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The Great American Freak Show

Posted Apr 29 2011 8:30am

category_bug_politics.gif On Wednesday night, following President Obama's release of his non-legal, long-form Certificate of Live Birth, Jon Stewart, his sidekick Jason Jones and Stephen Colbert each pleaded – down on their knees in all but fact - with Donald Trump to run for president in the 2012 election.

Who could blame them. Trump is the ultimate god's gift to comedians. After taking credit for the president's action - “I'm honored, I'm proud to have done this great thing for my country” - Trump wasn't satisfied.

Saying, “people have told me” that Obama isn't all that bright, the self-appointed birther leader now wants the president's college transcripts, hinting that there must have been some nefarious doings for someone so dumb to get into Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

Then, former self-appointed birther leader, Orly Taitz, suggested that the Certificate of Live Birth is a fake because the race of Obama's father is listed as “African” instead of “Negro.” Oh, and now she is questioning the validity of the president's Social Security number too. Pure looney tunes.

On a day, Wednesday, when tornadoes were killing scores of people in the south, and eight American soldiers were shot dead at Kabul airport, the media - even sidelining that other bread-and-circuses distraction, the Windsor wedding - devoted hours to Trump, Taitz and other birthers who refuse to accept Obama's legitimacy.

Poor ol' Ben Bernanke, holding the first-ever press conference by a sitting chairman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, was consigned to a headline crawl at the bottom of television screens as he crushed the hopes of millions of unemployed by telling reporters inflation control is more important than job creation.

This is a freak show and it's not just Wednesday's events. It's the whole damned political scene.

What other way is there to describe Representative Paul Ryan's “Path to Prosperity” budget that would end Medicare in all but name by providing low-ball government vouchers to be turned over to private insurers? Ask just about anyone with private coverage how well that works out for them.

And anyway, it's crazy time to think big insurance would even write policies for a bunch of old people whom the insurers know will have increasing health problems. I found that out, when my COBRA expired, trying to buy coverage for three months until I turned 65; no one would insure me at any price.

Ryan budget supporters like to tell us oldest folks not to worry because we'll be able to keep the current Medicare – as if we would willingly throw our children and grandchildren under the austerity healthcare bus.

Not to mention the grotesque spectacle of current 54-year-olds, when handed their vouchers in 2022, rightly enraged that everyone older than they are have excellent, affordable care they are denied.

Sane Americans, which include almost no Congressional Republicans and too few Democrats, know that the only way to bring down health care costs to a reasonable level is Medicare for All. It works well in other countries, but ownership of the federal government by corporations, including the insurance industry, prevents them from investigating how Sweden's system (or Denmark's or Germany's or France's, etc.) might be adapted to U.S. needs.

Nationwide, local governments are busting unions, closing schools, laying off teachers, fire fighters and police, selling off city services to corporations as far away as Saudi Arabia. The governor of Maine has the gruesome idea to rescind child labor laws. At least one town wants to combine the police and fire departments. Just what I need – a cop when my house is burning down.

Lunacy rules the land.

Back in Washington, the extremism extends to the most immediately insane possibility – those in Congress who say they will vote against raising the debt ceiling. If you think a government shutdown is a bad idea, wait until you see the worldwide chaos that will produce. 2008 will look like a picnic in comparison.

As the budget battle rages, Democrats who until now have been the traditional defenders of social programs, are listing toward Social Security cuts, raising the age for Medicare and cutting social programs for the poor.

Republicans keep repeating that these cuts alone can balance the budget as they take tax increases “off the table.” We can't raise taxes on the rich, they say, because that's where the jobs come from. Huh? We've done that for ten years. Do you see any new jobs?

What we have is a trickle UP economy. And if you don't think so, take a look at this study , released on Tuesday, requested by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) that shows

“...numerous instances during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 when banks took near zero-interest funds from the Federal Reserve and then loaned money back to the federal government on sweetheart terms for the banks.

The banks made billions in taxpayer money on that deal. Nevertheless, “shared sacrifice” has become the near unanimous mantra in Congress (even the president repeats it) – so much so that it is becoming orthodoxy even in some progressive circles.

Shared sacrifice? In three short years, we have already sacrificed everything we once had – life savings, homes, jobs, children's college educations. There is nothing left for the people of the nation to sacrifice.

This is all crazy talk, but what else can be expected of politicians and their supporters who believe global warming is a hoax, contraception causes abortion and the rapture will appear on 21 May.

It makes perfect sense to me that Jon Stewart, Jason Jones and Stephen Colbert are praying for Donald Trump to run in the next election. But comedians don't really need him. There are plenty of other freaks to skewer.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mickey Rogers: Upon Reaching 60

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