In an age when the “conservative” political party cracks jokes about the destruction of the only planet we have to live on, and the other party — which actually holds that 90% of governing power that now resides in the White House — gets a free pass on its record of destroying that planet because the other party cracks jokes about it, cool dispassionate political science textbookese is out of place. I’ll care what Rational Man would do under each of the various systems of oppression when you find me somebody rational. And then I’ll just ask him or her what they are doing, so you won’t have to tell me.
I just read a forthcoming biography of Howard Zinn that manages to drain that man of all passion. I’ve read numerous explanations online of how our government is fiddling while the world burns — explanations devoid of any curse words whatsoever. This is not the place, and this is not the time for bullshitting around. This is the time and place for ranting. I therefore recommend to you Lee Camp’s new book: “Moment of Clarity: the Rantings of a Stark Raving Sane Man.” That’s right, ranting on Youtube has become a genre able to transition into book form. If you prefer videos, Camp has a URL at the top of each rant. If, like me, you prefer books, here’s a new kind of book worth sampling. These are not rambling talks. This is not the transcription of an off-the-cuff conversation. Camp created these rants carefully, he just did it for video first. Writing rants down produces the only appropriate political commentary for a time of catastrophes covered over by corporate media circuses.
Imagine Jon Stewart if he gave a damn. Instead of glorifying inaction, Camp actually points his readers toward actions they should take. Imagine Jon Stewart without the partisan slant. Rather than noting the RNC’s cheers for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, Stewart gives Obama a pass to keep that war going forever because Bush started it. Camp comments, in contrast: “We have 6 major brands of condom, 8 brands of sexuality I can think of, 7 deadly sins, at least 3 dimensions, several ways to skin a cat, and I once saw a book that showed 435 sexual positions — and that was without getting out your pulley system, pommel horse, and Mary Lou Retton. And YET, we have only TWO FUCKING POLITICAL PARTIES! And the two we have are so similar that politicians switch back and forth between sides like they’re at a swingers’ club. Joe Lieberman, Arlen Spector, even Donald Trump.”
Camp doesn’t go after Democrats the way he does Republicans, and I wish he would. But he goes after apathy rather than mocking activism. In fact, he wants to “beat apathy with a shovel” just as he wants to “punch corporations in the balls” — a bit too much violence talk for me, even though it’s usually directed at inanimate objects or concepts. But, after all, this is stand-up comedy without the racism, sexism, homophobia, and other bigotry that makes up so much of that genre. In Camp’s weaker rants, he’s placed a usually wonderfully right-on rant into the “comedy” genre by throwing in curse words, sex references, and pop-culture, plus that occasional violence talk. Yet, much of this stuff will still be great decades hence when nobody recognizes the pop culture references any more than I do now.
In Camp’s best rants he takes original insights and combines them with fog facts or shadow stories (indisputably documented things we all know, except that “we” is only 2 percent of the country; such as the Kill List that made the front of the New York Times but which nobody attending an Obama rally has ever heard of) and he carries his outrage and the unknown causes of his outrage to a new audience. At least I hope and assume a new audience is reached. There must be people who like watching videos of standup comics even when they’re smart and don’t hate the world. Camp not only tells these people that the United States is funding both sides of the war on Afghanistan, but — if they have an ounce of life in them — he brings them along to how they ought to feel about that. Same thing with corporations paying lower taxes than you do, etc., etc.
Camp does not just go after political policy disasters. He brilliantly targets an entire culture of commercialism, materialism, and marketing — sounding a little like Dr. King on an FBI tape. He goes after bad history books like Howard Zinn after 12 beers. He proposes a military draft in which everyone gets to draft someone else. And he titles an insightful essay “War Criminals Sell a Shit-Ton of Books.”
Don’t take it from me. George Carlin’s daughter says, “When I saw Lee, I was completely fucking blown away by the balls he has, and I thought, ‘Hey, that’s like my dad!’”