Eli's Observations

Month: December, 2011

‘Tis The Season

You may have thought the worst of Christmas was behind us: the incessant TV ads of actors singing and dancing through malls, brandishing shopping bags with their sponsors’ logos. And those strident price wars: 40% off! Buy two get five free! No, seven! That manic tone that reeks of desperation born of greed.

Let’s not forget the “high-end” of hype. A flood of ads appeared daily in the New York Times, offering jewelry, furs, handbags and wrist watches that cost more than the first house I bought!

Every fancy ad, of course, meant another page of so-called “news” to wrap around the real product. So we were being offered half a page on some conflict in Belarus or a study reporting that gingivitis was increasing in Papua New Guinea! Surely, December 26th should have marked the beginning of the end? Then ho? No!

We’re back to the political season and here come the sliver-heads. Tiny groups of self-righteous Iowans who want to sell you on the idea that they and they alone speak for America. If that were true, lots of us would be applying for visas to Canada!

The perverse thing about the Iowa Republicans is that by splitting into ever-smaller groups, they generate more and more attention. For this, we can blame cable news and the Scalia Court.

Cable news channels are like sharks — if they stop swimming, they die. Their favorite waters are natural disasters, like earthquakes, but those are hard to count on and bad for business. In recent years, their bread and butter (yes, I’ve dropped the shark metaphor) was national politics. Without it, cable news is likely to find itself trailing “Repo Man” in the ratings.

However, thanks to Scalia and his gang, the Pac-money spigot is now never turned off. There’s no election off-year anymore. Even before the Pacs start spending on candidates there is a creeping oil spill of “issue ads,” which will turn into a tsunami as the elections approach.

Which brings us to what really matters about the political season. It’s not just those crackpot theories about gays or “personhood” (whatever the hell that means.) The “person” who is elected president will probably nominate two or three Supreme Court justices who will serve for life. Do you really want more Scalias? If so, just relax and leave politics to sliverheads. They know what’s best for you, and you apparently don’t … ho ho ho!

Ten Questions About the Gingrich Campaign

1.) Did Newt’s parents name him after the legendary scientist Isaac Newton or the Nabisco fig cookie?

2.) Since Speaker Gingrich successfully shut down the House of Representatives in 1995, why doesn’t he just show Speaker Boehner where the on/off switch is and save us all a lot of time?

3.) If Newt is not a lobbyist, not a politician, not a military man, and not a bureaucrat, does he have any kind of experience in running a government??

4.) Why did President Obama send a generous contribution to Gingrich’s primary campaign?

5.) Why does Callista look like a 1948 Breck shampoo ad?

6.) Is it true Newt has plans to redesign Mt. Rushmore with Nixon, Reagan, Cheney and him? (Of course not! Nixon was a damned liberal!)

7.) Newt is currently on wife number three and has already married Protestants and a Roman Catholic. If there’s a Mrs. Gingrich number four, will she be Jewish? Mormon?

8.) If Newt is so smart, why has he never been on Jeopardy?

9.) Newt has said that the Palestinians are a “made-up people.” What’s his feeling about the Greco-Romans? Austro-Hungarians? Serbo-Croatian? Tea Party Republicans?

10.) Newt claims to have written 23 books. But Dick Armey says he co-wrote “Contract With America” with Gingrich. William R. Forstchen is listed as co-author on several of Newt’s books. If Gingrich is elected in 2012, will Forstchen serve as co-President?

Cry Me A Sliver

Talk about being nibbled to death by ducks! How many more days must we endure the news from Iowa which always sounds something like this?

ANNOUNCER: “Here with the latest stats, quotes and votes you need to know is our Iowa correspondent Jen Eric!”

SOUNDTRACK: “I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet….”

JEN: “Thanks, Troy! Well, the race that was tightening just moments before we went on the air is now loosening dramatically! Newt Gingrich is surging ahead of Mitt Romney in Upper Northwest Central Iowa, and now leading by 67 to 11 for Romney, 5 for Dick Cheney and 2 for Flinching.

Gingrich’s surge is attributed by insiders to his threat last night to smear the exterior White House with Anti-Obama graffiti.

Among voters who describe themselves as ‘Fiercely Conservative,’ the spread now is even wider except for Evangelicals in the lower suburbs of Northern Muscatine. Also, those over 63 went 7 to 2 for Tim Pawlenty (who is no longer in the race). This was seen as a possible rebuff due to Gingrich’s three marriages!

Standing in front of a sign reading ‘One Wife, One Vote,” Reverend J. Fred Hignutt, pastor of ‘The Death To Deviants’ Church, referred to Callista as a ‘Scarlett Woman’! All six members of Hignutt’s congregation agreed. Asked why they supported Governor Pawlenty, one said the name reminded him of his favorite candy bar, God n’ Plenty.

This just in!! The lower southeast quadrant of Greater Dubuque, whose voters describe themselves as ‘savagely reactionary,’ are moving now rapidly towards Donald Trump. But among voters with less than a kindergarten education, a trend is developing for a Kardashian boomlet –”

CLICK!

Well, you may think that the above is a tad exaggerated, but ask yourself how Iowa (!) became the wagging tail and the rest of us the dog. Every four years it’s as if the United States had become lily-white, pugnaciously religious, and politically and socially reactionary. Where did the rest of us go?

This sliver of right wing Iowans doesn’t represent us. It doesn’t even represent Iowa, but every four years, the Republican caucus becomes a jobs program for pollsters, political hacks and cable television’s legion of talking heads. That’s talking, not thinking heads.

Sliver news might be harmless if it didn’t feed the desire of immature voters to vote for a “winner,” even if he or she is a total loser. Let’s start a revolution. Turn that page, click that remote every time you see or hear “Iowa” or some right-winger who claims to speak for Iowa.

The real people of Iowa will be delighted by our boycott. Imagine how sick they must be of the sliver-heads! No wonder there are so many Iowans in Florida already!

Writer’s Block

In a three-decade career as a professional writer, I often read about and heard about writer’s block, but never experienced it until last week! A reader commented casually that Eli’s Observations were “late.”

I was a little startled. I’d been admonished early on by a mentor that successful bloggers were like sharks: if they stop swimming, they die. I’d been vaguely aware that I was treading water last week, the prospect of skibillions more “Republican Presidential Debates” creeping towards me like a slowly shifting sea of sludge had left me strangely uninspired. Was it them — or me? I think “the block” began when “Boots” Perry rolled out his first ad campaign for Iowa. Instead of a drumbeat of doom, deficits and taxes, here was Perry focusing on gay marriage and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It was as if Rick Van Perry had gone to sleep in the late 1980s and just awakened, ready for an old fashioned “values” campaign.

This Republican deep sleep theory made sense to me. Remember the musical “Brigadoon?” In it, a lovely little Scottish village awakened every hundred years for a day of love and sunshine and then went back to sleep. If you just substituted every four years for the hundred years and “snow and contentiousness” for love and sunshine, you had the Iowa caucuses or as some call it, Brigadunces.

You could understand Perry’s confusion. People in this year’s GOP caucus still look the same: resolutely rural and very very white. Rick must have been reassured to see a familiar figure: Newton Leroy Gingrich with his wife Marianne — wait a minute — this lady’s name was Callista, much younger and blonder than the 1980s version. But Newt hadn’t changed a bit. Okay — maybe a bit. Twenty-two years older and twenty two-pounds heavier.

Old Newt was still posturing, still dishing out the zingers, eyeing everyone with contempt. That’s when I snapped out of the Scottish fog and identified my block. I’d been dreading writing about Nasty Newt. But Eli is back at his desk. Our motto is “the blog doesn’t stop here.” I’m working on my next posting. Tentative title: “The Gingrinch Who Stole the White House.”

The Buck Stops

Largely unnoticed in the Republican bluster about cutting the federal budget was a vague promise to trim the Defense budget too.  This should have provoked “the gasp heard ’round the world” or at least ’round those Virginia suburbs where defense contractors have offices, but there was a gasp-gap for a simple reason: no one believed the cuts would happen.

But just in case, we looked for Pentagon programs to cut.  It wasn’t easy.

We first suggested a ten percent across the board cut in producing stuff that blows things up, plus eight percent for R and D, that’s NEW stuff that blows things up!  All such stuff is TOP secret so we couldn’t cut IT because we didn’t know what IT was.

An exciting new program was the SLAVS vehicle, which can cruise indefinitely under sea, then surface, then move over land, take off vertically, cruise overhead like a Drone and launch itself into space. The SLAVS prototype cost three billion dollars but it came without seats or a toilet.  It’s being retro-fitted.

Two experimental programs started in the Bush era seemed expendable.  Project Warrior Family was supposed to create an indestructible bionic family able to survive a nuclear attack.  After eight years it has only proved successful on Dick Cheney and his daughter Mary’s left foot.

VIP Decoys.  These decoys are life-sized balloon duplicates of political leaders to be deployed in case of terrorist attacks.  Early trials are promising.  Over months of testing no one could tell the Mitch McConnell balloon from the Senator.  Shelving the VIP Decoy project would save millions but it might be more in the national interest to shelve Senator McConnell.

Meanwhile, defense contractors are working to persuade Congress that these projects are all vital.  Of course  those messages are sent by check to each campaign committee, so don’t expect those defense cuts anytime soon.