Lemming Cliff Notes

UPDATED 11-19-2006

Expanded from the 6-5-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune.
Edited for the 6-10-2005 Comstock Chronicle

I stand today with my adversaries, the faith-based voters of 2004. I blithely walk among the lemmings toward the cliff with fervent hope that God will save us. It is abundantly apparent that our leaders damn sure won't.

I enjoy occasional excursions into childlike, mindless, divorced-from-reality belief. It's quite liberating to forget about facts and figures and just cross your fingers like a little girl in her own make-believe world.

Reality remains depressing and dangerous. Portents of peril permeate the commons. Up-from-the-ashes depression-era escapism wafts from the Hollywood dream machine. "Seabiscuit" runs eternally on just about every movie channel and "Cinderella Man" now punches up profit from past hard times.

The dot-com bubble popped our innocence that no one loses at the Wall Street casino. When the trading floor turned into a killing floor, the carnage spilled onto the streets. The carcasses of Enron, Worldcom and their herdmates could not be permitted to impede business as usual.

I walk through the valley of the shadow of stock options fearing no evil because I choose to ignore it.

Will the real estate bubble burst? Not my department. Only a fool tries to rationalize the irrational. Would you impute motives to a lawnmower?

Why do airlines continue to sell their services at a substantial loss? I dunno, ask a lemming. Or perhaps some former Enron execs.

Will we allow scientific research to progress or just leave it up to Harry Potter? Don't read the book, wait for the movie.

College money? Employment? Retirement? What, me worry?

I recently talked to a young Sparks mother fortunate enough to have a child in all-day kindergarten. It's made a wonderful difference in her offspring's ability to learn, she said. Will our legislature fully fund it for every Nevada kid? Are you nuts? (1)

A college dean informed me of the difference the Millennium Scholarship program has made with students. It's apparently relieved a lot of financial pressure so that many students can be, well, students. (2)

"They don't have to rush off to a job when the bell rings. They can participate in college life, get an education" the prof told me.

So what happens at the legislative petting zoo? Our fearless leaders make scholarships harder to get and keep. Don't analyze the lawnmower.

Dubya's DC dunces charge a half-trillion annual war budget to the national credit card while cutting veterans benefits and closing domestic military bases, the equivalent of shutting down a factory in a company town.

I've lectured for decades about the destructive long-term effects of war spending (3, 4), another lesson of Vietnam we forgot. In the short run, domestic military money is probably the only thing which has kept the economy from crashing. It may be inefficient, but it mitigates contractions caused when taxes are cut for the wealthy few. Time is running out.

Warbucks fuel inflation because military dollars are largely unproductive. F-18's may employ jet mechanics but don't plow fields or build freeways. Return on investment is shallow. Inflation is already on the uptick and we can't shave it forever by sending jobs to third-world sweatshops.

Put to peaceful purposes, all that military money would buy us a lot of friends, even among hellbound non-Christians.

Will we do so? Not a snowball's chance. We're absorbed with whether Britney is pregnant or Michael is guilty.

Watergate's back in the news with the outing of the identity of ubersource Deep Throat, which begs the question could it all happen again?

The crime, yes. Punishment, no. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush learned from Richard the Rotten's mistakes.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan took to heart the advice offered to them by former Democratic National Chairman and consummate insider Robert Strauss: 'fess up and say you're sorry real quick. Reagan promptly admitted breaking federal law when he signed an executive order to provide arms to the ayatollahs of Iran. (5) Mea culpa, all is forgiven, go and sin no more.

Dubya knows that he can proceed with impunity because of the vast right-wing media machine which did not exist to protect Nixon. How good is it? Corporate news organizations for the past week have provided equal time for wealthy, convicted Watergate felons to spin the old disgrace their way and smear all those who brought the bastards to justice.

What has been the price tag of convincing the public to consistently act against its best interests and cede control and prosperity to soulless corporations? Only about $100 million a year over 30 years. (6) One of the principal funders of the vast right-wing conspiracy, the John M. Olin Foundation, is going out of business now that crypto-fascists control the federal government. (7)

The Washington Post had a devil of a time convincing anyone that its Watergate stories were true because people simply did not want to believe such things.

Today, Dubya has eclipsed Reagan as the truly Teflon president: Nothing sticks because the lemmings close their eyes, cross their fingers and pray that things will be better in the morning.

Substantial evidence stands engraved on the public record that our president has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors. But until he lies about something like sex with a stewardess, no one will be interested.

So keep the faith and stash some cash in a coffee can buried in your backyard, because when the rose-colored bubbles start to burst, you may have little else.

Be well. Raise hell.


(1) Settling for less in Carson City
       by Jon Ralston, Las Vegas Sun weekend edition, June 3-5, 2005

CARSON CITY — Let's look at some numbers so you can put in perspective what the Legislature is really doing as The Gang of 63 does its biennial slouch toward adjournment. The general fund budget is $5.7 billion. There is $2 billion in new money, including a $600 million surplus from the ending biennium. It costs $72 million, or just over 1 percent of the overall budget and less than 4 percent of the new money, to implement all-day kindergarten, which parents, teachers, many lawmakers and the governor believe is the most important education program the state could pass. And they won't do it...Read the full column...

(2) Program should target needy
       Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial 6-5-2005

"Just what is the purpose of the Millennium Scholarship program? That’s the question that should have guided Nevada lawmakers in their discussion..." Read the full text...

(3) Your better life today had President Kennedy lived

(4) Rinfret, Pierre A.; "Peace is Bullish;"Look Magazine, 5-31-1966

(5) Robert Strauss interview with Charlie Rose; The Charlie Rose Show; PBS; May 26, 2005

(6) Lapham, Lewis H.; "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History;" Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004; page 32.

(7) "Goals Reached" — Olin Foundation Is Closing Shop

...and more ammo

Tiny rural school ranked West's best
Newsweek lists academy 19th in nation

by Ray Hagar, Reno Gazette-Journal

BRIDGEPORT, Calif. — The school doesn't look like much from the outside. It's a 1,600-foot, pre-fab trailer that could be blown away by one mighty gust from the big bad wolf. Yet, Eastern Sierra Academy, nestled in the isolated town of Bridgeport, Calif., was recently ranked 19th out of America's 27,000 public high schools by Newsweek magazine...Read the full story of how adequate spending and small class size work wonders in PUBLIC SCHOOL.

Educators say kindergarten plan will ease troubles
by Ray Hagar, Reno Gazette-Journal

BARBWIRE: The Enemy Within: We have met the enemy and he is us.

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Americans will pay for our sins with that thing closest to our hearts: our wallets
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Copyright © 2005, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 36-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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