Friday, February 12, 2010

Give The People What They Want

As our no-longer-governable, no-longer-sane nation continues its long slide toward collapse, I've adopted a new political philosophy. That philosophy can be summed up in two words: Fuck it.

So, in light of that new worldview, I say, in all seriousness, let's give the idiots what they want. They want the hands of the Federal government off of their health care? Fine by me.

Let's get rid of Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP. Let's stop the antitrust exemption for health-insurance companies. And, most of all, let's end the taxpayer subsidy of employer-provided health insurance in America.

And then we can sit back and watch, our mirth meters maxed out, as those same morons whine endlessly about their elderly parents suddenly becoming their financial responsibility, about their actual, full compensation from work being taxed, about the exponential increases in the costs of care. It would be sublimely amusing to hear the Becks and Limbaughs of the world tell them that this GOP dream-come-true is all the fault of the evil libruls. And to watch them believe it.

Hell, such policy changes wouldn't affect me. I'd still be a working-class schlub who can't afford insurance. My parents are both dead, and I won't live long enough to worry about Medicare anyway.

That's what it's all about in today's America, right? It's all I, me, mine, and to hell with the common good.

Let's do it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Democracy In America: It Was Nice While It Lasted

Democracy in the United States of America is now finished. Done. Kaput.

The radical right Thursday succeeded in their ultimate goal: Destroying the America in which I grew up, the America that I proudly served and loved. They did so through the beyond-merely-conservative judicial nominations of the last thirty years, in the person of the Supreme Court's decision concerning Citizens United v. FEC.

Activist Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy have broken entirely with precedent in unleashing the full capacity of corporations, be they American or not, be they criminal or not, to spend their general funds upon influencing elections within this country.

The clerical error of the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision -- the SCOTUS decision that is claimed to have granted corporations personhood -- has been taken to its illogical conclusion, and in so doing the High Court has effectively diminished the rights of actual persons to the point that they may as well no longer exist.

In the end, the radical right believes that the costs of government should be borne by the working class while its benefits should accrue only to the wealthy. With this decision, that twisted "dream" is one very large step closer to sad reality.

The effects of this ruling may not be apparent to us immediately, perhaps, but they will eventually erode away the fabric of true democracy. Despite the natural tendency of America's electorate to resist concentrated power (either political or monetary), this new class of Supercitizens can count upon the pusillanimous and self-serving nature of the American political class.

Think about the prospective corporate attack apparatus that will face any incumbent in a potentially vulnerable seat that resists falling into line with the desired agenda, the threat to his or her reelection. The change in our political process will be much more about intimidation -- the threat of action -- than outright, overt action. This revolution will not be televised, if the powerful have their way, and we will be none the wiser until it is far too late.

And that's it. Goodbye America. Game over. Fritos, man.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Maybe It's Time To Give Up

Are we a serious people?

That question has repeatedly been posed by Bill Maher on Real Time in the past year; I think it's a good one. And I fear that the answer is a resounding, "No."

We are a people who believes that we can get something for nothing. We believe that we can simultaneously have both increased government services and lower taxes. We decry government "pork-barrel" spending, yet ferociously defend any program, agency or policy that directly benefits us individually. We shed crocodile tears about the burdens our current policies will place upon future generations, yet refuse to do anything to change those policies.

The politics of our day is a stunning exercise in self-delusion and cognitive dissonance. I encounter many liberals, people who supported Barack Obama's Presidential bid, who are in many cases absolutely enraged that the President is enacting exactly the policies that he promulgated during the campaign. And conservatives who nodded heartily in agreement when Vice President Cheney intoned, "Deficits don't matter," who cheered as the Bush Administration went about the business of squandering the budget surpluses left them by the Clinton Administration, now unselfconsciously clothe themselves in the ill-fitting robe of fiscal responsibility.

Today's political parties, to a greater degree than since the Gilded Age, serve narrowly-defined constituencies; the corrosive influence of special-interest monies has eaten away at the notion of a "public good." Good policy no longer matters, only the exigencies of the permanent election cycle. And, most disturbing, we actually embrace this notion of politics-as-gladiatorial-theater; we root for our chosen "leaders" and their insincere, insubstantial, bought-and-paid-for ideologies as though they were players for our favorite sports team.

This can be seen even in America's pop culture. A new class of celebrity has emerged: people who are famous just for being famous. Lack of talent, ability or intelligence is no longer an issue, as long as one is determined enough to force one's way into the popular consciousness. We have Paris, Jon, Kate, OctoMom, Balloon Boy, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

This is not the manner in which a serious people behaves. It is the behavior, rather, of an empire in decline. One can't help but think that we have reached the point as a nation where we are essentially ungovernable; we have lost the self-discipline and perspective to forestall our eventual, inevitable collapse as a society.

And so I sadly say: Perhaps it is time for the serious-minded among us to give simply up and join in America's death-throe party. Though we may be well-meaning, the pearls we cast before swine just don't matter.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making Up Their Own Facts

Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with a Conservative acquaintance, one in which he claimed that one's political affiliation determines which "facts" one chooses to believe. We were speaking in particular about the current health-care-reform debate, and, essentially, his assertion was that there is somehow an equivalence between the latest Glenn (The University of I Don't Remember) Beck fabrication and actual, real-world statistics compiled by organizations such as WHO.

And so it goes with the Radical Right. If reality is too difficult or inconvenient, then they truly believe that they can simply make up an alternative set of facts that better fit the way they want to see the world.

Just look back to those heady days of the Bush Administration's first term, when the Neocons so arrogantly proclaimed that "...we create our own reality." Those of us in the "reality-based community" were passe, hopelessly mired in a non-fantasy-based past.

I think we all can recall how that worked itself out in Mister Bush's second term.

Because, no matter how much one might want want to believe, say, that America's health-care system provides the best results in the world... well, that pesky reality does keep getting in the way. We don't cover as large a percentage of our population as, get worse results than, and still rack up more money spent per capita than, any other Western democracy. And no amount of made-up drivel about "Death Panels" or "Socialism" is going to change that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

This says more about the teabaggers than I ever could.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Crazy Lady Who "Represents" Me

Yes, the one and only, certifiably insane Michelle Bachmann, "my" U.S. Representative, is at it again. The most recent crazy quote:

The steps that are being taken by the current Administration have more in line with the Weimar Republic in the 1920s.

Setting aside that she mispronounces "Weimar," it's still quite entertaining that Bachmann would compare the Obama Administration to the democratically-elected government of Germany in the period of 1919-1933. After all, since she wants to supplant the current government, wouldn't that make her, and those allied with her, the historical equivalent of Hitler and the Nazis?

Of course, I'm not really suggesting that she and her ilk are the equivalent of fascists. (I, unlike them, am too well-enough grounded in both reality and human decency to sink to such lows.) But it is hilarious that Bachmann is so historically illiterate that she does not see the obvious logical extension of her assertion.

One way or another, it's just pretty damn funny. And telling.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome Back, Michael Vick?

Thursday night, news came that quarterback and NFL pariah Michael Vick has returned to the league, signed by the Philadelphia Eagles to bolster their chances of making it to the Super Bowl. And this development leaves me feeling deeply ambivalent.

Does a man like Vick -- a felon convicted of Federal charges stemming from his involvement in a horrific dogfighting ring, yet also a man who has paid his proverbial "debt to society" -- now deserve another chance to pursue a very, very lucrative football career?

I just don't know.

In a press conference Friday, he said, "I know I've done some terrible things, made a horrible mistake... We all have issues, we all deal with certain things..." But what he did to land behind bars was no mistake, no garden-variety accident. His actions, though truly difficult to fathom, were willful and deliberate. The brutality that Vick displayed in pitting his unwilling canine minions against each other in fights to the death, as well as in executing many of them, indicates a cruelty, a lack of empathy that is often found in incipient serial killers, not in your average citizen.

And such language makes me feel as though he really hasn't come to grips with what he did; instead, it seems as though he is sorry only that he got caught and had to pay the price.

Nonetheless, he has paid the price -- a terrible price that cost him years of his life in prison, years of his career and millions upon millions of dollars, driving him to bankruptcy. Should we now deprive him of the opportunity to make a future living, too?

Were veterinary medicine or animal husbandry his chosen work, perhaps we would be right in doing so. But now, I fear, we must simply hope that Michael Vick is able to live up to his own professions of rehabilitation. I wish him the best; perhaps he can actually get his life straightened out.

But I'm surely glad that he isn't trying to do so as a member of my beloved Vikings.