Monday, February 02, 2009

Hitting the fan

There is so much insane crud flying around, I hardly have time to notice it all, much less compose sentences as I was taught long ago, in the days of something called public education. It's what these virtual watercoolers are for, isn't it? Shooting the breeze, checking in, dodging work, wondering if other people are noticing it, too?

A mother of six in California had herself implanted with eight embryos (for some reason) and proceeded to incubate eight precious little miracles. She'll be hitting the media circuit any day. She will not be repaying the hospital for the enormous cost of seeding her, mining them from her uterus, warming them up, giving them oxygen and fitting them with anti-theft devices. Cully-fornia is so broke, the governor is sending out IOUs in lieu of tax refunds, but who's counting? They're just so darling. Aren't they? At around the same time, a man who lost his job at another Kaiser Permanente hospital went home and shot his wife, their five children, and himself. Circle of life.

Rod Blagojevich is now the former Embattled Governor of Illinois, having been removed from office by the state senate 51-0. The conclusion was foregone on the day of Patrick Fitzgerald's bleep-filled press conference, but the "trial" gave all the senators a chance to appear on television and perform their arias of outrage and indignation. (I especially enjoyed the downstate Republican who declared that never before had Illinois suffered such a disgrace, perhaps forgetting that the previous governor is still in prison.) Then Blago brought the show to a climax with a Liebestod that lacked poetry -- literally, no more Oxford Book of English Verse -- but combined bathos, self-pity, veiled threats, sentimental evocations of his immigrant parents, bitterness, defiance, and a plea for campaign finance reform. I felt he missed an opportunity to link himself with the hapless Cubs or the Haymarket Martyrs, but maybe he's saving some material for the inevitable autobiography.

I watched the first NFL Championship Game as a child of fourteen. There was a football game. No Roman numerals. The Green Bay Packers won, as they often did in those days, when Vince Lombardi dwelt among us. Today, the Superbowl is a national barbecue/sideshow/extravaganza with a football game tucked somewhere inside, the carnival before Carnival. It was actually a good game this year, if you could get past the quarterback hagiographies and the armies of commentators. John Madden looks more and more like a stone creature come to life in a crummy Italian Hercules movie. He and Bob Costas know their football, period. Everyone else should please go away.

As usual, I was left speechless, but laughing, by the sheer excess. Gen. David Petraeus took time off from his job as head of Central Command to flip a coin. Faith Hill and Bruce Springsteen (who shocked America by not singing "Born In the USA") provided the entertainment. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the hero airplane pilot of the moment, looked much younger than he does in photographs. The only thing missing was Octuplet Mama. Maybe next year.

The Republican National Committee elected its first black chairman, Michael Steele. What? You don't keep up with lieutenant governors of Maryland? All day I tried not to think of Dave Chappelle's character Clayton Bigsby, the blind Klansman who doesn't know he's black. Steele knows -- it's what got him the job, after all -- but he thinks being anti-choice cancels it out. Not for David Duke, an actual Klansman, who is disgusted with the GOP and threatening to take his followers elsewhere. Will the party change its symbol from an elephant to an Oreo? Is this the end of the forty-year Southern Strategy? Who do they think they're fooling? People who still think "they all look alike," I guess.

But who's really in charge here? Will the Party of Lincoln (Savings & Loan) be led off the cliff by Steele, Palin, Limbaugh, McConnell, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, or some other rough beast whose hour has not yet come round? Can it possibly move farther to the right without falling off the edge of the earth? (Read your Bible!) A surprising number of its members, including the new chairman, seem to think the problem is a failure to "get the message out," that if you can just package shit to look like Shalimar, people will not only buy it, they'll spray it all over themselves. The resounding rejection of the McBush/Dingbat ticket less than three months ago made no impression on them. I shouldn't enjoy their delusional ravings as much as I do, but I'm not a nice person. I lack Family Values, faith, patriotism (although not as much as I used to) and a love of consumerism. I've been wearing these shoes for five years, and when they fall apart I'll buy another pair. And they won't be Prada. So you see, I'm no help.

Where was I?

Michael Phelps was photographed taking a bong hit at a party. To paraphrase S.J. Perelman, America was immediately divided into two camps, in the larger and drowsier of which I find myself. What shall we tell the children? How about I can't believe this is still illegal? Jeez. Cannabis is a huge cash crop in California, which spends billions of dollars every year to make sure nobody grows more than six plants for personal use. And the state is broke. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Is anybody in Sacramento thinking at all? Bitte?

Why is President Obama being so nice to the Republicans, putting them in his Cabinet, visiting them on Capitol Hill and even -- ugh -- eating with them? Sure, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but never forget they are your enemies. It might also help to recall that you won. By a lot. "In victory, magnanimity," said Churchill, even as he lobbied to shoot the German leadership without legal niceties. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, " said Lincoln, just before he took a bullet to the head. Enough with the charity, says Buttermilk Sky. It's time to kick asses and take names, and you already know their names.



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