Friday, September 28, 2007

Slowly Losing It

So I haven't been especially prompt or zealous in posting to this blog lately. Y'all can decide for yourselves whether that means I should apologize or take a bow.

It's getting harder for me to post. This is supposed to be, in general, a cultural & political blog with a high percentage of appropriate snark. But I'm running low on appropriate snark these days. Those of you who know me (and who else reads this, really?) will find that improbable. It is improbable. But true.

Now, I'm not running out of sarcasm and irony. Still brimful, in fact. I'm just increasingly unable to take any consolation from them. Last night I was up late watching a Daily Show rerun, and they did a couple features on what the Congress has been up to lately, particularly the Senate fuss over MoveOn's "Petraeus/Betray Us" ad and the House's hearings into naughty language and dick-swinging in hip hop. And from somewhere in my soul came a small sound that must be what an athlete hears when an ACL pops.

I mean: Jesus fucking Christ on a popsicle stick.

The kids over at MoveOn run a fourth-grade ad, and the Senate actually, as a body, devotes hours of debate to it? The President has a strong opinion? Seriously? The House of Representatives calls hip hop artists in to grill them about dirty words, most of which the Representatives seem only to have heard in music recorded before the witnesses were born? (Get. over. NWA. It's 20007.)

They have got to be kidding. We have 150,000 troops in Iraq, tens of thousands more in Afghanistan, and we're spending at least a billion dollars a day to keep them there. That's money not going to health care, not going to the debt, not going to infrastructure, not going to education, not going to any of the things that make our country work and our dollar strong enough to buy fifty Canadian cents.

At this point, I don't really care how anybody voted on the MoveOn resolution or what questions they asked Fitty. My feeling is that simply dignifying the proceedings with participation should be grounds for a recall election.

The thing is, I don't see it getting any better. Our electoral system is awash in legalized bribe money, our economy manufactures little beside carbon dioxide, our educational system now operates on the principle that if all children are behind, nobody can accuse you of leaving any of them there.

And we don't care. We're not even fighting. We're watching the Daily Show or Monday Night Football or whatever else it is we stare at while we wait for the Pizza Hut delivery dude and give up on the promise of America.

America has never been a perfect country. Like all countries, it was founded on violence and inequality. But unlike some countries, it was also founded on the dream of participation and justice. And belief in those ideals has sometimes, at crucial moments, actually given people the vision and even the power to demand something better.

Maybe we'll have one of those moments soon. I hope so. But I'm running low on optimism, and for me optimism is the only thing that keeps snark from turning into bitchy despair. And I don't want to write post after post of bitchy despair. So I'm trying to find ways to write something better. But I'm not finding it easy, so I hope that you'll forgive me if I go longer between posts.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

A Stray Thought on Fiscal Responsibility

While recently taking one of my long, gloomy (and therefore rare) looks at retirement planning, I realized how many federal officials would be getting better benefits than I ever will, benefits funded in (fractional) part by my tax dollars. Those would be the same dollars that they've often pissed away during their tenure in office.

A thought occurred to me: what if the President's, the Vice President's, and all congressfolks' pensions were directly tied to their fiscal discipline in office? That is, check the federal deficit and debt at the beginning of their terms and the end. Any increase in debt/deficit would result in no pension. The higher the percentage of deficit/debt reduction, the higher the pension. Those presiding over surpluses would get bonuses.

We'd have to make exceptions for declared national emergencies. Probably even wars. But probably only wars directly resulting from an attack on the US and definitely only wars that Congress actually, officially declared.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Um, Mirror-Check, Your Holiness

The Pope recently lamented that "Europe has become child-poor" and blamed this on Europeans' being too involved in their own lives and too uninterested in procreation.

After his speech, the Pope returned to his opulent papal mansion, where he will continue to receive advice from trusted advisers who, like him, have for decades refused to have sex with women.

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