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?

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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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