Sunday, September 26, 2010

GOP Candidate: Scientists Clone "Mice with Fully-Functioning Human Brains"

At what point does dysfunctional politics cross the line and become a parody of the real thing?

Perhaps, we reached that point last week when comedian Bill Maher effectively blackmailed Delaware GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, by threatening to release old clips of O'Donnell advocating any number of whacked out positions on his 90's show "Politically Incorrect" until she agrees to a reprise visit to his current HBO show, "Real Time with Bill Maher".

Last week, to underlie his threat, Maher released a clip of O'Donnell - who comes off as a "born-again" Roman Catholic, advocating the contentious positions espoused by the most radically-right wing Christian evangelists in the Bible Belt (imagine Jerry Falwell in lipstick and heels) - vociferously warning against the influence of Satanism, and admitting that she herself had dabbled in witchcraft.

And that isn't even the weirdest of her too-public dysfunctional campaigns for a better America.  In 1996, she waged a campaign on MTV against masturbation.  Against masturbation??? You can only shake your head. . . . Statistically speaking, masturbation is far more American than singing the Stars and Stripes, or even eating apple pie.

This week Bill Maher following through on his campaign of political blackmail. Maher treated us to a clip of Ms. O'Donnell disputing evolution, calling the theory underpinning all of modern biology, "a myth,." Her argument? If evolution isn't a myth, "why aren't monkeys still evolving into human beings?"

Seriously, folks. . . How can you believe in witchcraft and call evolution a "myth?"

Pre-empting Maher,online muckrakers Talking Points Memo compiled their own video of Ms. O'Donnell's finest, dysfunctional moments, including a bizarre claim that scientists have cloned "mice with fully-functioning human brains."

Marshall McLuhan was right, Ms. O'Donnell clearly makes the point that the medium has become the message in this era of dysfunctional politics, and that she will say anything to get herself in the public eye. All of this would be relatively harmless, although still humorous, of course, if the perennially perky Ms.O'Donnell hadn't blazed a path for whacked-out media mavens that actually have a chance of getting elected to high office.

Check out the infamous clip of Sarah Palin receiving a blessing against withcraft (seriously, witchcraft) at her Wasilla, Alaska church. Lord, help us all. . . .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Watching Obama like Watching a Motorcycle Racer Caught in a Speed Wobble

Watching the way President Obama's White House handlers - and, indeed, the President himself - are attempting to come to simultaneous terms with the GOP's outright refusal to play ball with him, and with progressive Democratics increasingly turning away from him in disillusionment; it is like watching a motorcycle racer caught in a speed wobble: You have to half turn away, close one eye, and grimace, because he may not be able to regain control of a powerful machine that could very well end up spread all over the track.

Will a "speed wobble" put him out of the race?

Or, will he be nimble enough able to overcome a "disastrous" race in November?

It's breathtaking to see how a president elected with such a groundswell of high hopes could have wasted that goodwill so quickly!

In a review of Bob Woodward's recently released first book on the Obama administration, Obama's War, the United Kingdom's respected Telegraph newspaper, notes that President Obama "has even lost Shepard Fairey, the man who created the iconic red and blue 'Hope' poster of Obama's visage." Those who elected Obama feel cheated, the graphic artist said this week. "They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo and I don't think that Obama has done that."

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: "Never have so many, turned on so few, so quickly."

All this in the same week when the self-promoted "brains" of the Republican Party, Newt "the Newt" Gingrich, crawled out from under his rotted log to whip the Tea Partiers and Birthers into a lather with some cock-and-bull "theory" that the only way to understand Obama is to understand that Obama's supposed ideological view is that of an anti-colonial Kenyan tribal leader of the 1950's.

. . . . Say what, Lewis?

I can only shake my head, with a dread in veins turned cold by four short words: Sarah Palin in '012! . . . .  . . . . . Now . . . If that doesn't make your skin crawl . . . . its on too tight!

. . . . And motorcycle and rider wobble . . .he slides . . . . Can he pick himself up and get back in the race? . .

. . . You Bet'cha!   ;-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Colbert Testifies Before Clearly Dysfunctional Congress Sub-Commitee

You gotta know its getting really dysfunctional out there when Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert (from the news mock-mentary, Colbert Report) gets to testify - in character - to a House Sub-Committee on Immigration, Security etc., etc., etc.

Hilarious!!! Gotta love it!!! How did he get that gig? One can only shake one's head!

. . . But, its not quite as dysfunctional as my three favorite videos of clearly dysfunctional politicans working out there bipartisan differences with fisticuffs, hair-pulling and shoe-throwing. . . . No, not that shoe-throwing incident (although W.'s greatest moment is included as bonus footage).

Politicians Work Out Bipartisan Differences . . . With Fisticuffs

As promised, here are my three favorite videos of dysfunctional politicians working out their differences in a bipartisan fashion - complete with fisticuffs, hair-pulling, what looks like an eye-gouge, and a shoe-throwing incident. . . . Not that shoe-throwing incident . . . but I do include George W. Shrub's finest moment as POTUS as bonus footage.

Third Place - Politicos in India take it to the house - or the floor of their House - arming themselves with microphones as spear and club in a bi-partisan effort to work out their differences.

The kicker to that one is: They were debating 'Civil Rights' for Pete's sake!!!

So much for civil discourse. . .

Second Place - Heavyweight politicos in the Ukraine utilize the bully pulpit . . . . literally.

Fisticuffs, hair-pulling and I thought I saw an eye gouge in that bipartisan brouhaha. . . . And fade to Windows. . . But the gold medal goes to the following:

First Place - Mayhem in Taiwan's House of Congress is sparked by a shoe-throwing incident reminiscent of W.'s chuck-and-duck moment in Iraq.  I admit, I thought shoe-throwing was a sign of disrespect in the Middle East, not the Far East. (???) Oh well, a nice shot that earns two thumbs-up and a nod of approval.

BONUS CLIP - Here's Dubya in his finest moment of jocularity (or jock-ularity). At least he looked like an athlete in the infamous shoe-chucking incident that got the reporter six months in Abu Ghrab (or some other Iraqi hoosegow).

Ya' gotta miss the big, dysfunctional lug!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two Ways of Dealing with the Tea Partiers

Kudos to the New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer and Kate Zernike for their complimentary takes on how the Democrats and G.O.P., respectively, should deal with the Tea Partiers. Both drew a muted chortle and a good shake of the head.

From the Democratic standpoint, Ms.Steinhauer writes that dealing with the would-be revolutionaries " is analogous to a family fracas over how to best get rid of your sister’s latest crummy boyfriend." Meanwhile, Ms. Zernike observes that the Republicans are unsure whether "you have to take a stand against masturbation or urge your supporters to gather their bayonets." Thank you, oh thank you, Christine O'Donnell, Sharon Angle and Sarah Palin!

"Do you repeatedly point out all the perceived flaws of the new suitor, hoping that they resonate?" asks Ms. Steinhauer, "Or do you insist that the new guy is just like the ex, and suggest that repeating the pattern will only lead to misery?" "The trick is to take advantage of the Tea Party passion and stay away from its extremes," writes Ms. Zernike. Yeah . . . Good luck on that one! That's like telling a bratty Eskimo kid to go stand in the corner of the igloo. The Tea Party is an extreme. Doh!!!

. . . . and on the Left Coast . . .  MSNBC reports a poll showing spaced-out, hash-brownied 70's California governor, Jerry Brown, in a dead heat with terminated, gazillionaire ex-Hewlitt Packard, Silicon-Valley CEO Meg Whittman, to replace the Terminator.

ROTFLMAO (and shaking my head)! . . . And all this over a mid-afternoon coffee. . . .Only in the new 21st-century America!

Have the Republicans Flipped Their Wigs . . . er, Whigs???

I do not know whether to call the Republicans just released "Pledge to America" a mimicry or an unintended mockery of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  Either way, its clear that collectively the House G.O.P's (Grand Old Partiers!) have flipped their wigs (or, perhaps, Whigs?) in condescendingly kowtowing to a party base mainly created by the political media.

Wrapping its essentially empty and rhetorical "Pledge to America" in constitutional, federalist terms, they take liberties in equating within the same introductory paragraph the "unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" with what seems to be (in light of the paper's following vacuous generalities) an almost unfettered "economic, political, and religious liberty."

Reading this tripe, one would assume that the country's founding revolution was sparked by "taxation" itself - rather than "taxation without representation." One would think that America is the fiefdom of an autocratic foreign power, rather than a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Blithely dismissing the executive branch as "unchecked", the legislative branch as "compliant", and the judicial branch as "overreaching", the Republican's "Pledge" demonizes the very concept of government, as if neither they themselves, nor the electorate had, (or has) any role in electing the Administration and Congress, the Senate of which, in turn, nominates, ratifies and appoints the Judiciary.

In fact, this clearly over-the-edge "Pledge" seems to challenge the legitimacy of the entire government (all three branches), and tries to perpetuate an idea that the composition of the Congress and the Obama Administration is not the result of the fair and free elections (in times of peace and war) that have characterized the United States since its founding.

The Republican p.r. hacks who undoubtedly authored this mish-mash of a mess, mischaracterize their government as a "government of self-appointed elites [that] makes decisions, issues mandates and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many."

What??? Self-appointed elites enact laws in the United States of America???  I thought there was an election coming up . . .  but I guess there has been a takeover by a Harvard-Law academic, or Wall Street financial junta instead.  I ask: Have the House G.O.P.'s finally flipped their wigs . . . .er, Whigs???

One can only sadly shake one's head, or recoil like the rattlesnake on the American Revolution's seemingly hijacked "Don't Tread on Me!" banner.

What Ever Happened to the Rockefellers?

Forbes magazine recently released its list of America's richest persons - a list which includes four billionaire heirs of Walmart-founder, Sam Walton, amongst the country's ten richest citizens.  Collectively, the Walmart heirs are richer than either investment guru, Warren Buffett, and Microsoft founder, Bll Gates.

Commenting on the Forbes' list, MSNBC's Chuck Todd noted that the heirs to the Rockefeller fortune, perennially amongst the nation's richest persons a generation ago, have now been replaced by the Walmart billionaires. With the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs overseas having decimated Detroit, Youngstown, Buffalo, the mill-towns of New England and much of the Mid-West "Rust Belt" that was once the engine of American productivity, how ironic is it that the heirs of a discount retailer have replaced the Rockefellers, Fords, Mellons and DuPonts whose fortunes were found on producing goods, rather than selling them?

Here are the richest ten Americans, as named by Forbes:
  1. Bill Gates - Microsoft co-founder (philanthropist financier of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
  2. Warren Buffett - investment guru, Berkshire-Hathaway chairman (and Gates Foundation contributor)
  3. Larry Ellison - founder of Oracle, which just bought Sun Microsystems
  4. Christy Walton - Walmart heir
  5. Charles Koch - part-owner of the privately-held Koch industries conglomerate
  6. David Koch - part-owner of the privately-held Koch industries conglomerate
  7. Jim Walton - Walmart heir
  8. Alice Walton - Walmart heir
  9. Robson Walton - Walmart heir
  10. Michael Bloomberg -founder of Bloomberg News, NYC mayor (and possible presidential aspirant)
Of these richest American's, it is readily arguable that only Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Oracle's Larry Ellison are 'producers' (albeit that Mr. Bloomberg's financial news conglomerate does produce aggregations of information). Mr. Buffet - the "Sage of Omaha" - and the Koch brothers (chief financiers of a number of Tea Party and right-wing attack groups set loose by the Citizens United decision, see below) are primarily investors, not 'builders' or 'producers', while the Walmart heirs are, essentially, storekeepers.

Gone are the days of Henry Ford, whose then radical wage hikes enabled his American workers to afford the cars they produced, and Andrew Carnegie, whose steel foundries funded public libraries throughout North America.  While both these autocratic business titans clashed violently with their unionizing workers (exhibiting an anti-union animus shared by Walmart and the Kochs), they remained committed to producing goods in America, for consumption in America, and for export to the rest of the world. The Walton fortunes, on the other hand, have been founded on the importation of cheap foreign-produced goods for consumption in America - an importation made possible by the exportation of American manufacturing jobs overseas.

Yet Walmart stores thrive across the United States, even in the factory-shuttered towns and cities of New England and the Mid-West - communities which once produced the same foreign-made clothes and goods that now line the shelves of Walmart, and the pockets of Sam Walton's heirs.

* * * * * * * * * * *

A recent article in The New Yorker had the following to say about the Koch brothers' largely clandestine political operations: 
"The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups."