As it is the first day of 2014, and I have already discussed the last year in a general sense, it seems natural to go back and look at what I spent the last year talking about. This is the first of a six-part series of articles about what we were talking about this last year.
The first thing you notice about this month is that it is when my love affair with the movie Romantics Anonymous started. In the end, no political scandal, no amount of bad behavior by our supposed leaders is going to trump a movie that will continue to delight me for the rest of my life. The first time I wrote about it was on the first day of last year. Apparently, I spent new year’s eve watching it, which is about as good a way to spend the night as anything else I can think of.
I also first wrote about something that has become a bit of an obsession with me, Live Long and Eat. It’s about how it is most healthy to be a little bit on the fat side. All those skinny people we see in ads and movies are actually bad examples for us. Let me put it in terms that Curb Your Enthusiasm fans can understand: it is better to be Jeff Garlin than Larry David. And remember, Jeff Garlin’s feature film debut as writer and director was I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. Keep right on eating that cheese, Jeff!
The beginning of the month dealt with the Fiscal Cliff negotiations and my anger that the Democrats (Obama specifically) were doing a terrible job with those negotiations. After all, if they had not negotiated at all, taxes would have gone way up. The Republicans were not in a position to allow that. So why even negotiate with them. Give them the offer and say, “It’s that or income taxes go up on everyone and it will be your fault.” But in the end, a deal was made that was much better for the Republicans than they could reasonably have hoped for. One thing that wasn’t part of the deal was an increase in the debt ceiling. And as a result, we are still dealing with that situation today. Otherwise, on the political front, I was talking a lot about income inequality and I really started pushing filibuster reform.
On 11 January Aaron Swartz killed himself. That resulted in a few articles about our social injustice but also about how depression works. There was too much of people trying to turn the whole tragedy to their own benefit: mostly by exonerating the government’s attacks on him and by just trying to pass it off as the act of a depressed young man. It makes me think of that part of the Bible where it says you aren’t allowed to beat your slave so badly that he dies within three days. Sure, depression is a terrible thing and maybe Swartz would have killed himself at some point anyway. But being hounded by the government made it so much worse. It’s like our entire culture is determined to destroy the best of what we are.
One thing our culture has lost is any sense of irony. Last January John Kiriakou was given two and a half years in jail for leaking information about the CIA’s torture program. And how many people in the CIA have been punished for actually torturing people. Let me think, there was that one guy that… No. Not him. How about that woman who… Oh, that’s right! Not only has no one been punished, no one has even been indicted. That’s because in America, torturing people is just fine. But revealing government secrets, well, that’s the worst thing a person can do. As a truly patriotic American, I am disgusted with my country.
Enjoy the entire: January 2013 Archive.
This month saw the release of some of George Bush the Younger’s paintings. Some art “experts” even went to far to say that they were good. So much for the experts. Look, I’m not an artist, but I really like art and I learn as much about it as I can. And as a result, I can tell the difference between good art and really weak art. Bush isn’t terrible. But if he hadn’t been president, no one would take his work seriously. It is very much like the work done by men of his age and social class who take up painting late in life. This led me later to mistake some parodies of his work as the real thing. Such is the value I place in his work and his thinking. Speaking of which, I also wrote about Celebrity Painters. In general, I don’t like that kind of thing. But the fact is that Hitler really wasn’t a bad painter.
Most of the month, however, had me talking about income inequality in a lot of different ways. I wrote a lot about the minimum wage. The big thing about the minimum wage is that conservatives are always saying that it will cause companies to cut employment. The evidence just doesn’t support that contention. What’s more, as Dean Baker teaches us, prices are not set by the costs that companies pay to bring products to market. Just the same, employers don’t hire people to be nice. They hire employees because they need them. We get the same thing about the corporate tax rate. If you raise corporate taxes, they will just pass the costs on to the customers. No! That’s not the way the economy works and February was when I really started talking about the fact that conservatives really don’t understand economics or business.
February was also the month we first learned about Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm. She is the Tea Party idiot who writes a blog for the Avon-AvonLake Patch. But you probably remember her as the woman who thought that deer crossing signs were a waste of money because, “Deer cannot read, do not obey the law and probably will cross where they wish.” I know, it sounds like an article from The Onion, but the woman is dead serious. I check up on her every couple of months and usually write something. But it gets harder because her articles rarely say anything. They are just the random “thoughts” of a committed Fox News viewer. Here most recent article for Christmas summed up, “Remember, this government has worked to take our guns, stifle our speech, and tear at our religious beliefs. It is time we stop them!” Yeah, those 80% Americans who are Christians are really being kept down. Oh, she also says, “As a Christian, do not turn the other cheek.” Because, you know, what Jesus said was important and all, but the NRA is really a high power.
The whole month shows a move on my part toward sarcasm. All of the talk about the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling and the Sequester seem to have finally gotten to me. The Republicans were just talking gibberish. But the Democrats weren’t doing much better. I think this was the beginning of the end of my mostly positive relationships with relatively liberal writers like Greg Sargent and Ezra Klein and to a lesser extent Ed Kilgore. Someone like Matt Yglesias may annoy me a lot, but he never bores me; he never feeds me the Democratic Party line. Although I am a Democrat, that doesn’t mean I’m happy with it. Half of the party is useless. As I’m always saying, we have one good conservative and one good liberal party in the United States, and they are both in the Democratic Party. But to be a Democrat, you’ve got to maintain a sense of humor.
Enjoy the entire: February 2013 Archive.