Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tim Murphy Gets Bonus PR on Wasteful Iraq Trip

Western PA GOP Congressman Tim Murphy got banged up the other day, when the vehicle he was in turned over on the way out to the Bagdad airport. By most accounts, Murphy suffered no serious injuries, though an MRI was done to check for head and neck injuries.

The Congressman was in Iraq and Afganistan to pump hands with the troops over Thanksgiving. Now, while this sounds altruistic, I'd argue that it's anything but. This is way different than sending some hot babe entertainer over with a wise-cracking comedian in the manner of Bob Hope and Elke Sommer. This is a politician hoping to be able to pick up a few points next year by showing just how "concerned" and "informed" he is about the "situation."

What we really ended up with was a grandstanding pol who put himself and the soldiers guarding him in harms way, for nothing other than political motives, including, I'd guess, a video and still photographs. (look for them soon on his website!) Then, we had to utilize a Blackhawk helicopter to drag his sorry ass out of the danger zone, wasting more precious resources and putting other soldiers at risk.

Next year, after the fall elections, I am hopeful that the voters of PA will decide that Congressman Murphy should spend Thanksgiving at home, not in the Middle East.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Black Friday: An Overbaked Corporate Concept

Perhaps it's fitting after all that Americans created a new holiday which celebrates both their insatiable need to consume as well as the corporations which drive, and profit by, that desire. Black Friday, which entered the mass media lexicon only a few years ago, is as closely watched as the third race in the Triple Crown, yet it's a pathetic stumbling spectacle.

The question that any average citizen should be asking is this; why should I care? The answer? You shouldn't. Yet the media, desperate to rehash every story they did the year before, (did you know that Pointsettias can be poisonous to cats!)hauls out Black Friday specifically because it has that "horse race" metaphor going for it. As we all know, they treat coverage of political issues the same way. Forget the issues; let's concentrate on the polling numbers! Who's going up, who's going down!

Of course, there is the side of this issue which relates to corporate profits. "If Company Q doesn't get some big sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they may not make their numbers for the year." is how it goes. Again, should you care? From where I sit, no. First of all, there is nothing you can do to help or hinder Company X's gross sales, unless you go there and buy 2500 plasma screen televisions. Even that will only be a blip on the screen. This simply isn't your problem or mine. Hell, even if you work at the highest levels of Company X, you probably couldn't make a difference, since most company management don't listen to the best and brightest on their staff -- they listen to Wall Street.

Ah, Wall Street. It didn't hold back the marauders when it was first erected and it certainly hasn't stopped the modern version from picking the pockets of most Americans. If there is any reason for the Average Joe to care about Black Friday, it's because he is, no doubt, invested in Wall Street via his 401k plan -- and thus must care about how well Company X does. In fact, he may feel compelled to rush off to Company X to buy a 84" plasma TV just to help his investment, even though he'd rather shop at his friend's store down the strett.

Yes kids, it's a vicious cycle....and I don't know about you, but I don't think it deserves its own holiday!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Big Fish, Small Ethics; The Santorum Legacy

That flip-flopping you hear in the shallows of DC is the sound of right wing Senators and Congressman struggling desperately for a little air, as they find their good fortune being drained away to reveal the muddy, ugly reality of the Iraq War, corruption at the highest levels and an economy that isn’t nearly as robust as they’d wish. What they fear most, of course, is that they’ll never get back into the deep dark depths, that they’ll continue to sputter on the shoreline next year and that voters will have had enough of the stench come Election Day 2006.

Among this group, Rick Satorum is the biggest fish, a barracuda who wants people to believe he’s an angelfish, a pure political animal who wants people to think he’s a preacher. In the months ahead, Santorum, led by his spinmeisters and pollsters, will attempt to look like something he is not; reasonable. Indeed, the campaign to beat Bob Casey Jr., has already begun. But, in many ways, it’s more a campaign to make people forget who Santorum really is. In fact, Santorum’s media hack, John Brabender, was recently quoted as saying that (paraphrasing here) “people have already forgotten about Terri Schaivo.” This is, of course, wishful thinking. No one will forget Santorum’s sleazy political intrusion anymore than they’ll forget Bill Frist’s “disagnosis by VHS.”

But the signs of a “new, improved” Santorum are all around. He recently made a point of avoiding GWB when the President paid a visit to the soft coal section of PA. His campaign blamed the lack of co-dependency on a “scheduling conflict,” but you can be sure that, four years ago, Santorum would have cancelled an audience with the Pope to share the stage with Bush.

And this week, Ricky Flippy took another step toward abandonment of his cherished hard-line ideaological opinions. Frank Rick, columnist for the New York Times, summed it up today,

“No sooner did he stiff Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania than he did so again in Washington, voting with a 79-to-19 majority on a Senate resolution begging for an Iraq exit strategy. He was joined by all but one (Jon Kyl) of the 13 other Republican senators running for re-election next year. They desperately want to be able to tell their constituents that they were against the war after they were for it.” {emphasis ours}

Isn’t that special.

What is most disturbing to me, and I think it should be to the voters of Pennsylvania, is just how blithely Senator Santorum, whose raison d’etre is moral and ethical certaintude, shifts his positions to catch the prevailing winds, in much the same way that Captain Renault did in “Casablanca.” Minus, of course, the sense of humor.

So keep your nose to the wind over the coming weeks and months. It won’t be hard to sniff out the hypocrisy coming from the big flopping fish.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Santorum Flip Flops Like a Nervous Trout!

Rick Santorum will do anything to stay in power. After all, for close to 20 years, he’s been sucking at the hind teat of the government, making his living on the backs of working men and women from across Pennsylvania — and he doesn’t want to lose his bully pulpit. He doesn’t want to go back onto private practice, where, though the money is better, the press coverage is far less pervasive.

So, while facing polls that show him stumbling badly, Rick has decided to play the game, “Race To The Middle!” This is where you say a few things and vote on a few bills so that you can use those bits and pieces in campaign advertising.

The most blatant of these so far was his speech recently at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA, where the junior Senator was handing out pork. At that event, Santorum said he doesn’t believe that intelligent design belongs in the science classroom. This is a complete flip-flop from what he said in a Washington Times (the Sun Young Moon rag) editorial several years ago, where he was anything but ambiguous.

“…intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom.”

I guess the questions is Rick, what do you really believe in? It's my opinion, of course, that you believe in money, power and staying in office, no matter what the cost. Hell, you can't even be "true to your school!" As soon as the pressure is on, you listen to what your consultant says and you dash around PA pretending to be a normal human...and sending your base into a tizzy.

However, perhaps, in the case of the ID debate, something more devious is at work.

Remember that Santorum’s wife Karen home schools their children. Perhaps Rick just means that most good Christian parents should abandon the public school system altogether and teach ID at home! Let the schools do what they want…’cause our children, the children who will venture forth thoroughly indoctrinated, will have gotten their dose of ID at home and will therefore be innoculated angainst that nasty liberal "scientific method."

In any event, this flip-flop is one of many that will become issues in the year ahead, as Santorum desperately attempts to connect with the soccer moms and the more moderate voters he’ll need to win. Keep your eyes open, because “Radical Rick” will be trying hard to become “Middle of the Road Rick,” long enough to score another six years in DC…you know, down there where he really lives, breeds and pockets the money.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Shock And Awe Shucks Comedy Tour!

For Immediate Release
From Piltdown Man

In an apparent attempt at raising his ratings, particularly when compared with those of Jon Stewart, the President of the United States today began a nationwide comedy tour titled "Shock and Awe Shucks."

Hailed as an innovative way for the President to rebuild his flagging popularity, Bush will take his show on the road to over 40 cities. The Prez, as he likes to be called when on stage, started his set in New York City to thunderous applause.

"I told Dick and the rest of 'em, y'all oughta git r done at Miss Ellie's Ethic's School.....'cause we got a lot of ethics in this country right now! They're coming in over the boarders faster than goose poop down a chute!"

"I mean, this country was founded on ethics. The founders had ethics. Fact is, ole Tom Jefferson had himself two or three ethics he 'specially liked. Even had hisself a little ethic baby." We don't want to use all his best material, but GWBs take on his office is just to rare to spare! "Ya'll know why they call it the oval office don'tcha? "Cause I can't spell elliptical! Seriously though, it's that shape so that all you NASCAR fans will feel right at home!"

Tickets are on sale now! Call the White House and tell 'em you wanna "Laugh your ass off with The Prez!" Who knew the leader of the free world could be this funny?

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Oil Sucking Zombie Congress

Somehow, in the back of our minds, we knew it would happen eventually...and so it has. The Senate voted 51-48 to begin the rape of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. They are nothing if not persistent pricks.

Ted Stevens, Alaska's "King of Pork," actually had the termidity to say that the oil they'll get is "crucial to the nation's attempt to achieve energy independence." I guess the fact that there is perhaps enough oil to power our SUVs for a year or so hasn't quite gotten through his permafrost skull. Yea, that'll show those Saudis a thing or two! Damn straight, Ted!

You see, here's the problem I have with the current state of the Union. Even though Bush is "under seige" and has lower ratings than reruns of "Cop Rock," he's still the guy in charge, and as long as he is, we can count on more right wing zingers like the carpet bombing of the caribou which is about to begin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bush Gets the First Bird Flu Innoculation

It was a shot in the arm for the struggling, bumbling Bush administration when the President came out in favor of spending billions to save us from the coming pandemic. The spending spree (where the hell does all this money come from anyway?) is, in reality, nothing more than a personal innoculation of Mr. Bush, who, at this moment, needs much more than a prick in his deltoid to recover his footing. Whatever else Mr. Rove may be up to at this moment, he is clearly still the training wheels on Mr. Bush's bike of state.

We can imagine the conversation.

BUSH: "Listen, what the hell else can go wrong? I wanna know. 'Bout tornados? Earthquakes? Locusts?"
ROVE: "Bird flu."
BUSH: "What the hell is that?"
ROVE: "You don't have to know that. I'll take care of it."
BUSH: "Good. That's what I have you here for."
ROVE: "Just be ready to read a speech on TV tomorrow."
BUSH: "Damn you, turdbrain, ya mean I gotta read again?"
ROVE: "Don't worry. It'll be on the prompter...and we'll use really short, easy words...."

All Rove wants is deniability when the feathers fly and the nation begins to develop a killer case of the flu. I call it the "Ghostbuster's" defense. To quote Bill Murray's character, Peter Venkman, speaking to the Mayor of New York;

"If we're right, and we stop this thing, you, Lenny, will have saved the lives of millions of....eligible voters!"