The Political Theater Scene is Full of Bad Actors

I don’t know how Broadway is doing these days, but political theater abounds.   Yesterday marked the 37th time the Republican House passed a bill to repeal  Obamacare.   And for the 37th time it will go nowhere in the Senate managed by Democrats, but as House Speaker Boehner has said, it will remind the American people where Republicans stand?

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House a...

English: Former Speaker of the Florida House at CPAC in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone need a reminder out there?  Don’t they stand for everything un-Obama?  Now, courtesy of the administration, they have a bunch more Obama stuff to be “un”, all conveniently tied to a general theme articulated by  Senator Marco Rubio.   He characterized the Obama administration as a “culture of intimidation.”  Obviously it must run very deep as one-third of the committees in the Republican controlled House seem compelled to launch  investigations.

I saw a bit of one hearing on TV this morning dealing with the I. R. S.  kicked off by the Republican chairman saying that this scandal reflected a culture of intimidation and cover-up in the administration.  Aren’t you supposed to ask questions first and then  draw conclusions later?

Listening to the vague answers I. R. S. officials gave the committee suggested to me bureaucratic incompetence was more at play than administration over reach.

Columnist David Ignatius, never shy about criticizing the Obama administration, sees the situation quite differently.    Rather than evidence of nascent totalitarianism, he sees  “a frightenly impotent government”.   And, as for the Republican reaction:  “Another generation would have said:   Let’s get on with it.  We say, let’s have another investigation.”

But what can Democrats expect?   What if these scandals had broken out during a Republican administration?   I can imagine hearing the words “police state” bandied about.   The one high card I can see in Obama’s hand is the Republican tendency to over-the-top outrage, bloviating themselves into phony oblivion.  Already the  “I” word is being tossed around (impeachment) and my own favorite “stone them to death” comment:   “this scandal is Iran Contra and Watergate multiplied by 20.”

As we head into a dreary summer of poorly acted political theater, let’s try to get a laugh or two wherever we can find one.   If you haven’t seen Jon Stewart’s take on this mess watch it below.   Funny stuff.  Unfortunately for  Democrats , the laugh is mostly on us.

P. S. – As always, “followers” receiving posts in your email will need to go to my web site to see video (click gravatar in upper left).

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The Big Picture of our Federal Fiscal Problems

Rubik's Cube Français : Rubik's Cube Bahasa Me...

Rubik’s Cube Français (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Typing the above title made me laugh.  The idea of me saying anything useful about the “big picture” in the space of an itty bitty post makes no sense at all.  On the other hand, it doesn’t feel worthwhile to keep tracking a congress which struggles to just keep the government funded on an almost month by month basis.

Common sense would suggest the issues of the sequester and whether to continue funding the federal government past March 27 shouldn’t be issues at all.  Solving those are the bare minimum while the real issues, the REALLY BIG fiscal  issues are not being touched upon.  It’s as if we are busy trying to agree on shoring up some levees while a tsunami is coming at us a few miles away, or in years, 10 or so.

Doug Elmendorf is the Director of the Congressional Budget (CBO) which acts as a kind of referee examining budget proposals developed by congress and the president and “scoring” them as to their actual cost.   I have come to realize this is a sophisticated guestimate at best since there are so many variables involved, but a good faith guestimate is better than nothing, I guess.

According to Elmendorf we are headed towards very rough waters in our fiscal future.  Last year the CBO chief said that even if congress could come together on various tax hikes and spending cuts offered by both sides – A REALLY BIG IF since they barely can agree to keep the government operating for a few months – they might cut around $250 billion annually from our growing yearly deficit (not touch the overall debt, mind you, but just stanch our full speed towards the iceberg field of insolvency dead ahead).

While that would be a plus, Elmendorf  envisions the need for $750 billion annually in tax hikes and/or spending cuts by 2022 to prevent out national debt from climbing to the point of being equal to about 90% of our GDP, a level which scares most economists.   To reiterate:  Under what seems a best case scenario, we still fall  $500 billion short annually of swinging this big ship of state away from a treacherous ice flow in the 2020s. (*1)

Of course, Elmendorf’s vision would be challenged by some on the left and the right, with economist Paul Krugman the poster boy on the left and, let’s say, Congressman Paul Ryan on the right. (*2)   However, if Elmendorf is close to being right, certainly those on the right who see a solution shaped by only cutting taxes and spending are particularly delusional.

Our ship of state seems to be heading directly towards a huge iceberg in 10 years, or so.  And both parties have their hands on the wheel trying to pull it left or right, which keeps us going straight forward towards, if not disaster, to an America that is no fun to imagine.

Considering the complexity of all this reminds me of Rubik’s Cube, a puzzle I tried unsuccessfully to solve as a young man.  This seems infinitely harder to solve, and so complex it is hard to know even where to begin.  But I’m willing to put in much more time.

There is something about the impossible that has always attracted me.

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(*1)   I drew the Elmendorf material from Red Ink, a book by WSJ economics editor David Wessel.   Short (162 pages) and easy to read, it provides a good ball park sense of our fiscal Rubik’s Cube.

(*2)  In case you haven’t bumped into him, Paul Krugman is a liberal, Noble laureate economist who probably has more influence than most in his trade because in addition to knowing his stuff he’s everywhere, through his column at the New York Times, frequent political chat show appearances, several books and a blog which he updates sometimes three times a day, which can be found in my Blogroll to the upper left.   He’s sharped tongued to say the least and argues that while the debt is important, we should forget about it right now and deal with unemployment and strengthening the economy first.    A stronger economy would generate more federal income and begin to reduce our yearly deficits.  Then we could work on cutting down spending.

Everyone knows Paul Ryan, who generally speaking, is the polar opposite of Paul Krugman.   He is all about reducing our annual deficits and later our debt.  He has just unveiled a 10 year plan to balance our budget which seems like a Tea Party fantasy.  For one thing, it assumes Obamacare will be abolished, which is definitely not going to happen over the next four years and quite likely never (though I do think it will be altered over time).   Krugman, though rough tongued to make an impression, seems to be arguing what he believes.   I don’t know what Ryan is up to.

Dick Cheney Unhinged

(EDITOR’S WARNING:   Unfortunately I have not been able to verify”Doctor” Aufderwahl’s credentials and am sorry to say, he might not have any.  When I asked him where he earned his various degrees, he said “home schooling.”  I would have scrapped the rest of this interview except some of you seemed interested in the first part, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to complete it. You can judge for yourself.)

Darth vader clock

Darth vader clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me:   Let’s get back to Dick Cheney’s inability to see him self in the mirror.  That does make sense.  He says things with such certainty, and no self-consciousness, odd for a man who has been wrong about so much.

Dr.  Yes.  You know how people say:  “I took a good look at myself in the mirror.”  He can’t do that.  There’s nothing there to see.  That’s why he can use the word “disaster” for the Obama administration, unaware he’s the poster boy for the word.  He has only a tenuous grasp on reality at this point, only marginally sane. He’s not quite crazy enough to use the insanity plea if he ever goes to trial, but he’s got a big head start.

Me:  Hmm….   I just happened to think of his daughter and how much she is like him.

Dr:  Of course  she is.  She was cloned.

Me:  Once again “doctor” I have trouble believing….

Dr:  Really?  Do you ever listen to either of them speak; they both say exactly the same things.  EXACTLY.  I know it’s hard to listen to them, but do it once and you’ll see what I mean. Before a CIA buddy told me about the cloning, at times I looked for strings attached to her head, imagining Dickey boy above pulling them.  You know how the mind can play tricks on you?

Me:  Can you give me any proof of this?

Dr:  It is self evident.  If you can clone a sheep or a horse, why couldn’t you clone a Cheney?  We’re not talking Einstein or da Vinci here.  Except for a few body parts and younger looking skin, she and he are exactly the same.  When I see her, I think of a young Chenster wearing a skirt.  It’s unsettling.

That’s cloning.   Brain’s exactly the same.  No different, equally capable of appearing normal despite a mere sliver of contact with reality.   CIA did a great job.

For contrast, compare the McCains, John and Meghan.  They’re normal people.  She was born the old fashioned way.  They have real differences.  She does have a brain of her own.  Do you think if Meghan had been the one running for president she would have picked Sarah Palin as VP?  No way.  She wouldn’t lend that woman her lipstick.

Me:  Well, as crazy as it first sounded, cloning does makes sense.  But is there any way I could verify any of your story?

Dr:   Sure, I could put you in contact with an agent.  But then he’d have to kill you.

Me:  Oh………  well, maybe later then.

Dr:  But here is a warning to you.  Never stand close to the man.

Me:  Why?

Dr:   Well.  Think of it this way.  He has all of these contradictory forces inside which he can only hold together because of the vacant mirror and his snipped brain that allows him to only remember the good stuff, like our being welcomed as liberators in Iraq – like, what, for five or six days?  His life is a lie every single day and that has to take a toll.

For one thing, my penetrating psychiatrist’s mind tells me that his tough act is all a compensation for and camouflage of an ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED inner child, a little sissy girl really.  That inner child is a little sissy girl.  That’s why he has to always look so mean, so we won’t suspect he’s really a sissy girl inside.  It’s the same reason Saddam pretended to have nukes, he wanted Iran Inc. to think he was stronger than he was (*1.)

On top of that, despite all those efforts to hide the fact from himself, there remains an inkling of realization left deep, deep down in his cranium below the amygdala somewhere.  He knows he is not really the Darth Vader he pretends to be.  That tiny tot of his former self hates all this Darth Vader nonsense.

That true sliver of a self aches because he won’t get credit from history for the lion’s share of his life when he was a well respected public servant.   The big Dick  knows it subconsciously and it drives him farther to the dark side.  If he can’t get credit for being a good man, he will be one hell of a bad one, the “meanest man in the whole damn town.”  It sounds good, but in actuality he can barely function.

Me:  What do you mean.  I know he has heart problems, but what…?

Dr:  It’s hard for him to even get up in the morning, especially when he does one of those phony interviews.  He always needs to psyche himself up.  He wakes up a frightened sissy girl and so he has to puff himself up to appear the monster we regularly see.  It’s not all that easy.

A CIA buddy tells me he’s seen him (don’t ask me how) standing in front of that blank mirror repeating:  “Yes I can, yes I can, yes, I can…”.  You know, like the little engine that could.  Sometimes he marches in a little circle around the bathroom going “toot, toot.”

Can you imagine that smoldering cauldron that must be within, like a  volcano about to gush fire and brimstone, which he can neither see nor feel?  Imagine all the pressure of living that lie, while never clear what you are up to.  That’s why he keeps winding up in the hospital; his heart keeps popping like a button on a fat man’s suit.

That’s why you should never stand next to him.  He could BLOW! at any moment .  Most likely his heart, but it could also be his head.  It could start spinning around wildly like a tether ball on a stick.

Really, don’t get near the man.  At least, not when wearing nice clothes.

Me:  Thank you for your time and insights “doctor”.  One last question.  Whenever I see him, I get a little frightened as if he still has a lot of power.  He doesn’t does he?

Dr:  One thing not to worry about is the CIA’s cloning any more Cheney’s, not since he scapegoated them.  So, we won’t have to face a nightmare of endless Cheney’s screwing up the world wave after wave.  And, actually, he’s pretty washed up at this point.  Of course, that snarling visage can scare a grown man, so do what I do.

Whenever I see that venomous puss of his I imagine Cheney wearing a clown suit, you know with the  big red ball shaped nose, the huge shoes, floppy ears and goofy hair.  And I pretend he’s constantly beeping one of those loud irritating clown horns, so I can’t hear a single word he’s saying.   After awhile you’ll come to realize there is nothing to be afraid of.  He’s just a clown.

There is one thing to fear about him, though, in addition to that daughter of his.  All those other clowns who still believe what he says.

Me:  Well, thank you “doctor”…

Dr:  Oh, one more thing, did I tell you about the plan Dickie C.  and Saddam Hussein cooked up about becoming stand up comedians?   This is a doozie.   The Iraq War  was initially conceived  mostly as a publicity stunt to kick off their  tour.  Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans.  They were going to call their duo Husseny, but ……

Me:  Sorry to interrupt “doctor”, but we have run out of time.  Perhaps you can come back again and share more of your insights with us.  Thank you.

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(*1)   Saddam’s pretending to have WMD’s so as to appear stronger to his enemies was reported from interviews with him after his capture.   And I don’t know where you can buy the Darth Vader clock, so please don’t ask.