Posts Tagged 'Obama'

Prodding those in need

What we really need is Martin and Mendel.

No, that’s not the name of a Jewish law firm.  It’s two Orthodox Rabbis in New York who, for a hefty fee paid by an unhappy wife, will arrange for the thrashing of a recalcitrant Orthodox Jewish husband who refuses to comply with a religious divorce, known as a “get”.

According to the New York Times, for about $50,000 Rabbis Martin and Mendel would get two tough guys named Ariel and Yaakov to kidnap the unwilling hubby, apply a cattle prod to his unnamed body parts and then deliver the now willing husband to the mercies of the Orthodox Jewish court.  As the Rabbis proudly expounded to an undercover FBI agent, it was important that the instruments of torture did not leave any mark that might otherwise reveal their nefarious deed.

So, after due consideration, I think that applying this novel approach to the current government shutdown might be just the ticket to our own salvation.

“Hello, Rabbi Mendel, this is Barack Obama.  I’ve got a situation that I think you can help me with.  I’ve been reading about your ground-breaking approach to problem solving and I must admit that it may be exactly what I need.”

“Yes, Mr. President.  I’m happy to hear from you even though I didn’t vote for you, not even once.  You know, it’s that Israeli thing.  But anyway, what’s your problem?”

“Well, I’ve tried just about everything to get John Boehner to see it my way.  I’ve offered to kick people off food stamps, open up Yosemite to oil exploration, and even let him beat me at golf.  But he still won’t let me re-open the government.  The stubborn mule says he won’t budge until I kill ObamaCare and default on the national debt.”

“Yes, I understand your problem completely.  In fact, I’ve been following it religiously on Fox News and must admit that I’m a really big fan of that nice young man, Ted Cruz.  Even though he doesn’t  attend my shul.”

“But Rabbi, maybe you can put your politics aside and, for a fee, see it my way.”

“Well as a matter of fact you’re in luck.  We’ve just begun a big fund-raiser for our shul.  It’s called “Prod Them to See It Your Way”.  Our hope is that we can help people like you bring the opposition around to your way of thinking.  After all, it’s our specialty.”

“Sounds great.  What else do you need to know from me before we can get going?  I’m in a bit of a hurry to save the greatest nation on earth.”

“For you, Mr. President, I will set aside our differences and get Ariel and Yaakov on the job tonight.  And, please, consider it a freebie.”

“A freebie?  Why so cheap?”

“It will be great publicity for our fund-raiser.  Can you imagine?  After all, Boehner isn’t the only one who needs some prodding.

Eight years is enough

President Obama took the oath of office today, beginning his second term as President of the United States.

Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, immediately denounced the event as “leading to four more years of wild-assed spending, confiscation of everyone’s guns and further degradation of the White House by the presence of a black guy who had stolen the election from whatever his name was.”

McConnell also vowed to make sure that Mr. Obama would not serve a third term as President. Promising to introduce a Constitutional amendment to limit the president to two terms, he said “No one, especially someone born in Kenya, should be able to serve more than eight years in the Oval Office.”

When reporters at the scene noted that there already was such a limitation in the Constitution, Mr. McConnell responded “Never mind.”

McConnell’s statement went viral and prompted a number of supportive responses by prominent Republicans. Donald Trump agreed with the need for a Constitutional amendment by insisting that the current provision doesn’t go far enough and may, in fact, be a forgery. He demanded to see the original document and immediately appointed his long-time friend and financial guru, Bernie Madoff , to conduct an investigation.

Michele Bachmann, a leading member of the House Intelligence Committee, took time out from drafting her thirty-fourth legislative proposal to repeal Obamacare and promised to introduce the two-term limitation in the House. Supported by twenty-seven Tea Party congressmen wearing tri-cornered hats and carrying muskets, she said “I don’t really care if there already is a Constitutional provision. My goal is to make sure we don’t forget about it. After all what’s more important, reminding people about the limit or doing things that actually improve people’s lives?” Refusing to take further questions, she rushed off to her Committee to re-open an investigation of the Lincoln assassination.

Glenn Beck took time out from building his libertarian-utopia theme park called Independence, USA where, for a price, you can live out his dream of America The Way It Should Be. “I don’t really give a rat’s ass about Obama serving a third term. Independence, USA will be a sovereign country governed by no one. On the other hand, I’d be happy to promote the Constitutional amendment as a visiting scholar and world ambassador. It’s the least I can do for my former country.”

Rick Perry, fresh from arguing that anyone licensed to carry a gun should be able to bring it into a school, insisted that his first order of business on Monday will be to bring the two-term limit to a vote in the Texas Legislature. When reporters reminded him that the amendment had to be first approved by Congress he said, “I must have missed that when I went to school. But then I was too busy learning my ABD’s.”

Former President George Bush said “What’s the Constitution?”

If I’d only had a gun

It was a little after midnight.

I’d been sleeping soundly when I was roused by a noise at our front door.  Not yet fully coherent, I left my warm bed without looking for my glasses, stumbled into a semi-lit hallway and caught a fuzzy glimpse of three men.

“What do you want?” I half yelled at the men.  “What are you doing here?” I said while growing more frightened.

After what seemed like an eternity, one of them said “Dad, it’s me, David.”

Our son had made a surprise visit with two his buddies.  They had driven most of the night from their UC Berkeley digs and decided that our house would be a good place to sack out.  Wouldn’t Mom and Dad be surprised.

I could have killed my son.  If I’d had a gun.

That was thirty years ago and I’m still frightened by the experience.  Thirty years later and I still don’t have a gun.  Thirty years later and most of the country has at least one gun.  By some estimates, 350.000,000 guns.  Waiting to kill their sons.  Or for someone else to do it.

The only thing that’s changed in all those years is that killing has been made more efficient.  Requiring less thought.  Requiring less time.  It’s part of the mainstream.  Soon to be as commonplace as the horrific daily carnage in Baghdad or Kabul.  Ho hum.  Let’s see what Lindsay Lohan is up to.

I thought that Sandy Hook was a watershed moment.  Twenty little kids gunned down in their first grade schoolroom.  Gunned down with the current stylish weapon of choice.  Slaughtered by the weapon promoted by gun manufacturers for its appearance, attractiveness and, most of all, its profit potential.  Protected by the NRA from any limitation that might otherwise lead down the slippery path of gun control.

I had watched the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre stare vacantly at those attending his news conference.  Semi-glazed, he seemed to be a recent escapee from the asylum featured in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Reliance on more guns in schools was Wayne’s answer to protecting tots.  Only an armed guard policing every institution of learning could be relied upon to avert another Sandy Hook.

I said “What a nut.  He’s toast.  The NRA is headed down the Tea Party path.  Happy days are here again.”

Flash forward less than a month.  An eternity for short-term memory-challenged Americans.  According to the Washington Post and ABC News, more than half the people in the country think armed guards in kindergarten is a good idea…including half of the Democrats polled.  So much for thinking Wayne is out of touch.

Harry Reid, the Senate Democrats’ major domo, and a recipient of NRA largess along with a B rating,  wonders why he should push gun control.  According to Reuters, Harry is more concerned about Democrats, including himself, getting re-elected than in bringing legislation to the Senate floor that is sure to be rejected by House Republicans.

An American University poll of students throughout the country reports that about half intend to purchase a gun when they graduate.  So much for ” And a child shall lead them.”

And while we are all focused on AK47 assault rifles and inexhaustible ammo clips, we should remember that you are 17 times more likely to be killed by a handgun than a rifle. And who’s even talking about that ubiquitous weapon?

Yes, I listened to the Obama press conference where he announce the actions he was prepared to take to curb the insanity. At times I felt like he was an actor, playing his role until the curtain came down. Then it would be back to business as usual.

A trip to the Brady Gun Control website will reward you with a peek at a graphic in the upper right corner of the home page.  It announces, in real time, the number of today’s gun deaths in the U.S.   At noon on January 18, the daily total stood at 176.  That’s nearly double the number of gun deaths in the U.K. for an entire year.  More people die in English soccer riots.

So head on over to the Brady site.  Look at the graphic.  And be grateful that your son is not part of that statistic.

guns

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.

Romney Supports Obama for President

While continuing his support for Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdoch despite Mourdoch’s declaration that a child born of rape is a gift from god, Mitt Romney announced that he will support President Obama’s re-election.

Interviewed on CBS this morning, Governor Romney said “I realize that I have no scruples and have waffled all over the lot for the last year and a half.  So I find no conflict in what I think I believe and  who I can support.”

When asked what it was that brought him to his decision to support Obama, the Governor said “It is a continuation of the meek approach I took in the third debate with the President where I applauded the President’s stance on foreign relations.  I figure that if I agree with everything the President has done for the last four years, that people will see how friendly I am.  Supporting his re-election will also reinforce my contention that I am the candidate best suited to work hand in hand with the opposition across the aisle.”

Reporters pursued the logic of Romney’s decision and noted that the polls since the third debate seem to have reversed their earlier movement and were heading slightly in Obama’s favor.  “It’s all part of my grand strategy”, the Governor said.  “If they continue to move in the President’s direction, I will simply claim that I was misquoted in this video interview.  Everyone knows that the media is populated by flaming liberals, except for Fox of course.”

Concluding his remarks, the Governor offered his own views on a woman’s right to determine what to do with her own body.  “I think a woman should be able to do whatever she wants.  And I intend on my first day in the Oval Office to offer legislation that moves us in that direction, starting with giving them the right to vote.  I realize that this may not sit well with some in my party but we’ve got to move vigorously into the twentieth century.”

 

Muscle bound

Dick Shawn, who died on-stage in 1987, was one of my favorite actors and comedians.  His role in The Producers as the flower-power-hippie cast as the lead in Springtime for Hitler was classic.

Perhaps less well-known was Dick’s stand-up routine as a muscle-bound weight lifter.  Proud of his bigger than life physique, he was asked by his mother “So what good are big muscles?”  Stumped for an answer, he stumbled around giving inane responses to this simple question.

I was reminded of Dick’s routine as I watched the debate last night.  The first question posed by a young college student was “So, how are you going to create more jobs?”  Smiling as he stared into the young man’s eyes, Mitt attempted to lay out the specifics of his job creation plan.  Only there were none.  Dick Shawn had risen.

Next came a question from a motherly middle-aged woman.  “I understand that you want to simplify the tax code and give everyone a 20% tax cut.  And that you want to balance that cut by limiting deductions.  How will your plan impact my home mortgage deduction, charitable contributions and the deduction for  my kids’ college tuition.”  Mitt smiled and flexed his big muscles.  Dick Shawn was having a hell of a night.

When the debate took on the issue of women in the workplace, the two contenders tried their best to become the champion of the fairer sex.  Obama cited his signature support for the Lilly Ledbetter equal pay for equal work legislation and for Planned Parenthood’s myriad of services.  Mitt muted his promise to de-fund Planned Parenthood and chose to ignore his running mate’s vote against the Ledbetter legislation.  He instead cited his search for qualified women while Governor of Massachusetts.

When his closest advisers were incapable of identifying women for his cabinet, he said “Well, gosh, can’t we find some women that are also qualified?”  He was then presented with “whole binders full of women.”  With big muscles, I’m sure.

Another questioner asked “How will Mr. Romney’s presidency differ from that of George W. Bush?”  Mitt lamented Mr. Bush’s budget busting wars, crossed his heart and promised never to do that again.  Obama noting that in spite of his other failings Mr. Bush had never proposed Medicare vouchers, proceeded to chastise Mitt’s vaporous health plan, a scheme that according to a new study by the Kaiser Foundation would cause six in ten Medicare recipients to pay higher premiums.

And so it went.  In the end we were treated to interviews with ten undecided voters who had been gathered together in the studio to observe the debate.  The moderator asked  “So, now that you’ve seen the debate, which of you will be voting for Mr. Romney?”  One hand went up.  “And which of you will be voting for Mr. Obama?”  One hand went up.

The other eight were obviously living in some alternative universe.  Maybe looking for some guy with bigger muscles.


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