Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keep In The Vote (A Continuing Series)

Is that cartoon anthropomorphic patriotic gas pump shooting itself in the head with its own nozzle, or is it just hanging it back up? I don't know.

You see, Josh K. is voting (presumably for the first time, having just registered) for Barack Obama because gas prices are high. Either that, or because his wages are low. It could be either one, really. Josh, dude, I'm going to say this right now, because I care:

That is a really stupid reason to vote for a presidential candidate, because they aren't going to do anything to help your current situation.

They can't. Only you can, Josh. You see, gas prices aren't high because of who's president; they're high because of two things we call supply and demand. These two things are pretty complicated, Josh, but they end up having little to do with who the President of the United States is or is not. Supply and demand are also (and this is crazy) responsible for the fact that you only make about $7.00 an hour. Maybe I'll explain that in a later post.

Me, I'm going to vote for Cynthia McKinney, because the most important issue to me this election is that we colonize Mars by 2012. Wait a second... I just realized that McKinney isn't going to do anything about that, if she gets elected. Why would I vote for a candidate who's not going to do anything about the issues I care about? I wouldn't. You would, Josh K. That's more of a Josh K. thing to do.

The point, Josh, is this: Don't vote. In fact, I just heard that there's this, like, sick new skate park opening down on Madison on November 4. You should check it out, brah.


Yesterday morning I heard the radio commercial version of the above ad banner, complete with Josh K's actual voice (and several others) telling me of his stupid reason for voting. It was incredible. Not one sound bite of some idiot saying "I'm voting because..." contained anything less than a complete fool believing (and repeating) a bald-faced lie. Most of them seemed to be implying that if McCain is elected, health care will suddenly become unavailable, World War III will break out, and all of our jobs will be put on a boat and sent to, like, far'ners. You know, brown-skinned folks who don't talk no aenglish. I have no sympathy or respect for either party when its members routinely attempt to appeal to their audience's xenophobia. My radio nearly suffered a most horrible and unwarranted bludgeoning. I hate politics so much.

I'm now considering a door-to-door grassroots campaign to tell people not to vote. Keep in the vote!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stand Back, Everyone! I'm Going To Write About Politics!

...But only because my last few posts have reassured me that almost nobody's reading this thing, and also because I don't want to think about the financial sector buyouts right now. I will warn you now that this post will be rather jumbled, Sam, because (to steal from Kurt Vonnegut) there is nothing intelligent to say about politics. Not this year, anyhow. I'm just going to brain dump here, so feel free to redirect your browser over to Youtube to watch a home video of a Jack Russel Terrier doing backflips anytime you want out. I don't mind a bit. Now, the first thing I should say is that I don't like politics one bit. No sir. You yourself probably don't like car accidents one bit, but if you see one you'll probably crane your neck to see if there's any blood on the pavement (or whatever it is you're looking for), and you're a very kind and wonderful person. Human nature's a heluva thing that way. As I said, I don't like politics, but in some hideously morbid way, it (they?) fascinate(s) me. I guess it's because I like people. On a personal level, if I meet someone, I'll probably like them, or at least find them interesting. On a large scale, as the writhing, unwashed hordes, people are morbidly fascinating.

A casual observer might think that because we have them relatively often, people are rather fond of wars. I don't like to think that's the case. I rather suspect that alcoholics don't especially like having distilled beverages be the focal point of their existence. In any case, ostensibly because we don't particularly like wars, we invented democracy to decide who gets to form the government instead war, which is the default system. In fact, we had to have a war just to get the whole democratic republic thing going on the right foot. This system isn't perfect and has arguably led to a not insignificant number of wars on its own, but it's still probably better than just having wars all the time.

And so, instead of bashing one another over the heads with clubs to see what kind of government we'll have, every few years we put a two groups of middle-aged lawyers on television who will verbally claw at one another like teenage girls for about a year, and then on the first Tuesday of November we decide which of them we hate the least, and they get to be our Fearless Leaders. Let's go to numbered points to talk about Election 2008 in more specific detail:

1. Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope, is probably going to be our next president. This election will probably continue to be nasty and catty up until the very end, with both platforms and their constituents accusing the other of being the real cause of Apartheid and the Holocaust, but I'll be very surprised indeed if he doesn't come out of this on top. At this point (and I know the polls are pretty close) he'd pretty much have to be caught on tape eating a baby. The very nature of the debate has been framed as "Obama (Who Is The Promised Messiah) or Not Obama," and that doesn't bode well for Not Obama.

2. I myself will not be voting for him. You don't and shouldn't care who I'm voting for, but I'm just saying. If you're not wondering why I'll be voting against the man (yes, I will be voting), then feel free to hit up that Youtube video of the acrobatic pooch. I'm sure it's out there. If you are wondering why, I'll tell you:
a) He is The Messiah. His entire campaign has been based on a personality cult. Paradoxically, I don't think anyone has any idea (or cares) who the hell he actually is. For myself, I'll stick with my policy of being skeptical of messiahs who are trying to become one of the most powerful people on earth.
b) My vote against him will merely serve to counter one vote cast by an ill-informed voter who, like most humans, is far too easily swayed by the ability to look good and speak well on the teevee.
c) I intensely dislike the level of muckraking that goes on during an election, but Barry O. Hasn't actually explained away a single objection that people have raised agaist his person, like that whole snafu with his pastor of many years being a raving lunatic. He has, like a good politician, sidestepped and dodged and changed the subject, which brings me to:
d) He is just an ordinary politician. Yes, he happens to be African-American. I don't care. He is neither post-racial nor post-partisan. He is a middle-aged, Ivy League-eduacated lawyer turned U.S. Senator running for President. This should sound familiar. He does not represent "change" in any meaningful way. This may be alright, since I rather doubt that people actually want any meaningful kind of change. People usually don't.

3. I like Sara Palin. I don't especially care at this point what she stands for (she isn't going to win). She scores points with me on two main fronts: first, she's pretty damned good-looking for a mid-forties mother of five, and second she has the uncanny power to drive liberals through the roof. The sheer level of hatred emiting from the left towards Palin has been incredible to behold. It has defied all semblance of reason. I derive a sick pleasure from seeing people with whom I idealogically disagree screaming like teething babies until they're blue in the face. I enjoy that.

4. I've never much cared for John McCain, mostly because he's been a U.S. Congressman or Senator for longer than I've been alive, and "lawmaker" is not a profession which inspires my admiration. He's a career politician, and that probably means he sold his soul to someone along the way. It turns out that his voting record over that period of time has been pretty consistently ok on the one or two issues I primarily care about, but it doesn't matter much: he won't win. From what I can tell, Republicans have been pretty unfair to him over the years, as he's held to most of the party's supposed principles better than the party itself has. Then again there was that whole McCain-Fiengold thing, which is dumb. Whatever. Like I said, he's a career politician, and that probably means he sold his soul to someone along the way. He's got my vote, but that represents a lack of options more than it does a choice. I'm not in love with the guy by any means.

5. I don't like either political party, or the fact that they are my only two realistic choices. Every issue has been bundled to so many other issues thatI think some people actually believe that they have to take their party's stance on everything. A vote for lower taxes or (maybe) more restrictions on abortion is also a vote for war with Iran and oil drilling in Alaska. You want nationalized health insurance and less free trade? Hope you like killing babies, too! This is fun! You're probably aware of my own set of issues (at least the political ones I favor), so I won't go into them at this time.

6. I have said this before, but for the love of God and Country, if you are not already registered to vote and didn't just turn eighteen, don't vote. Just don't. You didn't care enough about national politics to get involved before the College Democrats approached you on the 'quad and told you about just how, like, critical this election is for our country, or you saw a popular singer do a commercial on MTV, and you don't deserve the franchise. Watch this election from your living room in horror, then watch all of the winners renege on all of their promises, and in two years take what you've learned and think about becoming politically active.

7. Great googaly moogaly, I just want this election to be over. This is worse than Hockey's interminable playoffs. It's on every channel. I went to a freaking rock concert, and (I kid you not) the drummer had Obama's pretentious-arsed logo painted on his bass drum. That, and the fact that he wasn't very good, nearly killed rock music for me. I mean, how incredibly lame do you have to be as a musician to actively campaign for a political candidate? That's right: Springsteen lame. Pearl Jam lame. That's incredible.

We either need to shorten the Election season, or else have the race for national office be decided by a Beach Volleyball tournament. It would be a heck of a lot more entertaining, and I don't think we'd end up with a lower caliber of leader, honestly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


A few years ago my brother Neil and I met a grizzled, toothless man on a side street in Dingle, in County Kerry. His long beard and hair were extremely unkempt, and he was visibly inebriated. I couldn't guess his age, but it seemed to me that he had grown old prematurely. Naturally, I expected him to ask us for money, but he didn't. Instead, as he looked up at me though bloodshot, watery eyes which conveyed perhaps the deepest sadness I've ever seen written across human features, he offered me the following advice:

"Son," he said, "don't drink."

That brief meeting has stuck with me since then, sometimes returning to my conscious thoughts at odd moments, as it did this this morning as I drove in to work, listening to the radio. I couldn't tell you exactly why it did, but please don't think I'm trivializing that man's sufferings or his sage advice when I offer you the following, as someone who knows:

Son, don't listen to the news.