2011: The Worst of The Rant
Ring out the old; ring in the new
Heavens to Betsy! Can it possibly be? Another year come and gone??? Well, goodness gracious me! Time certainly flies when you're trying to save the world, ya know? And speaking of time; it's time once again for another annual recap of the Worst of The Rant. Happy reading, campers!
Tomorrow marks the start of the One-hundred and Twelfth Congress. For a person who makes his or her name and livelihood by commenting on the ineptitude and corruption of American politicians, this is indeed wonderful news. We are beside ourselves with giddy anticipation. For regular working people, however - particularly those hardest hit by the economic catastrophe we currently find ourselves in - this bit of news is as nasty as can be. PREDICTION: You thought the One-hundred and Eleventh Congress was beyond awful? OH, BROTHER! This one will be remembered as the worst in history. Anyone care to make a little wager on this point? I'm taking on all comers.
[12/30/11: My goodness! I nailed that one, did I not?]
The extremism of [November 22] 1963 was pretty much isolated to a few southern cities. Forty-eight years later it's gone national. What happened in Arizona over the weekend [the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords] is only the beginning. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but America's political discourse has been hijacked by half-wits and crazy people. Their spokespersons make their names by inflaming their clueless masses with the language of hate. That's their job. Then again, I'm not giving away any state secrets here, am I?
I can still remember what my father was wearing when he told me, "The president's been shot." He had just pulled in the driveway and had the car radio on. I was arriving home from Mrs. Peevey's kindergarten class. I distinctly recall that, despite it being late into the autumn, it was an unseasonably warm day. Something wonderful ended on November 22, 1963 - not just John F. Kennedy's life - but America's youthful optimism as well. I don't believe this country ever got over the assassination of President Kennedy. Maybe it will one day. Maybe not.
Since the demolition of the Fairness Doctrine thirty years ago, the progressive point-of-view on America's airwaves has diminished to the point that it's now almost non-existent. For every Thom Hartmann you have at least twenty Rush Limbaughs. It's a dire situation that is getting worse with each passing year. And it wasn't exactly a spirit-lifter when Air America failed a couple of years ago. The people's airwaves have been stolen by the plutocracy, and they don't plan on giving it back. Take it back.
Much of the blame for the "scourge" of Michele Bachmann must be laid at the door of Chris Matthews. I love the man. He is just about the smartest son-of-a-bitch commenting on politics today. But I really have to chide him for "discovering" her. Ms. Bachmann was a deservedly unknown congresswoman in October 2009 when he invited her on his program "Hardball" for an interview. It was there that she called for an investigation of all the Democrats in congress for their "un-Americanism". Under normal circumstances such an idiotic statement would have hurled her right back into obscurity. Instead, the GOP made her a star. Life is funny that way, you know?
February 6:On February 6, 1911, one-hundred years ago today, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois. Unlike most of the country however, I won't be spending this day looking back on his presidency with any degree of nostalgia - trust me. I'm not celebrating the life of Ronald Reagan. I hold the hideous old bastard in complete and utter contempt.
February 17:Could this be the beginning of a revolution that might spread nationwide? I'm hopeful. Unlike the clueless tea party types, the good people of the state of Wisconsin realize that the blame for the problem lies not with those naughty, bleeding heart Liberals, but with the plutocrats and greed heads who long ago hijacked not only our government, but both political parties - including the one that Lincoln helped found in 1856. Bob Dylan once said, "A hard rain's gonna fall." Indeed. I hope you have an umbrella at the ready. The shit storm has arrived.
February 28:There is a certain kind of schadenfreude that comes with seeing a people getting exactly what they deserve, and I imagine that I'm going to love every minute of it. It's also a much better thing to come to terms with the shit storm that is just around the corner than to delude oneself into believing that some nameless secular messiah is going to lead us all to the beloved Candy Land of our fantasies. A lot of us (myself included) made that mistake with Barack Obama and our hopes exploded right in our faces. It's almost like anticipating that knock-knock-knocking sound to be Winston Churchill - only to open the door to find Neville Chamberlain standing there - utterly clueless and befuddled. And unless Obama is challenged in the primaries by the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, I'm afraid we're stuck with him.
It will be recorded [of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker] that no other single human being was more responsible than he for inspiring the people to finally rise up and revolt against the economic injustices they had been suffering under for over three decades. When Walker and the GOP legislators in the Wisconsin State House illegally signed away the collective bargaining rights of union workers, did they really believe that that would be the end of it?
Like it or not, the Madison Revolution is here. Get the fuck out of the way.
March 16:Newt Gingrich is one of those "lowest common denominator" politician
I hate to be seen as a cheerleader for the Democrats, I really do. I often feel like I'm in a restaurant and the waiter is asking me, "Would you like a nice cool glass of donkey piss to wash down that juicy plate of elephant shit you've ordered, sir?" Our choices these days are sparse - no question about it. But when everything has been sliced and diced, I feel that am left with no choice but to side with the Dems. The alternatives are too depressing too even think about. "Stick with Tweedle-dee", I tell myself, "Tweedle-dum is brain-damaged." He's also a bit of a pervert.
May 19:I'm going to do something I've never done before (and will never do again - I promise!) I'm going to say something in favor of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis: When they took power in March of 1933, they at least didn't fuck with the electoral process. Hitler's ascendance to power was achieved legally and in conformity to the German constitution as it stood at the time. That's right; I'm comparing the Nazis favorably to the Republican party. Things have gotten that weird.
May 24:I've been thinking a lot about Ronald Reagan lately. Less than two weeks from now will mark the sixth anniversary of his passing. Six years! Can it possibly be? I'm sorry he's no longer here. I wish he could have lived to see the presidency of Barack Obama. I really do. The sight of a black man in the Oval Office would have given the old bugger a severe case of spastic apoplexy or maybe worse. That would have been so much fun to watch.
May 31:Let us face some serious and undeniable facts here. A politician as deliciously sleazy as the Newtster should be cherished - if only for the scads of unintentional comedy his very presence in the national limelight inspires. As you might imagine, I have been following Newt's presidential campaign - or what's left of it - with a longing I'm hard-pressed to describe. I soooo wanted him to get the GOP nomination in 2012 I could almost taste it. I was even contemplating sending the hideous old freak a check. I might as well not waste my money. It's very clear to everyone (except Gingrich of course) that he's not going to get his party's nod next year - or any year for that matter.
June 20By privatizing the American prison system these assholes have created a brand-spanking-new corporate class whose very existence will depend upon those prisons being filled to the rafters with human beings - FOREVER! As a result the owners will send lobbyists to Washington, who will then bribe our representatives into passing more-and-more punitive laws that will ensure that those prisons are booked to capacity. How will they make a profit? Forced industrial labor - which will be just another drain on American jobs. Think about that: Forced labor. It's something that was officially terminated in this nation one-hundred and forty-six years ago. It was called "slavery". Remember that "peculiar institution"?
Mah! Mah! The ol' plantation sho has changed!
June 28:In the meantime the Republicans in Congress are doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the economy crashes. That is the reason - and the only reason - they are trying to prevent the raising of the debt ceiling in August. If America goes into default the proverbial shit will hit the economic fan. When that happens, all bets are off for the president. Their goal is to bring on an economic catastrophe in order to take back the executive and legislative branches of your government on January 20, 2013. That is what human slime like Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are banking on. Our livelihood and well being doesn't matter in the least to these bastards. Wake up.
July 7:The right wing has been in serious denial throughout its long and weird history (You may recall the "peculiar institution" of slavery). Modern times are no different for these freaks. Here's what they need to (but won't) understand: America's financial affairs are in shambles. There is only one way out of the hole we have dug for ourselves - and it's going to involve taxes: Decades of SERIOUS taxation. The people who benefited the most from the thirty-year financial drunk - the Plutocracy - will be the ones who will have to bear the burden of the shovel. And that will mean bringing the tax rates for the richest two-percent back to where they during the Eisenhower era when many of them were in a ninety percent bracket. That is the only way out. Deal with it.
July 14:I have been desperately trying to write a poem about the train wreck that Rupert Murdoch's life has become but I've run into a bit of a brick wall. Please, could somebody give me a word that rhymes with schadenfreude?
July 21:The Republican party is at this very moment mounting a campaign that, if successful, will disenfranchise the the voting rights of African Americans - and everyone else who tends to vote left-of-center - all across America. Isn't that sweet? They understand all-too-well that the mysterious and unknowable segment of the population that the sociologists describe as "moderate" or "swing voters" (I call them "purple agitators" myself) are starting to become disgusted by the extremists who hijacked the Grand Old Party decades ago. What to do? Not to worry! Just bypass that nasty ol' Voting Rights Act of 1965. That'll learn 'em!
July 28:The problem with the Republicans is that they have forgotten that they are the party of Roosevelt - Theodore.
The problem with the Democrats is that they have forgotten that they are the party of Roosevelt - Franklin D.
August 2:The Tea party owns Washington DC. This radical, right-wing fringe group now sets the agenda for this country, isn't that a scream? Mike Lupica put it well in yesterday's New York Daily News: "These are the crackpots who have designated themselves to speak for Conservative America. Only they don't act like conservatives. They act like anarchists." I can relate. I never dreamed I would live to see the day when I would feel a sense of tender nostalgia for Alan Simpson. These surely are interesting times to live in.
August 10:In the meantime our downward spiral will only continue. This is as it should be. A people moronic enough to squander the treasure of their once-great nation as they have been doing for the past thirty-one years deserves everything that happens to them. There is an indescribable joy - call it "schadenfreude" if you must - in watching people who are losing their homes and pensions while simultaneously complaining about "those goddamned liberals". It's quite a funny thing to witness. As America continues to slide into the depths of destruction and despair, I can console myself with the knowledge that there will be no shortage of entertainment value in its decline - for me at least. Life will still be beautiful, thank you very much.
August 22:According to these plutocratic handmaidens, the tax code simply isn't fair. People who live at or below the poverty level have to start chipping in! A family of four making $22,000 a year (or less) will have to shell out to the feds. Can you believe that? Think about it: That single mother who barely scratches out a living assembling Big Macs at the McDonald's down the street? If these hideous bastards and bitches have their way, she will now have to send a check (assuming she has a checking account) to the IRS every April 15. Of course that will mean she and others in her income bracket will have a lot less money to pump back into this already-feeble economy - a fact that apparently has not been taken into consideration by the knuckleheads who govern us.
And they call us "elitists"!
August 31:Dick Cheney is back with his "long awaited memoirs". Awaited by whom they won't say. I won't be reading it. I've read enough about it and heard enough about it (primarily from the Dickster's own mouth) to form my own assessment of the drivel spread generously within. In fact I won't be reading any of the flood of books that have been written, are being written, and will be written by the Bush Mob. It's always an amusing thing to watch these bitter, dirty old men attempt to cleanup their putrid little corners in the Hall of Infamy. Robert McNamara tried it fourteen years ago and it didn't work out too well for him. Cheney will fare no better I suspect. What he is attempting here is the equivalent of putting a smiley face on a decomposing pig:
"Well lookie thar, Martha! Ain't that purdy?"
Two debates in the space of five days? Somebody up there must like me. In the midst of the first one I asked myself out loud, "Am I hallucinating this?" I wasn't. This was very real indeed. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology I was able to record both spectacles onto DVD for posterity. Looking at them again last evening was not the ordeal you might imagine. To the contrary it was loads of fun to watch! Unintentional comedy always is - and these twits are the Marx Brothers of unintentional comedy.
September 21:Here's a little something you can bet the farm on. The next thirteen months will see the right wing beside themselves as they scramble - like sadistic little mice - to change the topic of discussion from that of economic fairness, to the subject of that BIG, BLACK, BOLSHEVIK BOOGIEMAN in the Oval Office. They won't be able to take back the senate and the White House - nor will they be able to retain control of the House of Reprehensibles - without exploiting the worst racist tendencies deep within America's tormented soul. That is their biggest hope. That is their only hope. 2012 might very well turn out to be a most interesting political year. Talk about understatement!
In addition to playing the race card, it's a fairly easy guess that they'll drag out their moth-eaten bag of "family values" for good measure, as hard as that argument is for many of us to swallow these days. The Republicans don't give a shit about American families - or the families who gross somewhere under a million per. This is a party that cares about one thing only - that the obscenely rich get obscenely richer. To hell with the rest of you.
October 1:Since the voters of this country foolishly handed over the reins of executive power to a feeble-minded, failed "B" movie actor a generation ago, the rape and plunder of America's financial infrastructure has been going on at full speed. Politicians of both parties rigged the laws in order to make the theft perfectly legal. That mournful chiming that is now emanating from deep within Wall Street is the death knell of the orgy that the plutocrats thought would never end. Americans are taking their country and their economy back.
October 12:Here is a question that I am hard-pressed to avoid: Is there a bigger asshole slithering though the halls of congress than Eric Cantor? If there is I'd sure-as-hell would like to know about it. It has always amused me to watch him on the tube trying to defend the morally indefensible. He always has this weird look of cherubic contentment on his clueless face. It really is something to behold. To the credit of Mitch "The Plutocracy's Bitch" McConnell, he at least has the decency to look somewhat ill-at-ease when having to vomit forth their nonsensical talking points. Cantor, on the other hand, is right at home with their delightfully twisted agenda. Too weird!
October 15:If the next president is a Republican and is able to make one or (God forbid) more appointments to [the Supreme] court, it will ultimately lead to the end of democracy in America. Does that sound a tad paranoid on my part? Maybe it is. Let's all vote Republican next year and see what happens.
November 20:When people have been subjected over long periods to injustice, it's only a matter of time before they revolt. Revolution is not something that can be swept away by think tanks or police riots. It's a bit more complicated than that. Revolution-in-reaction-to-human-cruelty is as natural as the sun rising in the eastern sky. All the king's pepper spray and all the king's soldiers can't stop a rising sun either. Try it sometime.
November 29:Yeah, I'll fess up - I get awfully sentimental when it comes to the subject of the Beatles. On the night George died I remember pouring my heart out over the telephone to my friend Terri Sager. I admire her patience. She listened gently while I waxed inebriate on the news of his passing, and what a drag it was that two of the Beatles were now dead, and how this was possibly the end of the world, and blah blah blah....But it moves me to realize that today the two survivors are elderly men, and that eternity is now beckoning them. When I was a boy, John, Paul, George and Ringo were the undisputed princes of the planet earth. They seemed to be invincible. The passing of the decades reminds us that the Beatles were as frail in their mortality as any of us. They really were a bit like you and me.
December 15:I am the person of the year. So are you.
You don't have to be down in Zuccotti Park. You don't have to be on the streets of Oakland, California or Madison, Wisconsin or Austin, Texas or South Bend, Indiana. You won't have to be out in Ulme Park in Poughkeepsie, NY this afternoon at 4 PM in order to be a part of this movement. That's why the worldwide Occupy movement is so frightening, not only to the corporate media, but to our "rulers" as well. Jello Biafra is the former lead singer of the legendary political punk band The Dead Kennedys. He is today a lecturer who has released a number of spoken-word CD's on his Alternative Tentacles record label . Ten years ago, in a statement that is truly sunning in hindsight, he advised us, "Don't criticize the media, become the media!" A decade ago his words left some of us scratching our clueless heads. Today we know what he was talking about. We are the media. The revolution is being televised!
Thank you, Steve Jobs.
Was Iraq worse than Vietnam as some have implied? Certainly not in terms of lives lost, thank goodness. But in terms of the damage done to our economy and infrastructure, Iraq clearly wins out. Also we need to be reminded that Vietnam only gradually evolved into the quagmire it eventually became. In the case of Iraq America stupidly dove headfirst and smiling - eyes wide open - into the muck. For the first time in history, taxes on the rich were actually lowered during a time of war. Saddam Hussein was going to destroy us we were led to believe. It was a lie of course. We destroyed ourselves quite handily thank you very much. We didn't need Saddam Hussein.
December 25:Keep your eyes wide-open for the miracles all around you. And remember the simple truth that there is more music to be found in the laughter of a single child than can be found in all of the symphonies ever composed by all of the composers who ever lived.
But now the days are short
We're in the winter of the years
And now I think of this place
As Wonder Bread turned green from mold
To rocks from gold
We were gripped by fear
It was a very weird year....
Whew! And what a year that was, huh? Do you think that the next year will not possibly get any weirder than the one which is now mercifully ending? I wouldn't take that bet for anything.
Happy New Year, everybody!
Ding Dong! Ding Dong!
by George Harrison
Like George says, "Ring out the old, ring in the new!"
And finally, here is a little seasonal treat for you, It's my all-time favorite Popeye cartoon: