Almost Enough To Make You Turn Republican.

This is a recounting of my first exposure as a sort-of political official. Last month, after being involved in politics for years, I managed to get appointed to something. This something consists of 7 people and has oversight over a small local government agency in rural California—let’s call the place Banana Valley.

There was a perturbed citizen who had bitter comments to make about everything on the agenda, but whose outrage was strangely shaped by some higher decency to conform to his time limits. He had no point at all. By his dress, I assume he was a high school teacher or a scientist of some kind.

There was a yokel colleague who voted in favor of one of the stupidest things in our area’s history complaining about our agency’s lack of money. Everything in government budgeting had to be just the same as his shitty construction business. Right. When it didn’t come out that way, he would say that he didn’t believe it as if he was being told that pigs could fly.

There was another colleague waxing philosophical but who was almost senile when he tried to pin down his point.

There were the employees trying to explain everything to a group of people who were just trying to find something to tear them apart for even though they were doing a good job. There were members of a different local government agency from Banana Valley trying to restrain their contempt for the members of this agency.

And most of the fighting was over trivial amounts of money.

What struck me so deeply was that the “tea party” instinct in some of these folks in order to save taxpayer money is on so many levels penny wise and pound foolish. They want them to get cheaper equipment. Then it has to be replaced. They want them to get lower paid employees. Then they need more employees to do the same work, or they get employees that are stupid.

What’s scary is that this is one of those things that nobody cares about until it doesn’t work. If this agency does nothing wrong, no one cares. The vote totals are the lowest of anything. Yet Banana Valley would be burned to the ground if it failed in another Southern California fire. And it shouldn’t be hard to prevent failure, except for these whack-packers trying to play Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

There has to be some juice to be had in standing up for this “just make it work” for the silent majority type of philosophy, right?

Gay Sports

I think people coming out only helps. Collectively, it seems the moral thing to do, but I don’t second guess anyone wanting to keep their private business private, much less something that is guaranteed to make them a target of hatred—even from those who are normally engaged in jock sniffing full time.

To that end, I always thought the way to do this would be to get like 50 guys from a bunch of different sports to do it all at once. It takes the focus away from one individual, and so on.

Maybe there weren’t that many guys willing to do it. I don’t know. But Martina Navratilova was out 30 years ago and I think tennis was actually more popular then.


Poison Gas & Poisonous Hot Air

• Drum, Atrios, TAP, and DeLong are all pissing their pants about what will happen in 2014 when Obamacare goes online. They are worried that Obama will “own” the terrible healthcare system. Obama owned since he came into office, the way he owned everything. And he super, double-plus owned it the minute the law was passed. Yes, people will grumble with any and all change. The question is whether they already didn’t think he owned it.

• Hagel says Assad probably used poison gas. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons not to do anything about that, but I’m not sure any of them matter at that point. Remember, we accepted the argument in this country that if a country does that we get to invade them. Assuming this time they actually, you know, verify that and it’s actually true I don’t think the experience in Iraq makes “doing something” less likely.

What it means is that it will be a Libya/Kosovo/Bosnia style mostly air (or DR0NZ!!!) operation. I would personally just hope that it would target one man, but we don’t assassinate because then less people would die it would be destabilizing, but we do sometimes and we have in the past. Meh.

• In Venezuela, defeated presidential candidate Capriles has accused the new President of stealing the election. It was close enough to be stolen, and while the campaign rules there are completely unfair, everyone seems to say the actual vote process is good. I wouldn’t doubt the election was stolen—not because it’s a banana republic—because that, you know, can happen here. But the long game for the anti-Chavista coalition in Venezuela has always been to let Chavez fade into the past and make his successor own the fallout (which is substantial). But maybe that coalition can’t hold, or Capriles can’t stay atop it, and maybe that close of a defeat made them feel differently.

Drone Hero Flip Flop

That was fast.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) raised more than a few eyebrows when he suggested earlier this week on Fox News Business that the U.S. government should be able to employ drones against the nation’s criminals, in particular a hypothetical armed liquor store robber.

Haha. So when a (totes white) guy robs a 40, dr0nz him. But not… When…

More False Flag Leftism From The GOP

Another day, another cynical attempt to attack from the left:

“Like in so many other areas, the President’s health care legislation failed to adequately protect sick patients with pre-existing conditions, like those battling cancer,” said Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). “House Republicans are determined to do so by taking funding from a slush fund and moving it where it is critically needed.”

But this attempt failed when the “conservatives” revolted, just like the Social Security vote, and (I’m pretty sure) the Immigration bill.

So, whatever you do granola eaters—stay home in 2014! Both sides do it!!111!1!111!

In Which Thomas Friedman Accidently Reveals the Lingering Angst of the Fear Years

Thomas Friedman is the direct middleman of the NY Times’ Axis-Of-Centrist-Pseuds. To his right is Affirmative Action poster boy David Brooks (would his skills really merit NY Times columnist-dom if he wasn’t a “conservative”) who tried to concisely argue right-wing boilerplate early in his career, only to get picked apart by the Times’ letter writers. Brooks has since enveloped himself in arm chair human interaction “science” and become the slow lovechild of William Safire and Malcolm Gladwell. To Freidman’s left is Maureen Dowd whose modus operandi is to parallel the popular movie or TV of the moment with the latest DC palace intrigue — the sort of PoMo jab that would have been clever in a Freshman composition class at one of those New England colleges that starts with a “B” if it were 1983.

But it is T-Fried himself that is the Centrist Pseuds Centrist Pseud. It is he that will  declare that, look guys, we would get real about global warming and globalization if only there was a “centrist” compromise on the debt and the next six months will be crucial to the outcome of the war in Iraq because I talked to this cab driver in India and the Internet! Not all of T-Fieds ideas are wrong, but he is a bloviator who likes to point out how serious and important big THINGS are without contributing new thoughts or having any actual responsibility for any outcomes. He likes to pretend he’s at the table when the crucial decisions are made. No wonder he wound up being amongst the most egregious and pathetic of the Iraq War II Bush Patsies.

So it was startling and frustrating to read his column shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings, but before the perpetrators and their motives were known. “Fortunately,” spake T-Fried, “we don’t frighten easily anymore. You could feel it in the country on Tuesday morning. We’ve been through 9/11. We probably overreacted then, but never again. We tracked down Osama bin Laden with police and intelligence work, and we’ll do the same in this case.”

To which I responded, “Wait a minute Home Slice. YOU may have ‘probably’ over-reacted to 9/11, but I sure as hell didn’t.” Moreover, T-Fried you sure weren’t part of any police work to track him down. Indeed, I believe your advice was “give war a chance.”

Now, obviously I am not part of the “we” that captured and killed bin Laden. But The Friedster is right about the other “we” that “probably” (meaning “actually”) over-reacted to 9/11. I was against Iraq War II and not a cheerleader like Friedman. But Iraq War II was still perpetrated in my name.

Being part of this “we” is likely harder for those that were for Iraq War II or generally pro-Bush, but then changed their minds later. Bush went from amongst the most popular to the least popular presidents in American history over his eight years. But Bush didn’t change. If you went from support to despise, as millions of Americans assuredly did, then you must admit that at best you were duped and at worst your passions were manipulated to overwhelm your reason. Blowhards like Friedman aided and abetted this by puffing up the irrationalization for the war and not pushing back against the dictate that being anti-war/Bush was being anti-American. But at the end of the day the bombs were dropped, the innocents were slaughtered, the WMDs were never found and Iraq War II searched for a meaning like a forlorn hermit crab stalking a shell-less beach, as the casualties mounted.

WE definitely did overreact to 9/11, even if Thomas Friedman is probably too much a douche to admit it, and we all have to own that no matter how much we regret it.