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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

America, the Beautiful

So I've established that the notion of policing other folks on their use of force extends beyond Iran. I want to broach a new subject.

The subject is Health Care. Launching into this: I'm so disenfranchised with Republican opposition, in the specific sense that they seem to have generated nothing more by way of objection than that the plan will be "socialist". But this misses the point. It's scare tactics. The Obama slash Congress plan is a distinctively American plan. Unlike other true socialist countries, our health care reform agenda has been discussed through and through as a gain to the economy. As an improvement of health care efficiency. As, in other words, a net improvement, to a predominantly Capitalist society. Better coverage. Less insurance company abuse. A plan to pay for it by cleaning up wastefulness. This is selling socialism with capitalist arguments. It's selling more America to Americans.

Which makes the whole recent "push" for health care reform so quintessentially, well, American. We'll extend coverage and better the health care system. No one, really, really, will have to pay for it. Sure, we may nudge up taxes here or there, and tweak this or that program. But hell, no one will really suffer, not really, and we'll have a better system to hold up as trump card against scrutiny. This is America, after all! We're not some sorry European-style government that has to recede into punitive taxes and a real bleeding of entreprenurial spirit among its populace, taking care of the sick in a pathetic charade of dependency masquerading as morality. Hell, no. We'll make health care better, and make the country better, and by God we'll make America better!

Final thought, if health care is so bad because Insurance Companies control it (and I hate them, too, like everyone else), why not force health insurance to compete? John Stossell it, my man. Go the other way. Who ever produced any statistics to the effect that REAL competition among providers wouldn't fix our current health care woes? Who is so naive to think that we have REAL competition now?

But, anyway, my point (again) is that even while proposing to socialize medicine (as Republicans charge), we're doing it in a way that shows yet again our superioirity to real socialist countries, a point that seems lost on the "Hannity" crowd. We're still America. We make, even in Obama land, decidedly Capitalist arguments for our reforms. Better Health Care, paid for. Efficient. American. Works better. Runs better. America. America the Beautiful. We're still aiming to put a man on Mars, by God. Better have a competitive health care system. Not some grey depression of real socialism.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Force

So following up on my prior post, I've refined my view to the following non-refined firehose-on-all position:

Let everyone have weapons! The whole problem is in the policing. Who is the U.S., the "First World" to say what-have-you to any other nation state? I want every nation on the planet the opportunity to have nuclear weapons. Iran? Nuclear warheads that can reach the mainland. The guy following you on the sidewalk, as you guide your kids and grumpy wife towards the ice cream shop (just four more blocks, honey!)? A loaded .44. He after all hasn't DONE anything yet. He's a person, not some statistic to be manipulated by The Man. Who made some government RULER of his free choices? Who made the U.S. Government RULER of some other nation-state's free choices? Iran, nukes. All the world, nukes. No more bully cops, please. Deadly force everywhere; not that we wish it for its own sake, but only that we have no reason to deny it, while our government itself wields it around.

So I think this position ought to be consistent, in the sense that all of my knee-jerk Liberal friends (but they have the truth!), and my knee-jerk Conservative friends (but they have the truth!) ought to see the value in a hands off policy when it comes to non-felons and non-warring other nation-states, like Joe Bob, or Iran. It's not what they might do, or even what they say they might do, Dick Cheney. It's the question of what gives the current jerks-with-deadly-force the right to take away from them, or to prevent them from acquiring, for fear of what they might do. Who are we to police everyone inside and out, on grounds of what might happen tomorrow? Suppose I buy an AR-15. I might shoot up the mall. Suppose Iran buys weaponized nukes. They might shoot up the Middle East. Neither has happened. So screw off!

We all desire freedom, as W. once said. He must have secretly admired Iran. Get the NRA to help them with messaging, W. They'll assert their rights to nuclear yet. As Timothy McVeigh recited, creepily, moments before his execution by the State: ... I am the captain of my ship...". And so he was. And so we are.

Joe Bob, Iran, and Dunderheads

You know this raging debate in the States over Iran, I've been thinking on it. Conversations more than a few with friends liberal, conservative.

And liberal goes like this: how dare you sir? To suggest that whatever power the First World might have be yielded coercively to attempt to curtail or prevent the development of nuclear weaponry by another nation-state? Iran, for instance, seems docile when compared to no less than the United States: we invaded two Muslim countries in recent history, after all. What has Iran done? You hypocrites!

Yes, feel the injustice. Hear the shrillness. But here's were we have a nice if unintended result, a rare gem of a result: it seems that the dunderheaded liberals and the dunderheaded conservatives can find common dunder: he who chooses weapons is choosing good! Yes, I know this seems at first blush counter-intuitive, but hear me out. First World Liberals want Iran to decide for itself whether it needs nuclear weapons. Let them have them; we either know that they'll not use them in Nazi-like fashion (we're quite good at predicting future conflicts you see, you see not), or we know that if they do decide to use them we're sitting morally pretty by insisting that we stuck up for the sovereignty of other nations. Either way (sans the WWIII stuff), we're good. Real choices! Weapons choices! This is the stuff of autonomy, and autonomy is good!

But here's where things get weird. This let-em-have-weapons-who-are-we-to-say-no idea is pretty comfy with Joe Bob, too, the guy down the street who spits out rage about the U.S. Government, who he views as trying to prevent his own acquisition of deadly force (and how do THEY know how he might someday use his weapons?). But what is Joe Bob saying? What is Iran saying? Here we have a nice, rare meeting of the minds between dunderheaded Liberals and Joe Bob Conservatives, both viciously grumping about the reach of state power into their own or someone else's affairs. Deadly force? Nuclear force? Back off! It's my damn right, and my damn pergogative to have whatever the hell I want, and who are you (Orwellian First World, Orwellian State), to say what or how I might use my deadly force? You over-reaching, power-abusing, beaurocrats! You self-appointed cops of the world!

And so now with the benefit of such wisdom, I see finally that all politics really does come together, and a river runs through it (this last comment means nothing, much like so much poetry, but I like poetry. And guns. And hell, maybe even personal nuclear weapons, though I don't want to pay for them, or store them. But this is for some other blog). It turns out that this stick-up-for-the-little-guy-to-have-insane-amounts-of-deadly-force idea finds a nice cozy home in liberalism and it seems with the NRA: "Who the hell are THEY? To tell me what I can or can't have? Or how I'm going to use it?" Right on, Joe Bob. Right on, Liberals. Don't tell me, you fucking sleezy existing power structure. You're half the enemy yourself...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

John Williams in D.C.

John Williams burst on the scene like a superhero, shoulder pressing several members of Code Pink in one hand, slamming a double Jack and Coke in the other. At this moment, he could do no wrong. He was Tiger Woods playing golf, Kobe Bryant shooting hoop, Peyton Manning throwing the football. But it couldn't last. As Williams strided toward the West Face of the Capitol building, a member of Code Pink reached down and managed to untie his shoe, generating a cascade of events that resulted in his ignominous fall, scattering the remainder of his beverage onto the shocked crowd and depositing Code Pink in front of the Capitol no worse for the wear. Williams never got the deals at the Capitol. He'd be damned if he would stand for this again. But already through the crowd congealing around him the Pinksters were gone, and the Capitol police were beginning to look his way. He turned his back to the crowd and strutted away. Later that afternoon, he was found staring at a moon rock in the aeronautics museum. Sulking. Pensive. He never got the deals in D.C.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MAD for Iran

We can say: "Don't let 'um have nukes" is the West's current strategy with regard to Iran. But what about: "Give 'um all nukes"? Is there a mutual assured destruction model for the Middle East? Suppose Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yeman, Oman, Kuwait, et cetera all had nukes (say, by redirecting the West's money and time away from detection and protection towards some distribution of nuclear capabilities for all Middle East countries). Now, for example, Iraq can't just go "tribal" on Kuwait, storming in with conventional forces like in the Gulf War. It faces nuclear retaliation. And so on for other conflicts with other countries. The Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) model has kept the rest of the world out of catastrophe since the beginnings of the Cold War. Why not in the Middle East? Do we really think the leaders of these countries would be quick to fire nuclear weapons at each other, thus extinguishing vast populations of people, poisioning there own lands for generations to come, and in general bringing any possibility of progress or reconciliation to a screeching halt? Or, would some group of Muslim-countries point their newly minted nuclear missles at the hated Jew-country? Would Israel adopt the policy of pre-emptive strike? Would MAD fail?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

He Got Cougared, Volume One

I'm not sure why it's "Volume One", because I don't intend on doing anything more than ferreting out instances of a young lad getting the Cougar Treatment in popular cinema, and plastering it on my blog in a shameless ploy to plaster instances of young lads getting Cougared on my blog. As it were.

So, then, Michael Berg (David Kross, later Ralph Fienes) gets royally Cougared by Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) in The Reader, the 2008 movie based on the book by Bernhard Schlink. This movie is well-worth watching (it's got Kate Winslet in it, for instance). It spite of yourself you'll get sucked into it (there's a loose pun here), with the inimitable Winslet and [insert some really spot on commentary here]. So there you have it. Volume One of what's sure to be huge hit: He Got Cougared! God Bless him.

Now really fire it up:
Though it ruined his life, the memories oh the embers in this field of emotional ashes as Berg struggles with the older sexuality of Schmitz [insert really steamy stuff here] must give us pause. For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come (sequed into Shakespeare, for that artistic touch), when Schmitz, played by Kate Winslet (ignore the redundancy). And this all trails off. [Something about Andy Warhol]. But, really, Kate Winslet. The Reader. Cougar growls.

Bright Lights, Big Crappy

Hollywood has long attacked good literature by burning it with kerosine, salamander patches on the director's arm. A little of the 451. But they don't. Of course. They do it rather by making movies. I unfortunately stumbled into "Bright Lights, Big City", the 1988 film based on Jay McInerney's 1984 novel of the same name. Oh god, where do I even start? How about with that perpetual pip-squeak of an actor, Michael J. Fox (separate his acting from his more recent medical problems), who rocketed to stardom in the 1980s playing gee-whiz characters in such cinematic tours de force as The Secret of My Success and Doc Hollywood. In Bright Lights (an old movie of course, but it flew into my living room tonight on the wings of DirectTV channels and stupid boredom) he's playing the Hollywood version of McInerey's protagonist, a coke-snorting, ambitious but lost 20 something wading through the yuppy drug scene of 1980s New York, running from shattered romance and into, well, bright lights, and the Big City. The novel was edgy. The film? The film castrated it with poor casting, a John Hughes-like feel, and a movie product better suited for inclusion in episodes of The Wiggles than serious cinema. Whatever. As Motley Crue once noted, it's the same old, same old song and daance. Grab the novel, instead. Bag the movie.