Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

   No: this is a day to celebrate because the date lines up in a numerical “straight.” December 13, 2014 is 12/13/14.
   Sometimes life stretches out, a gray expanse of days. One after the other, each day is comprised of routine mixed with nuances of detail overlaid with the same levels of stress. Joy must be taken in the odd moment available.
   In 2006 I wanted to throw a party on June 6, maybe something outside on the deck, but the kid with the Rottweiler guard dogs showed up on the sidewalk in front of the house, stared at the door, and sort of took the party spirit out of everything, especially when the woman hanged herself from the tree next door as she said, “I’m doing this for YOU, Damian.” The kid said, to no one in particular, “My name’s not Damian. What is it with her?”
   August 8, 1988, was the date upon which the Chicago Cubs National League Baseball Club was scheduled to play its first game, at Wrigley Field, “under the lights” a/k/a at night. That would have been a four-of-a-kind night—8/8/88. As Cubs’ luck had it, the game was rained out and the first night game occurred on August 9.
   I glance at the time and temperature on the dashboard and occasionally am greeted by a full house—44 degrees at 2:24—or the rare four-of-a-kind.
   The odometer is a fun thing. I missed my birthday. Straights are there, even if one has to find them in numerals out of “straight” order: 142,365, contains a straight. Of course, the game has a few rules. One need only have five numerals maximum for a “hand” in this obsessive-compulsive thing with the measuring devices in one’s environment.    
   Numerals sometimes are meaningless.
   Each week, during United States involvement in military operations in Southeast Asia, a/k/a the Vietnam War, although Congress never voted a declaration of war, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, we faced numbers on the evening news. A total of United States personnel killed and wounded, as I recall, appeared as a primitive graphic behind Walter Cronkite. The numbers were there and very real for those with a loved one whose death of wounds added to the tally. To most of the rest of the populace, the numerals bore less significance than football scores, basketball rankings, or what year The America’s Cup was defended. Of even less meaning were the figures given to “South Vietnamese dead” and “Enemy losses.” Few people here knew any of the people in those categories.
   People became numbed to the numbers of deaths and casualties. Yesterday the news—wherever one obtains current information, on TV, the internet, or wherever—reported three students had been shot at a school in Oregon. Ten years ago, such an incident might have been cause for national alarm. Now, one hears the number and treats if like the latest total of home runs hit by a Major League Baseball® player on performance enhancing drugs—so what? If twenty little kids and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary and a ninety percent public approval for more stringent background checks could not budge Congress, then we have to treat other mass shootings as mere statistics. And I’m sorry, but three students—merely wounded, not killed, from what I heard—do not amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.  
   The NRA and talking heads on Fox News have chided people who oppose gun proliferation when any attempt is made to address that issue immediately after a mass shooting. They imply, or say outright, that those who oppose gun violence seem to try to capitalize on tragedy to remove guns from the warm, live fingers of those who advocate for The Second Amendment and its misreading. They need not worry. When mass shootings occur on such a frequent basis, they can mouth those little platitudes. People are numb anyway.
   During World War II we—the United States—prosecuted as war criminals Nazis and members of the military of the Empire of Japan for torture that included water boarding. After the CIA report on torture came out this week, she chided critics of those dark years of 2001 to whenever the torture stopped—or did it? Is there any meaningful difference between the foreign policies of President George W. Bush and President Barack H. Obama? The former initiated use of drones, the latter increased that use—because, as she said, “we” already dealt with that issue. I guess I missed the trials of the United States personnel in question. Those trials, if the law were consistent, would have been for torture against any people, but especially those who had no connection to anything but perhaps the farming of goats on a hillside in their home country and the neighbor they pissed off long ago convinced someone that the goat farmer was a terrorist. Maybe that goat farmer died on Guantanamo. Maybe that goat farmer later was released. If the goat farmer decided to hell with goats, if he had to take anal hydration for a couple of years, he’d might as well become militant and blow up a few of the people who did that to him—well, that would mean our policy did not work. Maybe we obtained information about goats on a hillside in the Middle East and what an asshole the guy’s neighbor was. Maybe the guy even thought well of his neighbor, but his neighbor was nuts or simply wanted a bounty. The more people one turned in, maybe the more money one received.
   People continue to die, the stock market reaches record highs, Reggie Wayne’s streak for games with three or more catches ends, the Cubs sign a pitcher to other-worldly numbers of dollars, and a budget bill for over one trillion dollars gives huge breaks to Big Banks without any question about hundreds of billions spent on the military.
   Forgive me if I seem unduly fascinated by the little displays on the dashboard of my car. I became numbed somewhere between Sandy Hook and the budget “deal.”
   Happy “Straight” Day. There is no sexual innuendo in the title I have given to the date, but the sarcasm I have expressed is as straight as I can manage. And if Michele Bachmann can go out of Congress with an odd, twisted speech, I am entitled to ramble once in a while on this blog.

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