31 December 2008
You have to wonder how Santa was forced to decide who got a lump of coal this year and who got a bail-out. Despite the endless hysteria about the economy on television news, quite a few folks on Wall Street and in Detroit are singing a happy tune. They made careless, greedy business decisions that caused or nearly caused their companies to go bankrupt, all the while leading lives of fairytale riches. The government of George W. Bush, leader of the free world, has seen to it that many of these people were rescued by the taxpayers. So perhaps the better questions is who the real Saint Nicholas is this year--the big guy with the beard or the imbecile ducking the flying shoes?
The Congress and Senate of the United States gave into a panic ignited by the the White House in November and began to give away about a zillion dollars in order to avoid a repeat of the bread lines that became iconic during The Great Depression that began in 1929. The money was gone faster than Santa can slide down a chimney, which left some in Washington dazed about what had just happened--something of a post-binge hangover.
Do not forget that all of these public servants have to run for office to keep their seats sooner or later. If you are in the US and you like to vote, it is probably worth considering what kind of bail-out package you got from your elected representatives.
Not all of the culprits are in Congress or the White House. The SEC and the Federal Reserve, who were supposed to be looking out for the rest of us over the past decades have long been asleep at their teak and mahogany desks. People like Bernard Madoff got away with murder and we may never know how many more guys like him have yet to be discovered.
So where is the bailout program for the rest of us? I can see my big plans for the future slipping away and maybe yours are, too. I can no longer afford to continue my course of cosmetic surgery. Darika will have to wait for a couple of years to make the pilot for the cooking show she talks about endlessly. I may never see a Costco store again. People back home may actually have to park their gas-guzzling SUVs and take public transportation. It's hard to feel sorry for them unless they are actually living in their SUVs. Sadly, far too many people already are.
You and I have a perfect right to be angry. We do not have to depend on Op Ed columnists in liberal big city newspapers to be angry for us while we pretend to continue our daily lives unchanged. However, I found yesterday's piece by Bob Herbert in yesterday's New York Times to be positively poetic. (If that link does not work try this.)
We also have the perfect right to feel guilty. After all, we have all been willing participants in the big economic party that has been going on since the sixties.
If you really want to get in touch with your anger, you might enjoy subscribing to BrassCheck, a political watchdog on the Internet that helps the world see the realities of what some people are trying to get away with. On the other hand, reality might scare you to death.
One of the perks of having your own blog is that you can pick on people like George Bush. Critical dialogue about a public figure is far more polite than throwing shoes. In Club Sanook's December newsletter we took a few jabs at "W" and even thanked him for not blowing us all to kingdom come.
"Don't you have any Republican customers?" a friend asked. While I am sure we do, sentiment about the last eight years transcends political affiliations. I did, however, receive one email, which I share with you in deference to free speech and differences of opinion.
Here is what he wrote:
"To All Whom It May Concern:
"My name is (not Barnard Madoff) and have been a long time member and client of yours. I have a lifetime membership in UTOPIA? and I come to Thailand at least twice a year. I am also a proud citizen of The United States Of America. I am absolutely outraged and deeply offended by the uncalled for scurrilous, defamatory, insulting, outrageous and insulting remarks about my country's President, George W. Bush in the latest issue of CLUB SANOOK?S Bangkok BULLETIN. Shame on all of you for debasing and degrading the character of our President. Most unsettling and disconcerting is the fact that you deliver this insulting politically opinionated tripe to the vast number of your clients throughout the world. Have you given one second of thought to the consequences of this blunder? I demand and expect an immediate public apology and public retraction and that those responsible for this be duly chastised and suffer the consequences of this egregious offense.
"When have you ever done a similar character assassination of the president, head of state or king of any country throughout the world? Why was my President the victim of your venomous and malicious attack? Would you dare to do the same to His Royal Highness, the esteemed and beloved King of Thailand? I think not. You all would be in the Royal Prison. My analogy to your respect of His Majesty the King and the respect that you must show to the President of the United States of America is equally comparable. The politically extreme liberal bias of the BBC, CNN et alii has for years corrupted and debased the reputation and character of President George W. Bush and has caused the good name of the United States of America to suffer because of their outright lies and distortion of the truth.
"The world can certainly do without your distorted and politically opinionated comments!"
While you are containing your laughter, I would like to say that I really like His Majesty the King. In fact, I think he's terrific. If he were younger I would even call him cool since he is definitely his own man, which is something W can never claim to be. Tragically, George is almost universally considered to be the worst president in history. He is leaving a lot of undeserved wealth and power in his wake as well as a world that is a far more dangerous place to live in. Even Herbert Hoover, the Father of the Great Depression of 1929, will probably be remembered more fondly.
Happy Ending: New Years Resolutions. We all love to make promises to ourselves and to each other this time of year. They last only slightly longer than Presidential campaign promises before they are broken. People grumble today, just as they grumbled a year ago, two years ago and a decade ago that this it was a rotten year, that we are glad to put it behind us, and that next year will be better. It never is, probably because we can not seem to depend on ourselves to make our own lives better. In other words, we are too lazy speak up or do anything else to change the way life is for ourselves or anyone else.
You may not even know who Eartha Kitt was. However, she may have helped to change the course of the war in Vietnam in about two minutes. During a time when LBJ was struggling to determine the direction of the war, Lady Bird hosted a luncheon for women at the White House. It was 1968 and Eartha was one of the guests. When the opportunity arose she made some very pointed anti-war comments that some have characterized as a tongue-lashing. All those present were shocked, including the First Lady and her Secret Service detail. The story made the network news broadcasts that evening. It may come as no surprise that she was later investigated by the CIA and FBI and was virtually banned from performing in the U.S. Nevertheless, her comments surely changed many peoples' attitudes about the war, possibly even including LBJ's. Of all her many professional accomplishments over a long career, her White House appearance will be one of the best remembered. Miss Kitt passed away on Christmas Day.
We end the year with fond memories of others who changed our lives in small but profound ways and who also left us during 2008: Cid Charisse, Edie Adams, Giuseppi di Steffano, Harold Pinter, Harvey Kohrman, Isaac Hayes, Heath Ledger, Odetta Holmes, George Carlin, Paul Newman, Richard Widmark, Michael Crichton, Stan Winston, Suzanne Pleshette, Tim Russert, Yves St. Laurent and Yma Sumac. Some made us laugh, some made us cry and, and some even made us think. All somehow improved humanity in a small way.
And my own resolution? This is the last time I will ever mention George Bush in this blog again. Well, maybe.
Thanks for reading. Love each other. Speak out. Get angry. And find some small way to make the world a better place before you join the list above. We all owe that much to each other.