He’s Lost that Lovin’ Feeling

Remember Obamamania?

Without even asking if we wanted to know all about his little love life, a TV talking head on Election Night in 2008 confided — right in our living rooms, with the kids there — that the president-elect generated “a thrill up my leg.”

His co-talking head suggested that maybe he was getting carried away. He insisted he wasn’t. “Seriously,” he reiterated. Thankfully, the TV captures only their talking heads and not their thrilled legs.

At his 2008 speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the campaigning future president drew an enraptured crowd of 200,000. Many fainted as he took the stage, and some reached out to touch his clothes.

The throngs enthused that he was “almost like the Messiah.” Oprah Winfrey didn’t disagree. She proclaimed, “I believe he is the one.”

At his victory speech the night of the election, he said he thought so, too. In the delirium he intoned, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” More delirium ensued.

He was more than the messiah to them. He was a rock star.

But what a difference four years make. First, there was Obamacare. Then there was a “shellacking” (to use his own term) in the midterm elections. Then he was re-elected but with fewer votes than the first time — another historic first but not a good one. Now there’s an endless string of scandals about government spying on private citizens and targeting them with the Internal Revenue Service. On tap for next year: more Obamacare.

Maybe the thrill is gone. To find it, recapture it and send it back up the unseen and unsuspecting legs and loins of TV talking heads, he recently returned to the Brandenburg Gate for another really big show.

You could almost read between the lines. His lyrics were euro-banalities, but his rhythm was pure Motown:

“You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,

Whoa, that lovin’ feeling,

You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling,

Now it’s gone, … gone … gone … wooooooh.”

It was a bust. Attendance was down by 97 percent. At exactly the same historic forum, where he’d drawn 200,000 four years ago and President Kennedy had drawn 450,000 50 years ago, he drew less than 5,000. The messiah who used to deliver the inspiration that made the whole world inspired drew fewer people than Barry Manilow does for “The Songs That Make the Whole World Sing.”

As for the scandals, he didn’t exactly mention them, but you could almost hear his embittered heart:

“And now you’re starting to criticiiiiiiize little things I dooooo.”

It got pathetic:

“Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for yoooou. If you would only love me like you used to doooo.”

OK, I’m exaggerating. He didn’t get down on his knees. But he did take his jacket off. Even that didn’t win their love or thrill their legs. Those Germans can be tough.

Toward the end, he and his handlers tried repetition and more rhythm:

“I need your love,” he crooned.

“He needs your love!” harmonized his backstage handlers.

“I need your love,” he repeated.

“He needs your love!” Now the backups were right behind him in turquoise tuxes, doing swivel-hips and hand-twirls in unison.

OK, I’m exaggerating again. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the few Germans who showed up for this free extravaganza got what they paid for it. They looked unthrilled, unmoved and, in some cases, unawake.

It didn’t help that the former messiah mispronounced their mayor’s name.

But it could have been worse, and later in the trip it was. He referred — three times — to the British finance minister, George Osborne, as “Jeffrey.” He didn’t want to risk making a fourth mistake in his apology, so he just said, “I’m sorry, man.”

He later explained that he’d confused the person he now calls “man” with an American rhythm and blues singer named Jeffrey Osborne. (No, they are not similar-looking.)

Does this mean that, in order to avoid such mistakes in the future, he will start calling everyone “man”? I can see it. To Vladimir Putin, “Hey, man, let’s fix Syria.” To Tiger Woods, “Hey, man, let’s do golf again.” In the Oval Office when he mutters, “Man, oh, man,” everyone in earshot will come running.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, presumably will be called “woman.” Will he call her “Pretty Woman”? “L.A. Woman”? “Witchy Woman”? “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”? I can hardly wait for Merkel to deck him.

Which brings us back to the not-so-big show in Berlin. German magazine Spiegel deadpanned, “The shine has come off Obama’s image.” Even the American talking head who’d been leg-thrilled in 2008 complained that “the late afternoon sun in Berlin, I think, ruined his use of the teleprompters.”

You see, even messiahs can have an off day when the late-afternoon sun melts their teleprompters (must have been global warming). The important thing to remember is it’s not his fault!

So now what? What do we do with a one-hit wonder who sticks around long after closing time to give eight years of bad encores?

If he were a concert tour, he’d be canceled.

Published in The Aspen Times on June 26, 2013 at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/7081306-113/love-didn-lovin-talking

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Bus-ingham Phallus

The government bus guy from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority recently declared, “The eggs are colossally too big.”

I can’t argue with that.

In case you haven’t followed the bus-stop story, briefly it’s as follows: RFTA spent $250,000 in taxpayer money on each of the new bus stops — about $4 million altogether. Yes, the ones with the 16-foot stone towers with “RFTA” emblazoned on top.

RFTA wound up with what it evidently desired: fantastic, phallic monuments to RFTA. In a recent contest in these pages to name its bus-stop monuments, “Bus-ingham Phallus” narrowly won out over “Saint Peter’s Bus-ilica.” Other entries included “Mount Bus-more” and “Machu Buso.”

The bus guys assured us that their new bus stops “aren’t pricey.” You see, a quarter million for a bus stop is not pricey at all — provided it’s someone else’s money. Every dime of that was necessary, they explained, in order to avoid what they called “the prison look” of the old bus stops (who knew?).

That’s the old news. Here’s the new news: The bus stops are not finished yet, but RFTA has hatched an upgrade already. Its latest expenditure (er, I mean “investment”) is for a basket of — drumroll — concrete eggs. That’s not a typo. Each egg is about 2 feet high and 4 feet long. Some are gray, and some are pink.

Like giant Easter eggs in a weird sci-fi movie, these colossally too-big eggs will be scattered around gravel areas next to those colossally too-big stone phalluses with the colossally too-big tribute to RFTA on top.

Of course, it is only a matter of time before someone repositions a pair of the pink colossally-too-big eggs at the base of each colossally-too-big tower in order to produce a colossally-too-big concrete sculpture of — well, this is a family newspaper. Let’s just say size matters.

Each nest will be heated with underground heaters. County regulations prohibit heating the outdoors because the outdoors are so big. (Duh.) So RFTA applied for an exemption from the government regulations on the grounds that, hey, RFTA itself is the government! It is the regulator and not the regulated. The rest of us are required to do as it says, not as it does. (See “height restrictions, art museum.”)

A taxpayer (remember them?) might ask, “What is the cost of all this?” The bus guys aren’t saying. Presumably, the eggs are cheaper by the dozen. They aren’t even revealing the cost of heating them or the quantity of greenhouse gas that is thereby generated.

Here’s an alternative recipe for these government chefs to consider: If they insist on spending money and generating greenhouse gas to heat the outdoors at the bus stops, why not start with the bench where people sit and wait? While the government is poaching its eggs, I wouldn’t mind it toasting my buns.

The bus guy was asked the purpose of the colossally too-big hard-boiled gray and pink concrete eggs. He replied, “They’re for kids to play on. They’re kind of decorative, … and it kind of fits in with the dinosaur theme.”

What a great idea, kind of. Let’s attract children to the shoulder of Highway 82 by building playgrounds there! Playgrounds consisting of colossally too-big, round, heavy, concrete objects for the children to play on! And under!

The children who survive playing on and under the colossally too-big, round, heavy, concrete objects and also survive the highway traffic whizzing by are sure to increase ridership. And as Charles Darwin would tell you, those surviving children will be very fit.

Moreover, these things will protect the ditch from cars. Any car foolishly headed toward the ditch will be properly demolished good and well by the colossally too-big, concrete objects, and its occupants will be hurled through the windshield before the car gets anywhere close to that ditch. Alternatively, the car will get the best of the collision, in which case the colossally too-big, round, concrete objects will be cracked and scrambled into the patrons waiting for the bus.

Either way, a valuable lesson will be taught: Don’t try to make an omelet with the government’s colossally too-big, incubated, concrete eggs.

Fifty-eight years ago in Montgomery, Ala., a courageous African-American woman named Rosa Parks disobeyed a government order to give up her bus seat to a white man. Her single act of disobedience triggered a citywide bus boycott. Eventually, the government had to respond to the will of the people.

I’ll stipulate that the Aspen bus stops are not nearly as important as race relations. And I’ll further stipulate that Parks had far bigger “eggs” than I ever will. But as in Montgomery, this issue is indeed about the people standing up to a government that is colossally too big, colossally too rich, colossally too arrogant and colossally too stupid. This is the government that spends our money to target taxpayers for their political views, to target news reporters for reporting the news and to target phone users just for making phone calls.

I like public transportation, and I use it often. But at a time when some people are stretched to the breaking point, and we’re cutting back on programs like Meals on Wheels, these government types are spending our money on concrete eggs. Until they start caring about our money as much as their monuments, let’s send them a message. Let’s boycott their bus.

Published June 12, 2013 in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/news/6886636-113/bus-colossally-eggs-government

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