Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Some unconnected thoughts on the aging process

Apparently, I turned 50 today.

I’m not clear how it happened, but through dint of sheer survival, I am now officially middle-aged. I am no longer merely a cranky asshole, I now qualify as a curmudgeon, which is what I've always aspired to be.

I have now surpassed the average life expectancy of the citizens of Classical Rome – particularly if they drank from those lead pipes. About 92% of American males survive past my age, but then again, very few Africans survive even this long. I suppose I can take comfort in that (I’m a strong supporter of schadenfreude).

(Incidentally, it’s the rare spellcheck program that will recognize "schadenfreude," assuming you’re not speaking German. Ironically, very few spellcheck programs will recognize the word "spellcheck," either.)

I share a birthday with Oscar Wilde and playwright Eugene O'Neill, and both of those motherfuckers are dead. Pamela Bach was born exactly the same day I was in 1963, but at least I never married David Hasselhoff. So there’s that.

I succeeded in reaching this age without really trying. I don't work out, I drink, I drive too fast; the only thing I've done right in my life was marry my wife. I took the road less traveled by, got lost, and failed to find any money along the way.

I'm apparently also losing bone mass at a ridiculous rate. Maybe that will help me lose weight. Or maybe I should drink more milk; I'm not clear which way to go with that.

Overall, I really have no clear plan, which might well be part of the problem. I just intend to keep doing what got me through five decades of life so far. Keep moving and see what happens.
I grow old... I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace. (Proverbs 13:5)

We'll discover over the course of the next few days (or possibly hours) whether the GOP hates the Affordable Care Act more than they love the United States of America.

Over the last two weeks, the Republicans have continued with their basic tactic of lying about every facet of the debt standoff, at every phase of the fight. They continue to try and claim that this is "Obama's shutdown," despite the fact that they've been planning the shutdown for months.
Although the law's opponents say that shutting down the government was not their objective, the activists anticipated that a shutdown could occur — and worked with members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress who were excited about drawing a red line against a law they despise.

A defunding "tool kit" created in early September included talking points for the question, "What happens when you shut down the government and you are blamed for it?" The suggested answer was the one House Republicans give today: "We are simply calling to fund the entire government except for the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare."
And to get to this point, Boehner even admitted that he had made a deal over the budget, which he then simply broke. Because he's a lying bag of douche.

And the lies go on: they can't even tell the truth about the basic issue here. The Congressional GOP is not allowing a raise to the debt ceiling. Let's ignore the fact that every other president in history has gotten debt ceiling increases without a fight. (And most especially, let's not point out the one single difference between the current president and every other president throughout history. What's the one thing that's different? Is he more liberal than any other president? Even Jimmy Carter? Although you're coming close to the real answer at that point - Jimmy Carter was from Georgia, and the population of Georgia is over 30% black, second highest in the nation.)

And let's ignore the fact that the debt ceiling was raised seven times under Bush, and eighteen times under Reagan. We're ignoring that. What we're looking at is the basic fact of what the debt ceiling is.

The "debt ceiling" is the ability of the Treasury to sell bonds to pay the government's bills. (That's shorthand. Here's a slightly more detailed explanation.) That doesn't mean we're on a spending spree, or wandering through Sears making impulse buys - this is the money to pay the bills that America already owes.

And that's the ugly secret that the Republicans don't want to mention. Aside from the continuing bills - you know, pensions, power and pencils - we need this money to pay off the budget. The budget that was passed by both the Democratically-controlled Senate, and by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Our friends the Republicans have packed the budget with billions of dollars of unnecessary spending. Like a defense budget loaded with spending that the Pentagon didn't even want. Like the billions spent annually in oil company subsidies.

But the problem runs deeper than that. There is a small minority of the GOP who don't see the government going into default to be a problem. They believe, in fact, that we should "repudiate" all government debt - simply tell the world that we don't believe in it, and aren't going to pay it. They believe that destroying the US economy, triggering a catastrophic recession, and throwing world financial markets into meltdown, is a small price to pay to meet their goals.

Do you want to know why the president can't negotiate with the GOP? Because you can only conduct actual negotiations when you can trust the other side to live up to their side of the agreement. That's why there's the phrase "you can't negotiate with terrorists." Even if they get the helicopter and the money, you can't trust them not to kill the hostages.

Or in this case, destroy the economy.


Update (10/16/2013): It may not be related, but since it's obvious that the GOP has been planning this government shutdown for months, isn't it interesting that Teabagger Congressman Joe Barton started cashing out of the stock market back in August? Maybe some of them DID understand what the term "global economic disaster" means. And just didn't care.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Such are all their wicked works, and there is no truth in them.

Although most Democrats already know that most Republicans are, as a group, pathological lying sacks of shit, perhaps it will be the government shutdown that brings this fact into focus for most of America.

I doubt it - much of the country is blinded by partisan hatred of our president, and the many of the rest will stick with the "both sides do it" cop-out. But a guy can hope, right?

This tiny-minded Koch-sucking group of overwhelmingly Caucasian males has, for the most part, stopped even trying to tell the truth, because they know that any lie they tell will be twisted by a compliant press to extract what few grains of reality might have accidentally been included.

Alternatively, when there isn't a passing relationship with the truth in whatever ignorant statement they vomited up, Fox "News" and the right-wing blogs will simply repeat it over and over, louder. And through sheer repetition, the hope is that the inbred paste-eaters making up their "base" will come to believe it anyway.

And sadly, this tactic all too often works.

The GOP has turned the act of making ridiculous untruths a standard move in their playbook. They've been lying about the Affordable Care Act for so long, and in such idiotic ways, that they can't even make lucid arguments any more. They just devolve into random spewings of illegitimate talking points and mindless babble.

These "fiscal conservatives" who are so worried about passing along the costs to our children? They're costing the country $300 million per day that the government is shut down.

John Boehner's latest mantra is that he won't even allow reopening the government to come to a vote, because it couldn't pass. Which is an open and blatant lie, as just a little math will tell you. But it doesn't matter. Why would Boehner want to allow the government to reopen? There is ample evidence that the GOP has been trying to shut down the government since at least 2010.

The GOP has lied about the Affordable Care Act so hard, and for so long, that the drooling illiterati don't even know what they want any more. In poll after poll, they show that they support every aspect of Obamacare; they just hate anything named "Obamacare." This is so universal that late night comedians can create viral videos around the concept.

One of the GOP's current talking points is that Obamacare must be defeated because it was "rammed through in the middle of the night without a single Republican vote." Which, of course, ignores an entire year of committee meetings, and dozens of compromises and changes to make it palatable to the Republicans who then voted against it, because you can't trust them to keep their agreements.

But the brightest zit on the GOP nose, the puddle of puke that they keep returning to, is "he won't meet with us." Which is eyeball-meltingly stupid. He's met with them multiple times - he just hasn't caved in to their demands. Because you don't negotiate with terrorists.

In fact, that's probably the one fact that's driving them into the most stroke-inducing paroxysms of rage. Obama has been compromising and negotiating with them for so long that, now that he's standing firm on a position, they don't know what to do.

So they've shut down the government, after planning on it for so long. And now that they've done it, they don't even know what they actually want. The few who realize that defunding "Obamacare" is a losing proposition don't care. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind) accidentally let slip the fact that they really don't care about the American people any more - they govern with the calm logic of a six-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."

The lunatics have taken over the asylum. They've taken their hostages and are screaming about what they're going to do to them. It may be time to reactivate Seal Team Six.