Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Da Al G Show

Maybe it's because I prefer British humor, but I found Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G a riot when the white, ghetto wannabe-turned politician infiltrated Parliament. The inevitable American remake featuring Alberto Gonzales--Al G--as Attorney General was somewhat less successful--and not nearly as humorous.

President Bush's administration is full of jokes, but none nearly as funny as Cohen's British romp. Or maybe I'm confusing this Cohen with another. Yes, the dark humor so expertly executed by the Coen brothers would better suit this presidency. Then again, President Bush hasn't exactly been the definition of "expertly executed," now has he?

So what the hell is so funny about President Bush? Maybe this administration is like a drama so bad it's funny. You know, like Showgirls. But like Showgirls, it's only funny the first time--then it's just sort of embarrassing. Yeah, that's what this administration is--a bad drama.

I used to find 365 day calendars that included a new daily Bushism funny. Now I find it a little sad that companies can devote an entire year to mocking the leader of the free world and his struggle with the English language.

The vice president shooting a hunting partner in the face was hands-down Coen brothers. The subsequent cover-up was Showgirls. The Attorney General's numerous mental lapses on Capitol Hill was Coen brothers. His job security was--well, you get the idea.

I'm sick of giving this president and his administration second chances, because--if you really stop to think about it--there is only one second chance. Then it's a third, fourth, fifth--sixtieth. When is it going to end? This administration is like a bad sequel that won't go away. Yes, it's the Pirates of the Caribbean 3 of the political world.

Oh, who am I kidding? This president and his co-stars are a joke. Excuse me if I don't laugh. I'm just too terrified of the punchline to understand the humor.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Poor Little Dumb Girl

1/5 of Americans may not be able to locate the U.S. on a world map, but they have surely seen the clip of Miss South Carolina at the Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant. In case you've somehow missed it, you can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww and the U.S. can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Location_United_States.svg

This video has been passed around and it has been used to support the point of view of many critics. Some use her to support a feminist argument, others use her to show the flaws in the educational system, and I even heard Sean Hannity used the education argument as a segue into how Democrats are going to ruin the health care system. Then, of course there are the more simple arguments: blonds are dumb, beautiful women are dumb, South Carolinians are dumb. I have yet to hear anyone give voice to my reaction, so here's my take.

At first, I laughed, then I felt sorry for the poor girl. She was obviously nervous and clearly had prepped for the humanitarian question rather than the education question. Then I watched it again and looked into her vacant eyes as she struggled through it. It was like she didn't even hear the question. Her mind was so filled with, "bright lights- huge audience- everyone looking right at me- Mario Lopez- oh krap, what was the question?- Mention Iraq and starving children- I am totally blowing it- big smile- look pretty- time's up." Her rambling reminds me of an essay test that I took in High School where I hadn't read the material and tried to make my rambling b.s. sound intelligent. It didn't work any better for me than it did for her. Her question was easier, though.

So, is she dumb? After I was done being amused by her, I heard all of the critics talk about the problems with the educational system, the pageant process, etc. All of these things may be true, but there's something else that the Miss Teen SC video clip demonstrates. When I watch that clip, I realize how much we truly value bullshit. I don't know how intelligent Miss SC is, but she is certainly lacking in b.s. skills. That will get her nowhere.

I don't think it's unfair to criticize her performance- it was part of the pageant process and she blew it. But as the entire country watches and calls her stupid, we're surrounded by successful people who are stupid- perhaps even more stupid than Miss SC- every day. Sure, the pageants are all about physical appearance- so why is it so funny when this contestant fumbled? Intelligence may not be of much value in the contest, but is intellectual facade is an expectation? So, the entire country continues to talk about how stupid this girl is, and eventually she will fade away and at some point re-appear on a reality TV show. But, I guarantee you that there are many people, some in very powerful positions, with a lower IQ than Miss SC that is hidden beneath a talent for bullshit.

That naughts show

All week, I've been thinking the same thing, with brief pauses for things like food and coffee: "Why does the White House remind me of That 70s Show?"
I picture it like this: President Bush and Vice President Cheney are teenagers. (I know the time frames don't fit. Keep still.) They are sitting in a basement, experimenting with what we'll call certain botanical products. They enjoy said botanicals, but are aware that they are highly illicit. Suddenly, old man Leahy is home!
"Oh, crap, Dick!"
"You said it, George!"
"We're screwed! Hide the stuff!"
Weird, huh? Probably just my imagination running away with me.
On a completely unrelated note, Alberto Gonzales's departure -- hard on the heels of Karl Rove -- reveals a serious flaw in the administration's political strategy. They seem to believe that if their more vicious hatchetmen aren't on TV all the time clearly labeled as members of said administration, congressional Dems pushing subpoenas will recede back into the woodwork. Guess again, guys.
After the brief flurry that the departures have caused, it's true that the public will stop paying so much attention to the ongoing legal "battle of the branches." But it's a legal fight now, and the fact that Rove and Gonzales are no longer public figures doesn't matter in the least to Leahy and company.
You can hide stuff in the sofa, but it'll get found all the same.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

When satire becomes reality

I never knew President George Bush wrote for The Onion.

Of all bizarre rationals, arguments, and statements he's uttered over the previous six years, none have matched his complete rewriting of history he managed Wednesday. In a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention, he twisted history on its head with comparisons between the two conflicts.

To his credit, Bush did recognize that there are numerous similarities. The catch: the evidence he referred to wholly contradicted the argument he put forth. Yes, there is likely to be a humanitarian disaster if the United States precipitously withdraws. This was indeed the case in Cambodia.

What Bush didn't say was that U.S. policy during the Vietnam War created the vacuum that allowed the Khmer Rouge to come to power. If the Nixon administration hadn't carpet-bombed Cambodia, the context for the future massacres wouldn't have existed. If the US hadn't embroiled itself in the Vietnamese civil war, there wouldn't have been any "boat people."

If Bush really wants to use this point, he should carry it to its conclusion: any further humanitarian disaster in Iraq will be the result of his unnecessary, pathetically-run war. Furthermore, if the Iraq War were not undertaken, there wouldn't be any clamoring by massive amounts of Iraqi refugees, fleeing en masse to wherever will take them.

For all his caring about a possible human catastrophe, Bush failed to compare what would happen regionally if we withdrew with the actual results in Vietnam. He has continuously argued - correctly, in my view - that withdrawal would prove disastrous for U.S. interests. But to be fair, Vietnam hawks argued that withdrawal would start a "domino effect" of Southeast Asian countries turning Red. Obviously, this failed to happen.

This administration ran from Vietnam comparisons in the early years of the war, claiming the situations were totally different. Now, they claim that Vietnam is a model for why we must stay. And people said John Kerry was the flip-flopper.