AN INFORMED CITIZENRY . . .
Ralph: “That 9.12 DC TEA PARTY video Friday was great. It showed exactly what we’re up against: tens of millions of gullible, ignorant, misguided people. It’s important to remember that these people mean well, but they are lacking the the areas of logical, critical thinking – which makes them easy prey for right-wing manipulators like Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, and Fox.”
☞ Basically, Limbaugh and Beck make them feel smart and superior; we elitists who believe in evolution and know that Iraq did not attack us (and that you can’t be both a socialist and a fascist – they are pretty much polar opposites) are seen to be talking down to them. So if you were a ditto-head, whom would you likely side with?
One does fear for democracy, when the things that “everyone knows” should be done – like single-payer health care today* or the phasing in of an annual gas tax hike 35 years ago** – can’t be done.
*This being America, it needs a “first-class” option for those wishing to pay a large premium to board the plane (or in this case, the non-emergency MRI) a little sooner, and in a nicer seat.
**I had a chance to interview the Secretary of the Treasury in 1974, after OPEC had quadrupled the price of oil (to twelve bucks a barrel). I asked: Shouldn’t we raise the puny gas tax by a dime a year for a couple of decades – using the revenue to lower the tax on things we wanted to encourage, like work and investment? He said: Yes, of course, he said, dismissively (how naïve could I be?); but it’s politically impossible. Yet if we had done that obvious thing, look where we’d be today: We would lead the world in fuel efficiency technology – Toyota would be licensing hybrid technology from us – largely independent of foreign oil, and trillions of dollars less deeply in debt.
WE’RE IN HOT WATER
Global warming is speeding up: “Earth’s temperature is likely to jump nearly 6 degrees between now and the end of the century even if every country cuts greenhouse gas emissions as proposed, according to a United Nations update,” reports the Associated Press.
This doesn’t just mean it’ll be warmer in the winter and hotter in the summer, which might be kinda nice in some parts of the world. It means war, famine, disease, and perhaps the end of human civilization.
We need to get on the stick. Pick up the pace. Focus.
Which leads me to:
BILL MAHER’S LATEST
New Rule: If America can’t get its act together, it must lose the bald eagle as our symbol and replace it with the YouTube video of the puppy that can’t get up. As long as we’re pathetic, we might as well act like it’s cute. I don’t care about the president’s birth certificate, I do want to know what happened to “Yes we can.” Can we get out of Iraq? No. Afghanistan? No. Fix health care? No. Close Gitmo? No. Cap-and-trade carbon emissions? No. The Obamas have been in Washington for ten months and it seems like the only thing they’ve gotten is a dog.
Well, I hate to be a nudge, but why has America become a nation that can’t make anything bad end, like wars, farm subsidies, our oil addiction, the drug war, useless weapons programs – oh, and there’s still 60,000 troops in Germany – and can’t make anything good start, like health care reform, immigration reform, rebuilding infrastructure. Even when we address something, the plan can never start until years down the road. Congress’s climate change bill mandates a 17% cut in greenhouse gas emissions… by 2020! Fellas, slow down, where’s the fire? Oh yeah, it’s where I live, engulfing the entire western part of the United States!
We might pass new mileage standards, but even if we do, they wouldn’t start until 2016. In that year, our cars of the future will glide along at a breathtaking 35 miles-per-gallon. My goodness, is that even humanly possible? Cars that get 35 miles-per-gallon in just six years? Get your head out of the clouds, you socialist dreamer! “What do we want!? A small improvement! When do we want it!? 2016!”
When it’s something for us personally, like a laxative, it has to start working now. My TV remote has a button on it now called “On Demand.” You get your ass on my TV screen right now, Jon Cryer, and make me laugh. Now! But when it’s something for the survival of the species as a whole, we phase that in slowly.
Folks, we don’t need more efficient cars. We need something to replace cars. That’s what’s wrong with these piddly, too-little-too-late half-measures that pass for “reform” these days. They’re not reform, they’re just putting off actually solving anything to a later day, when we might by some miracle have, a) leaders with balls, and b) a general populace who can think again. Barack Obama has said, “If we were starting from scratch, then a single-payer system would probably make sense.” So let’s start from scratch.
Even if they pass the [bleep] Max Baucus health care bill, it doesn’t kick in for 4 years, during which time 175,000 people will die because they’re not covered, and about three million will go bankrupt from hospital bills. We have a pretty good idea of the Republican plan for the next three years: Don’t let Obama do anything. What kills me is that that’s the Democrats’ plan, too.
We weren’t always like this. Inert. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law and 11 months later seniors were receiving benefits. During World War II, virtually overnight FDR had auto companies making tanks and planes only. In one eight year period, America went from JFK’s ridiculous dream of landing a man on the moon, to actually landing a man on the moon. . . .
Bill Maher is host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher”
☞ Obviously, it’s easier for Bill Maher to say these things than for even the most talented, well-motivated Administration to achieve them. But it’s good he’s saying them anyway.
The challenge: to persuade sitting Democrats in tough districts to risk their careers for the greater good; and to risk losing control of Congress as in 1994. (It’s got to be Democrats, because the Republican game plan thus far is simply to say no to everything.)
There is a strong case to be made if that if we actually do take bold action we will be rewarded, not punished (the inverse of 1994). Getting enough legislators to take that leap is not easy, but I think we’ll get there, with meaningful, albeit not perfect, results.