Saturday, July 28, 2012

According to his ability

Why did the Queen look so grumpy?

1.  She was tired.  I was tired long before the end, and I'm not 86.

2.  The man seated behind her (unremarked by the Chatty Cathys of NBC) was the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he's a real buzzkill.

3.  She realized she was the window dressing on a four-hour celebration of socialism.

I'll say it.  Danny Boyle put one over.  From the singing of "Jerusalem" (the old Labour Party anthem) to the horrors-and-all depiction of the Industrial Revolution to the group lighting of the Olympic Torch -- a group that included several hundred construction workers -- the show was far more workers-of-the-world-unite than anything we saw in Beijing.  The "people's republic" is not about the people, of course, it's about maintaining the power of an elite.  China has no labor unions or minimum wage, which is why Ralph Lauren has his clothes made there.  The Britain of Cameron and Blair (and Thatcher) would love to dispense with such inconveniences of the past, along with another institution lovingly celebrated last night, the National Health Service.  Danny Boyle didn't dedicate his show to Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee, but he might as well have.

Like a Hitchcock movie, the ceremony had plenty of "icebox talk," those moments Hitch liked to include without explanation so people would have something to puzzle over as they reached into the fridge for a snack.  Why exactly did Kenneth Branagh emerge from a coach dressed as -- Charles Darwin?  William Gladstone? and recite a passage from The Tempest?    What was the Rowan Atkinson business in aid of?  Why only the terrifying creatures of children's literature, no Squirrel Nutkin or Winnie the Pooh?  (For the record, Mary Poppins isn't all that cuddly in the books.)  I kind of got lost in that children-social networking-each-other interlude and headed out to the fridge myself.  Did I miss anything?

Well, on to the sports.  Remember, athletes, you have nothing to lose but your records.         


Friday, July 27, 2012


Under the illusion that he has been elected president, Mitt Romney set off this week to introduce himself to the world.  His first stop was London, where he compared the Olympic preparations unfavorably to his own masterful effort ten years ago in a place called Salt Lick City.  Tomorrow he leaves for Poland to unveil the latest "How many Polacks does it take..." joke.  Then it's on to Israel, where he plans to distribute copies of the Book of Mormon at the Western Wall.  Personally, I can't wait for the first G8 meeting, where he can share his hilarious "Hey, who goosed me?" routine with Vladimir Putin.

If anyone is reading this at the State Department, I implore you to revoke this clown's passport before he gets to regale Japan with his "Me so solly" schtick.  Allies are precious, and the world is not an Amway convention.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Bloodbath & Beyond, or The Speech President Obama Won't Be Giving

My fellow Americans:

I want to talk to you tonight about the Affordable Care Act, several key provisions of which were recently upheld by the Supreme Court.  There has been a great deal of confusion about this law, and a number of states have chosen not to participate in its provisions when it takes effect in 2014.  Let me explain why it has taken on a new urgency by telling you about a young man named Caleb Medley. 

Last week Caleb decided to go to a movie, where he was shot in the head.  He has no health insurance, and his wife has just given birth to their first child.  He remains in critical condition in an Aurora hospital, and his family has been told that his medical bills may total two million dollars.  Sadly, the Affordable Care Act will take effect too late to help with that burden. 

Our great nation is the only country in the world whose Constitution guarantees every person the right to get shot.  This is implicit in the Second Amendment, as interpreted by generations of judges, who have ignored the phrase about "a well-ordered militia" and ruled that every American may have a private arsenal.  There are three hundred million Americans, according to the 2010 Census, and there are three hundred million guns that we know of in private hands.  I don't have a gun and neither does Michelle, so some people have more than one, like the man who shot Caleb Medley and seventy other people.  Nobody can say how many billions of rounds of ammunition are also in private hands, so there is an excellent chance that you or someone you know will be shot in the course of your life.  The dead and wounded who result from our national love affair with guns are a cross-section of America:  politicians, celebrities, shopkeepers, law enforcement officers, doctors, children, old people, members of the military.  The shooters are an equally democratic group -- you may be shot by a gang member, a self-appointed neighborhood vigilante, a student, a spouse, a carjacker, or the Vice President of the United States.  You are safe nowhere:  not at the mall, not in church, on campus, in a restaurant, in a museum, or at home in your own bed.  When your turn comes, how will you pay the bill?

I urge you to think again about the Affordable Care Act, and the very real possibility that you will need it for emergency care.  I urge you on behalf of five hundred thirty-five members of Congress, who are not going to life a finger to reduce your status as a target.  I urge you on behalf of the gun manufacturers and their lobbyists, and the gun dealers, who don't care what you do with your purchase after you leave the store.  You have said again and again that you will not give up your guns.  So be it.  As Lincoln said, we must bind up the nation's wounds -- on a daily basis.

God help you,  and God help the United States of America.