Saturday, January 8, 2011

That Was the Week That Was

There was a television program from the UK called, "That Was the Week That Was" or TW3, as it was known. It ran on the BBC in 1962 and 1963. Then it was brought to the US for two seasons with pretty much the same cast. David Frost and Nancy Ames come to mind. That was back in the day when there was no 24 hour news cycle. The show was the precursor to The Smothers Brothers, and certainly shows like The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert. Now, what we have for week in review is not nearly as entertaining. Take this week, for example. It it was any indication of how the next 51 weeks of the year will go, it is time to pack up the tent and head to another sideshow. What began with a touch of levity–if you can call a big heavy gavel light–and ended with a bang, or, to be more accurate, 15-20 bangs, from the gun of Jared Lee Loughner.

John Boehner, the "Man of Orange," as Keith Olbermann calls him, was sworn in as speaker of the house. He asked for, and got, a big gavel. I am not sure if it is a Freudian thing, like a man driving a Corvette or a big hairy 4X4. I do know that Speaker Boehner resisted the urge to cry, as he often does. He did take his hankie out, but only to blow his nose at this historic moment. The he, and his not quite amiable sidekick, Eric Cantor, the new Majority Whip, got down to business. The business, in their case, is to say any meaningless shit that they think sounds good and panders to their core constituency, ie., the Tea Party and related nincompoops.

First, according to the AP, Boehner "made the challenge as the new GOP majority voted to cut funding for House members' own offices and committee operations by $35 million. Rank and file Republicans described that vote as a down payment on a much more ambitious assault on record federal deficits."

Sounds noble, huh? But, according to the same article, "The $35 million would be enough to keep the government running for about five minutes."

It's a little bit like soon to be outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates telling reporters that the Pentagon will cut their budget by $78 billion, (with a "B"). That leaves about $553 billion to be spent in 2012. Can you say Apocalypto? According to the AP, the total is "$13 billion less than the Pentagon wanted but still representing 3% in real growth." Whatever. The United States continues to spend more of military power than every other country on the planet, combined.

... and the Republicans are telling us that they will cut $100 billion from government spending this year... but won't touch the defense budget. Hmmm. They backtracked almost immediately, paring it down to $30 billion. Still, that drop in the deficit bucket would be great. But, again, they're kinda full of shit.

What else would you expect from a guy that is the lobbyists' best friend, a hell of a golfer and someone who likes to cut out of work around five and indulge in happy hour? You don't get to look like John Boehner without liberally applied doses of alcohol and tobacco. There. I managed to use the word liberally in the same sentence as John Boehner.

Then we have the looming repeal of healthcare, or what the–and I'll be delicate–fringe calls Obamacare. First of all, it ain't gonna happen, no matter what the Man of Orange or anyone else says. They may question his place of birth, but as far as I know, the president still has the power of veto. Now, this is where it gets interesting: the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said that overturning healthcare bill that President Obama signed into law will leave 32 million more Americans without health coverage. In response, House speaker Boehner said that the "CBO is entitled to their opinion." Bear in mind, the CBO is one of the most nonpartisan , objective entities in Washington. Boehner went on to say, "I do not believe that repealing the job-killing healthcare law will increase the deficit."

In the words of Mary Chapin Carpenter, "the stars might lie, but the numbers never do."

This ain't climate change, folks. This is math. You know, with numbers and stuff. You can keep disputing climate change, as polar bears scramble for rapidly melting chunks of ice in the arctic, but you can't argue with math. So, the knuckleheads with the tricorns with bags of Tetley hanging from the brims can spew all they want.

* * *

And then there's that Maverick from Wasila.

This is where it stops being funny. When a misguided, off-the-beam 22 year-old (who may or may not have had a 50 year-old accomplice), brings a Glock with an extended clip to a Safeway parking lot in Tucson and kills a young judge and a nine-year-old girl, who was there as an honor. A young congressional aide was also fatally shot. And Gabrielle Giffords, congresswoman from Arizona was shot in the head and lies in critical condition in a Tucson hospital.

Let's give Jared Lee Loughner the benefit of the doubt for a moment. Maybe he didn't hear Mrs. Palin her imploring her adoring pent-up zombies "don't retreat, instead reload." Maybe he doesn't know she likes to shoot defenseless animals from the air. We'll give Mr. Lougher the benefit of the doubt and say that he never read the newspaper nor went on the Internet, that he never saw the graphic "hit list" Palin has on her website.

You know, the cute little map of the United States with hairline targets on it, referring to names on a list. One of those names was Gabrielle Giffords, who is now fighting for her life. Maybe Mr. Lougher never heard the way Mrs. Palin incites her fans and supporters with angry bile, smarmy attacks and inciting directives. But, on the other hand...

From Sarah Palin's Twitter page.

I sincerely hope Mrs. Palin has learned a few things. I am not saying that she had anything to do with what happened in Tucson. Then again, yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater is bound to have unpleasant ramifications. But we live in a time when we treat terrorism seriously. We scrutinize peoples' underwear and mouthwash as they travel throughout the country and the world. We are on the lookout for enemy combatants. What would you call someone like Mark Kerr? A nut? Or something more serious. Lack of action is the only thing that separates him and the man who killed Dr. George Tiller. What makes us think Mr. Kerr is harmless? Has he shown a lack in his courage of convictions? Is he "just kidding?" Or tomorrow, will we say that all the signs were there and we just didn't act. I am hoping that Mrs. Palin will button her flappy lips and stay away from Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media she turns to in order to incite her moron followers. I haven't checked, but I hope she and her peeps have had the sense to remove her target map from her website. I am bewildered why anyone would take her seriously, let alone watch her hunting on the The Learning Channel and threatening elected officials on the Internet. She seems to be veering from a national embarrassment to a public danger.

Like I say, perhaps Mrs. Palin had nothing to do with Mr. Lougher's decision to lock and load, and let loose in a Tucson parking lot. But, just to be on the safe side, I think Mrs. Palin arrested and charged with being an accessory before the fact, if not an accomplice, complicit in the killing of 6 and the wounding of (at least) 12 in Tucson.

* * *

And now we've come full-circle: the AP reports today that "House Speaker John Boehner says that the shooting of an Arizona congresswoman won't stop representatives in Washington from their duties."

Hmmm. I wonder what that is supposed to mean.

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