While a riled up Harry Reid may resemble a cross between an awakening Rumpelstiltskin and an…
While a riled up Harry Reid may resemble a cross between an awakening Rumpelstiltskin and an…
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1. Climate change. Never has so little been done about so much. It’s as though Noah got a 20-year heads up on the coming flood but oil companies and ideological crackpots prevented him from building an ark. The United States is the Big Kahuna in the world, and given its present and projected state of alternating pathological thumb-twiddling and malignant Stage Four finger-in-ass syndrome the smart money says it’s going to get chaotically wet and wild or insufferably dry and thirsty sooner than you think. And you’re likely to witness some very, very unpleasant things if you happen to suffer the misfortune of living a long life. Get out now while you’re cool and relatively comfortable.
2. Nothing is true. Nothing is real. Or else, everything is true and everything is real. Take your pick. Either way, a buzzillion websites, radio talk hosts, politicians and Fox News are crapping out bogus versions of truth, factuality and reality at an impressively diarrheal rate. In some depraved homage to the Soviets and the Nazis science is now politically up for grabs, as is virtually the entire storehouse of accumulated knowledge, historical, philosophical and mathematical, depending upon the venue you get it from. Unless you find the irrelevance of truth and factuality appealing, as well as Orwellian triumphalism and morality turned upside down this isn’t going to be a future for you. It’s pretty easy for evil to prevail in such a world, and every indication is that it will, along with tyrannical stupidity. It’s bad enough now. Spare yourself even another day of it.
3. Like Cheers, except everywhere in the modern world everybody knows your name, including but not limited to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Overstock.com…hell, all the world’s corporations banks, retailers, financial institutions, advertising firms, some guy in Idaho, twelve year-old boys with computers in Malaysia, Serbia and Mongolia and the FBI. They can’t track you, they can’t find you and they can’t bother you if you’re dead. Or at least not as much.
4. Guns. Not to be used as an excuse for self-deliverance if not a citizen of the United States. This is America at its most irrational, a condition all but assured of staying that way. If evidence of obvious and direct causality, America’s unique and unsurpassable number of guns leading to America’s uniquely unsurpassable number of annual gun deaths can be rendered inadmissible in attempting to deter the latter, then this is a nation that has irrevocably lost its way and lost its mind. And it has. Living in a nation that accepts mass domestic slaughter because a misunderstood, purposely misconstrued amendment in the Constitution supposedly, but not really, says it should and because of the iconic role of the gun in American myth…mythology frankly too dumb and corny for a compelling pulp Western, is no way to go through life. Perhaps the only way to avoid getting your head blown off these days is to swallow a jar of Seconal.
5. Silicon Valley has your genitalia hidden in an undisclosed location. You try keeping up with the latest technology but you need a Getty-sized trust fund to do it. Using the iphone 4S after the 5 is out is tantamount to using a chamber pot or a square wheel. You still don’t understand how a radio, a television or a car works and microwaves, refrigerators and air-conditioners are like supernatural deities putting you in awe…and the mystique of the thermos bottle endures. Now they’re talking computer eyeglasses and wrist watches, roll up tablets and cellphones, TVs that you talk to and that listen, and one can see only a future of endless, insatiable, unaffordable technological green grass on the other side of the hill. The coffin is old school and has a remarkable record of reliability.
6. There’s too much to watch on television. Everything on TV is important now. You’ve got to watch ‘Girls’ and ‘House of Cards’ the new and old ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Homeland’ just in order to show your face in public. And then there’s all the old stuff you really like, and feel obligated to watch every time it’s on, and something always is. It sounds clever to say you don’t watch television or don’t even own one, but this sort of frontier mentality is highly offensive, besides which I’m suspicious that those who offer it either are lying or are insufferably dull with or without their televisions. In fairness, the Unabomber was pretty interesting. Still, this can only go in one direction, with more channels, more services, more streaming, more this, more that. Protest the trend by becoming the ultimate frustrated, overwrought and disenchanted viewer.
7. Obama is the best thing that has happened to the country in a long time, and while his accomplishments have been real and significant, he will in all likelihood make some very bad deals with Republicans. Obama has some deadly vulnerabilities for a politician: fairness, open-mindedness, decency, and an abiding determination to accomplish something on behalf of the American people. The fact that Obama throughout his life has been, and no doubt inherently is a higher achiever than most, even among those who ascend to the presidency means the thwarting by Republicans of his determination to always be accomplishing something may drive him to desperation or to desperate acts. Already he is offering up changes to Social Security and Medicare that if enacted will be monumental for many American citizens in the cruelest sense. Obama is sure to continue aspiring, but Republicans aren’t going to allow him to achieve anything unless he gives them ninety percent of what they want. Why not just swallow your gun now, and take off into the immortal beyond carrying with you the gratifying image of Obama pounding Mitt Romney like a soggy piece of veal.
8. American literature is really awful. It has become little more than pseudo sociology or bad sociology, the novelist as amanuensis for the zeitgeist in all its obviousness, banality and sensationalism, the writer as part-time tape recorder operator, part-time deft transcriptionist. On the other end, even in this day and age some writers still operate as though innovation can earn cachet, literary innovativeness writ large in other words, and I’m here to tell you it just ain’t gonna happen. Yes, Joyce left a trail of Joyceans, but the literary world is permanently out of eans to add to your name. Of course, none of this really applies to me since I have always preferred Russian, French and Scandinavian authors anyhow. But even if you’re like me, or simply don’t read at all, in this case you should kill yourself purely on the basis of principle.
9. I had intended number nine to be: The pubic domain is rotten and will probably stay that way. This would have been a delineation of some of the many ways the public domain has become coarse, venomous, shallow, cruel and all but unlivable. I intended to mention that a high percentage of the population is uninhibited and exhibitionist, confessional and interactive, and with everybody famous now more or less, and for no particular reason, it is maddening trying to decide where to deposit ones sycophancy and envy.
But I changed my mind. This is a conformist nation, with a populace of malleable, easily influenced and effortlessly herded citizens. Nothing moves merchandise like celebrity testimonials and the endorsements of the rich and famous, or even the infamous. So it’s enough of a selling point to state simply that suicide has the de-facto endorsement of the many talented, brilliant, accomplished, discriminating and virtuous people who’ve committed it. A lot of really cool people have killed themselves. So simply put, you should kill yourself because it comes highly recommended.
10. Sex. No matter how much you have, you always want more, and very badly. And it messes up your hair. Fuck it.
There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no crying in ideological struggles for the soul of the nation either. Whether the rest of us like it or not, several strands of largely fringe radicalism have merged, and now emerged as the dominant ideology, nee fanaticism of one of our major parties. And hulking bummer though it is, inconvenient and unavoidable hard fact, this now prominent absolutism doesn’t compromise, doesn’t moderate, doesn’t give a whit about two-parties, nor will it accept anything short of full ideological purification, not to mention full domination of the country. It sucks mightily, and get used to it.
Indeed, the ferocity of this new right-wing and Republican determination to assert the preeminence of ideological reality over material and scientific truth, to unashamedly impose a brutal social order (with the same attendant doublespeak about liberty and will of the people and freedom, along with many of the same scapegoats) skirts uncomfortably close to the absolutist extremism of the grotesque European isms of the last century.
But the time for merely remarking upon its odiousness, bemoaning the depravity of its methods and the vastness of its blithe deceit, or for exposition of the boundlessness of its freakishness has passed. It is time to match it in the only area that really matters at this stage: raw power. Which brings me to the news today that a Texas bank, and a couple of right-wing think tanks have embarked on the new go-to play for the Republican right seeking the overturn of democratically achieved laws, which is resort to litigation in largely friendly federal courts, including the highest court in the land. This time it isn’t health care it’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established under Dodd-Frank. Essentially, the poor, poor banks and the woefully put upon financial institutions believe essentially that nobody is the boss of them, and at bottom any restriction or oversight that prevent them from doing whatever they damn please to consumers is, oh my, unconstitutional. We’ll see. But the point is that friendly courts, including the big one is what you get with raw power… and elections are how you get that power.
There is no better example of course of the triumph of raw power than the 2000 presidential election in Florida. All but a coup, it was a legal coup, legal because all of the power was stacked in such a way every democratic mechanism was subservient to one political party and its own interest. Own the governorship, the top state election official, the state legislature and ultimately the highest court in the land and the actual vote count, or even counting of the votes or the expressed will and intent of the people themselves are beside the point. There’s democracy and then there’s democracy.
The point of this really is that liberals and Democrats must at last fully comprehend the stakes and behave accordingly, no matter how often and insipidly CNN insists it’s all just two perpetually equivalent polarities or sides of the same coin. They must embrace the stale and unoriginal reduction of it all to the political process and leave behind their distaste for the laborious and grimy work of aggressive advocacy and electing people. They must, where lacking, develop an appetite for political blood, hand-to-hand combat and trench war… for the thrill of a political kill. Anything short of angry defiance at attempts at punking you, gutting you or sliming you by this borderline personality disorder masking itself as philosophy is unacceptable. Ownership by venal doughboys like the Koch Brothers or fey authoritarians like Scott Walker, or rule by amoral tinker toys like Mitt Romney should be repudiated with extreme prejudice.
Take power and keep taking it.
Impressing voters with their capacity to incessantly embark upon partisan larks extraneous to voters’ lives and concerns, to fly ideological kamikaze missions such as causing debt default or passing legislation with zero ability to survive in the Earth’s soil beyond the House chamber, the Republican majority in the House has been nothing if not consistent. This week the Republican majority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought to reinforce that impression by giving the world another memorable straitjacket moment: voting Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
There was never any expectation the next Three Stooges movie would diverge from buffoonish slapstick and there is no expectation the Republican House will suddenly do something sensible or barely sane. If you want representatives whose actions mirror the obsessions of pale folks dressed in tri-cornered hats holding badly-spelled signs and poorly reasoned, ill-informed opinions, Republican members of the House are your cup of kooky tea.
Politically speaking, this latest uncontrollable House Republican urge to advertise its own estrangement from the mainstream concerns of American citizens is highly beneficial to Democrats and to the re-election of President Obama, and I thank them for their lack of self-control. Reminding voters once again that the Republican Party in power invariably becomes preoccupied with ideologically self-indulgent theater, unrelentingly partisan obstructionism and sabotage of good faith efforts to address the challenges facing United States citizens is doing God’s work for Democrats.
The Fast and Furious program was an effort begun by the ATF during the Bush administration intended to track illegal gun sales in the United States to drug cartels in Mexico. Though Attorney General Holder terminated the program and though reasonable people might conclude that determining the lethal consequences of these sales (Remember that Arizona has justified all manner of barbaric immigration policy with the specter of border violence) was a worthy project, the far right construed this as an affront to the sanctity of the National Rifle Association and an act of blasphemy toward the role of firearms as holy icons in the Republican spiritual system, faulty American history and fetishism playing their part.
Demanding documents from Holder it was understood by Republicans he was obligated to keep secret in order to protect the lives of agents and the viability of operations ongoing was the basis of the Republican con that Holder was failing to cooperate, all in the service to a phantasmagorical gun control plot by the Great Black Socialist. Still, the only thing really important here is that Americans are offered yet another example that Republicans should not retain their House majority, nor for that matter be allowed to handle sharp objects, have unsupervised time with small children or keep the laces in their shoes.
At the very least, the reality-based community owes House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans a debt of gratitude for their unintentional, yet luridly vivid warning of the perils, frivolities and disorders of elected Republicans, and their distant remove from ordinary Americans’ priorities and basic mental health.