Sunday, 31 January 2010

Buju Bye Bye (Reprise)

Tonight’s Grammy Awards may result in an award to Buju Banton in the Best Reggae Album category, and the dismay over his homicidally anti-gay lyrics (noted two posts below) has been dismissed by the Recording Academy, which gives out the awards, as irrelevant to the act of ‘honoring musical achievement regardless of politics’.

Oh yes, that familiar message: Tut, tut, now people, please don’t be dull and mix politics with capital-A Art.

But what if we were to do a thought experiment and change the let’s-shoot-and-then-set-fire-to-homosexuals lyrics by substituting another class of people to be on the receiving end?

Like Jews, for example. Or blacks. How far would a singer get who pumped up his dancehall listeners with calls to shoot Jews or burn dark-skinned people? I suspect the reaction might be characterized in a lot of ways but never as mere ‘politics’.

Nor would many people rush to such a performer’s defense in name of artistic freedom, which merely demonstrates that hateful incitement to violence against gay men remains acceptable in polite society while anti-Semitism and racism are not.

[P.S.] One of Buju’s esteemed ‘longtime collaborators’ listed on the Irish and Chin website (which also carries furious attacks on Banton’s critics under ‘Dear Sodomite or Sodomite sympathizer’) is Wyclef Jean, the Haitian musician who is raking in mountains of money to his modestly-named Wyclef Jean Foundation. Problem is, according to The Smoking Gun, the WJF ‘has a lackluster history of accounting for its finances and . . . has paid the performer and his business partner at least $410,000 for rent [and] production services’.

Great bunch of guys. Let’s dance (non-politically)!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tony Blair's millions

While we have been distracted with the state of our sorry union, the Brits have been entertaining themselves with their Chilcot Inquiry into the origins of the Iraq war and Britain’s part in it.

That would be the war that has caused, so far, an estimated 1 million dead, produced 3 million refugees and created 5 million orphans, according to one account based on government statistics.

But who’s counting?

Tony Blair made his cameo appearance Thursday, sneaking in a side door to avoid people eager to shout ‘War criminal!’ at him.

There have been some interesting revelations in the official inquiry, such as how dissidents were browbeaten into silence or acquiescence, including Lord Goldsmith, the British equivalent of our attorney-general, who for a while told Blair that invading Iraq to depose Saddam would be illegal for the obvious reason that Iraq did not pose a threat to Britain. But Goldsmith was bullied by the war party and buckled like most of his colleagues.

The commission also learned that:

-British intelligence knew Iraq had disassembled its chemical weapons, and

-Blair and Bush had a secret deal (‘signed in blood’, in the words of one) to remove Saddam a year before the invasion and then looked for ways to justify it.

None of which is surprising, and in fact the testimony from senior diplomats and officials had the smell of scapegoating by many of those involved, which is what you’d expect after a debacle on this scale—finger-pointing at the other guy. Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, claimed Blair’s bear-hug with Bush left officials scrabbling to find a ‘smoking gun’ to justify going to war, which Meyer himself promptly did.

Blair deftly parried all the revelations and kept out of the feeble panel members’ grasp throughout his six-hour appearance, an indication of how difficult it is for the political establishment to indict the architect of a failed policy with which it is deeply complicit.

Meanwhile, Blair, untroubled by regret for the destruction he has caused, used the platform to talk up another great idea—going to war with Iran next.

But despite his narrow escape, Blair is being steadily unmasked, revealed drip by drip as a conniving liar determined to do George Bush’s bidding despite massive domestic opposition, even while Britain got little in return.

It’s doubly tragic for Britons that the chauvinistic and brutal episode based on fear-mongering and lies was conducted under a Labour government, leaving decent-minded people nowhere to turn for an alternative. As one commentator put it, ‘We’re all conservatives now’.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

"Buju Bye Bye!"

Buju Banton is a singer who’s achievements include a dancehall hit called ‘Boom Bye Bye’, which has lyrics like:

‘Boom bye bye
Inna batty boy head. . .

‘Guy come near we
Then his skin must peel
Burn him up bad like an old tire wheel’

In case you’re fuzzy on your Jamaican patois, Banton is saying that homosexuals should be shot in the head and set on fire.

I wonder what dances go with that.

But now Banton’s been arrested in Florida for trying to do a big cocaine deal. I can’t remember when I was more pleased over a piece of police work. Maybe a couple of decades in prison will give him a new perspective on the horrors of anal intercourse.

Needed: An Offense and a Defense

I don’t see any sign that Be Reasonable/Play Nice approach deployed by the president last night is going to turn the tide for more than a couple of news cycles. Obama’s ratings bump (among people who tuned in to hear him) was a relief and showed that people haven’t completely lost their minds to Fox and CNN. But the relentlessness of the war party shouldn’t be dampened by this modest setback, and they’re certainly not distracted by any silly old facts.

Masschusetts stimulated Obama’s faith in banking reform, and we heard another stern-daddy lecture on it in the State of the Union. If the legislation doesn’t ‘meet the test of real reform’, the president intoned, ‘I will send it back until we get it right’. [repeat] ‘We’ve got to get it right’.

Yes, that should happen, my cousin Jessica should lay off the vodka gimlets, and the lion should lie down with the lamb. But saying it twice doesn’t make it twice as likely to happen. Now that the Supreme Court has authorized the banks to use their unlimited cash [including ours] to buy up the last dozen remnant independent-minded fools wandering around Congress, how exactly is that worthy sentiment going to translate into anything?

For me, what’s missing in the Obama worldview is any sense that there are real differences of interest and intention among the opposing camps. He’s incapable of a Rooseveltian or Kennedyesque confrontation with the selfish, ruthless ruling elite that both of them knew so well because they were born into it.

Obama, by contrast, looks like a smart guy who’s convinced that the system is basically benign because it permitted him to come from nowhere and get where he is, and on his own merits, too. But within that alluring Weltanschauung is a dangerous trap.

The same system that made Obama president was staggering into a serious morass of its own making after the vast disaster of the Bush years and, I would argue, three largely uninterrupted decades of Reaganism. What better vehicle for a tactical retreat than someone who looks and sounds completely different—but perhaps really isn’t?

Obama’s bio reveals a guy who doesn’t show his cards but in the end is rather drawn to the conservative side of the fence. He stands for something more than Bill Clinton ever did, and he shouldn’t be counted out for flubbing Year One. But the forces out there trying to jam our society into a dangerously fanatical and narrow-minded mold are not to be underestimated either. That’s something we down on the ground can see and sense much better than the remote figures at the top.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Why doesn’t Obama just publicly suck Joe Wilson’s dick and get it over with?

Obama’s imminent announcement of a freeze on non-defense, non-security spending emboldens the crazy teabagger narrative that we’re in trouble because the government takes care of people’s health and well-being, not because George Bush put us in hock so he could give away trillions to rich people. It’s exactly the narrative the Republicans want to push, and now they have the president of the opposition signing onto it—for which they will pillory him mercilessly as a Johnny-come-lately.

The last time our president-of-record addressed a joint session of Congress, South Carolina solon Joe Wilson of the unrepetent Confederacy famously broke protocol and called him a liar from the grandstands. If the current leaders in our increasingly polarized nation really believed their own rhetoric about respecting our country and its democratic systems, this would have been a watershed event.

Obama and his governing party could have saddled the Republican/teabagger crowd with the obvious fact that they’re bullies. We could still today be hearing about the difference between using violence and brute force to get one’s way and the Founding Fathers’ careful and ultimately successful strategy for making a revolution and not killing each other afterward.

We could have been hearing an alternative point of view since then, an indictment of the me-me-me party for its fanatical determination to permit nothing to occur that might remotely aid the populace and block the continued absorption of all national wealth by the plutocracy.

Instead, Obama shows every sign of determination to give away the store, the one we mobilized after eight nightmarish years of W-ism to deliver to him. We look to him for a distinct vision of the state, our current problems, the role of government, and what do we get? Recycled ideas from the people we threw out who are treated with deference while we’re chastized for making unreasonable demands.

Wilson should have been the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with the nasty, brutish opposition, and instead his shark attack was passed over as childish bad manners. So now there’s blood in the water—why not redouble the attack tonight?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Bank shares plummet—Yippee!

If ever there were a sign that things are going our way at last—the ‘our’ in this case referring to us regular folks—it’s the news that the Royal Bank of Scotland is now worth 7 percent less than yesterday and Bank of America 6 percent.

Of course, it’s just one day, and who knows how serious Obama is about getting real reform of Wall Street out of our lapdog Congress or whether he’ll be able to do it having wasted so much of his political capital trying to please both. But the symbolic shift from Geithner to Volcker was swift and delightful.

Volcker is the former Fed chief who kept saying the collapse of 2008 should lead to structural reform in the rapacious and overstuffed (shall we add ‘criminal’?) financial sector while Geithner’s solution was indistinguishable from those of banker lobbyists. So finally we have someone in charge who thinks the destruction of millions of jobs and the loss of millions of family domiciles should have some consequences for those responsible so that it can’t happen again.

It took losing Ted Kennedy’s seat for Obama to figure out THAT? I’m glad he got hip, but I still don’t know what planet he really lives on.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Debacle

‘Let’s stop the giveaways and get jobs going’. –Massachusetts voter Marlene Connolly, a lifelong Democrat quoted in the New York Times after voting for a Republican to replace the late Teddy Kennedy

The tragedy of the loss of Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat to the teabaggers is not the loss itself but the irony of allowing the populist revolt against corporate abuse to be snatched away by the party of big business.

A mere year after Barack Obama inspired us with his promise to do things differently and his manifest personal differentness, his instincts have turned out to be technocratic and naïve. The soaring post-racial rhetoric about all of us being in this together, etc., etc., which sounded nice enough on the campaign, suggested a refusal to contemplate the huge vested interests arrayed against any attempt at reorganizing society for the people’s benefit. Now we see the results.

The legacy of Reaganism—stacking the decks in favor of the rich while convincing the poor that you’re on their side—lives on, and the White House has played into the hands of its practitioners by relying on guys like Emanuel, Geithner and Sommers who look seedy, shady and ready to cut secret deals with the powerful. And then do.

But behind the dubious doings of these operators, behind the giveaway to AIG, the faux outrage over banker greed, the continuity of Bush-ite war policies in Afghanistan and Guantánamo, is the profound lack of vision emanating from the boss.

We worked and voted for someone who would dare to start from different premises, and had these actions failed, we would lament it. But it is far more exasperating to lose while giving in.

This is Clintonism redux, to move inexorably toward some vague center and strip yourself and your party from standing for anything identifiable except yourself. To cling to no real core principles and to horse-trade everything in the hope of emerging with a deal even while the opposition attacks like wolverines. To look cerebral, a bit supercilious, amused at the viciousness of it all, and in the end, lame.

Our society is descending into a nasty pit, and the reactionary forces do not believe in cooperation, compromise or cohabitation. They are a war movement and enjoy crushing the enemy and shouting down the weak. They will kick the chessboard over before admitting they have lost a match, and they could give two shits about democracy itself.

These people are dangerous, and to pretend that they’re not just won’t do. If the Obama administration and the top guy himself aren’t willing to accept the polarization that has been thrust upon them, they will continue to preside over defeat and pave the way for who knows what horrible next chapter.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Next month in Haiti

I don’t have a television right now, which means I am spared the spectacle of the journo-ghouls hovering over piles of cadavers in Haiti, positioning themselves amid dramatic rescue scenes and breathlessly awaiting the outbreak of rioting so that they can get good videotape for the evening broadcast. The torrent of uninformed blather about that island sunk in misery for centuries is particularly offensive because we know that within days or even hours, it will disappear as completely from the screen as it today occupies every available minute.

On another level, you can’t fault people for feeling sad about the destruction and the scenes of human suffering, but someone, somewhere, ought to have an oversight role in reining in the gross pandering to highly ephemeral emotions from which Haitians will accrue no long-term benefits.

The Haitian earthquake measured 7.0 Richter and may have killed 100,000 people; the Santiago earthquake I experienced in 1985 was 7.7 (seven times stronger) and killed no more than 150. Why? Chilean buildings are constructed seismically so that 30-story towers can sway a full meter at the top without buckling. Haiti was hit not with an act of God but with centuries of underdevelopment and exploitation in which the United States has had a huge historic role.

I note that thousands of people have text-donated a few dollars for the relief effort, and that reflects a laudable instinct. They saw pictures of human suffering, they responded with a kindness; ergo, they made themselves feel better, and well they might. But if it all stops there—which if cable TV has its way, it surely will—the whole exercise really is just an emotional frisson for viewers like that of an episode of a good Brazilian soap opera.

I recall the days of the long, dreary struggle against the dictatorship in Chile when my journalist friends and colleagues would go out to see how the years-long agitation was bubbling forth and often would come back frustrated because the uncooperative Chilean masses hadn’t produced enough blood for them to get a good chronicle published back home. They often had an amused and cynical view of themselves for feeling this way and underneath it all truly did sympathize with the people on the receiving end of Pinochet’s crimes.

But their industry has its own logic, and we should keep it in mind. If we care about Haitians’ suffering for more than the current news cycle, we should be thinking about which relief agencies were in Haiti long before this weekend trying to encourage development and support local economic initiatives, and we should send our donation checks (not text messages) to them. Anderson Cooper looking natty in his stand-ups won’t be much help with that, so I’ll try to compile a list from people who know over the next few days.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Old/New Labour and Us

Sometimes events in other countries provide a signal of where we may be headed ourselves. Britain’s Gordon Brown, the non-entity pulled in to preside over the exhaustion of New Labour (as John Major did for the decadent Thatcherite regime), has survived an apparent palace coup just in time to lead Labour to what is likely to be a crushing electoral defeat.

British politics are mysterious from a distance. Its parliamentary system turns jockeying for party leadership into a sort of non-stop primary season where being the top guy is no guarantee of permanence, and the end of a career there happens as frequently in the back rooms as at the ballot box.

Commentators in the British papers inform us that the attempt to push Brown out wasn’t very serious—why not let the old sod go down with the sinking ship? Its real import, some insist, was about where the party will take up residence during its imminent season in opposition: back on some leftish terrain or squarely within the neoliberal shrine, which Thatcher established and where Blair faithfully worshipped.
As Seumas Milne phrased it for The Guardian Wednesday, ‘Blairite and Treasury orthodoxy has been re-established, and the government's recent crab-like shift towards a more recognisably social democratic stance has come to a juddering halt’.

Given the relentless march toward the right of the Blair years, the criminal conspiracy with Bush to conquer Iraq and the decade-long repackaging of the main tenants of Thatcherism in Labor garb, one would think a cautious revisiting of social democratic rhetoric might be prudent politics for a party about to be swept away. On this side of the Atlantic, for example, our dear Republicans are pretty clear about branding themselves as something utterly different and distinguishable from the present government.

But the doyens of the British Labour Party seem less worried about losing the next election than weakening their ties with the country’s financial and business elites, whose favor they curry with promises of tough social service cuts, state deficit reduction, light taxation and continued favors for the rich. In short, the conservative program without need of the Tories.

Sound familiar? The description of progressive British voters casting aimlessly about for someone who might vaguely represent their views suggests our own destiny ten months and/or three years from now. The Democrats under Obama have shown repeatedly their eagerness to ignore their popular constituency by cozying up to Wall Street and pursuing Bush’s Afghanistan flop to the bitter end.

If so, the Democrats will hemorrhage voters and go into the 2010 and 2012 contests with a demoralized and deflated base, leaving them only the option of appealing to centrist voters with warmed-over imitations of the small-government/ big-army conservative mantras.

That’s what Clinton did consistently throughout his uninspired reign, and he managed to win re-election—at great cost to the rest of us. Clinton exemplified the Blue Dog Democrats who embraced corporate power and jettisoned traditional blue-collar demands while failing to defend liberal positions on things like abortion rights and gay servicemen and women. Clinton dutifully paid down the federal deficit whereupon W promptly recreated it to give rich people huge tax breaks.

Obama sounds like someone who believes in something more than himself, which is an important distinction. But his instincts so far are leading us in very similar directions.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Poison pill

The National Religious Campaign against Torture is a wonderful group that actually practices Christianity instead of just praying loudly in public. In fact, it adheres to what the world’s religions claim are universal spiritual truths even when ignoring them in the pursuit of the great joys of mammon: power, influence, wealth and most especially self-propagation.

I attended one of the NRCAT’s ceremonies last night to mark the eighth anniversary of the arrival of prisoners to Guantánamo from Afghanistan, and as their name announces, NRCAT isn’t a bit shy about putting a name to what happened to them there—it’s called torture, spelled T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

The service took place in the basement of a Catholic church, and it included a liturgy with hymns and prayers. There were lovely phrases from a Buddhist monk who led the assembled in meditation with the help of a gong, an imam chanting from the Koran in eerie quarter-tones, priests and pastors quoting Biblical phrases about acting justly toward one’s fellow creatures. Compassion and righteousness, not domination and control, are God’s priorities, said the clergymen. What a concept.

The ceremony also included a moving address from a human rights lawyer who spoke about the surprising effect her work has had on her over the years, how she rediscovered her spiritual identity by seeing the humanity of her clients shine through the brutality they underwent.

She shared and marveled at the official transcripts of interrogation sessions, in which prisoners are cited verbatim pleading for mercy, asking the attendant doctors and translators how they can be complicit with such cruelty and the dehumanization that is essential for torturers to be able to perform their criminal work.

And that is why the torture issue is not going to be swept under the rug by any mere president of the United States eager to cut deals with and avoid criticism from the perpetrators and their minions. ‘Torture is a moral issue’, says NRCAT’s slogan, and it is also a poison that its users drink, thinking that it will kill the enemy. Instead, it slowly rots the body politic’s internal organs.

In the grimmest and most depressing days of the Chilean dictatorship, we never dreamt that the secret agents who swaggered and prowled through the streets in their aviator sunglasses would ever face justice. They were officially amnestied for all their crimes by Pinochet, protected by a monolithic and fanatical army and insidiously defended with expert smokescreens thrown up by the country’s reactionary news media.

And yet, 20 years later they scramble for absolution or hide their identities behind new, more respectable lives. The country looks at them in horror, often in shame and guilt for its own complicity in enjoying the fruits of their appalling acts.

I have no doubt that if I live long enough, I will witness a repeat of that cycle and that the 40 percent of the public who now tell pollsters that torture is a pretty good idea will scramble to deny that they ever said such a thing or lent their moral support to this enterprise.

A French victim of the Nazis famously said that ‘Once tortured, always tortured’, meaning that the impact of that experience never disappears. That goes for the perpetrators, too, even if the mills of the gods grind very, very slowly.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Obama’s smarts don’t compensate lack of vision

The contrasts between the current presidency and the previous one are mildly comforting (one feels adults are in charge at long last), but a dollop of cleverness and a dash of decency aren’t going to make up for continued chauvinistic group-think.

Obama finally acknowledged error in the handling of the Nigerian Christmas bomber, but saying that the state’s security systems failed to ‘connect the dots’ is an almost Freudian reminder that the whole bloated apparatus reeks of childish games invented more to satisfy the kiddies playing them than to provide us protection from real threats.

I get the exact same feeling when being herded through an airport screening line by TSA hard-ons obviously delighted with their opportunity to bark orders at us. It’s the mentality that causes people to applaud grotesquely stupid and criminal enterprises like torturing defenseless prisoners in Guantánamo and Bagram—it does nothing for our safety and destroys our moral fabric but feels great as revenge.

Obama’s practical orders to repair the system sound reasonable enough, but he’s making a play for the Jimmy Carter award by rushing to endorse Dick Cheney’s pathetic criticism that the new administration isn’t talking ‘war’ enough. What a great opportunity to draw a line between the old ways of doing things and the present and to say that fighting criminal terrorism isn’t really a ‘war’ that can be won with tanks, armies and occupations.

In fact, it’s precisely the tanks, armies and occupations that are fueling the terrorist mystique as any number of commentators point out, to no apparent effect whatsoever. Reports abound that both the would-be airplane bomber from Nigeria and the Jordanian double agent who blew up CIA agents at Khost were motivated by civilian deaths in wars carried out by American and Israeli troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza.

It was these imprecise drone attacks and slaughters at wedding parties that Obama the candidate criticized and then promptly escalated once we elected him. Like Carter in the late 1970s pumping up the dangers of Soviet expansion (in Afghanistan, we might recall), Obama is empowering his political enemies who will always be much better at belligerence and outraged martyrdom than he is.

Meanwhile, the spread of hatred for the U.S.-Israeli alliance and the dangers this poses for our personal safety and ability to travel around the world without fearing to show our passports is the great non-topic in our official punditry.

Finally, the Blackwater case illustrates perfectly how our double standard continues to dupe us and amaze the world. Turns out that these hired killers could not be charged with murdering Iraqi civilians because their statements about the incident were not properly obtained.

What an irony. The country that openly insists on the right to beat confessions out of anyone who happens to fall into our Gulag suddenly discovers it has a legal system where the accused have rights.

Unfortunately, you have to be on the right side of the powerful to possess and enjoy them, and this principle, now firmly established, will eventually come back to haunt our own population that naively thinks the mere possession of U.S. citizenship will protect it from the security behemoth’s increasingly arbitrary powers.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Top Ten Ways Bipeds Hurtled Themselves Toward Doom in 2009

1. Nopenhagen non-accord to not agree to do nothing on global warming

I shouldn’t be an I-told-you-so, but I so fucking totally told you so. Given the screeching bipedal resistance from the supposed advanced western democracy in which we reside, from whence was the leadership to arise that would convince people in the rest of the (poorer) world to sacrifice for the common good so that the oceans do not flood everything from Miami to the Maldives? Tony Soprano was more likely to make a voluntary contribution to the Newark school district.

2. Global business elite continues to sell out the world to communism

That would be the Chinese version, which looks suspiciously like Mussolini-style corporativism except for its chilling efficiency. One billion wage slaves building up the most powerful economy in the world headed by a dozen guys in a cult—does this sound like a world we want to live in? Not content with dismantling our industrial north and shipping it all to non-union Tennessee and South Carolina, the Captains of Industry have now found the perfect solution—get oriental despots to handle personnel. And we wonder why it’s so hard to provide health care for Americans! (Hint: they don’t NEED us any more.)

3. Finance capital, after almost destroying itself and us, muscles a chance to do it bigger and better next time

The only bright spot on this one is that it was so obvious that it pissed everyone off. Unfortunately, the most likely beneficiaries are faux-populist demagogues eager to get back in the game. Real oversight looks impossible given the firm hold of the bankers on the genitalia of everyone important. Already the system is lining up trillions to pay for the next round of casino capitalism.

4. Lingering nostalgia for individual rights and due process scuttled

Amazing to watch Osama bin Laden successfully impose his vision of the human race on the United States, once a hotbed of individualism. Now, it’s fine if a few dozen hapless schmucks who never did anything get locked up in a dungeon forever—who cares about them as long as the rest of us are safe? Osama would agree—the individual doesn’t matter, only the worship of Allah by the collectivity for ever and ever, Amen. Nice coup by the Saudi guy—first you slaughter the enemy, then you colonize the minds of survivors until they see the world just as you do.

5. Televised maniacs take over the airwaves

Counting the radio band, too, which was infected ages ago. On the positive side, who listens to the effing radio any more? But it is still creepy to think that millions of people slurp up the ravings of opiated psychos all day long—must help them digest all that starch. Of course, NPR is an alternative if you like to hear Buffy and Carlton hone their sibilants and giggle to each other.

6. War, war, oh yes, endless war

Not that that’s anything new in the annals of bipedism, which emerged from the reified worship of slaughter. We tend to forget, however, that the Cold War left us with a vast worldwide arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam didn’t have any, but a whole lot of certifiably demented fucks do, and we shouldn’t think the era of their use is behind us. The last world war wasted 50 million people, and we could still bounce back from that as a species, but I’m not convinced the same will hold true if we manage 500 million the next time. I’d like to fight a War on Terror, too, given the many things that scare the shit out of me—not, however, including Afghan peasants.

7. Religion advances in its crusade to stamp out spirituality

If we really believed in all those lovely philosophical concepts and viewed creation with proper respect, our portion of the world would look a lot different. Instead, our organized religions prove daily that they are mostly excellent at turning already disagreeable bipeds into even lower forms of protoplasmic existence. Luckily for the agnostic among us, most of these fanatics hate each other even more than they hate us. Woe the day that they get over it.

8. Proliferating electronic devices turn bipeds into masturbation machines

Self-pleasuring is a fine thing, but in general it should be done behind closed doors and by invitation only—not on the subway or other public spaces. However, in 2009 we scurried yet further downward toward a collective environment where all is permitted if invented by Apple or Verizon and piped through a hand-held device. We’re not really sharing the street anyway, just carving out an individual section by force.

9. Worldwide testosterone poisoning accelerates

Given their apparent terror at all things sexual, you’d think the guys in charge would do something about the raging endocrine contamination observed from Texas to Teheran where men seem unable to perform the simplest acts, like walking down the street, without wondering if they look butch enough. Leaders must be tough, male relatives must be strong and females must keep their precious jewels firmly tucked under the linens lest someone question the length and breadth of the golden penis. As below, so above: politics is largely run on similar principles—be strong, make us powerful, slay the enemy, conquer foreign ports. Not everyone can win at this; thus our world is not pretty.

10. Prohibiting drugs wipes out drug use

Joke! The other War, that on Drugs, gobbles us up in its bottomless maw. This is in fact a sleeper doom-purveyor as the Mexican nightmare works its way up and over the border. Stay tuned for a new wave of xenophobic hatred based on real fears this time, that of being chopped to bits by a Mexican meth gang.

All in all, plenty of room for doom in 2010! Happy new year!