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Thoughts on Empire

April 22, 2010

Well faithful readers, it has been a while hasn’t it?  I could tell you that tax season knocked me for a loop but I’d be lying.  It was a pain, yes, but completely worth it because like the majority of folks, I am getting money back.  Hurrah!  Yes, I paid a hefty amount of taxes (I’m still not sure who those 47% of people are that didn’t pay any tax this year . . . it’s a misleading reading of numbers that tv pundits are happy to do), but as Sam Seaborn of The West Wing said (and I am paraphrasing), I make enough money to pay more than my fair share in taxes.  And honestly, I don’t mind.  Turns out most people don’t.  You know why?  Because I think most folks understand that money goes to schools, roads, police, firemen and women, and a whole host of services that we need and want.  And honestly, judging by the spelling of some of the tea partiers’ signs I think schools could probably use a hell of a lot more money. 

It pains me.  The genuine confusion and idiocy of some of these folks, twisting themselves into knots trying to figure out how they can keep their Medicare, social security, and still protest the inexorable crawl towards socialism (well, sprint more like in their minds).  I saw a bumper sticker today that said Stop Obama’s Socialism in words that were on top of each other, so it read S.O.S. down the side.  I wanted to kick their tires. 

I will say this one more time, President Barack Obama is not a socialist.  Please, look it up, read a little (instead of flipping on Faux News), and do a little independent thinking.  Yes, it’ll probably hurt at first, you’ve not used your brain in a while, but it’ll be ok if you just keep at it, and trust me, it’ll feel better than being led around by your nose.

I also received a comment from “Anonymous Uncle” noting that I had been picking on his home boys (the Kentucky delegation with a side helping of Rep. Orange-Man Boehner) a wee bit as of late.  Well, I did leave Mr. Mitch McConnell out but I feel like he’s pissed, hence his never-ending torrent of lies and regurgitated talking points about the Financial Reform Bill over the past week or so.  Tough titties Sen. McConnell, you being a flabby chinned liar is not going to get you any more than a passing mention on this high class bit of diatribe.  It’s nice to see you finally shut up, due to the fact that Senator Corker (!) has more shame than you and knows when a blatant falsehood, no matter how many times repeated, gains no traction and instead leaves you like a car with bald tires trying to climb a dirt road in mud season, then it’s time to let it go.

Part of me wonders, what have we wrought upon ourselves?  The failure of the mainstream press to actually really inform, the political gain from just spreading lies as sound bites, and a large enough percentage of the public that is willing to eat it up without engaging their brains to throw up the tiniest roadblock for the never-ending stream of bullshit that enters our daily consciousness.

I’ve been listening to a history of the Rise and Fall of the British Empire lately, you know, the empire upon which the sun never set.  From Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Sudan, South Africa, and a myriad other countries, the British were the power of the 18th and 19th centuries.  And yes, while we got the best of them in 1781, with a lot of the gratitude belonging to the French Navy that blockaded the Chesapeake Bay, thus preventing General Cornwallis from receiving reinforcements, England grew even bigger after our revolution.  But the quandary that remained throughout was how to effectively govern such a geographically and ethically diverse group of people.  Did they really think India was going to stay under British rule indefinitely?  Really?  The lecturer does a good job of reminding his listeners not to read history backwards.  That is, when Canada in the 1830s and 40s was truly fearful of an invasion by its “Manifest Destiny” neighbor to the south, remember that at the time it was a real possibility.  Just because the United States and Canada are still two separate countries today does not remove the real fear at the time.

I wonder if we aren’t trying to read history backwards somewhat.  I know I’ve been as scornful of the tea partiers as the next person, and I’ve tried to push them to the periphery sooner than others.  For a reason that completely escapes me, however, the media insists on putting these folks front and center.  A vast majority of Repubs have reached out and inflamed them, and all for what?  Short term gain (read 2010 midterms).  That’s it.  The tea party as a movement is as real as the Easter Bunny.  But unless the press actually starts to do their damn job and the Dems in Congress actually pass some popular legislation between now and November (Financial Regulation, Immigration, etc) and the world doesn’t end, I’m not sure that the 112th Congress won’t be multiplying its idiots. 

The United States has only really been an empire since World War II.  The British Empire lasted from the 18th through the 20th centuries, and don’t even get me started on the Egyptians (hello 3,000+ years).  Rome lasted as an Empire from the mid First Century B.C.E until almost 500 C.E.  The Han Dynasty lasted from approximately 200 B.C.E. through 200 C.E. 

We’ve been around as a world force for a piddling 65-70 years.  Rip Van Winkle’s blinks last longer than that.  If our political system devolves into individuals more concerned about the next 24 news cycle than the broader picture, then I’m not sure we’re going to make it a whole lot longer.  We can, and must do better.  And there really ought to be spell check for angry signs.

Just something to think about.

[UPDATE, this is what I’m talking about for a real press]

Extra Bonus: My office mate sent me this link, said there’s a certain spot in this post reminded him of 5280point5, see if you can spot it.  [hint: it’s pretty far down]

One Comment leave one →
  1. your mother permalink
    April 28, 2010 2:31 am

    You will need to educate me when you get home about these blogs. I don’t get all the red highlights and references to other blogs, etc. However, I did like Twain’s comment on “this link” about sending them all down the Mississippi in a raft so we don’t have to look at them any longer. That would suit the Tea Party mob quite well. By the way, did you recognize Appomattox Court House on that link as well? Most Americans would not recognize that site, let alone the Gov of VA.

    We are a very young country with plenty of growing up to do…the populace seems to seek out the least common denominator when it comes to party politics.

    Keep writing.

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