Archive for the ‘Points to Ponder’ Category

In Honor of Our New Asian Overlords

August 24, 2008

If the 2008 Summer Olympics have taught us anything, it is that China is ascendant.  Never mind that they are an oppressive and brutal totalitarian regime that keeps a giant boot on the collective necks of over a billion people. Forget Russia’s moribund attempt at relevance this month. China is The Emerging Super Power and is brought to you with limited commercial interruption by GE.  We bring good things to life!

With the spectacle of the Opening and Closing ceremonies still fresh in my mind and seeing the television specials on how the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube were built, all I can think about is a print I had hanging in my office back when I had an office.

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Dear Sixty Minutes

October 3, 2007

You need to hire me to replace Andy Rooney. He isn’t going to be around much longer and I’m sure you are sick of the office smelling like “old man”. Maybe that’s Morley’s office. Anyway, you need to come up with a successor in the case of Andy’s imminent demise. I am supremely qualified.

I’m grumpy and curmudgeonly. It isn’t too big of a leap for me to make statements offensive to women, gays, minorities and whoever else gets easily upset. I should live another 20-40 years. That kind of longevity is the reassuring comfort that the Sixty Minutes audience craves. An additional bonus would be that I’m at least 20 years younger than any of your other correspondents.

Here is just a sample of the kind of topics my commentaries would include:

What’s with the long fingernails on black guys?

When did this mole on my leg change colors?

When did people start dropping the letter “H” when followed by the letter “U”? Listening to the radio, I will hear the reporter say something like, “Hugo Chavez is a rotten human being and a huge asshole.” But, it sounds like “Yugo Chavez is a rotten yuman being and a yuge asshole.” That’s just pretentious. Stop it.

I wish Dabney Coleman didn’t have to do the voice over for Rent-A-Centers.

The Chinese are my favorite ethnic group. I love their food, their culture and how they get the women’s feet so small. So, is it wrong that I say, “Let’s get some Chink food.”? Because, I mean it affectionately.

Is Larry King still on the air? If so, why? “Sweet Embrace of Death, Hello!”

See, I can do this sort of thing all day. Hell, I could do it from home, which would really work out best for both of us. You probably don’t want me around your offices and I can’t think of one reason to move up there.

Unless, of course, the money is right.

Talk it over with whoever you need to. I’ll be waiting.

Your Pal,

Sarcastro

Pulling Out Is Hard To Do

May 28, 2007

Here it is, another Memorial Day.  For a change, I’d like to turn on the news and see more dead televangelists than dead soldiers.  Alas, as I’ve been reminded constantly for the last forty years, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

The news coverage lately has focused on Congress wanting to pull the financial plug on the Iraq War.  If our national polity were a sitcom, we would find out that Mr. Bush doesn’t know how to balance his check book and the nosy neighbors, Mrs. Pelosi and her dullard husband/submissive, Mr. Reid, have decided to teach him a lesson.  The episode ends with everyone hugging and countless lives being saved.

Or not.

It does remind me of a class I took about the Vietnam War.  Back in the mid-Eighties, many people looked at the Rambo movies as having the same historical gravitas as a Ken Burns documentary.  Every single guy in the class was about to be commissioned as an Army officer, and had to take the class as part of the required course of study.  Many of these guys had fathers who fought and/or died in Vietnam.  The professor was a unrepentant West Coast leftie who delighted in bursting the preconceived notions of his students.

The inevitable clash of cultures happened on a daily basis in the classroom.  Most of these guys were either business or physical education majors.  Having to think on their feet while arguing was not something they were prepared for.  Mostly, they had to memorize laundry lists, bullet points and bold-faced glossary terms in their fields of study.  It was like they had trained to fight a mechanized infantry war in Europe, but wound up fighting a guerilla insurgency in South East Asia.  But, I digress.

The debates in class would go something like this:

Student:  We would have won that durn war if’n the politicians in Congress had let us.

Professor:  How did the politicians stop us from winning the war?  Didn’t they control the military’s purse strings?  How exactly did Congress prevent the troops from “winning”?

Student: [Angry denunciation of the material covered in the textbook.  Change of subject to something like, say, the US won every battle it fought.]

Professor: [Sarcastic Inquiry as to where the student came about his facts and if he could find a source that substantiated any of his claims he should let us all know about it.  Completed the quote about US battlefield victories by saying, “That may be true, but it is also irrelevant.”]

Student:  That’s not how I heard it?

Professor:  Who did you hear it from?

Student:  Um, my dad told me it was all Congress’s fault.

Professor eyes roll 

Me:  Funny, I heard it was your dad’s fault we lost.  (I could be a jerk back then.)

So, here we are decades later and looking at the same argument.  This same guy who got all pissed off in class is now a Major or a Lt. Colonel.  He will be able to tell his children that the reason we lost the war in Iraq is that Congress wouldn’t let us finish the job.  No amount of fuzzy-headed college professors will prove him wrong.

We need to find a way to get out of Iraq with the least amount of bloodshed.  Here’s my plan.

We offer Muqtada al-Sadr and whoever else can’t play nice over there a huge sum of money.  If there is anything those folks respect it is filthy lucre.  Let’s say ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! They get the cash deposited in a Swiss Bank account if they refrain from violence for six months.  That means their whole group and any other affiliated groups.  It brings a level of peer pressure to the whole affair.  If you know that Khalid’s little scheme of car bombing a market is going to cost you a giant pile of cash, you may be motivated to stop Khalid.  They don’t get a dime until the six months is up.  Any acts of violence in their sphere of influence that goes down before the six months is up, starts the clock all over again.

This will give us time to get the country up and running, with a semblance of stability and the ability to claim victory and get out.  Once we are gone, they can go back to killing each other.  As is the tradition of their One True Religion Of Peace.   Let those fuckers go ape as soon as the last American plane is wheels up and headed West.

So that we don’t wind up funding terrorism, we either Welsh out of the deal and leave them with nothing (and like it) or we scam them out of the money by selling them a bunch of defective weaponry through third parties.

If it means fewer families have to learn what Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori means, so be it.  I’m pretty sure that’s what Memorial Day is supposed to be about.  Not only is it what this country wants, but what it needs.

Home Field Advantage

March 27, 2007

One of the oft-repeated lines justifying out Mid-East Adventure is some derivation of: "Would you rather fight them over there or over here?"  or "We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here."  This form of rationalization is so old it has whiskers.  It was old when it was invoked back in the Vietnam era.

I’ve thought hard about this.  All of the evidence and scenarios have been sufficiently examined.

Yes, I would rather fight them here. 

There’s more of us here.  

There’s more of them over there.

Over here it is pretty obvious who is friend and who is foe.

Over there, it isn’t.

Over here we would be justified in defending ourselves, our freedoms and our country.

Over there, not so much.

Just to be clear, I would have been in favor of going over there in a Blood for Oil swap.  If there’s anything worth trading for oil, it is blood.  People talk about our addiction to oil.  Oil isn’t our drug.  It’s the life blood of the economy.  Sounds like a fair trade.  We lost more men in one day at Iwo Jima than we’ve lost in four years in Iraq.   There wasn’t a drop of oil to be found on that pile of rocks.

Let Bagdhad fall.  Let the Shias and Sunnis wipe each other out.  I don’t care.  Let’s cut a deal with the Kurds, who have a big fat oil reserve they are sitting on, and cut our losses.  Redeploy all of our troops to the newly independent of nation of Kurdistan and let the chips fall where they may.

As long as I can fill up the truck for less than fifty bucks, it’s all good.  Wake me when Muqtada al-Sadr and al-Qaeda storm the beach at Malibu.

On second thought, don’t. 

Family Values

October 31, 2006

Consider this tale. Claudia Noonan came here from Ireland. There was a potato famine that caused the raven-haired beauty and her husband to immigrate to America. They both qualified for protective status. Her husband applied for and received the legal permission to remain in the United States. Claudia did not apply.

Over the next five years, they started a family. Soon they had two precious daughters. The youngest was born with developmental disabilities. Although, with a smile that will one day break hearts, you would never be able to tell she had anything wrong with her.

Claudia and her husband worked hard to provide a good life for their children. They were living the American dream.

One day, Claudia got ticketed by a cop. She was parked in a No Parking Zone. She didn’t have a driver’s license. After they ran her prints, the authorities found out she had over stayed her visa.

Our system of laws are such that even though she has committed no real crime, even though her husband and children are here legally, even though our tax dollars would be better spent going after actual criminals, Claudia is facing deportation.

Going home isn’t an option. Local terrorists like to target folks who have come back from America. Being kidnapped for ransom is a real possibility for Claudia. Being raped and murdered is a more likely outcome.

Is it really in our country’s best interest to break up a family and ship the mother off to certain death? Is this justice? Does our “One Size Fits All” immigration policy make any sense? Of course it doesn’t. This scenario is brought to us by the same folks who have pursued a War on Terrorism, War on Drugs, War on Poverty and a War on Common Sense with much the same results.

I have to make an adjustment to the story. Claudia’s last name isn’t Noonan. It is Nunez. Instead of looking like Maureen O’Hara, she resembles a pre-Columbian Tricia Helfer. She isn’t from Ireland, but rather El Salvador. She isn’t going to be killed by the IRA. Her life will be taken by a group called MS 13. Newsweek calls them The Most Dangerous Gang in America.

Claudia Nunez wants nothing more than to live her life with her family, here in Nashville, Tennessee. Is that a death penalty offense? Is it even a deportable one?

Reasonable people can disagree about our immigration policy–or lack of one. What reasonable people must agree on is that we have actual criminals, who have committed crimes that far exceed the administrative sins of Claudia, who deserve whatever punishment awaits them. Our courts have far better things to do than to separate children from their mother for jay-walking.

In the coming days, hopefully you will hear more about Claudia and her fate. The folks who are good at this sort of thing will organize petitions and campaigns to influence the courts to get her off of the deportation track and onto the legal resident track.

As for me, I’ll be thinking about the two little girls who might lose their mommy.

Also on the case:

Aunt B

Chris Wage

Sean Braisted

John Hutchmo 

Fred’s Been Reading My Mail and Probably Yours

July 21, 2006

The inimitable Fred Reed has some words of wisdom for those of you who have ambivalent feelings about your direction in life and your questionable education.

To begin with, sending a child to a university is irresponsible. These days it costs something like a quarter of a million dollars, depending on your choice of frauds. The more notorious of these intellectual brothels, as for example Yale, can cost more. This money, left in the stock market for forty hears, or thirty, would yield enough to keep the possessor in comfort, with sufficient left over for vices. If the market took a downturn, he could settle for just the vices. In the intervening years, he (or, most assuredly, she) could work in a dive shop.

 Hey now, let’s not upset the Educationist Establishment, Fred.  They might take a meaningless vote or something.

To the extent that universities actually try to teach anything, which is to say to a very limited extent, they do little more than inhibit intelligent students of inquiring mind. And they are unnecessary: The professor’s role is purely disciplinary: By threats of issuing failing grades, he insures that the student comes to class and reads certain things. But a student who has to be forced to learn shouldn’t not be in school in the first place. By making a chore of what would otherwise be a pleasure, the professor instills a lifelong loathing for the material.

The truth is that universities positively discourage learning. Think about it. Suppose you want to learn Twain. A fruitful approach might be to read Twain. The man wrote to be read, not analyzed tediously and inaccurately by begowned twits. It might help to read a life of Twain. All of this the student could do, happily, even joyously, sitting under a tree of an afternoon. This, I promise, is what Twain had in mind.

But no. The student must go to a class in American Literatue, and be asked by some pompous drone, “Now, what is Twain trying to tell us in paragraph four?” This presumes that Twain knew less well than the professor what he was trying to say, and that he couldn’t say it by himself. No. Not being much of a writer, the poor man needs the help of a semiliterate drab who couldn’t sell a pancake recipe to Boy’s Life. As bad, the approach suggests that the student is too dim to see the obvious or think for himself. He can’t read a book without a middleman. He probably ends by hating Twain.

Twain is probably being taught as an example of the Patriarchy’s attempt to emasculate Nigger Jim and objectify the co-dependent Becky Thatcher.  The story of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was clearly an example of U.S. imperialism trying to "improve" a pre-Christian, pagan indigenous peoples.  You get the idea.

Worse, these alleged academies, these dark nights of the soul encourage moral depravity. This is not just my opinion. It can be shown statistically. Virtually all practitioners of I-banking, advertising, and law began by going to some university. Go to Manhattan and visit any prestigious nest of foul attorneys engaged in circumventing the law. Most will have attended schools in the Ivy League. The better the school, the worse the outcome. Any trace of principle, of contemplative wonder, will have been squeezed out of them as if they were grapes.

Perhaps once universities had something to do with the mind, the arts, with reflection, with grasping or grasping at man’s place in a curious universe. No longer. Now they are a complex scam of interlocking directorates. They employ professors, usually mediocre, to sell diplomas, usually meaningless, needed to get jobs nobody should want, for the benefit of corporations who want the equivalent of docile assembly-line workers.

See, first you learn that you have to finish twelve years of grade school and high school. The point is not to teach you anything; if it were, they would give you a diploma when you passed a comprehensive test, which you might do in the fifth grade. The point is to accustom you to doing things you detest. Then they tell you that you need four more years in college or you won’t be quite human and anyway starve from not getting a job. For those of this downtrodden bunch who are utterly lacking in independence, there is graduate school.

The result is twenty years wasted when you should have been out in the world, having a life worth talking about in bars—riding motorcycles, sacking cities, lolling on Pacific beaches or hiking in the Northwest. You learn that structure trumps performance, that existence is supposed to be dull. It prepares you to spend years on lawsuits over somebody else’s trademarks or simply going buzzbuzzbuzz in a wretched federal office. Only two weeks a year do you get to do what you want to do. This we pay for?

Unfortunately, it is indeed what we paid for, Fred.  We are none the better for it, either.  In the words of the equally inestimable Al Swearengen" In life you have to do a lot of things you don’t fucking want to do. Many times, that’s what the fuck life is… one vile fucking task after another."

The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade

July 14, 2006

KittyCo is calling into question the Pledge of Allegiance.

My axe to grind with the pledge agrees with Kat’s axe to grind. We have axes in common.

It seems, forgive me, but a sort of nationalistic version of the Barney theme. Just another rote series of sing-song words that has no deeper significance.

Tell it sister!

Allegiance is an important concept, and I think the current use of the pledge as a nursery-school rhyme a la Mother Goose deprives it of any significance.

How many of you spent your days in school absent-mindedly muttering the Pledge while your mind was elsewhere?  How many of you made up your own funny words, always using the word "invisible" instead of "indivisible"? 

Meaningless loyalty oaths for children are a good method of indoctrination, but hardly intstills true patriotism and understanding of what our country stands for. As far as I can tell, it only provides a Pavlovian response whenever it, or flag burning, are brought up in public discourse.

Also, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, but never mind that right now. 

Here would be my more Constitution-centric version, which is more like the Oath of Enlistment than the Barney-ish/Emily Dickinson sing-songy Pledge currently in use.

"I, (state your name), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of citizenship, So help me God." 

“Cast a cold eye on life, on death; horseman, pass by!”

June 13, 2006

 Not to get all Garrison Keillor-y, but William Butler Yeats was born on June 13, 1865 in Dublin.

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

AN IRISH AIRMAN FORSEES HIS DEATH

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My county is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

More Bite Sized Bits

June 5, 2006

What is it about the new ads for The World Cup that makes me think that Bono is trying to get me to send money to Africa, rather than watch the games?

Expectant mothers are actually worried that their child may be born tomorrow on 6/6/06.  The truly terrifying thing is that come election day, these people have a vote.   Emo kids may have their own upside down cross to bear tomorrow.

God sends Pat Robertson a warning.   

 

Bite-Sized Snacks

June 5, 2006

KO goes after BO.  Keith does a fine job of channeling Murrow while excoriating O’Reilly over yet another reason why BO needs to shut up and go away.

Neal Boortz on gay marriage and the President’s shameless pandering waste of time speech this afternoon. 

Has this teacher fucking thingy officially become an epidemic?  Were kids back in my day a little more discreet?  Is this what we get with a 24-hour news cycle based on ratings driven scandals and missing blonde girls?  Will the chick in this story be played by Bridgett Fonda in the Lifetime Movie?  The goddamn Letourneau broad who kicked off this Hot Teacher Mania, is on the TV right now.  Have we not passed the point of "who gives a shit" with this woman and her hula boy husband yet?  TV Squad has the fine details about this train wreck.

I know a secret about a Nashville publication’s top spot.  Ooops, a secret no more, apparently.  Were it not for all the booze and the non-disclosure agreement I signed on a cocktail napkin, I would have broke this news on Friday. 

Never turn your back on a thespian. 

On a related topic for people who giggle when they hear the word "thespian", Batwoman is now a lesbian.  Which is pretty funny when you think about the whole reason for her existence was to provide Batman some hetero-style lovin’.  Back in the Fifties, a head shrinker named Dr. Fredric Wertham cranked out a book that claimed that comics were turning kids into juvenile delinquents.  Among his other dubious claims were that Batman and Robin were totally gay.  He wasn’t talking about the movie Batman & Robin, which everyone knows is totally gay.   Wonder Woman could not be reached for comment.