The Dance of Dumbness Goes On…


The above article is about how new incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is claiming impeachment won’t be taken off of the table if Obama signs an executive order limiting deportations.  Fucking hell!  I feel like swearing and playing a kazoo at the same time.  I feel like running through the streets naked with only a gorilla mask on.  There is no sense to anything.  As Leonard Cohen sang, “Things are gonna slide in all directions.”  

One cretin replaces another.  The dance of dumbness goes on.  Impeachment, for possibly showing empathy towards the less fortunate?  Read Matt Taibbi’s The Great Divide and learn what immigrants really go through in this country.  The Klansmen that were my target in my previous post, while being hateful figures of comic absurdity, are at least honest about the way they feel.  This manicured douchebag hides behind patriotism and a fancy suit.  What was that about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel….


It’s a Queer World

It’s a queer world, God knows, but the best we have to be going on with. – Brendan Behan

If you read the headlines enough they become like a tickertape of the absurd.  I go to Huffington Post once or twice a day as it is usually a good place to see what the country is talking about.  I don’t really read many of their articles, there are way better places to get in depth knowledge, but it’s a good place to get the pulse of what is going on.  Just today they had a morning headline about how the Iraq War architects were being brought back into the fold by the media as if they had any credibility left.  They should be in shackles for all the poor men and women they sent to their deaths, not on TV voicing their opinions.  Then tonight I see the headline is that our country is going to execute three convicts within 24 hours starting tonight.  It’s like that scene in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart where the characters of Sailor and Lula ride through the desert flipping through the radio.  Every station features news darker and more degrading than the last, until they finally can’t stand it and decide to crank heavy metal music.

However, there are reasons to be hopeful.  President Obama finally made the speech that he needed to on climate change.  It obviously remains to be scene what he can actually accomplish, but it was a strong speech that no other President has dared to make.  It also looks that despite the media giving some voice to the insane warmongers who got us into Iraq, that there is also some genuine pushback to stay out of the Middle East for once.  I am no Thomas Friedman fan, but in the Sunday Times he mentioned that the two countries that are doing best in the Middle East, Tunisia and Kurdistan, are also the countries that we have largely stayed out of.  Hopefully some of those in power understand this.  

I just recently started a part time job canvassing for a political organization.  I thought it would be a good way to make a little extra cash and do something positive in my community on days I don’t have shows.  Going door to door I have found most people to be polite and kind.  Flipping though mainstream TV and paying attention to the headlines is an easy way to find oneself depressed.  However, there is good in this world and it is worth remembering that all hope is not lost.  You might have to dig for it sometimes, but it is there.  Don’t let the bastards get you down…

Bergdahl: The End

This is my last post about the Bergdahl scandal, unless something crazy comes out, because I believe that this scandal is merely a ridiculous distraction.  In reading some internet comments, good lord I am stupid for doing so, I read somebody say that if President Bush did this we on the left would have wanted him impeached.  That is completely idiotic.  Why am I taking the time to respond to one random idiotic internet comment?  It’s because I believe that is what some of the hoopleheads on the right actually believe in theory.  That we simply hated Bush, and everything he did, because he was President Bush. 

When Bush came to power I was hoping for the best.  I remember thinking he had a reputation as a moderate.  It wasn’t until he sent thousands unnecessarily to their deaths in Iraq that I hated him.  He took a country that had the entire world’s sympathy after 911 and threw that all away.  I traveled a great deal during his presidency and even in allied countries like Britain they were appalled by U.S. actions.  Then came even further deregulations which eventually led up to our financial crisis.  (And yes I am well aware that President Clinton played a large part in setting the stage for them as well.)  Then there was his disgraceful handling of Hurricane Katrina.  And all of these things went down while there was sort of a shallow patriotism being thrown around where the only thing you had to do to be a patriot was to keep shopping.  Those were just some of the many things that Bush did that I didn’t like.  But that is my point; that Bush did actual things that I didn’t like and that I didn’t just dislike him because he had an R in front of his name. 

But when Bush did something good, and honestly I can’t remember much that he did that was good other than giving aid to Africa, I was honest enough with myself to admit that it was good.  It’s kind of like the pope.  I am not a religious person and most of my life I felt The Pope to have been a hindrance to progress around the world.  Pope Ratzinger was never well liked in these parts.  However, and I admit to not knowing enough to make a final decision, Pope Francis has said a lot of things that I believe might lead the world to possibly being a better more progressive place.  I understand the traditionally conservative nature of his position and that he can’t do everything at once, and that he may even be more conservative than I realize.  However, I don’t like or dislike a pope because they are the pope, but because of what they do.  I don’t like or dislike someone because they are a Republican politician, but because of what they are actually doing or not doing. 

Also The President, any President, makes decisions that can affect millions of lives.  No one in that position can do a perfect job.  This decision is not one of the bigger ones he has made.  If you want to get angry with Obama, as I said last night, get angry at him for our drone policy or the fact that his Justice Department has not done a good job of policing our markets.  But in this case one human is alive that may not have been if he hadn’t made the decision that he did, and that is a good thing, no matter who that human is. 

Scandals for the Hoopleheads

I just don’t understand the scandals the right wing is trying to use on Obama.  The Benghazi scandal and now the Bergdahl scandal just seem so obviously created to distract the hoopleheads.  (Hooplehead is a term in the show Deadwood to describe the ignorant easily influenced masses.  Honestly, and I say this as a former History and American Studies Major; watching Deadwood is one of the best ways to understand America that there is.)  Even just rereading over the Benghazi facts I had trouble understanding what the scandal was really over other than some people don’t like Obama.  If you have read as much about the CIA as I have it isn’t hard to imagine that our intelligence was confused for awhile.  Our intelligence community did not predict the fall of the Berlin Wall as one example.

Our last president started a war under false pretenses.  Where were these people then?  Why does Dick Cheney still get any face time in the media to push his bullshit ideas when he should be locked up as a war criminal?

If someone wants to get mad at Obama there are plenty of more deserving targets for their outrage.  Why don’t these people protest our drone programs or the fact that there aren’t any big league financial people sitting in jail after destroying our economy?  It is because these people don’t care about the truth, they just care about scoring points.  Let’s call this scandal for what it is; a death fart by a party that has no real solutions for America’s problems anymore.

The Long Hard Climb to Change

I just read a troubling article that puts the chances of Republicans winning the Senate at 60%.  The Democrats, for whatever problems you might have with them, are still a party interested in actually governing.  The current GOP is not your grandfather’s Republican party, or even your father’s.  They are a bunch of extremists whose only principle seems to be use the US government as a trough for corporations.  Anything that doesn’t benefit corporations such environmental regulations, higher wages for workers, a safety net for the unfortunate, and on and on, is to be dismantled.  It is an unholy alliance of big money and the fundamentalist right.  Even those Republicans that dare compromise are often challenged and disavowed by a large amount of their own party. 

You’ve probably heard this rant a million times by now, but that makes it no less true.  I’ve talked about this before, but those of you that are conservative from a religious standpoint should watch the movie There Will Be Blood.  In the movie the main character, played by Daniel Day Lewis, who represents big business, makes an uncomfortable alliance with a preacher.  However, once he has everything he needs he beats the preacher to death with a bowling pin.  Once big business has everything it needs, once it has used up all of our resources, has people working for as little as possible, and no longer needs religion as a Trojan horse for its agenda, it will beat it to death and be done with it too. 

The Supreme Court just decided that there should be no limits on campaign contributions.  That to do so would be to limit free speech.  If you think you dislike politicians now, wait till you see what might be coming down the road!  The era of the middle manager is upon us.  We will be overwhelmed with dull minds that don’t question things as long as the money keeps rolling in. 

If you care at all about this country and where we are headed, then contribute in some way.  You should give money, even if it is a little, volunteer, talk to your friends, write or create something that points to what is going on, etc. 

And to all of you that think all politicians are the same:  You are fucking crazy!  Elizabeth Warren and Ted Cruz are light years apart.  Sure the system can at times occasionally grind even the best politicians down to mere shadows of themselves, but there is a difference.  If you don’t vote you are just accepting defeat. This is no time for apathy.  I am no fan of Obama’s drone policy, but if McCain had won we would probably be knee deep in at least a couple of other wars by now! 

There is still reason to hope though.  Look at the advances that have been made in the last few years with how we treat gay people.  Although the battle is not over many people have woken up to the fact that they are people too and deserve to be treated with dignity.  Bringing about positive change can be a long hard climb, but once you reach the summit it is amazing how quickly the whole world can look different. 

Repbulican Governors Take Health Care From the Poor

I think the above story is worth glancing over.  It’s about how the Supreme Court and some Republican politicians have made Obamacare less effective.  In short the Supreme Court let states opt out of the Affordable Care Act.  Now the states that opted out, states with Republican govenors like Rick Scott of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas, have gaps in coverage for people with certain income levels.  It’s disgusting really, but no surprise.  

The Strange Theater of the State of the Union

I’ve been thinking more about the State of the Union today.  What I’m about to say has nothing to do with rating what Obama actually said in terms of how good his speech was given the event.   I am just struck by what a strange piece of theater the entire event is.  It’s almost an unreality where everyone is trapped playing rolls that adhere to not only whatever their party is supposed to believe, but also as to what Americans are supposed to believe.

Any president must touch upon fundamental American principles, or if not they will surely be tarred and feathered.  They must make clear that they are not an enemy of business, that they support the military, that God will bless America, etc.  But often these things are brought up in a way that is devoid of substance.  They are often just things to touch upon to communicate some kind of vague patriotism that in and of itself has no meaning.  It’s not really even the president’s fault.  Take Obama for instance.  Remember how much flak he caught because he didn’t wear an American flag pin?  He sure had his flag pin on last night.  He learned the hard way that you have to make certain basic gestures, however meaningless, or the rest of what you say will probably be ignored because of some fake controversy.  A president could go to church every day and if they forgot to say God bless America at the end there would probably be a shit storm.  There is so much emphasis put on the appearance of everything that often substance and reality are ignored.

The whole applause thing is also pretty bizarre.  If the military or the hard working American is brought up in any context, again even one devoid of any kind of deeper meaning, all spectators must applaud for fear of looking Un-American if they don’t.  My point is not any kind of subversive one, that someone that works hard, or that someone that puts there life on the line shouldn’t be acknowledged in some way, but that a lot of this applause by politicians is nothing more than cheap lip service to these people.

Let’s examine the applause for the injured serviceman last night.  I completely sympathize with what happened to him.  That would be a horrible thing to go through.  It was also great to see someone that struggled get some kind of acknowledgment for that struggle.  On the other hand, the people that were applauding him were the very ones that sent him out on his tenth deployment and into a senseless war that lead to his injury.  I’m glad he got applause, but it would have even better if they had pulled him out of that war earlier as it has been a war without an objective for a long time.

You may think I’m being cynical or that I’m nitpicking.  But the problem as I see it as that all of the theater actually does a disservice to us.  It actually takes time and focus away from having a substantive discussion as to what is really going on.  It takes our eye off of the ball.  I think speeches are important.  I believe in words or I would not be writing this blog.  I’m also aware that behind any words in a political speech there needs to be action.  A speech is a good way to motivate people and get the ball rolling, but it is only a beginning.  All in all, given the historical context of the State of the Union, I thought Obama actually did a decent job.  But within that context there are senseless rituals and empty inbuilt rhetoric that do their part in making the truth just a little harder to find.  Everyone always says that they want politicians that are honest, but then we make them take the stage with a script that is part myth.

State of the Union and Hunter Thompson’s Disease

I watched the State of the Union speech and some of the coverage surrounding it tonight.  My mind kept ping ponging back and forth between taking it seriously and feeling that it was all some large piece of absurd theater.   I watched it on the ABC live stream.  That was probably my first mistake as that put me in a dark mood as the talking heads there pumped out gibberish of the highest order.  A couple of semi intelligent Americans picked at random could have provided better insight into the speech.  They spoke in large swaths of meaningless language, clearly trying to hide the fact that they didn’t know any more than the viewers did.  That was just before the speech.  After the speech they provided all important facts like how many times people applauded and laughed.  During the speech they had some kind of side scroll that highlighted what the president was talking about and what he would be talking about as if we couldn’t hear him.  It was like some kind of bizarre game show.  There is a reason that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert never run out of material when it comes to the news media. 

Ok, I could easily drift off into a small book of things that drive me nuts about such events.  In any State of the Union Speech by any president there is always going to be a certain amount of clichéd passages that are meant to reassure the hoopleheads in the crowd: God bless America, children are our future, etc.  Obama also glided over several things that would have been sticky had they been dealt with in any truthful way: Our current drone policy being number one.  He said that he was going to reform it, but that in no way acknowledges what evil has been done in our names because of the current policy, and exactly how it he was going to reform it. 

Maybe it was reading about Pete Seeger earlier, but tonight I don’t want to just spread negativity throughout the land.  I was extremely happy that he made such a strong stand that climate change is a settled fact.  I mean that should be obvious to most people at this point, but there has been such a large disinformation campaign that I was glad he said what he did.  I was also happy to hear the President say that this country needed to stop being involved in continuous warfare.  That is easier said than done, and it remains to be seen what he is going to do about that, but again it is important that he acknowledged the fact that we have been.  I am glad that he is willing to use executive order to raise the minimum wage.  I have lived on ten dollars an hour and it is hard to survive, I can’t imagine trying to live in this country making less than that.  The current economic inequality is one of this countries biggest shames.  It’s easy to see it as a smart political move, but I was happy to hear him come out strongly in favor of women getting equal pay for equal work.  How a society treats their women is a sign of how good of a society it is.  Those were just a couple of the highpoints in the speech for me. 

Even though I can often be completely cynical about our politics at times I still often have what Kurt Vonnegut called Hunter Thompson’s disease.  That is that, “All those who feel Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said to be suffering from Hunter Thompson’s disease.”  I still have hope for the future of this country as much as certain signs point towards our decline.  If I criticize it often it is only because I still have hope that it can get better. When hope is gone I will simply cease to write anything at all.  

Robocop and the Reality of Robot Wars

Sometimes you can pick up new ideas in the strangest of places.  For Christmas my brother bought me a magazine called Geek that had a feature about the new Robocop movie that is being made.  He bought it as a present of fun.  Both of us share a love for the extreme violence and brilliant satire of the first Robocop movie.  It is insanely quotable and beneath its sensationalist action picture front is a deeply subversive satire of fascism, the military industrial complex, the news, and many other aspects of modern American life.

I was not expecting much out of the remake as most remakes are dreadful.  It’s still too early to tell how the new remake will fair, but the director of the new picture, Jose Padhila, seemed of rare intelligence for an action movie.  He talked about how the new film will include ideas derived from our modern drone war.

I mentioned, in an earlier post, the new footage that has appeared of Boston Dynamic’s robots.  These are robots that are being built with largely Pentagon funding.  It appears that drones are just the first step in automated warfare.

The director, in the Robocop article, raised a series of interesting questions and ideas.  Since the Vietnam War a large degree of our country’s opposition to war has derived from the bloodshed of our fellow citizens.  Would the protesting of the Vietnam War have reached such heights without kids coming home in body bags?  Although, in a now volunteer army, the bloodshed affects fewer families and other citizens than ever before, a large degree of what opposition there was to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq came out of the blood and treasure that our country is losing in those wars.  The protests that arose from those wars were nowhere near the levels that we saw during Vietnam.

So the director brought up the question that if there is very little or no bloodshed in warfare, on our side, will we allow our government to fight wars for far longer than they need be?  Many people feel that the drone war that Obama is waging is immoral, but there is no large scale revolt to it.  I have my doubts that changing the President would change the nature of the way we are fighting war right now.  Although there is a faction of the Republican Party that is against intervention overseas, most Republican politicians are more hawkish than Democrats.  I think if we are going to change the nature of how and why we fight wars it is going to have to come from the bottom.

What happens if troop deaths are kept to a minimum because their most dangerous tasks have been replaced by robots?  If we can fight wars where only one side really suffers will our fear of war diminish?  With technology stacked on our side in ways not before imagined, will we become even more hawkish in our relations with other countries?  These are only a few of the questions are being raised by this scary technology.  Some of you may laugh at the idea of robots fighting wars, but do you homework and you will see that this is no longer the prospect of science fiction movies.  One does not need to be a genius to look at what we are now doing with drones, view the footage below, and see how we are at the cusp of dangerous new technology.  We better start asking moral and ethical questions now, before it is too late.  Soon enough the terrible dreams of our writers will be the new normal.

Link to Boston Dynamic’s Military Robots:

(I think they could have done without the dramatic music.  The implications of this clip are scary enough without it.)

All the World’s a Stage

The Shinyribs band played Floore’s Country Store last night.  Today we have a wedding.  One could say I have been slightly busy, although it probably has more to do with poor time managment.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to resume my normal posting schedule. 

In the meantime I have been paying attention to the drama surrounding Obamacare.  The older I get the more I view politics as theater, albeit one with more immediate real world consequences.  As an art form it is the certainly the ugliest.  These actors give their scripted dialogue and mug for the camera, often with seemingly little idea of how their words will land upon reality.  It is unfortunately also an art form in which we can often predict the roles each character will inhabit.  The only thing up for grabs is the final outcome. 

I am certainly hoping that the outcome this time around is a lasting law that gives more people a chance to get the help that they most desperately need.  Those opposing Obama would be in a farce if it was fiction, but alas, in reality they are inhabiting a stupid, degrading, and poorly written tragedy.  Who can score the most points and get the most digs in?  Who can get the most applause from their base?  I often wonder if those that oppose healthcare reform realize that real lives hang in the balance.  Do they realize that or are the people that died not getting the care they needed, or went broke getting it, just not the part of the crowd who’s approval they want to win over?  All the world’s a stage, often to our own detriment.