Sunday, October 18, 2009

I don’t care.

That’s really it. I don’t care. That sums up my position on 99 percent of stories that are on the news, and today was no exception. Indeed, I possibly cared less about today’s developing human interest story than I’ve ever cared about any other news story.

You probably know the details, but I’m going to rehash them. A family was (naturally) building a giant balloon in their backyard; their six-year old (Falcon) got into the balloon when the dad was working on it; dad yelled Falcon; Falcon hid in the attic; balloon took off; everyone panicked when they mistakenly assumed that Falcon was in the balloon; he wasn’t. End of story.

But wait, there’s more. In a postgame interview with the family, Wolf Blitzer (who has always
weirded me out) asked Falcon why he hid. Falcon’s reply was “we did it for the show.”

Then someone in the family farted, which was funny.

The internet rage machine went crazy. Over the lie, not the fart. I swear, I could hear blood vessels rupture under the pressure and fingers develop massive callouses as enraged e-warriors hammered at their keyboards with every ounce of energy they had.

And it would be kind of outrageous if he actually put him in the balloon (which, by the way, would not have been able to take off with a 6-year old). But he didn’t. The whole thing was farce, and we ate it up. Even the outrage against him for lying is playing into his attention-whoring hands; even my typing of this blogpost is giving him what he wants.

The stunt in the first place didn’t surprise me. This shit happens all the time; everyone wants to be on TV (including me – do you think I post on this blog for my health?) The surprise, and irritation, was in the moral crusade against him afterwards by the internet for lying.

We’re so quick to judge people that we forget how inconsequential their actions are. So he lied about his kid being in a balloon. Call me overly forgiving, but I’m fairly sure there are worse things he could have done.

This whole thing has just emphasized how dumb we are. We are so furious over small lies by normal people that we conveniently forget about the bigger lies by the people who lead us, who spend our money, and whose honesty is far more important. We’ve somehow lost – or never had – our collective sense of perspective.

And yes, okay, he wasted some public money. But again he’s taking his cues from our politicians. He lives in the Western USA, near Iowa, where billions of dollars per year are given to farmers
to keep them in what are essentially make-work jobs. He lives in a country where military spending makes up a majority of the budget yet universal healthcare still doesn’t exist and investment banks are given public money to keep them in business. One rescue operation is chump change.

So more power to ye, balloon man. You told a lie and got caught. I don’t care. You told your son to hide in the attic and play with his toys for a few hours. I don’t care. Basically, you lived your life in a slightly bizarre way that ultimately doesn’t affect me at all. Please continue doing so, and I'll continue trying to focus what limited energy I have on liars whose lies actually matter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Democrats Lite

Democrats are pansies. For years, they’ve rolled over and taken beating after beating from the less-civil, more ballsy Republicans. When they’re in the minority, they act as if they deserve it, and when they have some semblance of power, they act as if they don’t. They behave like a political placeholder between Republican regimes and they don’t want to leave their inevitable successors too much of a mess to clean up. Considerate, but ultimately not that impressive politically.

And I can hardly blame them. Look at who’s been keeping them at bay for the past thirty years – a dementia-ridden septuagenarian who seemed able to run the country in his sleep and two generations of the same straight-talkin, logic-lackin’ Texas oil family, the latter of whom convinced the nation to support a war with essentially no premise.

Of course, this was interspersed by Clinton, but he’s the exception that proves my rule – no Republican would let a bit of fellatio stand between him and the business of governing, and certainly wouldn’t do things like question the meaning of hard-to-define words like “sexual contact” and “is.”

So here’s a guide for the Democratic Party, so they can remember their roots, and maybe hark back to them. Because the profound lack of justification for Obama’s Nobel Peace prize and the self-destructive Democrat gutting of their own healthcare bill indicates that they’re in dire need of a breath of fresh air.

Jimmy Carter
I know, I know, he only had one term. But the deck was kind of stacked against him, what with a lack of Washington experience and an economy that stubbornly refused to grow.

What’s more, he had to deal with a public relations fiasco that involved him being attacked by a swamp rabbit. Life wasn’t easy.

But let’s not mention those things. Let’s talk about what became the defining issue of his presidency: Iran. What a nightmare – a President already viewed as feckless had this point underscored by the ongoing fact that there were Americans being held hostage inside their own embassy in Tehran.

He could have solved the problem and guaranteed himself re-election with a phone call, by raining hellfire and damnation all over Iran. He could have started dropping bombs and not stopped until the hostages (or their bodies) were safe and sound. Whether it worked or not, it would have guaranteed him a second term because the American Public positively loves war (at least for a little while).

But he didn’t. Instead, he sent a small Special Forces team who failed at the price of 8 of their lives when, among other problems, their helicopter got caught in a sandstorm.


But Carter understood – like no other president has since – that eight dead volunteer military men is preferable to hundreds or thousands of civilians, regardless of nationality. He also understood that there are more important things in this life than winning an election, and in the face of what must have been very persuasive arguments to the contrary, he still did the right thing. That takes stones that have not been seen in a Democrat since.

Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam
We often forget that the Democrats were the ones who invented the straight-talking Texas ranger. Lyondon Johnson was foul-mouthed, abrasive, and stubborn. By all accounts he was a thoroughly unpleasant individual to be around.

He was also a big fan of the war he inherited from Kennedy. These were days, remember when the Domino Effect seemed far more realistic than it does today, with Communist influence spreading all over the place. Of course, the American people were long-past their honeymoon stage that they tend to get with wars, and were demanding he pull the troops out.

Like Carter, he had a seemingly easy choice – he could stick with the war, in spite of its gutting his War on Poverty and likely costing him an election, or he could pull out to appease the protesters.

He stuck to his principles to the very end – he pulled himself out of the election race. Like I said, I’m no fan of war. But I have to admire someone who puts his ideals ahead of his political ambitions, and recognizes that, when you’re president, people are going to disagree with you, and sometimes the decision you think is best is going to negatively affect you.

Franklin Roosevelt
This guy is from a long line of toughness. His distant relation, Theodore Roosevelt, was shot in the chest while campaigning in a presidential race. Rather than do a Democrat move like go to the hospital, he crowed that “it takes more than that!” and delivered his speech as the blood seeped through his white shirt, until it became too much and he collapsed.

Of course, he was a Republican so that’s hardly unexpected.

But onto Frank. 1933 was possibly the worst year to be elected, with the economy far further in the toilet than it is now. People were losing their jobs right and left and Wall Street folks had developed a habit of shooting themselves or throwing themselves out windows. Not to mention the fact that Prohibition was still on. Things were, to put it simply, quite bleak.

So FDR spent money. Program after program after program was introduced by him and passed by his Congress, with the aim of putting people to work and getting the economy flowing again. Affectionately branded The New Deal, it didn’t work as well as World War II but even today most Americans won’t hear a word against him or it.

At any rate, after four years of this, the Supreme Court grew a tad wary of his developing power base, especially considering the political developments on the other side of the Atlantic, and struck down a few key parts of the Deal. Did Roosevelt back down, though? Hell no! He introduced a bill to Congress that would allow him to appoint an extra justice for every standing one over the age of 70 – essentially letting him play politics with a loaded court.

Luckily, it didn’t pass. But at least he tried. And that’s my point, if you’re still reading at word number 982. I didn't sign on for Democrats who answer questions about their illicit affairs and Islam backgrounds, and nor did I sign on for Democrats who gut their own healthcare bill in the face of opposition. I signed on for the men mentioned above, who played to win rather than just desperately tried to avoid losing, who were committed to their principles, not their 2nd term. As I approach my 23rd year, I long for some calories in my Democrats - because all I've seen thus far are Democrats Lite.