Monday December 10, 2012

Alden Graves

Another year draws to a close. For most of it, the American people felt like what the guys backed up against the wall at the St. Valentine's Day massacre must have felt. Riddled with politics. The really down and dirty, post Citizens United variety.

Fortunately, when the smoke finally cleared, we had managed to dodge the bullets in spite of all the expensive artillery. Barack Obama was reelected. We may be teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff right now, but we took a few healthy steps back from the bottomless pit in November.

In his concession speech, Mitt Romney, stoically told a room full of disheartened constituents that he wished he had been given the opportunity to exercise the same business acumen that got the nation into its gigantic mess in the first place, but it just didn't work out that way. Life really ain't fair when you can't even buy the way it goes.

There wasn't an empty space for private jets to be found at Boston's Logan International Airport for all of the corporate bigwigs who had flown in just to cheer the new president and usher in the days of wine and roses. Now there's a good chance they won't even be able to take a tax write-off on the planes any more. The only thing that could have made the trip back home any more ominous was finding out that Michael Moore was the air-traffic controller.

Ann Romney says that her husband is bearing up under the disappointment fairly well, although she's worried about how he's going to spend the time when he gets tired of playing with the elevator in his garage.


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Romney's deep six had many subsidiary ripples. Fox News summarily demoted Karl Rove and Dick Morris from their positions as the go-to guys for incisive political opinions to "occasional appearances" on the network. Taking his cue from Henry Higgins' admonition to Eliza Doolittle at Ascot, Fox chief Roger Ailes informed Rove and Morris that, until further notice, they are to confine their conversations to the weather and everyone's health.

Speaking of which, the 86-year-old monarch of the Playboy Empire is about to marry his 26-year-old girlfriend. I think this is the same woman who broke Hef's heart a while back when she called off their engagement. It was probably a good idea. She was awfully young back then.

In lieu of traditional ceremonial music, it is rumored that a recorded version of Peggy Lee's "There's No Fool Like an Old Fool" will be played. Organizers of the sumptuous event have been asked to hold onto the flowers in case they are needed again after the honeymoon.

At the tragic end of our fixation with useless celebrities, the nurse who put through a phony call, purportedly from Queen Elizabeth, to Kate Middleton's hospital room, killed herself in London on Dec. 7. Two comedians from an Australian radio station thought it would be funny to attempt to find out some information about the Duchess of Cambridge's bout of morning sickness. It's an issue that is certainly paramount on the minds of most thinking people in the world now that "Dancing With the Stars" is over -- fiscal cliffs, genocides, global warming, and chemical warfare notwithstanding.

Although it is not unreasonable to speculate on why being the victim of a juvenile prank instigated by two irresponsible clowns would be so traumatic to anyone as to cause them to take their own lives, that legitimate question really isn't the point. The point, I think, is that this particular stunt resulted in the needless death of a valuable young woman and a "We're really sorry" from the radio station that is directly responsible isn't enough recompense, any more than it was from Rupert Murdoch's sleazy operatives after the phone hacking scandal in Great Britain.

If the bottom-feeder segment of the media wants to pursue these blatant intrusions into peoples' lives for their own personal enrichment (and, let's face it, the public's right to know has always taken a second place to bank accounts), then they should not be constrained by laws from doing it. The terrain of legislating what is permissible to print in a free society and what is forbidden is very perilous territory.

Let them print or speak or skywrite whatever they think they can get away with, but hold them financially - and criminally - responsible for the results.

After the election, the most momentous event in 2012 was possibly the criminal indictment of Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, two supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig the day it exploded. The two men are charged with manslaughter after 11 people died in the disaster. Holding individuals, not some ill-defined entity, criminally responsible for these catastrophes will do more to curb freewheeling corporate irresponsibility, than the exacting of fines that most of them draw out of petty cash.

Despite the fact that no less an authoritarian figure than Bill O'Reilly has pronounced Christianity a "philosophy," not a religion, South Carolina senator Jim DeMint decided to give the country a gift for Christmas this year. DeMint is resigning his senate seat for the no doubt more lucrative pastures offered by the Heritage Foundation. In accepting the position, Sen. DeMint demonstrated one of the most basic of conservative tenets - when in doubt, go where the money is.

The rest of us can give thanks that one of the most dunderheaded obstructionists in Congress is gone and hope that a similar post is offered in the near future to Lindsay Graham.

Alden Graves is a Banner columnist and reviewer.