Tag Archives: politics

March 11, 2011

Image by BBC News

My heart goes out to the people in Japan, and those whose loved ones were affected by the recent disaster.

Ne cede malis. Yield not to misfortune.

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Ode to the Titans: The Writers Who Run Our World

Imagine a world where George Orwell, Ayn Rand and Ray Bradbury had collective control of The Human Remote (see Figures 12.1 and 17.2). The Homo sapiens dystopia would be complete with brainwashing clinics, assisted suicide spas and hidden stashes of synthetic candy. They have complete control, mind you. The Remote sees all, knows all, and controls all. It’s like Bono, in that sense.

Figure 12.1 – The Human Remote (not to scale)

Assume for the purposes of our thought experiment that we no longer have free will. You may believe this already. We have become droids, devoid of sex hormones and/or personal gumption – EXCEPT, of course, for the few lucky protagonists who are enlightened enough to live the reality of their own society’s hell-hole. Just for now, let’s assume that the only two non-droid, hormonal, cocky bastards on earth are: you. And me.

Now, who would rule our wonderful little hornet’s nest?

We need at least two – just shy of a monarchical system, but not so bold as to attempt oligarchy. Two is perfect, and just the right number for perpetuating the world’s obsession with Cartesian thought processes.

How about…. Rupert Murdoch and J.K. Rowling?

Why Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon, who has assets in more companies than the Old Woman in the Shoe had children? He does business in portraying world events. And why J.K. Rowling? If you don’t already know of her business in portraying imaginative landscapes, I’m impressed that you found your way to the world wide web. In short, one influences how we think about the world. And the other just influences how we think. Who could be better at complete mind control?

Figure 4.3 – The Dynamic Duo

In the spirit of Plato’s Republic, let’s set up our theoretical society where Murdoch and Rowling sit on their golden thrones. We will give them complete control. They have The Remote. They have the all access pass to our brains, psyches, and super-sub-subconscious thoughts.

The paradox here is that, although literary giants ruled our lands, the cities and towns would be overwrought with “firemen” set on burning any written word, right down to the last kindergarten art project. In this world, we would only be allowed to watch Fox News. The word “muggle” would be incorporated into our vernacular, referring to those who sport bumper stickers on their Subaru’s or choose not to get involved in quasi-moralistic battles of magic on the lawns of ancient Scottish castles. When we weren’t thinking conservative thoughts, we would go on flights of fancy in our heads, zooming over Wall Street on imagined broomsticks.

We would of course sip Butterbeer on cold evenings while discussing the Tea Party, and our children (if droids can have children) would all listen attentively while polishing their wands. I mean gavels. Wand-gavels. Some society members could make propaganda posters out of these idealized family fun evenings. The children, as well as ourselves, would all be named after illustrious members of the Order of the Phoenix, or alternatively, after Australian marsupials. Combination names or nicknames (i.e. “Koala McKinnon” or “Molly Wallaby”) would also be acceptable. The society would perpetuate itself, us droids would somehow make little droids, and the Murdoch-Rowling corporation would reign eminent over the land.

Figure 17.2 – Ayn Rand dooming us all to a twisted purgatory

As for you and me, we have only a few options: A) Secretly rent a single-room apartment to hide out in on Sunday afternoons, B) Dig a very big tunnel shelter, or C) Run away into the last forest on earth.

To the Voter, with Love.

I’m being manipulated via franking privileges. And I like it.

A letter came in the mail today from a New Mexico senator – a politically worded piece on a political bill. Over the summer I had sent this senator a request for him to oppose a certain bill regarding internet use… you know the one I’m talking about. It was a new idea for me: You mean, I can TALK to my representatives? I can send them emails or letters, and call them on the phone? Sure, maybe it will go to a member of his staff at first, but at least it’s something.

Until that revelation, politicians to me seemed about as accessible as Jon Bon Jovi. You don’t just call up Jon Bon Jovi and say, “hey, buddy, wanna go out for a beer?” Granted, I wouldn’t ask a senator out for a beer if he or she was from certain states, either.

So around the same time as this revelation, I heard about the bill to restrict internet use based on cost… and decided to use my new-found POWER to speak up about it. It was pretty empowering, I’ll admit. I almost wanted to safety pin an anarchy symbol to my backpack.

Now, two months later, I’m getting a letter from said senator, thanking me for communicating my interests and giving me information about how the bill is progressing. I don’t remember much of it, as no caffeine had reached my brain yet. But here’s my dilemma:

1) I know that politicians are concerned first and foremost with getting reelected. I also know that politicians in office have full franking privileges – free use of the postal service… unlimited free stamps, if you will. So, if said politician wants to gain a supporter, all he/she has to do is put together some kind of personalized letter, and send it to the voter at no cost to either of them. Perhaps the letter will make the voter feel like she is being heard, make her feel special, make her feel flattered to be contacted by someone who is part of making big decisions in this country (or, contacted by someone who WORKS FOR the guy who is part of making big decisions in this country). It seems cheap when you look at it from that way. The politicians want to get reelected, so they manipulate your opinions of them by sending you shit that doesn’t cost them a penny. Seems cheap. I will not give in. I will not vote for you just because you sent me free mail!

2) I am flattered. I might vote for you just because you sent me free mail.

I’m faced with a political moral dilemma. To be persuaded, or not to be persuaded? I’ve heard tell of the rules of the game. Now, do I let myself be manipulated by them?

I know! I’ll just not vote. Apathy is always the answer.

Courtesy Down and Dirty: A Love Affair with Congress

Today it came to my attention just how much back scratching (otherwise termed something much dirtier) goes on between the President and Congress.

Take, for example, presidential appointment of federal justices. Not only do presidents get to stack the courts in your little home-state in their party’s favor, but they have something called a “senatorial courtesy.” In my understanding this is basically a game of Mother-May-I before the official nomination is made. It goes something like this.

Three Business Men

President X wants to appoint Judge Y from state Q for chief justice of the Supreme Court. President X performs a “senatorial courtesy” by asking the permission – no, really, don’t laugh – of a senator from state Q. Let’s call him Senator M, just to make this really fun and confusing. If Senator M from Judge Y’s state says, “nope, that dude’s one bad apple,” then President X will almost surely not continue with the nomination. You follow me so far?

Here’s the thing. President X already knows what Senator M is thinking. It’s like some weird combination of a Jedi use of the force, having political analysts at his disposal than fleas on a dog, and party lines. (I’m sure I’ll get to this later… for other idiots or recent idiots, party lines basically beg the question: Are you Democrat or Republican? We’re all like irrational baseball fans when it comes to political parties, and somehow the psychological attachment to either the color red or blue wins out over policy proposals of the individual. I didn’t make the rules.)

Back to senatorial courtesy. The president already basically knows what Senator M is going to say. There are only two choices, after all, and he’s got some savvy people working for him in the White House who are borderline crystal ball readers about these sorts of things.

So if President X already knows how Senator M is going to answer…. WHY BOTHER ASKING? And whyohwhy give it such a silly name?

I posit that this is another infuriating and entertaining fuddydism (technical term) that the U.S. government has allowed to persist merely to infuriate recent inductees into the realm of political learning, such as myself. What else could it be for? Other than perhaps a cool phrase to work into your everyday vernacular.

“Aw man, whadja do that for? You can’t ask the dude how he’s gonna feel when you pants him!”

“Hey, you know, I was just giving the brother a little senatorial courtesy…”