Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I don't pretend to understand how we are still governed by the Puritans. They were, after all, noted for their hatred of Christmas celebrations and their inability to dance.
You see, the Puritans are still running things. They have an undue amount of influence in our society. All it takes is for some mother somewhere to get upset and use the Internet and, voila, we are rolling on down a barely-there country road in New England and the horse is hacking up a lung and the disapproval of the locals is upon us. Whatever our sins, we are wrong, and the Puritans are there to remind us that fun is for sinners and sinners burn forever in Hell.
They have, for the most part, died out. But your moms is still outraged and, when she sees something she doesn't like, it tends to go viral immediately because self-important outrage is the gasoline that runs the Internet. And that's why Facebook is the Devil.
What did you win, lady? You got some toys off of the shelf. What you won was this--you made us think about Breaking Bad and you made people go tsk tsk. That's about it. You did no harm to the culture but you did make a laughingstock out of the idea that people should maybe explain why drugs are bad to their kids. An action figure is a great conversation starter. Oh, you want to talk about Heisenberg? Well, let's put in Season Four and have a look.
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, if you don't want your dumb kids on drugs, you should show them Breaking Bad. You should acknowledge the show and the central theme it presents and you should make your dopey offspring watch it. You should introduce them to the idea that, yeah, you can do drugs and things will be fine, but if you're not careful, you'll end up like Jesse's girlfriends.
Breaking Bad should be shown in every school in America. We ought to be teaching this to our kids. We ought to use the action figures as props so we can discuss what matters. Does a barrel full of cash matter more than your family? Why not? Does selling drugs make you rich? Why does the decision to "break bad" look foolhardy and how did the show teach us that lesson? Set against the history of America after twenty years of fighting a war on drugs and the collapse of health care insurance benefits for teachers and the desperation felt by people living in poverty, well. It's the Great American Novel, as told in blocks of TV episodes.
Someone got some phony outrage to play out in the lazy media and we're arguing about some toys? Those overpriced television show tie-in toys that feature characters that will never come out of the box and will end up in that douche's cubicle over there? Really?
As a famous philosopher said, drugs are bad, mmmkay? and Walter White is an essential American character who will end up being part of the academic history of our literature. Instead of Cotton Mather, your idiot kid and his dumb little buddies should go as Heisenberg for Halloween (good luck banning that, Principal Dumbass). They should get out their Gus Fring impression and go to town. Me, personally, I'm more of a Hank but I want to be Mike. You should be Ted Benecke or Tuco, just so everyone can praise you for your taste. Your son is Jesse because Jesse is not Junior. Your daughter can be Skyler but the old hag who pushes an ATM onto her husband is also a good choice. No television show has ever made prostitution look as unsexy as Breaking Bad. Nobody ever took the Fedora and did with it what Frank Sinatra could not. And nobody gets to be Don Eladio, friend.
Remember Hillbilly Teeth? All you need are meth teeth for the kiddos and then you've got something. The Puritans had terrible teeth. They pulled them out with pliers made out of something found under the bed in a kinky room behind the bad whorehouse outside of town. They made a fetish out of misery, and they lived their lives like the Palins but with fewer snowmobiles.
Seriously, are we that shriveled up and dead as a country? We're talking about toys and we're not talking about the failure of the War on Drugs as it relates to the destruction of at least a million lives if not more? Really?
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Steven Mufson rains on the hagiography parade:
Here’s the Kennedy Library’s version of what happened:
“He had promised Americans no new taxes during the presidential campaign two years earlier and he was voted into office with that promise. But, he had also promised to serve his country, and he decided that was the promise he would keep…. America’s gain was President Bush’s loss, and his decision to put country above party and political prospects makes him an example of a modern profile in courage that is all too rare.”
I was covering economic policy for The Washington Post from 1990 through 1993, and things were not that simple. First, making the pledge was a political maneuver that Bush must have known was not sustainable given the mounting federal deficits in the 1980s.
Second, he held out for a long time to avoid breaking the pledge; the deadlock with House Democrats forced the government to briefly shut down. He did not lead the way to a tax deal; he made Democrats push hard for it and let his budget director figure out how to package it.
Third, after signing the budget deal, Bush tried to distance himself from it. Even before the formal signing ceremony, he said at a press conference that he "had to gag and digest" parts of the deal. Later he was pressed by some of his political advisers to renounce the deal when he was campaigning for reelection in 1992. On March 3, 1992, Bush declared in a public appearance and interviews that the 1990 deal was a mistake. "If I had it to do over, I wouldn't do what I did then, for a lot of reasons, including political reasons," he said.
Mufson correctly places this "courage" in the proper context--there was none. This is absolutely critical when making an assessment of American history--without the context provided above, the Kennedy honor becomes the thing that historians will cite again and again because the reality of what happened will fade into memory. What was a reluctant, lazy, dishonest bit of political posturing becomes an anecdote repeated throughout texts for years to come.
There was no courage, there wasn't anything especially honorable about it, and, oh by the way, the President whitewashed his own foreign policy record by pardoning everyone but himself when he left the Presidency, effectively disinfecting both his own and the Reagan Administration of some of the era's worst affronts to the Constitution. If ignoring the will of Congress isn't an abuse of Executive Power, then what the hell is?
Each and every time a Republican screams about the Obama Administration, patiently remind them of a thing called the Iran-Contra scandal, Ollie North, and how the pardons came floating down from Bush's desk to save all the criminals from being indicted and tried for crimes against the Constitution. So far, we don't know of any efforts on the part of the Obama Administration to trade arms for hostages--maybe they're sending tanks to the Taliban to get that jackass malingerer and deserter Bowe Bergdahl back--who knows.
I can't wait to hear how shrill Mufson is being. Leave the poor old man and his nutty socks alone...