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Okrzyki, przyjaciel!

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Now that we've really stepped in it. [Nov. 19th, 2008|09:33 am]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
First a disclaimer: I lie. I try to be honest, but sometimes I'm not. This isn't anything I'm proud of, but face it: we all live in a world of gray areas in which we muddle about, and we're weak and selfish and fearful.

So perhaps I'm not saying the things I'm saying below from any sort of moral high ground.

Here's the thing -- Human society is in dire straits, and aside from the contingent cause (competition for resources), the proximate cause is lying.

And not just any generic sort of lying. I'm talking about lies told where the liar knows they're lying, and the liar knows the people he's lying to know the liar is lying. Those giant, malodorous Graf Zeppelin-sized turds of dishonesty that fill the sky.

Here's one example -- no one really thinks corn-based ethanol as a fuel is a good idea. And yet Barack Obama has a policy stance in favor of it. Ethanol production soaks up excess corn production pushing prices up, and corn producers are a big part of the economy in the politically important Midwest. So as a politician, saying no to Ethanol for fuel can put you on the shit list in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc. So Barack Obama says he's in favor of it, even though it's a bad idea for several reasons I won't elaborate here.

And the news media reports it, and the audiences in rallies applaud it, even though everyone knows it's a stupid thing to do. Why? Because Barack Obama only has so much political courage, and the people who benefit from the Ethanol industry don't care if they're involved in something thats ultimately counter-productive. Or if they care, it doesn't win out over their own selfishness.

Let's take another case: Barack Obama favors civil unions and does not support gay marriage. Why? Because there is a significant portion of the voting public who are moderate, reasonable people in every way except for their irrational hatred and fear of the idea of two guys in tuxes snogging while people throw rice.

Does anyone seriously think Obama gives a shit whether gay people get gay married? Of course not. But he's trying to split the difference between gay people and all of the homophobes. If you look at it from the standpoint of political calculus, it makes sense, because Obama cobbled together a slim majority that included both queers, and those who fear queers.

But hypocrisy actually costs. Anyone who has worked in a corporation knows that there is the public and intra-company mythology of "we're the greatest, we're a team" rah rah bullshit, and then there's what's really going on. You know what the rules are, and if you are careful and pay attention, you can find out what the REAL rules are. What happens a lot is that since reality and perception are disconnected, people start nurturing and supporting the perception, and neglect the reality. Welcome to the American Auto Industry!

Now maybe it's naive to think we can cut the crap, but we're at a point now where we can no longer afford it -- i.e. all the bullshit. We're drowning in it. You'll notice I used Barack Obama as a case in point above. There's a reason for this: Although we've spent the last eight years awash in a sea of lies unprecedented in human history, there's no value in continuing to obsess over it. The Emperor has no clothes, game over. There's no way we could ever punish George Bush enough for his dishonesty. I have fantasies of him leading a parade in his underwear like Nelson on the Simpsons, while we jeer and throw rotten produce, but alas it will never happen.

Now that we have a new President in the US who at least tries to be on the side of the angels, we're going to need to hold his feet to the fire. We're going to have to insist that as a country, we make decisions based on reality. We need to be calling bullshit whenever we see it.

We need to reject what has been the norm for too long: the consensus based on believing each other's lies. We need to find a consensus based on what's real, or we're going to go the way of the dinosaur.
If it's not too late already.

[User Picture]From: bitterwhiteguy
2008-11-19 04:37 pm (UTC)
I'm against gay marriage because I'm on the Atkins Diet. If they switched to throwing lean cuts of beef, I'd be for gay marriage.
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[User Picture]From: dica
2008-11-19 04:45 pm (UTC)
Totally agreed, though my cynicism doesn't allow me to realistically see a United States where any of that accountability or escape from bullshit happens. :(
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From: elkay
2008-11-19 05:09 pm (UTC)
The UK went the civil unions route and no one seems to care, a few years on (although I thought it was craven at the time!!). A civil union has identical (really, truly actually) rights to a marriage, and what's more, straight people can opt to have them too, which I find mildly mind-bending.

In the UK press and such everyone seems to say 'married', 'wedding', 'tie the knot' etc for celebrity couples, gay and straight, which has had a subliminal effect of also normalising gay marriage here. I imagine in the next 10 years that there will basically be no distinction.

I personally prefer getting rid of the word 'marriage' in civil law and moving to one where people are always in civil partnership. You can do married on your own time, with God. Anyone who is a citizen should be able to choose to legally formalise their relationship.

Edited at 2008-11-19 05:10 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: bdu
2008-11-19 07:31 pm (UTC)
The problem is that here, in the states, many civil unions *aren't* exactly like marriage when it comes to the rights granted to the partners. So here, being for civil unions and not for marriage is a way to seem reasonable while not being so.

Also, the cake is a lie.
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[User Picture]From: speicus
2008-11-19 07:24 pm (UTC)
I don't know if this sort of lying is all that new, or all that ominous. For example, Lincoln opposed abolitionism for a long time despite his dislike of slavery. Of course it's speculative to try and read Lincoln's true intentions -- we don't know what was going through his head -- but it seems awfully likely that he was just doing what he thought was politically necessary, until the opportunity to abolish slavery presented itself.

This is similar to how things work today. Activists can be speak their mind, and try to pull the mainstream one way or the other. Mainstream candidates can't be so bold.

On the other hand, I think the current spinelessness of the Democrats is pretty frustrating, and part of the problem, and I wish they would be a little more bold. But I'm not sure where the line is.
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[User Picture]From: iamskye
2008-11-19 07:28 pm (UTC)
You have to agree though that a president has a certain amount of political capital that can be spent before he's just another lame duck partisan figurehead.

Obama has a MOUNTAIN of shit to shovel right now. Tackling all this stuff at once would be not only political suicide, but would prevent a lot of good things, that the majority can agree on, from getting done. Baby steps, man, baby steps. He's smart and if/when he fixes the economy, and gets tons of people working on infrastructure and green collar, then he can work on the rest.

Like it or not, he is the President of bigoted wingnuts too. The dude isn't even in office yet!
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[User Picture]From: calmdahn
2008-11-20 02:26 am (UTC)
admit it, kent, this is all just a thinly veiled promotion for an upcoming corn warning release.
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