Government?

Look across the civilized world and you’re invariably going to find an election.  This is a quaint institution where every once in a while ordinary people decide who’s going to kick them around for the next couple of years.  Once it’s over half the people are pleased and the other half are pissed off.  But that’s the nature of democracy: somebody’s gotta lose, and losers are generally vocal about it.  In fact (and it’s a little known fact) the word “democracy’ comes from two words: “demos” (a corruption of “demons”) and “cracy” (a corruption of “crazy.”)  These were the pejorative terms opponents shouted at each other in the Athenian Agora where democracy was born.  However, despite the sophisticated name calling, Greek democracy was very primitive.  For example, not everybody got to vote — or even speak — including slaves, women, Pericles’ mistress Aspasia, convicted felons, tax evaders and anybody named Xerxes.  Nor was democracy universally accepted.  The great philosopher Socrates wasn’t a fan and advocated that only men who wore socks should vote.  When the youth of Athens began wearing socks and sandals, he was put to death.  (Rightly so!)  Some years later, Alexander the Great came along and put Athenian democracy to death — where it lay dormant for about 2000 years.  The democracy we know is a weird evolution of English barons, Boston lawyers, Virginia farm boys, French revolutionaries and John Stuart Mill.  It serves us well, but it’s by no means the only form of government available.  Here are a few other systems of note.

Monarchy – Named for the Monarch butterfly, this is government by glamour with plenty of crowns and gowns to go around.  Monarchy is characterized by over-the-top weddings, footmen, tiaras and glass slippers.  And even though one out of two princes are charming, monarchy has some serious enemies — such as spinning wheels, poison apples and wicked stepmothers.  However, when done properly, Monarchy can result in happily ever after.  (I’m lookin’ at you, Kate.) 

Authoritarianism – Sometimes called “tyranny,” “despotism” or “one-man rule” — whatever it’s called, though, it invariably works the same.   There’s always a short man who didn’t get laid in high school.  He somehow seizes power and spends the next few years acting like a paranoid dick to everybody.  (Hence the name – dictator.)  Dictators are characterized by funny hats, funny haircuts and no sense of humour.  And they don’t like to be called Winnie the Pooh.

Theocracy – No idea what this is, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t some silly-ass notion that religious leaders should run the government!  I mean really!  Nobody’s that stupid!

Tribalism – See Facebook.

Fascism – You get to march a lot, but you have to do as you’re told.

Patriarchy – This is where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Matriarchy – Oddly enough, this is also where women do all the work and men sit around talking politics.

Parliamentarianism – This is a combination of two French words, “parle” which means “to talk” and “merde” which means – uh – google it.  The theory behind government by parliament is if enough elected officials talk enough shit long enough, eventually the problem will simply go away.  The best example of parliamentarianism is Canada where they’ve been talking about poverty, homelessness and unemployment for 50 years.

Republic – Parliamentarianism on the Potomac.

Anarchy – This looks great on paper but normally ends up with a big, ugly biker drinking beer out of the skull of the college sophomore who thought it was a cool idea.  It’s basically Mad Max meets academia. 

Communism – Sometimes called Soviet Democracy, there’s only one party, and it isn’t very much fun.

Socialism – Favoured by actors, rock stars and other rich people, the single premise of socialism is somebody else (normally called “they”) isn’t paying their fair share.  Socialists are political tourists who drink champagne, ride around in limousines, attend the occasional rally and then retreat to the leafy green suburbs to contemplate their awareness.

Polygamy – Oops!  Wrong blog!

Ochlocracy – This is a fancy word for Mob Rule.  It was made popular during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, and if you still think you’d like a taste of it, open a Twitter account.

Oligarchy – Not to be confused with Russian gangsters, this is where several groups of powerful people get together, hijack the government and do whatever the hell they like because they’re so badass/ruthless, ordinary people are too scared to …. Hey!  Wait a minute!

Meritocracy – A Cloud-cuckoo-land form of government popular with children and those college sophomores again.

Magocracy – A society ruled by magicians.  It’s hard to explain, but essentially it’s Harry, Hermione and Ron Weasley running the show.

Plutocracy – This is rule by rich people who – I suppose — take their instructions from Pluto.  This form of government has probably fallen into disfavour since a gang of treacherous scientists defrocked the tiny planet.

And finally, two forms of government that are very popular these days:

Kakistocracy – This is where the voting public continually elect the stupidest people possible and then wonder why nothing ever gets done.

Kleptocracy – This is where people vote for the candidate who certainly seems sincere — only to be taken in by these con artists who, once elected, turn out to be nothing more than common thieves.

Politics — Humbug!

I gave up on politics a couple of presidents ago when it became maddeningly obvious that everybody was talking and no one was listening.  What was once an honourable profession — where real people had a genuine desire to serve the public — has deteriorated into an IRL video game.  Choose your character and maneuver through the various levels until you’re not skilled enough to go any further; then quit and go play UN, EU, IMF, FIFA or some other useless sport of the rich and nobody-remembers-your-name.  I’m sure there are still decent politicians around, but the 99% asshole rate gives the other 1% a bad name.  However, as much as I like to ignore the boys and girls who run our world, they won’t go away and — like Instagram teenagers — are constantly polishing their egos.  So just a few thoughts.

The French are having an election.  Nobody outside France understands French politics.  If you think you do, google Francois Hollande and Segolene Royal – and good luck with that labyrinth.  Anyway, the socialists aren’t socialist, the extreme right is left of the other guys, the left isn’t right enough, De Gaulle is dead, Sarkozy’s under house arrest and, in 2017, Emmanuel Macron decided to have his own party and beat the pants off everyone in sight.  But here’s how things actually work between the Rhine and the Pyrenees.  Every five years, the French vote to elect somebody to beat Marine Le Pen.  Two weeks later, they vote again to beat her.  She goes back to her apartment to pout and throw darts at a picture of her dad — the Republic is saved — and everybody sings “La Marseillaise!”

The Australians are also going to the polls.  The Australians have this curious notion that, in a democracy, citizens should vote — and so they’ve made it illegal not to.  Thus, if you’re an adult living Down Under, you have no choice about making a choice: you have to do it — or else!  Apparently, you can get around the law by providing “a valid and sufficient reason” not to cast a ballot, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what that would be.  Somehow, I don’t think “they’re all a bunch of wankers” would cut it.  Mandatory democracy might be a cure-all for optional apathy, but I’m on the other side of the fence.  I know more than a few people who have made the world a better place by not voting.

And finally:

There are still quite a few Putin supporters in the kleptocracy formerly known as Russia.  Here’s a guy who’s been winning elections by wide margins ever since he snuck under the wire with 53% in 2000.  Two decades later, he’s claiming a 75% approval rate, and anybody who disagrees better hire a food taster.  Poison and prison are the go-to political strategies of Putin and his pals, and so far, they seem to be working – Alexei Navalny notwithstanding.  But Putinmania is not a monolith, and ever since his tanks rolled into Ukraine, there have been some serious cracks showing.

Here’s a joke that’s been circulating east of the Vistula recently.

Every morning in Moscow, a man goes to a newsstand.  He buys a newspaper, looks at the front page and throws it away.  After a couple of weeks of this, the newsagent asks “What are you doing?  Every morning you come here, buy a newspaper, look at the front page and throw it away.  What’s the deal?”  The man replies, “I’m looking for an obituary.”  The newsagent doesn’t understand and says, “Obituaries aren’t on the front page.”  The man smiles and says, “This one will be.”

Cheers!

I’m Back — With The News

Wanna know how fast our planet is spinning these days?  Check this out!  I stepped away from cyberspace for 5 weeks to write fiction, and by the time I got back – OMG!  Tons of stuff had happened.  Here’s just a sample.

As of Wednesday, there was a spike in unemployment in America when all the political cartoonists, comedians, late night talk show hosts and Alec Baldwin suddenly had nothing to do.

And the brand-new President Biden has a big task ahead of him – fixing the divisions in America.  Meanwhile, Vice President Harris’ job is a little simpler – just wake up every morning and say, “How ya feeling, Joe?”

In other political news, about a week ago, the entire Dutch government resigned.  Yep, you read that right!  Basically, Dutch PM Mark Rutte stood up before God and everybody and said, “Sorry, folks!  We screwed things up, and honestly, we don’t deserve to run the show anymore, so we’re all going to quit.”  Wow!  Some cynics are suggesting this was just a PR move, but think about it!  If this idea catches on, there’s going to be a lot of unemployed politicos in the near future. 

Even though it hasn’t made the news recently, the girls of Belarus are still beating the protest drums in Minsk, and self-proclaimed bad guy President Lukashenko is still beating them up when they do.  But the International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled a tournament that was supposed to take place there this summer.  That should bring the bastard to his knees!

And speaking of sports, apparently, NBA used-to-be Charles Barkley is convinced that professional athletes should be first in line for the Covid-19 vaccine.  His reasoning is that they pay a lot more taxes than the rest of us do.  I like Sir Charles, but I think he’s kinda lost the plot here.  Given a choice between my doctor and Neal Pionk, a 25-year-old kid from Omaha who plays defence in the NHL, I’m going with Dr. Kathy — every time.

Danish bankers have shot themselves in the foot by offering 20 year home mortgages at 0% interest.  Does that even make any sense?  Meanwhile, money lenders all over the world are saying WTF?  This is the kinda thing that could put local loan sharks out of business permanently.  Oh well, just another casualty of Covid-19, I guess!

Some guy climbed a skyscraper in Hong Kong.  No big deal, right?  Except this guy was in a wheelchair.  I’m all for “be all you can be,” but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why anyone (wheelchair or no) would challenge gravity to a duel over a busy street of unforgiving concrete. (Personally, I hold the banister when I go down stairs.)

And finally:

It was 100 years ago last week that magician PT Selbit first performed the trick of “sawing a woman in half,” and illusionists all over the world celebrated this milestone event.  Actually, I’m totally surprised this one got past the kiddies at Cancel Culture.  After all, it’s got all the elements they love to hate.  First of all, taking a bucksaw to a woman’s torso is definitely inappropriate.  Secondly, this is another example of women doing all the work and men getting all the credit.  Finally, and probably most egregious, magic is fun, and we all know how those grim-faced buggers down at Cancel Culture hate fun.  Call me a little kid, but I still think magic is cool!