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
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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.

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“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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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