Friday, April 27, 2007

Inside Man

Among the “benefits” of being fifty-one years old and the owner of a hemorrhoid and family history of colon cancer is the necessity for occasional colonoscopies. (For those of you not well versed in the intricacies of invasive medical procedures, a colonoscopy involves sending a fiber optic tube approximately 75 feet up your ass to take pictures of your innards. Think I exaggerate? It wasn’t your asshole.)

The first impression I got of yesterday’s procedure was the warning that the laxative I had to drink should be ingested through a straw, “to get it past the taste buds.” Doesn’t that sound promising? I hadn’t tasted anything this nasty since Lady Voldemort and I went our separate ways.

There’s more to do than just drinking Liquid Plumber for Humans. My pre-procedure fast lasted forty-two hours. That’s a long time for a 240-pound man. Calling it a “fast” is a misnomer; time had not moved this slowly since I left Lady Voldemort. (I know, that’s two paragraphs in a row. Having things shoved up my ass must bring her to mind.)

Forty-two hours doesn’t seem like much compared to Gandhi’s hunger strikes, but look at the context. Gandhi didn’t weigh a buck-twenty-five, even if his diaper was wet. I need twice as much food just to maintain weight. Plus, food obviously takes a more elevated place in my pantheon of pleasures than his. (That’s why I weigh 240, right?)

Aside from that, what did Gandhi eat, and how much of a sacrifice was it to skip three, four, or fifty meals? To me, anything eaten that doesn’t have at least some meat in it is a snack, not a meal. My relatively brief fast allowed cattle to sleep easier than anything since the advent of Chick Fil-A.

So it’s the morning of the procedure. I’m starving, and my butt’s been wiped more times than Tom Cruise has been asked to come out of the closet. I talk to the doctor for a few minutes, and he steps out of sight and gets quiet. For all I know he left the room. Just about the time I start to wonder when the hell they’re going to get this show on the road, the nurse offers me something to drink.

It’s over. I missed it. The anesthesia was so quick and so good, I didn’t even have to count backward from one hundred. If I did, I don’t remember it. Nothing to complain about here, right? An invasive procedure rendered so painless I missed it. Couldn’t be better.

Maybe. Problem is, did I get scoped at all? Sure, they gave me color pictures. What difference does that make? Could you pick your colon out of a photo array? For all I know, they could have played tic-tac-toe on my bare ass with felt-tipped pens. It’s not like I can see back there.

It’s all about trust. (Let’s face it, if pulling down your pants and allowing strangers to knock you out without any supervision isn’t all about trust, I don’t know what is.) The good news is that recent advances in technology have allowed them to make the fiber optic tubes both longer, and more flexible. So now I not only know my colon is clean, I don’t have any cavities, either.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Be Careful What You Ask For

Barack Obama has spent the past several months becoming the unstoppable force du jour in the Democratic Party’s presidential field. Obama makes a good candidate: he’s young, he’s bright, his speeches don’t sound like we heard it all before (which is what I think Joe Biden meant when he called Obama “articulate”).

Obama’s a person of color, but not so much color he’ll offend too many in the powerful White Bread voting bloc. Some of his alleged peers don’t think he’s black enough; if they’d prefer four more years of the Republic Party’s “compassion,” less power to them.

There’s one thing to consider before the Obama train leaves the station. It’s a name not often associated with him, belonging to a person who can provide an important lesson on the pitfalls of voting for someone before you know enough about him: John McCain.

I’ll admit to having been in the tank for McCain. I voted for him twice in 2000: I crossed over to vote in the Republic primary, then wrote him in during the general election. I admired his straight talk, and his willingness to break with party orthodoxy. Six months ago, I couldn’t wait to vote for him again.

Boy, is my face red.

McCain has devoted 2007 to proving he is the basest kind of political whore, so overcome by ambition he’ll say anything, to anybody, if he thinks there’s a vote in it. Hillary Clinton is justly vilified for her constant triangulation; McCain has slipped into the realm of quadrangulation.

First he sucked up to those who stabbed him in the back in 2000. “Good politics,” was the justification. “He’ll tack toward the center for the general election.” Wrong answer. What made McCain special was his ability to portray himself as apart from politics as usual. That’s why so many Democrats crossed over for him. It’s a sad commentary on the American electorate that we only remember what a candidate said five minutes ago, and twenty years ago. What is said during the primaries to get the fringes to vote – from the left or right – apparently doesn’t count come November.

Then there was last week’s horrifying interview with the New York Times. When asked for his position on the Iraq war, McCain said, “I have no Plan B,” which meant, in that context, no alternative to victory.

McCain elaborates in the next paragraph. Quoting from the Times :

He said that if the Bush administration's plan had not produced visible signs of progress by the time a McCain presidency began, he might be forced—if only by the will of public opinion—to end American involvement in Iraq.
"I do believe that history shows us Americans will not continue to support an overseas engagement involving the loss of American lives for an unlimited period unless they see some success," he said. "And then, when they run out of patience, they will demand that we get out."

McCain will cut and run if politics demands. How is this different from the Democrat’s "reckless"… game of "small politics" that "gives them an advantage in the next election" while denying "our soldiers the means to prevent an American defeat." (Excerpt taken from Slate magazine, quoting McCain’s recent speech at VMI.) It’s not. So much for character.

I’m not comparing Obama to McCain; that would be worse than racism. I’m just saying I’d like to see him around for a bit to gauge the level of his ambition before going all in on him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Politics at Its Worst

Is there anything lower than Hillary Clinton’s contortionist triangulations? Or John McCain’s outright duplicity on the war? Pikers, both of them. Rank amateurs.

Are you already growing tired of the 2008 presidential campaign, even though it’s only mid-April of 2007? Sick of the self-serving and disingenuous statements each candidate feels obligated to trot out on a regular basis? That’s nothing compared to what you’re about to be subjected to until January of 2013, when the Baseball Hall of Fame votes on whether Barry Bonds should be included.

A seminal event occurred last January that transformed Barry’s personality. (An external event is the only thing seminal left to Barry, given the years of steroid abuse.) What could it be? The birth of a child? The death of someone close to him? A near-tragic experience of his own? We’re getting warmer. Hall of Fame voters passed over Mark McGwire for admission.

On paper, McGwire was more than qualified. 583 home runs, 12 All-Star games, 3 Silver Slugger Awards. He led his league in home runs 4 times and is the all-time leader in fewest at bats per home run. (Bonds is third, behind Babe Ruth.) That’s an HOF resume, but McGwire didn’t get close. Why not?

The S-word.

McGwire looked like an idiot testifying before Congress, parsing his words like a Bush press secretary. He was caught with the androstenedione, and hemmed and hawed his way around admitting to more extensive steroid use. The media types who vote for the Hall had a moment of righteous indignation and voted him out. What will happen next time is anyone’s guess.

Imagine Barry’s plight. Poster child for the symptoms of steroid abuse. Under investigation of perjury charges. Quite possibly the biggest asshole in the known world. (Face it, it’s either him or Dick Cheney.) Treated sportswriters like something to be wiped off the bottom of his shoe for years. Didn’t need them. His numbers spoke for him.

Now McGwire’s example shows numbers alone might not be enough. Oops.

Meet soft and fuzzy Barry. Kissing up to writers, though he probably knows which ones have votes, and which don’t. Talking about all the great memories he has of Pittsburgh, and how he would have stayed had the Pirates’ ownership had a clue.

That should cinch his perjury charge right there. Barry Bonds couldn’t get out of The Burgh fast enough. Shot off his mouth every chance he got. The Burgh didn’t exactly rip Barry’s clothes trying to get him to stay. After Barry’s concentrated bridge burning effort, capped off by the infamous Children’s Hospital ball-signing fiasco, the city was happy to settle for booing him on his returns as a visiting Giant.

The Barry Bonds Image Resurrection Tour will be at a ballpark near you throughout the summer. You may also look forward to repeated media sightings after he finally pulls the plug and starts the five-year countdown toward HOF eligibility.

Remember when Deion Sanders said the NFL should change the name of the cornerback position to Deion? That’s the relationship Barry has to “asshole.” Don’t let the new stump speech fool you.