Monday, September 28, 2009

The Future Is Hard To Breathe In

I have seen the future, and we are not required to participate.

The world doesn't need people. It could certainly use a lot fewer of us. We've known this for a good long time.

I'm not going to mandate killing off this or that group - that would be work for a Repugnican (all life is sacred until it's born, then good f&*kin' luck).

And here we are reaching toward the seven billion mark. Houses will have to be smaller, and they're gonna have to start paving stuff that ain't paved yet. Or do the Hobbit thing (an outcome I would probably prefer, except for the spiders that always get into these sorts of structures).

And of course there is the whole God thing. I don't remember exactly where it says be fruitful and multiply, but it's not helping. Mother Teresa can share some of the blame, wandering the world trying to combat poverty and telling women to breed like rabbits. Disconnect, anyone?

Pollution, overpopulation, global warming, noise, buddy comedies starring middle-aged children, it all just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Anthony Bourdain (of Travel Channel and Les Halles fame) goes to these groovy places, meets groovy people (most of the time - his Lebanon special is truly amazing), and realizes that he has begun the downward spiral of more and more tourists going to these out-of-the-way places that still have their magical charm specifically because no one goes there. Horribly enough, because Americans don't go there and demand Big Macs.

Daniel Kalder (The Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist) goes to out-of-the-way industrial or poverty-stricken hellholes in the former Soviet Union to point out that he may one of the very few people who ever go to these places as a tourist, and he goes there because no one else would. Places that sound made-up like Kalmykia (roughly translated "remnant land") where the Buddhist population is forced to learn to play chess, because the head of the republic, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is a chess freak (also head of the world chess federation, FIDE). Kalder has visited places that don't strike one as potential eco-tourist venues, or even cultural interest spots.

While we decry the spreading tentacles of American culture into otherwise isolated places, we also miss it when we visit places like that (though I'm pretty sure a Big Mac would taste somewhat odd in Udmurtia). And if we keep adding more people to the population while living longer and working longer, won't we run this planet out of things? Oil is certainly on its way out, as is coal - but what about toilet paper?

The future keeps coming and going, and we have learned only that we might be creating the engines of our own destruction, but let's keep making more of 'em, because we all need something to do in our vanishing spare time.

People are odd.

Sweden? Togo? Madagascar?

The more I debate folks about the health care thing, I keep running into this wall of resistance about the military budget. And I finally found a quote that I love. I don't know if you've seen the movie Wag The Dog (most liberals have - I think most conservatives would spend a lot of time going "what did he mean by that?"), but it essentially involves damage control in an election cycle. The pres has been caught with his hands on a girl scout, and the opposition is about to run an ad with a picture of the White House with the music from Gigi, sung by Maurice Chevalier, "Thank Heaven For Little Girls." eeeeew

So, the Pres' handlers begin a fake war against fake Albanian nuclear terrorists, produced by a Hollywood producer, just in time to scare everyone into keeping the Pres in office. The CIA doesn't like the "fake war" and steps in to stop the fixer, Conrad Brean (played by Robert deNiro). The CIA is played by the always fun to watch William H. Macy.

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Would you go to war to do that?

CIA Agent Mr. Young: I have.

Conrad 'Connie' Brean: Well, I have, too. Would you do it again...? Isn't that why you're here? I guess so. And if you go to war again, who is it going to be against? Your "ability to fight a Two-ocean War" against who? Sweden and Togo? Who you sitting here to Go To War Against? That time has passed. It's passed. It's over. The war of the future is nuclear terrorism. It is and it will be against a small group of dissidents who, unbeknownst, perhaps, to their own governments, have blah blah blah. And to go to that war, you've got to be prepared. You have to be alert, and the public has to be alert. Cause that is the war of the future, and if you're not gearing up, to fight that war, eventually the axe will fall. And you're gonna be out in the street. And you can call this a "drill," or you can call it "job security," or you can call it anything you like. But I got one for you: you said, "Go to war to protect your Way of Life," well, Chuck, this is your way of life. Isn't it? And if there ain't no war, then you, my friend, can go home and prematurely take up golf. Because there ain't no war but ours.

That's verbatim from the script, including the "blah, blah, blah," which I think is a terrific way to simplify all the usual particulars of any conversation between rival factions. If all you have to say to explain your position is "blah, blah, blah" - and they get it - you could win every argument. I also love the "Sweden and Togo" stab. Do we need so much military power in order to defeat essentially a small bunch of people who dislike us for blah, blah, blah reason? Or could we do what we need to do in the current military system with a small force of SpecOps guys along with a bunch of high-tech satellite systems to spot developing threats?

Or, following the current model, do we need to continuously develop new and more powerful weapons systems to defeat enemies that do not exist?

We're pulling out of Iraq (excruciatingly slowly - has no one heard the Band Aid theory of combat extraction?), and we're adding troops to Afghanistan. Or not. But we are. Then we're not. I'm sure the troops would like to know. And their families. This kind of pushmi-pullyu sort of behavior can bring on pre-deployment PTSD.

And once we're out, what does the military need all that money for. I mean, we've been paying for both these wars off the books for so long, it's like working for the Jimmy Hoffa, Sr. teamsters' accounting department. You could dye Iraq in the red ink we're creating.

I know, it would be ugly, but way better than the blood we've been using up to now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sloganeering (feel free to join in)

"The Republican Party - Might Makes Right"

"the democratic party - no offense meant"

"Republicans - Dumb & Loud Always Wins"

"democrats - we're awfully sorry, really, so, so sorry"

"The Republican Party - Standing On Principle Since 1860 (until 1870)"

"The Democratic Party - Winning Through Anti-Republican Acrimony Since 1976"


A Census worker has been found hanging from a tree with the word "FED" scrawled across his chest (they won't say how). Bill Sparkman, 51, was a single father and Eagle Scout who worked as a teacher and a census worker in his spare time.

Thanks to the hysteria whipped up by such Right-wing idiots as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and (most especially) Michelle Bachmann, many people are now in abject fear of the government. Ms. Bachmann has repeatedly said that answering the Census questions might get you interred, like the Japanese-Americans during WWII. Of course, her partner in fun in all this, Michelle Malkin, has no problem interring folks, so long as they are terrorists, or folks who look like terrorists, or folks who think like terrorists, or folks who might become terrorists should the country continue to vote democratic. And the Japanese.

And so, in fear of the government, specifically fear of the Census, a Census-taker has been murdered, apparently for asking how many people live in this house, and to what ethnic groups do they belong? You know, preparations for permanent interment of all the poor white underdogs in the country.

In keeping with being "balanced," I have only one thing to say to these people:


or, if you prefer:


Killing a man for the reasons stated above chills me to the bone. Are we really becoming that paranoid as a culture? Do we really believe - after eight years of warrantless wiretapping, falsifying evidence for war, library and medical records searches, incarceration without trial - that the government would really do anything bad with the records it collects in the census?

Oh. Um...

So thanks to George W. Bush (no one mentions him any more), we now believe the government is capable of anything bad we could ascribe to them. Unfortunately, the folks who think they have the most to lose waited until he was out of office before they completely overreacted.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What to Make of it All

I'll start off by saying that I have no idea of what to make of it all, just to be clear. I'm not some oracle or prophet or super-smart guy with an inside track. I'm a loud-mouthed, opinionated jerk who likes hearing myself talk, and hates liars, wackos and cranks almost as much as they might hate me if they ever read my stuff (most don't or won't). So here's some raw feed:

I think we probably should confiscate every red-blooded American's guns until each one can prove they understand the Constitution better than the Supreme Court. Then they need to prove that they can shoot straight. Then they need to prove that they've never hit anyone in anger. Then they need to show that the only reason they will ever use the gun is to defend themselves or their families against villains. And of course, this puts the onus on them to prove future behavior, which no one can. As a people, we're simply not mature enough to handle the guns we own.

I don't want to read the words "Processed Meat Food Product" on a can ever again. It's everything that's wrong with the American diet. We eat food that has sugar added where none should be needed, food that has fat created in test-tubes that does really interesting things to one's digestive tract, and where everything has either been sprayed with pesticides that can cause grocers' hands to burn (unless they wear gloves), or we modify the crops so that all insects might die from interacting with them, including honeybees (which means fewer crops). So, no more high-fructose corn syrup, and no more ads in favor of it featuring idiots who don't approve of HFCS because they "read somewhere that it was bad." If all the industry can do to counter scientific data with is, "you're dumb," and the population goes, "gee, I guess I'm dumb," then they're right and we're dumb.

Printing money to create lending to create jobs is a morally bankrupt idea that seems to go down well with all but a few very cranky economists. America is still shedding jobs, and we still don't make stuff (except weapons), but trade in your not-very-old car and we'll let you buy a new car. On credit. From Japan. Which might have been made in Ohio. I'm confused.

Everything Obama talked about when he was running for Pres seems to still be in his mind, but not on his radar politically. The idea that healthcare, jobs, global warming and the economy might all be linked is one I've been thinking about for a long time, and of course, so has anyone else who cares to read about why Europe is generally doing better than we are.

So, with universal health care comes one large burden relieved from the backs of business and the poor and the wealthy all at the same time. So everyone has a little more money, and a lot more freedom to move. If I want to quit (for example), I will still have health care, and it won't cost me $500 a month to maintain it. If I have an idea to start up a company, not having health care anymore won't be a reason for me to stop. So, one can have healthcare and a job, or healthcare and no job.

Since there will be more money, perhaps there will be more jobs. If we bring manufacturing back from offshore, perhaps jobs will be more readily available. If we work towards dealing with climate change, there may be more green jobs, and more onshore manufacturing. A bigger middle class. What would be wrong with that?

What's wrong with it is that it's not politically expedient to change things so much that even one Republican senator might disagree with it publicly. Which means that none of it will change without a lot of yelling and screaming and pain. And no one wants to feel any pain. Just keep piling on that anaesthetic, be it WWF or Jack Daniels or Oxycontin or porn, and we'll just keep going along until it all collapses, and then we'll all be in pain at the same time, except for those smart or lucky enough to have escaped with our money.

Is it just me, or do I seem more depressed than usual?

So, it would appear that it's time to take some kind of action (again). And you thought voting was enough. Also, go see Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore's new film.

Don't despair, however - there's plenty of life left in the old country, if only we could harness the energy of the loons in these town halls. What we really need is some genuine, intelligent, burning anger to coalesce in some useful way. Protests are passe. Personally, I'm looking to find some sort of organization to parody, the way the Yes Men parodied the WTO. If, perhaps, i can be portrayed as a kind of everyman, Joe the Plumber sort who, with his native intellect, can correctly portray the underlying attitudes of the Repugnican Party in all its glory.

Kind of like showing up at a town hall meeting and yelling "He's black!", but with more subtlety.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Money Doesn't Just Talk, it YELLS REALLY LOUDLY

So, the Supremes are going to be listening to oral arguments (I thought all arguments were generally oral) concerning campaign financing laws, specifically the McCain-Feingold law, and whether corporations and labor unions can spend money like rain on any advertising they want, without checking whether their shareholders/members approve.

This all hinges on whether corporations are "people." Nike basically said this a while back and lost the argument, because they wanted to lie. They thought, as a "person," they could lie because they had the right of free speech accorded to people under the First Amendment. The Supes said "NO" because commercial speech isn't the same thing as speech by you or I.

So now we come to the New World Order, which may say that corporations have the exact same rights as you or I, so that if they want to, they can spend all of their profits on commercials or "documentaries" that speak ill of folks they are politically opposed to. They will be allowed to spend all the money they want to influence an election.

President Jeb Bush, elected by Exxon/Mobil. Just what you'd expect, really.