Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012 - Getting Political

The Crusades
The Spanish Inquisition
The Holocaust

What doesn't count

"President Obama wants to take away my right to use federal dollars to deny people medical services that make my narrow personal beliefs cry!"

Regarding birth control coverage for religious organizations that oppose it:

If your religion forbids birth control, then it should be no problem to offer the coverage. After all, if no one’s buying it, then no money’s being spent on it, right? Morals remain intact and everyone’s still tenure-tracked to heaven.

Over the years, but lately in hyperdrive for some reason, I’ve noticed people going off on a very specific gripe. It goes something like this: “So there I was in the checkout line, and this woman was paying for stuff with food stamps/Louisiana Purchase card. And she had an iPhone! Can you believe that?!!” The insinuation being, of course, that this woman has terrible spending priorities and us righteously bootstrapped citizens should give her a lecture rather than our tax dollars.

Interacting with a diverse array of people shapes your thinking in both conscious and subconscious ways. I suspect that’s why people convinced wealth is a function of attitude don’t want to interact with the poor and middle class — because they might find out that all struggling people aren’t lazy, drug-addicted bastards. And learning that might make them question a lot of other things.

The downfall of many liberal activists is that they’re too righteous to be relatable. It’s annoying to go out to dinner with someone who spends the entire meal telling you why you’re an unethical person 12 times over for eating your hamburger. Conservatives, for all their faults, are able to chill out on occasion. And that’s no small thing. Guilt plays a huge role for both sides — liberals have too much and conservatives don’t have enough. Conservatives fiddle while their cities burn, whereas liberals won’t even pick up the fiddle until every trash fire in the world is snuffed out. That aspect alone draws away many people who otherwise might identify with us.

As I creep ever closer to presidential age (I’ll be eligible next cycle ... let’s get those bumper stickers rolling), I’m wondering exactly what impact, if any, my generation* is likely to have in D.C.

Yes, I said, “if any.” The baby boomers are likely to shadow us for a very long time. Why?

I have long criticized the idea of the unbiased news source. It’s a false ideal, because everyone harbors biases. Bias is like cholesterol — mostly known for being bad, but also for being essential to life in its good form. Every time an editor decides what cover or include in a publication, they are exercising bias. No one, be they journalist or reader, can wade through the infinite amount of news and perspectives that are out there. And really, who would want to? Everyone filters and interprets life in their own way. And that’s why no one can truly call themselves unbiased. A good editor will harness bias toward favoring relevance and accuracy rather than veiled ideology or revenue.

Overcompensation. That’s what we’re about now. Someone commit a heinous crime? Let’s form a mob and kill the bastard! Are our kids arrogant? Let’s tell them they’re no different than ants, and offer nothing but conditional love! Terrorists attack our country? We can attack their (or some) country so much better! A decade-long dip in the economy due to reckless deficit spending and irresponsible tax cuts? Time for drastic austerity measures that punish those who didn’t cause it! Global warming? Not only is it not real, I bought a massive SUV just to spite you! The NFL? Enough said.

We're living in a time of sociopathic capitalism, where the primary, if not sole, benchmark of leadership is how much money a leader can save. Everything else is expendable. In these austere times, it's downright quaint to believe that anything has a value beyond what fits in a ledger or a spreadsheet. Profits reign so supreme now that if we have to choose between earning 50 cents and educating a student, or making 51 cents and telling the kid to go to hell, we'll gladly give the kid directions.

In fact, for the first 13 years of my voting life, I wasn’t a Democrat at all; I didn’t align with any political party. Yes, I’ve always been liberal-leaning, but I never felt comfortable committing to a party. I’ve always believed that the individual candidate, the person, matters more than a straight ticket.

But in 2011, I officially registered as a Democrat because something funny happened in my quest to vote for individuals — I realized that not all, but most, of those I felt had the best interests of the country in mind were Democrats. The Republicans — a party with once I held simple and not-irreconcilable ideological differences — was increasingly a playground for far-right religious, anti-government and anti-tax zealots.

First off, I don’t give the first damn what religion Obama is. I would be perfectly happy if he had no religion at all. I think it’s pathetic that he, and every other American politician, has to fall all over himself to prove he’s a churchgoing man. I know plenty of churchgoing people and plenty of amazingly moral people and the overlap is not identical. Whatever moral guidance Obama follows as a person, a family man and a leader, it seems to work. We should be content to leave it at that.

The economic crisis in America is a preventable condition, but so many of our politicians treat it like AIDS. Not in the sense of urgency to treat the victims of the epidemic, but rather that it’s worth stigmatizing and marginalizing. “Live by sin, die by sin. If you aren’t smart enough to avoid affliction, then that’s your problem.”

To put it in football terms, this de facto feudalism is like saying the quarterback is the only player of any value. The owners say it enough and the people start to believe it. Aspiring players all vie to be quarterback. People support a pay grid that favors quarterbacks while throwing token bones to every other position. Players in other positions see themselves as failed quarterbacks who deserve their terrible lot. If a lineman gets injured, he has to pay for his own health care, because he didn’t try hard enough to be a quarterback. When the team wins, all glory goes to the quarterback. When they lose, it’s always the other positions’ fault. But of course, a football team can’t be all quarterbacks.


Our education system has enough problems without making up more. The idea behind vouchers is that public schools are failing due to educator apathy, and that free-market competition will light a sufficient fire under their asses to shape up. This cracked idea would fly only in our age, sold as we are on the image of an unmotivated government employee living high on the hog. Does anybody honestly associate that image with a public school teacher? Just being one requires an insane fortitude and a virtual vow of poverty — to say nothing of the incredibly touchy line they have to straddle with parents, administrators and the general public. They say mentoring young minds is its own reward, and we’ve sadly made sure that’s true.

You’ll oppose literally everything the Obama administration does, just because his name is on it. And that has never been more clear than today. So-called “Obamacare” is a political compromise based on a working model implemented in Massachusetts by, uh, Mitt Romney. You know, the guy you’re going to vote for? To be fair, he calls it the worst mistake he ever made. And I agree, in the sense that helping regular people is a severe impediment to Republican Party success.

You didn't have it coming, did you?"

"What?!! Of course not! Why would you even suggest that?"

"Look, I'm all for prosecuting legitimate rape, except in cases of rape or incest."

"Aren't you thinking of abortion?"

"Abortion is murder. There can be no exceptions to it."

"But rape has exceptions?"

"If you get pregnant as a result, then yes. Babies are a blessing."

I’ve been following with great interest your correspondence with UL Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie, urging him to rescind the university’s new LGBT studies minor.

It’s my hope that Savoie will heed your wise advice and avoid “placating to political pressures.” Not listening to you would be a good start.

I’ve noticed that about politicians and closed-minded people in general — bloviate all you want about “traditional values” or “taking America back” or whatever, and not a peep. Defend civil rights such as gay rights, and suddenly you’re a “distraction.” Rocking the boat with your evil liberal ideas. Apparently we NFL fans like our players docile and silent, which is why they don’t put names on your jerseys or market your likenesses in any way. “Shut up and punt!”

No one will ever stop trying to accumulate wealth. No capitalist game-player will trade their aspirations to be poor for any reason, up to and including everything they claim makes "lucky duckies" of poor people. Even if the top tax rate was in the high 90s, those people would still choose to make as much money as possible to stay in that bracket.

Disgusted by the recent successful application of democracy, some Louisianans are petitioning the White House to permit Louisiana to secede from the Union. To show how serious they are, many of the signees are using capital letters and even their real names.

If this secession succeeds, we could be in for plenty of perks. Here is a short list of what the new Republic of Louisiana, LLC can anticipate.

What it takes to get elected in Louisiana

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