STEVE BOUSER: Blog Bits: Georgia, Panic Buyers and Lipstick
These are recent postings from the "Editor's Note" blog at thepilot.com.
Georgia on My Mind:
Yeah, I lived in Russia in the 1990s. But I don't have a dog in Vladimir Putin's fight with the country of Georgia.
Still, I can't help feeling that Russia is getting a bum deal this time around.
First, the U.S. does all it can to provoke Russia by getting as many of the former Soviet satellites as possible to join NATO and let us base defensive missiles there. (How would we react if Putin was over here forming similar alliances with Canada and Mexico?)
Then Georgia's flaky president attacks a couple of disputed territories on his border with Russia, doing so during the Olympics when he thinks maybe nobody is looking.
Did Russia overreact by striking back so forcefully? Was it waiting for an excuse to do so? Maybe. But for both us and Georgia now to scream bloody murder seems a little like the case of the kid who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.
I don't care what Sarah Palin said in her interview with ABC. I'm not comfortable with pledging ourselves to come to Georgia's defense in any future invasion. We've got enough problems right now without clumsily injecting ourselves into an incredibly complex situation on the other side of the world, with age-old antagonisms and anxieties that we don't understand.
My gut tells me we need to stay the hell out of it.
-- Sept. 13
Panic Buyer? Who, Me?
I had to drive to Chapel Hill this afternoon (Friday), and what I saw along the way gave me a vivid object lesson in just how interdependent and fragile our economy has become.
I had heard rumors (hysterical, no doubt) of $6 gas showing up in nearby counties. I didn't see any of that, though prices were back up to $3.80 and $4 here and there along the way. What I did see everywhere on my route (and become a part of at one point) were long lines at service stations, taking me all the way back to 1974, when I lived in Morganton and the first "energy crisis" came along and fearful drivers flocked to the pumps. That seems like a pretty innocent time now.
At the BP station where I did stop, three of the four pumps had notes taped on them saying they were "Out of Service," which presumably meant the same thing as "Out of Gas."
Hurricane Ike hadn't even hit the Texas coast yet, but already the indirect effects of anticipated damage to oil refineries were being felt. Although there were no shortages yet, just the fear of them had caused thousands of people to rush out and top off their tanks, putting an unaccustomed strain on retailers. Panic buyers, they're called.
I should say "we're called." My tank was still two-thirds full, yet I felt compelled to stop and become part of -- and worsen -- the panic, unnecessarily adding to one of the lines. Things will probably be fine. Still, no harm going ahead and filling the rest of the way up while I had a chance.
Thus does insecurity spread and feed on itself.
Where will it all end?
-- Sept. 12
Give Me a Break:
Let me get this straight.
A year ago on the primary campaign trail, Republican Sen. John McCain -- speaking about a woman, Sen. Hillary Clinton -- ridiculed her health-care plan as "lipstick on a pig," and no one blinked an eye, presumably not even the pig lobby.
No one thought to call it sexist, because it wasn't. It's an old metaphor, if a tired one.
Now Democratic Sen. Barack Obama -- speaking about a man, McCain -- drags out the same tired metaphor in making this comment about his opponent's policies, which he calls a rehash of President Bush's: "You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years."
The fish lobby hasn't been heard from. But because McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, happens to have made a funny lipstick quip of her own, McCain -- who has been known to tell a joke about how much a woman enjoyed being raped by a gorilla -- has jumped on Obama's comment as a "sexist smear."
Obama, who has been pilloried for months for being too politically correct, is now suddenly not politically correct enough?
We're fighting two interminable wars. Our economy is in the tank. Millions of peoples' mortgages are being foreclosed. The globe is warming. And this is the best we can come up with for a campaign debate on the big issues?
Give me a break.
-- Sept. 11
Steve Bouser is editor of The Pilot. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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