Exploit This Tragedy

Before the tar balls had a chance to touch down on the white sands of the Gulf Coast ““ the message from the oil-soaked Republican Party was clear: “Don’t exploit the disaster”¦if you’re a Democrat.” But if you’re a member of the GOP, feel free to exploit this endless spill for political gain. Use it as a battering ram against the president. “Obama’s Katrina.” “Obama’s un-American for criticizing BP.” “The moratorium is worse than the spill.” “Obama isn’t doing enough.” “Government is bad ““ where’s the National Guard?” So on and so forth.

Cartoon by Nate Beeler - Washington Examiner (click to reprint)

Cartoon by Nate Beeler - Washington Examiner (click to reprint)

But don’t try to pass an energy policy in the wake of the biggest environmental catastrophe this country has ever witnessed. That’s exploitative. Crude.

The “don’t exploit this tragedy” knee-jerk catch-all phrase is absolutely meaningless. In American politics, we rule by crisis. There is no political will to act unless something is burning, melting or spewing. We don’t plan for the future – we brace for it. Our policies are all emergency-based. Our country is like someone who won’t pay their bills until they get a shut off notice.

“We can wait no longer! Now is the time!”

The Republican’s hands-off philosophy back when they held all three branches of government enabled a horde of deregulated industries with imaginary blow-out preventers to burst: the banks, Wall Street, the auto industry, the housing market etc. We’ve had to attend to these disasters, one after another. Tipping point after tipping point. Cliff after cliff.

The one issue Obama did address when it was only slightly gangrene was health care. Yet this is also the issue he gets criticized for doing instead of mopping up the Armageddon-of-the-month.

Appointed Arizona Governor Jan Brewer enjoys exploiting a tragedy to defend her disastrous-to-civil-rights immigration law. Have any Republicans admonished her for it? Nope. It’s a showdown – and Obama is IGNORING the crisis! Even though most statistics admit both incidents of violence and illegal immigration at the border had already declined. Even though “securing the border” is as ambiguous and unobtainable as “wiping out terror.” Even though according to the Arizona Republic, the Customs and Border Protection federal law enforcement agency has an annual budget of $17 billion, doubling what was spent in 2003.

“I have repeatedly sent letters to the administration and to the president of the United States with absolutely no response,” Brewer said on Fox News. It’s like calling your elderly relative just to have them bark at you that you never call. I can’t imagine why Brewer would get ignored.

But if a perennial progressive issue turns into a crisis ““ tragedy is suddenly sacred. A mass shooting at a school? Don’t exploit this tragedy to talk about gun control. Miners killed due to hazardous conditions? Don’t exploit this tragedy to empower unions. Our Gulf Coast lost for a generation because of drilling shortcuts? Don’t exploit this dead gulf or you’ll kill jobs.

The point is: Obama should exploit this tragedy in the Gulf. Not “exploiting the tragedy” is saying the status quo is perfect. Don’t do anything. Just wait out the clock.

Yes, just like the “actions” of the 109th Congress – the last one controlled by Republican majorities in both houses. When the Republicans set the agenda, they met a whopping 242 days in two years, which was 12 fewer days than the 80th Congress, the first to be dubbed a Do-Nothing Congress by President Harry Truman. The 109th had an average of eight months off a year – because nothing celebrates government ineffectiveness more than a gig in congress being a nearly no-show job.

“But if we seize this moment we can rebuild our economy on a new foundation,” said President Obama on his Organizing for America site this week.

Please, exploit this crisis. Make it the reason a spill like this won’t happen again. “The only real solution is to take American ingenuity to get energy in different forms,” Microsoft’s Bill Gates said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Gates proposes spending one percent ($11 billion annually) of what we spend on energy for research and development.

Finally an idea, not just a denial with a chant. “Drill, baby, drill.”

Yes. Exploit this crisis and exploit the clean renewable natural resources inspired by Bill Gates ““ the country’s nerds.

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Politics as Usual, Exponential Factor Four

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

In an age of relentless change, it’s heartening to be able to count on a few simple things. Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann ranting and raving one pulse short of an aneurism. Water flowing downhill. Congress holding hearings whose only point is to express the indignant depths of their public outrage even though our chances of learning anything is less likely than the North Korean Minister of Medicine going on Oprah to talk about Kim Jong Il’s spider phobia. Its all good.

BP hayward lies

Cartoon by Pat Bagley - Salt Lake Tribune (click to reprint)

The spectacle of politics as usual is as reassuring as a warm, Vaseline-lined bathrobe. It’s comforting to be reminded every now and then that no matter how urgent the crisis facing the American people, our politicians can and will find ample time to grandstand even if their self-righteous preening cancels out the eensiest possibility of actual progress. Can’t wait for them to replace the gavel at these things with a hand-held mirror.

Take the recent seven-hour theatrical farce featuring Tony Hayward. Please. Strictly following the prescribed testimony demanded of these august tribunals, British Petroleum’s CEO stuck to the script and adopted the role of a character afflicted with a severe case of selective amnesia. The man didn’t know anything. Including which industry he was in or how to wipe that priggy smirk off his face.

Hayward’s disingenuousness was so complete he actually might have put himself in jeopardy of being charged with impersonating a Congressman. The deceit, the whole deceit, and nothing but deceit. His ability to be so utterly elusive, evasive and impossible to pin down could lead to a career filling in for the Roadrunner in future Looney Tunes cartoons.

Not to mention that grilling him on technical questions was predestined to be as fruitless as Antarctica in July. As CEO of a huge corporation, he’s got lackeys and minions and stooges and toadies for the heavy lifting of knowing stuff. Mr. Hayward’s job is to massage shareholders and pose for the cover of yearly financial reports, and in times of trouble act as designated fire hydrant to packs of media-hungry dogs. Or cartoon coyotes posing as concerned Congressmen.

This televised dramaturgy wasn’t ever about answers. This was pure stagecraft. Congressional hearings are to hypocrisy what green felt is to pool tables. Especially the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Which is code for the Big Oil Boys. The same politicians who receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions every year from the very people they’re supposedly regulating. Foxes, hen houses and flying feathers spring to mind.

The only person briefly maintaining a semblance of integrity was Rep. Joe Barton, R- Exxon-Mobil, who opened the proceedings by apologizing to BP for what he called a White House “shakedown.” At least this guy knows who his friends are. The very definition of an honest politician: one who stays bought.

But buyee’s remorse prevailed. Mere hours later, after a quiet tête-à-tête with the biggest dogs in the Republican Party, Barton emerged to call another press conference where he retracted his apology. That’s right. He apologized for his apology. For which we should apologize. Reportedly, the wolves threatened his committee seniority. And so he caved. And covered his comfortable butt. Reverted to form. Back to the normal scheme of things. Politics as usual, exponential factor four. Ain’t it grand?

—–

Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being a curious example. Catch his one-man show, “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” at a performing arts center near you. His new CD, “Raging Moderate” from Stand Up! Records, is now available on both iTunes and Amazon. Coming this fall: “Where the Rogue Things Go.”

Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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Cowboy Down

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

The same way that crème brulée is unlike pork rinds, and a Lincoln Town Car is not a pickup truck, so is Barack Obama not George Bush. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons Barack Obama is currently president is because he’s SO not George Bush. He might just be the most UnBushish politician currently in possession of a Y chromosome with the possible exception of Jerry Brown, who doesn’t count because he’s an alien.

Cartoon by Cam Cardow - Ottawa Citize (click to reprint)

Cartoon by Cam Cardow - Ottawa Citize (click to reprint)

But the relentlessly dispiriting Gulf Coast Leakage has beaten America with Jimmy Carter’s feeble stick and we’re feeling as impotent as a eunuch watching Cinemax at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning; trembling for Daddy to come to our rescue and punch the bad spill in the face. Hence, the media skies have been clouded with entreaties for the president to get his spurs on and Cowboy Up in front of we wee ones.

Calls have come from the left and the right in whispers and in shouts to do something bold and avoid becoming Mister Mission Unaccomplished. Never content to let a national crisis stand in the way of politics, the right has questioned the president’s manhood, suggesting the cold spring Gulf waters may have caused massive shriveling amongst the spillage. Even Spike Lee exhorted him to “one time, go off.” And what Spike Lee says, goes. Just ask the New York Knicks.

For good or for ill, Obama responded. First by intimating he was furious. And you could tell he really was upset because his face got all frowny-like. Less emphasis on hope and more on concerned contemplation. Then Press Secretary Robert Gibbs spoke of a clenched jaw. Which to be honest, could mean anything. Might have gotten a piece of tofu caught in his bridgework. Or perhaps he was trying to squeeze out the last bit of flavor in his Juicy Fruit. We don’t know.

Finally, Obama was heard to say, “We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose butt to kick.” Only he didn’t say butt. He said the A word that rhymes with big mouth bass. Whoa. Dude. Settle. Mister President. Sir. You are many things. But Butt Kicking Chief Executive is not why we hired you. Right now we need that calm and collected smartypants whose idea of wild and crazy is working till his deodorant nearly expires. Cooler than the other side of the pillow. Penguin-tail time.

Dubyah reminded us of an entitled, cackling jock giving geeks and nerds two-handed wedgies in the high school bathroom. You, however, are here to teach those dorks how to retire to a stall and rearrange themselves before reentering the hallway, studying hard and getting that job paying enough to turn the wedgie-giver’s dad’s GM dealership into a solar panel production facility.

You don’t need to answer Spike Lee’s outbursts. What, you going to base our foreign policy on an offhand remark by Delroy Lindo? America doesn’t need Harrison Ford or The Incredible Hulk flying out of the cargo door of Air Force One. Not even the Credible Hulk. Look at Congress. We got plenty of Hulks. Besides, you don’t wear the right kind of Butt Kicking Shoes. For that, you need cowboy boots. With those beautiful Italian loafers, a person runs the risk of spraining a foot. Or a midterm election.

—–

Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being an egregious example. Catch his one-man show, “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” at a performing arts center near you. His new CD, “Raging Moderate” from Stand Up! Records, is now available on both iTunes and Amazon. Coming this fall: “Where the Rogue Things Go.”

Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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Tough Sell

There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that BP could say in an ad that would change my thinking about the oil business or prompt me to buy BP gas. So it’s hard to fathom why BP continues to run so many expensive ads in the midst of the unchecked disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

But then, I’m probably as naive about advertising as I am about the oil business. I can’t honestly recall ever doing anything at the suggestion of an ad – except, perhaps, arrive at a movie theater at the proper time. That’s a powerful statement considering more than $100 billion is spent on advertising in the U.S. each year.

Not to say all ads are bad. Some, like the radio spots that feature the humorist Tom Bodett have put a smile on my face for years. I love the sappy music, and I enjoy hearing Mr. Bodett say, “We’ll leave the light on for ya.” But I’ve never stayed at Motel 6; never even considered it. All the ads have reminded me is that if I ever run into Tom Bodett in a bar I’d like to buy him a drink.

I love the fact that Dos Equis beer has used its ad dollars to identify the world’s most interesting person, albeit a fictitious fellow, and I applaud the fact that he’s honest enough to say, “I don’t always drink beer.” It’s particularly impressive that these entertaining ads survive despite press releases like the one from Dos Equis Brand Director Paul Smailes that includes in a single paragraph: “strategic understanding of the brand platform,” and “strong digital and social media experience.”

Ironically, Mr. Smailes uses the very sort of obnoxious PR thinking that seems absent in his commercials, but must be exactly what BP’s ad team is talking about. Regardless, I’ve never tried the beer.

Nor do I buy much Corona, although its ads set some kind of record for televised tranquility. The current batch feature folks on a beautiful beach, never saying a word. In one spot a guy is so blissed out he throws his cell phone into the ocean.

A woman I work with said she really enjoys a Huggies commercial for designer diapers with the tag line: “You’ll never look so good pooping in your pants.” Would this influence a diaper purchase? No.

My wife expressed fondness for a commercial touting the virtues of cotton, in which the actress Zooey Deschanel wears quirky, slightly retro cotton ensembles. Ever buy anything made of cotton as a result of the ad? Nope.

What’s not to enjoy about the Mac vs. PC commercials? My hunch, however, is you’re either a PC person or a Mac type, and casting two lovable guys in the roles of digital devices isn’t going to change that.

So, what hope does BP possibly have in swaying public opinion by boasting about its attempt to deal with disaster in the Gulf of Mexico by running ads that foolishly state, “our efforts will not come at any cost to taxpayers”? And, the insulting pledge to honor all “legitimate” claims?

Adweek magazine was kind in a headline that reported, “BP’s ‘Apology’ Ad Not a Complete Disaster.” The magazine notes that although BP’s TV commercial rated “average” with viewers, “many consumers expressed their anger and unhappiness with BP.” No kidding.

BP shot its commercial on a pristine beach with no tar balls or oil-coated pelicans in sight. President Obama expressed disappointment that BP would squander time and money on rehabilitating its image at a time when the last thing needed is public relations.

In 1989 when the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, the company spent $1.8 million on a newspaper ad that offered regret, but no acceptance of responsibility. “The accident has been receiving our full attention and will continue to do so,” said the ad about the largest spill in U.S. history.

In its current print ad, BP pledges, “We will get this done. We will make this right.” One fears that they’re talking about developing a successful commercial, not cleaning up the oil. I’m still not buying.

—–

Peter Funt writes about newspapers at: www.FuntonFronts.com.

Peter Funt may be reached at: www.CandidCamera.com.

©2010 Peter Funt. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or e-mail [email protected].

Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker. He’s also the long-time host of “Candid Camera.” A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com.

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An Administration Adrift

Making Sense, by Michael Reagan

As we pass the 50-day mark of the terrible oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it seems like the more things change the more they stay the same.

As I have previously discussed, sometimes terrible tragedies occur for which even the most diligent administrations cannot prepare. While it can and should be properly debated whether this tragedy is one of those events, our collective priority must be the well-being of our ecosystem and the many Gulf Coast residents who are being impacted. We must also continue to keep the family members of those lost during the initial accident in our thoughts and prayers.

But today we must also explore the attitude and focus of the Obama administration as this terrible tragedy unfolds — seemingly around them.

What President Obama must learn is that his job is more than chief executive — it is also chief communicator. And on that side of the equation, his administration has failed terribly, always seeming to play catch-up when it comes to the unfolding Gulf narrative. At times the president has seemed distant and even disinterested — publicly partying with musicians or welcoming victorious basketball squads to the White House. He has seems oblivious to the fact that many of the cable networks carry his appearances alongside a live box of oil flowing from an underground pipe — poisoning our environment each passing moment he addresses another subject.

In a purely defensive posture, the president has tried to counter such criticisms by saying that he is not in the business of the “theater” but rather the business of leading on behalf of the people. And in a perfect world he would be right. But this is reality — a reality the president himself came to just a few days later when he used his pre-planned zinger about finding the right asses to kick in order to hold people accountable on the spill.

Simply put, the administration is trying everything it can think of to get its arms around this issue. At times, they seem just as concerned with trying to stop the leak of public opinion as trying to figure out a way to stop the Gulf leak from spewing oil.

With poll after poll showing that the public feels that both the administration and BP are equally at fault in not doing enough to get this disaster under control, the Obama presidency finds itself staring at further erosion of the support of a nation that overwhelmingly supported their change agenda. If they don’t resolve this matter by figuring out how the get this leak under control, clean up the habitat and protect Gulf residents from further harm, they may find themselves looking at the kind of political changes reserved for one-term presidencies.

For the good of our nation, especially our neighbors down south, and for his own political viability, President Obama better find a plan and a message that puts an end to a tragedy that is running 24/7 on cable news.

—–

Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is spokesperson for The Reagan PAC (www.thereaganpac.com) and chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org). Look for Mike’s books and other information at www.Reagan.com. E-mail comments to [email protected].

©2010 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail [email protected], (800) 696-7561.

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Bright Side of the BP Oil Spill

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

To say the news coming out of the Gulf is not what you call encouraging is like saying it’s been a rough week for Dennis Hopper. And it’s making people crazy. No. Really. Crazy. Louisiana native and Democratic strategist James Carville went off on the President like a string of overstuffed firecrackers in a pot-bellied stove. And for Carville to savage the leader of his own party either means he’s mad as hell and can’t take it anymore or his wife Mary Matalin’s naggingly oppressive monotonic brain-washing has achieved full saturation. I would hazard a bit of both.

Obama BP oil spill thinker

Cartoon by Taylor Jones - Cagle Cartoons (click to reprint)

You got Republicans calling for domestic government intervention. While on the other side of Loopyville, some Dems are screaming for the military to take over. What the hell do they expect the Army to be able to do that BP can’t, shoot it? Surround the mil- deep spill, capture and occupy it? Proceed to win its hearts and minds? Hey, Alice, which way out of this rabbit hole?

Outside of that stone plug that Jack used in “Lost,” BP appears to have tried everything: Top Hat. Top Kill. Top Cat. Top Chef. Topkapi. Topographical maps. Topol. Topamax. Topo Gigio. But thus far, the only thing they’ve managed to accomplish is to make the spill very, very angry. Not as angry as folks near the affected areas who just want to get back to their lives. Especially in the wake of the recent “We’re BP and we’re so sorry” ad campaign that’s costing millions to air in lieu of expediting financial claims. Destined to rank right up there with marrying a Kardashian, for worst PR move, EVER.

Now word comes down the plumey pike that the wound we opened in the lower epidermis of the Earth might not be closed until a relief well is finished sometime in August, so perhaps we should accept the fact that the Gulf is short-term doomed and start to seek out the bright sides of the BP Oil Spill.

America has always been the Imperial Wizard of the International Optimists League. And now is a perfect time for us to jump back into the silver lining business. Because when this country is handed lemons, we make lemonade. All we need is a couple of dump trucks full of sugar and, ironically, some clean water.

TOP 15 BRIGHT SIDES OF THE BP OIL SPILL:

“¢ Your shrimp dish comes pre-marinated.

“¢ Newly affordable waterfront properties.

“¢ Frolicsome beachside tar-ball fights.

“¢ Gulf Coast salad dressing: just add vinegar.

“¢ Jet Skis able to refuel mid-trip.

“¢ Lubricated Jelly Fish.

“¢ Mortared with oil and tar, sand castles now tide-proof.

“¢ Fewer silly election-year cries of “Drill, Baby, Drill.”

“¢ No more squeaky oysters.

“¢ Need an oil change? Wander down to water’s edge and squeegee a duck.

“¢ Hot enough day, and voila: the world’s largest fish fry.

“¢ Don’t bother drilling for oil, the oil is coming to us.

“¢ Romantic beach bonfires 24/7.

“¢Â  Wriggling out of your tight swimsuit is a breeze.

“¢ Every Gulf dock and pier instantly doubles as a Slip ‘n Slide.

—–

Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being an evident example. Catch his one-man show, “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” at a performing arts center near you. His new CD, “Raging Moderate” from Stand Up! Records, is now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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The Third Gulf War

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

The president may have wrestled Afghanistan and Iraq to shaky standoffs but the newest skirmish in the heads-up display of Air Force One shows him losing the third Gulf War and losing bad. Taking shots from both sides — from both sides. Republicans are yelling at Obama for holding BP responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster AND for not doing enough to clean it up. That man sure is a geographic oddity. On two wrong sides of the same issue. Which ain’t easy.

bp gulf oil spill

Cartoon by Brian Fairrington - Cagle Cartoons (click to reprint)

The main burst of charges that Obama is scapegoating British Petroleum are oozing from the newest Republican Senate candidate from Kentucky, Rand Paul. A man naturally disposed to disturbing people with both his views and his coif. Please, someone, have the simple common human decency to tell him that 1985 is calling and it wants its hair back. Not even Lyle Lovett wears it like that anymore. Anthony Geary maybe.

But I digress. Calls are streaming across the aisle for the president to ignore BP’s jurisdictional claims and have the military take over. Because people suspect BP cannot be trusted. About anything. If they smile and say, “Hello,” check your back for shards of a malfunctioning Blowout Protector. “We’re trying our best.” We are familiar with your best. Your best sucks.

Top Kill was supposed to take 12 hours, then 24, 48 and now 96. You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to spot a mathematical progression here. 12,288 is a mere seven press conferences spewed down the line. They didn’t want the video feed to go public because even you and I and your five-year-old helper-monkey would see the ferocious gushing and realize, “Whoa, that’s more than 5,000 gallons a day. That’s 5,000 gallons a frame. Where’s my banana?”

BP’s sole object is protecting profit. Covering corporate butt. In the last six weeks, not a single word that has leaked out of their mouths has been true. Eventually they will divest themselves of all U.S. assets, change their name and seep offshore to escape financial culpability in the courts, but until then the main object is to deflect blame, keeping responsibility to a minimum. And when I say responsibility, I mean money. The ultimate lubricant.

BP is not concerned with plugging or cleaning or stopping or fixing or reimbursing, except for how it affects the quarterly dividend. To that end they will lie and deny and in-comply and do whatever it takes. They will lie about what happened, what is happening and what will happen. They will lie because that is the culture in which corporations live. They will lie because it is their nature. They will lie because they’re good at it. They will lie to stay in practice. They will lie about lying. Offer up proof. They will lie. They will claim it was their evil twin. Remember when this all started on Earth Day and they said there was no leak. Why? Because they were hoping to get it under control and nobody would be the wiser.

Some people are calling for a boycott of BP. Not enough. Don’t just boycott British Petroleum; ride a bicycle to one of their stations, seize their toilet paper assets and send them to the Gulf. To help clean up. If Obama and the Oil Flushers can’t do the right thing, we’ll do it for them. Then stay on that bicycle for as long as you can.

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Will Durst is a San Francisco based political comic who often writes. This being an indignant example. Catch his one-man show, “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion,” at the Vallejo (Calif.) Naval Museum June 3, and at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, Calif., June 5. His new CD, “Raging Moderate” from Stand Up! Records, is now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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The Politics of the Gulf Oil Spill

Since last month’s oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, two very different leadership styles have been on display. On the one hand we have President Obama, who took nine days before making a public statement on the spill. On the other, we have Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been intensely and vocally involved from the beginning.

Gulf oil spill Obama Katrina

Cartoon by John Darkow - Columbia Daily Tribune (click to purchase)

Now, we must all recognize that during the course of a presidency unexpected and unprecedented events will occur that cannot be blamed on the administration. And this is one of those cases. However, it is not always the event itself that causes the most trouble — it is the response to the situation that usually gets you.

In the wake of recent criticism, President Obama has been forced to backtrack and step up his attention to the oil spill. The spill — which may have already released 90 million gallons of oil into the Gulf and has now reached the marshes of Louisiana, “oiling” some 84 miles of the coast —is undoubtedly the greatest national disaster of the Obama presidency. Yet despite intense Democratic criticism for President Bush’s response to a natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina, in this same state, President Obama’s response has been underwhelming, to say the least.

Under the justification of maintaining a regular schedule and demonstrating calm, President Obama has cavalierly gone about with casual events, even fundraisers, choosing to keep most of his disaster response effort private. So private, in fact, that those of us living far away from the slick might even be forgiven for forgetting about it.

This is not a superficial matter for a president. Even if President Obama’s administration were, in fact, exercising the highest level of competency in dealing with the catastrophe, it is the job of a president to handle not only the practical matters of government, but to also be the public face to encourage, motivate, and inform the public. This is a job he is failing.

Down in Louisiana, people have seen a very different story. Gov. Jindal has engaged completely in all aspects of disaster relief efforts. He has been a tireless advocate for his state, challenging mistaken federal approaches and pressuring BP to make every possible effort to quell this spill. And when the focus is fully switched to clean-up efforts, the people of Louisiana can have every confidence that Gov. Jindal will continue in the manner he has begun.

BP’s latest attempt to staunch the oil, their “top kill” tactic, is now underway. This effort will involve pumping an intense concentration of heavy mud and cement into the oil flow in an effort to staunch the flow. Initial results are promising, but only time will tell how effective this will be.

Right now, residents of the Gulf Coast need the administration to demonstrate the type of leadership being exercised by Gov. Bobby Jindal. President Obama is now talking about the future of off-shore drilling, placing additional restrictions and extending the moratorium on drilling. None of this, however, deals with the realities of the oil currently pouring into the ocean, and the livelihoods of Louisianans which are being destroyed.

Again we see a pattern of lackluster efforts from our president. Words and a veneer of calm are not a demonstration of leadership. They do not serve as action and progress. And coming from an administration whose party trounced President Bush for his conduct in the Gulf, such “leadership” is not only ineffective, but actually hypocritical.

I will be watching with the rest of the country to see where the President goes from here. I hope he will exceed the pattern he has shown us so far. And in the meantime, my prayers and support are with Gov. Jindal and the good people of Louisiana in the face of this tragedy.

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Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is spokesperson for The Reagan PAC (www.thereaganpac.com) and chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org). Look for Mike’s books and other information at www.Reagan.com. E-mail comments to [email protected]

©2010 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail [email protected], (800) 696-7561.

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We Are the Wonks

Outside Ohio, the question isn’t so much whether basketball superstar LeBron James will opt to stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but whether a shamelessly hokey rendition of “We Are the World,” sung by local politicians and media folk, will have any actual impact on his thinking.

Arlen Specter

Cartoon by John Cole - Scranton Times-Tribune (click to reprint)

The Ohio version goes: “Please stay, LeBron; We really need you. No bigger market’s gonna love you half as much as we do. It’s a choice you’re making; will you go or will you stay? What will we do with that big sign, if you move away?”

Could a dumb ditty like that sway a major decision? If so, get ready for…

Senator Arlen Specter campaign ad – “Please vote for me; I’m finished changing. It’s the GOP, not my new par-ty, that needs rearranging. If you boot me out, let there be no mys-tery; I’ll just join a group that suits me to a tea…”

Elena Kagan testimony
– “Do I look gay? How dare you wonder. Your group’s a joke; the system’s broke, and gone asunder. If I am confirmed, you all know so very well. I’ll sit on the bench and never ask or tell…”

BP commercial – “OK, we goofed, but we’re still tryin’. For 75-mil, our experts shill; you know they’re lyin’. It’ll cost a lot, now that the Gulf’s a dump. But we’ll get even with you, baby, at the pump…”

NBC promo – “We are the net; we do it our way. Prime-time may suck, but that’s bad luck; we’re makin’ Jay pay. We’ve got new shows planned; and we’ll be tops again. You’ll love Al Roker when we put him on at 10….”

Sean Hannity script – “We are the world; we see it our way. We love our views, and don’t confuse, what else the facts say. Balance is our goal, and we strive to keep things fair; but if we are wrong we never seem to care…”

Steve Jobs pitch – “We struck it rich; you love the iPad! You over pay, what can I say? It makes us all glad. Apple’s doin’ great, and we’ve got you all to thank. And we’re laughin’ all the way to the i-Bank…”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer news conference – “We love our cops; they stop the capers. They’ll let you pass, but first they want to see your papers. We’ve got border guards, ’cause Latinos try to roam. As for tourists, we’ll just let them stay at home…”

President Obama speech – “This job is tough; did I misjudge it? The polls are down, the markets too; I just can’t fudge it. But we’ll muddle through, and I want you all to know: no matter what, the job won’t go to Joe…”

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Peter Funt may be reached at www.CandidCamera.com.

©2010 Peter Funt. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or e-mail [email protected].

Peter Funt is a writer and public speaker. He’s also the long-time host of “Candid Camera.” A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com.

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Brainless Pinheads

Raging Moderate, by Will Durst

They’ve tried fire and robots and domes and booms and drones and boxes and rosary beads and even pantyhose stuffed with human hair, but so far nothing has slowed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from creeping towards our Southern Coast like a drunken lobbyist staggering towards a free seafood buffet. And almost as ugly. This maritime miasma promises to be the most monumental attack of sludge to hit American shores since Ann Coulter’s most recent book.

Cartoon by Bill Schorr - Cagle Cartoons (click to purchase)

Cartoon by Bill Schorr - Cagle Cartoons (click to purchase)

Hard to say what frightens Gulf Coast residents more; the toxic slick bearing down on their shore or the administration’s guarantee that our government is poised and ready to swoop in with federal assistance. It worked so well after Katrina. The kind of news that prompts residents to wake screaming — bathed in sweat — from nightmares of FEMA loading trucks full of mutant hair sausages never to be delivered. And ice. But never let it be said that Congress doesn’t know how to exploit a crisis. They’ve leaped into action and appointed a panel.

The one positive to come out of this amphibious affliction (besides never hearing another New Orleans restaurant say they are out of blackened redfish) is we can expect to hear a lot fewer of those strident rallying cries of “Drill, Baby, Drill” this election year. They’ve already given way to the more muted “Cap, Baby, Cap,” and threaten to digress into “Tax, Baby, Tax.” Right now though, those responsible seem to be sticking like shrimp to otter fur with “Prevaricate, Baby, Prevaricate.”

BP, which apparently stands for Brainless Pinheads, first announced the seepage from the MC252 well (isn’t that cute) was barely a couple of drips. Nothing to worry about. More oil pooled on your average garage floor. Then it bounced up to 1,000 barrels a day, then 2,000, and now that we’re obviously in gushing territory estimates are not really useful anymore. Numbers can be so misleading.

Chemicals were sprayed on the leak to disperse it, but that was curtailed because the dispersant might be doing more harm than good. They don’t know. Oh, good. Turns out, these guys don’t know a lot. They won’t even say what’s in the dispersant because it’s proprietary. All they can reveal is it’s not harmful. However, if you do happen to get a smidgeon on your skin, you immediately want to flush it with a bleach bath. That they know.

You’d think a company that makes its living poking holes in the bottom of seas would have a plan to close them back up, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. Actually, you’d be half wrong. They do have means. Using technology they’re required to install when drilling in other countries. Not here, though. We encourage voluntary participation. And let the industry write the regs. And then pray to the oil fairies.

Maybe this will signal an end to our bowing down to the fossil fuel gods. Maybe Obama will seize this reprehensible moment to carve out an anti-carbon strategy and the whole country will rise as one and demand a national policy based on clean energies and shared sacrifice. Yeah. And maybe ring-tailed squirrel monkeys will replace hockey referees during playoff games. Its times like these that make you wish hari-kari had become a corporate CEO global tradition.

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Will Durst is a San Francisco-based political comic who often writes. This being a dazzling example. Catch him at the Crest Theatre on Saturday May 8, www.thecrest.com, 1013 K St., Sacramento, Calif. 95814, 916.442.5189. And his one-man show, “The Lieutenant Governor from the State of Confusion” on Friday, May 14 at the Holly Springs Cultural Arts Cente. 300 West Ballentine St., Holly Springs N.C. 27540. 919.577.1660. New CD, “Raging Moderate” from Stand Up! Records now available on both iTunes and Amazon.

Copyright ©2010, Will Durst, distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate. Call Cari Dawson-Bartley at 800-696-7561 or e-mail [email protected]. Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world. He is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at [email protected]. Check out willandwillie.com for the latest podcast. Will Durst’s book, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” is available from Amazon and better bookstores all over this great land of ours. Don’t forget to check out his rooftop comedy minutes at: http://www.rooftopcomedy.com/shows/BurstOfDurst.

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