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May 25, 2006

The Stupidest Lefty Screed You'll Read This Week

But you don't have to read it. Because next week someone else will write the exact same cant-rant. These things are tedious in their monotony and derivativeness.

I saw a cool word on Jeff Goldstein's site the other day. Had no idea what it meant, so I looked it up.


Main Entry: phat·ic
Pronunciation: 'fa-tik
Function: adjective
Etymology: Greek phatos, verbal of phanai to speak

: of, relating to, or being speech used for social or emotive purposes rather than for communicating information

Perfect. So much of what these people write is purely phatic. It is not novel in its analysis or perspective or presentation of facts; nor is it really intended to be. It communicates approximately the same amount of genuine information as a "Hey, how's it goin'? Lovely weather we've been having, eh?"

What if they gave a war...?

Sacred Feminine All Mighty, that is musty. The old "What if they gave a war and no one showed up?" nonsense.

That's as ancient as the mouldering pages of the Necronomicon. But, alas, it has none of the talismanic power of an eldritch incantation.

1968. It was the height of the Vietnam War, the year of My Lai and the Tet offensive. Student riots in Paris nearly brought down the French government. Soviet tanks put a premature end to Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring.

Does anyone really need an explanation of 1968 at this point? Of course not; it's purely phatic. He's not delivering information; he's merely demonstrating his membership in a certain political tribe by saying the proper pass-code.

In the United States, the streets were teeming with antiwar protesters and civil rights demonstrators. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other. The Democratic convention in Chicago dissolved into chaos. And by the summer, America's cities were in flames.

Really? I'd never heard.

The world was seething, and for good reason. There was a lot to be angry about. It was a lousy year, 1968.

I was in high school then. I quit the baseball team because, frankly, sports seemed frivolous. In 1968, there were more important things to worry about than perfecting a curveball. All very high-minded and, in retrospect, more than a little pompous.

Just a little, mind you. Thank the Sacred Feminine he's managed to contain that self-righteousness and pomposity at his late age.

But nearly 40 years down the road I don't regret having done it.

I'm sure Major League Baseball doesn't regret it, either.

My political consciousness was awakened and I was actively engaged in the world around me.

Has there been a single word yet which was not entirely predictable? The Sacred Feminine preserve us, there has not yet been a single word written that any of us couldn't have written as a parody, while on auto-pilot.

But as bad as things were then, they seem infinitely worse now.

But of course they are, darling. It's always worse. Nixon was the worst, ever. Then Reagan was the worst, ever. A couple of times when Clinton made half-hearted nods to social conservativism, preemptive military action, or fiscal sanity, he was the worst, ever.

And now, of course, George Bush is the super-duper-we-really-mean-it-this-time worst ever. Cubed.

So why aren't the streets clogged with angry Americans demanding to know why their president lied and deceived them so he could attack a country that had absolutely nothing to do with his so-called war on terror?

Take a guess. Seriously, guess the answer to his rhetorical question. See how close you come.


In short, where the hell is everybody?

I'll tell you where they are. They're at home, tuning in to root for the next "American idol." They're plugged into their iPods, utterly self-involved and disconnected from what lies just outside their doors. They're spending 25 hours a week playing video games in virtual worlds instead of fighting to save the only world that really matters. They're surfing porn. They're text messaging and e-mailing and scheming to close that next big deal. They're flogging their useless crap on eBay.

All that technology at their fingertips, and they're completely blind. Two terms for George W. Bush? They're deaf and dumb, too.

Bread and circuses. The government and the corporations are giving us bread and circuses to keep us sufficiently distracted so the powers that be can pursue their agendas. Television (flat screens only, please) serves up Donald Trump and Paris Hilton as role models, and gives us the abomination of Fox News, which is more a wolf in sheep's clothing than any Vulpes vulpes you're likely to encounter.

Hollywood only cares about blockbusters, chick flicks and inane buddy movies. Tiresome reality doesn't make for good escapism and, more importantly, it doesn't fill coffers. And George Clooney can't be expected to produce every movie.

Whither the press? Forget it. Britney Spears gets more ink -- and better play -- than global warming does.

The real voices of dissent and engagement are found on the internet these days, but the internet is simply too diffuse to effectively galvanize a revolution.

And we desperately need a revolution.


Award yourself 1 point if you guessed the answer would involve the other opiate of the masses, television. Give yourself 3 points if you guessed he would specifically mention American Idol, and two more points if you said he'd say Fox News. (Only two points for Fox News -- it's a little too obvious, non?)

Give yourself 2 points for naming each of the following: iPods, the Internet, porn, emails, text message. Give yourself a big ten point bonus if you connected any of these to "scheming to close that big deal."

Three points for any guesses of the names Donald Trump or Paris Hilton or Britney spears; 10 points if you deduced Hollywood, except for George Clooney, was to blame.

Four big points for guessing "bread and circuses."

And finally, one additional point for guessing that he'd end by noting we need a revolution now (because, hey, the previous one in 1968 was so much fun). Only one point because, let's face it, we knew where that train was headed the moment it left the station.

Why would anyone feel compelled to write such obvious, tired musty cant?

Why would anyone -- even an on-line "magazine" -- feel there was any value in publishing it?

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posted by Ace at 11:19 AM

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