Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Losing My Religion

You’ll have to excuse me for seeing myself as one of the last reasonable people on Earth but I’m afraid that’s exactly what I am. I’ve come to hate discussing politics because it’s rare I can find someone with an opinion of their own, and not some piece of idiocy they repeat from a diatribe by Olberman on MSN or Beck on FOX.

It’s simply stunning to me how the marketing arms of the two parties have invaded the consciousness of the masses. When you talk politics, the buzzwords, catchphrases and talking points are spouted out like a prayer of the Almighty Church of My Side. Not only have Church and State mingled, mixed, spawned, the opposing sides have become religions unto themselves.

Pundits are preachers and prophets, they get the message to the masses and their word is gospel. Hallelujah! Go in peace to love and serve the party with which you affiliate! Each side is the benevolent, just and righteous deity to its people and the other side every bit a devil from the pits of hell.

Where is the middle ground? How can so few not be polarized by the us or them mentality of these competing congregations? I made a comment today that was a negative comment about our President, Mr. Obama and it draws the ire of the flock from Our Lady of the Left even though the comment itself wasn’t inflammatory. And immediately, I felt the dirty hands of the parishioners from the Fellowship of the Right pulling and patting and petting me, trying to draw me in, to make me one of theirs.

My comment though, was fair and balanced. It was a criticism of Obama that did not undermine him, or demean him. It was simply an opinion. It was followed up by another that was in support of him. The Fellowship of the Right recoiled from me. The people from Our Lady of the Left kept their distance too. They didn’t know what to make of me. I was of both and of neither. Warily, they backed away from me. I must be crazy.

It may seem a silly little thing, but more and more, we are organizing ourselves into two separate groups. We are blue and red, left and right, one or the other. Each side has a strict with us or against us philosophy. Those of us who are in the middle are enemies to both. Does no one recognize the danger of our behavior? In a world where we readily admit there is more gray than black or white—our opinions on governing ourselves are all black, or all white with nothing in between.

The prophets speak nightly of fire and brimstone, of the end times, of how the other side is evil and is trying to manipulate and destroy. They speak of Revelations. They tell you what to think and to fear anything the other side says—they only seek to tempt you with the apple they offer.

They are preparing for a holy war. Each wants to destroy the other. Each is secure in the knowledge that they alone know best, that their way alone will save us. Let us pray: Obama is the devil and he seeks to infect us with the plague of socialism. Let us pray: I am the hope and the truth and the change.

I feel so alone. My only company is common sense, compromise and those who don’t care one way or the other. I look to each side and see the holy warriors firmly entrenched and when they finally do battle, I’ll be the first to go.

The end is neigh. Armageddon is upon us. Pray to your pundit that your side will prevail. I was of the Church of America, but my god died a long time ago. Blessed be the righteous, for they shall inherit the earth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I don't hate "e." I'm not fond of "u" though.

Sometimes, it seems like there’s so much going on in the world it’s hard to know where to even begin. I suppose the proper place to begin is with Haiti since there are 200,000 dead, 250,000 wounded and over a million without homes, but Rush Limbaugh assures us this plays right into the Obamaization of American and Pat Robertson chimes in that the death and destruction there is well earned because of alleged devil worship there in the 1200’s all of the sudden it just seems better to dwell on Jay and Conan, or a Republican nude model who’s about to take “the Kennedy Seat” in Massachusetts.

Just when you think the Late Night Wars were over, they start up again in earnest. This time Dave Letterman gets to sit back and watch from the cheap seats while Conan and Jay have at each other—especially since Letterman stands to come out of it all on top. I say, good for Dave. He got screwed out of the Tonight Show when Johnny retired and a little love coming his way is long overdue.

Myself? I’m a Carson loyalist and he wanted Dave to have The Tonight Show so I’ve spent over a decade now boycotting Leno. I don’t watch O’Brien but I approve of him and wanted him to do well. He certainly did Late Night proud after Letterman left. That said, I have a hard time feeling too bad for a guy who just got paid $32 million dollars to take a vacation until September. He’ll come back stronger than ever on FOX or ABC or the pasty white guy channel (PWGC).

It’s funny to watch it all play out though. There may be nothing more entertaining in the world than when comedians get mad at each other. Especially when those comedians have entire staffs of other comedians who help them in their verbal spar sessions with each other. Insult wars are something a guy can truly wrap their heads around. We like to call it Friday night at the bar, we don’t get staffs to assist us and we won’t be YouTubed by millions the next day, but there’s something very real about two guys who aren’t going to fight, trading barbs and insults until one gets shut up.

I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the race for the “Kennedy Seat” in Massachusetts until just recently, but what a joke it’s turned out to be that Teddy Ballgame’s legacy will be to see his seat go to a Republican who has vowed to vote against Obama’s health care plan, spent his formative years taking his clothes off for ladies magazines and apparently drives a truck.

Why? Well because his opponent seems to be from another planet. You do not woo the people of Massachusetts by mistakenly referring to Kurt Schilling—a Red Sawks hero, as a Yankee. You also don’t woo them by claiming that you don’t win elections by shaking hands outside Fenway Park.

Aggravating Sawks Nation in order to win a Senate seat is akin to running for President on the al-Qaeda ticket. Some people are just too stupid to be wasting our oxygen on and how the Democrats settled on her as their candidate is befuddling to say the least.

And that brings us back to Haiti, which has ruled the front pages of newspapers and been the lead story on the newscasts, but there’s a feeling of reluctance to allowing them to do so that accompanies those placements. When 200,000 people die, as a newsperson your hands are pretty much tied. Even if the dead are just Haitians who were living in poverty long before this earthquake hit, they take precedent.

It’s with a wink-wink that we put them first. It’s understood that you can skip to the Entertainment section of the paper and read about the Late Night Feud, or get a drink and some Cheetos while the lead story is on the news and get back in time to find out if anything comical has happened in the Kennedy Seat runoff that day.

Haiti? We text our $10 donation and feel good about ourselves, like we did in 2004 for tsunami relief. Then, as soon as possible we move on to more interesting and scandalous news, forgetting about the aftermath. It makes me think of the quote shown on the screen at the end of the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, which perhaps was meant to educate us as to why people in Afghanistan might hate us so much after helping the Afghans expel the Soviet Army and then leaving them fend for themselves. “These things happened. They were glorious, and they changed the world. Then we fucked up the end game.”

I wonder, in years to come, when young Taiwanese survivors of the tsunami or Haitian survivors of the earthquake grow up, how simple it will be for them to see us as people of zero substance, who help to feel good about ourselves and our giving natures instead of our having a true desire to do continued and sustained good? I wonder if they will feel abandoned after the initial wave of assistance? I wonder if they’ll choose to handle that abandonment like a pair of pissed off comedians, or perhaps with a bit more verve?