Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bitter or Depressed? Decisions, Decisions...



OK, then.

Four more years, four more years.

You know, as bleak as that prospect is--and it is bleak--in retrospect, I think the re-election was inevitable, and it was remarkable that it was as close as it was. Bottom line: September 11 scared the living s--t out of the country (and rightly so.) And that made it easy--oh, so easy--to turn it into the issue of the campaign. (Although certain polls suggest that folks in Ohio felt the main issue was jobs, which makes that state's decision to go with Bush so irredeemably stupid that I think we have to stop making 'Florida' jokes for a while and switch to "How Many Buckeyes Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb"-based humor.) And since the Bush administration has managed, with the collusion of a spineless (or conservatively owned/operated) media, to depict our occupation of Iraq as 'a war' in the Campaign Against Terrorism, it's only reasonable to assume that jingoism and fear would combine to give Bush the win. Also--seriously--Democrats have got, got, GOT to stop nominating liberal New Englanders. The last one of them to win was Kennedy, and he had to steal the election. Stop it, guys. Southern governors. Those are the guys who win. Stick with them. Incumbents usually either win big (Reagan, Nixon, Clinton) or lose big (Carter, Bush the First)--I find it fascinating that Bush only squeaked by, and that this fact argues that he has, in fact, divided the country into entrenched, unyielding, hostile camps. Hurrah for the Union.

What Bush's victory means, in addition:

The Chief Justice is on his way out. Scalia will undoubtedly get the nod, and be supplanted by an equally lunatic conservative. Good, if you're of the "F--k the fag--ts," "F--k affirmative action," "Abortion is murder," and "Worker Protection is the equivalent of Communism" sector of the population. Bad, if you're, you know, not.

We will continue to have our pollution monitored by the polluters. No comment necessary.

Tax cuts will continue, the deficit will grow, our grandchildren will have to consider selling their children into slavery in order to be able to retire with enough money to buy their daily ration of Soylent Green.

Prescription drugs will continue to rise in cost--yay, I get to spend more each month to keep my neurotransmitters balanced enough to prevent suicidal impulses! Canadian providers of said drugs will be treated as if they were fourth-world sub-humans cooking up leech-based poultices made of the filthy run-offs of slaughterhouses. Advice: Buy stock in Glaxo-Smith-Kline.

The national discourse will continue its decline into verbal thuggery. It will grow shriller and nastier and we will lose the ability to achieve the nuance of compromise. Both sides will be to blame on this issue, so let's not pat ourselves on the back, liberals--but on the other hand, we're not the ones claiming that the other side is pro-terrorist...I repeat, both sides have formed polarized and mouth-frothingly vitriolic camps, and we will increasingly feel good about hating our fellow citizens. But hey, country music will thrive. (So, too, will whiny alternative rock. Oh, goody. Remind me to have my car radio uninstalled.)

We will stay the course in Iraq. No substantial comment necessary, except to say this: if you are male and 18-24 and you voted for Bush, I hope you enjoy the prospect of involuntary military service in an overseas desert. 'Cause guess what, chuckles? Iraq's gonna need a lot more body-bag fillers over the next few years, and it's awful hard to recruit people to march into a suicidal quagmire. Now, I'm not saying there will be a draft--I'm not that good a prognosticator--but though Bush swore there wouldn't be one, he now no longer has to run for re-election (or indeed, any public office, ever), and he's got a lock-step friendly Congress, so there's no reason for him not to break his promise. Have fun in Fallujah!

We will continue to be completely and utterly and totally dependent on foreign oil--odd, isn't it, that the Bush administration seems so utterly determined to tell the rest of the world to, in the words of our Vice President, "go f--k yourself," whilst engaging in an energy policy that essentially makes us the Middle East's prison bitch? Oil men run the show, folks, and there's no reason they'd want us to switch from their product to something we can make here at home. So get used to having to care about murderous Muslim fundamentalists--they'll be the ones we have to suck up to in order to gas up our Hummers.

I could go on, but why? Jimmy Breslin once wrote of Ronald Reagan that he was "so shockingly dumb that by his very presence in office he numbs an entire nation." Bush has had the same effect. We are numb. We do not care. I can only hope that those who voted for him suffer as much as those of us who did not. But will they? I doubt it. Polls show that 75% of Bush supporters believe that A. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and B. Hussein was behind--via planning and financial assistance--Sept. 11. In other words, they voted for Santa Claus. They voted for a vision of the world that does not exist--but that they really want to believe in. And why wouldn't they? Isn't it more comforting, more snuggly safe to think that we got the bad guy and we're all safe and sound and that Poppa Bush will take care of us--and, by the way, f--k the French? Isn't that much, much nicer?

To get back to my earlier, allusive point: As bleak as the prospect of four more years of Bush is, that's not what has me stomach-knottedly disturbed. It's the fact that both Houses of Congress went further into the red. Which means that the Republicans now have a solid grip on all three branches of government. Which is a fact so nightmarishly at odds with the whole 'balance of power' that the tripartite structure of the government was supposed to ensure that the only question is whether or not I should muffle my screams. It means that we no longer have debates--no longer have give-and-take, checks-and-balances. It means that there will be no stopping the appointment of Ashcroft-chosen federal judges (not mention Supreme Court justices.) It means that legislation like the revoltingly named "Partial-Birth Abortion" ban get passed without a whimper. (Note to opponents of this procedure: It is only used to save the life of the mother. Only. Only. Nobody likes to see a mostly-finished semi-baby extracted and dismembered. Nobody. Not NOW. Not Planned Parenthood. Nobody. But this procedure is done only when it is a choice between letting the baby die, and letting the baby and the mother die. That's it. It is never ever ever used as means of voluntary birth control. Never. So opponents of the procedure are essentially saying they would rather let women die than permit any kind of premature--however inevitable the fetus's death--termination. And that's just...eerily monstrous.) But such things will happen, because now there is no one to stop them. Look--I'm not saying I like the idea of the Democrats in charge of everything. Edmund Burke was a liberal--a Whig--but he's known as the father of modern conservatism because he acknowledged that slow, careful progress is better than revolution, which tends to wind up with heads tumbling into baskets. So we need the brakes of conservatism, no question. And no one wants to live in a world of radical liberalism--a world run by PETA, and ACT UP, and the ADL, and Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, and Louis Farrakhan. Nobody wants to live under a fascism of tolerance. But neither should we be forced to live in a world of fundamentalist zealotry--isn't that what we're fighting overseas? And yet, that's what we've signed up for.

By the way, let me just give a shout-out to all those states who passed Anti-Gay Marriage laws. Congratulations, guys. You really won one for the Marriage Is Sacred team. But why stop there? I mean, if the institution is so godd--ned sacred, why quit at simply cutting off the whole 'same-sex' option? Surely, if it's so precious, and so sacred, we can't just preserve it by keeping people out--we've gotta regulate people who get in! So let's get really serious about making marriage permanent--let's make sure the iron shackles of matrimony--wedlock, right?--are so restrictive that Houdini couldn't get out of them. Remember, guys, according to Christ--who's presumbaly the one who's putting the "Sacred" into the Institution--you can't dump the ball and chain unless she screws around on you, and, ladies, no matter what, once you're married, anybody after Husband Number One makes you an adultress. (Unless he's dead, of course--hint, hint.)Let's fine--no, imprison!--fornicators. And as for adulterers, hell, break out the scarlet "A"s. Come on, you defenders of the Sacred Institution of Marriage--put your legislative muscle where your big fat mouths are. Of course, it may be that you don't really give a s--t about marriage--that you're just riding on the sleazy coattails of bigotry to achieve political relevance. But hey, more power to you--worked for George Wallace! (Until God got even by rendering him an agonized cripple with a nasty case of Parkinson's.)

Bitter. I'm going with Bitter, rather than Depressed. And I'm done, for now. Let me just close, though, with this: Conservatives love to claim that liberals hate America. If that's true, it's because conservatives have turned America into a hate-filled, hateful nation. And we let them do it. Shame on all of us.


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