Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ace In The Hole

In this 1951 movie, directed by Billy Wilder, a small-town reporter manages to create a media circus after finding a man trapped in a mine collapse. He purposefully extends the rescue efforts, so as to make the drama...and his day in the sun, last longer. It is a dark tale, exposing, as it does, the needs of both the reporter and the greedy townspeople to extract their pound of flesh from someone else's tragedy.

When I first saw this movie as a young man, I found it disturbing. I didn't imagine there were actually people like that in the world. But, I thought, perhaps these are just a different kind of people, a low-life sort that only exists in the world of movies and novels.

Of course, I've grown up now...and I realize the truth is far more scary. Not only are these sorts of people "walking among us," (like something out of a sci-fi movie of the same era) but they are the elected representatives of this once great nation. Every day of every week, they are scouring the newspapers and wire services and TV reports, in search of the next great mine collapse, looking for the next person or situation to be expolited. I am not kidding here, or exaggerating. James Dobson's organization, the Family Research Council and dozens of others are acting as the forward guard in this spectacle, doing the legwork for the "Christian Soldiers" like DeLay and Santorum - who sweep into town or hit the talk shows at precisely the right moment.

I honestly don't know how they dare to spout their phony form of Christian morals, without constantly looking to the sky, wary of the potential lightning bolt.

So what can we learn from the the Shiavo Circus, now that the big top is going to be taken down? Just this. Like all carnivals, it will move down the road and on to the next town. The riggers will set up the tents, the midway, the rides and the food stalls. The crowds will come, and everyone will have a great time. Like the carousel, this just keeps going around and around and around.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Pope, Jackson & Shaivo; May it end soon!

Well, we've survived another week in bizzaro world, where small is big, old is new and stupid is smart.

The news media have managed to feed the lardass American public a savory soup of scandal, lies and misinformation. Hey, it's easier than actually doing any hard reporting. That has too many downsides; it costs money and it takes time and a modicum of intelligence. And for most media outlets, particularly the TV stations and cable networks, all three of those items are in very, very short supply.

But I want to take a moment to look at each of the honorable people mentioned in the heading of this blog.

The Pope. For some reasont that belies understanding, the networks feel compelled to report on every vague movement of this poor guys head and arms. "Hey was able to do the sign of the cross today..." Admittedly, there are a lot of Catholics in the US, but I bet you that hardly any of them are as obsessed as the media is about this man who is supposed to represent God on earth. They don't wish him any ill-will...but they simply are not waiting for the next "Pontiff Update." My guess is that research has incorrectly indicated to the network news programmers that people care about this. After all, what news you see is now based almost entirely (as is all political rhetoric) on polling and focus groups. It gets down to "give the people what they want." However, it's easy to misinterpret research. In the case of the Pope, if you asked a practicing Catholic, "Is the Pope important to you and and your faith?" the answer would likely be "yes." If instead, you asked, "Do you want to see constant updates on every twitch of the Pope's hand?" I doubt people would answer to the affirmative.

Michael Jackson. Just stop right now. This is like watching a train wreck, except you get to see what the dead people look like every day in court. It is the classic American carnival. Take the time you've spent watching court coverage and do something to help abused kids in your town or city.

Terri Shaivo. If Jackson is a carnival, this is a three ring circus. And the ringmasters are The Bush Brothers! If you were waiting for the nadir of the American republic, wait no more. This is it kids. The man we elected as the President of the United States, a man who (along with his Christian-freak followers) spouts off about the "founding fathers" all the time, has decided that the constitution and the founding principals of separation of powers and states rights are just too darn messy for him. After all, the man who ignored 9/11 warnings and started a futile war (1500 dead, thousands wounded...and counting) says he'll come down on the side of "life." Swell; if you define life as a woman with a liquified brain, which, of course, he might. And while the freak show in Washington with Dubya, First and DeLay is going on, Jeb is not to be forgotten. Jeb wants to get out of hell-hole Florida and move up to that de-luxe house on Pennsylvania Avenue...and he figures the xtians will help him do it.

So take a deep breath and get ready for a new week ahead. And if you have a few minutes, listen to Dylan's "Desolation Row." It's all there.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bobby Short Stood Tall

Okay, it's not politics. It's not a rant. And I wouldn't dare call it a eulogy. But the death of singer, arranger and showman Bobby Short has caught me off guard. He was an American treasure. Grew up during the depression, the 9th of 10 children. A prodigy who taught himself piano and went on the road at a young age. A black man who found his way into white "society" when blacks were mostly still holding lamps out along the driveway of those lovely white mansions. We saw him at The Carlyle several years ago on a magical night. We got the best seats in the house, a wonderful dinner...and the show of a lifetime, from a showman who never stopped pleasing his audience. Coda. If there is a heaven, Gershwin, Porter, Waller, Blake and Ellington met him at the door...

Bush's Persistent Vegetative State

Let's remember the morning of 9/11, when Bush was too fearful to return to DC, when he flew willy-nilly around the nation looking for a rock to hide under; all this at the very moment he should have (like a great leader would have) returned to DC to guide and calm the nation.

Now let's look at this past weekend, when he rushes back to DC to sign one of the most specious bits of congressional vomitus that has ever landed in the Oval Office. Amazing how the Prez is so quick to cut short his latest brush-clearing adventure and join in the sad Terri Shaivo circus. How quick he is to fuel up Air Force One and fly through the night...just to gain what he and his camp followers believe is a political advantage.

And not that we needed to be told this, but the Washington Post unocovered a memo to GOP pols telling them what a great political opportunity this could be for them with their base of looney Christian pathetiques.

The "end times" are certainly here folks. The end of honor, integrity and honesty. The only question that remains is, when we get sucked up in God's Glorious Hoover, will Bush and his buds get stuck in the HEPA filter?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Pull the Plug on Frist and DeLay

Bill Frist certainly is the poster boy for the current Republican cadre. He is arrogant, venal, manipulative and, ultimately, a self-serving SOB. Poking his nose into the Terri Shiavo case is truly one of the most disgusting bits of political gamesmenship I've ever witnessed. If you ever asked the rhetorical question, "How low can these guys go?" you now have your answer. Frist offered his "learned" opinion on the case after watching an edited videotape of the woman. Put aside the fact that he's a cardiologist, not a neurologist, for a moment, and focus on the fact that an elected member of our government is giving medical opinions long-distance by watching a video. Holy hell, don't let Fox find out, or there'll be a new reality show on the air in two weeks using the same format. "Long Distance Docs," will, I'm sure, knock 'em dead.

But anyone with a functioning brain (sorry if that sounds cruel, but it is applicable) would know that the decision that Ms. Shiavo's husband and doctors should have been able to make has no place whatsoever in the courts. Every day, around the US and the world, loving spouses and intelligent, moral doctors, let people die. It is not done easily or quickly or without the deepest of soul-searching by those making the decisions, but it is, in most cases, the most humane, loving thing that anyone can ever do.

Some years ago a wonderful friend of mine, a man with a great zest for life and a warm, loving personality, was dying from liver cancer. His life could have been prolonged with still more drugs and more assists from the many "miracle" treatments which are available, but both he and his wife decided against that. He died peacefully with his family at his side. You think that was easy? Indeed, it was the exact opposite. In the Shiavo case, the parent's are the one's without courage, clinging to a hopeless hope, unwilling to let their daughter die that same peaceful way. In today's parlance this has become "about them," not about the woman.

There is much more I could say about this, but the bottom line is this; when it is time to go, it is time to go. We know it when we have a geriatric cat who has lived a long, happy life but is now arthritic and in pain...and we know it when it concerns our husband or wife as well. The moral principal is the same. The answer, though painful, is all too often, painfully clear.

Finally, let's just mention Tom DeLay, the Senate's most morally corrupt politician, who decided that he needed to accuse Ms. Shiavo's husband of being a "terrorist" of sorts. What sort of man says that? Is that what the Evangelical Christian community realy believes? Is this moralizing thug really one of their heroes?

I am not personally a believer in heaven or hell, but when Frist and DeLay go on these politically motivated crusades, you just might be able to convince me to believe in the latter...because it seems a real sin it they are allowed to get away with this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The ANWR Crackheads

Put aside, if you can, the utter pointlessness of drilling in the ANWR, for I think this assault on rationality has another, more pathetic side.

It represents, for me, the last step in the malling and paving and raping of the American landscape.

It isn't, of course. There is plenty of grassland and forest to go, but this has an impact beyond the mere mechanical. It stands in as a metaphor for our utter inability to stop. Like junkies, we are hooked on cheap oil and we don't care what it takes to extend, even for a moment, all that entails. When you hear the stories of ruthless addicts who attack and rob feeble 75 year old ladies to help finance their next rock of cocaine, think of the United States of America; a land where we will gladly despoil a nearly pristine wilderness so we can drive our massive cars, unfettered, for one more year. And like the crack heads, we, have only two states; high or desperate. And neither has anything to do with reality.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

No Statute of Limitations in His Court

A judge in Pennsylvania upheld that state's statute of limitations law as it regards cases of molestation by Catholic priests. Specifically, the state court said that the statute (2 years) does apply in the cases before the court and that the plaintiffs lawsuits against The Church were therefore moot. There will apparently be appeals.

But here is what I simply can not understand;

How does any priest or other religious member of the Catholic Church reconcile using legal manuveurs such as this to fend off what mostly likely are substantiated claims of horrific abuse by "their own?" Wouldn't it be a sin for anyone NOT to admit to the charges? And wouldn't it further be a sin for anyone else (other than the accused) to act as a facilitator? By gaming the courts aren't these "men of the cloth" simply taking a crime and lying about it? Aren't these supposed to be the people who fight for truth and honesty? And who should come forth, admit the truth and attempt to do all they can to help the abused? At least that's what I was taught, having been raised a Catholic.

But the sad part is that the Catholic Church is today, and has been for way too long, more concerned about its wealth and influence. This is not a church of humble men, it is a church of politics and power. Somehow I don't think that was really what Christ had in mind...

So, WWJD? He'd plead guilty and led the chips fall where they may. Because, if I recall correctly, there is no statute of limitations in His court.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Senator, Your False Cognates Are Showing

If you've ever studied languages you know there is something called a "false cognate," a word in one language that looks like it might mean the same thing in another, but doesn't. So it is with the decidedly fraudulent "battle" over the issue of displaying the ten commandments in a public, government owned buildings. It is not about free speech, but supporters want you to accept this false cognate. Think about it. Did anyone ever get their moral guidance by reading plaques on public bulidings? Let's hope not. So having them there, or not, is only a fight for constitutional least it would seem so. The Right wants to push religion further into the public sphere, and the Left wants to make sure that we don't take another step toward being a theocracy. Both sides see this as a wedge issue that could lead to further bad things "down the road." And it probably is an important issue from that standpoint. But really, it is ultimately a non-issue, like school prayer and flag burning amendments. It is time wasted by pompous, arrogant politicians. They waste our time (and therefore, our money) on the floor of Congress keening over these ridiculous "issues," while people die, children starve and we slip further into a nation of "us and them." And, amazing as it seems, while they waste our money, they are, at the same time, whining about government if it's some other government that's writing the checks. So here's another false cognate for you. Integrity. In English it means honestly, ethical behavior and trustworthiness. In Washington, it means something else entirely.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Political Tidbits; Not Tasty, But At Least They're Fresh!

It was almost like the glory days of the 1960's again recently, when neo-nutball Rick Santorum got a firm thrashing on his whirlwind tour of PA colleges and university campuses. Out doing the heavy lifting for Bush, et al, Santorum discovered that not all college kids are wearing rep ties and joining the Young Republicans. Every step of the way, Ricky was hammered with questions about how the specious privitization of the Social Security system was supposed to work...and how it could possibly "save the system." Clearly, he had to him and haw, since there is no rational answer to the question. The funniest (and most typically Santorumesque) of the reports was that Rick had commented snidely about how he'd been dogged by a well-prepared and well-planned series of protests. I guess, unlike the titanium enclosed Prez, Rick discovered that protest is alive and well.

GannonGuckertGate. This is clearly one of those issues that should be taking the pegs out from under the administration...but isn't yet. It's one of those "Can you image if Clinton had done this?" issues....and the Democrats had better frame it that way, or it will surely lose steam. I'd like to see an independent group do a TV spot or a series of full-page newspaper ads, questioning how a person who is essentially a fraud could have access to the White House and the President for all that time.