"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"...you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -- Steve Gilliard, 1964 - 2007

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"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Tuesday, December 31, 2013

God Help Us Every One
     When I was a kid, I remember looking forward to staying up to watch the ball drop on Times Square and fireworks from where ever the three channels available to us would broadcast them from. Long before heartless corporate prick Dick Clark parlayed New Year's Eve into a second career, we'd inevitably hear Guy Lombado conducting "Auld Lang Syne" in his shiny tuxedo. Part of the excitement in staying up to watch the New Year's festivities as a kid was the sense of hope, not nearly unjustified, that the new year would be better than the last. Indeed, I'm old enough to remember the worst thing about New Year's was my father worrying whether he'll keep writing the old year on his checks.
     Then again, that was another time and, it seems, another country ago. New Year's and the bloated festivities surrounding it have become a money-making juggernaut like the equally bloated Super Bowl halftime show. I still remember Super Bowl 1 in 1966 and the halftime show consisting of Al Hirt playing his trumpet on a little wooden box. Most of the seats were empty as the Packers beat the Chiefs in a 35-10 blowout. The budget was so tight Pat Summerall and his co-announcer from NBC had to share a microphone.
     Nowadays, everything is monetized, everything that smells of exploitability is corporatized and we see corporately-generated celebrities and their likenesses bloated to cartoonish proportions on Jumbotrons and monitors on Times Square. And this is symptomatic of just how much corporations have come to own our sporting events, our government and our very country.
     This is why I don't even get into the spirit of New Year's any more. The corporate-coddling Obama will still be president tomorrow, the House GOP will still be in power and getting its way almost every time, the Koch Brothers will still be alive and pulling the strings from the shadowy catwalks and nothing will have changed.
     Granted, some good things happened in 2013. In the fall of 2010, only five states had gay marriage. By the end of this year, 18 will have it, with Utah and New Mexico being the newest to ratify marriage equality. Obama Care, diluted, watered down and corporate-friendly though it is, is still the law of the land despite nearly four dozen Republican attempts to defund, delay or repeal it.
     But I can't think of much else that happened either personally or nationally that's worked to anyone's benefit. The cruel, ignorant and stupid still rake in the money while those who want to work artificially lower the unemployment numbers by simply getting too discouraged to look for work. It seems once you've lost your job, and this goes especially if you remain unemployed for more than a few months, it's a virtual death sentence and you're unofficially deemed unemployable. And those who are still in the swim now have to consent to credit background checks despite being out of work for an extended period of time crushing whatever positive credit rating you've had.
     By tomorrow, we'll still be a nation of such skewed priorities we spend nearly ten times as much on defense as we do on education and think that's OK, despite the fact we have less and less to actually defend. Our Bill of Rights has been stripped from us or made so conditional it's tantamount to not having any rights. We can't feed the hungry, house the homeless, keep the environment clean, educate our children or repair our infrastructure. Remind me again why we spend more on defense than the next 20 nations combined (especially since 19 of them are allies)?
     By tomorrow, the police will still be the most heavily militarized on earth, ready to murder American citizens for little or no reason with near total impunity and will always more vociferously guard corporate interests over yours any day. Despite making up just 20% of the world's population, the United States will still lead the world in the number of prisoners per nation. This is largely because when states began handing out contracts to private prisons, they had minimum occupancy clauses written into these contracts, which led to harsher sentencing and minimum sentencing to people largely due to our utterly failed War on Drugs.
     By midnight, we'll still be in Afghanistan with no end in sight and liberals who railed against Bush's 2007 surge in Iraq are strangely OK with Obama ramping up our inexplicable and fruitless involvement in Afghanistan's affairs right after getting nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a war now employing more war profiteers than military troops.
     Sure, the Dow is up to over 16,000, more than double over what it was on Inauguration Day 2009 but how exactly does that translate to good fortune to Main Street? Nearly 90% of the new wealth generated in the last five years was gobbled up by the 1% while the richest corporations still offshore jobs overseas, dodge taxes and hire low-paid temps while still crying about our Socialist president and paying the highest corporate income tax rate on earth.
     And people are actually seriously listening to these corporate cunts' caterwauling.
     By the time the ball drops on Times Square, we'll still be criminalizing civil disobedience that used to be guaranteed to us in the 1st Amendment, civil disobedience that was seen in the Occupy movement just a few blocks away from Times Square. Meanwhile, the nation's biggest criminals still have city police departments do their bidding for them even as they rob the Treasury of $64 billion worth of corporate subsidies every year and sit on a sea of cash totaling some $2 trillion (much of it coming from US taxpayers) as people are getting kicked off food stamps and out of their homes.
     By tomorrow, racist morons like Phil Robertson, Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan can still look forward to getting even richer than they already are through book deals, TV shows and appearances and however else they can vacuum up money they plainly don't need simply because we allow their racism, stupidity and ignorance to look like legitimate or at worst, controversial, viewpoints.
     By tomorrow morning, we will have gotten even closer to the world of Idiocracy instead of merely representing its prequel. Newtown will be a more distant memory, 10,000 more children and adults will needlessly die from firearms while firearms CEOs lick their chops and rub their hands over the next major school shooting that will inevitably result in more gun and ammo sales by people who'd been quivering for five years now at the thought of Obama taking away all their guns.
     This country is utterly doomed barring some massive demonstration that will make the Kiev uprising last month look like a half-hearted Tea Bagger rally in Des Moines. But we're the most easily anesthetized nationality on earth and as long as we have our shiny Apple toys and $160 Air Jordans made by Third World slaves and Super Bowls every February with its bloated halftime shows featuring old hasbeens in no danger of showing their nipples, that national uprising will never happen. We take no advice and no warning from the lessons left to us by the twilight of the Roman Empire.
     I'll be drinking tonight just as I had when I was a young man. But this time I'll be drinking not only to forget the mostly hideous 2013 but to push from my mind the realization that 2014 will be worse in many, many ways.
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Anonymous Bonnie said...
Please! Never give up! Let's concentrate on "It's always darkest before the dawn."

Anonymous Mike McCarthy said...
Despite making up just 20% of the world's population, the United States will still lead the world in the number of prisoners per nation.

I understand your point and agree with it but we're more like 5%.

Blogger Leo Knight said...
I agree with all of the above, except when you write, "We can't feed the hungry, etc." We can. We have the resources. Some people refuse to do those things. However, "I can't" sounds better than, "I refuse to". Also, our defense budget goes not to defend our country, but "American interests abroad", also known as empire. Oil, shipping, bananas, our military protects it. People? Not so much