Archive for January, 2009

Blogging Blag Blah Blah Blah

By Steve Klinger

It’s not bad enough that we have gasped our way to the end of an 8-year presidency that was the Hollywood equivalent of and 8-hour John Wayne movie. We have seen GW’s face on our TVs and in our newspapers ad nauseum and heard his voice for so long we could visualize every smirk. Instead of throwing him in jail we re-selected him and played Hail to the Chief.

In these heady days of Obama vs. The World, earnest statesmanship can only keep us awake for so long.  We need our fix of twist, our schtick of sick. But there is apparently nothing new on Natalie Holloway, OJ, Paris, Britney, Lindsay, Brangelina, or Scott Peterson this week, and the Travolta family extortion plot wasn’t very exciting, so our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… Rod Blagojevich!

Oh, Rod, you won’t give us a break, will you? No resignation, no remorse, not even a nanosecond of self-doubt. This man who is skipping his own impeachment trial because he basically has no defense, this governor with an 8 percent approval rating, this public official who makes Dick Cheney seem charismatic, this politician whose voice on tape clearly states he will sell a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, this humble public servant throws himself upon our mercy. And what does American television journalism do? Invite him onto every “news” program with a camera and a microphone, of course.

Blago the instant television celebrity has now elevated himself to martyrdom along with King and Gandhi, so victimized that he will soon exhaust historical comparisons, and that other King (Larry) sucks it up. Ditto Katie Couric, and Nightline’s Cynthia McFadden and tomorrow, say it ain’t so: Rachel Maddow!

Of course, when the morning news anchor hasn’t announced you’re being layed off, it’s a little hard to say no to whatever they ask you to do, even if you are the news anchor, but interview Rod Blagojevich on national television? That’s rich. Or more likely poor. But America will do it, mostly without batting an eyelash, because People Will Watch. And advertisers will advertise. And if one network says no, the others will have him all to themselves, won’t they?

But we’ll show our principles, we’ll just ask him tough questions like, is that your real hair, Governor?

I should be an agent because I’d have booked a two-fer: Blago and Bernie Madoff. That’s what our children should be watching. And even in these days of mergers, bankruptcies and endemic publishing panic, you can bet the hardcover houses are duking it out to sign up both of these exemplary citizens for exclusive rights to the memoir and the book-on-tape.

Charles Manson was a media darling, and Ted Bundy, so why not Rod and Bernie, who after all didn’t kill anyone (as far as we know) and are just audacious crooks? Even in hard times a scoundrel can get a big book deal and a TV interview or three. Outcast? Liar? Disgraced pariah? As they say in the biz, there’s no such thing as bad news. If they mention your name it’s good. And if we blog about Blag it’s probably even better.

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Bailing out the Felon-in-Chief

By Steve Klinger

Thanks to Dada for posting the following quotation in his excellent blog, Dada’s Dally (www.dada2u.blogspot.com) :

Dennis Kucinich speaking on the floor of the House — “Using US planes, helicopters and munitions to attack a wounded, starved and thirsty civilian population of mostly children trapped in a box called Gaza has become acceptable, perhaps because we have already accepted the deaths of over one million innocent civilians in Iraq in a war based on lies…When we recognize the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, when we come to grips with the reality of suffering on both sides, we may yet find a way to save ourselves.”

Some more things Americans – always a generous people – have accepted, especially in the last eight years, not that we weren’t on the path before George W. Bush grabbed the reins:

•    Violation of international accords and treaties we signed outlawing torture
•    Abuses at Abu Ghraib that brutalized and humiliated Muslim prisoners and became a new recruiting tool for al Qaeda, as if the invasion of Iraq wasn’t enough
•    Extraordinary rendition of whomever the Bush administration called an enemy combatant
•    Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens
•    Systematic deconstruction of federal agencies thanks to cronyism and political favoritism
•    Wholesale rollback of environmental protection under EPA
•    The shameful FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina
•    Ponzification of the financial sector in the guise of deregulation
•    Nationalization of the banking industry
•    Corporate socialism accompanied by laissez-faire poverty
•    Pre-emptive aggression as a foreign policy
•    Ruination of the middle class
•    Failed reconstruction and no-bid contracts in Iraq
•    Unprecedented usurpation of executive power
•    Election fraud and disenfranchisement
•    Hypocritical and exploitational immigration policy
•    Erosion of Wade v. Roe protection
•    A failed war on drugs that fosters mega-cartel violence in Mexico
•    An economy sustained by mass incarceration of drug offenders
•    Educational and cultural decline and degeneracy
•    Unsustainable growth built on fossil fuels, suburbia and consumerism

Now we are ready to look the other way as the Felon-In-Chief rides off unrepentant into the sunset, having wrecked the economy, poisoned the environment, caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and gravely damaged the Constitution? Talk about acceptance. How about codependence?

Can there be healing, unity, post-partisan progress and recovery if we “move forward” without looking back at what we have tolerated? Without looking in the mirror at what we have become? Without awakening from our self-indulgent, bailout-enabled, totally unsustainable American Dream?

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Swan Song with a Swagger

By Steve Klinger

Chutzpah has been defined as shameless audacity, as in the man who murdered his parents then threw himself on the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

George Bush, who is responsible for the death of untold thousands in Iraq and elsewhere, should be on trial for war crimes. He should be on trial for murder. He should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. He should have been impeached, removed from office and disgraced, but instead he gets to smirk his way through the final days of his disastrous presidency, joshing with reporters. And now he has the chutzpah to schedule a farewell address to the nation in prime time (on Thursday) and demand that the networks carry it. On hand will be those he wishes to honor and thank, more accurately described as his co-conspirators. The networks – and America – should pull the plug.

With difficulty, Bush actually fessed up to a few mistakes in his parting press conference on Monday. He thinks the worst thing he did was to hang the Mission Accomplished banner on the aircraft carrier for his May 1, 2003 address to troops on the “end of major combat” in Iraq. He thinks it was “a disappointment” that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. He thinks he’d have been criticized for having Air Force One land in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, just as he was for simply flying over New Orleans, and that because 30,000 residents were rescued from their rooftops the government response was beyond reproach. He thinks America doesn’t have an image problem in Europe and the rest of the world. He thinks his administration’s economic performance was fine because there were more good months than bad, and he started with a recession so it’s okay to end with one. He thinks being stubborn is more important than being right.

Out of deference to the office, combined with endemic and congenital Democratic cowardice, Bush is singing his swan song with a swagger. But prime time network television for THIS president’s farewell address? Give me break. I’d rather swallow crushed glass.

It will of course make Jan. 20th all the sweeter, to be rid of the “decider,” who did more damage to the Constitution, the separation of powers, the environment and the economy than any president in memory – and that’s just the domestic side of the debacle. Throw in torture, pre-emptive invasion, extraordinary rendition, ruthless globalism and the arrogance of an empire-building superpower and, for good measure, the militarization of space, and you start to embrace the scope of Bush’s legacy.

Of course, it must also be noted that this nation not only tolerated George Bush but elected him to a second term. Had his strategies been more successful, he would have been credited for his victories and would be leaving office with accolades from many who now condemn him. Just as Bush himself can’t recognize his profound moral failings and remains a prisoner of self-delusion, so most of his critics would gladly look past his lying and misfeasance if only the results had been better.

It’s a little like the saga of Bernard Madoff (except that he was a proficient scoundrel): We curse the son of a bitch, but conveniently forget we fed him our dollars to fulfill our dreams. In a nation of would-be Ponzi schemers, how believable is our scorn? The comparison quickly pales because of Bush’s oaf-like incompetence at the scams he attempted. On the myopic end of history’s perspective, we heap abuse because he failed, not because his value system was corrupt.

That this nation and the world appear to have survived his tenure, wounded and reeling but still with a heartbeat, is testament either to our resilience or the limits his arrogance – probably the former. Regardless, it is reason enough to celebrate the changing of the guard a week from Tuesday.

And it’s probably asking way too much to expect we learned a lesson in the process.

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Big Change Gives Way to Small Change

By Steve Klinger

I’ve been nudged a couple of times now to host an inauguration party for Barack Obama. Moveon.org says progressives are aching to celebrate and they’d love to come to my house. Maybe it’s time to get that guard dog we’ve been thinking about.

My feeling of relief on election night, which translates into appreciating right now that at least no one is urging me to host parties for McCain and Palin on Jan. 20th, included a few waves of near-elation. The moment was historic, the reversal of national fortune monumental. But two months removed from that lightheadedness, it’s hard to summon the requisite enthusiasm to actually…celebrate.

First, I think we need to get Obama a new slogan; Change We Can Believe In was effective for the campaign, but it sounds a little vapid these days and oh so passé. Let’s face it, Big Change, that sent millions of naïve voters to the polls in November, has given way to small change. With a cabinet full of Clinton appointees (including a very notable Clinton), and an economy that seems to burrow deeper into the shitcan by the day, I think it’s time Change underwent a change.

So here are some suggestions for festive banners and signage on Inauguration Day:

Change We Can Subsist On
Change We Can Panhandle For
Change We Can Spend
Change We Can Borrow
Change We Can Steal

The truth is that while Wall Street got free rides and golden parachutes, the oversight for the financial bailouts has been so lacking that the banks are refusing to tell the taxpayers who wrote the check what they did with the money. They sure aren’t lending it, and the jobs section of the classified has pulled a vanishing act. The auto industry is on life support (as well as fed support), the stock market is still tanking, the newspaper industry is gasping for air, real estate continues to founder, and now the president-elect is talking about reviewing entitlements as the country looks at trillion-dollar-plus deficits. I don’t know how many zeroes that is but I think it means that anyone under 50 can forget about retiring.

Meanwhile, Congress considers an economic stimulus package of unprecedented proportions. If, that is, they can ever decide what to do about Roland Burris and Al Franken, which situation has given Harry Reid a chance to prove once again that he is the majority-leading invertebrate in the Senate and by far the lamest excuse for an elected official among the legions of LMGSC Democrats now in Washington. (In case you already forgot, that’s Large Mouth Gelatinous Spinal Column Democrats.)

All Reid did was bluster about how Roland Burris, appointed to Obama’s Senate Seat by that other distinguished Illinois Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, would never be seated by the Democratic caucus, until he reconsidered, slapped Burris on the back, and tried to pin the problem on the Illinois Secretary of State, who hadn’t certified Burris, no doubt taking his cues from the Senate Democrats. Naturally, if Burris can’t be seated because he isn’t properly certified, the Republicans in Minnesota can use the same justification to deny Franken the seat he now appears to have won from Norm Coleman. Reid wouldn’t even touch that issue, declining to call for a vote on Franken’s seating. There’s a lot more, but Reid isn’t worth the effort to put fingers to keyboard.

Sorry, MoveOn. On Inauguration Day, I think I’ll skip the party and just listen to Rick Warren’s invocation, so I can be reminded again how unified our nation has become as we try to figure out a way to rescue the national Ponzi scheme known as capitalism by exporting democracy to some as yet undiscovered Third World market that doesn’t realize how much it needs Wal-Mart, Starbucks and McDonald’s.

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