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Commentary

Smoking and Obama Kill?

If you’re wondering do other nations villify us  as much as we do them, witness this poster seen recently in Moscow. It says, “Smoking Kills More People than Obama does.”

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When I’m done laughing, all I can think is: yeah, well–that’s all fine and dandy and cute and funny, Russia–but ask yourself this: are your better off today than when your own President took office?  Because he sure is, with a net worth of nearly $200 Billion that qualifies him as one of the wealthiest people on earth.

So, let’s call it a draw. May the biggest man win.

SAINT PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by Host Photo Agency, Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands during an official welcome during the G20 Summit on September 5, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The G20 summit is expected to be dominated by the issue of military action in Syria while issues surrounding the global economy, including tax avoidance by multinationals, will also be discussed during the two-day summit. (Photo by Alexey Kudenko/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)
(Photo by Alexey Kudenko/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images)
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Commentary

Craw-Stuck By Netanyahu Visit

Not awestruck, but craw, as in “stuck in my….”

netanyahuJudging from my personal Facebook page, there is a loudly enthusiastic minority of Americans who have whipped themselves into feverish, Dervish-like fervor over the visit of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his address to Congress. Not coincidentally, I noticed a flush of fawning articles on fly-by-night propaganda sites with names like–well, I’m not going to give them a single direct click to grab hits, but they’ve all got jingoistic titles and make references to “patriotism” early and often.  The kind of shit sites the links to which your brother-in-law keeps forwarding you, unsolicited.

All share a glowing reverence for Mr. Netanyahu in the vein of “now THIS is a REAL leader,” leaving us little to wonder about who is not a “real” leader, in their eyes.*  Many feature photos of this fellow in his youthful incarnation as a soldier–the word “badass,” one of my favorite modifiers, is bandied about shamelessly, an echo of the awed salivating over Jordan’s King Abdullah which followed that bold leader’s justifiably furious response to the ISIS execution by immolation of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh.  No small irony there.

For all I know, Mr. Netanyahu is indeed a badass.  He’s certainly a savvy politician, as his recent, controversial visit to Congress has proven.  There’s an election coming up in a few weeks in Israel, something most articles about this visit fail to mention, but you can be damned sure the Israeli leader’s timing was carefully calculated.  There’s no doubt that flying across the sea to give his country’s patron nation the what for has played well with the Likud hardliners back in Tel Aviv. He’s doing his job and doing it well.

It takes a special kind of leader to spit in the eye of the hand that feeds you.  Aside from Afganistan, which is largely an American puppet state, Israel tops the list of foreign aid recipients by a considerable margin (the next being Iraq, yet another nation we pounded into dust).  We pay a great number of nations to either favor us over our enemies or to not be our enemies themselves, but we pay Israel just to be our friend.
Foreign Aid

Indeed, I must admit that I am honestly impressed by the weight of his balls, for lack of a better metaphor, although the crassness seems fitting in the context of a foreign leader who visited our country, stood before our leadership, and proceeded to lecture us on history, critique our diplomacy, dictate to us what our foreign policy should be, and directly insult the intelligence of a sitting President.  To put this chart in perspective, the $3.1 billion per year given to Israel annually could be spent alternatively by providing over $200,000 to EVERY one of the nearly 15,000 school districts in the USA. (More if leave out Wisconsin, whose governor says they already spend too much on education.)

Again, this isn’t about Netanyahu. He’s accomplishing his agenda willfully and effectively.  I can’t say the same for the Congressional Toads who kowtowed to him for no other reason than to agitate the Executive Branch.  If it were the leader of any other nation I’d feel the same way.  Hell, it pisses me off when that old Irish turd Bono finds his way to DC to lecture our leaders: you may be right, but it’s not for you to say so butt the hell out.

bull mooseNow, before you get all huffy and finger-pointy and start calling me bad words like “liberal,” let me tell you that you would be wrong. I’m about as non-partisan as you can imagine.  The only political party I fit into fell into history when Charles Evans Hughes lost the Presidential election to Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

I don’t trust Iran any more than Netanyahu does, but I don’t trust Israel either.  Why should I?  They have their own agenda, and despite their reliance on American tax dollars, they’ve never been shy about doing what they feel they need to do, regardless of it’s effect on us.

That doesn’t mean that I have to accept a foreign leader–ANY foreign leader–coming to Washington DC to loudly and disrespectfully shame and bully our government.  It is fine for me to do that, but I’m an American. It’s my yard, my dog can shit wherever it wants–but your dog..? No way.  And for the sake of argument, imagine if Democrats brought in French President Francois Hollande to give our Congress a piece of his mind!  Or Germany’s Angela Merkel?  The outrage would be thicker than Newt Gingrich’s iron hide.

John Boehner :: JamesonThe most shame goes to John Boehner, (my auto-correct desperately wants me to change that name to “Boner” and I’m just juvenile enough that sooner or later I’m going to do it) for being complicit to Netanyahu’s political stunt and inviting this outsider to raise his voice in what, by all accounts, is a family fight.  And shame on the media for reporting on the hissy fits and posturing while ignoring the finer details of this whole business–but then, if they can’t reduce it to a 90 second bit then they’d rather ignore it all together.

There has been precious little to respect about the Democrats lately, but I’m with them on this one.  And that sticks in my craw just as much as all the the rest of it.

 *The USA had a bona fide, decorated soldier who enlisted then volunteered for exceptionally hazardous duty, and was a documented killer as a potential President not all that long ago, but his service was slandered and his record largely disregarded by the same partisans who fetishsize Netanyahu, so the argument carries little weight.

 

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Commentary

Elizabeth Lauten & The Obama Girls

I suppose most of you–among the American contingent, at least–have by now heard about Elizabeth Lauten’s ill-considered, vile attack on President Obama’s teen-aged daughters, Sasha(16), and Malia(13).  I’ve been busy with family for the past three days, so I’m a little Obamas Yawnlate to the game, but I had to take an opportunity to say my piece.  First, in case you missed it, here’s the skinny:  Every year the President does this corny bit in which he “pardons” a couple of turkeys before going inside the White House to, um, have a nice turkey dinner.  It’s silly, but silly in a fun, nice, old-fashioned way.  The teenaged Obamas, as teens tend to be, were unimpressed in a very obvious, expertly ambivalent way.

Anyone who has ever known a teenager knows those faces.  Annoying? Sure.  But also an opportunity: anyone who has never mocked a child who is making that face hasn’t truly lived.  I enjoy it on an almost daily basis.

ClimberElizabeth Lauten, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) obviously has not had the pleasure, addressing the humorous image with a fusillade of angry denigration, publicly ridiculing President Obama’s children with a shockingly aggressive, repugnant, and inexcusable venom while taking a few oblique shots at the President and Mrs. Obama at the same time.

Elizabeth-Lauten-FB.png.CROP.rtstoryvar-mediumI ought not to be surprised–I like to joke that the only group I detest more than Democrats is Republicans, but the fact is that in the outright nasty department it takes one hell of an aggressive liberal to out-insult a  conservative.  Just think on Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and all those gap-toothed inbreds who insist on writing italicizing the President’s middle name, Barack Hussein Obama like it matters.  In the low blows department, these people are whacking at ankles with croquet mallets and laughing all the way to their meetings with Wall Street swindlers and CEO’s of offshore-based corporations.  Why wouldn’t they take aim at innocent children, especially given the enthusiastic, muttering hate of a small but vocal minority of the far right for the President?

A lot of folks are calling for Ms. Lauten’s head on a platter, or a least for her swollen cankles to be compelled to take their place in an unemployment line.  Not me.  I don’t give a shit.  Apologies have been demanded, but I don’t care about those, either–I’d rather the bitch stood adamantly behind her words then to cower behind insincere, politically expedient words scripted by a public relations consultant.

What really irks me is the script Ms. Lauten followed when the inevitable apology oozed out of her office.
apology

What a load of cow pies, right?

“Blah, blah, blah I want to keep my job blah blah blah AFTER MANY HOURS OF PRAYER…blah blah blah.” That’s what I read.

I loathe this shit.  When I’ve tried to help people understand poetry, one of the tactics I suggested was to re-read a particular work with an eye towards visualizing each metaphorical element, then think about how they fit into the narrative.  That strategy can be instructive in this situation as well: just imagine Ms. Lauten on her knees, hands folded in front of her, communing with His Holy Humungousness–for “many hours,” on Thanksgiving Day no less,  over her venal skewering of a couple of innocent teenaged girls.  “Whatta ya think, G-Dawg, was that too much?”

I’m hear to tell you: that doesn’t mean a gawd-durned thing. I don’t give a good damn how much she prayed after the fact, playing the God Card now is a small, petty, and wholly transparent response.  Thinking that we’ll fall for such a cynical bit of ass-covering nonsense is, at best, gravely insulting.  Furthermore, I’m tired of self-professed Christians acting like supreme, sociopathic asshats until they’re called on it, only to step back, shove God in our faces, and ask forgiveness.  We’re smarter than that.  We see through you.

I mean: I’m an atheist, I don’t go to Church unless someone is dead or getting married, but somehow I know better than to act this way.  Why don’t they?  The truth is that they do.  They know, but they just don’t care.  Christian morality is little more than part of the costume they wear, like a prostitute in a corset and push-up bra, to seduce the weak and the idiotic.

Note: It seems Ms. Lauten isn’t alone in her cynical use of Christianity to serve her own wickedness.  This is her employer:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/05/22/gop-congressman-stephen-fincher-on-a-mission-from-god-starve-the-poor-while-personally-pocketing-millions-in-farm-subsidies/

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Commentary

Immigrants Stealing “Our” Jobs?

I’m enjoying the sputtering protestations of simpleton would-be patriots in the wake of President Obama’s discussion of his plans to address immigration issues here in the USA.  At base is the outrage that, after 6 years of the legislative branch refusing to allow any relevant, useful legislation to even be debated, the President is threatening to creatively employ his executive powers to force the issue.  He’s been labeled a imagesself-styled King, a dictator, and both a fascist and a communist–sometimes by the same people, which while entertaining is not particularly productive.  A few minutes ago I received an email from a concerned citizen and acquaitance who has informed me, “they’re coming for our jobs.”

Um, yeh.  Right.  I somehow don’t think that the Teabagging Movement has a lot to fear in terms of competition, but just in case, I’ve got good news.  All those jobs the evil South Americans are doing, for mimimum wage?  Those jobs are available. They’re hiring!

Georgia’s New Immigration Law Leading To Crops Rotting In Farmers’ Fields

They’re hiring in the city
poultry processing

They’re hiring in the country, too!
o-FEMALE-FARMWORKERS-facebook

That’s right–if you don’t want those brown Mexican bastards to earn sweet American greenbacks kissed by god it/him/her-self, it’s your big opportunity to take a job from a illegal immigrant. You’ll get the satisfaction of doing an honest American day’s work, AND earn $7.25 (gross, sorry) an hour. You’ll live like KINGS!
Farm-workers-700x468

However, competition won’t just end so I’m proposing a new way of handling the citizenship thing–we’ll hold open auditions that would-be immigrants could participate in at varrious border locations. Should they succeed, they can earn jobs and pay taxes, but not collect benefits, but if they fail they’ll need to leave. The catch is that we’ll allow a limitless number of Teabagger applicants to try out for those jobs right alongside the dirty wetbacks. So, literally, a motivated Teabag movement could easily manage to use their unique skills and innate American-ness to outwork the immigrants. It’s like going out for the basketball team–whoever proves themselves to be most productive and beneficial to the team gets a jersey. I’m sure the Teabaggers will be gutting all our chickens and harvesting all of our crops in no time at all.

So, let the competition begin.
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Migrant_Workers_GA_zpsb7da99d7

070601_farmworker_bcol_11a.grid-4x2

teabagger

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Commentary Journal Quote

War Is Cruelty, And You Cannot Refine It

Excuse me a moment while I alienate all the southerners reading this blog….

Sherman_sea_1868

This is General William Tecumseh Sherman on scenic horse ride through Georgia–I got in a bit of a kerfluffle with a southern stranger on Pinterest last year after I 86c237077812f258c8a367c7e5c7f7depinned the image to the right on the photo saving site, along with a favorite Sherman quote, one I find continually compelling, particularly in light of the penchant for many passionate southerners to look back on the history of the time through the rose tinted glasses of “northern aggression” and all that revisionist bullshit.  If nothing else Sherman reminds us that the South started the war.

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.”

I have no love of the man, whose reasoned barbarism in the civil war was surpassed by his cruelty in the “Indian Wars” that followed–but I found the woman attacking me to be intolerable.

Linda Ricker • 39 weeks ago

“If you had ANY idea whatsoever of what he and his men did to many southern families and their children, you would NOT admire this man at all! He and his men were nothing shy of satan himself! He and his men raped women while their husbands were off fighting. They raped and molested the children while they made the mothers watch. They stole our things and shipped them up North via railways and rivers and the ocean. War is horrible enough, but he and his men made it HELL!”

Junk Chuck • 39 weeks ago

“…because slavery wasn’t cruel? Approximately 10 million captive slaves were killed in bondage in North America, another 1.2-2 million died en route, and as many as 6 million died as an indirect result of the slave trade in Africa. I contend that the numbers of enslaved families were far greater, and the crimes perpetrated upon them far more heinous than the experience of the average southern family. I understand that southern history books teach differently, but Master raped and molested far more efficiently, and far frequently, than did the soldiers in Sherman’s armies. I’m sorry your things were stolen and shipped north–maybe your ancestors shouldn’t have stolen people’s children and sold them. I never see that goddamned rebel flag, the emblem of hate and murder and greed and racism (not a signet of some misguided idea of idyllic, romanticized “southern pride”) that I don’t feel sick to my stomach. The glorious south perpetrated feudalistic genocide and got what was coming to them.”

$(KGrHqFHJEQFC1Y23KpSBQ3ceq6Do!~~60_1The glorification of southern slave culture is something that piques my ire with a singular, venomous sting.  A bunch of Nazis get together to celebrate old times, and we’re convening international tribunals, but we’re perfectly fine with these “rebel” yahoos?  I’m posting this after spending half an hour on the highway recently behind a diesel 4×4 riding crazy huge rims and bearing the following bumper stickers. (These are the the same images, though not on the vehicle in question–I found them readily enough on the internet.)
welfare

 obamidt-300x225dontrenigin2012Now, what I find so–I guess “amusing” isn’t the word, maybe “ironic” or humorously contradictory, is this connection between self-styled conservatives and the iconography of southern rebellion.  The rebel flag is, at it’s basest, a symbol of contempt for America and American ideals, and while our constitution thankfully protects the rights of rednecks and idiots to spit on and disdain those ideals, it could be argued that embracing the confederate flag–the flag of a nation that is NOT the USA I might add–is, at best, an act of anti-patriotism.  Isn’t that just the kind of thing about which conservatives are so often foaming at the mouth?  Remember “Freedom fries?”  Lapel pins?  Just recently President Obama was criticized for carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and saluting the Marine guard as he stepped from his helicopter as being insufficiently patriotic.

321dog4296 AP05042204298 bush_barney_salute finger

Opps!  Wrong photos.

Yeh, I couldn’t resist that, even though it dilutes and distracts from my argument.  What I’d like to see, next time Obama steps off the chopper, is him dramatically throwing his styrofoam cup to the ground, then fervently salute the Marines before grabbing them on the shoulders and kissing them, one after the other, euro-style, first on one cheek then the other.  Of course, he’d then not only have all the usual trolls riding him, but the Sierra Club would be all over his ass for the litter.

MJZ598The point is this: how can people be so damned touchy about patriotism at one moment, then turn around and…well, what am I saying?  We’re humans, after all, wreathed in complexity and contradiction, glorious reminders of the…no, not that, either–because it’s all a perfect plan, right?  Aren’t inconsistencies at odds with the intelligent design that’s been fine-tuning us for every one of the 3,000 years or so that there has been life on Earth?  So, no–I don’t get it.

france_alsace_flag_sticker-rf27429c58b524fbe8ba5dac2d09b238c_v9waf_8byvr_324
And you thought they didn’t make these!

I learned not so long ago that “you’re either for us or against us.” I can deal with that.  I can get behind that.  My earliest relatives arrived here in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century from England, Scotland, and Alsace, and as far as I know none of them ever looked back. I certainly don’t fly an Alsatian flag on my lawn, or stick one on the bumper of my ILUV (impractically large utility vehicle).  Of course, given the proud martial history of Alsace, I’m not sure it would intimidate anyone, but oh, the beer….

The other thing that occurs to me is that the glorious armies of the Confederate States of America totally and unequivocally got their asses handed to them on a plate…and yes, perhaps they didn’t run, but only because they were left to stumble home shoeless, starving, bloody and broken.  Indeed, the fact that southern cultures exists at all is owed to the decision, made by the Northern leadership, to try to repair the nation rather than treat the south as, perhaps, it should have been treated: as the hostile, former homeland of a conquered and bitter enemy–like the way Israel treats Palestine. I mean, if you’re not going to be grateful….

N370
No.

Just remember, this juxtoposition is inherently flawed.  The two flags, and two mindsets, are incompatible.  One cannot have it both ways–the two are mutally exclusive.  Or, as a not all that wise woman liked to say, “America, love it or leave it.”

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Commentary

John Boehner & His Executive Order Fetish

This post isn’t about my politics, mind you, but I do want to get my biases out front–I’m worse than a Liberal, I’m a Rational.  The closest analog I’ve been able to find is Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party, but that’s hardly a good fit.  You haven’t heard of us yet, much, but you will.  We are legion–and I’ll tell you all about it in another post.

Injun John BoehnerThat said, this started out as our third edition of Dumb Ass of The Week, but the more I wrote the more I realized that in order to accommodate Mr. Weepy Tanning Bed himself, Speaker of the House John Boehner, we would have to stretch the meaning of the term “Dumb Ass” to include “Ass Hats” and “Assholes.”  Then there would be the inevitable outcry from the “Ass Clowns,” demanding inclusion,  but we have to draw a line somewhere. So, as Boehner is clearly more of the “Ass Hat” variety, we’re giving the award to a more bizarrely cracked sumbitch, and that’s okay.  He’ll understand.

It’s important to note that Mr. Boehner wouldn’t have earned this award by himself, and should share it with the cabal of hardline Randian teabaggers and Fox news paint huffers who now drive the Republican Party, as well as those weak-spined opportunists who capitulate to the extremists and abandon their moral and intellectual capacities in order to court the teabag vote.

The thing is, Boehner knows better.  He’s smart, and he used to be an effect legislator, but no longer.  He fears the powerful extremist right and covets their contributions to his war chest.  What got him on the list is the absurdly wasteful and divisive lawsuit that the Speaker has begun, cagily timed to provide angry talking points for conservative candidates in the upcoming elections.  How much money will be spent, how much time?  What will the cost be of one more political stunt aimed to widen the rift between the two major, useless parties?

But what about these horrible EXECUTIVE ORDERS?  (That’s a link with some fascinating info regarding them–check it out in another tab.)  You’ll learn more than this:

Executive Order

A presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty.

The president’s power to issue executive orders comes from Congress and the U.S. Constitution. Executive orders differ from presidential proclamations, which are used largely for ceremonial and honorary purposes, such as declaring National Newspaper Carrier Appreciation Day.

Executive orders do not require congressional approval. Thus, the president can use them to set policy while avoiding public debate and opposition. Presidents have used executive orders to direct a range of activities, including establishing migratory bird refuges; putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II; discharging civilian government employees who had been disloyal, following World War II; enlarging national forests; prohibiting racial discrimination in housing; pardoning Vietnam War draft evaders; giving federal workers the right to bargain collectively; keeping the federal workplace drug free; and sending U.S. troops to Bosnia.

That’s the gist of it.  Executive Orders were included as part of the original establishment of our government, and the first President to issue one of these orders was George Washington himself.  In the intervening years they have been used by every President, including President Barack Obama’s predecessor,  President George W. Bush.  And how many of these evil, supposedly illegal manuevers did Bush perpetrate?  One?  Two?  Ten?  Twenty?

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php

Ha.  In his first term, Dubya Bush signed 173 executive orders, compared to Obama’s 143.  In Bush’s second term, he was less aggressive, signing a mere 118 orders, while Obama is (through July 20) clocking in at a modest 36.

My point is not that Bush’s actions were even more egregious than Obama’s, but that this is how it works.  Presidents do this all the time–always have–and in while those numbers seem high, Obama and Bush both clock in as relatively restrained practitioners of the Executive Order.  Crazed liberals like Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower averaged considerably more Executive Orders, and let’s not even talk about Truman and Roosevelt.  Ronald Reagan pulled the trigger 381 times over two years, and milquetoast Gerald Ford managed an astound 176 in little more than a year in office.  The scoundrel.

Let’s see the lawsuit expanded to throw Bush in there as a co-defendent.  Or Reagan’s gristly corpse.

What lets me feel good about trashing Boehner is that he knows this.  He has to.  I managed to educate myself on this subject in about 40 minutes, counting the time it took to go grab a glass of water and a handfull of Fritos.  I’m wagering that the Speaker of The United States House of Representatives might know a little more than I do about how the law works, of course maybe he doesn’t.

The thing is: he doesn’t care. Every Republican looking at an election this fall will face a plethora of rheumy-eyed mouth-breathing self-educated constitutional experts who demand to know what those candidates are doing about impeaching “Barack Hussein Obama,” as they love to say.  Forget that most of them don’t actually understand what the word “impeachment” means, let alone the process behind it–they want action.  With this lawsuit, the candidates will be able to say, “Look Mr. Cletus, we’re suing the closet Kenyan-In-Chief” and then they’ll all be friends.  Secondly, as less imperatively, the republicans are using this bull to raise funds–“help us win!”  Of course, the Democrats are pulling in just as much scratch–millions and millions.  What sucks about this is that millions and millions of dollars of government money will be spent prosecuting this case–and that’s the real kicker.

*As an afterthought, each time I mention Boehner’s name I’m compelled to point out that every spell-checking software I use, on every device, begs me to correct his name to “Boner.”  Could be the machine revolution won’t be as bad as Terminator and The Matrix led us to expect.

 

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Commentary Poetry

Link: Why should poets engage with ‘ordinary people’?

Why should poets engage with ‘ordinary people’?  They don’t exist.

Ordinary is just the word we use for the less intellectually sophisticated.

“The best part of human language, properly so called, is derived from reflection on the acts of the mind itself.” So wrote Coleridge in the great 17th chapter of Biographia Literaria that deals with his friend Wordsworth’s argument that the proper diction for poetry consisted in language taken from the mouths of men in real life, under the influence of natural feelings. The language, in Wordsworth’s own words, of men “in low and rustic life… because in that condition our feelings coexist in a state of greater simplicity… are more easily comprehended and more durable”. Tosh, said Coleridge.  CLICK BELOW TO READ ON……

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-should-poets-engage-with-ordinarypeople-they-dont-exist-9499712.html

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Uncategorized

The President Needs a Make-Over

While I was devoting considerable energies into not nodding off during the State of The Union Address last night, Mrs. Junk remarked on how odd it was to see President Obama’s suddenly graying hair.  As a guy who has seen Obama Grayhis own hair take a sudden flight towards white–I’ll be in Santa country by the time I’m 55–I have to say he carries it well.  He’s a handsome guy, after all, and he’s got a lot on his mind.  Not only that, he’s certainly in good company. Until my own hair changed from brown to salt & pepper to–uh–just plain salty (like my personality, I guess), I have to admit that I suspected s conspiracy of Presidents.  As candidates, it goes to figure, Clinton Graypotential leaders want to appear youthful, energetic, virile, powerful and vigorous; so it goes without saying that coloring one’s hair is a simple part of a campaign not unlike wearing good suits and attractive ties.  Once in office, however, the cultivated image of choice shifts to one of wisdom, maturity, and leadership–candidates are cast as agents of change, but Presidents are leaders.  The are diplomats who set the tone for george-w-bush-58e91e6f1fa9866bnational discourse and international relations.  Even the simplest of men, those who bore leadership as if it was no greater burden than a sack of children’s toys, have aged under the weight of responsibility and the pressure of constant scrutiny.  Was I wrong to suspect that Presidents in office intentionally let their hair go gray?  That some possibly even hasten the process via artificial means?  I suspect I’m on to something–but I also think that these guys are missing the boat.  Ronald Reagan, that canny old player, appeared to RonaldReaganmoisten his hair with waxy black shoe polish right up to his last days in office, even as he muttered “I do not recall” to inquiry after inquiry into the despicable conduct that took place on his watch–and people loved him for it.  Why did folks love Reagan?  Not because he denied any problems America faced with the same fervor he denied knowledge of the FonzIran-Contra Arms For Hostages deals, and not because he reminded many of us of our doddering old grandfathers.  Reagan was beloved because he had the same hair as The Fonz.  When Reagan was elected, who was the reigning cultural icon?  It Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzarelli.  When Reagan won reelection in 1984, American was sadly saying goodbye to that same shark-jumping icon when a wave of nostalgia carried the incumbent back for another four-year term.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

So, clearly what President Obama needs is a celebrity make-over, and the perfect celebrity has never been more clear–we need someone who is highly intelligent and articulate, someone who works as hard as Obama, and we need someone cool–if the truth is to be told, Obama needs a little help here: he’s a bit of a policy geek, and those cigarettes don’t make him seem any cooler, despite what years of Marlboro ads have said to the contrary. He gets points for playing basketball, but not enough to compensate for his wonkishness.  On the subject of his rumored, rabid fanaticism for Star Trek I plead the fifth amendment and the right to not risk self-incrimination.

I’ve found a guy who is smart, articulate, wildly talented, supremely hard-working, and unquestionably cool.  His name is ?uestLove and President Obama should assume his style immediately. questlove

Screen_shot_2010-11-15_at_9.08.26_PM
“Hey, Questlove–I need an update–who’s your stylist?”

Not only would it be a serious upgrade in terms of both style and cool, but there would be added tactical advantages in dealing with the primarily southern, lilly-white conservative seed at the heart of Republican stubbornness, for example–that tall and proud hair is going to scare the bejesus out the closet crackers who let their backwardsassed racism foul progress.  On the international circuit, do we really think a bully like Vladamir “Mad Vlad” Putin is going to give a giant like Questlove–easily 7 feet tall with the hair factored in–and backtalk whatsoever?  I don’t think so–and Obama is another tall guy, so all he needs to do it thicken up, add 150 pounds, and voila….

If I was any good at computer graphics, I’d mock up a cut and paste job of Questlove’s hair on Obama, but I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait for the inevitable since, now that I’ve loosed this cat from it’s sack, there’s no way this isn’t going to happen.  In the mean time, please enjoy the video link.

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Commentary

The State of the Union is COLD

Mrs. Junk and I watched President Obama deliver yet another State of the Union address last night, though I did so with mixed emotions due to the President’s inconsiderate preemption of one of the three hours of television I most enjoy each week–Person of Interest. I’m interested in politics and have very strong opinions that do not easily fit either the liberal or conservative labels, but in the end I’m much more excited about the latest adventures of Howard Finch, The Man In The Suit, Ms. Shaw, Root, and the gang than I am about the combination of boasting and wishful thinking that invariably fills this annual festival of Beltway Make-Believe.  I mean, Finch and The Man In The Suit routinely get the job done in less than an hour–at the most, they would need one of those sweeps-season 3-part arcs to get this country back on it’s feet.  Obama and that Ship of Fools we call Congress can’t manage a damn thing.

Perhaps, if the President walked out to the podium, nodded to the cameras, and said something like, “The state of the Union is better, but it still sucks, and not a little bit either.”  That would get my attention.

But this isn’t a tantrum about politics–we all know the score: nothing gets done until the last minute, until the conservatives resist long enough to satisfy their corporate leash-holders and quench the demands of the dwindling, but still influential, righteous ecclesiastics–or, more specifically, the cynical operators who manipulate the legitimate spiritual beliefs of generally good religious people in a sledgehammer of division and distraction.  That’s the function of conservatives in our political system–to fight tooth and nail against forward momentum of any sort, to resist any disruption of the status quo and, finally, to be dragged–always kicking and screaming–into the future as if any movement at all could be their very last, and the very last for our blessed, holy nation.

Liberals, of course, come with their own particularly annoying tendencies–wussy thin-skinned hypersensitivity, arrogance, a glowering disdain for tradition, blind reliance on government as an engine for social change, wildly unrealistic idealism and the will to impose that idealism by force–for our own good, if necessary–and the list goes on.  As I most closely identify with the left, my criticisms against that side are both more numerous and more nuanced.  I look at politics like looking at a bunch of children who’ve made a mess of things–some I just dismiss as “bad,” but the ones I know, the ones who are mine, are “disappointing”–they’re not just guilty of breaking the rules, they’ve broken my heart a little.

I’m tired of caring about the whole wagon train–we know the drill: angry Indians, soulless bandits, desperate river-crossings, betrayal at the hands of a trusted compatriot, disease, a snowstorm just before sudden and teh sacrifice of a hero leads to unexpected survival and a happy ever after.  The sad thing is, one of these days the bandits are going to kill that hero in the early going–or maybe s/he’ll drown in the river–and the hole damned adventure takes a turn towards Donner Party country.  That’s my worry about the good ol’ USA–one of these days, there will be no hero to save us in the final moments of the movie.