Monday, August 30, 2010


I suppose it's just not possible in this day and age to get through a summer without a massive display of insanity and idiocy in Washington, DC. Last year it was the Voter Values Summit, a surreal circus parade of the worst of trailer-trash culture, who proudly displayed their complete disregard for personal grooming and acceptable clothing styles, and demented, confused senior citizens, carrying signs that showed they are blissfully unencumbered by arcane, elitist notions like grammar, logic and spelling.

This year did not disappoint, as we were treated to a comprehensive exhibition of just about every kind of psychological disorder there is, led by obviously-mentally-ill, right-wing jaybird Glenn Beck. Now, I can't stand to watch Glenn Beck for more than three seconds. Part evangelical preacher, part Ronald McDonald on bad acid, and part Freddie Kruger in clean clothes, Beck seems to have cornered the media market on histrionic, embarrassing rhetoric, punctuated by episodes of blubbering, over-wrought emotionalism that would be deemed too over-the-top for even a dinner-theater production of Steel Magnolias. Very skilled in the use of wide, sweeping, and ultimately meaningless generalizations and evidence-free predictions of dire consequences if people don't straighten up and listen to him, Beck has understandably found a huge audience in the millions of Americans who choose to let Fixed News, I mean, Fox News do their thinking for them and provide them with their opinions and talking-points served pablum-style, in easily-digestible dollops.

It seems to be an indictment of the failure of the political system that so many people feel so detached and disenfranchised from it that they think their only reasonable alternative is in feel-good, us-against-them, hate-mongering, racist political organizations such as the Tea Party. That's like if someone sets your house on fire or murders your spouse you decide to go to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus for help. Everything that Beck says is designed to wrap his mindless followers in the mantle of righteousness and religious infallibility, since they take every opportunity to remind everyone that God is on their side, and all who disagree with them are dirty, bearded Islamic terrorists who are ready to fly a squadron of jet aircraft into buildings in every major city in the U.S. Beck even went to so far as to say at his rally something like "Today is the day that America turns back to God!"

Really, Glenn? Just because you say so? Did you bother to ask God if He goes along with that? Oh excuse me, I forgot: you and your followers have regular conversations with God and He most definitely is on your side. How did you get the power to make that statement for an entire nation? Did you bother to ask the Muslims and Buddhists and atheists and Jews and Hindus and all the millions of devout non-Christian believers who make America their home? Don't you think that was just a teeny bit presumptuous of you to speak for an entire nation? Personally I don't think you're qualified to speak for a Rotary Club in rural Nebraska, but that's just me. Now I know your followers aren't exactly the most inclusive group in the world, and I wonder just how many African-Americans or Asian-Americans or gay/lesbian Americans are welcome in your lily-white masses? Or is it that only your fundamentalist, Republican, Caucasian "sheeple" (more on that word later) are the ones who feel they have to "turn back to God." Do you think maybe it's God that has turned away from you since you embarrass Him so?

But this was not a "political" rally, according to Beck. Of course not, despite the fact that it was held in the most political city in the United States and - what a surprise! - on the 47th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington that gave the world the transcendent "I Have A Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. What an absolute abomination and desecration of King's memory and legacy to have a puffy-faced, cartoonish buffoon like Glenn Beck prancing and parading around on the steps of the monument where King once stood and changed the world with the power of his simple words and heartfelt ideas. Forty-seven years later, people are still inspired and thrilled by King's powerful statements. Twenty-four hours later, no one really remembers or cares what was said at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. And that's the way it should be.

And, not that there weren't enough annoying, embarrassing and pathetic creeps already in attendance yesterday, but the loathsome, vile and execrable Sarah Palin had to be hauled down from the meth-infused garbage dumps of Wasilla, Alaska to bleat out another round of moronic ramblings and faux-populist drivel. It just took seeing a video clip of her dragging her bony, scrawny ass across the stage to nearly make me have a second look at the dinner I had an hour before. She apparently left 15 minutes after finishing her speech - and presumably after collecting her six-figure fee - but she still had the nerve to get onto Twitter (the pre-eminent Theatre of the Damned for the Internet Age) and blather about how the "sheeple" (presumably a homemade contraction of "sheep" and "people", now that "refudiation" has been thoroughly discredited) of the "main stream media" underestimated the crowd size and downplayed their coverage. Oh, would these "sheeple," as you derisively call them, be the same media people who for some reason follow you around and give your special brand of inbred ignorance a national platform wildly out of proportion to its value? And how without them you would be a nobody - a shrill, brittle harpy trapped in a loveless marriage with poorly-raised children who can't stand the sight of you - with absolutely no hope that tomorrow will be any less wretched and meaningless for you than today. Without them, Palin would be a dollar-store Ann Coulter whom everyone would ignore and dismiss as a crazy, crack-addicted skank.

How did it happen in this once-proud nation that we have come to celebrate, elevate and in fact encourage stupidity, idiocy and mediocrity in our political system? How is it that pathetic, miserable pieces of crap such as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and at least 100 other cultural cesspits still manage to pollute the airwaves and intellectual discourse in this country? That's one of the drawbacks of a free society - you have to put up with the profoundly stupid people that invariably make up the population, as well as the profoundly inspiring ones. The problem is, in this cruel, mixed-up and hateful universe in which we live, the good really do die young and the evil, psychopathic people seem to live on, and on, and on.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ben Quayle is the WORST Candidate in History

Ben Quayle, erstwhile candidate for one of Arizona's Congressional seats and son of even more-erstwhile former Vice President Dan Quayle, is making a bit of a splash in the local political mud puddle with his 30-second TV ad in which he proclaims Obama the worst president ever. While I'm not going to bore everyone with arguing the point, such as it is, I did happen to come across the original audio of the taping session for the ad. As a public service, it is transcribed below:

PRODUCER: Okay there, Benny-boy, are you ready to do this ad? Your dad paid a pretty penny for this studio time so let's get crackin' here, shall we? All you have to do is read what's on those cards taped to the wall over there. They're printed out extra-big so there won't be a problem. You okay with that?

QUAYLE: Yeah, I think so. I just have to read those cards? Am I allowed to make up stuff?

PRODUCER: Yeah, I guess you can, just don't go too far off-message. So look right into that camera there and give me your sternest look. You ready?

QUAYLE: Yeah, let's do it ... wait, my butt itches.

PRODUCER: Your what itches?? Little too much info there, Benny, but go ahead and take care of business so we can start taping.

(Several awkward seconds ensue.)

QUAYLE: I'm done.

PRODUCER: All right, here we go. Ben Quayle TV ad, take one .... go!

QUAYLE: "Barack Obama is the blackest president in history."

PRODUCER: CUT! The "blackest president in history?" Where did that come from? The card says "worst president in history," not "blackest president in history."

QUAYLE: My dad says they're the same thing. And besides, you said I could make up stuff.

PRODUCER: Yeah, and obviously that was not one of my better ideas. Tell you what, Benster, just stick with the cards as they are and believe me, things will work out much better. So let's take it from the top. Look into the camera and ... Ben Quayle TV ad, take two ... go!

QUAYLE: "Barack Obama is the worst president in history. My generation will inherit a weakened America. Drug cartels in Mexico, tax cartels in D. C. What's ..."

PRODUCER: CUT! Did you say "tax cartel?" What is a tax cartel?

QUAYLE: I don't know, my dad told me to say that.

(Quayle's Blackberry beeps, he takes it out to look at it.)

QUAYLE: Hey! Somebody just friended me on Facebook! That means I got 4 friends now!

PRODUCER: What? Are you kidding me?

QUAYLE: Oh, wait... darn it, that's just my cousin Luann. Aunt Jennie told Mom she was going to make Luann friend me.

PRODUCER: ??! - Whatever, let's get back on track, shall we? Take it again from right after 'tax cartel' at the top of the second card. You ready?

(Blackberry beeps again)

QUAYLE: Damn. She just un-friended me.

PRODUCER: Good Lord, let's go already. Ben Quayle TV ad, take three ... go!

QUAYLE: "What's happened to America? I love Arizona. I was raised in a filthy rich section of Paradise Valley with Mexican gardeners and nannies and cooks and ..."

PRODUCER: CUT!!!! What the hell was that?

QUAYLE: Dad thought it would be a good idea to emphasize the human-interest angle, let people know we're just plain folks.

PRODUCER: Your dad isn't running for office, and if you say that filthy-rich stuff the only thing you'll be running for is cover when they come after you. AGAIN! And just read the cards! Ben Quayle TV ad, take four ... go.

QUAYLE: "What's happened to America. I love Arizona. I was raised right. Somebody has to go to Washington and bitch-slap the crap out of those old farts."

PRODUCER: CUT!!!! CUT!!! What on earth are you doing??

QUAYLE: The stuff on the card isn't strong enough. I want to show people I'm passionate.

PRODUCER: Passionate? You sound like a pissed-off drag queen when you say that. Either come up with something macho, or stick to the script. Got it? Now do it again! Sweet Baby Jesus - Ben Quayle TV ad, take five ... GO!

QUAYLE: "What's happened to America. I love Arizona. I was raised right. Somebody has to go to Washington and kick the fucking shit out of those..."


QUAYLE: Okay, okay! "Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place. My name's Ben Quayle, and I approved this message."

PRODUCER: And ... cut! Thank God we got through that. Actually, it looked fairly okay. I want you to do that last line over again and instead of just sitting there, I want you to get up and walk forward to your right. Your face will be in shadow but I think it will be a good, serious ending and will show you as a no-nonsense kind of guy. You think you can do just the last line one more time, Ben-O-Rama?

QUAYLE: Yeah, yeah, I can do it. Let's go, it's almost time for Wheel of Fortune.

PRODUCER: Ben Quayle TV ad, take six ... go.

QUAYLE: "My name's Ben Quayle, and I approved this message."

(Quayle gets up and walks off-camera. There is a loud noise as he walks into some equipment.)

QUAYLE: OWW! My knee! MOMMIE!!!!!

PRODUCER: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

P.S. Watch the finished video here:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days

As we limp towards the home stretch of another summer season in paradise, it has been a little surprising how fast the time has gone. We're tearing through August like Lindsay Lohan through a gram of coke. Labor Day is in sight, although not here yet by a long shot, and this weekend promises to be toasty hot (112 degrees F./44 degrees C.) but thankfully dry. The monsoon season has been fairly decent in terms of rainfall, but not in the rafter-shaking thunderstorms that are so entertaining. But we have other means of entertainment, thanks to popular culture and politics.

The primary elections are in full swing, and I have stopped watching local television because of the torrent of boring, stupid, annoying and frankly pretty racist political ads that play in a non-stop rotation 24 hours a day. It seems the illegal immigration issue is a huge hot-button this year, and most candidates here are positioning themselves as far to the right on this topic as possible. Big, ugly, shaved-orangutan J.D. Hayworth, running for the decrepit John McCain's senate seat (and if there's any person who needs to be put out to pasture because he has LOSER written all over him, it's McCain), fairly comes right out and says illegal immigrants should be lined up against the border wall and shot. Hayworth's ads excoriate McCain for having "authored an amnesty bill with Ted Kennedy," as if that's the crime of the century, and McCain's ads seek to portray Hayworth as a really cheesy huckster. In any other context their little pissing contest would be mildly amusing, but in the end the Republican voter will have to choose between these two assholes and their choice will be the next Senator, because whatever tepid Democratic challenger won't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning in this abysmally stupid, wretched state.

Other parts of the country aren't faring much better. In Nevada there is something called Sharron Angle, who truly crawled out from under some radioactive garbage heap in the desert and is spewing her own brand of fundamentalist Christian-tinged idiocy all over the airwaves like fallout from some multi-megaton Stupid Bomb. Inbred skanksicle Sarah Palin continues to explore the outer reaches of ignorance by trying to convince us that "mama grizzlies" are some kind of political force to be reckoned with. According to that dimwitted hillbilly, "mama grizzlies" are conservative women who are fighting mad, but personally, I think the only reason you should label a woman a "mama grizzly" is because she's hairy, she stinks and she has a huge ass. This fabricated subclass of voters is nothing but Soccer Moms v2.0, or the gender-flip version of Angry White Men - something created by political consultants as a weak reflection of some aspect of voter discontent and given corporeal form by the media, who eagerly jump on any idiotic sociopolitical concept dangled in front of them, either out of boredom or complete intellectual bankruptcy. I guess it's some kind of peculiarly Alaskan type of insanity that pitbulls wearing lipstick and mama grizzly bears somehow make it into the national political dialogue. Another reason to hate the poorly-embalmed John McCain because if it wasn't for his clumsy and incompetent presidential campaign in 2008, we probably never would have heard of Palin.

Speaking of Alaska, which is rapidly becoming to this country what an outhouse is to a farm, former senator Ted Stevens died in a plane crash on some remote mountain earlier this week. My sympathies go to the other people who were on the plane, but to Stevens, not so much. He was a corrupt, greedy and arrogant old bastard who squandered millions if not billions of taxpayer dollars sending dozens of nonsensical pork-barrel spending projects to his state, presumably to make it easier for all the methamphetamine dealers to get around. And people try to cast him as some kind of respectable, noble leader. He was a CROOK who masterfully manipulated the admittedly arcane and ridiculous rules of the senate to do the bidding of his oil-company masters, in whose back pocket he very comfortably lived for his entire senate career. The way I see it, his death means one less conservative Republican in the world, and that by itself is a reason for great celebration.

And then there's the curious case of one Steven Slater, a Jet Blue flight attendant who had a little bit of a mental breakdown after a profanity-laced conflict with a passenger, and literally bailed out of the parked aircraft in spectacular fashion. Now, I have been on plenty of flights where passengers act like total assholes, doing swinish, selfish things and treating the in-flight personnel as drink-fetchers and personal assistants. Also, I have on occasion seen flight attendants act like total bitches and be as rude and contemptuous as possible toward passengers (who only do insignificant things like pay their salaries and provide them with employment), for no other reason then they can. This is particularly true of United Airlines, which has the nastiest flight attendants I have ever seen, and Northwest Airlines, which has the oldest and the crankiest. But the truth is, anywhere you work you will get extremely frustrated and fed-up with the bad aspects of the job and this particular person just snapped. I would not react well if some loathsome pig called me a m*f*er, but undoubtedly Slater did not handle the situation well. It was his job to be nice to idiots, no matter how awful they are. If he was an investment banker and someone did something rude to him on a plane, then yeah, he could rip them a new butthole. Nonetheless, I am on Team Slater and feel that he does need some kind of sanction for deploying the emergency slide, but jail time is so not appropriate. Not as long as Sarah Palin walks the world free.

So, I am going to sit back and relax this weekend, and enjoy my life without letting batshit-crazy political ads raise my blood pressure and ruin my day. I have a very sweet, playful little 5-week-old bunny named Desiree running around the house having a great time jumping and dancing and playing. I have lots of other rabbits whose sweetness and gentleness constantly make me realize what is truly important and valuable in this life. And for that, I am grateful.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Mosque at Ground Zero

There has been a lot of controversy recently surrounding the proposed building of a mosque a couple of blocks from the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. A number of people who lived through the attacks consider it an affront against the memory of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims who lost their lives in the biggest terrorist incident in American history. I tend to think it's quite the opposite.

Now, I will not pretend to understand what a horrendous, terrifying experience it must have been to be in Manhattan during the attack. Nor can I understand how awful it must have been to lose a spouse, a friend, a colleague, a son or daughter in such a horrible fashion. All I understand is how it affected me. The first plane hit the World Trade Center tower at approximately 8:45 am EDT on that fateful Tuesday morning. It was 5:45 am in Phoenix, and my clock radio clicked on at 6 am, as it usually did on a work morning. It was tuned to NPR and they just started talking about some plane that flew into a building in lower Manhattan. I didn't think a lot about it because for some reason I just assumed it was a Cessna or similar small aircraft.

It was not until I made breakfast and sat down in front of the TV to catch up on the news for a couple of minutes, when the full impact of what happened was made clear to me. I sat open-mouthed in shock as the news video came on, and I literally could not move from my couch. It seemed like I was watching a horrible movie or something, it was so surreal and so very hard to comprehend. How could something this awful happen in our country, on such a picture-perfect late summer morning? When the second jet careened into the other tower it dawned on me what an unprecedented, catastrophic tragedy was unfolding before the eyes of the world, and how everyone's lives would never, ever be the same again.

I can't remember being so profoundly affected by any single event; even the shock of President Kennedy's assassination in 1963 was a distant second compared to it. The day turned out to be one of the worst days of my life, and it seemed everyone at work was completely shell-shocked. They even told us we could leave early if we wanted, and since I found it impossible to concentrate on anything, I did leave. But the people in New York that day did not have the option to leave and go somewhere else. They were right in the middle of unimaginable horror and destruction.

The rebuilding of Ground Zero is proceeding, part shrine to the lives lost that day and part tribute to the spirit and resiliency of the American people. It is also a symbol of rebirth, of coming together for a new, better purpose, and of cooperation. In this spirit, I would think it is a good thing for the mosque project to go through, because Muslims were murdered that day, along with Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and practically every other religious group. The fact that Muslim people want to participate in the rebuilding of the area is I think a major sign that the terrorists have indeed failed in their mission to destroy this country and its people.

It is completely wrong to brand every Muslim in the world as a terrorist, just as it would be to categorize every fundamentalist Christian as a deranged, hate-filled murderer just because some of them kill abortion providers. Actually, most of the 9/11 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, and yet you don't see people protesting in front of the Saudi embassy or throwing them out of our country. Maybe it has something to do with all the oil they have over there, and how inconvenient it would be to piss them off and have them turn the spigot off. The terrorists of the world thrive on hate and fear - two things which they need above all else to carry out their nefarious schemes and make mighty nations weak. Having a mosque in the area would show the terrorists that Muslims all over the world stand with the other people in this country and against all the fear-mongers, cowards and murderers that seek to spread their toxic hatred all over the world. It is not an insult or affront to those who died that horrible, awful day that has changed everyone's lives permanently, but rather an affirmation that the terrorists will not win, as long as we keep our eyes on the things that connect us all, rather than on the things that drive us apart.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Letter to Chelsea Clinton

Dear Chelsea Clinton,

How you doin', girl? Long time no see. Actually long time never see, since we have never met. But I and millions of people like me feel we sort of know you in a superficial, media-enhanced way, because we've seen you grow up right in the middle of a huge spotlight.

Anything new with you? What's that you say - you got married yesterday? Get. Out. Of. Town. Seriously? That is so cool. It seems like only yesterday they trotted you out on stage at the 1992 Democratic Convention, after they nominated your father for the Presidency. I don't think it's an outrageously uncharitable thing to describe you as "gawky" because most 12-year-olds are pretty gawky. But I remember seeing you with your happy, toothy grin and vast mane of frizzy, curly hair and thinking, she actually looks kind of normal, a girl-next-door type. That would have been totally true if I lived next to the White House, which is where you lived for a lot of the next 8 years. It's impossible for me to understand how that would have felt like. I mean, living in the White House would have been an amazing, astounding experience but I also think it would have been an enormous pain in the butt sometimes.

Your parents tried to keep you and your teenage life relatively quiet and out of public scrutiny as much as possible, which I think was a good thing. It must have been tough because at least for me, when I did something stupid as a teenager at least half the free world didn't find out about it twenty minutes later. I wonder if and how you managed to fit in all the naughty things teenagers do as just a normal part of growing up, what with 500 secret service agents tailing you all the time. Too bad your father couldn't have been as cautious with his behavior, because I can't possibly imagine what you had to go through with the media firestorm surrounding his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment. How could you go out in public and hold your head up with some semblance of dignity when the entire nation was buzzing about what your father did with cigars in a closet next to the Oval Office? Or the bizarre spectacle of him publicly pondering what the definition of "is" is?

I know you had to develop a thick skin being First Daughter, and that's a difficult thing to do as a teenager, because you're so self-conscious and critical of yourself at that point in your life. It's really hard to have the self-esteem and self-confidence you needed so badly to deal with in that position. I remember hearing some loutish Republican Congressman making a snide comment about you, for no good reason other than sheer hatefulness. I can't remember the Congressman nor the remark, but I do remember feeling a lot of anger and outrage that a grown man would take to making snide, nasty comments about a teenage girl who always looked so pleasant and sweet. It gave me the first of many, many indications on how hateful, vicious, mean-spirited and degenerate Republicans can be, and my opinion of them has only gotten worse from that point on.

But hey, that was some wedding you guys put on. The media buzz was deafening weeks in advance, and there was much speculation about the glittering array of celebrities whom we assumed would be in attendance. But it turned out that Oprah and Barbra and bunches of other luminaries were not on the list. The FAA even declared a no-fly zone above the wedding area to keep paparazzi helicopters from buzzing the area and doing something unseemly. And how many brides get their own air space for their wedding?

Speaking of unseemly, I would never want to rain on anybody's parade on what was probably the most important and magical day of their life, but didn't you think for one tiny second that some of these lavish preparations could be construed as a bit excessive? There was the $600,000 air-conditioned tents, $200,000 for security and a very high-profile wedding planner. We know that the two families involved are prominent, and your dad is an ex-President and your mom the current Secretary of State, so you do have a couple of nickels to rub together. All these things added up to a final tab estimated to be in the range of $2-3 million dollars, which is kind of amazing. Doesn't it make you feel just a little bit ... well, I'm not sure of the right word here. I would never want a bride to feel "guilty" about her wedding because guilt implies someone intentionally did something wrong. But don't you feel a little bit, shall we say, "morally discomfited" about:

1) the fact that millions of people spend 40-50 years toiling at a job and they don't make as much money during that time as you spent for a single-day event.
2) what 2-3 million dollars could have accomplished if given to homeless shelters, animal shelters, or food pantries across the nation.
3) the on-site emergency plumbers and electricians were forced to wear tuxedos on the job, so that the wedding guests would not be grossed out to within an inch of their lives if someone in work clothes bent over and shot a load of ass crack at them.

But that's okay, we still love you, Chelse. You have had a life of great privilege and opportunity, and also a life of extreme scrutiny and at times completely undeserved criticism. We know you have suffered mightily but also had so many doors opened to you, based mostly on your natural talents, of course, but also by virtue of your family name and pedigree. But in spite of some of the batshit-crazy, media-blender aspects of your life, you have turned into a very beautiful, poised, intelligent and successful woman. You are truly a role model for all of us, and a monument to the tenacity and determination of the human spirit to triumph over whatever nonsense the universe throws us. You deserved your day in the sun and the very best wishes from everyone all over the world.

Just don't get divorced. Ever.