A look at several political issues, originally posted Monday, June 04, 2007; reposting to show how I have and haven't changed my mind about things over the last three years.
Most days, I can maintain a sense of equilibrium. Most days, I can stand to hear the news without really internalizing any of it. I can usually keep my sense of humor intact, and by lifting one foot and squinching one eye nearly shut -- until it waters -- I can see both sides; at least enough to get by for one more day.
Usually, I can ignore the rhetoric that gets tossed around by the ignorant ones; the endless repeating of pointless jibes, and mean-spirited bickering, the accusations and withering insults. Like seagulls yelling about the miserable things they've found to eat in the awful glurp on the beach, they aren't worth listening to, so I tune them out. And usually, on occasion, I can find a nugget of hope, a grain of truth, or a shiny piece of newly minted joy.
But not today.
On this day, I just couldn't block out any more. I keep hearing the same mistakes being repeated, and re-repeated. Here is a short list of my least favorites, in no particular order:
"If we surrender, the whole region will collapse." Which is true; and is the main reason I said it was a bad idea to go in... six years ago. I was told then that I was a bad American for implying that the President would start a war in Iraq without good reason. Well, it hasn't gotten any better... are you going to listen to me yet?
"He (or she) has raised more money than anyone thought he (or she) could!" Is anyone else concerned that the Powers That Be are "fixing" the problem of corruption by raising record amounts of money? It's like trying to ban prostitution by making the girls charge more.
"Global warming is just a ploy for attention." This is true; the scientists have been trying to get your attention for thirty years. You only started listening after Al Gore made a movie. May I point out, America, that you are the same people who sit around on an extra 20-30 pounds (on average) eating nothing but crap and watching TV, wondering why you are dying from diabetes? Yet I don't dare suggest that you change your consumption habits for fear you'll squash me... sound familiar?
"You're just against business... you're a communist!" I have to admit, I am a capitalist. Most of the people who claim to be capitalists are not. When I criticize exploitative business practices (Big Tobacco), rapacious swindling (Enron, Halliburton), monopolization (AT&T, Microsoft), and piss poor misuse of the very word "management" (pick an HMO, any HMO... including TriCare), I am not "against" business. I am against being GIVEN the business, and that is another thing entirely.
"We are at war; we can't waste time worrying about peoples' feelings." We are at war precisely because of hurt feelings. I grant you that the actual Terrorists are evil people bent on breaking our system and installing themselves as despotic leaders. But when we betray our own principles and break our own rules in a futile attempt to "get them", we play into their hands. It would go a long way for us to a) learn some of the language and customs of the country we are invading, b) learn enough of our own history to understand why they might resent us in the region, c) reach out to the American Muslim community to make sure they are being treated like Americans, and not like terrorists.
"Those hybrids don't get nearly as good a' mileage as they say... so I bought a Dodge with a hemi." I actually heard someone say this as though it made sense. To date, I have not seen him haul a blessed thing in it... he doesn't want to scratch the bed.
"I don't think musicians have any right to tell me how I should vote." Yes, they do. And you have every right not to listen to them. But you have a lot of nerve claiming that you believe in fighting for freedom if the first thing you say to someone who publicly disagrees with you is "you have no right to say that."
"Of course we need to fix the immigration laws...but we can't allow amnesty!" Yes, we can. If grocery stores refused to order more produce until everyone who had ever "browsed" a grape was brought to justice, we would all starve. If the cops pulled over EVERY speeder, no one would ever drive again. You know as well as I do that 11.8 million of the 12 million "undocumented aliens" aren't hurting anyone; fine them if you can, deport the law-breakers (that should be a given), and FIX the damned laws. The reason "amnesty" didn't work last time is because they didn't fix the laws that caused the problems in the first place.
"Anybody's better than THIS guy!" I disagree. There are lots of guys who would be worse. Now quit tempting fate, pull your collective head out of your collective orifice, and stop arguing about stupid crap. We have work to do.
I'm sure some of you will recognize things you've said to me, and feel hurt by my response; I assure you, I'm not singling any one of my friends out for derision. I'm sure many of you will still disagree with me on some points... I welcome a chance to talk it out (it's hard to really convey more than sentiment in less than 5 sentences). It's just that it hurts me for my friends -- all of whom I love and respect -- to parrot the rhetoric that has led us to this lowly place.
And one last thought: Do you know why 9/11 happened? After all these years, and all of the reports, no one has put it into these words, but this was the goal: Bin Laden wanted to draw the U.S. into an uneven urban guerrilla war, preferably in the Middle East. In March 2003, we gave him exactly what he wanted.
That hurts my feelings.