The first half of 2016 has been busy.
My kids are going through a smart arse phase. At least I hope it’s a phase - I'm probably being hopelessly optimistic there. But I’m finding it hard to be angry with them because I feel somewhat responsible and just a little guilty about setting the wrong example. If you’ve read anything at all of mine, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is that I’m a natural born smart arse. Maybe it’s genetic and not really my fault at all. Maybe it’s their mother’s fault.
Maybe. But probably not.
Sitting down for dinner invariably results in one or more progeny talking. They definitely don’t get that from me. The talking then results in one of the others mocking the first speaker, justified or not.
For example, our youngest was saying something about learning from mistakes. Which led to one of the others claiming loudly, in a mocking tone, “you don’t learn from your mistakes, Jonah”.
Heavy, sarcastic emphasis on the “Jonah”. My kid’s name isn’t Jonah, but you get the idea.
The point that I’m working my way around to, very slowly and ineffectually, is that my wife and I would like to teach our children that there are no silly questions in our house. And even if the answer to the question asked is rather obvious, if the person asking actually thought about it before opening their mouth, we’d like to foster a helpful and encouraging atmosphere among the team we call family.
Ask questions. Don’t just accept what you’re told as truth. Ask yourself if it sounds reasonable, and even if it does, and the subject is important enough to spend time on, research it yourself and come to your own conclusion.
In a world dominated by propaganda-infused media, social or traditional, I feel this is becoming increasingly important in a world of constant electronic stimulus and unfiltered information.
To insert a prelude my next tangent, I would like to reiterate that there are few topics of conversation that I hate more than politics. Paint colours and interior decorating is a close second, which no matter how unsubtle the hint, my wife stubbornly refuses to acknowledge, but politics is just bullshit.
Which makes 2016 a rather unfortunate year for me because I’m currently being subject to a perfect storm of nonsense in the form of three elections being shoved in my ruggedly handsome face. Yes, three. I shit you not.
The Australian Federal election is today, the Northern Territory election next month, and one in another country that I have no idea when it will actually happen, but the lead up is both breathtaking in its inaneness and unabated ridiculousness.
The parade of dickheads with no shame, and the journos who write about them, is seemingly unending.
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Which leads me to the role of the US President, which is a strange one for me to comprehend. Partly because, to get elected, it seems you just need to be rich and popular, or at least know a lot of rich people who can fund your campaign. Australian politicians may sometimes be rich, but they are almost never popular, charismatic or likeable, nor do they inspire admiration or respect. Sure, I understand that there are a lot of Americans who do not like Barack Obama or what he’s done, but in my country he’s seen as the perfect role model; the coolest dude to ever sit in the White House and someone who you’d trust with your kids’ lives.
Perhaps not if you live in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, or any other country where he’s sending drones to kill whoever his ‘intelligence’ deems not worthy of living. But here, in a country where drones simply watch you rather than blow you up, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think he’s a ‘great bloke’ and has done great things for humankind.
I don’t get it, and am simply in awe of the journalistic orchestra that has, consistently and without a flat note in 8 years, played an ode to his awesomeness. Someone made a comment to me once, when Obama was on TV making a typically cool and well-spoken speech, “he’s done really well, hasn’t he?” My reply was quite simple, “what has he done?”. I didn’t get a response
I don't believe Obama, as POTUS, is alone in this. The very little attention I’ve paid to the other dickheads that have sat in his chair leads me to believe being a prick is a prerequisite.
But…under his leadership:
- He's presided over the endless and borderless war "on terror", with all the damage and ongoing repercussions this entails, and with no end in sight.
- US debt to GDT has climbed at least $7 trillion in his tenure. Yes, trillion, which in case you're wondering is more than an other president by a fair margin.
- After the initial shock of the stock market crash in 2007-09, he did precisely the opposite of what a sane person would call ‘fixing things’ – he oversaw the bailout of investment banks so that the bankers could get richer and the taxpayer would carry the debt. No banker went to jail (apart from one very minor patsy), but I don't remember any of the normal people having their debts forgiven.
- He said he would close down Guantanamo. It is still holding people who have not been charged with a crime and may never be.
- He makes lovely speeches about reducing global nuclear weapons, while simultaneously pursuing the development of small nukes, that are more agile and target sensitive.
- And what I think is the most damning of all, is his breathtaking mass slaughter of anyone, in any country, who he thinks is not fit to breath oxygen on any given day.
He recently announced the civilian drone death count which, for anyone with a head on their shoulders, is laughably unbelievable, and then came up with this pearler:
“As a Nation, we are steadfastly committed to complying with our obligations under the law of armed conflict, including those that address the protection of civilians, such as the fundamental principles of necessity, humanity, distinction, and proportionality,” .
And people swallow this nonsense.
You could argue there are excuses to be made for all of these failings. You could even deny they are failings. My point is that a man who is ultimately responsible for, what is currently the most powerful country on earth, has had 8 years in the top job. He will most likely be remembered as a great president, who tried hard and made great speeches but was held back by people who refused to get on board with his brilliant ideas.
The message to my children is simply - don't believe what you see in the media or what the smooth-talking important person says on TV. Don't blindly go along with the consensus. Whether it is politics, guidelines on nutrition or what their teachers tell them in school - if it's important to know the truth, and it usually is, then find it yourself.
The white noise coming from the many screens that our kids watch is deafening. They have constant encouragement to believe certain things, to buy certain things, to want things and to want to be a certain type of person. Sure we had those types of pressure when we were young, but the source was limited to a couple of tv channels (not 25+) and whatever our parents and teachers told us was true.
Now, excuse me while I go and tick boxes on a voting form, in order of who I hate the least, to who ever is likely to keep torturing asylum seekers in tropical gulags.