Eli's Observations

Month: January, 2012

Onward and Downward

At least one of our readers is worried that I’m not going to critique the State of the Union Address, and she’s right. Being urged to do so is like being invited to a buffet that’s surrounded by ravenous hyenas, that is, our so-called “journalists” who have nibbled it to death and then gone back to their normal diet of half-dead Republican candidates.

It was a good speech, as good as it could be, when the President and most of his listeners knew the Republicans would go right back to their Three B’s, blockade, blackmail and bluster.

Just as the press never seems to recall who created this economic mess (Bush) they ignore the reasons Obama couldn’t do much about it: Mitch (“Stonewall”) McConnell and his gang of loudmouth obstructionists.

Remember the scene outside the Capitol with chants of “Kill the Bill?” Frathouse politics at its worst. Yet David Brooks writes in the Times that the President should have offered big, bold ideas. His reputation for wisdom baffles me.

So for us, is it back to the “biggest losers” (aka the GOP candidates who never saw an issue they couldn’t trivialize?) No, I’m going to revisit an issue that in “Heroes Welcome” (1/24/12) resonated with a lot of our readers, namely that we’ve damaged countless young men and women whom we’ve turned into cannon fodder and abandoned. Three comments from readers follow, each eloquent in its own way.

From Patrice Gallagher: “AMEN!!”

From Al Schmidt: “We must worry that an unthinking electorate might repeat 2010. Strange that we blue collar types should become “elitist.” I never thought that I would, and I suspect you feel the same way.”

From Walt Abbot: “John, as part of my volunteer activities, I’ve been mentoring military spouses, active duty personell, and vets. I strongly concur that the U.S. owes them practical medical services, and especially mental health service. I can relate to that driver veering into the middle of the road. When I returned from Vietnam, I reacted to sirens as if I was still back there … it is a disgrace that [our military] can’t get the help they need because the same war mongers now crusade for debt reductions partially on the backs of those who served.”

Let’s all try to remember this when “chicken hawks” like Dick Cheney start beating the drums for another war and calling Obama “weak.” Where will they try to entangle us next?


Heroes Welcome

Good news! Mitt Romney is going to make America strong again! And proud! Something about “a shining city on a hill?” Or is that just an oil refinery? Of course, Gingrich and the other clowns all squeal “me too, me too, more guns, more bombs!” And they attack President Obama for ending our war in Iraq! They tell us “we must make sure that our heroes didn’t die in vain.”

Two images in recent news coverage have stayed in my mind: a female soldier back from one of our oil wars who has trouble driving back in her hometown. She constantly veers out of her lane to the middle of the road because the enemy always planted its bombs along the side of it. She cannot leave that enemy behind. She has panic attacks.

Second image: four of our Marines urinating on the corpses of enemy fighters. Now we will all go “tsk tsk” and assume they’ll be punished for their brutish behavior. They will. But we won’t do anything for them or for that traumatized driver. Mental health care? Budget cuts, you know! Tough luck.

All of these young people have been raised as cannon fodder. Our education system probably ranks 23rd in the world. The jobs have gone to China or been driven down to minimum wage by “creative Capitalism,” leaving them no alternatives. But we’ve still got a deal for you, young fella. Sign up for one of our wars. Become a hero!

Now don’t beat yourself up about this, dear reader! Nor can we just blame the corrupted politicians nor the TV journalists who cover war as if it were a spectator sport. Take Woodward and Bernstein’s advice: “follow the money.” That money trail leads right to the defense contractors and oil barrons and their servants, like Dick Cheney, Bush’s VP. You’ll recall that war hawk who dodged the draft five times during the Vietnam War. That’s not blood on Cheney’s shoes, that’s oil.


I thought I’d left the “sliver” image behind forever in Iowa, but the Republican sliver candidates keep refusing to form a single dark cloud of political menace. They could probably turn a giant redwood into sawdust!

Enough of our readers have expressed concern – even dread – about the specter of Romtorumperrypaulrich ending up in the White House. So I want to remind them that the only thing big about the slivers bouncing around South Carolina are their mouths.

Take the “front-runner” Mitt Willard Romney, who seems bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He says he enjoys firing people and claims he made just a little money from his speeches ($350,000!) He added proudly that his tax rate is 15%, not counting loopholes. To paraphrase Ann Richards on George Bush, poor Mitt can’t help saying those dumb things because he was “born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Then riding out of the West on his great horse SUPER PAC came Rick Perry to announce that our ally Turkey is a terrorist state and should be isolated. He then fell off his horse and announced he might be withdrawing from the race. If stupidity were contagious, Perry would have to be quarantined. As for Ron Paul, no one need fear this slightly daffy old fellow, though I would keep sharp objects out of his reach. Santorum? Jimmy Carter could have told him that no one wearing a sweater ever gets elected president.

Which leaves scary little Newt! He is a little scary, and a splinter of South Carolina may go for him. But I don’t believe America is ready to elect a pitbull president. So let’s keep our cool and keep fighting for progressive candidates, starting with Obama.

Could It Be Steroids?

News of drug use among the Republican candidates came as a shock to most of us who thought they were way too square for something like that. But how else to explain the behavior of robotized Mitt Romney suddenly grinning and hugging and reaching for children in crowds like he’s just been made prom queen. They have to have slipped something in his Sanka.

Then we have uncontrolled aggression turned into semi-coma. For weeks, Newt Gingrich was attacking everyone else in the field. He did everything but chase cars and try to bite their tires. Now, suddenly, in South Carolina, he waddles slowly off the plane followed by his gold-helmeted wife to sit patiently and explain his theories about how he’s going to become president. Surely a tranquilizer has been administered. Maybe Callista has a source.

Then we have robo-Rick Perry who seems to periodically spring out of a trance, strike a pose, issue some blanket statement about God-fearing Christian nations or same-sex marriages, but he never follows up. He just melts back into the landscape.

Nothing as simple as drugs can explain Rick Santorum. Maybe it’s time travel and he’s just a century behind. I can’t honestly say that I see any sign of drug use by Ron Paul, but I don’t know what normal would look like in his case.

Obviously, John Huntsman, who seems sane, must be on something, or he’d have quit the Republican party long ago.

Whatever the drugs are, there are signs that they’re spreading. Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, has just pardoned a hundred or so convicted killers, thieves and assorted miscreants. And that’s something no Republican normally does, especially in Mississippi.

It’s too early to point a finger at anybody as having “drugged” our noble, upstanding Republican candidates, but you’ve got to guess that Michelle Bachmann is pretty damned angry. Who knows what she’s been up to.

Whatever it is, I hope they get to the bottom of it. These people are bad enough when they’re like themselves. This way, they’re positively unnerving.

The Circus Nobody Wanted

(Note: This was a late arriving dispatch from one of our roving correspondents Padriac Slivovitz.)

Awakening in the early morning just inside the border of Northern South Carolina, Padriac glimpsed a group he’d been searching for all night. It was the GOP circus. As the circus wagon creaked into Beelzebub, South Carolina, a slim crowd of cranky old white men assembled along the road wearing American Legion hats and waving NRA cardboard cutouts of AK-47s. Next, they were greeted by the high school band, the Beelzebub Bible Thumpers. About six of them, all dull-eyed white boys with tubas, trombones and a bass drum. They were playing “Dixie” as it might have sounded if written by Kurt Weill while he was drunk.

The Circus Ringmaster, Colonel John McDeaf, limped in, waving his battered, high silk hat, giving an occasional thumbs-up with both hands. His feet really seemed to hurt. Romneo, the incredible elastic man, came right behind the Colonel. Elastic Man was dancing, prancing and doing cartwheels, none of which got any reaction from the small group of onlookers, many of whom seemed badly in need of dental work. When one youngster yelled out, “Pa, when they gonna kill the president?” some good-natured laughter ensued. “Elrod, that boy of yorn ought to be on TV!” More laughter.

Urged on by Colonel McDeaf, the townsfolk walked through the dusty town park, past the statue of Colonel Jubilation T. Jones, “Hero of the Battle of Beelzebub.” Ahead, the battered circus tent had been set up.

McDeaf was telling his troupe that these were their kind of people, real Americans. But the real Americans seemed disappointed. Fat Fatima wasn’t that fat, the Wizard Paul just mumbled a lot of numbers, and the clowns kept squabbling with Newtie, the evil clown. A teenager yelled that Rock Strongarm couldn’t bench-press his own weight. The audience was drifting away.

“Pa, let’s go. The shootin’ range has got Obama targets!”

“Why didn’t Dixie Lee Michelle Bachmann show up?”

“And where’s Cowboy Rick and his Magic Horse Super PAC?”

“He’ll be here any minute,” Colonel McDeaf reassured them. “Let Rock Strongarm read you some funny stuff about ho-mo-sex-uals!”

“Where’s the darn Horse Super PAC?”

“Cowboy Rick,” Newtie the Clown sneered, “keeps fallin’ off his horse!”

Right on cue, Cowboy Rick rode in, waving his hat and firing his imitation NRA pistol. He promptly fell off his horse. The crowd began to walk away.

“Wait! Wait!” the Colonel could be heard wailing.

Cowboy Rick was struggling to get back on his horse, but the evil Clown Newtie kept biting him on the leg. Romneo was twisting himself into an incredible shape, but no one paid any attention.

“Come on, boys, let’s go down to DQ and get some Blizzards.”

“But Pa, I wanted to see the clowns!”

“You just did, son.”

Padriac must have fallen asleep behind the wheel of his car parked near the statue. Because when he woke up, there was no trace left of the circus. Everybody was gone. Hungry, he started out to look for something to eat. After driving around for hours, he found a McDonald’s. Inside, there were two locals having a snack. Slivovitz mentioned that he had been wandering around the area day and night searching for that circus in Beelzebub. The men looked surprised and one laughed.

“Mister, Beelzebub went off the map more than ten years ago. Ain’t no such town.”

As they walked out, Padriac rubbed his eyes asking himself if he’s wandered into The Twilight Zone. No, he decided, it was just the Republican Party 2012.

I Only Have Eyes For You

As I write this, two days before the GOP primary in Iowa, all eyes are fixed on the state of — no, wait — well, most eyes are fixed on — well, at least some eyes must be — but most of those eyes get paid to stay fixed on a pack of strutting, smirking, simpering scoundrels — oh, you’ve guessed it — the Republican choices for president! Unless — of course — they are not.

Unless? Suppose it turns out Iowa isn’t the United States in miniature. Crazy idea, right? But what about the Evangelical vote? I decided to ask a dozen of my Evangelical friends about that, and I was startled to find I had none. Not one Evangelical! Same for “Pro-Lifers” and Flat-Taxers! Those folders were empty too. Maybe there are exceptions to the United States of Iowa image after all.

Anyway, what were the eyes of America fixed on? The Today Show was cooking something healthy and possibly food-like. My eyes refused to stay fixed. On several channels, women exercised madly to lose weight, but my gaze wandered.

Other channels showed people demonstrating gadgets and stackable plastic containers. I forced myself to watch a chirpy young woman store forty-six pound of chuck in eleven stackable containers. Surely, this wasn’t what had my fellow citizens so transfixed.

I hurried past CNN headquarters like a drunk skirting the Iowa Politics Saloon. The Fox News Channel was puzzling. It wasn’t entertaining, and yet, it had nothing to do with news. I quickly decided their programming should be sealed in stackable plastic boxes marked “toxic refuse.” My eyes rolled back in my head and I fled.

Eventually, I ended where all desperate searchers must end: the Kardashians! I then experienced a Larry David epiphany in which the George character explains to an NBC exec that their new show will be about NOTHING! Baffled, the NBC guy asks why anyone will watch it. “Because,” George said triumphantly, “it’s on television!”

So there you have it, dear readers: just substitute Republican Iowa Caucuses for Seinfeld and you’ll see why they expect us to watch it. Because it’s nothing, but it’s there. Isn’t it?