Archive for the 'Social Commentary' Category

It’s About Damn Time!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Motherfucker!
Uggh!
-Rage Against The Machine, Killing In The Name

It’s no big secret that I’m not a big fan of mainstream media, and the horrible turn that I’ve watched it take towards sensationalism as it embraces a more and more tabloid like mentality each and every day. There used to be a time when reporters and journalist were not afraid to ask the tough questions, they were not intimidated by the powerful people who they investigate, and that they would actually take the time to report the news rather than create it.

I’m a firm believer it that old saying that it’s newsperson’s job to make what’s important, interesting; not to make what’s interesting, important.

I could go into some long bitter diatribe about how the quality of news broadcasts was so much better before the networks decided that the news divisions of their respective stations could no longer run at a loss, but rather needed to do things to boost their ratings so that they could start to turn a profit with the sale of advertising… but I don’t think that I need to, it’s more than obvious when you watch the news anyway.

My faith in the major news networks has been minimal to say the least with the growing popularity of sensationalist news programs like Nancy Grace and To Catch A Predator, which ammount to nothing more than the news channel equivilant of the Jerry Springer Show. It seams that just at the moment that I’m ready to give up on them all together, something happens to renew my faith… Enter Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.

The following is a transcript from Countdown With Keith Olbermann that originally aired on May 15th 2008, the full video can be viewed here (recommended).

OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on two topics a lot of us had foolishly thought, and had naively hoped, we would not again have to address, and a third topic nobody thought a President would ever seriously mention in public, unless perhaps he‘d just been hit in the head with something and was not in full possession of his faculties, how he expressed his empathy to the families of the dead in Iraq by giving up golf.

The President has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration of a public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and Mr. McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could, quote, “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”

This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came yesterday during an interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo. The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what‘s the worst that could happen, what‘s the doomsday scenario?”

The President replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States.

“The biggest issue we face is, it‘s bigger than Iraq, it‘s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives‘? They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes. Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?

‘This ideological struggle‘ you speak of, Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country. It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else‘s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.

But wait, there‘s more.

You also said “Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.”

They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir. You allowed them to assemble there! As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of ‘they‘ll greet us as liberators.‘

And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infrastructure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American Vice-Royalty enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic, upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room, claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”

“I feel like—I felt like there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional—I don‘t think so, I think there was a—not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”

Flawed?

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons. You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, and damn fast. You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world, and punished everybody who didn‘t agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country‘s policy, in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of the realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers, like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this Presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, because there will be just as many of those inside your Presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq.

Of course, if there is one over-riding theme to this president‘s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

“And so you feel that you didn‘t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”

“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

People?

What people?

The insane informant “Curveball?”

The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi?

The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”

Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress‘s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation‘s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply re-submitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon. You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes” only this time with the stakes—as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it—being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual Congressional seats in places like North Carolina and, last night, Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that the members of Congress, “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes,” while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy.

Four thousand of the Americans you were supposed to protect are dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

Then came Mr. Bush‘s final blow to our nation‘s solar plexus, his last re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven‘t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans, on our history.

“It really is. I don‘t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as—to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Golf, sir?

Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?

Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf?

Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, you who let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t even give up talking about Iraq, a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn‘t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can?

Four thousands Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf!

Golf.

Not “gulf”—golf.

And still it gets worse.

Because it proves that the President‘s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.

“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”

“I remember when de Mello was killed, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man‘s life. And I was playing golf—I think I was in central Texas—and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it‘s just not worth it any more to do.”

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn‘t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice, an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, four thousand of their brothers and sisters lose their lives, you lose golf and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it‘s even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time, coincidence no doubt, the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the UN and interrupted your round of golf, was on August 19th, 2003.

Yet there‘s an Associate Press account of you and photographs playing golf as late as Columbus Day of that year, October 13th, nearly two months later. Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you six-and-a-half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you!

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box. It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin, Mr. McCain, succeeds you.

The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game!

And, sir, if you have any hopes that next January 20th will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt Thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice: when somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at—when somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation—when somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead; this advice, Mr. Bush: shut the hell up!

Good night, and good luck.

I applaud you Mr. Olbermann, I applaud you. I honestly have no reason for writing this article other than the fact that what you had to say deserves to be quoted, and I am glad that someone in the mainstream media is finally willing to call “bullshit” when they hear it.

I now return you to our regularly scheduled bitter diatribes…

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JUST GIMME MY STUFF

I’d be chatting on the interweb;
maggots pray upon the living dead.
-Say Anything, Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too

My world revolves around my home. I work from home I play from home and I am entertained at home. My living room is a movie theater, my basement a sound stage, and my garage serves as a better wifi spot then most Starbucks. My girlfriend is even a budding internet model (admittedly not quite “the freak” as someone like say Gianna Michaels but certainly more aesthetically appealing in the traditional and non-porn sense of the word). I tend to rely on my laptop and the ever trusting firefox for most things in my daily living which has made me a very patient man. Let’s take a hypothetical situation merely as an example; I could easily cruise to my local super store and within 30 minutes be back home in my lounger enjoying 4 straight days of non threatening sci fi action with the first seasons of Stargate SG1 and Doctor Who. But why bother when I can simply, again just a hypothetical example here, download them with Azureus. Sure it takes a bit longer but I’ve got time “hell I got nothing but time, minutes, hours, days, years of it, Time stands still here, like a snake sunning itself.”

There are few occasions where even I find myself needing something here and now. This is where my relationship with the internet becomes a love hate ordeal. Just the other day I was updating my fathers’ old PC and he wanted a better graphics card. He didn’t need anything for gaming or production just better than what he currently had and well basically cheap. So the first thing we do is check my fav spots on the web for good computer deals, we price check with tiger-direct, but he wants it now. Ok no big deal all of the major “get everything here” stores has them online for 40 bucks lets roll. After 2 hours and 6 stores later I accept the fact that the internet has destroyed local shopping. On-line all of the major stores have fantastic deals, but locally they only carry the 3 most expensive models. Why the hell would they automatically assume that anyone making the effort to drive to the store would only want the top end model of whatever it is their selling? We as local consumers don’t even have the option of going bargain brand. This I have a very large problem with. If you can carry it online at least have the courtesy of offering a comparable product in the damn store.

Think about it; how many times have you needed something on the spot and was shut down at the store because of their dependency on internet stores? You walk into Lowe’s for a tool and it’s only available on line. You run to Best Buy because your kid just put the wii remote through your plasma screen and that great sale is only valid online. You pop into Walmart for that cheap video card and they only carry the three most expensive in the store. The internet is slowly making local shopping obsolete. Don’t get me wrong I will be stoked to only shop at home once they have invented the transportation printer for immediate delivery until then at least offer the same deals at the store.

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Good Bye Good Find

There ain’t no other way
Because this is the price
It’s the price
Always the price I pay
I got to thrust it out!
The price that I pay
I got to get it out!
Always
Always the price that I pay
Jane’s Addiction, The Price I Pay

A few friends were sitting on the floor going through our vinyl collections trying to find some decent trades. As I turned the soundtrack to the 1988 hit film Colors over I realized none of us has picked anything good up in the last several years. Ten years ago you could hit up the local thrift stores or stop at a few garage sales and always find yourself coming home with a truly good buy and the warm feeling of accomplishment. Rather it is that classic Misfits album that has eluded your collection for years; or just a fantastic deal on a Sun Records Johnny Cash original because the guy didn’t know what he had. You cant get that lucky anymore. Ebay has killed the good find.

With the birth of Ebay every pack rat across the Midwest dug out old boxes from the basement and barn attics, grabbed the digital camera their son-in-law got them for Christmas two years ago, and started posting their goodies making sure to set the reserve to “a fair price”. And if nothing else they can check Ebay for the going price of that long since forgotten item that almost got trashed years earlier before they pass on the garage sale for the well organized neighborhood yard sale that has the distinct feel of an overpriced flea market.

No the days of the great find are gone. Now, when you want that nostalgic album, you hope you can find a good buy it now price so you don’t get outbid at the last second by a junk dealer in Jersey. And believe me I will be organizing a huge anti-Ebay movement as soon as I make some dough on a few of these old transformers in my Ebay store.

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Death Of A Bag Boy

So bye-bye, miss american pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin whiskey and rye
Singin, “this’ll be the day that I die“.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”

Don McLean, American Pie

As we commence with the first installment of The Restricted, and my declaration that “the old business models just don’t work”, it’s kind of ironic that one of my first topics of discussion is about a fast fading job title that I just don’t want to see disappear…

In this day and age of self-checkout lanes, Wal-Mart Super Centers, and getting things done in a fast and cost efficient way, this can only mean one thing: the death of an American icon and the end of something as American as apple pie… the bag boy.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those nostalgic types that longs for the days of yesteryear. I’m just fucking tired of getting home, opening my newly acquired bag of potato chips, and finding that they’ve all been smashed to hell. All because the cashier (who also serves at the person that throws all of my belongings into a plastic bag and spins it around for me to load into my cart for myself) is so focused on getting me in and out as fast as possible, that she couldn’t take the time to make sure that she put all of my fragile items in one bag, even though they were neatly placed together on the conveyor belt just for that reason.

It’s obviously more cost effective (for the store) to have their cashiers franticly grabbing at whatever items cross their paths with little or no regard for what they are and bag it all themselves, all while trying to keep the line moving as fast as possible; because out of the 80 check out lanes that they‘ve so prestigiously lined the entire front of the building with, they only ever open up three.

I came to this conclusion while standing in line, believe it or not, at my local Wal-Mart. (Yea I know, shame on me for supporting the evil tyrannical super chain, but like Tom Hanks says in You’ve Got Mail: “That’s right. They’re gonna hate us at the beginning, but… but we’ll get ’em in the end. Do you know why? Because we’re going to sell them cheap books and legal addictive stimulants.” – and like most Americans I find it hard to say no to their prices. If you want to discuss how Wal-Mart is the devil and responsible for the end of all civilization feel free to stop by WalmartSucks.org, you’ll find many like-minded individuals there.) As I’m standing in line I couldn’t help but notice that everyone is getting noticeably annoyed (including my wife), but what they didn’t notice was that this little old lady with the slowest line in Wal-Mart is actually take the time to “Bag” my groceries. I don’t just mean putting them in a bag for me, but she took the time to neatly place my eggs, bread, potato chips, and other fragile items in their own bag and warn me that it contained fragile items so that I wouldn’t inadvertently place other bags on top of it. So amidst the overly exaggerated sighs and groans coming from the other customers, I stood quietly with a smile on my face because for the first time in years I didn’t just watch the young lady at the register put my bag of Ruffles in a sack, and then nonchalantly toss three cans of green beans on top of them; reducing them to a four dollar bag of crumbs. (he he hell!)

Thanks to this little old lady whose name I don’t know, but like to imagine that the biker gang she runs drugs for calls granny, I have seen the error in my ways. “The old business model just doesn’t work” may be something that we are coming to accept, but doesn’t always hold to be true. So like a Bud Lite commercial: “Here’s to you Mr. Bag Boy Position Inventor Man, may your way of thinking live long and die hard.” *cheers*

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