Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ron Paul Wants You To Die

I hate Ron Paul. I make no secret of it. I hate him in that very special way you reserve for con-men who tell you everything you want to hear before ripping off their Mission Impossible masks, giving you one brief glimpse of the terrible reptile underneath before harvesting your organs.

Which I suspect Paul would support, being free-markety and all.

The latest reason I hate Ron Paul -- and why you should too -- is his typically wrongheaded response to Hurricane Irene: "We need to be more like 1900."

Meaning, we need to have the casualties and homelessness a disaster like this would have caused without any sort of civilized society to cushion the blow. Better the injured and displaced go beg from the Catholic Church -- hell, they're probably a bunch of filthy Irish Papists anyway!

This bullshit can't sell fast enough with idiots, otherwise known as 40% of the electorate. They all love to pretend they're a bunch of rugged induhvidualists who can totally perform their own surgeries. All ya need is a bottle of hooch and a carvin' knife, a-hyuk!

These same losers go crying for the nearest handout the rest of the time. Look up the rate of government assistance in Red states compared to Blue states -- on average, those up-by-the-bootstrap conservatives suckle a dollar more from the Federal teat than they ever contribute. By contrast, commie New Englanders receive about 60 cents for each dollar they spend keeping the Paul-supporting welfare queens fed.

These people are imbeciles. Craven fantasy-addicted swine and Paul's continued relevance is owed to his constant pandering to their imagined self-sufficiency. And Paul is a perfect fit for them, advocating the slashing of all government programs except for the truly wasteful -- his own salary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bitches Don't Know 'Bout My Quakes!

Yesterday's earthquake has been getting more press than the recent anniversary of Diana's bloody death. Lots of talk about this being the biggest seismic event in sixty or a hundred or five hundred years -- depending how you measure these things. Much less is being printed on how this isn't the only quake in recent memory, not by a long shot. I had my first earthquake experience in Farmville Virginia, 2003 -- which felt a hell of alot nastier than yesterday's little trembler. I slept through last year's 3 a.m. quake, as did many other DC residents. Quakes happen a whole lot more than most people realize -- tens of thousands a year -- but the eastern US is a strange place for them to be felt so often. Allow me to propose a cause --


Or "hydraulic fracturing." The natural gas industry's fancy way of saying "bombing the shit out of the rock shelf to reach that sweet sweet methane." As this country scrambles for a petrol alternative, natural gas horror stories become more and more common (my personal favorite is how mining the stuff can turn the local tap water flammable) and you'd think that, again, explosions going off underground might cause an upsurge in earthquakes.

Well it has.

Now correlation does not imply causation, but this is like if I came home to find a coffee filter on my cat's head and the garbage spread all over the apartment. Sure, a burglar owl could've come in and done that -- and locked the door on its way out -- but just as likely it is exactly what it looks like.

But there's no fracking in Virginia you say? Not yet -- and one would hope this spurs those idiot hicks in Richmond to revisit the policy. But fracking goes on with abandon just up in Pennsylvania and the scary truth is we don't fully understand plate tectonics. There are theories and there are lovable geeks watching seismometers all day, but your local weatherman still makes more reliable predictions than anyone claiming to know when an earthquake will happen.

It's like that old saw in chaos theory -- a butterfly halfway around the world flaps its wings and causes Rick Perry to go down on a dude. Pennsylvania ain't half the globe away from Virginia and exploding the earth is way more than a butterfly. Put two and two together and you have the natural gas industry putting cracks in the Washington Monument. That's not very American of them.

Granted this is all speculation, but it's less "How many angels on the head of a pin?" speculation and more "What happens if I put a gun to my head and pull the trigger?"

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Great White Hope

Let's all be realistic for a moment -- Bachmann is too fraking nuts to win a general election. She's Obama's best bet at re-election because her pandering to the crazies has turned off the other two-thirds of the electorate who recognize the Earth revolves around the sun. Similarly, Romney doesn't have these nutters and so would be reduced to painting himself as the more business-friendly Obama -- which the past few years has demonstrated is a matter of degrees. Neither of the GOP frontrunners can marshal the sort of electoral force to unseat Barry and plunge this country into another term of bad craziness like the Bush years.

And that's why when Rick Perry talks I get scared. He straddles the two biggest GOP factions of the day -- shrieking crazies and corporate welfare queens -- meaning he could take the crazy vote from Bachmann, the "sensible" vote from Romney, and run 'em all the way to the White House and the end of the world.

Perry is currently the governor of the failed state of Texas. I can't emphasis that enough -- failed -- because the dissembling reptile is pitching it as the exact opposite. Perry loves to blather on and on about how his Hayekian austerity-deregulation double-whammy has made Texas the economic envy of the nation. Truth is, Texas is on it's way to resembling 1980s Bolivia -- lots of poor and desperate people supporting a tiny clique of overprivileged looters.

Those new jobs in Texas? Minimum wage. At best. More minimum wage jobs than any other State in the Union -- and its unemployment has actually increased. It probably got help from Perry's slashing of education, after a majority of the real job growth in Texas had been tied to an expanding state government (that'll be a crowd pleaser with the Tea Party), job growth which additionally had been slower than under his predecessor George Dubya.

That's something that should be giving even the most die-hard Republican pause -- Perry is charging into this race as a de-regulatin', bible-thumpin' good ol' boy much like the last Texas governor to seek national office. Texas was a mess then too -- it's still such a mess that it took the dreaded commie stimulus to save over 200,000 jobs -- which Perry naturally protested against. Better dead than red, right? You'd think the American people would've learned after eight years of one of these lunatics but as Gary Brecher or Dr. Dolan famously said, "stupid people don't ever really LEARN anything."

No jobs, no growth, no hope period -- that's what Rick Perry wants to give this country. And if history is anything to go on, it'll be an easy sell...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Beginning of The End?

Viva Philadelphia! Last night, some Philly kids got their class war on in a rampage that's prompted a city-wide curfew. Several hours of stompin', stabbin' and burnin' from the U Penn region to Center City -- which if you've never walked is a hell of a ways. Ol' Ben would be proud.

But the big news here is what's not big news -- 21% unemployment among Philly youths. And that's with the standard Clintonian metrics for counting the unemployed, so the real number is very likely in the thirties. Revolution, contrary to what your professor told you, is not the product of any articulated ideology but rather a visceral response to very real pressures. No more thought than, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" goes into throwing a rock but when enough rocks are thrown by enough people, it becomes the vector of real social change -- more so than any number of speeches or petitions.

But just as it's easy to stir up, an uprising can just as easily cool. Especially in America where despite all the apocalyptic rhetoric in daily politics, things remain relatively stable and comfortable. We've been boiling so slowly in this imperial decline that we've grown used to "tightening our belts" as the rich and overfed pundits are found of saying. Philly's early Red October could just as easily fizzle out when all those kids go back to cartoons and Playstation (I can't blame them on the latter -- I just got one myself and it's frickin' awesome).

...Or last night in Philly could be a preview of what this country's in for. Youth unemployment is higher than any other demographic and if there's one thing Egypt and Syria have demonstrated, it's that pissed off kids with nothing to do are what really make revolutions happen. We just need to pull ourselves away from throwing molotovs in GTA long enough to start throwing them for real.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Platoon It Ain't

Being a fan of vampire movies from way back, I'm quite familiar with a little '80s cult classic named Near Dark. It's a quick and dirty horror flick about some gruesomely violent bloodsuckers (Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson, and Janette Goldstein fresh off the set of Aliens) cruising the southwest for victims in a winnebago. It's one of those films that succeeds only because the actors are having so much fun with their roles (Henrickson recounted two stories on the featurette of terrorizing people, including an armed cop, as a means of getting into character) as opposed to say any shred of competence on the director's part.

And so we come to Kathryn Bigelow.

I'd avoided The Hurt Locker for some time because I once watched an interview with Bigelow and found her to be the most self-aggrandizing airhead in the western hemisphere. That sort of vacuousness helming a film on one of the more divisive cluster-fuck nightmares of the Bush era sounded like all kinds of failure waiting to happen. At least until this week when I was bored and saw it in the library...

It's okay. Not as horrible as I expected but certainly not worthy of all those Oscars -- especially when set beside A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds, In The Loop, and District 9 (frak Avatar). It's a very middlebrow affair with plot twists and character archetypes set down within the first twenty minutes. You know the reckless Jeremy Renner is going to be a headache for his new team and they're going to learn his maverick ways get results at the same time he learns his maverick ways cause undo pooch-screws but it's all he knows how to do with his life. So that's okay. Sort of.

In fact, the whole plot is kinda stupid. And poorly directed. You know whoever's working the camera doesn't know it from their own asshole when the film is about bomb disposal technicians in modern Baghdad and it can barely hold your attention. But even when I tuned out for a few minutes, it didn't matter as everything was still muddling along.

Though there were two things that really stood out. First, there is a really realistic sniper duel after our heroes meet up with a bunch of British mercs. It's a long, slow scene like the rest of the movie but appropriately so for once -- complete with spotters directing little incremental changes in fire. Second, and more importantly, this film gets at a basic truth about the whole Iraq disaster --

They hate us over there now.

It's subtle and likely unintentional but every time an Iraqi appears, you can just see how pissed off they are that these damn foreigners are tromping around their neighborhoods and causing so much racket. And why wouldn't they be pissed? They were invaded and occupied! Why wouldn't they fight back -- and as dirty as possible I might add. Much is made of the nastiness of using IEDs and suicide bombers, but those are the tools at hand. And it's their goddamn country.

I remember some interview with Renner back in 2009 about how this movie isn't about Iraqis at all. No, they're just set pieces for these good ol' American boys to work out their own navel-gazing angst. It's reflective of the Iraq dialogue at large because we continue to debate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein or whether we should have invaded on a Tuesday or a Thursday while ignoring the fact we've murdered a million people so George W. Bush could one-up his daddy. America's not ready for a movie that addresses that horror and I doubt it ever will be. One thing's for sure, if that sort of movie gets made it sure as hell won't sweep the Oscars.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


This passed Saturday, I attended DC's Zinefest -- a little get-together of both writers and readers of indie mags. I didn't register for a table so I couldn't properly pimp my own wares (speaking of which, BUY MY BOOK) but I could still look and listen.

And boy did it ever piss me off...

The most aggravating thing about holding left-wing political views in America is that your nominally fellow leftists are almost always navel-gazing, well-fed white kids. These in particular -- they had the rhetoric of the revolutionary and they certainly had the smell of the revolutionary, but all directed to an obvious and sickening self-aggrandizement. Marxist punk journalism always revolving around how cool and edgy the narrator was for something like taking a dump in a shopping cart, crudely drawn comics excused as an assault on the bourgeois standards of beauty, Adventures in Menstruating -- really, I have no comment on that one. And all of this was acceptable, the normal subject matter of a clearly exclusive and insular scene.

This is a distinctly American narcissism. I saw it before once in Charlottesville -- some long-haired art student was trolling the Downtown Mall in a shirt that said "Stop Bitching And Start A Revolution." Being legitimately poor at the time -- not just slumming at Goodwill -- I was quite interested in this implied violent uprising so I talk to him. Turned out he was with Zepho or Zydeco, a commune just outside of town for people to affect social change through conceptual art and film.

So figure giant puppets of Bush and Cheney as Nazis or something. I asked what weapons they had and he scampered off.

See, I've had enough experience with these types to know the revolution talk is just that -- talk. This isn't a movement, it's a subculture that grew out of the early '80s punk scene when a bunch of disaffected youths who'd never known life without running water decided they were going to smash the imperial capitalist state by not bathing, living as squatters, and declaring any band that got paid for a show a sell-out. Zines were a big part of that culture and apparently still are -- old media that never reaches a new audience, consumed by 21st century hippies who stridently refuse to acknowledge the internet as a much wider and faster medium of communication because it's too bourgeois.

Revolution don't work that way, kids. It's a long, ugly process that won't score you any emo chicks. It's not for the ego-driven and that means it just ain't gonna happen in America. For all their leftist posturing, the Zinefest crowd are more interested in status among their own echo chamber -- never debating their stances, never engaging the opposition openly -- just like the screwheads in the Tea Party.

But at least the Tea Baggers bathe.