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9:06 am EDT        73°F (23°C) in Black Mountain, NC

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I'm extremely tired after getting three hours of sleep overnight, but I'm currently getting a load of orange juice taken off my trailer in the beautiful mountain country of western North Carolina. The town of Black Mountain sits 15 miles east of Asheville, and roughly the same distance south of the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, the 6,684-ft. Mount Mitchell. Much of this immediate vicinity, though, is quite a bit lower than that, averaging perhaps 1,800 ft. elevation or so.

From the perspective of driving, at least, the Carolinas have to be two of my favorite states to drive through. The route I followed up here from central Florida, via Interstates 95 and 26, has a little bit of everything: it's flat and fast, albeit heavily traveled, through Georgia and into southern South Carolina, then the moderate hills of the South Carolina Piedmont begin to appear around Columbia, before giving way to full-fledged mountain country just inside the North Carolina border. There are two extremely steep climbs on Interstate 26 in the vicinity of Saluda, NC, and needless to say, you jam a lot of gears when you're pulling a heavy load; for the first time in forever, I actually had to go as far down as sixth gear (on a 10-speed gearbox) to get up the hill. I was going as slow as 20 mph (even flooring the throttle) at one point.

So John G. Roberts, of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, is King George the 43rd's pick for the Supreme Court. One might suspect, given the almost immediate reaction of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, that I would be absolutely beside myself; but as much as I hate conserva-loon wackos, I hate reactionary liberals almost as much. Does King George the 43rd know something about Roberts that we don't? Who knows. Was that his idea all along, to select somebody so unknown? I don't think most people have a clue about that.

On the one hand, the brief that Roberts wrote as deputy Solicitor General urging the reversal of Roe v. Wade gives me pause, but on the other, one must remember that he wasn't judging a case — he was merely doing the bidding of King George the 43rd's father. While I am in total agreement that Roberts should be thoroughly grilled to ensure that he will respect the fundamental rights, protections, and liberties guaranteed to all Americans, even the ones that are not in written form in the text of the Constitution, and that the Senate must not tolerate Miguel Estrada-style stonewalling on Roberts' part, I believe he should be given a fair and decent hearing. In other words, he should be presumed innocent until proven guilty of being a Scalia-esque judicial activist and legislator from the bench.

What really worries me, though, is what King George the 43rd will do with the other three appointments I figure he is probably going to get to make. William Rehnquist's health issues are well-known, but in addition to him, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn't in the greatest of health, and John Paul Stevens is 85 years old. No replacement of Rehnquist can possibly be much worse for gay and lesbian Americans than the current chief justice himself, but if Ginsburg and/or Stevens die or retire during what remains of the 43rd Reich, we're fucked with a capital F. Even worse than that, given the symbiotic "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" unholy alliance between corporate robber barons and Christofascist terrorists in today's Republican Party, I have to believe odds are that the next nominee will be much more of a darling of the Wacko Satanic Anti-American Righties than Roberts; I would be only mildly surprised to see Jerry Falwell get the nod.

"Wait a minute, Larry," you say, "what about the Democrats? Aren't they going to save us from all of this?" No way — at least not the current bunch of mostly spineless cowards we have in the Senate today. I said it just after the nuclear option "compromise," and I'll say it again: in the eyes of the (mostly idiotic) American electorate, it is better to stand up for that which is wrong (as Republicans do) than not to stand for much of anything, and until the Democrats find some testicles and start standing up for what is truly right, they're going to keep getting their asses handed to them, election after election. Let me tell you, with the formal ratification and enactment of Canada's same-sex marriage law by their Senate and the Governor-General, that move up to Maple-Leaf Land is looking more and more attractive every day. Eh? wink

Finally, in a bit of late-breaking news, I have received word from my mother's side of the family that my grandfather is not doing well at all. This morning, my grandmother went into his room to find him breathing and with a pulse, but completely unresponsive; he has previously stated that his wish is not to return to a hospital, and my grandmother is respecting that. In the last few months, he has been suffering from dementia, likely brought on by the MS that finally rendered him immobile a year ago after a 20-year progression.

UPDATE: In fact, just as I was getting to this point in typing this update, I have received another phone call to inform me that he died this morning at 74. Coincidentally, this was my grandparents' 54th wedding anniversary, and in perhaps an even more interesting twist of fate, both of my grandfathers have died within 16 days of their anniversaries. There are no firm plans to hold any kind of a service, perhaps for a few weeks, as he is being cremated rather than buried; however, since I am within 120 miles of Charlotte, I may look into paying a final visit over that way before getting the load that will take me home to a two-week vacation.