Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do Hawkish Presidents Make Other Countries Dovish?

The last 18 months have been tough on Mr. Obama. His foreign policy seems to be taking nothing but left hooks to the liver.

Many of the 2016 GOP candidates have launched their campaigns by telling everyone how unlike Obama they will be on foreign policy. "The President is weak!" so the narrative goes.

I hate to defend a politician, but back when megahawk Bush was in office, Russia still aggressed outside its borders - anyone remember the 2008 Georgia crisis? Bush tsked-tsked Putin, and then presidential candidate McCain threw out plenty of harsh rhetoric. And it wasn't all talk; W. Bush had spent eight years throwing soldiers and bombs at various "evildoers." None of those displays of aggression kept Putin in check.

If anything, the War in Iraq showcased the flaws of interventionism; it showed a weak U.S. If Reagan had gotten mired in prolonged conflicts as stupid at the Second Iraq Invasion, would he be remembered as having "won the Cold War?" Bush's adventurism showed a U.S. that once again couldn't win a war of containment (containing communism in Vietnam and containing terrorism in Iraq)...so what exactly was Putin supposed to fear?

Allegedly wimpy Obama attacked Libya (now a failed state) without authorization, another Rubicon moment in a long list of them. He also didn't hesitate to intervene in Pakistan and Yemen (now a failed state), This didn't keep Putin or anyone else from doing what most politicians do; intervene abroad to create a "strong leader" narrative at home. The fact that Putin flouted the world under both "War on Terror" Bush and "My Red Line Keeps Moving" Obama probably tells us something about assuming a tough-guy president will necessarily convince other world leaders to play nice.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Medicine, Media, and Monogamy don't Mix

Thanks to the safer world in which we live, life expectancy keeps climbing. Once the world goes Kurzweil, who knows how long we'll hang around.

This spike in life expectancy doesn't bode well for the already stooped, arthritic, and tremoring institution of marriage. In the old days, loving someone forever meant loving him/her until about 65. Now you have to limp through it until at least 85. It's true that people aren't getting married as young, but getting married at 32 instead of 24 still means today's married folk have to tolerate their "soulmate" for 12, 13, 14, 15 extra years to make it to "forever." Not strangling someone for 40 years is a lot easier than keeping your hands off their throat for 55.

Modern medicine has also greatly improved quality of life. Today a man of 55 can physically er, perform in ways he couldn't a generation ago, and thanks to the ubiquity of divorce, he now has a deep talent pool of divorcees to target. When you're a vigorous 55 and can pull a 40-year-old eager to have someone lie to her about how beautiful she still is, that "forever" vow you made to your now musty 55-year-old bride feels like a belly flop into the River Styx.

A lot of women talk about liking older men. That's acceptable when you're 28 and he's 40. But what happens when you're 53 and he's 65. Suddenly the allure of an older man isn't so alluring, particularly when you know you're going to be watching him decay for a couple more decades. Forever suddenly feels like the kind of forever you complain about at the DMV.

Thanks to dating sites and Facebook, it's never been easier to meet someone new. A 55-year-old divorced person can hop back in the game with a few mouse clicks; no embarrassing 50+ dance nights at your local community center. You can point and click at a wide range of partners your age and start the second (or third or fourth or fifth) stage of your romantic life.

The power of that very media is another marriage killer. There are now so many forms of communication; texts, email, constant cell phone access, which means non-stop opportunity for marital misunderstandings, words said in heat, and just plain overexposure to your now never disconnected lover. Everyone is just one unfortunate auto-complete away from relationship oblivion.

Medicine is only getting better, and technology is putting us in touch with ever more people (potential sex partners). None but a very select few can tolerate a sixty-year marriage. Given that the only people who left who take their religion seriously are Mormons and Muslims, the "forever" marriage vow will soon make even priests laugh out loud. In the future, the only way a couple will be able to last until death do us part is to hire a hitman (probably through social media).

Friday, February 20, 2015

The latest audio genius from Mike Payne

Enjoy my third appearance on the great JL Cauvin's podcast. Topics include 50 Shades of Grey, porn, puritanism, daddy porn, "cool girls," and Axl Rose. You can see how these things go together.

Hope you laugh...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Impressions Aren't Necessarily Satire (or funny)

In light of the recent 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, I wanted to make a quick distinction: doing an impression of someone isn't necessarily satire.

Dana Carvey was so funny as an impressionist that the entire show became mostly about repeating the tics of the person being impersonated. Any urge to satirize the person was diluted.

When Chevy Chase did his Gerald Ford impressions, such as the joke about Ford in a debate: "I was told there would be no math," he was also commenting on who Gerald Ford was. Carvey saying "wouldn't be prudent" every week for four years wasn't satirizing George Bush; it was simply doing an impression of him.

The Colbert Report was satire; Colbert was amalgamating and projecting the essence of Bill O'Reilly, Hannity, etc. If he just wanted to do an impression, he could have just shouted Pinhead! over and over again.

What Carvey did with Bush (and what Tina Fey did with Palin) was at best a caricature. Still takes talent to do it well, but it isn't satire. If all it took to be a satirist was impersonation, parrots would be the greatest satirists in the animal kingdom. Come to think, most pet shops are funnier than SNL...