Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall Follies Redux

Back at the beginning of August, shortly after the Supercommittee was announced, I posted an item entitled “Fall Follies”, which started off by asking, “Is there anyone out there who actually believes that this bunch will produce anything of benefit to the electorate, or that they will not replicate the farcical dance attending the recent debt ceiling negotiations… ?”.
Now, this prediction took no magical powers of divination to come up with, the committee’s assured failure having been effectively forecast by Republican member Jon Kyl when he asserted that if the committee got into any discussion involving cuts to the defense budget, he was picking up his marbles and going home. Kyl is top deputy to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell whose dedication to doing whatever is necessary to insure that Obama is a one-term president is a matter of record, even if, presumably, the GOP has to bring down the country in its efforts to discredit the Administration.
And sure enough, Speaker John Boehner couldn’t get to his PC fast enough following the collapse of talks to fire off a press release blaming the President for the committee’s failure, conveniently forgetting about Constitutional provisions concerning the separation of powers. In fact, having stayed clear of this ideological sinkhole is probably the smartest thing Mr.Obama has done since his inauguration.
No matter what flows out of Republican propaganda mills over the next few days, the bottom line is that it came down to the question of raising (or, not lowering) taxes. Had the GOP given even an inch on this issue they would have won substantial concessions on social program cuts from the Democrats. But, how was that possibly going to happen when every single one of the Republican members had drunk from Grover Norquist’s cup and signed his no-new-taxes pledge? So, not only was what was left of their reputations at stake, but their honor as well; a toxic political compound guaranteed to produce only stalemate. QED.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cahiers du Cinema

I'm surfing through the program listings grid on Xfinity (neƩ Comcast) when I run across a 1956 movie called "Bigger Than Life" about a guy (played by James Mason) who is transformed into a monster by an experimental drug. I figure It's gotta be a campy fifties horror movie, so -- with no Republican Presidential Debates or reruns of Tiny Tim on the Tonight Show available for comic relief -- I opt for the movie.
Well, it turns out that Mason isn't transformed into some sort of malevolent leviathan after all, but into – are you ready? – a Conservative!
As his horrified, but devoted, wife and his equally horrified, but feisty, kid look on, the mild-mannered schoolteacher turns into an Ayn Rand ubermensch on steroids, an authoritarian nut job demanding complete subservience to his whims while going around raving about individual responsibility, obedience, tradition and family (not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just his attitude).
Things begin to get really nasty when he hallucinates that he is Abraham and his son is Isaac. The O.T.-hip among us realize immediately where this is going and emit a collective uh-oh.
As Pop staggers around with a pair of lethal-looking scissors in hand, Mom tries to mollify him (just before he locks her in the hall closet) by arguing that "God saved Isaac", but the drug-addled fiend declaims stentoriously: GOD WAS WRONG!, a line that only James Mason, Satan (or possibly Raymond Massey) could possibly have gotten away with.
Regrettably, the movie then turns from upscale melodrama into mawkish predictability as director Nick Ray tries to wring an unconvincing happy ending out of the proceedings, but Mason fans will not be unrewarded by tuning in.

Monday, November 7, 2011