Featured Column:Modern Civics Part 2 of 2
Part 1: Intro and Summary
Last month I wrote a tasty little piece that speculated what our nation’s two political parties would actually look like if they actually and truly stuck to their respective platforms. Ironically, the Republicans scored big points with me as I see my life as a Grand Old Party: Rock music, booze, spirited freedom of expression in the bedroom and lower taxes have always been central pillars to the structure my life, and if the Jesus-wheezing righty-tighties who keep crashing the small-government party would look at the Republican charter … they would go join the Democrats. My diatribe was all in the name of entertainment, but quite a few letter-writers evidently missed the punch line.
Several folks felt compelled to write in with their various gripes. One even felt that I (and I quote) ‘have become a tool for the Republicans because you don’t want to pay your fair share.’ Another chirped that I’ve ‘sold out to idiocy’ while ‘towing the white bread line of racism through inaction.’ The first two comments aren’t too far off the mark; I don’t want to pay the congressional tab of perpetual fiscal irresponsibility, and we all know I’m an idiot. However, while my proudly Japanese fiancmay not understand my plans to host ‘Padre Pienbique’s Prussian Pride Parade,’ she seems to think the sight of five-hundred-odd Germans marching down the street might give some folks the creeps she’ll attest that white power isn’t my thing.
As you might of gathered by the title, this is part two of a column that was too long for one installment. If, or I should say ‘since,’ you didn’t read part one, I’ll summarize it:
1. The two political parties have strayed far from their original platforms. (This has been beautifully illustrated by the last two American presidents: Clinton axed a couple hundred of government agencies, presided over the most prosperous era of the American economy, signed republican legislation known as the ‘Federal Communications Act’ which ruined radio but made the Internet and cell phones a reality, while George W. Bush has run deficit spending into the next century, legislated farting as national security threat, and expanded the size of government so hugely that I can’t swing a dead cat without violating seven articles of the Patriot Act. The result is that Clinton will go down in history as the last great Republican president, and Bush will be trying budge through the lunch line in hell.)
2. The very basics of their platforms differ over the distribution of power allotted by taxpayers. Thus, one party is a proponent of centralized power through a strong federal government (Democrats), while the other (Republicans) prefers a weaker federal mandate trumped by empowering individual states to handle legislative duties.
3. Because every law written must be funded, the party with fewer laws would require fewer gross dollars to administer less legislation. The trade-off for the other side is that the law of the land would be more uniform from sea to shining sea, thus thwarting any reinterpretation through a state’s or municipality’s economic or social prejudices. But since this is ‘government in action,’ it’ll cost you dearly.
4. The two parties have borrowed so extensively from each other’s repertoire that they have only succeeded in confusing themselves (and everybody else). Now people either want the cops off their back when they’re smoking a cocaine-laced joint while demanding free heart transplants or they vote for less taxes but want everyone to endorse their family values or else.
5. I proposed that we separate these contrasting views and reshuffle the sides into more rational categories: Those who want less government must take on the responsibility of shouldering life’s burdens upon themselves, while keeping their noses out of my fun. And those who champion the legislation of the common good have to accept everyone who shares their commitment, including the intensely and religiously religious, the pro-lifers, the anti-drug enthusiasts and everyone else who thinks ‘the government should do something.’
6. According to my logic, the Republicans would lose the support of Christian Coalition and the masses of Joe Six-Packs who confuse individual freedom with state-sponsored buggery, but would gain the admiration of everyone who bought a ticket to Bonnaroo.
Okay, since I subjected the Republicans to my vision last month, I’ll return the favor to the Democrats today. As an aside, I didn’t receive any hate mail from the right. This is attributable to the fact that republicans don’t fit the jambands.com demographic. But if it makes any of the lefties who did entertain me with their bitchy prose feel better, I’m sure those leaning rightward would have been equally appalled by my column. There, now you two have something in common. You can thank me later …
Part 2: Drinking with the Democrats-
Last month, the democrats got together in Boston to officially nominate John Kerry as their party’s candidate for the President of the United States of America. Kerry distanced himself from historical conservatives such as George Washington by enthusiastically accepting the nomination. (Ever the anti-environmentalist, cherry-tree-chopping George’s agreement to lead the country was met with less eagerness and was summed up when he remarked: ‘That this will be the commencement of the decline of my reputation.’)
Either way, good feelings abounded: The delegates felt they have a winner on the ticket, voter-motivating issues ruled the table, and George W. Bush’s administration is in utter tailspin. The media further anointed Illinois Democratic senate hopeful Barack Obama as a ‘rising star’ within the party ranks, praising him like the second coming of Jimi Hendrix. I don’t know about you, but the idea of a Democrat, complete with patches on the elbows of their sensible brown jacket matched with work-a-day Hush Puppy shoes doesn’t really covey the idea of ‘excitement.’
As feely-goody as all this was, the Democrats blew it by parading folks I wouldn’t invite to my high school graduation party. The less-than-honorable Senator Teddy Kennedy showed up aired out his windbag at the Fleet Center, calling for a national ethic of accountability. While I admit he looked relatively sober for a change, he forgot to mention that much like the current President he so vehemently opposes he, too has never earned any of the power bestowed upon him by his family’s namesake, held a job on his own accord, wondered what it’s like to pay a sizable chunk of his hard-won salary for the legislation he sponsored, or bothered to show up for any of the wars his family voted Americans to fight.
Not that I’m saying George W. and Teddy Kennedy are the same; as reckless as the current Bush is, he never got drunk and drove off a bridge, drowning the intern he was fucking on the sly. If I did that, I’d be locked up in jail making license plates that read ‘BUSH SUX’. Kennedy gets Senator for Life, and now everybody pays.
Especially his friends who are running for president. This isn’t the first time Senator Kennedy has accidentally given a Bush a boost during the convention. During the 1988 convention, Senator Kennedy gave his infamous ‘Where was George?’ speech: ‘As the administration secretly plotted to sell arms to Iran… where was George?’ ‘When the administration tried repeatedly to slash social security… where was George?’ The answer, of course, was dry, sober and at home with the woman he married.
Humorist P. J. O’Rourke noted in Parliament of Whores that ‘you can- with a certain amount of post hoc reasoning and license taking with popularity poll data- trace George Bush’s victory in the November elections to that moment in July when Ted Kennedy asked the question ‘Where was George?’
But that was in 1988, a different time altogether. The electorate was forced to choose between a Republican Bush with an Iraqi fetish and a Massachusetts Democrat with a funny nose and mysterious Greek connections. Those who fail to learn history’s lessons are doomed to repeat them… and then Teddy Gin Blossoms shows up to mock fate.
Well, if my high school report card reflects anything, in addition to history, I also failed to learn lessons in math, chemistry and German. As for repeating history, I’m okay with that. I have a whole bunch of history I wouldn’t remind repeating. Trust me, I live a lifestyle that puts a enthusiastic premium on fun. Which reminds me, I don’t think I paid much attention in health class either.
The thing about Kennedy is that his personality is contagious. Basking in the presence of this man virtually demands indulging in a cocktail or six. Being subjected to more than five minutes of his oratory style inspires a host of drinking games. After a half an hour and as many vodka tonics as you can slam, he seems to fuzz up just enough that one begins to believe he’s the Simpson’s Mayor Quimby and you just laugh along, ‘Cocktail, please!’
As if Kennedy’s rant wasn’t grueling enough, prime time television space was awarded to yet another east-coast senator with dubious credentials. Although she wasn’t invited to speak, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) raised holy hell behind the scenes until the Democratic National Committee caved in and let her introduce the night’s keynote speaker, former President William Jefferson Clinton, who happens to be her husband. Saying nothing of any importance at all, Senator Clinton wasted yet another opportunity to give America a compelling reason to listen to her claptrap beyond the fact that she will quickly and gladly trade honesty, integrity, accountability, and self-respect for the name recognition she’s used solely to gain unearned power. To give this Democrat devil her due, she somehow convinced the citizenry of New York to elect her for a position that the people of Arkansas wouldn’t‘ve even dreamed of nominating her to. For my money, (what little I have left after the last congressional budget) I’m not sure if this speaks more for the sophistication of Arkansas’ constituency … or less for the average voting goon in New York.
As you can guess, I was less than impressed with the roster of speakers at the Democratic Convention. But I still feel they got the only message that counts across fairly well: ‘We’re not Bush!’ As for the rest of the verbiage spewed by other speakers, who cares? The Rev. Al Sharpton was granted five minutes to address the convention, but went on riffing his insanity for an additional sixteen, throwing the whole set list into disarray. Unfortunately, his comical ravings were so insipid that I couldn’t be bothered to pay enough attention to change my opinion of him. I felt like a college professor who’s forced to feign interest to the inevitable freshman who honestly believes he can change the world if only he whines loudly enough about modern society’s various injustices. Like I said before: ‘Cocktail, please!’
I believe the Democrats can get far with nothing more to offer than ‘We’re Not Bush!’ But honestly: It’s a far cry from touting a reasonable party platform. Not that I care since I’ve taken it upon myself to rearrange their platform for them. However, looking back upon my treatment of the Republican Party platform, I noticed that I gave them all the goodies and left the Democrats holding the bag. The theoretical adoption of fewer taxes, more personal freedom, and the possibility of not having to hear the Great American Ninny mandate what I smoke and where I smoke it holds great promise. But it fades like a wet dream when I realize: The sublime validity of idealism crumbles under the weight of actual people getting involved. What I mean to say is that ideas are bulletproof, but the resulting policies spawned from ideology never fare as well as policy makers hoped.
Part 3: What the Democrats Meant To Say-
This is the hope of a new Democratic Party platform. Although Democrats got America involved with World War I & II, dropped the Bomb twice on Japan, cemented foreign policy into prolonged armed engagements with Vietnam and North Korea and pissed away bullets and aid in Somalia and Bosnia (to name two of many), they seem to have the knack of conning other leaders into joining forces with America during our national fits of itchy trigger finger. Admittedly, it’s not as if France had a choice of who would bail them out by 1941, but then again neither did we in the 2000 presidential election. Just because we voted, I don’t think the resulting victor represented the concept of choice.
Since Democrats are so adept at coercing other nations into doing their bidding, they should find it no large task to explain to the United Nations when and if it is time to play cops and robbers with dictatorial assholes, such as Hussein. Saddam can cop all freedom he wants from his people, but the U.N. gets to rob him of all of his national resources when he gets the boot.
Incidentally, the French liberal and conservative alike can rejoice in this plan: Their government can act like Saddam’s hell-hole isn’t worth invading while French business interests can continue to line up billions in contracts to ‘rebuild’ Iraq. This way, everybody gets a chance to discover the exact length, breadth and depth of the shaft and all at once. Huzzah!
But if the Democrats want to play to their strengths as coalition builders, then they should even out the field the whole ten yards. Just imagine a world where everyone puts their best foot forward on both sides of the equation: If your country foots 90% of the bill, casualties, and political liability, then the same republic gets 90% of the spoils. Not only will this tame some of the courageous senators who want peace at any cost, but also would shut down the rest of the bastards who’ll gladly let anyone make a mess of a county just so they can profit from the clean-up. In case no one was watching, the United Nations isn’t free. Everything it does costs more money than you or I care to think about, and the cost in human misery that they leave in their wake should give anyone who enjoys a quiet cup of coffee the morning serious pause.
While I’m not berating the idea of the United Nations in its conceptual form, don’t you agree that any armed organization committed to calming the riots of the world might demand unilateral good behavior from the assholes they’re so dedicated to subduing?
If the new Republican platform that I laid out last month appeals to citizens that prefer to live their lives without government-mandated anything, then a new Democratic Party platform should protect people against the just as easily corruptible source of the right: Corporations.
Before we get carried away with this, let me define what I mean: As a small business owner, I’m telling you with no uncertainty that the most absurd legislation meant to give the working man his due would have put the Big Wu out of business faster than a speeding Phoenix Rising record contract. On the other hand, the historically recalcitrant stubbornness of big business to let their employees know how much they care the only way that matters with cold hard cash has been spotty at best.
Without going into the gory details of Thai sweatshops and Henry Ford’s strikebreakers, business’ reputation speaks for itself. While I might be inclined to tell Joe Six-Pack to get another job if he doesn’t like the one he’s got, the most pervasive big businesses put themselves in harm-of-legislation’s way by believing that the influence their money buys them is synonymous with equality under law.
This isn’t meant to further the left at all. For all the bitching and whining they spew in favor of counting their lucky stars and taking pride in the fact that America is still the land of opportunity, the liberals can rejoice in one truth: Money is money, and nothing smells sweeter, no matter who’s offering and who’s sniffing. If you’ve never seen Eddie Murphy’s elegant comedy The Distinguished Gentleman, then put your bongs down and do so. (Yet feel free to pick it back up and order a pizza before you turn the DVD player on.)
I can say without reservation that the one constant of American politics is money. In fact, I’m sure I can say this about all politics, even no, especially of the politics of comedic throwbacks like Fidel Castro and Kim Il-Sung. If there’s money on the table then everybody wants a chunk, and in the case of Fidel and Kim, where there is no dough, they’ll gladly hold everybody hostage with threats of developing weapon systems they couldn’t hope to pay for, at least until countries with cash pay them not to.
If you’re running for office in America and you take ‘Political Position A’ (whatever that is), you can safely figure to rake hefty amounts of cash for your campaign. On the other money-grubbing paw, there is always an equal and opposite political reaction to butter your bread should you choose to endorse the ‘Political Position B’. This puts the Democrats on par with the rest of modern civilization. We know the left loves money and power just as much as anyone on the right. God rest his soul, even the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) couldn’t help but run for a third term even though he swore until he was blue in the face that career politicians were the Achilles’ Heel of the American soul. (He had pledged not to run for more than two terms in 1990, but he must felt that Americans wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves without his guidance.)
To throw the Democrats an air-ball issue, let us assume they might pick up environmental issues right where the Republicans have left them in the garbage. If you’re a Green Peacenik, don’t get too excited, because the salvation, or at least reclamation of what’s left on God’s green Earth won’t happen without serious funding. And if you’re on the right, you’ll have to eat the cost as well.
Let’s call the environment what it is: A finite resource. Even better, let’s upgrade it to ‘luxury.’ Not only does this state in clear language that God’s country is worth preserving, but it’s worth coveting. And if you don’t believe that it’s not a luxury now, just wait until Alec Baldwin can’t pay $10 a parcel from wherever he is standing in Montana until the eye can see. We can be sure he’ll throw a fit, but just imagine paying him $195 to see Mt. Rushmore.
Since congressional yahoos from the time of the New Deal on are so happy to lease out government-owned property to every cattleman west of New Jersey for dimes on the dollar, and then pay the same ranchers a healthy subsidy to sell us their subsidized-grown beef, why would anybody feel that the average taxpayer is getting a break? By my accounting, we’re paying three times what we should for a burger while losing valuable land to over-grazing.
If we want to save something, such as land, why don’t we simply circumvent congress and just buy it? By the example above, it’s pointless to say that we the people ‘own’ any government-appropriated land. I’m thinking that the democrats could lead the charge and dedicate funds to actually pay face value for the space located between the shining seas. In case you’re about to ask ‘why do we have to pay for something we theoretically own?’ then you haven’t reading closely enough. Sure, we already ‘own’ it, but if the land in question gets little more use than a political rubber ducky, then why would Congress be compelled to stop playing with themselves in the tub? Since America still practices market economics, we shouldn’t buy anything for less than it’s worth.
This is because the fundamentals of economics are built between the pillars of ‘I want that’ and ‘Okay, but at this price.’ As expensive as this would be, (and with government involved, it’ll be plenty costly) it’s still the cheapest way to protect what we covet. And if we still wish to recoup the cost, we can sell grazing rights or whatever to whoever still wants to buy what we decide to rent. (Just don’t expect a line of happy customers…)
And that’s what this is all about. As we discussed before, countries such as Cuba and North Korea, have made a wreck of their economies by underselling so-called national properties at a deflated rate. The result for them is that they’ve depleted everything they could use at an accelerated pace due to pricing their resources below the market cost. Thus, they are in so few words completely fucked. You can sight any ideology under the sun, but you can’t escape the laws of economics.
By my counting, this is all good and fine. We’ve heard that ‘money is root of all evil,’ but it’s also the root of all the goods and services we’ve come to know and love. To make a long debate short, coupons good for one ‘Super-Duper Backrub’ won’t pay the bill to find a cure for cancer any faster than it would cover that small tab known as the national debt. Seems like medical researchers are just as greedy as those chintzy investors in the economy. Even though the taxpayer has been caught with their finger in the dike, this doesn’t mean the water is poisoned.
According to my 10th grade Economics text, (which I couldn’t afford the time to read when it counted, but now I can count on for my own insidious purposes) money can be thought of as a ruler to measure situational economics. Like all things after Einstein, even an economic yardstick is subject to the rules of relativity. Thus, if you take 100 American dollars and plug it into Cuba’s economy, you’ll get $1000 worth of goods and services (at least), because everyone on that benighted island is so broke that anyone will do positively anything for a buck. This is a wonderfully demonstrative example of why my father couldn’t get his lawn mowed for $3 when I was growing up. Although his wallet represented a relatively powerful economy to my pathetic and Cubanesque penny jar, I knew that I would be the recipient of his largesse (usually in the form of steak for dinner), thus undoing any saber rattling he might impose over a father-son trade embargo. This is a long-winded way to say that negative-three dollars and a steak dinner no more a motivated me to trim the verge than a couple of billion smackaroos and a slew of suspect welfare programs has encouraged anyone else in America to get a job.
So … what is it that the Democrats can take from my example? Don’t mow my father’s lawn to balance the budget, number one. More illustratively, everything has a price, even if it is relative to everything else. As the new Democrats position themselves to represent the needs of the workforce, they need to keep in mind the difference between fair play and fucking. This is also why the Democratic National Committee can’t afford to parade the likes of Al Sharpton and Hillary Clinton: If you want to be taken seriously, don’t tell dirty jokes. Which brings us back to the present author. Like Mrs. Clinton in ’92 (when she decided to sell health care for nothing) and Tipper Gore in the late 80s (when she tried to make my stock-in-trade, rock music, illegal), I haven’t been elected by a popular vote to legislate anything. The only difference is that I’m aware of my lot in life as an entertainer; Hillary and Tipper believe that people should take them seriously.
To close with a joke, I’ll paste a bit of wisdom sent to me by a friend in St. Louis whom I will call ‘Dan the Window Man.’ I believe it sums up the fun of government succinctly:
‘The government today announced that it is changing its emblem from an eagle to a condom for several reasons: A condom stands up to inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives you a sense of security while you’re being screwed.’
The recipe of the month comes from Martha Stewart’s diametric opposite, my father’s wife Ruth Ann Miller. You know her, she’s given you such life-affirming recipes like last month’s Rouille. Well folks, if you’ve ever wonder how to satisfy the ultimate case of the munchies, Ruth is going to punch your ticket. Not only is this cheap, but easy to make. Really, any bonehead, no matter how stoned they are, can amaze friends with this simple combination of ingredients. Note of caution: When the recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, she doesn’t mean anything that comes in a green can. The same can be said for the mayo. This is a recipe of few ingredients; to make it work, use the best. Therefore, Miracle Whip is NOT ALLOWED. Use Hellmann’s and real Parmesan or suffer…
Rudy Miller’s Cheezy Poofs:
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Hellmann’s mayo
1/2 cup scallions (or finely chopped onions)
1 baguette (or whatever non-moldy bread you have)
Mix cheese, onion, and mayo thoroughly in a bowl. Spread on slices of bread. Place under the broiler in your toaster for one whole minute (no cheating!). Enjoy with Eddie Murphy flick of your choice.
This month’s Old Style Zealot is the ever-secretive Jim Werlock. A mystery wrapped in a reputation of being a ’150 pounds of sinew and steel’, no one alive can testify anything provable pertaining to the X-Files line of work he was involved in before he surfaced as the mild-mannered house husband I came to drink with in Northfield. Just kidding. (I fear the Illuminati will have me killed I don’t apologize.) Residing in a hidden location somewhere east of the Rockies, Jim loves to grow flowers and cook dinner for his life mate Art Bell.