Saturday :: Jun 3, 2006

The Red Duh-awn Of The Brain Dead!

by pessimist

I used to love watching 1950s-era alien movies. Sometimes, they were better than the average flick, such as George Pal's War of the Worlds [you can keep the Spielberg/Tom Cruise version!], The Invasion of the Body Snatchers - which could almost be seen as a metaphor for our current times - and Forbidden Planet, which was among the best movie of that genre even today. There is just something about the dying character shouting about the 'monsters from the id' that still registers true terror.

But with the successes of the space program, such flicks died off. Instead we got 2001 and The Andromeda Strain, both of which presented realistic probabilities, but didn't have that certain feel about them like the '50s flicks, and Star Wars, which had the feel (initially) without the realism.

One has to wonder, however, if maybe those screenwriters weren't on to something. Today, we just might be seeing The Andromeda Strain Meets The Body Snatchers:

Is It Raining Aliens?
By Jebediah Reed
June 2006

Nearly 50 tons of mysterious red particles showered India in 2001.
As bizarre as it may seem,
the sample jars brimming with cloudy, reddish rainwater
in Godfrey Louis’s laboratory in southern India
may hold, well, aliens.

Hold on to your popcorn!

In April, Louis, a solid-state physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University, published a paper in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space Science in which he hypothesizes that the samples—water taken from the mysterious blood-colored showers that fell sporadically across Louis’s home state of Kerala in the summer of 2001—contain microbes from outer space.

Last winter, Louis sent some of his samples to astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe and his colleagues at Cardiff University in Wales, who are now attempting to replicate his experiments; Wickramasinghe expects to publish his initial findings later this year.

“We’ve already got some stunning pictures
— transmission electron micrographs —
of these cells sliced in the middle,”

Wickramasinghe says.
“We see them budding, with little daughter cells inside the big cells.”

It isn't what they are that bothers me! It's what do they grow into!

You can almost hear Rod Serling announcing:

You're traveling to another dimension... You find you're living in a nightmare, you who have faced a hundred political battles and always won. Now, you're faced with a grim decision, whether or not to open a door. And in some strange and frightening way you know, that this seemingly ordinary door -- leads to the Twilight Zone."

Doesn't it sound just like a Twilight Zone episode? And why not? One has to wonder if some of these mysterious travelers of Louis didn't also land elsewhere - such as in Idaho. It is the only explanation for comments such as these:

"When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place," said Delia Randall, a 22-year-old mother from Provo..."I like George Bush because he is God fearing, and that's how a lot of people in this area feel."
"I tend to judge a person by their character. And President Bush reminds me of President Reagan. He's a man of principle," said Ron Craft, a sales manager in Provo who said he was a devout Mormon and a strong conservative who considered himself independent politically.
Danielle Pulsipher, a junior, offered blanket approval of the president. Asked to name which of his actions as president she liked most, she was hard-pressed to answer. "I'm not sure of anything he's done, but I like that he's religious — that's really important," Ms. Pulsipher said.
"I like his honesty," said Allison Wilkey, a mother of three.

Continues Mr. Serling:

This core group is a highly concentrated version of the Bush base, one that appears to be motivated more by general principles and a comfort level with the president than by specific issues or political trends. They tend to be impressed by Mr. Bush's faith and convinced that he understands their lives and values. They like what they see as his muscular foreign policy.

These supporters are mostly clustered in places like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, the only three states where Mr. Bush's job approval rating is at or above 50 percent, and in smaller pockets in areas like the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala.; northwest Georgia; and the Florida Panhandle.

But like all good 1950s monster shows, there is always at least a sign that there is hope of surviving the invasion by the ending reel:

But the same religious view that guides the dominant political strain in Utah is leading others to question Mr. Bush. In the church wards here, people are constantly reminded of the virtues of thrift, balanced budgets and family-based decision making.
The record federal deficit, the largest expansion of the federal government in a generation and the intrusion of Washington in education through the No Child Left Behind law are often cited by people who say the country is going in the wrong direction.
"There is this puritanical strain when it comes to thrift here, and one of the dominant themes is to get out of debt," said Joseph A. Cannon, the chairman of the State Republican Party.

"So people wonder why we, the Republicans, control every branch of government
and yet we can't stay out of debt."

There is always a quirky human element to such invasion-from-space stories, and this tale doesn't suffer the lack:

Democrats say no state has had a bigger swing in opinion polls this year than Utah, with Mr. Bush's approval rating falling 15 points this spring. Wayne Holland, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Utah, said residents here are "more trusting, more patient with a president, but when it finally starts to go south, it really drops."
Even so, many Democrats in Utah say they keep their politics to themselves.

And, there are those who refuse to believe that the invasion is happening - no matter what anyone says:

"We don't talk politics because everyone is so one-sided," said Sarah Rueckert, a mother of three and a Mormon who just moved back to Utah after 10 years of living in places like Chicago, Portland and San Francisco. "They're all pro-Bush."

But the good guy doesn't always win! At the end of some movies, such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the aliens still stood a chance of achieving their goals.

It's no different with this real-time tale of Idaho:

The wide open spaces of Idaho have little room for anti-war sentiment
Oliver Burkemann in Boise, Idaho
June 3, 2006
The Guardian

The governor of Idaho, an affable rancher named Jim Risch, stretched back in his chair and outlined his alternative history of the last few years in America. "President Bush is one of our greatest presidents, and he's one of our bravest presidents," the governor said. "People know what's in his heart."

Idaho, to borrow a term gaining popularity on leftwing blogs, is part of "Bushlandia": the three remaining states, clustered in the mountainous west, where the president still enjoys approval ratings of 50% or more.

"It wasn't so long ago," a car-rental employee said, half-jokingly,
"that if you voted Democrat round here, you'd get shot."
Being a Democrat in this setting can be a lonely existence. "We do still find ourselves whispering in the supermarket about it," said Maria Weeg, executive director of the Idaho Democratic party.
"There's such an overwhelming psychological thing.
No one wants to be part of 'the other',
and the Republicans have done a pretty good job
of making Democrats here into the enemy."
For Idaho Republicans, escalating violence in Iraq illustrates precisely the scale of the challenge there, and the consequent need to stay loyal. Mr Bush's errors, meanwhile, are not an argument for his removal so much as a sign of his human fallibility. "You go into something like Iraq, nobody can know how it's going to turn," Governor Risch said.
"People say Saddam was terrible because he tortured his people,
now Bush is awful because he invaded.
Well, which do you want?"
The divide between Bushlandia and the rest of America - or, more generally, between the president's core supporters and everyone else - is not a question of mere policy arguments. It is a clash of two incompatible versions of reality, where the same facts take on completely different meanings.

In the hills outside Boise, on a road where every telegraph pole sports a yellow ribbon in support of the troops, the owner of the Rumor Mill bakery explains the problem in one sentence. The media, Tona Henderson says, is biased to the left, and so the good news from Iraq never gets reported.

Supporting the troops but opposing the war is not a popular option. "It's ludicrous!" Bryan Fischer said.

"It's like you're saying you think our soldiers are over there doing something immoral,
but you support them doing that? That makes absolutely no rational sense."

Not 'making rational sense' is what made those '50s movies so frightening.

During and after the infamous Orson Wells broadcast of War of the Worlds, there were repeated announcements that "emphasized the fictional nature" of the broadcast, but people were still panicked anyway.

In honor of that panic, I announce that no Red Stater was harmed in the writing of this post. But that doesn't mean that our good Idaho Political Couch Potatoes shouldn't worry about something:

Pollster: Iraq war will hurt GOP in fall elections
June 2, 2006

The war in Iraq has become so unpopular that it could cost Republicans control of Congress, statehouses and governor races around the country, national pollster John Zogby said Friday. He said 70% of voters believe the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction, adding:
“I have never seen a number like that since I’ve been polling.”
He said 68% of voters believe the war in Iraq wasn’t worth the loss of American lives, adding, “Americans want their wars to be won, they want it won quickly and their troops home and out of harms way.”
Bush is so unpopular he can’t help Republican candidates get elected this year.
But Zogby cautioned: “The Democrats have no program on any issue, they have nothing to say that matters to anyone in the United States today."

Zogby gets in the monster movie business as well, basing his feature on Night of the Living Dead:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, are the only national Republicans who can transcend their party’s growing unpopularity.

Kevin McCarthy [a distant cousin of former Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy] is screaming into the camera, warning you: "They're here already! You're next, you're next!"

Now - that's scary!

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