Thursday, September 15, 2005
Mardi Gras & Bush
In the eyes of those who are not fortunate enough to be residents of the United States, most people from around the world will tell you that no one is better at patting America on the back than Americans themselves. We love to tell ourselves and the world how much we love… well, ourselves—whether it be the rhetoric of our incompetent leaders, the story lines of any given mainstream Hollywood production or the advertisements found on commercial radio and television.
You may not believe it after reading this, but I love this country, yet I can hardly bring myself to patting it on the back these days and blurting out something like, “Keep up the good work.” Sometimes I feel like a disgruntled “believer” in a church—and such folk often move on to another church. But, you know, that’s so 21st Century American—simply discarding something and acquiring a newer version rather than replacing the old and reliable model. So, I’m going to hang around with my unpopular 20th Century American viewpoints and take advantage of my freedom of speech. And if someone tells me, “Hey Morgan, it’s America—love it or leave it,” I’ll counter them with another worn out cliché by Johnny Paycheck when he was sick and tired of his job.
So, just what is my problem with America today?
Why not start at the top—that’s where the buck stops, right?
I wouldn’t want the man’s job, but I predict a day will come when George W. Bush will be proven to be a much bigger crook than Richard Nixon. It’s just a matter of time. Once the American public stops believing he’s a good man because he and his staff hold prayer meetings, the truth of him shall be revealed in his propaganda-breathing, born-again-Christian, sabre-rattling facade. In my mind, Osama bin Laden and Dubya are twin brothers of different mothers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two have prayer conferences via chat software over the internet.
It’s too bad we can’t dump George, Osama, Dick Cheney, Al-Zarqawi, Saddam Hussein, Pat Robertson, Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Moral Majority into one of those big WWF survival cages in a “Battle of the Righteous Slugfest.” Hell, I’d pay good money for that. They may pray to different Gods in their respective corners, but they all look the same from my upper deck perspective—self-centered, fundamental idealist with no compassion or tolerance for others beyond their little insecure circles of fellow “believers.” They see themselves as patriots and/or servants of God, while those who don’t subscribe to the same narrow viewpoints are looked upon as infidels, evildoers and/or residents of San Francisco. Their world is sooooo black and white in their minds that even today’s grey areas are crosshatched with a dense black pen.
And then there is the three dollars per gallon gasoline prices (here they come again). Isn’t it ironic that the leader of the free world is also a member of an affluent “oil” family? Yet in less than six years, gasoline has more than tripled at the pump! What would we think if the owner of a local electrical company was mayor of our city and suddenly we started experiencing massive and frequent power outages—serviced by his company? Is there a greater example of self-serving, incompetence to be found? The man who touts freedom for the entire world is the same person who is incapable of doing anything about the strangle hold on one of freedom’s primary ingredients. Perhaps President Bush sees all of us as a free people, as long as we ride bicycles. Hey, I’m OK with that, but is everyone else?
By now the mentioning of “New Orleans” has brought something else to mind rather than Mardi Gras, Jazz music or Cajun food. I don’t get it... there’s a category five hurricane bearing down on one of our major cities that has more than it’s share of homeless and poor people. Five days after we leave them hanging out to dry, we finally send in the national guard (what remains of it that isn’t in Iraq). I heard one federal administrator explain that it took some organization to mobilize the national guard—i.e., getting people off work, gathering up supplies and equipment, etc. Seems to me that all of that should have been in motion once the hurricane was heading for Florida. Oh sure, there were warnings for everyone to get out. And those that had the resources did just that. Writer and commentator Leon Wynter said it best, “…the official evacuation looked like nothing more than the start of a very long weekend—people with available credit, mostly white, stuck in traffic.” Why wasn’t the national guard on hand to assist those who didn’t have the means to get out? Simple. The feds dropped the ball… again. Its plan for a disaster of this magnitude was that of a group of boy scouts planning for rain on their next camping trip. One radio commentator put it best, “Every presidential administration has its weaknesses and downfalls, this administration has never quite caught on to the idea of ‘aftermath.’” As of late, the term “homeland security” sounds like a dirty word in my ears.
As we all know by now, Hurricane Katrina was linked to the ridiculous prices at the pump because gasoline was in such short supply… yeah, right. Have you ever heard of gasoline stations running out of gas? How is it that they always seem to have plenty even though it’s in short supply? And when hurricanes where walloping the southern coast in the 70s, 80s and 90s, I don’t recall anything in the news linking escalating prices at the pump and hurricanes. Now days all is takes is a hurricane brewing way way out at sea or some kind of unrest in any given part of the world—preferably a oil-producing country to send gas prices soaring. The gasoline shortages the government has been spoon feeding us are likely concocted by the same goons that came up with Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
And we swallow all of it—whole. “Thank you very much Uncle Sam, may I have more?”
To add insult to injury, the oil companies—showing no signs of shame or remorse—are reporting record profits. Wow, do they have us where they want us or what? You’d think they’d all get together (oh wait, they do that all the time don’t they?), and say, “You know… for one week, where going to sell petrol for the same price as we did way back when… oh say, 1999.” Golly, even I would start to doubt that they were totally heartless.
I keep overhearing ordinary people of my small town complain about the rising cost of gasoline, but everyone seems to simply accept it as if there’s nothing they can do about it. As a people, we are as pathetic as our leaders. In a cloud of apathy we sit back and accept without question everything a small group of white, old, rich guys tell us. I suppose that’s the easy thing to do. God forbid we question the Man and his administration—after all, they hold regular prayer meetings.
As a colleague of mine pointed out, what this country needs is a mandate for an alternative energy program that equals the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Program. Nevertheless, I’m not holding my breath for such to happen with a sitting president who reeks of oil.
Perhaps we should take it upon ourselves to alter the course of running America into the ground as the current administration seems intent on carrying out. Is it possible for us to truly transform our lifestyles voluntarily—to live modestly, humbly, but still comfortably like Americans did during WW2 and before? Does America in its self-appointed greatness of the 21st Century even know the definition of “modesty” or “sacrifice” anymore? Can legions of quad-cab 4x4 pickup trucks, theatre-like “entertainment centers” in every home (gotta have it, right?), and common homes with 2,500 square feet of living space all fit under modesty’s umbrella? Is it possible for us to live a good life without mindless consumption (and waste—especially when it comes to oil)?
And imagine—just imagine—the entire world might just pat America on the back when gasoline prices plummet because demand is so low, and we “stayed the course” (in the words of our incompetent leader) rather than return to our “over the top” lifestyles. Only then will we break the greedy “axis of evil” oil companies and their owners—forcing them to the same modest living we all choose to embrace.
Not long ago I read a sign in the garage window of one of my rebellious neighbors that said, “Wear it out. Make it do or do without.”
I thought to myself, “Yeah, now that’s what this country needs to adopt as a mantra."
Naaaah! Never gonna happen—forget about it! It’s every man, woman and child for himself/herself (America’s true motto).