A few mornings ago I woke up to my clock radio announcing that our national nightmare was over. At long last, the issue that threatened our way of life had finally ended. No, it wasn’t the debt ceiling crisis, with its Aug. 3 drop dead date. Rather groggily, I had just learned that the NFL lockout had been settled. Given that we haven’t had a pro team in Los Angeles since 1995 (unless you count USC) I hit the snooze button and went back to sleep.
Of course in 20 minutes there was more about the end of the lockout. Now free agency signings are the hottest stories on sports talk radio. (By all the joy you’d think the troops in Afghanistan were coming home, but no such luck.)
Actually, I find football fever a little enigmatic, especially when in a few days the government could be bouncing checks. (What about overdraft protection? Whoops. I guess we used up overdraft in the Bush years.).
I just got an idea. Why not use the people who resolved the NFL crisis — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and players union director DeMaurice Smith — to resolve the debt crisis? They couldn’t be any worse than the politicians in Washington. (Speaking of which, a quick note to Speaker of the House, John Boehner: No more time in the tanning booth. You don’t look tan, you look orange!)
I find myself yawning over the upcoming NFL season. I suppose that’s what happens when your team leaves town. It’s been 17 years. A generation of kids has grown up in L.A. with just the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers and Clippers.
During this time frame the Clippers haven’t counted. (Then again, when have they ever?) The Dodgers only count if you include running a storied franchise into the ground. The Angels are in Anaheim and the Lakers may not play this season due to another lockout. For Santa Monicans there’s always lawn bowling at Douglas Park. (I apologize if I’ve offended any lawn bowlers.)
But back to the debt crisis. I watched Speaker Boehner the other night offer his view of reality. As I listened I found myself remembering Lily Tomlin’s famous quote, “Reality is just a crutch for those who can’t handle fantasy.”
What’s even more of a disturbing recollection is that not that long ago the country had the greatest economic surplus in our history. So what happened? Foreboding movie music, maestro. Enter George Bush.
Bush could be remembered for any number of absurd quotes. Among the more revealing was the one he gave summing up his presidency, “I had the time of my life.” The pure chutzpah is classic. Here we are with two failed wars raging and on his watch the country has the worst deficit in history and W sounds like a kid coming back from Disneyworld.
Among the most remarkable of Bush’s political achievements as president (for his friends, that is) was passage of tax cuts for the rich. This put the very wealthy at the lowest tax rates in 60 years! Essentially, it only benefited less than 2 percent of the country at the expense of the other 98 percent and yet it passed. It’s funny but I don’t remember any Tea Partiers protesting the deficits back then. I wonder why.
I do remember the first sighting of the Tea Baggers. Suddenly there were these very angry, obese people straight from “The Jerry Springer Show.” As if to show reverence for the founding fathers, the Tea Baggers dressed in flamboyant colonial costumes holding protest signs littered with grammatical and spelling errors. (Suggesting that the founders were semi-literate?)
Well, don’t look now, but I think those people off “The Jerry Springer Show” are controlling the current political dialogue. (With a major assist from Fox News, or more likely, vice-versa.)
Apparently, it’s universally accepted that the government has to cut down on spending. (We could have, of course, not started the bogus Iraq war and saved a few trillion right there but I’ve sung that sad song for years now.) The question is, who better to balance the budget on the backs of than the old and poor? It’s like a reverse Robin Hood, only no one notices. Or cares.
I’ve read that if the tax rates went back to those of the Clinton era, or Reagan or certainly the “golden ‘50s” of Eisenhower, there wouldn’t be a debt crisis. Then again, when I went to UCLA tuition was $75 a semester. (When it was raised to $125 people protested.) Now it’s $12,200 a year. Now only the elite can afford college. Can you say “Bye, bye middle class?” But probably of more interest to more people is Albert Haynesworth being traded from Washington to New England. Forgive me while I yawn.
On an unrelated note, tonight I will be at an “Unleash the Beach” fundraiser at 212 Cafe at 212 Pier Ave., off Main Street, helping to raise funds for a dog beach in Santa Monica. Over the weekend, I will be attending the semi-finals and finals of the Farmer’s L.A. Open tennis tournament at UCLA.
Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.