Gaza, Benghazi, the fiscal cliff and no Twinkies

Of all the bad news this week, the worst was seeing that Hostess Brands will shut down and no longer sell marginally legal snacks like Twinkies. Photo: (AP Photo)

DOTHAN, AL, November 16, 2012 — The only thing worse than too little news to write about is too much news, and this past week could be simply called a “busy news week.” Since that can be interpreted in three different ways I will just refer to it as “that was the week that was” (TW3) like the old TV show from 1962.  Unfortunately, most of the news from TW3 is not especially good. 

Overseas, Israel and Hamas are at war and a ground invasion of Gaza by the Israelis is imminent if not already underway. The death toll in Syria is nearly 40,000 – that’s almost as many people as live in my small southern town. It’s highly likely that Iran is behind most of this, providing arms to Syria and to Hamas. Iran is, as Reagan once called the Soviet Union, the “evil empire.” Unfortunately no one wants to actually say that and Arab Spring is becoming more like Arab Winter.

Four veterans were killed yesterday when a train hit a parade float in Midland, Texas. Sixteen others were badly injured. East coast residents are still recovering from hurricane Sandy. According to some estimates as many as 40,000 people are homeless right now. That number sounds familiar for some reason.

The President and Congress are squaring off on the “fiscal cliff” issue and it doesn’t look all that promising that we’ll have any kind of agreement before they have to turn off the lights. That might not bother hurricane victims still without power, but other parts of the country wouldn’t like it very much.

Democrats and Republicans won’t stop fighting with each other. One calls for more taxes, the other for less taxes. One wants more regulation, the other wants less regulation. Both parties like to twiddle and can’t help themselves from trying to adjust everything as if America was an old analog radio that needs constant tuning to keep it on station.

I would suggest we have both parties compete at Angry Birds and let the winners have their way, but then they would probably bicker over which side were birds and which were pigs.

BP Oil agreed to pay $4.5 billion in damages for the spill in the Gulf of Mexico and manslaughter charges are still pending. Perhaps that money can go toward the $15.9 billion loss at the US Postal Service, which really needs to be revamped before someone gets the idea to make us buy stamps or face a fine.

The White House just announced it is considering replacing the existing plan of spending cuts, due to start in January, with a new plan of reduced cuts – cutting cuts before cuts can cut – try to say that five times fast. There was no detail on whether the new plan will affect the Wednesday night White House parties or Michelle Obama’s travel schedule.

Last, but not least, we have the whole Benghazi mess that includes the Gen. Petraeus mess, the Gen. Allen mess, the Tampa socialite mess, the State Department mess, the Army mess, the CIA mess, the FBI mess…let’s face it, the entire thing is a mess. After seeing all this day after day I have a better appreciation of Madeline Kahn’s Lili Von Schtupp from Blazing Saddles when she sings, “I’m tired of love, so tired of love…let’s face it, I’m pooped.”

When things in the real world get too depressing we can turn to the world of sports for some cheering up, right? Not really. The professional football team I like to follow wears blue and there is no joy in Mudville because, despite winning the Super Bowl last year, this unnamed blue-shirted team is getting their you-know-what handed to them every week.

A friend suggested I try something soothing, like knitting, as a way to stay calm while watching football. That was fine until I got excited and accidentally jammed a knitting needle into my leg when the quarterback threw an interception 20 yards out from the end zone.

Of all the bad news this week, for me the worst was seeing that Hostess Brands is bankrupt and will shut down after the Thursday deadline passed for striking employees to return to work. Hostess is the bakery company that makes Twinkies, Butterscotch Krimpets, Chocolate Cupcakes and other delectable, sugar-laden, trans fat loaded goodies from the golden age of pre-tofu kid snacks.

I’m all for workers getting fair treatment, and I believe businesses are entitled to a profit, but the idea of never biting into a Twinkie ever again is just more than I can bear.

A late-breaking news item from Canada just came in that the Ebola virus can be transmitted between species through the air. That’s it for me. It’s about time to turn off the TV, disconnect the internet and find a good book for the weekend. Hopefully, no one at the library will have Ebola.

(Get the backstory, plus author notes and more at Rick’s blog site: www.ricktownley.com.)


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Rick Townley

Rick Townley was a bookseller before switching to electronic publishing with The New York Times, Reuters, Grolier and others. He is the author of a humor book, For Boomers Only – Exploring Life in the New Millennium, a supernatural novel, Stepping Out of Time, and numerous short stories. In addition to contributing to the Washington Times Communities, Rick is working on a fiction series called Stigma and resides in southern Alabama with his 7-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.

 

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