Thursday, February 4, 2010

What, and Get Out of Politics?

It’s one of those story-jokes like “The Aristocrats”—everyone tells it differently. This isn’t film and I’m not Bob Saget, so here’s my “nice” version:

An old vaudevillian is passing through a circus grounds when he spots another vaudevillian he knows from days of yore. “Sam!” he says, “What are you doing here?” “I work here,” says Sam. “Here, in the circus? You became a… clown, Sam?” “No,” says Sam, “I take care of the animals.” “You, Sam? You were up there with the best!” Seeing the crestfallen look on the man’s face, Sam quickly tells him, “It’s OK, my friend, really! Come, I’ll show you. I have to give the elephant an enema.” Taking the man with him, Sam grabs a tall ladder and props it up against the elephant’s rear. He grabs a fire hose, turns it on full blast, mounts the ladder, and shoves 12 inches of the hose into the elephant. The elephant gradually becomes so engorged with water he explodes, throwing Sam from the ladder in a wave of excrement. As Sam lies sprawled on the ground in a pool of dung, his heartbroken crony pleads, “Sam, you don’t have to do this! You can quit!” Sam says, “What and get out of show business?

It’s a punch line with a moral. Vaudeville is long dead, but electing to swim in shit is not. Witness anyone in politics. If, to quote a master shit-detector, Yip Harburg, “It’s a Barnum and Bailey world,” Washington is its big top—and Congress is the center ring.

Infantile men and women of all ages run off to join the circus. As a rule, they leave family responsibilities behind to assume public responsibility irresponsibly. They call themselves Senators and Representatives. By electing them, we enable them.

I’m proposing “New Conditions For Congressional Officeholders.” Let’s give it a catch phrase for the C-SPAN debates and the ad hoc press conferences on the steps: The Stay Home Amendment. I hereby propose: we elect congressional candidates for terms at home. Instead of sending them to Capitol Hill, we post them to their homes and their families—and their own beds. Instead of living in caucus, committee or sin, they can learn, first hand every day, what the rest of us unavoidably know: drugs, unwanted pregnancies, hunger, broken wills and shattered dreams, essential needs and unpredictable ill health, lurk or fester in everyone’s backyard.

Now, Congressman, let’s debate “public option,” “freedom of choice,” “right to serve”; “bail-out,” “paygo,” and the ringer of ringers, “socialism.” On the cesspool side of mini-mindedness, let’s see if we can skirt the corrosive detritus of the Birthers and Tea Baggers. Welcome home.

If you were fortunate to see President Obama’s commanding appearance last Friday before “The GOP House Issues Conference,” variously referred to as a Republican retreat, a House caucus, or from my impression, a staged reading of scripted talking points by 10 toadying Republicans, you saw how the president, hungry for dialogue, patiently forbore bore after bore. It was reminiscent of a carny side show as the champ took on all challengers, all of whom entered the ring swinging unskillfully, hoping to land a lucky punch. Flailing and failing, the hapless pols needed someone to stop the bleeding. Roger Ailes to the rescue! (What’s a side show without a fat man?) While every other major network naturally continued to carry “The GOP House Issues Conference” to its conclusion, Ailes, the Fox News’ boss, decided to ring the bell and throw in the towel 20 minutes before the contest was over. And then “began attacking the president for ‘lecturing’ to the lawmakers,” according to Politico! So much for Fox’s “fair and balanced” news.

Now here’s Ray Fox’s fair and balanced news:

Ailes had this to say about his decision: “I’m not in politics, I’m in ratings.” And this non-sequitur when asked why Fox (TV) cut away so early: “Because we’re the most trusted name in news.” Arrogant and unbalanced newsman.

Obama had this to say to the conference: “I don't think they [the American people] want more partisanship. I don't think they want more obstruction. They didn't send us to Washington to fight each other in some sort of political steel-cage match to see who comes out alive.”

Who would you rather listen to? Just like back-room politics, what started here with an old joke ends with anything but a laughing matter.


  1. “It takes less time to do things right than to explain why you did it wrong.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  2. Poor Mr. President. Leading the nation out of the spectacular mess the Bush dynasty & co. left behind: it's a dirty job but someone has to do it.

  3. An engorged elephant shitting uncontrollably over everything...

    Thomas Nast himself could not have presented a better picture of the Republican Party.

  4. Now, Congressman, let’s debate “public option,” “freedom of choice,” “right to serve”; “bail-out,” “paygo,” and the ringer of ringers, “socialism.” On the cesspool side of mini-mindedness, let’s see if we can skirt the corrosive detritus of the Birthers and Tea Baggers.
    If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
    Albert Einstein

  5. We used to say of the US Govt: "Socialism for us... capitalism for everyone else!"
    Honestly how can they begrudge national health care when they themselves get everything for free - as do their entire families - while they're elected officials.

  6. Starring as the Ringmaster: Barack Obaba, non-idealogue, King of Bullshit.

    Old alcoholics Joke: How do you know he's lying? His lips are moving.

    We are the most agriculturally productive country in the world because of all the fertilizer produced in Washington. Barack, our God and Saviour, is the King of Crap. Pelosi is his drag Queen, and Poor Ole Harry Reid gets to use the shovel.

  7. Note to Jacopo: Yes, and the Republican rank-and-file seem to be lapping the shit right up! Crazy. Or maybe it's tasty? But I don't want to find out.

  8. First "Rachel Madcow," now "Elsie Milkmaid." Is someone pulling my udder? (Or am I being udderly bovine?)

  9. The MSNBC Madcow is mad as mad can be
    Frothing nightly from the mouth with pure sanity.
    The Milkmaid Elsie tho is fair with dimpled cheeks that blush.
    She sees the folly in Madcow blaming all on Bush.

    She also sees the folly in the madding crowd that cries
    That only liberals know the truth all others just spread lies.
    But being fair,she also laughs at Beck his chest so proud and full
    His truths the same as liberals no more or less than bull.

    The left and right in folly fight and no bill ever passes
    They stand apart and point and shout and call each other asses.
    They live to fight yet have no sight to yield or compromise
    So freedom fades to tyranny and liberty just dies.

    Oh beautiful for spacious skies what is it that we’ve wrought?
    When men decry their fellow man for freedoms dearly bought.
    Allay the blame! Come be as one, and let us all agree
    That hope and change are nothing more than life and liberty!

  10. Second line "pure sanity" should read pure INSANITY. If Rachel Madcow is sane, then Glen Beck is Dr, Freud. They are all mad hatters and that was the point.

    Udderly Elsie, Maddest Cow of All