Friday, June 27, 2008

John McCain and Alien-nation

(Warning: Way Too Late at Night Hyperbole Alert)

There are things about this election that really irk me, and primary among them is that we Republicans have been saddled with a candidate who has gone out of his way to alienate Republican voters.

Mrs. Woody has already deflected a couple of phone calls from Republican money grubbers in the past few weeks. I think she knows that there are few things that raise my blood pressure faster than people asking for money who clearly have not earned that right. If Mr. McCain really, truly "needs" my money as badly as he says he does (or his sycophantic telemarketers say they do, at any rate), then he needs to quit torquing us off.

Any Republican telemarketer that happens to have the bad fortune to get me on the phone had better hope the campaign will cover the costs of a good ear doctor. He's gonna get an earfull.

"You want my money, eh?"

"Yes, Mr. Woody, we need to be able to outspend Obama so that we can..."

"Hold it right there, Junior. Is your candidate still chummy with the Open Borders special interests?"

"Well, sir, I wouldn't really classify it that way..."

"No, I'm sure you wouldn't. Does he still believe that 'Global Warming' is our fault and therefore we should front the costs of 'fixing it?'"

"Sir, you can't deny that Global Warming is a problem..."

"I would never do that, but I have yet to see incontrovertible proof that it's my fault. Does McCain still claim to be a conservative even though he clearly has no patience with conservative voters?"

"John McCain is proud of his conservative recor..."

"Yes, I know. Good luck with your fundraising. You're gonna need it."

See, unlike John McCain, I still see open borders as a problem. In fact, were I a senior Republican senator from Arizona, and I knew that Mexican nationals had crossed the border into my home state to perform home invasion robberies and commit murder in the process, I think I'd be a bit more concerned with building the dam'd fence.

I also think that with our economy in the toilet (if not the actual U-bend), I might be more helpful in opening up the prospects of drilling for something that we badly need while we wait interminably for the infrastructure to support greener alternatives. Seems McCain wasn't even interested enough to attend the vote on that one.

Thanks, John, for alienating conservative voters and simultaneously creating an alien nation. I'm sure glad you, at least, can sleep soundly at night. Me... I might just have to thank the Supreme Court and go buy me a gun. Maybe then I'll sleep a bit better.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Okay, So Race is Off the Table

Fair is fair, Mr. Obama. You fear that Republicans will use race to attack you during the campaign. I can certainly understand where race would be a hugely distracting issue among such things as border security, global terrorism, global warming, and other such trivia. So let me set your mind at ease, sir:

I am perfectly happy with avoiding any and all reference to your ancestry.

However, since you seem to assume that I, as a Republican, would stoop to such tactics merely because my tan isn't anywhere near as great as yours, this smacks of being some sort of negotiation. And, of course, in any good negotiation there has to be some sort of consideration on both sides.

So here's the deal. I won't mention your race in this blog. However, I presume this to mean that all other aspects of your campaign are on the table. This includes your record, your inexperience, your previous statements on hot-key issues, your current statements on those same issues, your wife's statements that she makes on your behalf and which are truly part of the national debate whether you and she like it or not, and your continual efforts to smear all Republicans with one broad brush. This will include your statements on why you didn't feel that rule of law was sufficient qualification for a Supreme Court Justice, along with your previously stated intent to rely on public funding for your campaign which seems now to have become rather an inconvenient position for you. We also get to adjudicate your worthiness to hold office by studying the characters who make up a large part of your life experience; you know, pastors, advisors and such.

If you agree to these terms, Mr. Obama, then I welcome your desire to keep race out of this campaign. Good luck with that.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Spirit is Willing, but the Budget is Weak

Much ado now over rapidly rising oil prices and, by extension, gas prices. A brief rundown of Drudge headlines yesterday and today focuses on oil having reached a record $139 on Friday, with $150 per barrel not far off (July 4??). Ford is already in reaction mode and and will lower production on trucks and SUVs while focusing on models with higher fuel economies. GMC has come up with what it terms a "hybrid" version of its humongous Yukon. That takes it up to a whopping 20-22 estimated MPG (from, probably, 6 or 7?). Well, I have news for GMC: our wonderful minivan that we purchased last year specifically so we could accommodate our family vacations in style gets 20-22 MPG on the open highway, and it still cost me nearly $70 to fill the tank on the return trip. That was two weekends ago when I was scandalized to find prices of $4.39 per gallon on the I-5 corridor at Lebec. Already that seems like the good ol' days compared to what my local Shell is going for as of today: $4.49 for the cheap stuff.

All this by way of saying that I need to have some serious discussions with my bosses about making the telecommute option more the norm than the exception.

In that respect, I've been "going green" for several months now. It started with Mrs. Woody's illness last summer and has more or less continued into this year. I've been rationalizing staying home due to hideous project deadlines that suffer whenever I take 45 minutes out of my morning to drive the 22 miles into the office. So, that, coupled with early morning meetings every few days means that I prefer to work from my couch.

It comes to this: with gas prices where they stand and are projected to go in the immediate future, I need to be seriously considering alternative forms of transportation.

I jokingly informed Mrs. Woody one day that I would consider getting a Vespa like my father before me. A noble experiment, that. He got the thing while I was in Guatemala and Mom sent me pictures of the results of that experiment. Dad was already recovering from gall bladder surgery that summer (back before they started doing those arthroscopically) and had about six inches of incision that simply refused to heal over. Add to that a spill that Dad had taken on the Vespa with the resulting abrasions, and Dad suddenly looked like the poster boy for a hospital cadaver study program. Mrs. Woody knows this story well, and has seen the photos. She unjokingly nixed the idea. I really don't blame her. I'm no more likely to be riding a Vespa any time soon than I am to be visiting the Space Station.

The heck of it is, there's hope on the distant horizon. Many folks are going in for the hybrids. My boss is among them. He had ordered his back several months ago and has been driving it for a few months now. He told us last week that with gas prices where they were a week ago (the good ol' days!) he is now paying about as much per week for gas as he had been last year (during the Revolution!) when driving his pickup to work every day. At some point he's bound to be in a loss position even with the hybrid now that gas prices are flirting with the $5.00 level. In the meantime, my own gas "champ" (our ageing Saturn) is driveway-bound because I haven't had time to take it in for servicing.

Besides the hybrids, Honda has announced its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Should start leasing here in Southern Cal this summer. The trick there is fuel availability. We'd have to live in Irvine to even qualify for this initial release. I'm also unsure what the fuel pricing/economy is at this point, not to mention overall availability of fueling stations. RINO-in-Chief Schwarzenegger is nowhere near to delivering on his "hydrogen corridor" and seems unlikely to arrive there before he leaves the Governor's mansion in 2010. We have a few stations dotting the landscape here and there, but the nearest one to me is not in a terribly convenient place. Economy, economy, economy. (Same as "location, location, location" in real estate terms.)

For my invisible money, the vehicles to watch are the electrics. Battery technology has improved now to the point that one company (which I found via Dave Barry, of all people) boasts of a vehicle design that would drive 2,500 miles using what they call "hot-swap" technology. It's patented! (It would have to be.) This model, which is inflatable, won't be in production until 2010 at the earliest. (Could it be that they're waiting for Schwarzenegger to leave office, too?)

One that I've been watching for a few years now is the Tango. Developed by Commuter Cars Corp., this is a car that has been well thought out and executed. The problem, again, is production. In their case they make no bones about the fact that it essentially boils down to investment money. It's a classic Catch-22; investors don't want to put out the money required for production (the company claims it needs tens of millions for start-up) unless they see some market interest. The market won't rise to the bait unless they know they can get one for production prices. Leaving deposits with a company that may go out business while holding your cash (even in a trust, which is CCC's solution) doesn't sit well with too many people, especially in today's economy. This is a car I would buy in a heart-beat if it ever came to within spitting distance of my personal budget. It's that good.

Europe, meanwhile, is making it's Smart Car available stateside finally. Apparently they're not so upset with our capitalistic vices that they mind taking our capitalistic money. All to the good, I guess, except that the darn things still run on petrol and petrol is becoming increasingly expensive. The downside here is driving around in a car that got pretty thoroughly roughed up in a Tom Hanks movie. Also, 2008 EPA ratings of 34-41 MPG are on par with most hybrids that look more like normal cars today.

I really want to get an electric for my commuting, but I fear that production models are far enough away that it may not happen before I retire. This is a pity, because this is definitely one commuter who wouldn't mind going green.

When I absolutely have to commute, that is.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

In Parody One Finds Great Truth

This needs to be required reading for all GOP Congresscritters. It was so funny that I got thoroughly depressed. Can you guess why?

The blasted GOP is calling and begging for money again.

- sigh -

When you've earned it, boys... when you've earned it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Day, Another Primary

Although well documented over at the OC Flash Report (Fleischman may look smarmy, but he's undeniably bright), I need to outline my own reasons why this primary was a farce from the beginning.

It was a crap shoot over a year ago when Schwarzenegger signed the legislation that moved California's presidential primary up to February 5th. While the headlines were breathless ("With Earlier Primary, Calif. Reshapes Race"), the analysis underneath spoke of a potential result that had all the glamour and excitement of a mine field. Indeed, rather than "reshaping" the race this year, all California did in the long run was exhaust its voters.

That's not how you want to run your politics.

Thus we arrive at the normal June primary election in this state with a hugely underwhelming voter turnout after having acheived record-breaking numbers in February. Even for me, and in spite of having written an admittedly lackluster "Curmudgeon's Guide" once again, this election caught me pretty much by complete surprise. Or perhaps I was just so politically spent that I didn't really register the numerous campaign placards posted on all street corners this year. I certainly saw them when I was driving home from the polling place earlier this afternoon. Oh, well. C'est le guerre.

The polling place should have tipped me off. When I arrived at about 2:30(ish), the place was deserted. I literally had the run of the booths. The polling workers were so happy to see me that I could have sworn that they were kind of deliberately dragging out the process of getting me signed in, just so they could say they were occasionally busy today. On later reflection, although incredibly convenient for me, it was pathetic in the extreme.

Truthfully, though, I can't lay all of the blame at Schwarzenegger's feet, much as I may want to. There are other elements at play, and they have to do with the "larger picture," the one whose results we're most interested in this November.

For months now, we've been subjected to one of the most rancorous races just to capture the nomination that the Democrats have ever run. I may only vaguely remember the Sixties, but once Johnson dropped out in '68 I still don't remember a race that was anywhere near as contentious as the one between Clinton II and the Religion of Obama (whatever that may be). Citizens, fueled partly by an enabling internet, along with their own absolute "moral authority" as whatever victims they choose to portray, have yelled themselves hoarse (virtually) in proclaiming the merits of their candidates of choice.

Meanwhile, those of us at the other end of the political spectrum are left to contemplate whether we live with what we've been given, or whether we dare try to write in our own candidate this November purely out of principle.

I'd do it, but the only thing stopping me (and I do mean the ONLY thing) is the dread of having Obama in the driver's seat and dictating our foreign policy, especially in the Fertile Crescent. At a point in time where the surge is producing demonstrable benefits in that region, an Obama win in November will nearly instantly erase whatever gains we've made and thoroughly negate the sacrifices made by numerous U. S. heroes throughout this conflict. No matter what the argument, I just can't justify in my own mind and heart allowing that to happen.

(Please understand: this same dread extended to Hillary as well. We've just finally reached the point where Obama seems to be the Anointed One of the Party, so we may as well accept that and move on. So to speak.)

So now I face the unenviable task of choking down my distaste of John McCain and voting for him this November. I am absolutely certain that I will regret this decision on several fronts. I have no delusions that he will not buy into the Global Warming hysteria. He already has. I do not look to this man to stand up to (rather than with) the Open Borders special interests. I have known many conservatives, and this man is no conservative. He's far too chummy with the far-left side of the aisle. But he's all we've got.

If I look listless this November, just push me into the booth and remind me what my duties are. That should rouse me long enough to push the buttons, then fall back into my politically-induced stupor once again.

It's June 3 - Do You Know Where Your Vote Is?

Uncle Woody just wants to take this opportunity to remind you young voters to get out there and vote today. Of course, Uncle Woody is more interested in you Republican voters, as we seem to have a bad habit of avoiding elections where nothing is really in danger of changing. I mean, we didn't do too badly in February when we really, really wanted Romney to kick McCain's borders, but in this primary we have no incumbents here in Orange County, for example, who seem to be in imminent danger of defeat. That's when we Republicans get lazy. So go vote today.

You Democrats can vote, too, for all the good it'll do you. You still have "Peyton Place Meets Falcon Crest" to deal with. Good luck with that.