Monday, November 19, 2012

God Rest Ye Merry Hucksters

As the fair month of November slips quietly away, I look with a bit of dread on the rapidly-approaching holiday season.  I know there will be lots of parties and dinners and gatherings to attend, and it will be very nice to spend time with all the wonderful people in my life, but a little bit of me is already starting to cringe at the orgy of greed and consumerism which is already rushing towards us.

Yesterday there was a story on the local news about some pathetic idiot who is camped out in front of a Best Buy store or something here, in anticipation of being the first one in the store when Black Friday hits.  That would be four days later.  Apparently this sad schmuck has nothing better to do than waste four days of his life on the opportunity to drop a bunch of money on some electronic gifts for his niece and nephew, which will probably be forgotten in a month or two.  I'm not sure which is worse, this fool squatting on the doorstep of corporate America or the local news idiots publicizing him like he's some kind of retail warrior or something.

This year it seems more apparent than ever that Thanksgiving is becoming an afterthought, a secondary holiday whose main purpose is to mark the beginning of the REAL holiday - the start of the Xmas shopping season.  This month I've heard more about Black Friday than about Thanksgiving itself, and that is really sad.  Thanksgiving is the biggest secular holiday and the one with the most meaning.  What could be more fitting and proper than to be thankful for all the good things in your life and to draw your friends and loved ones near to you and celebrate being together?  Sharing a good meal, a glass or two of wine, and good conversation is to me a gift that no store-purchased bauble could match.  And yet, people seem to be very willing to eschew the good things in life for the pursuit of the biggest bargain, or the lowest prices.

A lot of people will wage their assault on the local shopping mall with all the grim precision and painstaking detail of a major military operation.  It is so unseemly and undignified to be such money-grubbing, shopping-crazed automatons - robots pre-programmed by a lifetime of carefully-honed and targeted commercials to go out and shop on command.  The more money you spend, the more you love someone; that seems to be the take-away from all this.  In the single-minded pursuit of this end, so much of what makes life worthwhile seems to drop away and get left behind in the glitter and the dust.

So this year, I'm going to do what I have been doing for the past 5 or 6 years - reject all the buy-or-die hysteria, push back on the annoying, intrusive and hyperactive sales pitches, and instead concentrate on the real reason we celebrate the season - the friendship of people we love and with whom we share more than just a parking space in a shopping center lot, the coming winter solstice, and soon afterward a new year and a new springtime, and another year full of promise and opportunity, sadness and joy, and more wonderful people and rabbits gracing my life and touching my heart.

View From A Cliff

It's been nearly two weeks since the 2012 elections and they are still reverberating through the nation.  Conservative nut-jobs are getting back into their normal mode of slowly-simmering hateful insanity after an extended period of unbridled paranoid schizophrenia when Obama won a second term (I have to admit I did not help the situation much when I went into full troll mode on a number of news sites, rubbing their noses in their ignominious defeat, and I don't mind telling you I had a really good time doing it).

One thing that has become quite apparent recently is that defeated, disgraced Mitt Romney is definitely on some sort of kick-ass anti-depressant/anti-psychotic drugs.  On a recent conference call to his duped and defrauded donors, Romney placed the blame for his decisive, unequivocal loss everywhere except where it really needed to be placed, on himself.  It was weirdly pathetic but not really surprising, given his innate cowardice and total lack of integrity, to hear him blame minorities and women for voting overwhelmingly Democratic, and only because they received "gifts" from the Obama campaign.  Hispanics received the Dream Act, which Romney called an "amnesty program," college-aged women received free contraception and blacks got more food stamps and welfare.  I voted for Obama and I didn't get a single damned present, other than the joy of seeing him re-elected.  Where is my gift, god damn it?

It's hard to believe that someone would be so oblivious to the offensive racism and sexism of such remarks, but apparently Romney is that someone.  The fact that he thinks the vote of college-aged women can be bought with some free contraception is breathtaking in its arrogant stupidity.  Because we know, the only thing young college women care about is contraception.  Same thing with the Hispanics only caring about the Dream Act, and as for food stamps I guess it doesn't make a difference to him that the majority of people who get food stamps are white, and a great many of them vote Republican.

The Republicans are STILL doubling-down on their ridiculous trickle-down theory (and it's a testament to the blinding stupidity of their supporters that anyone is even talking about that anymore) and have transmuted that disgraced, discredited ideology into the "makers and takers" line, in which they divide the country into those who supposedly make wealth and those who take it.  This is just another toxic permutation of the "us and them" dichotomy that the Republicans have been flogging for decades, to demonize a significant segment of their fellow American citizens by turning them into "the enemy," someone to blame for everything that has ever gone wrong.

Romney also made some other completely incredulous remarks about Bill Clinton calling him up after the election and commiserating with him, and doing everything but come out and say that Romney should have won.  It was the weirdest thing ever, and beyond any rational belief.  Clinton worked extremely hard for Obama and campaigned tirelessly for him.  To think that he would call Romney and tell him that he was the better candidate, is completely insane and batshit-crazy.  I've always considered Romney to be incredibly awkward, weird and creepy but his post-election blatherings show with little doubt that he has some serious mental health issues and delusional fantasies which desperately need to be addressed by qualified mental health professionals.  What a horrible, infinitely dangerous President he would have been.

So now we're moving away from elections and into the fun-house world of the "fiscal cliff."  That is the Congress-made line in the sand that was a product of the debt ceiling fiasco in 2010.  Congress and the president couldn't come together to act on the national debt so they created this "poison pill" situation which presumably would force the government into some sort of corrective action on the debt or face horrible, dire consequences as the Bush-era tax cuts go away on December 31, 2012, and everyone wakes up on New Years day with a hangover and a huge extra tax burden.

For some reason the fiscal cliff is being cast as a sort of natural, organic and unavoidable catastrophe, like a 10.0 earthquake or an asteroid collision, and not something completely man-made and artificial.  Congress created the fiscal cliff, and is now cowering in fear in front of it as if it was a Frankenstein monster gone wild.  Oh what a surprise - imagine creating a financial Armageddon scenario and then actually having to deal with it at some point!  Who in Congress ever thought that they would be held responsible for things that they do?

So, both sides are hunkering down in their usual positions: the Obama administration pushing for increased revenue (i.e. taxes) on the ultra-wealthy, and the Republicans screaming that taxing rich people is worse than child molestation and will kill the millions of jobs that those wealthy "job-creators" somehow forgot to create over the last two years.  The Republican mantra is that rich people create jobs - something that is definitively and repeatedly refuted by financial experts of every kind, like here, here and here.  The middle class creates those jobs, by creating "demand" for products and services and having the money to pay for them.  More demand means more jobs - plain and simple.  Seriously, how hard is that to understand?

The Obama people have an election triumph and the accompanying political capital on their side, and have shrewdly boxed the Republicans in by saying that they will keep the tax breaks in place for 98% of wage-earners in this country, but allow them to rise back to Clinton-era levels for the upper 2%.  If the Republicans push back on that, they will be seen as sacrificing tax breaks for middle class to finance more tax relief for the very wealthy, who already have so much.  It will be very interesting to see who blinks first, and my bet is that it will be the Republicans.  Obama learned his lesson about caving in to Republicans two years ago, and I will bet any amount of money that now, at the start of his second term, he has nothing to lose by staring the Republicans down and holding their butts to the fire.

So, it promises to be an eventful end to the year, which has been one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory.  Between the primaries and the election, and now the fiscal cliff and the upcoming end of the Mayan calendar in December, we can be sure the bullet trains to Crazy Town will be running 24/7 through the end of 2012.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012 Wrap-Up

Election 2012 is now history, and what a historic night it was.  Barack Obama was given four more years to continue his leadership and his efforts to repair the economy after the 2008-2009 collapse.  We can look forward with great satisfaction for continued health care reform and one, maybe two, Supreme Court appointments, which is a huge, huge deal.  The news media were all predicting that the presidential election would be a nail-biter clear into the next morning, but in fact the election was called for Obama shortly after 9pm.  When Ohio was seen going to the president, it was all over.  To no one's surprise, Florida is still undecided because it seems as if it's impossible for them to have an election without a lot of fuss and hoo-hah and delay.  Florida is the Drama Queen of the nation.

A number of other regional races took on national significance, and a lot of them did go the right way.  Elizabeth Warren, a very capable, intelligent and resourceful woman, took the Massachusetts Senate seat away from empty mannequin Scott Brown.  Drooling, knuckle-dragging religious bigots Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who gained national infamy with their astonishingly ignorant opinions on rape and abortion, went down in flames, and deservedly so.

In non-office related elections, three states - Maryland, Maine and Washington - approved marriage equality, and another state, Minnesota, turned down an initiative to ban it.  All wonderful news, and milestones in what I believe is the inevitable march toward full marriage equality, something that absolutely should be a basic American right.  Also the first openly gay Senator was named, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.  In Illinois, Tammy Duckworth ousted loathsome dirtbag Joe Walsh.

As always there were disappointments, and not surprisingly a lot were in Arizona.  This benighted, ignorant state chose greasy, buck-toothed scam artist Jeff Flake for the Senate seat occupied by the flabby, flatulent Jon Kyl.  Ancient, bloated media whore Joe Arpaio was reelected Maricopa country sheriff for the hundredth time, thanks to all the senile old fools in Surprise and Sun City, all the anti-immigrant bigots and literally millions of dollars which poured into Arpaio's campaign coffer from out-of-state right-wing PACs, who seem to see Arpaio as a conservative (read: racist) icon.  Still undecided is the contest for new Congressional District 9, where I live, and I'm hoping Kyrsten Sinema will pull off a win over perennial Uncle Tom, Vernon Parker.  I'm also hoping for Anne Kirkpatrick to win over payday-loan-pimp Jonathan Paton in District 1.  And late today, Anne Kirkpatrick was declared victorious in her contest.

Also very much on the plus side is that AZ Proposition 204, which would have permanently extended the 1% sales tax, went down in flames with 65% of voters saying no.  This tax was passed a couple of years ago on the promise that it was only to be a temporary increase, and greedy special interests in this state thought it would be easy to make permanent.  They thought that people would go for anything that nominally was portrayed as helping school children, but voters in this state weren't snookered by this charade and rightfully told them to go pound salt.  Also, Proposition 120 the "sovereignty" amendment, a ridiculously blatant and stupid attempt by the state legislature to take control of public lands, also went down very decisively.  So, there was a little bit to be thankful for in this wretched excuse for a state.

There were some really funny things that happened last night.  Apparently Fox News - Stupid News For Stupid People - was one of the first outlets to declare Obama the winner.  One of their commentators, the execrable Karl Rove, went completely batshit crazy ON AIR, frenetically blathering about and trying to grasp any kind of straw, real or imagined, to deny the outcome in Ohio.  He looked like a gigantic, bug-eyed catfish who was yanked out of the water and was gasping and thrashing around.  Then, one of Fox's newsskanks trotted off stage and stumbled back into their "Decision Room" to confront the number-crunchers with the news that Karl Rove did not approve of their pronouncement.  The number geeks practically told her to GTFO, because numbers, unlike everyone on Fox News, do not lie.  Ohio was definitely Obama country.

But to me the most amazing and inspiring thing was that despite everything the Republicans tied to do to steal this election - lies, misinformation, voter suppression and intimidation, pathetic, un-American attempts to restrict poll hours or early voting times - everything they tried to do was to absolutely no avail.  Most amazing were the American voters who stood in line for an extraordinarily, unbelievably long time (as long as seven hours in some cases) but would not be deterred by Republican skullduggery and dirty tricks.  They were going to cast their ballots and would not be denied, and as a result, democracy itself would not be denied.

Political pundits are already furiously dissecting all of last night's happenings and assigning blame and credit as they see appropriate.  In my opinion, the Republicans lost the presidential election for two reasons:  1) a pair of profoundly unattractive candidates at the top - Romney and Ryan; and 2) a party which has been co-opted and corrupted by right-wing extremists who made the party very unappealing to the more moderate American electorate.  The Republicans thought this election was going to be a cakewalk - they just had to repeat the word "economy" over and over like a mantra and the voters would flock to them - but much to their dismay that did not happen.

Complicating matters for them was that Romney was such a repellent, off-putting candidate who was his own worst enemy.  His infamous "47%" remarks kind of scuttled his candidacy at a crucial point, and his own chronic, incurable awkwardness and creepiness turned many voters off, even on a subconscious level.  Scrawny, big-eared geek Paul Ryan did not really help much.  It seems the Republicans have a really amazing talent in picking very unattractive, unappealing candidates for their elections.  They did so in 2008 and thoughtfully repeated the same mistake in 2012, and for that I thank them very much.

Everyone, including me, was fretting about the unprecedented flood of anonymous, untraceable money that was poured into the process by the horrendous Citizens' United Supreme Court ruling, but much to my surprise, American voters - not known for being particularly discerning or resistant to idiotic campaign rhetoric - were not swayed by sham super-PACs with lofty, misleading names like "Americans For Prosperity" (because who in their right mind would be against prosperous Americans?) and "Club For Growth Action" (whatever the hell that means).  Quite a few super-wealthy billionaires - casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, for one - dropped a huge chunk of change on Romney's campaign, and essentially threw their money down a rat hole.  I wonder how much good that money could have done, donated to food banks or domestic violence shelters, instead of being utterly wasted on a political campaign.

By Anne Romney's own statement, she and her husband are through with politics.  We can only hope we've seen that last of that corrosive, elitist, hatchet-faced old trollop.  Initially her role in her husband's campaign was to "humanize" him to the voters and make him seem like a regular person.  In the end, Anne Romney was the one who needed "humanized," because her presence and role in the campaign proved to be a major misfire.  She needs to just throw on one of her pioneer smocks and go be a good little Mormon wifey.  It's hard to humanize someone who lacks so very much in terms of basic humanity, and maybe her next dancing horse can do a little jig to make her feel better.

America dodged a huge bullet (more like a thermonuclear warhead) when Romney lost.  I can barely imagine how unspeakably awful and horrible a Romney administration would be.  Our nation would have become a weird, Frankenstein-like hybrid of theocracy and oligarchy, with government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich becoming the norm.

If I can be indulged for a little bit of tooting my own horn, I wrote in an entry on this blog called "This Just In: Time Marches On," dated almost a year ago November 15, 2011:

"My prediction is that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee and will go against Obama in the 2012 election....Obama will coast to his second term."

If you don't mind my saying...  Nailed. It.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night Blog

6:44 pm:
It's election night 2012 and I'm here with my blog, Facebook, CNN and a couple of other things on my laptop, in front of my flat-screen TV.  I feel so digitally connected and "with-it," I can't even tell you.  I'll be making periodic updates to this blog post in real time as stuff happens.  Hopefully most everything will be resolved in reasonable time but I am going to be here for the long haul.  I will be taking a "Sons of Anarchy" break around 8:30.  Ain't gonna miss my SOA.

6:57 pm:
Early results from Massachusetts shows Elizabeth Warren in a slight lead over Dirtbag Deluxe Scott Brown.  Kick his sorry ass, Liz!

7:06 pm:
More early results:  Obama takes New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and Michigan, Romney takes Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and a couple of other states that no one gives a shit about.

7:08 pm:
Florida is tied 50-50 with 74% of the vote in.  PLEASE Florida, don't be a bunch of assholes.

7:15 pm:
Pennsylvania my home state goes for Obama!  WOOHOO!  Thank you, PA, I am loving you big time.

7:17 pm:
Arizona senate race between Richard Carmona and slimy scum-sucker Jeff Flake still too close to call.  It would be SUCH a sweet triumph if Carmona won.

7:29 pm:
Wisconsin goes to Obama and their 10 electoral votes puts him ahead of Romney for the first time tonight, 158-153.  I like this trend.

7:42 pm:
NBC News projecting Elizabeth Warren the winner for the Senate seat in Massachusetts, over Scott Brown.  YESSSSS!  Wonderful, wonderful news!!!

7:46 pm:
Indiana Senate race has Democrat John Donnelly projected to win over fundamentalist asswipe Richard Mourdock ("rape is god's will").  Karma is a bitch and so are you, Mourdock, so grab your ankles and take it up the butt like a good Republican loser.

7:50 pm:
NBC News projects New Hampshire going for Obama!  YAAY!  This was a hotly contested state and they swung the right way.  Democrats making some great gains in Senate races.  Keep it up!!!

8:04 pm:
Electoral vote count tied at 162-162.  Not worried.

8:06 pm:
Claire McCaskill wins over gigantic bowel movement Todd Akin in Missouri.  YES YES YES!!!!

8:17 pm:
Formerly Democratic Senate seat in Kansas goes Republican.  Do not like.

8:34 pm:
Arizona, the Land That Time Forget, goes for Romney.  This state is full of ignorant, uneducated dirtbags.

8:43 pm:
Minnesota goes to Obama.  Whoopee!!

9:00 pm:
Obama wins a BIG, BIG prize - California - 55 electoral votes!  Also Washington, Oregon & Hawaii. Damn!!!  Obama is in striking distance of victory with 243!!!!!

9:05 pm:
North Carolina goes to Romney.  Bastards.

9:12 pm

9:55 pm:
Fox News is going nuts, they are the funniest show on television.  Karl Rove is grasping at thin air, trying to say that Romney has a chance in Ohio.  Even Fox News' own number crunchers say NFW, Ohio goes to Obama.  SO damned funny!