Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm rubber, you're glue

Playground name-calling has a long history in American politics, at least as far back as the editorialists who derided "Ape Lincoln." It's cheap, easy and harmless. I myself admit to having been unable to resist writing about George Wanker Bush -- somehow, it fits. When reasoned discourse has no effect, when the smirking and the outrageous lies go on and on, you have to blow off steam somehow. So I fully understand why couldn't pass up "Petraeus/Betray Us." Yes, they probably should have, at least in ad copy for the New York Times, the Official Paper of People Who Take Themselves Seriously, but I understand. And the only possible response to those currently treating this as an act of high treason is, "Aw, come on."

I'm looking at you, Adolf Giuliani (sorry). I can understand why a chicken-hawk like you doesn't want to remember the Vietnam War, but back then, we used to refer to Petraeus's counterpart as "General Waste-More-Land." I don't recall anybody lisping out a hissy-fit in his defense, including you. He sued Time magazine, but it wasn't over lame jokes about his name, it was something more significant. He didn't care what we called him, and I doubt if Petraeus cares, either, especially since he's probably heard the "joke" before, like when he was twelve. It must be galling to find yourself running second to a faux good ol' boy who's been in the race for less than a month and used to play the unlikeliest Manhattan DA imaginable (and not even that well), but Republicans are fickle. I only hope you haven't ordered your gown for the Inaugural Ball. By the way, I think you were right to skip the "values" forum -- there's no way you could have triumphed with that crowd. Better luck with the gun nuts.

War, climate change, foreclosures, globalization, terrorism, eroding civil liberties, immigration -- these are real concerns for serious adults to address. Voters will respond to those who do so. We don't want to hear any more about Hillary's cleavage, Obama's middle name or Edwards's haircut. Let's add dumb puns to the list. I promise to stop calling you Adolf. Unless you go back to the comb-over AND grow a little mustache. I'm only human.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The story so far

I've been away for a month while re-locating to another state. All right, Memphis, Tennessee. Not the Memphis of Beale Street and Sun Records, but a characterless suburb called Bartlett which, if not for the Baptist churches sprinkled among the strip malls, might as well be New Jersey. My arrival coincided with a record-breaking heat wave which hasn't ended. You know it's hot when the local power company tries to avoid losing any more customers by distributing free air conditioners to the poor and elderly. You know it's dry when they announce the level of the Mississippi River on every newscast. You know it's serious when football practice is curtailed or even canceled. (Two high school players in Mississippi died in August.) We've had one thunderstorm all month, and lightning set a nearby house on fire. Didn't Franklin invent the lightning rod? This is a strange country. Only taste the local version of salami on rye and you'll say, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Katz's anymore." Yes, I worked on that one for a while. The reasons for the move are unimportant. Let's just say that Mickey Bloomberg is one tiny step closer to his dream of a New York consisting solely of billionaires and beggars, and the proles who will commute from Camden (the closest place they can afford to rent) to serve the former in dread of joining the latter.

It has been an interesting time, in the sense of the fake Chinese proverb. Six men died when a Utah coal mine collapsed, and three more died trying to reach them, but it wasn't an act of terrorism. Beverly Sills died. Ingmar Bergman died. Leona Helmsley left twelve million dollars to a dog. ("RICH BITCH" was the headline in the New York Post, which sometimes gets it just right.) The I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis fell into the Mississippi, killing a dozen people, but it wasn't an act of terrorism. Nearly two hundred miners died in China when a dam broke and flooded their mine. It probably wasn't an act of terrorism. Brooke Astor died, so sorely neglected by her son that she was only 105. Some old phosgene was discovered in a storage closet in Manhattan, where it had rested for eleven years without bothering anyone, but the media couldn't pass up an opportunity to try to foment a little fear. The weather was just ridiculously bad everywhere. The wrong Scooter died. Somebody tried to burn down Greece. It now appears that Pat Tillman was in fact murdered, the unfriendliest of friendly fire. The FAA decided it was time to inspect 737s, with a view to finding out why they tend to burst into flames. (No, not terrorism, a loose bolt.) The Iraqi parliament adjourned to spend a month in prayer and contemplation, and if you believe that, you probably believe Nicole and Paris and Lindsay have learned their lessons. It appears a guy in Portugal -- I'll bet he's about 16 -- is extorting money from American banks and stores by threatening acts of terrorism. (He made the customers at one store undress, so we know he watches Criminal Minds.) The New York Times is visibly shrinking, while charging more for paper editions and restricting free online access to its content. Apparently the new building is costing more than Pinch anticipated. It turns out that Michael Chertoff's gut is as clueless about terrorism as his brain. Say hello to the new attorney general of the United States. Incredibly, the ruins of the World Trade Center took the lives of two more firefighters when fire broke out in the Deutsche Bank building, which should have been dismantled years ago. Chalk this one up to terrorism.

If you missed me, let me know. I'd hate to think this is nothing but an exercise in talking to myself. I've unpacked my books and recovered from a nasty case of Davy Crockett's Revenge, and I'm ready for autumn if it ever comes. Are you? Happy Labor Day.

Summer of "Scram!"

For all their talk of "cut and run" Democrats, it's God's Own Party which always seems to have its bags packed and its vaccinations up to date. Just ask Larry "I did not have sex with that policeman" Craig. Although he was defended on television by the usual rogues (DeLay, Buchanan), the leadership couldn't run away from him fast enough. They moved like Dick Cheney getting a draft notice. They moved like Rudolph Giuliani spotting one of Donna Hanover's lawyers. They moved like Willard "Mitt" Romney putting ground between himself and Planned Parenthood. They -- well, you get the idea. David "Tickle me, Elma" Vitter might have suffered the same fate if he weren't from Louisiana, where they have a more relaxed attitude toward family-values senators who like to be powdered and diapered by prostitutes.

In fact, Republicans have been fleeing Washington like Frenchmen in August. Chief Eunuch Rove has returned to Texas to spend more time with -- somebody's family. Tony Snow reports that his cancer hasn't spread, but he plans to quit anyway. (With so much feces emerging from his mouth on a daily basis, why does this guy even need a colon? Sorry, mustn't make fun of the sick. That's Limbaugh's job.) John Warner says he won't run for another term, leaving his Senate seat open to one of Virginia's other guys named Warner. Alberto Gonzales has decided to light out for the territory ahead of the subpoenas. Michael Bloomberg has abandoned the whole sick, sad party and is now an "independent," as every billionaire damn well should be. If the House voted articles of impeachment (small hope), I'll bet they'd scamper away from their little buddy Bush like cockroaches when the kitchen light goes on.

Why the Congressional Democrats haven't been strengthened by all this roof-of-the-embassy panic, I have no idea. They hand Bush billions of dollars for his hopeless war every time he clears his throat. They help him use the last shreds of the Constitution for rolling papers. Their approval rating is lower than wet shit on the bottom of the ocean (as my granddaddy used to say) and it deserves to be. After all this time, don't they know why we held our noses and voted for anti-abortion Democrats, pro-gun Democrats, gay-baiting Democrats and just plain dumb Democrats? IT'S THE WAR, STUPID. If you want our money and our votes, earn them. Or you'll be going home, too.