A Country For Sold Men
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they’d've operated these times… The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “OK, I’ll be part of this world.” - Ed Tom Bell, No Country For Old Men
About 30 years ago at its premiere, a perceptive reviewer wrote of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner that it was most accurate depiction of mankind's future ever seen in cinema. In some ways, that critic may have had a claim. But that was decades before Idiocracy was made. The latter film, like all good speculative or science fiction, is a plausible extrapolation of existing technology, trends and all fused together with the timeless threads of human nature.
And the more I look around this once-great country of ours, the more I look at humanity in the Year of Our Lord the Almighty Dollar two thousand and twelve, the more I realize we're living in the prequel of Idiocracy and that we're just a few more Sarah Palin books and energy drinks away from closing the gap and catching up to that inevitable future.
More and more we find ourselves saying to each other, "Here's a headline you don't read every day," and then we realize with a start that we are reading such headlines every day:
Man eats another man's face.
Massachusetts town fines for profanity.
Bank forecloses on home without mortgage.
Burger King introduces bacon sundae.
Johnson & Johnson settles DOJ probe with $2.2 billion payment.
Crazy has become the new sanity and what was once a world of marvelous technology and admirable repository of the humanities has become a writhing nest of hatred, ignorance, prejudice and seemingly insoluble division that an intelligent person has to conclude we've have reached peak evolution and have begun an irreversible slide back into the primordial ooze.
We live in an age where the highest court in our land has decided that money equals free speech and this is all based on a erroneous claim that corporations are people.
60 nations have banned genetically modified food while in America even labeling as such is illegal.
Snooki got paid more to speak at a university than it paid Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.
Barack Obama was nominated for (and won) a Nobel Peace Prize a week and a half into office then ramped up Afghanistan, kept us in Iraq for three more years, drew up an assassination list sometimes involving American citizens and authorized at least 268 drone strikes that have killed thousands of civilians in several countries then played down the civilian body count by designating those in the line of fire as enemy combatants.
Many high ranking executives of Goldman Sachs and other banks have occupied and continue to occupy key spots in the last several successive administrations, including chiefs of staff and Obama's own jobs czar Jeff Immelt is a tax dodger who has personally offshored tens of thousands of US jobs overseas.
Another Obama friend, Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, sits on the board of the New York Fed, the regulatory agency that's supposed to oversee banks like his.
Thousands of ordinary people have been arrested and have gone to jail for protesting Wall Street's ruinous avarice yet not one Wall Street executive or anyone from BP in the wake of the most massive oil spill in planetary history has even been charged let alone arrested for such crimes.
Tens of millions of us vote for our favorite American Idol over 100,000,000 times a week, at our expense, yet half of us can't be bothered to get off our couches once every two years to vote for free.
46% of us still believe in Creationism.
Viewers of Fox "News", the highest rated cable channel, are more ignorant than those who don't follow the news.
I cannot think of another time in human history when so many people were so hoodwinked by the rich and powerful while taking so long to awaken from its slumber to change the status quo. Alex Jones and his fellow conspiracy theorists keep screaming about the New World Order but even while we laugh them off we have to admit that a new world order has already set in like a skin cancer racing down to the bone and that cancer is stupidity, misplaced priorities, willful ignorance and complacency.
And the rich and the elected officials they now own outright not only want to steal our life preservers and pieces of driftwood after the Titanic's hit the iceberg, they're succeeding and the Democrat in the Oval Office is letting them. Whether or not the Georgia Stones are informing these lunatics in the Republican Party, one has to conclude that their attempts to take away our Social Security, our Medicaid and Medicare, our pensions, our 401(k) plans, our subsidized housing, our SNAP food assistance, a living wage, anything and everything we need to keep body and soul together can be encapsulated in one word: Eugenics.
They're killing our planet with air, water and land pollution, they're genetically modifying our food, they're stealing our homes whether they're entitled to or not, they're sending our jobs by the millions to sweat shop countries, they've gutted occupation workplace safety, want to eliminate child labor laws, want to keep minimum wage frozen forever despite the consumer price index rising by 3-5% every year and what do we hear when we raise a whisper of protest about these and many other crimes?
They're incensed at being criticized. They whine about wanting their lives back. They use hidden cameras and law enforcement to spy on those calling even a modicum of attention to their sociopathic crime spree. They openly sneer at Congress as they lie to them. And the biggest fish our federal elected officials can bag is Roger Clemens for lying about steroid use.
Pop open another can of Red Bull and let's see if there's anything to that email in my spam folder that promises to make my penis 3-4" bigger.
A few days ago, I was speaking with comedian Lee Camp on a New York radio show. Camp seemed somewhat skeptical that the Occupy movement, that seems strangely more subdued than it was 9 months ago, should start up a political party. I was in favor of it, reiterating the old maxim that revolutions are fought in the streets and that a successful revolution's natural evolution and its Nexus phase is to coalesce into a political party and begin installing its draftees into the power structure.
I suggested that the Occupy movement steer clear of Democratic machine politicians like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelsoi and other tools of Wall Street and to draft and elect our own people, true progressives and liberals who aren't interested in compromise and to instead change the corrupt status quo from the inside out. After all, the Tea Party drafted lunatics and Republican machine politicians who eagerly grabbed the Tea Party banner without either side knowing what they were getting into.
But then I realized recently that the occupy movement cannot form a political party because they've yet to graduate from the mere protest phase of its evolution to the necessary revolutionary phase. And to install your own candidates, you have to win that revolution to some extent and win hearts and minds.
And it seems that the Occupy movement has been ossified, instead, to bumper sticker memes on Facebook that make perfectly good sense when read from the comfort of your monitor but another thing entirely when it comes time to put your body and clean criminal record on the line backing it up. Facebook is the amber by which we preserve wisdom. It looks good as long as it's on the inside but just try extracting its worth into the real world.
We live in a nation that leads the world not in technology or philanthropy but in corruption, a nation led by a president who refuses as per his prerogative to wipe out the vulture funds run by men who steal hundreds of millions from the poorest nations on earth, a man who has done absolutely nothing whatsoever to check the abuses and excesses of those who most heavily fund his re-election campaign through post-Citizen's United Super PACs.
Meanwhile, a Federal Reserve survey recently proved that poor and middle class Americans have gotten vastly poorer while the rich have gotten richer and it seems the only way the President will lift us out of poverty is to simply lower the poverty line just as he redrew the Baghdad city lines to keep us in compliance of SOFA and lowers collateral damage numbers using a guilt-by-association rubric.
We live in a massive and rigged shell game where the pea has long since been removed, a game of semantics whereby people don't get fired or laid off but that their positions have been merely eliminated, as if that invaluable distinction will make a bit of difference to one's creditors.
It's a world that's changed more and changed more quickly to which many of us are unwilling or unable to adapt, in which more of us wonder if it's worth risking our already tattered souls to fully embrace and become a part of it. A world in which the so-called prediction of the Mayan calendar is looking more and more like a heaven-sent mercy.