Archive for November, 2012

Grumpy Old Men

Has anyone else noticed the resemblance between Clint Eastwood and John McCain?

Dirty Hairy was, at one time, my hero.  Didn’t give a shit about the rules.  Just went after the bad guys,  ignored protocol and left political niceties to politicians.  He cleaned up on the evil doers and crooked cops.  I couldn’t wait for his next movie, and a big fist in the mouth or a 45 magnum for anyone who crossed him.  A real American idol.

John flew planes for his country, shot bad guys out of the air, got caught in Nam, spent serious time in the worst of all places and came home a hero.  He found his way to Washington and became a maverick who only cared about what was right and honorable.  Party politics be damned, he tweaked the noses of his own colleagues.  I’d probably have voted for him.

How things have changed.  Both Clint and John have become grumpy old men.

Clint at 82 probably plays the same role in the movies that he does in real life.  His latest run of pictures depict someone who is all too ready to thumb his nose at anyone who gets in his way.   His character, Walt Kowalski, spits on his next door neighbors in Gran Torino while his Gus Lobel smart mouths the baseball world in Trouble With the Curve.   As further evidence of Clint’s grumpy man metamorphosis, he occasionally speaks incoherently  to empty chairs.

John at 76 hasn’t recovered from the 2008 election when he and the Snow Queen were decimated by the Black Guy.  Finding his vision of the world moving further into obscurity, he has become the Senate minority standard-bearer responsible for carrying out Banzai attacks on the guy who bested him four years ago.  No surrender for John.  Instead, a last desperate attack before he falls on his sword.

But there is one important difference between Clint and John.  We can avoid Clint by not buying his movie tickets.  But we’re stuck with John in our face until at least 2016.

John’s current grumpiness is reflected in his dogged determination to show that Obama was the guy who led the attack on the Benghazi embassy.  Raising the terrorist event to the level of the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the destruction of the Twin Towers,  John insists that not enough information has been provided to allow him to declare that the Black Guy was not, in fact, the perpetrator of the event.

He also warns that he will block the nomination of Susan Rice to the position of Secretary of State, a nomination that has not and may not occur.  Blaming Ms. Rice, currently our U.N. ambassador, for providing false information on Benghazi, John  offers to temper his approach only if Susan will publicly reveal that the Black Guy was in fact responsible for supplying arms to the terrorists, pointing them in the direction of Benghazi, and giving them the spare key to the embassy.

Seeking the pole position on administration harassment, John insists that a Watergate style inquisition be started immediately.  The lack of credible information and probable complicity by the Black Guy seemed an appropriate start to Obama’s second presidential term of office.  Visions of impeachment, ala the Clinton and Monica show, float like sugar plums through John’s head.  Failing to achieve Mitch McConnell’s stated goal of a one term presidency, maybe this is the answer to hobbling the Black Guy for the next four years.

Alas, John got off to a poor start.  First he holds a news conference blasting the White House for not being forthcoming.  But then given the opportunity to attend a bi-partisan briefing on the Benghazi caper, John chose to thumb his nose at it.  When CNN reporter Ted Barrett asked why he missed the briefing, John said “I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media.”  Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain huffed “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

So, rather than focusing on our real problems, the grumpy guy tries to hobble the black guy while the rest of us say…get a life, John.”

The Morning After

Tuesday evening Sweetie and I watched Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins duke it out in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Gary, in a role superbly suited to him, still scares me as he seeks to capture Winona Ryder’s heart while fending off the sharpened stake wielded, somewhat comically,  by a partially deranged Mr. Hopkins.

You were watching a twenty year old film on election night, you say?  With all that time on your hands why weren’t you focused on the election results?  Because my blood pressure was already high enough, thank you.

In a way I suppose I was, in fact, watching a stand-in for the election night results.  Oldman could just as well have been playing Mitt Romney, a man who was serially written off for dead, starting with the primaries where he was confronted by any number of netherworld demons including Newt, Michelle, Rick, and Herman.  No stake in the heart could penetrate him regardless of multiple ill-fated attempts. His pursuers were doomed to fall on their own swords.  Like Dracula, Mitt’s oft-repeated metamorphosis from one life form into another finally ended only when he was exposed to the full light of day.

Hopkins, a somewhat shy and retiring personality, could have been Obama who refused to give up the quest for another four years even though at times you wondered if he was really serious about the whole thing.  Stake in hand, he methodically pursued his quarry and, when all seemed to hang by a thread, plunged the dagger into his antagonist.  Not a lingering death as predicted by the pundits, it was all over in the blink of an eye.

Belatedly, we made the rounds of the usual cable news stations.  MSNBC, CNN and, yes, Fox.   OK, I really enjoyed Fox.  Shepard Smith was particularly interesting.  With a “what the hell happened” expression on his face, he looked splendidly shell-shocked.

Karl Rove was delightful as the mad scientist who, with precise logic and an intensity bordering on the maniacal, sought to refute Fox’s award of Ohio to Obama.  How dare Fox do that without his permission.  In a moment rivaling the best of the Keystone Kops, Megan Kelly, playing the role of Karl’s Igor, dutifully strolled down to the bowels of Fox and asked her own statisticians “are you guys shitting me or what?”

Rove and his buddy George Will were understandably stunned.  How could this be?  Especially after the outpouring of money from their friends and neighbors.  We will win big, they had assured themselves and their minions. This must be some alternate universe.  When we wake, things will be better.

Donald Trump who, as NBC’s Brian Williams put it, has driven well past the last exit of relevance, tweeted multiple brain farts including a frenzied call to his followers to march on Washington.

Bill O’Reilly, a little late in seeking more Hispanic votes, made a plea for an election re-run with Marco Rubio instead of Paul Ryan as Mitt’s Sancho Panza.  While insulting half the American voters and ignoring the fact that Mitt’s votes came from predominantly aging white men on Medicare and Social Security, Bill observed that the 50% of the country who voted for Obama want stuff.   They want things.  And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it. And he ran on it.

But perhaps the most rewarding election revelation came the morning after when we were treated to an analysis of the money spent and the rewards of that extravagance.  The most candid and resigned expression came from Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot and a top Romney fundraiser.  “All I can say is the American people have spoken.”

The Koch brothers spent millions including a reputed chunk of the $11 million delivered from an Arizona mystery PAC in a failed attempt to block California’s Proposition 30 supporting schools, and to promote Proposition 32 that would have limited the rights of unions to spend money just like, thanks to Citizens United and the Supremes, corporations do.

Foregoing the ubiquitous PAC route, Linda E. McMahon, owner of a professional wrestling company, concluded her second attempt to single-handedly buy a Republican Senate seat by spending $100 million of her own money in Connecticut.  She lost.  But in the process she certainly succeeded in adding jobs to the media and printing industries in her own state.  Way to go, Linda.

Joe Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, spent close to $13 million to bankroll a super PAC attacking Obama over federal spending.  Better he should have spent it on the pitiful team that lost 101 games this season.  That’s the last time I go to a Cub game.

And then there’s Sheldon Adelson, the gambling casino mogul.  Sporting a refreshed carrot coloring of his sparsely populated hairline, he seemed unperturbed about the sixty million he had pumped into the super PACS supporting eight carefully selected Republican candidates.  Sheldon went 0 for 8.  Better stay away from your own craps tables, Sheldon.  Oh, and buy a mirror.

As the NY Times reported, Karl Rove has been busy fielding calls from many of those bazillionaires who forked over about $300 million to two super PACs founded in part by him.  Always looking on the bright side, he offered them these uplifting words,  “Without us, the race would not have been as close as it was.”

So it’s four more years.  Used to seem like a long time.  Not any more.  A blink of an eye.  A week in Dracula time.  I hope Obama’s stake is well sharpened.

A Lesson in Communications

That was quite a storm.

Having struck out with the airlines, neighbor Bob and his dog Toby drove back to Ojai from Rhode Island.  Because of Toby’s handicap, Bob had to find shelter along the way that welcomed pets.  When I spoke with Bob early in the week, he was ensconced in a Motel 6 in Lawrence, Kansas surrounded by all manner of wailing and yowling.  He cut our conversation short saying “I have to go to bed…right now.”  I shudder to think of driving nearly 3,000 miles with a dog licking my face, or worse.

Then I see those poor people back east who are without power, many without a home and all with a major clean-up effort ahead of them.  Now those folks could use some serious face licking.

And speaking of clean-up.  Mitt is busy dry cleaning his comments about FEMA.  You remember.  He told us during the primaries…so many moons ago…that FEMA was an unnecessary intrusion on the free market.  Much more better to have private companies, maybe like Halliburton or Bain Capital, jump right in with both feet to save us from Mother Nature’s vagaries.  Mindful that Sandy had been more than a sun-shower, Mitt’s campaign jumped in to clarify his position and to amend what they claimed was only garbled communications.

It reminded me of that scene from Cool Hand Luke.  The one where the prison guards, led by that scary guy with the mirrored sunglasses, have just beaten the crap out of Paul Newman.  The prison boss, played by that oh so nerd-like Strother Martin, stands over Newman and in all seriousness says “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” 

Taking a page from Strother Martin, Mitt would surely also point to a lapse in his communication skills when trying to explain his other memorable moments…

“I’m proud of what we’ve done.  If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing Romneycare, then that will be a model for the nation.”

“Look, I was pro-choice. I am pro-life. You can go back to YouTube and look at what I said in 1994. I never said I was pro-choice, but my position was effectively pro-choice. I changed my position.”

“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.”

“It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

“That’s not going to make me the hero of the NRA.  I don’t line up with a lot of special interest groups.”

“They’re not happy that my dog loves fresh air.”

And now his campaign is trying to woo back the auto guys they once shit-canned by scaring the crap out of them.  An ad approved by Mitt says “Obama is shipping your jobs to China to build Jeeps.  You better learn how to use chopsticks.  And sharpen your skills at making those miniature paper umbrellas that go into mai tai drinks.”  Or something like that.  Even a letter from Chrysler telling Mitt that he was a dumb-fuck  failed to put a stop to the scare tactic.

So tell me, why is it that so many voters trust this guy?  Why is the election so close?  Why do I continue to write these political blogs when I swore I’d stop.

It should be as plain as the nose on your face. But then, some of us need extra help.  Or maybe just improved communications.


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