Only the insane will fail to recognize that Stewart and Colbert's sanity rally resonated with perfect pitch

As hard as it may be for some people to admit, the political climate in this country is insane.

The yawning chasm between the left and the right has made folks on both sides meaner than those crazies who eat poached toddlers for breakfast, stick sharp objects in the eyes of the elderly, tattoo vulgarities on the infirm and drown kittens for kicks.
So thank God for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who right now may be the most influential people in America, by a par 5.
Stewart and Colbert, of course, are comedians. But their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. today before tens of thousands skillfully cast the dysfunctional political landscape in a sobering light.
And did so by adroitly harpooning the absurdity of it all with their comic shtick.
A brilliant blend of style and substance by pundits playing preachers.
Part comedy show, part pep talk, the sanity rally in the shadow of the Capitol and the midterm elections poked fun at the nation’s ill-tempered politics, its total lack of intelligent dialogue, its fear-mongers and doomsayers who see a “666” shaved in the hairline of all disagree with them.
At this rate our society soon will descend into one of those ancient cultures that would anoint a man king just long enough to kill him, ensuring a bountiful harvest.
Stewart eloquently summed up the rancor poisoning our political process by proclaiming: “We live now in hard times, not end times.”
As you can imagine, the rally drew a festive congregation of the goofy and the politically disenchanted. People carried signs merrily protesting the existence of protest signs. Some dressed like bananas, wizards, Martians and Uncle Sam.

Stewart, a satirist who makes his living skewering the famous, came to play nice. He decried the “extensive effort it takes to hate” and declared “we can have animus and not be enemies.”
Screens showed a variety of pundits and politicians from the left and right, engaged in divisive rhetoric. Prominently shown was Glenn Beck, whose conservative Restoring Honor rally in Washington in August was part of the motivation for the Stewart and Colbert event. Today’s rally appeared to rival Beck’s in attendance.
With critical congressional elections looming Tuesday, Stewart and Colbert refrained from taking political sides on stage, even as many in the crowd wore T-shirts that read “Stewart-Colbert 2012.”
Actually, a 2012 campaign with Stewart-Colbert on the ticket would be a helluva lot more laughs than the scorched earth campaigns we’ve been sadly witnessing.
Of course, I write all this fully knowing that the passionate politicos will have me targeted in their crosshairs. And by so doing, they will validate exactly the point Stewart and Colbert punctuated today.

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Foiled terrorist attacks aimed at the U.S. a sobering reminder that not all Halloween horrors come in costumes

Hopefully the only terror going down in America this weekend is part of Halloween festivities.

Because Friday sure had some frightful moments that had nothing to do with ghouls and goblins but could have triggered some ghosts and skeletons.

Authorities on three continents thwarted multiple terrorist attacks aimed at the United States from Yemen today, seizing two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues and packed aboard cargo jets.

The plot triggered worldwide fears that those al-Qaida devils were launching a major new terror campaign. They apparently hate us even more than Republicans hate Democrats.

There were security sweeps at airports in Dubai, London, Newark and Philadelphia.

President Obama called the coordinated attacks a “credible terrorist threat,” and U.S. officials said they were increasingly confident that al-Qaida’s Yemen branch, the group responsible for the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas, was responsible.

But anxiety still is acute because parts of the plot might remain undetected, according to Obama’s counterterror chief.

“The United States is not assuming that the attacks were disrupted and is remaining vigilant,” said John Brennan at the White House.

Sounds like a good weekend to stick around the neighborhood and snub the not so friendly skies.

One of the packages was found aboard a cargo plane in Dubai, the other in England.
Preliminary tests indicated the packages contained the powerful industrial explosive PETN, the same chemical used in the Christmas attack, U.S. officials said.
With the midterm elections Tuesday, jobs and economic security are the front-burner issues. But we must never forget that terrorism always is simmering on the back burner. And it just takes one spark to arc to the front burner in an explosive fashion.
Days like today make the hassle of airport security measures less of a bitch. I’ll gladly empty my pockets and remove my shoes if it helps thwart these insane zealots.
Wonder if al-Qaida’s Yemen branch throws a Halloween party, and if so, does everybody dress as monsters?

Economic growth too puny to mean jobs

The funny thing about numbers is they can say different things to different people.

No wonder CPAs are such lousy conversationalists.

A case in point …

The economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the third quarter as Americans spent more freely.

Cheers!

However, the growth remains too weak to reduce unemployment.

Jeers!

At this rate the economy won’t be fully healthy again until Bristol Palin is in the White House and married to Karl Rove. Ryan Howard may swing at a strike before this economic nightmare subsides.

Let’s trip over the numbers, shall we?

The Commerce Department said today that the economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, which is a tick up from the feeble 1.7% growth in the April-June quarter.

Consumers helped boost last quarter’s economic growth with a 2.6 percent increase in spending at an annual rate. That trumped the second quarter’s 2.2 percent growth rate and marked the biggest quarterly increase since a 4.1 percent gain at the end of 2006, before the recession.
The Commerce Department sent special congratulations to my wife and I for spending like drunken sailors during the third quarter on infrastructure upgrades to our own Palace of Versailles.
But my wife and I were not alone in emptying our wallets. A stock market rebound made people feel better about spending. Bargains, on everything from cars to home furnishings, also drew them out.
For those of you who slept through Economics 101, consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic activity. If you connect the dots, consumer spending plays a major role in determining the vigor of the economic rebound.
Now it’s time for the fateful however disclaimer.

To have any impact on the 9.6 percent unemployment rate, consumers need to spend even more and the economy would need to rack up growth of 5 percent for a full year.
With so many folks either unemployed or without a raise for a couple years, good luck with that.
Which brings me to the final number of the day: Catch-22.

Obama no human laugh track on Stewart's The Daily Show

Jon Stewart, unlike so-called real journalists who grew up smoking cigarettes like Edward R. Murrow, doesn’t have to sweat credibility.
Comedians have that luxury.
But Stewart’s The Daily Show is more than just Comedy Central even though that’s its network. It’s a show where a lot of young folks go for their news. A serious statement about them as well as the state of journalism, circa 2010.
Still, the liberal Stewart knew he couldn’t just suck up to President Obama last night on his show. Nor could he resort to just jokes, smirks and burying his face in his hands.
To his credit, Stewart didn’t just go for the gags. It was hardly a sequel to Laugh-In as Obama wasn’t about to treat politics as a laughing matter six days before a midterm election that likely will render his party a national laughingstock.
While they did josh around a bit, Stewart went after Obama with what happened to that hope-and-change guy?
“You ran with such, if I may, audacity … yet legislatively it has felt timid at times,” Stewart said. “I am not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.”
Obama fired off a quick counter with: “Jon, I love your show” — here Stewart, as is his wont, mugged for the camera — “but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you. This notion that health care was timid — you’ve got 30 million people that will have health insurance because of this.”
Well, as Walter Cronkite used to sign off, “That’s the way it is.”
Or perhaps Murrow’s exit line of “Good night and good luck” is more fitting.

Karl Rove and Conan O'Brien working overtime to cheer up the morose among us

With the world seemingly imploding like Charlie Sheen, it’s comforting to know that rampant lunacy can help keep things light.
For instance, there is GOP strategist Karl Rove, who usually is to humor what tsunamis are to beach chairs.
But Rove was as hysterical as a slapstick pratfall Monday night when he said that “45 percent of NPR listeners were Saddam Hussein.”
Anything you say, Karl.
Then there is the latest sniper fire in the border war between Conan O’Brien and NBC, which seemingly hasn’t had a hit show since Bob Hope hung up his golf clubs.
O’Brien, whose new TBS show premieres on Nov. 8, is daring NBC to sue him over the intellectual property rights to his signature Masturbating Bear skit.
Granted, whether there’s anything remotely intellectual about a masturbating bear is open to discussion.

The story of a Reading woman being charged in deaths of five infants is virally numbing

It is a tale of such staggering abomination that it would bring a shudder to Stephen King. Talk about a ride on a down escalator to the bottom of the human condition.

Michele Kalina of Reading has been charged with five counts of homicide and corpse abuse after the remains of five infants were found in or around her home.

Three of the infants were found in individual plastic containers in a living room closet; one container also contained cement. A fourth infant was found in the home and a bone from a fifth was found in a nearby landfill.

DNA tests showed at least four of the infants to be Kalina’s children, and at least three belong to her boyfriend. Police were tipped to the alleged crimes by Kalina’s teenage daughter, who discovered the remains in the closet.

The sordid story is more frightening being down in the dark boiler works of an industrial basement. And is shrouded in surreal mystery.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams said today that investigators do not know where Kalina kept five infants before she killed them.

And they don’t know where Kalina, a home-care aide for the elderly, gave birth. Adams said no one has reported seeing Kalina with any of the infants and that area hospitals have no record of Kalina giving birth.

Investigators said Kalina hid the pregnancies from her husband, Jeffrey Kalina, and a boyfriend with whom she was having an affair for 14 years. Investigators have declined to release the boyfriend’s name.Between 1996 and 2010, investigators said, Kalina gave birth to three boys, one girl and another infant whose gender could not be determined. Investigators said the infants were 32 to 43 weeks old when they were killed by asphyxiation, poisoning or neglect.

Kind of makes you want to skip a rhetorical stone across rants of outrage.

Democratic Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate tells Obama to "shove it"

As you may have heard, the Democrats and President Obama seem destined to be so much mincemeat in next week’s election.
No wonder tensions these days are strung tighter than piano wire and emotions are hotter than a Bhut Jolokia chili pepper.
The Democratic candidate for Rhode Island governor, Frank Caprio, apparently snapped today after learning that Obama would not endorse him.
Caprio, with each word dipped in the hot sauce of anger, said Obama can “take his endorsement and really shove it.”
All righty then.
Evidently being too righty was the problem. Caprio is seen as more conservative than the independent seeking to lead Rhode Island, which is so Democratic even its autumn leaves are mostly blue.
Then again, Caprio just may have been throwing an elbow to find some breathing room in a tight race with independent former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a onetime Republican who endorsed Obama in the Democratic primary in 2008, and Republican John Robitaille.
Robitaille Monday called Caprio’s remarks “a contrived Hail Mary pass.”
Indeed, Caprio today made an about-face crisp enough to move a Marine drill instructor to tears. His campaign had said Sunday night that Caprio was looking forward to Obama’s visit today to Rhode Island, and that Caprio would accompany the president to two public appearances.
After all, the parlor game of politics is mostly poker.