butt cheeks of madrassa boy scouts while making shady real estate deals with Bin Laden. Unless, of course, he changes the rules.
By that I mean making a pre-emptive move neither camp would ever consider. Pick a running mate. Now. And a Republican. Someone like Chuck Hagel. A respected senator with the pre-requisite military credentials, both as a veteran and as someone who’s worked for veteran’s rights. It would send a message that an Obama administration would be, from day one, bi-partisan. It would kneecap both the Hillary and McCain campaigns and blow away that idiotic 3 am spot logic, along with any further opposition claims of relative inexperience, assuaging the irrational fears of those who would be manipulated by Rep. King and others into thinking they wouldn’t be adequately protected. It would demonstrate true leadership and show that an Obama administration would be acting in the interests of the entire country. And there might actually be a real benefit when it comes to garnering support for legislation in the future. Actual bi-partisan support instead of the all-for-show claims of across-the-aisle reach-arounds.
This process will get nastier and more negative as time goes on. It will be all-fear, all the time. And it’s been proven that we are, as a people, unreflective enough, scared enough and, occasionally, stupid enough to fall for it. Obama can’t get trapped in their double bind. He has to make his campaign truly historic before “yes we can” becomes “well, we could’ve.”