Anti-Social Non-Media


The idea holds promise. It might look like
sitting alone, phoneless and thinking,
which at least allows you
to imagine a country that has unfriended
racism, faved equity, pinned
knowledge, twanked twaddle
into truth, and stopped following.

As the media are mainly
a village of the damned celebrities,
it may be wise sometimes
to reduce the status of the spectacle
to that of an evening gnat that
passes by your eyes and ears–
a momentary minor whine.

hans ostrom 2017

Short Con, Long Con: More Advice for the GOP

My imaginary friends ask me, “Why are you giving advice to the GOP? You’re not of the GOP.”

Two answers: I’m so old that I remember sane GOPers–like Eisenhower! Second, I like to help people. Why, just this evening, I was behind a guy in line at the grocery store who had beer, a bag of potatoes, a whole chicken, and carrots. He didn’t have enough cash for the spuds. So I covered it. He was wearing a Green Bay Packers hat. The Packers beat my Raiders in Super Bowl II. That was not block to doing the right thing. I gave him a fist-bump, and he went on his way, with a bag of spuds, which, being of Swedish extraction, I worship.


Dear GOPers,

Here is an example of a short con. A man rings your doorbell one morning, and he’s dressed sparklingly as some kind of landscape professional. He has a box of what look like sprinkler-parts. He says he’s stranded and needs 10 dollars, cash, of cab fare, and he’s willing to leave the “parts” as collateral. You’re sleepy, he looks impressive, you don’t really care, whatever. You give him the 10 bucks and take the “parts.” About 20 minutes later, your spouse informs you that you’re an idiot. The guy is running a short con. You think, okay, lesson learned, 10 bucks.

The long con keeps you coming back and coming back–chiefly with this bullshit: Hey, we got unlucky (a hurricane), the enemy is everywhere (Governor Christie!, gays, hippies, people with less than ivory skin!), Obama is still a radical Muslim spy from Mars (be afraid!).

Thus, on Fox, Dick Morris, whom I call Morris Dick, blabs about how he got certain demographics wrong. If a contractor built a house for you, and the whole main floor were out of plumb, and the contractor said, hey, my plumb-bob had a knot in it, would you believe him or her?

In the Wall Street Journal, Rove blames Hurricane Sandy on Obama’s victory. First of all, WTF happened to the WSJ? Make that a mantra, my Republican friends: WTF WTJ? Secondly, if a lot of rain and wind can disrupt several billion of dollars (10 or 20 per cent of which goes to a dough-necked huckster), then what, exactly, were you spending your money on? Ask your spouse, “Honey, was I conned?”

Not literally (emphasis: not literally), take Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and so many others out, attach cement slippers, and invite them to take a dip in Lake Erie.

Seriously. YOU’RE PAYING HARD COLD CASH for this shit?

The short con is the fault of the con artist.

The long con is the fault of the conned.

One last piece of advice: Mitch McConnell is part of the long con. What has he helped you to do? What is HIS net worth? If you were in a poker game in Las Vegas, would you trust a short, “mild mannered” Kentuckian with perfect hair and oyster-shell spectacles? Of course not.

My GOPer friends, don’t allow yourself to be pimped one more time. Imagine you are out of cash, and imagine I just paid for your bag of spuds.

My Advice to the GOP

I like to give advice to people who would never, in a million years, take it because then I can’t be held responsible. So, after what seems to have been a mild debacle (oxymoron?) yesterday for the GOP, here is my advice:

1. Vary the haircuts. Seriously. Both GOP men and women have that look–the men’s hair is too perfect, with that kind of Trent-Lott helmet thing going on, and too many of the women have that Texas, big-hair look (which in Texas looks just fine). Nothing like a fresh new “do” to make you feel better and to project the sense that you are not all in lockstep.

2. Realize that President Obama is just a guy. Sure, he’s president, and that has to piss you off. Yes, he’s Black, and that may bug you. Why, who the hell knows. Blacks have been Americans since 1619.

But seriously. He went to high school in Hawaii. He was rather handsome, but still, he looked like we all did in high school: kind of goofy. He married his sweet-heart, and they have two kids. He’s very ambitious, but then so are you. He drinks beer and smokes cigarettes and, like most men, knows way too much about the minutiae of the NCAA basketball brackets. He likes the blues, R&B, and country. He’s a little tedious when he gets wonky, but so are you. He eats hamburgers.

Assert yourself against him politically if you will. That’s entertainment! But just flat-out give up on the socialism, Muslim, Kenya, Manchurian candidate stuff. It didn’t work, for one thing. And it’s silly, for another. Read any definition of socialism. Then check how closely Obama resembles Eisenhower re: policies. He’s just a guy.

3. Don’t elevate guys like Paul Ryan to be your intellectual leaders. Ryan seems like a good politician, but he’s not an intellectual. Nothing wrong with that. He just isn’t.

4. Tell the people who act like they’re Rip Van Winkle and have awakened in an unfamiliar century to chill out or get out. You know who they were. Invite Bachmann to get help, and hint to Palin that the gig is over. Send her to Hollywood. After all, what has either of them done for you lately? End Rove’s long confidence-game. Hasn’t he bilked you enough? Haven’t you bought quite enough vinyl siding?

5. Go back to basics: Make deals and bring home the pork. Be corrupt in the usual American congressional ways; drop the new ways. If Demo Senator X will vote for fixing your highway, then vote for Demo Senator X’s microscopic tax-increase on millionaires. Get in touch with your inner Everett Dirksen.

6. More broadly, fix stuff. The place is falling apart. Highways, bridges, sea-walls, the electrical grid, schools, universities. Your job is not to bore people with Ayn Rand’s philosophy, just as no one wants to read some Dem’s latest book of verse. You’re supposed to fix stuff in your state and in the country. How did you forget that?

7. Get out more. Go clubbing. Hang out with a broader range of people. Have some laughs–laughs that don’t hinge on racist jokes, anti-woman “humor,” or gay-bashing. Surprise yourself. Go to some festival in your state that no one would expect you to attend. Show off that new hair cut.

The Homosexual Agenda and Weather

The Homosexual Agenda and Weather

“Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries’ Founder and Pastor John McTernan has blamed Hurricane Sandy on homosexuals and President Obama, reports Gay Star News [October 29, 2012]”

I see where a pastor opined
that a big tropical storm
arose because of the homosexual
agenda, which I gather
goes as follows:

1. Call to Order
2. Approve minutes from the previous homosexual meeting.
3. Old Business: continuing to be who we are.
4. New Business: affecting the weather.
5. Adjournment.

–Hans Ostrom, 2012

A Modest Proposal for Evaluating Presidential Candidates

No, this isn’t the sort of modest proposal Jonathan Swift wrote–a savagely satirical one. It really is modest:

Anyone who formally announces that she or he is running for the office of the U.S. presidency should be invited–and strongly induced by public, non-partisan pressure–to take an examination. No, I’m not suggesting that they should have their heads examined (in the old-fashioned parlance), although that couldn’t hurt the interests of the public, either.

I’m suggesting an examination on American history, the American Constitution, basic economics, and current world affairs. Maybe an examination of two hours, one hour one day, one the next. No trick-questions. The examination would have to be proctored because you just know some of them would try to cheat. It is their profession, after all–cheating, I mean.

We’d certainly find out how much they knew. We might also be able to deal a small blow to the pseudocracy by having the capacity–later, in debates, etc.–to tether their rhetoric to facts from the examination. For instance, a new Luntzism is “job creators,” a term used by Boehner and other GOPers to describe extremely rich people, whom President Obama would like to tax. Listening to some people who know something about economics, I’ve learned that working-class and middle-class consumers actually create most of the jobs by, well, consuming: buying goods and services. I know this sounds like common sense, but it also seems to reflect economic fact; and, of course, Luntzisms are designed to distract citizens from their common sense and from the facts.

Anyway, if candidate X argued in a debate that taxing the very rich would damage “job creators,” someone could point out that “in your correct answer–and by the way, congratulations!–on the test, you pointed out that ordinary consumers drove the economy. What’s up with that, Bucko, I mean, Governor Bucko?”

Moreover, if presidential candidates are anything like academics, and they are, they will not have read the Constitution, just as academics rarely read the Codes and By Laws that govern their employment. Neither group can be bothered with such trivial drudgery.

And let’s recall that you have to take tests in order to get a driver’s license (which you then have to show to someone in order to vote, especially if you are Black and live in the South), but you don’t have to take an exam in order to run for president. Good policy? You be the judge (he suggested, modestly).

Euphemism-Alert!: “Entitlement Reform”

At the Huffington Post, I read this excerpt from an article about Tim Pawlenty’s plan to run for the presidency:

Pawlenty’s message to Tea Party voters, whose energy helped the Republican party take control of the House last fall, combined two of the movement’s favorite phrases: “We the people of the United States will take back our government,” he said in voiceover while the video showed U.S. Marines marching.

The 50-year old father of two summarized his time as governor with the claim that his administration “proved we can restore limited government in America.”

As for a platform, Pawlenty gave a vague clue to what he’ll define as his basic planks. “We know what we need to do — grow jobs, limit government spending, and tackle entitlements,” he said.

I hope you didn’t miss the irony of a voice-over concerning “we will take back our government” fused with images of the U.S. Marines marching. The U.S. Marines represent the federal government, the last time I checked. So is Pawlenty’s plan to take back the Marines from the government, or to use the Marines to give the government to Tea Party voters, or . . . ? I hope you get the bigger picture: please don’t analyze Pawlenty’s images and rhetoric. He’s got Paw-lenty of nothin’, nothin’ is Paw-lenty for him.

But let us focus on “tackling entitlements” or “entitlement reform,” the euphemism du jour of pandering GOPers.

So, when you go to a cafe and give the cashier money, guess what? You are entitled to the beverage you ordered!

When out of your paycheck is taken a Medicare tax and a Social Security tax, guess what? You are entitled to an annuity-payment and to health-care when you are old. How dare you accept the annuity payment and the health-care. Free-loader!

That well known Leftist, Harry Truman, came up with the idea of Medicare, by the way, but it took twenty years for that bit of common sense to get passed–during the Johnson administration. By all means, let’s limit government to the size it was when Truman was president.

My suggestion: reject the euphemism, “entitlement reform.” Insist upon something slightly more blunt and truthful: screwing over old people while always ignoring the revenue-side of the equation.

And “limit government”? If he’s serious, Pawlenty will limit . . . government’s massive military-budget (our military-spending is greater than that of the rest of the world’s, combined); government’s interest in whether a woman has a baby or not; government’s definition of marriage (I suspect you and another adult can handle that definition, especially since you, not Pawlenty, will be the ones getting married); and so on.

Of course, Pawlenty and the other Panderers want to “tackle” entitlements (image: Marines tackling old people) but never tackle, say, mega-corporations via anti-trust laws. Nor will they tackle corporations who pollute or mining corporations that laugh at safety-regulations.

Fire up the Orwellian crap-detector when you hear or read “entitlement reform” and “limited government,” please. Keep your hands off my coffee, please, Governor Paw. I paid for it. Limit government on behalf of whom, please? Be specific, Governor.

And how does a president’s government “grow jobs” without asserting itself? Okay, I’ll play along: by staying out of the way, the Free Market and all that. But if you’re staying out of the way, you’re not growing anything, and if you really want to stay out of the way, you’ll not run for president. I mean, if you really want to limit government, stop running for office, for God’s sake. If government is so repugnant, run away, run away!

Get Down With Your Bad Self, Scalia

–Quite the hubbub regarding Justless Antonin Scalia’s having spoken at a gathering in Dee Cee sponsored by those friendly to Tea Party interests. I think Michelle Bachmann-Turner-Overdrive was there, too, no doubt as a comic warm-up act. “I just flew in from Mars, and boy, are my arms tired.”

Many opiners think Scalia’s decision to attend is evidence of politicizing the Court, and they think he should not do such things.

I say, “Bosh.” Or maybe just, “Bah.”

With regard to politicizing the Court, I have two points to make: It has always been politicized. Impartiality is the stuff dreams are made of, like the Maltese Falcon. Two, after Gore v. Bush, this particular set of Supremes (at least the majority) showed they were as impartial as a referee in professional wrestling. I know, I know: If you supported Bush, you probably think the decision was correct and impartial, and you want everyone else to “get over it.” But I’m just talking (writing) about how bad the decision itself was, as it would have been had Gore and Bush traded places. I think it was Justice Breyer who alluded to the Dred Scott decision, which, for all I know, Scalia thinks was okay.

So I say: go to all the Tea Parties you want, Scalia. Get down with your bad self. Go to the Republican Convention and hold a sign. Make yourself useful. Offer seminars to Birchers. Have a Coke with the Koch brothers. The more open the Supremes are about their political leanings, the better. Same goes for their religious beliefs. The court is chiefly Catholic now, and it’s a brand of Catholicism with which quite a few Catholics are uncomfortable. In religious terms, the minority on the Court is Jewish. No Protestants. No Buddhists, Hindus, Swedenborgians, Atheists, Agnostics.

I also think cameras should be allowed to follow the Supremes when they go to Law School reunions at Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, Harvard, Yale, Yale, Yale, and Columbia. I want to see those secret handshakes and hear fond memories of being paddled in the Skull and Bones rumpus room.

Question for Constitutional scholars: Are Harvard and Yale (we’ll leave aside Columbia) really that much better at producing good judges, and if so, by what criteria do we assess the matter?

I’d love to see a Justice who doesn’t have a law degree. It couldn’t hurt, obviously; there is no “floor” regarding how awful the Supremes have been through history. They are capable of pulling any nonsensical decision out of their . . . robes.

I’d like to see much broader academic representation, too, and much wider regional/geographic representation.

As far as ideology, I think that game is over. As with politics, the center keeps moving right, and the left either chases the center or gets left (so to speak) behind. I don’t even perceive a Left to exist on the court. Does anyone?

But back to the main point: behave as politically as you want, Scalia. Shoot shotguns with Cheney (just stay sober and don’t aim at friends). Belly up the bar with the Koch Brothers. Put Bachmann Turner Overdrive on the turn-table. Boogie on down with Karl Rove and Glenn Beck. Shake your money-maker.

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