Dear Fellow American:

I want to talk to you about something close to my heart.

BARACK OBAMA’S COMMUNISM.

Did you know that Barack Obama once took Russian classes?  YES.

Now, in Washington, Obama and his band of revolutionary socialist Wall Street mafiosi are putting together a plan to transform America from the boundless paradise envisioned by our Founders.

Obama has a different vision. Obama wants a country where government can come into your house whenever it wants, for whatever reason it wants – except if you want to be GAY MARRIED.

He wants to take your health insurance and give it to drug addicts.

He wants to PAY those drug addicts to abort your children.

He wants to gay marry your ABORTED CHILDREN.

Obama’s future is black indeed.

As a patriot, a lover of freedom, a God-fearing American, a veteran of the 403rd Technical Clerical Brigade Group of the Florida Air National Guard Reserve and a proud father of between one and three young children, I’m deeply concerned.

But there’s HOPE, friends. And not the kind draped in a rainbow flag and very little else.

WE THE PEOPLE, and the people who we are, can stop the Obama Agenda.

That’s where you come in. I pray and beseech earnestly the Lord above, Holy be His name, that you’ll send me $35.

Barack Obama is a radical liberal who is so radical that even liberals are frightened of his radicalism. Barack Obama is the most radical figure to occupy the presidency since radicalism began in 1933.

Barack Obama wants government to control business, inmates to control prison and children to control daycare. He wants to devolve government power to his cronies in far-left pressure groups and raise taxes to pay them for it. He wants to take out a mortgage against America – FROM CANADA.

He wants the government to slide its warm, wet, slithery tentacles into the untouched sanctuary of the American home. He wants to invade your most sacred of places until you and your family are utterly BROKEN.

Most of all Barack Obama wants to completely destroy the only thing keeping America straight – conservatism. He wants to BREAK us, too, FORCEFULLY and WITHOUT MERCY.

Just consider Obama’s ties with the Sierra Club.

For years Obama has conferred with, supported and even listened to the Sierra Club and their anarchist supporters.

So close is Obama with the Sierra Club that he adopted a spotted owl – AS HIS PRESS SECRETARY.

But the Sierra Club is an organization of only the most pungent and rank EVIL, who have been investigated for hatred against America in at least 52 states. Its workers have been repeatedly charged with inciting underage illegal alien baby animals to violence against their human masters.

Yet Obama not only supports them – he relies on them to pass his budget.

They are just one of the many tools in his arsenal of hate. He uses them because he doesn’t just want to stop us…

…HE WANTS TO IMMOLATE US. ONLY TOTAL EVISCERATION WILL SATISFY HIM. HE WANTS TO REND US APART AND EXTINGUISH THE FAINTEST RESISTANCE TO OUR EXTERMINATION SO THAT HE CAN LIQUIDATE ALL THAT WE STAND FOR.

That’s the reason he’s pushing for ObamaCare.

Once every American has health care, Obama will have our Founding Fathers at his mercy. He will do with them what he pleases. Their dreams, their desires – he will control them mind, body, and if he likes, soul.

US TOO.

This black day for America can get blacker still.

There aren’t enough of us in Congress to halt Obama’s march to destruction. Somehow, because of trickery, manipulation and terror, congressional Republicans are almost irrelevant.

But I’m fighting back against Obama’s sinister shinkansen to socialism.

And I need your $35.

The American Conservative Unity Network Taskforce (ACUN Taskforce) is resisting the Obama agenda.

We aren’t just supporting ANY Republican candidate…

We are dedicated to electing only the most HARD BOTTOMED conservative leaders of tomorrow.

Our fightback has to begin right where American democracy has always lived – in the United States Congress.

Now OF COURSE you OBVIOUSLY see that what we’re doing needs your donation of $35, $37.50, $42.25, $46.94, $53.o1 or $55,100.

There’s almost no time left! Quick!

Only you can stop Obama’s plan to destroy the legacy of RONALD REAGAN. Barack Obama is the ANTIREAGAN.

Ronald Reagan’s love of our country, commitment to freedom, and completely unimpeachable commitment to virtue saved America…

… AND DESTROYED LIBERALISM.

But now Obama wants to try again. I’m not giving in. I’m going to stand and fight to the bitter end.

This battle is happening today!

But it won’t be easy.

To fight we need the ACUN Taskforce to mobilize within the next 48 hours.

We can pull the snow-white rug of justice right out from under the dark feet of oppression if…

1) You sign that support pledge thing.

2) You send back IMMEDIATE REINFORCEMENT of $35, or even as much as $52.13, $74.94 or $119,050.

The more you help, the less America suffers.

It’s just that simple.

Your American friend,

Peter Wahlberg

P.S. ACUN Taskforce is a unique group dedicated to halting Obama’s march to the gulags.

We need your help! So please sign the pledge thing and send it back WITH YOUR MOST GENEROUS GIFT of $35, $67.82, $348.90 or $167,600.

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Winter weltanschauung

3 February 2010

In the District of Columbia significant quantities of snow fall only on the weekend.  Invariably it has receded enough by the following Monday for the drones to return to work.  Even the weather is anti-worker.

It rather makes me wonder if Marx ever took into account how bad the weather is when planning the Revolution.  I suppose he didn’t plan it, really. He wrote books. He was like the Jack Ryan of international communism, but the pre-Hunt for Red October Jack Ryan. Would this make Engels James Earl Jones? I need to get clarity on this.

(This is a nonsensical phrase. People at work say it to me frequently. I will one day reply, “Sure, let me just go buy a little clarity from the pusher two doors over,” and be immediately sacked.)

Imagine that you’re the proletariat.  I’m not, but let’s say you are.

Are you really going to wear that? The proletariat, while dirty and frequently ill-mannered, are generally impeccably-dressed in situations of great political tension.  Have you ever seen a picture of Churchill addressing a crowd?  Bowler hats all around.  You’re in jeans.  I mean it’s fine, I guess. I just – whatever, your call.

So imagine. Proletariat.  What are the sort of situations likely to awaken you from your vodka-induced class slumber?  Famine sounds good.  Mass deprivation of a basic service like heating or electricity.  A major mutiny, perhaps, or a rout in a war. Perhaps a general breakdown in communication caused by the loss of critical air, road or rail networks.

And when would something like this happen?  Winter.

That hot dog is the mass-man

See nobody’s ever become a communist on their own. Some kind of shit has to go down first.  Now if this shit goes down on a lovely spring day – say May 11th, because the end of the month can get a bit hot but the beginning can be rather rainy and of course you have to adjust the time for your own area, like when Al Roker kind of uselessly drones on about the weather and then goes, “Now what’s happening in your neck of the woods!” and you get real information. In fact, I’ve changed my mind.  I think Marx is like Al Roker.

So the electricity’s gone, communications are breaking down and Al Roker’s all like, “Hey, let’s overthrow Matt Lauer and seize control of the means of production.”  And I suppose it sounds like a good idea, because whenever anybody says, “let’s XYZ” it generally sounds good. But then you actually go to do it and it’s not. Sure I’d like to check out the new restaurant. No I don’t want to go to Silver Spring. But Al Roker’s all, “Hey, come on, Silver Spring’s not that far” and so we go, and I’m a bit grumpy about it.

But then it’s cold. Maybe it’s still snowing. And the wind chill! And there’s “the forces of law and order,” as I once heard them described by a Russian colonel serving in Chechnya, and there’s really a lot of them. And Al Roker’s like “They have sliders!” but by then you just don’t care anymore. That’s what revolution is like.

A case study. Take England. England has never had a Revolution that wasn’t somehow queeny (both in subject and participants). Why? Elections are almost always in May. Just at that moment when the sun is shining, you’re emerging from the gloom and you can’t believe how badly the ruling class has misappropriated the capital provided for by the labor of the masses, they give you a chance to choose! Maybe a frivolous choice, to be sure, but it takes the wind right out of your sails because you immediately feel like you’re doing something. Why go all the way to Silver Spring when there’s a Fuddrucker’s in Friendship Heights? I think it’s a Fuddrucker’s.

In America the strategy is different. Elections in November lock in the choice just as the winter’s hitting hardest and frustration’s building, and then we don’t actually change hands until January. Used to be March but, I don’t know, fabulous advances in winter coats or whatever. By the time spring hits the new people have barely had a chance to get started and you feel bad making a fuss and this time they really might make it work. (They won’t, but the proletariat is not known for critical thinking.)

Not much fun, especially when Poland turned out to be closed for the season

This is where Russia went wrong. Russia was getting in the dead of winter (February) and they were getting their ass beat by Germany and there was a shortage of food in the cities and vodka was outlawed by the not-very-thoughtful authorities. No more czar. They got a provisional government and by November they blew so hard that nobody could imagine tolerating them through another winter. No more provisional government.

China probably fits my example too. I’m kind of lazy.

I think the lesson is that America will never have a revolution because all of the cities are too cold and there’s never any reason to do it in the Spring. The only real threat comes from the expansion of Virginia and their inability to plow those tiny country roads. That way lies danger.

But now a look at what’s happening in your neck of the woods.

Why we are a failure

2 February 2010

“If you mind your business, nobody will give you problems,” said a woman to me last week. “All they do is say ‘What the fuck that white boy doing here?’  By then, you’ll be gone.”

Indeed.

I’m not sure if actually working for government has yet fully deadened my interest in government. The two are actually pretty easy to keep separate, not least because, as a friend and fellow veteran pointed out recently, “Nobody who works in the government ever thinks about it.”

With the usual caveats.

My excursion into the industry of professional helping has been interminably brief and, on the whole, intolerably busy.  I suppose I didn’t take government to be the sort of place which left little time to catch one’s breath – or at least government at the sort of level attended by a 22 year-old of no particular credentials or repute. From my observations and understanding it’s not. Yet there are two sides to government.  The glam side – frenetic but easy and carefully circumscribed – are the people in Congress, the executive offices. You know: “the top.” The ones who made it and are “changing the world.”  Then there is the underbelly, where that fact is really, tragically, true.

The top half – although it is not a half but a tiny minority – live in a properly philosophical world. Most of them would hate this idea, but it is just that. The “big ideas” are invariably functions of values and the reconciliations of them, determinations based occasionally on conviction but more frequently on calculation of the basic questions of who is part of the club – “one of us” – and what that fact means. Decisions about taxation, schools, and the environment are not merely marginal adjustments to a basic framework but fundamental decisions about the shape of the world to come. These decisions are invariably thin – all decisions are – but unquestionably if ambiguously weighty.

The world which is my daily joy is far from that big blue sky.  Like a general who decides how the enemy is to be defeated but leaves the deed to others, so does a Mayor or a President and the people who trail behind them decide how the people are to be made wealthy or happy or good and send down the order. There are grunts far below responsible for realizing it in the shape of a idle march or a frantic siege.

This of course is the limit at which war illuminates the subject. Its task is quite simple – defeat an enemy.  You reduce a people to a level at which their own resistance becomes incomprehensible. The reason government is so difficult – and the reason every “war on” a social problem necessarily fails – is because it is in its likeness with war precisely its opposite. Government is the creation of a world in which giving up in the face of adversity is incomprehensible. Like war, it is a response to human terror. War attempts to turn it to use. Government attempts to banish it. Both end up being defined by it. The result for the latter is unsatisfying to an amazing extreme, because such upbuilding – even when ideally realized – is necessarily repetitive, incomplete and ceaseless. Creation is never permanent in the eay way destruction is.

I imagine that in a good number of places the business of government is not much of a struggle. In a close-knit community – what one might snootily call “rural” but which could be anyplace with the character of a village – the people are resistant to adversity by nature; in the sanitized suburb the mere whiff of adversity, while socially disgusting, is slightly romantic, the idea of poverty unpleasant but unthreatening and always surmountable. Problems here are more often a matter of the neighbors daring to intercede in my life rather than any violent disruption from the outside. It is not difficult to see why the number one concern to suburban life is crime, and why it’s so much less frequent when suburbs themselves are not a feature of that life.

And then there is the city. In the modern world the city has always been the problem. The reason is simple: people live in proximity like villagers with the interpersonal skills of suburbanites. It’s the perfect storm of “social decay,” “urban blight,” whatever you want to call it. It only really takes one addition – an admittedly hefty dollop of “want” – to bring to full heights human cruelty in its many forms. It is something we have become reasonably expert at in this country,  perhaps nowhere more than in the capital city.

But this is what makes the city so ripe and fascinating. (When you’re from the suburbs other people’s want is almost as sexy as the idea of your own.) The city is both the birthplace and graveyard of ideology. The city gave us both liberalism and Marxism, the two defining ideologies of our time, before promptly devouring its children like Cronus. It is a novelty to have an environment – at once so perfectly alien and so peculiarly human – both give and take away the last best hopes for organizing a world without one God. Never before has mankind been faced with a thing so bipolar and fraught. For in the city there is no escape. It will always make a lie of the well-meaning and zealous. Here philosophies mighty and petty are waylaid everywhere; hidden in the bushes and the alleyways they’re mugged and raped and killed by the dark forces of real life. All of the systems we have are built in reaction to the city, and they all are made worthless here. We are simply too many; we have too many ideas. Where is the space for the gudwara in Walden Pond?

This is where government comes in. We have it because philosophy fails. It is the awful compromise we make with ourselves, the deal with the devil that assumes problems will be taken care of so long as they are pushed as far away as possible, so that we might be spared the awful sight of the death of our ideas. But government is simply the tragedy of the failure of all our grand designs built into an awful whitewashed edifice. The people in this country who cry out with revulsion at the erosion of their freedoms are so laughable precisely because the government they hate is so puny and sad. Its programs are wasteful not out of malice or caprice but because, by their nature, they have to be.

This is my job: spaghetti tactics. You throw it at the wall and you see what sticks, but what you’re throwing at the wall are not programs but people. Living and breathing, with names and hopes and stupid clothes and bad breath and four kids at the age of 22. You make a program and you do not give it to them but give them to it, and see how many it “saves” – whatever that means. And then you make a new one and do it again. And again. And again. And again. Eventually, you hope that everybody gets stuck to – with – something. That you save everybody.

Of course you don’t. The city is laughing at you and your feeble attempts to save the world, always. Every program fails people, including mine; some people are failed by all programs. They stick to nothing, and the tragedy is that in the end you’re not surprised. They’re not the kind of people you want to help. It’s easy to get my liberal hackles up against the abandonment of the decent, the hard-working, the “unfortunate”; but what about the people who are lazy and obnoxious, the ones who don’t want to be helped or if they do will never let you close enough to do it? What about the ones the civil servants, well-meaning as we always are, look straight in the eyes yet cannot see?

This is the problem with government. It’s so personal.

At the end of last year I took a class on Marxism. Philosophy, of course, so there’s always an air of inevitable pointlessness about it; but at the very end of the class I got the professor’s hackles up because I asserted boldly that if there was a difference between Marxism and liberalism I didn’t see it. Marxism is at best the other side of the liberal coin, the equal and opposite reaction its unique failures had to engender; at worst its a simple correction of it inappropriately couched in apocalyptic terms.

Take the program I work in. It could just as easily be compared with the best sort of New Deal initiative as with the workshops of the Paris Commune. The objectives are much the same either way: to take someone who has nothing, not in terms of resources but in terms of skills, or qualities, or consciousness, and engaging in that so characteristic upbuilding. In the process it’s hoped that a measure of personal power and the ability to similarly draw up others is imparted to them. It is to draw them into society. The objective is, through wholesome and empowering work, to be de-alienating. This is something at once perfectly liberal and perfectly Marxist – a reconciliation of devout opposites.

But there are some people. I’ve met them, talked to them, listened to them rant. They’re loud. They’re angry. They’re bitter but yet entitled. They have no skills or pretension to skills; they want for everything but want nothing. They are always unpleasant to deal and no effort is sufficient to make them fit. Their antics are tolerated for months on end, they’re brought in, talked to – and, when it’s finally too much, unceremoniously dropped.

But they’re someone’s – aren’t they?

What does Marxism have to say about them that liberalism doesn’t? A liberal would have called them the “residuum” or “undeserving poor,” would say they’re lazy and have no work ethic and would have to shrug his shoulders and say: some people can’t be helped. A Marxist would call them the “lumpenproletariat,” uninterested – as they surely wouldn’t be – in the virtues of collective action because of their contentment living off the fat of the state. He’d say they’re blind and mired in false consciousness and – at length – some people can’t be helped.

But what happens then? You can’t just ignore them. They’ll still be there. Part of the reason they are there is because you ignore them. They don’t fit into your system, or any system; so now what? When do you make that great leap to say – they are human no more? And how do you know when that leap happens not because of the people but because of your system? This is the leap that both liberalism and Marxism, in the end, find themselves forced to make. Neither are ever shy.

I think this is why civil servants don’t think. It’s hard, day after day, to stare into the faces of the person you don’t like and can’t help and don’t think anybody can – and to follow the fact to its logical conclusion. It’s hard to see from the inside the way your grand ideas are brutally parodied by your work. For in a city people are paid to decide if you matter. This is the bargain. I am paid to sort lives into useful and unuseful piles, and dispense with them as quickly as possible. There are many others like me. And we do this – I do this – for the same reason they keep coming to us: a paycheck. I too need; I too want. And so not because I am powerful but because this role lays bare my own powerlessness do I sort lives as I see fit. Maybe I do it with more or less charity; but it’s a thin kind of charity.

And someday I’ll leave, as quickly as it would take to wonder what the fuck that white boy was doing there anyway. I won’t have had a good answer. Today I didn’t when with an affected air of smug satisfaction I listened to fifteen people describe eloquently and rightly how I’m failing them, led on by two people who themselves did far less and knew no better. They didn’t mean it personally – but the problem with government is that it is personal, to each and every one of us, because it is the living manifestation of the terror that comes from our own social bankruptcy. It is a bundle of all the failure we cannot admit and survive, a great church which – for a tithe – hides away the crimes we commit against each other. For all the spaghetti that stuck there will be some that got away. Maybe some other me, secreted away in a similarly dingy building somewhere else, will catch them. But not all. Some will get away, and sit there, and by their existence laugh at our philosophies which are no more different than two sides of a sheet of paper.

Until the next throw.

I’m glad to see that during my absence literally tens of people have found their way to my blog.  Today, that included people searching for “furry rape” and “Van Hool Portugal.”  Well done, sirs.

There’s a great deal I’d have liked to have written about, but I’ve been distracted by the hateful business of maintaining my hateful existence (on a level of income which I have the sneaking suspicion is far more than I need but far less than I require). So perhaps one or two notes on the past month:

1) I am greatly pleased that the loss of Martha Coakley means I won’t have to hear from Bob Menendez for awhile.  Perhaps the Senator from MTV is unaware (or perhaps it’s his counterpart from the film Casino that’s allergic to listening) but in order to motivate people to defend a majority it’s important to do something with it. This is even more important when rather than defending an actual majority you’re attempting to hold a completely arbitrary number that’s going to be fucked up by Ben Nelson anyway. (I have just quoteD from Fox News. Occasionally they do get the sense of things right.)

They'll never take our health ca-oh

It’s rather like the film Braveheart. Remember when they’re fighting at Falkirk, and the infantry are slaughtered when the noble cavalry just trot off at the crucial moment?  That was health care. Somehow it shouldn’t be hard to figure out why in the next battle the infantry won’t fall over themselves to rescue their lords and masters.

2) That having been said, I never thought 2010 was going to be as good as everybody assumed – and now I don’t think it’s going to be as bad.  Think of it what you will but our electoral system is well-insulated from popular anger. Systems matter.  So far, precious little has changed, whatever the result of a quite-inconsequential by-election.  Ask British Labour how much by-elections change.

3) On a related note I am coming, alarmingly, to think that Glenn Beck is asking the right questions. Terrible answers, to be sure. But right questions.

4) Chip Corbett sent me this article for comment.  2000 words later I’m still working on it. Suffice it to say, however, that once I got over my gentleman-and-scholar’s indignation over the death of the liberal arts I couldn’t help but laugh at the whingeing – wonderful word, no? It’s whining with a more aggressive spelling – liberal arts people who didn’t understand why nobody wanted to study them anymore. It is in fact because nobody wanted to study liberal arts in the first place but before it was necessary as part of the process of buying your way into a higher social class. (This is the point of college unless you’re already part of the upper class, in which case the point is basically gay sex.) I even had a long-winded but sadly appropriate comparison with the 19th century British officer corps. I can expound on this in conversation.

Long story short: people don’t want to study liberal arts – especially philosophy – not because their heads are filled with some airy capitalist stereotypes but because those stereotypes have never been truer than they are now. To quote scripture: physician, heal thyself.

5) I don’t care what anyone says, and I realize this is a distinctly minority opinion. But the only academy award that Inglourious Basterds will win, or deserve to, is Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz.

Incidentally, Christoph, if you’re reading this – like, I don’t want to be weird. But I think we’d be really good friends. We could get an apartment. Or something. Call me.

6) While I’m a bit disappointed that Ke$ha turned out to be white, it does make sense given her association with Flo-Rida and of course my enthusiasm is undampened. This may make me a bamma. If so, I’m fucking Obamma.

7) All joking aside, Obama is also a bamma.

8 ) It’s really too bad that there isn’t a national conference of clotheshanger manufacturers in Washington in early February.  I think it would do a lot for their collective visibility.

9) Brett Favre is really annoying when he does this:

This is not unlike the other 23 hours of his day; however it’s doubly-irritating that the song has approximately 12 words and he still fucks it up. This is not unlike another notorious fuck-up

I think the moral of the story here is get your facts right or you’ll end up being raped by a furry on a Van Hool bus to Portugal. (A suggestion which will almost certainly result in my being a target for a Keith Olbermann special comment.)  How ironic that tonight the purveyor of that violence will be Saints.

One of the things I like best about the news are the old people. They’re rather cute, in their puttering little way. They’re constantly on about something, like the absurd price of Ovaltine or the yellow peril. It’s presh.

No topic exercises old people quite so much as us. By us I mean, to put it perhaps indelicately, not-old people. Call us young, relevant. Sane. Whatever you like. We aren’t them and so it’s very important that they teach us everything they know, so we avoid their mistakes, like appeasing Hitler. (By the way, my ancient and venerable friends: check.)

Today RealClearMarkets has an article by a man called Bill Frezza, who would probably qualify as “old” even if he didn’t begin his articles with a reference to “my 26 year-old son.” Props to your fecundity, sir. My mother would probably describe it as a mixed blessing, but different strokes, right? Anyway. Bill – Mr. Frezza – sir is very concerned about Social Security. It’s “eat[ing] the young alive.” I know this because his article’s entitled “Watching Social Security Eat the Young Alive.”

His son got this letter – why do all old people’s stories begin with something that happened to their children? Things must happen to them too. Like when Mavis played a perfect game of shuffleboard until she slipped on Sidney’s umbrella and knocked away her last puck. Man, good times. I’m off-topic. Now I know how it feels.

His son got this letter from the Social Security Administration. Sinister, as all communications from the government are. The letter talked about his social security, and informed him that payments go into a “Trust Fund” which pays the people already in it. Mr. Frezza is shocked: “Paying off early investors with funds taken from later investors is precisely how Wikipedia defines a Ponzi scheme.” My word! Do you see how hip he is? He’s on the interwebs! Sadly he’s clearly not attended college in the last thirty years, as professors are a bit wary about accepting internet sources as credible. He missed that.

But I’ll humor him – so much of dealing with the elderly is – and look it up. The first line of the Wikipedia article as it now is reads:

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned.

Since he used the term first, for comparison:

In common law legal systems, a trust is an arrangement whereby property (including real, tangible and intangible) is managed by one person (or persons, or organizations) for the benefit of another.

Wow. The definition of “trust fund” is pretty similar to that of Ponzi scheme. I think he’s on to something. That government, with its tricks and its Jell-O and the whoopdee wootchow.

Except. Ol’ Hickory here overlooks a word. That word is fradulent. A Ponzi scheme is fradulent. It is built on a fraud. A trust fund, on the other hand, requires that I – to put it in my hippest terms that Bill could understand, let’s call me Dude A – know that I am putting the money forward to the benefit of somebody else. Dude B. (What a loser Dude B is. Yeah, dude. I mean you.)

So, for instance, if I were running a Ponzi scheme I would probably not send out a letter which reads

Dear Sir

You are paying a great deal of money that is going directly to beneficiaries who are not you. You are doing so in a manner which will not allow you to recoup these monies but, if you’re lucky, will create a situation where other people pay for you to get money back. But probably not, despite the impression I earlier gave you on the phone.

Yours

Peter

This would be silly, and against the spirit of the Ponzi scheme. It would also expose the recipient to their own stupidity in a way that buying into a business strategy constructed by Underpants Gnomes had not already, which is foolhardy.

(I provided the link for you, Bill, in case you got confused.)

After taking a sideswipe at the health care bill – which he’s also concerned about as everyone knows all young people are born with perfect health so why should they pay for insurance? – he gets to the root of the question. (Not before time, as Matlock is coming on.)

“An entire generation is being systematically robbed by their parents with nary a peep. Why aren’t they marching in the streets like we did? […] There only conclusion I can come to is that we Baby Boomers have infantilized our children into idiocy.”

Or your generation’s comprehensive failure to create either lasting prosperity or a durable welfare state means we don’t have the luxury of spending our twenties engaged in nakedly-frivolous acts of rebellion against generations past. Or perhaps we’ve been robbed of all our collective wealth by the inscrutable machinations of venture capital firms – like the one you work for, Bill! – so that the deregulation you pushed for has resulted in the funds we built up being liquidated in favor of bailouts subsidized by my tax dollars to save the money I put in the bank in the first place. I don’t know though, I’m kind of shooting in the dark. Us kids! No spirit.

This is not the first such article I’ve lately come across. As if the constant hand-wringing about our children (of which I was lately one) by anyone with a stake in politics is not enough, we have to suffer the constant attacks of old people who, having fucked comprehensively the society and indeed the planet they so callously inherited, are now intent on foisting upon us their jerryrigged fixes in an effort to preserve their aged social fiefs under the guise of altruism. Hence the Bush-era hundred-billion-dollar giveaway to AARP, and the stunning duplicity involved in simultaneous whining over cuts to Medicare in the light of the possibility of the introduction of general health insurance.

Who’s behind this? The old people lobby. You laugh, but the average age of a Congressman is presently 56; of a Senator, 62. There is one congressman in his twenties and only a handful in their thirties. Hardly surprising, when the “decentralized,” “local” and “bipartisan” nature of our politics means the most important thing is a lot of money (or friends with it) and no political background, if it can be avoided. No inconvenient principles to get in the way of caring for our children. We – the not-old – could always influence the process, of course, but there’s not much room for us because none of us have any money to donate. Which is why we’re so busy working, because our parents… You get the idea.

Now, you’re going to think that, on the reverse side of the coin, I blame old people for all of our problems. Considering they have all of the power, money and well-tailored lobbyists, yes, I do. But this is beside the point. I am looking instead for that rarest of qualities which my generation apparently lacks: responsibility.

You see, I’m tired of being hid behind. I’m tired of old people justifying their policies – or tragically more often, their rejection of policies – as a necessity for our children’s future. Or not passing the buck to future generations. Or whatever. Because the very ironic thing is that in so doing that is exactly what you accomplish. You’re saying, implicitly, that we should wait until future generations have their say – that they, or we, will make the decision when we’re ready. And you can say the same during the next one. And the next. There’s always a future generation that needs to be given its say, that can be used a shield to perpetuate the status quo in the name of generational justice. There is always an excuse not to choose now, because it is unfair, because it does violence to some as-yet unheard group.

I am aware of this difficulty. There’s even a term for it. It’s called governing. And by blaming your inaction and worse, your bad, self-serving ideas on the need to protect future generations – to protect me – you’re not only failing to govern and paternalizing us in the same way your parents did you, you’re guilty of those cardinal sins you accuse us of: Irresponsibility. Bad grammar. And cowardice. Moral, and political and practical cowardice.

So I say stop worrying about me, Bill. Look to your own defenses. I do not need to be protected, thank you. All the “coddling” you and people like you whine about isn’t helped by the prospect of the failure that is your ruling class taking it upon itself to engage in decades of hand-wringing – or worse, a radical rollback of the “failed” benefits system – based on your idea about what I need and how I need it. I can’t help notice, Bill, that the one thing your article doesn’t include is the part where you ask your son what he thinks. Maybe he agrees with you. But I don’t.

Because you’re right about one thing. There is a problem with how this country is run, with the people who run it and with the worldview you represent. It’s old and stale; it’s dying. And the solution lies not with the people who brought us to this pass. It is to let a new generation fuck it up all in its own unique way. When you finally get out of the way, Bill, I look forward to the opportunity. It probably won’t be the America you know anymore, but I don’t mind. I no longer care for yours. And generational justice is not about your fear and trembling over my future – it is letting me live my present.

That might not be a bad thing. Anyway, I’m pretty sure we can’t do as badly as you did. We think too much. Just not like you.

Geeks and Gaga: A gay romp

21 November 2009

First things first: I was incredibly pleased to see that one of the five hits I had today was from a Google search for Reginald VelJohnson. Does he have a fan club? I might start one.

But this is not about that. Instead it is about a little liberal boy in Arkansas. This little liberal boy decided to stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance because of the failure of the Several States to grant gay marriage. In his own words:

I looked at the end, and it said ‘with liberty and justice for all,’ and there really isn’t… gays and lesbians can’t marry, there’s still a lot of racism and sexism in the world.”

[…]

I eventually, very solemnly, with a little bit of malice in my voice, said, ‘Ma’am, with all due respect, you can go jump off a bridge.’

Now I’m not going to fisk a ten year-old boy. I’d be lying if I said part of me didn’t want to, since he’s clearly very confused about the role of ideals in public life and needs to read Paul Ricoeur. But the risk that he might find this and engage in a public and humiliating internets debate with someone more than twice his age, and that I’d lose, is just too great.

However. There is something I’d like to say to him. Do you know what I’d like to say to him?

Hey, kid. You’re ten. Chill the fuck out.

I say this, you see, because I was exactly like this kid. When I was ten, and he a mere glint in his father’s eye, I read Time and was desperately concerned about the Embassy bombings and the Lewinsky scandal. I spared no effort in ruthlessly boring my conservative Catholic school peers with these views, turning every carpool home into a valiant rear-guard action for the forces of the International Left. I even wanted to be a lawyer.

In keeping with the era – gag me with a spoon.

I’m glad this kid feels passionately about the issues of the day, I guess. But for his sake I’d prefer he felt passionately about Taylor Swift. Or Taylor Lautner, if those be his druthers. Caring about politics so deeply at such a young age presages the development of a very boring character animated only by some kind of deep-seated sexual perversion featuring choke play or airport restrooms. I think I’m living proof that the cost of a little bit of ignorance at ten is the avoidance of thousands of man-hours worth of therapy, a diffident attitude towards human suffering and an unhealthy relationship with Dr. Pepper.

But of course I don’t get therapy. That’s why I have you, dear reader(s?… oops, no, never mind).

Pain me as it might to say it, there’s a reason that the kids in his class call him a gaywad. It’s because it’s true. It’s not because he’s standing up for gays. It’s because he won’t shut up about gay marriage and had to go give the backwards substitute teacher a red ass when she otherwise would’ve left them alone to play DS and talk about Hannah Montana. Now he’s on TV being annoying on a grand scale. (And as usual thanks for being so hard-hitting, CNN.) They might think he’s cooler for it, but I’m doubtful. Very few ten year-olds want to be at the center of a political scandal. But there’s always one. And that one is a gaywad.

Now my radiclib friends (who are nevertheless less radical than I, as they’ve failed to embrace the importance of tyranny) will object to this. He’s taking a stand, which is noble and part of the great struggle for equality under the law.

Perhaps. But if one does not deconstruct a ten year old’s argument, because he’s ten and it’d be ridiculous and unsporting, why would we hold him up as a paragon of democratic virtue either? Especially given what it says about people of, uh, voting age, that we require a midwestern pre-teen to fight our battles for us. Doing one better we’ve taken this poor kid and now pretentious sacks of anus pus all over the country are writing blog posts about him.

(Hi.)

So I’m going to stop. Right…

after this really creepy new Lady Gaga video. Which could be construed as either an argument for or against gay rights. I’ll let you decide. I’ve got to return a $5 bill to the bank in protest at our failure to realize the ideals of the Gettysburg Address.

Intarnets law?

4 October 2009

I’ll be honest.  I don’t spend a great deal of time being thankful I’m not British.  Quite the contrary.

Witness, then, a novelty.

Voters will be given the power to rewrite laws under Tory plans to transform the way parliament works by importing a popular scheme championed by Barack Obama in last year’s US election.

[…]

Under the Tory plans, a parliamentary bill would be introduced in the way it is now. The first and main debate – the second reading stage, in which the broad principles of the proposed new laws are debated on the floor of the Commons – would be held in the normal way.

But once MPs have held this debate, the bill would be thrown open to voters before it is considered line by line at the committee stage. A website would allow voters to comment on and rewrite the broad principles of the bill, and individual clauses.

Contributors would rank comments so the most popular suggestions appear at the top. This is similar to mixedink, which allows voters to argue for and against various policies and suggest their own ideas.

I have a question for the hapless Mr Hague, who has the misfortune of floating this trial balloon: have you ever been on the Internet?

Seriously.  The difference between an actual policy debate and that which you’re likely to find through such a “popular legislative process” is like the difference between Glee and, well, an actual high school a capella group.  Don’t believe me?  Go onto the comments pages of The Guardian, or Politico, or indeed the one or two occasions somebody I don’t know has commented on this blog.  If you believed what you see on the internet not only would you not want the people to make law, you wouldn’t want them to vote for the ones who do.

I feel a little bit of indignation bubbling up in you already.  What an anti-democratic argument!  Well, maybe.  But then the internet isn’t really democratic.  In the UK, as I’ve written before, things have gotten a lot more virulent even than America, but the question still remains: why do these evil corrupt Congressmen or MPs get to make our laws?  Because we keep choosing them.  They may be unresponsive, lazy sexual predators with their snouts planted firmly in the trough, but they are ours.  Both in theory and in practice there’s nothing stopping anyone from choosing somebody different. To go further there is no excuse.

But people on the internet – by whom are they chosen?  Who decides that they are “the people,” that they speak for some unrepresented segment of the population?  Precisely no one.  They choose themselves, and the reason indeed that they are so often ignored is precisely because of a chronic inability amongst much of the blogosphere to follow basic rules of civility and reason, much less digest complex topics like the cod quota or the politics of disarmament.

But of course this follows from a misunderstanding of “the people” that the political class, in its rush to cater to the Internet Generation, has all-to-quickly developed.  There is no People, at least not in terms of some vast group of unrepresented and unserved proletariat bubbling over with untapped ideas and revolutionary passion.  In both Britain and America there used to be groups such as these.  Something was done about it.  (And by legislatures bereft of these excluded masses.  Funny that.)

Measures like this are really just a reaction to general apathy towards the political process, not the exclusion of some mysterious silent majority.  In their effect they are not only dangerously populist but dangerously anti-democratic as well, in that they threaten to transfer under the guise of enhanced popular sovereignty a law-making power that previously was enjoyed by the people only through the representatives all had the right to accept or reject.  On top of this now will be placed a class of “law-makers” no one asked for and nobody wanted.  Good intentions being what they are, you put yourself on the receiving end of a downmarket House of Lords – the Senate meets the Sun.  (This really isn’t fair.  In the House of Lords there’s at least someone to check and make sure you’re not mad.)

Of course, one might reply, anyone can participate.  Those who do cannot be held responsible for those who do not.  True perhaps, but that is to elevate the theory at the expense of the practice.  If there were such a system, in which people could alter legislation, online, at will, and assuming in Wikipedia-style fashion anyone could, who would actually do it?  Not everybody.  Not the people without access to computers and/or the internet (in the US at least 20%, according to the International Telecommunications Union; I couldn’t find UK statistics but it’s probably comparable or higher; broadband penetration is far lower).  Higher proportions – far higher – for the poor, blacks, etc.  Scratch most of those who work full-time or more.  Mothers with children are probably out, especially if they’re single parents (of either gender).  Tinkering with legislation won’t pay the mortgage.

YOUR NEW GOVERNMENT

YOUR NEW GOVERNMENT

So who will be left, besides these groups too “apathetic” (i.e. struggling) to care?  The wealthy, the bored, and of-course-I-know-best political obsessives who are too reserved, selfish or extreme to actually seek office for themselves.  (Read: me.)  I don’t doubt a few decent people will trickle through – but I don’t doubt they’ll trickle back out again, most of them.  The effect will be that the best-off, most-driven and frequently most-extreme people will take advantage of the opportunity to wreak havoc on the legislative process.  They will be little dictators each and every one.

The example of Wikipedia is instructive.  From its roots as an open source encyclopedia, it has gradually resolved into an organization with permanent staff, a bureaucratic structure that includes courts to resolve disputes between editors and a model heavily-dependent on a few very devoted and profligate senior editors, trusted through their experience and seniority to protect the vast store of information from the ever-present prospect of vandalism.  At least with Wikipedia I can still, if I like, go in and make productive changes.  With the law there’s no such chance: once it’s done, it’s done.  There’s no “work in progress” about it.

This is not to defame the prospect of models like open source governance.  It is promising.  But it is also young.  And this is true of the whole Internet – it moves far faster than even the most youthful and adaptable of its users (and certainly moreso than the legislators tasked with putting it to some political use), and law as an institution depends on consistency far more than adaptability or representativeness.  It’s far more important than you can count on the law than that it be modern or include you in its construction.  Most murder laws were written under an incomplete franchise.  That doesn’t make them bad laws.

This policy, like most attempts to shoehorn the internet into law-making, is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in an attempt to figure out where your sphere went.  It is the wrong solution to the problem of disengagement and inclusion.  Want the public to get back into politics?  Empowering a few frothing obsessives is not the answer.  Try public holidays on election day – public holidays in general.  A reduction of the work week so people have more time for politics.  Or subsidized child care.  Mandatory overtime.  Compulsory voting.  All very scary and socialist ideas probably.  But at least they have the benefit of being fair and of appealing to what is, in fact, the people, rather than those of their number who are indolent, obnoxious, and bored.