Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Investigating With Humor (in a governmental sort of way)

The CIA has a new task force, the WikiLeaks Task Force. Which they are calling by its acronym, WTF.


How appropriate.

Here in Seattle, we have our own acronymical error, the South Lake Union Trolley. (which they renamed, but not before a whole bunch of people capitalized on the error, and had t-shirts printed with the slogan, "Ride the S.L.U.T.!" And I have to wonder, does the Tourism Federation of Wisconsin mind that the CIA stole their original acronym, Wisconsin Tourist Federation?

The CIA is, of course, telling us that WikiLeaks has proved (by virtue of these massive file piles they've been leaking) that it's a bad idea to share information, even when everyone already knows it - but they just don't like to talk about it. Things like, "Boy, Putin's a dick." Who knew?

But I think it's just about time that the CIA got a tiny sense of humor.

The entire WikiLeaks brouhaha has left me interested but cold-ish. I haven't read everything out of these archives, since I have a life doing other things, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who are smarter than I, who do have the time and the inclination to read a lot of dry data, and/or truly bass-ackwards opinions about Latin American leaders (what is this, the 19th Century?). But what Julian Assange is doing, along with all the WikiLeaks crew, is finally showing America what its government is doing, and even at the most superficial levels, what they're seeing is a bunch of frat-boy types acting like they know better than everyone else (because information is power, and having power requires you to use it in wasteful, indiscriminate and criminally stupid ways). The Tea Party folks are right about the government, but then the progressives are, too. Strangely enough, they're right about the same things at the same time, but for totally different reasons. For example: the government involves itself in too many foreign intrigues (Tea Party: bad; Progressives: bad). Now, the Tea Party is all for going after bad actors in the world, so long as the corporate media tells them which ones to go after. Progressives are also for going after bad actors in the world, but only if we're doing it for totally altruistic reasons, and not because the country we're invading or attacking or whatever has resources we might need. Reality may lie somewhere in the middle, or is perhaps nowhere to be found at all. Remember, the Afghan war was a "good" war in the beginning...

(don't talk about the TAPI pipeline)

So, while Assange is getting himself arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a couple of Swedish ladies (and feminists debate whether or not they were actually raped), the digital dump continues. Assange is threatening to release a bunch of documentation about Bank of America should he be threatened with anything resembling jail time. I wonder if there's a correlation there: Assange is threatening to blow the whistle on a bank (a really BIG bank), should the Americans get their hooks into him, or the Swedes actually put him on trial. Is that actually a threat with merit? Does outing BofA constitute a threat to national security? For Sweden? I have to wonder what's on the BofA docs...

The CIA is bothered by the whole "digital" thing, because, you know, once the document is available digitally, no amount of encryption or protection or "security" can guarantee that it won't get into foreign hands, or worse - onto the NEWS. Perhaps that's what makes all of this a very good thing indeed. If the CIA and the State Department don't want to be arrested (or interviewed on the telly), maybe they'll start acting in a way that actually helps people rather than just doing what will keep them employed till next fiscal year. Or what will keep them politically viable ("Invade Iraq? OK!").

Unfortunately, I doubt (unless the legislative arm of the US Government actually cared what other countries thought of the United States) these people will change their behavior. So long as it's "America - Fuck Yeah!", no one has to do anything different. We're number one, right?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why Can't We Call Them Assholes?

While Limbaugh, Malkin, Coulter & Beck are obviously assholes, what about their followers? When someone says straight-faced that unemployment benefits makes someone lazy, doesn't that make them an idiot? Or that Social Security makes everyone just another calf needing the government teat - isn't that the thought process of a total dickhead?

Cheney defends the torture we practiced upon our prisoners as "moral", and many Republicans agree. Besides unAmerican, doesn't that make them assholes?

While, in the spirit of compromise, we try to get things passed that will benefit the maximum number of people while not offending the assholes amongst us, we compromise our way into some sort of weird political limbo, where the above statements (made by people that a lot of other people take seriously) actually drive the compromise backwards towards asshole land. Meanwhile, everyone tells the so-called liberal politicians that they're wimps. Which is, on the whole, mostly true. For which they're very, very sorry. Really. So sorry.

Fuck. Me.

I think it's time that we stopped playing nice, and stopped acting like the uninformed, misinformed, self-induced ignoramuses should be given ear. Just because someone is trying to have a "reasonable" argument on a topic that they obviously know nothing about, doesn't give them the right to be treated well or politely. Polite doesn't work. Agreeing to disagree means that nothing gets done, and no one has to change.

If no one has to change, then the status quo wins, and we continue on with an underemployed, increasingly desperate, demoralized populace. I've got my cushy corner of the world pretty much taped off, and I'm pretty sure it will stay that way for the forseeable future. Other people aren't so lucky. I contribute to local charities, I volunteer to do what I can within the community and the world at large, but my individual contributions "don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." I think, as my New Year's Resolution, that I'm going to tell people who I think are wrong, that they're wrong. I'm probably not going to be nice about it anymore.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Money Pit Of Hell

There are some who say, this deal with the Senate Republicans and so-called Democrats, that gives tax breaks for millionaires and hundred-thousandaires is the best of a bad situation, and I'd have to agree. It will give unemployment benefits to millions of Americans. It will continue tax breaks to the rest of us. And it will lower the Social Security obligation we all have to deal with in every paycheck. The country will manage to limp along a little longer, and the problems that we face will be a little easier to bear.

For now.

Then again, the debt ceiling will have to be raised in February. Will the Republicans allow it? Maybe, since if they don't and have to shut down the government, they will have to explain their backing of the tax break everyone signed onto back in December. Or, they'll have to explain, after pushing long and hard for tax breaks to the millionaires that revenue would flow into the Fed because, of course, all these millionaires would suddenly be creating jobs all over the place, why they didn't.

Here's the horrible alternative: let all the tax breaks die, the unemployment benefits die - everything. Let it go. What could possibly happen?

Why, the Republicans would have to explain why the economy cratered even further. My house price will sink like a rock into quicksand, and I might get laid off from a company that never lays anyone off. In two years, America might devolve into horrifying anarchy and pain, with armed bands of the unemployed running around the country robbing banks and what-not in order to pay for groceries. The educational system will fall even further behind, and China and India will start outsourcing manufacturing to us. We will become the Third World nation that only rich people visit because "everything's so much cheaper there." Only problem is, our beaches will be fouled with oil, the food is pretty terrible (unless you're willing pay through the roof in New York or San Francisco for a decent meal), and the infrastructure barely functions.

Life will suck. A lot.

And then it comes down to a simple question for us progressives: do we think the country will be smart enough to realize that Republicans want it that way? Or are our fellow citizens so completely stupid that they think this is somehow their fault for not working harder, for not giving rich people enough money so they can be the "engines of job creation."

You know, at yacht-building companies.

People will have the choice of either realizing the Republicans are terrible, and vote in a slate of nothing but lefty-leaning Democrats, or they will continue listening to the likes of Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and Fox News in general, and vote for more Tea Party types - or at least more Republicans.

That's the rub. I think people are stupid. Because I talk to them all the time, and they are perfectly willing to swallow the kool-aid that the rich are "taxed enough," that the unemployed are "lazy bums," and that welfare is just another word for "picking my pocket to pay for your crack habit." They also believe that Muslims hate us for our freedoms, and that God wouldn't let us destroy the world because he already did it once, and said he wouldn't do it again. So global warming is a myth that's designed to give money to lazy people (what?).

Chaos may be the result if bankers get any more greedy, if enough people die from no insurance coverage, and if enough fire departments start charging for emergency services rendered. Or chaos won't ensue, because enough people will be too busy just trying to make ends meet, and will be willing to give up a little bit more of their security, their freedom, and their ability to fight back. America will devolve. We will get worse, and we may not get better. We may not even be capable of getting better.

Free enterprise is a bitch.