Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Look at this pathetic blowhard
You have to wonder if he knows how he will be portrayed in the history books. The military historian Martin Ven Creveld believes that Bush committed the worst strategic mistake since the Roman incursion into Germany in 9 B.C. by invading Iraq, and a majority of the American people believe they were misled into a disastrous war that has gained them nothing but several thousand body bags and a crippling budget deficit. $6 billion a month is being poured down the Iraqi sinkhole, even as critical services are being slashed domestically, while quixotic and doomed programs like missile defense survive unscathed.

What has this deluded and arrogant fool accomplished? Iraq barely exists as a state in fiery and blood-soaked chaos. The leaders of his party, including Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and untold congressional Republicans, are under investigation for various venal forms of corruption. The Middle East is a vast powder keg, still lamentably controlled by the same set of repressive autocrats that held power when Bush took power in 2001. In Libya, Qadaffi gave up some weapons he never intended to develop in the first place in return for indefinite indulgence for his bestial autocracy from the Bush crew. Egypt's longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak has held two sets of fraudulent, rigged elections in order to placate the simpleton desires of the Bush administration. Lebanon, while free of the Syrians, is racked by controversy and sectarian assasinations, while Morocco, Jordan and Iran have become decidedly less democratic during Bush's misrule. If this is victory, I would hate to see defeat.

At home, the President has presided over a crippling recession and an anemic recovery, all the while gleefully instituting new forms of inequality and injustice, from the punitive and vicious bankruptcy bill to the evisceration of labor protections by the Bush-appointed National Labor Relations Board. He is about to appoint a second fundamentalist constitutional-originalist to the Supreme Court, who will almost certainly vote to overturn Roe-v.-Wade if the case were to come before the court. More Americans find themselves without health care with every day of Bush's wretched leadership. His tax cuts for the rich have failed to stimulate the economy enough to eliminate the horrifying budget deficit, and his drive to crush Social Security has led to nothing except one embarrassing retreat after another. In five years his party has managed to inaugurate an era of Banana Republic corruption reminiscent of the Gilded Age. Gasoline prices are soaring, natural gas prices are going through the roof, and there is nary a word from Plutocrat Central about how ordinary Americans are supposed to shiver their way through the brutal winter ahead without sending themselvs spiraling into the bankrupty that they are no longer able to file.

But still The Smirk receives hosannas from the media glitterati for his steadfastness in the face of criticism. The chattering classes keep saying that no matter what a colossal screw-up the President is, you can't take away his honesty and his steely-eyed perserverence. But of course the President said he would fire anyone involved in the Plame leak. Yet Karl Rove still collects his paychecks from the White House even though he was incontrovertibly involved in the outing of the cover CIA officer in retaliation for her husband's whistle-blowing. He said he was going to make sure America acted as a more humble nation. He said the congressional Iraq resolution was a way to avoid rather than wage war, even though he and his advisors had decided to invade Iraq within days of 9/11. His minions have pressured CIA analysts to change their reports, and forced budget officers to lie about the impact of the new prescription drug benefit. His EPA appointees routinely bury and change reports that describe the Bush administration's environmental pillaging. His CIA director has turned the agency into a Republican fiefdom. He allowed his Supreme Court pick, Harriet Miers, to withdraw after conservatives laughed at her makeup and celibacy.

I could go on. George W. Bush is a failed President, a man who no longer has the confidence of even 40 percent of the American people. He is a weak, arrogant man who was born into privilege and who has always believed that the world has owed him whatever he seeks. He has combined this pusillanimous disregard for global opinion and sentiment with the religious convictions of a backwoods hustler. And even worse, he has chosen as advisors a group of paranoid and dangerous ideologues who have helped transform America from a global leader into an international pariah -- a nation that sneers at international treaties that don't serve America's every single narrow interest, foregoes cooperation with its fellow democracies, and sniffs at every accomplishment of the past 60 years.

His fellow Republicans are fleeing from him like Dustin Hoffman in The Running Man Marathon Man. He has become political poison, and his advisors are unlikely to ever find the antidote. This is the reality: Iraq is unlikely to stabilize in the near future. The economy is supremely vulnerable because of the negative savings rate of most Americans, the real estate bubble, and the endemic rise in energy prices. His congressional majority may be decimated next November. It is astounding to me that even the most vacuous right-wing sycophants once hailed this colossal wanker as the next Winston Churchill, a man's man who would finally teach the Arabs that force means force and that America would not truck with being attacked. Instead this fraudulent cheerleader, who bought his ostentatious ranch as a campaign ploy and who wouldn't know a hard day's work from a double-scotch, has brought the American economy to its knees and exposed the widening strategic weakness of the U.S. military. His approval rating is at Nixonian levels, and his political power is at an all-time low.

I would chuckle at the irony if it weren't all so tragic.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

What is wrong with these people?
Ask yourself some questions about this picture: What sort of person gets up before 5 a.m. and lines up outside a Wal-mart in the blistering cold? What sort of company manipulates people in such a way? Isn't it in many ways sad that consumerism is perhaps the greatest aspiration of American culture?

I don't care if they were offering $1,000 plasma televisions for a twenty-spot. One of the things you have to fight for in this world is your own dignity. And that dignity is not well-served by lining up like schoolchildren before dawn in the teeth-chattering deep freeze, only to rush through the doors like it's the Wonka chocolate factory. Ultimately, you are catering to the whims of billion-dollar corporate entities who want you to buy items that they are deliberately selling at a loss to inflate sales figures. There is a very short list of reasons for which I will rise at 4 o'clock in the morning, and cut-rate DVD players and Mp3 players are not among the bullet points.

I do not shop on Black Friday because there is no particular reason for me to do so. Everything that is for sale that day will be on sale the following day, for maybe a few more bucks. I also find it distasteful to have to shoulder my way through rabid crowds of shoppers because someone tells me that this is what I should be doing. Or worse, because it has been deemed patriotic to spend myself into debt. That is why I find the Internet such a liberating medium; I buy almost nothing at Christmas in actual stores anymore, not because I have it out for most retailers, but just because I have always found the commercial aspects of the holidays to be most disagreeable. I realize that everyone needs clothes and music and appliances; I just don't believe that we should have to do our shopping at times and days that are approved by the great minds of American capitalism.

26 years ago George Romero released a horror film that spoofs this sort of behavior. Fleeing a zombie holocaust, two reporters and a cop steal a helicopter and take refuge in a Mall. Inexplicably, the zombies have already started to congregate there, banging on the doors, wandering around aimlessly and shuffling from one store to the next, a look of glassy-eyed blankness permanently plastered on their rotting faces. Francine, one of the protagonists, asks, "What are they doing? Why do they come here?" Her friend replies, "Some kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives." The trio lives at the mall for weeks, and they have unfettered access to all the goodies of modern consumerism -- food, wine, clothes, toys, you name it. They have found the Garden of Eden of capitalism, and yet they are all miserable, closed off from what remains of human society and besieged by hungry zombies on the outside.

In 1978 this movie struck a chord with audiences, despite its over-the-top gore and wooden acting. Astoundingly, it raked in $40 million, back when that figure still meant something. Can you imagine a movie with such a message resonating with mainstream audiences today? Last year's tepid remake was technically impressive and much better acted, but it utterly lacked the social criticism that Romero intended in the original script. But it was a perfect expression of its time, when the dictates of commercial enterprise have become so hegemonic that it is weird even to question them in polite company. You mean we weren't put on this Earth to hunt endlessly for bargains?

Clearly my fellow Americans disagree.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday Cat Blogging Posted by Picasa
Alyan has heard from his friend in the Marines, and he thinks your plan to pull out of Iraq is treasonous. And he doesn't care how many medals you won in some stupid war that took place like, 30 years ago. Cats only live 20 years!

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