Writers Block

Writers block is a bitch, let’s just be honest here folks. The dead of summer has settled in here in The Sunshine Empire and the tempestuous mix between blinding heat and torrential thunderstorms is now a daily occurrence. I’m a naturally opinionated American, but we deal with issues of such immense proportion that they last beyond my ability to have anything new to say. The presidential election of 2008 seemed to last a decade, as did the epic battle over health care reform. Now the Gulf Of Mexico oil spill threatens to finish the job on New Orleans that Katrina started. Far from a quick storm this spill just will not end. It will not end as a physical occurrence, and it will not end as a political matter. But what more is there that could be said? Who else could be blamed? The media has been reduced to making copy over what Barack Obama and Tony Heyward are doing in their spare time.

Now, President Obama’s reaction to General Stanley McChrystal’s comments to Rolling Stone will be the story of the day today, but what more is there to contribute? If McChrystal had that much of an issue with Obama then he should have refused the offer of the command. If McChrystal had said as much about a president like George W. Bush I’m sure Rich Lowry would be asking for a court martial. Instead he’s reduced to a snarky comment about how everybody makes fun of Joe Biden, as if that excuses the military chain of command. Insubordination is cool so long as it’s just to Democratic presidents.

Yet the heat, and the writers block continues. Much like that spill in the gulf.

We Blame Everyone For The Oil Spill, And Oh Yeah Korea

I’m rarely prone to chicken-little type sky-is-falling hysteria, but these are the types of afternoons where you really feel like the world is self destructing. Between the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the deteriorating situation on the Korean peninsula, I’m just sorely disappointed that I do not have a massive amount of whiskey sitting at home. It’s no longer a matter of democrat vs. republican or conservative vs. liberal, it’s we the people that seem finally to be incapable of doing one damn simple thing. I’m almost ready to pull my rapidly thinning hair out in frustration, but I’d prefer to go home drinking to avoid the disaster.

The disaster of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is already well documented and discussed, but like we always do Americans are looking for a scapegoat and not a solution. As much as Republicans these days pray for a terrorist attack or natural disaster to slam President Obama on, the President deserves blame in this situation. When the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded and sunk, causing the oil spill to begin, BP convinced the federal government that they had everything completely under control. They most obviously did not because they viewed profits above safety. First and foremost the Obama administration believed the bullshit being fed to them by BP. Second, after a year and a half in office the Obama administration cannot continue to blame the Bush administration for the reprehensible condition of the Minerals Management Agency. The federal government whether controlled by either party plays lip service to safety. This is alll the more upsetting when you look at the continued reassurances of the safety of mining and offshore drilling by the industry and the government itself. Meanwhile the Democratic congress, despite passing several landmark pieces of legislation cannot seem to get out of its way in increasing the damage liability of BP.

While the Gulf Of Mexico turns into a terrifying cauldron of toxic sludge, republicans continue to shill for their oil barons and clumsily attempt to compare this to yet another Bush administration failure. Conservatives from coast to coast continue to giddily attempt to compare this as “Obama’s Katrina.” What the comparison fails to take into account is that there are not thousands of people stranded starving and dehydrating on top of that oil spill slick. While simultaneously trying to blame Obama for the slick, conservatives are also trying to get us to understand that the oil slick and spill are not a big deal at all. As his face slowly melted off, Britt Hume asked incredulously where the oil was? As if an oil plume hundreds of square miles in size doesn’t count so long as it doesn’t peek above the surface. Oil industry champions such as Sarah Palin now attempt to draw some kind of quid pro quo between big oil and President Obama over campaign contributions. The point remains that the oil spill in the gulf is a glaring reminder of how neither party is capable of solving the major problems of our time.

In addition to this, we seem quietly to be approaching the brink of war on the Korean peninsula. War in Korea would make the reverberations from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars look like jump rope in the park. Yet a tragedy of this level could finally force a true moment of national discussion on getting rid of our most pricey perk, our empire.

Life Has Become A Disaster Movie

Before I get to what I wanted to discuss today, I didn’t realize I missed a milestone. In the same week I passed 6000 tweets I also passed 2000 posts here at The Sunshine Empire. The world is a vastly different place from when I began writing this back in 2007. Since that time we’ve elected a new President and passed landmark stimulus and health care reform in America. The war in Iraq is winding down and the war in Afghanistan is the new hotness. But most importantly we are now the only Sunshine Empire standing now that those worms in Singapore are now on trial. Now standing number one in any search for Sunshine Empire is your reliable friend in The Sunshine State.

The Sunshine State is a beautiful, warm, nightmarish, dangerous place of insanity. The times we live in now produce disasters worthy of big budget blockbusters, but in The Sunshine State we live them. Spacecraft are destroyed approaching our shores, and those shores are now about to be surrounded and engulfed by a giant slick of oil. The BPocalypse approaching also just had to occur during the summer. Here in Florida we had a noticeably colder winter than normal. If BP had spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil during the winter we could have just lit that on fire and used it for warmth. But now the summer of 2010 will be the summer of crude here in Florida. Tourism season would be truly year round.

The turn of events with regards to offshore drilling has been remarkable this year. From Democrats standing against drilling in the mid 2000’s to a Democratic President reversing the ban earlier this year. Now after his bi-partisan move closer to Republicans on drilling, this disaster in the gulf has turned the momentum back in the other direction. Gulf state republican governors are all tip-toeing around their previous zeal for offshore oil drilling as they all look for federal government handouts to help in cleaning up what the unfettered free market is going to dump on them. The matter will be especially fascinating to follow as an issue in the three-way political battle royal that is the Florida senate race. I’m so looking forward to the summer of crude.

Progress In Afghanistan: Will Republicans Notice?

I’ve been derelict in my duties to this blog the last couple of days for a variety of reasons. On Saturday I nearly froze to death, in Florida, as my dad and I worked to build the walls of a house for Habitat for Humanity in St. Augustine. During the Sunday political shows the big event was Vice President Biden going head to head on different shows with former Vice President Dick Cheney. I found the interview with Cheney telling because ABC actually used Biden’s attacks on Cheney earlier on Meet The Press right to the former VP. Cheney I’m sure is playing hatchet man for George W. Bush while he plays the nice and uninterested former President. His arguments rang hollow when faced with his agreement on the Afghan surge, and his administration’s mirandizing of Richard Reid for the same thing the Christmas underwear bomber did. But his full throated agreement with the Obama surge was telling of the curious place most conservatives find themselves.

As President Obama noted in his question time with the GOP weeks ago, the Republicans have so demonized him that they risk looking weak themselves if they ever agree or compromise with him. When Obama finally made the moves to triple the force in Afghanistan, Republicans begrudgingly voiced their agreement. Although they noted they didn’t like the way he gave the speech in which he did exactly what they wanted. Much like them sitting on their hands as he discussed all the taxes he lowered, Republicans dead set against him have to seem slightly bothered by the very things they state they are dedicated to. But watching CNN this morning they were reporting that the large offensive in Helmand province is having success in forcing the Taliban out. The Taliban’s #2 was arrested in Karachi, and Obama’s push in Helmand combined with the drone attacks that Republican Presidential nominee John McCain was against is forcing a pincer move on the enemy. This strategy seems to be forcing the Taliban into Pakistani cities and has them on the run. Without these moves we’d still be in the crumbling situation the Bush administration left.

The radical right is repeating the dangerous political distractions that they reveled in during the ’90’s. Much like Cheney did, once this dangerous mess caused by Bush is cleaned up, Republicans will use their reflexive logic to give George W. Bush credit. It will be like they crashed and totaled the car, then take credit for thinking to grab the CD case before it was towed.

Godspeed Kenny

Yesterday evening I received a call from my mother informing me that my uncle Kenny had passed away from an apparent heart attack. Her stepbrother was a quiet, sweet man who lived almost as a recluse. After his service during the Vietnam War he was irreparably changed. The horrible reaction of the American people to vets coming home from Vietnam aside, the psychological effects of the war were ignored and a generation of young men suffered because of it. I write this only because today we are welcoming our soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, but I believe we are still ignoring the frightening psychological after-effects that will affect these brave men and women for the rest of their lives. Due to the all-volunteer army, the general American public is only passively aware of this need for psychiatric after care on the home front. This needs to be a priority for this country, but until then Godspeed Kenny.