Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday morning ramble

Say this for Barack Obama -- he does not take the easy way. I'm sure he could have accepted a commencement invitation from Howard University, been treated like a king, and returned to the White House in time to shoot some hoops with the weekend staff and eat dinner with Michelle and the girls. Instead he went to Arizona State, which doesn't consider him worthy of a lousy honorary degree, and Notre Dame, where he confronted angry agents of a foreign dictator, the heilige Fuhrer. In both places, his dignity and good humor never deserted him. I don't know what Arizona's problem is, apart from lingering grumpiness over McCain's defeat, but the anti-choice forces were out in all their ugliness at the other minor-league football franchise, enraged because Obama supports the law of the land since 1970. I suppose it would have been even worse had he reversed the military's idiotic "don't ask -- don't tell" policy, but he chose not to do so last week, costing us yet another well-qualified Arabic translator. (As Jon Stewart put it, cutting to the heart of the matter as only he can, "How do you justify torturing people for information, when there's nobody who can understand what they're screaming?") It's also unlikely that David Souter will be replaced with another Opus Dei terrorist like the three that are already perched like vultures on the Supreme Court of the United States, eyeing our Constitution as if it were a freshly-killed antelope.

Jeez, I can remember when Souter was appointed, nearly twenty years ago. Nobody seemed to know much about him even in New Hampshire. Quiet, never married, lived with his mother in a ramshackle house, no computer, no close friends. The first Supreme Court justice who fit the profile of a serial killer. ("When a dog returned home with a human femur, sheriff's deputies dug up the woods behind the old Souter place and discovered the remains of twelve paper boys missing since the 1960s. 'He was a nice boy, kept to himself, used to help my wife with the groceries. We were just so surprised,' said neighbor Clarence Beebe.") Well, he worked out better than that, no Brandeis but certainly no Scalia. Get ready for the shitstorm, even if Minnesota has two senators by then. Come on, Tim, sign the damn paper. Send Al to Washington and don't be such a baby. I'm sorry you didn't get asked to run for vice-president. Did it ever occur to you to give McCain a lap-dance? What, you thought he chose Palin for her mind?

And poor Bristol Palin is back in the news, having reversed herself about abstinence again. (What torture was involved there, d'ya think?) She had it right the first time: abstinence doesn't work. Well, it works -- if you never have sex, the chances of getting pregnant are infinitesmal -- but she meant to say that it's too hard. (She's a Palin, and not articulate.) We knew this already. Abstinence is excruciating for middle-aged men who have taken a vow of celibacy. It's impossible for a couple of seventeen-year-olds, brimming with hormones, who think they're in love. That's why contraception was invented. It's my belief that Bristol got pregnant on purpose, hoping to get away from her awful parents, but the baby-daddy let her down. She needs to marry the first lumberjack or traveling salesman who passes the house, or risk becoming a victim of her mother's insane ambition and even more insane religiosity. And if she's planning a visit to the UK, consider a name change.

The other day I was thinking about that wonderful old BBC series I, Claudius. Remember the episode when Tiberius has retired to Capri, leaving Caligula to run amok in Rome? The imperial family is frantic to get word to him, and Claudius suggests writing a letter to be hidden in his history of Rome, which he intends to send to Tiberius. "Fool!" his mother explodes. "He's not going to read your history! He won't even look at it unless it has pictures of naked women!" Apparently George W. Bush didn't look at his Presidential Daily Briefing unless it had a verse from the Bible and one of those mawkish "inspirational" illustrations beloved by religious television channels. Donald Rumsfeld seems to have figured this out, unfortunately not until Bush had ignored secular-text-only memos with headings like "Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside US." I wonder if they ever got around to "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity." It's a long book, not all of it worthless.

I'm glad to see that the nut-right has found something to do with used teabags besides throw them into landfills. Did you know that red states don't even have bottle deposit? Any form of recycling would imply lack of faith in the imminent return of Vampire Jesus, who will wipe away every Superfund site and make every strip-mined mountain whole. Teabag Day should become an annual event, a time to release pent-up rage before their regular holiday, April 20, and avoid further bombings and campus massacres. And I'm sure they'll get better with practice. The people who mocked Obama for being a community organizer lacked the skills to obtain a park permit in Washington and failed to anticipate the possibility of rain in Philadelphia. In spite of nonstop promotion on Fox News, the turnouts didn't begin to equal last year's immigration reform rallies in Los Angeles, much less the two million people who stood in freezing weather to watch the Inauguration. Fox broadcasters aside, I didn't see any of the rich people who will be most affected by Obama's tax policies. The people I did see appeared to have been abducted from a Wallace rally in 1968 and returned last month by the alien ship, without having aged a day or gained an IQ point. In other words, people who are still angry about busing being manipulated by slightly more cunning people who are still angry about the New Deal. History passed them by so long ago, they can't even hear it in the distance, and that makes them all the angrier. I can imagine no better symbol for the Republicans than a spent teabag. Any serious tea drinker will tell you the bag is inferior even when it's new.


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