March 1, 2013

Jeers and Laughing at the RNC?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

Reading Mark Kurlansky’s book “1968 The Year that Rocked the World” during the last week of February 2013 might cause some folks to wonder if this New Year will challenge 1968 in the realm of nostalgia for the right to be remembered as the most history packed year since 1918.  Obviously 2013 will be at a distinct disadvantage because it will not be a Presidential election year in the USA and there are no anti-war rallies to protest an unpopular military adventure but as the year’s third month began 2013 had already put two very impressive (historically speaking) months on the score board.

In January the USA was temporarily distracted by a surge in the level of the gun control debate and Americans remained blissfully uninformed about mostly all of the foreign news because of a de facto embargo protecting them from any remote chance of questioning the wisdom of believing that “USA, we’re #1! ! !” is the title of a chapter in the Bible.

In the last week of February 2013, a news story that indicated Afghanistan may not be going as well as reported was heard briefly.  It wasn’t as ominous an omen as the Tet offensive but for the Americans that did catch it, it was a comedown.

Americans did get to learn that the Pope was gong to retire and perhaps take some time to go trout fishing.  Church spin doctors will no doubt plant some carefully orchestrated photos of the ex-Pope “relaxing” by clearing brush on his Castle Gandolfo ranch to reinforce his macho image in the world.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) had a chance on Wednesday to expand their powers to include a judicial variation of veto power but the exact score of the decision for making that historic power grab won’t be known for some time but wags are admitting that the point spread will probably be a 5 to 4 blowout.  The Republicans have been wanting a repeal of the Voting Rights Act since the day it was signed into law by LBJ.  A late veto by SCOTUS will be a historic first.  Justice Scalia’s remark about ethnic entitlement might be an early contender for quote of the year.

In March, SCOTUS will get a chance to either approve or veto the gay marriage issue.  The political lapdogs in the land of punditry are being well paid to whip up a pretense of being in suspense about the inevitable decision.  Then they will consider a chance to cast a new example of their veto power in a case for the Defense of Marriage Act but Vegas odds makers are saying:  “Not bloody well likely, mate!”

On Wednesday the dynamic duo of Armstrong and Getty were suggesting that the Republicans might use a clever chess fork-ish maneuver to legislatively force President Obama to specify what exactly the Sequestration cuts would be and where specifically they would be made.

At that point the Obama apologists would portray the innovative legislative move as a victory for the President.  The Republicans have for years wanted to start down the slippery slope known as “the line item veto.” and so by “forcing” Obama to take possession of the painful cuts they may be gaining in return something they have been working years to achieve.

Did President Obama back the Republicans into a dead end street where they had no choice but to give in to the President and let him initiate a new display of executive power with a line item vetoes.   Did the Republicans back a lame duck President into taking the blame for painful austerity measures they (the Republicans) want?  Who is fooling whom and who is being left holding the bag?

This week Uncle Rushbo continued to denigrate Democrats as low information voters.  Isn’t that an example of what is meant by the folk wisdom axiom about a pot calling a kettle black?

Yahoo made headlines this week by telling the world that the telecommute revolution in the work world was a failure and that their employees who may have been goofing off too much will have to get their asses into the office on time just like any other wage slave must do or they can forget about getting a paycheck.  Isn’t the death knoll for the work at home fad a historic event?

Speaking of wage slaves, perhaps the Republicans will be successful in their attempt to make the concept of Over Time pay obsolete by claiming that it would be a way to create new jobs.  Can an illogical premise work?  Don’t teabaggers have a thorough knowledge of logic and analytical thinking?  Aren’t Democrats the low information boobs?

Will Seth MacFarlane ever host the Oscars and sing some off color songs again or was that a unique historic installment in the annals of entertainment history?

Will Iran get nuclear weapons this year?  Could a brand new war be used to prevent that from happening?

Will sending aid to rebels in Syria mean that the conflict there will someday be compared to the Prague Spring of 1968?  Stay tuned.

February presented some excellent opportunities for news photographers in the San Francisco Bay area to take some pictures of workers enjoying a warm lunch hour in the sun.  In 1968 a photo editor might have told a staff photographer to go out, wander around, and get some good feature shots showing the unseasonably warm weather.  Do the austerity budget constrictions used lately mean that such an assignment is an obsolete luxury?

[Note: The World’s Laziest Journalist took some shots but (Spring Fever already?) failed to do the preliminary “back shop” work necessary to post them with this column.  That will be a pleasant identifying anomaly for the area residents who, in the future, look back at that particular month.  Will 2013 be the year that skeptics start wondering if the concept of “Global Warming” is valid rather than a humorous display for use in the Mad Scientists Hall of Fame?  Stay tuned.]

Flipping through Kurlansky’s book and then asking if this year will be more historic than 1968 may (at this point) sound like a maudlin ploy by a desperate pundit, but for someone who can remember seeing Bobby Kennedy campaign in Los Angeles for votes in the 1968 California Primary and got the distinct impression (premonition?) that he was witnessing history in the making, getting a similar feeling watching the CBS Evening News on the last day of February of 2013 produced an identical reaction.  Subjective responses can not be fact checked.

Historians tend to separate and dissect different aspects of a particular time period and so the fact that Bobby Kennedy was shot on the same night that Don Drysdale threw his record setting sixth consecutive shutout might not be remembered, even by folks who were in that city at that time, unless they read Kurlansky’s book’s mentions of both those  events in the same sentence.

Would anyone who wasn’t there in that year understand what the hell it mean when a New York City local anchor said:  “Oakland beat the Jets and Heidi married the goat herder.”?   One local newscast featured video footage of the game accompanied by the reporter reading passages from the children’s classic novel “Heidi.”

Premonitions, hunches, and the “nose for news” might sound like a journalist’s version of mythology and a columnist may be very wrong to go on “high alert” for starting in February to make a conscious effort to savor every moment of this year but the possibility that it would be easy to have one’s attention diverted and then miss the spectacle as it unfolds is a much more scary thought.  That would be like scarfing down a gourmet meal.

Hunter S. Thompson, in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (page 65) explained the feeling a bit more eloquently:  “History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ‘history’ it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain in retrospect, what actually happened.”

Now from the top 100 list of hits from 1968, the disk jockey will play:  Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days,”  Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley PTA,” and Hugo Montenegro’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  Now we have to go find a copy of “Europe on $5 a Day” and “Coffee, Tea, or Me?”  Have a historic groovy flower power filled week.

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