If ever there were any doubt that liberalism induces misery, the recent Rock Against Bush compilation CD/DVD should clear that right up.
NOFX, the band that spearheaded this project, has a solid reputation as a happy-go-lucky, if oftentimes lewd, group of pranksters. For more than a decade they have been content to churn out un-P.C. albums, with titles like Heavy Petting Zoo and songs such as "Hobophobic (Afraid of Bums)" and "Flossing a Dead Horse."
But heaven knows they're miserable now. By way of proof, here's a sample verse from their song "Franco Un-American":
I never looked around, never second-guessed
Then I read some Howard Zinn now I'm always depressed
And now I can't sleep from years of apathy
All because I read a little Noam Chomsky
I'm eating vegetation, 'cause of Fast Food Nation.
"George Bush is not just another bad president," Fat Mike, the singer of NOFX, states plainly in the record's liner notes. Rather, "He is THE bad president."
Could there be any sadder commentary on the state of our nation than to have someone so lucky be so morose? Here's a guy who learned to play rote three-chord songs on a guitar, with limited commercial appeal, and yet has still spent the past 20 years traveling the world doing exactly what he wants to do. That's freedom. That's capitalism. Yet here he is making himself completely miserable gnawing on the hand that's fed him.
BUT I DIGRESS. The other folks on the disc aren't much more chipper than the Fat one. Multi-platinum superstars Sum 41 contribute a song, "Moron," and a short essay that reads in part, "Whatever happened to George Bush the comedian?...When he isn't bombing a defenseless country, he's destroying the environment or worse."
Or the RX Bandits who, defying their track record as purveyors of catchy verses, posit in song that "ignorance is bred when falsified thinking is taught unto the youth instead of past mistakes and mind elevation like the graves that manifest destiny has created so we could build our capitalist consumer society."
It goes almost without saying that the songs on Rock Against Bush are poorly recorded and structured even worse -- compilations are traditionally dumping grounds for the less inspired detritus from recording sessions.
Inside the fold, the angry punk rockers present 40 "Reasons to Hate Bush Jr.," mostly a rehash of dubious, often contradictory, uh, facts gleaned from Michael Moore's website.
The list does have its existential moments as well: Reason Number 20 to hate Bush is that "He dropped his dog on its head." Number 36: "Choked on a pretzel and nearly lost his life while seated in front of a TV." Number 9: "First president in U.S. history to refuse United Nations Elections Inspectors." What is this, Bolivia?
THE DVD IS SURPRISINGLY highbrow compared to the juvenile musical romp on the CD. The first item on the disc is the documentary, Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War, which promises to take viewers "behind the walls of government" and detail the "lies misstatements and exaggerations that served as reasons to fight a preemptive war that wasn't necessary."
The star witness in this film is Joe Wilson, doing his standard fingers-through-his-mullet, "Yo, I can hang with the kids" thang. There is also a short dissection of what the Iraq war will mean to Western civilization vis-`a-vis the Treaty of Westphalia. And let me say here that the only thing that could make life in America more bizarre than it already is would be for punk rock kids to start running around arguing about whether the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III cut a proper deal with the German princes in 1648.
The titles of the other two documentaries -- "No More Enrons" and "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election" -- really don't need to be expanded on. Suffice it to say they think Al Gore got a bit of a bad shake. The rest of the video extras are comprised of MoveOn.org ads, music videos, and obscenity-laden, Bush-bashing comedy bits. One animated bit shows cartoon Bush lighting a cigar with the Constitution.
Those who swing left in American politics generally have this haughty idea that they are fountains of optimism in a craven and bitter conservative world. On this disc, Fat Mike and crew are crying out for revolution, but there doesn't seem to be any positive vision for day one of the post-George W. Bush era. Pro-Kerry sentiments are conspicuously missing.
"Listen, watch, enjoy and get f---ing angry," he writes. "Then share your anger with your family and friends." This is a common refrain for people without intellectual moorings. They can't share ideas, so they must share emotions. Their heroes Zinn and Chomsky don't sell ideas, they sell emotions and justifications wrapped up in big enough words to make people believe that there must be something there.
And where does that leave guys like Fat Mike at the end of the day?
"Thanx for reading my rant," he writes at the closing of the disc's lengthy liner notes. "I must leave you now as my brain hurts and I need a Guinness."
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