Archive for January, 2010

Quit whining.

Ok, so we had the State of the Union Message where Obama showed a reasonable understanding of the mess we’re in, accepted a minor role in creating it, and offered a laundry list of solutions…while Michelle displayed a curious outfit that Sweetie and Jeri liberally commented on.

Two days later he exposed himself to the House Republicans and showed that he knew more about them than they knew about themselves.  Nah-na-na-na-na-nah.  No wonder they were a bit miffed and somewhat dismissive following the meeting.  Nevertheless, everyone had a good time and promised to do it again during the next Great Depression.

MSNBC, through the never-let-em-get-in-a-word-edgewise Chris Matthews and the crazed Keith Olberman, lavished great praise on the President while making funny faces at the Republicans.  Fox News proclaimed a great victory for the Republicans citing as evidence their superior ability to rise up and sit down as one, much like the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.  Some even had better legs.

During all this I found myself alternately thinking “The worst is behind us” immediately followed by “This too shall pass and they will be at each other’s throats again.”  Or “Maybe they can actually play nice and pass some meaningful legislation” followed by “Not a chance, another election is only nine months away.”

My local rag, er…newspaper, the Ventura Star, dutifully published letters to the editor that blasted Obama for not sleeping in a cardboard Samsung TV packing box on a river bank in order to understand the problems of the common folk.  Or praised him for actually being able to speak in complete sentences, in contrast to the fellow who left town with an upaid Oval Office bill of $1.3 trillion.

It’s amazing what a guy can be blamed for in 370 days in office.  Then again, who else should we blame?  Those faceless folks who sit in Congress?  Quick, who represents your district in the House?  No, Tip O’Neill died in 1994.

Great shouts of indignation arose on the street.  “Throw the bums out. Replace every one of those bastards who sit in Congress, who go on vacation with lobbyists, and who enjoy free health care benefits.  Then send us new bastards.”  Or “Term limits, that’ll fix ’em.”  Better yet  “A constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget…without tax increases.”

Left unsaid were things like “My greed played a part in all this.  I should have never taken that million dollar mortgage on my $5,000 a month salary.”  And “My credit card debt is greater than the gross national product.  Why did those banks let me borrow so much?”  Or “I only sent money to the good PACs, not the other ones.”  Plus “I signed every petition that strange guy at the market put in front of me.  Especially those that hamstrung my elected representatives.”  And proudly, “I voted against every tax bill that would have kept class sizes from spilling out into the streets or let kids go to college without making them indentured servants.”  There “I did my part, what about those guys?”

Without a 60 vote majority in the Senate predictions of eternal gridlock abound.  They might as well all go home until the November elections are over.  Then the Republicans can take charge and look like the Democrats, except be a bit whiter, have fewer women on display, and dress a whole lot better.  The House will take on the characteristics of the monkey cage at the zoo and pass meaningful legislation governing the way we speak and with whom we can have sex.  And, blessed be the Supremes, we no longer need to send campaign money to our favorite politicians.  Thanks to them, that will be handled by Exon, J.P. Morgan and Taco Bell.

There, I’ve done all the whining for you.  Now you can pull your boots on, shoulder your load and do your part.  You might as well.  No one’s going to do it for you.

Wha hoppened?

My good friend Dick posted a note to my last blog…I am writing as I learned that Brown won in Mass.  Please write about that.  What do you think happened?

We lost.  Plain and simple.  Any number of paid pundits have a closet-full of reasons.  But here’s the free, straight scoop from me.

  • Martha Coakley is a lousy campaigner and doesn’t know beans about the Red Sox.
  • Massachusetts Democrats are trained to vote for anyone named Kennedy.  When they got to the polls and didn’t see the name, they just left.
  • Eighty-eight percent of the people are pissed about the job market.  The other twelve percent are unemployed.
  • Forty percent of the people don’t want any health care reform and will do anything, including prostituting their mother, to see it fail.  They are called Republicans.
  • Forty-five percent of the people want health care reform but either don’t understand it or think it will cost them something.  They are selfish and are called Democrats.
  • Ninety-eight percent of the people don’t understand the current health care reform proposals and therefore don’t trust them.  The other two percent pretend they know everything.
  • The economy is unsettled at best and in the shitter at worst.  Probably somewhere in between.  Regardless of who caused the problem (his name begins with a B), the guy currently sitting in the big chair becomes the target of everyone’s anger.
  • Republicans are energized knowing that there’s nowhere to go but up, so they rush to the polls to make themselves feel even better.
  • Democrats are afraid to say they’re unhappy with the way things are going so they are quiet and would rather watch American Idol than vote.  Besides, they figured Kennedy was a shoo-in (see above.)
  • Voters think that any new guy can solve all the problems so they toss out the old one and get someone who, in reality, will just carry on the party line.  Which means…keep everyone unhappy including their constituents until the next election.  Then they can take over…and be the ones who everyone hates.
  • Obama went to Massachusetts and campaigned for Coakley.  Which further reinforced the voters’ belief that he doesn’t know his ass from second base (even if he does know who Dustin Pedroia is.)

But maybe Obama summarized it best today when he told ABC’s George Stephanopolis

Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: the same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office.  People are angry, they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.

So there you are, Dick.  That’s why we lost in Massachusetts and feel so awful this morning.  And to top things off, we still control the House, the Senate and the Oval Office.  Anyone would feel bad about that, wouldn’t they?

The Devil made me do it…

The devil made me do it.  That’s what God said when he/she/it smote Haiti with a 7.0 earthquake dispatching, by some accounts, 50,000 souls to a fiery eternity.

Pat Robertson, America’s prince of fools, proclaimed this as comeuppance for Haiti’s 18th century pact with the devil that freed the island from the yoke of the French.  About the best thing that can be said for Robertson is that he has a modicum of historical knowledge.  Why he continues to get media coverage for his outlandish and ungodly remarks is a mystery that can only be solved by having Glenn Beck interview Sarah Palin in her new role as a Fox TV commentator.

Disavowing the old fool, God communicated with us through his personal representative, Huffington Post’s  Andy Borowitz…

In the wake of his comments about the earthquake in Haiti, televangelist Pat Robertson has become a “public relations nightmare” and a “gynormous embarrassment to me, personally,” God said today.  In a rare press conference at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, the usually reclusive Almighty said that He was taking the unusual step of airing His feelings in public because “enough is enough.”

“I pray that his TV show would just go away, but of course, when you’re me there’s no one to pray to,” God said, to the laughter of the packed room of reporters.

Not to be left behind in the race for biggest fool of the month Rush Limbaugh , our perennial favorite, leaped into the breach by proclaiming that the Haitian holocaust was just the thing that Obama needed to burnish his credentials with the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.  Stopping just short of claiming that Rahm Emanuel single-handedly caused the event, Rush followed up by suggesting that there was no need for Americans to contribute to the rescue efforts since we already pay taxes.   Strange words for a guy who also believes we should dump entitlement programs and leave it up to our churches and assorted hand-outs to feed, house and educate the homeless.

Why I waste my finger tips typing this stuff is beyond be.  It’ll never change.  We will have the ignorant, the uncaring, the self-serving still coming to the forefront whenever the opportunity to do good arises.  But a glimmer of hope appears every so often.  One of those glimmers shined in the Rose Garden  today.  An until now cloistered President Bush appeared with Presidents Clinton and Obama.  Evidencing some of his old bravado…

“I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water,” Mr. Bush said. He flashed a familiar grin as he echoed what the relief organizations have been saying for days. “Just send your cash.”

Take that, Limbaugh.

Young at heart…

“Want to go to Theater 150 to hear the old folks sing?”  Bert, in her usual efficient way had spotted the publicity, ably developed by our neighbor Shed Behar.  “We better hurry because it will probably sell out.”  I mumbled something only heard by my inner self.

Our neighbor, Joan Rush, four other women and two men…all grandparents…were exposing themselves to the community in a way that most of us only dream of.  Get up in front of friends and relatives.  Stare into bright lights.  Hope that you don’t forget the words, miss a high note or have a heart attack.  Risk some polite applause. Go home to a stiff drink.  Then do it three more times.

We drove to the Makows, exited the car and as they appeared in the doorway I said “Quick, we don’t want to miss a minute of this.”  As usual, I mentally slapped myself for the sarcasm and promised to be a good boy for the rest of the evening.

We made all the lights coming into town, turned right on Montgomery, left on Matilija and grumbled when all the parking spots immediately in front of the former funeral parlor, now Theater 150, were full.  I drove a hundred feet down the street, parked and mentally calculated how long it would take to get to the car once the performance ended.  The four of us began the two minute trek to the theater entrance.  We were not alone.

The billboard in front of the theater proudly announced This weekend’s performances are sold out—Sorry.  A fourth performance had been added to accommodate the demand.  I wondered “how many friends and relatives can these seven people possibly have?”  Aryna, an ever present and supportive figure at our local events had similar thoughts when she asked me “Who is it that brings you here this evening?”

The lobby, more of a wide aisle than a lobby, was filled with people who looked like they were still celebrating New Year’s Eve.  Probably because two glasses of free wine were included in the ticket price.  I wondered if they would be refreshing drinks during the performance.  Maybe delivered through the same kind of device that Jack Nicholson conjured up for that poor, bedridden guy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

There are no bad seats at Theater 150.  Unless you count the half dozen or so straight backed, hard wood Torquemada seats along the east wall that, after thirty minutes, bring new meaning to the word posture.  Like most other community theaters, you are close enough to count the pores in the performer’s face.  So close that you cannot risk being discovered in sleep mode.

We settled into our seats, the lights dimmed and The Nanas and The Papas appeared.  As usual I had counted the number of songs listed in the playbill’s first act, fully intending to begin a countdown as a way of making the time pass.  I only managed to get to number one.

They were a delight.  Sharing funny and poignant experiences as grandmas and grandpas, they mesmerized the crowd.  It didn’t matter whether they squeaked during songs and creaked a bit as they moved about.  It was all part of an endearing performance.  I was reminded of the time Sweetie and I saw Carol Channing in her eighties in Hello Dolly.  Needing help across the stage, she managed to captivate us.

Okay, so I’m an old guy with memories.  And these songs were all about memories, youth and time.  I Remember It Well, When I’m 64, Children Will Listen and Young at Heart made me smile and remember what it was like and what is yet to be.  Even though my only French expression, omelette du fromage, was learned from a Steve Martin comedy album, I was seduced by Carol Kornhaber’s rendition of La Vie En Rose.  The finale, Forever Young, stayed with us all the way up the Dennison Grade.

Surprises help make life worthwhile.


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