Friday, February 20, 2009

Fuck your tea party and fuck you

It was the screaming fit, the tantrum heard all up and down the news agencies this week. CNBC’s Rick Santelli sounded off. He’s pissed, as we all are and he had a few things to say.

“How about this, President and new administration? Why don’t you put up a website to have people vote on the internet as a referendum to see if we really wanna subsidize the losers’ mortgages? Or would we like to at least buy cars and buy houses in foreclosure and give them to people that might have a chance to actually prosper down the road and reward people that could carry the water instead of drink the water?”

He goes on to say that, “This is America. How many of you wanna pay for your neighbors’ mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand.”

Well, I actually don’t wanna pay for that now that you mention it, you ginormous fucktard of a walking abortion. Rick Santelli, I understand your indignation, but I have to ask, where the fuck were you when this last administration gave hundreds of billions of dollars to the very people who created this mess?

They not only gave them obscene amounts of money, but they did so with no provisos, no strings, no rules, and no accountability. In other words, they gave the banks the money in the same spirit in which the financial industry in America has wrecked our economy.

You really wanna go after this new administration? Are you actually suggesting that the responsibility for this shit we’re in rests on an administration that’s weeks old? Really?

Did I miss your tirades against Regan, Bush the 1st, Clinton and Bush the 2nd? And yes, I am including Clinton in the list of those responsible. I know that he’s been running around lately like a chicken without a head protesting his innocence, trying to convince us that none of the blame rests on him.

Well, that in and of itself is a big part of the problem. We haven’t been selecting leaders who are willing to be accountable for anything.

What the Jesus happened to “The Buck Stops Here?” Mr. Bill, you helped move the Democratic Party and the political center of our country decidedly to the right, especially on economic issues, so while the erosion of our economy wasn’t quite as pronounced during your eight years in office, you have to accept some of the blame.

But back to Santelli. Is it really less responsible to bail out the middle-class who overspent than it was for Bush to bail out the banks who cynically preyed on the overly-ambitious public?

The banking industry has been pushing an agenda of deregulation for decades now and, predictably to anyone who understands human nature, particularly greed, as the oversight and management of the world of finance has crept back, the people who make the decisions have been increasingly behaving more and more badly.

And is there anyone out there who hasn’t figured out that when conservatives talk about smaller government, they aren’t talking about more freedoms for you and I, but eliminating any and all rules that keep corporate America in check?

So, why are you wasting perfectly good smug rage and self-righteousness on the middle class when it could be better spent on those who are going to be okay no matter what the economy does and really should’ve known better before they contributed to this mess?

This most recent bailout package is first, the most modest yet and second, goes directly to helping citizens, not corporations.

So yeah, some of the people who are benefiting from this last stimulus plan don’t really deserve it, but if deserve really had anything to do with it, we would be forcing the mothers of the people running the financial institutions that benefited from the first bailout to go back in time and get abortions.

So, Rick Santelli, fuck your tea party, fuck your mother and fuck you.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The world takes its shoes off and I laugh my dick off.

It’s been almost two months since Dhia Al-Saadi, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush, shouting, “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is for the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq.”

The guy’s a goddamn folk hero and I, for one, want to kiss him.

And now, a trial date has been set. Al-Saadi will be standing trial on February 19th and I for one will be watching with baited breath.

This is bigger than O.J., bigger than Blake, fuck it’s bigger than Fatty Arbuckle or the Lindbergh baby.

He said himself that he didn’t feel the least bit threatened.

He also said, “That’s what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves.”

He tried to spin this to his favor by giving us this ‘well, he’s free to throw shoes now because we made him free’ bullshit.

Okay, if that’s the case, you want to do something for your legacy, you cunt-faced twat?

You want to show some goodwill, Mr. Former President? You want us all to think that maybe you are capable of being gracious and even merciful after all?

Ask the Iraqi justice system to drop the charges.

Because right now, I hate you, Jesus hates you and frankly, your memory is leaving an even worst taste in the worlds’ collective mouth than I usually leave in your mom’s.

And don't even take offense at that shit thinking I'm talking about your actual mother.

If you aren't familiar with the mother, like the mythic boogeyman, as the stank ho bearing the brunt of your enemy's wrath, then you have truly lost touch, fucktard.

So don't send your goddamn goons after me.

You're not the only one with minions, you know.

Can't even take a joke.


It's the economy, fucknuts.

You can’t fix everything by throwing money at it.

I happen to agree with that sentiment.

However, money problems can be solved with money.

Also, this is your mess we’re cleaning up here, so enough whining.

We’ve undergone 28 years of systematic deregulation, resulting in a disproportionate slice of our economy made up by the banking and financing industry.

In other words, we’ve been pushing money around for so long that we’ve lost the art of basing our economy on actual goods and services.

When so much of our economy is solely financing, you get to the point where our wealth is, for lack of a better word, imaginary.

Still, Republicans had a lot to say this week about Obama’s gigantic package. (huh-huh.)

“There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which will have no effect within three, four, five or more years or never.” Sen. John McCain (R) Arizona

“This is a kind of sugar high. You put a lot of spending now. You’re going to crash. You’re going to be in recession.” Sen. Jon Kyl (R) Arizona

First, McCain, was that supposed to be funny? What, are you throwing in to be the next Don Rickles?

Second, we’re in a recession now, fucknuts.

Second, do you guys need a few minutes to get your stories straight?

We have McCain telling us the problem is that the stimulus package doesn’t focus enough on the short term and Kyl telling us the problem is that the stimulus package focuses too much on the short term.

Why don’t you pricks sit down, figure out what you need to say and get back to us.

I will say this. Watching these guys implode is entertaining and laughter is good for the soul.

And I just want to add that for years, we've heard that Marxism is a nice idea, but it only works on paper.

Maybe we should starting saying the same about unchecked capitalism?

I'm just saying.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Robocop and Subversive Social Criticism

Okay, yesterday I watched and had my mind a little blown by Robocop.

First, I love this movie and always have. The first time I saw it, I was 13 or 14 and it remains one of the most violent and funny action films ever.

Also, Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker might just be my favorite movie villain ever.

But what really stuck with me when I watched it yesterday was just how accurate the prophecies of this film turned out to be.

Slyly Marxist both in tone and philosophy, this film is essentially about greed and the privatization of the government.

It’s a world where police forces and the military are run, not by the government, but by corporations.

And there is a sharp warning in here about what happens when those running public services as enterprises find themselves on top with one motivation: making money.

I kept thinking about the last eight years and how much of Verhoeven’s twisted premonition has actually come true.

It might sound odd, but Robocop is kind of a continuation of Eisenhower’s cautionary farewell address.

It’s cheering when you find some of the smartest social criticism in the least expected places, like an ultra violent action film like Robocop or in the political commentary disguised as lowest-common-denominator potty humor of South Park.

Seriously, go watch Robocop and think about Blackwater & Halliburton and get back to me.

I promise you’ll be just a little freaked out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mission Statement

The political center of America has been moving decidedly to the right for decades now. True liberals have been all-but banished from the Democratic Party.

The Democrats will not get their shit together on issues like marriage equality or reproductive rights and they have caved on every economic issue there is.

The Clinton 90's heralded an era of Democratic Reaganomics. The Democrats are now on the wrong side on the death penalty, the war on crime, the war on drugs, and more or less every other aspect of both our foreign and domestic policy.

Gains are small and usually immediately taken away. Resistance is met with either scorn, or muscle.

We caught a great deal of grief from the Democratic Party when we dared to refuse to support Gore and Lieberman who might as well be Republicans.

I’m sorry, but you can’t move that far to the right and then complain that the left has abandoned you.

And anyone who has spoken out in the last eight years, from Ward Churchill to Bill Maher to the Dixie Chicks can tell you what it’s like be responded to with simple, brutal, unmoving force.

And now, we are at a crossroads. Did we really mean what we said when we voted for change, or are we just jerking off?

Are we pissed off enough about this recession to demand that the people we just put into office reverse the past 28 years of systematic deregulation that led to this whole mess?

The hubris of the last eight years, the prioritizing of power over party, and party over country has imploded the Republican Party and we have been given a magnificent opportunity. It would be a crime to waste it. But the Democrats have indeed wasted the opportunity.

They could not get meaningful health care for all Americans even with a Super-majority in both houses. You know why? Because they didn't fucking try! They talked of bi-partisanship as if it were the primary virtue for any politician. As if making friends with the enemy were more important than principle.

No more. I've come to a crucial decision. When you choose between the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil.

Go ahead and tell me I'm throwing my vote away.

But from now on, every vote will go to a Socialist, Green or Independent candidate.

I used to think the Democrats' problem was weakness. Now I see that it's a lack of conviction.

And for the record, you left us. Adieu.

Prop 8 and the merits of inflammatory language - Conversation with Curt

Okay, I'm putting this up here just because it's the only interesting conversation I've had with anybody on this subject. It seems that either people agree with me or they're repeating easily refutable talking points I've heard a million times. (Shit, I can really be a smug prick, can't I?)
Here it is. It took place over the last month or so over on my Facebook photo album.

Curt – 12-26-08 - The argument is a non-sequiter ("opposition to same-sex marriage equates to hate"). It's also a bit inflammatory.

Me – 12-27-08 - I must concede a point and then respectively counter with another. While I understand that hatred and/or bigotry is not necessarily the motivation for everyone who disagrees me on this, it's always troubled me that so much energy is poured into this one issue. (Whether or not homosexuality is actually a sin is a whole other debate and I think most people know what side I come down on that one.) It makes me wonder what else is going on when the reaction, in my view is disproportionate to the way American Christendom looks at other issues. I guess if people who claimed to be concerned with defending marriage spent as much time talking about things like divorce, adultery, honesty or many of the other things that actually ruin marriages, it wouldn’t feel so disingenuous when I hear people equate honoring traditional marriage with an attempt to legislate it.
(Sorry, there’s a character limit so this comment is coming in two chunks.) Yes, it may be a little inflammatory, but keep in mind, it’s a response to the insinuation for years that pro-family and pro-gay are mutually exclusive, which is a notion that I resent. And, when I see people I care about actually being hurt by things like this, yes it tends to draw a more dogmatic reaction than if we were just involved in an abstract, philosophical discussion.
Also, it’s good to hear from you, man. How’s it going?

Curt - 12-29-08 - It goes well. Thanks for dialoguing. I would agree that hypocrisy can be infuriating. Though attacking it is risky since it is an invitation to examine the consistency of the attacker. I'm not quite that brave, it seems. I would say that American Christendom does not have the corner on that market, either. In fact, the groups that I have heard openly opposing same-sex marriage have also been vocal about the other issues you listed. As to your second post, is your issue with Prop 8, or with general hatred towards homosexuals? I have always enjoyed interacting with you, Josh.

Me – 01-03-09 - Actually, I'm referring to the wave over the past four years of state after state banning gay marriage before it was ever legally recognized. I think it’s dubious that this happened in battleground states on 2004, when getting conservatives to the polls in the first place was paramount. I do remember seeing e-mails, pamphlets, fliers, etc. referring to advocates of marriage equality (I decided that we on the left need to be as crafty and manipulative in our phraseology as conservatives. You come at me with ‘death tax’ and I come back with ‘marriage equality.) as “enemies of traditional marriage.” I don’t mind telling you that pissed me off to no end.
As for the hypocrisy, yes, these same groups address things like divorce and adultery, but they don’t pour nearly the amount of money and energy into it the way they do when it comes to legislating what marriage is. I think the bottom line is that whatever you and I think of the morality of it (and we most likely disagree) I think that private things such as marriage and sexuality are best left to individuals. I know that a lot of people find this a mischaracterization, but the way I see it is that there are a lot of Americans, many of them very dear friends, who do not have the same basic rights that I have the luxury of taking for granted. Under the law, Joia is my partner. It’s a no-brainer and nobody would ever question or undermine that. I love having that and I believe it’s wrong to deny it to anyone.
Is that sanctimonious enough? ‘Cause I can do better if I really try.

Curt – 01-04-09 - I'm not sure it is fair to say that the amount of money spent is an indication that the issue is somehow more important. Remember, this was an election and time sensitive. The other issues are ongoing and not up for election. Also, I agree that what happens within individual marriages is a private matter. But the issue at hand is redefining what constitutes marriage. To say that changing the definition does not affect those already in the institution may not be fair (If they allowed boys in the Girl Scouts would the cookies taste the same? ;-). Changing the definition and requirements is a change to the traditional institution of marriage. It may be that everyone should be allowed to define marriage any way they want. But that is something that citizens have the right to decide. It's okay to disagree with the decision. But inflaming the conversation tends to stifle dialog. Not good for anyone.

I believe that puts me ahead on the sanctimony meter.

Me – 01-10-09 - You’re going to have to do much better than that to pull ahead of me on the sanctimony meter, my friend. Many have tried to match my smug self-righteousness and all have failed. Also, I'm off work for six days and plan on doing nothing but playing video games and reading comic books, so it's going to be a couple of days before I can give my full, disdainful and egotistic rebuttal.

Okay, it seems that there are like three different arguments going on at once. First, there’s the original argument about the merits of marriage equality. (I’m going to keep referring to gay marriage as ‘marriage equality’ because we lefties aren’t so good with marketing and cool sounding phrases that nobody can argue with like ‘family values’ and ‘death tax,’ and we need all the help we can get.)
Second, should this question be up to the citizens?
Third, does inflammatory rhetoric ever have value?
Again, it’ll be a few days since I’m off to go play Silent Hill 2 now.

Curt – 01-13-09 - You make some good and cogents arguments, Josh. I have purposely avoided coming down on either side of this issue because my real argument is with the campaign you have aligned yourself with by posting the picture. I think your arguments are cheapened and their impact lessened by attaching them to the slogan above. It is a technique employed by many - attaching negative and divisive words and phrases to one's opponents in order to sway others to move away from them. Fred Phelps uses that technique (how's that for inflammatory?). The result, it is often hoped, is that the proponent is freed from having to produce a logical platform, or to answer criticisms leveled at them. It is a dangerous thing to adopt the tactics of one's enemies. It makes us like them. I enjoy exchanging ideas and thoughts. But I think it is a mistake to attach them to such a divisive slogan.
I think we may have reached the limit of what photo comments is supposed to be. Perhaps a new venue is in order. Is there a chapel door we can post our theses on?

Be well, my friend.

Me - 01-29-09 - Okay, on to the merits of inflammatory language. I think the difference between inflammatory and incendiary is, aside from one having a negative connotation and the other a positive one, (I’m sure you’ve heard documentaries, comedians, etc. promoted as being ‘incendiary’ as if it were a selling point.) Primarily, the difference is that one is clever and the other is not so much. For the most part, people are willing to look past a remark they would normally find offensive if it’s funny. (that’s why Sarah Silverman & Bill Maher still have careers but Don Imus has been relegated to the dredges of satellite radio. Imus just isn’t funny.)
Also, there are differing degrees to how inflammatory statements are that people are willing to tolerate. (the preceding sentence was grammatically awkward, but I’m having a brain fart and can’t think. Great, now I forgot where I was. Oh yeah, I think that the logo I tagged myself on is probably closer on the inflammameter to assertions that proponents of these marriage amendments that people who support gay marriage that we are ‘enemies of traditional marriage.’ And yes, hearing that did piss me off a little bit, so I understand why people on the other side of the argument would take offense at the insinuation that they believe what they do because of bigotry or hatred.
For the record, I think that there are countless reasons why people fall on each side of the issue. Some on the side of banning same-sex marriage believe and vote accordingly because they believe that it would be wrong to legitimize something that the Bible says is immoral. (This is not a point I’m conceding, since I don’t think that’s the case at all, but that’s another argument.) Others are simply traditionalists and don’t want to change the definition of what marriage is. Many of these don’t have a problem with gay people or their lifestyle and would support some kind of civil recognition that was called a ‘civil union’ or something other than marriage. While I disagree with them, I don’t think that all of these people come from a place of bigotry or hatred. But I think it would be na├»ve to say that prejudice isn’t a factor at all.
So now, on to the merits of the phrase, ‘I am a victim of H8.’ I think there are several reasons one would use inflammatory language, some of them more valid than others. And, I’d like to emphasize for the record, that I am talking about my opinion about what is polite and how people ought to argue, not how they should be allowed to speak. Any time we talk about how we communicate and look at our discourse critically, I feel it’s important that anybody should be allowed to say anything. That’s exactly what free speech is. It is an absolute. (even Don Imus, even the Dixie Chicks, even Fred Phelps, even professor Churchill, even neo-Nazis & skinheads.)
First, inflammatory language does generally get noticed. For better or worse, people respond (not always favorably) to overstatements. This is one of the reasons I don’t think is valid because while it gets attention, it really doesn’t help.
Second, there is a ‘tit for tat’ thing going on here. They something nasty, so I say something nasty. Of course, this is not a valid reason.
Third, language like this, while not persuasive, does rally the troops. It gets people who already agree with you to get angry and get up and take action. In other words, it galvanizes one’s base. This is usually done when trying to bring people who think like you out to vote when they might otherwise stay at home. Again, pre-election season is when I’m most likely to be called an opponent of traditional marriage. Is this a valid reason to use inflammatory language? I think that depends on how offensive or degrading your language is. I think that there comes a point to where the end doesn’t justify the means and no, it’s not worth being that insulting just to rile up your allies. And now, it gets murky because we’re now in the arena of taste, which is hard to argue.
Let’s take the inflammameter and say that ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ is a 1 while the kind of stuff Fred Phelps says is a 10, just for the sake of measuring speech. You might give my ‘I am a victim of H8’ a 6 on the inflammameter where someone else might give it a 9 and someone else might give it a 3. I don’t think that the statement, strong as it is, steps over that line, because it doesn’t accuse everyone who voted for Prop 8 of being bigoted, it simply argues that prejudice played a part. The statement that those who favor marriage equality are opponents of traditional marriage, is in my mind right about at a 6, while some might not find it inflammatory at all. So, to sum that one up, yeah, in this case I think it’s valid because I think that the benefits of getting our people out to take action was important enough to go up to a 5 or 6 on the inflammameter.
Lastly, a fourth reason for using inflammatory speech, and the primary reason why I tagged myself on this particular photo in Facebook is to show support to people you care about whose lives are affected by this stuff. While you and I have the luxury of debating this, there are people I care about who were very affected by this vote. I was asked to show my support for them by tagging myself in this photo and, whatever the arguments for and against marriage equality are, I think it’s important to remember that there are a lot of people for whom this is not a philosophical question, but very real legislation that limits their freedoms.
So, while I was, in part, trying to rally the troops and preach to my choir, the primary reason I tagged myself in that photo was to let the people I care about whose civil rights I believe are being disregarded that I was with them.
Next, we’ll tackle the issue of whether or not this should be ‘up to the people.’ Short answer, no. Long answer will come later.