Thursday, January 27, 2005
Man, This Bush Administration Is A Real Train-Wreck, Isn't It?
I like to kid the president. Part of it is because I disagree with almost everything I've ever heard the man say. Another part of it is easy jokes at the expense of a man for whom the act of speaking is an inartful, labor-intensive slog.

Over the last day or so, my opinion of the president has softened slightly. Events have conspired to put his worldview into a slightly more favorable context.

See, my biggest problem with Bush has been his famed certitude. His pig-headed, anti-consideration stance where he makes policy decisions driven by ideology with little or no weighing of practicality or cost (monetary, human or otherwise).

I've always believed (and still largely do) that there's a great deal to be said for doubt. Answers, after all, cannot be arrived at without first positing questions. I am not claiming that this is any sort of original insight on my part. Read anything from Descartes to Douglas Adams and the same idea will be staring back at you the whole time, fighting with the details of the last Fear Factor episode you watched for space in your brain.

Normally, as I said, I would mock the president and his disinclination to doubt, his abject lack of moral courage to question, the fragile and shallow nature of his belief system that he must know would not stand up under the weight of serious examination.

If I mix any more metaphors this blog may explode, so I'll just get to the point.

I realized yesterday that there are times when absolute certitude is a good thing. Even in questions of life and death, it can be a blessing to be completely doubt-free for not only your own sake, but for the sake of society in general.

Let's look at an example.

There's this guy, Juan Manuel Alvarez. He spends a few days and nights really struggling, Hamlet-like, with the burdens of existence in general, asking the deepest, most frightening question a human can ask him or her self: To be or not to be?

OK, maybe he just broke up with his girlfriend or something. Or maybe he's just a crazy fucker. Anyway, the answer to the question (whatever it might have been and who gives a shit now really?) was that he was going to kill himself. Pitch it in. Top himself.

Mr. Alvarez's main problem? He lacks the president's certitude. Bush's moral compass only points North (even if, say, civilization and safety is off to the west a little bit). Lacking that strength of conviction, Alvarez can't make a simple decision. This is not the kind of person you want to have invite to a restaurant. He'll spend 45 minutes going back and forth trying to decide between the spare ribs or the fish of the day (it's mahi-mahi today, if you're wondering) and end up with a glass of water and a green salad. Then he'll get home that night and wonder why he didn't have any fun.

So first Juan slashes his own wrists. No no, wait. Too Afterschool Special. So he changes over to stabbing himself in the chest. Either half-hearted from the lack of committment or weak from the loss of blood from the wrist-slashing thing, he fails to penetrate the breast-bone and lives.

Ah, he thinks to himself, I've got it! I'll drive my car on to the train tracks and let a train hit me. No room for doubt there, no margin of error. Train vs. guy, train wins every time.

So Juan hops in his Jeep and moseys down to the rail crossing closest to his house, parks squarely mid-track and waits.

For a person of Juan's mental make-up, waiting is a problem. The doubt-fueled thoughts come thick and fast. What am I doing? Is this what I want? Did I leave the oven on? Oh! I shoulda tried the head-in-the-oven thing instead. Next time maybe. Man, I can't believe the guy ate that pig rectum on Fear Factor. You'd have to be crazy to try that.

By now Juan has lost interest. If he dies now, he'll never see another Fear Factor. And how can he possibly think of dying when he doesn't know how The Amazing Race ends? Nope, nevermind. The suicide is called off. Getting hit by a train would probably really hurt anyway.

And now Juan has a problem. See, there's a train coming. It's almost on top of him. Had he been more decisive, he would have thrown his Jeep in reverse and got the hell out of there. Panicked and vascillating as he will, Juan gets out of the Jeep, leaving it there in the path of the oncoming train.

Oh damn. Details are not Juan's strong point.

Juan's bad day gets worse. It's a commuter train. Train hits car. Train derails. At the exact same time another commuter train full of people is coming the opposite way. Juan's derailed train hits that train, derailing it and sending it into a third train, a stationary one, a cargo train, that then bursts into flame.

Now, if I'm Juan, I'm gone. I'm running as fast as my weak knees will carry me in whatever direction is not Giant Train Wreck-ward. But Juan, he feels things deeply. He's a thinker and a ponderer and a sufferer. So he wanders around the debris field amongst all the death and destruction he caused mumbling "I'm sorry" and the like.

The police, bold decisive types that they are, put two and two together and decide to hold Juan for further questioning.

And now Juan, for all his troubles, for all his deep soul-searching, sits in a prison cell awaiting formal indictment and then a trial for murder. The hard decision he ultimately could not make for himself the state may now make for him.

Juan is facing death penalty. I can't imagine the relief he must feel.

Just for the record, we know if the president were despondent and considering doing harm to himself (God forbid... are you listening, Secret Service?), he wouldn't do anything so wishy-washy as slash his wrists. Besides, that's a chick's method. He'd do something bold, leaving no room for compromise or introspection. He'd probably do something all butch and manly like invade North Korea all by himself. That or watch TV alone with a bag of pretzels.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.2


I see Bush trying to go out Cowboy-style. Hang a rope from a tree, slip the noose around his neck, and wait for Dick Cheney to slap the horse's ass and send it a-running, as George twists in the wind.

I'm George Bush and I approve this suicide attempt.
Because I know you're going to change your typo, I've pasted it here to proved it existed"...really struggling, Hamelt-like, with the burdens of existence"

Hamelt, is that like a Nietsche Patty Melt?

Also, goddamn, how do you get from Bush to Juan in that mind of yours? Amazing. Awe inspiring.
Pops, you do inspire me. The way you make the leap from Presidential certitude to poor, distraught Juan is, as SJ has stated, awe-inspiring.

Pretzels and TV? How would that work....
Brian: Of course we don't endorse violence of any kind--self-inflicted or otherwise--against the person of the president, his family, his staff, his cabinet or any other of his furniture.

I know Ashcroft is gone, but it's best not to take chances.

SJ: I was tempted to leave it in, but it was starting to make me hungry.

And I'm feeling magnanimous since I've moved you to awe, so I won't even make fun of you for the way you spelled that one philosopher's name.

Jess: Come on, don't you remember in '01 when GWB was watching football on TV alone and choked on a pretzel, fell and bruised his face and nearly died? That was back when he was still just stupid and not quite scary yet.
I still can't believe the cause of that train wreck! What a fucking moron!! And I thought that one guy whose threat to jump off a 405 overpass a few years ago was bad. I was in that hellish jam, waiting to be let off the freeway because they were clearing ALL six lines off one exit. What should've been a 20-minute ride lasted three hours. I'm still mad. If you're gonna kill yourself, be at least a little bit considerate and do it in the comfort and safety of your own home. That's all I ask. Oh yeah, and Bush is a fucking moron too--just not suicidal, which is too bad.
Yes, Pops, I do remember. I would think, though, that one would learn from one's mistakes and not....Oh, wait...
In the link you post, there's a little side-bar story about a guy who rescued a trapped man from the train wreckage--only to have the guy die anyway.

Imagine that. You just saved someone's life. Now they have to be *seriously* indebted to you. Then they croak anyway. Wouldn't that suck?
Pops I hate to burst your bubble, but Juan did have the certitude to off himself. He got out of the truck because of me. You see I knew he was trying to kill himself so I went to his house to see what I could take while the police were scraping his body off the tracks and his family was in mourning. I was really torn about taking his big screen TV so I decided to call him. Well at that time he was on the tracks and with the train bearing down on him he could not hear what I was saying so he got out. Next thing you know he's still alive, arrested, and I have myself a brand new TV!
Steph: Did you hear about the second guy today who tried to do the same thing in Irvine, directly trying to rip off his new hero Juan Alvarez? It's always the same in OC... they do it in LA County and immediately someone HAS to do it down there.

Jess: You're right. Maybe next time it will be a rogue Dorito.

Yoli: Erm... fank you beddy mooch.

Butcher: That would be slightly less inconveniencing than the actual train wreck.

MPH: Ah, so you DID make it to Cali. Have you been thrown off the lot trying to sneak in to Alias yet?
I guess I'll be the only one who sees it from Alvarez' side. He's distraught -- nay, totally fucked up. The world looks like shit to him. He's angry, scared, probably delusional. Also, he might be stupid. Now he's in the clink facing eleven murder charges. The DA says he doesn't give a fuck about Juanito's despondence -- he'll show no mercy, spare no lives to get reelected. While Juan awaits trial, doctors will help him feel better about life. He'll be given drugs to help balance his body chemistry. He'll be made to feel halfway normal again. Then he'll be dragged into court and sentenced to eleven deaths.
Okay, I can't spell Nietze* but I do know that "inconveniencing" is not a word as used in your reply to Butcher. (grin)

*I had to look it up. I'm still not sure if it's right.
Larry: I don't think he should get the death penalty, but that's only because I oppose the death penalty as a matter of principle. Past that, I'm done worrying over the man's fate, his point of view or anything else.

SJ: I try to think what Nietzsche would say if he were reading this. Probably something like: "OK, Christ, truce already."
I just didn't want to ASK you to spell it correctly. I had to just be all undercover about it. I'm a woman. I can't be wrong out in the OPEN for heaven's sake.
Because you're a woman, I know that you don't ACTUALLY give a shit about how to spell it correctly, you just wanted to torture me by pretending to be interested in something you couldn't possibly be less interested in.

I've seen this before. I'm married. My wife once put me through four weeks of hell arguing about whether the capital of the Netherlands was Amsterdam or The Hague.
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