It All Went to Hell When the Hippies Took Over

When Peter Thiel is interviewed by Glenn Beck no good can come from it.

Eccentric billionaire Thiel said something that I’m sure conservatives will nod their heads and think, “yeah, that’s right.” But the rest of us will facepalm.

I think one of the … you know, the countercultural in the ’60s was the hippies. You know, we landed on the moon in July of 1969. Woodstock started three weeks later, and with the benefit of hindsight, that’s when progress ended, and the hippies took over the country.

Today the counterculture is to believe in science and technology. You know, our society, the dominant culture doesn’t like science. It doesn’t like technology. You just look at the science-fiction movies that come out of Hollywood — Terminator, Matrix, Avatar, Elysium. I watched the Gravity movie the other day. It’s like you would never want to go into outer space. You would just want to be back on some muddy island. And so I think we’re in a world where actually believing that a better future is possible that you can have agency and work towards a better future, that is actually radically countercultural.

Yeah, iPhones, Tesla, solar power, they don’t exist.

Furthermore, this is from people who back the party that denies science on climate and reproduction and they’re calling liberals Luddites? Just ridiculous.

BUT, here’s where it gets real:

Conservatives actually think that the 60’s counterculture did take over America when it really had about 5 minutes in the sun and then got railroaded by the Reagan Revolution.

Reading Rick Perlstein’s “The Invisible Bridge” about that time between Watergate and Reagan has helped me to put into words the frustration with that period and conservatives in general. It was right then, that moment in time when America could have woken up from its slumber and opened its eyes. Could have matured into a country ready to examine itself honestly. But the right wing backlash to Watergate, Roe v. Wade, the Pentagon Papers, the humiliation of Vietnam, etc. “shut that whole thing down” to quote the great Todd Akin. Half the country was ready to move forward: grant women equality under the ERA, take responsibility for our foreign adventures, clamp down on the excesses of our clandestine services, embrace more openness in government and private life – change the channel from Lawrence Welk to Saturday Night Live.

But no. That was too much change, too fast for some. And we’re still living with the consequences of that backlash today.

Instead the regressives took over almost immediately. Activists protested busing and school books while “law and order” politicians exploited the fear of a changing world citing the evils of crime, inflation, oil embargoes, abortion, sexual freedom. They conflated all change both good and bad, with the new permissiveness. It’s no coincidence that the 70’s brought a flurry of nostalgia for the 50s. And Republican conservative operatives and their benefactors exploited all of it to nudge the country back into the pre-Watergate/Vietnam box.

So we were cheated out of the country we could have had.

The perfect analogy for the squelching of progress in this period (and the answer for Thiel’s nonsense) is the technical and policy sob story that Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in 1976 and Reagan tore them down. I reiterate, where would we be today if the energy policy of the Carter Administration had not been ripped out root and branch by the carbon loving dinosaurs of the Reagan Administration?

How is it possible that in 2014 women are not constitutionally equal with men?

How are we still fighting over reproductive rights?

The Hippies didn’t take anything except the culture, that which Phyllis Schlafly and Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan could not reverse. They couldn’t make George Carlin shave his beard and put a suit back on, but they kept the pressure on so that you still can’t say the 7 words you can’t say on TV on TV. Except now we have cable and streaming.

Peter Thiel can suck it!

While They Kept Talking About Ottawa…

If it bleeds it leads is so pervasive that even on supposed progressive news outlet MSNBC significant time was spent last night on the attack in Ottawa yesterday. Chris Matthews spent nearly his entire hour connecting the attack to Isis, Ebola and Republicans justifiably scaring people in to voting for them! I know that Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow know that other, arguably more important, things happened yesterday and should be given at least a minute or two… But they can’t. It would take more courage than they apparently have to say “we’ll do 5 minutes on Ottawa because everybody’s covering that and then move on to blah, blah, blah.” They know their producers will look at them like they have two heads.

But in the meantime yesterday…

Andrew Cuomo (not his dad) actually used the Republican dodge phrase “I’m not a scientist” to parry a question about fracking. How appropriate for the supposedly democratic governor who helped the GOP keep control in Albany to mimic asinine GOP talking points. They got amazingly scientific about Ebola, really fast.

Four Blackwater mercenaries were found guilty of murder stemming from an incident in Iraq in 2007. It’s big news when anybody is held accountable for atrocities these days. The verdict was a shock

Chris Christie (f/k/a The Luckiest Man in America) gave one of the most douche bag responses to the Republican failure to understand both basic economics and basic economic realities of life in denying the efficacy of and need for a decent minimum wage.

“I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, ‘You know honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized,” he added. “Is that what parents aspire to for their children?”

Sorry, that’s douche bag deluxe.

The NBC cameraman who contracted Ebola is Ebola free. Also, with every passing day and no more Ebola patients coming forward the American Ebola mania fades away.

I’m sure there’s other stuff that would have been more interesting to watch than the same footage of Canadian police looking around with guns drawn over and over again.

Germany Eliminates College Tuition

My reaction to the parts of Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko”, where he shows how other countries provide universal healthcare to their citizens as a right, was disgust and the realization that Americans are suckers. We’re being screwed by our government and the assumptions that we live with that we’re all on our own and our government is not really there to help the individual succeed, no less thrive. Germany, and other Western countries, have a different view of government. Which is odd because many of them got their constitutions from ours, but their interpretation of it is 180 degrees different from our Supreme Court and the traditional pre-New Deal 19th century understanding that stubbornly persists today.

Besides healthcare, education should be a right. We pay lip service to it as being essential to our future as a society, besides being an individual’s best bet for success. Europe actually does it.

“We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents,” Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, said in a statement. Her words were echoed by many in the German government. “Tuition fees are unjust,” said Hamburg’s senator for science Dorothee Stapelfeldt. “They discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

We are being screwed by our assumptions and our inability to live up to our democratic promise as a nation. If anybody ever says to me, “but we’re not a democracy, we’re a republic” I’ll punch them in the throat.

Hudson & East River Tunnels Will Have to Close For Maintenance, Thanks Christie

This is going to be very, very, very bad. There are two 100 year old tunnels under the Hudson River that carry up to 24 Amtrak and NJ Transit trains an hour. There are four tunnels under the East River that carry Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit (NJ Transit has a rail yard in Queens) trains.

All of these tunnels suffered damage from flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy.

And now they have to be closed and overhauled.

One at a time. For up to a year each. And it’s going to be very bad for the most heavily travelled commuter corridor in the country.

Worth noting, that two brand spanking new tunnels were supposed to have been in construction right now, bless Jesus and Robert Moses! But they’re NOT being constructed goddammit! Because of Chris Christie f/k/a The Luckiest Man in America. Christie, in the great Nixonian tradition, grabbed whatever Port Authority money earmarked for this project that he could grab with his grubby hands and used it for projects that he could grease local politicians with – mostly the renovation of bridges that have nothing to do with the Hudson crossings. Apparently, like Robert Moses who hated tunnels because you couldn’t see them and couldn’t maximize the visual PR value of them like a massive new bridge spanning a body of water, Christie saw no benefit to him in the tunnels that had been 15 years in the planning and so cancelled them.

[True and alarming historical note: Robert Moses wanted to build a bridge from the Battery to Brooklyn instead of the eventually built Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. A bridge in that space would have been built right where Battery Park is today and would have disrupted almost all of the historic downtown Wall Street area. Thankfully, activists and city officials fought his plan and won with the ultimate help of FDR’s War Dept. that claimed the bridge would compromise national defense by interfering with ship traffic in the NY bays.]

My question that has never been answered is how can one person make such a short term decision to derail (pun intended) a very long term project that will effect commuting in the region for decades.

Secondly, with so many high end NJ tax payers effected by his decisions how he didn’t pay more of a price for this horrifically bad decision I’ll never understand. This decision alone should make you a pariah.

Republicans Use Stock Photos for “Republicans are Real People” Campaign

Well of course they did. Of course they could locate a black Republican and a Latino republican and a young working person Republican who owns a Prius, there’s one of each somewhere. But that would be hard. So it’s just easier to use stock photos and then take the ridicule that comes with that hilarious decision rather than have to take the eventual heat for one of their “real” Republicans saying something crazy in public. Kind of like their candidates often do.