Monthly Archives: January 2009

How Republicans Can Rise From The Ashes

Nonsense about America being a “center-right” nation holds true only with rough averages and no consideration of causality. Conservative ascendancy in this country has always followed some massive disruption of the country’s equilibrium. To the extent the Republicans have been the Conservative party (which was not the case at all times—sometimes they were the party of reform, sometimes the Democrats were more conservative, sometimes both parties were conservative) their power has followed (1) the Revolution. The Federalist Party were essential Tories who just didn’t want rule from England. But they wanted English law, English castes, and some of them even wanted a king. Their power was broken with the election of Thomas Jefferson and they ceased to exist when they didn’t want to fight the War of 1812. Their legacy as a party is largely the highly centralizing jurisprudence of Justice Marshall.

From 1800 to 1861 America, with a few hiccups, was without massive concentrations of wealth, vast disparities of wealth, or internal conflict. Except for Native Americans and slaves. The former have never achieved resolution, and the latter, well that situation led to the second major disequilibrium, (2) the Civil War, when the opposition party wasn’t able to elect anyone. The Civil War was the most massive disruption in American history. It had its roots in the Founding, and its legacy is still palpable today. The Conservative ascendancy following it peaked 35 years later, and didn’t really break down until 1932. The Populists and Progressives were counterforces that naturally arose trying to return the country to its equilibrium to resist the centralizing of wealth in the railroads and trusts. This counterforce was not strong enough to prevent concentrated wealth from spinning into its own vortex, and then it went into hiding. After a failed coup attempt in the first years of FDR’s administration, concentrated wealth took a back seat to national unity in war.

The next disruption is more a series of contemporaneous events that I have spent a long time trying to identify the root causes of. My best guess is that they all stem from the Post-WWII order, but it’s hard to say. This disruption included (a) civil rights, (b) bleaching of gender roles, (c) atomizing of industry, (d) economic globalization, (e) transition to a net oil importer, (f) military failure. Starting in the early 60s, peaking in approximately 1968, this disruption’s fallout led directly to our current blight. Starting with Nixon, whose personal failures caused a brief interruption, and with three independent peaks—1984, 1994, and 2002, Conservatism was ascendant, even in the policies of most Democrats, including Bill Clinton (I reject the notion that universal healthcare will make rich people poorer the way redistribution of wealth does. It will, in fact, make them richer. It will also make poor people richer. Not caring about this distinction is part of the disease that has toppled the latest iteration of Conservatism.)

This era was on its way out in 2000. People were happy with the moderate economic policies of the Clinton years, and remembered what had preceded them after the Reagan-Bush I fallout. The world was as peaceful as it’s ever been, and old social prejudices were breaking down. But it was snapped back by the Florida Coup and by 9/11. I think Americans felt that they had gone soft in the 90s and 9/11 was their punishment. That’s not quite right. America had gotten selfish and insular in the 90s, letting its wealth power instead of its military power work its magic on the rest of the world.

These events simply blocked the emerging counterforce that pulled us back towards a sort of Eisenhower+Inclusion era, and the concentration of wealth once again worked itself into a vicious cycle that has wreaked enough damage on our economy to cause a populist fever to rise. It’s not directed at Republicans, really. It’s directed at wealth. People who don’t understand economics don’t really understand that the TARP isn’t really coming “out of their pockets” and that injecting capital into a liquidity trap is the best thing we know to do. They are mad at the bankers’ perqs—the corporate jets, the bonuses, etc. (Corporate jets can actually make a company more efficient by letting its high paid executives be where they need to be on the schedule the company demands, and the bonuses are really just part of the bargain and are only called that for legal reasons—they should be outraged at the salaries in the first place, which make the jets efficient, and the bonuses are just part of them.) They are mad that the feel like they are paying for these things. Well, they’ve ALWAYS been paying for these things. But paying them through taxes feel different, I guess.

People haven’t quite permitted themselves to understand that the cheapest and most efficient solution—nationalization—isn’t the same as socialism. If you nationalize something to fix it and then privatize it later, it’s just optimizing capitalism, after all. So, here we are. Knowing we need to do something, but not quite permitting ourselves to do it all yet.

This will probably permit a equilibrium era for a while. I think it would be reasonable to expect 2-4 Presidential terms and another 10 years of Congressional control. The way out of this for Republicans (not necessarily Conservatives, but Republicans—think Eisenhower, TR) is that there is no organized leftist power in this country, but liberals think the Democratic party is that. It’s like phantom limb syndrome. The Republicans have been the Conservative power, and the Democrats have been the equilibrium party. With brief glimmers as the exception, there has never been a party pulling left on the equilibrium.

Just as the Conservatives don’t understand they swim against the tide pulling this country to the right (hence the non-ironic labeling of this country as “center right”) liberals think they are the equilibrium. They are not. They think that Democrats are the party of the left. They are not.

Understanding these misidentifications makes a lot of sense of a lot of weird political events. Just think about 1968. Nixon was far more easy to identify with the equilibrium of the past than any of the Democrats, except maybe RFK who was ironically more progressive, because the leftists in the country identified with the Democrats! No Democratic candidate in 1968 would have abolished nuclear weapons, pulled out of anywhere except possibly Vietnam, or dressed like a flower child, or started real socialism in the country. It was an illusion.

We risk the same now. Many leftists have thought that President Obama, since his early candidacy, was just kidding about his proclamations and that he was really some kind of leftist revolutionary. When the entire country isn’t unionized and there isn’t single payer health care and no more military by 2010, leftist disillusion may interrupt the Supermajority power of the Democratic party.

This is the opening—an opening for which I almost feel treasonous to write about—that Republicans can exploit.

Too many liberals are brusquely anti-religious, expect every ethnic strife to be resolved a la Ghandi, and never think war is necessary. Many of them also have Neo-Luddite illusions about environmental policy. Now, I don’t know many Democrats in power, and Obama certain doesn’t, that actually operate on these assumptions. But if they get identified with your neighbor that even is against going after bin Laden, well, it doesn’t matter what they will really do. Ask Hubert Humphrey. The fact that Obama appears to be pretty religious doesn’t even matter, either.

This is not to say, of course, that we should adopt Christian law, that we should support ethnic cleansing, or wage indiscriminate war, or continue to plunder the economy. It just means that all of these things must be approached as chess, and not as checkers. To the extent that antsy liberals lack patience, they will put enough cracks to let the Republican darkness get back in.

Therefore, my masochist advice to Republicans is actually to not oppose some of the more radical changes, but instead wait for the inevitable equilibrium violating move. My advice to Obama and the Democrats is to restore and make robust the equilibrium by restoring the middle class first, and then let the other things work themselves out.

That won’t happen, and Charlie Crist will probably be president in 2016 or 2020. I just hope that some stuff gets done in between.

Who is credit worthy?

So, here’s my question. The government spent or is spending almost a trillion to open up the credit market. But who’s credit worthy?

There is going to have to be some kind of consumer bankruptcy in order to address this. Americans are reliant to and and addicted to their credit cards. Stop being able to qualify for them and we might get by, but we will not be able to sustain the levels of spending we did before.

Belated Inauguration Day Diary

On January 19, Mr. MacGergor and ST navigated to the parking spot in Northern Virginia that we had found on Craigslist. The owner of the home attached to the parking spot let us sleep on her couch, gratuis. Anything for an Obama volunteer, she said.

There were only a few hours for sleep before the cellphone alarm woke us at 3:00 AM. We dressed, swallowed some coffee, and walked to the Vienna Metro station that was across the street. There was already an impressive line of cars waiting to park there. We made our way to the Metro and at 4:00 AM it lumbered towards DC as the inhabitants stuffed inside cheered.

After a few stops the train was packed like a tin of spam and many people were left on the platform, unable to negotiate the tangle of bodies inside. We exited with much of the throng at the Federal Triangle and began to step towards the Capitol building. The Washington Monument and the Capitol itself glowed in their electrical light in the pitch darkness of that cold morning like great ivory Totems.

capitol-am

We stopped six rows back from a steel barrier. This was about as close as you could get without a ticket. Before we had time to even think if we were in the optimal spot, countless hominids were standing behind us.

inauguration-am-crowd1

The immediate crowd around us appeared to be over 90% African-American and largely college age. Two older women stood out. One said that she had marched on Washington with MLK in 1963. The other had no story, but was wearing fine clothes and was glowing and beaming from the very core of her being. As the morning darkness gave way to sunrise people coming and going  jostled the crowd. You had no choice but to grab your companion and let the multitude take you where it would. Somehow, this joyous woman aglow always managed to migrate closer to the front with each tectonic shift. She’s the one wearing the fuzzy purple and black hat in front of the leather jacketed arm in the photo below.

purplehat

Every community has its demon. At Mr. MacGregor and ST’s corner of the Inauguration, our demon presented himself as two paramedics hurried an elderly gentleman that had collapsed out of the crowd. The demon followed the tunnel that the paramedics made through the multitude, and planted himself in the front of the throng. Despite substantial hate from all those around him and the glacial movements of the masses he did not budge from his perch directly in the way of most of my pictures. He was tall and, ironically, hooded. He will be reincarnated as a batch of herpes atop a hemorrhoid.

douchebag

The early chants of “Fired up! Ready to go!” and other songs dimmed as exhaustion set in. The sun did little to warm the day. Space only got tighter. ST and Mr. MacGergor were wise to eat their sandwich at about 9 AM, because shortly thereafter it became almost impossible to lift your arms up from your side. We chose not to drink any water, because we knew that a bathroom break would mean the surrender of our spot.

It was arctic freezing cold. Some gave up and bounced. “We’re from Florida,” one guy said on behalf of his girl, “we don’t do this.”

Early portions of the program at least provided entertainment in the numbing cold. The appearance of Generalissimo Bush on the Jumbotron ignited a bellow of boos and hisses that morphed into arena-like renditions of “Hit the Road Jack” and “Hey Hey Goodbye.”

Finally, the show began. While the crowd never quite quieted down, the waiting finally became worth it as the benediction echoed, Joe was sworn in, Aretha sang, and Yo Yo et al “played.”

The Moment finally came. I will admit that I always feel a slight itching at the bottom of my heart whenever I see Obama. There is a tiny part of me that is waiting and fearing a fatal gun shot. This tension was a touch higher than usual just then, and I was trying really hard to get a photo of history around the obstructive hood of the demon. In that moment, Justice Roberts’ oath snafu was but a weird hiccup that could not dent the speed of those seconds. This is what I got:

history

Obama’s speech lacked a singular line. It was a series of topic sentences that severed the ties from these awful eight years. The snuffles I heard were a combination of tears and running noses from the cold. A few tears, in my case, at hearing something aspirational and sensical from a real President at long last. The crowd clapped and cheered, and then began to disperse. We wanted to stay for the poem and convocation, but after being compressed like a ball of krill for so long, it was counterintuitive not to get out of there immediately.

Before we got swallowed in the wayward exiting of the crowd, we watched as Marine One, the Pesidential helicopter, flew over the Mall like a giant grasshopper, spiriting Generalissimo Bush away, at last. The balloon animal in my intestines suddenly unwound, my chest  relaxed, and my shoulders felt lighter. It was truly over. Generalissimo Bush was gone!

Getting out of DC was a dress rehearsal for being a refuge. All in all, we did not actually sit down for 12 consecutive hours. Somehow, the Turnpike was closed, which added another hour to the journey back to Central New Jersey. A warm cheesesteak and a good nights sleep later, and it was all definitely worth it.

A few days later Mr. MacGregor and ST were headed towards Ellis Island. We were surprised to see Ken Salazar, the new Secretary of the Interior, as our ferry stopped at Liberty Island. The ferry followed his special Secretary of Interior boat to Ellis Island and we got a good view of him meeting some functionaries there. Turns out he was in NY/NJ harbor at the behest of local Congressmen that wanted the upper reaches of the Statue of Liberty reopened. In means iconic and minute change had finally come to America.

salazar

Somehow, seeing Secretary Salazar clarified the whole purpose our trip to President Obama’s Inauguration. The eight terrible years are over. America is America again!

americanflags

statueofliberty

Onward to the Obamagration and the 2010s!

In a few hours I will be hitting the road with my girlfriend to Northern Virginia to sleep briefly in a stranger’s house (anything for a fellow Obama volunteer, the stranger said) and then taking the first Metro into DC to wait with a few million more strangers, in the cold, to see the 44th President sworn in on a jumbotron about a mile away from where the actual event will occur. Why such an effort for an event that could be happily viewed in the warmth and comfort of my parent’s home in NJ, a miamosa in one hand, pancakes and warm syrup on the plate, family and a pleasant canine all around?

Well, there has been much talk about America’s first black president, which is important for an infinity of reasons, but in addition to that here are some more purposes for the journey:

* Obama is America’s first “urban” president since perhaps FDR. By urban I mean that he generally spent his formative years in multi-cultural and densely populated areas. This is in stark contrast to all other recent President except for, perhaps, JFK who made a large to do about their rural origins, as if this confided some sort of sincerity superiority along with giving a nod to the Ghost of Disinterest.

*  Upon reading “Dream From My Father” it is evident that, like me, Obama is the rare and often misunderstood INTP personality type on the Miers-Briggs assessment.

* Obama is the first non-Southern President since JFK. I know I know, Nixon and Reagan were Californians and Ford was from Michigan. But Ford was never elected, even as a Veep, and Nixon and Reagan were Southern in their perpetuation of reactionary, divisive, politics. Even liberal Southerners like Clinton had to surf this resentment-oriented terrain. LBJ changed it through Civil Rights legislation, but with the knowledge that Democrats (and with them, Progressives) had lost the South for a generation. Well, the ceremonial power in the hands of a black President will completely obliterate this assumption, for all but the most pathetic Conservatron dead enders, for good.

* Obama is the first President since the 1960s to have not had his idea of the world forged by that decade. Rather than refighting the ancient wars of the sixties and ruminating on the histrionics of the Boomer experience, perhaps we can actually solve problems.

* Obama is not Generalissimo Bush, meaning, at least, that he is intelligent, has read more than one book on a given subject, and is capable of speaking in complete sentences with words with multiple-syllables.

* Obama actually groks and uses technology. This is hardly a big deal, except when you consider that we have been governed by someone that didn’t for the last endless eight years.

So, overall, after almost 30 years of being governed by people that are not at all like me in physical location, formative experience, or thought process, I am proud to finally have a President that is, somewhat, akin to me and people I know. The Florida Putsch in 2000, the crimes of Tom Delay, the awful frustration of progress, and the sadness and embarrassments of the last eight years and the Bush junta may have seemed like the brutal exercises of the powerful. They were not. Rather, they were the whiny death throes of a mediocre and failed ideology that had little support. After all, popular and wise ends would never have necessitated such undemocratic and viscous means.

The Conservatron Era of 1968-2008 — a reactionary time of fear, hate, resentment, stupidity, vitriol and mediocrity — is over. The 2010s, the crucial decade, begin on Tuesday!

Gaza

I’m afraid anything I write about this will be taken the wrong way now or be embarrassing later.

If I had just a few seconds to chip in my advice about the situation there, it would be quit talking about the past. Talk about the future. This is not something I came up with as a teenager. This is not an idea that ignores the importance of history to non-Americans. Otherwise, it just turns into a pie fight. You’re terrorists. Oh, yeah? What do you call the Irgun? Blah. Blah. Blah. This is why I tell people that “Zionism” is a moot point. There are, in fact, several million Israelis living in the land. There are, in fact, several million Palestinians living in the land. Are we going to repatriate everyone to where they were 60 years ago? Are we going to put the Germans back in East Prussia? Are we going to sew Jugoslavia back together? Are we going to send Jews back to Yemen, Iraq, and Ethiopia (they have no ‘right of return’)?

Those eggs are cracked. They aren’t getting put back together again. People who think they are, well, they’re the naive ones to me.

Much of the world has come to associate Israel with Bushism, and I don’t think they’re wrong. But if we’re all speaking as members of countries, and not as individuals (then we would talk about individual Israeli ministers or generals, not “Israel”) then anyone in the US needs to think about what our country has done to Iraq before they judge.

One problem that can be avoided in the future is the continuing atomization of the Palestinians. 60 years ago, they were Arabs. Last year, they were Palestinians. This year, they are Gazans. Creating smaller and smaller new ethnicities to rally around is only going to make the situation worse. (It also belies the idea that Israel is the Goliath here.) “Gazans” appear to want their own microstate separate and apart from the West Bank, and separate and apart from Egypt.

I’ve written before—I’ll search for the link later—that a big problem with the two-state solution is that its more or less based on ethnic lines. There’s nothing about Gaza or the West Bank that makes them viable as nation states. The West Bank is land locked. Gaza is tiny an would always depend on the outside for food, water, and just about every other natural resource. Even larger Israel isn’t much in the way of natural resources. It depends on world Jewry. Therefore, it would seem Palestine will depend on Arabs or other friends. From this point of view, the so-called three state solution seems much more practical. Egypt gets sovereignty over Gaza (and Gaza is presumably then part of the Egypt-Israeli peace) and Jordan gets sovereignty over the West Bank (same with peace deals). To some ears, this again sounds naive. But Jordan has a sea port and highways. Egypt has huge natural resources.

Politically, there are problems there, of course. I just worry about what the failure of a Palestinian state would mean, if we even get that far.

Is the economic crisis accelerating?

With new bank failures today and bad news from BofA and Citi, the continuing announcement of major layoffs even after millions of jobs have been lost, one wonders if the TARP whatever you think of its motives, has been effective at all, or if any of the other attempts to stop this have.

I’m not even sure the news that California’s controller would hold tax refunds today was a mere stunt. He has done a few stunts in his time, but maybe they really don’t have the money. I’m not sure how many people rely on their state refunds to make a difference, but this is something at least that will get noticed.

Can California ask for the TARP money? It should. Big Time. California represents appx. 13% of U.S. GDP. As such, it’s worth covering the $44B budget shortfall of the state to ensure the skids are greased in the state’s nearly $2T economy.

I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet. Hold on to your shit.

"There is No Decent Place to Stand in a Massacre"

The title of this post is taken from a Leonard Cohen song. Even out of context, only a poet can distill these eight diabolical and embarrassing years. A massacre. A massacre, literally, for the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and brave “Coalition” soldiers needless killed in Iraq. A massacre, truly, for the swollen and dead in New Orleans. A massacre, figuratively, for the millions jobless or struggling, or otherwise victims of the Great Economic Collapse. The list of agonies flows on like a forever dropping jaw.

Others have certainly cataloged the cavalcade of Conservatron chicanery of the last eight years with precision. I am more concerned with where the rest of us stood in the massacre.

Remember, remember we must remember fellow Americans the Fear Years. That awful epoch between 9/11/01 and early 2004 when Generalissimo Bush turned any sense of humanity stemming from 9/11 and twisted it into Iraq War II. Disagreement was deemed betrayal. Our real enemies were allowed to skitter away and regroup. The reign of Generalissimo Bush is now almost universally recognized as a mammoth failure. But Bush was no more and no less of a failure in the Fear Years than he is now. He was no more or less of a venal demon then as he is now. The falsity and surrealism of the Iraq venture was evident then with as much critical thinking as it takes to decipher the nutrition label on a cereal box. The only thing that has changed is us. If America had a Parliamentary system then Generalissimo Bush would have been bounced from the White House long ago. Yet, stuck with him as we are, his power has been largely drained by his unpopularity. We proved we could cauterize the wound. Yes Bush deserves the brunt of the blame for the massacre. But we all let it happen.

What more could we have done? I myself argued the evil and stupidity of the Iraq War and Generalissimo Bush in general, often to barking, furious rejoinders from my countrymen. Others marched, which I thought would be ineffectual. I voted the right way. Horror at how Generalissimo Bush was mutating America (and the ineffectual response to it from Democrats) was an impetus for this blog. These are all well and good gestures on the “I told you so” level, but the massacre still happened. Not enough of us made a large enough effort to prevent it.

We all share the culpability of our America’s comprehensive failure during the Fear Years. All we can do now is learn from our errors. Know then, America, that “it” did happen here and “it” can happen here again. The kind minds of your friends and neighbors can be forged and fluxed by anger and anxiety into cheering the violence and delusions of a man of fear and hate. The words of our Constitution and laws are only words. They are nothing if their letter is usurped and ignored. The American experiment is fragile and can be aborted into a bizarre kind of fascism if we let it.

Remember America! Remember the Fear Years! Remember America’s fascist moment! Remember the massacre!

Saul Alinsky Versus Michael Lerner.

Rabbi Lerner writes in Tikkun:

On the other hand, if you [Obama] choose to follow the advice of community organizers such as Saul Alinsky, eschewing larger changes in consciousness and focusing solely on concrete achievements like passing legislation, your legislative victories will have little lasting impact. People who have bought into the dominant worldviews in American society think of success in primarily material terms. They believe that “progress” means the accumulation of more and more things, and that a society is “rich” to the extent that it has maximized consumer goods for growing numbers of people. These worldviews encourage people to think of themselves as isolated monads seeking their own well-being even at the expense of everyone around them, or at least without regard to how others are doing. They encourage us to believe that our security depends primarily on our ability to dominate and control others lest they dominate and control us first. If these remain the predominant ideas, it doesn’t matter how many “liberal” or “progressive” pieces of legislation you will have managed to get passed by Congress.

We saw the failure of the “non-ideological” approach in the Clinton years. President Clinton passed many valuable pieces of legislation, but most of what he had achieved was quickly wiped out by the Bush/Cheney administration because he had won his victories by playing within the old framework of politics[.]

First of all it’s a false dichotomy. Playing chess—not checkers—makes sure your conscience changing ideology is advanced by every concrete move you make. Second of all, Clinton was tempered by the GOP Congress the entire time, and his attempts at conscience-changing moves, like universal health care and gay rights, are going down in his obituary as blunders of overreaching and poor strategy. They say gays in the military should have come later, and that he should have come out of transition with the health care plan to pass, that his failure to build bridges to the Democrats in Congress cost him. All of that may be true, but it’s not the only factor at work.

Third, look at Obama’s biography. His life is a story of calculated moves, carefully chosen, to move from the beginning to victory. Even his community organizing, while genuine, was just part of his plan.

My first involvement with community organizing was met with pleas from those involved to not lose sight of what we were doing, and to divorce it from politics and ideology to “keep the eye on the ball.” Well, to me, restoring a community ethic and making “public” not a bad word anymore is the ball. But it doesn’t come about just by a bunch of television ads or movies convincing people to pay it forward. It takes concrete acts.

To the extent that Alinsky does eschew larger conscience changing moves, he’s wrong; to the extent Lerner ignores the concrete moves, he is wrong.

It is time for a change of conscience in America, yes. And the kind of change Lerner suggests is what’s needed.

The French Take The Lead

I am really impressed with Sarkozy. He’s really rolled up his sleeves on this one and offered up things that the Europeans aren’t used to doing.

I understand the history of the Imperial European powers in the region, including the French. I understand that by American standards the rest of the world has long memories. But they don’t need them. The US has very recently, up to and including today, been the number 1 belligerent in the Middle East. Sure, the Europeans were there before and during WWII goofing it up. But, who else can credibly do anything there?

Abolish The Senate

Yeah, yeah, not gonna happen, would be singing a different tune if the shoe was on the other foot and the Republicans were in charge.

The problem is, I feel like they are in charge. Whatever else may be wrong with Burris and Blago, his appointment is still legal, and I think a court will ultimately determine that.

And not provisionally seating Franken, when it’s been done in similar circumstances before?

And never forcing a real filibuster.

These old white guys need to stop sucking each others’ dicks.

Travoltaed.

I’m glad to know that the international emergency of the cause of death of John Travolta’s son has been handled.

That kid looked more like John Travolta than John Travolta does. Hmph.

I tried to refrain from saying something shitty about Scientology, but… I guess Dianetics didn’t cure this one.

"South Park" Wusses Out on the 2008 Election

From the moment that Bush Patsy McCain chose Nilap for vice-president the 2008 election felt like an episode of the old South Park, the one that was fresh and consistently funny. If the stakes hadn’t been so high, the whole ’08 caper would’ve been hilarious. Indeed, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber’” feels more a denizen of the basic shapes cartoon than reality. (As Kenny’s dad, perhaps?)

Parker and Stone only took about a week to turn aggravation with the Star Wars blunder Jar Jar Binks into ferocious satire. They even popped out a topical episode about 9/11 as quickly after “everything changed” as was socially acceptable. So why were they silent through a two year election that forced all of America’s goopy, agonized and weird feelings about race to the fore? Why was South Park mute in an election where millions of boomer feminists transformed Hillary Clinton’s long march into a catharsis for a lifetime of frustrations, only to see the goof city Sarah Nilap turn the “Hillary, women, ME given the shaft!” collective thought wave into a parody of itself?

Methinks the reason is that all of the annoying roustabout regarding Obama’s blackness, Hillary’s tears, and Nilap’s aw shucks fascism was the sound of America’s subterranean emotions about gender and race — which was the star stuff of so many of the later, not as funny, “South Parks” — being expressed. As these things became real topics in our polity, they stopped being “yeast for the daily fucking grind,” as Bill Hicks once said, and therefore grounds for satire.

What would’ve been funny, even after the fact, was the South Park treatment applied to Bush Patsy McCain’s dadaist attempts to keep Nixonian resentment-mongering alive through Nilap, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber,’” absurd campaign tactics, and finally guilt by association “terrorist” claims that made his later rallies sound like the part of The Wall where Pink becomes a Nazi. (“That one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me, get ‘im up against the wall.) Instead, South Park finally addressed the 2008 election by placing all of the candidates into a Jewel Thief Ring and playing it as a parody of “perfect crime” movies. Yes, there was some bits about the tiring over-exuberance of Obamites and the silly fatalism of McCainers with some general support of Obama there between the lines, but given the material, it was weak sauce.

Anyhow, South Park was a Bush Patsy through much of this venal, miserable decade (“No Satan,” lied Saddam, “it’s a chocolate chip factory”) so fuck it anyway.

How to get thrown out of office AND hurt the environment

The Oregon DOT is exploring a way to tax miles driven (not “mileage” which sounds better) instead of gallons of gas used.

Now, taxes have to be big enough to actually change behavior. Before last year, most experts predicted that much lower levels of gas price inceases would begin to change behavior than it did, and more radically. So, depending on exactly how this is implemented, it might not be enough of a difference in price to actually make it relevant.

But the message is “we don’t care if you drive a Peterbilt or a use a solar powered scooter” is as bad of a policy as “drive less” is politically.

Americans associate cars with freedom. Changing that association is much, much harder work than simply making cars that don’t cause global warming or passing a different tax for roads. The former is a miracle, the latter merely scientific.

This is so stupid I wonder if it’s just a gambit to drum up support for alternate revenue streams. A small hike in income tax sure sounds better than having some bureacrat measure your mileage annually and always having limits placed on your symbol of freedom.