Monday, January 07, 2008


It's no secret - America is FUCKED up. We're not as fucked up as, say, North Korea. But we've got problems. Don't get me wrong. America is still a great place to live - especially if you cherish your inalienable rights to go into debt buying as much stuff as you can on credit, eat until you're so full it hurts, and sue whoever is in the vicinity when something unfortunate happens to you.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little hard on Mother America. But it's only because I love her and wish she weren't so lost. How did we end up here? I mean, for criminy's sake, how can it be that a 15 year-old pregnancy is more newsworthy than an outrageously bloated military budget? It is seriously laughable (how oxymoronic is that?) that we spend the percentage of our national budget that we do on guns and ammo. And equally laughable that we remain culturally obsessed with celebrity, instead of accountability in government - where our elected leaders continue approving obnoxious amounts of OUR tax dollars to support the insatiable appetite of the military industrial complex.

Fucking nuts, I tell you.

It's simple math. When over HALF the national budget every year is funneled into military (past and present) spending. That means over half of the money the government takes out of YOUR paycheck every two weeks is buying more bombs, tanks, jets, bombers, satellites, guns, and oil to support them all. We are so focused on military spending, things like education, infrastructure, and health care continue to get the shaft. Entire fucking third world countries are wireless hotspots. We're way behind the curve here and the only way to get this country back on track is to deny incumbency to the elected officials who keep us here.

This kicks off my year-end rant on things that pissed me off in 2007. It's been a while since I went off on shit that annoys me, so this is going to feel good. But I need to get it out of my system now because 2008 is going to be fucking rock star.


***** Universal Health Care Naysayers *****

Can't be done. Doesn't work. Costs too much. Long lines. Poor service. Blah blah blah. These people have been force-fed a line from the billion-dollar health care establishment that runs the risk of getting cut out of the middle if we make the radical (read: rational) decision to follow the lead of far healthier nations in providing guaranteed health care for every man, woman, and child in America.

Newsflash - it CAN be done. It DOES work. It actually costs LESS when there's an an emphasis on preventive care. There aren't long lines for medical treatment in a healthy society. Believe it or not, medical service is actually BETTER when medical practitioners are given incentives for encouraging patients to make healthier lifestyle decisions (i.e. wear a condom, quit smoking, lose 15 pounds, etc.). If people lead healthier lives, they require less medical attention - it's really not that complicated. But you know who that hurts, right? The pharmaceutical companies who LIVE off of the dying and the sick. They're spending a lot of money in Washington to fight universal health care because it's bad for business. And they pay slick spinsters to tell campfire horror stories in front of the cameras to scare us into thinking health care must remain privatized for our own safety. And that's simply not true.

It's easy to buy into the hype about "socialized" medicine when corporate-funded talking heads are relentlessly bashing it in the media. Sometimes all people need are a few soundbytes of information to form an opinion about something. People - we need to stop listening to what these assclowns are telling us about health care and take a LOOK at what's actually happening out there. People around the nations where health care is provided as a fundamental human right, are laughing at how backwards we have it. It's inconceivable to them that America can continue failing to meet the most basic health care needs of millions of people year after year.

***** RADNDOM-OPOLY *****

Holy shit this franchise is out of control. Everywhere you look these days there's a gimmicky version of Monopoly. I'm done with it. The original game is a classic. Why would they feel the need to pimp out their good name and turn the monopoly man into a co-branded whore? And I've seen some really bad ones. Fishing-opoly. Are you fucking kidding me? Who buys this crap? These novelty games exploit affiliations and interest for the purpose of luring last-minute shoppers into buying something that will get a 2-second laugh and then get stashed in the crawlspace for time immemorial. It's time to put these dumbass product extensions to bed. Here are a few of the more ricockulous Monopoly-based spin-off titles I've seen (actual titles with my custom enhancements in parens).

I Love Lucy Edition (Red properties are wild cards that can be paired with others)

Dale Earnhardt Edition (You're instantly out of the game if you roll an 8)

Lord of the Rings Edition (Only $25 for passing "Go", for a much LONGER game)

Pokemon Edition (You have to collect every single property on the board to have a Monopoly)

Coca-Cola Edition (Start with a full set of teeth and lose one tooth every trip around the board)

Red Sox Edition (CHANCE CARD = "Get caught with HGH, pay $100,000 and lose 3 turns")

Star Trek: The Next Generation Edition (Can be played alone since it is unlikely the owner of this would have any friends)

Snoopy Edition (No cash - played with peanuts)

Ford Thunderbird Edition (The railroads are gas stations and cost $500 to land on)

Transformers Edition (Game pieces can change shape, so when you land on a space occupied by another player, you can destroy them)

U.S. Air Force Edition (Every time you land on a spot it is obliterated and you must pay a billion dollars to fix it up before it can be used)

World Cup Edition (Sorry - no hands allowed. Roll with your toes.)

X-Men Edition (See Star Trek Edition)

Golf Edition (Adult rules for "swingers." Will YOU get a hole in one?)

Harley Davidson Edition (I know better than to make fun of this franchise)

You can even "make-your-own-opoly"! It's out of control and someone needs to stop it.

***** Consumerism *****

Did you see the news reports of people sleeping in tents outside of big box stores all over the country on Thanksgiving night so they could be the first people in the stores the following Friday morning? You'd think it was the last day of shopping - EVER. What was the big rush? Were the Cabbage Patch Kids making a comeback?

Haven't we figured it out yet? These open-at-4am "sales" are promotional stunts to get people to buy more stuff we don't need by masking over-priced, disposable consumer goods as must-have deals of the century. And we're in hook, line, and sinker. These stores aren't doing us any favors by opening up at 4am - we're doing THEM the favor by showing up! It is actually a pretty reliable mark of insanity that an otherwise "sane" person would brave the elements for the privilege of "saving" $5 on something they won't be using in 6 months. We need to get out of line and get back into the lives of the people who are important to us.

***** Crocs *****

One word: Fugly. They're not even remotely cute on kids, and adults who wear them look even sillier. There's just something about a nation of people who don't grow (or cook) their own food pretending to be casual gardeners and chefs. It sure is nice to have shoes you can hose off, though - right? Just in case something spills? Might be nicer if they didn't have fucking holes in the top so that anything you might want to hose off later can infiltrate your sock. Crocs are as remarkable an invention as high-heel galoshes. You can find them on sale at the intersection of "unattractive" meets "impractical." I've been told they're comfortable. So are slippers, but we don't wear those to work. Who sets these trends in motion and why are so many people eager to hop on board?

***** Gift Cards *****

It's amazing. Now I can buy gift cards at the GROCERY store that can be redeemed at OTHER stores - like Target, Starbucks, and Best Buy. I see the big display there with all of those colorful plastic cards on pretty cardboard hangers and can't help but wonder, "Who the fuck buys these?" If I want to buy someone a gift, I'll buy them a GIFT - not a gift card. And if I want them to give them a choice so they can buy something they want, I'll give them the universal gift card known as CASH, which is good at EVERY store - not just the one with the pretty logo. News Flash - retailers make a killing on gift cards because people don't use them. Cards get lost. They get filed away for another time when the same $20 won't get you $20 worth of merchandise. Some cards get old and lose value. Some cards won't entitle the user to cash back for the difference, which means you have to spend all of it to get all of it, which usually means spending money out of your pocket to cover any difference. Gift cards do look pretty and sound convenient - but they're one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on the American consumer.

***** Whining Smokers *****

The State of Illinois and the City of Chicago recently made it illegal to smoke in public, aside from specially designated areas. This includes restaurants, bars, parks, theaters, sports venues, and other places where people come into contact with other people as part of being out in the world. It's fucking sweet. I don't have to choke on someone else's life-shortening habit while I'm trying to enjoy a concert or cup of chili at the neighborhood bar. Doctors have been telling us for decades that smoking WILL kill you, but people are not always rational. All most smokers care about is getting their next nicotine fix. So it's no surprise they feel like their rights are being trampled upon. Unfortunately for smokers, the right to kill yourself does not coexist well with the right NOT to kill yourself - an argument non-smokers finally won in successfully championing legislation that banned the dirty habit from all places public. Most people are digging the change hard core. But every so often you'll hear someone bitching about the fact that there's "no where left to smoke." So fucking quit you fucking baby. I was cloaked in your second-hand smoke for YEARS - coughing and gagging on your wretched exhaust without a single word. And when my asthma kicked in and I could barely fucking breathe, did I complain about it and ask you to stop? No. I fucking bummed a smoke from your pathetic ass so I could join club cool and be a sport. (Probably not the smartest idea, in hindsight) The new law is a wake up call. Smoking is out, baby. Drop it.

***** Global Warming *****

Our globe is warming. This comes after millennia of cooling. After it warms gradually for another 40,000 years or so, it will likely cool again. But we won't be around to enjoy the fresh air conditioning because we'll have wiped ourselves out by then. Global warming, man-made or not, is not the end of the world. It's the end of the world as we know it - which is not the same thing. This chunk of rock that we're on? It's going to be around for a lot longer than we are. It was here for millions of years. Back then it was hot, but habitable. There were these things called dinosaurs that ruled the air, land, and sea. And then they were gone. And then it got really cold, but habitable, and there were woolly mammoths and other thick-skinned mammals that looked like something hatched in the privacy of a secluded, off-shore, third-world lab. They, too, met their demise. And now here we are. Lucky for us. Global warming will be a test of our ability to adapt. We're not quite as nimble as we once had been. There was a time when we were all responsible for feeding, protecting, clothing, and housing ourselves. These days we count on farmers, police, military, textile companies, builders, plumbers, electricians, and so on and so forth, to provide for us everything we need to survive. What happens when our predictable world becomes less predictable? Can we marshal our resources and make the necessary adjustments to survive? Can we migrate to higher ground? Will we be able to rebuild in previously inhabitable places? If the temperature skyrockets, we'll need to move north and south to cooler climes. Who will be left when the world warms, the oceans rise, and coastal communities worldwide are 40 feet under water? Makes for great science fiction, doesn't it? An asteroid or solar flare will probably spell our demise long before we have to wrestle with that reality. All I know is it's 65 degrees in Chicago today. Global warming sure feels good to me.

***** Change *****

The incomparable Geri Lynn and I had some friends over this weekend and we decided to turn the Democratic Party Debate in new Hampshire into a drinking game. The rules were simple. We each picked a candidate and had to drink whenever:

Edwards used the words "Mill" or "Sharecropper"
Obama used the word "Hope"
Clinton used the word "Experience"
Richardson said something remotely intelligible

And then we had a social every time any of the candidates used the word "change."

This last rule was the killer. It had us chugging at times as the candidates hammered home the rhetoric on this abstract promise repeatedly. You couldn't go thirty seconds without hearing the word. We had two beers down and decided to quit just 12 minutes into the game because our livers were not going to do well with so much change. This got me thinking - all 4 of the candidates are current members of Congress in the majority party. Why aren't they forcing change now if they're so big on it? They have the numbers. They have the mandate from the people. They have the means. They just don't have the balls. The only Democratic candidate with the balls to take some action on real, significant change was Dennis Kucinich - who initiated impeachment proceedings for Vice President Cheney. His reward? Exclusion from participating in the debate! Don't rock the boat, Denny.

Do we really want change or do we just want to hear about it? I'm ready for real change. Change in the tax code. Change in social security. Change in foreign policy. Change in our national priorities. I want to see one of these Democratic Party candidates step up and initiate some real change before November instead of yammering on and on about it. Don't tell me what you want to do and what you plan to do - do something NOW and prove you are an actual agent of change.

***** Polls *****

I want polls banned from all public discourse. I don't want to hear what "the people" think. I AM the people. I don't want to know who is leading in South Carolina. I don't want to know who wins what match-up. It's all hypothetical, and all of this reporting on hypothetical scenarios is going to have an impact on the real one. We let the media inside our minds with all of these numbers. They infect our senses so we're not sure what to do or who to support or whether we should even bother voting because "the American people" have already decided. But we're addicted to polls. They're part of every newscast now - and often used to support the most asinine of conclusions depending on the editorial spin. Is it 45% support X, or 55% oppose X? Same study, different message. There's a new poll out every 14 minutes it seems. Stop the madness!

Okay - I'm good now. Wow that felt good. I need to clear the air around here more often. Let's make something great of 08.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said!