dimanche, février 21, 2010

In all fairness to [H]ope

I wish I could talk about the magical moment when I caught Olympic Fever. But I'm depressed and I need your help.

See, I wasn't comfortable with the Bush warrantless wire tapping. Very few people were; but fans of the president said he was protecting our freedom. They routinely dismissed the egregious policy with the line: "I don't have anything to hide--they can track me all they want." As long as they catch terrorists. Right? Meanwhile, the political enemies of the previous administration called him Hitler.

Now, as Obama increases the range of the above mentioned activity, and further interprets the law to exclude the federal government from prosecution if they happen to spy on some uppity citizen who believes in the Constitution, I wait in vain to for the piercing sound of outrage. I don't expect it from dullard kool-aid drinkers like Olberman, Garofalo and Matthews, but my actual friends, whose opinion I might actually respect, should have something respectable to say, right? So I bring it up with one Obama Mama, who immediately, almost nonchalantly repeats, VERBATIM the above mentioned rationalization that righties made for Bush. I was depressed, and decided not to mention it to another woman I know and love, remembering that the last time someone dared question Obama's papal infallibility, she nearly cried. (Seriously!) Almost hopeless, I bemoaned my plight to a friend who may or may not have voted for Barrack. He temporarily saved the day: "No man, I decided early on that everything I hated about Bush, I was going to hate about Obama." Then a former co-worker, from whom I expected much less (given that he had actually attempted to influence mental health clients to vote for his man) wrote to me about his anger over the idea that a man who sends 30 thousand extra troops to kill and die in a foreign land could ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. I began to feel a little better. Until the fiance of an Obama Mama showed himself to be completely unable to carry on an intelligent discussion about the economy, believing in all frankness that Obama has "saved it." Yes, savED, past tense, as in "mission accomplished." [ed. This belief, no matter how much we hope he succeeds, requires more than the usual amount of kool-aid.] For those of you keeping score: Dangerous ignorance: 3.5 . . . informed rationality: 1.5

I need your help here. I need you to ask around. Find people who hated Bush (it won't be difficult). Bring up the following points of FACT:

1) The current president's war policies are identical to, if not more bellicose than, his predecessor.

2) The current president's verbal gaffes, if ever publicized, are at LEAST as depressing, and almost as numerous, as his predecessor. (One small example: when recently reading from his teleprompter, he really did pronounce the word "corpsman" as "CORPSE man." If I need to tell you that it's pronounced "core," as in the Marine Corps, then perhaps you thought Bush was a little verbose.)

3) The current president inherited a difficult situation, not unlike his predecessor, and both responded by crawling into bed with fat cats, devaluing the dollar, and mindlessly increasing the national debt.

4) Both presidents enjoyed party majorities in the legislature. Both used them to enact wildly unpopular legislation, thereby sending the congressional approval rating into a dark abyss.

Should you honestly conduct this survey, I believe you will be at least partially shocked and/or disappointed with the reactions and results. And one could go on with 25 (give or take) similar points. (These facts, and many others, are all available with a modicum of research.) But rather than blather, let us ask ourselves what this multitude of queasy similarities means. Is the very office of president corrupted to such a degree that it no longer matters who occupies it? What kind of future lies in store for a Republic wherein the electorate is so ignorant as to excuse reprehensible behavior because of party affiliation, or for any other reason? What happens to freedom when people are willing to accept tyranny from someone who makes them feel good? What are the further implications of the broad philosophical differences that seem to divide the country squarely down the middle?
Do you know the answers to these questions before even conducting the survey? Do said answeres leave room for optimism?

My hope--my sincere hope--is that the results will surprise me. That we will discover a fair minded, informed center--a core group of registered voters who are able to evaluate a political entity based on something other than "focus groups, cool graphics, brainless endorsements from Hollywood elites and Internet pan flashes, nebulous catch phrases and an A+ in teleprompter reading."

Alas, as dear Emily observed: "hope is the thing with feathers." It can, and maybe should, "pearch upon [our] soul, and sing the tune without the words--and never stop at all." But only a fool follows that bird into places like the blogosphere . . . or the future . . . or the voting booth.

vendredi, février 05, 2010

A Little Dream I Had . . . Part III

Having been granted the privilege of interviewing a presidential candidate for the first time, I was initially a bit nervous. Then, in an interview on the BBC, the candidate in question said: "No; I haven't noticed any difference in the way people react to me since I started running. Why should people react at all? I'm the same citizen. I'm on the same level they are. And if anyone tries any of that hero worship bullsh*t with me I'll simply tell them to pull their head out . . . of the clouds . . . and try to understand what America is supposed to be about. Even as the damn president, which I hope to be, if anyone says I give them a chill running down their leg I swear I'll start throwing hay makers. Because I don't really think democracy can long survive that level of ignorance. School children are absolutely NOT supposed to be singing songs about ANY president in office. In our country, the President works for the people. I am applying to be THEIR employee! Respect the office, fine. Now let's work together as equals for the betterment of the country. And if you get all weepy over who is president, either from hatred or admiration, PLEASE DO NOT VOTE."

That put the butterflies on sabbatical and I was able to get down to the business of having a conversation with the New Federalist Party candidate for the presidency.

You have steadfastly refused to discuss race and gender, and have even asked that people who cover you not bring it up. That is so refreshing. But what do you say to critics who want to make that an issue?

They are wrong. The president's gender and race are irrelevant. Anyone who thinks differently is as ignorant as they are condescending and I don't care what they think. If I were to become the first female president, I would find it demeaning if that was what people celebrated. If I were to become the first Chinese American president, I wouldn't want people throwing focus on something over which I had no control. This is a country of Laws and Ideas. If they can't commemorate my ideas, and commemorate them FIRST, then to hell with them.

You aren't the first candidate to openly call for the abolishing of the I.R.S. but you are the first whose party has made the end of Income tax a plank in your platform. This seems to put you out on the fringes. Ever feel like you're tilting at windmills?

If something is right, you have to believe in it no matter how far "out there" it puts you. And if something is wrong, you have to oppose it no matter how much of a behemoth it is. Yes, in a sense, I feel like I'm holding up the head of Medusa against the Kraken. But there is NO WAY that anyone can make a case for taking people's income. It is fiscally unnecessary and morally repugnant. And as long as the government can put a gun in your face and force you to pay, this country is not free. Tax property for the schools. Tax gas for the highways. Collect fees for garbage pick up and sewer maintenance. Tax sales of goods and services. That's part of living in a civilized society. But the great people who drew up the constitution would have marched against you with guns if you proposed to put your grubby hands into their wallets and bank accounts. I guess I'm just not into class warfare. That crap is for suckers and a truly enlightened person knows it. If the only way you can feel good about the world is to soak the rich, then pass a luxury tax on the items you think they buy so they can look down their nose at you.

Like yachts and such?

I was thinking of designer jeans and plastic surgery, but yeah.

So would you call yourself an advocate for the rich?

No. The rich don't need any one advocating for them. But on the other hand, how dare anyone hold a grudge against another and judge them for how much money they make? It's as petty and small minded as judging someone for how little they make. As president, my province is the law, before which we are all equal. We are all born with, and we all retain to our dying day, a perfectly infinite potential. Ours was supposed to be the government that stays out of people's way when they access that potential, and lets them deal with the consequences when they don't. What else could equality mean?

Should we help the poor?

What kind of loaded question is that? Damn right we should help the poor. Every private citizen with means should reach out, notice I didn't say reach down, and help people in need. I was raised lower middle class, but the vast majority of rich people I've met spend huge amounts of time and funds helping others. Most of the people I know from all walks of life have spent a chunk of their days looking out for the less fortunate. If you don't you're simply evil. But you're asking, "should the government help the poor." That's a separate question, and the answer is dicey. According to the Constitution, NO. I can promise you with absolute confidence that if the people of this country didn't have the government doing it by force, their hearts are big enough that they would be doing it privately, and voluntarily. There is an abundance of historical evidence to back that up. Anyone who proposes to take one person's money to purchase a vote from another is automatically dubious. That said, we have programs in place. They're wasteful, poorly managed, and end up subsidizing sloth and promiscuity. But there they are. And you can argue reasonably that there are people who have been helped by them. My party has NEVER proposed to end welfare or food stamps or medicare anything like that. We simply propose to turn it over to the states, where it can be managed more effectively. Similar to our position on education. Americans are not stupid enough to believe that a cloistered, glad handing politician in D.C. can better manage a situation thousands of miles away in Medford, Oregon. So, to encapsulate our position on the government forcing citizens to help others, there is an honest case to be made against it, and a heartfelt case for it. At this point, it might be too late for us as a country to be what the founders intended. But at least we can keep the money close to the situation it is supposed to remedy.

Last question--because this is for the Internet, and you know the American attention span: Are you worried about anything in your past that the press is going to dig up as we approach the election?

Not really. I think Americans are sick of media frenzy on any topic, and they are REALLY sick of personal foibles making headlines. If that turns out not to be the case, and the people are hungry for juicy details about my personal life, then maybe I'm in trouble. I might be too boring to be elected. But my party is about ideas. There was no metaphorical colonoscopy into my past and no focus grouping about my likability. You know what? I have predicted the winner in the last 7 presidential elections based solely on HAIR. That's really true. We want a good looking president, and we have, since Carter, always elected the candidate with better hair. That's the field a candidate is playing on. We're trying to change the game. Our cards are not focus groups, cool graphics, brainless endorsements from Hollywood elites and Internet pan flashes, nebulous catch phrases and an A+ in teleprompter reading. We have a different deck. It only contains ideas, principles, and historical precedent. And the Constitution. That's it. We think if the People want to play our game, the other parties cannot win. They can't. They can't and they know it. So I'm sure I can expect a media blitz because the press are motivated and controlled by their obvious political allegiances and their need for profit. Let them come.

Then the candidate inexplicably opened his/her mouth as wide as it would go, blaring out a loud beeping noise that filled the room, echoing out into the void of space. It took a moment to understand what was going on. Everything went blurry. I opened my sand man eyes, reached over, and turned off my alarm clock.