Monday, December 6


I've never been more swamped at work, yet Republicans continue to drop by my office to gloat about the election and even, unbelievably, to beg affirmation from me. E.g., "Did you see the new jobs numbers? So the economy isn't so bad as you Democrats insisted it was!" Well, since new jobs created registered significantly below the average monthly number required to keep up with new entries into the job market, I don't see why that's a cause for celebration. And since the election Bush has appointed such dismal characters for principal roles in government, I don't see any reason to rejoice there, either.

Bernard Kerik as head of the Department of Homeland Security? A guy who led the NYPD for a mere 11 months before 9/11, whose leadership was one of the failures noted re the aftermath of 9/11 by the 9/11 Commission (re communications among the first responders)? A guy who couldn't recruit, much less train, a smidgen of an Iraqi police force and left four months into his six month appointment to take a "vacation"? A guy whose only credentials appear to be that he looks like G. Gordon Liddy and, like Liddy, blindly backs his president 100%, no matter what?

Alberto Gonzales, the man whose memos proposed discarding the Geneva Conventions and supported torture of political prisoners by the USA, being appointed our new Attorney General? The man who never met a Texas execution he didn't like? Another Bush appointee who looks good demographically but horrific in reality?

Condi Rice as Secretary of State? She doesn't even understand modern Russia, her supposed area of expertise (although her credentials are on the Soviet Union, which doesn't even exist anymore), much less does she have any credibility in diplomacy; for crying out loud, she's one of the USA's biggest (acknowledged) failures as National Security Adviser, and for this she merits being placed in the line of succession to the presidency?

And now we're told that our new Secretary of Health & Human Services will be the very guy who presided over the Medicare prescription benefit scandal, when Congress was deliberately deceived by this very man's department as to the costs, benefits and liabilities of the proposed plan.

Nothing has changed since the election, except to make visible and real what was predictable beforehand. My K-4 teacher daughter (who voted for Bush) today bemoaned the fact that she cannot afford to buy health insurance (none is offered to teachers at her learning center) and therefore has to deny herself medical care in order to save for when her toddler son needs it. "We need healthcare reform!" she cried, sick as a dog (I had to leave work in order to take her to the emergency room when she was experiencing severe and frightening stomach pains). What could I say? You should have voted for John Kerry? I did, reluctantly because I don't believe in hitting someone when they're down. (That's SUCH a Democratic attitude -- when do you remember a REPUBLICAN having a problem with that? Just remember the opening to this post -- I haven't exactly been walking into the offices of my Republican co-workers, rubbing their noses in Bush's ongoing messes.)

The Sage and I are in our middle fifties. We've worked a long hard time to provide for our five children but despite the fact that our income has risen dramatically over the past decade (primarily the Clinton years), we're still solidly middle-class. It's getting close to the time when we could consider options for retirement, but the reality is still at least 10 years off. What can we expect when our time comes? Bush is readying the nation for "Social Security reform" and "tax reform." Everything I read indicates that this means our Social Security benefits will be reduced and our taxes will expand during at least the next four years, and more if Bush is successful at making his new "reforms" permanent, particularly his tax cuts for the wealthy, which have to be revenue-balanced SOMEHOW -- reputedly, and expectedly, at the expense of the working classes.

With all the problems and challenges facing the American people, Republicans such as John McCain are now preoccupied with the baseball/steroids issue. It was all the rage this morning on talk radio. Finally, an issue that divides Republicans! Radio talk host Darrell Ankarlo doesn't see why we don't just make steroids legal and let the players suffer the consequences of their choices. Moral virtues spokesperson Bill Bennett thinks that would be sending the wrong message to kids -- after all, they're illegal. Ankarlo says, then why not make them legal again? They were once.

Here's my take, and it's not libertarian or republican. I don't even know if it's democratic. To me the deal is: steroids have very dangerous consequences taken long-term; some players will sacrifice their long-term prospects to make the big bucks today, and since steroids offer them the best bet for doing that, they'll go with them. However, some players will decline performance-enhancing drugs in light of their long-term dangers. Those players who do so cannot be competitive with those players who take the steroids. So how is that fair? Rewarding players who do take the drugs relegates the straight-shooters to almost-beens, or else forces them to a decision they would never make independently, that they must take the risks to stay in the game. In the "moral values" race, I'd say my position makes the most sense, but who am I to say compared to the self-proclaimed Darrell Ankarlo or Laura Ingraham?

No, Democrats "don't get it." We still expect some semblance of fair play and reason to rule. Republicans just favor winners, no matter how they get there.


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