Wednesday, October 05, 2005

US like Iran!

I think this place is restricted, Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish. OK? FINE.

I was so ready to write today off as being another shitty day to kick off another shitty week; I've not been sleeping (again), I'm working too much, and it seems like every god damned thing I read in the news tells me something I would have felt better not knowing about. I can't remember the last time i heard some good news that affected more than just two people. There's a very tense energy in DC, and it stinks up everything.

Example. Last week, a friend and I went to go see School of Rock in Georgetown. On the way there, he and I were talking politics -- no fuckin' doy -- and we talked about the problems with the California recall election, and to a lesser extent, the massive problem with the new Diebold touch-screen voting machines. The cab ride was long, so the discussion got pretty involved and very intense; which is more telling for K than it is for me, since i'm a pretty volatile guy. K is normally very reserved.

So yeah, we were basically shouting in the cab. I noticed that around halfway to the movie theater the driver turned down the radio; so when we got close to the theater and I started counting up the fare, I asked him -- "so buddy, does this shit freak you out the same way it does us?" And the cabbie, who appeared to be of middle-eastern descent, just slowly nodded his head and said "very much so."

I followed it up by saying that lately, I felt that one of the few semi-public places you could talk about this stuff with any passion or sincerity was inside of a taxi. (because of my surgery, I've been forced to take a lot more cabs around than i normally need to. Most of the DC cabbies i've ridden with listen only to NPR, CSPAN, or other political/news radio, and they are almost always down with talking politics) He turned around, and said:

"Look, my friend. I'm from Iran. I have lived in the US for 29 years, and I tell you it gets more and more like Iran here every day. At home, nobody says NOTHING about the government, nobody says nothing bad. (he then made the 'zip your lips, throw away key' motion) But when i talk to people from home, I realize how scared people here are to talk about the government, or what is happening here. You don't even know. I live in the US 29 years, I am a citizen, but i go into the bank to get out some cash -- a few hundred dollars -- and the woman at the counter looks at me strange, asks me all these questions, questions she would not ask me if i were not from Iran." He went on like this for a while, got really worked up, then suddenly asked us to leave his cab. K and I were both quiet for a while afterwards. What stuck with me was how absolutely pants-loading scared this guy looked.

Now, I'm not saying that things are as bad as our cab driver friend was claiming, nor that I pulled a Bruce Banner, packed a bag, and am writing this from an internet cafe in Ottawa. But it's food for thought, don't you think? Nobody can claim to be cool with all the vicious attacks on dissent (and dissenters) in the run up to the Iraq war; nobody can be cool with some scumbag chickenhawk like Saxby Chambliss running midterm election attack ads comparing triple amputee, vietnam veteran Max Cleland to Osama mother bin fucking Laden for opposing the Iraq war, and then somehow winning the election; nobody can possibly be cool with the fucking Patriot Act, even though fewer people have read that than have read Vanilla Ice's autobiography, "Ice by Ice" (this includes the congressmen who voted for it. Unlike them, I have read both). Are these things that a sane, conscientious nation is cool with?

I don't know. I tend to get very tense and emotionally engaged about these things -- too much so -- and what I think they all mean for me, my loved ones, and even the people who I want to pimp-slap. I'm not a partisan. I don't think of these things as "republican vs. democrat," in some kind of red sox vs. yankees superfan way, where my money is on the one that i like and to hell with the other guys. The fact is, our very young, very powerful country is structured in a very old-fashioned way: the very rich and very powerful control the terms, they control the message, and they don't tend to quit when rules or democracy stand as obstacles to power retained, and power acquired. That's what bothers me. Of course this sounds like tinfoil-hat country, but go read some Leo Strauss, and you'll get a feel for the neoconservative political philosophy and its regard for everyday people-- he's like the neocon's Dr. Phil, you'll love it.

This kind of shit has been bothering me every day for months. It affects my sleep and my mood, and I have to admit it -- it makes me fearful and apprehensive of the future. I feel like most people either prefer not to be bothered with thinking about these things, or they feel that things in our society are as they've always been and always will be: as dirty as Charlton Heston's diapers, and as close to grim destruction as Bob Hope on a Segway.

So anyway it's 1:20 in the morning, and despite everything it feels like today is ending with this sort of "the True Meaning of Christmas" kind of feel to it. I'm alive, I have a good job, I have my family and a handful of very close friends (even if they are all assholes), this 1993 Ironstone Pressings isn't nearly as skunked as it tasted when i first opened it, and someone I love and care for deeply called me tonight, and we had a nice talk. (cue meaningful end-of-episode music) Tomorrow I'll wake up groggy, surly and unrested as usual, but will be wearing the snide, sarcastic smirk of someone who went to bed kidding himself into thinking he had one single moment of clarity.