I <3 Sartre, Comrades! Shall We Wait for Godot?

Ah, I’ve come circle; I’m no longer morose and melancholy over a) the election, b) the financial meltdown, and c) the government’s subsequent bailout. It’s gone beyond mystifying and transcended to the realm of the absurd … the insanely absurd. The Absurd with a capital A. I feel like my brain broke and that instead of witnessing and participating in reality, I’m in a French existential comedy – the world has transcended, or rather descended, into a work by Sartre or Camus. Maybe Beckett.

He'd be thinking, "WTF?!"If Kierkegaard were alive today, what would he make of all this?

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

So, Dubya comes on the television and says in order to save the free market the government has to use taxpayer money to buy shares in private banks. So … we need socialism to preserve the free market? We have to partially nationalize private banks in order to save them? We had to burn down the village in order to save it?

We got into this mess by people living beyond their means, and people banking – literally – on the fact that people were doing this. So, we have to use taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street so banks will extend credit again – so the same people whose tax money is being used for the bail out can continue to live beyond their means, and investment bankers can continue to get rich off of them. And the best part of it is, the people in charge of implementing this bailout were, up until a few years ago, investment bankers at Goldman Sachs, making money hand over fist from sub-prime mortgages – in other words, some of the same folk that got us into this mess have been tasked with getting us out of it.

What?

But wait, it gets better.

I’ve been doing my best to avoid the news lately, but I couldn’t help myself when it came to news reports about my fellow Ohioans shouting that Obama should be killed. I don’t think he should be president – neither should McCain – but cutting off his head seems a bit extreme. Last I heard, lynching went out with the Civil Rights Act.

What year is this again?

I realize that being a white WASP American male I’m hardly an expert on prejudice, but I have to say, I’m rather surprised by all the surprise in the media and in general about the ugly spectre of racism that has reared its ugly head as the presidential election nears. Maybe it’s because I’ve been lucky and been able to live in a number of different places within America as an adult, but from my perspective, the racism that’s been put on display lately in connection with the respective presidential campaign is anything but surprising. Ignorance and the fear it breeds is still the rule rather than the exception.

Speaking of ignorance, there was a photo from one of the McCain/Palin rallies here in Ohio that showed some clown with a sign that implied that an Obama presidency would equal socialism. I got news for ya champ: we’re already getting socialism. And both McCain and Obama encouraged it, and it’s being put into place by our current “conservative” Republican government. Heck, McCain is so desperate he’s even offered up more extreme solutions to the economic crisis that smack of socialism.

Once more: it’s gotten laughably Absurd; clearly the inmates are running the asylum – the assylum of asses. Of course, that means there is no meaning to the world than what I give it, so I suppose there is some comfort in that. It does make it easier to laugh, as opposed to crying in dismay or screaming in anger.

Arguing the Plight of Joe Six(figure) Pack

I almost got angry again when both presidential candidates latched onto this Joe the Plumber guy. Joe is complaining that Obama’s plan would increase taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year. You know what Joe? The majority of Americans don’t make anywhere near that (God knows I don’t and never will – what was my degree for, again?). Yet he’s being held up by both campaigns as some sort of Joe Everyman … Sarah Palin’s Joe Sixpack. Shouldn’t that be Joe Six-figure Pack? And, of course, all the presidential and vice presidential candidates are millionaires – actually, not sure about Biden, but the others are worth a million or more.

So, Joe? I’ve got one thing to say: waaah. My taxes have mostly gone up over the last eight years, even though I make nowhere near six figures, much less $250,000. And, in fact, I just got a notice from the IRS two weeks ago saying that I owed more money from 2006, because of a 401K that rolled over to an IRA when I got laid off from my job after six years. I didn’t report this at the time, because I didn’t even realize it was considered taxable income, since I can’t touch it until I’m 67, or some such age. Heck, I wasn’t even aware I was participating in the 401K program until I got my pink slip – just can’t seem to ever get worked up about that stuff. Ironically, this IRA is worth … oh, let’s just say considerably less than it used to be worth; it’s slightly north of diddley squat at the moment. And like Social Security, I’m not really depending on that money being their when I’m 65 or whenever.

Life just gets crazier by the day. But we don’t need the Absurdists and the Existentialists of yesteryear to put things in perspective. I think modern author William Gibson has said it best:

Joe the Plumber. (They might want to consider calling it the Palin/Plumber campaign, actually.)

It just makes so much sense, on so many levels, and actually manages to up the national fuckedness factor from where I judge it to stand today. Which is more of a stretch than ever, really.

If this dream ticket seems hopelessly far-fetched, to you, just remember that Karl Rove and I are both huge Borges fans.

I have to agree: just when you think it can’t get any worse, the national fuckedness factor rises some more. In this context, it even makes sense. For anyone stumbling across this, and the one or two friends that read this, Gibson is a popular science fiction author who has set his last couple of novels in the present day, because, as he puts it, the present has gotten weirder than any future we can imagine.

Indeed, it’s like America and perhaps much of the world is waiting for Godot.

But don’t let it get you down. If you’re a tabletop gaming nerd – if D&D makes you think of graph paper instead of large breasts, then I present to you the most brilliant political commentary of the entire 2008 presidential race, from somehedgehog:

GM: OK, the bugbear attacks you. What do you do?

OBAMA: I send one of my 672 henchmen after it.

MCCAIN: OK, seriously. Why does he have so many henchmen? I’m a level 72 ranger and he’s only a level 8 paladin.

OBAMA: Well, if you’d bought the Grassroots Organizing and Oratory/Colgate Smile proficiencies you could min max it so that you…

MCCAIN: Why is he even IN this campaign? I thought this was supposed to be a high level party.

OBAMA: Well, maybe some people got tired of the grim and squinty “Matterhorn, son of Marathon” shtick you keep doing. Dude, could you be any less original?

MCCAIN: Oh my god, I did not leave my left nut in a tiger cage in the Tomb of Horrors to spend my Friday nights mopping up after the new kid.

For the whole thing, go here to somehedgehog’s Livejournal entry. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.