The Straw Man

Television has never gotten over itself.  Specifically it has never gotten over the 1960 Presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.  At the time, the great idea was that Nixon lost the debate by wearing a gray suit on black-and-white television.  He did not do it be being a blank, blubbering bundle of nerves.  And of course, he wasn’t a crook until 14 years later.

But anyway, back to the point, television has never gotten over itself.

Our current crop of media geniuses work for the very corporations that support Mitt Romney, so after last night’s disastrous performance by their hero, they are still searching for reasons why he won…or why, if Obama actually did win, it was, in the words of one media pundit, “too little too late.”

A hyper-conservative online friend of mine echoed this last night, saying something to the effect that “this was Obama’s last stand,” and “the majority (in some poll) feel that Romney is the one who will correct the economy.”

I thought, “Really?  How, dear?  By repeating and intensifying the mistakes of the last 30 years?  Doesn’t repeating a mistake just make it worse?   And what about all those charts and figures that show how the economy tends to worsen under a Republican president and get better under a Democratic one?  Explain.”

Of course there was no explanation.  Sadder still, this guy’s an economist (an article comes to mind about economists being made ‘stupid’ by their their training; I’ll have to look for it).

But anyway, the point here is this: Obama won — and he won simply by telling the truth and not allowing Romney to stick to his scripted unreality — and the media are having a fit.  This is not in the script, and they don’t know how to deal with it.  I mean, Romney didn’t even wear a gray suit!

Obama did play into their hands by being a snoring sap in debate #1, and at least one media wag now says that’s when he lost the election.  This debate means nothing.  Nothing, I tell you.  (And I daresay if Obama hadn’t slept through the first debate, that debate would have meant nothing, either!)

And to this wag I say, “I had no idea it was already November, darling.  And I don’t have a crystal ball, either.  But I do know better than to do two things: (1) predict this election based on anything at all I hear in the media, which has gone from chortling about gray suits on black-and-white TV to creating an entire universe devoid of reality, and (2) repeat the mistakes of the last 30 years.”

To my eyes, Romney is nothing but another George W. Bush.  George W. Bush was the perfected incarnation of Ronald Reagan: a stupid, arrogant, bullying figurehead for shadowy corporate overlords.  Straw men, if you will.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will put up a headline stating that “the jobs are going away and they aren’t coming back,” and not offer a solution.  Then they will blame the victims.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will prattle on about “small government,” and then regulate the hell out of women’s bodies.

These are the kind of straw men and media wags who will convince us to get into yet another war…because someone, long ago, noticed that we only got out of the 1930’s depression by going to war.  No matter that it hasn’t worked since.  We gotta get our hands on all that oil!

We can’t go there again.  Obama is our only choice.  If we elect Romney, we die.

Stupid of the Day awards all the way around to everyone who supports Romney.  It’s on me.

My Generation is Different…NOT

First I must mention that if one insists on dividing up the population by “generations” and attributing to those generations titles and unique characteristics, then I am without a generation.  I was born between the Boom and the Bust, and well before the alphabet soup.  My group has been called Boomers (incorrectly), Bust-ers (also incorrectly, as one year of the “bust” included the largest number of births recorded up to that time), the Envelope generation, the Cuspers, and Generation Jones.

As both Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are/were of Generation Jones, it’s hard to assign a set of characteristics to my bunch.  Like every other generation, we are as varied as the sun and moon.  If anything we do tend to be slightly more spiritual than our predecessors the Boomers, and slightly less materialistic than whatever part of the alphabet soup it was that followed us.  But again, I said those differences are slight if they exist at all.

Now let’s go back a bit, to the anti-war protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Yes, we have to go here, because Fox News is trying to paint the Occupy movement as consisting of the same people.  You will see why it does not.  You will also see why it is not a generational thing, and why embracing that notion is stupid and dangerous.

It’s hard to conduct a survey 40 years after the fact (particularly difficult when the media coverage at the time was as almost, but not quite as skewed as it is today), but the anti-war “peace and free love” movement of the 60’s/70’s seems to have consisted largely of college students.  I may be wrong, but I believe that at the beginning of the Vietnam war college men were exempt from the draft, and at some point that exemption was ended and that’s when the campus protests started.  If that’s not the case, they may have been protesting because if they flunked out of college, or graduated, all of a sudden they were eligible for the draft again.

Before that, Vietnam had been a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” much as all wars had been to that point (in fact, I believe that quote may be from the time of the U.S. Civil War).

In short, it was easy to paint all the protesters in one large brushstroke with the words “spoiled brats,” and the media did just that.  The protesters ended up hated and marginalized (although their fashion sense made some marketers a lot of money and that continues to this day), and the sharp divisions caused by this newfangled generational ghetto persist even now.  In fact, to hear some people talk, you’d think that actual hippies from the 1960’s have somehow been magically resurrected, their youth intact, and are out on the streets protesting again.  Damn hippies!

Much as today, college was far from a universal experience, and it was expensive.  Quite different from today, and largely because of the unions, one didn’t need to be a banker, lawyer or doctor to make enough money to buy a house and a car and raise a family, often on one salary alone.  The middle class was alive and well.

And so the protests of that era were confined largely to college boys who did not want to go to war, rebellious middle-class kids who hated suburbia, and a few of the actual poor people who got stuck fighting the war.  As I said, it was a protest defined by generational divides that were heavily promoted in the media and swallowed whole by the protesters themselves in the conceited belief that yes, the Baby Boomers were different.

It was also, keep in mind, something that pitted the young protesters against the unions, who were very conservative at the time, jealously guarding that middle class they had created — that middle class that some of the kids were rebelling against.

Then the war ended and so did the protests, and the next thing you knew, Generation Jones was being labeled as the most conservative generation in history.  I wasn’t that way before the label and have never been since.  I do know that a lot of my friends, both young and old, have become brainlessly conservative out of fear of losing their middle-class status (which most have, anyway).   But it’s not all of us by far.

Some of the protesting Boomers and a few of my generation went on to become bankers, lawyers, politicians and marketers, and they strove to stamp out the unions and the middle class.  From the marketers we got an endless alphabet soup of newly-created and supposedly unique generations, all in the effort to sell stuff.  And as time went by, I couldn’t help noticing that all these new generations were as indistinguishable from one another as the Joneses had been from the Boomers and probably all the generations before.

Why?  Because human beings are divided by types of experience (and the ability to clearly recall experience), not by some mythical generational gizmo that, every 5 years or so, magically creates brand new, shiny, sparkly beings to sell things to.

This brings us to the Occupy movement.

As I understand it, the Occupy movement represents the 99%.  The 99% are not all of one generation unless there was some huge, unnoticed baby boom about 20 years ago accompanied by an equally massive and unnoticed die-off of elders.

Fox News and others are trying to paint the Occupy movement as identical to the anti-war movement of 40 years ago, with some success among those of us old enough to remember the protests, but not the details.  Unfortunately,there are a fair number of those.

And lately, some of the Occupy folks are not only playing right into the stereotype, but supporting it.

I’ve noticed this twice on Facebook recently.  With the first incident (blaming all people of my generation for the economic condition of their generation), I managed to argue back successfully.  With the second incident, where someone who runs a Facebook group called something like “organization for educating misinformed Tea Party patriots” posted an almost INCREDIBLY ageist slogan and then was pretty awful to the people who protested, I threw up my hands and quietly un-subbed.

I have some questions for people like this: why is it so chic to rage against those who bully gays, minorities, etc., and then turn around and be an ageist twit?  And do you have one shred of proof that EVERYONE born more than 20 years before you is in the hated 1%?  If you do, I’d like to see it.  And I’d like to see the money, because I have never had much.

And I have another question: what guarantee do you have that your “generation” won’t turn around in another 20 years and plunge the world into yet another economic crisis with their selfishness?  There is no guarantee.

Remember, people are not divided by some mythical generational calendar invented in a marketing department.  People are divided by experience.  It’s harder to sell to experience (which is why marketers hate experience and hate older people who have it).  But it’s easy to learn from it, even if the experience is not your own, if you will only try.

The biggest lesson to remember is NOT to let Fox News and others make the definitions.  The hated 1960’s hippie protester stereotype does not apply here.  Don’t fall for any attempt to make it stick.

Collision with Reality

Yesterday two elderly relatives, who are spending their retirement listening to right-wing radio shouters, came face-to-face with the fact that those shouters, whose every word they imbibe like a poisoned martini, are the same people who want to destroy them in order to save the wealthy from taxes.  But they still didn’t quite get it.

Why not?  Because the shouters are shouting louder than ever, blaming everything on Obama.  Remember, the louder you shout, the truther you are, even if you are spewing nonsense.  It’s the first law of the propagandist.  And because of the screaming propagandists, there is a contingent of about 30 million people in the U.S. who have absolutely no idea what is really going on.  The rest have a sort-of half idea of what’s going on, and it’s all because of the rest of the media.  (No, there is no mainstream “liberal media.”)

I did try to tell one of my relatives that if it weren’t for Obama, whatever Social Security benefits and Medicare benefits they are already getting would have been completely erased by Republican/Teabagger hands.  She sorta got it, but only after I lectured for about 10 minutes.  The other one remains hopelessly marooned in his easy chair next to the radio, swaddled in an inescapable cocoon of anger over the fact that there is a half-black man in the White House.

I gather that one message has reached through the loudly vibrating  cocoon, however: the message that Social Security, at least, has never been the cause of the government’s financial problems.  That much even these two folks get.  Apparently, however, the right-wing flapjaws have been concentrating their attacks on Medicare/Medicaid.   “But there’s so much fraud in Medicare!” protested my reluctant student.  I told her if she wanted to see fraud, she need look no further than your average private health insurer.  She agreed, but I believe it was only to keep from being forced to have to think.

(One upside: if Medicare/Medicaid are cut, it will only serve to demonstrate how badly a national health insurance plan is needed.  And maybe this message will come so loud and clear that the army of flapjaws will not be able to shout it down, quite as they were unable to shout Social Security down.)

Meantime I’ve gotten a few private e-mails from Teabaggers who are chortling that “this is the end of Obama” and “he’ll never be re-elected now!”  I usually don’t take the bait but this time I did write back to one of them and only asked the following: “and who will be blamed the next time?  Bachmann?”

In true Teabagger fashion, he hasn’t replied.

Reality Fail

There’s a page on Facebook called something like “Donald Trump, would you please STFU.”  Almost every day I receive an article from them which is usually about whatever blather has most recently spewed from Trump’s cavernous mouth.

The last few days have been different; it seems that since his feelings were hurt at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, followed quickly by the embarrassment of having his fantasy-based TV show preempted by the very real death of Osama bin Laden (which Obama was involved in, but never gave a hint that anything was going on), Rump has retreated into silence*.  But I know this is temporary.  As early as later today, I have no doubt he’ll be baaaaack, this time spouting nonsense about…well, how COULD a black guy get good grades in college?  You know, it’s not racist, but…(mail-order lawyer Orly Taitz has chosen that as her next cause, so yuh know, there might be somepin to it).  Note to Rump: would you believe it if I told you that Obama’s white half got the grades?

Meantime Sarah Palin has made a “speech” (Really?  Was anyone outside of the media listening?) thanking George Bush for killing bin Laden.  Right, Twinkle-toes.  I assume Dick Cheney shot him by accident, right?

All I can say here is…well I have to ask: where did reality go and how can we get it back?  All we have these days, outside of an occasional genuine news item, is this:

(1) Rump (Mr. Fantasy), a.k.a. Mr. Better Living through Bankruptcy —  Like many another actor (Charlie Sheen, for instance), he has become convinced that what occurs on his TV show is real, and that he himself has a meaningful life, genuinely useful ideas, and something to say;

(2) Palin — Still there although goodness knows why; she finished herself with that speech about the Arizona shootings and it’s high time her media supporters, especially the Huffington Post, realized it and moved on to the next shiny object (in spite of her eldest daughter’s most recent and probably tantalizing publicity grab, which involves claiming to be a liberal);

(3) Taitz — certifiably certifiable, and nearly everyone knows it…so why do we keep hearing from her?  She’s also like Charlie Sheen, continually ranting and raving and painful to watch;

and oh, yes (4) the Royal Wedding.  Put that one right in the WTF department along with the rest of it.  I mean, OOOOO what does her dress look like and OOOOOO is she going to vow to Obey and OOOOOOO don’t the Brits just love their expensive monarchy when most of the Brits themselves are dirt poor from having to do things like, oh, say, PAY (the equivalent of) $7.00 A GALLON FOR FUCKING PETROL.

Perhaps reality has become too painful to deal with, and that’s the cause of this mass fascination with making delusion as real as possible.  Or maybe it’s true that our media have been bought off and are determined to alter reality to suit their corporate masters.

I don’t know what the hell the problem is, but remember the old saw about fiddling while Rome burns?  It’s happening, folks.

*I Knew I Spoke Too Soon Department: Rump spews.  My reply to this nonsense: not bloody likely, Hoss; from the sound it if, bin Laden got part of his head shot off.  As in, he was there and then he wasn’t.  Dumb ass.

While I eat my words, Obama munches on (T)rump

Came home from work last night and heard the news that by now everyone has heard: Osama bin Laden has been killed.  Recently.  At least temporarily this has cleared away the information-overload cobwebs that had formed before my eyes in recent months, causing this blog to wallow unused for weeks on end.

And so, first of all, I withdraw my long-ago blog post which stated that bin Laden died many years ago.  (But I still want to know what the kidney-failure thing was all about.)

I find it highly amusing that this news apparently broke during a broadcast of the Trump travesty “Celebrity Apprentice.”  This happened a just a few days after Obama and friends turned a White House Correspondents Association dinner into a Trump roast, much to the obvious discomfort of The Donald, who was there and blushing so hard it looked as if his thatch was about to ignite.  How very Presidential, darling!  (And I do mean that Trump-wise.)

Anyway, bin Laden is dead and Sarah Palin is discredited, so I will turn my attention to Rump for the time being.  One must have fun.

In the meantime, enjoy this.

Supreme Toxicity

In the midst of an unresolved and (in the case of Obama and most of the rest on Capitol Hill, unrecognized) economic depression, one more bit of bad news has come to light: neoconservatism has not only destroyed the economy, but also poisoned the Supreme Court.  That is to say that they’re corrupt as hell — at least some of them are.

More specifically, I present the names Alito, Scalia and Thomas for your consideration.  Just do about 5 minutes on Google and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You’ll also undoubtedly see a bit about the Koch brothers (the billionaire leaders of the Teabaggers) and Citizens United.  But if you want it all boiled down into one video, watch this.

Not that corruption on the Supreme Court is anything new, but folks, this is serious stuff and you need to know about it.  It’ll tell you how we got in this mess, if nothing else, and clarify that indeed the teabaggers are being taken for a ride at the very front of the bus that’s careening out of control with all of us on board.  It’s almost enough to make one feel sorry for the poor saps…which I would, if they’d just shut up and listen, and if the rest of us could only get off this damn bus before it goes over a cliff.


What’s wrong, dear, not enough carbon dioxide?

At the very least, it seems that Michele Bachmann is dumber than I thought:

Rebuttal to rebuttal to the SOTU speech

(An even more humorous version of this speech is offered here.  Additional humor offered here.)

The only thing I have to say is this: Madam, you would have trouble finding the intellectual depth to graduate from preschool.

This speech probably means that you are dumb enough to redouble your efforts to run for President.  Good.  May you reap the humiliation you are asking for.

In the meantime, here’s a Stupid of the Day Award.  I have no doubt you’ll reach your Lifetime Achievement quota in no time at all.

P.S. — this ties in: The Palin Problem

Another post about ignorance and food

Breaking my silence once again to comment on the recent hubbub over a certain municipality banning McDonald’s Happy Meals*(see note at the end of this post), inciting an outcry of horror from customers and probably emboldening the hideously stupid Sarah Palin to be even dumber than she usually is.  A deposit of saturated fat between the ears is notoriously hard to cure, isn’t it?

I guess sometime recently Palin attacked the First Lady’s anti-child-obesity campaign by feeding a classroom full of grade-school kids all the sweets they could ever rot the teeth out of their heads with.  No doubt a bucketload of snarky comments was passed around to wash it all down — with another bucketload of sugar added for good measure.  (Yes, this did happen — click on THIS to read the whole sorry story.)

But, back to McDonald’s.

I often have the opportunity to see the public’s eating habits firsthand.  I have noted that it’s fairly rare for a skinny mom to have obese children, but common for a fat mom to have tubby kids.  I’ve also noted that about 30% of parents refuse to take any sort of responsibility whatsoever for what their kids put into their mouths, and how much.  In fact, if anyone tries to deny food to their kids, outrage ensues.  There is no ratio of fat to thin I can think of in this category; I’ve seen skinny parents go nuts about this as well as fat parents.  In the end it has less to do with food than with a perceived attack on their child (who not only can do no wrong, but can do anything s/he wants — or else).  In plain words, it’s bad parenting.

The majority of parents will thank you for leaving them in control of their child’s food intake.  That’s as it should be. It’s called good parenting.  It is something Sarah Palin knows even less about than I thought she did, seeing as she thought it okay to feed other people’s kids a mountain of sugar, just to make some sort of political point against the (black) First Lady.

And that’s the basic problem with outlawing McDonald’s Happy Meals.

As far as I know, most parents have more money than their kids.  They are the ones paying for the Happy Meals…or not, as they choose.  If they choose to neglect their responsibility and let their kids turn into little balloons, that is their fault, not McDonald’s.  To put it more concisely, if no one buys Happy Meals, they will go away by themselves.

Quite the same applies to Sarah Palin, who as I said apparently took it upon herself to become a cause of childhood obesity.   Why I should even have heard about this monumental bit of stupidity is beyond me, but it’s definitely been in the newsand for once, almost no one — even among Republicans — is trying to excuse it.

Obesity in the U.S. (and most of the world, from my own observation) is not a “liberal” verses “conservative” issue.  It is not a political football.  It is a real problem, and controlling it involves real personal responsibility.  This is all the First Lady is saying.  No one outside of the occasional city and/or school board is talking about banning fatty Happy Meals or sugary cookies.

Banning kiddie meals and snacks will not help.  Allowing a wayward political Barbie doll to force-feed your kids mountains of sugar to make some sort of political point will not help.  Saying “no” to your kids is the only thing that will help.  For some people it’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the only one that will work.

*12/30/10 edit: further research left me unable to identify the municipality that was trying to ban Happy Meals, but found some information on a current lawsuit a parent brought against McDonald’s for “tempting kids with toys” in their Happy Meals.  This is essentially the same sort of ignorance and abdication of parental authority that I was talking about anyway, so I’m not going to bother to rewrite this post.

His mind’s made up (by something other than reason)

Obama’s black and that’s that:

Birther Jackass on CNN

And no, this guy doesn’t have any facts and yes, he keeps talking and talking anyway.  I suggest he’d get “the facts” if he’d just shut up and listen…but then again, he may hear stuff he doesn’t want to hear.  I have no doubt that when that happened, he’d just start babbling again in attempt to shut out the unwelcome sound of reason.



Our First “D” List President

We’ve already had a “B” list President (Reagan), and Mr. Proud-of-my-C-grades MBA (Bush Jr.),  so I assume that if/when Palin assumes the throne she’ll be our first “D” list President.  I mean, who else has had her own reality show and a daughter on the verge of winning an undeserved prize in a bogus, sub-D-list dance contest…on TV, of course? (Small update: the outsized…compared to her dance partner…Bristol did not in fact win, but probably only because the producers of that show were SHOCKED — SHOCKED to find out that their voting system was full of holes big enough for a drove of blimp-sized teabaggers to drive through.)

Thus begins my discussion of Palin’s qualifications for the Presidency.  You will note that there isn’t much to discuss, and yet there are a world of wonders.

For instance, yesterday in a public place I happened to crack a joke about Palin.  A middle-aged man standing nearby bristled and then marched away stiffly; it was clear he was offended.  I’ll never forget the pained look on his face.  Oh, his poor misunderstood Sarah!

I misunderstand nothing about Sarah.  In Stupid language, I guess you’d say I no longer misunderestimate her.

The Palinbots are armed with nothing but misdirected rage (because there is nothing else for them to be armed with), but I wonder just how far they’d go for her?  I mean, if it became a fight to the death, would they do it?  I ask because I reckon if they came to such a point, they’d question why and some of them might see what the rest of us see: there’s nothing there.

Let’s take her name out of it for a bit and just describe her.  Imagine you were faced with a anonymous female candidate with this resume: pretty matriarch of a dysfunctional family that includes at least two kids who’ve had brushes with the law and one kid who’s had at least one baby out of wedlock; verbal upholder of morals and values that she does not live; a bully; allegedly a thief; clearly only marginally literate; totally lacking in curiosity about the world around her; often incoherent; has little notion of actual solutions to issues beyond uttering a platitude or two; has no idea of the structure or function of the federal government; has a remarkable history of quitting; has a spotty education; is almost as out of touch with the modern world and its survival as your average Luddite…until she requires a Lear jet to get her somewhere, that is.  Sound like a good President?

A commenter on another site recently said some things I wish I’d thought of first; the points were so succinct and so true..and I couldn’t help wondering how Palin would handle blunt truths, yet I know: she’d make up a platitude and repeat it at every opportunity, and meanwhile, the problem would rage out of control as usual.

First thing this person said: conservatives are the reason illegal immigrants are here and liberals are the reason illegal immigrants are allowed to stay.  That one should be plastered up on the Capitol Building to make it clear that there are no innocents in this form of human trafficking; everyone on either side is a villain.  Sarah Palin lacks the subtlety to see things like this; she only spouts “the liberals did it” as a solution.  Which is to say she has none — and that’s only one of several out-of-control problems facing this country for which she has no solution.

Second, the U.S. is a heartbeat away from becoming a third-world country.  Yep, and I’ll wager that heartbeat is Sarah Palin ascending the throne, as she appears to view it.

Our standards for the Presidency began to take a nosedive in the 1970’s and if Palin were elected — and I refuse to rule that out any more — it would represent the nadir of the office and possibly of this country.

Until she quit, of course.  When that happens, all bets are off.  The only previous quitter was Nixon and in his case, at least we knew why.  I have no doubt that if/when Palin quits the Presidency, the truth will be evident but enough attempts will be made to suppress the truth that many people will never be sure — and in the end, many of her most committed dummies will still view her as a beleaguered heroine.

Speaking of heroes who did not earn their titles, those of us with memories recall that when Reagan was in office, many people began to suspect that he was but a mouthpiece and someone else was running the show.  Yes, in spite of years of attempts to rewrite history, which have become particularly fervent recently, Reagan in his day was not viewed as a mental giant, much less a hero.  Quite the opposite, in fact: he was so obviously dumb that many of us were honestly scared for the country.

During the Shrub years we learned that compared to Reagan…well, it was possible for someone in high office to be dumber than that.  We went from a “B” movie actor to an Ivy-league legacy with a C-average MBA and a couple of failed businesses under his belt..but it was okay because he had found Jesus (apparently hiding somewhere under a rock).  Definitely this shred of a human being needed  someone else’s working brain holding his strings, and we learned that corporate America was the puppet master.

Now there’s Obama who, after two years of fighting off not only corporate America but the wingnut brigade (including Palin), appears to have given up.  He looks distinctly weary.

All it would take would be a dash of Palin to end the prestige and power of the office forever, and the rest of the world would be carving up the U.S. melon, as if they aren’t already.  Until recently I had faith that she would be history before that ever happened, but now, after reading articles in some until-recently prestigious newspapers that tried very, very hard to take a rose-colored view of Palin — meaning that corporate America has decided she will be elected to the Presidency — I am really afraid.  You should be, too.  The time for chuckling at the situation has passed.