THE BLOG

Senate Wanking Committee

Mar 09, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

Most American citizens are willing and able, and these days too often desperate, to roll up our sleeves and begin the hard work of salvaging the wreckage of the Bush Era. What are the Republicans in the Senate doing about it? Debating. Posing. Posturing. Hemming. Hawing. Positioning. Naysaying. Fighting. Resisting. Anything but getting the job done. Wanking while America tanks.

When the only thing that matters is taking action, some kind of action, any kind of action, the Senate Wanking Committee is the very model of inaction, the epitome of uselessness in a crisis. They come off as apologists for what's worst about America. The ship of state is taking on water and the ship's stewards are holding a series of meetings to discuss the odds on the slot machines in the ship's casino. People are lining up to jump into lifeboats and they're arguing over the payout for two cherries.

When it takes about a minute and a half for them to throw hundreds of billions at Wall Street in an emergency -- money that's about as accounted-for as all those cargo pallets of hundred dollar bills they dumped into Iraq, remember what a wank that was? And now they are oh-so-publicly agonizing and fretting and getting all righteous about money that will keep working Americans employed and taxpayers in their homes and students in school? Wankers.

When you are a white, blue-eyed Senator from Ohio and in the middle of winter you have a tan like you just got back from two weeks at St. Bart's, there's a good chance you're a wanker. The minute you open your mouth you prove it beyond all doubt.

Oh, and while all this is happening, Bernie Madoff goes free, and Shepard Fairey goes to jail? Wank job.

Here are a couple of Actions from the 20th Century that ought to be told to a Senate Wanking Committee that is so intent on being in the 'right' that it cannot see the utter wrongness of its inaction. Both Actions show the impossibility of predicting how an economy will grow, and how all the pontificating in the world is meaningless. Action is what matters.

Action One: 1932. The Great Depression. Chicago. A couple of schoolteachers, Neva Boyd and Viola Spolin, receive a modest grant from the Roosevelt Administration's WPA Program to start a children's theater company. (Children's theater!?? You can almost hear the Wanking Committee getting all incredulous today. What does children's theater have to do with putting people to work?!!) True, the children's theater company never made much money. But Spolin's son, Paul Sills, adapted his mother's 'theater games' to create the Compass Players at the University of Chicago, and then Second City. From those Southside Chicago roots and that WPA grant grew what we know today as improv comedy. Second City, Improv Olympic, The Committee, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, John Belushi, Alan Arkin, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Bob Newhart, Shelley Berman, Alan Alda, Gilda Radner...the list is endless. The revenue generated by this little engine is surely in the billions today, and has paid off the New Deal investment in a children's theater ten thousand times over. Who could have predicted it? No one. Not Viola Spolin. Not FDR. Not Harry Houdini himself. Lucky for us there were no wankers around to lecture FDR on what a frivolous expense it was to include a children's theater in the WPA budget.

Action Two: 1982. The Walt Disney Company makes what many wankers see as an ill-advised investment in a film entitled 'TRON." And sure enough, just as the wankers predicted, the film falters upon its initial release. And then, over the next ten years, something totally unpredictable happens. A Disney animator named John Lasseter adapts and evolves the TRON technologies for use in character animation at a little start-up called Pixar Studios. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) revitalizes an industry that many wankers had given up for dead. Animation makes a big comeback. Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Disney itself get in on the action, along with thousands of smaller companies and studios. Today, a generation of artists, programmers and gamers cite TRON as the package that stimulated it all.

See, you cannot cannot predict where the new wealth will come from. I cannot. The Tan Man from Ohio cannot. President Obama cannot. The only thing anyone can know for certain is that all the wanking in the world is not going to get us there. It takes action. So quit your wanking and get busy getting citizens into lifeboats. There are young Spolins and young Lasseters on this listing ship. A seat on a lifeboat gives them a shot at living profoundly productive lives that will benefit all of us in ways we cannot even imagine.