Yesterday during my six hour drive down the California 5, I did what I always do during long car trips. I tuned to the AM dial and, barring the good luck of finding Coast to Coast with Art Bell, sought out the most blustery bloviator I could find. Well, let me tell you. It's pretty sad to hear the cleanup effort of the Republican party-liners contructing cities of straw men to dismantle and obliterate. Sample snippet: "What I don't understand is all these people - all these liberals - trying to place all the blame of this hurricane on George Bush's doorstep. Well, let me ask you: Did George Bush create that hurricane? Was that his fault? What would John Kerry have done, I'd ask them, to stop this hurricane from doing the damage it did?" Wow, great point.
Sometimes you just have to shake your head.
One nut that I enjoy listening to more than the others, however, is Michael Savage. Whereas Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are, I'm beginning to understand in my growing understanding of this world, definable fascists, Savage is just a crazy old codger who hates everyone. Specifically, he hates Mexicans, Muslims, liberals, environmentalists, the gays, lawyers, and actors, but he also finds room in his heart to occassionally spew his venom at Bush, conservatives, and the current Republican politicians. It's amazing sometimes to listen to him. He talks about how he never spends time with anyone else, just his dog, and that he wastes away his lonely hours walking around the house in his underwear talking to himself - and that this is how he comes up with his brilliant ideas - ideas like: all the Muslim extremists and gays should be shot; there should be a walled border with Mexico; and nobody should give money to the relief efforts.
Let me repeat that. He urged his listeners yesterday to not give any money to the Red Cross or other organizations, fearing they will "profit" from tragedy.
Still, the guy is entertaining to listen to and, surprisingly, despite the putrid rancor he spews, still strikes me as a normal though greatly flawed guy. Kind of like a crazy uncle who, despite his rampant xenophobia, has some real tender spots and a fondness for animals. Unlike, of course, Hannity and O'Reilly and Limbaugh, an offensive tryptic of wealth and power who strike me as robots beyond any smidge of human compassion or empathy.
Anyway, the blaming and finger-pointing are pretty bad right now and none of it is going to get any better. How predictable is the current right-wing propoganda machine? Their scorched earth policy of destroying any and all critics is already calling for the heads of Blanco and Nagin and Landrieu and Jesse Jackson and Geraldo Rivera and CNN and NBC and any other liberals who dare criticize the President or a Federal agency. Jesus. Did you hear that Cindy Sheehan had a bastard black baby with John McCain? Did you know that John Kerry shot Max Cleland's legs off in Vietnam? I bet you didn't know that.
But enough of the mudslinging. Enough of the bickering and character accusations. It's clear enough to me that our country, aided by the unprecedented ineptitude of our current government, is having some sort of schizophrenic episode. We need leadership and vision. We need some ideas of how to approach things differently, of how to reunite the American Van Peoples, of how to once again be a great and strong country. What we need, my friends, is the American Mastodon to run this show once and for all. Below is my platform. I ask for your vote.
1) One Year of Civil Service. I think this has been proposed by McCain. Upon turning 18, every American citizen enters a year of service for their country. Like the military, service members from various regional, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds are forced to work together, thus introducing young adults to the ways other Americans live and work. Barring the fact that one is already in prison or the military, every citizen must enlist. No waivers for the kids of bankers or politicians.
2) Raise the Minimum Wage. What the fuck, people. Work 40 hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, and not make $12,000? In this country? What's the point of getting off welfare and getting a job when the enticement is so pitiful? Listen, if you're a "small business owner" that can't get by paying your employees another dollar an hour, then maybe you shouldn't be running your own business. Of course, the reason why minimum wage is so low is directly related to my next point of order:
3) Enforce Immigration Laws. I've got to say, I'm behind Pat Buchanan and Mr. Savage on this one. The increasingly porous border is bad news for America for an entire laundry list of reasons. One of the unfortunate results of allowing so many illegal residents to cross into America, besides the drug and weapons running, is the fact that it is difficult to establish a credible minimum wage. Is it really surprising that Bush doesn't really care about closing the border? Illegal immigration hurts the lower class American worker at the benefit of business owners. It's also adding, however slightly, to the further crippling of our health care system.
4) Improve Health Care Accessibility. I don't know how to fix health care. I just know that insurance rates are too high for individuals, corporations, and the government. When people don't have health care, be they Americans or illegals, they ultimately do more harm than good to our economy. Of course, people might know how to better take care of themselves if they were properly educated.
5) Increase Spending on Public Education. Do people realize that very few politicians and other government officials send their children to public schools? Hmm...why is that? People shout to the high heavens if- god forbid - they ever have to pay higher taxes, yet some parents have no trouble spending an extra $20,000 a year sending their children to school every year. Build more schools, build better schools, and actively promote on college and university campuses education as a career choice. Pay teachers better, though ultimately their union has to loosen its grip. Seniority is not the best pay system.
6) Keep the Estate Tax, Institue More Luxury Taxes, and Tax the Highest Economic Brackets. If you don't agree with that, you're a waste of skin. One downside of the myth of the "American Dream" is that steelworkers in St. Louis making $37,000 a year still think that they're going to be millionaires in 5 years. And, oh boy, when they're millionaires, they don't want no guvment taking their money!
7) Third Party Ascendancy. We need a third party like something awful. Barring that, we need a bi-partisan Presidential candidacy. McCain/Obama. Clark/Giuliani. I don't care. Pick something, anything. Though I'd personally rather have this country drift more to the left, the greatest political urgency right now is to end the noisy bickering and partisanship. One step toward that goal would be to elect a President and Vice President of oppossing parties.
8) More Lap Dances. Simply put, we need more educated, gyrating, legal American citizens or legal aliens, properly insured, working for more than minimum wage, rubbing their breasts in my face. Perhaps this could be part of the Civil Service? A corps of hot 18-year olds, working for their country, one glitter-covered nipple at a time. Don't tell me I don't have any good ideas.
Also, you're all very welcome.