Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-End Roundup

On the last day of December, as 2010 slithers out the back door with its forked tail between its legs, let's take a look back at the travesty that was this year. And what a load of crap it was.

Let's get to the annual Stupidest State of the Year award. This award goes to one of the 50 states which has scaled the heights of batshit-craziness and has truly embarrassed itself (and the rest of the nation) on a planetary scale. To review, here are the criteria used to assess the idiocy:
1) General level of inborn stupidity among the residents
2) Venal, corrupt or insane governor/executive branch
3) Prevailing religious tyranny
4) Batshit-crazy or fundamentalist-controlled regulators or legislature
5) Potential for global embarrassment and species degradation

And the nominees this year are:
1) Alaska - this state continues to blaze new trails in the frontiers of stupidity, due mostly to its most infamous quitter-ex-governor, Sarah Palin. Like a hideous, never-ending bout of herpes, Palin continues to pollute the airwaves and insult everyone on earth with her deadheaded idiocy and non-stop doltishness. Always choosing to heap insult upon injury, she not only came out with another completely stupid, utterly pointless and unnecessary book, but also was in a reality show on the TLC channel (and everyone at TLC can die in a fire for inflicting this pile of stinking, festering manure on us). She had company this summer in the form of Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate for Senate, a creepy-crusty guy who lost in a write-in election to the incumbent and at this writing is still fighting his loss in court. To Joe Miller: STFU. You lost, no one wants you. Go away and take Palin with you.

2) Arizona - I really didn't think this state could get any more ridiculous and insane, but they sure proved me wrong in the midterm elections. Not only did the clueless, idiotic voters in this state elect as governor the moldering, decomposing remains of some ancient, disease-ridden hooker, but somehow decided that putting more Republicans in office than ever will somehow make things better. Obviously letting their racism and bigotry do the thinking for them, Arizona has indeed taken several giant steps backward into the morass of ignorance from whence it came. This is such a beautiful state, but the politics are incredibly hateful, moronic and depressing.

3) Florida - The Sunshine State appeared to be spiraling into a sinkhole of dumbness this summer with some weird three-way race between Tea Party token-Hispanic candidate Marco Rubio, some other guy and Charlie Crist, doing something completely incomprehensible for some unknown reason. Everyone was hoping that a hurricane would blow in from somewhere and sweep all the crazy nutjobs out to sea, but that would leave the state with a population of maybe a couple hundred people.

4) New Jersey - this state got a huge black eye with the advent of Jersey Shore, and even when the show picked up its greasy self and went to South Beach in Florida, New Jersey still suffered. Now a huge snowstorm has buried most of the state in 2 feet of snow. If I was a Christian I would say that God is punishing those people with bad weather for all the horrendously stupid things they did but then I realize that if that were true, then I would be dodging meteor storms and cataclysmic earthquakes for living in Arizona.

5) South Carolina - The people of S.C. will always be damned for inflicting a weird, vicious, insane creep like Jim DeMint on the national scene. It's almost as if some monster chewed up and swallowed Tom DeLay, got sick, and vomited up Jim DeMint. The Democratic candidate for Senate this fall was someone named Alvin Greene, I think, and seeing him on television painfully struggling to say something even remotely sensible was sad and pathetic to the extreme. Apparently, someone has talked him into running for some other office, which is a damned shame, like making fun of retarded people. Hey, South Carolina, ENOUGH ALREADY!

Quite the sorry slate this year, but the decision is in: The Stupidest State is ... ARIZONA! Yes indeed, the state where I live has busted through to the front of the pack and has left everyone (almost everyone - Alaska was a close second) in its dust. It's become clear that Arizonans are not even bothering to disguise their racism, since all politics in this state turn on the illegal immigration issue. That was the source of the Republican sweep of this state. Most analysts agree that earlier in the year, polls indicated that the deceased, insect-like Jan Brewer was stumbling clumsily through her term-without-a-mandate as governor and would surely lose to the Democratic candidate. Then she signed SB 1070, the infamous statute which, besides making everyone in this state look like a prejudiced pinhead, gives law enforcement Nazi-like powers to compel dark-skinned people to "show their papers" on demand. The Arizona voters surmised that if a Democrat was in the governor's office, that bill would not have been signed; and in fact if Janet Napolitano had still been governor, there's no way that bill would have become law. So, if one Republican in high office garnered such good results, then putting them in all the other state offices would be a great idea, they thought. Except that it's not. This state has solidified the perception that the country has of us - of a bunch of boorish, poorly-educated, trailer-park meth-heads who hate immigrants. Because of the astonishingly fabulous job this state has done in sabotaging its own image and portraying itself in the worst possible light, it truly deserves the Stupidest State of the Year Award.

The pop-culture wreckage of this year is all over the landscape, dominated by a really annoying little anal fissure named Justin Bieber. He seems to be fancying himself as some sort of rapper/crooner and is cobbling together something vaguely resembling a career from the ritalin-addled obsessions of hordes of 12-year-old girls, for whom watching the same miserable music video on YouTube 2500 times is just another day. I think there's a real good chance that his expiration date is coming up soon and he will be pushed to the sidelines by some other marginally-talented young twerp who will capture the illicit, pre-pubescent attentions of the tweeners. Eww, it was unpleasant to even write that sentence. Ferociously trying to claw their way back from the desert of obscurity on one of those blindingly pathetic New Year's Eve shows (and yes, we still love you Dick Clark but for God's sake GIVE IT UP ALREADY!) is the two-headed monster calling itself the "New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys Reunion," to which I pose a simple question: WHY??? Way too old to be cute and too lightweight to be taken seriously, these people need to do something with their lives. And fast.

I was trying to think of good things that happened this year, but I came up short. It's been a tough year on all levels. I think back of all the beautiful, wonderful bunnies we've lost - Duncan, Alyce-Michele, Eliza, Sage, Fuzzy, Amelia - to name a very few, and I start to realize how depressing this year has been. The year ends more poorly than it started, it has been a net loss emotionally and spiritually. I would like to think 2011 will be better, but I have little reason to be optimistic.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

Here I am in the wee hours of Christmas morning, 2010. The house is quiet, all the bunnies are fed and getting ready for their bedtime. The doves are quiet after a late-night chorus of cooing that had almost all of them going off at the same time. I haven't the slightest idea what motivates them to start singing their songs so late at night, but I'm sure they have a good reason. All the outside lights are turned off and all is quiet and still. It's been over two weeks since I last wrote anything in this blog. I had an art project to finish and just found myself to be extremely busy. Whoever said that retirement would be boring did not know what they were talking about.

Time is running out on 2010, and I for one will be glad to see it go. Not a lot of real good things happened this year. Or maybe I should say, some good things did happen this year but they were outweighed and outnumbered by the not-so-good. This past week has seen a terrible spate of bunnies passing away - one was Sage (featured in a previous post in this blog), a very sweet mini-lop who had suffered through tremendous trials and tribulations but never once lost his beautiful personality nor his graceful serenity. Fuzzy was another bunny who had struggled with numerous health issues for quite a long time and was seemingly doing very well when he crashed on us and had to leave for the Bridge. I lost an injured cottontail that came to me with drooling from the mouth and a mysterious injury so bad that the poor bunny just faded away despite my best efforts. My dear friend Julia lost three of her beloved bunnies this year, two of whom (Duncan and Alyce-Michele) were born into my home on a chilly, damp, dark Tuesday in February 2004. I held them in the palm of my hand when they were mere hours old. In a way, losing them was like a parent outliving a child. There is a sense of great loss, disorientation and disorder, a sense that something happened out of sequence that should not have happened, in a perfect world.

But alas, I'm finding out over and over that this world is far from perfect. Politically, it was a pretty gruesome year, with the midterm elections putting more Republicans in high office than I can remember. In state government it was even worse, as most if not all high state offices went to the Republican candidates. The newly-elected president of the state senate is a crusty old troglodyte named Russell Pearce, who has unashamedly associated himself with Nazi and white supremacist groups in the recent past and does not even bother to conceal his rabid, vitriolic hatred for Hispanics. It's incomprehensible how someone could even consider voting for a vicious old creep like that. Expertly riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, the desiccated, ancient remains of the eternally loathsome Jan Brewer got elected to a full term as governor of this wretched, godforsaken state. Looking like the dried-up husk of a gigantic praying mantis, we are going to be afflicted with her idiocy, stupidity and appalling appearance for the next four years, and that is a damned shame. The voters in this state have to be the stupidest, most hateful and bigoted people on this planet.

It really seems as if stupidity is on the ascendancy in this country. There is such a current of anti-intellectualism nationwide, as if it's a bad thing to have an education and speak and act intelligently. Instead we get the supremely annoying bleating of the incredibly obnoxious Sarah Palin, who insists on shooting off her big mouth every chance she gets and in the process says very little. She is single-handedly dumbing down America every time she opens her yap. Luckily we have heard very little from Sharron Angle, a hot mess of a Senate candidate from Nevada who must be living in another century, or from Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, another loser in a Senate race whose most memorable lines were in a television ad she ran claiming "I am not a witch," and "I'm just like you." God forbid anyone would be just like her. Between Palin, Angle and O'Donnell, women have absolutely nothing to be proud of with these public figures.

I know this country has suffered through periods of massive stupidity before, and we seemed to have gotten through it and survived. Certainly the Reagan administration in the 80s was an eight-year stretch of some of the most mendacious dumbness this country has ever had to slog through. Having a senile, fourth-rate hack actor for a president wasn't the worst of it, because fascist creeps like Alexander Haig, James Watt, Edwin Meese, and James Baker almost made Reagan look moderate. That's because there has always been a resiliency in the American spirit which has allowed it to get through periods of difficulty and somehow its innate better nature came through. There was a little bump of stupidity with the first George Bush presidency, but that was more creepy and weird than stupid. But with the enormous idiocy of George W. Bush, somehow stupidity has become a permanent feature of America and even after Bush we are showing no signs of coming out of it. Like a foreign weed, stupidity has taken root in this country and is spreading with every Republican that comes to office.

As the clock ticks down to 2011 there is a palpable sense, at least to me, that America's better days are behind her. Obama has been crowing mightily about this hot-shit compromise he made with Senate Republicans that back-loaded an additional $800 billion of debt onto this country. Although Obama promised in his 2008 campaign that his administration would be transparent and he would not be involved in backroom deals and bargaining sessions, that is exactly what it was - a quid-pro-quo that clearly ended up in the Republicans' favor by ensuring that the wealthiest one-percent of wage earners in this country would continue to live their opulent lifestyles thanks to the extension of the Bush tax cuts, while the middle-class continues to drown in debt and have their homes foreclosed. We have become a huge debtor nation to the Chinese, who will be sucking this country dry of all its money for many decades to come. In a very real way, young people just starting out in their careers today will be working for the Chinese for most of their lives.

Wealth and resources continue to drain out of this country at an alarming rate, and Congress and the President are content to look the other way and repeatedly postpone any meaningful (i.e., painful) remedies to the situation. We all know what has to be done, but no one has the political courage to do it. So we just pass the burden on to the next generation. What a horrible thing we are doing to children yet unborn, mortgaging their future and condemning them to live in a third-rate country, which is what the U.S. will be in a very short time.

So, I'm finding very little to be cheerful about this particular Christmas season. I'll be glad when it's over, I'm already violently sick and tired of all the awful commercials they show on television over and over again. The automobile commercials have been particularly galling. Who the hell gives new automobiles as Christmas gifts? Seriously, I've never met anyone who did that. Maybe I hang out with a different set of people, but that is just so out of my experience I can't imagine what it must be like. Crass commercialism and greed has been rampant this year, as always, but I've opted myself out of all the craziness and that has been a very good choice.

I can only hope 2011 will be a better year for everyone. I will absolutely not say that it couldn't get any worse, because I'm sure it can, but I sincerely hope we can get back to some good news and good things happening after the past two horrific years. But I have to say I have very little reason to be optimistic.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Done With Obama

It's been a pretty surreal couple of days in the world of politics as the current "lame duck" session of Congress lurches toward the finish line at the end of the year. Can I just suggest we come up with some name other than "lame duck" for the ending of the session before the new Congress comes in next month? It's lame in more ways than one.

The big controversy was the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. You know the ones, notable for giving a huge tax break to the wealthy, as if they needed any more after 8 years of Bush-Cheney, and kind of a tax pittance to everyone else. The Republicans staked out their turf early, vowing on the lives of their illegal-immigrant servants that tax breaks for the rich must survive at all costs. Everyone knows that the wealthy create a lot of jobs for the lower classes. Sure they do, and these are real high-paying jobs with lots of benefits, like pool boys, car washers and nannies. They just never get tired of flogging that 30-year-old trickle-down economics theory, even though it's been widely discredited by nearly all economic experts as being total bullshit. When the Repubs find something they think works for them, you can be sure they will stick with it come hell or high water. "Beating a dead horse" doesn't come anywhere near describing their weird, unnatural attachment to completely fictitious ideas.

Somewhere back in his presidential campaign, Obama stated clearly that the tax breaks for the wealthy will have to go when they expire on December 31, 2010, a little over 3 weeks away. And it seemed like pretty much of a done deal, along with his pledge of getting rid of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the ridiculous, anachronistic and discriminatory policy that forces gay and lesbian servicemen and women to hide their sexual orientation and live in fear of being discovered and discharged, all the while serving their country and risking their lives fighting in two incredibly costly and pointless wars. Apparently it's okay to take a bullet in the head or step on an IED (improvised explosive device) but not okay to tell a fellow soldier that you're gay. All that was until the recent midterm elections which scared the crap out of Obama and convinced him that he better play nice with the newly re-energized Repugnantans because even though the Democrats will still have the Senate and the Presidency, the Republicans must still be placated and coddled like spoiled, psychopathic three-year-olds. In other words, give them whatever the hell they want just to shut them up.

Into this unholy witches' brew gets thrown unemployment insurance, which was set to expire for a lot of people this month. This is something that Obama really wanted, and the Republicans smelled leverage. And they dug in their heels, saying that if Obama wants his unemployment benefits they come with a price tag, which is $138 billion dollars for the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers. You can say a lot of horrible things about Republicans (and I certainly do) but you have to give them props for being incredibly loyal to their rich contributors and financiers. "What rich people want, rich people get" is the G.O.P. mantra, and they will hold any group hostage if that's what it takes. I'm surprised they don't hold crippled children hostage to get something passed.

Apparently the prospect of millions of Americans losing benefits right around Christmastime was too much for the Obama administration to bear, so he folded like wet cardboard. He gladly handed over the tax breaks for the rich, something that will give taxpayers with $1 million of income a windfall of over 104,000 extra bucks next year. When you consider that what they will be getting as a tax break is more than twice what the average worker in the U.S. makes in a whole year doing things like, you know, working and being productive, the glaring immorality of all this is stark. And then, in an astonishingly, jaw-droppingly bizarre news conference yesterday, Obama took members of his own Democratic party to task for not falling over themselves and supporting his Deal from Hell with Satan's minions. It really stopped me in my tracks, because Obama was showing genuine signs of pique and irritation with Democrats, instead of directing his snippy little tantrums toward the Republicans, who shoved this ridiculous "compromise" down his throat like he was their bottom bitch or something.

I thought when you compromise with someone, each side gives some kind of concession to the other. Obama got his unemployment insurance, but the Republican side got so very much more. Because Obama is so spineless and afraid of the Republicans, he gave them everything they wanted and more, at a very cheap (to them) price. The U.S. debt will get boosted by $900 billion dollars, but they don't care as long as their rich puppetmasters can buy another vacation home or a new yacht. And Obama showed incredible cowardice by extending the tax breaks for two years, essentially kicking this whole issue down the road to be rehashed again in the midst of the 2012 Presidential campaign instead of decisively dealing with it NOW.

Seems like I missed the memo about Obama changing parties and becoming a Republican because it sure seems like he's working for them now. It's because of Obama's complete lack of a backbone, his inability to stand up to the Republicans and his unwillingness to fight just as dirty as they do for his core principles, that I am saying now that I am finished supporting Obama. He has shown he's just another politician, making deals and basically screwing his base of supporters by making high-falutin' campaign promises, and then choking like the Arizona Cardinals at a playoff game when the time comes to actually deliver on these promises. He has shown that everything he says and does comes not from the heart, but as a deliberate political calculation. I feel as if I've been scammed, lied to, and betrayed by this person who spoke so highly and eloquently about hope and change, but in the end proved he was nothing more than a coward and a liar. He has shown no loyalty to his Democratic and progressive base, and so I have no loyalty to him.

If there is anything positive that comes out of all this, it's the realization that I completely agree with the Republicans on one thing - that Obama should be a one-term President.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Signpost to Senility No. 4,298

Getting older is not for the faint of heart or the easily frightened, as I'm finding out on an almost daily basis. It pretty much sucks on every level and should be avoided at all costs. Try as we might to press onward and live our lives as we have done for the past 30 or so years, stuff comes up that definitively lets us know that we are no longer in our mid-20s. Time does indeed march on, and we are either along for the ride or destined for the off-ramp.

I had one of those moments last night as I attended the Roger Waters The Wall Live Tour. Formerly a member of Pink Floyd, one of my all-time favorite groups, Waters created this magnum opus thirty years ago. About the alienation and isolation fame can bring, the original live show centered around a huge wall built on stage, separating musician from audience. At the time Waters felt at first a real disconnect from the people who came to see them, which eventually grew into a disdain and then hostility. He transferred these feelings onto his main character, Pink, who lived a hellish rock-star life of great excess but also great pain and sadness. Searching for the sources of this sadness, Waters heaps blame on a smothering, overbearing mother-figure, an unfaithful harpy of a wife, and a brittle, psychotic schoolmaster straight out of a Dickens novel.

Performed by the original Pink Floyd members, it was staged in 4 cities only. In later years the band broke up, and The Wall was never performed that way again. Resurrected in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin wall and in some other venues after, the show grew and changed, but the construction of a giant wall and its subsequent destruction on stage was always the one part that didn't change.

So this latest reincarnation is a high-tech tour-de-force that has to be one of the most elaborate and expensive shows ever. The Wall is still there, and is now used extensively as a screen for a huge amount of high-definition graphics. Gigantic puppets, probably 50 or 60 feet high, loom above the stage as grotesque symbols of all the horrible things that have happened in Pink's life. A model World War II plane glided high above the audience as it crossed the USAirways Center and crashed behind the Wall in a huge ball of flame. A giant inflatable pig floated around the arena, much to everyone's delight. It was total batshit-craziness from beginning to end, and was an amazing concert. Roger Waters was in fine voice and looked like he was having a really good time.

However, I am now officially done with huge concerts like that. No more for me. The crowd there was really obnoxious, loud and inconsiderate. There was an idiot sitting behind me who screamed and hollered throughout the entire show, as if he were carrying on a personal conversation with Roger Waters. This douchebag started shrieking "TEAR DOWN THE WALL!" in the first 20 minutes of the show, something that doesn't happen until the very end, two hours later. I didn't know one person could be so loud, this goon was really giving me a headache. He also did some whistling thing with his fingers that was extremely loud and shrill. But he didn't care who he bothered or annoyed with his actions, he was having a good time and that was it. Also a number of people around me smoked pot during the show. I don't have any problem with marijuana use, but not offering to share? Unforgivable and tacky.

Time was, I loved to go to concerts like that. I attended my first rock concert sometime during the 60's at the now-defunct Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. While I forget who it was that I went to see, I remember having a lot of trouble coming up with the $8 ticket price, a far cry from the $125 ticket price for The Wall. But it was an atmosphere of anything-goes as thousands of crazed music lovers like myself were in one place for the sole purpose of listening to a live performance by a favorite band. It was an awesome and amazing time and I loved every second of it. I went to many, many concerts over the next couple of decades, and it was something I loved almost more than anything else.

Now, not so much. The noise, the sheer volume of the music, and the machine-gun-like barrage of visuals and graphics became almost overwhelming. It was great fun to hear the live versions of the songs from the album that I listened to hundreds of times and to which I knew every single word, but the loud, obnoxious crowd just got to be too much. I know it's impossible for some people to just sit and enjoy a show, but having to ruin the experience of everyone around them due to their selfishness was a real turn-off for me.

So, Roger Waters, you did good. The genius of your work shined through at every turn, and putting together such an incredible show is nothing short of a miracle. I'm glad the last big concert I will go to see was yours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Touch My Junk, Please

The newest tempest-in-a-toilet that is gripping the short attention span of the nation is the kerfuffle over the new and improved search procedures at the nation's airports. Boarding passengers are now given a choice of being irradiated by body scanners or felt up by clumsy, unattractive TSA agents with cold fingers. Mind you, this is after they get to the airport two hours before they can even think about leaving, and before they get herded onto a cramped, crowded airplane by a surly, disinterested, underpaid airline employee. That little plastic cup of tepid orange juice is going to taste mighty fine while your butt is tingling from all the anti-neutrinos or whatever the hell the scanning machine doses you with.

This latest development seems to be a concerted effort to get as many people as possible to permanently give up air travel and is due, at least in part, to the infamous underwear bomber from last year. This simpleton, who apparently is not too good when it comes to "thinking things through," tried to get on a plane with explosives in his undies. Now, thanks to this dimwit, the Transportation Safety Agency has spent untold millions developing and deploying some kind of scanner which peeks underneath your clothes to see if you have any explosives hidden in any bodily crevice or orifice. Eww.

Despite all the assurances of enhanced privacy the TSA is making, a number of people are a little bit leery of having their naughty bits digitized and stored on some computer chip somewhere. A while ago they demonstrated a prototype of the scanning machine "live" on one of the morning news shows and the result left little to the imagination. I can't conceive of what a horrible job from hell it would be to look at people's junk all day long. Can you imagine the mood you'd be in after eight hours of that? I would think there would be some strange interest in seeing celebrities' crotch-shots and maybe that would be a revenue stream for the TSA: peddling celebrity-peekaboos plus "enlarging" certain things to more enhance their image.

Some people are understandably not that anxious to have their sticky parts broadcast all over the place so for them the TSA is offering body pat-downs. But these pat-downs are considerably more thorough and explicit than what the American public sees on television cop-shows (which is where a lot of people get their conception of reality). Reportedly there is a lot of upper-thigh action and some people, in typical overreaction mode, have likened it to molestation. Um, not quite that bad, I'm sure, but bad enough to get some people bent out of shape. Americans hate to have their crotches fondled except under very specific circumstances, which usually involve dark, dirty parts of town and cheap liquor.

It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days. Some are calling for a "National Opt-Out Day" where passengers boycott the scanners and throw the whole system into disarray at airports when they are at their most crowded. As for myself, given the choice of scanner vs. being groped, I would opt to stay home. Back in the day, air travel used to be fun and exciting and pleasant. These days, it's a toxic mixture of frustration, boredom, aggravation and annoyance, topped with a heaping-helping of humiliation.

And if they want to touch my junk they're going to have to do a lot better than that.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November News Roundup

Here we are, ripping through November like Cher goes through costume changes at her concerts, and I haven't posted in a couple of weeks. It's been a busy month but let's look at what's been happening.

Those ugly midterm elections are history and we've certainly heard way too much about how the new crop of Repugnantans are descending on Washington like dimwitted locusts with bad haircuts. Right off the bat they are thumping their chests and setting their sites on undoing the health care reform bill passed earlier this year. They might find that a little more difficult than they think, because they have the illusory, overblown courage of someone who is putting way too much confidence in their own talents. The Republicans are going to find out all those Tea Party candidates who got swept into office like a gigantic toilet backing up are not going to just kowtow to everything that new Speaker of the House John Boner, I mean Boehner, spits out at them. Same with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who looks like a huge, bulgy-eyed catfish who was yanked out the the water and is gasping for air. Sweet Jesus, those Republicans are some of the most gawd-awful fugly bastards I've ever seen.

But what is shaping up to be a real battle is the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Set to expire at year's end, it would mean every taxpayer would be on the hook for higher taxes. The Democrats and the Obama administration want to keep the tax cuts for workers who make less than $250,000 a year but eliminate them for those who make more. Naturally the Republicans are apoplectic at the prospect of their wealthy overlords paying a penny more tax than they do now, and have vowed to hold a defense appropriations bill hostage until they get what they want. And just recently, the Republicans killed a bill which would have extended unemployment benefits for the millions of people still out of work.

Now let's think about this for a second, shall we? The Republicans want to extend tax breaks to the wealthiest 2% of our population, which would mean the whopping sum of $700 billion over 10 years would not fill the coffers of the Treasury, in this era of soaring deficits and recession-induced tax shortfalls. That is okay to them, but they don't want to extend benefits to all the unemployed people who have to do things like pay mortgages and buy food and pay utilities and send their kids to college. I can't think of anything else that has happened recently which more starkly points out the fact that the Republicans only serve the wealthiest Americans, and couldn't give a rat's ass about the people that actually do meaningful work in this country. After seeing this, it's impossible for me to understand how any middle- or lower-class voter could even think of voting Republican. This is what the Republicans do to people who are not wealthy - they take everything away from the middle class and shower it upon the rich and well-to-do, who already have much more money than they need. Why don't people comprehend this? It's not that difficult - Republicans only care about the rich. It is indeed that simple.

The Obama administration, still smarting from their ass-kicking at the polls, are flip-flopping all over the place and have all but sent up a flare indicating they are in the mood to compromise. The Republicans feel they have the momentum on their side, and they very well might. But if Obama caves to the Republicans and extends the tax breaks for the richest people, I am done with him. He can go directly to hell if he lets the Republicans have their way. It would be political suicide for him to do so, his liberal and progressive base would never forgive him. He would certainly lose my support. Instead of rolling over and playing dead for the Republicans, he needs to spit in their faces and tell them if you want a fight, you're going to get one, and then go to the mat on the tax break extensions, defense appropriations be damned. They need to find out what "party of NO" really means. Bipartisanship is dead, if it ever existed at all, and it's time for Obama and the Democrats to grow a pair and fight the Republicans with their own tactics.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Idiocracy in the Desert

There was a sci fi/fantasy movie a couple of years ago called "Idiocracy," in which a really stupid person went into some kind of hibernation and woke up 500 years later, to find that society had been so thoroughly dumbed-down that he was now the smartest person on the planet. In a really depressing example of life imitating art, one can have a similar experience in Arizona and you don't even have to hibernate for five centuries. Usually five minutes will do it.

The midterm elections are history, and not a moment too soon. While such elections are typically hostile toward the party in power, these were particularly ugly. The American electorate can always be counted on to make a stunning variety of horrible choices at every turn, picking the most batshit-crazy, bigoted and ignorant candidates imaginable. It's almost like the Republicans or the Tea Partiers or whatever the hell they are calling themselves nowadays said, "Hey America! Check out this completely insane, repellent, moronic candidate we dredged up from under a giant pile of manure. Nobody in their right mind would vote for this mess, right?" And America says, "Are you kidding? Of course we'll vote for them! We can't wait to get to the polls to make sure all levels of government are overstuffed with the most incompetent, racist, prejudiced and paranoid-schizophrenic people available!" After all, we are Americans and that's what we do.

The US House of Representatives now has a Republican majority although the Senate still stays under Democratic control, albeit with less of a majority than before. There were a few bright spots on the national level, with the tragically mentally ill Sharron Angle losing to incumbent Senator Harry Reid in Nevada. Thank you so much, Nevada, you have restored my faith in you more than you can know. Thank you, Delaware, for soundly defeating and humiliating witch fetishist and secret masturbation addict (you know she is) Christine O'Donnell. Thank you, California, for electing Jerry Brown and retaining Barbara Boxer. I'm really not that excited about legalizing marijuana although I do support the idea. Thank you, West Virginia, for sending your Democratic governor to the Senate. And thank you, New York, for sending that pasty-faced tub of bacon grease Carl Paladino back to whatever mutant alien breeding farm he came from. I take tremendous satisfaction in all their failures, especially since it is a big slap in the face to the braying, grating Sarah Palin, who strongly backed a lot of the losers. It was a bad night for some other of her so-called "mama grizzlies" as Carly Fiorini, Linda McMahon and Meg Whitman very deservingly went down to defeat despite Palin's endorsements. The words "Sarah Palin" and "loser" go together so very well.

We were also subjected to the monumentally surreal, stomach-churning spectacle of the presumptive next Speaker of the House John Boner, I mean Boehner, blubbering and slobbering on national television at how he worked so hard overcoming so many obstacles in his life to get to where he is. If he worked one-tenth as hard on his legislative efforts as he does trying to look like a fluorescent carrot with his cheap skin bronzer, he might have something to talk about. His display last night was cringe-worthy to the extreme, and the ick factor was way off the scale. It's going to be really tough having to listen to his maudlin sentimentality and overwrought stupidity for the next two years.

But the really disgusting stuff was reserved for the state of Arizona (big surprise), the worst being that we will have to put up with the decaying, disgusting remains of Jan Brewer in the governor's office for the next four years. How this puckered, haggard, old sarcophagus even walks around by herself is a mystery, since corpses are usually not that ambulatory and she looks like she died a good 20 years ago. There are 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies in the British museum that look much better than she does.

All this has to do with SB 1070, Arizona's anti-immigrant law. That is the sole basis for Brewer's success, since her blinding stupidity, overwhelming incompetence and all-around repulsiveness would normally scare away most people. SB 1070 was also the centerpiece of all the other Republican campaigns, as they loudly crowed their undying support for that misguided measure, and undoubtedly was a big factor in returning the bill's chief architect, the corpulent, sweaty Russell Pearce of Mesa, to office. Voters have figured out that if previous governor Janet Napolitano (i.e. any Democrat) had still been in office that bill would never have been signed. Brewer, as all Republicans do, found a way to appeal to the basest, most prejudiced and degenerate aspects of human nature and harness them for their benefit. You have to hand it to the Repugnantans, they sure know how to take an enormous pile of shit and build it into an empire.

The only good thing that happened here is that shockingly, Arizona voters were smart enough to reject an NRA-backed initiative, Proposition 109, which would have amended the state constitution to make hunting and fishing a right. I think what frightened most people is the prospect of the state legislature making wildlife management decisions, because it is well known that they can and will screw up absolutely everything they touch. Dear NRA: Eat shit and die. Love, Steve. But in fact Republicans have increased their stranglehold on the government of this wretched, benighted state by sweeping their candidates into most state-level offices.

It's baffling to me why so many middle-class people vote Republican, even though it is directly contrary to their own economic interests. Republicans have and always will be the puppet-party of the ultra-wealthy, seeking huge tax breaks for their rich donors at the expense of the lower classes at every possible turn. They've even taken to hiding behind the facade of "small businesses," seeking to keep Bush-era tax breaks for the upper-class in place because they say a lot of these so-called "upper-class taxpayers" are really small business owners. When in reality, small businesses make up a tiny minority of the over-$250,000 a year taxpayers. Just as they maintain the estate tax is a bad idea because it makes hard-working farm families pay taxes on the family farm when the owner dies, when in fact it just shields the wealthy from paying taxes on their vast accumulated money. They also say rich people should get tax breaks because they will invest that money in other businesses, which is probably true if you own a yacht showroom, ski resort or a Lexus dealership, but mostly this "trickle-down" theory of economics is a cruel, self-serving hoax.

Looking forward, the Republicans are now in charge of the House of Representatives, and they will be shouldering at least part of the responsibility for whatever happens next. They will no longer be able to blame the Democrats for everything that has happened since the dawn of history, because they now have some power. Power comes with accountability - a very painful lesson the Democrats have learned - and the Republicans may not like having to actually answer to voters for the bad stuff that will inevitably come down the pike. Also they may find out that getting in bed with the Tea Party might not be as wonderful an experience as they imagined, since a lot of the T.P.-ers have been just as hostile to Republicans as they are to Democrats. But I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Representative Boner, I mean Boehner, sniveling and blubbering on television about his wonderful life, while the rest of the country suffers. It's painfully obvious that "embarrassment" and "shame" are two concepts completely alien to Republicans.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down To The Wire

Midterm elections are four days away and I'm going to be doing my election-worker thing on Tuesday, so I won't have to hear about voter projections and exit polls and states turning blue and red until late in the evening. From every indication, it's going to be an election like none other, as a tsunami-sized wave of stupidity and ignorance threatens to wash over this nation coast to coast as a plague of locusts, I mean Tea Partiers, comes home to roost.

Like an enormous flock of really stupid buzzards, the Tea Party candidates are circling in the sky right now, just waiting to swoop down on the decomposing remains of the dignity of this country. This has been an amazing election for a number of reasons, one of the worst being the enormous amount of money that has been poured into it over the last couple of weeks. They said on TV that more money has been spent on political advertising in the past two weeks as has been spent in the previous nine months. All thanks to those monolithic dipshits on the Supreme Court, who last January opened the floodgates by ruling that corporate interests can express their political opinions just like a regular flesh-and-blood person. And they "express" themselves with their deep pockets and funnel their money through a myriad of political action organizations with innocuous-sounding names.

Stretching the First Amendment until it's nearly unrecognizable, the "Justices" (term used loosely) did exactly the very worst thing it could. The election process in this country was already corrupted and debased by enormous amounts of money, and the Court ruling only allowed more money to be injected into a very sick, very broken system. It's like trying to put out a raging fire by pouring a bucket of gasoline on it. Now, right-wing crackpot groups in New York or Florida can buy airtime and drop their noxious opinions on Congressional races in Arizona and California. How is it even possible that single-issue social-conservative groups on the other side of the country know what is best for people in Arizona? In fact, they don't know what is best for us, nor do they care. The only thing they care about is to get the candidate they favor into office, who will presumably do their bidding and advance their twisted agenda. You might think it's the responsibility of the voter to weed through this weird blizzard of attack ads and ferret out the truth, but very few people care enough to do that.

The current crop of candidates include some of the most backward, reactionary and just plain deadheaded dimwits that I can ever recall. It seems the more idiotic, ridiculous and simple-minded the candidate, the more popular they are. Sharron Angle, running for Senate from Nevada, is a bottomless pit of stupidity, saying some of the most outrageous and jaw-dropping nonsense ever heard, and still she is in the race. In any other election, someone who had said such completely ridiculous things would have been laughed off the ticket, but not this time. There is another trend among these candidates to only talk to who they want to talk to, which is usually the cesspools over at Fox News, because they know they will be handled with kid gloves, portrayed in an extremely favorable light, and not asked any hard, embarrassing questions. Just the other day some journalists tried to corner Sharron Angle to have her answer some questions and she took off running on her stubby little tree-trunk legs like she was being chased by a murderer with a chain saw.

We see that here in the state of Arizona as the poorly-embalmed, grossly incompetent Jan Brewer refused to have any more debates with other gubernatorial candidates because the first debate made her look like a complete, total idiot. Which she surely is. But her habit of just not talking to anyone asking legitimate questions and trying to get some information out of her for the benefit of the voters is bad enough, but the fact that the voters let her get away with it is the most disturbing aspect of all. How very sad for the future of this country that the voters are so ignorant and disengaged that they just don't care anymore when candidates basically spit in their faces and say, "eat crap, I'm not telling you anything because I don't have to."

We haven't heard much from the Delaware Dimwit, Christine O'Donnell, because she's thankfully sinking fast in the polls and will hopefully just be a weird footnote when this is all over. Even the eternally annoying Sarah Palin hasn't opened up her big mouth in support of the Anti-Masturbation Princess in weeks. But there is a big surplus of creeps, like Joe Miller in Alaska and Ken Buck in Colorado and Nazi cross-dresser Rick Iott in Ohio and the F-5 tornado of weirdness Rand Paul and going-to-pop-an-artery-any-second Carl Paladino, candidate of governor of New York, to name a very few, who are more than ready and willing to drag down this country in a maelstrom of idiocy and backward, regressive thinking.

Who is to blame for this very sorry state of affairs in which we find ourselves? There is plenty of blame to go around, first to the Democrats who have an astounding talent to pull defeat from the jaws of victory and absolutely screw up everything they touch. They have shown a startling lack of backbone in everything they do, and are so afraid offending anyone they end up offending everyone. President Obama gets some blame, too, for being too decent and intelligent a person, and making the great tactical error of thinking he could get the Republicans to cooperate and come together with the Democrats to try to solve some of the enormous problems that face this country. A huge segment of the Republican Party has never ever accepted a black President and barely bother to conceal their racism and bigotry anymore. A lot of them think the President is a Muslim. How can we possibly combat ignorance and stupidity of this magnitude?

But in my opinion most of the blame has to go to the American public, who somehow think the way to solve the problems of this nation are to elect the most ignorant, unqualified and stupid people that can be found. Somehow they have come to the conclusion that dumber is better, and the best thing to do is to take everyone back to the 1950s, when everyone knew their role and their place and everything was better. Back then, there was no Al Qaeda, no bin Laden, no September 11th, no AIDS, no nuclear proliferation, no global warming (although a lot of people think that is a farce), no economic collapse, no multi-billion dollar bailouts. It shows ever so clearly the intellectual cowardice of the American population, and how they prefer to do the ostrich-head-in-the-sand approach to fixing everything. I dread next Tuesday, but at the same time I wish it was already over. If it looks really ugly now, that's probably nothing compared to what it will look like on Wednesday morning.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Great Religions of the World, Explained

As a public service, and to dispel the frankly incredulous notion that this blog is somehow hostile toward any one religion, this post will seek to explain the beliefs behind the major religions of the world. The careful reader can then make up their mind as to what they want to believe. Or not.

BUDDHISM: This religion is made up of followers of Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in the 6th to 4th century BC. The prime contribution of this religion is the concept of karma, which says anything you say or do now might very well come back and bite you in the ass several decades from now. I know my butt is going to look like Swiss cheese when karma gets finished with me. Okay, Swiss cheese with a lot of cellulite, will honesty get me some good karma? Buddhists also seem to be very preoccupied with suffering. They think it is a part of life and if you're lucky you'll suffer enough to become enlightened. For a religion that seems to be all about peace and love and getting along with each other, they sure are hard on themselves. We can thank this religion for the phrase "Buddha belly," which one applies to a chubby rabbit that has never met a snack they didn't like. I guess if I was to become religious at all, other than being a Wiccan I would probably become a Buddhist, with their emphasis on meditation and respect for animals. True story: In the previous sentence I typed "medication" instead of "meditation" and for a second it made total sense. If Buddhists believed in hell, I would be going there for sure.

CONFUCIANISM: This religion is based on the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius, or K'ung-fu-tzu, literally, Master Kong. It is very big in the far East, in places like China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, but not well known elsewhere. Until Chinese cuisine became popular in the West and the demand for fortune cookies skyrocketed. Then Confucianism baffled millions if not billions of people worldwide with cryptic, arcane, mostly incomprehensible little sayings, usually coupled with lottery numbers and wrapped in a crunchy, delightful treat. It also made racist, annoying, Charlie Chan movies possible. Confucianism seems really hung up on ritual and conformity and tradition, and mandates a patriarchal, gender-biased system where older males have all the power and authority. A lot of religions seem to do this, and if I was a cynical, suspicious person I'd think there was a big conspiracy behind this, all designed to keep boring, senile old men in power. Just like Congress.

CALVINISM: One of the 3,000 or so variations of Christianity, Calvinists take their cues from the writings of John Calvin, a prominent proponent from the 16th century. Calvinism says that every person in the world is inherently evil, born into the stinking morass of original sin, and a lot of people never find their way out, a concept Calvinists call "total depravity." When I first read about "total depravity" I thought they were talking about the 1980s and all the drugs and party favors that were going around. I was ready to sign up until I read further and it really is dismal and depressing and just not a happy kind of religion. God is the only authority here, and it is up to His Divine Whim whether or not you're going to be saved or damned. I know when the deck is stacked against me, and so I will take a pass on Calvinism. Those people work entirely too hard and have no fun at all.

LUTHERANISM: The main tenets of Lutheranism were put forth by Martin Luther, when he told his wife he was going to put up some signs publicizing their upcoming yard sale but instead nailed his "95 Theses" to the door of some cathedral. After the yard sale, his teachings spread like wildfire throughout Germany and Scandinavia, and quickly became ensconced in this country as the religion of choice for bachelor farmers living in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since my primary source of knowledge about Lutheranism is what I hear on "A Prairie Home Companion," I feel I am not qualified to comment much on this religion. But it does kind of sound like fun, in a dreary sort of way.

ISLAM: Yeah, like I'm going to bad-mouth Islam. Are you kidding me? I don't want to get killed. Islam is okay with me, thank you very much.

EPISCOPALIAN: Sorry, I got nothing. This religion baffles me. Even Wikipedia says, "WTF?"

ROMAN CATHOLICISM: Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be a bumpy ride. Let's go through the checklist, shall we? Guilt? Check. Revenge/retribution? Check. Fear and loathing? Double check. Parochialism, sexism, racism, homophobia? Check. Child molestation, greed, avarice, duplicity, lying? Check. Anti-intellectualism, elitism, Inquisitions, Crusades, mortal sin, hell, fallen angels, Holy Ghosts that look like pigeons, nuns? Check, check, check and check. Catholicism has it all! Where else can you get all that PLUS original sin! Oh but wait, there's more! What other religion had the hubris and the chutzpah to take on BOTH Galileo and Copernicus and tell them they're full of crap and they would get their asses kicked if they DARED to make the Sun the center of the Solar System? And it only took them 400 years to come around and admit their gross inaccuracies and apologize. What other religion would say that God loves and cherishes you dearly but will pop your ass down into the fiery depths of hell in an second if you dare question any of their teachings, no matter how minor or obscure. The same belief system that gave us Christmas and Easter also gave us Sodom and Gomorrah and the practice of crucifixion. What other religion has untold billions if not trillions of dollars tied up in artwork and relics and property in their very own city-state, the Vatican, and around the world and then screams like a stuck pig when someone brings up the subject of taxing their vast U.S. real estate holdings? What other faith co-opted a number of pagan celebrations, most notably Saturnalia (a.k.a. Christmas), as their very own and then turned right around and condemned these same pagans as stinking non-believers? If all this stuff is enough to make your head spin, it's just scratching the surface of the Wide World of Dysfunction that is Roman Catholicism. But check this out: without Roman Catholicism, this blog would not be here. I would not be here. Take THAT into consideration next time someone asks you what's wrong with Roman Catholicism.

PROTESTANTISM: This religion came about as Christianity fractured into a bunch of pieces in the 1600s, triggered by Martin Luther's 95 Theses doctrine (see above). The main problem appeared to be the Catholic practice of indulgences, in which people could pay the Church money in order to get out of punishment for doing bad stuff. It was like a Frequent Sinners reward program, only instead of free air travel you got a couple of years lopped off your stay in Purgatory, which I imagine to be a lot like Mesa but without the shopping and restaurants. The Catholics thought this was a great way to raise money but other people had moral qualms about that. Anyway Protestants had a chip on their shoulders from the very beginning and that kind of put them in a permanent bad mood. But hey, don't take it from me, check out the finest, definitive portrait of Protestantism offered in the great movie, "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life":



JUDAISM: I admit, I wanted to be Jewish when I was a kid. I thought it was like a really cool social club where everyone was in show business. All the great comedians I saw on television - legends like Milton Berle, Phil Silver, Sid Caesar, George Burns, to name a very few - were Jewish. Even Lucy Ricardo was Jewish! I loved reading Mad magazine and it had a very New-York-Jewish sensibility. My parents hated Mad magazine and thought it was turning me into a smart-ass. I wanted to tell them sorry, you're too late - the smart-ass train left the station long before I got a hold of my first Mad. Anyway, the music was pretty cool - I thought the "Theme from the Movie Exodus" was really awesome. Being Jewish meant being the beneficiary of thousands of years of history and tradition, much more appealing than the wanna-be, derivative nature of Catholicism. In school we learned all about the trials and tribulations of the "tribes of Israel" as they bravely wandered around homeless in the desert. They were truly the "chosen people" - until they killed Jesus. I thought for a long time the Roman centurions killed Jesus, but the Jews ended up taking the rap for that. All of a sudden the nuns didn't like them anymore. After Jesus' death the Catholic Church took off, and Judaism was left in the dust. That was pretty unfair, seeing as Judaism has cool holidays like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover. Without Judaism, Woody Allen movies wouldn't be nearly as funny and for that it gets a thumbs-up from me.

Well, there you have it. The Great Religions of the World Explained, in simple, easy-to-understand terms. It's so gratifying to me to write this blog and bring enlightenment to my valued readers. Part Two will be coming soon, in which I will take on Mormons, Southern Baptists, the Amish, Anglicans (as soon as I figure out who they are) and others. Who knows, someday I may start my own religion. If I do you will be the first to know, and discounts will be available to Careless Whispers fans!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Careless Whispers Crystal Ball

Let's take a look into the Careless Whispers crystal ball and get a glimpse of the fun and games that await us ten years into the future:

The World:
1) The U.S. will still be in Afghanistan, and is preparing for an even longer stay by opening a third Hooter's restaurant in Kabul.
2) Saudi Arabian women have given up the burqa and now prefer Snuggies, the "blanket with sleeves," for their suicide bombings.
3) Osama bin Laden is still around and has inked endorsement deals with Ensure and Metamucil. Still competing with Wilford Brimley for those "diabeetus" ads.
4) British prime minister Amy Winehouse has decided that mandatory breast enhancements are "good for the country" since it worked so well for her.
5) Alleged penis-enlarging herbal supplements have become Russia's biggest export, followed by spam emails for these same supplements. Nearly 75% of the supplements go to Japan, with no perceivable improvements.
6) The Greenland ice cap has completely melted, prompting the world to rename it "Whiteland," for some reason.
7) The South American country of Paraguay has been completely converted into an overflow parking lot for Brazil and Argentina.
8) Canada has closed its border with the United States after a Wall Street Journal article asserted that Canadian bacon wasn't really Canadian. Hundreds of south-facing billboards have been put up, reading "SUCK IT HOSERS!"
9) Pope Benedict has a lot of 'splainin' to do after reporters find a huge pile of Underoos behind the Vatican hot tub.

The Nation:
1) Alaska has been declared a quarantined zone, and all in/out travel prohibited. The people just got too damned stupid to deal with. In negotiations with Russia to take it back, at a reduced rate.
2) President Justin Bieber and First Lady Christine O'Donnell urged Congress to pass a bill which would make Medicaid cover costs for annoying haircuts and pointy witch hats.
3) Extreme stupidity has been made illegal. The Advanced Retardation and Stupidity Exclusion measure (also known as the "ARSE Act" and "Sarah's Law"), is due to take effect in 2021, about 350 years too late.
4) North and South Dakota have merged and renamed itself "Moronado." No one noticed. Also, the state of Washington received a makeover and was renamed "Nixon." Everyone moved out the next day.
5) The cities of Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston have merged into one large metropolitan area. Due to the accents no one can figure out what anyone is saying.
6) All of Texas south of a line connecting Galveston with El Paso has been given back to Mexico. Mexico says "no, thanks."
7) The 93rd Amendment is passed, making marijuana legal in all 50 states. Stock in Frito-Lay shoots up 5000%. Everyone in California wakes up and says, "far out, man!"
8) Gay marriage has also been legalized in all states except Alabama and Mississippi, where people are still required to marry farm animals.
9) The city of Chicago goes from the "City of Broad Shoulders" to the "City of Padded Shoulders" after it erects a 900-foot statue of Joan Crawford in the "No! More! Wire! Hangers!" pose.
10) Scientists announce a cure for conservatism: a really huge bowel movement.

Arizona:
1) Governor-for-life Jan Brewer still looks like shit, only worse. Mexico erects a border fence to keep her in Arizona.
2) Maricopa county Sheriff Joe Arpaio still can't believe he was not re-elected sheriff and has been set up with a desk and a fake telephone in the open desert north of Anthem.
3) Despite an intensive education campaign, the Arizona state legislature still thinks Millard Fillmore is president.
4) The Grand Canyon has been designated a future EPA Superfund site after the legislature okay's the dumping of old tires in the canyon.
5) The state capitol has been moved to a Taco Bell in Gila Bend.
6) In an attempt to get more retirees to move to Arizona, the state moves to install toilets on every street corner.
7) The AIMS test, Arizona's way of testing how well their schools are working, has been tweaked and weakened to the point that it asks only one question, "Why the hell are you still in this state?"
8) State population plummets as fewer and fewer people want to admit they live here.

Popular Culture:
1) Glee is still on television, despite dire warnings of another American Idol Season 16-type massacre.
2) Saturday Night Live started its 45th season by having a moldy piece of bread as co-host and offering a moment of silence for the last time anyone laughed at anything on that show, which was a "Gilley" segment in 2010.
3) The Rolling Stones embark on their 35th "Farewell Tour" as Keith Richards starts to smell really funny.
4) Sylvester Stallone is still flogging the "Rambo" franchise despite finding out in his last movie that firing an AK-47 while in a wheelchair is a really bad idea.
5) The original Saved By The Bell cast members return for a reunion show, Saved By Cheap Canadian Pharmacy Viagra.
6) Paula Abdul takes over as moderator of NBC's Meet The Press. Coffee mugs are replaced with Coke glasses filled with vodka and Percocet.
7) Las Vegas re-invents itself yet again as a fundamentalist-Christian theme park. Attractions include the Carnival of Hypocrisy, Abortion Provider Shooting Gallery, Marry-Your-Cousin wedding chapels, Airport-Restroom Fun House, Walk-On Water Park, Polygamist Playground, Bowling for Bigotry, Guess the Child-Molesting Senator, Liberal-Feminist-Homosexual Whack-A-Mole, Tea Party Nudist Colony, Illegal Campaign Funding Sweepstakes, Ballot Box Stuffing, Family Porn Factory, and the most popular ride of all: Bristol Palin.
8) Andy Dick is still a dick.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My 100th Blog Post!

This blog will be taking a short break from its regular programming of slanderous tirades, character assassinations, questionable humor and good old-fashioned bad taste to mark a special occasion. This is my 100th blog entry! WOOHOO!

Yes indeed, on March 23, 2009 I wrote my first entry, in which I took Meghan McCain to task for being a general pain in the butt. I started this blog on a whim as just a fun thing to do. I honestly felt like I would run out of things to say after 4 or 5 entries. Some people would say that is exactly what happened, but the ideas just kept on coming and I kept on writing, and nineteen months later we're at entry number 100.

It has been great fun to write this blog and I have gotten a lot of feedback from a lot of people concerning the ideas I put forth. I hope my next 100 blog posts will be just as much fun and thought-provoking.
Here are some meta-facts about Careless Whispers:

Average number of posts per month: 5.26 (one every 5.7 days)
Preferred General Targets: Conservative Republicans or crazy fundamentalist Christians. Actually they're the same thing.
Preferred Specific Target: Sarah Palin (she needs to cover her butt because it's got a big ol' target on it and just as soon as I finish this she will be back in my crosshairs)
My Favorite Posts: When We Lose One... Commercials That Suck, Perfect Moments In Life
Post Which I Reread Over and Over: Be My Baby, Ellie Greenwich
Most Frequently Used Word: "Stupid"
Post That I Hope Someone Will Read 100 Years From Now and say "Cool!": Sundays in December
Post That I Hope Someone Will Read 100 Years From Now and say "WTF?": Stuff I Think About
Most Nostalgic For Me: Kent State Plus 40 Years
Posts I Wish Everyone Would Read: Yet Another Senseless Tragedy, Arizona: But It's A Dry Stupidity

Thanks to everyone out there. Post #101 is on the way!

When Free Speech Isn't Free

A couple of days ago was the first Monday in October, the traditional beginning of the new term of the Supreme Court. This court is a bit different from previous terms since there will be three sitting judges who happen to be women - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. It will be interesting to see how their presence affects the Court and what new viewpoints and fresh ideas they will bring.

It also sounds as if there will be some fascinating cases among the 50 or so already on the docket, with probably two dozen more to come before this term wraps up next February. At least two will deal with the hot-button topics of immigration reform and the death penalty. Our fair state of Arizona figures prominently in two other cases; one involving the use of tax breaks for donations to private scholarships, most of which turn out to be for religious schools (guess which side I am on here). The other is about the legality of our employer-sanction law, which punishes businesses for hiring undocumented workers.

But there are a couple of First Amendment/free speech issues before the Court which may prove to be more than a little sticky. The first involves a California law which seeks to prohibit the sale of violent video games to children. I never play video games so I can't say I have anything to add to the debate. It sounds like another instance of the government trying to step in and take the role the parents should be doing in keeping their little darlings from being exposed to video games with titles like "Extreme Alien Sex Crime Blood Lust III." Exactly where does the role of the government begin in these cases, and what right do they have to limit commercial activity? There are laws which prohibit the sale of pornography to minors; is this similar? This doesn't sound like a big deal, but in most cases like this, it is the precedent that is set which causes the major upheaval.

The other free speech case is much more difficult, it involves the right of members of a batshit-crazy church to protest at military funerals. The Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas has made a very ugly name and reputation for itself by protesting at military funerals in the most obnoxious and offensive way possible, holding up garishly-colored signs that say things like "God Hates America" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". They allege that the deaths of soldiers are a direct result of the "tolerance" the United States shows for homosexuals, among other things. Presumably this "tolerance" includes hate-filled voter initiatives like California's Proposition 8, state amendments to ban gay marriage and many other legal moves to codify anti-gay discrimination into law. With tolerance like that, who needs homophobia?

You need only look at a video of these protesters in action to come to the conclusion that they are completely insane. They are so filled with twisted, perverted hatred and bile it is almost interesting, from an anthropological or psychological point of view, to see such incredible pathology on display. They must lead horrible, wretched lives - consumed with evil, anger and viciousness. They almost make Sarah Palin look like Mother Teresa, they are that bad. I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of Americas would agree that no matter what your stand may be on gay rights, men and women who gave their lives in service to their country deserve respect and honor at the very least.

But one of the cornerstones of our society is the concept of free speech; that is, people have a right to express their opinion, no matter how outrageous and loathsome, without fear of sanction. True, the protesters are vile and disgusting and their message is repellent to the extreme, but like it or not, we have to recognize their right to express it. Is there a point where free speech is so outlandish and offensive that it isn't protected by the Bill of Rights? There are some limits on free speech - shouting "Fire" in a crowded movie theater is not protected, and Congress has tried to put limits on flag-burning, but where is the dividing line between offensive and non-offensive speech? Should the toxic antics of these so-called "Christians" be tolerated?

Sadly, the answer is yes. For as much as we hate these people for their lack of respect or anything resembling common decency, we cannot stop them from acting in this way. The Constitution grants us the right to say what we will, as long as it does not directly cause injury to another person, as the movie-theater example above would. The protesters can say what they want to, and even though they make me want to puke every time they appear on television, we as members of a free, democratic society have to just turn away and let them rant and rave. Many organizations such as the ACLU and television and print media associations have come down in favor of the protesters' rights, even though it probably feels like swallowing broken glass.

Such is the conundrum and the cost of "free speech." For speech to be truly free, it must be free for all forms of speech, no matter how disgusting. Someone once said a long time ago, "I may not like what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Unfortunately, all of us have to do that in this case. But I'm thinking the Bill of Rights and the spirit of this country are strong enough that we can triumph over the horrible, loathsome scumbags that make up the Westboro Baptist Church, and take hope in the belief that there is a special place waiting for all of them in the very lowest depths of hell when they finally die, something that just can't come soon enough.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Yet Another Senseless Tragedy

Not that there ever is a "sensible" tragedy - there isn't - but the recent suicide death of Rutger's University freshman Tyler Clementi points out in stark detail a facet of our society which so often is given lip service at best or completely ignored at worse: suicide of young people who are gay.

Clementi jumped off a bridge after his roommates at Rutger's shot a video of him having a romantic encounter with another male and posted it on the Internet. There are so many things wrong with this, starting with why the roommates were so unnaturally interested in such a thing, as if it only happens rarely in this world, and that it's any of their damned business anyway. Taking the video was bad enough, but posting it on the Internet took a very serious lapse of judgment and multiplied it a million-fold.

It's impossible to believe that the two roommates had no idea what they were doing, or what it meant to post something on the Internet, where it immediately gains a worldwide audience and assumes a life that ironically will be much longer than Tyler's life. They knew what they were doing every step of the way, and the only thing left is to decide the motivation. Was it a hate crime? I certainly think that it was.

At the very least, it was an outrageous violation of privacy. It's not like Tyler was doing something really obnoxious in a public place, such as a woman breast-feeding an infant in McDonald's (don't get me started). It was done in the relative privacy of a dorm room. I think that everyone everywhere has a reasonable expectation of privacy under those circumstances, and for the violation to be done by people Tyler knew, lived with and presumably trusted, makes this whole thing all the more baffling and disgraceful.

But what it shows about our society is much more troubling. The idea that many people have about posting the most embarrassing and personal facets of life for everyone in the world to see on the Internet is a direct offshoot of our 24/7/365 trash culture and the predilection that everyone is a voyeur. Our see-all, tell-all culture demands, validates and rewards such behavior, but far more toxic is the shame that Clementi must have felt after being exposed or "outed" in such a horrible fashion. One has to wonder, would all this have happened if he had been making out with a woman instead of another man? Would the roommates had even bothered making a video or posting it? I don't know, and we may never know the true answers to those questions.

But the fact remains, homophobia is rampant in our culture and is probably the last great "acceptable" (to some people) form of discrimination. Subtly (and not-so-subtly) reinforced every day by organized religion (yes, that means Catholicism, fundamentalist Christians, Mormons, and other groups), they sanctimoniously claim to "love the sinner but hate the sin." To that, I give a resounding BULLSHIT! Those supposedly "Christian" people are motivated by nothing but hatred, bigotry, ignorance and intolerance. They hide behind their Bible as a cowardly way to shield themselves, much as Islamic terrorists carry out their work in populated areas, using innocent civilians as shields. All the while these "Christians" fight any and all normalization and integration of gay people as full members into our society, either by supporting anti-gay-marriage amendments in many states or working to pass anti-gay ballot initiatives in cities and states everywhere. They know how to use the media and code words to appeal to the homophobia and bigotry of their ignorant followers without having to answer directly for their hatred and bile. All this results in a pervasive attitude in this culture that being gay is something to be ashamed of, and gay relationships, while often longer-lasting and every bit as deep and valid as heterosexual relations, do not deserve equal recognition under law. The recent shameful actions by crotchety old cowards like John McCain to delay the repeal of the ridiculous "don't ask don't tell" military policy is another in a very long string of incidents that show just how deep-seated the bigotry of some people is, and how eager they are to show it to the world.

Justice denied to some is justice denied to all, and we really cannot claim to be a nation of freedom and equality if discrimination of this kind is tolerated, encouraged and codified into the laws of this country. The United States must be the laughing-stock of the world as so many major countries have long since made their gay citizens full members of their society, and the world didn't come to an end for any of them. So many Americans insist on showing themselves as ignorant, backward, poorly-educated and just plain hateful to the rest of the world, and that is something that degrades and denigrates every single one of us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "Careless Whispers" Mailbag

You might think that writing a blog is all action, excitement and glamour, and it is, but there is a significant amount of work involved. Researching, composing, editing, re-writing - all have to be done before an entry is posted. Merriam-Webster's dictionary and the online thesaurus are my constant companions. It is fun to get mail from people who read my blog and ask me stuff. Here is just a sampling of what I get in the Careless Whispers Mailbag:

Dear Steve,
Why do you bad-mouth Sarah Palin so much? I think she is beautiful, smart, articulate and a real "down to earth" person. Why are you such a hater?
Para Sailin'

Dear Sarah Palin,
Don't try to pretend like you're someone else, you dimwitted ho-bag, I know this is you. I don't get many letters written in crayon on the back of a Burger King napkin. Why do I hate you? You might as well ask how many stars are in the sky or how many fish in the sea. Or how many meth labs there are in Alaska. It may be easier to ask, what is it about you that I like? And the answer is: nothing. I hate your robotic, annoying perkiness and how you try to be such a populist and middle-class hero, when in fact you have amassed millions of dollars in book revenues and personal appearances, and everything you do is geared to garnering more money and power. I hate the fact that you constantly excoriate the national news media and blame them for every bad thing that has ever happened, when in fact you would be nothing without them and their misguided coverage. But mostly I hate you for being such a phony. People somehow think that you speak truthfully and honestly, but in fact there is not a single word that comes out of your mouth that hasn't been calculated and scripted and written for you, by someone else. You try to position yourself as being a courageous and principled leader, but you resigned from the governorship of Alaska halfway through your term and abandoned your constituency to pursue national fame and the almighty dollar, because you're a greedy, lying, disingenuous, money-grubbing little coward. That's why I hate you, Sarah Palin, because you are such a complete, total and utter fraud.

Did I mention that I think you're an obnoxious, nasty little bitch, too?

Dear Steve,
You always say such awful things about religion. What do you have against God?
Devout Episcopalian

Dear D.E.,
Oh, I don't have anything against God. Me and God go way back and we are just fine. Ever since I banished religion from my life over 4o years ago I feel I understand God better than ever. God is only one name for a creative force in the universe that man created. There was also Yahweh, Buddha, Mohammed, and lots of other incarnations in many cultures and civilizations. These supernatural beings were created by people who could not explain natural phenomena with their current level of scientific development. As such, "God" served a purpose by bringing order and harmony to an apparently disordered and chaotic world. He provided answers, although not very good ones, for things that were beyond the control and understanding of humans. I get that, and I'm okay with it; it's organized religion that I have the problem with. Organized religion keeps people in the dark and stifles their spiritual growth with superstitions, myths, and out-and-out lies. Organized religion is all about guilt, shame, fear, coercion, retribution and intolerance. Organized religion's primary concern is hoarding wealth and power and using it to obtain more wealth and power (note parallel to Sarah Palin above).

See, way back in the past, religion used to be a deeply personal, individual thing and everybody was their own church. That is, you didn't have to go to some big building somewhere to talk to God; He was with you every minute of every day. Then, somewhere along the line, religion became externalized and God was no longer inside you, but outside of you. Instead of man creating God, religion turned things around so that God created man. Instead of being a source of enlightenment and comfort, religion became a source of tyranny and oppression. Instead of drawing you closer to your Creator, religion pushed you away. Instead of being a benevolent presence in your life, helping you do what is right, organized religion cast God as a force to be feared, always ready in a split-second to exact a terrible vengeance on anyone who questioned His Word. Over the centuries organized religion succeeded in "stacking the deck" to its advantage and relegating God to the background, all the while claiming to "represent" Him on Earth. So, to answer your question, I don't hate God any more than I hate Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, which is to say, not at all. God and I have wonderful conversations and we're okay with all this. By the way, He thinks Sarah Palin is an obnoxious, nasty little bitch, too.

Dear Steve,
You always talk about rabbits, it's like you are obsessed by them. What's so special about rabbits?
Just Asking

Dear Just,
People who know and love rabbits are the most fortunate people in the world, and we think of ourselves as members of a very exclusive club. We are bonded together by the love of a miraculous little creature who is a curious, fascinating combination of strength and fragility, timidity and fierceness, instinct and intelligence, all mixed in with a huge amount of love and affection. Being a prey animal, rabbits are naturally fearful of big huge mammals like us with eyes in the front of our heads. That's why when you gain the love and trust of a rabbit, that is a real accomplishment, since everything in their genetic and instinctual make-up is telling them to be afraid and run away. Rabbits are amazing, delightful and wonderful animals. My life has been changed in the most positive ways possible since bunnies entered it. They have brought joy, meaning and purpose into my life, and many, many fantastic, loving people, who have become my dear friends and extended family. People say the bunnies owe a lot to me, but in fact, the exact opposite is true. I owe them a lot, because of them my life has been immeasurably enriched. I will always be grateful to them - for being bunnies!

Well that's all for now. I'll be opening the mailbag again soon, although it takes a while to sort through the ticking packages and smelly manila envelopes. Hope you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy writing it!

Out of the Woodwork

Well the idiots are certainly coming out of the woodwork these days. The last of the primaries were a week ago and as usual the most stunning thing about the outcomes was the jaw-dropping weirdness and complete lack of qualification of a number of the winners. I am baffled and astounded at how utterly, completely debased the electoral process has become in this country, when an obviously batshit-crazy, dimwitted prig like Christine O'Donnell manages to hoodwink a large portion of the population and win a primary. What is wrong with those people out there? Is there radioactive lead in the Delaware's water supply? Bubbing up from the cesspool-like depths of the Tea Party, which in my view is synonymous with racism, bigotry, homophobia and ignorance, this Walmart-version of Caribou Barbie has been making the rounds of the media outlets, as Sarah Palin v2.0. Morons seem to attract other morons, like flies to a pile of manure, and she has found a perfect home amid the inbred, profoundly stupid masses of the Tea Party. The only amusing thing about her, other than her weirdly arcane anti-masturbation stance, is that Bill Maher has a boatload of video clips from O'Donnell's appearances on "Politically Incorrect" in which she blows out all manner of idiocy and insanity, and he has pledged to show them all over the course of the current season of "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO. If you have HBO and you are not watching this show, block out your Friday evenings for the next couple of months and be sure to WATCH! "Real Time" is one of the best talk shows ever.

There's apparently some other moron who won a primary and has said that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. Um ... really? I guess if I gave a crap about this idiot's opinion I would look it up and see exactly what he means, but in truth I just don't care. Trying to understand idiots is almost as pointless as arguing with them, and I just don't give a rat's ass about this moron. Stupid is as stupid does, and apparently that is what sells in this country right now.

What is going on in this country that voters are attracted to these dopes? Are they so frustrated with the status quo that they feel they have to elect profoundly stupid people to Congress in order to change things? Are they so dumb they don't even see that the Republicans are playing them as fools, appealing to their stupidity, bigotry and racism in order to further their agenda? I will give the Repubs credit, they have always been experts at fear-mongering and appealing to the baser aspects of human nature. Remember Willie Horton, the convict who played such a prominent role in electing George H. W. Bush in the 1990's? It goes all the way back to Barry Goldwater in the 60s and the infamous ad which all but showed a little white girl being blown up by a nuclear weapon. One thing of which you can be sure - when it comes to capitalizing on the absolute worst qualities of human nature and dividing the country along every conceivable fault line by lying and manipulating facts, no one can beat the Republicans.

Now there is talk about letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% of taxpayers, those earning in excess of $250,000 a year. Of course the Republicans are screaming bloody murder, because they have ALWAYS been the party of the rich and ALWAYS put the interests of their wealthy donors above all else. They are trying to say that it will hurt small businesses who file their taxes as individuals. How is that even allowed? Shouldn't there be some kind of rule that prevents businesses from filing as individuals? How stupid is that? As always the Republicans have come down on the side of the rich and well-heeled, even though the wealthy have prospered enormously in the Bush years as they were the recipients of many, many tax breaks, all while the middle class was squeezed continually from above and below. The Republicans just can't let go of the insane, discredited theory of "trickle-down economics," which says that the more money rich people have the more will "trickle down" the economic ladder to the lower classes like manna from heaven, in terms of jobs and investments, and that a "rising tide raises all boats." The only problem there is that it's NOT TRUE. Rich people only get richer and the poor get poorer, as starkly illustrated by an economic report last week which documented a huge jump in the number of people who are now living under the poverty line. As unemployment benefits run out for millions of wage-earners, rich people continue to hoard more of the nation's wealth to themselves. And ignorant middle-class people who vote Republican seem oblivious to the fact that they are voting against their own economic interests. Apparently they don't mind getting poorer. I hope that when they lose their homes to foreclosure and declare bankruptcy and go on welfare, they are comforted by the thought of some very rich people buying another yacht, or staying an extra week in Switzerland skiing this winter or buying another expensive automobile to fill the space in their 12-car garage. Because by voting Republican, that is exactly what you deserve.

But raising taxes on the rich is "class warfare," the Republicans squawk. Oh, and bleeding the middle class into extinction is not? Republicans have been waging economic warfare against the middle class for decades in this country, and like Islamic terrorists, they can be very sneaky about it. Republicans are economic terrorists, and what they are slowing doing behind the scenes to the backbone of this country is every bit as dangerous and destructive as people flying airplanes into skyscrapers. Only not as flashy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Age of Ignorance

As the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks draws near (Saturday), instead of concentrating on the ongoing ramifications of that horrific event and how much our lives have irrevocably changed since that awful day, we are instead inundated by a rising tide of bigotry and intolerance, from a number of sources.

The debate over the Ground Zero mosque in intensifying, with the opponents seeming to adopt a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) approach; that is, saying that Muslims have every right to build their mosque, just not where I tell them they can't. There's this huge gray area of "respect" for the innocent victims who tragically lost their lives when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, and I fail to understand how building a mosque somehow desecrates their memories. There are liquor stores and porno palaces within equal walking distance from Ground Zero, I don't know why they are not protested for providing an equivalent level of desecration.

No one is expecting anyone who suffered through that horrendous disaster or lost loved ones in such a senseless manner to ever "get over it," but one of the defining moments of a healthy, vibrant society is how it learns from tragedies and overcomes them. Not forget them, but learn from them. To me the very best tribute anyone could ever make to the 9/11 victims is not to succumb to the blind hatred of the terrorists, but instead rise above it. Don't embrace the fear, reject it. Tell the terrorists: you tried to make us afraid and hate our fellow man; we will not, and just as you seek to pull us apart, we will draw together, in a united front against Islamic extremists anywhere and everywhere in the world.

Then we are subjected to a peculiarly noxious version of religious idiocy as the obviously mentally-ill pastor of some minuscule evangelical Christian cult in Florida has taken it upon himself to make some kind of statement (and as far as I'm concerned the only "statement" he is making is how the mental health system in Florida has failed by not institutionalizing him ages ago) about Islam by burning several hundred copies of the Qu'ran, the Muslim holy book on the 9/11 anniversary. It's impossible for me to see how anything positive could come out of this cockamamie publicity stunt. But what is more incomprehensible is how this batshit-crazy nutjob, who looks like he hasn't bathed in a very long time, could be catapulted onto the world-wide stage by being as stupid, obnoxious and bigoted as he can possibly be.

This "Reverend" (term used sarcastically) Terry Jones is being interviewed by every major news outlet on the planet, and it is a publicity windfall beyond his wildest dreams. It is so indicative of how degraded our civilization has become when someone attains a world-wide celebrity (however briefly) by indulging in the most obnoxious, boorish and hateful behavior possible. Despite vociferous condemnations by representatives of every major religious group in the country, plus the Vatican, this pitiful, angry old geezer is stubbornly going ahead with his insane stunt, just like a spoiled, selfish, socially-maladjusted eight-year-old who throws tantrums to get what he wants, no matter what. Maybe Jones and his wife will take a break from their other occupation, selling furniture on eBay, and realize the complete folly of his actions. But I strongly doubt that, the publicity is too important.

That this grimy little ogre and his toilet-bowl opinions are even being paid attention to at all is directly the fault of the eternally loathsome Sarah Palin, who has succeeded in two short years in making ignorance, mediocrity and stupidity acceptable in the United States. There is barely an eyelash-difference between Sarah Palin and Terry Jones. Consider that:
1. They both have arisen from the garbage- and meth-infested cesspools of backward, primitive parts of the country.
2. They both claim to have religious righteousness on their side and use it to prey on the vulnerability and gullibility of uneducated, ignorant people trying to find some meaning in their wretched, pathetic and pointless lives.
3. They both have been given a world-wide stage to spew their stupidity and idiocy - Palin with her failed vice-presidential candidacy and the racist ranks of the Tea Party, and Jones with this Qu'ran burning and anti-Muslim bigotry.
4. They both take on a populist view, claiming to speak for and to the "average American," all the while laughing and sneering at their followers behind their backs for being too dumb to know when they are being played.
5. They both deny any responsibility or culpability for the consequences of their idiotic remarks, with Palin being uncharacteristically quiet about her "Drill, Baby, Drill" philosophy in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster, and Jones haughtily dismissing any possible danger he may be causing our service men and women in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world where Islam is the dominant religion.

How sad, and how telling of the complete moral bankruptcy of our culture that the most deliberately ignorant and willfully hateful members of our society are the ones who are publicized the most. What immense damage is being done to America's image everywhere in the world when Sarah Palin and Terry Jones are the faces everyone sees and associates with the United States. And lastly, how toxic and poisonous to our own nation and culture when two people can aspire to be the biggest assholes in the entire country, and succeed so well.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Beckapalooza

I suppose it's just not possible in this day and age to get through a summer without a massive display of insanity and idiocy in Washington, DC. Last year it was the Voter Values Summit, a surreal circus parade of the worst of trailer-trash culture, who proudly displayed their complete disregard for personal grooming and acceptable clothing styles, and demented, confused senior citizens, carrying signs that showed they are blissfully unencumbered by arcane, elitist notions like grammar, logic and spelling.

This year did not disappoint, as we were treated to a comprehensive exhibition of just about every kind of psychological disorder there is, led by obviously-mentally-ill, right-wing jaybird Glenn Beck. Now, I can't stand to watch Glenn Beck for more than three seconds. Part evangelical preacher, part Ronald McDonald on bad acid, and part Freddie Kruger in clean clothes, Beck seems to have cornered the media market on histrionic, embarrassing rhetoric, punctuated by episodes of blubbering, over-wrought emotionalism that would be deemed too over-the-top for even a dinner-theater production of Steel Magnolias. Very skilled in the use of wide, sweeping, and ultimately meaningless generalizations and evidence-free predictions of dire consequences if people don't straighten up and listen to him, Beck has understandably found a huge audience in the millions of Americans who choose to let Fixed News, I mean, Fox News do their thinking for them and provide them with their opinions and talking-points served pablum-style, in easily-digestible dollops.

It seems to be an indictment of the failure of the political system that so many people feel so detached and disenfranchised from it that they think their only reasonable alternative is in feel-good, us-against-them, hate-mongering, racist political organizations such as the Tea Party. That's like if someone sets your house on fire or murders your spouse you decide to go to the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus for help. Everything that Beck says is designed to wrap his mindless followers in the mantle of righteousness and religious infallibility, since they take every opportunity to remind everyone that God is on their side, and all who disagree with them are dirty, bearded Islamic terrorists who are ready to fly a squadron of jet aircraft into buildings in every major city in the U.S. Beck even went to so far as to say at his rally something like "Today is the day that America turns back to God!"

Really, Glenn? Just because you say so? Did you bother to ask God if He goes along with that? Oh excuse me, I forgot: you and your followers have regular conversations with God and He most definitely is on your side. How did you get the power to make that statement for an entire nation? Did you bother to ask the Muslims and Buddhists and atheists and Jews and Hindus and all the millions of devout non-Christian believers who make America their home? Don't you think that was just a teeny bit presumptuous of you to speak for an entire nation? Personally I don't think you're qualified to speak for a Rotary Club in rural Nebraska, but that's just me. Now I know your followers aren't exactly the most inclusive group in the world, and I wonder just how many African-Americans or Asian-Americans or gay/lesbian Americans are welcome in your lily-white masses? Or is it that only your fundamentalist, Republican, Caucasian "sheeple" (more on that word later) are the ones who feel they have to "turn back to God." Do you think maybe it's God that has turned away from you since you embarrass Him so?

But this was not a "political" rally, according to Beck. Of course not, despite the fact that it was held in the most political city in the United States and - what a surprise! - on the 47th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington that gave the world the transcendent "I Have A Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. What an absolute abomination and desecration of King's memory and legacy to have a puffy-faced, cartoonish buffoon like Glenn Beck prancing and parading around on the steps of the monument where King once stood and changed the world with the power of his simple words and heartfelt ideas. Forty-seven years later, people are still inspired and thrilled by King's powerful statements. Twenty-four hours later, no one really remembers or cares what was said at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday. And that's the way it should be.

And, not that there weren't enough annoying, embarrassing and pathetic creeps already in attendance yesterday, but the loathsome, vile and execrable Sarah Palin had to be hauled down from the meth-infused garbage dumps of Wasilla, Alaska to bleat out another round of moronic ramblings and faux-populist drivel. It just took seeing a video clip of her dragging her bony, scrawny ass across the stage to nearly make me have a second look at the dinner I had an hour before. She apparently left 15 minutes after finishing her speech - and presumably after collecting her six-figure fee - but she still had the nerve to get onto Twitter (the pre-eminent Theatre of the Damned for the Internet Age) and blather about how the "sheeple" (presumably a homemade contraction of "sheep" and "people", now that "refudiation" has been thoroughly discredited) of the "main stream media" underestimated the crowd size and downplayed their coverage. Oh, would these "sheeple," as you derisively call them, be the same media people who for some reason follow you around and give your special brand of inbred ignorance a national platform wildly out of proportion to its value? And how without them you would be a nobody - a shrill, brittle harpy trapped in a loveless marriage with poorly-raised children who can't stand the sight of you - with absolutely no hope that tomorrow will be any less wretched and meaningless for you than today. Without them, Palin would be a dollar-store Ann Coulter whom everyone would ignore and dismiss as a crazy, crack-addicted skank.

How did it happen in this once-proud nation that we have come to celebrate, elevate and in fact encourage stupidity, idiocy and mediocrity in our political system? How is it that pathetic, miserable pieces of crap such as Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and at least 100 other cultural cesspits still manage to pollute the airwaves and intellectual discourse in this country? That's one of the drawbacks of a free society - you have to put up with the profoundly stupid people that invariably make up the population, as well as the profoundly inspiring ones. The problem is, in this cruel, mixed-up and hateful universe in which we live, the good really do die young and the evil, psychopathic people seem to live on, and on, and on.