Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Governing By Myth

I want to understand a paradox that makes me crazy. Modern Republican policy makers talk total nonsense and they are believed and yet when Democrats try to put across some reasonable and not terribly far fetched ideas they are scorned. Yet the people doing the scorning are the very beneficiaries of the Democrat proposals. There are so many examples in recent history of this maddening paradox I hardly know where to start.

For instance Republicans have announced forcefully there is no need for health insurance reform, that everything is pretty much okay as it stands and the President's plans are going to bring Communism to our shores. It is obvious to any human being that our insurance system is a total rip-off designed to squeeze profits out of sickness, a technique that involves denying coverage, refusing to pay, forcing patients to struggle with mounds of paperwork to get what should be theirs by virtue of premiums paid. Yet when Democrats offer a reform people without insurance shout them down. I recall early on in the campaign a protester injured at an anti reform event had no insurance to cover the costs of the injury!

Consider the campaign of presidential candidate John Kerry, a decorated war veteran running on the Democrat ticket against President George Bush the Younger, a man who evaded military service by joining the Alabama National Guard and failed to report for duty there as required. yet Kerry's war record was wrecked and he lost horribly and the draft dodger (not forgetting the Vice President who famously advised he had "more important things to do" when asked why he was deferred five times) got re-elected by people who loudly proclaim their loyalty to the military and to some brand of patriotism known only to them.

Consider the budget deficit, run up to astronomical heights by a consistent policy of cutting taxes and increasing spending. This craziness took off under President Reagan and has continued to this day. When it is pointed out to conservatives that President Clinton left office with a budget surplus, this achievement, unique is decades of governance, is simply shrugged off. And those famously loud crass "patriots" bay for the blood of socialist "democrats." Do we recall how the right wing nutters warned us ominously of President Obama's plans to take away people's guns? These are the "patriots" who cheered President Bush on as he claimed the right of the President to be above the law, to allow any surveillance of US citizens, to permit torture and to hold suspects indefinitely without trial or even access to lawyers? we still have our guns but our civil liberties are more eroded than ever.

I wish I understood why Democrats can't confront these Republican myths and put them where they deserve to be, out of sight under some moldy militia rock somewhere. But there again, expecting Democrats in leadership positions to stand up for anything to anyone is asking a bit too much. Perhaps I should join the tea baggers and demand to see a Presidential birth certificate. that would show those Dems!

Street Signs

I don't think my wife would agree with the sentiment, but after six weeks in the pound I expect it might ring true for Cheyenne. I did not notice the sign underneath until I got home but you can read the site at Key West Week in my web list. I expect I should tweet it or link it or something. This is more my speed, a printed newspaper, but I have to ask why did some dork feel the need to leave a coffee cup here when there is a city trash can across the street? If I were God I would make better use of my thunderbolts.I spend a great deal of time these days standing and staring into space while Cheyenne does her own version of trash clean up. Which prompted me to whip out the pocket camera and produce a series of disjointed pictures. Another variant of One Human Family. This one is a difficult one to live up to. Especially in winter. God help me I really try to be empathetic to snowbirds but by this stage in their annual migration I just want them to go home. They clutter my street, they clutter the commute, they clutter the citizen's voice with petulant whining and they clutter my brain so I start sounding like them. Enough!This Jeep is a Kaiser 1969 CJ5 and it's owner likes to use it sparingly because he prefers to get around town on his bicycle. Apparently his neighbors (see rant above, I'm guessing) think it messes up the beauty of the roadway. How do I know? Read on. They used to have a time limit on street parking in Key West until one day, I'm told someone Important got their car towed while away on vacation. So the new rules state that a car may be left indefinitely on the street if it is in drivable condition with up to date registration. If it has a flat tire or broken window or is filled with junk it is considered abandoned and we (Police Dispatch) can get it towed. It seems the owner of the Jeep is getting called on his anti-internal -combustion stance by his neighbors. So he put a sign in the window for all to see.I called him up to thank him for the sign and I think he was surprised to hear from me. Frankly it gets old being the middleman in disputes between neighbors arguing about on-street parking. I live in the county in a stilt house and I park underneath my house. It is an arrangement I like. If it was that important to me I would either a) live in a house with Off Street Parking in the city or b)move out to the county like me and burn hydrocarbons commuting. This is one of those things about living in cute old town Key West. Your neighbors are right next door and they may not be as tolerant as you might expect in a town packed this tightly together. Europeans have spent centuries learning to try to get along in their tight, cramped cities. It's going to take a few generations for Americans to master the art and here in Key West it's not a lesson easily learned by newcomers all starry eyed about moving to the Southernmost City. You know how I go on about offsets? Look at these three homes near Solares Hill.Consideration of your neighbors should be in the rental contract or purchase agreement but it rarely is. People who go on to live for a long time, perhaps the rest of their lives, in Key West learn the art and practice it daily. Other people are gruesome neighbors or unhappy transplants and they are the ones that keep forcing their neighbors to call the police. Imagine living across the fence from someone who just drove you crazy?

The Rodel Foundation is no longer the Arts powerhouse it was in Key West, victim to some degree of the vanishing wealth scam that has struck most of us to some level or another. The newspaper reported recently the Key West Symphony is struggling to pay the musicians their wages and they've been holding fundraisers in the city to stage another performance of the Key West Nutcracker next Christmas. It's all a far cry from a few years ago when money was washing through the city like Wilma's floodwaters. Rodel wanted to buy the old Harris School on Southard Street to create an art center of some sort but the School District baulked and now some developer has paid a lot less money for the building (4.7 million I believe) and to my surprise the untouched old wreck is now up for lease?There is an RV parked on the grounds, possibly to house a caretaker I thought, and "No Trespassing" signs have sprouted everywhere so one assumes work will begin soon to refurbish the building. I hope they lease it to interesting businesses but I wonder what those might be in a Great Recession? Not artists I doubt. I saw this piece of weirdness on Carstens Lane. Cheyenne was restless and I struggled to get the picture before she dragged me away.I wonder what prompts someone to stick an artificial raven on the porch? So many questions, so little time.This sign... ...prompted me to muse about the lawsuit currently being fought between the self styled Secretary General of the Conch Republic, a man who has made a business out of selling passports and paraphernalia relating to the celebration of a brief "Keys secession" in 1982. He claims rights on the annual celebration not on the name itself, so now business people in the Upper Keys want to do the same thing for their islands (which in my opinion in no way resemble any of the precepts that underlie the notion of the mythical Conch Republic) but they don't want to acknowledge his creative drive. And off they all go to court. Apparently the Secretary General is widening his commercial horizons at his office on Simonton Street. Perhaps the inability to spell "bicycle" or "kayak" is part of the charm, or else denotes a truly maverick spirit that has yet to learn how to use the spell checker. The words "Conch Republic" (properly spelled) I am sure we are relieved to learn are both in the common domain, until some giant corporation decides to sweep them up, no doubt. Far from the realm of the tribunals this sign seems to denote a gentle spirit that I find appealing.And in consideration of parking problems alluded to earlier this scooter defines sensible transportation in a small town, or perhaps in any modern town: I was struck by the endless hand rail separating two properties in close proximity. What would Chuck Pefley do? I asked myself, in the rhetorical style of a man in Seattle with but one photograph per day.
And finally to end our ramble we go out to the backside of the airport where to my surprise we find this sign of refugees fleeing Communist oppression (and free health care) 90 miles to the south. I thought this plane was long gone but apparently not, it still sits next to Little Hamaca Park, a relic of a hijacking that brought some Cubans to the impoverished land of the free and home of the Tea Partiers:A Cuban American family has gone to court in Miami and been granted a monetary award against the Cuban government which shot down a family member who apparently flew into Cuban airspace (an assertion stoutly denied by family members who weren't there). So now when an incident of hijacking takes place instead of returning the aircraft to Cuba as required by international law the planes are handed over to the grieving widow, as one more way to endlessly sour relations between our two countries. And here it sits, one last symbol of the Cold War stuck in limbo in Key West.Actually it is secure behind a fence and this is what it really looks like from the public land on the city side of the airport fence:It's a funny old world where this sort of nonsense can go on and on and on. Perhaps one day President Obama will put his big girl's blouse on and not only act like the leader of the majority party in Congress but also end the stupid embargo with a stroke of the presidential pen. I need to ride the Bonneville in the mountains of Cuba. At this rate Cheyenne will be dead before that can happen so I am putting the sidecar plans on hold. Blame the president for that one too.