Iron and Candy: My 6th Blogoversary
These were the opening words in my first blog post six years ago yesterday:
Coda: A Modest Proposal.
Now that the eight hour-long lines at the Cleveland voting polls have dispersed, the dried mud and dead cats have been swept up and George Bush has already torn through his second $40,000,000 pat on the back for stealing the Presidency (yeah, yeah, he may have won the popular vote this time, Mr. Country Clubber, but you can't re-elect a man who was never elected, to begin with), some thoughts on the latest debacle charitably known as the 2004 Presidential Election, and especially the debates, are in order...
I was still struggling at the edge of the foothills of a learning curve that was actually so high that if I'd thought about it, I would've thought twice about trying to run with big dogs who were already much, much better at political punditry than I. Back in those days, as I've heard myself saying so many times before, if I'd shared an elevator with Karl Rove, I wouldn't have recognized him. But I sallied forth in my relative ignorance armed with little more than native literary ability and a genetically-based allergy to anything Republican or conservative. It took a while for me to actually quantify my hatred for the GOP.
I certainly never thought I'd still be doing this absolutely thankless job six years and roughly 3000 blog posts, including 86 Assclowns of the Week, later.
I've done several series such as the abovementioned AOTW, The Nation at a Furtive Glance, Twenty Bucks, Same as in Town, Boolean Bozoism, Pottersville in Pictures, Cloven Hoof in Mouth Disease, Top Ten lists and so forth. I've had a helluva time these past 72 months, even when I simply didn't feel like blogging after a hard day at work and family life getting more stressful. But as my audience grew, I felt for some reason that I owed it to you people. Many readers have come and gone (and some of them have gone to that Great Server Farm in the Sky) and new readers somehow find me in the tall weeds and elephant grass of cyberspace.
Back in January 2005, if I'd told you we'd have a black president four years later (Barack Obama hadn't even moved all his boxes into his new Senate office), that we'd still be at war with Iraq, that we'd still not only be in Afghanistan but that we'd ramp it up, that we'd witness the destruction of a major American city, that unemployment would reach double digits and hover near 10% for a year and a half at least, that millions would get foreclosed on by predatory banks, that we'd bail out those same banks on Wall Street after their reckless excesses, that our government would be capriciously spying on us...
...if I'd predicted all those things and more, you all would've thought I was some conspiracy theorist wacko, some querulous doom-sayer who's not happy unless he's bitching about something. And you all would've had a point.
As James Patterson once sagely pointed out, if someone had written a book about an ex NFL star who'd murdered his wife and a man then led the LAPD on a slow-motion chase through LA on live national television and had done so prior to OJ Simpson doing just that, that author would've been laughed out of the business. Real life doesn't have to catch up with fiction but fiction has to catch up with real life in order to achieve any suspension of disbelief.
Same thing, I guess, goes for political blogging.
Of course, if one is cynical enough and knows exactly how the GOP thinks, one could always point to a post written years ago and say, "See? I was right and you all called me crazy." I know- We do it all the time with the late Steve Gilliard who back in 2003 predicted what's still happening in Iraq.
So it's only appropriate that we revisit one of the first scandals I'd read about when I began blogging 6 years ago, the No Child Left Behind fiasco that involved Juan Williams shilling for the Bush administration's underfunded program for a cool $240,000.
Current Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently told The Hill that NCLB is an utter failure, something else I said way back then. To know that, I needed to look no further than to our MCAS here in Massachusetts, a travesty of education that, as with NCLB, teaches to the test, where school districts with the highest scores get the lion's share of funding, thereby dooming many minority-heavy, inner city and rural districts that haven't access to up-to-date schoolbooks, computers and quality teachers, to suffer. NCLB, as with the MCAS, teaches to the test and a well-rounded education gets short shrift.
Congress and the Bush administration, after much ballyhoo, defunded No Child Left Behind, thereby leaving all children behind, as was the REAL ID Act.
Just barely in the second year of a new job, I was successfully shielded from the horrid mutation in our once-great nation and I had no idea what was really happening. I was making jokes about Bush's bubble but the fact was that I was in a safe cocoon of my own that even the latest and most accurate numbers from the Labor Department couldn't penetrate. I had no idea just how evil, nasty and selfish my country had gotten until I got thrown out of a job nearly two years ago.
We elected that black man on a cult-like mantra of change yet the only change we've seen is a rightward wrench that in many ways almost makes progressives and independents actually miss George W. Bush. As with NCLB, Massachusetts offered a warning template as to what would happen if the government mandated health care without doing very much to keep costs down.
Afghanistan has been bloated and accelerated and we're using more contractors than ever. We still have tens of thousands of troops in Iraq and hardly even note the newest deaths much less the names of the killed. We are groped more than ever in our nation's airports and while Abdulmatallab got escorted on that flight sans passport to Detroit by someone from our government so he could set his underpants on fire, we're treated like common terrorists.
I've been saying it for about a year now that this is not only not the same country I grew up in, this is not the same country I remember from even two years ago. As I've already said, if I'd predicted all this 6 years ago, you all would've thought I belonged in four point restraints. But considering the violent jerk to the right this government has taken, and under the risible guise of "centrism", who knows how much worse we can imagine for 2017? It would tax the minds of the best dystopian sci fi novelists.
And I'm afraid that I may still be here, howling in the wilderness here, on Facebook, Twitter or whatever new networking phenom will be developed in the future. I'm like Michael Corleone and, while my motives for staying in the game are purer than the Godfather's, I keep finding myself pulled back in, as if blogging about the most important issues of our time is a referendum of my very patriotism and love for my nation.
Or maybe I just have a big mouth.
The traditional gift for a 6th anniversary is either candy or iron. In the interests of shipping costs, candy would be preferable and a Paypal donation may be even cheaper and easier, since Mrs. JP and I are still struggling to meet all our bills come this Tuesday.