Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday, Tiger Woods, and the Secret Service

We apparently live in interesting times, even aside from our crazed Foxpublicans.
Black Friday came and went and nobody died, and that’s a good thing. Wal-Mart apparently opened its doors to a less unruly crowd of bargain hunters this year, and “let the games begin”. I wonder how big the discounts were on the Alaska Barbie book? By most accounts, shoppers were interested in serious bargains, and the shoppes accommodated by stocking at least three of each of their serious bargains. We have never attempted to master the black art of Black Friday shopping. But we are not what one might call “serious shoppers”. We prefer the Black Friday deals on the Internet. We can sit in the comfort of our home, with a nice cup of morning coffee, and browse to our heart’s content. I always assume that Black Friday shoppers learn their craft by observing the commodity traders on Wall Street. I am much too intimidated to imitate those crazies. So Black Friday passed us by once again. Such is life.
Then I noticed an e-mail from our BBC and ABC news connections that our boy Tiger tried to back out of his driveway at 2:00 AM, careened into a fire hydrant and wound up semi-conscious and unable to get out of the car—his wife had to smash his windows with one of his favorite golf clubs to free him. Huh??? And alcohol was not involved??? Yeah, right . . . and if you buy that one, I have this nice old bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.
But the really weird one is the couple who gate-crashed the first Obama state dinner, in tux and flowing gown no less. Somehow, the Secret Service neglected to check their invitations and they just strolled on in and introduced themselves to the President, and the Vice President. Happily, the couple used their camera, instead of a Mach 9 pistol to preserve their evening. Are you f…..g kidding me??? The Secret Service is now imitating the FBI and the CIA-- you remember them—the guys who missed 9/11 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. I’d like to believe that their apparent screw-up has nothing to do with the fact of a first black president, and more to do with the fact that the Service is now part of the Department of Homeland Security, that very large agency that is unable to extricate its multiple heads from its multiple assholes. That’s the agency that Shrub created after his buddies in the CIA and the FBI screwed up and allowed a bunch of Saudi Arabians living in Afghanistan to destroy the World Trade Center. For guys who hate big gubment, they really know how to prove their point. So, now we’re left with a bunch of over-armed national police forces that probably couldn’t compete with the Iraqi police. Bet they can still waterboard, though.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Day of Thanksgiving

It's fast approaching, that day in which we give thanks for the bounteous feast we are about to receive. I think sometimes that we all need to pause more and think about that harvest of goodies heaped on the table in front of us, and what that represents in our world. We talk a lot these days about the roughly 40 million people who have no regular access to health care. But the other day, I saw the same number being reported, only this time it was people who don't have enough food. When I look at our healthy grandchildren, I am aware that they are probably exceptional in this world. They are healthy, well fed, and well cared for by parents who care deeply about them.
Whenever I do some minor thing for our local domestic violence shelter program, I become aware of how lucky we are. And when I read about children sold into sexual slavery, I become angry, but I always begin thinking once again about fortune and how we need to think more about the goodness in our lives.
So, when we pause, just prior to diving into the turkey, and the mashed potatoes, and the stuffing, and the cranberries, I plan to take a deep breath, partly to thank our whole family for being who they are, and our children and our grandchildren for being who they are, and our relatives near and far, for being such an important and happy part of our lives. And partly, I just want to say out loud that we are all fortunate creatures, alive and smiling on this globe spinning steadily in this vast, cold universe.
Eat on folks, but never forget the less fortunate among us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

America the Great

I have begun to wonder about America and our good citizenry. I realize that, in days past, we have always had competing ideas and competing interests that drive our political system. But rarely in my past experience have we had a political system in which the two parties were so far apart that the interests of the Nation now seem to disappear into the mists. One party, the Grumpy Old People seems intent on blocking anything that threatens to move through the Congress, regardless of the subject. Health Care Reform of course is highest on their blocking agenda, because they do not want another Medicare or Social Security on their hands. Those programs, wildly successful by almost any measure, are both democratic party triumphs from another age. The Grumpies won’t have it. They will apparently stop at nothing to defeat any attempt to deliver health care to the uninsured. Heaven forbid the (formerly) richest nation on earth should actually care for its citizens enough to provide them with decent health care.
And then there’s the bowing thing. Obama actually paid his respects to a foreign leader by bowing. The Grumpies regard bowing as akin to subservience, instead of simply a polite paying of respect to an older person of equal rank. See, the thing is, Dickie Bird Cheney and The Shrub never bowed to anyone (daddy-shrub, of course opted to throw up at a formal state dinner, which I guess is not quite the same thing). So, they’re all throwing a hissy-fit.
And then there’s the deficit. Heaven forfend we should run a deficit (His Royalness Ron the Magnificent never proposed, or achieved a balanced budget). The Shrub actually achieved a degree of longtime fame because of his cavalier approach to budgeting and the deficit game. But given that he achieved his level of incompetence as a Yale cheerleader (see the Peter Principle) our expectations for his performance were not exactly at an all-time high (by the by, ever notice the scary parallels between the Shrub and Sarah? Both cheerleaders, both unsuccessful governors, both amazingly ignorant about world affairs, both super machos – actually, to be fair, the Shrub probably could never field dress a dead moose).
So, I begin to wonder what we should think of all this. Have the Grumpies simply opted out of the human race and decided to become officially the party of Fascistas, opposed to everything democratic, and anything that might benefit Americans, i.e., Anti-American? Hmmm . . . what would Lincoln say?
And on another planet, Rudy Giuliani has announced that he plans to become Supreme Leader of the Universe, unless Oprah gets there ahead of him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fiscal responsibility

I’m impressed at the cautious approach to health care legislation by republicans and blue dog democrats. They are all really, really concerned about the effects of the legislation on our deficit and our vastly expanded public debt. And that is a good thing. After all, our great, great, great grandchildren may have to pay off that debt some day, won’t they?
I just wonder why these same ladies and gentlemen didn’t seem as concerned when the Shrub was running things into the ground. It was after the Shrub cut the taxes to his richest friends that we once again descended into that circle of deficit hell. And everyone applauded. Suddenly, they’re all snarky about the deficits. Wouldn’t do to run deficits just to allow people to have health care, would it? In the paper this morning, some gallant reader responded to an Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof. Kristof had claimed that 45,000 Americans die each year, because they have no health insurance. He used as one example, a case of a 31-year old woman who died from cervical cancer, because she didn’t get pap smears in an annual physical. The reader, a compassionate woman no doubt, asserted that the woman who died simply showed bad judgment, and that having insurance or not having insurance wasn’t the problem.
See, I like it when we reduce everything to individual morality and judgment. It’s not that the (formerly) richest nation on earth is, shall we say, remiss in failing to assure that its inmates have access to the same high quality care as our commercial CEOs and their legislative handmaidens. No, it’s that those without health insurance are immoral, or simply exercise bad judgment. That way, we the people don’t have to accept any responsibility for these, shall we say, premature deaths. Meanwhile, we can get on with the real bidness of AMERICA—making our CEOs safe from socialists. I wonder whether we just shouldn’t convert AMERICA into one of those off shore tax havens, and stand ready to accept all those illicit profit dollars from Colombian and Afghan drug dealers. I mean, why should we let the Bahamians have all the fun?
And elsewhere, the Bimbo Barbie from Alaska is readying herself to make a few million from that book someone else wrote about her. No wonder she wanted so badly to quit from all that governing stuff. It must have been great sitting out on her back deck, looking across the straits to Russia and listening to her ghostwriter spin a tale of magic about herself and her loony family. I wonder whether her ghostwriter inserted anything about when Barbie-doll plans to secede from the North American continent?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Wrongful Vote

Our Congressman just decided to vote against the health care reform bill that just passed in the House. His reasoning was that the bill would result in Medicare reductions. So, he joined the “loyal” opposition of reactionary republicans and blue dog democrats to attempt defeat of the bill. We know that republicans have no plan to extend health care to the uninsured and to begin reducing the overall cost of health care. Mainly, what we know is that the leading republicans, currently all the crazy people in the US, basically don’t care about the people who are uninsured. I guess they view such people as somehow morally inferior. But then they view everyone who isn’t in their camp as morally inferior. See, it’s not just politics, or even policy with them. It’s all about their view of what is moral. It’s why they’re so crazed about Gays, and about abortion.
But I digress.
What should I be thinking about my Congressman who voted no on what I consider to be one of the most important pieces of legislation since the passage of Medicare. A good friend once told me that I should never allow “the perfect” to get in the way of “the good.” By which he meant that when we strive to improve our lives, or the lives of others in our world, we should always reach for high order goals, but we should never allow our goals to prevent making actual progress, even it meant that real progress was less than we intended. So, in this case, a bill was being proposed that would advance the cause of universal health care, something republicans oppose. That the bill was imperfect everyone agrees. But passage would enable debate to go forward. Defeat would have strengthened the cause of the crazed opposition. So, regardless of the reasons for my congressman’s vote, he placed himself on the wrong side of history. I understand that he may still vote yes on some subsequent piece of modified legislation, after the bill has gone to reconciliation with whatever the senate passes. But, nonetheless, he took the risk that this bill could have been not only defeated, but buried, as republicans devoutly wish. From my perspective, that risk is simply too large. So, I have informed my congressman that I shall no longer support him. He is assuming, of course, that I have nowhere to go and that I will support him in the future, regardless of what he does. He is wrong. If he continues to act as a republican, then he is no better than the republicans, and does not deserve my vote.
Somehow, some day, democrats are going to have to begin acting like democrats and not scared rabbits, running for cover every time a crazed republican shouts fire in a theatre. They need to stand up and be counted among the responsible Americans, and reject the crazed and twisted arguments of nuts like Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin. Let that day come soon.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crazy People

A crazed woman claiming to be from Minnesota was seen screaming at an angry crowd, that “they” shouldn’t take away her health care. Clearly delusional, and in need of psychiatric medication, the woman was overheard repeatedly muttering under her breath, “hoist up the ladder, Jack, I’m aboard”, that well known mantra of compassionate-conservatives. The woman seemed to be suffering from some form of republican PTSD, that now common psychopathic state induced by the withdrawal of someone named Dickie-Bird Cheney from her life. The crowd was seen comforting her by chanting “Heil Hitler” over and over again.
And elsewhere, The New York Yankees decided to move to Peoria as a protest against the re-election of Mike Bloomberg. A Yankee spokesperson stated, “we’re the world champs, and we don’t want to be associated with rich assholes like that. Even we have standards, you know.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Off Years

So what did we learn from this off-off year election? It depends on where you sit. Republicans seem to be breaking out the champagne, letting the good times roll. Democrats are savoring their victory in upstate New York, the first for a Dem since the 1800s. The sensible view this election landscape as a signal that the few people who actually cared enough to vote are expressing their concern for the economic wreckage that continues to sprawl across our land. The recession may be over, but only for the economists of the country. For the unemployed, or simply the employed-scared, the economy continues to suck. Certainly, for those whose mortgages are now higher than the value of their homes, the recession continues.
Some Republicans are announcing that Democrats should be very, very scared right now, for the ground is rumbling underneath them. But I find myself wondering, just why Republicans should be so giddy. The wreckage, after all, occurred under their watch, and largely because of actions taken by their core base—rich republican greed-masters at the helm of the nation’s financial institutions, and their government lackeys who allowed them to do whatever they wanted, until it was time for the public to rescue them. I understand that some republicans continue to insist that the current government is responsible for our current mess, but they are simply wrong. They refuse to face facts. I know it is tiresome to continue to blame George Bush, but he really did wreak havoc across the globe—two wars, one of which was entirely unnecessary, and the other of which was badly mismanaged, a tax policy that was fiscally irresponsible, producing deficits beyond belief, and a broader government mismanagement that is leading this nation toward second class status.
We are certainly a nation in decline, thanks to republican mismanagement. Whether Obama, or anyone else can arrest the decline is at least questionable. Obama may turn out to be the right man at the wrong time. He still has time to pull a Roosevelt out of his hat, but he may not be given the time by an electorate with the attention span of a gnat. The United States is suffering from ADHD, and the people want their revenge. George and company slunk out of sight like a pack of hyenas banished from their kill. Whines are heard occasionally from one or another, mostly from Dickie-Bird who refuses to disappear.
We continue to hope that this decent man we elected last year will inspire a turnaround in the world, or at the least in our economy. But time is not on his side. Perhaps he will be lucky. Often, it is better to be lucky than good. We hope he will be one of the chosen lucky ones. Good luck President Obama. The hyenas are beginning to bark again. They need to be silenced.