Thursday, January 21, 2010

Me and Bobby McGee

I can appreciate a true Libertarian when I meet one. That is, I can appreciate that they are vain, cruel, naive, self-centered assholes.

But a true Libertarian is a rare creature, thank god. Usually you only meet the fake ones that attend protest meetings with badly-spelled and punctuated placards, or troll the internet armed only with a Caps Lock button and list of words whose meanings they are not so familar with, like "socialism."

True Libertarians would have taken to the streets yesterday with spittle-flecked lips and pitchforks after the US Supreme Court's absolutely fucking stunning decision to negate a century of precedent and lawmaking when they elevated the rights of corporations above those of American citizens. But the silence from those who supposedly value liberty above all was pervasive, revealing that 99% of those tea-bagging jerks are actually Republicans who want, above all, to see the GOP dominate our government, no matter what the fuck they get themselves up to. And dominate the Republicans will, as it is the party of corporate ass ponies that are poised to benefit the most from SCOTUS's latest valentine to corporate America.

See, what these so-called Libertarians never seem to get through their thick skulls is that less restriction does not always equal more freedom. This is a concept that most 4-year-olds grasp easily, as they ponder what life would be like outside the safety of their parents' influence. Freedom may be what we all want, but other people's freedom tends to fuck you in the ass, don't it? It's, um, kind of a basic concept of civilization that you trade some measure of your own liberty in exchange for the freedom to be able to walk down the street without being Shanghaied into a cage match with Tina Turner in a mohawk and chain mail.

Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. I may be allowed to tell a cop what I think of him (unless I'm a black man standing in my own house, of course), but I'm not allowed to give him a fifty as a means of persuasion. If you equate money with speech, then every corporation on Wall Street has the voices of a billion people, except it's not the voices of a billion people really, it's one voice, a billion times louder than yours or mine, and it only cares about one thing: going about its way unfettered from concerns about the quality of our air, or the price of our utilities, or the passability of our roads and bridges. It doesn't care about our health, our wages, our working conditions or whether our kids go to school or what they learn. It wants the path of least resistance, no matter what the cost to us. It only wants to grow and amass more wealth and grow some more. And it owns us, completely, because it owns the people who have to win campaigns in order to write our laws.

And, as for the cherry of cynicism on top of the sundae of doom, this ruling obliterates John McCain's supposed life's work, McCain-Feingold's campaign finance reform. One would think that the ruination in one fell swoop of all that he claimed to care about would have elicited an immediate reaction from the self-proclaimed reformer, but McCain was too busy trying to prevent others from affording a health care plan one tenth as good as the one he enjoys for free to bother commenting. And then, when he did comment, his disappointment was less than convincing. Perhaps McCain is envisioning a future wherein he can run for higher office again, this time with an unconstrained corporate bankroll. Well, the jokes on you, old man. As far as your party leaders are concerned, from now on, non-centerfolds need not apply.

I remember when I was a little kid, listening to my Dad playing Janis Joplin singing "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." I remember being a bit shocked at that assertion. I remember thinking "Oh, I hope not." But maybe songwriter Kristofferson knew something we still haven't figured out. Maybe the whole damn thing has to burn to the ground before we can finally understand what makes it worth the trouble. I'm not saying I got nothing. To the extent that I have collected money, I did it to ease my life, and to enable its longevity. And when my government takes my money from me, I hope, I try my best to ensure, that it is with that same goal in mind for my countrymen. I wish we all felt the same way. It seems like such a simple thing to want. How, I wonder, how, from where we started, how the fuck did we get here?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Self-satisfaction guaranteed

The ink was barely dry on Haiti's "you're fucked again!" certificate before the usual cadre of Christian meatheads started in with a chorus of victim-blaming. Those guys remind me of those gorgeous Italian and French actresses that starred in some American films in the '50s even though they couldn't speak English - they learned their lines phonetically, and delivered them on cue, but they had no idea what they were saying. Thus, useless bags of flesh like Pat Robertson either have clue zero what Jesus Christ was on about, or they're all liars who have somehow convinced themselves that they alone are immune to the punishment that god metes out to all others, ostensibly at their request. The worst part is that it's not even worth it to discover which circumstance is the more likely, because they're both pretty equally terrible.

If I were a Christian and believed that Jesus was the Son of God, I might take some comfort in the thought that if Christ were returning some day, the odds of him coming back through Haiti - probably number three with a bullet on the list of Top Ten Desperate Hellholes on the Face of the Earth - are pretty damn good. So condemn away, preachers, because it's well known that Jesus had a huge hard-on for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and an appetite for righteousness is pretty much the only commodity that Haiti has in abundance. In fact, I believe it's what their GDP is currently based upon.

It will come as no surprise to my readers that I am not a Christian, however, and so I tend to look at the situation in a more psychological context. If the wretched people of Haiti can be made to appear somehow deserving of their plight, then it's just that much easier for us to plunk down five easy payments of $19.99 each for Ab Circle Pro, an amazing fitness breakthrough that will banish those love handles in 30 days or your money back! It's in our nature, I guess, to want the universe to make some sense, and if the Haitians are all evil voodoo whitey-haters, then a 7.0 nation leveler TOTALLY makes sense, brah.

No doubt the universe is a crazy-ass place. I mean, you don't have to be stoned (although, as usual, let me emphasize that it wouldn't hurt) to quickly become overwhelmed with confusion and angst when contemplating the question "Of all possible worlds, why this one?" - especially if you happen to be watching Bridezillas at the same time. Every time I ponder the profusion of professional wrestling organizations, or the latest hipster fashion trend, I can't help but marvel at the incomprehensibly trivial nature of the majority of our endeavors.

Maybe Jesus, if he truly lived and said all those things, felt the same way. Maybe that's why he reckoned that anyone asking for your shirt might as well have your coat, too. I would never recommend such a drastic liquidation of one's wardrobe; the best that could be said about me, I suppose, is that I am on board with spreading the wealth around - although that only puts me at the 53rd percentile. Not exactly illuminated company.

And look, no one's asking you to personally donate any of your hard-earned bucks to the citizens of Haiti. You can decide that they're all heathen jigaboo thugs, or that our government will send aid using your tax dollars anyway, or that you're suffering already in this tight economy and don't have any dough to spare. That's cool. It's not my business what you do with your money. So, like I said, no one's forcing you to lend a hand up, although, if you ask me, membership in the human race should require, at bare minimum, not kicking them when they're on the ground. I'm looking at you, Reverend.

Also, I will admit that after spending the better part of an hour this morning shopping for a pair of shoes I don't really need at DSW before my $5 birthday discount could expire, I suddenly hit a wall of shame I could neither scale nor circumvent. So maybe the Haitians deserve at least what I would spend on a pair of last year's strappy sandals, no?

After all, it is tax deductible.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Talking to Twins

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I am a huge fan of The Watson Twins. A few months ago, I was privileged enough to be invited to hear a (mostly final) mix of their new album, Talking to You, Talking to Me.
It's an amazing breakthrough album for the gals, and one of my favorite songs from it is Today's Top Tune on KCRW. Download it for free!