dimanche, avril 25, 2010

Why I'm not the one (or, Don't Vote for Me)

I've made a great deal, recently, about a mythical third party candidate rising to power. For clarity, let me sum up why I've never once imagined that person being me.

Because I could never be elected president.

My agenda would not be the noble Constitution-based platform of the New Federalist Party. I have too many other concerns that would reduce my target demographic to men, my age, who are me. For instance:

My first legislative act would be an executive order forbidding the use of the word "baby" in all music for at least ten years. Punishable by a punch to the throat. A rider to the order would expand the executive war powers, and the United States of America would instantly declare war on any artist that rhymed "girl" with "world" for the next ten years. I would call it the "historic musical palette cleanser act."

Next order of business would be a campaign to make all televisions run with pedal power alone. Yes, I would force all Americans to pedal a stationary bicycle for any and all TV or DVD watching. Old, fat, or exceptionally lazy people would have to take up reading or hire a fit person to pedal whilst they watched. And if anyone complained, the official response from the White House would be: "Shut up, Fatty. Nobody cares."

Secret Service snipers would be despatched to put a bullet in the buttocks of anyone caught sagging their pants in public. Seriously.

I would push my Father through the nomination process to the Supreme Court, and affectionately refer to him as "the National Curmudgeon."

I would make Sushi the official national dish. One day a month would be called Sushi Day, whereupon extended lunch breaks were granted, as long as they were spent consuming sushi, hereafter referred to as "our nation's most important culinary treasure."

Dark Chocolate would be officially recognized as superior to milk chocolate, which would be illegal to consume except for those willing to be labeled "barbarian heathens." So-called "white chocolate" would be absolutely forbidden.

I would enact legislation making it essentially legal to punch Bill Maher and Keith Olberman in the face. My administration would never advocate violence, but as a symbolic gesture, we would officially pardon, in advance, anyone who performed such on those two individuals. Navy Seals would toilet paper Michael Moore's house every night. All right wing talk hosts would be forced to give every caller 20 seconds minimum before cutting them off or talking over them--a violation would result in an electric shock roughly equivalent to a taser, the delicious sound of which would be illegal to edit. One press conference a month would be dedicated to an audio montage of Sean Hannity and all his ilk being shocked on air. Sean Penn would be abducted by the C.I.A. and a chip would be implanted in his brain. Every time he made a mockery of every legitimate argument the Left ever made by suggesting that his opposition should die a slow painful death, or that his intellectual opponents should be rounded up and shot, or anything of that stripe, the chip would cause him drop his pants, sit on his thumb and repeat "I am not smart enough to participate in the exchange of ideas" for thirty minutes.

October would be Emily Dickinson Month. The president would be given a month's paid vacation to make pilgrimages to her home in Amherst, sit at her tombstone for ponderous hours, and re-read her poetry and letters. Any press conference during this month would be restricted to questions about Emily, and would be answered with quotes from her best biographers.


After all that, I might just get around to abolishing the nazi IRS. I might make an effort to return power to the States. I might audit the FED. I would eventually cancel all foreign aid and bring all troops home until the national debt was paid, and all that blah blah blah. But as you can see, my own insane interests would compromise the office of president, if not the very Constitution itself. So I am hereby taking my hat out of the ring forever.

Just in case the nation ever goes crazy.

jeudi, avril 22, 2010

Let me get this straight

The Seattle Times reports that the Gay Softball World Championship has stripped the winning team of its victory and suspended two players. The reason? Two of the players on the team were reportedly bi-sexual. "This is not the bi-sexual softball championship," someone says.

Forget about how any panel of judges or gay softball "officials" might determine if a player is gay or not (It was not, presumably, by giving in to the inevitable urge to make tasteless "pitching vs. catching" jokes). In fact, forget about the idea that such a panel exists--lest we be distracted from the salient questions. How could a demographic that has been, by their own account, stereotyped, marginalized, and excluded from the culture, take the sword from the hand of Lady Justice and castrate the Champions of Gay Softball, simply because two too many players were not sufficiently gay? Are we not told that injustice toward some is injustice to all?

As usual, the lawyers have the answers. (Yes the not-gay-enough team is suing . . . if only to show how mainstream America they are). "This is a private organization," say the attorneys for the defense, "and they are allowed to make their own rules as to who is allowed." An argument which makes sense.
Unless you are the Boy Scouts of America, who, having made the same argument, have been castigated and abused for their stance against gay scoutmasters.

It shouldn't take the mistreatment of bisexual softballers to illustrate how important it is that the door swing both ways.

vendredi, avril 02, 2010

The End Is Far Away

The day may yet come. Certainly we are headed in that direction. Let us first be very clear that this is not about rose colored glasses: let us not attempt to pretend that a world where Brittany Spears and Kevin Federline can make millions of dollars unleashing their demon spawn, even as the grunting hedonist electorate clamors for more, can be headed for any eventuality but DOOM. Let us not pretend that a country that proposes to solve unsolvable problems by picking pockets and mortgaging the future can be long for this earth. Yes, the end is out there. But the end is not near.

If it's going to happen, one cannot believe that Armageddon can occur until there are more stupid, cruel, evil people than good, caring, sensible people. And that day has not yet come. My evidence is incontrovertible.

By day I teach Guitar, Philosophy, French, and Drama in various charter schools. The pay is nice. But the kids are nicer. They represent a broad cross section of socio-economic and religious backgrounds: from home schooled conservative religionists to barefoot counterculture hippy laissez-faire zealots. From privileged trust-fundians to middle/lower class smoke-with-your-kids-in-the-car trash. They are almost unanimously the nicest, most involved parents you can imagine. And any way you slice it, they have all made the similar decision to opt out of public binge and purge education, and they represent a demographic that increases almost geometrically every year. But we were talking about Armageddon.

Picture a world where an adorable, freckled, red head named Walter takes a guitar class, decides he likes it so much he wants private lessons, which the American school system is designed to pay for. He makes great progress. His parents thank the teacher and mom knits him a scarf with musical notes on it to thank him, as if the generous pay did not suffice. Halfway through the semester, the teacher says to Walter, "I'm really pleased with your progress." Walter replies, "well, I couldn't make progress without a great teacher!" Teacher fights back a tear and thinks: Walter has 5 siblings who are as polite, positive, and dedicated to goodness as he is. The world is in good hands.

Picture a world where another student sees his teacher doing some paper work. Without any kind of prompting from any adult, he crosses a crowded room and hands the teacher a small bag of Honey Nut Cheerios. "What's this for, Lucas?" asks the teacher. Comes the reply, "You're always bringing us treats. Someone should bring you a treat for once." Teacher gets a little choked up thinking of a future where little Lucas is teaching his own kids, by precept and by example, that one must go out of one's way to be gracious--even if it means giving up a delicious snack. The world has a smile on its weary face.

Imagine a world wherein a former Drama student found me on Facebook and asked if I could tutor him in French, which he was failing at a major University. He insisted on paying me what the school pays, notwithstanding his state of financial distress. Never mind that he was at least 3 years removed from my classroom. It wasn't there he learned that failure was not an option wherever effort and honorably attained help could be applied. He learned that at home. He's neither a Drama nor French nor Music major. He's studying economics, but he is artfully applying everything he learned from every class, with a clear understanding of the intricacies of life that make the numbers meaningful. And beautiful. He's a person. A great person who has opened up wide access channels to his store of infinite potential. And he's going to have kids who will follow in his footsteps. The world is striding towards glory.

Multiply these experiences by factors of tens and hundreds, and you'll understand the world of a charter school teacher. I am inundated every semester with bright-eyed kids who exhibit equal parts intelligence and grace. My cup overflows with the kindness of involved parents and the wonderful children they are raising. I am not Polly Anna. I know there are bad parents out there raising violent, ignorant children. I know there are drug addicts with 4 kids from 3 different fathers whose children are raised into a state of dependence by the State. I know this because by night I work at the Children's Emergency Shelter. I answer the crisis line. I take the reports of domestic violence and physical/sexual/emotional abuse. I deal with the ungrateful, ignorant behavior of poorly raised, disadvantaged children. For obviously opposite reasons, I get choked up about these kids as well. Especially when I think of the almost mathematical certainty that they will grow up and copulate, and raise up the next generation of system-dependent degenerates.

But when I weigh the two against each other, when I put my head to my pillow and try to make sense of this crazy world--most of all, when I look into the eyes of both groups of kids and see the same yearning for love and infinite potential for good--guess which side wins.

And until it stops winning, the hand written sign my inner hobo holds as he begs the Universe for spare change will read: THE END IS FAR AWAY.