The world without them

death and sufferingRecently, the usual crop of nonsensical conservative pundits spoke out in objection to an advertisement by Coca-Cola, featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in a variety of languages, most of which I have heard spoken in this country by fellow Americans, either naturalized or otherwise, during the usual course of my life.  The reactions of these pundits, as well as many random fellow conservative Twitterers and commenters, are stereotypically fearful, and when you are in fear, you don’t necessarily make a lot of sense.  Glenn Beck’s take, as an example, was how “in your face” and “dividing” the commercial was.  A whole bunch of different people getting together and praising the United States and its beauty in song is…”dividing”.  This should tell you all that you need to know about Glenn Beck.  (For more information, consult the book 1984, by George Orwell.) Continue reading

Frame-up

taste-my-wrathO’s pitcher Koji Uehara was forced to leave the game yesterday after three innings due to dehydration.  Okay, it was pretty hot in D.C. yesterday, where the Orioles were playing, and we did win the game and all…but could we please teach the O’s coaching staff how to say, “Hey, have a cup of water,” in Japanese?

Onto other matters: I was listening to a discussion on Nominally Public Radio about the hullaballoo over President Obama’s address at Notre Dame.  The usual balance stunt was in effect: a member of the faculty for the neutral stance (he was obviously in favor of Obama’s speech, but was very carefully asked neutral-seeming questions in an effort to bleach out his viewpoint), a Catholic activist for the antis, and – all together now! – E.J. Dionne for the liberals.  (As an aside, can we just buy that man a sign that says “LIBERAL ELITE” and have him wear it on every single channel?  Good thing that the MSM is so independent and all.) Continue reading

This didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to

needa cuppaI don’t have a lot of time right now, but I do have some coffee…so let me get a few things out there. Consider the confluence of the following things:

  • A recent study shows that conservatives who are given data to refute obvious mis-statements by Bush and Co. – um, yes, let’s just call it lies and be done with it – are more likely to believe the lies afterwards. In other words, data, actual facts, to the contrary of what they believe makes them more likely to believe lies. The study points out that this is more common with conservatives (no big surprise), although it happens with liberals as well (again, no big surprise).
  • McCain’s recent “FactCheck” backfire.
  • My most recent posting about Obama donations as a reaction to fear of McCain/Palin – which of course, from the comments, we know never happens.
  • Bill Maher’s usual “people are too stupid” rant, most recently trotted out on Rachel Maddow’s new show.

So what are we dealing with here?

Again, we’re keeping this short – but clearly, Something Is Wrong. We are no longer at the point where voters can be expected to do logical things in crowds, and yet many things which do work tremendously well, such as the Internet, operate on exactly that principle. There are still smart and very smart people out there, and there is still a chance for them to rise to the top – except with politics, that’s no longer even necessarily the expectation. In fact, it’s entirely flipped: we expect idiocy at the top…and that’s both Republicans and Democrats. And as a result, we breed for the characteristic.

The whole thing with Maher is, I’m convinced, barking entirely up the wrong tree – and yes, I realize that I said something similar before, but what the heck, I’m starting to change my mind. It’s too – pardon me, but – stupid to say that the American people are simply too stupid. People aren’t all geniuses, and they certainly aren’t immune to their own faults, but then, that’s always been true, and preening shmucks like Maher certainly don’t represent a tremendous improvement. This is a pathology we are dealing with. People aren’t choosing the right guy or government because they can’t. They’ve been so battered that they no longer have the emotional capacity to choose the right thing. They lack the imagination to envision another world because it’s been beaten out of them by the powers that be…be they corporate slime, single-minded Republican Neanderthals, the in-power Dems who’ve raised banality to an art form, or just the unscrupulous neighbor who looks like he can make a buck off a sucker. Call it capitalism, Western decadence, un-Godliness…whatever it is, but at this point, Americans are sinking into a morass that they may not be able to recover from without some serious (outside?) help.

So, we’re not stupid…we’re just crazy. In a way, that’s good news.

To get out of this, we need to reconnect on a different level: a more local, more human one, without the intervention of non-human agencies (pre-eminently, the corporation). Government really does have to be re-invented; the existing model needs to be subverted and torn down – and all the money-grubbing slime must be cut off and kept at a distance until we can put it back together again the right way. A new value needs to be placed on intelligence, imagination, creativity, and heart – “progress” and “advancement” need to be defined in terms of those qualities. And we need to do this before the complete economic collapse (at the hands of the super-wealthy) or the complete breakdown of our eco-structure.

Not surprisingly, I think the Green Party fits the bill for the way to progress in this…but I’ll admit even we are not doing enough, fast enough.

Again, not enough time right now to go into all of it – but hopefully, I at least switched on someone else’s mind out there. If we get to the Promised Land, that’s fine; I’m not so proud as to say I have to lead the march.

O say, am I free?

warning-fascismThe New York Yankees have taken to chaining folks in place for a forced display of patriotism, including one which has no basis in any law or code whatsoever. I wasn’t too sure about the veracity of this information until I found the referenced article in the NYT; here’s the accompanying photograph.

Keep in mind that this depicts Yankee Stadium attendees standing to “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch, not even “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the game. Continue reading

In which I learn a new word

(Note: many naughty words herein. Sometimes, there’s only one way of saying something. Warning duly delivered, those under the age of, etc., your mileage may vary.)

Cab Driver: Look out there; it’s a fucking coup d’état.
Sands: I can’t see, fuck-mook. I have no eyes.
— from Once Upon a Time in Mexico

I don’t really know whether it was Robert Rodriguez or perhaps Johnny Depp who first coined that particular word – Depp, apparently, ad-libbed some of his dialogue in the film – but I’ve come to appreciate in retrospect the usefulness and versatility of the word fuck-mook*. It takes the pejorative mook, used to describe the faceless extras that are plowed down by the dozen in martial arts and Hong Kong action films, and turns up the vitriol an appropriate and necessary notch. It also serves to amplify the connotation of mook – that of the generic human obstacle, too lacking in any personality or imagination to register on one’s consciousness as anything but, and useful only in their rapid disposal. The prefix fuck-, in this case, indicates an almost willing embrace of a fate over and above that – someone who has reached their pinnacle in mookdom, either through working their hardest and failing to arrive anywhere else, or through a cussed determination, unvarnished by a scrap of intelligence, to become such to those who honestly do have better things to do. Continue reading

The hits just keep on comin’

This post made it to WordPress.com’s Top Posts today, which must mean that people were so starved for comedy after the Will Ferrell movie that anything looked funny to ’em.

Quick summary: the Green Party of Canada said that they would be looking for houses with their lights out during the recent “Earth Hour”, and make a note to go back to those houses to ask for donations and such during the next election campaign, as it was a fair bet the folks in those houses would be environmentally conscious voters. Now taken as a statement, this makes an inordinate amount of sense, and – take it from me, please – is better than the way most political parties get information about you. Continue reading

When life isn’t really living

Recently left this comment in a blog where the “pro-life” movement was being discussed; in particular, it was unveiled as more of an “anti-choice” movement instead.

Amanda has hit on a real touchstone of the “pro-life” movement: their selective approach. Often, pro-life conservatives are the first to speak out against funding for social programs in the U.S. which provide for single and economically poor mothers, such as universal health care, Head Start, and school lunch programs. They’ll do everything in their power to insure that you carry your baby to term, advocating that the full weight of the State should be brought to bear to perform this “holy” task – but once the baby’s born, it’s suddenly *your* problem.

To put it in another sense, I’m also frequently offended by those who use the “sanctity of life” argument to oppose abortion, but do not continue that stance to include opposition to war and the death penalty. Apparently, to those folks, life is only “sacred” if it’s a baby; once they grow up, it’s okay in God’s eyes if they’re killed…

To be fair, this attitude is not universal among Christians or conservatives, and does seem to be changing. I’ve worked with Catholic organizations on peace efforts in the past; they are all perfectly consistent about their pro-life views and though some express discomfort at working with traditional liberals, they do so anyway, which I respect. As well, though I do not agree with his policies, Mike Huckabee is stumping on the idea of extending the social network to include those who follow the pro-life message and carry their children to term.

The whole “pro-life” phenomenon is interesting, and I’d like to take a closer look at it sometime, particularly the history behind it. The term “pro-life” wasn’t really used until about the late 1960s, if I recall; the argument before then was strictly a conservative Christian argument against the “wages of sin” – in other words, the real problem with abortion was that the mother was “getting away with” sex out of wedlock. The baby wasn’t even a consideration.

The Sexual Revolution brought that line of reasoning to a close, as, in general, telling people they can have sex is universally more successful than telling people they can’t.

I have read before, and now can’t find a source for it, that the movement was re-branded “pro-life” in a deliberate bit of marketing resulting from a meeting on that subject with a small number of participants which spelled out the marching orders for all. Suddenly, God wasn’t angry at the mother – He just wanted those poor babies to live. It was a much more “sellable” message. Instead of you being against sex, suddenly they were against babies. Hey, that works! And not coincidentally, it also marked the beginning of a more accusatory, radicalized form of advocacy. No longer were they content to gather in groups such as the Catholic League of Decency and tut-tut at the naughtiness about them…now, they had a holy crusade against the unbelievers on their hands. Later, this would extend, in some sick people’s minds, to blowing up clinics and shooting doctors.

In any case, if anyone has any info on that meeting, I’d like to read about it.