Posted tagged ‘Republican Party’

Life in These Untied States

April 16, 2009

So, to sum up:

1. People who make far less than 250K per year, whose tax rates will be cut, spent yesterday out in public demanding that Obama stop increasing their taxes. They proudly marched and defiantly yelled and etc., etc., insisting with waved signs and shaken fists on their opposition to something that is not the case. They have made it their business to prevent something from happening that was never going to happen in the first place–and they mean it!

2. These same people, whose economic and physical well-being are a matter of supreme indifference to the richest families in America, have been persuaded to insist on policies that will only benefit the richest families in America. There is a term for these people, and it isn’t “right-wing” or “conservative” or “patriotic” or even “Republicans.” The term is “sucker.” These people are suckers. They have been tricked and manipulated into working against their own interests and for the interests of people who could literally not care less about them. Their patron saint isn’t Barry Goldwater or Thomas Paine or Ronald Reagan or Jesus H. Christ. It’s P.T. Barnum.

3. People who would be forced into bankruptcy by an attack of appendicitis, who have no idea what “socialism” is or how it differs from “communism” or “fascism,” were to be seen yesterday out in force, self-righteously pissed off and calling Obama a socialist, a communist, and a fascist, often interchangeably. And what are their ideas about how to deal with the worst economic crisis in eighty years? “Let them go bankrupt!” Ignorance and indignation: it doesn’t get any more American than that. Each of them–proud, free, unafraid to speak stupidity to power–is like a homeowner whose house is on fire and yet who refuses to let the fire fighters turn a hose on the flames because “it’ll get my stuff all wet.” And when the fire chief ventures the suggestion that the fire is a) going to destroy their stuff anyway, and then b) spread to other homes, he gets shut down with such wised-up, common-man arguments as, “I pay your salary!”

4. Glenn Beck–a prancing, sobbing, gibbering buffoon who will say literally anything to keep his audience’s attention–has become the new spokesperson for the right. Yes, just when you thought Sean Hannity was, not only as bad as it got, but as bad as it could get, here comes the next level in televised right-wing demagoguery. Glenn Beck–whom Dickens himself would delete from a novel as being “too obvious”–is a star. As a consequence of this…

5. Rush Limbaugh has become the “de facto leader” of the right. Think about it–if you dare! Glenn Beck has accomplished the impossible. This is science fact, not science fiction: He’s somehow managed to make the country’s most famous sex-tourist drug-addict saloon-loudmouth hate-mongering hypocrite seem dignified and thoughtful. Glenn Beck has succeeded in bestowing gravitas on Rush Limbaugh. Still, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. When the spotlight is grabbed by the dancing monkey, the rhinoceros in the background starts to look downright serious and thoughtful.

6. Fox News, a factory of propaganda and lies on the best of days, has decided “the hell with it” and become an outright partisan fomenter of “revolution.” While formerly (as a study showed during the Bush years), watching Fox News actually made one stupider, now watching it (as a follow-up will surely prove) makes one insane. During Bush, Fox News merely promulgated falsehoods. Now, during Obama, its function is to corrode its viewers’ very understanding of reality itself. But what else can it do, since…

7. The devolution of the Republican Party (for which Fox News serves as Pravda) proceeds apace. The GOP, fifty years ago the Cotillion Party, is now the Toga Party Party. Newt Gingrich–hippie-dippy marital history, ethics charges and all–is newly converted to Catholicism and plotting his return. (Who said there are no third–or is it fourth?–acts in American lives?) The governor of Texas threatens to secede. (Memo to Gov. Perry: Here’s your Stetson; what’s your hurry? Just leave us Austin as your going-away present to us.) A senator openly talks about advising his wife to hurry down to the ATM and withdraw all their money, suggesting what in the good old days we used to call “a run on the bank.” Libertarians (which is a fancy poli-sci term for “adolescents with firm political opinions about an imaginary society”) threaten to “go Galt” but then somehow can’t follow through. Whither the courage of the Randroids? And no one in the party of Wm. F. Buckley and Norman Podhoretz seems to know that the term “tea-bag” refers to dangling a man’s genitals into someone’s mouth.

This is not “the loyal opposition.” This is Animal House. Every week brings a new hit single from the demonstrably unhinged Michelle Bachmann. And talk about legislation–what do these frat rats do? They release–get this–a budget with no numbers. What a goof!

8. The right-wing blogs, from the most crayon-on-paper-bags illiterate to the airy summit of the National Review, from obscure typists like Pastor Grant Swank (Google it; you’ll be amazed) to the preening elite like Jonah Goldberg and Michele Malkin, have heard that funky jungle beat and formed a great writhing conga line of lunacy: having turned their brains inside-out defending the indefensible Bush (never mind Cheney) for eight years, now they say anything that comes to their fevered minds just to keep the gig and not actually have to work for a living. “Where is Obama’s birth certificate?” “The Navy shot those pirates but Obama had nothing to do with it.” “This tea-bag revolution–” (well-documented as having been conceived, directed, funded, and scripted by right-wing foundations) “–is a marvel of spontaneous grass-roots populist grass-rootsy spontaneity!”

What does it all mean? I’m asking, reader. Is this widespread madness fun? Is it business and politics as usual? Should we derive from it nothing more than good old fashioned schadenfreude, and just pass the popcorn while watching the people who created and supported the catastrophes of the past eight years as they now wallow in their impotence and irrelevance? Or is all this manipulated, phony “grass-roots” outrage fated to lead to some serious danger to innocent people? For every thousand citizens who gather in public to scream idiotic slogans and proudly flaunt their ignorance, how many more are laboring away in basements and garages, building bombs or assembling arsenals? How many does it take to lead to disaster?

The anger and fear of these people are real and, probably in most cases, justified, however much they misidentify their causes. That’s what the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Becks depend on exploiting in order to make themselves rich and famous. But this entire cycle (rage; exploitation; more rage) seems to me worse than usual, as does its manipulation by the wealthy and their servants. Is it? Or is all this just more publicized than it used to be? Doesn’t publicizing it make it grow, and therefore make it worse? Or is it a relatively minor, if lurid, sideshow?

Should I be worried, indifferent, or vastly amused? What does it all mean?


GOP Squad ’09!

March 1, 2009

They’re young. They’re hip. They’re “bad.” They’ve got conservative vibes and a with-it vocabulary full of talking points and “buzz words” and they really know what’s happening, baby. They can bum out the seniors with some hairy entitlement alarmism, and then hang loose with the Jesus Freaks by coming on all traditional-values and stuff. And they can rap with the kids, too, tweeting their wiki down the google tubes and blogging their browsers in high-def in your facebook, luv. They work for The Man and even sometimes for The Woman. They function within the System, because they do their own thing, and the System is their thing.

If it feels good, they tell you not to do it and then they do it. If it sounds good, they say it. If it polls good, they support it–or they say they do, or they say they did whether they did or not and hey: If it doesn’t add up, make sense, or prove true; if the scene goes bad or the vibe gets bummed, that’s your hang-up. They’re not “escaping Reality.” They’re building their own Reality. And they’ve been brought together by one man who believes they can get down, get funky, and get votes all at the same time.

They call themselves the GOP Squad. Check out their happening thing:

SARAH!–She’s young. She’s fine. She’s a mom and a governor and a rising star of the far right and a stone cold double-talking wolf-shooting fox. Her old man’s a hunk who used to want to secede from the Union, ’cause Alaska is outta sight. You know Sarah’s hip to the environment, ’cause she’s got a dead crab on her coffee table the size of a schnauzer. She blows off global warming, too, because it snowed somewhere last week and the chick is cool. Brains? She’s reads so many newspapers she can’t remember any of them.

And feature this: the lady lobbies for scratch (for a bridge to, like, Nowhere, man) and then she hears it’s not groovy? She says she didn’t want it from Jump Street. And then cops it anyway! That’s ’cause she doesn’t dig the whole Socialism thing, and every time she lays some bread on her constituents via their annual share of the income realized from investing the royalty revenue from the oil companies’ exploitation of the Prudhoe Bay oil reserves, she hips them to it, and it’s beautiful. She talks the talk even when she’s too busy laying the groundwork for the 2012 campaign to walk the walk. So ask her anything. She’ll be lip-flappin’ and jive-talkin’ ’til you wig out bad, baby.

MIKE!–What if they gave a Republican Party and everybody came? That’s Mike, Chairman-With-No-Hair-Man of the GOP. But hey. Never you mind that chrome dome, Jerome–Mike is five freaking months younger than Dem Chair Tim Kaine and that, in essence, is what-it-is. He’s black, you understand, so the brother possesses what most people can agree is a reasonable quantity of soul. The cat knows how The Machine works ’cause he was part of it–in state Government, that whole trip. Now he’s laying down some righteous riffs.

Says government jobs aren’t jobs, they’re “work.” Says the Party needs to let the sunshine out with a boss and groovy Hip-Hop-type packaging approach of marketing and “branding” and so forth. Says the way to bring power to the People is to let Republicans lead ’em out of the Big Economic Muddy they got us into because they got us into it. Says jobs that go away “come back.”

You tell him: Hey, man. But that’s like a cop-out. Big banks are crashing and don’t know how to value their assets from a hole in the ground, and the Dow is barely more than half of what it was, and this bad trip is global. What does Mike say? He says, “Small businesses will get us out of this.” You say: Oh wow. The small businesses that are going bankrupt? The ones that need credit and can’t get it? The ones that only exist thanks to contracts with big businesses, as GM goes belly-up and CitiCorp gets nationalized? He says, There it is.

That’s Mike’s bag. It’s a backwards-upside down-trickle up-psychedelic freakout. It’ll do a number on your head ’cause it’s got levels. Because everything is everything and This Is It. Far fucking out.

BOBBY!–He’s young. He’s smooth. His ancestors were Indian and he looks kinda black and his parents were Hindu–like Ghandi. But there is no need to flip out or become up-tight. When Bobby speaks he sounds more like Mister Rogers than Mister Nehru, and he converted to Catholicism. Which is cool, and fab, and very, very gear, our-Judeo-Christian-heritage-wise. Meanwhile, are you interested in heavy? Bobby took part in an actual, somewhat documented, super-tuff exorcism. Not only can he talk to political conservatives, and to religious conservatives, he can talk to demons, okay?

But that’s not the limit of the extent to which he is with-it. Bobby is an Intelligent Design head. The cat is a Rhodes Scholar and has a degree in Bio from Brown, so he can get down with the brainiacs. But folks who think the Earth is 6,000 years old and that God produced the beetles dig him, too. Accident? Hang in there, baby–it’s politics. There are no accidents. Contradiction? There are no contradictions, although sometimes there are. Schizophrenic? Yes and no. When it comes to irreducible complexity, Bobby’s as irreducible and complex as they come.

Like Sarah, he can tell a story: Said he was there, when Katrina went down, in a sheriff’s office as the fuzz got righteously P.O.’d at a Fed bureaucrat for withholding boats to rescue folks from their flood-imperiled pads. Then it turned out he wasn’t there, only heard the pig yakkity-yakking about it on the phone days later.

Like Mike, he has a mantra: “Americans can do anything.” It’s “Om mani padme hum” Looziana-style. Say it long enough and it changes the universe. Or at least folks think it does. Or at least Bobby thinks folks think it does. Because it’s all in your head.

CAPTAIN RUSH: A gentle giant who’s only giant horizontally and is anything but gentle. Irascible-but-lovable-but-obnoxious-but-loud, with a crusty exterior concealing a heart of soft, warm hate, he’s the one in charge, the grown-up, the boss. This was his idea, to bring together these three non-conformist rebel-hot-heads-patriots-symbols-of-conservative-resurgence-with-racial-ethnic-and-gender-crossover-appeal. Of course he can’t do it alone. He’s got help. That’s where Joe “My Name Isn’t Joe And I’m Not a Plumber” The Plumber fits in.

Rush knows that war is not unhealthy for defense contractors and other Republican things. He knows that reality is for people who can’t face drugs–and he faces drugs every day. He knows that if Obama fails to solve the problems created by Republican policies, then they weren’t created by Republican policies–and if he does solve them, then they weren’t problems. Like the I Ching says, you’re either on the bus or off the bus; well, dig–Rush is the bus. And he wants to throw America under it every day, in the name of “conservative principles.”

If Sarah’s finances look hinky, Rush is there to blame everything on Clinton. If Mike goes off-message, Rush is there to call Harry Reid a socialist. If Bobby’s speech is a turn-off and a bring-down, with a come-on like a come-down you can put down as a put-on, Rush is there to dub him “the next Ronald Reagan.”

The GOP Squad: Three misfits of gender and color, ready to take it to the streets and make the Party happening again. With Michele Bachmann as “Michele, The Embarrassing Secretary” and Mitch McConnell as “The Crypt-keeper.”

Can you dig it? Peace out.

Let My GOOPers Go

September 1, 2008

Arianna Huffington writes:

So read Borosage’s post and let us know what you think the Republican Party should be doing to save itself. Electing McCain/Palin clearly is not the answer. What do you think the answer is?

Talk about a hanging curve…Still, if someone throws it, someone else is morally obligated to hit it.

The Republican Party, in order to save itself, should do what the children of Israel did to save themselves upon their exodus from Egypt. They wandered in the desert for forty years.

What was the life expectancy around that time? Who the hell knows. Let’s say sixty years. In which case, everyone over the age of twenty (except Moses and his posse) could be expected to die before the Jews were allowed past the velvet rope into the Promised Land.

Thus for the GOP. Literally: send them, at taxpayer expense, to some vast desert area in, say, Saudi Arabia or Libya (or Iraq), and let them wander. Sans GPS, sans cell phones, sans every other goddamn thing except a couple bottles of Jim Beam and a case or two of Vienna sausage. They’ll get by.

In fact, they’ll love it. They adore being–or, at least, claiming to be–persecuted. And they’d be thousands of miles from all the things they (profess to) abhor: government; freedom-hating “liberals”; nanny-state hand-outs; labor unions; forced indoctrination in evolution, sex education, contraception, long division, and arugula maintenance; mandatory health insurance, gun licensing, fluoridation, speed limits, abortions, Title IX–hell, mandatory anything; media; gay marriages; elitist elites; Michael Moore.

Of course, if they “love it,” how does that purify and temper and improve the Republican Party? Won’t this enforced isolation make them hew to their quaint and barbaric values all the more? Won’t they just emerge from exile tanned, leather-skinned, lean, mean, dumber than ever, truly inbred and ready to rule?

Yes, they will. But no one will recognize them. In the forty years of their absence we will (despite regular “Where Are They Now and What the Heck Are They Eating?” features on tv and in magazines) have moved on. Hillary’s second term will have long-since ended, Barack Obama will have won his third Nobel Prize, Karl Rove will be literally dead, and the Cubs dynasty will have come and gone. The Internet will have attained self-consciousness and ended global warming. Sarah Palin’s grandchild (named “Jane,” to spite the mother’s mom) will have children of her own.

After forty years, the next generation of Republicans, purged and cleansed by their nomadic desert life, will arrive in the U.S. like the sand people in Dune visiting the capital, but without all their moral authority and the riding-giant-worms thing.

They will reveal themselves to an amazed, educated, sympathetic, and pitying public for what they are: the offspring of a brutal, ignorant, and savage tribe once somehow involved in U.S. politics and now, both for the good of themselves and for the nation (and, therefore, the world), thankfully an anomaly, an historical curiosity and a reminder of our less civilized past.

Interestingly, four decades of insulation from the rest of the English-speaking world might result in a pressurized mutation of their language, leaving them speaking a pidgin amalgam of American English, Christian code words, hate-garbled profanity, and the normal sort of secret language that evolves among isolated groups. Thus, while we may still think of them as “The Republican Party,” their name for themselves might to our ears sound like “Duh Ruppin Pie” or “The Rubber Part,” etc. We should not be surprised to see their leader step forward, on the tarmac at JFK, and shout into the microphones, “WE BE THE RUBBER PART AND WE ARE RUN FOR PREZNIT GOD BLESS!”

Their future as a political force in the U.S. will, by then, be past discussion. But, in their absence, we will have become, once again, a compassionate people. We will allow them to live out their lives on a reservation somewhere in Arizona. Because, as someone will vaguely remember, they used to like Republicans in Arizona.

18 Questions *From* Congressional Republicans II: The Back Nine

May 13, 2008

Previously, on “18 Questions *From* Congressional Republicans”:

–“For some reason I happen to be on the mailing list of the National Republican Congressional Committee.”
–“18…questions they just sent me…”
–“‘our nation’s position on marriage…'”
–“‘victory…in passing a law banning partial-birth abortions…'”
–“‘…moral, family, and values issues…'”
–“‘Liberal Democrats persist in attacking our Government’s steps and strategies…'”
–“‘…burden of additional security at our airports…'”
–“‘…Bush tax cuts PERMANENT…'”
–“‘…overhaul of the way we pay federal taxes…'”
–“‘…Baby Boomers…retiring…personal retirement plans.'”
–“For this reason I answered ‘not sure.'”
–“‘…not sure.'”
–“…because I’m not an economist, I answered ‘Not sure.'”

And then I came to Question 10, which opened with a clarion call of triumph! “Congress and President Bush strengthened Medicare and provided seniors with their own choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drug coverage.” “Their own choice”! Like a toddler getting his “own” special seat in the car! No mention of the restriction, specified in the law, against Congress doing, when buying prescription drugs, what any other big-ticket customer does when he buys, say, a ton of potatoes–negotiating a better price.

My inner response? The usual: Blah blah blah “what happened to the wisdom of the marketplace?” blah blah blah “competition,” blah blah “government run by corporations for their benefit,” “naked hypocrisy blah,” and so on.

The three answers from which I could choose, alas, featured none of those. Rather, did I favor “more strong Republican approaches to reforming the Medicare system,” (underlining in the original), the Dems’ plan to create “a government-run health care system,” or “leaving things pretty much the way they are now”?

Yes, you read that correctly: “pretty much.” Like you, I was–and remain–offended by the questionnaire’s slack language. I inscribed, with lapidary care, my own box, checked it, and wrote “Not sure.”

If there were a Sentence Hall of Fame (and somewhere on the Internet there probably are six of them), surely Question 11’s opener would qualify for admission: “Despite the success of the President’s No Child Left Behind Act, many U.S. schools are still receiving failing grades.” Here we have a masterpiece of English construction that accomplishes three things at once. It starts with an untrue premise; it contradicts itself with its second clause; and it confuses “schools” with “students” in a question dealing with standards of education.

When asked whether “we” should “mandate that our schools and teachers abandon the burdensome, ‘politically correct’ requirements that are hamstringing their work and concentrate more on the basics of a sound education” (whatever they are, in this day and a.), who wouldn’t (as I did) answer “Not sure”?

Question 12: “In an effort to protect the religious heritage and character of our nation,” am I in favor of the Bush administration’s request that “under God” be retained in the Pledge of Allegiance? Now, I am on record (at least in my mind) as being firmly against protecting the religious heritage and character of our nation.

But even more importantly, I don’t care about this “under God” business because I believe the Pledge of Allegiance itself should be replaced with the Breyer’s Pledge of Purity. Instead of promising “liberty and justice for all,” which is obviously a sales slogan and not to be taken literally, let’s make a promise we can keep, and vow that the United States of America will use “the highest quality, all natural ingredients available.” (Thanks to Richard Price, and Clockers, for the idea). “Not sure” was my answer, and I stand by it.

Question 13 seemed to hint at something progressive: “Do you think that much of our legal system is now working harder to protect the rights of criminals–” Do I ever! White collar criminals! Un-indicted co-conspirators, lying Vice-Presidents, and worse! I got excited and prepared to answer Yes.

Then I finished the question: “…than it is to safeguard the rights of citizens to be free of crime in their homes and on the streets?” Oh. That. Actually, no–I haven’t watched 2,469 iterations of Law & Order without knowing better, or–and this is essential to the Republican world view–believing I know better, even if I don’t. So my initial Yes was killed–murdered!–by my subsequent No and came out “Not sure.”

“More than 3 million illegal aliens now flood into our country each year,” states Question 14. “Our schools, hospitals, and social services are become overburdened by this influx.” What to do? “Tighten our borders, restrict immigration,” etc.? Let the “heavy influx” continue (“…as it has been to ensure the continuation of increased diversity in our country”)?

I looked, in vain, for a third answer (“Re-direct some of the kabillions being wasted in Iraq to support and expand our schools, hospitals, and social services?”). I made a mental note to suggest this option to the Committee, and then punted by writing in “Not sure.”

Question 15 seemed inspired by black helicopter- monitoring cranks: “As we continue to fight the War on Terror, do you think our U.S. troops should be required to serve under commanders from other nations or from the United Nations…” etc., etc., “…as some Democrats have suggested?” Even the author of the question seemed a bit embarrassed by it. The answers available were “Definitely not,” “Probably, sometimes,” and my personal favorite, “Don’t know.”

And now came Question 16.

“How do you describe yourself politically?”

There were four boxes: Conservative, Moderate, Liberal, and Uncommitted. I did what any sensible person would do, and checked all four.

Question 17 was a gimme: Did I vote in the 2004 Presidential Election. (Yes). The 2006 Mid-Term Election? (Yes.) Nuff said.

And finally: “The Democrats are gearing up to increase their numbers in the next elections, when every single one of our 201 Republican representatives will be vulnerable.” Knowing this, am I willing to help “by making a generous donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee today?”

Of course not. And yet, haven’t we all had a bit of fun at the NRCC’s expense? Don’t I owe them something?So I went to the trouble of drawing a little box and checking it and writing “Not sure.”

And there you have it. Eighteen ways to foster ignorance while pretending to ask questions. Eighteen ways to press the red meat of the credulous and the resentful. Eighteen ways to throw hot buttons at a constituency that gets stupider every time it listens to its leaders.

“Not printed at government expense,” it says at the bottom of the form. That’s good to know. It means the government won’t suffer when I take advantage of the postage-paid envelope, and mail back my response.

18 Questions *From* the NRCC

May 8, 2008

The Republican Party, as every schoolchild knows, has by now degenerated from a quasi-aristocratic affinity group of Rotarian strivers and upper-crust coupon-clippers, into a wild-eyed cult, fully marinating in denial and mendacity, in which the very rich exploit the very credulous for the purposes of promoting corporate dominance in the service of the re-distribution of wealth upward via the manipulation of “values.”

Yeah, I know. Duh. Yawn. Check, please.

Still: How do they do it? How do they talk to themselves–which is to say, how do they butter up the indignant “patriots” and self-righteous “warriors for Christ” on whom they want to put the touch for some election-year dough? (Butter up, touch, dough: as always, it all comes down to bread.)

For some reason I happen to be on the mailing list of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Here, then, duly annotated, are the 18 (a sacred Hebrew number standing for LIFE!) questions they just sent me. In fact, so wide-ranging and important are these questions, I may have to address them in a two-part post. Because summarizing and condensing won’t do them justice. I’m talking about an NRCC Every-Member Canvas “prepared for the exclusive use of Mr. Ellis Weiner.” Eat your hearts out, those of you who aren’t me.

It goes without saying that filling in the questionnaire involves three steps: 1) Answer the questions; 2) Sign the form; 3) Return it with “the largest contribution you can make at this time.” Can do. Behold:

1. Do I believe that “our nation’s” official “position” on marriage should be that it is the legal union of a man and a woman, and not of two people of the same sex?

I wasn’t aware that nations had positions. I thought they had laws. For this reason I answered “Not sure.”

2. Following the “victory” of Congress and the president passing a law banning “partial-birth abortions,” do I think “we” should increase “our” efforts to “revisit” Roe-v-Wade, which “has made it easier to kill unborn babies for over 30 years in our country”?

I thought this question missed the point, which is that it should be easier to kill already-born babies, a list of whose names I am willing to provide. Interestingly, all of them are Republicans! I answered “Not sure.”

3. Do I want “us” to “concentrate even more on moral, family, and values issues during this session of Congress than we did on the previous one?”

Normally, yes (and I appreciate the bonus zeal in that use of “even more”). I want us to promote my morals, my family, and my values. But then I realized that I couldn’t really name any actual Republican achievement concerning “values” in the previous session. The partial-birth abortion ban doesn’t promote a value, it promotes a piece of dogma. (The purported “value” it supposedly sustains, that “life is sacred,” is so often honored in the breach by this administration it hardly bears mentioning. If there’s one thing that isn’t sacred to Republicans, it’s “life.”). So I decided this was a trick question, and bailed out by answering “Not sure.”

4. “Liberal Democrats,” Mr. Ellis Weiner’s canvas declares, “persist in attacking our Government’s steps and strategies in fighting the War on Terror.” Do I approve of “our” policies for seeking out and destroying terrorists and their organizations?

I cannot take any question seriously in which a Republican capitalizes “government.” Republicans hate government. They brag about it. George W. Bush has made it his life’s mission–which he has accomplished, thank you–to prove that government destroys, ruins, corrupts, or botches literally everything it attempts. Another trick question. Another “Not sure.”

5. Do I feel that any inconvenience that may be caused by security measures at airports, train stations, and public buildings “is worth the hassle”?

Oh please. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know, even if the intern who wrote this questionnaire doesn’t, that “hassle” is a 1960’s hippie word. I will not so easily be tricked into revealing that I was once a 1960’s hippie. “Unsure of how I feel about this,” is my answer, and you can quote me.

6. Do I support President Bush’s “pro-growth approach” to solving our economic problems “by creating more jobs and creating a more receptive climate for risk-takers who start new businesses”?

Not any more. This “pro-growth approach” has led to what everybody including two of our three dogs is calling a recession. (The third, Chester, our foster Ridgeback, is still holding to his “wait-and-see” position.) I’d like the president to use what remains of his time in office to advance an anti-growth approach, to sort of use reverse psychology to maybe try and fool the economy. “Not really” was a tempting box to check, but in the end, because I’m not an economist, I answered “Not sure.”

7. Do I support “our Republican insistence” that making the Bush tax cuts “PERMANENT” (all caps in the original) is the best way “to ensure that America’s families, seniors, hard working job holders and small business owners can keep more of their hard-earned dollars?”

Could anything be more manipulative? This entire list of so-called beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts is a tissue of lies, provided you pronounce tissue as “tiss-you,” in the fancy Brit manner. First, families don’t earn dollars, hard-ly or otherwise. Dad earns dollars; Mom gets “house money” and kids get allowances, just as Adam and Eve and their kids (Cain and Abel) did in the Bible. Second, seniors, fine–but what about juniors, sophomores, and freshmen? I resent the classist bias. Third, the fate of small business owners is touching, and so forth, but what about our large business owners? What about our multi-national corporations? I feel strongly that any tax policy that omits them cannot be supported. Then again, I’m not sure how our government can tax multi-national corporations, since they’re…you know. Multi-national. So I answered “Not sure.”

8. “Support appears to be growing in Washington for an overhaul of the way we pay federal taxes.” How would I prefer to see our tax laws completely changed: A national flat tax? By “abolishing the IRS altogether and creating a national sales tax applied only to items that are actually purchased”? Or keep the tax system the same?

I was actually not crazy about any of these options. The flat tax and the national sales tax both seem, not only unfair, but deliberately designed to be unfair, because everyone has to pay the same $3.89 for a gallon of milk, if by “milk” I mean “gasoline.” This is cruel, heartless, and socially retrograde–all of which are classic Republican values I can certainly support, normally, but which would in this case adversely affect what I laughingly call my “lifestyle.” However, those were the only three answers available. Therefore I wrote in and checked, in my own hand-drawn box, “Not sure.”

9. Because “huge challenges” will arrive as the Baby Boomers soon begin retiring, how do I feel about the proposal, advanced by “many Republicans,” that today’s “younger workers be given a chance to invest a portion of their income into personal retirement plans”?

I’ll tell you how I feel. I feel a combination of disbelief (that anyone can afford to retire), resentment (that today’s younger workers will be exempt from funding my Social Security), and gratitude (that many Republicans care enough about me to address this issue). Put them altogether, they spell “I’d need to know more about it before making a decision.”

Exhausting? Somewhat. But enlightening, no? And those are just the front nine. Watch this space later in the week for my review of the final nine questions, and join me as I decide how much money to send the National Republican Congressional Committee, and my method of payment. Oh, and to find out whether or not the return envelope is postage-paid.