Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Confessions of a Hopium Eater

From the August 2011 issue of Bazooka Magazine:
I was enlightened or warped, depending on how you look at it, by George Carlin at a relatively young age. One of the things I agreed with Carlin about for a long time was voting, on which he said:
"I don't vote. On Election Day, I stay home. I firmly believe that if you vote, you have no right to complain. Now, some people like to twist that around. They say, 'If you don't vote, you have no right to complain,' but where's the logic in that? If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote -- who did not even leave the house on Election Day -- am in no way responsible for that these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created."

Since all politicians seemed equally dishonest, I took Carlin’s advice and stayed home most election days. Then in 2000, the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush to the presidency and it quickly became apparent that in some cases the lesser of two evils was in fact preferable. So I started voting for the person I thought would fuck up things the least and/or the candidate who could correctly pronounce “nuclear.” Until 2008, every vote I cast was against the other guy, not for the guy who got my vote.

In 2008, Barack Obama came along, and I actually believed that he’d do what he said he’d do. While I knew that many of his ideas could never actually be implemented, he made me believe that he’d at least fight for them, and for the first time I voted for a candidate rather than against his opponent. During the early days of the Obama presidency, my Hopium addiction was still strong enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, but after a while I managed to kick the habit of paying more attention to what Obama was saying than what he was doing.

Many who are still hopelessly addicted to Hopium are quick to point out the accomplishments of the Obama administration, but most of these are hollow victories. The Iraq war is over, but only on paper, and we’ve more than made up for the decreased fighting there in Afghanistan, not to mention our air and drone attacks in Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. We’ve got universal health care, but in the form of a corporate-friendly mandate almost identical to the plan that the Heritage Foundation proposed during the Clinton administration. The administration directed the DEA to stop raiding state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries, but then changed its mind when it realized how much money these dispensaries were making without DEA interference. I guess they were worried about that money cutting into Big Pharma’s profits and by association Big Pharma’s campaign contributions. Obama’s few real accomplishments, like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” were inevitable. They might have taken a few years longer without Democratic leadership, but they were gonna happen sooner or later.

It’s become abundantly clear that Obama, like most other Democrats, only differs from the Republicans on a few social issues. When it comes to economics, the difference between the two parties is so minor as to be almost academic. They’re both ultimately concerned with keeping their rich donors happy, the only difference is that the Democrats will occasionally hide their blind greed and self-interest by throwing a bone to a social program or two. It’s a lot like professional wrestling: To a progressive-minded voter, the Dems are the faces and the GOP play the role of the heels, but at the end of the day they’re all working to put on a good show (like The Debt Ceiling Showdown pay-per-view event) to keep the cash flowing from the rubes (us) to Vince McMahon (the Koch brothers, Walton family, and other billionaires).

Obviously, people on my end of the political spectrum aren’t going to vote for any of the criminals and maniacs that have a chance of getting the GOP nomination, so what the hell are we supposed to do? Much as I agree with Carlin on most things, on this particular point, I think he’s wrong, so I’m going to vote for somebody. The question is, who? My current plan is to vote for a third party candidate (a real one, not a Republican wearing teabags on his three-cornered hat).

Some people will probably counter this idea with the Nader argument and say that by “throwing away your vote” on some third-party candidate, you’ll help to put the GOP back in power. My counter-argument is “what’s the difference?” From where I’m sitting, I really can’t see much of one. All the worst policies of the Bush years have been continued under Obama. As for all the GOP policies that Democrats use to frighten votes out of people--cutting of social programs, outlawing abortion, passing DOMA--keep in mind that the Republicans controlled all three branches of government for most of a decade and didn’t accomplish any of these things. That’s because actual reform of this sort would cost them votes in the next election. Wedge issues like these are the steel cage ladder matches that keep us watching (and voting).

If you can’t find a third party candidate you agree with, just vote for the absolute most batshit insane person you can find. Under our current political system, third party candidates don’t have much chance of getting elected anyway, so you’re not really voting to elect anyone. Instead, you’re voting to show the major parties that you refuse to give your vote to someone who isn’t going to work for your interests. If enough people do it, maybe eventually they’ll take notice (at least until the Supreme Court decides that corporations get 1 vote for every dollar they earn or something). If a few third party guys get elected, even better. There’s always a chance that a handful sincere true believers and colorful nutjobs can at least slow down the bi-partisan corporate toadying and upwards redistribution of wealth that goes on in politics today. At the very least, having a few true loonies in office will make C-Span a lot more entertaining.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Open Letters To The Universe

From the August issue of Bazooka Magazine

There’s a lot of stupid shit going on lately, but I’ve been too busy (or maybe just too lazy) to cover it all in depth here. Instead, I’m going to use a contrived “open letters to people I don’t know” format that will allow me to hit the highlights while simultaneously annoying the Update Update guys. So everybody wins.

Dear Sarah Palin,
Did you really release a book called Undefeated? Seriously? That’s like Paris Hilton releasing a book called Unfucked. In both cases, the interwebs are full of evidence to the contrary.

Dear David Williams,
If you regularly report thousands of dollars in gambling losses on your tax returns, you can’t be against expanding gambling in the state of Kentucky. Our state could really use the jobs, tax revenues, and other economic benefits from gambling money that Kentuckians like you are giving to neighboring states.

Dear Bush Tax Cut Supporters,
Trickle down theory used to be confined to the fringes of the Republican party--even George H.W. Bush called it “voodoo economics”--but today even the allegedly but not really Liberal Obama administration pays lip service to the idea that giving tax cuts to the rich will create jobs. Let’s ignore the 30+ years of evidence that this simply isn’t true and think about it from the perspective of a business owner: Say you run a business making Gadsden flags.Your company is fully staffed with salespeople, office workers, janitors, and enough people on the production floor to turn out 1500 flags a month. Your biggest sales month is April (when all the tea partiers are gearing up for their tax day protests), when you sell about 1400 flags. The rest of the year, you average around 1000 flags a month. If the government gives you a tax cut, are you going to use that money to hire an employee you don’t need? Exactly. If we want the economy to improve, we need to put money into the hands of the morons who buy Gadsden flags, not inflate the bank accounts of the people who outsourced their jobs to China in the first place.

Dear Nancy Grace,
I hear there’s a dead white girl at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Why don’t you go check that out?

Dear Hollywood,
Please make a buddy cop movie starring John Turturro and Alan Tudyk. Don’t let Michael Bay have anything to do with it. While you’re at it, stop letting Michael Bay make movies. Thank you.

Dear Michelle Bachmann,
Your husband is gayer than George Takei dancing on a rainbow in assless chaps. It’s probably best for both of you to acknowledge this now. Not only will it allow you to avoid the inevitable airport bathroom revelation, it will hopefully convince him to stop using federal money to torture openly gay people with his “pray the gay away” program. Maybe then he could start a faith-based initiative that would really benefit the country. I recommend a “Pray Michael Bay Away” program.