Do you hear what I hear?

Georgia moms against witchcraftSpending time at my parents’ house means seeing hours and hours of CNN, and this week that means every-fifteen-minute updates on Virginia representative Virgil Goode’s discomfort over his fellow congressman’s religion. In particular, how tougher immigration policies are necessary to keep people like Keith Ellison from being born and raised in America and taking advantage of the United States’ establishment clause.

For me, I’m just happy. First, because it’s Christmas. Second, because Ellison’s taking the high road, and a faint ray of light is finally starting to break through and show Goode for what he is: a uniquely stupid individual, and not a representative of the oppressive Conservative Republican Theocracy that controls everything in this country. And third, because for once the idiocy isn’t happening in my home state.

I don’t know if it’s the spirit of Christmas, or if I’d just gotten an unfairly negative impression last time I was here, or if I’m just getting to be less of a tight-ass, but things actually seem to be a little more tolerable in suburban Atlanta these days.

I had to go to the mall to do some Christmas shopping, and the traffic, soullessness, and commercialism were as bad as I’d expected. But it all ended up being pleasant, because people everywhere were friendly. It was a shock to the system — as much as I like San Francisco, I still say that people there keep to a strict mind-your-own-damn-business policy. The clerks here were busy but friendly, and people waiting in line would strike up conversations with me, a complete stranger.

Even better, I ended up feeling like a dope. The mall I went to is targeted primarily towards black people. I don’t know why that’s controversial to say (it’s not just on Wikipedia, where anything can be the grounds for “controversy”); apparently, it’s racist to acknowledge that retailers have target demographics. Whatever the case, Dekalb County is predominantly black, Rockdale is predominantly white, and this bastion of retail paradise straddles the two. As I was shopping, I was keeping an eye out for how people were handling having to fight for the valuable Borders and Best Buy resources that both black and white communities need.

And it turns out exactly like you’d expect — it’s a big freaking non-issue. After all my years living in the San Francisco Multicultural Biodome, I’ve become just as guilty of being Pompous Left-Coast Liberal as I used to accuse everyone of being when I first moved out there. I guess I was going in to my home county acting like an explorer observing relations between the Afrikaaners and the Zulu, or like the one blonde-haired blue-eyed college boy who reluctantly creeps out onstage at “Showtime at the Apollo.”

Instead, what I saw were a bunch of people shopping. And teenage friends hanging out; the younger they were, the less it seemed to matter what race anybody was. Maybe things will keep getting better as long as us liberal caucasians allow our sphincters to unclench. And that, as my Aryan princess Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.

All we are saying is give Satan a chance

No doubt this story about a woman fined for hanging a peace-sign wreath is going to be making the rounds a lot, but really, it’s just astounding.

I’m not sure what’s most alarming about it:

  • That the neighbors didn’t recognize it as a peace sign. But then, I have to remember that not everybody lives as close to Berkeley as I do, and they don’t see them as frequently. Maybe we should just be glad they didn’t think it was the Mercedes logo.
  • That some neighbors used “we have children serving in Iraq” as grounds for their complaint. No, you dipshits, just no. “But my children are serving in Iraq” is supposed to be your knee-jerk response to people protesting the war in Iraq to try and guilt them into shutting up. It’s not for when somebody wishes for an end to war so that your children can come home and pass your damaged moron genes onto their kids.
  • That the homeowners association president is such a tool. The AP version of the story starts with the guy, Bob Kearns, taking the school principal approach, describing it as if he’d been stuck in a bad situation and was just being fair to all the residents. But towards the end of the story, you see the truth:

    Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn’t say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members.

    In other words: Kearns is not just your typical idiot who thinks himself a Patriot, but a coward who will enforce his opinion and then hide behind the rules.

  • That there are still homeowners associations. Yeah, I rent. The whole concept is bizarre to me.

At the risk of getting too earnest here: what the hell, people?

For a couple of years, I’ve been trying to keep up the role of “left-leaning moderate” I’ve assigned myself. Even though I’ll make comments about how the invasion of Iraq was completely unjustified, how Bush is an idiot and Cheney is the harbinger of Hell’s dominion over Earth, and how Fox News and other gross Republican propaganda is twisting and corrupting America into a nation of evil, my heart hasn’t been completely in it. There’s always the voice in the back of my head that’s saying, “Remain objective. Be skeptical of everything. Make sure that you’re not just spouting out mindless left-wing propaganda. There are still intelligent, well-meaning, but misguided people who don’t share your opinions.”

Crap like this just shows that The Dark Side is winning. Until now, every time I’ve seen one of those “Support Our Troops” stickers on the back of a car (okay, an enormous SUV) (and I’ve been to malls in the Atlanta area, so I’ve seen thousands of them), I’ve assumed that the driver of the vehicle and I had roughly the same sentiment, but were looking at it from slightly different sides of the political spectrum. They were saying “Soldiers are risking their lives out of a sense of duty to their country, and we should support them until they get the job done.” I was saying, “Although the war is unjustified, the soldiers’ sense of duty is completely justified, and we should support them and do all we can to bring them home safely.”

Now, I’m saying the same thing, but they’re saying, “Love it or leave it, you Godless pinko San Francisco faggot-hippie.” And the map of the US in my head no longer looks like the simple red state/blue state job we’ve had rammed into our collective subconscious, complete with the well-intentioned-but-simple-minded midwesterners that people like to believe still exist. Instead, it looks like those old propaganda films that show the Red Menace spreading out from Russia and enveloping Europe and Asia. Now it’s a black cloud emanating from Washington and wherever Fox News broadcasts from, twisting people’s minds so completely that they believe peace on earth is something to be frowned upon.

The residents who supposedly complained because their children are serving in Iraq — what the hell are their children serving for, anyway? Is it not so that they can return to the US and watch idiotic television and get fat off too much food and play overly-violent videogames and enjoy all the mind-numbing excess that should come from peace? Or so the people of Iraq can go about their lives in peace without being afraid they’ll be murdered and thrown into a mass grave by their own countrymen? Or so that the Left and the Right can go back to arguing about economic policy and civil rights and marriages and abortions instead of arguing about whether it’s a good thing to go to a politically unstable area and kill people and set off civil wars?

I can understand how the Bush Administration benefits from having an ongoing war with no end in sight; it’s a relatively cheap way to whip up your supporters into patriotic frenzy and keep them too afraid to vote you out of office. But how does your average American benefit from wanting an end to peace?

Democracy Inaction

See also: fruits, nutsToday I exercised the right of every American citizen to have an uninformed voice in the course of action of our government.

I’m always left feeling guilty and ignorant every voting period, because of my policy of spending 30 minutes reading the for & against arguments about the propositions, then going to the poll and voting straight Democrat. I’ve done more research into buying mouthwash than I usually do for voting. (And yeah, I do use mouthwash. Shut the hell up.) And at the moment, I’m more up to speed with the politics of Damalsca and the Archadean Empire than of the state I live in. In my defense, water supply improvement bonds and Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s Hummer aren’t 1% as cool as nethicite deposits and big-ass airships.

My main goals were to vote against Leland Yee and to vote No on Proposition 86. Turns out Yee wasn’t on my ballot, so his anti-videogame political grandstanding will have to continue unchecked until I move to a different district. And it’s no surprise that I voted against 86 (it’s the one that would introduce an additional $2.60 tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in CA) — I wanted to ask if they had a blacker pen so I could vote more against it — but it may be surprising that I’m against it for more than just the obvious altruistic reasons. It offends me as exactly the kind of intrusive, moralizing legislation that turns people to the dark side of Republicanism or even worse, libertarianism. I want to find the people who came up with the proposition and just breathe on them.

And when you vote in San Francisco, you’re constantly reminded that you’re voting in San Francisco. There’s the good way — the ballot’s in three languages and the names you’re voting for are of the widest multicultural demographic you’re going to see outside of Sesame Street. And then the bad way — last year, the Stupid City Proposition was something along the lines of “Should it be the policy of the city of San Francisco to call for an end to the Iraq War?” This year, it’s “Should it be City policy to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney?”

Which is one of those can’t-win questions like “How long have you been beating your wife?” It’s all in the wording. Should Bush & Cheney be impeached? Boy howdy. If the politics of Washington are such that getting blown by an intern is grounds for impeachment, then manipulating a terrorist attack and deceiving your constituency about it are most definitely grounds. But should it be City policy to call for the impeachment? No. It should be City policy to figure out why the water coming from my tap has the color and consistency of Goldschlager, or why it takes an hour and a half or $20 to get from any one part of the city to any other, or why the city has almost as many homeless people as it does iPods. So how are you supposed to distill all that down to “yes” or “no?”

Our President Has Stones

Say what you will about George W Bush, the guy’s got balls. After invoking the memory of the brave dead, he described our enemies:

We have learned that they are evil and kill without mercy, but not without purpose. We have learned that they form a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam, a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent.

Mixed in with the frequent Fox News-like warnings of enemies “determined to bring death and suffering into our homes,” he has the stones to mention “tolerance” and “moderation” so many times you’d think it was the Democratic National Convention.

Even though his administration and its policy of Rule By Fear has emboldened the extremists driven by their own perverted vision of Christianity. The ones who have been working around the clock since September 2001 to turn “tolerance” and “moderation” into dirty words. Words that are spit out as insults, terms almost as profane and stomach-turning as “liberal.”

The key is moderation, we learn. You can’t achieve a real totalitarian ideology that despises all dissent by flying planes into buildings. You have to work at it over time. Chip away at civil liberties. Turn your citizens against each other. Make sure there are plenty of groups left within the populace to foment fear and distrust — if Muslims aren’t available, there’s always the homos and atheists and liberals.

And make absolutely certain there’s always a nebulous enemy out there in case anyone has the temerity to point out that you’re destroying your country’s scientific development and notions of personal privacy. Just point at the Middle East, shout “Booga Booga! Bin Laden! Homeland Security!” and you’ve turned a concerned citizen into an Unpatriotic Enemy of Freedom.

Even after building his speech on the bodies of the victims of the World Trade Center attack, he has the nerve to admit that Hussein had no direct connection to 9/11 but still insists that the invasion was essential to keeping al Qaeda at bay.

So the question is whether it actually takes balls to go on national television and lie to your constituency, or whether it’s just evil.