The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has been keeping busy, as usual, performing our only function: observing events and pointing out the obvious. It is often a thankless task, since many humans enjoy interpreting reality to suit their own philosophies, even though the truth has been getting severe sprains from all the contortions it has been forced to bend itself into. Naturally the Department’s frowns on this sort of activity, but also notes that it is fairly harmless. The sky is no less blue than it was yesterday when someone emphatically insists it is green.

Be that as it may, researchers at DOPOTO have been noticing a few trends of late; good, bad and strange. The good development is that several United States Senators have suddenly remembered their job description and have decided to vote on potential laws before them in the Senate according the their merits and for no other consideration. A thorough scan of Department archives confirms that this has not happened within recent memory, with even the rescue monies for the 9/11 attacks and the Hurricane Katrina disaster having been loaded with “earmarks,” a polite euphemism for political patronage and earnest treasury-looting.

The law in question is the Health Care Reform Bill, which was subject to a great deal of overloading with pork in the House of Representatives. This reassuringly sleazy behavior of the Representatives was fully expected to be repeated in The Senate. Several Senators have instead thrown a monkey wrench into the process of political observation by acting ethically and responsibly, one even going so far as to question the wisdom of political action committees spending $3 million on advertisements in her state opposing the health care bill.

She wisely noted that the debate is in Congress, not Arkansas, where lawmakers actually review the proposed legislation and speak to one another face to face, negating the need for media advertising campaigns to familiarize themselves with the facts. The advertising campaigns reflect what the Department considers a bad trend, with various organizations spending untold millions of dollars in media and print ads to attempt to make voters feel that they have some input into running the government beyond casting their votes for the candidates of their choice.

This is how representative government works; the actual elected representatives get to do the legislating. In other words, doing the job they were hired to do for their terms in office. If the voters are displeased with their representatives’ job performance, they can always fire them at the next election, but meanwhile must live with their choices. If they feel that their Senator or Representative isn’t doing their job properly, contributing money to lobbying organizations to formulate advertising campaigns designed to benefit only those lobbying organizations doesn’t help their cause.

Other than enflaming the sizable segment of society that is easily enflamed by just about anything, the ad campaigns are basicaly exercises in “alternate reality,” which is something that does not exist. But once one accepts the possibility of alternate realities, then it is but a short leap into bald lying and slander, and then calling lies and slander something else. The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious cannot refrain from pointing out that calling a hyena a lamb has never made a single hyena anything but a hyena.

While we welcome these several Senators into the realm of seeing the forest for the trees, long observation by DOPOTO cannot help but wonder how long this burst of integrity will last. Traditionally, when asked to behave morally and ethically, most elected officials are willing to give it a shot as long as there is something in it for them. As a class, they are deservedly famous for “not getting it,” and have earned their nation’s mistrust. Senators deviating from this norm are worth noting. The Department will keep a keen eye on these anomalous developments.

In the Strange Trends category, DOPOTO researchers and senior observers have noticed that the campaign for the living deification of Sarah Palin is quickly losing steam, well before the usual expiration date of these sorts of things. Apparently the American public has seen enough of her and has decided that she really is a dim bulb not worth wasting any more time over. Always a person of below-average intelligence, Ms. Palin swiftly rose to iconic status in the minds of many when she was picked to be the Vice Presidential candidate in the 2008 election.

When she did the unprecedented by becoming the first defeated vice-presidential candidate to remain a viable political presence, America’s disgraced right wing politicians believed they had found their savior and their ticket back into national power. While veteran observers of the obvious could only note what a lightweight and bizarre individual they had chosen as their poster girl, the woman was catapulted into even greater national fame by quitting the job of Governor of Alaska, essentially telling the people who elected her that they do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

Her lack of intelligence, her sleazy behavior and her dedication to alternate reality made her a natural in the Perverse Idol Worshipping Sweepstakes that has become a hallmark of American right wing politics since the curious elevation of the amiable but dim B-movie actor Ronald Reagan into the Pantheon of Great Statesmen, all reality be damned. And it worked splendidly, even to the point where they succeeded in getting George Bush the Younger elected president twice, even though he was so dumb he once attacked the wrong country.

Which leaves the Department wondering what went wrong with the Sarah Palin juggernaut. She is at least as dumb as Reagan and smarter than Bush The Younger (who isn’t?), so it is curious to observe that this natural for Right Wing Sainthood is seeing her star dim before its time. While DOPOTO would like to claim credit for people being able to see the obvious, senior analysts here feel that Ms. Palin has simply derailed her own train by actually speaking candidly once too often, revealing the painfully obvious even to those who scrupulously shun the truth.

Which, in a sense, is too bad. There was still a lot of mileage left in the pure entertainment value of Ms. Palin’s ascendancy, and the potential for a huge and embarrassing flameout. We here at The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious feel that she is cheating the American public by simply petering out into being an odd footnote in American politics before she had a chance to do anything truly bizarre. This is what it must feel like to be a voter in Alaska.

This was a report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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