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  • April 19th, 2011

“,,,,and the horse they rode in on.”

By Joel M.  Vance

I hate to be pessimistic, but has the country gone crazy or is it just me being an old fogey?  Six-year-old girls get felt up by security folks on one end of the airlines and air traffic controllers are asleep on the other.  Oh, yes, let’s not forget the drunken pilots in the middle and the airplanes themselves coming apart in midair.
We have  full body scans (when they’re not molesting little girls they want to make sure you don’t have a gelignite suppository), boob squeezing, no shoes, no water bottles (could be nitroglycerine), grandmas up against the wall because their artificial joints set off alarms—any terrorist with half a brain (and that’s giving them more credit than they deserve) would have enough sense not to challenge the air security net unless they’re six years old with a Sesame Street backpack stuffed with 40 pounds of explosives.
Instead any halfway competent terrorist would self-destruct aboard a commuter train, crowded with people, or go to a Yankees or Mets game or a Michigan football game (read “Black Sunday” sometime about a plot to blow up the Super Bowl).  Or they’d load up a container ship with enough explosives or biological weapons to wipe out a major city and there you go.
Only today I read about a suicide bomber who killed a bunch of soldiers in Afghanistan, including four “coalition” troops, dressed in a “coalition” uniform.  He was one of them (us) and blooey!  There were two other incidents the same week where Taliban suicide bombers blew away our youngsters while wearing our side’s uniforms.

Why are we in that Godawful country anyway?  Unless we ran out of rocks when I wasn’t looking, there’s nothing there we need.  Oh, yes, they have lots of opium poppies without which our supply of heroin might dry up.  Couldn’t have that happen.
We got rid of a president who dumped us into two wars and instead got one who retained the two useless wars and dumped us into a third.  And the economy is crippled, largely because of the cost of these wars (leaving human misery out of the equation).  Somewhere I just read that “war has become the nation’s major industry.”  What a sad commentary on what we are.
Yes, terrorism exists and yes, it is a threat to the country….but we have confused security with abrogation of basic rights and of the freedom to pursue happiness.  The government invades our privacy in myriad ways and justifies it all as “national security.”  And we buy the loss of basic human (no, make that “American”) rights as okay since we’re “safer.”  There actually were folks on television saying it was okay for an airport security guard to do to the six-year-old what would have gotten anyone else thrown in prison.  They felt “safer.”  They should have been outraged.
We are a frightened and unsure nation, filled with confused people all the way to the top.  On any given day Congress does more stupid things than most people do in a year.  The President, doesn’t matter which one—they all cave in—makes ringing pronouncements and nothing gets done.
Who can we elect when nonentities like Donald Trump or Michelle Bachman are even considered as viable Presidential candidates?  And what does it say about the news media who give these nutcases air time and ink?  Right now the 2012 slate of potential presidential candidates ranges from awful to even worse.  Doesn’t matter the party (I keep harking back to Will Rogers who said, “I belong to no organized party—I’m a Democrat.”)
We have many really stupid people wearing little hats ringed with tea bags who somehow equate themselves with the Minutemen of colonial times.  They brag about upholding the Constitution and there isn’t one in a hundred who has the foggiest idea of what’s really in that document and how it has been interpreted over the years or what it should mean to them.
They get their information from Fox News, owned by an Australian whose history is “nevermind the facts, give ‘em sensationalism and stir up the rabble—sells newspapers.”  Anyone who hires Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and several other lynch mob advocates cannot in any way be called responsible.  Edward R. Murrow and the pioneers of real television journalism before CBS became, like the other networks, a celebrity showcase, must be whirling in their graves.
Old people like me will recall when Lyndon Johnson famously said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the nation” after newsman Walter Cronkite, called “the most trusted man in America”, visited Viet Nam and returned to say we had no chance of “winning,” whatever that meant.  Or when Murrow took on the evil Joe McCarthy and destroyed him.  Today we have budding McCarthys and no Murrow.  We have three mini-Viet Nams and no Cronkite.
Discounting Fox News, which is no more a news organization than the Cartoon Network, the mainstream outlets are a paper tiger.  When CBS tried to film the Gulf oil spill, the Obama administration said no, it was a matter of national security, and CBS caved in.  Other attempts to film the damage also were thwarted by British Petroleum and the administration, which doesn’t say much for Obama’s dedication to the First Amendment.  It also says something about his cozying up to the oil giants, no matter how egregious their behavior.
And, speaking of oil giants, how does this make you feel, American taxpayer, to know that Exxon Mobil, yes the company that created the other historic oil spill in Alaska, paid no federal income tax in 2009.  Chevron made $10 billion profit and also got a $19 million rebate.  Other major corporations, including some of the banking giants who tanked the economy with their bad loans, got incredible tax breaks.  And of course the CEO’s of those groups all are making obscene salaries for being incompetent and criminally negligent.
That many people believe the crap that oozes from Fox News is a measure of how dumbed-down and frightened we have become.  If you think “no child left behind” will solve our educational shortcomings, ask a teacher.  You’ll quickly find that good teachers, those who think outside the box, who challenge their kids and try to make them think, are constrained and constricted inside the narrow confines of that program which strives not to encourage exceptional students, but to make everyone average.
The country is so confused and frustrated that it’s almost understandable why some would turn to a Tea Party (which really is no organized political party) in hopes that there might be a solution for all our turmoil.  That’s the underlying problem—we have a country falling apart and we don’t know what to do about it.
We vote for presidents who promise a thousand points of light or a new day or whatever and it’s the same ol’.  We elect representatives who prove to be just as venal, incompetent and sleazy as the ones we turned out.  We cry out for health care reform, banking reform, reins on corporate greed, environmental reform….and nothing happens or what does is so twisted and perverted that it winds up being worse than the problem it was supposed to solve.
Out here at the end of a dead-end gravel road is 40 acres of woods, a small lake with bass, sunfish and channel catfish, no sodium vapor yard light to corrupt the night sky, no through traffic, 10 affectionate Labs and Brittanies, dogwoods currently in full bloom, a gobbler seeking companionship just over the ridge.  Louis Armstrong from the 1950s is on the radio, the spring sun is shining and the garden is sprouting.
When night comes we can and do shut off the television and the radio, put the newspaper in the recycle bin, pour a glass of cabernet and sit on the deck and watch the stars.  I saw a UFO the other night.  I’m sure I did—it was a steady, bright light, not a plane or a satellite, that flared briefly and slowly faded.  Perhaps the truth really is out there.  One can only hope.
But until the little green men come down and straighten out the mess we’re in, my mantra has become, “Screw ‘em all and the horse they rode in on.”

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1 Comment

  1. Carrie Vance DeValk

    April 19th, 2011 at 6:22 pm


    Have you watched “Human Planet” on the Discovery channel? I’m sure the people who build the high houses in the tall trees in the rainforest don’t worry about all the ills of society. They just look over the treetops and are content.

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