Stop now. This is a rant. On purpose.
My therapist said I had a lot of anger I had to vent. She suggested I write a series of angry letters to people I'm mad at, and then don't send them. That goes against my philosophy of writing. I'm not sure what it means to write without being desirous of an audience. It must be like singing in the shower or talking to yourself, two other things I do not do.
So last week I wrote a somewhat angry blog against the whole "war on Christmas" mess being whipped up by right-winger pundits because they need more money this holiday season. It was easy to do. Under normal circumstances, politics doesn't cause more than a one-beat-per-minute change in my heart rate. These days the right wing press makes me horribly angry. It conjures images of jackbooted men carrying clubs, beating dark-skinned foreigners and sending innocent people the gallows, all for the cause of a supernatural ideal shared by the privileged few.
I want to be balanced now. I want to say the left wing press conjures the opposite image -- hundreds of farmers in rags carrying AK-47s, moving into the cities, mowing down the literati and the infrastructure, raising posters of mustachioed leaders and swearing the end to all higher knowledge and free enterprise.
But I don't feel that way. Right now I'm feeling the left wing press might save our asses from the fascist morons running the country. And I do remember sitting in a 737 on the tarmac at O'Hare for three hours while Hillary Clinton took her sweet time jetting out of there. All things come to a halt when the first lady travels, just like the pres. And I remember thinking -- I will vote these smug bastards out of office next November.
Smug and bastard-like they were, they weren't as malicious as the people we have now. The neocons must be stopped before they manage to get Canada and Mexico to declare war on us. In a surprise pincer move they could have us all eating burritoes and wearing flannel by Christmas.
I am happy to be living on the same planet as Kurt Vonnegut. When I don't see eye-to-eye with him on one point or another, I wonder what I'm doing wrong. His hero is socialist organizer, Eugene V. Debs who said,
As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I am of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
I can't empathize with those points so maybe I don't understand them. They sound a lot like the words of Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, a decidedly socialist work. I think the idea must be that there is a force which labels people lower-class and criminal, and puts them in prison immorally and illegally. Having been born a white guy and worked my way up to the upper middle class, these are alien concepts to me.
Those words may as well be written in Greek for all the understanding I can get out of them. So I'm thinking I should try harder.
Kurt Vonnegut said,
"But if Christ hadn't delivered the Sermon on the Mount with its message of mercy and pity, I wouldn't want to be a human being.
I'd just as soon be a rattlesnake."
Sea otter, for me.
Would we ever see chiseled into marble on the courthouses across America, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Could we imagine a mosaic in the entryway to the pentagon with the words, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."?
Is there a twisted universe in which that could happen? Could there be an America that actually adopted and held to the teachings of the greatest peacemaker to walk on human legs?
I think not.
Something I just don't get about right wingers versus left wingers.
Ok: on the right -- abortion is bad, but the death penalty for children is just peachy.
On the left -- abortion is okay, and the death penalty for anyone is bad.
I have a suggestion. Right wingers, if you want a platform more consistent with the religion you say you espouse, the selection would be: abortion -- bad, death penalty -- equally bad.
Left wingers, if you want to be truly consistent with the ideals of the "Circle of Life" you'd say, "abortion -- okay, death penalty -- equally okay".
Have we cleared that up? Let's move on.
Left wingers -- the environment is to be protected religiously, major multinational corporations are evil.
Right wingers -- the environment is to be used for human profit, where would we work without major multinational corporations?
Might I suggest the following. Who likes antibiotics? Who likes artificial hips and cures for polio? Who likes to eat food that hasn't been ravaged by insects? Who likes to breathe? Who likes electricity coming out of sockets in the walls? Who likes to drink water that doesn't contain heavy metals? Who likes to communicate with their relatives out of state? Who likes the idea of going places human's haven't put up shopping malls? Who likes not having radiation poisoning? Who likes air conditioning and central heat? Who likes the ocean?
The environment and progress are not mutually exclusive. They're only exclusive in our minds where greed and hypocrisy live. I suggest we work on fixing this dichotomy immediately.
But nobody will take my suggestion, so I'll die of meningitis while breathing jet exhaust and listening to tunes on my iPod.
When the Saudis flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, it was a declaration of war. Democracies do not thrust themselves willingly into war, they have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. (This is why spreading democracy is generally a good thing for the U.S. ) How long did Woodrow Wilson agonize over entering World War I? And how long did we watch Europe take an ass-kicking from the Nazis before we got in to help them?
Generally, we get into these things because somebody gets the idea into their heads that we're in big trouble without it. The Domino Theory in the 50's and 60's. Pearl Harbor.
It takes Helter Skelter to foment an actual battle out of the United States. And that's what the WTC attack was. Saudi-Arab Helter Skelter. Make no mistake. Have no doubt. War has been declared. War had been declared long before the attacks, in fact. It's just that the enemy is feeble and disorganized, so we were ignoring them. There are a lot of feeble disorganized groups that would like to see the downfall of America because of our overseas policies. They all have names like the United People's Front, and the People for Freedom, and the Free People for a United World, etc. If we paid attention to all of them, we'd never get down to what we do best, which is to play rock and roll and sell iPods.
As much as I would love to, I can't blame the Bush government for not predicting the WTC attacks. I certainly don't expect them to be clairvoyant, and juxtaposing the words "smart" and "government" in a sentence without a negating modifier is the stuff of stand up comedy in any administration. And I do not blame the government for declaring war on Afghanistan after the attack. My general feeling at that time was (and still is): annihilate the motherfuckers who destroyed our buildings and killed our family.
I am not a good man in that respect. Jesus would not have me. I am not a peacemaker who would be blessed. Let me agree with the Christian right on this one -- Who cares what Jesus said. Make war always upon those who would make war on me. I am not good enough to turn the other cheek.
So I agree with all the ninety-nine percent of senators and congressmen who voted to blow the shit out of those turkey mothers who dreamed up this plot. Peace is peace. War is war. Coming to America and destroying New York City is sure as hell war in my book.
We have an army for exactly that purpose. We have weapons that utilize iPod technology to seek out and destroy human beings who have killed us. I was quite happy for the obliteration of the Taliban. Quite happy for the detonation of terrorist training camps. Quite happy to know our smart bombs were utilizing GPS satellite technology to follow the terrain and kill those people where they were hiding. Along with all my fellow Monday Night Football-watching American friends, I wanted them dead. In blatant violation of the dictates of the bible, I have no remorse for that. I do not claim to be Christian.
I was waiting for the tanks to roll into Saudi Arabia, as they were the ones who attacked us, but it didn't happen. We went into Iraq, instead.
And other than being a fucking terrorist dictatorship, they had nothing to do with any of it.
Have I been angry enough? I can't keep this up. It hurts.
I believe the men and women currently occupying the executive branch of government in my country are slowly building a fascist regime. I believe they are sociopaths so they don't realize what they're doing. They think, as Richard Nixon did, "If the president says it, that makes it right." To them, there are no consequences. Dick Cheney is going to croak of a heart attack any day now, anyway. It's as good as having a suicide bomber in office.
In the name of unabashed fear they are convincing we Americans to surrender our liberties, to agree to constant government surveillance, to agree to moderation of the free press, to agree to allow torture of war prisoners, to admit profiling, to curtail our speech, our writing, our self respect. To trust our wiretapped phone calls won't be used against us for political or economic reasons. To trust their motives are pure.
If anything, Americans love bravado. Watching the president thumb his nose at our enemies is a real motivator. Though how many people can differentiate blowing the shit out of Al Qaida strongholds and having the president of the United States verbally piss on the French, an ally for whom thousands of Americans have died? How many people can differentiate supplying our army with the right equipment from running slipshod over environmental protections as if we have another planet to go live on after we use this one up. Lumping the New York Times in with the enemies of the people -- who is taking note of each of these baby steps that bring the federal government closer to having a stranglehold on the population? Who is taking note of these elected officials we might not have actually elected?
I wonder to myself, at what point did the Catholic citizens of Munich, watching their Jewish neighbors thrown from their homes and herded like cattle into trains to be killed, say to themselves, "Holy shit, we may not be the good guys anymore."
Or did they agree with the opinion editor of the Wall Street Journal who said today -- Thank you. More domestic spying. Root them out. All of them. They don't own stock or iPods.
I own stock AND iPods. Fucking Boeing, tanks right after my financial guy puts me into it. I'm all like -- what the fuck, George (my investment guy, not the president)? He's all like -- give it time. It's an investment. You're not a speculator.
How come everybody's getting rich but me? Fucking Republicans, raking in the dough. Halliburton. Chevron Oil. Microsoft. How come I am not enjoying the economic rebound? Want my vote? Get your Bill O'Reilly jackboot off my moderate socially-left-leaning neck and get me some sound investment advice.
Who was it who said the primary characteristic of the American system was the quest for wealth? It overrides everything else -- altruism, religion, compassion. Oh yeah. It was Alexis DeTocqueville, one hundred sixty goddamned years ago.
Nothing's changed. Not one thing.
Remember this. Nobody fears death more than rich people. They think they have the most to lose.
Yet nobody loves life as much as someone who has learned to live without.
Somebody better than me said that. I can't remember who. But having been both rich and poor in my life, I agree with it.
This is a time of war. I have no doubt.
What have we learned from other wars? What lessons might we carry into the new year to prevent the debacles we survived in the past?
Well - Manzanar. Nobody believes segregation and imprisonment of Japanese-Americans was a good thing. It certainly didn't help us out in the big one, what makes us think the electronic equivalent will today?
How about them Kamikazes? Read the books. Better yet, find yourself a surviving WWII vet before he dies and ask him about the Kamikazes. Why did we drop two atomic bombs on Japan even though we had just about won the war?
Kamikazes. You can't beat people who don't care if they live. Nothing scares the idle rich more than people who'll take them out of their cushy towers. And wealth is so fragile and a guy who doesn't care about the American death penalty can take it from them in a heartbeat. All it takes is a couple tiny virus molecules and "poof", you don't care you own a gulfstream anymore, you just wish you weren't breathing your own blood.
How about torture? Not that we've ever engaged in it officially, but everyone knows that under torture people will say and do anything. What do we actually learn from people we torture? That they say what you want to hear.
How about suppression of the press? Drive the press underground, create a rebellion.
The current government suggests that saying we're not winning the war, to point out the inconsistencies between the reports from the executive branch and the phone calls from the troops, is demotivating to the fighting force.
What could be more demotivating than, as Kurt Vonnegut says, treating these patriots like they're a rich kid's best toy?
Our soldiers know we love them. We got that right this time, at least.
How about witch hunts? There are elements of the media digging up old Joseph McCarthy tapes and lionizing the guy.
How many bad ideas can come back from the dead and haunt us?
I have an idea. Let's dig up Ronald Reagan. Let's take his rotting embalmed corpse ass, mount him on a big spike in the leather chair in the Oval Office, draw a pentagram on the floor, light some black candles, call in a witch doctor, and bring the sonofabitch back to life.
I bet we'd have a better government under the undead Reagan than the living Bush/Cheney pair. I bet the undead Reagan could pronounce the word "nuclear" and could identify Belgium on a map. And at least with a zombie you know you can put them down with a silver bullet, a wooden stake, or a nice sunny day.
Have I had enough? Have I been angry enough?
Time to tell her I did my homework for the week. Next week we work on the bad dreams.