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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Of Milk, Politics, and Pundits

Well, it's 8:20 and a day of work looms after two sick days. I've done some figgerin' and I figger it's my recent switch to drinking lattes every morning that got me sick. I know, sounds like a reach, but when I was a kid I was taken off milk for 2 years to fight chronic bronchitis, so milk products and I have always nurtured a dubious relationship.

I've drank milk intermittently since then. The richer stuff, like whipped cream and ice cream, has been on my no-go list for a couple years at least. Hell, I haven't bought ice cream in at least two years. I thought skim milk would be all right, though, but since I got sick when no one I know is sick, nothing's spreading, and my health's better than it's been in eons, well, I did the math.

Kind of shitty. I have issues with soy milk because a) it costs twice as much, but also, b) the demand is just insane and far too much of the planet's croplands are now dedicated to soy, and with the demand continuing to escalate, well... I don't like to be adding to the problem. Almond milk is out of my budget ability, but I have it from time to time as well. But between soy, palm, and corn, farmlands are getting to be at a premium, just so we can grow these bio-fuel/oils, and with the world's population skyrocketing, I sometimes wonder where our priorities are... or at least I lament how rough it is to have clashing priorities.

I tell ya, it's tough to be an ethical consumer these days. You get it comin' and goin'. (Don't even get me started on the foolishness of ethanol.)


Speaking of foolishness, boy... I bet McCain would like a do-over for last week, huh? Some fond words to Phil Gramm: Don't let the door hitcha. God, poor McCain. Bein' a war hero only goes so far. Sometimes you need to be an actual campaigner. Too bad there's that hurdle before taking office, eh?

As far as Obama's little summer vacation goes over there on the other half of the world, I couldn't have planned it better myself. I came close to posting what I thought would be the perfect sojourn for him to take way back in May and then decided to write about something else, but my thinking then was, "Start with the heavy lifting by tackling Middle-East politics and all the requisite leader chats there, and end with a rockstar tour of France, Germany, and the UK."

But then I thought, oh, they won't waste time doing the fluff stuff in France and Germany because, aside from glamour-boy shots with all the fawning fans, how much diplomacy's really needed over there anyhow? I'm glad I was wrong about the downside, though, because, really, you can't plan better than they have, and Obama may have the pollsters' lead now, but we all know how foolish it is to count eggs before they hatch.

A few shows of what a great thoughtful-looking, articulate would-be president Obama can be when chatting with all the Eastern bigwigs, followed by displays of how an actual American candidate can draw thousands upon thousands of Frenchies and Germans and Limeys... You couldn't really pray for better in a presidential candidate's jaunt.

I'm sort of pissed, though. I guess the pundits and pollsters are waiting until Obama's little Eurojaunt has come to a conclusion (and McCain takes a break from self-destructing) before they do another poll... which'll probably be very close to a 10-point spread by the time it's done.

It's been at least a week since a serious poll, so it's feeling like some kind of political junkie's Sahara right now. "What? No polls again? Holy crap!"

Well, whatever. We're a month off from the Democratic conference, when I'm sure they'll be announcing a running mate for Obama -- something I'm still completely begging off from making predictions about. Clinton? I think it's more of a possibility now, but it's still a slim-as-hell chance. I think it'd turn off more people than it would draw, but it'd draw more independents.

I personally think the most likely candidates are Sam Nunn, Joe Biden, and Wesley Clark, but I confess to being more ignorant of American politics in general than I am of anything related to the Executive Office, so I'm probably blowing smoke out of my ass on that count. I still think Al Gore might consider it, too, and would be a popular choice, but I don't think Obama wants to go for popularity. I think it's about picking a very tried and true political stalwart to run with, to give him that air of experience that everyone's whining on, you know?

But I think Obama has more to gain from naming a running mate than McCain does in the grand scheme of things. But McCain's campaign's at a sink-or-swim point, and if they don't start treading some water, they'll be right fucked in no time at all.

Still, as to the rumours of McCain and his supposedly soon-to-be-announced Vice President, what the fuck is the press thinking? I mean, McCain can't possibly be stupid enough to paint himself into a corner this early in the game. I don't think there's anyone he can choose on the Republican political landscape that can elevate his game at this point. There's no sure-fire choice that will energize the electorate, defeat his critics, negate the "old" and "out of touch" slags of late, or jumpstart his campaign. Not Jindal, not Romney, not Huckabee. None of them will give that edge that McCain needs.

In fact, to name a running mate now would just give Obama a month to fire up a great attack and unleash that at the Dem's conference. Naming a running mate in September is the pragmatic way to go, and a great defensive move. They're just not in strong enough of a position to take the chance on naming someone this early in the game -- there's too much that's attack-worthy there. McCain's not in a good position, and one more kick when down right now could be the difference in Obama crossing the 10-point spread threshold, leaving McCain desperately flailing and trying anything they can think of to catch up.

But that's not to say there's no reason to name a running mate now. There are a couple thin-ass reasons why now might be the time to do the naming -- a) McCain sucks ass at fundraising, and b) he's proving just how incredibly shitty he is at campaigning, so someone who's good at campaigning might help prevent the campaign from losing even more momentum (but I think it's arguable that there's little, if any, momentum left for the Republicans to wrangle...).

So, yeah, I think the media's present speculating on the mysterious "rumblings" of McCain's supposed choice for Veep is borderline moronic, and smacking more than just a little of a slow time in news coverage. Some speculate it's the McCain camp just trying to get some voices nattering about the possibilities, so they can guage public thought, but I still say it's fucking lame for the media to take the bait.

As if it's worth as much air time as it's getting. Like there's so little to report on in the world.

Then again, why am I on it? Because it's so much more fun to write about than all the unpleasant stuff going on in the world.

But, fuck, my sick ass needs to work for a living, so I'm outtie. Groan.

(Oh, and I hate to say it, but after a few months of Obama trumpetting the two-wars' argument, reminding everyone of that small mess called Afghanistan, and suddenly the violence there has escalated to overshadow that of Iraq, well... if anything goes to support the argument that foreign diplomacy is at least as much about judgment as it is experience, then this would be that. I've always, always supported the Afghan war, even now, despite my opposition to Iraq.)