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The Wicked Witch Still Lives and Other Nonsense


Other Titles – “The Wizard Deserves Credit for this, Not Dorothy.” “The House Never Fell on WWE (Wicked Witch bin East)” “Dorothy Is Actually From Oklahoma.”

Let’s talk about delusions.

On May 1st, 2011 Barack Obama announced that US special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. Then a few things happened:

America lost its collective mind.

My friend Dustin went to the spontaneous party in front of the White House and got himself quoted by CNN.

The internet immediately began to argue whether this was Obama or Bush’s victory.

A bunch of people decided it was fake.

Now, that last one, at first, seems pretty plausible. The official story is that a team of hyper-elite Navy SEAL murder-dudes got into a stealth helicopter and flew over half of Pakistan to jump into Osama bin Laden’s home a few miles from the Pakistani Westpoint and murder the living shit out of him. They then snatched his body, left his wives and children behind, and flew to an aircraft carrier; where they threw his body in the ocean before presumably drinking some celebratory “we-killed-an-evil-son-of-a-bitch” beers.

Now, to be fair, this is pretty ripe for someone to get crazy. I mean… we refuse to post the pictures of a guy we’ve been spending billions to kill after we kill him. The less than 24 hours before disposal thing is not helpful either. But let’s consider a few things.

1)      If Osama bin Laden was not dead, he would be pretty keen on letting us know we just murdered the crap out of some innocent six-foot tall Arab dialysis patient. You know, prove how freaking dumb Americans are. That kind of thing was one of his favorites.

2)      Al-Qaeda has gone ahead and said “yeah, they bullet-fucked our leader in the head.” That may be paraphrasing on my part. Regardless, some dudes in the world’s most hated terrorist organization have come out and said OBL (as people call him now) is dead.

3)      Barack Obama is president of the United States. Getting to that position requires a team of extremely intelligent, capable, and politically savvy individuals. These same individuals would not risk OBL revealing their spoof. They would also not blow such a huge “victory” at such a bad time. If Obama and his team could have picked a time for this to happen, it would have been in September of next year, when the election is looming and the Republicans would have no time to rebuke it. As it is, by next September people will forget who OBL is because this is America and we are stupid.

I’m fairly certain that Osama bin Laden is dead. Not because I’m Obama’s guy, which I will admit I am. (Politics doesn’t blind me, I voted for Bush in ’04* and I still was free to admit the WMDs were bullshit). I just listed the reasons why. But they don’t matter because crazy people gunna be crazy. Facts don’t get in the way of the insane. Just listen to any ardent Communist or Libertarian. They will skip gleefully from abject denial to heartfelt-bullshit in their desire to get you to understand why they are right. It’d be funnier if it wasn’t so scary.

Bottom line, everyone is a little crazy. I honestly still believe I will find a meaningful, lifelong marriage at some point… even though the odds are not at all in my favor there. Mitt Romney thinks people will believe his bullshit about Universal Healthcare. And Glenn Beck just kept on trucking till the end. The difference between me and Glenn Beck is that my crazy doesn’t hurt anyone.

Osama bin Laden is dead. Whether you think it’s appropriate to dance in the streets at this news or not you should probably use properly attributed copy-pasta quotes. And also understand that it’s true.

*yeah, I’m embarrassed about it too…


Gender Relations Bender

14 Mar

Guys, I haven’t written anything even vaguely political on here in a while, and well, I can’t hold off any longer. So without any further delay, it’s time to piss people off.

There are some self-descriptors which I react to in a sort of visceral way, labels that don’t really deserve the reaction. In general, if you can describe yourself in one word that is not extremely vague, I don’t have time for you. If, when asked “who you are” you say “white” or “Methodist” or “American” or “straight”… I’m not going to waste my time getting to know you, since you’re a word and I can look those up. If you were to say all of them, well now you sound like a complete and interesting person. But any given one of those things is so narrow and pre-defined that I can assume you will spend your life struggling to make yourself fit into the ludicrous label you’ve affixed to your self-identity.

Other terms I dislike because they offend me: rapists and White Supremacists believe and do things so radically different from what I can accept that describing yourself as one puts us on rocky footing. A man who introduces himself as a misanthrope shouldn’t expect to make friends. It’s pretty simple. I don’t know anyone who really wants to be buddies with a self-described Fascist. That’s just not what people are into.

But not every term I react viscerally too is universally reviled. Nor are they universally mono-dimensional ways to demarcate one’s self. Generally, these are terms that are tied to some person or persons who have soured this word for me in the past. A perfect example, a word that causes this a visceral (and inappropriate) reaction, is feminist.


Now let me do some QUICK explaining here, before someone comes over and screams at me for being a chauvinist pig. I am absolutely, 100%, a fan of equal rights. I am crazy about equal rights. I think the government should treat everyone equally regardless of creed, language, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or preference in music. All human beings should be given equal opportunity to do all that they are able to do (that doesn’t hurt others).

Specifically, I think women should be paid every bit as much as a man doing the same job with the same ability. I think women deserve equal access to divorce, custody, income, voting, education, employment, property, and seating at professional racquetball tournaments. I think women are full human beings who deserve every single protection, privilege, and right afforded their male counter-parts, without any caveats.

What I’m not a fan of is blaming every single thing wrong in the world on men. I’m not a supporter of making a 100 pound woman who can’t lift 160 pounds a fire-fighter for the sake of gender equality in that particular work-force. I’m not a fan of painting men (and me with them) as violent brutes who are seconds away from their next murder-rape. Or even of saying that I try to keep women down so that I can have more power.

Obviously, I’ve been on the receiving end of some vitriol from some feminists in the past who have soured that term for me. I am not a student of feminism, and so I will not pretend to know whether this is reflective of feminism at large or if I’ve just run into some serious bad-apples from the Second Wave (okay, I’m student enough to know there are believed to be three waves of feminism). If true feminism is just the seeking of equal rights for women, then by God, I support feminism. If it really does involve these attacks on everything with a penis, sorry, I’m not really buying it.

I bring this up because a very good site/publication, the Good Men Project, has been running a series of articles on something I had never heard of: the Men’s Rights Movement. It’s pretty much the male equivalent of feminism, because being a masculist sounds too much like masochist. Now I say male equivalent of feminism because A) the community has a similar make up from what I can tell, and B) its opponents paint it in the same strokes that the opponents of feminism do.

On the first part here, from what has been depicted by La Intertrones (that’s fake French for “the internet”) the MRM is comprised by 10% people with reasonable demands and concerns, 10% raging misogynists, and 80% guys who agree with the first 10% and put up with the second. From what reasonable people who identify themselves as feminists have told me, that’s about the break down for that movement too: 10% people with legitimate complaints and demands, 10% bitter man haters, and 80% people who agree with the former group and put up with the latter. Which is to say, they are rational groups with legitimate concerns, led by some charismatic thinkers with strong points, that also contain some grade-A assholes (because this humanity and avoiding jerks is impossible).

Both groups also get depicted in much the same way. People arguing with the MRM go immediately off topic to counter a given point. For instance, when men want to make sure that males are given an equal and fair shake during child custody hearings, they are countered with “how can you bother complaining about that when women still make 80% of what men do!?” Or even “Men are worse parents than women!” One is an illogical response to the issue in hand and the other is openly sexist. Much like when feminists point out that women are under-represented in many fields they are met with “there are more women in college now than men!” or “Women shouldn’t be fire-fighters.” Again, one has nothing to do with the problem, and the other is baseless sexism.

Are dead beat dads a serious problem? Of course. Should women who wish to be fire-fighters need to meet the physical and mental requirements of such a strenuous job? Absolutely. Do either of these conclusions mean either gender is fundamentally deficient? Certainly not.

We have quite a ways to go in women’s equality. What we need to understand is that this is causing an absolutely massive shift in gender roles. As women change, men are undergoing a similar shift as well. As women move into male dominated sectors, it is only reasonable that men will move into previously female dominated areas. Shifts in power at work and at home are changing things in a dramatic way, one of more equality on all fronts.

Men are doing much, MUCH more housework than they used to (though, yes , it’s still quite uneven). There are good things and bad things. With the decreased risk of pregnancy and a constantly diminishing stigma, women are trending strongly towards a traditionally “male” level of sexual promiscuity. (I will come out and say that sleeping around is something I dislike for either gender, not sexism, just good old fashion Judeo-Christian morals). In short, almost everything we used to know about gender stereo-types is changing (women still menstruate at least periodically and have larger communication structures in their brains).

From what I can tell, the MRM movement isn’t about fighting this change. It isn’t about keeping men in a position of greater power. It’s about making sure the pendulum doesn’t swing the other direction (at least not too far). Women should not oppress men, just as men should not oppress women. There are, believe it or not, a number of biases that directly favor women for no reason other than their gender. These are every bit as wrong as those that support men for no reason other than their testicles.

I don’t really know all that much about the MRM or feminism. But I do understand the desire for equal treatment. I support it whole heartedly. If both of these movements really want that, just equal treatment regardless of gender, than I am receptive to them and back them up. If they are opposing shades of sexism, I don’t really have time for that crap.

And now I wait to get schooled on my ignorance.


What Is Wrong

22 Sep

There were, by official estimates, over three hundred and seven million citizens of the United States in 2009. These citizens produced or provided over fourteen and a half trillion dollars worth of goods and services. That means that the United States produces over forty seven thousand dollars per citizen, every year.

Well not per person.

Only about half the population, or one hundred and fifty six million people, is actually a member of the workforce. Official unemployment is at nine point nine percent of the workforce. When expanded to include marginally attached and partially employed people, this number jumps to over seventeen percent. Over fourteen percent of the United States population is below the poverty line, which for individuals is ten thousand eight-hundred dollars. In a given ten year span, two out of every five Americans will spend time living below the poverty line. In the past twenty years, the United States’ economy has more than doubled, even after being adjusted for inflation. Median income on the other hand, has increased by a little over sixteen percent in that same time period.

The United States is also overwhelmingly in debt, and the government has actually been getting better than the rest of us. In 1946 the United States government owed one hundred and fifty percent of the GDP. Currently federal debt is at fifty four percent of GDP. On the other hand debt owed by the financial sector has gone from one point three percent of GDP to over one hundred and nine percent of GDP. Households have gone from owing fifteen percent of GDP to over ninety five percent. At every level the United States is over leveraged.

Money isn’t the only problem. The Infrastructure of the United States is hurting too. And by hurting, I mean almost completely failing. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the over all infrastructure of the United States a “D” grade. The highest rated segment of the infrastructure was solid waste management, with a lackluster C+. As mentioned before, the size of the United States economy has more than doubled (in real dollars) since 1990, yet spending on infrastructure has been going down (in real dollars) since 1980. Even as more than twice the money was made available actual spending dropped. ASCE estimates that due to lack of maintenance the current cost of bringing the United States infrastructure back into shape would be over two trillion dollars.

United States education is falling behind the rest of the “developed” world. Public schools cost more than private schools to run and continue to see worse results. The cost per student in the United States is the highest of any country, roughly eleven thousand dollars per student, per year. Yet this cost is not helping students to perform better. The cost of a college education, critical to the growth of the skilled work force, has increased by over four hundred and thirty nine percent between 1982 and 2007. During that same period (unadjusted) income increased by only one hundred and forty seven percent. The cost of college is growing three times as fast as the average American’s ability to pay for it.

The United States has four main problems: income distribution, a lack of capital, deteriorating infrastructure, and a dwindling ability to educate its people to address the problems of tomorrow. These four problems will determine our ability to move forward. Solving them is absolutely critical to fixing the American reality and bringing it closer to the American Dream. There will be no quick fixes. None of these problems will be addressed by the next election cycle. Nor will they be fixed by the fourth election cycle after that. But if we don’t move now, when we finally do, it may be too late.

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”

~Theodore Roosevelt