Let’s Drewniak! Christie Spokesman Spawns Youth Craze

You gotta figure that according to Michael Drewniak, David Wildstein’s best feature is his “burning eyes.” Documents released in late March reveal a text by Drewniak saying: “The only trouble is that David is/was a true friend of mine. Now, I could claw his eyes out, pour gasoline in the sockets and light him up.”

Our roving reporter on the PATH train recently overheard one youth remark to another: “Yeah, Friday night at eight o’clock. Come on down, we’re gonna Drewniak.”

Just how does one Drewniak, and what is the correct etiquette, manner of attire and so forth? Here are a few do’s and don’ts:

— Always set up a Drewniaking playdate in advance so that the proper materials may be collated.

— Dress should be casual, with flame-retardant pajamas favored.

— If you is the Drewniaker, then who or what is the Drewniakee? For purposes of this tutorial, let’s assume it’s an inanimate object like a pumpkinhead (or Chris Christie’s conscience).

— The clawing of the eyes is largely ceremonial. Do not try this on a pumpkin without first making guide cuts using an X-Acto blade. There’s nothing more frustrating or anticlimactic than clawing at the eyes only to have them remain firmly in their sockets, thus impeding progress to the next step.

— For professional Drewniakers, Lee Press-On Nails are de rigeur.

— Although the original recipe calls for gasoline, any toxic liquid may be substituted, such as hair tonic or water from the Passaic River.

— In one colorful variant, McDonald’s breakfast sausages are inserted into the vacant eye sockets, and an Egg McMuffin stuffed in the mouth. This is affectionately known as a “Trenton telegram.”

— If, after Drewniaking a pumpkin, you place it on your head and take a selfie, this known as a Weiner-Drewniak. (If you then attempt to eat the pumpkin, it’s a Christie-Weiner-Drewniak — rarely accomplished without medical supervision.)

When attempting the rare Christie-Weiner-Drewniak, it is advisable to make the pumpkin into soup prior to consumption. Photo courtesy salon.com

When attempting the rare Christie-Weiner-Drewniak, it is advisable to make the pumpkin into soup prior to consumption. Photo courtesy Salon.com

— If you combine Drewniaking with slut-shaming, that’s what’s known as a Gibson-Dunn, which also requires the filing of a few hundred pages of superfluous paperwork.

— When a Drewniaking is conducted for charity, and the Trenton telegram variant employed, the proceeds may be contributed to Ronald McDonald House and a tax deduction taken. (Be sure and attach Schedule P, “Charitable Deductions Involving Flaming Pumpkins.”)

Ronald McDonald House -- the place one most fears winding up at. Open upper storey windows reveal escaped inmates. Tyvek for Mayor.

Ronald McDonald House–the place one most fears winding up. Open upper storey windows reveal escaped inmates. Tyvek for Mayor.

— Drewniaked pumpkins may be repurposed for job training programs, reclaiming shattered lives and giving future political operatives a leg up.

This Ronald McDonald truck carries Drewniaked pumpkins to inner city youth in need of job training. Eco-friendly engine runs on french fry grease.

This Ronald McDonald Mobile carries Drewniaked pumpkins to inner city youth. Eco-friendly engine runs on french fry grease and love.

— Despite interest in Drewniaking as a cultural phenomenon, there are still few high-paying jobs. Avoid work-at-home scams involving Drewniaking advertised on the backs of matchbook covers.

— Do not combine Drewniaking with fan-dancing or flagpole-sitting, as this plainly results in cultural overkill. The cat will not be amused.

This cat is thoroughly unimpressed by a gaudy display which combines Drewniaking, fan-dancing, and flagpole-sitting. Photo courtesy letssmiletoday.com

This cat is thoroughly unimpressed by a gaudy display combining Drewniaking, fan-dancing, and flagpole-sitting. Pic: LetsSmileToday.com

— Since Drewniaking can pose a fire hazard, it’s helpful to have plenty of people standing around who can put out any blaze which may develop. An ideal place to conduct a Drewniaking would be a Walmart on Black Friday. If a fire does break out and no extinguisher is available, the next best thing would be to heap on children’s toys made in China, as these are known to have natural flame-retardant properties.

Remember, at Hot Tin Cat Blog, the saf-e-ty of the public is always the uppermost thing in our minds!

The saf-e-ty of the public is always the uppermost thing in our minds.

Safety of the public always uppermost!

Chris Christie, Gibson Dunn and Slut-Shaming

According to Rachel Maddow, what Randy Mastro and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher were doing for client Chris Christie was slut-shaming:

The report released by the law firm Thursday established no clear motive for the lane closures, but did include seemingly gratuitous references to a “personal relationship” between Bill Stepien and Bridget Anne Kelly which Stepien allegedly ended, leaving Kelly feeling “emotional.”

The theories are flying fast and furious as to why Gibson Dunn would stuff a report prepared at taxpayer expense with such salacious fiddle-faddle. One theory is that it’s about distracting public attention away from the soap opera of a politician who fell from grace — who like Icarus, flew too near the sun, or like Mama Leone, simply ate too much manicotti. It’s about refocusing attention on a different kind of soap opera — one starring Bridget and Bill, with Bridget cast as the “bad girl” who gets jilted then gets even by (wait for it)… commissioning a traffic realignment study. This leap in logic will be explored later; what’s important is that the Hollywood remake will feature the two lovebirds holding hands under the George Washington Bridge, watching the cars pile up. “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” Bridget will ask dreamily. “Not as long as you love me,” Bill will reply coyly.

Another theory is that Gibson Dunn included gratuitous personal info to cover their own sorry legal asses, to make it look like they’d actually done some investigating (rather than mere whitewashing) to earn their million bucks. The sad truth is that they didn’t interview David Samson, or David Wildstein, or Bill Baroni, or most of the central figures in Bridgegate, nor was anyone under oath. The lawyers might have spent the whole time playing pinochle! (Since they also didn’t interview Kelly or Stepien, one wonders whose wisdom got tapped on their love life. The hotel bellboy’s? How much did they have to slip him before he started telling the right story?)

The first thing these guys forgot is that if Christie still has national political ambitions, he shouldn’t be contributing more matériel to the Republican War on Women. If he were half a man (and halfway chivalrous), he would have protected Bridget Anne Kelly rather than (figuratively) dumping her body in the Hudson.

Even if we accept the farfetched notion that she acted on her own initiative, he gave her that initiative — encouraging his staff to play hardball with every concession they could choose to dole out or withhold. We control the vertical, we control the horizontal, we control the bridge lanes… Kelly was no renegade, but Christie’s loyal looey till he dumped her. As her lawyer Michael Critchley said on Friday, she “was deeply devoted and committed to her job at the Office of the Governor. She worked tirelessly to pursue the goals of the Office during her tenure.” Translation: she was only carrying out Christie’s policies of political retribution, which included maintaining plausible deniability.

Just when we got used to Christie calling her a liar, he has to up the ante by implying that she’s a slut as well. If Virginia’s Bob McDonnell is known as “Governor Ultrasound,” maybe New Jersey’s Chris Christie should be called “Governor Slut-Shamer.”

The second thing these guys forgot is that purported “sluts” are like putty in the hands of Aunt Irma. When she comes to visit, they might easily kill the dog and boil him for stew, or detonate nuclear weapons because they’re feeling fat. Closing down the busiest bridge in the world wouldn’t be no thang. Yet Team Christie failed to capitalize on this essential sexist meme!

How might they have done so? Well, consider the dramatis personae who helped bolster Bill Baroni’s fake cover story that the lane closures were part of a “traffic study.” Those upstanding citizens Paul Nunziato — head of the Port Authority police union — and State Senator Kevin O’Toole were quite happy to play along. It’s easy to picture one of these moral giants hypothetically leaking a story to the press that they just happened to lunch with Bridget Kelly on August 12. When she opened her handbag to answer a cell call, the contents spilled out — including tampons and birth control. Given that Team Christie plays so dirty, I really wouldn’t put this past them.

In a changing society, the term “slut” is turning out to be quite the portmanteau word — now sometimes applied to men. I wonder if Chris Christie qualifies as a “political slut” for allegedly trying to shake down so many politicians of both genders in order to consolidate his own power and influence, and fatten the coffers of crony David Samson’s law firm (not to mention his own political brag book). Tsk, tsk! Such slutty behavior from a public official makes Anthony Weiner’s selfies seem modest by comparison. The mental image conjured up by Bridgegate is that of a larger-than-life Christie sitting astride the George Washington Bridge wearing a toga and emperor’s crown, doling out concessions to supporters of his unholy reign.

Political onanism knows no bounds, so perhaps it’s not surprising that Republican State Senator Kevin O’Toole — who helped with the cover-up — is also on the investigating committee. This reminds me of a Firesign Theatre routine from Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers:

“But gee, Dad — I still don’t see how you can be my defense lawyer and the People’s Prosecutor all at the same time.” “Easy, son. This way I can personally see that you’re persecuted to the full extent of the laws.”

Another question inadvertently raised by the Gibson Dunn report is: Can bullies be boring? May we yawn?

The report claims that a picture of Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer yawning at a public meeting proves she didn’t feel threatened by the Christie clan’s alleged shakedown. According to Zimmer, the main approach took place in a supermarket parking lot, and involved a quid pro quo whereby the hard-hit city of Hoboken would only get Sandy relief funds if Zimmer agreed to play ball with a private real estate deal which stood to benefit David Samson’s law firm Wolff & Samson, and their client The Rockefeller Group.

Political power junkies like Christie & Co. can be extremely boring, especially in their day-to-day machinations. No one’s claiming that Christie uses piano wire or that people feel physically threatened by him (unless they’re holding the last doughnut in the box). Bureaucratic expressions of power can be unbelievably boring, even if one is on the receiving end. I would hardly blame Dawn Zimmer for yawning and smiling her way through a meeting. That doesn’t mean she didn’t feel financially intimidated on behalf of the city she represents. So yes, political bullies like Chris Christie can be boring. It can be hard to stay awake at meetings where political operatives and real estate interests are running their sh*t. The three-day PowerPoint presentation subs for piano wire in Christieland. (“Cardinal Fang, fetch… THE SLIDE PROJECTOR!”)

A tale of two alibis

Last time I checked, Christie was still claiming that for all he knows (being the innocent lamb), the lane closures really were part of a traffic study. But the story concocted by his lawyers is that Bridget Kelly was having some sort of hissy fit after being dumped by Bill Stepien (if that really happened), and that’s why she took it upon herself to initiate… What? A traffic realignment study? Is that what jilted lovers do? Hell hath no dull statistics like a woman scorned! Even low-level criminals can do a better job of syncing their alibis than Christie and his minders. (Forensic analysis also reveals that on August 13 Kelly was having a bad hair day.)

If I give Messers Gibson, Dunn, et al. MRCVS the benefit of the doubt, I need to work out how David Wildstein fits into the new canvas they’ve sketched. Oh, I see! He was probably Bridget’s dresser, attiring her in elegant outfits he hoped would arouse desire in Burglar Bill. Being a sensitive and empathic soul, Wildstein was probably attuned to Bridget’s every emotional need, and she must’ve kept him informed of romantic developments. So when she e-mailed him “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” he was completely simpatico and understood this to be a requirement of Courtly Love (never politics). After ordering the lane closures, Wildstein probably returned to the mundane task of brushing and combing Bridget’s Madonna wig.

What of Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, the woman who Mayor Dawn Zimmer claims approached her in a parking lot and delivered a message on behalf of Chris Christie that Zimmer had to play ball with a private real estate deal for Hoboken to get hurricane relief funds? Suppose, as the investigation (the real one) by federal prosecutors continues, Guadagno were to admit to making the threat on Christie’s behalf? Would Guadagno’s love life suddenly become fair game for Christie’s lawyers? Would she be subjected to the same slut-shaming campaign as Bridget Anne Kelly?

Christie has long portrayed himself as a guy who’s in control, micromanages everything, fights corruption and takes responsibility. It’s time we insisted: To thine own selfie be true. Christie should man up and resign instead of deep sixing his lieutenants or dredging up their love lives. Resigning would show some self-respect, respect for voters, and respect for the political process. Slut-shaming, on the other hand, reveals Chris Christie for what he has become: a bully and miscogynist, not a candidate women voters can stomach.

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NOTES

More on Aunt Irma courtesy The IT Crowd:

 

The Daily Beast refers to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a “white shoe” law firm. Maybe after this incident, they should more properly be labeled a “brown shoe” law firm. They certainly seem to have stepped in sh*t.

Also, Extry! Extry! David Samson’s resignation thrown out with Friday trash. Powerful Christie crony finally exits Port Authority. Now just one stinking, rotten tomato left in fridge…

CIA Lawyer Eatinger Linked to Dine and Dash Incident (satire)

It was Thursday, November 28, 2013 when Robert Eatinger–currently acting general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency–walked into an Olive Garden in Falls Church, Virginia and demanded a table for eight. “I thought he was bringing in his family,” said manager Luis Martinez. “He ordered a whole turkey on a huge platter, with a gallon of gravy. Business was slow on Thanksgiving, so I did notice him, especially because of the way he was dressed: more formal than most of our customers, but with dark sunglasses.”

Martinez went on to describe how Eatinger remained alone and standing. When the turkey arrived, he proceeded to place it in various stress positions, with one drumstick bent back over where the bird’s head would have been, and another drumstick inserted into the orifice adjoining the parson’s nose.

Eatinger reportedly took ice from a glass of ice water and rubbed it over the turkey’s skin, occasionally interjecting comments like, “How do you like that, turkey? Ready to talk yet? Ever been on a plane? Ever been to Cairo? I hear the weather’s lovely there this time of year…”

At one point, Eatinger went out to his car and returned with a boombox equipped with stereo headphones, which he stretched to fit over the turkey’s midsection. “He really cranked up the volume,” said Martinez, “to the point where other customers were complaining. It was torture to listen to: in the left channel was the Plastic Ono Band, and the right channel was Kate Smith singing ‘God Bless America.’ But the two channels together sounded like cattle being mutilated. The turkey acted as a natural resonator. The sound was horrific, but Eatinger was beaming and looking around like he expected the room to applaud him as if he were a sushi chef.”

Then Eatinger produced some type of device from his vest pocket. Martinez describes it as having about five small lithium-ion batteries wired in series, and cables with alligator clips that served as electrodes. “He attached the electrodes to the turkey’s extremities,” said Martinez. “He was turning some kind of dial until finally black smoke started coming off the turkey and wafting up toward the chandelier.”

“He hadn’t eaten a thing or touched the gravy. But then he picked up this gigantic gravy boat the size of the Queen Elizabeth and started drowning the turkey. I mean, he sloshed the gravy in stages like he was waterboarding the turkey or something.”

According to Martinez, when questioned about his odd behavior Eatinger explained that he was just using “enhanced interrogation techniques” to determine whether the turkey was really fresh or not. He then excused himself and went to the washroom.

“After he was gone fifteen, twenty minutes, I sent a busboy in after him,” said Martinez. “But the washroom was empty. The frosted glass window had been neatly cut–like with a glass-cutter–and there was a hastily-scrawled note on toilet paper saying ‘I had to go.’

“It’s one of the strangest dine and dash incidents I’ve ever seen,” said Martinez. “We had no idea who this guy was. But then with all the publicity about the CIA and Congress, I saw his picture and I kept going over and over it in my head, comparing it with that Thanksgiving night. It’s definitely him, that CIA lawyer guy.”

Robert Eatinger is no stranger to controversy, and attorneys are notoriously abusive and fetishistic. Still, Martinez confirms that the turkey was definitely deceased (and not merely pining for the fields) when first delivered to Eatinger. It seems that no animal cruelty laws were violated, nor any article of the Geneva Convention. There are no laws against torturing a dead turkey, just as there are apparently no laws against torturing a live detainee. The worst charge Eatinger could face is dining and dashing, technically known as “defrauding an innkeeper”– a misdemeanor in Virginia, though one youth was shot dead by police for scarfing pancakes at an IHOP and attempting to flee.

When asked if there was any hard evidence linking Eatinger to the Olive Garden incident, Martinez replied: “His whole bizarre dining room performance was caught on security cams. I reviewed the tapes myself and locked them in the safe. But two nights later we were burglarized. Strange thing is, the safe was sitting there wide open with a pile of cash left untouched. Only the videos were gone.”

Robert Eatinger was unavailable for comment, but did issue a general statement saying:

“I took my loved one out to dinner so we could get a bite to eat,
and though we both had been much thinner she looked so beautiful I could eat her. When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years, then they expect you to pick a career when you can’t really function you’re so full of fear. There’s room at the top they are telling you still, but first you must learn how to smile as you kill if you want to be like the folks on the hill. People say we got it made. Don’t they know we’re so afraid? Isolation… We’re afraid to be alone.”

No one is quite sure what he meant by that.

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Hina Shamsi on Now with Alex Wagner

Why I’m a Hina Shamsi fan

The best thing about seeing Hina Shamsi on Now was being reminded that there are people who care about human rights. High concepts are important in themselves, but sometimes get lost in daily living. When someone like Hina Shamsi invests her soul in sharing high concepts, these concepts become more real and easier to grasp. I YouTubed her segment, hoping more people will see it and think about the issues she raises:

As you can see, she’s an intelligent, poised and dedicated speaker on human rights, and makes her points with quiet dignity and calm. By all means let’s see more Hina Shamsi on mainstream media!

The second best thing about seeing Hina Shamsi on Now is that the discussion brought up issues I’ve pondered and written about. On the one hand, we don’t want to become an elitist society. On the other hand, there are dangers to excessive populism. Former RNC chair Michael Steele kept harping on the point that the average person in the street doesn’t care about Miranda rights for suspected terrorists. This really set me off.

Documents like the U.S. Constitution, the Geneva Convention, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are meant to elevate us and rescue us from mob rule. They’re meant to take high concepts concerning the fundamental worth of each individual and how we should try and treat each other under all circumstances (but especially under circumstances of conflict), and make these ideals practical by providing guidelines to be followed.

Many of the rights enshrined in these documents protect minorities, or people who may be unpopular, or who may be accused of wrongdoing. These documents embody great wisdom because they recognize that human judgement often errs, human justice often fails, and both political elites and populist movements can unfairly target groups and individuals for punishment on an undifferentiated basis. Merely accusing someone of a heinous crime, or of holding unpopular views, can easily subject him or her to severe punishment in a society which fails to follow the rule of law.

It is a challenge for all nations, including America, to follow the rule of law, and to do so even when it feels subjectively difficult. In practice, the human tendency is to keep some wonderful laws sanctifying human rights on the books, but only apply them to people we like. This is like giving medicine only to healthy people, not to the sick who really need it.

I wonder how much our young students are being taught about the “veil of ignorance” doctrine and how it helps us design laws and economic policies shaped by fairness. As applied to the Geneva Convention, the veil of ignorance doctrine says that we cannot foresee all the eventualities of war, or when soldiers from our own nation may be taken captive. Therefore, let us establish universal rules for treatment of prisoners so that no prisoners anywhere are tortured. This is meant to be an absolute rule that doesn’t depend on the vagaries of who started the conflict under what pretext or what the underlying economic or geopolitical issues are. You don’t torture prisoners. Period.

The same applies to Miranda rights. Suppose you’re caught up in some type of police sweep. Maybe you were just walking home from work and headed down a block where a demonstration was taking place. Suddenly you’re cuffed and thrown in a police van. Do you want to be read your rights and to contact an attorney, or should those things be denied you based on a pre-assumption that you’re guilty or a troublemaker? For you to have your rights, others must also have theirs. Otherwise those rights will atrophy and won’t be there when you need them.

Human rights laws tend to be informed by the insight that we are all members of one tribe: the human tribe. However, often in times of conflict we create an objectified Other who is demonized to such an extent that human rights no longer seem to apply. We need to step back and remind ourselves of basic set theory: Is this person human? Then they have human rights. Only very foolish, narrow-minded, or power-hungry people take away human rights exactly when they’re needed most: when there is geopolitical conflict, or when people are accused of wrongdoing, or accused of holding unpopular views, or of worshipping God differently than their neighbours, or of hailing from a different tribe.

For human rights to be meaningful, they must be applied consistently and evenhandedly, not just when it’s pleasant, convenient, popular, or politically expedient to do so. When human rights become discretionary–to be doled out according to the whims of some governing authority–they cease to be rights at all.

Thank you Hina Shamsi for inspiring me to think and write about these things!

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All Creatures Great and Tea Party

Video memes for understanding John Boehner and the Tea Party

Like vikings and beekeepers, Tea Partiers and veterinarians go together (at least in the person of Ted Yoho). Dissatisfied with existing memes about “financial lemmings” or the “Seinfeld shutdown,” I began searching my mental archives–specially the bin containing reruns of All Creatures Great and Small, the British TV series about Yorkshire vets, based on the books by James Herriot.

When I first posted this, the video memes seemed persuasive. In retrospect, I just enjoy the videos for their own sake. This revised version has less heavy-handed commentary, but you will find 4 embedded clips from All Creatures Great and Small, plus one Farm Film Report (SCTV), and a hilarious music video from the 80’s: “House of Fun” by Madness.

So what about a drunken and irresponsible John Boehner as The Mad Conductor:

Then again, this clip suggests that Tea Partiers are outlandish, scary (but ultimately ineffectual) political “experts” called in to perform an elite task:

Yes Ted Cruz, “Thank you kindly for your expert help.” The idea that TPers are blowing up government led me to this gem. Call it cowshed humour if you like:

It turns out another useful meme is SCTV’s Farm Film Report. What happened to the social safety net under Tea Party influence? It blowed up–blowed up real good.

Like Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok, Tea Partiers are the ultimate deconstructionists, taking more relish in destroying things than building them up.

I could go on, bringing in the famous Monty Python cow fling and the Northern Exposure retread, but here’s another All Creatures clip from “The Bull With The Bowler Hat.” That cryptic moniker actually describes a Min of Ag boffin who officiates over artificial insemination of cattle. This is a delicate operation requiring the greatest diplomacy–not unlike switching Tea Partiers to a clean CR just as they’re thrusting away at Obamacare in full ardour. So to complete the setup, imagine John Boehner and Eric Cantor as the vets, and Ted Cruz as–well, the bull:

I shall never look on this cast of political characters in quite the same light, now thinking of Boehner and Cantor as strange matadors armed with party-popping collection devices, and Ted Cruz as the hapless bullock.

Maybe I need to do another post called “Welcome To The House of Fun.” Take the Madness music video from the 80’s and superimpose pics of Louis Gohmert, the U.S. House of Representatives, and all the fresh-faced Tea Partiers–still truly adolescent but “up for fun.” In retrospect, perhaps they’re best remembered as a “pack party-poppers that go pop in the night.” On the other hand, TPers are about as a subtle as a Mack truck, lacking the featherlight touch extolled by the sixteen-year-old in the song. They would be more at home in a joke shop.

I can just picture a Tea Partier eyeing a vacant House seat being told by Republican elders: “Try the House of Fun–it’s quicker if you run.”

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Congressman Ted Yoho — A Musical Tribute

I’m always impressed by the elegance of Tea Partiers and their subtle grasp of economic issues. TIL that Congressman Ted Yoho apparently thinks the whole concept of a debt ceiling is nothing but an eastern liberal plot. There’s really nothing to worry about! From the WaPo treatment, I gather his soul is carved from Bedrock, he loves Fred Flintstone, hates socialism, is most at home with large animals, and hails from a stone-age family. His drink: Kool-Aid. Flanked by a host of distempered Barney Rubbles, he’s ready to drive his Flintstone-mobile straight over the fiscal cliff. And so,

Hooray for Captain Yoho
The debt default explorer
Did someone call me schnorer?
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Hooray for Captain Yoho
The hairless horsey surgeon
He’s dumber than a sturgeon
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Hooray for Captain Yoho
The charming country bumpkin
His brains are made of pumpkin
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Hooray for Captain Yoho
Whose name sounds like a pirate
He’ll diddle you in private
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Hooray for Captain Yoho
Who isn’t Yoko Ono
And isn’t Sonny Bono
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

If you’d like to sing along, this Marx Brothers clip from Animal Crackers gives the chorus:

I picture CODEPINK singing this outside (or maybe even inside) Congressman Yoho’s office. I’m not in the least bothered by the silliness and absurdity, finding it a good antidote to the self-importance of politicians. Perhaps the first step in finding new leaders is reaching the point where you can’t take the old ones seriously anymore.

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Seinfeld Shutdown — Locating The Correct Analogy

Marc Thiessen’s shutdown about nothing meme has invaded Washington like a hapless Godzilla on steroids. But like many a monster, it may have its fatal weaknesses and might be taken down by another monster–or another monster episode of Seinfeld.

I wonder if Thiessen is really the master of his domain… Fellow editorialists at the Post may have spiked his drinking water with liberal Kool-Aid and other known aphrodisiacs. Soon he may find himself in a friendly game of Twister with E. J. Dionne Jr. (Right foot blue?)

Maybe this is a “Seinfeld shutdown,” but it’s not about nothing. I’ll explain…

Back in 1967, Janis Ian wrote a song called “Janey’s Blues” about an unwanted child who was a “fatal mistake on the day after Lent.” House Republicans got used to spending like drunken sailors without condoms under George W. Bush, nor are they any strangers to corruption and influence-peddling. They’ve been figuratively “tapping their shoe” in every stall or tepee that lobbyists could erect. From Larry Craig to Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay to Ralph Reed, their antics are synonymous with wretched excess.

But suddenly under a Democratic president, House Republicans have gotten true religion and are undergoing an extended Lenten period in which not they themselves but the American people must be deprived of luxuries like child nutrition, disease control, and death benefits for military families. It’s not about nothing, it’s about ideological purity. It’s a one-off contest of denial in which the American people must suffer so that Republicans can look like they’re the masters of their domain (which they’re not). That’s the more apt Seinfeld analogy.

Let’s face it: Republican House members are some of the worst financial onanists on the planet, and the government shutdown is actually being milked for all it’s worth as a right-wing fundraising totem pole. If true Lent is marked by prayer, fasting and almsgiving, this feigned Republican austerity is marked by lying, drinking, and scheming to diddle the poor out of affordable health care.

It’s the American people who should be “hitting the ceiling” when they realize they’re being asked to atone for the sins of corrupt politicians who won’t themselves do without. Day six of the government shutdown, and the Republican circle jerk continues apace, lubricated by right-wing media figures who (paradoxically) have their heads stuck in the sand.

When will John Boehner go all Kramerish and realize it’s time for the contest to end? Put your money down, boy!

Does Boehner possess the zen mind of a martial arts master, like Pat Morita played in The Karate Kid? Can he gently impart the teaching of wax on, wax off to rowdy Teabaggers, or do they only know how to perform the latter function? Time will tell.

In the meantime, Cry… cry for Janey

(There’s also a Star Trek plot in here somewhere. Like The Gamesters of Triskelion, Repubs are ready to wager five thousand quatloos that the children will not survive the austerity measures and will have to be destroyed.)

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