Thursday, July 10, 2008

Items for the "World Is Stark Raving Mad' File

It was no accident that the theater of the absurd followed World War II, the greatest crisis of the 20th century. Art followed more than twenty years of absurd performances and disasters that began with Germans carrying their money in wheelbarrows during hyperinflation and ended shortly after Britons decided they had had enough of colonialism and Winston Churchill's 'India problem' and kicked the victorious prime minister out of office shortly after the allies defeated Germany.

The difference between then and now is that during the 1930s, a growing number of journalists covered the looming disaster of World War II with a tenacity that has not been seen for many years now, at least not in American mainstream press. This past week, the media spent a day talking about Barack Obama's lack of a pet and what that meant in the race for the White House. If you're in the future, and reading this twenty years from now while taking a break from cleaning up the mess we made, here is how we spent our time as we faced a series of largely self-inflicted crises:
As we've reported here before, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has 24 pets, while Democratic contender Barack Obama has none.

It isn't just newspapers, news shows and journalists who've gone stark raving mad. I'm sometimes inclined to think there's something in the water the Environmental Protection Agency hasn't noticed yet. Here's a story from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat about the last of the rugged individualists or something like that:
Debra Due, 43, was trying to eliminate mice in a travel trailer on her property for a new tenant ... said Mendocino County Sheriff’s Capt. Kurt Smallcomb.

(snip)

At about 1:20 a.m. July 3, Due, who was intoxicated, went down to the trailer with her gun, holstered under her left arm, Smallcomb said.

“Being a good landlord, she comes down to take care of this mouse problem,” he said.

But as she drew the revolver from its holster, it slipped from her hand, hit the floor and fired, Smallcomb said.

The bullet went through the woman’s right kneecap then struck a set of keys hanging on the man’s belt loop. The bullet glanced off the keys and tore a hole in the man’s pants, he said.

The bullet traveled between the man’s pants and his under shorts, grazing his groin area before coming to rest in his coin pocket, from where it was recovered for evidence, Smallcomb said.

Due was back home after a brief visit to the hospital and is laying low. The same cannot be said about Phil Gramm, former senator, wealthy right wing ranconteur and McCain adviser. Here's that story:
In an interview with the Washington Times, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm termed the current economic slowdown "a mental recession."

(snip)

And then he showed why his own presidential bid in 1996 quickly crashed and burned, calling the United States "a nation of whiners."


The only difference between Gramm and McCain is that Gramm never developed the Republican art of telling people what they want to hear while doing the opposite behind their backs.

Republicanism, by the way, runs deep in the Gramm family. Because of federal regulations she sneaked in, Gramm's wife is partly responsible for the Enron debacle and the creative accounting that led to Enron's downfall while various frauds were perpetuated against millions of Americans (yes, I know, I said millions).

Cindy McCain, on the other hand, is only guilty of bankrolling her husband's campaign, though probably in ways that the press hasn't even come close to exploring yet. The truth is that Cindy's hundred million doesn't exactly make John McCain an average Joe. That might explain another McCain gaffe in response to Gramm's comments about whining. McCain, in an effort to be more sympathetic to voters, acknowledged that many families are having a hard time paying for their children's education. Let that sink in for a moment.

Keep in mind that John is perfectly willing to tell people what they want to hear. But he's been around Cindy's hundred million for so long, he's clueless. He can't even tell a good yarn. He's oblivious to the fact that millions of Americans are having trouble putting food on the table. Millions of seniors are trying to figure out how to pay for their medication. Millions of Americans can't pay for health insurance. Millions of Americans are paying through their nose for gas so they can go to work, assuming they still have a job. Millions of Americans are worried about rising food prices. Millions of Americans are worried they may lose their home. These days it's a luxury to be able to wonder if you can afford your child's education. But in this world that has gone stark raving mad, it's Barack Obama who's the elitist.

But absurdity is not restricted to Americans. The Iranians released pictures of a missile launch this past week. One picture showed four missiles being launched. Problem? The photo was photoshopped. Then, in some sort of Iranian press snafu, a second picture showed up showing only three of four missiles being launched and, except for the area that's photoshopped, it's exactly the same picture as the first, confirming the photoshop theory. So either the Iranians are just as incompetent as the White House or Dick Cheney hired a teenager to fake both pictures which would be Dick Cheney's only significant accomplishment in seven and a half years.

Did I mention that the price of oil almost reached $150/barrel on fears of an attack on Iran? There's been lots of talk about speculators. Given the climate of fear fostered by right-wing conservatives, would it surprise anyone that the speculators are cronies of Bush? In 2006, the price of oil dropped in the two months before the midterm elections. Will it happen again? Maybe. Maybe not. Fear is a potent weapon of the far right and is just about all a failed president like Bush has left to have any chance of continuing his 'legacy.' The McCain/Bush axis is real, even if Bush has to fool the voters once more by letting McCain feign some distance. For now, the Bush Administration seems to be backing away from any possible attack on Iran. But they have not closed the door fully on the Israelis perhaps doing something that might, after all, make Israeli voters forget Olmert's corruption problems.

Did I mention that the Russians and Chinese don't pay much attention to us anymore? Mention corruption or human rights to them and you hear guffaws.

In these times, what is certain is this: the theater of the absurd has returned. We will see more of it in the coming months.

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