Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jailhouse Rock.

"Well, victims have rights too," is the usual evasion given to the question of why the United States has more people in confinement or under correctional supervision than the Soviet Union under Stalin. Well, of course they do have rights, but it's hard to reach the notion that a victim of a crime, or the state which represents that victim has the right to do anything at all to satisfy the rage we feel when someone harms us or our property from that position. Even the harshest laws of classical antiquity were set in place to hinder the endless cycle of revenge.

Harder it is indeed to get to the level of punishment typical in our land for crimes that in fact harm no one at all: "crimes" that throughout the years include marrying outside the arbitrary dictates of dominant religions, drinking from the wrong faucet, having a beer in private or smoking the herb that makes you feel mellow and sleepy. Most hard to justify is the rage for "Zero Tolerance" that makes judges into clerks and executioners unable to apply reason or a sense of proportion as it relates to crime and punishment.

Imagine, as Adam Gopnik suggests in Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in the January 30th issue of New Yorker, "Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience." At least 50,000 men don't have to imagine it at the moment, they simply have to be conscious.

Although it's tapered off some recently, we've been given editorials and articles and TV harangues about how prison life is too "soft" for "Criminals" such as some teen who sent a naked picture on a cellphone to another teen and gets life in a cage -- or another unfortunate caught with marijuana who has to endure 10 or 20 degrading and terrifying years and lose his civil rights in perpetuity, but Prison life in the US is a veritable nightmare in comparison to what it is in places like Europe. 70,000 prisoners are raped in our prisons every year where HIV is widespread. Texas alone has sentenced more than 400 teenagers to life imprisonment.

My own state of Florida, with a governor who somehow escaped incarceration for having been involved in the largest Medicare swindle ever, is as I write this, trying to "privatize" Florida's prison system. Is that another way of washing conservative hands of blood or is it simply that to the conservative mind, being profitable makes it moral: a corporation locking up people and keeping the corporate bottom line healthy by squeezing convicts as well as punishing them?

Of course Florida, as many other states have done, turned to prison labor as a substitute for slavery after Liberals ended their horrific atrocities, locking up "vagrants" and selling their "slave" labor for private gain in much the same way as China is accused of when we try to seem better than they are.
" More than half of all black men without a high-school diploma go to prison at some time in their lives"
says Gopnik and mass imprisonment has tainted our mass culture with affluent kids in shopping malls imitating prison dress and speech and tattoos. We wear our incarceration culture on the bodies of our children, like the mark of Cain.
"Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today—perhaps the fundamental fact, as slavery was the fundamental fact of 1850. In truth, there are more black men in the grip of the criminal-justice system—in prison, on probation, or on parole—than were in slavery then."
Nor is it tapering off. The rate of incarceration is accelerating; tripling in the last couple of decades and with the tendency toward private slaveholder corporations, the comparison to the anti-bellum south is all the more frightening. We'r e being sold a southern sense of justice, suggests the author, and we sell it, as we sell our wars and our attacks on what we were taught were fundamental rights and even our attacks on reformers with appeals to rage. "If the accused had shot someone in your family, wouldn't you want to kill him?" asks the voice and of course I might, but fortunately for all of us, we have a system of laws, we have a civilization to prevent it. Indeed civilization exists as a brake on our base instincts, which instincts so often destroy it.

Is our current fascination with a withered government that thereby facilitates freedom in some magical way really compatible with a government so concerned with keeping all freedom away from so many people for ever expanding reasons? Or is the subjugation of such a huge number of people only a part of a vast scheme to subjugate most of us, to establish America as a vast plantation for the benefit of a very few slaveholders?

Perhaps not. Perhaps it's simply the fear in which we're all marinating in this safest period in history that's pickled our sense of justice; our fear of terrorists, dope fiends, predators, drunk drivers and heretics, but regardless of where the blame is put, we are, and continue to grow as a nation which more than any others, keeps people in cages and allows other people to profit from it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bring out the Bibles, bring out the guns, Jesus is coming to town

The headline in yesterday's paper summarizing the President's State of the Union message is 3/8 of an inch tall. The headline just under it, reading RICK SANTORUM RALLIES IN STUART is in bold face type and is much bigger. Welcome to the monkey house.

Santorum was here on Florida's Treasure Coast Tuesday, holding forth at the Community Christian Academy to parents and grade school students, a horror of which some are particularly proud. It's an "up-close look at politics in action," said school officials.

That live action, these politics, included a prayer by the 'Reverend' Dan Holland, affiliated with the school and the pastor of Community Baptist Church in Stuart, Florida.
"I like what he said in the South Carolina rally, where he said ' I come from a place where they have a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other'"

Rick Santorum doesn't need a script, because he really isn't saying much and with such an audience, it doesn't matter whether he makes sense or mangles facts or makes them up. Rick speaks from the pulpit and anything said Ex Cathedra will not be questioned by this crowd. Besides, it's precisely what they want to hear: Barack Obama is the worst president this country has ever had, who hates capitalism, wants to take away what God wants you to keep to yourself and is destroying our natural order of things. Don't forget this is a religion that demands that women be subservient, hints that black people should stay in their place and since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would vote for anything that hated Democrats.

Santorum's ever predictable message was about "family Values" "fiscal responsibility" and "ridding the White House of Barack Obama." One can take the last of the three as the real message since my idea of family values does not include veiled calls to armed crusade and lying about the economy.

An all-white group of 350 heard him say:
"we have to have a candidate who stands proudly, consistently, aggressively, forcefully for the values that made this country the greatest country in the history of the world."

Presumably that greatness was attained with Bibles and guns and anyone suggesting that we are in any way sinners, transgressors or less than perfect instruments of God's Christian ambitions, can go straight to Hell along with that apologist Obama.

They heard him howl about That Commie, apologist, freedom hating Obama bailing out Wall Street from the excesses and crimes the Republicans encouraged them in instead of using "free market forces" which would as any legitimate economist would likely tell you have brought that "greatest country in the history of the Universe" down to the level of Haiti. Still, the problem of galloping poverty isn't lack of resources, said Santorum, contradicting himself,
"the problem is in the home, the problem is in the churches, the problem is in the community. The people living in these woods are not the federal government's problem. . ."
Let's use poverty, disease and misery to fill the pews, because a just society is a commie, secular humanist Christ-hating society.

Perhaps he could have explained to me why the Republican's promise to provide jobs instead of food stamps while it's 'not the government's problem' isn't honest or consistent -- or how unlettered country folk with bibles and guns are going to help in the new anarchistic utopia he offers them -- but trying to present Rick Santorum as a rational candidate with any further agenda than dismantling all the rules that keep markets free, creating a new Christian aristocracy and most of all, hanging up that "White's Only" sign over the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a scam and a con and a farrago of flim-flam as great as any in the history of the world.

People like me can wonder how dismantling our entire economic system, refusing to pay the bills, can be called Conservatism, or any of the other radical, ultra-Chauvinistic, denialist and dishonest rhetoric that smells more like Attila's unwashed hordes, but the blue-hair church ladies, their God smitten and brainwashed children and the rest of the angry Community Christian Academics don't seem to care. There's just something wrong out there and they don't know what it is and the sick Mr. Rick and his sanctimonious rabble are at hand to point out the enemies and heretics for the burning.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOPA Opera

Should the Senate bill called PIPA or the House version called SOPA emerge as the law of the land (and probably a few other lands as well) odds are you won't like it, whether you're a downloader of music or a blogger who may have borrowed a photo you found on Google or elsewhere. Neither bill is there to address the concerns of the public, but rather the (you guessed it) big corporations hell bent on retaining every last crumb, every last cent of potential profit from every word or image or sound they can claim as their own in perpetuity.

In my opinion, it's gone far past any position I could call reasonable. I've given many a guffaw when nearly every image one could call art has to be blurred out when shown on television and although I'm sure an effort will be made to blame yet another corporate triumph on "the Liberals" and of course "that Obama" this "intellectual property" and "artist's rights" crusade is a trend that started twenty years ago or more. There's always a noble purpose, of course -- like protecting the interests of widows and orphans of dead artists and writers and such noble purpose often devolves into huge lawsuits like the squabble between France and Spain as to which one can be the executor of the Salvador Dali estate in the absence of any widows or offspring. I remember the difficulty of using an image of a work of art to sell it because whoever owned the rights to a long dead artist's work might sue you even though your efforts were actually supporting the price of the commodity. It's nearly always about money and lawyers, no matter what it's dressed up as.

But my disdain for monster corporations stomping all over Congress screaming "mine, mine, mine" isn't my main concern. I'm more worried about the enforcement, which seems to allow huge fines for downloading some two and a half minutes of some Cramps tune from the early 90's or, God forbid, a little night music by Mozart, but about the next increment of surveillance and the possibility of making the Internet a very, very inhospitable place for non-corporate bloggers and providers of information like Wikipedia. While people of all political persuasions dislike the idea of Big Brother watching us, perhaps too few are watching Big Brother, Inc.

People often learn from mistakes, but it seems corporations do not. Prohibition and the war on drugs and stringent gun control and the war on pornography have hurt far more than they have helped and they haven't helped very much. Draconian penalties don't reduce crime and as a great article at Bloomberg.com today points out this morning, this War on Piracy isn't likely to stop, slow down or to have any effect.
"SOPA and PIPA are just the next steps in this larger enforcement agenda. Whatever happens to them, online enforcement will remain a very slippery slope, with attendant risks of censorship, surveillance, and the loss of due process. Because nothing in SOPA or PIPA is likely to stop piracy, there will be strong pressure to keep sliding."

Individuals will be scapegoated and ruined, lawyers will buy gaudier cars and cuff links and the free flow of information we have learned to rely on will dry up while more and more ordinary citizens will be made into criminals. The inevitable failure of this new, expensive enforcement crusade will only be used as proof that we need more of it, if history is a reliable teacher, and the true danger here is that it will, and I'm certain of it, be another stepping stone to the corporate police state. These are measures the public by in large does not support, but of course the public is distracted at the moment by the Republican freak show and revival meeting -- and of course congress listens to the representatives of industry instead of representing us.

I'm old enough to remember the movie industry's attempts to block cable TV and video recorders. I'm not old enough to remember how the advent of phonograph records and later radio broadcasting would, so they said, demolish the music industry, but I do remember the push to add a tax onto VCRs to reimburse the movie studios God given right to profit. I do remember how the music industry effectively prevented Americans from owning Digital Audio Tape machines and I remember how FedEx and others insisted in adding a tax on Fax machines to stifle competition and I remember how all these things not only failed but also how in the long run some of this technology was a huge boon to industries that were terrified of them.

Face it, the Internet is terrifying to a lot of entities, many of whom don't have anything like the public interest in mind when they propose to bend it to their will or destroy it. This thing of ours has more potential for good than the printing press and the spectacle of corporations crying about too much regulation calling for the garroting of that good in the name of a guaranteed right to a profit is as disgusting as anything prompting my gag reflex these days.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"With regards to immigration policy, that those that come here illegally should not be given favoritism or a special route to becoming residents or citizens that's not given to those people that stayed in line legally,"

-Willard Mitt Romney-

One would think, if one had the fortitude to spend more than a moment watching what passes for television news, that for the last half decade or so there were nothing of more than momentary interest happening than the American political circus and perpetual campaign. Geological and meteorological calamities do get reported, but the vast bulk of air time is given over to "the candidates" and the unchallenged lies they perpetrate. There are no pauses between campaigns, no half time shows and no seventh inning stretches.

I say circus although circuses are intended to be family entertainment these days and freak shows have gone the way of Times Square peep shows, cock fights and lynchings -- and sadly, the traces of any sense of shame, decency and honesty that ever had the audacity to interrupt or question the ragemongering has disappeared.

At the South Carolina Fox News debate Monday last (and I call it debate with all awareness of the inherent dishonesty of the appellation) Mitt Romney was booed, not because of what discernible policies he may be espousing at the moment, but because his father was born in Mexico. I don't recall any booing in response to John McCain's having been born in Panama, but of course anything done or said more than ten minutes ago is irrelevant in today's Republican world and that hobgoblin called consistency is always foolish.

George Romney, Mitt's father, entered the US illegally from Mexico, which might have given a better, more decent, less ambnitious Mitt pause before making such harsh statements about not tolerating any mercy for illegal Mexican immigrants, but of course it's a racial and ethnic issue, not an immigration one despite assurances to the contrary. The name is Romney after all, not Ramirez -- and this was South Carolina, Glossolalia, Holy Ghost Power and Rebel Flags, just he way God likes it.

But the mood of the South Carolinian Republican Rabble was ugly and when moderator Juan Williams asked if it wasn't a bit insulting to minorities when Newt Gingrich spewed that nonsense about black people needing to demand jobs instead of food stamps, as though the unemployment problem were caused by laziness and a president that encourages it, the ugly mob conservative citizens booed the black moderator just as Republican snake pits at previous "debates" have booed Child Labor laws, booed a serving US soldier and cheered the killing of prisoners in large numbers.

Is it any worse that they insist on being called 'conservatives' and not snarling beasts and that our only sources of news collaborate in that farce? Is it surprising that the state of South Carolina, still unrepentant for having been the first to take up arms against the United States, would once again boo at Ron Paul's suggestion that the 'Golden Rule' so often quoted as a core Christian value be applied in US foreign policy?
" Quit warmongering, stop going to war, and treat other nations like we want to be treated. "

Hell, no! Boo the bastard! Ask not what Jesus would do, ask what Attila the Hun would do, what a tribe of savage head hunters and cannibals would do, what a pack of giggling, stinking hyenas would do while ripping and tearing at the corpse of America.

It's been suggested to me, that I should approach such people with a more polite demeanor -- that the people who have made most of human history a horror story need to be given a chance to discuss things, to debate things and that monsters and the people who promote monsters can be persuaded by kind words and reason to change.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Comrade Obama?

I must disagree with Bill Maher that Rick Santorum thinks of gay sex more than a dildo salesman but only because Rick Santorum doesn't actually think, unless one defines that word very loosely. He doesn't remember things too well either and I say that in all generosity since one might interpret the things he says he remembers as outright lies. They aren't even up to date lies or original lies or good lies, yet there are always enough misinformed, low intelligence dung flingers in fatuously faith based America to believe them and make this country seem like the primate house at the world's largest zoo.

Take Santorum's tired repetition of John McCain's 2001 attempt to sell the embarrassingly ridiculous notion that President Obama wants to redistribute the nation's wealth in some Socialistic way, a bit like Jed Clampett arriving at the Royal Wedding in his beat up old truck . Coming from a Republican, whose party has engineered what might be one of the largest upward redistribution of wealth, that's already laughable but Mr. Rick seems to be the last man standing who is still driving that rusty jalopy -- the idea that Our president, beset by critics calling him a corporate whore and a sell-out to Wall Street is a radical socialist and perhaps a communist to boot. What Santorum claims to remember is that Obama supported a constitutional amendment to give your money to the poor ( read black people) when what the president really said in a 2001 interview was that the
"Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution. . .”
Essential constraints -- it sounds very little like a man who is deploring those constraints. Indeed when Obama said the court had limited itself to insuring that he could eat at a lunch counter as long as he could afford to pay for his lunch, only a stupid man who thinks other people are even more stupid would interpret, or should I say twist, this as a quote from the Communist Manifesto.

"In the interview, Obama went into extensive detail to explain why the courts should not get into that business of ‘redistributing’ wealth. Obama’s point — and what he called a tragedy — was that legal victories in the civil rights led too many people to rely on the courts to change society for the better. That view is shared by conservative judges and legal scholars across the country."
said Obama spokesman Bill Burton during the 2008 campaign. Certainly no development since then has given credibility to McCain's sad attempt or justification for Santorum's calumnies.

I'm finding it difficult, even without the waves of nausea and loathing, to accept that any candidate could have got as far as Santorum has without being laughed out of town as a cheap, incompetent liar and unscrupulous scoundrel. I can only blame the media ringmasters who continue to provide this charlatan with his own ring in this sad and tawdry circus we call a campaign. Have we forgotten that the purpose of news reporting is to sort truth from rumor, slander and lies? Perhaps we have and it's certainly been a long time since the news was anything but a way for big news corporations and their sponsors to make money. Perhaps we should stop making them richer by occupying Wall Street and start occupying CNN and Fox and the rest instead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

That Vatican Rag

People have argued that Science is just another kind of faith, or at least another but equally valid way of telling truth from fiction; establishing fact from a confusing universe. I suppose that Pope Benedict would be suggesting such a 'fair and balanced' approach by suggesting that same sex marriage would be a "threat to the future of humanity itself."

I would argue that science is the best method we have of keeping our beliefs honest by constant examination of the data -- and that data as concerns the cohabitation of couples, or triples for that matter does not in any way suggest that the Holy Father's predictions are based on what happens in this world when such things are not prohibited by law or even custom.

“This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself,”

he said to some 180 diplomats at the Vatican yesterday
. The education of children needs proper “settings” and “pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.” I'm not quite sure that personal pride in being traditional and obedient to dogma constitutes justification for regulating private life in a free society, but then a free society is the definition of a heretical society and it wasn't long ago that Catholics were threatened with excommunication for voting for political leaders. I'm sure the rationalization for that was much the same farrago of gold embroidered, incense scented rubbish as was the persecution of Galileo and the scientists of the Renaissance -- to cite the less egregious examples.

The fact is, that children raised by gay couples can't be shown to have turned out as Benedict predicts and since gay people have been around since the dawn of humanity and a bit before -- and long before the shaman, that oldest of professions, told them they were evil -- we can assume that human dignity hasn't been much affected. The indignities of the Crusades and Inquisitions and centuries of war and tyranny might have done some harm, but I won't go into that here.

As I said, science rejects propositions, predictions and proclamations that do not produce the results claimed. I might suggest Mein Herr, that there's a bit of egg on your face and blood on your robes from trying to stifle that heresy with force of arms, torture and murder, but so far, nothing you or your predecessors have predicted has ever been demonstrated to be the truth. So how long caro padre, will you go on predicting that if we do A, then B will happen, because we've been doing A for a hell of a long time and there's no sign of you being right so far.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Iran and the Phantom Menace

Perhaps I've oversensitive about talk of going to war with Iran. After all, I remember all the talk about Iraq and nuclear/chemical/biological weapons from a government that knew damn well Iraq didn't have them or the facilities to make them. Everyone who doesn't have the excuse of being a Republican or having been trapped in a cave for most of this century remembers the war that broke the bank and destroyed Iraq to make it "free."

Perhaps I'm oversensitive but when I read Dennis Ross, who served two years on Obama’s National Security Council and a year as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on Iran telling us that the President is "ready to strike" if Iran begins the nuclear beguine, I have no problem remembering that Leon Panetta, who should know a bit about the subject, told us all yesterday that Iran is not working on developing a bomb. Is Ross just shooting his mouth off or is he just tough talking for the benefit of the President and his campaign? And why is Panetta telling us there is no threat requiring such bellicose bravado or is it just a "slip" like Dick Cheney's slip when he mentioned that al Qaeda had nothing to do with 9/11?

the United States, being what it is, doesn't seem to have tired of tough talk, or at least our candidates don't think so. To me, it's a sign of weakness and perhaps a bit of arrested development and although we have a ways to go in the down direction to get back to the point of having a "War President" parading around in combat gear and calling himself the "Commander Guy" any step in that direction worries me.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A woman's home is her castle too.

I know such arguments often generate a fusillade of fecal material, but I couldn't help noticing this item on ABC Good Morning America. A young mother, home alone is surprised by armed men kicking their way into her home. They weren't there to offer her a good deal on Avon Skin-So-Soft.

She apparently had enough time and a telephone to call 911 and she apparently had a shotgun and she decided to use them in that order. Asking the dispatcher what she should do, she was told to' do what she had to do' to protect her baby and herself -- and she did, shooting a man as he came through her door, knife in hand. What else could she do? Threaten the would-be murder/rapist with a cell phone? Appeal to his better side? Use it to inform the coroner to bring two body bags?

There has been a series of burglaries in my neighborhood with nearly 30 in the last few months. one victim had the bad luck to come home and find one of the gun toting gang members in his living room and since this is Florida which passed a "castle doctrine" law to the dismay of self-styled Liberals about ten years ago, he pulled out a weapon which prompted the perpetrator to flee. Several attempted home invasions have been thwarted locally by armed homeowners and many of the invaders were armed. The current gang has killed several dogs in their pursuit of booty, but so far no people. Dogs can't carry guns.

I talked about this to my friend D. let's call him Deputy D, because that's just who he is.
"I'm not sure I could pull a trigger on a fleeing burglar" I said.
"Don't worry about it, just shoot him."
said the Deppity, which sort of surprised me since according to the anti Castle Doctrine lobby, Law enforcement was supposed to be very much against such things. It isn't any more true than much of the information propaganda we're given and of course the "shoot the Avon Lady" doctrine, as it was called hasn't had any effect on any Avon ladies. It has saved a considerable number of lives however, that would have been lost if the victims had been required as they formerly were, to run away. How fast can one run carrying a baby? How fast can an 89 year old woman make her wheel chair go? How fast can she climb out a mobile home window or climb down a drainpipe from 4 stories up?

So whether or not you believe a fertilized egg is a human being with a right to preserve its life, don't you believe an 18 year old and her baby have that right? Don't you have it?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa Caucus - a Defense of Mediocrity

"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"

-Roman Hruska-

So the Iowa caucusoids can't really decide between Stepford Candidate Mitt who will say anything to ingratiate and hopes you have no memory, or Ricky Santorum, the subatomic particle with less mass than a neutrino. As of this morning there is only an 8 vote difference between the two and CNN.com is portraying Santorum's loss as a victory. If there's anything interesting at all, or any inference to be drawn from this contest, it's that relatively moderate Jon Huntsman might have been better off joining another party entirely. Rarely has any contestant gone so unnoticed, lost in the glare of idiocy, mendacity and derangement.

This race seems to have nothing to do with qualifications in terms of character, experience, education or cognitive function: it's more about seducing the stupid, the ignorant and the marginal people, enraged because they are marginal. As a non-Republican, my preference in what is essentially a tie would be Santorum -- and of course any other connoisseur of circus freak shows would look forward with gleeful anticipation to watching that raving idiot contend with his Democratic opponent's measured words.

Does the Iowa Caucus really mean anything? I think it does. It means, for one thing, that the word Conservative means no more than it did when Senator Hruska tried to sell mediocrity as a virtue to get G. Harrold Carswell appointed to the Supreme Court and get us to overlook his distaste for Women's rights and his support for segregation (and perhaps the aggressive homosexual proclivities that landed him in jail and the hospital on several occasions.)

No, Romney isn't that bad and Santorum may not be either but I have to suspect that somewhere, some wax museum is missing a dummy and some circus side show is missing a freak.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Fear and Loathing in 2012

the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman.


At a New Year's Day Yacht Club brunch yesterday, I suggested to a newly thin friend worried about overeating at the bulging buffet, that we declare January 1st as a National Who Gives a Shit day. We need a break from all this fear and loathing and self flagellation.

For my part, I'm chronically worried about things far more dire than gaining a few pounds; things like a Napoleonic Republican in the White House again, the deliberate collapse of the world economy for the benefit of a few oligarchs, plutocrats and other assorted brigands -- and of course the coming Zombie Apocalypse, the Mayan Catastrophe and the end of an error prophesied on all those bumper stickers.

Of course there are many other things to be depressed about and most of them, unlike that Zombie thing, can't readily be dealt with by stockpiling ammunition. But we need a break from all the apocalyptic insanity, the hate commercials all over the TV with Mike Huckabee howling last night about how Romney's health care plan was "stuffed down our throats" ( by a large majority of voters) even though Obama was elected largely on the promise of health care reform. We need a break from having our basic fundamental liberties torn from us by small minded big mouth authoritarian radicals like Vaneta Becker, the Republican State Senator from Indiana who wants to make it illegal to sing our National Anthem "inappropriately," the constitution and all that freedom we're told isn't free, be damned -- at least in Indiana.

Oh say can you see, our boot on your face -- would that be inappropriate? Now which third world countries can we invade to protect her freedom to sanctify the trappings and rituals of Chauvinistic self worship while rebelling against any government power other than the power to crush the people?

No, I'm afraid National Who Gives a Shit Day barely made it past those chocolate truffles I couldn't resist last night and all those Happy New Year wishes have already turned to ashes with my first glimpse of today's news. It's the same old madness we had two days ago, the same inconsistent, persistent, self-negating rhetoric, the same greedy, angry, irrational revenge-seeking of the idiot mob. Who can worry about brain eating zombies or rampaging Jesus with a flame thrower or Kenyan Kommunists stuffing civilization down our throats when that great slithering thing we call the media are stuffing insanity into every orifice; howling like some Lovecraftian horror from every high place, importuning us from every telephone, billboard and car bumper that obedience is freedom and civilization is tyranny - that prosperity comes from doing what always leads to catastrophe.

For those of us not about to die, or at least not to die immediately, it's January 2nd and I give a shit. I'm fed up with being told that rational discord with marauding barbarians will lead to understanding and progress, that authoritarians will become tolerant of freedom if only we show them respect and exercise patient restraint and all the ancient evils mankind has perpetuated and treasured and nurtured will somehow wither away if we're polite and sincere.

If it is true that fighting monsters brings the risk of becoming one, it is also true that not fighting them, being quiet and polite and respectful toward mad moralizers and authoritarians and fear mongers and every snark-snarling witless witling posing as a philosopher carries the bigger risk. It's time to stop pretending we're on some fence between one reasonable place and another. We're not.