Saturday, August 29, 2009

Be My Baby, Ellie Greenwich

A couple of days ago it was announced that songwriter Ellie Greenwich passed away at age 68. She is one of those people whose name is not instantly recognizable but the influence she had on early sixties pop music was enormous. You may have not heard of her, but you've certainly heard the songs she crafted.

Ellie worked in the famous Brill Building in Manhattan in the early sixties. What an amazing, astonishing place that must have been in its heyday. Imagine walking from office to office, floor to floor and hearing fantastic music and singing coming from everywhere. There were a number of record producers, arrangers and composers who had office space there, and some of the leading girl-group acts of the day could be heard trying out new songs and melodies. Talk about being in the right place at the right time - the Brill Building in the early 60s was ground zero for some of the most listenable and enduring pop music ever produced.

Greenwich worked on some of the landmark pop songs of that era. Who can resist a perfect confection like the Dixie Cups' "Chapel of Love," or the earnest optimism of "(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" by Darlene Love? This was back in the day when marriage was an ultimate goal and the highest accomplishment to which one could aspire. Ellie Greenwich had her hand in a number of hit records by some of the quintessential sixties girl groups. Tunes like "Then He Kissed Me" and the jaunty "Da Doo Ron Ron" by The Crystals, and "Baby I Love You" and the flawless gem "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes. This last song in particular was a perfect storm of great songwriting, great performing and artful musical craftsmanship. It's doubtful that Phil Spector's legendary "Wall of Sound" would have seemed quite as good without Ronnie Spector's soulful vocals and that ideal vehicle of a song. Ronnie Spector's singing was so good she reprised her unforgettable stylings to great effect on Eddie Money's 80s hit, "Take Me Home Tonight."

Then there was The Shangri-La's "Leader of the Pack," a marvelously overwrought teen-angst classic. A three-minute Wagner opera created for twelve-year-old girls, it had everything that makes your teenage years appalling and exhilarating the the same time: an uncomfortable, slightly illicit teenage attraction, parental disapproval, a motorcycle rebel, and a tough-chick attitude captured perfectly by the vocals. It started like the dialogue in a play, a girl and her friends discussing a new boyfriend when the lead vocalist rips into the melody:

"I met him at the candy store,
He turned around and smiled at me -
You get the picture?"
"Yes, we see!"
"That's how I fell for
the Leader of the Pack!"

The song goes deliciously off the rails as the love affair tanks and the cycle rebel gets into a traffic accident, the vocalist shrieking out a frantic "Lookout! Lookout! Lookout! Lookout!" at the last minute followed by horrendous skidding and crashing sound effects. And after all the histrionics and carrying-on, the song fades out with a howling, never-ending screech of tires over an evocative vocal phrase repeated over and over like a prayer: "Leader of the Pack, now he's gone, No, No, No..." You could not ask for more in a song.

As a pre-teenager growing up in relative cultural isolation in a small western Pennsylvania steel-mill town, I remember many summer nights laying in bed listening to my transistor radio through an earplug, and if the atmospheric conditions were right I was able to tune in an AM radio station from distant New York City. Cousin Brucie on WABC had a nighttime program where he spun all the current hits, and to me it was an audio window to another world, so exotic and different from my life it might as well have been coming from the other side of the planet. Even the commercials were fascinating to me, because they referenced places like Brooklyn, Queens, Madison Avenue, and Broadway, places I had only heard about. The radio signal would phase in and out, and the hissing static would almost sound like hypnotic waves of an ethereal ocean, just adding to the mesmerizing and surreal quality of the experience. I never forgot those wondrous summer nights, and the incredible music coming in through the night from a far-off, glittering city I could only dream about.

Alas, something this brilliant and creative burns out quickly, and Greenwich saw her career eclipsed by the British invasion several years later, which ushered in the era of the singer-songwriter. With talents like Joni Mitchell on the west coast and Laura Nyro on the east coast, and the Beatles coming over from England, artists were now writing and performing their own music, and Ellie found less demand for her skills. She did help Neil Diamond with his first couple of hits, and even penned the naughty, salacious "(My Baby Does The) Hanky Panky" by the mega-cheesy Tommy James and the Shondells. Her career enjoyed a brief resurgence in the eighties as a Broadway musical, "Leader of the Pack," introduced her meticulously crafted music to a new generation.

Now Ellie is gone, but her music is not. It will endure as long as there are teenagers growing up and listening to impossibly beautiful music, written especially for them and drifting in over the radio waves on warm, still, summer nights, speaking directly to their hearts.

Won't you please be my baby, Ellie Greenwich?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Twitter Your Life Away

Nothing makes you feel quite as old as when you realize that technology is passing you by. Our tech-saturated life is truly a miracle - it virtually puts the world at your fingertips and allows you access to unprecedented amounts of information, with a speed and quantity unheard-of in all of recorded history. A Google search on even the most innocuous subject returns gigabytes of information, providing more than you ever wanted to know in a split-second. Whether or not you take the time to sort through all the digital flotsam-and-jetsam to get to whatever pearl of wisdom you originally sought is another story, but everything you wanted to know about anything is right there on your monitor just waiting for you to dive in and look around.

I consider myself relatively tech-savvy, at least when it comes to the Internet. The web reordered and reshaped my life around 1999, when I finally went online and had a look around. Right afterward I created my own website (I'm currently on Version 7) and I quickly adapted to earning my living as a web programmer. Since then I have come to live on the web and spend many hours a day on it, doing so many interesting and productive things from the comfort and privacy of my home. I pay my bills through the Internet which is a huge convenience - a book of postage stamps lasts me well over a year now - and online shopping and other forms of e-commerce mean that I can shop for what I want, when I want, and I don't have to worry about driving anywhere or store hours or other annoyances. The only reason I set foot in a shopping mall is for things that absolutely require my physical presence, like getting a new battery for my watch. Not good news if you're a shop owner in a mall; I did hit the local mall a month or so ago and took a quick run through. I was amazed by the number of empty and closed-up stores. Also, all the book stores were gone and replaced either by cell phone outlets or really crappy clothing stores. It was truly sad, and really people like me are to blame for that. The Internet is far too seductive and convenient, and it spoils you very quickly.

Mobile phones have quickly evolved from being a handy way to keep in touch, to a mini-computer in your pocket with video, games, applications, music and a hundred other things you didn't know you can't live without. I'm not sure I need the ability to pull up a weather report for any place on the planet any second of the day, but it's out there for those who do. I was thinking about phones the other day, and how you used to have to "dial" a number to reach someone. The handset was attached to the phone itself by a cord, and you could only go a certain distance from the phone itself if you wanted to talk. As a matter of fact, when I was growing up my family had a little "phone desk," shaped like a figure-8, with a small desk for the phone to sit on and room below for all the directories, attached to a small chair so you could actually sit down and talk on the phone. Also if you called someone and they weren't home the phone just rang and rang until you gave up - answering machines were still 20 years in the future. Somehow we managed to get by and survive these monumental inconveniences, which would be completely intolerable today.

Technology is constantly changing - notice I didn't say "improving" - and new things are constantly popping up on the web. Sites like MySpace and Facebook give you a free presence on the web and make staying in contact with all your friends very easy, including those you didn't know you had. Twitter has rocketed into stratospheric levels of popularity, as everyone and every entity that can type are twittering their every activity, no matter how mundane, every second of the day on a world-wide stage. I used to have a Twitter account but closed it recently. I thought it was incredibly stupid to read about the minutiae of everyone's lives as if the world couldn't survive without knowing what everyone was doing all the time. Stuff just doesn't happen in my life quickly enough that I need to inform the rest of the world every two minutes. Also I would get lots of "follower" notifications from these Russian mail-order brides who've never met me but are terribly interested in my Twitter updates, and wouldn't I like to send them a personal message and meet them? Hooking up with disease-ridden cyber-skanks is not high on my to-do list, and Twitter rapidly became a blight and an annoyance. Good riddance to it, and everyone in eastern Europe who is just dying to meet me.

People whine and moan about how technology is isolating us and making actual human contact obsolete, and I don't want this blog post be about that. I view all these things - the Internet, cell phones, networking applications, etc. - merely as tools, extending our abilities to do more things with less work. Mankind has been using tools to augment our natural abilities since Neanderthals started toting around clubs to aid in hunting. Tools are exactly what we make of them, they can be extremely useful or very cumbersome. Technology likewise can limit our interactions or facilitate them, depending on if and how we choose to use it. I know people who send hundreds of text messages a day. I choose not to text, maybe because I grew up without having it around and fail to see any advantage to instantaneous communication in my life, but if other people like it, more power to them. Many people are growing up today without ever knowing a time when the Internet or cell phones were not around, just like I never knew a world without television or telephones. Their view of the world, and their wants and needs are going to be completely different from mine, and the wants and needs of their children are also going to be different from theirs. As we ride the crest of a wave of technology sweeping over the planet with ever-increasing speed and power, some of us choose to ride on the very edge and others choose a more comfortable spot on the quieter shoals and beaches of Techno-World. And wherever we fit in the best, is where we need to be.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Human Nature, Up Close

In my work with the rabbit rescue I have occasion to interact with general public, either at an adoption event or on a retail level at our new store. I'm still getting used to working in retail, and while being nice to customers is still somewhat of a challenge for me, I am meeting some very interesting people and having a good time. Whatever the setting, public contact does offer you some unique insights into human nature.

At adoption events I am often given the opportunity to watch parents and children interact. If I rated these encounters from very good to truly appalling and somehow made a graph out of the information, it would probably look like an upside-down "U"; that is, a small number of horrific incidents on one end, a small number of wonderful, gratifying ones on the other end, and the vast majority of them being kind of average and uneventful. For some diabolical reason the awful ones are slightly more memorable.

Case in point: A young girl around 12 came to an adoption event with her parents (who looked closer to my age and might very well have been her grandparents) to look at bunnies. The adults were the kind who don't quite get the whole parental-discipline thing and were using the bunny adoption as a bargaining chip to more or less bribe their daughter into acting a certain way. I don't approve of negotiating with 12-year-olds in matters of behavior and the daughter clearly knew she was calling the shots in the relationship. I will admit to knowing nothing about parenting and am not an authority on these things by any means, because I really believe all children should be on a continuous Valium I.V. drip until their early-twenties, at least.

But it seems to me that members of my generation, the dreaded "Baby Boomers," have pretty much turned out to be lousy parents. I think they were the first generation who were more interested in themselves and their own interests and welfare than that of their children. We were told over and over again from birth how wonderful and special we are, and while that is certainly true, it has sort of clouded our outlook on life to the point that our children were not really taught niceties such as social skills and manners. Now that the Boomer children are grown up and having children of their own, I think they realize how substandard their parents were and are starting to buy into the benefits of discipline and parental authority. I hope so, because this kid at the adoption event was in dire need of a reality check, along with the parents.

Then there are the parents who think rabbits are a good pet idea for their hyperactive, undisciplined, ritalin-addled youngsters who regard every attempt by their parents to rein in their behavior as a bothersome, easily-ignored, and ultimately pathetic attempt to be amusing and relevant. These little hellions are easy to spot, and shooting down their dreams of torturing, I mean having, a bunny as a pet is particularly fulfilling for me. Their parents have developed a nearly-impenetrable shield to the multi-dimensional obnoxiousness of their children, most likely as a last-ditch defensive firewall against the hellishness that the Fruit Of Their Loins has unleashed upon the earth. After I indicate to them where they can find the door, the parents often come back at me, tag-teaming me in an attempt to get their shrieking progeny what they want in order to shut them up for five minutes. They invariably find that under these circumstances reasoning with me will be just as productive and gratifying as reasoning with their own children.

And then, there are the people with their dogs who show up at the pet stores which host our adoption events. I know these people love their dogs like I love my rabbits, and they regard their canines as their children. But one thing they don't understand, along with their human-parent counterparts, is that the rest of the world does not regard their "children" with the same rapturous, mindless adoration as they do. They think nothing about letting their huge, snorting, slobbering beasts come right up to the rabbit pens and sniff at the poor rabbits. The rabbits are confined in a pen and really have nowhere to run and hide from these dogs, and I'm sure they pick up the dogs' scent and become very afraid. The dog owners are only concerned with Fido having a fun experience getting up close and personal with the rabbits and have no consideration whatsoever for how the rabbits are dealing with a gigantic predator as it suddenly and menacingly looms over them. When I go over and politely ask them to keep their dogs away from the rabbits (and I do ask them politely - the first time), they get very irate and take it personally, as if I asked them if their child has always looked retarded, or has it just happened recently. I was even told one time that if the rabbits were afraid of dogs they have no reason being in the pet store. While I believe most people are reasonable and responsible with their dogs, it's the few monumentally obnoxious dickheads that ruin everything for everyone else. It's just total ignorance and selfishness that causes them to act the way they do and, blinded by their own world-class self-absorption, go through life thinking that the world adores their dog (or children) as much as they do, which is SO not true.

So, dealing with the public has been and continues to be a real learning experience for me. Believe it or not, sometimes the patience I can find in dealing with clueless, misinformed people surprises even me. It's the ignorant and self-centered ones I love to smack down and put in their place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

14 Minutes and 59 Seconds of Fame

In the great pop-culture septic tank we find ourselves involuntarily swimming, occasionally something will surface that will cause even the most jaded amongst us to shake our heads in disbelief. One such baffling eruption is the continued presence of one Levi Johnston on the cultural radar. A sorry by-product of the John McCain/Sarah Palin debacle which began in the presidential election of 2008, he has been popping up here and there in the news like a really annoying rash. Apparently mildly retarded, his road to national prominence started with a detour to the bed of Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol, whom he knocked up.

Hauled from the vast, meth-infused redneck wasteland of Wasilla, Alaska, Johnston was unwilllingly paraded in front of the national media at Sarah Palin's coming-out party during the Republican convention. His squirmy discomfort at being trotted out as the sperm dispenser responsible for the first Palin grandchild was deliciously obvious, but astonishingly this shame was not shared by the Palins or the McCains or practically anyone else at the convention. For being such harsh, unyielding critics of contemporary morals and staunch advocates for sexual abstinence before marriage, the Republican spinmeisters chose to portray the Palins as just another typical, average American family, doggone it, with a pregnant, unwed daughter and a mother who looks and sounds like a flight attendant for Dumbskank Airlines. I'm sure Sarah Palin understands that you can put lipstick on a soccer mom, but she's still a pig.

To absolutely no one's surprise the make-believe relationship between Johnston and Bristol Palin collapsed, which has allowed Johnston more freedom to capitalize on his notoriety and provide us with a front-row seat to the deep, icky dysfunction which defines the Palin family, much to our delight. You can always count on him to blurt out some uncomplimentary tidbit about them, most recently the (totally unsurprising) allegations that Sarah Palin left her position of governor to more easily cash in on the lucrative media deals being sent her way, and that she and husband Todd have been having marital problems for a long time. Not that the Johnston family has much room to criticize, since a while ago his mother was arrested on some drug trafficking charge. They really sound like a family that makes the Connors, the fictional white-trash-deluxe family made famous on the Roseanne television series, seem quite classy.

Johnston showed up at the recent Teen Choice Awards squiring around the acerbic and usually-amusing comedienne Kathy Griffin. Johnston's presence at the awards can be somewhat justified, him being born in 1990 and coming to the end of his teen years. The 48-year-old Griffin, whose teen years are but a very distant, fuzzy memory, decided he was her ticket to an orgy of media-whoring, and she is working it to the very end. Now I love Kathy Griffin; I saw her in person in Phoenix earlier this year and had a great time, but she is really pushing her luck with this latest gig. I can't make up my mind whether she's being incredibly savvy and is orchestrating a brilliant pop-culture satire while jabbing Sarah Palin in the side with a sharp stick, or just saw an opportunity to jump on a passing train to Tacky Town and temporarily rise to the forefront of the celebrity/media gossip industry, which seems to be somewhat disoriented lately in the wake of the month-long Michael Jackson soap opera.

Bottom line, I am definitely in favor of anything which tweaks and annoys Sarah Palin, as any appearance by Johnston undoubtedly does, since it brings up old perceptions of her skeevy family along with new revelations of their bottomless stupidity and loathsomeness. It makes a pleasing counterpoint to her recent Facebook blatherings about Obama's health care reform plans and the "death panels" which are going to dispatch Grandma and Grandpa to the great Socialized Medicine State in the sky whether they're ready to go or not. I am both fascinated and repelled by how a slow-witted good-ole-boy from a seedy Alaska backwater town is somehow navigating successfully the fickle currents of the national media. He has somehow parlayed a snogging session with the daughter of a fourth-rate political hack into a grand tour of the slimy depths of American culture, and that has to be somewhat of an accomplishment. Even worse, it may be the highest achievement of his entire life, which is simultaneously extremely hilarious, pathetic and appalling.

A Tale of Two Administrations

A couple of days ago I blogged about stuff that happened on August 9th in past years, and I mentioned the resignation of Richard Nixon on that day in 1974. When I was researching Nixon (and believe it or not I do a fair amount of research and fact-checking for my blogs so I don't sound like a total idiot) I got to thinking about that administration and the most recent Republican administration we had to endure. There were a number of interesting "intersections" (both parallels and contrasts) between the two, other than the creepiness and horribleness inherent in most Republican presidencies, and I present them now for your edification:

>> Say what you will about Nixon - few would dispute his rampant paranoia, mendacity and his penchant for harassing and persecuting people he perceived as enemies - but he was fairly intelligent. His vice-presidents (Spiro Agnew first, then Gerald Ford) were clueless, buffoonish morons. On the other hand George W. Bush was the feeble-minded idiot and his vice-president Dick Cheney was the evil, psychotic one. Smart and evil beats stupid and evil every time.

>> One of the crowning achievements of Nixon was his opening up of China to the world. Many scholars agree that Nixon was the only one who could have done that at the time, and it helped bring China to the table as a world player. George Bush opened Crawford, Texas, to the world, a fitting tribute to his diplomatic and leadership skills.

>> Nixon inherited the quagmire of the war in Vietnam from a previous administration (L. B. Johnson) and it very nearly destroyed him, if it weren't for his own ridiculous stupidity regarding the Watergate break-in. G. W. Bush basically inherited the Gulf War(s) from his father and it very nearly ran his presidency (and the country) into the ground. And it's still going on.

>> Both presidents had really annoying, loathsome Secretaries of Defense that you just wanted to slap the crap out of. Nixon had Melvin Laird and Bush had Donald "Short People Got No Reason To Live" Rumsfeld.

>> Nixon believed that helping Iran become powerful in the Middle East would serve to keep the Soviet Union in check. Now we're wondering how the hell Iran got nuclear capabilities. Bush believed that bolstering the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan would keep Al Qaeda in check. Except for the fact that Al Qaeda runs both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and he's just making them stronger.

>> Both presidents tried to screw around with the Justice Department which ended up biting them in the butt big time. Nixon fired Watergate special independent prosecutor Archibald Cox and two others, in the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" of October 20, 1974 because their questions and efforts were getting too inconvenient. Despite official denials from the White House, no one with an I.Q. over 60 believes that Bush didn't have any part in the Justice Department's firing of seven U.S. Attorneys because they weren't politically in tune with the Bush administration.

>> Nixon and Bush were both strong social conservatives, and their battles over a number of cultural issues were a constant source of friction and an unwelcome diversion to everything they tried to do. Nixon had the antiwar movement and the counterculture. Bush had abortion and reproductive freedom issues, gay rights and the place of religion in government.

>> Nixon's second vice-president, Gerald Ford, is primarily known for tripping and falling over stuff. Bush's vice-president Dick Cheney is primarily known for war profiteering and being one of the Living Dead. Gerald Ford was much more amusing, but then again stupid is generally quite a bit funnier than evil.

Having lived long enough to remember vividly both administrations, it would be tough for me to determine which one was worse. Both were monumentally evil and damaging for many reasons, too many and too depressing to ponder. Both served to polarize and divide the country even more than it had been, and the lasting effects of this are illustrated by the ascendancy of right-wing talk radio and the insane screaming and yelling happening at town hall meetings regarding health care reform. Both presidents left office with extremely low approval ratings. It is so difficult for me to understand how such damaged, and damaging individuals came to occupy the most powerful political office in the world.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Today in History - 08/09/09

August 9th is kind of a momentous date, historically speaking. A lot of memorable (for all the wrong reasons) things happened today in history.

On this date in 1945 the United States dropped the second nuclear device used in an armed conflict, on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Days earlier, it had dropped a nuke on Hiroshima. We hear mostly about the Hiroshima event nowadays, with the Nagasaki drop almost an afterthought. But it's hard not to forget the fact that over 74,000 people died in Nagasaki that day. It's almost impossible to comprehend that number of people dying in a single event. We continue to mourn the 2,000 people lost in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and rightfully so. But somehow losing 2,000 people almost seems like a bigger tragedy than what happened at Nagasaki. Sure, the WTC event is much more recent; the intervening 64 years has dulled the memory of Nagasaki, but in some perverse way the deaths of 2,000 people are easier to understand and wrap our brains around than the loss of 74,000.

On August 9, 1969, members of the Charles Manson cult murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others in her Benedict Canyon, California, home. This brought to the forefront the seamy underside of the counterculture movement. What had been all idyllic peace-and-love starting in 1967 (the Summer of Love) turned into a toxic goulash (ghoulash?) of drugs, insanity, and murder. The Manson murders, along with the disastrous concert at the Altamont Speedway in December of the same year in which a black man was stabbed to death by a Hell's Angels member (all captured in the fascinating 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter), really put the final nail in the coffin of the Utopia that the counterculture movement was supposed to bring us - the "Age of Aquarius" and all that wonderfulness. A couple of important lessons here, kids: 1) human beings are far too flawed and imperfect to ever create a perfect society; and 2) no matter how hard we try to do something good, someone is going to come around and screw it up, just because they can. You can bet the mortgage on that.

And also on this date in 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned his office in disgrace, in the aftermath of the Watergate Hotel break-in. Starting with some dimwitted would-be "burglars" clumsily trying to get their hands on some information which would prove detrimental to the Nixon administration's enemies, either real or imagined, the whole situation spiraled into a political conflagration which brought Nixon down. Nixon was probably the most paranoid person ever to sit in the Oval Office. He was regarded as the Antichrist by the burgeoning hippie movement, and he saw enemies everywhere. His immensely creepy, loathsome staff, which involved luminaries such as H. R. Haldeman, Charles Colson, John Mitchell, Melvin Laird, Spiro Agnew (who was a real piece of work, I must say) and many, many others, did an excellent job in feeding and cultivating Nixon's monumental paranoia. The end result was a distasteful psychodrama which nearly brought this country to its knees, and still reverberates to this day. After Nixon resigned, no President has been fully and completely trusted by the American people, and that's a tragedy.

Oh, I nearly forgot: on August 9, 1930, cartoon diva Betty Boop made her debut. That was the last time anything good happened on August 9th.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Down The Tubes

The level of political discourse in this country is really headed down the toilet as we enter the home stretch of summer. The right-wing opponents of President Obama have stooped to new lows, even for them, and the fact that they are surpassing their own benchmarks of idiocy and deadheaded stupidity is a truly alarming development.

First off, the birthers still refuse to give up and go away despite the mountains of overwhelming evidence against their god-forsaken yammering. Their latest stink bomb is a supposed copy of Obama's Kenyan birth certificate. does a much better job of refuting this nonsense than I could, so if you're interested please check out their website here. But over and over again the right-wingers will grasp onto whatever paper-thin shred of evidence they can dream up (even something which is a ridiculous outright forgery as this) and give it the aura of unassailable truth. When you have to start manufacturing evidence to back up your moronic claims, you're pretty much out of gas. But the conservative pundits have never let inconvenient things like the truth get in the way of shooting off their big mouths.

Next up in the idiot parade are all the rude, immature dickheads who are standing up at "town hall" meetings with their Congressional representatives and screaming and shouting them down when it comes to reforming health care. It's obvious that these "spontaneous" outbursts are anything but, because the blowhards on conservative radio are clearing advocating and coordinating these efforts, and the dimwitted, mindless sheep that make up their audience are more than happy to be recruited because I'm sure it makes them feel like they're doing something. But standing up and shouting at someone is something that petulant third-graders do when they don't get their way, and it only emphasizes the utter desperation and intellectual bankruptcy of their positions.

I'm willing to bet that the majority of those people who stand up and shriek about "socialism" have no idea what the word means. If there is anything in this country that is completely and fundamentally broken and just screams out to be repaired, it is the health care system. Keeping this system in place without reform is probably one of the surest ways to financial disaster this country has ever faced. But these people continue to try to block and frustrate every attempt at defusing this ticking time bomb because their hatred of the President is so all-consuming and blinding. And the only method left to them (because obviously reasoned argument and thoughtful debate are completely incomprehensible, alien options) is juvenile, disrespectful bullying.

Ever since the election last November, the right-wingers have continued to embarrass themselves at every turn. They never will accept of the fact that THEIR CANDIDATE LOST. He is the LOSER. It just irks them to no end that McCain/Palin was such a profoundly loathsome, unattractive combination that the electorate overwhelmingly chose a black president, and they in their thinly-disguised racism hate that so much. It is something that sticks in their collective craws like a big piece of broken glass and will not go away. But expecting conservatives to feel even a little bit of remorse or shame for their disgraceful, childish and hateful actions is like expecting the sun to rise in the west tomorrow - it just isn't going to happen. It is something that in better times would be merely an amusing sideshow, a political Theatre of the Damned or a monstrously bad American Idol audition. But it just so happens that the future of the country is at stake, and we just don't have time for this kind of extreme stupidity.