Garbage In, Garbage Out: Happy Birthday George Carlin

 

Photo by David Massey, Lima News/AP

The take-no-prisoners George Carlin, who died of heart failure in 2008, would have turned 80 on Friday. It's impossible not to wonder what Carlin - the guy who famously proclaimed, "In the United States, anybody can be president. That's the problem" - would have made of the Trump catastrophe, other than a nice spicy stew. Carlin's prescient, brutal, truth-telling cynicism extended not just to politicians but to the soulless corporations that owned them and the shoddy culture that produced them, arguing, "This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders." He portrayed a bleak landscape of "no rights, only temporary privileges," where no important questions were asked and "if you think too much, they'll take you away." "When fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts," he once warned. "It will be Nike sneakers and Smiley shirts." With its approach, he might have summoned his trippy weatherman: "Tonight's forecast: Dark."

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