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Monday, March 4, 2013

A Laugh a Day Keeps the Dr. Away—Just Watch the News


Do you remember the old TV show ‘Make Me Laugh”? One contestant’s job was to tell jokes or do something funny in an effort to make a panel, whose job it was to not laugh, laugh. Lately I suspect the evening news programs have taken over where “Make Me Laugh” left off. I try to take the news seriously but sometimes it’s just too hard. I have to laugh.

A recent national a news program was a great example. We had the report on the “Sequester”. Every few months it’s some clever new title for the latest looming disaster. Before the Sequester it was the “Fiscal Cliff.” I’m not sure who dreams up these catchy titles but I’m sure it’s someone’s job. Just yesterday, I overheard a couple of older women talking about their grave concerns about the latest looming disaster. One said she did not know what was going to happen to this country if we went over the Fiscal Cliff. I was tempted to tell her she was on the wrong looming disaster by a few months. But then I decided she was smarter than I. Obviously she had stopped watching the evening news.

So about the crisis d’jour: Sequester. Despite the grave fears, Congress went home and refused to do anything about the automatic and drastic cuts to virtually all segments of the federal budget until “Obama comes to his senses”. Doesn’t matter that Obama won the most recent election with a rather tidy margin. And that he’s made offers of 2 to 1 budget cuts to revenue increases. Or that all the polls show most voters want our elected officials to act like grown-ups, get along and solve problems. Not take their ball and go home like our Congress did. If you can’t find a laugh in the dysfunctional government that led to the Sequester what good is our system of government anyway?

Then there was some story about criticism for a member of the Kennedy clan, a son of Bobby, and how he has the unmitigated gall to say something nice about Cesar Chavez, the President of Venezuela. OK, we all know Chavez has been on America’s bad list for so long because he well… he’s been on our bad list I forget why he’s there. So nobody better say anything nice about him.

But this Kennedy fellow, a good- looking silver-haired man who used to work in the U S Congress and now works with a coalition to help the poor in this country get heating oil, said Chavez did a good thing. Seems, CITGO and Chavez were the only ones who gave assistance to Americans who can’t afford heating oil. That is unless the poor folks stop buying groceries. Well, a half billion dollars in aid to the poor in this country who can’t afford heating oil may be a bit of an embarrassment. But so are old people starving or freezing in their homes. Laughing yet?

I suppose this Sequester is not going to help the old people who have been struggling to pay for their heating oil. Good thing our Congress is stepping up to do something about that. But no, I forgot, they all went home for a much needed break. LOL

The next item of news was a sink hole that swallowed a man and his bedroom while the swallowed man’s brother tried to save him. Sounds like something from one of those horror movies. Was that “Poltergeist” where people were sucked out of their homes? Like in most horror movies, the national news included an interview with the swallowed man’s relatives. There was no mention of any efforts to bring in equipment or do anything to see if they could save him. I guess he was taken to another dimension and the whole rescue thing was pointless. Or maybe with the Sequester we just don’t have rescue funds any more. But really—if they can rescue coal miners who have been trapped for weeks, why can’t we even talk about whether rescue is feasible? Still not laughing?

Then there was the all-consuming story about the retiring Pope ascending in his helicopter--to be taken to his castle, a temporary retreat until his new abode is built. We were reminded a Pope has not retired in hundreds of years. And the last leader of the Church to ascend was Jesus. When there were no helicopters, at least as far as we know. The world waits with bated breath for the process of selecting the Pope’s successor.

 I may be the only one, but as a fallen-away Catholic, I am not bating my breath waiting for a new Pope to be selected. In fact, I’m wishing some of the other really old and out-of-touch decision-makers in this world would consider retiring. But I am laughing at the image of the retiring Pope ascending in a helicopter.

Which brings me to the next news item. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the Voting Rights Act. Apparently they are considering whether the Voting Rights Act is now an unnecessary “racial entitlement”.  Rather than talking about voting as a racial entitlement I’d expect the most conservative members of the Court, who support judicial restraint and deference to the legislature, would be considering that Congress overwhelmingly renewed the Voting Rights Act—the Senate voted to renew 98 to zip.  I’d like to know how the Senate agreed on anything with that degree of unanimity. And now the Court may overturn it. A little chuckle here for our dysfunctional government.

But now for a belly laugh. The national news ran a clip of Obama saying he could not use a “Jedi Mind Meld” on the Republicans to get them to see the error of their ways on Sequester. Obama got a nerdy sci-fi reference wrong. ROFL!!LOL!!!

As we all know, or anyone who raised a son, has a geeky husband or friend, or is themselves a sci-fi nerd, Jedi’s don’t use mind melds. That’s Vulcans in Star Trek. So not only do the Republicans criticize everything Obama says and does. But now he has the whole galaxy of sci-fi nerds outraged. I have three words for you nerds: “Get over it.”

Obama was not reciting a movie quote he was riffing on sci-fi themes and creatively melding two concepts to create an analogy to fit the situation.

But as we all know, what Obama really needs are some Jedi mind games if he hopes to get the Republicans to do what is right for this country, given that they are immune to rational appeals. Now that is a movie I’d happily go see.

Instead of laughing at the national news’ rendition of “Make Me Laugh” with their recounting of actual events, I’ve gotten so I prefer Jeff Daniels as a fake news anchor in “The Newsroom”. At least when I laugh at that program, the laughs are intended.

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