Monday, May 30, 2011

Week of 05/30/2011

Make the Memories Count
– by David Matthews 2

In the satirical science fiction movie “Mars Attacks”, a trailer park family mourns the loss of their oldest son; a soldier who was killed by Martians. They watched it happen as it was broadcast nationwide, and later they transformed their mobile home into a shrine and demanded that he be honored as a war hero… the greatest soldier that ever lived. And then they made sure that their youngest son, the protagonist of the film, never forget it.

The problem was that their “war hero” was nothing of the sort. He was a dim-witted chickenhawk that couldn’t so much as tie his boots without falling on his rear. When violence breaks out, he grabs his rifle, charges out to the first Martian he sees, curses at it, points the gun, and then watch as the magazine falls out. He then grabs the American flag, holds it out and proudly says “WE SURRENDER!” Mind you, this is done in front of the cameras, so the whole world sees this happening, as they also see him be dissolved into a smoking skeleton.

So much for him being a “war hero”.

Memorial Day is supposed to be a time when we remember the sacrifices our servicemen and women made for America. And there are many who have, and the list just keeps getting larger and larger. Fighting two wars (or “one-and-a-half”) with seemingly no end to them tends to do that.

The problem, though, is not that they gave their lives and died in the service of the nation. That kind of remembrance is just and called-for. The problem is neither the service nor the sacrifice… it’s the nation.

We tell ourselves that our soldiers fight and die for us and for what we believe in and cherish. But we make the mistake of personifying the cause; to tell ourselves that the soldiers fight and die for OUR personal reasons. We tell ourselves that they’re fighting and dying for OUR right to speak or OUR right to believe or OUR right to be safe in our homes…

But then, in the next breath, we turn around and we tell Joe Islam flat-out “no, YOU can’t have a mosque here! YOUR beliefs are DANGEROUS!” (As opposed to Father Molester and Reverend Scam-Artist and Minister Dominionism, of course.) We tell Jane Entertainer “no, YOU can’t bad-mouth our conservative President in a time of war”. (As opposed to those that call our current liberal president a racist, a communist, a foreign-born secret Muslim saboteur, and a traitor.) We tell our neighbors “YOU have to open up your home and your bank records and your personal lives and have them available online for anyone to sort through.” (As opposed to those that think it’s wrong for a conservative president to account for ANYTHING they do that screws with our economy.) We tell our children that the Constitution is this great doctrine that needs… NEEDS, I tell you… to be spread around the world, but while that’s going on, every portion of it is watered down and whittled away.

You know, the running joke when Iraq was trying to get their new post-Saddam constitution set up was to give them ours because we weren’t using it anymore. Cue the rimshot. And then, when the Iraqis came up with one that reflected their dominant Islamic faith, people here were wondering how that could have happened. HELLO! THEY FOLLOWED OUR LEAD! They didn’t follow our rhetoric; they followed our ACTIONS.

I have to wonder what the reaction would be to Civil War soldiers that fought and died to help eliminate slavery if they were to discover that millions of Americans are enslaved today through financial chains and controlled through whips made of fine-print. What would our servicemen that died in the Spanish-American War (a war that we were goaded into, by the way) do if they discover our shoddy immigration system and the extremist stances that suggest that any kind of reform is tyrannical and gross incompetence is called an “invasion”? What would our World War II servicemen and women that died to fight fascism think when our own country has been trading in our “precious freedoms” for fascism in piecemeal for over ten years now?

I’m sure there would be some that would shrug. There would be some that joined for their own reasons and really wouldn’t be fazed by the ideological hypocrisy that has come about.

But I’d also like to think that there would be a few soldiers that DID sign up because they believed they were fighting for something better. That would look at how we squandered the things that supposedly MAKE this country of ours so great and they would be wondering if they wasted their lives.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the cult of country is strong, addictive, and mindlessly easy to get swept into, and it is fueled by every serviceman that is killed on its many ventures. No matter if it is a “peacekeeping” mission or a hunt for international terrorists and high-seas pirates, every life lost “in the service” is another minor saint to beautify and canonize. It’s another face and another name to be propped up on a pedestal and told that we NEED to honor and cherish for the sake of the cult of country.

Yes we need to honor the lives lost and recognize the sacrifices made. But equally important is the cause itself. That is the burden of those in charge, and we as citizens need to remind them of that. Their sacrifices should count for something more than just political whim or corporate gain. You can’t claim that they died for freedom if there is none to die for. You can’t claim that they died to defend rights that YOU then cherry-pick concerning who gets to enjoy them and under what conditions. You cannot expect people to honor a sacrifice made for the country if the cause behind it only applies to some and not to others in this country.

You want the sacrifices to be remembered? Then HONOR their memories by making the sure the cause is worth sacrificing one’s service and life over.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Week of 05/23/2011

(Due to circumstances beyond David's control, there is no article for this week.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week of 05/16/2011

The Politics of Hypocrisy (2011 Edition)
– by David Matthews 2

Didjahear? Didjahear?

Didjahear what they found at Osama Bin Laden’s hideaway mansion in Pakistan when they killed him? Oh you won’t believe it! You just wouldn’t believe it…


Yeah, they found POOOOOOOOOOORN in Bin Laden’s compound! Bin Laden had POOOOOOOOOORNNNNNNN! The leader of the biggest Islamic terrorist group was watching POOOOOOOOOOORNNNNNNNN!!!!

Oh boy… here we go again.

I really don’t know what’s worse: the blatant hypocrisy by those in power, or the reaction from people who discover that THERE IS hypocrisy going on by those in power.

Let’s get the big stuff out of the way first. Am I SURPRISED to learn that Bin Laden had a “naughty” collection? No. It doesn’t SHOCK me, it doesn’t PHASE me, and, quite frankly, it doesn’t BOTHER me one bit to know that he had “POOOOOOOOOORNNNNNN” in his hideaway compound.

But WHY are we shocked at this? Seriously. WHY ARE WE SURPRISED TO HEAR THIS?

Do you remember all of the accounts of the 9/11 terrorists who supposedly “lived wantonly” prior to their attacks? Remember how they all supposedly were allowed to “sow their wild oats” before undergoing their “martyrdom journey”? Who do you suppose came up with that little wild exception to the rule?

How about the Taliban in Afghanistan? How about the news reports after we liberated that country that the Taliban had or did everything that they banned the citizens of that country from doing? They played rock music, they hired belly dancers, they carried on with the things that they told the rest of the people were “evil” and “immoral” and “criminal”, and they’d send out their foot-soldiers to beat and whip people who didn’t comply. Remember those accounts?

So WHY should we be shocked to discover that their leader had “naughty things” at his hideaway? WHY should this be considered “news”?

Do I REALLY have to remind people that Bin Laden is DEAD? HE’S DEAD! You can’t rake a dead man over the proverbial coals for his hypocrisy, especially when that dead man was buried at sea and is now FISH FOOD. (And no doubt some deep-sea creature is taking a bite of Bin Laden Corpse Flakes and is thinking “Hmm... tastes like pork.”)

Nor was this the FIRST TIME that we’ve caught so-called “devout” people leading hypocritical lives. We seem to have this endless stream of politicians and ministers that preach one thing and then we find out that they’re doing the opposite behind closed doors.

How about the account of one Marianne Gingrich, the ex-wife (number two) of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich? In a recent interview in Esquire magazine, the former-Mrs. Gingrich recounted a time when their marriage was coming apart and she realized it was because he was already sleeping with his next future wife. (By the way, she knew this was happening because he did the same thing with her previously. “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history”… etc, etc.) He had come back from a rousing political speech full of talk about “family values” and she asked him how he could be such a raging hypocrite. This is what he supposedly told her:

"It doesn't matter what I do… People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."

This is the same man that championed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton over lying about marital infidelity, and who supposedly would like to run for the White House in 2012, and he was supposedly telling his soon-to-be second ex-wife “It doesn’t matter what I do.”

The cable channel Showtime is currently showing a series called “The Borgias”, which showed the hypocritical lives of the Borgia family, as championed by Pope Alexander VI. This was a family that reportedly was the inspiration of Mario Puzo’s classic story “The Godfather”, and they ran the Roman Catholic Church! Even today, mired with their various infamous scandals, this same church still feels they have the authority to dictate how other people should live their lives.

And yet despite the endless cavalcade of letdowns, regardless of faith, political parties, and nationalities, it still goes on. It still happens. The self-righteous continue to preach one thing and practice the other. And we still buy into the former and are shocked to learn the latter.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it’s not about faith; it’s all about POWER. It’s about a group of charlatans and manipulators that have figured out how to wrap the masses around their little finger by saying just the right words and pressing the right buttons. It’s all about getting their attention, or getting their money, or getting their support, or getting their love, or even all of the above.

And maybe at first… just maybe… they even believed what they were selling to the masses. They may even life the life they’ve propped up on a pedestal for them to barker about. But eventually as they get more and more money and more and more attention and more and more POWER over others, they believe that it is the MESSENGER that is more important than the MESSAGE. As former-Speaker Gingrich allegedly put it: “People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live.” And that’s when they believe that the rules no longer apply to them. That’s when they believe that they can do anything they want, just as long as it doesn’t come out.

What makes the hypocrisy even more despicable is that the truly corrupt, the ones that are irredeemably evil to the core, firmly believe that even if that hypocrisy does get revealed, that they can still find ways to get around it. That they will still hold on to their power over others. They know that we’re gullible and stupid. They know that we’ll “forgive” them or rationalize their hypocrisy, because it’s easier for people to believe their leader was having a “moral lapse” than to realize that they’re being led about by a charlatan.

No, we should not be shocked or surprised to know that a supposedly “pious” leader is caught doing the very things that he or she condemns. We should not be whispering about what scandalous treasures have been uncovered among the truly despicable. Instead we should be asking ourselves what kinds of fools are we to be so easily led by such people… and also give SERIOUS THOUGHT to the value of the message if even the messenger cannot bring themselves to practice what they preach.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Week of 05/09/2011

Fear Incorporated
– by David Matthews 2

Welcome to FEAR INCORPORATED, where FEAR is our FORTUNE!

Whatever it is you need to sell, we’ll help you sell it! Whatever it is you want passed, we’ll get it passed! We ARE the number one salesmen for the media, government, and religion, and we didn’t get there by accident!

We have CENTURIES of experience to help you get whatever you want done. There’s only ONE other business that’s been around longer than us, and that’s only legal in certain places in Nevada! What we do is not only LEGAL, but it’s been endorsed by both church AND state!

Here’s how it works: you come to us with a product or an idea that you want to sell. Maybe you got some legislation you want enacted. Maybe it’s some product you want sold in stores. Or maybe it’s an all-out WAR that you want waged. Whatever it is, you come to us and our crack team of experts will help you figure out how you can get your target audience so terrified that they’ll do whatever it is you want them to do!

Are you a minister looking to boost your attendance? Maybe get a little extra in the collection plate? We’ll show you how to use today’s problems as win-win selling points for you to fill both the pews and your coffers. We’ll show you which groups for you to blame that will bring in the maximum number of people, and give you the most money for you to “combat these problems”. And once you get them in, we guarantee you that they’ll NEVER leave as long as you use our secret techniques.

Are you the manager of a local TV or radio station? Or maybe you’re a media personality just trying to get noticed. We know how hard it is for you to keep your audience tuned in. At Fear Incorporated, we know precisely what kind of subjects you should use to keep them interested and keep them watching or listening! From the “evils” of the Internet to failing government programs to anything the teenagers are doing that is popular, we will twist it and turn it into a full-on epidemic that “only you” will be talking about and “only you” can “protect”.

In a relationship that just isn’t working out? Don’t let it break up. Instead, take it to one of our many relationship experts that will show you how to use FEAR to keep that loved one by your side. And don’t worry about the legality of it… our experts will walk you through the steps to make sure that you stay on the RIGHT side of the law as you bring your betrothed to a long relationship whether they want to or not.

Have a product that you want sold? Maybe an insurance program or a disaster-preparedness system? Maybe even an exchange system with precious metals? Then Fear Incorporated should be the FIRST people you should contact! We’ll use already-existing economic concerns and transform them into a full-blown economic crisis that ONLY your program could seemingly resolve. You’ll have people just begging for your products!

Are you a defense contractor looking to sell your wares? Well what better way to get your sales going than in a WAR? We here at Fear Incorporated are very proud of our many ways we can convince the masses that a war is needed. We’ll help you pick the enemy, we will show you how to demonize that enemy and mobilize public support against that enemy, and we’ll ensure that the war will last as long as you want it to.

Of course we pride ourselves with our long-established partnership with government. We’ve helped so many politicians get elected to office and rise all the way to the Oval Office through the use of FEAR that we’ve almost got our own permanent office in the White House. Think of all of the government programs that would have been phased out years ago if not for the use of FEAR! Yes, most, if not all of them, are still around today because of our team of image consultants and political advisors stirring up the masses and pushing just the right buttons.

Yes, we here at Fear Incorporated are very proud of our accomplishments in helping to mold and shape society over the centuries. We’ve stymied progress, slowed social and technological advancements, decreased the surplus population, and at the same time made rich companies even richer and powerful groups even more powerful. That’s why we say that FEAR is our FORTUNE.

And now we here at Fear Incorporated need to take a moment in respect to our most effective associate: Osama Bin Laden. For almost ten years, Mister Bin Laden was personally responsible for making Fear Incorporated THE number one mover and shaker in American society! Thanks to his tireless efforts, America was involved with two wars, spending hundreds of trillions of dollars, going deeply into debt, costing the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers (not to mention untold thousands in civilian lives), and polarizing the American spirit in ways that were not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, who was another one of our satisfied customers.

Sadly, our beloved associate is gone now… but his legacy lives on with us. Because let’s get brutally honest here… as long as there is money to be made and as long as people are easily and readily motivated by their base desires, there will always be a place for Fear Incorporated to help you make as much money and amass as much power as you wish.

(Editor’s note: Fear Incorporated is not a real business, as far as we know; nor is it intended to represent any one single entity or organization.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week of 05/02/2011

Conveniently Broke
– by David Matthews 2

“We’re broke!”

There are two reasons why someone would say that.

The first is that you really ARE broke, as in there is no more money and you don’t know how you’re going to be able to pay for the things that are due now.

Sadly, there are way too many people in this country that are being FORCED to say this version. They would rather not, but they don’t have a choice. All of their money is gone and they may even have to sell some of the things that they have in order to get by.

But the other reason why that would be used would be to say that you don’t WANT to spend money on certain things and it’s easier to say that you’re broke instead of listening to an endless sales pitch or guilt trip. It’s easier to say “I’m broke”, than to say “no.” Some people actually find it easier to accept being told “I’m broke” than it is to hear “no”.

These are the people who are “conveniently broke”. They are “broke” when it comes to certain things, but then have endless money when it comes to other things, especially the things that they REALLY like. They’re “broke” when it comes to paying their half of the utilities, or “broke” when it’s their turn to buy groceries, or “broke” when it comes to paying certain bills. But they seem to have plenty of money when it comes to shopping, or when it involves to going out to eat. The electric bill may not get paid on time, but they’ll never miss a weekend of dancing and drinking. That $50 they owe you won’t get paid anytime soon, but you can pester them about it after they get back from their third vacation in six months.

That, I think, is probably the BEST way to tell the difference between being “conveniently broke” and actually BEING broke. When you still have money to do the things that you want to do and you were not forced to sell off your valuables or do something normally reserved for the “red light district”, then you’re really NOT BROKE!

So let’s talk about the new group that claim to be “broke”.

I’m talking about the conservatives and neo-conservatives that claim to speak on behalf of America. THEY are the ones that are now screeching at the top of their lungs “WE’RE BROKE! We don’t have any money! WE ARE BROKE! We can’t spend what we don’t have!”

Excuse me a second, cons and neo-cons, but are you talking about yourselves or are you really talking about us as a nation? Because if you’re talking about yourselves, then you might want to stop trying to have these last-minute rallies in Washington to complain about how “broke” you really are. While you’re at it, you might want to lay off the book-buying and bumper-sticker purchasing and the campaign contributions if you’re really “broke”.

If, on the other hand, you’re presuming to speak on behalf of myself and the rest of Americans…

First, stop it. That’s sheer arrogant presumptiveness, and you barely have enough intelligence to speak for yourselves, never mind PRETEND to speak on behalf of anyone else. (And we won’t even get into your lack of qualifications to speak on behalf of someone like yours truly.)

Second, if you’re trying to speak on behalf of this nation, then you have a little explaining to do when you proclaim that we are “broke”.

If we’re really “broke”, then why are we still fighting wars around the world? Better still, why are you insisting that we CONTINUE to fight wars around the world? Bullets aren’t cheap. Planes aren’t cheap. The salaries of the generals certainly are not cheap. And the fuel to transport everything that makes a war so “fun” for you guys REALLY is not cheap! So if we’re really “broke”, meaning we don’t have any money, then how can you insist that we continue to keep this going? Do you honestly expect our soldiers to work FOR FREE?

By the way, since you guys like keeping Guantanamo Bay open as your personal Roach Motel for Bad Guys, how much do you think it costs for us to keep that place open and keep those Bad Guys in there indefinitely? You don’t want to try them. You don’t want to deal with them. You just want them to stay there and leave them there to rot. Well that also isn’t free.

Speaking of trials; how is it that you’re INSISTING that we defend an unconstitutional law like the ill-named “Defense of Marriage Act” all the way to the Supreme Court if we don’t have any money? Lawyers aren’t cheap, and neither are court costs! Besides, I though you guys HATED judges! You accuse them of “legislating from the bench” all of the time. I know it sounds funny but President Obama actually did you guys a FAVOR in not taking this to the highest court. He spared you from being forever BARRED from doing something like that again should the highest court actually rule according to the Constitution. I’d think you’d guys should be a little grateful… instead you’re insisting that the money be spent anyway. Where is it going to come from? Are you taking it out of Speaker Boehner’s spray-tan allowance?

How is it that we supposedly “don’t have any money”, and yet you STILL insist on spending OODLES of money on prosecuting medicinal marijuana users in the states where it is legal, and going after the adult entertainment industry - which at least keeps people EMPLOYED; which is something that you guys don’t want to do - and continuing to threaten to go after the rest of the entertainment industry if they don’t kowtow to your puritanical standards? Why do you insist on spending money that we don’t have just to appease your own personal moralistic whims if we REALLY ARE “broke”?

Of course it should be said that anytime we have a disaster, we should be generous with the funds. The various states in the American Southeast are quick to belly up to the federal trough for assistance… many of those states are governed by conservative and neo-conservative politicians who campaigned on the promise of “fiscal responsibility” and complained endlessly about the federal government giving money away, and there they are saying that the same federal trough is the only thing that will get them through the needed recovery.

But… I thought we were “BROKE”! How can you guys be hitting up the feds for “disaster welfare” when you complain about every OTHER kind of spending?

You know, when private companies have financial troubles, all employees are expected to endure some deep cuts in their pay, or in their benefits, or even in their pension programs. So I guess we should be looking forward to hearing how the members of Congress will be going without pay for a while, or maybe having their pension programs put on hold for a bit, or how they would have to forego their freebees and their staff…

Wait… they’re NOT getting pay cuts? They’re NOT losing their pensions? They’re NOT decreasing their staff or cutting on their perks? Why not? Aren’t we “BROKE”? Where’s the money for that coming from? I mean, you have this huge laundry list of things that you claim that we can no longer afford, but somehow the people making those “hard decisions” aren’t practicing what they preach? You have conniptions over what the President spends for his trips and who goes with him. Why aren’t you doing the same for your own people?

Well, let’s get brutally honest here… the truth of the matter is that American isn’t REALLY “broke”. It’s just “conveniently broke”. Sure we’re up to our eyeballs in debt, but that’s really no different that many Americans today, especially while still in the middle of this Great Recession. We’re ALL having to tap into places that we originally didn’t plan on tapping into and hoping that at some point we’d be able to get ourselves out of that hole.

The problem is that the people who are screaming the loudest about this problem are also picking-and-choosing WHICH things that we’re supposedly “broke” about, and that choice is being made not on NEED, but on their own partisan wants and desires, not to mention their own sense of entitlement and greed. We’re supposedly “broke”, but there’s still money to fight foolish legal crusades. We’re supposedly “broke”, but we can go fight expensive wars around the world. We’re supposedly “broke”, but Congress still gets an automatic pay increase at a time when millions of Americans are still trying to get work.

If the conservatives and neo-conservatives, especially those in Washington, want to show that they’re serious about this problem, then they need to demonstrate it themselves by making cuts in their own wants and desires. That means no more Drug War, no more XXX war, no more DOMA talk, no more blood-for-oil-war, no pay raises, no first-class flying, no franking… and you MAY want to consider selling off a few monuments and doing something that used to be reserved only for certain Congressional pages and White House interns. You say we’re “broke”? Then start acting like we REALLY are!