Tuesday, July 31, 2007

History in the Making

The Bush Administration is surreal. We’ve seen audacity before: Bill Clinton actually requested clarification on the legal definition of the word “is”. George H.W. Bush barfed on the Emperor of Japan. Ronald Reagan made “I don’t recall” his presidential motto. If he becomes a permanent fixture on the dime they should replace “In God We Trust” with “I Don’t Recall”.

It doesn’t stop there. Gerald Ford was clearly appointed to pardon Richard Nixon who ordered federal agents to steal documents from the Democratic opposition. One can only imagine that he was talked down from ordering the assassination of the leading Democratic candidates and settled on theft as part of a compromise.

Presidents and the people around them have proven to be corrupt and inept often at the same time. This dereliction of duty started with John Adams when he forced the passage of the Alien and Sedition acts in order to quash criticism of his administration. Interestingly enough the Bush administration has tried to use its power to limit the scope of the press.

Nothing compares to the Bush administration and we’ve had some doozies. Bush has taken the worst we have seen out of our past presidents and gone one better. The good news is that it’s hard to imagine it will ever get worse. The bad news is that this guy managed to get two terms. Sure, both elections remain steeped in controversy with final counts in pivotal states still in question but how did it get close enough to steal?

You can run down the list of cabinet officials, review a biography of Karl Rove and analyze the policy positions taken over the course of the past 7 years but nothing tops the two men at the top. Bush is the ever-bumbling moron to the embodiment of comic book evil that is Dick Cheney. It’s almost like a live action version of Pinky and The Brain.

Almost because The Brain was a cerebral intellectual genius who was often undermined by his control group counterpart where as Cheney is more of a surly old bastard who uses his bumbling sidekick as cover. You get the impression that when these guys leave office newly appointed White House officials will discover a shit stain on the Constitution from where Cheney literally wiped as ass on it and the Declaration of Independence will have splotches of Kool Aide on it because Bush used it as a coaster. We’ll probably find Lady Justice in a Supreme Court cloak room bound, gagged and sodomized with her scales and the Statue of Liberty might very well end up turning tricks in a Beijing massage parlor.

Unlike the quintessential bad guy, Cheney has no class. He dropped the F-bomb in Congress. Granted, we’d all like to (WTF is going on in here?) but Cheney used it in a threatening manner when addressing a rival. It should have been shocking but it wasn’t. We’re talking about a guy who shot a man in the face and then sat on his ass while that same man apologized to Dick Cheney for the public humiliation the shooting caused. Cheney is a heartless son of a bitch. Literally! The Federal government has spent almost as much money on Cheney’s ticker as it has on body armor for the troops. Cheney makes Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars seem like a fair and decent human being.

I’m still trying to figure out if W hails from the prominent political Bush family of Maine, Texas and Ohio or if he is actually related to the Bush’s Baked Beans clan. His father wasn’t exactly a great president nor was he an eloquent statesman but George H. W. Bush didn’t come across as patently stupid or even arrogant. The younger Bush is a dangerous combination of both. He’s definitely the product of several generations of wealth and the inevitable inbreeding that occurs when opulent people marry to consolidate power.

We’ve had presidents who managed to cast poor public images in the past. Jefferson was a poor public speaker who mumbled in hopes of hiding a lisp. Carter seemed wimpy, as did the elder Bush and Richard Nixon was just creepy. Gerald Ford was widely regarded as somewhat dumb but that was because he was a very slow, deliberate speaker. When it comes to speaking it’s hard to think of a politician who hasn’t put his or her foot into his or her mouth. And when it comes to lies, boy do we have a surplus. Ronald Reagan was about as dishonest a president as you can find but he had so much charisma that there are people who actually want to put his face on Mount Rushmore.

Nobody beats Bush. Most people carefully craft their lies but Bush just fires away. He’s like that neighborhood brat you could catch red-handed throwing rocks through your garage windows only to deny it to the bitter end. Bush characterized John Kerry as a flip-flopper but it’s not hard for the producers of the Daily Show to compile a video segment of Bush contradicting himself. In fact the only time Bush seems capable of speaking with out stumbling over his tongue and creating new words is when he’s telling lies. It’s the truth that comes out in slow, garbled phrases that don’t quite make sense.

Thomas Jefferson was known to show disdain for pretense and offended many white house guest by suspending accepted social decorum for a more relaxed environment. Seating during White House dinners was based on who got there first and many dignitaries took offense that their fashionably late arrival resulted in a less desirable seat. This was a shrewd ploy by Jefferson to demonstrate that the American concept of power was different and respect was granted on an individual level, not necessarily by station alone.

Bush demonstrates a lack of decorum as well but his goes beyond the symbolic displays practiced by Jefferson and into the realm of boorish self-importance. From sexually harassing the Chancellor of Germany to shouting “Yo, Blair” across a room filled with foreign leaders, Bush has proven that he simply lacks respect for everybody that is not George W. Bush. He’s the “war president”; he is the “decider”; he doesn’t have to engage in tings as bothersome as diplomacy.

Other presidents went to great lengths to show world leaders respect. When John Kennedy faced the irascible Khrushchev he did it with a sense of poise and rationality that won him the respect of every other leader in the world. Imagine what life would be like had Kennedy possessed Bush’s sense of self-righteousness.
Long ago Bush decided to abandon his ivy league roots and embrace life as a redneck. He is a combination of Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam. He makes ridiculous accusations, outlandish threats and then has the nerve to blame liberals for the mess he made and Cheney comes out of his casket every so often to keep the train on the wrong track. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t real.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

i-phone? YAWN!!!!

The i-phone has hit the market. I can’t say I’m excited or surprised by this development. To be completely honest I’m always a little under-whelmed with the latest toys.

I was born in 1970. That makes me 37 this year. It also makes me a Generation X’er. In case you missed the 80’s, we’re the tiny post-baby boom generation that lacks the motivation to sustain its own existence. We invented the six year method for obtaining a four year degree. And that’s only if it’s a useless degree. To actually obtain a degree with purpose we require an additional four years of undergraduate study. That’s after moving back home with mom and dad. Understanding my lack of enthusiasm for the i-phone requires an examination of what makes Generation X choose not to tick.

My parents and my grandparents were enamored with THE YEAR 2000. It was a mythical milestone so revered that it was always referred to as THE YEAR 2000. I was constantly regaled with their theories on what would happen. Nobody dared dismiss it with a cheeky designation such as Y2K or the familiar “two-thousand”. It was always referred to in bold face all caps format even though such type-face concepts weren’t familiar to people foolhardy enough to ensconce themselves in polyester suits before dancing the night away. To disco. Yeah, my dad claims he grew up before disco but he owned a leisure suit and a really tacky shirt. He still digs the Bee Gees. And he says rap is crap. Shall we review his record catalogue?

Generation X grew up with mixed messages. Our grandparents were certain that the world was going to end. 2000. Zero, zero. Party over, oops, out of time. Even Prince, a surprisingly influential voice of the time, seemed sure that 1999 was the last chance to lay it on the line. It was grim. My grades suffered because I realized the utter futility of school. Why bother getting an education when I was going to die before I could enjoy it? It made sense to pursue a lifestyle of hedonism early on. If only I had known then what hedonism entailed. I might have hit the road looking for “Darling Nikki”.

Of course our parents were less fatalistic. It’s hard to accept the notion that your children won’t be around long enough to squeeze off a grandchild or two (after that the original kids are expendable) so mom and dad opted to cling to the more positive aspects of THE YEAR 2000. Sadly this was based on images of cheesy post WW2 science fiction so that year represented the full fruition of every futuristic concept. For some reason, all baby boomers seemed to envision the future as a live action version of the Jetsons even though that cartoon was a cunning satire depicting a future where nothing important really changes. Sure you have a flying car and a robot maid but you still have a jerk for a boss and your hot wife has way too much time on her hands. You can bet Mrs. Jetson was getting her swerve on while George was at work getting his nuts handed to him by Spacely. Wilma cheated on Fred (possibly with Betty) and Blondie was definitely stepping out on Dagwood, the daughter is proof of that.

The point is that you should never marry somebody hotter than you deserve…no wait… it’s that our parents had a pretty silly perception of the future. By their logic we went from the Wright brothers crashing a glorified kite to jets in 50 years so having hover cars and teleporters in another 50 was reasonable. Man set foot on the moon in 1969…it all made sense. Hover cars for everyone.

So I grew up not knowing whether THE YEAR 2000 would bring instant death or hover cars, but it was going to be one of them. I never imagined that I’d be expected to get giddy over a phone that plays music. I thought that was what touchtone phones did. I really wanted the hover car but at that point my grandparents certainly seemed smarter than my Barry Manilow-loving parents (dad still raves about his talent and depth) so I banked on death, holding out hope that I would wake up on January 1st, THE YEAR 2000 to find a hover car parked outside waiting for me. Being the future, purchasing such a device would be unnecessary as the government would have no need for money. The Morlocks would do the dirty work and I would just have to avoid being eaten by them.

Imagine my disappointment. Sure, I’m alive but who wants to live in a world where cars still require contact with the road? That’s so 1910. I want my hover car and I want it now. Undoubtedly, a phone that takes pictures, plays music and surfs the internet is a dandy device but can you ride it? Hardly. Do you really think that you can placate an entire generation with a phone when we figured medical science would have unlocked our latent telepathic powers by now? We weren’t supposed to need phones after THE YEAR 2000. Just hover cars. And robot maids.