At no time did I ever set out to become a political blogger: I think of myself as essentially apolitical, and I participate to the extent expected of me as a citizen, but not much beyond that. Then again, "you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you," as Cicero, Pericles, Marshall Berman, Leon Trotsky, J. B. Priestly, or somebody else once said. To me, it sounds more like Yakov Smirnoff: "In America, you join political party; in Soviet Russia, political party joins you." Assuming he said that at all, and why wouldn't he?

Still, griping about the American political system, and the stagnating backwaters into which its islands of citizenship have been unceremoniously plunked, has been a component of this Web site since the first day it was established. From Vent #1, 9 April 1996:

I'm definitely sure that I wish all of this would go away. And if McVeigh and Nichols are convicted of the bombing, it's only a matter of time before things get worse, as the local hack politicians go into their usual see-how-tough-we-are-on-crime act and the regulars from the Professional Victims League start angling for televised executions at the Lloyd Noble Center.

McVeigh and Nichols were indeed convicted; Timmy-boy is now shoveling brimstone on Beelzebub's chain gang, and Terry is presumably just waiting his turn. But the phrase "hack politicians," more and more, seems to carry its own superfluous redundancy, and we have enough Professional Victims nowadays to set up two major leagues, lots of farm clubs, and an annual draft.

So I'm a political watcher the hard way: dragged into it more or less as a matter of self-defense. It's the very least I can do — the extent expected of me as a citizen, if you will — to pass along some of the things I've learned in nearly four decades as a voter and a decade and a half as an Internet crank.

  • Alongside such hardy perennials as "The check is in your mouth" and "I won't come in the mail," "It's not about the money" has long since earned its place as a Big Lie. It's always about the money, and pretty much always has been. By now this should be obvious to any sentient being, and possibly even to a handful of Congressmen. Still, there are, as Mark Twain put it, "People that Sit in Darkness," and despite the fact that "most have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us," not every pair of eyes has been opened. Yet.

  • If one of your ostensible Representatives should suggest that some bill he's promoting is somehow "for the children," you might want to ask him if his concern for the next generation extends far enough to allowing it to be born. If not, you might suggest — gently, of course — that his cognitive dissonance is showing.

  • "Nonpartisan" ain't what it used to be. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, like his predecessors and like his opponents, ran for the office without a party label attached to his name, but pretty much everyone in town knows he's a Republican — he once ran for Congress as a Republican, which should be a clue — and now that he's getting nationwide coverage for being in charge of an almost-major city that's not actually going to hell, said coverage is generally careful to specify that Mayor Mick is down with GOP. I'm guessing that this is due to the fact that mayors in blue states are routinely elected as members of one party of another — the exception being New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who on his best days is about as Republican as Lenin — and therefore the journalistic types dwelling therein feel compelled to mention it no later than the third paragraph. On the other hand, were Cornett to be caught up in some tabloid-level scandal, the papers would inevitably begin the story: "Republican Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City..." Count on it.

  • And while we're at it, "bipartisan" ought to be drummed out of the language just for having acquired a connotation wholly at odds with its actual meaning. Both Democrats and Republicans praise "bipartisan" agreements, when the fact of the matter is, they're just reinforcing their own insistence that "you got your Democrats, you got your Republicans, and what's left isn't worth a bucket of John Nance Garner's bodily fluids" (Vent #63, 1997). Neither party is mentioned in the Constitution; therefore neither party is essential to the operation of the government. Once in a while, they need to be reminded of that.

I could go on, but I suppose I've gone on long enough — for now, anyway.

The Vent

#710
  23 January 2011

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