Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two and a Half Men

Of late, the country has been mesmerized by the shenanigans of Charlie Sheen, highest paid actor on television and star of the sitcom "Two and a Half Men." I have to admit that I have been an avid follower of the show and have found it hard to turn away from the train wreck that Sheen's life has become. He has veerd from accusations of physical abuse against his wife, to wild parties that seem to involve too much liquor and drugs to now talking to every reporter with a microphone.

He has become the poster child of excess. When someone has too much of everything and not enough of being told what they shouldn't do, they become the alter ego of Charlie Harper (Sheen's character on the show.) It seems like Sheen is determined to throw away his fame and fortune on hedonism. It would appear that he has few Hollywood supporters beyond Mel Gibson, which is another story altogether. People who are suffering meltdowns such as Sheen appear to be allow all the rest of us to feel a little better about our own lives. "Things are bad but at least I am not Charlie Sheen." Of course, Sheen claims to love his life just as it is. He insists that he has the DNA of Adonis and the blood of a Warlock. So I guess he sees that as pretty good. Meanwhile his hugely successful career seems to be careening towards the limbo of late night comics and whether he can come back from the brink is questionable.

Speaking of brinks, I go to the next man, none other than Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's dictator for life who is putting on his own show a half world away. Charlie Sheen at least dresses normally. Gaddafi looks like he is audtioning to be Lady Gagal's escort. But the trouble is that he isn't a joke. He claims his country loves him while he threatens to consume it in the blood of those who oppose him. Gaddafi has been caught in the wave of reform and unrest that is sweeping across northern Africa and the middle east. It is not a good time for despots and dictators and right now it is a really bad time for Muammar. His ego and monomanical hubris is stunning even in an area known for leaders who put themselves first. He has crossed the stealth of Mubarack with the charm of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile his country is not amused by his behavior such as this one is by Charlie Sheen. In the case of Sheen the outcomes will largely be his own. With Gadaffi, the outcomes affect the entire country. While he has taken crazy to a whole new level, the outcome is not so clear.

Speaking of meglamania, and crazy I offer up the half man in the title of this--none other than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. What Walker has done is take his election as a mandate to change fifty years of Wisconsin history. His first moves in office was to give over a 100 million dollars in tax breaks to business and the wealthy. His second was then to declare a financial emergency (which he had just created) and his third move was to target state workers (or at least the ones who did not support him in the election)to solve the problem he created.Of course, the unions smartly countered by agreeing to the financial takebacks he demanded. But he has not comprimised because that wasn't the real issue.

Let's look at the broader picture here. Most unions have supported Democratic candidates under normal circumstances. Further the unions have been a major source of campaign contributions to the Democratic party. The Republicans have never been happy with unions and have constantly complained about them. Now, with real financial worries across the country they have seized this moment as one to destroy the union movement once and for all.

It is good to step back and remember that the state financial struggles were created, in part, by the recession. The recession was created by Wall Street greed and lack of oversight--both supported historically by the Republican party. But part of the problem with state budgets has come from a constant cutting of taxes that started thirty years ago. Scott Walker whinning about the difficult financial situation in Wisconsin is like the child who murders his parents and then asks for leniency from the court because he is an orphan. Scott Walker and his comrades around the country have largely created the problems they are now trying to foist onto the backs of the middle class. So the next time you read about something crazy that Charlie Sheen has said or done or the next time you contemplate the complete "batshittiness" of Muammar Gaddafi think also of Scott Walker or John Kasich or the other governors around the country who, in their own lame ways, are just as destructive as the more extreme examples we see every night on the news.

1 comment:

njpenning said...

Well said, Paul. My Dad, a physician, was a strong Democrat and union supporter. Amazing how public employee pensions are suddenly the target of such wrath. Seems, according to the polls, that the demonstrators in Madison (including our third daughter and her husband) have convinced the public that public workers -- especially teachers -- are pretty valuable people. I'll close with this great video ... maybe you already have it ... about 'What do you make, teacher?'

Take care,