Monday, July 21, 2008

A Bad Idea

I'm not a George W. Bush fan. In fact, I think that had he actually been president (and not Dick Cheney), he would have been the worst president in our history at the worst possible time. We are witnessing the beginning of the end of American consumer culture and certainly the end of American Empire and hegemony, and while much of this would have happened at some point it's pretty clear that the process was accelerated by the incredibly short-sighted and self-interested policies of the Bush administration and those who invested heavily in it. 

But that's now what I want to talk about today. I simply say the above so that no one confuses this blog, even for the slightest instant, with any of the myopic right-wing blogs that clog the Net. Or, for that matter, the left-wing blogs. Because I'm going to complain about the left, today. Really.

I was at my local bank the other day when I noticed that the city of San Francisco wants to name a sewage treatment plant after our Glorious Leader. Frankly, I burst out laughing in the middle of the bank, and I'm sure at least a few people there were insulted. Which is fine with me, it was a very funny news item, especially considering that Fox "News" was doing the broadcast. It certainly was an insult to W, who has responded by not responding. 

Here's the thing, though. While I thought this was funny, it would have been funnier had it been an SNL or Mad TV skit. If San Francisco actually went through with their plan, it would do two things: set a bad precedent, and ratchet up divisional/diversionary politics in the US. 

There's no question that the Bush presidency has been a bad joke. We've blown a budgetary surplus, been embroiled in a Middle Eastern civil war that we started, reduced the US dollar from the lingua franca of currency to scrap paper, set efforts to limit or reduce global warming back so far that it's unlikely we have any chance to make meaningful changes, ignored the Constitution, performed state-sanctioned torture, incarcerated innocent civilians without due process (the iguanas at Guantanamo have more rights than the prisoners there), and are on the verge of destroying the US economy. If the end goal was to destroy the power of the Federal government (as it *must* be - who could have done all of this without intending to?), they came pretty close. 

But naming a sewage plant after the man? That's sinking to Rush Limbaugh's tactics. We don't need to call Bush names. We don't need to mock him. He's done a perfectly good job of showing why we need to be very careful in who we allow to run the country and to *make sure we're paying attention* to what they do when they do it. All that this exercise in sour grapes will do is encourage the right to do the same when they come back to power. And they will, make no mistake. Because if the left fails to pick up the pieces, the voters will forget how bad Bush was in four or eight years and there are no other choices. Sure, there are other parties, but failing the utter collapse (and it would have to be an utter collapse) the two political parties in the US have far too much power and control over the system to allow anyone else more than a token piece of the electoral pie. 

So, unless you'd like to see the Nancy Pelosi Methadone Clinic, the Hillary Clinton Serial Rapist Halfway House, and the Barack Obama Center for Fertilizer Research, perhaps it's instead time to stop calling each other names. We can point out the shortcomings of a particular individual, certainly, at least when it comes to on the job performance, and we can talk about how we can address what appears to me to be an overwhelming number of critical problems that will require immediate attention (health care, overpopulation, crumbling infrastructure, banks closing, climate change, energy issues, the list is really quite a long and daunting one). What we can't do is argue for days over what asses the people who are trying to do this are versus what asses the people are who are calling the first group asses, ad nauseum. 

In short, what we can't do is argue about the unimportant stuff. It's like having a hurricane run through your neighborhood and arguing with your neighbor about how he should have put his lawnmower away and now it's in what used to be your living room. That's not important. What's important is getting your life back together. It's about working with your neighbor to *fix* the damned problem. It's about trying to figure out why a hurricane came through your neighborhood and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. 

Bush has been a disaster for the US. Even conservatives will admit to this. What we need to do now is figure out how we let a bunch of people who had no business running the country get into power (hint: don't let the Supreme Court make that decision). What we need to do is find a leader who will admit that some of the problems we have are due to some really short-sighted ideologies and change the way we do things. 

We are where Great Britain was fifty years ago. I know several people who lived or live there, and without exception they *all* say they would rather be here than there. I have this very bad feeling that in fifty more years we'll be saying the same thing about the US. If we're very, very lucky, we *won't* be saying it about living on Earth in general. 

Of course, I figured out long ago that people, when faced with impending doom, will merrily pretend it doesn't exist. And if they do, their first response is to try to stock up on bottled water, buy a gun, and hide in the basement for a year. So I'm not holding out a lot of hope. But maybe, *just* maybe, if we stop playing tribal politics and *fix* our problems instead of trying to absolve ourselves of responsibility, *maybe* we'll pull our heads out of our asses just long enough to minimize the damage. 

Good luck with that. 

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