Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Language Police

The domestic spies unleashed by the Cheney branch of government to examine your electronic communications use two major analysis programs called Echelon and Carnivore. They search for "keywords" in your emails, text messaging, and phone calls that can determine whether you are a terrorist and need to be put on the watch list. The word "terrorist" itself is prominent on the list, as are "jihad," "Texas," and the Sears Tower. Then there are serious words, like "charcoal," and "Zen." They finally busted the Born-Again Hippie blog for using too many "hot" words, and I agreed to cut a deal with the Feds. I get to keep writing if I will announce the official, 2007, list of words and phrases that the Language Police have designated for elimination. I'm just the messenger.

"That's the $64,000 question"
The show's been over for forty years already. Some say the "$64 question." Before you can use this metaphor, you must be old enough to have seen the program.

"Pushing the envelope"
Sounded clever when Chuck Yeager said it back in the fifties. They make bigger envelopes now.

"See what I'm saying?"
No, I don't see what you're saying because I'm not a lip reader. I do, however, hear what you're saying.

"At the end of the day"
In the final analysis, and when all is said and done, ultimately, at the end of the day is the beginning of the night.

"Think outside the box"
Instead of stink inside the box. Akin to "pushing the envelope," except we used to call this "abstract thinking." This also applies to "coloring outside the lines."

If everything is awesome, nothing is awesome.

"Let's see if I've got this right"
Beware: Sarcasm ahead.

"Family values"
Often promoted as a "Father Knows Best" world-view by Republicans living in a Caligula reality.

"Global War on Terror" and "Weapons of Mass Destruction"
Totalitarian Bushspeak for a war franchise for profiteers without end, and what used to be known as "bombs."

"As we speak"
Usually the person who says this is the only one speaking. "Now" will suffice and it saves you two words. And finally....

"Don't hold your breath"
What if I'm under water?

Now get out there and do your part. Clearly, at the end of the day, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that some phrases need to be hunted down and smoked out in a responsible manner. But not on my watch, and that's the bottom line.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


"We are the other people,
You're the other people, too/Found a way to get to you."

Frank Zappa, "Mother People," 1967

Mark it down. After today, no one beats this ticket. No combination of Clintons, and certainly no foreseeable combination of Republicans can match the starpower of these two candidates. And yes, Gore is a candidate, and I believe the presidency is his for the taking. And nothing anyone in my generation can say or do, thank God, will alter the outcome. Al Gore has found his audience with a younger, hipper generation that doesn't believe intelligence is a drawback, and he has found the way to get to them. The Live Earth Concerts were a stunning success, and the biggest star to emerge from the international showcase was Al Gore.

I have waited my entire socially conscious life for a political coalition to coalesce around idealistic young people before they're eaten alive by cynicism. My generation had the chance, but blew it. Big time. After the Vietnam War, we had the chance to consolidate political power gained in the protest years. But instead, we opted out of the political process, allowing Richard Nixon to be elected and re-elected. When the war ended, everyone put on a tie and tried to make up for the lost time not spent hoarding money. Thus, hippies became yuppies and the moment was lost. The direct and concrete result of that apathy is that my generation is now represented by unprincipled men like Karl Rove, who has made a career of demonizing the excesses of the sixties. The failure of my generation is on display every day that pot is still illegal. My divided and disenchanted peers have forfeited the right to instruct the young. They will decide the next presidential election.

The big story of the Live Earth Concerts was not the Police/Kanye/John Mayer jam, but how Al Gore has been transformed into a pop icon and is treated like a rock star among the young. Readers of this post know that I am a Gore man, (see Al Gore; Soul Man), but I must now confess my sin of doubting Al. Like many, I felt "just what the world needs, another rock concert," and thought that this time, Gore had overreached. But not only were the shows uplifting and smartly staged, Gore emerged as a prophet and displayed in one day what George Bush has been unable to show in six years as President; leadership. Climate consciousness has been kicked off worldwide with real conservation suggestions that will yield genuine dividends, and Al Gore has tapped into the Internet generation like no other political figure.

Barack Obama is another impressive candidate with intellectual curiosity, real world knowledge, and his eye to the future. His online fundraising, though a regrettable evil, has been as remarkable as the Howard Dean internet phenomenon of 2004. Obama has already captured the interest of the young, and rightly so. His positive campaign has been compared to Robert Kennedy's of 1968. The only minus on the Obama ledger is lack of experience. Of course, that never stopped George Bush, but it makes Obama an ideal candidate for Vice President, and promises a continuation of a progressive Gore legacy well into the future.

I used to imagine my generation as a force for good. In my youthful optimism, I believed that we could change the world. I never could have imagined that the change would come through preemptive bombing campaigns and secret Gulags. I have long ago given up on my generation to accomplish great things in this life, and President
Chuckles is the mortal sum of my fears. No, we're going to argue over the 1960's counterculture and refight the Vietnam War until we're all dead and buried. But if hope was rekindled today, I entrust my hope to the young. As much as anyone can who doesn't go out much, I feel something stirring in the political air, and it is growing daily in size and strength. Something big is going to occur, and I hope that this burgeoning new youth movement finds its' voice before Cheney bombs Iran. That would be terrible for the environment.