January 2009 Archives

He Done Rush Wrong, and, Oh, the Price that He Paid!

Whenever I hear a “giant sucking sound,” I can’t help but think of ol’ Ross Perot’s use of the phrase back in 1993 to describe the rapid and massive southward pull on American jobs and capital that would ensue when NAFTA went into effect. God knows there has been plenty of that these past fifteen years, but the giant sucking sound I heard the other day was of a different origin. Actually, best as I could tell, it was coming from somewhere on the vast, unmapped surface of one of Rush Limbaugh’s Siberia-sized buttocks. The precise point of origin of the sucking sound is less important, in my opinion, than its source, and I’m pretty sure what I heard was the result of the forcible removable of a remarkably sustained and incredibly intense lip lock planted on Rush’s backside by one Phil Gingrey, who represents Georgia’s 11th District in the United States House of Representatives.
How, you asked, had Rep. Gingrey come to attach his lips to the corpulent caboose of a self-serving, shystering blowhard like Rush in the first place? Actually, it all began with something Rush said. Doesn’t everything?
Solicited for a brief statement of his hopes for the Obama presidency, Rush obligingly responded, “I hope he fails,"taking care, of course, to revel repeatedly in his own calculated outrageousness until everyone in North America had heard about it twice, including our new prez. Regrettably, President Obama then proceeded to warn Republicans,
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” thereby serving up just the kind of tidbit that Rush, whose ego makes even his rear end seem miniscule, loves to flaunt before his mindless, doting audience of “dittoheads.” Oby’s comments, a smirking Rush triumphantly declared, meant that the President was obviously more frightened of him than the likes of House Minority Leader John Boehner (Does this guy have a tanning bed in his office? Even on his worst days, George Hamilton’s tan never looked that phony. Also, wanna bet his family doesn’t actually pronounce it “Boner”?) or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell..
It was at this point that Rep. Gingrey committed the apostasy that would ultimately force him to Hoover the elephantine booty of the venomous high priest of hate radio. Asked to comment on Limbaugh’s self-aggrandizing aspersions on his party’s leaders, Gingrey responded, “It’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing.
Suffice it to say, the good congressman’s modest rebuke of Rush and his right-wing running buddies didn’t set very well with many of his constituents in Cobb County, which may have the highest density of dittoheads per capita in the entire country. It was scarcely twenty-four hours before Gingrey had elevated groveling to an art form, not only on his web site but live with The Man himself, who graciously allowed the suddenly sycophantic Phil the opportunity to humiliate himself in the ears of millions of eager listeners.
At the risk of overtaxing your gag reflexes here, courtesy of the Hotlanta paper, is just a taste of how it went:

Gingrey the Gelded: Rush, thank you so much. I thank you for the opportunity, of course this is not exactly the way to I wanted to come on, but I appreciate you giving me the opportunity.
Mainly, I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday….I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments, and I just wanted to tell you, Rush — and all our conservative giants, who help us so much to maintain our base and grow it to get back this majority — that I regret those stupid comments.

Limbaugh the Megalomaniacal
: Well, look, I appreciate that. I have quite a bit of experience with people in the media, and they loved the little storm that they were able to create yesterday, and I thought this was one of the goals.
….But it is what it is, and I’m glad that you called. And I read your explanation on the web site. We all want to be on the same team here, congressman. Our numbers are dwindling in Congress and we want to reverse that…. I understand why you guys might be upset with me. I don’t have thin skin,[ This is hard to believe, considering how stretched it is] and when I make the statement that it appears the president’s more concerned with me than he is with Mitch McConnell or John Boehner, I can understand it might offend some people…

Damn magnanimous of ol’ Rush, wouldn’t you say? A good Alabama friend of mine said it far better than I could when he observed, " It is a shame an elected United States congressman feels he has to prostrate himself and beg the forgiveness of that pill-popping asshole." The scary thing is, this arrogant, hate-spewing bastard is the public face of the American Right at this point, and if sensible Republicans and conservatives of any stripe can’t find the courage to stand up to him and expose him for the manipulative demagogue that he is, they’re going, sooner rather than later in my opinion, to be grappling with his political stalking horse, and it may well be someone who makes Sarah Palin look both liberal and thoughtful by comparison. As to the Dems, if Oby wants the Repubs to tune out Rush, he’s going to have to affix a volume control to the likes of Pelosi and Reid. This is not to say that they deserve to be lumped with the likes of Limbaugh and his ilk, but he’s going to have convince the more overtly partisan in his own ranks to cool it a little and make it clear to the more rigidly ideological that the so-called Stimulus Package is not simply a vehicle for resurrecting the Great Society. Lots of luck to both Oby and the Repubs as they confront their assignments, and just for the record, I hope like hell neither of them fail
Realizing that many of his faithful readers are surely more charitable in spirit than the ol’ Bloviator, I have taken pains to secure the latest information on the physical and emotional conditions of both Rush and Phil after the painful and protracted trauma of having the latter’s lips forcefully separated from the former’s butt, a process, so I’m told, that required the combined exertions of the entire cadre of Budweiser Clydesdales with Babe the Blue Ox standing by just in case. Although he complained of a monstrous hickey on his hiney, Rush was apparently almost giddy as he assured supporters that there was nothing wrong with him that a couple of fist-fulls of Percodan wouldn’t take care of. Alas, the good Congressman didn’t fare quite so well as the prolonged contraction of his lips left them not only grotesquely stretched but flaccid and uncontrollable. Aides urged him to accept an invitation to affiliate with an exceedingly charitable sect of Ubangis, but, speaking through an interpreter, Gingrey, a former OB-GYN, divulged that medical colleagues had advised him of some new cosmetic surgery techniques pertaining to similar skin formations located in body areas within his field of expertise. (If you don’t get it, and you’re sure REALLY want to, mash here.) With luck these procedures may well restore enough definition to Gingrey’s lips to spare him any future embarrassment beyond occasional instances of being confused with Carol Channing or Goldie Hawn.

Did "44" Take His Cue From "32"?

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OK, so maybe President Obama’s kickoff oration never quite achieved the altitude of “ Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” but I’m struck nonetheless by the similarities, both in the contexts of his speech and FDR’s first inaugural address in March 1933 (when, roughly three years into the Great Depression, a great many people were truly despairing of any prospect that things would get any better) and in the tone that each president tried to set from the get-go.

Here’s FDR:
I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.

Here’s Oby:
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.

Several commentators seemed disappointed that Oby’s relatively “ascetic” inaugural remarks seemed a bit short on the soaring oratory that had more than once turned both voters and pundits into putty in his hands. Personally, I thought the speech was eloquent in its simplicity and right on the mark in its blend of genuine candor and quiet confidence. Ol’ Oby’s prodigious oratin' skills didn’t just suddenly desert him. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was high time, may even a little past high time, to throttle back on the mesmerizing rhetoric that had left untold Kool-Aid-swilling millions absolutely convinced that at the merest twitch of Oby’s earlobe, oceans of bad debt would recede, Bernie would return every cent he “made-off “with, and Detroit would suddenly start producing cars that even Nagoya and Stuttgart would be proud to claim.

Much like the anxiety-ridden Americans huddled around their Philcos and Atwater Kents and hanging on FDR’s every word way back in 1933, what we want so desperately right now is to feel some of what wild and crazy ol’ Al Greenspan once called “irrational exuberance” in the face of circumstances that really call for the healthy slice of realism leavened with some low-key self-assurance that Oby was serving up in his remarks. If the new prez’s message that this won’t be over tomorrow or the next day or the next month or perhaps even the next year needed any affirmation, the Dow’s downright disrespectful 332-point inaugural nosedive surely supplied it.
It was disappointing to see that the chief Justice of the Supreme Court apparently considered the occasion august enough to don his robe, but couldn’t bother himself to learn the presidential oath or write it on his palm, for God’s sake. Nor did it thrill me that Rick Warren apparently can’t get through a single prayer without warning us that the only valid tickets to Glory land have to be punched by his personal made-to-specs Jesus. I hope old Rick’s “Depends” were cinched up good and snug when Oby came out with that line about ours being “a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and [gasp!] nonbelievers.” Finally, believe it or not, I was also dismayed that some folks disrupted what a friend on the scene described as “the overwhelming civility” of the occasion because they couldn’t let the outbound “W” get out of town with tossing a few taunts at him.

Despite all this, Tuesday seemed like one of those rare occasions when much of what’s best about our country is on simultaneous display. The way we go about deciding who leads us can get a little ugly sometimes, but I still maintain that the way we go about installing the leaders we choose is way cool. Things would be cooler still, of course, if we recognized that changing the way we are governed won’t accomplish much unless we are ready to change our own priorities and expectations. Barry O. pretty much nailed the fundamental lesson of the Bush years when he reminded us that:

The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart—not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As I listened to #44 explain how we came to the brink of disaster and emphasize how much a truly meaningful economic recovery depends on regaining our sense of national purpose as well, I couldn’t help but think he might be channeling ol’ #32 (and technically, I suppose, #33-35 as well), who, as he addressed a country long since toppled over that brink and mired chin-deep in the Slough of Despond, also assured his fellow Americans that “these dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and our fellow men.”

Ps. You can read Oby’s utterances in full here and listen to FDR’S here, or you could just stop by my place. I do a mean Frankie D., if I do say so myself

A Terrible Waste of Perfectly Good Oil


Just when I thought that our distinguished representative from Georgia’s 10th district might be content to rest on his laurels, we are witness to another fireburst of his all-consuming ambition. Paul Broun had upped his name recognition big-time last fall by voicing his concerns that President-elect Barack Obama intended to establish some sort of Hitlerian-Stalinistic totalitarian socialist police state. Not satisfied with his already all-but uncontested designation as the biggest fool in the 111th Congress, Broun has now made a bold bid for recognition as the biggest fool ever to serve in any congress.
When sketchy first reports of Broun’s latest stunt alluded to smearing olive oil around in the United States Capitol, I thought that maybe ol’ Paul had decided to loosen things up a bit and invited his congressional colleagues to one of those sessions where everybody gets naked and greasy and proceeds to, shall we say, get a little better acquainted. I should have known better. Not only did nobody peel down to the buff, but Paul had two preachers with him, and instead of rubbing the oil on each other, they used it to “anoint and consecrate” the door through which President-elect Obama will pass on his way to get himself duly inaugurated. (Don't just take my word for it, mash here then scroll down to the video.)
Broun gave a little sermonette about how Oby needs to “heed God’s directives,” the real and rather pointed message apparently being, “B.O., good buddy, you better get off that Channel 666 and join me over here listenin’ directly to the Almighty on station WWJD!” At that point, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who plans an anti-abortion demonstration during the inaugural parade, read from the sermon offered by Rev. Billy Graham at Richard Nixon’s inaug in 1968. (If you were around back then you probably recall how that message made a totally new man out of ol’ Tricky Dick.) Then we heard from Rev. Rob Schenck, also an anti-abortion activist and agitator who was reportedly once dragged off by the Secret Service for trying to get a bit too close (hopefully not in the biblical sense) to Bill Clinton. Rev. Schenck, who has already described Obama’s Christian faith as “woefully deficient,” offered his own little prayer that God would see to it that both the spiritually derelict Oby and his missus would “turn their hearts and minds completely to You.”
The clear hope in all their prayin’ and pontificatin’ and smearin’ all that oil on the literal gateway to the Obama presidency, was that as he passed through, Oby would get a sudden, massive, mind-cleansing jolt from Jehovah and scurry over to join them on God’s side on issues like abortion, gun control, prayer in schools, creationism and any other matters in which Satan’s meddlesome little hand might be working to undermine the Far-Right agenda. I got a feeling that if Oby didn’t get the message from on high, or it didn’t take, we’d all soon be dog paddlin’ in the lake of fire. The scariest part of the whole episode for me, however, came when Rev. Schenck turned to our own Standing-Tall Paul and said, “May the Lord multiply your kind.”
Actually, of the three, Broun’s sincerity seems the least suspect, perhaps because his account of having been led to the Lord by the dude in the wacky wig who used to wave a “John 3:16” sign at NFL games is clearly something no one would make up for political gain. I’m especially struck by the irony in Rev. Mahoney’s insistence that Obama’s stance on abortion puts him “on the wrong side of history.” Have these guys actually failed to notice how far out there they are in their position on the president- elect compared to the more-than-pleasantly-surprised majority of the political Right?
Actually the only other major flak Oby’s getting right now is coming from the opposite extreme of the spectrum, the lefty ideologues with hair ablaze who can’t abide the prospect of an anti-gay marriage minister, Rev. Rick Warren, praying over B.O. at the inaug. This crowd hollered that Warren’s presence was an “insult” to the other minister involved in the proceeding, civil rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery, only to hear Lowery himself explain that contrary to presumption, “I've never said I support gay marriage. I support gay rights and I support civil unions. Like a whole lot of people, I have some difficulty with the term gay marriage. Because deep in my heart, deeply rooted in my heart and mind, marriage is associated with man and woman.”
Alas, the sense that Obama prefers a restrained 911-style commission approach to investigating allegations of “war crimes” by members of the Bush administration to full-blown “show trials” has also left hard-core lefties with their knickers in a knot. “How can I make them do more than they might otherwise want to do, “ MSNBC’s ultra-tiresome p.c. pixie, Rachel Maddow, wants to know. Great idea Rachel, a chance to make a spectacle of vain attempts to prove what for the most part can’t be proven and reignite partisan rancor in the bargain-- just what we need with the country on the brink of Great Depression II.
It’s all to Obama’s credit that he has managed thus far to marginalize the lunatics of left and right so effectively in a time of such crisis. If you don’t mind, Paul, I’ll just pray that he keeps listening to whomever or whatever told him how to do that.

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