Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Functional Illiteracy And The Medusa

By Manifesto Joe

During Web surfing, I happened upon an ad that posed a question: "SHOULD MADONNA BE ALOUD TO ADOPT AGAIN?"

It would be just fine with me if Madonna were never allowed to do anything ALOUD ever again, certainly not music. Her songs all sound the same, anyway.

But, I found a certain appropriateness in this, an ad about "The Medusa" (as parodists have had their way with her), and the functional illiteracy of those who composed and posted this ad. I sincerely hoped that this was a joke.

Sadly, I don't think it was. Whoever did this was "computer-literate" enough to post this on a Web page, but so functionally illiterate in basic English as not to know how moronic this looked. And, there being no copy editors patrolling the Net, there was no one to correct it and get a belly laugh afterward.

I'd gauge that the spread of this public imbecility began in earnest around the time The Medusa scored her first pop-music hit. (Early '80s?) Anyway, TV had a seriously erosive effect for decades before then. But somehow, the group of Americans just about my age (I was born in '56, The Medusa in '58) was the first to put this gross ignorance on public display and somehow not feel ashamed enough to seek remedial education.

My high school was mediocre at best, but I went to a rather demanding college and discovered my educational deficiencies quickly. As a freshman I took some early beatings for one used to making A's, and then was making A's again by the time I was a college junior. But I got the impression that I was atypical. Many of the people my age just didn't care enough to address the gaps, even after they were made gapingly apparent.

Has the Internet contributed to more decadence since then? It's still a question for study, but I can't see how it has helped. Amid all the gaming, LOL and BFF horseshit, I've gotten the distinct impression that a new semiliterate culture has "evolved" around this technology. It's gone beyond the functional "TV" illiteracy that became so obvious in my generation.

Here's a link on which to ponder this question.

It's very sad that one has to do a double-take to realize that this link is a joke.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranians Are Showing Major Juevos -- Unlike "Murkans"

By Manifesto Joe

Maybe they had it right, in a sense, when they said it can't happen here. In 2000, the U.S. had a presidential election blatantly stolen, with the 5-4 blessing of our Supreme Court. Four years later, the national election results sharply contrasted with the exit polling, and it was eventually demonstrated that the technology and means to "hack" some of the voting machines existed.

With few exceptions, almost no one raised any serious hell in the U.S., either time.

Not so right now in Iran, and richly to the credit of the people there. They are being asked to buy the idea that nearly 40 million handwritten ballots can be accurately counted and tallied in about 12 hours, and then with a clearly unpopular hard-line incumbent president winning by a huge, overwhelming landslide. Guess what -- they aren't buying it.

The unrest has become vast, with all those young Iranians taking to the streets in defiance of official repression. It makes me feel proud of the Iranians. And, it makes me feel just a bit ashamed of Americans. In words paraphrased from an old movie set in Mexico, with Federales looking for a gringo troublemaker: "Don't just stand there like burros! Haf you seen heem?"

We, my fellow "Murkans," just stood there like burros. Twice. No juevos, no cojones, either time. Nada.

The Iranians, for better or for worse, are not. Before them, recently, the Ukrainians didn't, and to good effect. Even in Mexico, many didn't "just stand there like burros" after a questionable election outcome in 2006. And in Tiananmen Square, 20 years ago, and not in any election setting, the world witnessed one of the greatest, albeit futile, exhibitions of human courage ever seen.

So, where was the outrage in America in 2000, or in 2004?

I'd say we lost it when we stopped being America, and became, as George W. "Il Doofus" Bush always mispronounced it, "Murka."

And when we became Murka, a semiliterate frat pledge master like Il Doofus could have the presidency of the whole damned country stolen for him, perhaps twice. And amazingly few people said anything.

The unrest in Iran probably won't change things at the official level, and some unfortunate souls will be killed or injured. It may be all for nothing in the short run, as was the case with Tiananmen Square. But sometimes courage means that you have to fight injustice, even when you know you're going to lose.

We haven't shown that kind of courage here since about 1970. Way back then, with the long hair, bongs, ugly tie-dye and all -- we were actually America. Not Murka.

Right now, the whole world is watching -- but they're not watching Murka. They're watching Iran, of all places.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Death Waits For No One. Blog Posts Sometimes Have To

MJ's mom died over the weekend. My wife and I will be traveling for the funeral. Don't be strangers. I expect to be posting again in about a week. -- MJ

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What Makes Cheney Lie?

The former vice president may be running scared. Indictments aren't out of the question.

By Manifesto Joe

I really hoped that, once repudiated at the polls, the Republican right wing would give it a rest for a while. No such luck -- they are more vociferous than ever. And one of the lead attack dogs is none other than the former "vice president." We've seen more of that sneer in recent weeks than we had to for years during the Il Doofus administration.

Much of what Dick Cheney has been saying in speeches and interviews, appearances of unprecedented frequency for an ex-VP, is not squaring with the facts. Torture, CIA memos, Richard Clarke's repeated warnings about an imminent attack -- Cheney's accounts have consistently been pig manure. He seems to be a pupil of Joseph Goebbels -- you know, if you repeat the lie over and over ... Here's a link about this.

Not that adherence to the facts has ever been important to Cheney. He told countless whoppers during the run-up to the Iraq war. And once the war was on, he kept repeating the shameless canard about Saddam Hussein being connected in some way with 9-11. This man makes Machiavelli look like the hero of a Frank Capra movie.

He's also well-versed in the "Repub" Party's practice of defaming anyone associated with the "Democrat" Party. During his speech to the National Press Corps, Cheney, who was supposed to be talking about Al-Qaeda, referred to "Obama" (bin Laden) not being in good communication with the terrorist rank and file.

What is Cheney trying to do? My theory is: preemptive strikes. You know, the best defense is a good offense. I think that, ultimately, there's probably enough there for Cheney, "Fredo" Gonzales and several others to be indicted on war crimes charges. Cheney's thinking, most likely, is that getting the first punch in with brass knuckles will rid any antagonists of such thoughts. I think he's running scared, but his strategy is to be a lying bully so as not to show it. He's made that work enough times that he expects it to work again.

I pray to whatever gods may be that we don't let it happen this time.

Postscript: It was bitterly amusing to see the right wing's reaction to President Barack Obama taking his wife out on the town in New York. Since when have right wingers been concerned about rich people setting good examples for the struggling? After all the unbridled opulence and unregulated swinishness that we witnessed during the previous two presidential terms, it's moronic pettiness to talk about Obama taking Michelle out for one night on the town. How much time did Il Doofus spend on vacation in Crawford, and how much extra security and jet fuel did all that cost?

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.