Monday, January 25, 2010

The Death of Common Sense

Have you noticed that the national political parties spend most of their time pointing out what the other party is doing wrong? The Republicans blame the Democrats for the ridiculous spending the Federal Government is doing. The Democrats blame the Republicans for delaying progress, offering no new ideas for righting what is wrong in the country. What a bunch of dumb-ass, self-delusional nonsense. It makes me wonder what Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, or John F. Kennedy would say. Probably that we are a nation of idiots. And I'm not talking about the fun loving Red Sox-Kevin Millar sort of idiots, but actual idiots. Like, stupid.

As an example, we are spending money hand over foot to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a reminder, we invaded Iraq, in part, to dismantle their weapons-of-mass destruction. We must have scared the shit of out of the Iraqis, as they uninvented any and all weapons-of-mass destruction before they actually made them. How many billions of dollars and thousands of lives have we wasted? Many of both. And for the record, the Republicans led the charge, the Democrats followed like cows, and the American public bitches and complains. Perhaps most vulgar, we watch CNN or Fox and let the news media scare the piss out of us, and keep throwing money at Iraq. Or Yemen, or Nigeria, or fill-in the failed state of your choice. But as the old saying goes, if you break it, you buy it. We broke Iraq, so I guess we own the mess. Ka-ching.

Afghanistan? Maybe worth the fight. Not to save the country. The Russians broke it, the Taliban buried the pieces, and we smashed whatever was left. Except the poppy fields. So we have cheap heroin, so we have that going for us. And we don't want to piss off Pakistan, even though 3/4 of what is left of Al Queda is in...Pakistan. With friends like that, who needs enemas? But I can see staying in Afghanistan to smash the little terrorist groups that get organized enough to buy some AK-47's, cell phones, and 155 millimeter artillery shells. But let's be honest, what would be a good outcome there? Democracy? Less violence? An end to narco-terrorism? Less US causalities? Oh yeah, we have major military commitments on the Korean peninsula and small ones all over the damn place, too.

How about here at home? Starting in the Reagan-era, the conservatives behind the conservatives have systemically emasculated the Federal government, except the industrial-military complex. Practically is every case, we shop out real jobs in poorly regulated bid processes, spending lots of tax revenue for private companies to make some bucks and do piss-poor quality work. We stopped really regulating private business (banks, insurance, communications, etc.) in the 80's. Sure, it was piecemeal and didn't happen overnight, but we allowed the Federal government to become what we actually fear most. Fat, stupid, open to partisan politics, impersonal. For every example of good government, anyone who reads a paper or watches the nightly news can list a half dozen examples of the Fed fucking up.

But the American public is complicit. I'm socially liberal, but can't quite get over the fact that lots of groups -- on the left and right -- want someone else to fix their problems, pay for the pet projects, or make them feel better about their shitty existence. Our older population want entitlements that outstrip our ability to pay for them. Wall Street and the banking community want protection from risk. The housing sector wants double digit sales of new and existing homes, and at the same time wanting home values to grow by 10% a year. Huh? Supply and demand dictates that as more homes are available, prices should flatten out, if not go down. And their seem to be a few houses for sale. We spend a bunch of money to bail out the banks and are surprised that that money didn't end up in our hands? Really? But who wanted the banks to fail? My money is in a bank. My home loan is owned by a bank. We do stupid things, we watch stupid things happen, we listen to stupid things from politicians from all stripes, and we get angry. We don't do anything much, but we do angry well, don't you think?

Jobs? Well, as long as we ship out simple jobs to India, China, or other rim nations, does anyone think we'll have real job growth? No one wants to drop $120,000 for college, then drive for UPS. Could we create new jobs without a stronger manufacturing base? Maybe our country can employ 180 million adults in the film industry and video game design. But I doubt it. We need to develop industries that we keep control over. We need less accountants, stock brokers, and lawyers, and way more nurses, teachers, doctors, scientists, and engineers.

Let's sum up. We spend too much, save too little, expect too much, don't deal with change well, and don't pay attention for long. What are we, teenagers? If we spend a lot to save some dirt farmer in Afghanistan, we should raise taxes. If we want better infrastructure, perhaps you might also consider spending less on shit like a Mars program, F-35's, or a big fucking wall that doesn't keep illegal immigrants out of the country. Less urban violence? More jobs, a bit of dignity, laced with a hope for a safe, reasonably healthy retirement. Cheaper oil? Drive a smaller car. Too fat? Eat less. Sick of the news? Turn off the television. $50,000 for a tennis courts in Montana? Sheesh.

Monday, January 18, 2010


It's winter in the northland and I've got a mild cold. Laggy, draggin' ass, headache, sinuses full of cement. Pretty much like the rest of the year. It's snowing out, but not in a Norman Rockwell sort of way. It's January and it gets dark early. Or it stays dark. So last night, needing uninterrupted sleep for 8 hours, I took a dose of Tylenol Cold. I put on a movie, climbed into my bed with my latest end-of-the-world novel in case the movie didn't take, and immediately zonked out. It was like 8:30, and I was in the slot for a good, deep night of Z's.

Deep into the r.e.m.'s, I had a most vivid and disturbing dream. I don't analyze my dreams, when I remember them, which is rare. But this dream literally knocked me awake, it was so strong and compelling. I was so shaken by its timber and tone, I has adrenaline fueled shakes when I awoke around midnight. I slid out out of bed and went downstairs, grabbed a glass of milk and four chocolate chip cookies, scarfed 'em down, and played Call of Duty 'til four. By that point I was tired again and managed three more hours of sleep before the day started in earnest.

The dream? What I remember is that my son came into my bedroom crying out of guilt. See, he had given a smaller, weaker friend a swirly. For those uninitiated, it means one stuffs another's head into the toilet and flushes it while their head is in the bowl. In reality, my son would not do such a thing, but dream-boy was crying out to dream-dad, devastated that he'd bullied his friend. As dream-dad, I wigged. I seized my dream-son and dragged him to the bathroom. I grabbed him around the midsection and inverted him over the toilet. I remember the toilet was filthy looking, although in real life our toilets are reasonably clean. In the dreamscape it was speckled with shit, although I distinctly remember in the dream it wasn't crap splatter but rather sprinkles of rich chocolate powder. As my dream son screamed and pleaded for mercy, I was pleased that the toilet was not filthy, but rather chocolaty. And then I gave my dream son a swirly, so he'd know what it felt like. Wow, what an asshole I was as a dream-dad.

So, before I went down for cookies and milk, before I made the world safe one digital killing at a time, I crept into my real son's bedroom. He was snuggled up in bed, either dream-free or having happy ones. I leaned closely to his ear and gave him a gentle kiss. It must have tickled, as he turned over and sat up a bit. He smiled sleepily at me and said, "Hi, Dad." I whispered, "I love you" and gave thanks I was not the father of my dreams.

Silly, huh?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Angry White Man

The next time you look in the mirror and see a fat, bloated, bitter man looking back at you, pinch yourself. At least you are not Rush Limbaugh. I expect to see horrors and tragedy coming out of Haiti, but I sort of thought it would come from people who are hungry, injured, desperate, and scared. Oddly, the most shocking and offensive I've seen or heard was from Jabba-the-Republican himself. In his infinite wisdom, he said the US should do nothing more for Haiti, as "our" dues have been paid through income taxes. Snuggled like a pig in blanket, in his climate controlled radio booth, snacking on pork-rinds or babies or whatever that fat-fuck guzzles. Wesson oil? Souls? Common sense?

He makes me think of the Captain from the movie Wall-E, except genetically crossed with a snake. I apologize to all snakes, as even snakes have mothers. Rush could be dropped on an island full of cannibals and make it out fine. Not 'cause he could save himself, as he's a push-up away from a coronary. No, instead, I can imagine the cannibals sitting around at dinner time, saying something like, "Yeah, I'm kinda' hungry but I AIN'T eating that SHIT." If Rush were drowning, I wouldn't throw him a line. My boat already has an anchor.

Rush is a loud-mouthed racist. A bigot. A chauvinist. He also has a Constitutionally guaranteed right to say anything he wants. What he seems to forget too often, and certainly this week, he also has a right to say nothing at all. Rush, shut up.