October 29, 2012

Just Some Shit

1. There was a time when I thought someone who said "Without a doubt, the capitalist electoral system is a sham. It is a rigged system to ensure the domination of the tiny ruling class of Wall Street bankers, corporations and big-business owners over the vast majority of people in the United States-the working class" was a crank.

I have to say, though, and especially since the era of "Citizens United," "corporations are people my friend," and the efforts of some folks to try and limit access to the voting booths by trying to demand photo IDs, I think that statement couldn't be more true.

So here's Peta Lindsay. She's running for President on the PSL Ticket (Socialism and Liberation - yeah that'll work). And in protest to everything else I'd vote for her; seriously. Except she's only 27 and she's not on the ballot in Illinois. I know, right? Details details.

 But I would. Honest to God I would. If only there wasn't something else to vote for. My whole motivation now isn't to put the best person in office, it's to make conservative pinheads upset. I like seeing them unhappy and miserable. It's much more fun that way. I've enjoyed these past four years of ceaseless whining and tantrums and sour grapes I've heard and read from them. And I have really enjoyed trolling them. They badger and bully innocent little liberals at will, but when the tables are turned and they're given exactly what they've given they moan about "how can anybody have a serious discussion around here?" It's hilarious. Especially when the tactics they've used for four years are turned back on them, and they don't even see it.

Yet that's not exactly the idea behind democracy, is it? You're supposed to weigh the issues, look at the candidate's positions, and cast your ballot to reflect your notion of what you think best serves the life of your country. Yeah right. You can do that. I'm voting because the guy I'll be voting for pisses some jackasses off to no end.

But if making certain people angry and the fact that she wasn't on the ballot here in the first place didn't matter... I'd vote for Peta. God bless America.

2. So the blog has been pretty much the same crap lately hasn't it? I've even resorted to youtube music videos, something I swore off a long time ago - or thought I have - or should have. I'm either talking about the magazine (the next issue coming out around November 15) or doing political shit like up there and long gone are the days of memes and lists of general stupid shit that we all secretly love but say we don't. I don't read stats, but it's easy to see that regular posters have dropped off by a good number. I know that this is partly due to general issues - twitter is easier, the blogosphere seems like a relic already, and people have their own shit going on. But, from an editor's viewpoint, it's also because the fare here hasn't been all that scintillating anymore. Not like it was in some of the older blogs. I find myself going "so if this was your last post is that what you'd want to be the last thing people would see?" And of course I've also been "quitting technology" for two years now.

Funny how that never seems to actually happen.

3. Why yes, "shit" actually is my most commonly used invective in my actual conversation. I think it's more effective than "fuck" because "fuck" is kind of overused. "Shit." on the other hand, is a bit more esoteric. Also it's funnier. I mean when I'm under a machine trying to pull out a stuck bolt at work and it won't budge and you can hear me say, from the dust and grease below "shit piss fuck" that's kind of funny too. But without the "shit" part it's less funny. Try it yourself.

"Shit" is actually my favorite word to use, and the one you'll hear me using more than any of the other ones.

There's all that shit. This shit is loopy. The hell with that shit. I don't give a shit. We're going now, you got your shit? What's up with that shit?

The fact is you haven't been here in a while, but when you saw the word "shit" in your reader you clicked it. Didn't you? ANSWER ME.

4. The other thing is that most of the people who read here are on Facebook with me. But the thing is there are people I have as friends on Facebook who have no idea I have a blog, edit a magazine, or even had anything published in the distant past. So I'm kind of stifled on Facebook. I say shit, but I don't say all my shit. You see?

There are people in my family who think I'm just "that guy." An uncle. A cousin. A brother. They don't know about my saga with Scientology or anything. Especially to most family members, if I said half the shit on Facebook that I say here I don't know what they'd think. Sometimes I sneak shit in, but it's tame compared to here.

In fact at a recent family get-together I had the experience of one family member, just off the cuff, ask a question about something she saw of mine on Facebook and actually had the gumption to inquire about it. Just a little while later, we were talking, and I told her at one point. "Well there ya go. Outside of my wife and daughters, you now know me better than anybody else in this room."

5. We don't know each other because we don't ask. And we don't ask because we don't want to get into people's shit and look like we're trying to burn their house down or something.

But you could ask me anything. obrtre - at - gmail

See if it don't.

EDITED TO ADD: Oh I almost forgot. I think I'm growing a beard. I don't know for sure yet, but we'll see. For Halloween this year I went to the party as a contestant on Top Chef - red bandana, clogs, spiky hair, and I went unshaven for a week to add to the effect. Then I walked around saying how I could have cooked that better.

But anyway the party was Saturday and I still haven't shaved. Well I did shave this morning but just my neck. Anyway we'll see what happens. I like it and I don't. I dunno. I've never had one.

October 26, 2012

You Decide

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"
It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerised as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

October 23, 2012

This I Know

I know that there is great hope for the future when protesters who support Wikileaks, helped the Arab Spring, and generated the energy that formed the Occupy movement, wear gas masks and Hello Kitty t-shirts.

I know that no matter if you are a reactionary or a liberal the "news media" isn't conspiring against you, they are merely reporting what a jackass your hero is. And maybe what a jerkoff you are for believing in him.

I know that no matter which doofus wins the coming election absolutely nothing is going to change by their influence or policies; and that since confidence alone is the single most important component of economies, it is a fact that presidents get too much blame and too much credit for when economies are bad or good.

I know that the reason the Greens and Libertarians aren't fully represented in national elections is due to a combination of collusion on the part of the two major parties just as much as it is a matter of the incompetence and general ideological impotence of the Greens and Libertarians.

I know that a vodka lemonade and a good cigar is better than discussing politics with a committed party hack.

I know that my granddaughters and the coming marriage of my second daughter are altogether more important to me than the internet tough-guys, conservative twits, macho chicken-hawks, late blooming radicals, Democratic party functionaries, pissed off internet mother hens who hold grudges for seventy years and tell a lot of other women who need their meds what to think, and serious thinkers who can't take a joke, I meet online.

I know I still love books, and good writing, and writers who take chances. And no matter what the technology does to the future I will always keep books, enjoy good writing, and seek out dicey writers.

 I know that Mormonism, exactly like Scientology, is a secretive, homophobic, fraudulent cult. And all you have to do is talk to people who have been shunned and ostracized by their power structures to know this. It is not a value judgment on the merits of their beliefs or their modalities. It is only a witnessing of the victims and their abuse that will teach you this. Any religion that withholds secrets and does not explain itself freely to honest questions ought to be viewed as suspicious. And it shouldn't take a genius to figure that out.

And I also know that I'm full of shit too. So there is that...

October 07, 2012

With The GOP You Get Eggroll

See, here's the problem.

Let's say you have a concern about the government always spending more than it takes in. You know that you have to balance your budget at home and if you don't you wind up paying down debt for years and years after you buy that couch. You know what it's like to buy a couch for thirteen years and only own it for ten. And you figure, Jeez, it is really a problem because sooner or later someone's going to have to pay for all this and it might even be my kids. Or their kids even. And it isn't what you'd want to hand down as a legacy.

All in all a very legitimate concern. And it really is the main thing that worries you. Bugs you, in fact. They ought to do something about it. So there's an election coming up and you figure - "hey, I'll find candidates that support this concern of mine, and I'll vote for them and hope they can do something about it." So you go do some research and after looking for who in the world most closely matches your issue you discover that this very thing is the primary stated concern of the Republican Party in America.

"Swell," you say. "I'm going to try and vote for Republicans where it will do the most good for my concern and my country." And election day comes around and you happily punch or poke or do whatever it is you have to do in the little slots to cast your votes. In your personal universe it is mostly a Republican landslide, and you are satisfied that at least you got the chance to express yourself and make an effort to do something about a problem in whatever little way you can. Maybe even the only way you can.

You've done your civic duty, and you go to bed happy. No matter the results, it was the best you could do.

Then you wake up the next morning and find that a lot of Republicans were elected, and you say "finally, we'll restore a little sanity to the government and be responsible for a change."

And, in truth, there are Republicans who do what they can do to enact that very idea for you.

But then these other things start creeping in.

You hear a Republican from Georgia say, "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior." He says the Earth is 9,000 years old and that it was made out of nothing in six days. He says the theory of evolution ought not to be discussed in the class room. That it is the devil's seed and it is ruining the minds of young people. Turning them away from the Truth.

You may even remember reading somewhere that the teaching of evolution is banned outright in Saudi Arabia and Sudan, mostly on the influence of conservative Muslim scholars, and now this guy wouldn't mind if it were banned in the USA too. To make matters worse, you discover that he's already a sitting member on  House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In Congress. In DC. This while you read once that American students are falling behind their peers in the rest of the world in science and math.

Then you read about this other Republican in Arkansas who thinks that slavery was a "blessing in disguise" for blacks. And another Republican in Arkansas thinks that all Muslims should be shipped out of the country. And these guys are elected too.

Then you start to understand that the money- a lot of money - for Republicans comes from people who are dead-set convinced that the Obama Administration has concocted a massive, stinking, lying conspiracy to take away people's guns once everybody has been put to sleep about the issue. They have proof, they say, that there is a vast liberal conspiracy to destroy the Second Amendment.

Blog after blog from people who support the Republicans, even those who say they're not voting or don't care but only put up critiques on Democrats just 'cuz - you know - they're fair and balanced, whine and wail about how there must be a plan out there to control people's minds by under-reporting some things and making mountains out of other things that are molehills - all in the name of influencing the way people view what's going on so they can take over the world for communism or, at least, you know, socialism.

And little by little it dawns on you, maybe, that you got a whole lot more than you bargained for when you voted Republican. Vote for them because you feel fiscal responsibility is important. This was your idea. Then you find out that with the GOP, you get eggroll.

It's like that commercial -

When you worry about the economy you vote Republican. When you vote Republican you tacitly support Creationism. When you tacitly support Creationism you believe humans walked the earth with dinosaurs. When you believe humans walked the Earth with dinosaurs the rest of the world passes you by. When the rest of the world passes you by you become Albania. Don't become Albania. Vote Democratic. 

October 01, 2012

For President, Version53 Says...

Four years ago I announced I would be voting for Barack Obama for President, the first Democrat I voted for in quite some time. The decision had nothing whatsoever to do with politics or policies. It had even less to do with programs or a worldview. But it had everything to do with a cultural event. I viewed the election of a black president as a great step forward out of the festering pool of racism that is a virulent, still unspoken legacy of American history. I viewed his election, I believe I said at the time, as a "cultural signpost." A marker along the highway of our history. It wasn't going to change the idea of race or automatically improve racial relations in this country (some people change, but the only real cure for bigots is that they will eventually get old and die). I didn't view it as an instant panacea or celebrate how it is a New Era and everything will be different now.

My argument back then wasn't that there would now be a magic wand curing all the ills that lay deep in the hearts of white America. Or that this was the pinnacle of a crusade to change the country for the better forever. My argument was that this had to happen in order to continue our national evolution, to improve our veracity when we say we stand for freedom; a sometimes questionable mantra.

But that's not the issue any more. The reason I'm endorsing Barack Obama for re-election comes down to a little thing called intellectual curiosity.

Intellectual curiosity is an endangered thing in the world. If you consider yourself a conservative, you may have even snickered when you read the words "intellectual curiosity," because those aren't words real men use.

But the truth is that "intellectual curiosity" is put in danger by religious zealots. It is put at risk by media-personality hatchet men like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Hannity, and O'Reilly, who build cult followings of people who just nod and agree. It is put in jeopardy by people who manufacture shit and throw it against a wall and walk away, not caring what sticks and what doesn't. Intellectual curiosity is endangered by being suspicious of education. Intellectual curiosity is endangered by engineering specious facts when the truth doesn't suit your purposes. It is endangered by the kind of twisted logic that says that liberalism = fascism, a crank the liberals in America have allowed conservative bullshit artists to get away with without challenge. God knoweth how.

The fact that the Right has spent every minute and every dollar possible in lying about Obama, continuously throwing shit against the wall - even ridiculous shit - and being happy with anything that sticks there, no matter if it is the truth or not, is proof to me just how soulless the Right has become. And I lament that because I used to think of myself as part of the Old Right. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that these days.

There is, in fact, an anti-intellectual bent in what screeds out from the Right. Even though at times it provides the Republican candidate with millions of dollars more than the President is getting, and is certain that liberals are, quite plainly, trying to destroy the country, it somehow manages to maintain a pathological fear of some nameless "elite" that runs the country from some hidden liberal bastion in the Evil East. And why, exactly, those who control the country would want to destroy it is cognitive dissonance at its most oblique. It frets about where to hide its guns. It champions congressmen who shout that the President is a liar before the entire world with complete impunity, and not even so much as a rebuke. It has no idea the country they live in was meant to be secular so that religious freedom is guaranteed. It imagines whole swaths of the country awash in voter fraud. It believes there are 35 terrorist training camps right here in America, being protected by the ACLU. The health care bill has created some sort of Kafkaesque panel of faceless communists who decide who lives and who dies. Diplomacy is weakness. Compromise is surrender. Teachers are the enemy. Unions are un-American. The President is a secret Muslim with no birth certificate. And to make matters worse, they've even changed the spelling of the word "moron."

A lack of intellectual curiosity stifles science. It stifles art. It locks an entire culture - or tries to lock it - into some 1890's idyll or a 1950's innocence (neither of which actually existed, in history). It puts Creationism in the schools on an equal footing with actual science.

All that said, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that President Obama has done that I can easily get on board with. The health care bill doesn't go far enough. The drone attacks have gone way beyond what I personally thought was reasonable. And the continuation and enhancement of surveillance that began with President Bush's Patriot Act makes me dubious about how our leaders see the constitution.

And a good part of me thinks that if Governor Romney is elected there won't be that much changed. He was put in this position by the part of the GOP that wishes the Tea Party would just go away. And he'll spend his term(s) explaining why they can't get what they want.

But I'm not casting my vote in the name of either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney.

I'm voting for some semblance of reason, rather than shrill whining, and in opposition to the dumbing-down of America which - to my way of thinking - certainly appears to be the actual agenda of conservative America.

A stupid electorate is easily swayed by shit on a wall. And if that is the Republican grand strategy, I'm voting to stop it.