Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Ministry of Absurdity

A number of years ago, National Lampoon – one of the best humor magazines ever, IMHO – put out what they called a “humor issue”. The joke, of course, was -- “But aren't they _all_ humor issues?” Well, in the same spirit, I'm going to style this post the “Absurdity Post”, knowing full well that, with my emphasis on politics and current events, the vast bulk of my posts could be placed in the “absurd” category. But for some reason, the news of the past week or two has provided an unusually rich helping of the bizarre, grotesque, and unusual – maybe it's the post-Obama, post-nationalized health care malaise already setting in, I don't know. It seems like we're long overdue an era corresponding to the Weimar Republic in Germany, with all of its decadence, its live-for-today (even if totally debilitated by sex, drugs, and alcohol) attitude, its refusal to think about... well, just about anything (a state of mind which Adolf Hitler took full advantage of, note). And yes, I supposed it would be picturesque, in a way; at least Weimar Germany had good poster art and interesting films. And Bertolt Brecht.

In any case, I present, for your edification, a carefully-selected assortment of current insanity – i.e., what passes for sanity in our time -- what is reported on with a straight face and without a hint of sarcasm or irony. It's an auslese of the absurd... a banquet of the banal... a deep draught of the daft... and guess what, it's the world we actually live in. Welcome to the national nightmare, from which there will be no awakening for many years to come...

O For starters, I note the juxtaposition by only a day or two of two survey findings: (1) Nearly half – 47% -- of American citizens will pay no income taxes for 2009; and (2) 66% of Americans think we're overtaxed. Now – unless you're young enough to have been exposed to “the new math”, you should be able to figure out that 53% will pay income taxes... which means that, at minimum, 13% of Americans think we're overtaxed even though they don't pay income taxes. Now, wouldn't you love to know who these people are? To meet them, talk to them? It could be a grassroots movement among those who are favored by the system – AKA “tax receivers” -- but whose sympathies nonetheless lie with the poor schmucks who are actual tax payers. Call them the “conservative poor”? But this is impossible – liberal theory forbids it. And yet, they must be out there – survey data don't lie.

O There are plenty of valid arguments against No Child Left Behind. But, on the other hand, take a look at the alternative. Teachers in Miami/Dade County went out on strike (“were absent from classes” is how it's put) to protest “a proposed law that would establish a merit pay system and do away with tenure for new teachers”. This is the educational grass roots speaking... and this is what any attempt at education reform is up against. Imagine -- instant tenture, and generous pay without regard for performance. That's even better than most other government jobs -- but the teachers' unions have a chokehold on the government, the media, and the education system... and until that is broken, all the idealistic "programs" Washington can come up with are just so much delusion and waste.

O And speaking of schools – in Wisconsin, teachers of “sex education” are being warned that teaching minors about contraceptive use could be interpreted as “contributing to the delinquency of minors”, and even “sexual assault”. Well... people have been arguing for at least two generations now that “sex ed” is a form of assault on children by adults, so maybe its just as well that the rubber has finally hit the road (so to speak...).

O And speaking of sex – sometimes you just can't avoid your karma. About a year and a half ago, a young Army soldier murdered an elderly rich man, right here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, supposedly in response to having been sexually propositioned or some form of sexual aggression. Apparently the two had a “prior relationship” of some sort, although there is never any indication of precisely what that may have entailed. But now this same soldier wants to take a paternity test to determine whether he is the father of an infant boy, in response to the mother's putting the child out for adoption by... a gay couple. And, oh yes, the two (the soldier and the mother, also a soldier) were stationed together at Fort Hood, Texas – a known karmic hotbed! Man... I'll bet this guy wishes life came with a “restart” button...

O And before we move on from the gay issue, it should be noted that California, of all places, still has, on its books, a law that classifies homosexuals as “sexual deviants” and requires the state government to conduct research “to find causes of and cures for homosexuality” -- because, among other things, it is a “deviation conducive to sex crimes against children”. And! “The research would be used to help identify potential sex offenders.” So much for objective, detached science. Please fill out this survey form – you may be hotlined depending on your answers. Well... didn't I just go over this in my discussion of “pedophile priests”? And didn't I just say, in an earlier post, that the law – federal, state, and local – is basically a landfill of the outdated, irrelevant, and ignored... but that it's far easier to pass new laws than to rescind old ones? And haven't I claimed that the goal of the Regime is to, one way or the other, turn everyone into a lawbreaker? QED on all counts.

O Which segues directly into the next item, which is – one more time – the “don't ask, don't tell” policy, which virtually everyone in Washington and the military – except a few bullet-headed Marine generals and a few closet cases in Congress – wants to change. But we can't just change it with the stroke of a pen, oh no (even though that was the way it was put in place). First there has to be a survey. And the survey, to be at all relevant, has to include questions as to the service member's sexual orientation. But guess what – if they admit to being gay, they aren't off the hook; it's not like a guarantee of immunity. They can still be thrown out. But be honest now! Don't hold back! (And do I have to mention that this Gordian knot can be cut, indeed with the stoke of a pen, by Obama, using an executive order – but this will, of course, simply not occur to him, or to anyone else in the administration.)

O OK, this really is the last “don't ask, don't tell” item. A lesbian Air Force sergeant was playing strictly by the rules and everything was fine. But when the police showed up to arrest her partner on a theft charge, “they spotted (a) marriage certificate on the kitchen table through a window”-- and the jig was up! The cops hotlined her to the Air Force base where she was stationed. Now – aside from the fact that the police were, to put it mildly, overfunctioning... and, note, this happened in South Dakota, and the lady is black... think that has anything to do with it?... you kind of have to wonder what she was thinking leaving a marriage certificate, especially one of that persuasion, on the kitchen table. Is this where you keep valuable documents of this sort? Seems like it should at least have been framed and hung in the rec room next to the Keene painting. Or better still, kept in a lock box. But no, here it is on the kitchen table, right next to the Sweet 'n' Low, and some cop with itchy eyes has to come along, just looking for trouble – well, you see what happened. So who is to blame? Can I nominate... everybody?

O Well, guess what – Cuba, the envy of liberals the world over, and especially of Hillary Clinton, has actually come out and admitted that it has over one million excess workers on the government payroll – which means “the payroll”, since there is only one. And who admits this? Some disgruntled low-level bureaucrat, who is already on his way to prison? Nay – it is none other than Raul Castro himself. And these excess workers are actually being called “unproductive” -- which, in a communist country, is really saying something. It reminds me of the old line about the driver who was so slow you had to back up to pass him. In any case, one of the few remaining people's paradises seems to have rediscovered the value of actual work, as opposed to “employment” or “jobs” -- which puts it ahead of anyone in the liberal and/or government sector in this country. What is to be done is, of course, another question – since if you fire all the freeloaders, you immediately inflate the unemployment rolls... and unemployment is at least as costly as non-productivity (at least it is for us; I can't vouch for the system in Cuba). So one might assume that, eventually, harsher measures would be in order – like the dictum, “he who does not work, neither shall he eat”, which Lenin stole from the Bible. Hmmm... well, according to liberals (and, let's assume, Castro) anything Lenin says is holy writ... but anything actually contained in holy writ is “myth and superstition”. It'll be interesting to see how this gets worked out...

O But wait, there's more! Cuba's nearby neighbor, namely Puerto Rico, which is part of the U.S., kind of, but not really, and... oh hell, who can figure it out? But at any rate, they have just decided to reduce seats in their legislature by 30%. Talk about non-productivity! State governments virtually invented the concept – and Pennsylvania, as always, leads the way. But lots of luck trying to get Pennsylvania to follow Puerto Rico's fine example. I mean, if you throw 30% of Pennsylvania state legislators out of Harrisburg, they might become homeless. They might freeze! After all, it gets cold here in the winter. That wouldn't happen in Puerto Rico. I guess we could ship them down there... for a modest fee.

O On the lighter side, a jury in Virginia has found that being naked in one's own home is not a violation of the law – at least not yet. This has to be a welcome relief for the bathroom plumbing industry, I imagine – as well as the clothing and laundry industries. Imagine if we were never allowed to expose ourselves – even to the cat – in the process of tending to personal needs or changing clothes. It's good to see that the courts have, at least on this occasion, resisted the temptation to, once and for all, declare all American citizens to be lawbreakers by definition.

O And we think we have problems with political correctness! Not only is Spain – in a kind of revisionist fury – erasing all memory of Franco from its history and its public displays, but a judge who has been investigating atrocities committed by the Republicans – you know, the “good guys”, according to liberals everywhere and Ernest Hemingway – has been indicted. This, in the face of recent Russian frankness concerning the Katyn Forest massacres. Obviously, someone in Spain is feeling awfully threatened by any threat to the popular myth surrounding the Spanish Civil War. Well, we all know that myth because we were all taught it in school, and it has been drummed into our heads ever since by the media, second only in overkill to the Holocaust narrative. (Well, OK, third. I forgot about the Inquisition.) For a curative, I recommend “The Last Crusade” by Warren Carroll; it does a good job of setting the record straight (although I wouldn't take it along as reading material on a trip to Spain, since it's probably banned over there).

O And speaking of Nazis – now it's Ukraine's turn to experience a bout of political correctness. It seems that, during World War II, there was a military organization – one of many “legions” in various countries occupied by Germany – that fought on the German side. Funny how anyone in Ukraine would have thought siding with Germany was a good idea; after all, Stalin had only managed to starve half the Ukrainians to death just a few years before. In any case, one of the leaders of this Ukrainian nationalist movement was recently awarded (posthumously, as you might expect) a Hero of Ukraine award. “Oops!” Someone obviously forgot that his brother-in-law's second cousin once served a glass of slivovitz to an SS officer. See, it's not enough to have been a nationalist – or to have been opposed to the Soviets, arguably Ukraine's biggest enemies of all time. You also had to be as far from the Germans as the east is from the west, or the long arm of the Holocaust industry will reach out, over the decades, and with willful ignorance of the realities at the time, and smack you down, even (or especially) postmortem. It must be nice to live in a mythical, fantasy world where most of your declared enemies are dead and can't fight (or talk) back, and where you can ignore and demean everyone's history but your own.

O And in another triumph for political correctness, the governor of Virginia has been roundly condemned for having attempted to revive an observance called Confederate History Month – clearly the equivalent of an “SS Recognition Month” in Germany, or “Franco's Birthday” in Spain. He apparently not only forgot that slavery was part and parcel of the Confederate system, but even that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Well, wasn't it? That's what we were all taught in school. So... the governor has to don sackcloth and ashes and go crawling on his hands and knees to... oh, I don't know, probably the NAACP and ACLU, and the ADL and SPLC for good measure. And of course, the guy has to be a Republican – hey, the hits just keep coming for these folks. But at least there's one person we can already count out for the 2012 presidential race. Only a few thousand to go...

O I've talked before about “locus of control”, and that it's a psychological issue that is key to defining the mind set of the underclass. In brief, it's the notion that “everything happens to me”, and that “it's not my fault”. It's not fatalism in the classic sense, just a total abrogation of responsibility. And I can think of no better illustration than this quote, from a woman who shot and killed a female relative when the latter showed up for Easter dinner in what the shooter considered improper attire: “I didn't mean to do it... we was arguing, I tried to get my gun to prove a point, they got the rifle with me and it went off.” Now, aside from the partial incoherence of this statement, note the play on the popular bumper sticker, “Guns don't kill people; people do”. But this woman begs to differ. In her book, people don't kill people; guns do. And who will argue? Certainly not the gun-control lobby or any other enemies of the Second Amendment. Clearly, this woman, and her attitude, are part of the wave of the future.

O And by the way, there seems to be no basis for the rumor that some rogue tea partiers have volunteered to donate a Tupolev 154 to the government, as a replacement for Air Force One. Just wanted to clear that up...

So there you have it. And this is only, mind you, a few days' worth. We are caught up in a perfect storm of ignorance, back-stabbing, and hostility; in the behavioral literature it's called "elicited aggression", and I sincerely believe that it's a symptom of the growing helplessness we are all feeling – the lack of control over our lives – the feeling that everything that counts is in the hands of a few unseeing, uncaring individuals. I'll bet if you looked into the everyday life of people under any mindless authoritarian/totalitarian society you'd find the same thing. The human psyche was simply not wired to tolerate this level of helplessness and meaninglessness. Better to venture out, take chances, make your own mistakes, and maybe die trying, than to live in this gray, faceless mass – because if human nature is not allowed to express itself in positive ways, it will go negative... and the violent and absurd will take over, and become a way of life. We already find this in certain pockets of society – the “inner cities”, prisons, and so on... but it's leaking out and becoming much more the common lot. If it gets to the point where people can't tell the difference between being in jail and not being in jail, is it any surprise when everyone starts acting like a prisoner?

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