Published: September 13th 2008September 12th 2008 Wednesday 10th September to Friday 12th September, 2008
Let' Get Ready To Rumble !
In the red corner, the Dark Destroyer, Brother Barack Obama
Let’s get Ready to Rummmmbbbbbllle !
Ladies and gentlemen, the final bout of the evening. In the red corner, hailing out of Chicago, Illinois and weighing in at 190lbs with a record of one bout, one stoppage (albeit against a member of the fairer sex) and no knockouts, we have the challenger, the Dark Destroyer, Barack OOOooobbbaaaammmmaaaa (pause for cheers and applause interspersed with the occasional boo and hiss) and in the blue corner, aide to the reigning champion of the world, two bouts, one win by knockout, one loss by submission fighting out of Pheonix, Arizona, at an age when he of all people should know better, John ‘The Silver Fox’ MaaahhhhCaaaaaaiiiinnnn.
That’s right, election fever is sweeping the States again and whilst I’m not sure of the nature or quality of the coverage back home for the forthcoming 56th US presidential election, here as perhaps can only be expected with less than two months to go until D Day it is fast approaching saturation point.
My opinion of Politician’s, regardless of nationality, race, colour or affinity has always been and always will be the same. That despite
Let's Get Ready To Rumble !
And in the blue, The Silver Fox, John McCain.
what any of them may try to say in an attempt to persuade me otherwise, that they are in it not only to make their mark on history but more importantly to wallow in the accompanying fame and fortune. Sod all that 'doing it for the people’ baloney, they’re doing it for one person and one person only and that person is themselves.
Under normal circumstances I’d have paid no attention whatsoever to the proceedings and come to think of it, until today I haven’t. Fair enough, I watched Obama give his party acceptance speech to a stadium full of 84,000 fanatical followers in Denver from the sweaty discomfort of a gym bicycle with Metallica on my iPod making him appear as a poor mans Keith Harris who'd lost his Orville and must admit I did wonder who the glamorous woman attracting all the attention on CNN was a few days ago was but that was as far as it went. I’ve never voted back home (well maybe once in my foolhardy teen years) nor for that matter paid much attention at election time so why I would want to start now in a country in which I’m effectively
just a visitor and in which I couldn’t register to vote even if I’d wanted to I have no idea. To be perfectly honest I don’t.
But being stalled (again) by FE facilitating a return to my cell for two more days solitary confinement leaving me with more time on my hands than I know what to do with and having had my interest aroused by a fellow blogger from Alaska who had very nicely ‘recommended’ my blog I was curious to learn more and so, for the benefit of those political abstainers like myself who wished they knew a little bit more about what’s going on in the world but who either don’t have the time, the patience or the inclination here’s the totally unbiased, possibly naive Pig’s eye view.
The United States, as I’m sure everyone already knows has two main parties competing for power, namely;- The Republican’s:-
Currently ruling the roost in America as has been the case for the last eight years with their current leader, George W. Bush thankfully soon to be laid out to pasture. To succeed him its membership has appointed the slightly over the hill silver haired seventy
two year old father of seven (albeit by two different marriages thus somewhat shattering the American ideal) John McCain as it’s presidential candidate, a result of his landslide victory over all competition including 9/11 Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani back in June. McCain, it seems at first glance is to all intents and purposes the epitomy the American Dream, a fairly decent chap, Vietnam Vet, hero and PoW but his presidential ambitions have seen him, in my eyes at least, shamelessly sell his soul since losing out to Bush eight years ago.
Back then they were the two main rival contenders for the parties general election representative but having proclaimed himself a genuine threat to Bush's ambitions by recording a surprise victory in the New Hampshire primaries McCain then found himself subjected to a ruthless and hostile ‘Push Poll’ smear campaign by George W's aides who amongst other things claimed his adopted Bangladeshi daughter rescued from a Mother Theresa run orphanage was actually his own ‘out of marriage’ child resultant from an affair with a prostitute, that he was a traitor from the Vietnam War having succumbed to repeated beatings by issuing an ‘anti American statement' and that
he was, God forbid, gay, all claims The New York Times described at the time as "a painful symbol of the brutality of American politics". Unbelievable.
This smear campaign would probably have had little or no effect had it not been centred on the crucial campaign for votes in the deep south Carolinas where voters were still picking up their groceries dressed in conic masks and long white robes and as a result Bush walked into office and McCain was left, quite understandably, festering a deep hatred for the President that only started to elapse when notions about the possibilities of succeeding him started entering his head, notions which have since been developed to the point where both, with their own individual interests solely at heart of course, now cringingly appear best of buddies.
As with all political parties the opinions of its members varies throughout on all topics but as a rule the Republicans are generally regarded as opposing abortion and favouring amongst other things a more robust federalism handing decision making to individual States, increased drilling for natural resources such as oil whatever the cost to the planet and bizarrely organized prayer in schools. The
Let's Get Ready To Rumble !
Democrat elections. Even poor Bill is dragged into it.
In the other corner we have representing the Democratic Party Barack Obama, the first African American to be involved in the final run in for a seat in the Oval Office who battered Hilary Clinton into submission and an early retirement during the party elections, a fight which saw her cornerman, supporting husband Bill and the voice of experience declare “Barack is too inexperienced for a presidential run” and which prompted Obama to respond when all the dust had settled “….. at times it was hard to tell which Clinton I was running against”. Of course in Bill’s eyes Barack now has all the experience necessary and more and gives his and his wife’s full and total support as campaigners advocating amongst other things, perhaps a tad hypocritically, family values. I wonder what Monica thinks ?!
Barack’s main tool alongside his youthful outlook appears to be his opposition to the ongoing war with Iraq, his wishes to withdraw the troops and his apparent willingness to work towards one day eliminating nuclear weapons. The Democrats have a much more liberal outlook on things and as well as supporting diplomacy over military action, same sex marriage and tighter gun
control oppose, somewhat bizarrely, the displaying of the ten commandments in public buildings.
With the opinion polls neck and neck throughout the summer McCain recently made his move and played his trump card which saw him immediately forge ahead. Fearful of Obama’s fresh and youthful attitude he surprised everybody by appointing the attractive, (relatively) youthful and vivacious Sarah Palin, the previously unheard of Governor of Alaska as his deputy in a bid, no doubt, to attract the votes of housewives countrywide and for the moment it appears to be working as well of sparking off another bout of verbal sparring. Obama was quoted as saying, he insists in direct reference to McCain's promises of change "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig" and McCain immediately pounced on it and claiming it to be a direct reference to his new No.2. Well she isn't a pig but the battle is now definitely on and the mud is starting to be slung. The next two months are going to get nasty.
This election is unique. Not only is it the first since 1928 that no current incumbents are participating but it is also the first
ever that the two candidates locking horns were both born outside of continental USA, the first ever that two sitting senator’s have been pitted against each other and the first time a black nominee has represented a major party. You probably won’t read this anywhere else but it is also the first ever political battle that one particular middle aged Englishman with not the slightest interest in politics or politicians nor for that matter any preference as to who win will be avidly following with great interest.
The reason for the stalling was that on Wednesday morning I had headed out to Fresh and Easy’s El Segundo head office’s for my pre appointment meeting with Mr Eggs, a meeting which would decide my working future for the next twelve months. Nervous isn’t the correct word but I was anxious to make a good impression. In my first few of weeks out here I’d been on a night out at which Tony had been present (Driving Me Crazy 26th June) and we’d chatted briefly but had obviously made little impression on each other as he’d told Angus he wanted to meet me before okaying the deal. I could understand that,
if it wasn’t for Phil telling me who he was I wouldn’t have remembered him either. The meeting was scheduled for 9am and with the journey supposedly taking forty minutes or so I gave myself time to spare and left at 8. Bad mistake.
I have yet to hit the notorious LA freeways in midweek peak hours, my fifteen minute commute to F & G’s Seal Beach offices whilst slow due to an abundance of traffic signals thankfully stays clear of them and after forty minutes of frustrating stop start lane switching a flashing sign at the side of the road stated ‘LAX 20 Mins’. Phil had told me the offices were out by the airport so that didn’t bode well. What a start, late for my first interview.
When I finally arrived at the offices, situated smack bang in LA’s business district I had the problem of finding somewhere to park. The wide concrete streets were all but deserted and the limited visitors parking spaces outside the office block front door packed solid and so resembling a scene from Starsky and Hutch I took a gamble and flew into the multi storey opposite. I always love the
way tyres seem to sing in such places even at the slowest of speeds but was finding no gratification this time as floor after floor came and went in a permanent wail of squealing rubber.
Having eventually found a space on the fourth floor I grabbed my bags and looked for an elevator. There wasn’t one anywhere to be seen so I headed for the stairs and by the time I stepped out of the lift into Fresh & Easy’s 2nd floor reception, shirt half hanging out and beads of perspiration forming hastily on my brow the clock read 9.06. Struggling to hide my desire to bend double with my hands on my knees and tongue on my chin I introduced myself to the buxom black girl who was lazily painting her nails on the reception desk and informed her I was here for a meeting with Angus and Tony. Her demeanor told me she could never possibly understand what I’d just been through, she looked so laid back that she should have been horizontal as she slowly picked up the phone and instructed me to take a seat and help myself to coffee. I was still sat there
twenty minutes later !
The office when Angus came to collect me was different to anything I have worked in before, one huge open planned floor space housing all of the company operations (real estate, marketing, finance, construction etc etc) and furnished with rows upon rows of desks separated only by low partitions in a layout that reminded me very much of a battery farm. A large canteen area had been constructed on one side of the room and next to it, of all things, a wine tasting area !
When Tony eventually became available, remember he is a very busy man, he recalled our previous liaison and we chatted for twenty minutes or so, not so much about Fresh and Easy or my upcoming role within the company but more about golf, arthiritic joints, California State Police, Runcorn and the UK. He told me the way he gets round California's nauseating bureauacracy is to constantly remind himself how lucky he is to live here and welcomed me aboard suggesting it would be for the best all round if I started properly on Monday by which time Friday's company golf day would be out of the way and
a desk would have been sorted out for me and half an hour later I was back on the freeway heading back to my cell.
On Thursday evening on my way out to play soccer I noticed yet another piece of paper flapping about like a fish out of water beneath my wiper blade. "What have I done wrong now" ? was my immediate thought, it couldn't be a ticket for street sweeping as that was on a Friday morning, I'd already been ticketed for that offence and it was definitely a Friday. I reached around the jamb, snatched the envelope from the blade and opened it up. Ticket No. 5, $42.00 was indeed for street sweeping and at the time Tony's comments were as far from the front of my mind as could possibly be imagined.
When I was a Highway Engineer back in old blighty if we were doing any kind of routine maintenance work we would, quite logically I always thought work on a geographical area of streets but that is not unfortunately how it works here. Friday morning is for the right hand side, Thursday for the left ensuring I've just made yet another involuntary contribution to the City funds.