Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blog #77: A Republican Future?

Blog #77 Addenda: I discovered the above photograph of President Obama trading high fists with an obviously delighted young fan on the site of my latest time waster, I trolled this site all the while listening to Rush Limbaugh’s opening address to CPAC, or whatever that capitalist loving group calls itself. The photograph serves as a stark contrast to Limbaugh’s tirade. The president obviously delights in the company of the young admirer. Limbaugh’s extended remarks were punctuated by much throat clearing, as if his physical health is directly connected to the isolation of his political positions and the irrationality of his ideas, and the outlook for both seems bleak indeed. Mr. Limbaugh smirked all the while as if pretending he was being “cool.” Dream on, Rush, you are one of the planet’s most “uncool” voices. Suffering through the entirety of Mr. Limbaugh’s dissertation was a painful experience not recommended for the weak of spirit, but what I gained from the experience was a true appreciation of the enormity of the Republican and conservative isolation. And to give you a taste of it, here's The Daily Beast video clip. CHEERS!

This week’s Little Eddy Blog takes a long look at Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s Republican response to President Barack Obama’s address to the joint houses of Congress. We begin our coverage by turning our spotlight on Jack Cafferty, a television reporter who poses questions for his viewers to answer afternoons on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN program, the Situation Room. And, occasionally there are even an occasional one of interest. Mr. Jindal proved for once and for all that the Republican mantra that a tanking economy cannot be cured by government spending, only by tax cuts, is not dead, but alive and well. Of course, Mr. Jindal was not able to point to one single successful implementation of this theory, while under GOP control. Mr. Cafferty rightly pointed out that the Republican administration of George W. Bush had taken a national debt it had inherited of five trillion dollars, and in just eight years managed to triple it. Managing to spend more money during the years 2001 to 2009 than all of its predecessors put together. Therefore Mr. C. asked his listeners to take Mr. Jindal’s theorizing with a gigantic grain of salt, and then asked his viewers to consider whether the party of Mr. Bush should have any right to comment on Mr. Obama’s stimulus policy at all, after the massive running up they managed during their tour of duty.

I missed Mr. Jindal’s Republican response the other night, a Rocket’s game took precedence in my playbook. However, from what I have seen of Mr. Jindal on CNN since, and from what I have heard from those who did experience it, if Mr. Jindal is the new face of the future for the Republican Party, the GOP is in mucho, mucho trouble. It all goes back to that basic primer of government. Do we want a government that will stand aside and let you make a potful of money, shamelessly curbing tax laws and government payouts to the benefit of the wealthy and well to do. Or do we want one which treats all of its citizenry in a light of fairness, and attempts to distribute its services accordingly.

If there is indeed hope for the post 2009 Republican Party we can certainly not see the faintest glimmer of it. Governors Palin and Jindal don’t represent a wave of the future, they only represent the further isolation of the party, of which we of Democratic persuasion can be eternally grateful. For their voices narrow, rather than broaden, the Republican reach. And whereas the GOP’s direction seems to be coming from its loudest mouths, Rush Limbaugh comes to mind here, such a narrowing of vision keeps the GOP pure and hopefully keeps its practitioners isolated in their purity.

Let us look the horse in the mouth, as we begin our proceedings with the words of the good governor himself, and may attention starved Republicans take notice:

The scientific community rose up in arms at Jindal’s targeting of “volcanic research” funding, representing as it does a continuation of the Bush/Cheney policy of dumbing down science wherever it caused friction with its fundamentalists base. In his blog in Friday’s Daily Beast, Benjamin Sarlin pointed out the Louisiana governor’s attempt to protect the American taxpayer from over protection against volcano research.

In his response to President Obama's address, Jindal said he opposed the stimulus package's inclusion of “$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'”

“Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C,” Jindal said.

While the claim was factually inaccurate (the $140 million will go to the US Geological Survey, of which volcanic research is only a part), scientists are also decrying Jindal's comments as a blast of hot volcanic air.

“Apparently the governor of Louisiana doesn't remember any of the major volcanic eruptions in recent history,” said Mark Brandon, a professor of geology at Yale University who has studied volcanoes around the world. “Volcanic monitoring right now is absolutely essential for protecting lives and property. The amount of money invested compared to the amount of money returned is trivial. It's not just some hobby—if the governor were in a volcanic eruption, he'd realize that the people who do that work are very useful in protecting you from direct hazards.”

Brandon was a student at University of Washington when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, killing 57 people and destroying hundreds of homes. Many more would almost certainly have died without the volcanic monitoring that allowed authorities to evacuate the population ahead of time.>/p>

“I would give the honorable governor poor marks for his education,” Brandon said. “It's just na├»ve to live in a world where everything goes as you expect. The classic example of lack of awareness of this kind of hazard is the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, which led to that devastating tsunami. People had lost memory of what happened because the last one was several generations ago, and that's an example of how infrequent hazards can be particularly devastating, because we just don't have the generational experience.”

He said that increased monitoring was “our investment against these hazards,” and crucial to spotting signs of similar once-in-a-century or once-in-a-millennium events. Several other scientists expressed similar disbelief at Jindal's attack on their work, which was especially surprising given Louisiana's experience fending off a rare natural disaster in Hurricane Katrina.

Of all the critics of Governor Jindal that we ran across, perhaps the most devastating of all came from David Brooks of the N.Y. Times, who appeared on Jim Lehrer’s Newshour.

Kris Kristopherson is a many faceted individual, as Stephen Colbert pointed out in Kristopherson’s recent appearance on his show. However, what seemed to make the biggest ripple was Colbert’s statement, not refuted by Kris, that he had had occasion to see Barbra Streisand naked. (Gulp, gulp.)

How does this thought spin around? Social networking websites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Bebo, are causing alarming changes in the brains of young users, an eminent scientist has warned. Such sites are said to shorten attention spans, encourage instant gratification and make young people more self-centered.

The claims from neuroscientist Susan Greenfield will make disturbing reading for the millions whose social lives depend on logging on to their favourite websites each day. But they will strike a chord with parents and teachers who complain that many youngsters lack the ability to communicate or concentrate away from their screens.

More than 150million use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, share photographs and videos and post regular updates of their movements and thoughts. A further six million have signed up to Twitter, the 'micro-blogging' service that lets users circulate text messages about themselves.

But while the sites are popular - and extremely profitable - a growing number of psychologists and neuroscientists believe they may be doing more harm than good. Baroness Greenfield, an Oxford University neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, believes repeated exposure could effectively 'rewire' the brain.

And so go suspicious murmurings from overseas. We take all such murmurings seriously, but not as seriously as we take Facebooks’ recent attempt to claim ownership of all of the listings previously made to it, no matter whether the member had left the site and withdrawn his membership or not. The uproar its own membership raised caused Facebook to withdraw its plan to rewrite its terms of membership, and revert to terms that were previously established. But it clearly left people wondering what in the world Facebook had planned to do with all of that content they were claiming. Will we ever know now?

And so we put another Little Eddy post to rest. Sorry about this week, it was a week of distractions. Some good distractions, like And a Rocket team that seems to be winning once again without Tracy McGrady. Dare we dream of post season success without our star player? We certainly hope so, but of course we aren't the betting type. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blog #76: A Rant in Time, Saves . . . no one

Ever wonder about the human condition? How it is that we human beings manage to get wedded to facts and theories which are obviously, painfully wrong? Is it because our fantasy or wishful thinking gene overpowers our reality gene? What are we talking about here? Well, a couple of things. For one thing the basic divide of our nation, which is should we have a strong, effective Federal government or should we seek a weak one. Arbitrary Term Limits of politicians would be another example of weirdly wrong thinking taking over our brain’s logic cells.

Awakening Under Roosevelt

Personally I came to an awakening to much of the ways and wherefores of life in this country during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I was born on the first day of spring, March 20, 1926. My mother worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Houston, and as I grew up I learned to respect not only the power of the federal government, but also it’s relevance in keeping the bankers and business movers and shakers in their respective grooves and out of our back pockets.

I was fifteen years old on that fateful Monday morning of Dec. 8, 1941 when Lamar High School put President Roosevelt’s voice on our pa system as he announced that “Sunday had been a day which will forever live in infamy,” for the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and World War II was in full swing. Three years later at the age of eighteen I found myself on an overnight train bound to San Antonio to enter the U. S. Army Air Corps, in which for one year, ten months and twenty-one days I served in smelly B-24 bombers, fortunately just a tad behind the human tsunami that our Japanese and German foes had set in motion. My memories of that time include an admiration for the workings of a federal government which was strong enough to eventually turn back the tides of depression as it had whipped that axis of Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Fast forward to Reagan

Fast forward forty years. It is Ronald Reagan’s so-called Morning in America, and our then head honcho was busy purring his way through the selling of the idea of the irrelevancy of the Federal government calling it the “problem, not the solution.” Alongside this he promoted the sacredness and deification of big business and the glories of Supply Side economics. Did we as a people buy it? You bet your sweet bippies we did.

Why? Now that’s a very good question. Forty years before the country had followed FDR because he was a first rate orator and bore a light leading the country out of depression and on to victory in World War II. Why would a new generation of the same people consider the exact opposite set of values as they followed the lead of Ronald Reagan, a far from notable, second rate Hollywood movie actor known to think in terms of black and white with no shades of gray? The governments epitomized by those two leaders had practically no relation to one another, other than both presidents were put in office, and kept there, by votes of a majority of its citizens. Ronald Reagan for two terms, and Franklin Roosevelt as a wartime president, for four terms, although after Roosevelt’s death during his fourth term the Congress got together to limit future presidents to two four year terms of service. People of Roosevelt’s day were feeling the depression the country was into, and following his lead.

In the 1980’s during which Mr. Reagan, pretending prescience, tried to lead America away from the principle of an efficient, competent federal government, instead filling government’s bureaucratic ranks with light-fingered schemers using their positions of power for their own self enrichment. And this condition, after taking an eight year break during the Clinton years during which the country’s economy began to regain some semblance of stability, was destined to return again in full bloom in 2000 as the presidency was hi-jacked by Supreme Court Fiat and George W. Bush got his chance to show the country and the world to just what heights a regime exuding true incompetence could rise.

Term Limits Prime Tool

One of the tools Republicans used to get themselves from the position of looking in from the outside to a position of ruling inside the roost was their promoting the adoption of Term Limits. This tool is Example One of a highly destructive and dictatorial bit of legislation which makes absolutely no sense on its face, but which Republicans, the Anti-Federal Government Party, has managed to use effectively to drive Democrats from power all the while inserting themselves back in. Think about it for a minute? Can you imagine a business firing its CEO at a time when his company is financially successful just because an arbitrary length of time of his service had passed? Of course not, to do so would be termed absurd, nonsensical, laughable. And yet in our system of politics, Term Limits is being used more and more as a tool to limit a politician’s length of service without regard to the job he or she is doing.

This assault on logic and good sense is made possible only by first denigrating the service of those in government. By vilifying the federal government you minimize the importance of an individual politician’s service, and once you can establish that in the public mind it is a hop, skip and a jump to arbitrarily limiting the length of service of most any given politician. Suddenly it doesn’t appear to be the absurdity that it basically is when viewed in the pure light of common sense.

Our modern Term Limits legislation was pushed through by a merry band of Republican upstart politicians led by former House speaker Newt Gingrich and his talk radio echo, Rush Limbaugh. These wannabees, upset over many years of control of the Senate and House by Democrats lawmakers, promoted Term Limits as a way of limiting the service of those incumbent Democrats. It so happened that the general public was also getting tired of what amounted to one party rule, and swallowed the ruse and as a result Republican lawmakers were able to push through their term limits measure in many parts of the country.

Term Limits became the mantra of Republicans of the Gingrich Contract with America campaign. The idea, of course, had been to limit the terms of those Democrats who at the time controlled both houses of Congress, and run them out of office. And over time it had its desired effect as Republicans began to replace Democrats in both houses of congress. This worked famously until the day when those very Republicans who had been most vocal about the passage of Term Limits were suddenly confronted with the outcome of their desires, their ownTerm Limits. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so smart to arbitrarily remove someone without regard to how well he or she was serving, just because a certain arbitrary time period had passed. This is especially noticeable when you’ve espoused this as God’s Law, and your constituents have bought it lock, stock, and barrel.

Did they squeal and holler when their very own Term Limits rule caught up with them? “You betcha! Like stuck pigs! And many of them scurried around attempting to change the very Term Limits laws they caused to have passed in the first place. Mayor Bloomberg of N.Y. City is just the latest Democrat turned Republican turned Independent to challenge and opt out of a system which would have prevented him from running for an additional term. Of course he was absolutely right in doing this, as he had been a most effective mayor running the nation’s most difficult city. It makes absolutely no sense for a citizenry to deny itself the availability of the services of someone who is doing a first class job.

Think back on it, we began fourteen years of lock-step deregulation and the weakening and partial destruction of our federal government and its financial system during those Contract for America years during which Term Limits proponents ruled the day. Now that the Republicans are finally out of power we are being treated to the spectacle of them joining hands en masse, voting no on Obama’s Stimulus Bill, and then singing We Shall Overcome as their very special political Titanic sinks into the depths of irrelevancy.

Looking at the principle of Term Limits from a purely objective standpoint, when you stop and think about it, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. No one approaching Term Limits from a purely logical standpoint could possibly agree with such logic. Imagine taking a congressman, or a president, someone in office who is working and working well, imagine throwing them out of office after an arbitrary specified length of time. Just because Newt Gingrich said to. As a Republican tool for breaking the Democrats hold on Congress it worked fine. However only if you dislike the established governing body would you favor something which so limits its power? One of the most basic and fundamental principles of our world is summed up in the term, “if it works don’t fix it.”

Chavez Scores in Venezuela

Over the last weekend Venezuelan citizens voted, and gave their leader, Hugo Chavez, just what his heart desired. They defeated what would have been a limit on Chavez’s term of office, allowing him to continue to serve in the office of president as long as he might so desire. “Horrible” say the American term limit pundits who secretly hate government, and who had effectively used the plan as a means of terminating one party’s domination of the government here.

Now it is perfectly true that a politician like Hugo Chavez will take advantage of such a situation as the abandonment of Term Limits and keep himself in power for long periods. However, if he is facing regular elections during his tenure and those elections are monitored and deemed fair, then there is no reason in the world to take something that is working, and replace it with an unknown. Of course, from America’s standpoint Mr. Chavez’s government is representing a threat to American sensibilities, and Republican sensibilities in particular. For he is a modern day Venezuelan Robin Hood, taking resources from the rich and giving to the poor. However to those who are willing to look beyond the propaganda pouring from the U.S. State Department, many South American countries including Venezuela had their resources exploited by American business interests, and so far Mr. Chavez is the first South American leader to begin to reclaim their own natural resources.

From our point of view, popularity with Mr. Chavez’s own population comes in a distant second to respecting the resources and power of Venezuela’s very wealthy. In short, our powers that be care not one whit whether Chavez is looked at favorably in the eyes of Venezuelan people he governs. South America has been rampant with two-bit dictators keeping reactionary governments in power with direct aid from the United States for as long as memory serves. The term “banana republic” was coined to describe these countries which are frequently controlled by American business interests. Our CIA has clandestinely overthrown several South American governments which they felt were threats to our power and our way of life. But hold on, here. The United States is not blameless in its struggle to support governments of which we approve, even to the tune of an assassination.

As we citizens of the United States join President Obama in his quest to redistribute our own wealth in ways that are more fair, so we should join with and support peoples in other lands who have the same objectives. Fidel Castro is not the demon that Republicans and particularly Cuban Americans who fled Cuba after Castro’s revolution, have made him out to be. The Cuban Mafia left the island after Castro’s revolution, as did many successful professionals from all walks of life. But Castro’s Cuba has existed peacefully from its berth 90 miles from Florida, there have been no harrassments on the part of Cuba to America’s shipping or our commerce. However, good neighbors we’re not, our long running boycott of Cuba has certainly not contributed to the lifestyle of the average Cuban. It is a shame that we seem destined to carry on such a misguided game plan into perpetuity. Policies cry for revue at least once every eight years. And they should be reviewed in the context of the present administration’s thinking, and not based on yesterday’s ideals and goals.

However, term limits is a relatively minor part of the difference of philosophies of the two parties. Where the parties are really divided is over the what the role of the federal government should be. Conservatives in general and Republicans in particular come over as the party which protects and promotes the wealthy and the powerful. It attempts to do this by limiting and restricting the power of the government. Their mantra of tax breaks as the only stimulus they can support is heard loud and clear in these days of a broken national economy. They don’t allow deviation from the basic tenet of their belief – that the federal government should keep its grubby hands off anything the private sector can do, reminding old timers of that old song from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”

Democrats on the other hand, have traditionaly cast their vote for a strong federal government, one which through regulation and guidance is dedicated to serving the interests of a large number of the citizens of our country. Whereas Republicans have spent much of their service loosening restrictions on the banking and financial industry, measures which were originally put in place to protect our citizens during past times of strife, Democrats believe in using the power of the government to regulate banking and the economy to serve the interests of a majority of the people.

President Obama’s recently introduced Stimulus Package is an excellent example of this. While economists who believe in government intervention to protect the greater population were busy casting about for ways to protect people who were losing jobs, homes, etc., Republican legislators almost to a person held the line against offering such services, pleading that only tax cuts serve the interests of the people and refusing to join in any compromise.

But of course this was pure malarkey. In the United States we have both a private sector and a public sector. The private sector does many things, and does many of them well. It can operate certain services competitive with government, but it cannot for example, replace the public school system. There will always be private schools, and some may even make a profit, but they will never replace public schools. The same rules apply, of course, to the areas of police and fire protection. Although the private sector may offer such protections in limited circumstances, the bottom line is that the public sector will do it much better at far less expense. Libraries, in step with schools, work best as non-profit adjuncts of government. And there is no way that the private sector can, for instance, police the airline industry or replace, say, the air traffic controllers.

And or course when it comes right down to it the health care industry must be expanded to include public sector support. The Republicans will rail against any system which is regulated by the federal government, all the while squealing for a “for profit” system such as that run by the private sector. But get real here, fellas. There is a reason why every health care system in the world’s industrialized countries is deemed as socialist in the eyes of American free enterprise. And that is because each system is based upon some form of socialism. There is no way a “for profit” system can run for the true benefit of the people it is meant to serve, and make a profit while doing it. America’s highly touted health care system is able to generate a profit for its investors only by the use of the term dreaded by all health insurance policy holders, “denial of service.” If we are truly to have a system of health care that really makes health care affordable to all, then we are going to have to socialize medicine to one extent or another. So folks, it’s time to de-stigmatize the word socialism. social: of or relating to society or its organization.

And yet our capitalist system will strongly react against the forming of such a system. I can almost see and hear the Harry and Louise tv ads which will burst forth from the television sets to fight tooth and nail against any attempt by the Obama administration to tilt our health care system in favor of the people it should be created to serve. Physicians, drug companies, health insurance companies, and all of the others who presently rule our system aren’t going to give an inch without a tussle to the death. And yet when viewed in the light of reality our present system is not in a position to care for the population in a way that is fair and balanced. The rich will get treatment and services that the poor will never see. And the idea of running any kind of insurance system for health care for profit is absurd. The only way such an enterprise can be profitable to its stock holders is by denying service to it’s policy holders. And so suddenly the health care system is tilted in favor of the investor and against the interests of the policy holder it purports to serve.

There's not a hell of a lot of interest this week. There's talk on the web about a website/bulletin board which gets a tremendous amount of traffic and yet has no business plan and makes almost no money. It's called 4chan, and it is run by a teenager. And oddly enough, the posts aren't archived, and can disappear within minutes. We just might look into this a little phenom a little more deeply at a future date. However, for now it's exit time fur us. Bye bye, later gator.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blog #75: A Loving Harangue

People, we need to start giving some credit where credit is due. We’re talking about those Republican know-nothings who went through the past eight years spending our hard earned tax money like it was going out of style, resulting in the tanking of our economy. Those losers sure haven’t lost their voices. In spite of the disastrous results of their recent tenure they aren’t the least bit tongue-tied in their criticism of President Obama’s stimulus plan which is aimed at giving our lifeless economy a much needed shot in the arm. And true to the one-sidedness of their message, their rant hasn’t changed one iota since the Reagan-Gingrich-Gramm triumvirate lock-stepped our lemming-like march over economic cliffs, both past and present. Their analysis is word for word the same pro-private enterprise, anti-government spending malarkey that diehard Reaganites have been preaching since that dreadful Morning in America they tried to foist on us, the very same swill that Republican Senators and House members are chanting in mantra as we write. We would like to remind one and all that these are the exact policies which got us neck deep into this big muddy of an economic meltdown in the first place, a point they claim to be well beside their point.

“Generational theft,” says a defeated but far from deflated John McCain. Takes one to know one, eh John? If they didn’t invent it, “generational theft” became the way of life during those lovely Bush/Cheney years that you tried so hard to carry on. And you did jump each and every time Bush barked. In summing up we would remind Senator McCain and the rest of his Republican cadres that the fundamental question that we voted on last November was this? Did we want a federal government that only serves the very rich and powerful, allowing them to become much richer and more powerful and which in turn does little or nothing for the rest of us? Or did we want a federal government which is looking out for the interests of all of its citizens? A fed which offers real checks and balances against the greed of individuals and corporations alike, and which can offer us real aid in our times of turmoil. We had eight years of Uncaring Greed manning the till, and in the face of four more years of the same, 53% of voting Americans elected to select change. They voted for Barack Obama.

It is amazing to me how the television news organizations seek out the very same conservative diehards who touted Bush/Cheney’s leadership through the swamps of war and pestilence for their evaluation of Obama’s stimulus package. I mean, you would expect no less of Fox News, but come on CNN, CBS, NBC, and ABC, what gives? And these all-wise know-nothings have the audacity to sputter and criticize Obama’s attempts to lead America out of this Gigantic Mess of their Party’s creation, and they are doing it to the tune of the very same platitudes which got us into this mess in the first place, extolling them as if they were the words of an all-knowing deity.

That’s not to say that these Republicans are not within their rights. This is a free country, in truth it’s a helluva lot freer a country than it has been these past eight years. Republicans have every right to believe and espouse each and every bit of nonsense that they see fit. But what I have trouble comprehending is the television news business’ penchant to stick a camera in their faces, and open their microphones thereby giving these economic Flat Earth know-nothings a voice in the conversation. Who in their right mind gives a tinker’s damn what a Rush or a Newt or a Shelby or any of the rest of these losers think about Obama’s solutions to our economic problems? Phil Gramm for economic guru anyone? Hah! Only in our nightmares. These wiseacres had their chance at leadership, and eight years of lock step disaster followed in their wake.

Unlike some presidential candidates that come to mind, Barack Obama was never devious in his run for the office of president. He clearly and succinctly ran on a platform of change. And it was so compelling a message that it wasn’t long before John McCain was attempting to usurp it. However, McCain fooled no one and when the election was finally held America voted unanimously for Obama’s change. And true to his word Barack Obama, his administration and the Democratic party are backing their pre-election promise loud and clear with real and meaningful legislation.

Last week’s Sunday morning talk shows mostly put Obama’s stimulus package through the ringer. Patrick Buchanan on the McLaughlin Group announced that the era of the bipartisanship is a myth, Republican ex-candidate John McCain brushed off the stimulus package as “generational theft,” while neglecting to point out that Bush/Cheney practically invented “generational theft,” with a willing Republican Congress gleefully rubber stamping their profligacy every step of the way, as drum major McCain’s twirling baton led the parade. And finally on the Sunday circuit, a breath of fresh air as Barney Frank pointed out to the Meet the Press audience that Republicans are always screaming pork, EXCEPT when it comes to the military. In fact, by racing along when he sensed opposition Frank ended up revealing more truth about the way the government really works than had previously been heard on the Sunday talk show circuit. And suddenly we can see how lucky we are that Frank is in place chairing the House’s Financial Services Committee. There could be hope for the United States after all.

And in a U turn to our initial topic we continue to ask, how come our news media purveyors are always dredging up these Bush/Cheney apologists to evaluate Obama’s stimulus bill? I suppose the answer is that they are playing an age old game called “balanced” news. They feel they must seek the voice of the other side so as not to seem biased in favor of the Obama administration. In their view that is their job. And indeed if you stop and think about it, it probably IS their job, although where were the investigative journalists during the Bush build up to the Iraq invasion? On the other hand as readers and listeners it is our job to evaluate what we hear, and to put those various prognosis into their proper receptacle, which in most cases would be our File 13 bin. By all means people, become exposed to those ideas. But give them the weight they deserve. On a scale of one to ten – we would rate most of them Zero. What the hell else can we give them after the eight year run that Republicans had and the economic mess Bush/Cheney left us in?

It is not that we don’t wish the Republicans well. We wish them every little thing they deserve. May a benevolent future bring our Republican comrades all of the Rushes, the Newt’s, and the Shelby’s that their bleeding hearts desire. Also may we wish for a quiet resting place for that mountain of Republican outmoded economic ideas. We see a rosy future for them in the incessantly squawking, seagull circling, garbage dump of failed Republican economic strategies.

For any of you intellectuals out there who prefer reasoning rather than opinionated rant, might we suggest Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. whose musings along similar lines lurk here! And Post columnist David Broder explains vice president Biden’s problem understanding where House Republicans are coming from here!

–– ❤ ––


Bursting with indignation, legions of legalize-marijuana advocates are urging a boycott of Kellogg Co., including all of its popular munchies, for deciding to cut ties with Olympic hero Michael Phelps after he was photographed with a pot pipe. The leader of one of the biggest groups, the Marijuana Policy Project, called Kellogg’s action “hypocritical and disgusting,” and said he’d never seen his membership so angry, with more than 2,300 of them signing an online petition.

“Kellogg’s had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that could actually have killed someone,” said Rob Kampia, the group’s executive director. “To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that’s safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people.”

Also urging a boycott were the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Alliance. They encouraged their members to contact Kellogg to vent their views. In one sign of the campaign’s impact, the Phelps saga took precedence over the tainted peanut butter outbreak in the recorded reply on Kellogg’s consumer hot line Tuesday.

“If you would like to share your comments regarding our relationship with Michael Phelps, please press one to speak to a representative,” said the recording. “If you’re calling about the recent peanut butter recall, please press two.”

In the meantime it is a basic law of human nature that every time you have a celebrity skating on the edges of illegality you have a police chief, sheriff, or district attorney waiting in the wings seeking to ride his/her backside to self-righteous fame and higher elected office. Evan Borland and the Associated Press report that in the case of Mr. Phelps police in the South Carolina county where Michael Phelps was photographed have been arresting people who were at the party as they seek to make a case against the superstar swimmer, a lawyer for one arrested person said today.

Attorney Joseph McCulloch said he has a client who was charged with possession of marijuana and questioned about the now-infamous party Phelps attended near the University of South Carolina campus in November. He said his client’s roommate was also arrested. McCulloch did not name his client, who faces up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine if convicted on the pending charge. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on the lawyer’s remarks.

The effort to prosecute Phelps on what would be at most a minor drug charge seems extreme compared to similar cases, lawyers said, and have led some to question whether the sheriff is being overzealous because he's dealing with a celebrity. "The efforts that are being made here are unlike anything I've ever seen before," said Jack Swerling, a defense attorney in South Carolina. "I know Leon Lott, I know him to be an honorable guy. I've known him for 30 something years. But the efforts here are extraordinary on simple possession cases."

After the photo was published Feb. 1, Sheriff Leon Lott said his office would investigate and possibly bring a charge against Phelps, though his spokesman has not specified what the offense might be. Additional information may be found here!

–– ❤ ––


It took just short of 50 years but the San Diego school board has issued an apology last week for attempting to block a concert of folk singer Pete Seeger at a San Diego school in May 1960 by attempting to force him to sign a paper denouncing communism. He refused, the A.C.L.U. took his case to the courts, and at the last minute a judge found that the district was blocking Mr. Seeger’s right of free speech and allowed the concert to proceed, thereby allowing 1,400 fans to attend the event.

On January 18 of this year Pete Seeger was featured in a nationally televised concert celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama. He performed standing between Bruce Springsteen and his grandson Tao Rodriguez. The three of them led the vast audience in the singing of Woody Guthrie’s folk anthem, This Land is Your Land. A San Diego school board member Katherine Nakamura, who wrote the apology resolution, said that seeing Seeger on television singing before President Barack Obama’s inauguration last month inspired her to right the decades-old wrong. The 89-year-old singer/songwriter appears willing to accept the board’s apology, saying the board’s resolution is a “measure of justice that our right to freedom of expression has been vindicated.”

“It just seemed to me to be the right thing to do, and I had an opportunity to do it,” Nakamura said after the meeting, where she and fellow board members voted 5-0 for the resolution. “You don’t always get a chance to reflect on these things and the way they might have been or should have been.” The resolution also invited Seeger to return to San Diego to perform.

For those wishing to see the Seeger/Springsteen video again we tried playing it from our Blog #72, but found that it has since been removed from YouTube for “terms of use violations.” However the more adventurous among you can find a higher quality version of it on the bit torrent site Mininova by simply typing “seeger springsteen this land” into their search engine. The size is 21.24 MB, and at 10:31am on 2-13-09 there were 22 seeds. To download the video you will need a torrent client, such as Vuze (Azureus.)

–– ❤ ––

In last week’s blog we reported that Rush Limbaugh ranked seven points lower in a poll than Rev. Jeremiah “Goddamn America” Wright, and eight points below former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers!. Others are beginning to take note of this Limbaugh renaissance, namely Faye Fiore and Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times. In a story headlined Limbaugh message concerns the GOP they point out:

In 1994, Rush Limbaugh was a field marshal in the Republican revolution, rallying troops fervid in their passion, armed with a change agenda and determined to shake Washington, D.C., upside down. Fifteen years later, Republicans are politically hobbled and Democrats are fervid in their passion, armed with a change agenda and determined, along with their new president, to shake Washington upside down. And again there is Limbaugh, master of the talk radio universe, unchanged and unbowed. If anything, his prominence and political import has increased.

Obama is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He’s more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party,” Limbaugh said on the air referring, respectively, to the GOP leaders in the Senate and House.

That may be cause for personal congratulation (not to mention a bigger audience). But as Republicans grapple with their fall from power and undertake some inevitable soul-searching, not all are comfortable with Limbaugh’s suggestion that he, by default, has become the party’s unofficial leader. “He motivates a core Republican, who is a very important part of the Republican coalition and we need those guys to be interested and active,” said Jan van Lohuizen, a GOP strategist in Washington. “But it’s not enough. The Republican Party has shrunk and it needs to be expanding.”

While the GOP’s star has fallen, Limbaugh’s has soared. As party leaders struggle to find their voice, Limbaugh’s baritone booms loud and clear three hours a day, five days a week on 600 radio stations across America. If a $400-million contract and the title of most influential talk radio personality — as voted by industry pros — isn’t sufficient proof, consider President Barack Obama’s decision to pick a fight with him three days into his presidency.

Serving as host to Republican lawmakers at the White House, Obama called out his nemesis by name. “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” Obama said, pitching his economic stimulus plan and offering a priceless advertisement of Limbaugh’s influence.

The radio host happily responded on his next program. “I am Rush Limbaugh, the man President Obama has instructed you not to listen to!” he crowed, adding to a long list of self-appellations that includes America’s Truth Detector; Doctor of Democracy; Most Dangerous Man in America; and All-Knowing, All-Sensing, All-Everything Maha Rushie.

Limbaugh’s listening audience is relatively narrow — it is predominantly white, male and politically conservative — but highly motivated. Many of the 20 million or so who tune in each week are willing, even eager, to pummel their opponents with letters, phone calls and e-mails to make their voices heard. They can make a difference. Among their achievements, talk-radio listeners helped kill President George W. Bush’s immigration reform effort. Recent polls suggest that, despite Obama’s high approval ratings, public support has declined for his stimulus bill since Limbaugh and his broadcast peers began railing against it.

To some people, Limbaugh crossed a line when he recently rooted for Obama’s downfall. Asked along with other prominent political types to write 400 words on his hopes for the president, Limbaugh said: “I don’t need 400 words. I need four: I hope he fails.”

“That sort of thing is going to turn off moderate voters. It’s going to repulse some people,” said David Barker, a political scientist at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior.” “There are a whole lot of people right now who just want to go ahead and give (Obama) his shot, hold back the arrows for a minute. And by immediately pulling out the partisan card, which is what Rush is doing, I think that repels more people than it attracts.”

But Limbaugh is accountable to no one but his faithful fans, his words flung like spears from the Palm Beach, Fla., studio he calls his Southern Command. Enemies rooting for his comeuppance have been disappointed more than once.

“The question is are we going to have an all-white-man litmus test under the Republican Party? Or is there room for diverse opinion on environmental issues, on the issue of right to life, the issue of taxes and spending?” said Rich Bond, a GOP strategist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “There must be room for dissent in the Republican party. It must be sincere. It must have comity.”

Unfortunately, until that new day comes, the microphone is his.

–– ❤ ––

In next year’s Republican primary voters of Louisiana might actually get a choice for a change, a choice to either vote to reelect a noted master of hypocrisy, Senator David Vitter, a man whose name appeared multiple times in the datebook of the late D.C. Madam while he publicly spouted a purer than thou line, or perhaps they would pay heed to a buxom, straight talking porn queen named Stormy Daniels.

People she doesn’t know have put up a website urging Ms. Daniels to run for the Senate next year against incumbent Vitter. And though she says she hasn’t yet decided whether or not she will, she reports that she is taking the challenge seriously enough to plan a tour of rural Louisiana to sound out people in various parishes. Ms Daniels works in the adult film industry as a dancer, actress, and producer, and when interviewed by television about the Senatorial position, with a twinkle in her eye added, “politics can’t be any dirtier than the job I’m already in.”

–– ❤ ––

In these days of political extravagance the late comedian George Carlin is sorely missed. There is a big hole in our national funny bone, with no Carlin to place our politicians and other potpourri into their rightful holes in the pegboard of our information age. Cheer up, all is not lost. There is someone carrying on in a parallel universe of sorts. He is Bill Mayer. His film Religulous hones in on Carlin’s take on religion and moves it one giant step forward. Meantime Mayer’s satirical outpourings put the spotlight of humor upon our extremely fallible world in direct lineage to the tradition of the trail blazing Carlin.

Mayer has done a promo for his 2009 HBO show Real Time for The Daily Beast, and thanks to modern technology’s ability to embed short video clips and copy them onto our websites, it is with a great deal of pleasure that TRLE brings you Mayer’s promo for this season’s Real Time debut which happens February 20 on HBO at 10:00 Eastern. With the advent of this commentary the mantle has now been officially passed and we are happy to report that the state of standup satirical comedy is well and healthy, and rests in good, capable tonsils as it blooms anew in the upcoming HBO season. Mayer’s take on Rush Limbaugh leading the GOP: “Republicans looked into the future and they found radio.”

–– ❤ ––

As we near the end of this week’s blog, we would call your attention to several stories of interest, but which we haven’t the space to deal with. How about: Shades of the Cold War? A Russian and U.S. satellite collide in space? Here! And next let us give a resounding happy birthday to Charles Darwin, who would have been 200 years old on Thursday!, and modern science is finally beginning to catch up with some of his theories. And last but certainly not least, how about some fresh blather from Rather ! Dan Rather, that is.

–– ❤ ––

And finally in this day and age where newspapers the size of the N.Y. Times are struggling to make their payroll comes an idea for how online readers could painlessly make contributions to support the news outlets and blogs of their choice. The idea comes by way of Steve Outing writing on the Editor&Publisher website, where he tells of Kachingle, a pay service where the reader would join, pay a monthly fee, and then tell the site how he/she wanted the fee to be allocated. This system mirrors the system that National Public Radio and Public Television use to pay their bills. Like NPR-PT it would be completely voluntary, readers could opt out of paying for content altogether. But for readers who would like to support the newsroom or blogger of their choice, it would work like this. Kachingle would put icons on news/bloggers sites which sign up. Then Kachingleers would click on the Kachingle icon on the websites they wish to support. Kachingle would then allot a member’s contributions according to input from their icons the placed on member websites.

Will it work? Like NPR-PT it would be completely voluntary, but at pledge time people do give NPR-PT their support. And whereas its true that most people using the web expect things to be free, Apple’s iTunes store has proven beyond doubt that people will support paying for content if it is painless, and if it is simple to do. There’s a lot more to Kachingle than we have time to go into here. Next week we’ll look into it more closely. Meantime if you wish to find out more, you can click here!

–– ❤ ––

And so the inevitable rug is pulled out from under another week’s edition of Little Eddy’s blog. We’re pleased that both of you came to call this week, and we invite you back next week. In the meantime, if you have a friend or two who might get off on our skewered humor and/or purloined videos, please shoot them this URL: And by the way, it’s Feb. 14. Happy Valentine! ❤ Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blog #74:Whoopi for Michael, plus Rush

¡¡¡How Dare this newbe President of ours try to tell the CEO’s of our banks and businesses how much money they can stea. . . uh, earn!!! What is this guy, anyway, some kind of closet Socialist? This is America, buddy! We pay our business leaders whatever they can con their respective boards out of. And it don’t make a damned bit of difference whether they’re paid with money the company earned or our hard earned tax dollars. It’s all money, and the system is called capitalism. What better use can you think of for our hard earned tax dollars than to enrich the real leaders of our economy to the best of their con-ability? NOT!!!

Photo: The Daily Beast
– • –

On ABC’s The View last week Whoopi Goldberg fearlessly admitted, to wild laughter and applause, that gulp, she has smoked pot, all in explanation of that olympic swimmer fellow’s slip of the bong the other day. Whoopie’s explanation, “he is a kid, and let’s face it, kids try pot. What’s the big deal?” she asked following her admission. Barbara Wa Wa, as Gilda Radner once labeled her, next piped up strongly representing the establishment position that the kid is making millions in endorsements, and what kind of role model is he being having been photographed “inhaling” through a bong?

Charles Barclay, the basketball player who has done his share of stupid things as a player, always claimed that he wasn’t a role model, and further pointed out that kids shouldn’t have to turn to athletes as role models. What’s wrong with kids using their parents and siblings in that capacity? Not that the average parent wants the honor either, which is why they try to foist it on athletes.

Perhaps I’m being naive, but I always thought professional athletes were being paid those big bucks for their performances on the field, the court, or in the pool, not to live dull, exemplary lives to serve as role models to youth. Personally I think the system is stupid. Adventuresome kids don’t follow role models any further than that age where they get their first chance to try a joint for themselves. At which point any thoughts of Phelps and his bong won’t make a damn bit of difference, one way or t’other. Obviously though, Barbara Wa-Wa has never taken a toke herself, and shades of Reefer Madness, judging by the force of her presentation she must fervently believe every one of those lies about marijuana that the establishment has propagated throughout these years. Clicking on the arrow below will allow you to see and hear Whoopi’s big confession and Ms Wa-Wa’s studied complaint.

Notice how Ms Wa-Wa would quiet the restless troops from time to time as she strong-armed her point during her dissertation, reminding one and all, without saying it outright, just who the boss is around these parts. With Ms Wa-Wa’s vapid account being all that represents the establishment view, we decided to add words from Michael Wilbon, a sports writer for the Washington Post, to strengthen the establishment side of the discussion.

Michael Phelps, of his own free will, decided to trade on his image to the tune of $100 million or so, an image that surely doesn't include drunk driving and getting high. This isn't fine print; it's in big block letters: DON'T SCREW UP! This is what Phelps agreed to, implicitly, when he signed on with AT&T, Visa, Hilton Hotels, Kellogg's, Rosetta Stone, Speedo and Nestle, among others: to conduct himself without scandal . . . all the time. . .

Earlier Thursday, cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. announced it wouldn't renew its sponsorship contract with Phelps, saying his behavior is ``not consistent with the image of Kellogg.'' The swimmer appeared on the company's cereal boxes after his Olympic triumph. However, there is no telling how many boxes of cereal the new image of Michael sucking on his bong would sell. Now I guess now we’ll never know. So far Kellogg seems to be the only sponsor announcing the dropping of the multiple gold medal winning athlete.

Phelps promised after that much more serious transgression (drinking while driving) that he wouldn't be guilty of such irresponsibility and inappropriate behavior again. Now, after stupidly taking a bong hit essentially in public, Phelps has issued a similar mea culpa, saying: "Despite the success I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect of me. . . . I promise my fans and the public -- it will not happen again."

More of Mr. Wilbon’s reasoning may be found here! In the meantime let us take note of the other side. Mike Edison, former publisher of High Times, takes a position on marijuana’s new golden boy.

George W. Bush never had to answer for his “youthful indiscretions.” Michael Phelps, not so lucky. Having been caught red-handed with a smoking bong firmly pasted to his maw, the long knives are out for the Olympic hero. How is Phelps going to do the breast stroke covered in tar and feathers?

Does anyone remember Ross Rebagliati, the Jeff Spiccoli of snowboarders? He was the Canadian dude who won the first gold medal in his sport back in ’98, only to later have it taken away when they found THC in his bloodstream in the post-event drug test. And then they gave it back to him (the medal that is, not the THC) when even the teetotalers at the Olympic Anti-Doping Committee had to agree that marijuana is not a performance-enhancing drug. If he actually was stoned when he won the event, they’d probably have to give him another medal, maybe even a trophy shaped like a hookah.

And what about the backstabbing hippie who snapped the incriminating photo for a bag of shells? Or the British tabloid press who gleefully aims to destroy careers with their pay-for-play pics of celebrity peccadilloes, e.g. rehab-reticent Amy Winehouse sucking on a crack pipe (not exactly a scoop) or superannuated supermodel Kate Moss hoovering some blow with her rock-star boyfriend (ditto)?

Complete coverage of Mr. Edison’s views may be found here! And finally, for any of you with lingering doubts about the basic harmlessness of pot just think back on the Woodstock Festival, held August 15 to August 18, 1969 at Max Yasgur's 600 acre dairy farm near the rural town of Bethel, New York. Upwards of 500,000 young people spent a rainy, stormy weekend in a large field together listening to rock music. Think about it, that’s a small city’s worth of people. What was worse, at least from the standpoint of straight America, was that an overwhelming majority of those kids were smoking pot. Morning, noon and night.

What do you suppose would have happened if 500,000 beer drinkers had spent the weekend together in a big, open field? Not to mention half a million Jim Beam aficionados? Alcohol fuzzes the brain, and makes many people argumentative and belligerent. Fights would have sprung up like weeds, and blood would have flowed like rivers in springtime. In contrast marijuana seems to sharpen the brain, and is symbolic of peace and love, the preferred herb fueling the peace pipes of the world. And among the half a million camping out at Woodstock that weekend, at times under horrific conditions, not a single fight happened. Can you believe that? Not one. For Wikipedia’s in depth look back at the Woodstock Festival go here!

Marijuana epitomizes peace, and in spite of common myth, it is neither addictive like heroin or cocaine nor is it hallucinogenic like LSD. Whereas any substance, even water, can be abused with overuse, what is certain is that many more lives are ruined each year by tobacco smoking and/or the drinking of alcohol than will ever be ruined by even excessive marijuana use. However the legal establishment is reluctant to give up any criminality, no matter how harmless or benign it might happen to be, and so of course cannabis remains illegal. And even though its medical use has been made legal in several states, the feds will not recognize those state’s right, and threaten to arrest sellers.

If our country was guided by pure scientific reasoning rather than rooted in myth and prejudice, we would study the Rastafarians, the religious group to which marijuana is an integral part of the ceremonies. Rastafarians have distinctive codes of behavior and dress, including the wearing of dreadlocks, the smoking of cannabis, the rejection of Western medicine, and adherence to a diet that excludes pork, shellfish, and milk. They smoke pot day and night, in excess, and any government entity really interested in studying the effects of marijuana on the human body could not in their wildest dreams hope to find a group more suitable for study than the Rastafarians.

Which of course, is the reason such a study will never be made, for politicians would never accept an honest study. If it should happen it would most likely be loudly denounced just as a similar study was denounced during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. A scientific study of the effects of marijuana ordained by President Johnson actually reported that regular users performed certain tasks better when high than when sober, including the driving of an automobile. This horrified politicians who fully expected the study to reaffirm society’s stereotypes about the drug, and needless to say the study was immediately denounced by the very ones who had commissioned it in the first place.

In summing up the Phelps/bong matter, I suppose it stands as a measure of our beliefs in the justification of the criminality of our drug laws as they relate to marijuana, and to our personal hypocrisy level. Of course advertisers have the right to put any restrictions they damn please on the behavior of the persons they deem to use in their advertising campaigns. N.B.A. golden boy Kobe Bryant lost advertisers after his rape charge became public knowledge, but it has certainly not hurt his image as a basketball player. And after all, playing basketball is his major gig, peddling sugar water was just a side benefit while it lasted. Our suggestion to Mr. Phelps is that he join Charles Barclay’s campaign to return parents back into the business of role modeling, and let athletes return to the job of breaking records while keeping their personal lives personal.

– • –

“RUSH” TO JUDGEMENT In these days of their massive despondency many Republicans, bless their gnarley hearts, seem to be turning for guidance and inspiration to, of all people, Rush Limbaugh. What a splendid turn of events. For according to Max Blumenthal in a post on The Daily Beast, Limbaugh has a 21% approval rating in a recent poll (which is seven points less than George W. had at his lowest point).

An October 24, 2008, poll conducted by the Democratic research firm Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner has Rush Limbaugh enjoying a public-approval rating of just 21 percent among likely voters, while 58 percent have “cold” feelings toward the right-wing radio-talk-show host. Limbaugh was the least popular of the all the political figures the firm polled. He polls seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright and eight points below former Weather Underground domestic terrorist William Ayers.

Hallelujah! Bring on the Trumpets. Seven points lower than Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright? Really? Way to go, Rushkie! That’s popularity with a Big Bang! Eight points below former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, eh Sarah Palin? It must feel great to wield such a binding influence on our political stage. Evidently the GOP is so unnerved by its whipping in the last two elections, and the fact that none of its usual tools for winning campaigns, libel, slander, dirty tricks, guilt by association, painting Democrats as tax and spenders, weak on defense, and god forbid, socialists at heart, none of these usually reliable tools of Republican campaigning seemed to make the slightest dent in a Democratic Presidential campaign that ran like clockwork. And so staring into the jaws of failure, there is a dearth in GOP leadership, which Rush of the Big Mouth and knot-headed economics (tax cuts are the only stimulus he can support) is rushing desperately to fill.

Limbaugh is so unpopular that only 44 percent of Republican voters reported ‘warm’ feelings toward him, ten points less than those who felt the same way about Limbaugh’s top competitor, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and a full 20 points lower than Fox News itself. Yet in spite of rock-bottom favorable numbers, Limbaugh confidently declared one week after Obama’s inauguration that his power far exceeded that of the Republican Party’s top two leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives. “Obama,” Limbaugh roared, “is obviously more frightened of me than he is of Mitch McConnell. He's more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn't say much about our party.”

Republicans are between a rock and a hard place. Not that they aren’t well deserving of their ostracism after eight years of the most unresponsive, irresponsible governing imaginable. What can the poor things do, though, to rid themselves of the Right leaning Limbaugh? Rush is a proud cigar smoker. Perhaps the CIA has some of those exploding cigars left over from their long running plot to assassinate Fidel Castro? Did we really say that? Shame on Peace loving us? Go stand in the corner with your face to the wall and your dunce cap rakishly set, Little Eddy. And let us thank our lucky stars that Republicans are turning to Rush to fill their vacuum in leadership. As the poll clearly showed, they could do no better, at least from a Democratic standpoint. And for the complete story go here!

– • –

Little Eddy’s IRONY OF THE WEEK salutes Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast website who wrote a report of the Alfafa Club’s annual dinner, this year attended by both President Barack Obama and his campaign rivals John McCain and Sarah Palin. First a little background from Ms Brown:

The Alfalfa—a 200-member club whose only activity is this yearly off-the-record dinner—was founded in 1913 by a bunch of white male Southern pols to pay tribute to the Confederacy’s biggest hero. Blacks were kept out till the 1970s, women till the 1990s. President Obama wryly noted the irony. “This dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee,” the new president said in remarks released by the White House. “If he were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old. And very confused.”

For the entirety of her report go here! Our selection of her for Irony of the week was based on the last paragraph of her report, which lies below.

In the Bush years, the American flag was spattered in mud. We endured being hated so long by the rest of the world that until the economy collapsed there was an expectation that, come January 2009, the clouds would lift and the sun would shine. Instead a deep impenetrable fog has rolled in and the only pilot light is the slim, graceful young man sitting in the guest of honor’s seat on the Alfalfa Club’s dais who only 30 years ago would not even have been allowed in.

– • –

Speaking of Whoopi, our thoughts now turn to a cushion of the whoopie variety. According to an article in the N.Y. Times by Rob Walker consumers seem risk-averse and hunkered down at the moment, and spending on the nonutilitarian is getting a bad reputation. But before you consign the venturesome consumer to the remainder bin of history, consider the surprisingly vibrant market for iPhone applications — the downloadable mini-programs that can be added to Apple’s famous mobile device. Many are free, but plenty are not, costing a dollar or two. (Apple takes a 30 percent cut of paid-application sales.) Functionality varies greatly as well, and it’s curious to note that one of the breakout hits has been a 99-cent item called iFart Mobile, from InfoMedia Inc. As you can pretty much deduce from the name, it enables your $200 to $300 mobile device to emit a variety of noises simulating flatulence. This 21st-century whoopee cushion hit No. 1 on the paid-application chart shortly before Christmas, stayed there for three weeks and remained in the Top 10 until mid-January. It has been purchased more than 350,000 times. For more information concerning flatulence simulation in our high tech age go here!

– • –

There’s a lot of talk bounding about these days as to whether President Obama should be wasting his time trying to interest Republican dissidents in supporting his stimulus packages even if he has to water them down somewhat angering the left wing of his party as he does so. Columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. writes in a column in Monday’s Washington Post, Bipartisanship At What Price? in which he questions which way the President and the Democrats in Congress will go this week towards getting Republican support.

The coming week will test the strength of President Obama and the Democrats: Will they lose their nerve, or will they face down a rapidly forming conventional wisdom that would allow them to claim victory only if their economic stimulus package passes with substantial Republican support?

Up to now, Obama has handled his presidential image with the same dexterity he showed as a candidate. His outreach to Republicans has been popular because a streak of anti-partisanship has run through the American soul since the founding of the republic. From the moment he announced his candidacy, Obama has broadened his appeal by speaking to this mistrust of parties.

The president's quest for a new tone in Washington also has a practical motive. He believes that economic recovery is about psychology as well as money and that Americans will have more confidence in the future if they see the nation's politicians cooperating to resolve the crisis.

For a more definitive view of Mr. Dionne’s view of the problems besetting President Obama and the Democrats, go here!

– • –

And so another episode of Eddy's blog fades into the sunset. We tried to add to the visual in this week's blog by putting in two photographs, but alas, Safari failed me, and neither Firefox nor Camino would even let me paste in my content. So another good idea shot to hell. Endnote: Success, I went back and tried Camino, and it uploaded the pictures. Shame on you, Safari! Moral, don't give up, keep on trucking. Well, bye now, see you next week.

The Real Little Eddy