Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Love America

I've spent the last year kicking this country -- its militarism, its greed, its willful, braying ignorance, its tin-plated hypocritical morals, its hillbilly religious fanaticism, its contempt for freedom, its recklessness with the lives of its own citizens and sociopathic indifference to the lives of foreigners, and of course the mean-spirited jackasses it picks for its leaders.

I'm not gonna stop this. Just so you know, just in case there was any doubt in your mind... I plan to spend the coming months giving you people more of the same. But here's one thing I did want to make clear, before we get into the silly season as the election heats up, and the media does its necrophiliac best to Remember 9/11:

I don't hate America. I love America.

I really care about what happens to this (possibly literally) goddamned nation. I've got a gooey, wet place in my heart for this land and its history and its heroes. We have bourbon and crescent roll hot dogs and Brooklyn and Google and Facebook, and the world's best pornography. We are home of The National. I believe we're founded on an idea worth fighting for. And no matter how many times we ourselves betray that idea, it remains the truth. And also... I think some of our best citizens become soldiers and intelligence officers, because they want to protect this place. And we owe them.

You know what, though? Nothing in the Constitution says you have to be a fascist idiot.

You don't have to pretend you love jet noise. You don't have to wear a flag pin. You don't have to apologize to right-wing hacks for deviating from what they consider the proper narrative of Memorial Day, as if they somehow own the nation's military dead. You don't have to ignore the dissonance and betrayal you feel when you try to reconcile the Bill of Rights and the Declaration's preamble with Predator strikes, kill lists, waterboarding, rendition, secret prisons, black budgets, domestic surveillance, treating Muslims in this country like they're less than fully American, the constant humiliation of travellers and business people, and the complete refusal of our leaders to even talk about how maybe the 11-year red alert we've been under has something to do with the fact that we can't keep ourselves from invading countries all over the world. And you don't have to pretend that the military is defending us, when it's constantly involved in these distant conflicts for reasons no one can connect to the security of ordinary people.

What's under assault in this country is the basic meaning of important words. Like defense. And security. And patriotism. And ultimately, freedom. I want to take those words back. I want to change the terms of the discussion we're having in this place. We need to talk about how far we've fallen away from being the kind of country that protects its own people, defends their freedoms, and generally leaves others alone. This is what I believe, and what I'm trying - in my own limited way - to do.

I love this place. I'm going to talk about what a hideous joke it's become every single chance I get. Please join me in thinking like a grownup about this country, our home.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"A Global Empire And A Creepy Police State Was Exactly What We Had In Mind," By Thomas Jefferson

It's been 236 years. Along with the other framers, I just wanted to say: Well done. You guys nailed it.

Back when we presented our little list of complaints to the British Empire, we had a vision of the kind of country we'd like to create. Unalienable rights. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. It was pretty wild, radical stuff back then. But we never imagined how perfectly you folks would bring it off!

Hundreds of military installations all over the world. A network of spies almost completely beyond democratic control. A Defense Department that spends billions in black budget programs to fund armies of secret soldiers. And of course, a horde of blue-shirted thugs harassing disabled people, old people, breast cancer survivors, and a seven year-old girl with cerebral palsy. Wow. Just... wow. That's exactly what we all were thinking about, way back when.

When we complained about George III's standing armies and his attempts "to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power," what we really meant was we wanted to create our own force and scatter it throughout 130 countries. You people must have read our goddamn minds!

And when we griped about the king "imposing taxes on us without our Consent" to pay for his foreign military interventions, we never could have come up with the solution you devised. The idea of racking up trillion dollar deficits - essentially a Stamp Act every year on the nations' kids. It's simple. It's elegant. And it fixes itself. I mean, by the time they get old enough to vote, they'll be so far into the hole they'll just have to choose more of the same (until something Truly Bad happens, but let's not be negative about it). Way to go, America.

Finally we were really, really steamed about... well, here's the text:

He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

You people understood that what motivated that sentence was pure jealousy. Man, we just wanted to get in on that action. Having private companies running around other countries kidnapping people, and torturing or even killing them makes us think we've finally got a real nation here. Sure people around the world used to be inspired by our liberties - so inspired that another country once gave us this. But isn't being known for our fleet of terrifying flying robots killing people without warning so much cooler?

So here's to the day when America stood up to an arrogant, bloody empire... and showed them how it's done. Am I right? Drinks all around, you crazy bastards. Drinks all around.
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