Friday, July 23, 2010

The Tea Party

I use Facebook a lot (until Google's competing app comes up anyway) and I posted this in response to a post I made there. I want it on my blog as well for my own reasons. Apologies to my legion of readers who click through to this twice, really.
 Someone says the tea party is pretty OK. I wrote:

My problem with the tea party is that they are extremists. I wrote about the extreme right here:

I confess to being an extremist myself. For example, I believe that corporate income taxes should be abolished. That would help small business a lot. It would also allow us to make it illegal for large businesses to lobby congress. Their argument for owning our legislators is that they pay taxes. Remove the argument, and remove the access. Make it illegal for anyone representing a corporation to interact with any legislator, and let them keep alll their profits.

Anyone who wants to argue that our legislators, all of them, are not bought and paid for by large corporations, bring that on.

The difference between me and the extreme right is that I am willing to compromise with centrists and with the right in order to allow government to enact laws and govern. Exactly what Obama's administration is doing.

But the tea party makes a very specific, and extremist, argument: Nothing government does is of any value. And that is patently wrong.

One simple example: The military. Effective as all get out. Invaded Iraq and crushed their military in days. A brilliant success, forged by our military leadership and logisticians. Government working effectively.

Another example: The GI Bill. A brilliant success.

The tea party argue that nothing that isn't explicitly stated in the constitution is not a right, while at the same time they argue that we need to stop government from taking away our freedoms (rights). Health care is the classic argument here - it ain't in the constitution so health care reform is unconstitutional. The constitution describes no right to health care, they argue.

By this argument Brown vs Board of Education is unconstitutional.

By this argument the GI Bill is unconstitutional.

By this argument, Medicare is unconstitutional.

And on and on. We have a legislative branch of governent, and they enact laws.

The argument that if it isn't in the constitution it is not a right is beyond absurd.

And, I'm guessing that from the recent tea party rally that included tea party "people" spitting on a black congressmen, and calling him a nigger, that Brown v Board of Education is exactly the kind of government outcomes these people oppose.

Reducing complicated social problems to slogans about taking your government back and protecting your freedoms is propagandistic sleight of hand designed to engage the weak minded, fearful minority of Americans in a populist movement that is just a re-packaging of extreme right wing dogma.

And what we need in this country is more pragmatism, and less dogmatism.

Feckless idiots is what I say the tea party are.

Auto Biography - 69 VW Bus

Also known as a Type 2, the VW Bus had several incarnations from air cooled on through water cooled Vanagons, ending with the Eurovan. Remarkably, Boise ID, where I live now, has so many VW Buses of all kinds that even on my typically short drives around town, I ALWAYS see at least one. Bugs too. If Doug Lucy comes out here to visit, he'll surely beat me senseless playing punch-buggy.

My current ride with some Boise VW's

Here's the brochure for one like mine:

Mine had the same air cooled four cylinder engine that was going in VW Bugs (and I later repowered a bug with this van's engine), so it wqas pretty underpowered. Top highway speed 60-65 mph, and a stiff headwind could reduce that.

I drove it across the country east to west coast in 1983 and west to east in 1984. In 83 I visited Virginia, Arkansas to see my Navy buddy Randy "Slime Dog" Fondren. He joined me on the leg to Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo TX, and a jaunt to Mexico with other Navy friends. From there I went to Montana to visit Carey Hester. Carey was the only American I knew who spoke Korean so well that I could not understand what he was saying. The man was a language genius/savant.

I drove this van in Northern CA in 1983-84 while attending the Intermediate Korean Language course at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey CA, then drove it back to Cape Cod MA. My brother Nat and I drove it to Independence MO in the spring of 1984 for my wedding to my first wife. She and I went to Korea from there, and my brother had the van for the next year. He racked up so many parking tickets in Boston doing sales calls that the glove box was literally full of them when I got it back.

This was avan you could live in if need be. Big double bed in the back, built in storage, hanging lockers, space to prepare and cook food, and the poptop for standing headroom and another rack up there for sleeping.

Modifications: A bungee cord stretched across the poptop, which could bounce a bit in heavy winds.

It was a great ride and I had many other adventures in it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Auto Biography - 68 Dodge Charger

The next car was a 1968 Dodge Charger, again a pretty base model. This car was destroyed by vandals. Enough said. I made one road trip in it to U. Mass Amherst, in August 1976. It was really an awful car, a big boat of a thing.

These people are all about this car. I wasn't.

Auto Biography - 63 Plymouth Belvedere

So let's document my cars, from the beginning to now.

My first car was a 1963 Plymouth Belvedere. Researching the car, I was surprised to discover that it's a MOPAR hero. Mine was pretty pedestrian. Three on the column, steep gears.

I bought it from my high school phys ed teacher, Claire Foley for $25.00 in 1974. She had recently driven it from Nebraska to Cape Cod MA. It needed a new wheel bearing, otherwise it was fine.

It passed inspection after the wheel bearing was replaced at the local garage (Procopio's for you Cotuit folks, now defunct.). I had many adventures in Newport RI and elsewhere in this vehicle, adventures appropriate to a 16 year old with a car.

Here's a link to one that is nicer than mine was:

Next: A big honking Plymouth muscle car.