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.