Monthly Archives: October 2012

Overrated Shit #3: The two-party system

So Joe goes to the doctor one day. The doc checks him, asks him questions and comes to the conclusion that Joe is probably diabetic. They talk about diet, exercise, possible solutions. Through the course of the conversation Joe comes to tell his doctor, “Well, I probably drink 10-12 cans of Coke a day.” The doctor tells him to cut it out, that with his condition this habit will kill him. “No more Coke.” So Joe, being a good patient, goes home and pours his remaining Cokes down the drain. Then he goes out and buys a 12-pack of Pepsi.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is two-party politics: An exercise in self-delusion and self-destruction.

George W. Bush was the most secretive president ever, started two unnecessary wars, ignored the will of the people in states that legalized pot for sick folks, gave enormous no-bid contracts to all his daddy’s and Dick Cheney’s friends, gave huge tax cuts to all his daddy’s and Dick Cheney’s friends, bailed out his grandpa’s big banking buddies without a thought or a prosecution, and so on.

And so we elected hopey changey Barak Obama … who continued Bush’s secrecy, didn’t stop the Iraq war (we were partially kicked out and still have thousands of troops there), increased prosecution of legal growers of marijuana, decreased prosecutions of financial crimes (to a 20-year low), continues our unnecessary and expensive war in Afghanistan, has not repealed the economic destruction known as the Bush tax cuts and so on.

Coke, meet Pepsi.

I voted for Barak Obama last time. I don’t regret that vote, because no matter what an incredible disappointment he and his entire administration have been, they’re better than the assholes that preceded them and are damn sure better than McCain and his crew would have been.

But that’s not good enough. So he won’t be getting my vote this time. That honor goes to Libertarian Gary Johnson.

I live in Indiana, where we know who is going to win this state: Mitt “I will do anything for money and Mormonism, in that order” Romney. So what is the point of voting for either major party candidate? It’s a wasted voted. The federal government will continue to ignore our state, as do the presidential candidates.

However, let’s say the Johnson took 10 percent of the Indiana vote. That would raise some eyebrows among the Republicrats. Because what is the last thing our two-party douchebags want to do? Share power with anyone other than the douchebags sitting across the aisle from them.

Real change won’t be a fast process. It won’t be an easy process. But if Americans want real change, voting third party is the only option. The Republicrats are bought and paid for. The corruption is so endemic that the only way they will really change is if they have a real fear of losing power.

This is the first step. Vote third party. Do it again in 2016. Do it again in 2020. Keep it up until the Republicrats have something to fear. Vote for change, true change, not promised change that disappears the day after the vote.

Vote for Gary Johnson for president. I will be.

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A tale of two classics

Sometime this summer, I decided to re-read some canonical novels and read a few classics I’d missed. In part, it’s a self-education thing. For me, it’s about being well-rounded.

The other part? I won’t go off on a long “the canon is bullshit” spiel, but that was my thought. I’m curious to know if these so-called classics really are worth the hype. In two instances where I read books unfamiliar to me, I was a bit surprised with the results: Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo and Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms.

The Count of Monte Cristo is one I’d been wanting to read for awhile, and it just never panned out. But this summer I made the leap. I found it to be … epic. Not in the way my grade school-age daughter and her cohorts abuse the word. In the true, grand, sprawling definition. It takes place over decades, draws people from around Europe, Asia and northern Africa and is the longest of long cons. Dumas’ plotting and characters are all what and who they need to be to make a story this complex work.

However, you could probably cut 150-200 pages from The Count and not miss much. Why? First of all, the novel lacks in the dialogue department. Oh, there’s plenty of people talking. But much of it is A) re-hashing stuff that doesn’t need re-hashed or B) monologues disguised as dialogue. Second, there are too many lengthy side-trips in the set-up. The chapter where the Count brings a friend of one of his marks to his island in an effort to move at said mark sideways could have been covered in a quick paragraph of conversation later as a flashback/aside. Instead, it was a long chapter of indulgence on the Count’s part and self-indulgence on the author’s part. A modern editor would make quick work of plenty of Dumas’ bloat. I’d really be interested in seeing a leaner version of this story. I think the pacing would be significantly improved, and rather than getting buried in the excess of Dumas’ prose, the result would be a better read.

As for A Farewell to Arms, most of my familiarity of Ernest Hemingway comes from The Old Man and the Sea.¬†My junior high, high school and college teachers/professors thought Old Man was a necessity. Coughbullshitcough. Maybe it’s just seafaring books – I really can’t stand Moby Dick, an overly long fishing tale sold as a must-read story of obsession – but I kind of kept hoping the sharks would just eat the old bastard so I could move on to the next reading assignment. Unlike The Count of Monte Cristo, I was in no way looking forward to A Farewell to Arms.

And the joke was on me: A Farewell to Arms could end up becoming one of my favorite books. The description of the toll of World War I on Europe and its people is amazing. I thought Hemingway’s style was visceral and potent. The way he captured the early, silly nature of the relationship between Henry and Catherine was silly and true-to-puppy-love form. The way both their desire and their situation drove them closer, Henry’s decision to seek out Catherine after his near execution and their boat ride to freedom were all spot-on. There’s no bloat, not a word wasted.

But what did it for me was the ending. I have to admit, I was kind of expecting Catherine to die in childbirth. But when the child died, too, I was surprised. Hemingway could have given Henry a partially happy ending. Instead, Henry’s world was rocked. There is power in the sadness and shock that surrounds the death of loved ones, and Hemingway captured it perfectly. Henry had been witness to the vulgarity of war and limped away relatively unscathed. But the death of his wife and child carved a hole in him. Beautiful in its heartache.

What’s next? Well, I don’t know that Brave New World is considered canonical, but Aldous Huxley’s disturbing tome on the future of the new world order is definitely a classic. I just wrapped up the re-reading of it and am now a few chapters into Catch 22, which may be the funniest and most outrageous American novel not written by someone with the name “Vonnegut.”

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Muncie city council holds the power to reign in the power

I couldn’t see from where I was sitting, but I’m reasonably certain this guy is on the Muncie City Council.

I attended my first Muncie city council meeting this week. I was there to support restrictions on where and how Indiana Michigan power will locate large substations and how those substations must meld with the surrounding neighborhood. Currently, IMP is hoping to put a football field-size steel wart on Tillotson, just down the street from the huge, metal utility polls they used to uglify the corner of Tillotson and Jackson.

Some observances:

* Is Muncie council member Jerry Dishman a joke? Senile? On crack? Dumber than a box of turds? Seriously, every single time the guy ordered action on business, he was corrected by Linda Gregory and Alison Quirk (and sometimes even more of his fellow¬†council members). On more than one occasion, council members were forced to correct Dishman multiple times on the same action. It was so bad, you’d have thought it was a Saturday Night Live skit. Get the guy out of there. He’s embarrassing, to the city and himself.

* The high-priced Indy lawyer for Indiana Michigan Power should give the kind folks at the utility company their money back. It sounded like the list of reasons he gave for why these new regulations would burden his client was developed while he was taking his pre-meeting piss. Maybe the case was made better in the handouts he gave the council, but for the general audience, he had nothing. The most expensive trip to the urinal ever. Might want to look for new representation, IMP.

* If, over the past several years, your company has scarred the landscape of a city (tree cutting, the aforementioned power pole monstrosities, etc.) AND you’re hoping to do it again, then the person you send to represent your company at a public meeting shouldn’t look like a cross between former U.S. delegate to the U.N./complete douche John Bolton and Boss Hogg. It sets the wrong tone.

* The good news? It looks like the power company ain’t winning this one. The council doesn’t seem inclined to help them ugly up a good-looking neighborhood, and there’s strong local support for the measure. The really good news is that these restrictions won’t just apply to the Tillotson site. This will prevent IMP from doing it’s best to make our city look like ass at any site down the road. If this passes, this may be one of the most sensible measure the local government has enacted in my decade plus in the city.

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