Isn’t it ironic?

Irony is hard, but some people take to it naturally. To do irony well you have to be a naturally gifted actor. It’s not enough just to be able to write. Irony is performed, with a sincerity that cannot be doubted unless you realize what is going on. Some ironic performers are open about what they are doing. Stephen Colbert is the master of this form in our time. But the greatest living ironic actor is George Bush. Everything he says is a self-description. He accuses everyone of his own faults. And he acts as if he does not know he is doing it at all.

Rush Limbaugh, too, is an excellent ironic comedian. So convincing to the humor impaired that they think he is funny when he is being funny at them.

But it is not the kind of irony that I laugh at, it is the kind of irony for which I feel only sadness, because this is no joke. People are suffering, children are being killed. And there is a price that will be paid for all of this. End the war.

Hat-tip to NTodd for inspiring me to write this somehow.


Submitted without present comment

The following is a translation of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, remarks to the heads of state of the United Nations. This copy was taken from, and is presumably unprotected by any copyright due to it being a matter of public record of the United Nations.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2006

“Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it.

Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, ‘Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.'” [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.] “It’s an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what’s happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.

The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but, for the sake of time,” [flips through the pages, which are numerous] “I will just leave it as a recommendation.

It reads easily, it is a very good book, I’m sure Madame [President] you are familiar with it. It appears in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German. I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is right in their own house.

The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.

“And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here.” [crosses himself] “And it smells of sulfur still today.”

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Propaganda: Transformation

This is the first in a series of presentations of propaganda by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and their Above the Influence campaign, which has put its campaign advertisements on YouTube for us to watch and discuss. I would like to help them spread their message of making independent decisions, but from a perspective that the information you need to make better decisions cannot be one-sided. Helpfully we have also been provided with the scripts so that we can interact with the text as well as the implications.

This one is titled “Transformation.”

(Teenage boy standing alone in his bedroom, facing camera, with a spotlight above him. Piano music begins to play. He stands as other teens enter the room. They undress and redress him while he stands, expressionless and unmoving, under the spotlight. People continue to change him into different types of clothes. The boy looks around, put his hands out to stop them. All the people who have entered the room stare at him. As he walks out of the room the people disappear)

When you give up the ability to decide for yourself…
You give up what makes you, you.

( logo appears)

(Some of the videos that were online yesterday have been removed; hopefully you will have been able to view this one.)

What is it that young people are supposed to be deciding for themselves here? Do we really want them to be making decisions that can harm themselves? Or do we assume that all decisions that teens make independently of their peers will be good ones?

Obviously the ONDCP doesn’t believe that teens should be able to make a decision to use drugs, but that’s precisely their message. Even worse, if a majority of their peers are abstainers, they will be more inclined to go against the flow. For example, deciding to smoke cigarettes is generally recognized as a gesture of rebellion, not conformity. Do we want young people to smoke tobacco?

I don’t encourage minors to use anything, though I know some will. If they will decide to smoke, it would be better if it were something that wasn’t physically addictive and cancer-causing. Many people who start smoking cigarettes never quit, and suffer serious health consequences including lung and heart disease.

I’m not saying teens should use cannabis either, unless it’s recommended by a doctor to treat some condition. There are too many who would use it irresponsibly, and that is why you should teach your children to wait until they are older to make those kinds of decisions.

Just like having sex.

On the other hand, adults should be able to make those kinds of decisions without the government intruding into their bedrooms. And we should give honest information to young people so that they will understand the context and consequences of the decisions they are going to be making for themselves.