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Can We All Just Lighten Up? March 23, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Barack Obama, Economy, National Politics, Obama Administration.
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obama-on-60-minutes-steve-kroft

I didn’t see the “60 Minutes” interview with President Obama last night, but as I watched “Morning Joe” on MSNBC this morning, I assumed the President entertained Steve Kroft with a stand-up routine worthy of Dave Chappelle. 

The “Morning Joe” crew played an excerpt where the President was punctuating the interview with some wry, ironic laughter.  “Why are you laughing…” asked Kroft, “Are you a little punch-drunk?”  The President responded that sometimes a little gallows humor goes a long way toward helping one deal with problems.

“I couldn’t believe it,” harrumphed grumpy-old-man-in-training Willie Geist.  “He just kept laughing and laughing.”  “I know,” responded chief curmudgeon Joe Scarborough.  “Even my wife – who keeps me straight on these things – said she couldn’t believe how much he was laughing!”  (I’m not sure if the quotes are exactly correct, but they are reasonable approximations of what was said.)

To her credit, Little Miss Silver Spoon – Mika Brzezinski – said she didn’t care how much the President laughed, there were BIG issues facing the country.  “Well,”  added Geist, “I just want top say that if it were George W. Bush up there laughing and making jokes – he would have been crucified!”  I walked out of the room to set myself on fire (actually just to dry my hair) as Joe was enthusiastically agreeing.

So, about an hour ago, I watched the interview.  Now I know that I’m a VERY partisan person, but I really couldn’t see what the problem was.  I thought the President was doing the old  “You gotta laugh ’cause if you didn’t – you’d weep” routine.  I  know it well – that’s the way that I deal with a lot of the stress and anxiety in my life.  David Hinkley, the TV critic for the NY Daily Newsseems to see it the same way I do, “His laughs last night were designed as laughs of reassurance.,” Hinkley writes.  “They were designed to tell the TV audience he understands the severity of the situation, that it is what it is, and you know what, he’s going to take this pair of deuces and turn it into a winner.”

Last week, the hoopla was the Presisdent’s appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.  Countless Republicans, led by Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, trooped up to the podium on Friday to denounce the President.  Kyle practically accused Obama of a Nero-esque fiddling while the country burned.  Pundits of all media were wringing their hands and bemoaning how “un-presidential” the Tonight Show gig was.  Then, there was the Special Olympics gaffe.

Oh, dear, the talking heads could not wait to slice, dice, mince, and pulverize an off-hand quip the President made about his bowling average being a 129.  Saying it was “kind of like the Special Olympics” created a firestorm of controversy.  How dare the President make fun of special-needs athletes!  Did he know how insensitive the remark was?

You know, I’m getting tired of all this.  Yes, the President did Jay Leno’s show while the country was in crisis.  You see, he wanted to let the people know what’s going on.  At least he didn’t sit, panic-stricken, for 7 minutes while he listened to “My Pet Goat”.  At  least he’s out there talking to the American people and explaining things instead of waiting for over a week to tour a drowned American city.  At least he’s not been on vacation like King George was – Bush spent around 20% of his presidency out of Washington – vacationing.

Yes, the President laughed.  I am glad that we have a President who can see beyond the grim and can laugh even in the worst of times.  He doesn’t need to symbolically stop playing golf to convince me he cares.  And yes, the President did make a boneheaded remark about the Special Olympics, but does anyone really think he hates Special Olympians?  I’d say he likes them more than an Alaska governor who has a special needs child who cut Alaska’s funding for the Special Olympics AND rejected stimulus funds for educating special needs children.  Nice.

I’m going to paraphrase Rodney King here – Can’t we all just lighten up?

Some Random Thoughts….. March 16, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Bank Bail-Out, Buffalo, Constitution, Crime and Punishment, Politics, popular culture.
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2 comments

calvin-hobbesI haven’t posted in a while – my computer crashed on Thursday night.  I have to pay the Best Buy Geeks 70 bucks to look it over and tell me if it can be saved.  We didn’t get it all unhooked until Saturday morning, but I was too busy to take it in Saturday.  Then, the family “high holy days” party (St. Patrick’s Day) was Saturday night.  Had a great time, but spent all day yesterday nursing a Harp, Irish Mist, and Bushmill’s hangover (my mother is ROLLING over in her grave knowing I drank the “Protestant whiskey!).  John and I did manage to drag our sorry asses over to Best Buy yesterday at 10:30 am, but they didn’t open till 11.  Arrrggghhhh!  When did stores not open till 11 on Sunday?  Is that something new? 

Anyway, Barnes and Noble was open, so I bought a new book, “The Invention of Air – A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America“, by Stephen Johnson.   I’m 40 pages in – so far it’s pretty good.  I’m going back to Best Buy later this afternoon to see about my computer.   Actually, Best Buy would have sent the Geek Squad to my house, but that would have cost an additional 50 bucks – I’m WAY to cheap to pay that.

Speaking of being way too cheap – why do bathing suits cost $100?  I was looking at catalogs last week for a new swim suit, but there’s NOTHING under $70 or so; many are far more.  Does that make any sense?  I bet men’s bathing suits are cheaper –  just like men’s business suits, alterations on men’s clothes (usually FREE), men’s dry cleaning, even men’s haircuts!

Last week was a wild one.  I TiVo’d the Daily Show all week and watched John Stewart take on CNBC and Jim Cramer.  I have to say, I always liked Cramer, and I think he had HUGE stones to go on the show and face Stewart.  Sometimes I don’t like when Stewart starts flexing his populist muscles.  I really liked “Crossfire” on CNN and Stewart is largely responsible for it being gone.  Don’t cave in, Jim Cramer!

I spent a good part of last week wondering –  how many more innocent people have to be killed before this country addresses sensible gun control?  Even the NRA has to agree that having access to automatic weapons and unlimited amounts of ammunition is a recipe for disaster.  I actually support the individual right to bear arms – that’s what I think the 2nd Amendment is all about – but I do think that there can be limits without infringing on a constitutional right.  After all, we put limits on people’s rights to drive a car, to ingest substances, to libel someone.  We certainly should be able to limit how many and what types of guns people own.

Over the weekend the Buffalo-area man who beheaded his wife pleaded “not guilty”.  Right – like that scimitar just jumped off the wall and accidentally cut off her head. 

Also, in Buffalo today, a married couple walking along the railroad tracks was hit by a train and killed.  The local newscaster told us this morning that an autopsy was being performed and would be complete tomorrow.  An autopsy?  THEY WERE HIT BY A TRAIN!  What  more do you need to know?

Everyone is going crazy over AIG paying out these bonuses to its executives with TARP funds.  I love their AIG’s explanation – if they don’t pay the bonuses, they won’t be able to retain their best workers.  What?  If you paid a guy that you plucked from the local Jiffy-Lube he could probably do a better job – and would do it for far less salary and no bonus.  The other reason they gave was that these bonuses were contractually obligated.  How come the auto workers and teachers and health care workers have had to reopen and renegotiate their contracts but it is somehow anathema to ask that Wall Street reopen theirs?  What’s even worse is that they used our money to pay off European banks!

Finally, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and there is new trouble in Northern Ireland.  A splinter group of the IRA shot and killed two police officers last week, spurring serious questions about the fragile peace.   The Irish peace agreement was signed in 1999 and was supposed to work toward reunification with the Republic.  In 10 years, no progress has been made on this front and it seems like some groups are getting restless.