Why don't some links work? I don't know. Lord, I do despair.

There’s a little Girl Scouts vest on the table. Troop number, batches, pins. Gnat is very proud of it and wore it to school today. By some coincidence I unearthed my own Cub Scouts uniform while going through the store room this morning; my Mom saved it, complete with kerchief and manual full of projects and civic virtues. That was back when the Boy Scouts were seen as a good thing, of course.

The latest purge-and-sort project has yielded all sorts of things, including a cache of discs from the late 90s. I found the very first version of lileks.com, for example. I found a bin of toys I’d forgotten about, including some rather sticky Matt Masons. One box held ancient family photos, including one of your host on his first Christmas.

Imagine my surprise when I found this in another bin:

My mother saved it; I have to save it too. And I didn’t intend it at the time, but in that photograph above – with the wedding picture on the left and the Father’s DAy card on the right – you have the span of my life so far. Minus the written word, of course, but those are perishable. There are cheeses that last longer than some literary reputations.

Is there an election tomorrow? Really? You don’t say. Here I thought those ads on the radio with the quivery-voiced seniors were part of some national pro-euthenasia campaign. After hearing the ads 392,903 times you’re ready to send Grandma to the Soylent plant. One ad has the seniors worrying that the politicians who “wrecked the economy” (seriously, that’s what they say) are “talking about privatizing Social Security again.” Gah! Issues are being discussed! Alternatives proposed! I almost expect them to say “let’s keep our grandkids in bondage in perpetuity, and vote for Patty McWislblauer; she’ll protect our claim on the income of America’s youngest workers."

This is one of the reasons I am not optimistic for the short term: we cannot even bring up the matter of letting younger workers voluntarily exert private control over the property they are required by government to relinquish. Apparently the mere discussion of the subject leads directly to seniors hoarding tins of Fancy Feast.

Like many, I’m resigned to losing most everything I’ve put into Social Security, or seeing the promised returns whittled away to farthings and ha’pennies.  So I save for my family, and invest. I have fixed goals. If my taxes go up, I will still save and invest in the same amounts; I’ll just cut back elsewhere – either in spending, which of course is great for the economy, or in charity. Really: charity ought to be the first to go. If I have a moral obligation to pay more taxes to redress income inequality, then that ought to count as my charity. Currently I donate to two programs; one gives livestock to people in impoverished countries, and the second corrects cleft palates for children in the 3rd World. Am I morally obligated to continue those contributions at the expense of my family?

Yes, you say. Well, I’m also told we don’t save enough; should I now save less? No, you say. Save more. Invest less. Okay, well, everyone invest less, and let’s see how that works.

I’m jesting; I’ll still contribute to my charities, because they actually accomplish something. But it reminds me of the earnest young socialist who came to my door a few years ago expecting I would be in favor of raising taxes, because I lived in the Happy to Pay More district of the state; when I explained how I’d distributed my tax cut – savings, investment, home improvements that hired people and boosted the value of the house and hence its property tax assessment, she became irritated that I was spouting that “trickle down” nonsense; when I noted that it actually was my money in the first place, she snapped “it shouldn’t be” and stamped down the stairs. Or words to that effect. It’s been a while.

It’s been an interesting election season, I’ll grant that. Our would-be gubernator, Mike Hatch, called a reporter a “Republican whore,” and it yielded a piece in the paper about how “stress” and “scrutiny”  lead candidates to make mistake in the final days. Any who knows Mr. Hatch knows the comment had nothing to do with stress or scrutiny, but rather with the fellow’s personality; he is a mean, small man. But if he wins, Garrison Keillor will write a column about how the ancient true Minnesota virtues of Decency have been reasserted, because Mr. Hatch will quite possibly raise the gas tax, and nothing confirms our essential decency like the ever-steady rise of state levies sloshed off to indistinct purposes.

Likewise, the ascension of Keith Ellison will thrill the good and decent folk, because he is a Muslim, the first in Congress, a stately rebuke to George Bush, who hates Muslims and wants Jesus to come tomorrow waving the Danish cartoons and shouting BOOYA. Mr. Ellison’s past as a member of the Nation of Islam and his associations with CAIR are irrelevant; what matters is that his independent opponent is obviously a bigot for running against a Black man (link goes to a parody site put up by, one might presume, an Ellison supporter) and the other guy is a Republican, which means he got this far by using the power of Satan to send crows to pick out the eyes of his opponent’s children. Mr. Ellison has stated that he is for gay marriage, and I kept waiting for someone to poll the people at his mosque about that. I see many churches in my neighborhoods with rainbow flags, for example, and I’m truly curious how many mosques are gay-friendly. You’d think it would be a story, but it just sort of . . . doesn’t exist. It’s not that hard: go to the mosques or the coffee shops, say “Keith Ellison is for gay marriage; do you approve?” and print the reaction.

Of course, this is just bashing, as my colleague Nick Coleman points out:

I am tired of being whipped into a froth by floggers and bloggers who want me to worry how bad my life will be if fanatic taxi drivers make me walk home with my wine, or if Sharia law should force women to veil their faces (a proposal that has some appeal to it, depending upon the face). And I am tired of how Fifth District candidate Keith Ellison, poised to become the first Muslim in Congress, is being ripped for the intifada when his only concrete bad was not paying his parking tickets. In this Congress, that makes him a Boy Scout. After Tuesday, you can stop calling him Muslim. And start calling him The Honorable Muslim from Minnesota.

Yes, well, that’s an accurate summation of the issues: those silly people who believed that it was a bad idea to let individual religious preferences dictate the rules of public transportation were obviously froth-whippers. Note to Christian Identity white-supremacists: you’re now free to turn down Blacks as passengers without worrying that Mr. Coleman will rise up and condemn you; he’s happy to walk for a better Minnesota. Also,  note to some women: you ugly. Get thee to a veilery. Hah ha! It’s funny when women have to wear the veil.

As for the intifada, perhaps this is a reference to the Palestinian uprising – it’s hard to tell what he means, other than to suggest that anyone who opposes Mr. Ellison’s connections with CAIR is just a dullard who lumps all Muslims in with rock-throwing youths in Gaza.  This requires that you know nothing about CAIR, a condition not remarkable in some columnists. It’s nice to know that “not paying parking tickets” is the sole concrete bad; belonging to racial-supremacist organizations is now a nebulous thing, if it’s just a youthful indulgence - and the only people who would bring it up are those who dislike the candidate for nasty subterranean reasons they dast not express in public. In any case, Mr. Ellison will probably win, and Garrison Keillor will write a column about how the old Swedish ladies approved of him because they were decent and Mr. Ellison was decent and they had hot dish together and agreed that war was a horrible thing.

Those are my local races; I expect they’re mirrored one way or the other around the country.  I expect the next two years to go poorly, I’m afraid. Then again, I’m often wrong; perhaps it’s possible for a country to win a war with apologies and investigations. Perhaps we’re not at war at all; perhaps Iran and the jihadists are merely an illusion conjured up by the puppetmasters, just as they turned Iraq – the veritable Monaco of Mesopotamia – into a Threat, and just as they defended Israel against the brave Defenders of the Apartment Buildings in Lebanon. I really should relax. I mean, if you’re driving down the road and you see a car coming towards you head on in your lane, there’s no reason to worry. You’re in the right. What else matters?



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c. j lileks. email may be sent to first name at last name dot com.