Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christians Piss Me off, While God Only Annoys

We begin our sermon today with a message from Kentucky: flaunting your miscegenation will not be tolerated. A church in Pike County, Kentucky has forbidden interracial couples from participating in any church services, except for funerals. "All are welcome", goes the saying. Y'all can come in, but God forbid you do anything that other people can actually, you know, see, because God'll burn the church down if He sees a white girl playin' the piano while her black boyfriend sings of His glory.

A fellow by the name of Melvin Thompson, the former pastor of Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, told Stella Harville that her services would no longer be required if she insisted on having her black fiancee sing with her in church, because it would decrease church "unity". Stella's fiancee is a man by the name of Ticha Chikuni. He is a native of Zimbabwe. Now, lest you think this is all one's man's doing, remember I said former pastor. Last Sunday, church members voted 9-6 in favor of Thompson's ban on interracial couples performing in church services.

Miscegenation, by the way, is a made-up, purely American word, developed in the middle of the nineteenth century by a couple of Democrats (this was when the Dems were the forerunners of the Klan and the Republicans were people like Abraham Lincoln - the more things change, the more they change a whole heckuva lot) in a pamphlet that espoused the cause of race-mixing as a great thing that would unite the nation, and gave the credit to Republicans for having thought it up in the first place. This was intended as political sabotage, because, of course, everyone knows that blacks and whites shouldn't mix.

Wow. Welcome to the nineteenth century everyone, alive and kicking in good old Pike County, Kentucky.

As a man in mixed-race relationship, I have experienced first-hand the bigotry of my fellow citizens, especially the ones with the big American flags on the sides of their trailers. I have been told to move along by folks, simply for having a Pacific Island wife, while the all-white couples (with the multiple piercings, tattoos and ripped jeans) are left alone to do as they please. I know racism still exists, though it's usually a little more subtle.

But the Right-wing still wears a lot of its bigotry on its sleeve (Limbaugh referring to Michelle Obama's "uppityness" should have got him fired). No way that Herman Cain would have ever gotten a nomination, even though the "our blacks are better than your blacks" meme sounded a lot like the Right wing actually believed their own propaganda for a moment, right when Herman Cain was about to collapse in a heap under the weight of his own stupidity and immorality. Because when it comes down to it, the Right wing in this country really, really doesn't like negroes any more than they like orientals or injuns.

Unless they stay in their place, of course.

Oh, and God does have a sense of humor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alcohol - the Cause & Cure

As the Occupy movement grows and grows, it does this old cynic's heart good to see that many progressive outcomes have been won this last voting day. (I'd call it election day, but it was mostly about initiatives and recalls, if I understand the news correctly) Off-year voting days are less than normally populated, but we apparently had a pretty good turnout, if only because a lot of dumb initiatives got shit-canned.

Here in Washington State, one of our largest retailers paid good money to be allowed to sell liquor, and they got their money's worth - you'll be able to buy booze in places other than state-run liquor stores as of June of next year. Meanwhile, the government-run shops will mostly close down (inventory's too expensive for the current franchisees to be able to buy themselves into the likker biz), and the only place you'll be able to buy booze will be in stores with a footprint larger than 10,000 square feet. This lets out the local gas stations, but it also lets out the kind of places I saw in San Francisco last time I was down there, such as the Beer & Bourbon store between Castro and Noe Valley.

Meanwhile in Republican politics, you have Herman Cain's campaign flaming out in grand style on various and sundry charges, ranging from being a deadbeat diner to sexual harassment to outright sexual assault. Of course, when the charges are being aired, he plays the race card, while simultaneously negating said card by saying he doesn't have any "hard evidence" to back it up.

Being an asshole is trans-racial.

While I abhor his behavior regarding Ms. Bialek, I think stiffing a couple of invited guests for the cost of dinner, after you order the most expensive wine on the menu, seems like the sort of behavior we need in a President right now. How are we going to erase the National Debt? Cain's solution: stiff China for the bill...

Rick Perry has now had many offers for either a new mixologist, or perhaps less effective drugs. His last speech had all the earmarks of Bad Lip Reading's work, but it wasn't them; it was really he, Rick "Goodhair" Perry, who couldn't make an English sentence work in his favor for nearly fifteen minutes. Unbelievable that someone didn't hook him off the stage after the first three.

Newt tried to up his cred by debating Cain and Cain alone the other week. Haven't really heard from him since. Not sure what they talked about.

Ron Paul has taken to calling Elizabeth Warren a Socialist, because Ms. Warren had the audacity to tell her audience that, without education, roads, bridges, cops and firemen, all this rugged individualism that Republicans espouse would have taken place in a much smaller arena. Yes, they might have succeeded on their own, but they'd be lonely. Very, very lonely.

Mitt Romney is probably going to be the front runner. Which means he still has a chance to fuck up even worse than he already has. Once he's determined the appropriate stance to take on a subject, he will then discover a better stance to take, and then a different stance to take, until finally, he decides on a final stance to take, just before he takes his stance on that subject. He will then be criticized by a tiny demographic within his larger demographic, after which he will have a new stance on the same subject with a small change in nuance designed to make that stance seem as much like his original stance as possible, while bearing no resemblance to it at all.

Here in Washington, the change in liquor laws can't come soon enough.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Slogan-y T-Shirt Arrives!

So, I got the right t-shirt in yesterday's mail (that's Monday the 31st of August). And it says:


So, here's where I get a little confused, or possibly concerned - I know the package is from the DCCC (I did, at least, finally look a the packaging slip). I know what's happening in the real world of politics, and know that there are many things to fight back against. I'm just not sure anyone looking at this t-shirt would have the least clue as to what it's talking about. There are no logos, no indicators of any sort of specific point of view, again, no particular message on this t-shirt, other than fighting some nameless foe. Perhaps this is the t-shirt of Mr. Furious, who's only super-power is his boundless rage.

Perhaps others will believe I'm a fan of, say, the WWF. No, they wouldn't, because THEY WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHO THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. A child of three knows more about selling a slogan than these twits. A Tea Party goon could be wearing this t-shirt and it would have as much meaning. The wrong meaning, of course, but who cares if no one gets the intended message?

Oh, and it's still scratchy as hell.

I'm only wearing this t-shirt when I'm fighting back weeds or termites. I wouldn't want to confuse the sentient. And I'm making my own t-shirt that says:

to asparagus

That will convince someone of the rightness of my cause, I am certain.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

...And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

So, I sent a little money to the DNCC or the CREEP or something like that, for the promise of my name on the tablet of fame (or some webwall or other where they post the names of everyone who contributed more than three dollars to the latest Presidential Election Fiasco), and for a cool t-shirt with some sort of I Heart Politics slogan on it.

I got the t-shirt. It's white. Just a white T. Nothing indicating the affiliation of the wearer or the maker or the provider. In other words, neutral to the point of blandness. And it's scratchy. 100% Cotton with a secret ingredient: sheet rock.

These guys even had the balls to ask me (via an insert in the package, without which I'd have no idea why I was receiving a plain, white, scratchy T), that, now that I'd gotten my cool T-shirt, how about giving us some more money with NO strings or gifts attached?!?

Now, I don't contribute to politics to get "stuff" (though I'll take what I can get). It is unfortunate, however, that this event reinforced, yet again, the profound disdain I feel for the electoral system, politicians, and political functionaries of this once-great nation. Here's a simple request: "give us some money, we'll send you a t-shirt with a slogan on it, showing what a proud (or at least not totally upset) Obama supporter you are". And they can't do it. They can't make that simple a promise and follow it through to completion without screwing it up, and screwing it up in a way that says "HI, WE'RE A BIG BUNCH OF SCREW-UPS!"

Oh, yeah, and "GIVE US MORE MONEY!"

At this point, I'm more likely to support a Lolcat than give money to a political party ever again.

If you've noticed, I haven't been posting much lately, and it's due to the fact that, once again, I got tired of writing "Jesus we're a bunch of dumbasses," over and over again. It's depressing and edifies no one. So, to summarize the current crop of people running for President:

Bachmann: crazy religious zealot who believes that gay can be cured, and who's husband SOUNDS REALLY GAY. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Nice corn dog work. Possible alternate career there.

Cain: The Republican Angry Black Guy. Used to sell awful pizza. Now he has to give it away to get people to listen to him. Wouldn't hire a Muslim (well, probably not). Not electable, because Republicans don't really like black people. Oh, they SAY they do...

Gingrich: He's still in the race? What the fuck for? And why does his wife smile like that? WHY? Doesn't it hurt? Are her teeth positively charged and her lips negative? Perhaps she's similar to Voldemort - he has no nose, she has no lips? Is there a string, holding the corners of her mouth back? Since we know what Newt's sexual proclivities are, don't those massive teeth kinda hurt? Or maybe they're retractable? Or false? Gross...

Huntsman: believes in science, but otherwise no redeeming features that I'm aware of. Possibly because when a Republican says Global Warming is Real and Evolution is Real, everyone forgets to ask him how he feels about everything else.

Obama: First Black President. Must be nice to have a title like that. Or not, since the abuse he's received so far in his Presidency makes what Clinton went through seem kind of mild by comparison, and Clinton GOT a blowjob for his troubles. Passed the most watered-down health care bill anyone ever could have imagined. Closed Gitmo (DOH!). Ended combat operations in Iraq (DOH!). Ended Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Killed Bin Laden. Assisted in the overthrow of Gadhafi and Mubarak (though in the case of Mubarak, we mostly just watched - which was the right thing to do). While I am opposed to everyone else running, I'm not terribly for this guy (see the "T-Shirt incident").

Paul (the Elder): libertarian, has a few ideas I'm for (legalizing drugs, bringing our troops home from pretty much everywhere), and a few ideas that are really obviously awful (no EPA, no Dept of Ed, not much regulation of much of anything at all, because they'll all behave themselves, right?). The Right hates him for wanting to downsize the military, and the Left hates him for being ideologically wacky.

Perry: trying to out-crazy Bachmann while out-dumbing Bush. Proud of his record on executing the innocent. Proud of his ability to get more people hired because they moved to Texas and were willing take shitty jobs for shitty pay. The things this guy's proud of, other people would be ashamed of. Just wait, though, he'll go and do something really, really stupid, and then he'll be done.

Romney: "corporations are people, my friends"        oooooh boy. That's done.

And out on the fringes:

Palin: again, why is anyone listening to this sorority bobblehead figure? This English-mangler? Who cares?

So, from the defeated, demoralized Left, I sit here, sniping at the crazies, working for what I consider to be a better tomorrow (I'm learning to brew beer!), and hoping someone comes along who can tell people the truth about this great nation without getting themselves shot in the process.

Until then, I'm thinking of sending the postage paid envelope back, attached to the plain white T-shirt, wrapped around a cinder block.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eeny, Meeny, Money, MOM!!!!

Back in 2008 (remember 2008 - we were looking at electing the first Black President ever, and the downturn in Wall Street meant we were just demoralized enough to actually do that, kind of a childlike state, hoping the Angry Black Guy would actually take the fight to the Rich White Assholes who'd tanked the country), anyway, back in 2008, weeks, and even days before Lehman and Bear Stears went belly-up, Moody's, Standard & Poors, and Fitch were all giving them AAA ratings, even though they were about to totally implode and disappear up their own orifices forever. So, either the ratings agencies didn't know what was coming, or they were paid to keep their damn mouths shut until it was far too late.

There were hearings after it was all over. Just so, you know, we'd know what happened. Obviously, there was never any intent to actually prosecute any of these people, otherwise they probably wouldn't have gone up in front of Congress and spoken anything even vaguely resembling the truth in the first place. To a fault, the ratings agencies' representatives all stated that their ratings were simply opinions, and no one should take them seriously. Well.... Ain't that a surprise. Here I thought this shit was supposed to actually mean something.

Fast forward to the last week or so. Now we hear that Moody's, Standard & Poor's, etc., are threatening the US Treasury bond with a downgrade to AA status, from our current solid state of being Triple-A. The world's reaction (when they aren't yawning) has been that the US Treasury Bond would no longer be the drug of choice for other countries needing to stabilize their own currency. Interest rates will skyrocket, credit will collapse, yadda yadda yadda. So now we have this debt deal that builds in a lot of "triggers" that will force Dems to do something they don't want to do, and/or force Repugnicans to things they don't want to do. All because ratings agencies have an "opinion."

So, just to follow this logical fallacy, if it's just an opinion, why does anyone give a damn? If it's more than an opinion, why aren't some of these nightmare opinionaters either in pound-me-in-the-ass prison, or at least out on the street, begging for change?

Have I missed something?

Monday, June 6, 2011

God Called - He Wants His Campaign Back!

My Dad, a long time ago, had an idea for an anti-war movie, wherein everyone who wanted to work for the government sort of volunteered, and if they decided to have a war with someone, only the folks who were at the highest level of government (Congress, the President and his Cabinet) would suffer or die, and it would be a totally random event within a few minutes of the war being declared. One guy would get a fast acting poison injected and die, another would lose the use of an arm, an eye, or both legs, another would catch some horrible, non-communicative disease that would ruin his/her life forever, but no one - not one of them - would escape totally unscathed. All would end up psychologically scarred in some way, either through drugs or via some physical effect.

Unlike now.

Called, by God!

Michelle Bachmann has become the latest Repugnican to be "called by God" to run for President. So she's exploring the possibilities and praying a lot and putting up a Facebook page (God told her to put up a Facebook page?). God apparently also called Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich ("Oh God, You Devil"?), and now (try not to laugh too hard), Rick Santorum. I'm wondering if God's going to be calling Sarah Palin anytime soon.

I guess my question under these circumstances: who does God actually favor? Jesus was supposedly His son, and look what happened to him...

Now we elect folks who run on a "no unnecessary wars" platform, who start unnecessary wars, and fail to end wars they pledged to end. I'm certainly not Obama's biggest fan, but I am loathe to vote for someone on the opposing ticket, no matter who they are. I do love the fact that folks are handing them Bibles and/or asking them about whether Jesus would let old people die in agony or let poor people starve to death. In some ways, I am thrilled that the GOP is putting up so many people who believe in the beyond-free-market policies of Ayn Rand. While this represents only the second-most extreme version of conservative thought (you know Hitler's in Hell, still shouting "Wir sind die Nummer eins!*"), it's just beyond the pale enough for the generally misinformed and mildly dim voting blocks in this country to sit up and take notice that maybe these wackos either aren't playing with a full deck, or they really don't care about other people.

Or both.

In the case of Michelle, there are so many quotes attributable to her, I won't waste your time listing them all. She rails against the Bush administration for their Socialist-y education program, or the Obama administration for their Socialist-y Health Care Reform law, or Planned Parenthood for ignoring human trafficking.

Wait, what?

Dunno. I've looked on her website for the link to Live Action (which is the group she says claims to have irrefutable evidence), but couldn't find it. My personal favorite thing, said about her by the guy who runs PolitiFact, is that she's the only person on their website who has had every single quote attributed to her refuted in one way or another. In other words, "How to be Wrong About Everything" will be the title of her unauthorized autobiography.

Sarah's On The Bus

In other parts of our great land, Sarah Palin is riding around in a bus festooned with an image of the flag, the Constitution, and other patriotic symbols, telling everyone that she isn't sure God wants her to run for Pres. Or giving everyone highly misguided history lectures. Faux News has now made yet another mistake by their graphics department regarding whether they can tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey (they can't). Oh, and the Devine Sarah is in a move called (really not kidding here) "The Undefeated". Not "The Quitter", not "The Clothes Horse" - "The Undefeated". Which fits, of course.

This irony meter only goes up to eleven.

*  We're Number One!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jobs Plan As Seen From Far Away

This Republican Jobs Plan, which they claim is the "detailed" version, has very little detail, other than a lot of bullets on things that may or may not create jobs.

If it passes.

Anyway, it's ten pages in large type, three-and-a-half pages of which are devoted to full-page graphics or photos of various significant things. One of the full page graphics is a guy in horn-rims reading a piece of paper between two stacks of paper. This, I believe, is meant to indicate a man beset by financial worries, or perhaps a man who is trying to fill out his taxes. This amuses me, since I suspect someone wearing horn-rims would probably use a computer. But maybe I'm just being stereotypical in my thinking.

Anyway, back the very lean meat of this "detailed", essentially six-and-a-half-page proposal.

Regulations are all Evil... EVIL... EEEEEEEEEEVIL

First up for the chopping block are regulations (like the EPA regulating greenhouse gases - JOB KILLING!). Even worse, this document claims the government is currently contemplating another 184 new regs, which could cost the economy as much as $100 million each. Or a large turnip. Their argument once again devolves to allowing Congress to look at every regulation and run a cost-benefit analysis to make sure the regulation is worth doing. If you're the local Rep for W R Grace, you'll think twice before allowing certain chemicals to fall under any regulatory agency in the government, or else Grace might send the campaign contributions they have earmarked for the year to someone else. Oh, sorry, we meant that the health benefits for regulating this particular arsenide is far outweighed by the economic benefits to Grace & Co... I mean, to the local community!!! Human beings are worth exactly x dollars. And so on...

Next - TAXES.

Corporations pay way too much in taxes, and they want to bring the top tax rate down to 25%. Fine by me as long as they pay their taxes. Tax revenues taken from businesses are lower than they have been in forty years. No business I know pays the full rate of 39% anywhere in the world, and if they do, they should fire their accountant. When you consider that Exxon and GE both managed to avoid paying any taxes on billions and billions of profits. The Repugnicans also want to allow profits made overseas (that have already been taxed overseas) to be brought back to the States and not be subject to taxes. As opposed to leaving them overseas where they will continue to remain untaxed.

So let me get this straight: Exxon - who paid no US income taxes on profits last year, and most specifically paid no US income taxes on profits that they made overseas - Exxon should be allowed to being that money back to the States and not pay taxes on it, either. If they bring it back to here, will they have to pay taxes on it overseas, still? The Rs refer to this as double taxation, but I dunno, if I make money as an American corporation while overseas, and the other country wants me to pay taxes to them, I think that's fair. I also think that (since I'm an American corporation) I should also pay taxes to the US Federal Government, since otherwise I pay no taxes to them at all, while enjoying the benefits of being a corporate citizen in the States. So they want Exxon to be able to take the money that it makes in Ireland, maybe not have to pay taxes in Ireland (because the profits are coming back to the States, after all), and then bring it home and not pay taxes here either.

Which is kinda funny, since it appears Exxon doesn't make any money in the States at all. I don't know how they achieve this, but they have some of the best tax accountants and tax lawyers in the world. Hell, Exxon even gets subsidy money from the Federal Government and the occasional tax refund (while making $billions per quarter). So I'm not sure, but it sounds as though the Repugnicans want to make us a new, extra-jumbo-size Cayman Islands, or something.

Free Trade Agreements, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Being a Slave in my Own Country.

Those damn Democrats are holding up trade agreements between us and S Korea, us and Colombia, and us and Panama. If any of our previous Free Trade Agreements are illustrative, I'm damn glad we're not doing this without a very careful review of these agreements by Ross Perot (is he still alive and compos mentis?). NAFTA turned Mexico into UnemploymentLand, once the Maquiladora factories closed down, and the farms of the south were undercut by ADM and other American AgriMegaBusinesses. While trade agreements are a good thing, free trade agreements generally do not do a service to the more well-off nation of the trading partners, and yet somehow still manage to totally screw the less well-off nation's economy, too. It's almost as if it was designed to funnel money to those that already had it, while driving everyone else's wages into the ground. Naaaahhhh........

Patents and Torts

We're behind in our patent approval by 700,000 applications. One of these is the Pet Rock, right? Oh, we'll never catch up to the Japanese at this point, what with our litigious society and bureaucratic nightmare of a patent system. So how do we solve this? Tort Reform, of course... And there's already been a bi-partisan patent reform bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee, which might end up on the House floor one of these days - or are they waiting til they get a President they like into office before passing something that supposedly everyone already likes? Wouldn't that be a political calculation? Of course not!

More Visas for More Foreign, Skilled Workers

Whaddya mean, make higher education less expensive in the US? What are you, a commie?

The FDA Doesn't Work Well, so Turn Off the Money

After VIOXX and other delightful drugs that do things other than advertised, and hamburgers that kill (it's not the Hamburgler, it's the Hamspreekiller), the Repugnicans are saying the FDA doesn't do it's job properly. Wow, I agree. Their solution? Make the whole process more streamlined. I thought that was the problem - things move too fast through the system and allow major issues to get missed, ignored, or covered up.

Energy Policy, or, You're Not Choking on the Fumes Yet, so Keep Drilling

Surprisingly, they mention new energy sources. Not surprisingly, they don't mention what these might be. This section is illustrated by a picture of a car with a gas nozzle sticking into it. I could get all Freudian here, but energy porn isn't my forte. I think the new energy sources are probably fracking, coal out of national parks and oil out of our own version of tar sands. I guess if you can still see your hand in front of your face, it's not polluted enough yet. Again, all the obvious points, nothing new here.

Raise Taxes? What are You, a Commie?

Of course, the final nail in the coffin of the American Dream (i.e., the Repugnican Jobs Plan), is the idea that the wealthy are taxed more than enough, and your grandmother should have planned better for her retirement and her health care. God forbid we don't buy the latest bomb from Lockheed-Martin, and God forbid we actually support our elders (well, we can give them a little bit of help) as they pass into retirement age. I'm reminded of a spoof TV show on the back of Craphound #6 called "Survival of the Fittest", which was a test of the survival skills of infants and toddlers, illustrated with a picture of a baby, crying in a plastic bag. I guess they've taken that idea and applied it to Grandma and Grandpa, since, in the Repugnican budget just recently passed, folks under fifty-five years old can look forward to receiving a "voucher" for $15,000 per year to cover all medical expenses and/or insurance premiums, instead of the less-expensive and more efficient Medicare. This will, they say, cut the budget. I'm sure it will, because a lot of those eventual senior citizens will not be able to survive with that level of medical care, and our life expectancy averages will go down fast. Meanwhile, we must lower taxes on the wealthy (since they will give jobs to all those senior citizens who can't afford to live on their lousy Social Security check or retirement savings), and we must remember to never, ever cut the budget for the military, no matter what boondoggles they come up with to take our cash in ever-increasing doses, like a heroin addict who always needs a little more each time to keep from feeling "bad." The US has a monkey on its back, and its wearing a uniform...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End is Nigh! (well..... Nigh-ish, anyway)

So, with another Armageddon past us, and still no end in sight of Christians of various stripes making the rest of the religious and non-religious world feel kind of uncomfortable, we set our sights on October 21st, when the next Rupture is due to take place. Yeah, I said Rupture - whaddyagonnadoaboutit???

What this particular brand of Christianity hasn't noticed is that the real Rupture comes in 2012, in November. That's when we decide, yet again, to elect or re-elect someone who doesn't listen, doesn't care (while professing to care very, very much), and who frankly hasn't a clue of what to do, except play politics as usual with the same motley crew of weirdos and whackjobs that comprise our Congress and Supreme Court.

Was there ever a time when these people could be considered normal or caring or something resembling human?

Obviously, on the Dem side, we have Obama. I don't think there's much I can say about this fellow that hasn't been said by a lot of better writers. I have a theory, but I'm not willing to fully explore it yet. I will say that the killing of Osama bin Laden was the first time I felt that Obama was acting Presidential. Unfortunately, not in a good way.

On the Repugnican side, we have Mittens, T-Paw, the Godfather, Rand Paul's Hair's Dad, Newtered, and at least one other whom I can't remember. Flirting with the idea of jumping on the "I wanna be leader of the Free-market World" bandwagon are Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Known, respectively, as "I'm Stupid" and "I'm Married To Stupider". You'll know when they're running for office when Faux News stops paying them for criticizing Obama's every breath.

The folks who definitely aren't running this time include Huckleberry, who is apparently making too much money at Faux to want to quite just now, and Hailey "never met a Negro I didn't want to own" Barbour, who has apparently terminated his hobby of fire-eating. Mitch Daniels of Indiana (whom George Will thought would be "perfect" to run against Obama), appears to have finally realized that having your wife leave you, and then come back years later, is perhaps a little weird, a little too much inexplicable baggage to be carrying around when you're trying kiss every baby within a thousand-mile radius.

For the others, there are some simple issues-based, well, issues that they will not be able to explain away easily. Mitt Romney owns Massachusetts' health care system, which is very similar to Obama's Health Care (hah!) Reform Thing, which Mittens thinks is very, very bad. He's opposed to the thing he promoted and passed, but opposes. I've gone cross-eyed again. Tim Pawlenty is about as boring as a human being has any right to be and still breathe. Herman "Godfather's Pizza" Cain knows so little about foreign policy that he might actually get everyone killed. And I mean everyone. Ron Paul will never be nominated on a Republican ticket, so long as he keeps saying how much he really wants to shrink the military and how much he really, really wants to legalize every known controlled substance. I think if he ran for governor of California on the Legalize Dope Party ticket, he'd be a shoo-in.

But for true, heavyweight, impossible to maintain one's composure baggage, though, Newt Gingrich takes the prize. After divorcing two wives in the most bizarre circumstances (do I need to explain these to you people?), he is now married to a woman who appears to have been frozen in liquid nitrogen, her smile is so fixedly wide and toothy. I'd smile like that, too, if I had a half-million dollar revolving credit line at Tiffany's. Plus, Newt has become a Catholic. How does his new church reconcile his multiple divorces and philanderings? The worst part about reading about Newt, or thinking about Newt, or seeing Newt, is that I can't for a minute imagine what it's like for someone to have sex with Newt.

And then I can. And then I want to die.

At that point, I start wishing for the Rupture, because maybe, just maybe, Newt will be carried off this mortal coil to live out infinity with his former wives tormenting him with a constant stream of nagging.

Now that would be justice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So, the story goes, the United States is the richest, most prosperous country in the world, and we're doing so well because we outsource so much of our boring old hard labor work to China, India, Southeast Asia, etc. We have the money that everyone wants, because who doesn't trust the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution? Even though we went off the Gold Standard back in seventy-three.

Damn that Nixon. Again.

The debt ceiling is coming soon, and it would appear that our full faith and credit may be taxed beyond repair. Many foreign economists are saying that if we default even a little bit, the US Dollar instantly becomes a pariah in the world of money, no one will invite it over for any more birthday parties, because every gift it gives, it takes back. And if that's the way it's going to play, then no one wants to play with it. Suddenly, our money becomes less valuable. No one knows exactly how much, but since this has never happened before in our history, a lot of people are speculating in the direction of really really bad. The US Dollar will become the last thing anyone wants to invest in or with, and our country may take decades to recover. It's not like missing a payment from the Mafia and they come and break an arm or something; more like missing a payment and they come by and burn your house down, with you and your family in it.

It will be blamed on Obama (for not being flexible enough about cuts to things like Medicare, Unemployment benefits, Welfare, etc.), even though one thing that might save our collective ass could be implemented by annoying maybe 1-1/2% of the population, i.e., taxing the well-off.

"Not the JOB CREATORS!!!"

I'd like to know the last person that was really well-off who created a job because of the current tax structure. I'm not sure why anyone would believe that the wealthy want to create jobs. Donald Trump has been running a show for the last few years whose sole object is to weed out the chaff, down to one person (who will then be Trump's personal taint-licker for a year), by firing someone every week for nine months. I realize the premise is for TV drama and all, but it does illustrate one of the big issues of modern capital/labor: if we can winnow the staff down to one person and make that person work their ass to the bone, while making them feel grateful to even have a job (even better, let's call it an internship and just not pay them), that's the definition of success in the business world. Screw the thought of making the country a better place for all, or having any sense of social responsibility - what's important is that we make money for the shareholders and the CEO.

I realize that a lot of this isn't new info, but it's getting worse and worse and worse, and our current President (who is - technically - on our side) is doing nothing about it, even when he has the opportunity. I loved it when he sat Paul Ryan in the front row and essentially told him to his face what a little asshole he was being to his constituents and (by extension) the entire United States with his dumbass budget proposal. But now the President is too busy trying make peace in the middle east (noble, certainly), when we need more leadership here at home. We need someone to explain how the whole enchilada is on the verge of collapse, and we need to deal with it now, and people need to call their congresscritters and tell them to work things out, even if it means raising taxes on the majority of people.

We know that Obama is going to point to better employment numbers, but it's a shell game. Our workers have recently become more attractive to foreign employers (have you heard? the deep south is full of factories from foreign firms that like our workers better than the Chinese because we don't strike as often). Isn't that fantastic? America is building things again! And all the profits are... going....    overseas.....

Plus the workers are essentially making minimum wage, are afraid to strike, and aren't generally unionized, because they would rather have some job than no job.

What will happen when we hit the debt ceiling and the Repugnican fruit cups decide not to do anything about it? We go from America to Afterthought in a month or two. And even if we start paying our bills again, do you think anyone's going to trust us? Foreign companies will probably invest in more factories here, because our workers will be working for a pittance compared to what little they're making now. We will be making large screen HDTVs for Chinese markets. Our economy will begin to resemble some crappy third-world hellhole, and yet we will still have one of the most powerful militaries on the planet. What will we do with our military might and no money?

Obama is still operating under the misapprehension that the folks on the opposite side of the fence are rational people. They're not. And if they come to power, God help the rest of the planet, because we'll be broke, and they'll want to blame someone (not themselves, NEVER themselves), and they'll want an excuse to use our big steaming military muscles. Or we'll be having closeout sales on our nuclear weapons stockpiles.

"Never been fired! Everything (and we mean everything) must GO!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Humanitarian Mission = Shrapnel

Are we stupid? No, seriously...

I'll be the first one to admit that Moammar Qaddafi is a bad guy. Probably a really, really bad guy. But we're going to establish a "no-fly" zone over a country that hasn't fielded a reasonably decent plane in fifteen years? Who's doing most of the fighting on the ground?


No-fly what? A tank? A Howitzer? What are we thinking? What are we telling them not to fly in a country with no particular air force? Yeah, I know the Syrians are helping out, but I get the impression that most of the attacks on civilians have been ground attacks, low-flying helicopters and snipers.

And the ultimate aim of this little not-quite-a-bombing-run? "Humanitarian effort."

We're lobbing cruise missiles into the general area of people. That's only humanitarian if you don't consider the folks being maimed, injured or killed by the excess shrapnel to be human. Only the folks who are not getting attacked by Qaddafi are going to be missed by all this humanitarian shrapnel.

One step over the line. All Obama has to do now is start eviscerating puppies, and perhaps a lot of Democrats will finally admit that he's a Republican.

We are currently involved in two dipshit wars in the Middle East, and now we've decided to throw our hand in on a third. After going on and on about not being the world's police force, what are we trying to do with Qaddafi? Spank him? Make him want to give up power, I suppose, but you can only do that by convincing a patently insane person to do the sane thing. He's not going to; he's going to keep going on and on and on until he and his family are in front of a firing squad or a beheading squad (or whatever culturally appropriate method is used for executing people in Libya), or safely whisked away to some third-party country that doesn't mind a batshit weirdo with the Russian "nurse" and a truly splendiferous wardrobe taking up space in some of their better real estate for the rest of his life.

I welcome Middle Eastern countries trying to shed themselves of the imperialist nutjobs we've either aided covertly or installed overtly, in order to have a better or certainly a different country for their futures. I seem to remember when we were always talking about exporting democracy as if an idea could be sent to other countries and look just like our version of it. Which is nonsense on its face, because we can't even export soda without screwing up the slogan: (US English) "Coke is Life!"; (Mandarin) "Coke Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Dead!". See? Or when a certain famous software company started showing its face in Beijing on the sides of buses, and everyone started laughing at any company that would call itself "Very Small and Soft."

So the fact that Egypt is tired of its dictator makes sense, and they've de-installed him in favor of something else. Hopefully, when they finally decide on who the something is going to be, they will also abide by whatever treaties we may have signed with the previous nutjob, and not oppress their own people all over again, thus becoming the next thing the folks in Egypt have to swarm out onto the streets to protest - two years from now. Stability is usually better than instability, even if the folks running things aren't perfect.

But Libya? Libya is dealing with a guy who has no compunction about using deadly force against an unarmed foe, who doesn't entirely object to "collateral damage" and who will put people in prison without trial for the rest of their lives.

And then of course, there's Qaddafi.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Money Is Fiction

There was an episode of This American Life that discussed the problem of "What is Money?" (Ira Glass referred to this as the "most stoner question we could come up with"). And one of the folks creating the show suggested the title of my rant. A relative of mine laments the loss of the gold standard and grabs as much gold as he can when the object presents itself, as a hedge against the dollar doing a tailspin beside all other foreign currencies, because, as we've all been told, gold will always hold its value.

One of the subjects of TAL was a small island in the South Pacific called Yap, which uses what are called Rai stones as money. Rai stones look like beads, except for their immense size: generally a foot and a half thick, ten feet in diameter, weighing in around four metric tons (with a hole through the middle, as if some giant was going to make a necklace out of them). Not exactly pocket change. These stones are generally used as dowry money, or ransom (after a battle, you'd want the bodies of your relatives returned, so you'd pay with a Rai stone and the body would be yours to bury or burn). And remember, there is no easy way to transport a Rai stone. So wherever they are, that's where they stay, no matter who owns them. Including the one sitting at the bottom of the sea floor that fell off its creator's canoe.

Even more interesting is the concept of Rai valuation: if no one dies making it or moving it, it's very valuable; if lots of people die making it or moving it, it's very valuable. In other words, if there's a good, juicy story to go along with your Rai, people will give it a greater value than a stone whose creation story is dull. This got further complicated when a westerner gave them steel tools with which to make more Rai - these Rai were then considered low value, because of the relative ease it took to create them - the first recorded Yap inflation. Imagine the inflationary spiral you could set off if you gave these guys a jackhammer and a forklift!

So if someone buys a house, or sells a bride using Rai, it is understood that a particular Rai now belongs to George that last week belonged to Jeff, because George's son married Jeff's daughter. Or vice versa (not sure what the dowry system is like on Yap). The stone doesn't move, only ownership does.

Then there's the wonderful novel by Cory Doctorow, For The Win, about gold-farming and organized labor (and about a hundred other topics, but that's for you to discover). I had vaguely heard about gold-farming through online information clearing-houses like bOINGbOING and so on, but this book made it quite clear what it's generally about, and why it's just damn weird, and oh, those darn kids, and other curmudgeonly noises. For those of you not nerdly enough to know, gold-farming is the act of playing a Massively Multiplayer On-Line Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG (of which World of Warcraft is probably the most famous) in order to amass gold and prestige items which one can then sell in the real world for real money to other people who don't want to do the work of actually playing the game in order to level up. Virtual gold is worth real money. There are people in China who do this for a living.

Really there are.

Anyway, these various threads had coalesced recently into an ongoing argument between my brain. What is money, how do we value it, what's it good for, and how does it change over time? The obvious question (one that people without money often ask): how do I get more of it? But the more important question is how does one make it worth more? Should one even try?

You look at stagnating wages, inflating/deflating home prices, the cost of a gallon of gas or of milk, the economy in general, saying that the country is near broke, or saying the country is the wealthiest in the world (which it technically is), and then you look at Wisconsin, where the man in charge is saying that we can't afford these exorbitant teacher's wages, but we also can't afford to raise taxes.

Again, money is fiction. It's worth what everyone agrees it's worth, just like houses, gas, milk and meat. Supply and demand. They talk of "cheap credit", but no one's loaning. They talk of artificial currency valuation as if it all isn't pretty much entirely artificial. We can buy something with a piece of paper, because we've agreed to do so. If I try to pay for something with Canadian dollars, there are very few places in my neighborhood where they might be reasonably expected to allow it. (meanwhile, Canada is highly accommodating to US dollars - as is the island of Yap)

And that whole thing about gold being some sort of standard? It's metal. It's pretty, certainly. It lasts forever, and doesn't tarnish very easily, this much is sure). And I imagine it's kind of rare. But our concept of gold as some sort of miracle metal that will always hold a certain value at a minimum is just as much a fantasy as exchanging Rai stones. It's a shared delusion. As is the idea that paper money, or any sort of electronic transaction is anything more than symbolic. Everyone worries about stuff costing more money, or some sort of economic collapse, like we're going to raid the homes of the wealthy and carry off their - what, exactly? Their net worth? Their paper liquidity?

Perhaps what is needed is a whole new agreement about money. The Brazilians came up with a simple solution to their horrifying inflationary cycle - the Real Unit of Value. Value based on how much everyone agrees something costs, and then value of labor based on what everyone agrees people should make at a minimum for whatever labor they do. It was kind of a magic trick, but everyone bought into it at once, and their economy stabilized and then flourished. There is still poverty in Brazil, but that's pretty much institutionalized at this point. On the other hand, everyone uses RUVs instead of cruzeros now. The whole country agreed that money wasn't money anymore, but that this other thing was actually money. And prices stabilized.

This rant is not about having some brilliant idea about what to do, how to make things more equitable, or any lofty goal like that. It's more a rumination about the nature of how and what we value and why. I know that money doesn't buy happiness.

Though it does increase one's choices.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's The Wrong Economy, Stupid!

"What is finished... is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It's the individual that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's finished. It's every single one of you out there that's finished, because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It's a nation of some 200-odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-that-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings, and as replaceable as piston rods... " -- Howard Beale, Network, 1976

We knew this back in the seventies. We knew it. We had all the information at our fingertips, because even if we didn't read books or newspapers much, we watched people like Walter Cronkite (who only occasionally lied to us), who was willing to spend an hour on a single news story, and that was all the national news you got that day. Now, we spend less than five minutes on news stories, opinions are undifferentiated from news, and of course the more sensational, the better. Even with multiple 24-hour news channels, I would bet that The Daily Show spends more time on individual news stories than CNN does. We knew there was something wrong, and we kept right on going.

Large-scale satire is either dead, or overplayed. War, Inc. was meant to be a broadside against the whole Neo-Con, PNAC, guts-passing-for-brains political shithole that was our last administration, and, even with millions of dollars, John Cusack and Dan Aykroyd, they still missed the target. In The Loop, on the other hand, did more damage with a few simple, well-placed swear words than the expensive digital fakery of War, Inc's Rockettes prosthetic-leg kick-line.

There is certainly public rage these days. Just ask Gabrielle Giffords. What's wrong with the public rage of today is that it is entirely misinformed. Even better, it's proudly misinformed. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin, on and on and on, these bastards spew hate-filled bullshit out over cable TV and the radio and even in print, and entire genomes genuflect themselves into an orgasmic coma of seething dumb anger that spills into the public, attached to various calibers of bullets, or voting patterns that will guarantee these same comatose fools will lose their jobs to some poor schmuck in China for one-tenth the wages, and all because the asshole they're voting for said he/she believes in "God and Country." Oh, yeah, and "gays are evil." Let's not forget the gays.

But let us also not forget our own folly. We, as the Liberal wing of politics in this country, with facts and science on our side, still can't convince a lot of people that global climate change and evolution(!) are scientific facts. Still can't convince a lot of people that pollution is bad for you, that the EPA serves a purpose. We gave up on teaching kids how to think, and pressed them into learning how to pass tests. I know that America was founded on compromise, but I think we've maybe stepped a little too far back from our own ideals.

But the worst part is that America has changed its concept of itself over the last thirty years - and we've just accepted it. We can point to improved job stats, fewer unemployment claims, a thriving Wall Street, and business profits that are through the roof; but what we can't do is say that things are going to get better. Because this version of better is spiritually bankrupt. We are achieving more now than we ever have as a species, and it's making everyone a little more unhappy every year. We medicate ourselves, not to feel better, but to feel less. I have fallen victim to depression, and taken anti-depressants to "fix" me, and what I realized was that I wasn't getting angry about things I should have been getting angry about (they also play merry hell with your sex life, but that's a whole different issue). We have a space station, privately-funded space tourism, we can communicate with anyone in the world via phones we carry around in our pockets, and pretty soon (as Neal Stephenson once said), we'll be able to move Nebraska to Africa overnight for $5.

But why would you want to?

What good does all of this wonderfulness do for us? Certainly, the technology of the present allows me to spew this unformed rant at the lot of you all at the touch of a few buttons, but what of the rest of it? I've had people yell at me because a fax that was meant for them wasn't properly sent two minutes earlier. "I can resend it right now." "BUT I NEEDED IT THEN!" How did we manage before fax machines, Federal Express, e-mail and texting? How did we survive at all? Could we survive without them? We're teaching our kids to fit into this world, because if they don't have those sorts of weird, unfathomable skills, they won't be able to get a decent-paying job in America. Being able to cook a meal, balance a checkbook, or to think for yourself have become not only superfluous, but oddly suspect.

I will allow that thinking for yourself has always been considered suspect by the majority, but we're supposed to be the smart ones...

I'm no luddite. As a filmmaker, I am thrilled that I can edit a film, fix the sound, mix the music, and burn a DVD in my little basement office. It is an awesome, empowering experience to move through the creative process and have what can be termed a professional-looking finished product without spending millions of dollars to do so. I like being able to get feedback from my director in a few minutes, rather than a few days, and he doesn't have to rent a projection room in order to view what we've worked on.

Before we can have our workers' revolution in this country, we need to have people who know how to work. Better still, we need people who know how to think, not just how to be a well-trained parrot or mule or whatever you want to call the hybrid we've been creating of our children for the past thirty years. Celebrities do not matter. What happens to a newsman doesn't matter. What happens in Tahrir Square, that matters immensely. How we could translate it into our own democracy, that matters immensely. We have to raise expectations for our children, and we have to teach them music and art and sports, and all the other things that our educational system has deemed too expensive. We have to learn to live with less, so that at least one parent can be home more. We have to learn to grow our own food, and to teach our kids the value of home-grown vegetables and fruit (and watch them when they try their first tomato plucked off the vine).

Until we can get this country back to where an individual person really and truly has value (and not just because they're willing to do something stupid on YouTube), America has become Metropolis. With better cable.

So, to quote Howard Beale again, you've got to get mad. You have to remind yourself, every day, that your life has value. And that you want your life to have been for something more than just improving the GDP.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Egyptian Question

I do have a question to ask, but not without prologue.

I know that of late my rants have been on the sad side of the scale, and for that I have to apologize. Originally, when I began this endeavor, I did so as a sort of entertainment for my friends, all of whom said I needed to write down all the insane stuff that was rattling around in my brains, if only so I didn't have to repeat myself over and over again to different people, telling the same story (something I'm a little too good at). And the stories were often funny, since I have a pretty sarcastic frame of mind, and even the most brutal tales could be told with a humorous edge, so long as they didn't touch me personally, or as long as I wasn't dealing with stories of war and death. But as the years have progressed, the stories have begun to have a depressing sameness, a theme that draws a line from the beginning to now, and I think I know where it really started, where I really noticed what was going wrong in America the first time.

I was sixteen years old, and watched a film called "Network."

For those of you unfamiliar with this work, and other works by Paddy Chayefsky, well, shame on you. Chayefsky was one of the great writers of the twentieth century, and if he hadn't died in 1981, I think he could have skewered the Reagan era beautifully. Strangely enough, he managed to skewer both our current era and the seventies with frightening accuracy, and for the former, he didn't even know he was going to do it. But what was true then is truer now, because we haven't learned much from that era. An excerpt from a rant by the character Howard Beale, played by the great Peter Finch, who won a posthumous Oscar for his performance in this film:

"We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.

There have been wonderful flashes of lightning in the interim, the punk movement being one of them; but that's been co-opted, and even better, commodified. Any new popular uprisings quickly appear on MTV as the latest fad, thing to do, group to follow, and rapidly become as significant as the latest style in tires. Rap music, which began as a form of street protest, now rarely ventures beyond the confines of the various forms of "bling" one can acquire. Certainly, there are still protest musicians, and they fight in their own ways: Fugazi, for one, Ani diFranco, for another. They have generally eschewed the mass-marketing efforts of the big systems, and are consequently viewed as being so far out of the mainstream that only a small, vocal minority even knows they exist.

Sure you can go to a Green Day or REM concert and feel like you're politically aware, but then you go back to your nine-to-five job and essentially continue to suck on the same teats you've been sucking on since birth. Or you go to see James Cameron's Avatar, and recognize the plight of the indigenous peoples, recognize the obvious references to the militarization of corporate greed, and still manage to go back home and think, "I really need a big-screen, 3D HDTV."

So as we sit in our houses or our apartments, watching a country a world away turn itself into either a great place to live or yet another Middle East hell-hole, we can be distracted by democracy taking place as spontaneously as it ever has. And the question that follows that is, how bad does it have to be here, before we react in a similar fashion? What will it take, ultimately, for America to get off its collective ass and do something that's not just the usual weak street protest, or (my personal favorite) astroturf movements sprung by large corporate interests that people think were their own ideas?

Can't we, like Gandhi recommended in the thirties, have a day of "prayer and fasting?" Where no work is done, no busses, no trains, no planes, no cars on the street, no financial transactions, no nothing. Perhaps someone needs to tweet this out to create the largest flash mob in history, and it's something everyone can do from home - just not go to work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year, or Eurozone Triumphant!

This year, we can expect investigations into what one Repugnican Congresscritter is calling the most corrupt administration ever. Even the mainstream media is calling Rep. Darrell Issa (R CA) a crusader. Just like he was in California, when he got Gray Davis recalled because Dick Cheney wouldn't allow for price caps on energy, and Davis was forced to pay folks like Enron whatever exorbitant price for power they wanted to charge, thus bankrupting the state. Issa thought he'd get the governor's job. Who knew that California would elect a celebrity mostly known for blowing things up and shooting things, when he wasn't playng the part of the first pregnant man? Next up, New York Gov. Paris Hilton!

(And California is still going bankrupt, even while raising every tax they can in order to close budget gaps and so on. They've even raised tuition at so-called public univeresities until the price rivals that of a relatively decent private university. The mad spiral continues.)

Issa is also notorious for having once been an alleged car thief, and then a car alarm salesman. Hmmm...

Someone smarter than I recently pointed out that between the last three Republican administrations, no less than 27 people were convicted of breaking one law or other. In the eight years of Clinton's Presidency, with thousands of man-hours spent on investigating and holding hearings and so on, a total of one person was put in jail. (and Clinton got impeached for lying about sex, but a President impeached and ousted for lying would set a bad precedent, so they let him off the hook for that one) And the funny thing is, we could probably rack up a few more Republican felons, if someone (can't imagine who) would just investigate the 2nd Bush administration properly. (but that would be looking backward, and we can't have that sort of thing, now can we?)

I've seen too much in my nearly fifty years to believe that the human race is ever going to dig itself out of the mire it seems to love so much. I know that other countries have a better way of dealing with a lot of the problems that the good old US of A hasn't figured out yet (and may never - too much money to be made by prolonging the problem), but they did so at the expense of bloodshed, war and horrors that we in the US barely understand. Yes, we had our Civil War, but we learned almost nothing from it. Just because you declare blacks to be equal to whites doesn't mean hearts and minds change the moment pen marks a signature on paper. And healing only comes from the folks who dealt the wound to see the wounding as a bad thing.

We've certainly managed to hold fast to that which is bad a lot more easily than that which is good.

And we're going to go into gridlock. So, instead of getting nothing useful done, we're just going to get nothing at all done. For at least two more years. While the economy is having... difficulties.

But the worst part of all this is that the USA is (currently) the biggest player on the block. If America fails, what does that say about representational democracy in a fairly diverse society? Next after us is China, and then maybe India. Will we become marginalized by countries whose political systems are less transparent and more corrupt than our own, and whose populaces are both pretty homogenous?

Or will the Germans & Japanese (and to a lesser extent, the Italians) have finally won WWII?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Meaning of Death

"Life has no meaning. That's an entirely human creation." Fridtjof Nansen

While the Arizona shooter is being held in custody to determine whether or not he's batshit crazy, a lot of other batshit crazy folks are running around saying that just because they said something about reloading doesn't mean they meant actual reloading.

Gun control advocates will say, yet again, that this does not mean we need more gun control, except perhaps for crazy people getting access to guns. Maybe that's a bad thing, yeah. But of course, you can carry (unloaded) guns into bars. So, crazy people having guns is bad, but drunken people having guns is okay. I guess the bouncer examines the gun to make sure it's unloaded or something. And of course no one would bring a spare clip for their unloaded gun into the bar - that'd be stupid. Gun control advocates have also been crowing about how it was a shame no one else was packing heat, because it would have been over that much quicker. Only it turns out, someone else was packing heat, and nearly shot the wrong people.

There have been many wild accusations coming out of both sides over the last three days, the Left blaming everything on the Right's inflammatory rhetoric, the Right blaming the Left, because only left-wingers are violent. Wait, what? I've also heard that the gunman was using alcohol and marijuana; combined, these two are a weak attempt at self-medicating for paranoid schizophrenia. He was kept out of the Army and kicked out of school, but give the man a pistol!

We all want to find the meaning in the Arizona shooting over the weekend. Gabrielle Giffords lies in a hospital bed with the doctors working round the clock to keep her alive. Five other people are dead, including a nine-year-old girl, who just wanted to see politics in action. Well, she got an eyeful alright. While it's easy to blame all of this on the rhetoric of the Right, however, remember that this fellow is, indeed, completely nuts. He believes in a reality that's divorced from our reality. In other words, he's batshit crazy.

You know, like Fox News.

And there is no meaning in the senseless death of these human beings, who were only gathered to hear a very mild-mannered Congressperson speak.