Twenty Centuries of Stony Sleep

Infuriated by decades of foreign policy incompetence, the United States electorate is poised to inflict severe economic sanctions on its own government this November. Some examples of these onerous restrictions are as follows:

From Hillary Rodham Clinton

  • Hillary will implement a “fair share surcharge” on multi-millionaires and billionaires and fight for measures like the Buffett Rule to ensure the wealthiest Americans do not pay a lower tax rate than hardworking middle-class families. She’ll close loopholes that create a private tax system for the most fortunate, and she’ll ensure multi-million-dollar estates are paying their fair share of taxes.
  • Hillary will close tax loopholes like inversions that reward companies for shifting profits and jobs overseas. She will charge an “exit tax” for companies leaving the U.S. to settle up on their untaxed foreign earnings. She will close tax loopholes that let Wall Street money managers pay lower rates than some middle-class families. And she’ll reward businesses that invest in good-paying jobs here in the United States.
  • For too many years, middle-class families have been squeezed by rising costs for everything from child care to health care to affording college. Hillary will offer relief from these rising costs, including tax relief for Americans facing excessive out-of-pocket health care costs and for those caring for an ill or elderly family member.
  • Hillary believes that we can afford to pay for ambitious, progressive investments in good-paying jobs, debt-free college, and other measures to strengthen growth, broaden opportunity, and reduce inequality. Hillary will use the proceeds from ensuring the wealthiest and the largest corporations pay their fair share to pay for these investments without adding to the debt.
  • Hillary will reward companies that share profits and invest in their workers, and she will raise the minimum wage to a living wage. She will crack down on companies that shift profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, and she’ll make companies that export jobs give back the tax breaks they’ve received in America. She will defend existing Wall Street reform and push for new measures to strengthen it.
  • Hillary will pay for her economic priorities and avoid adding to the national debt by ensuring the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share. For example, she’ll fight for the Buffett Rule, close the carried interest loophole, and impose a new surcharge on multi-millionaires and billionaires.
  • Hillary will make it possible for parents to succeed at work and at home by updating outdated laws so they match how families work today. She will fight for equal pay and guarantee paid leave, two changes that are long overdue. And she will provide relief from the rising costs of necessities like child care and housing, while taking steps to provide Americans with greater retirement and health care security.
  • This

From Donald John Trump, Sr.

1. Tax reform—

  • Simplify taxes for everyone and streamline deductions. Biggest tax reform since Reagan.
  • Lower taxes for everyone, making raising a family more affordable for working families.
  • Reduce dramatically the income tax.
  • We will simplify the income tax from 7 brackets to 3 brackets.
  • Exclude childcare expenses from taxation.
  • Limit taxation of business income to 15% for every business.
  • Make our corporate tax globally competitive and the United States the most attractive place to invest in the world.
  • End the death tax.

2. Regulatory reform—

  • A temporary pause on new regulations and a review of previous regulations to see which need to be scrapped.
  • Require each federal agency to prepare a list of all of the regulations they impose on American business, and rank them from most critical to health and safety to least critical. Least critical regulations will receive priority consideration for repeal.
  • Remove bureaucrats who only know how to kill jobs; replace them with experts who know how to create jobs.
  • Targeted review for regulations that inhibit hiring. These include:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas, raising electricity rates;
  • The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA the ability to regulate the smallest streams on private land, limiting land use; and
  • The Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits, which put tens of thousands of coal miners out of work.
  • Excessive regulation is costing our country as much as 2 trillion dollars a year, and we will end it.

3. Trade reform—

  • Appoint trade negotiators whose goal will be to win for America: narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production, and getting a fair deal for our workers.
  • Renegotiate NAFTA.
  • Withdraw from the TPP.
  • Bring trade relief cases to the world trade organization.
  • Label China a currency manipulator.
  • Apply tariffs and duties to countries that cheat.
  • Direct the Commerce Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.

 

4. Energy reform—

  • Rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
  • Save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
  • Ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
  • Make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas.
  • Cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
  • Lift restrictions on American energy to increase:
  • Economic output by $700 billion annually over the next 30 years,
  • Wages by $30 billion annually over the next 7 years,
  • GDP by more than $20 trillion over the next four decades, and
  • Tax revenues by an additional $6 trillion over 40 years.

 

5. Other reforms, to be rolled out in the near future —

  • Obamacare repeal and replacement—Obamacare will cost the economy 2 million full time jobs over the next decade. Hillary Clinton would expand Obamacare and create fully government-run socialized medicine.
  • Infrastructure—28 percent of our roads are in substandard condition and 24 percent of bridges are structurally deficient or worse. Trump’s plan will provide the growth to boost our infrastructure, Hillary Clinton’s will not.
  • Childcare— Childcare is now the single greatest expense for most American families — even exceeding the cost of housing in much of the country. Trump will allow families to exclude childcare costs from income, benefitting every family. Hillary will not.
  • Crime— Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. More than 2,000 have been shot in Chicago since January of this year alone. Donald Trump is the law and order candidate in this Presidential race.

Also, I wish I were making this up, but this.

Why would rational voters support the dangerously punitive economic sanctions spelled out in the major party candidates’ platforms? Let us look to other instances where such severe restrictions have been imposed to get a clearer picture.

15 CFR (this stands for Code of Federal Regulations) 746 lists countries under embargo per the Export Administration Regulation. These include total trade embargoes for the rogue states of Cuba, Iran, and Syria, as well as limited sanctions against Crimea, Ukraine, Iraq, North Korea, and select portions of the Russian industrial sector. The EAR curtails US arms trade with the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and Venezuela. Each of the countries listed here, you will recognize, boasts impressive lists of human rights abuses both within their borders and abroad. More details on the specific restrictions detailed in the EAR can be found here.

ITAR (the International Trade in Arms Regulations), authorized by 22 CFR 126.1 lists countries with whom arms trades have been limited (a) unilaterally: Belarus, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and (b) by the U.N.: Burma, Code d’Ivoire, Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Korea, People’s Republic of China, Somalia, The Republic of the Sudan. Additional countries have limited arms trade sanctions, stopping short of full embargoes: Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Libya, Vietnam, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Central African Republic, Sudan. For more details on the specific State Department policies regarding ITAR, visit the website here.

The Bureau of Industry and Security and the State Department aren’t the only authorities limiting trade with dangerous foreign powers. The Treasury Department maintains the Office of Foreign Assets Committee (OFAC) whose duty it is to maintain its own list of sanctioned countries (including Balkans, Belarus, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine/Russia, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe) as well as a list of more than 6000 entities, commerce with which is prohibited. More on OFAC can be found here.

Any reasonable citizen can look at the rogues’ galleries of nations flagged for embargo or sanction and immediately recognize the hideous acts perpetrated by unscrupulous regimes. Why, just today news arrived that the DPRK has successfully conducted a fifth test of a nuclear device in flagrant defiance of international non-proliferation accords. If anything, the existing total trade embargoes against North Korea aren’t restrictive enough.

But again I ask: what has the United States done heinous enough to warrant the economic sanctions pledged by both major party candidates?

I worry that a sufficient answer would occupy more space than I wish to claim in a single post. This is, after all, a group blog. I owe it to my friends and colleagues here to limit myself to just a few noteworthy examples. And as I claim scarcely more than twoscore years, it seems prudent to limit a list of grievances to that fleeting span.

1974:
The Second Indochina War (aka the Vietnam “conflict”) will be ongoing until the following year. Amid the questionable justification for US involvement in a French colonial dispute, American malfeasance included the CIA’s drug running scheme under the aegis of Air America, as well as Operation Menu, Operation Freedom Deal, Operation Commando Hunt, and Operation Lam Son 719 in Cambodia and Laos. The short version of these is that Nixon bombed the everloving fuck out of the neighboring nations of Cambodia and Laos, all without Congress issuing a declaration of war. This alone should have raised the ire of the international community to an extent that the sorts of sanctions proposed by Clinton and Trump would be justified, yet GATT continued unimpeded through the 1970s, reducing tariffs between member nations throughout the decade (The Tokyo round was in effect from 1973-1979–details here).

1975:
In January, Watergate broke. High-level corruption may not always be enough to land a nation in a disfavored trade partner status–after all, some of the world’s nastiest warlords are proud recipients of enduring poverty relief packages year after dismal year–but the embarrassment of such a political scandal may have helped contribute to the corrosion of confidence that led to this year’s roster of an outright crook vs. an outright buffoon.
In March, Saudi King Faisal is assassinated by a disgraced family member. The CIA maintains plausible distance from the incident, but for the conspiracy-minded American voter in the midst of the OPEC oil crisis (including the imbecilic imposition of gas pump price controls), the coincidence might be a little too much to bear.
In April, the Khmer Rouge begins its bloody reign, ultimately slaughtering perhaps as many as 2 million Cambodians. America claims no responsibility for the genocide, despite its heavy involvement in the Cambodian civil war. The American public’s trust in its leadership institutions cannot help but be shaken at this atrocity.
In June, the Rockefeller Commission opens the files on CIA atrocities, including the hideous Project MKULTRA.
In December, the Lao Civil War ends, leading to the evacuation of, you guessed it, American troops (who, again I remind you, weren’t meant to be there in the first place).
Mitigating factors for 1975: Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, eventually culminating in Rumours released two years later, perhaps the greatest studio album to ever be recorded.

1976:
In January, the US vetoes a UN resolution allowing for Palestinian sovereignty. While it might be cowardly of me to refuse to publicly pick a side in the Palestine/Israel conflict, I bring it up to note that many voters do indeed hold passionate opinions on the topic and that by flaunting international accord, Ford may have incinerated yet more of the political capital built up over the years, at least among voters who–rightly-or wrongly–assert that Palestinians have a right to international recognition of their self-determination.
In May, President Ford creates the FEC, further cementing the hegemony of the two-party system, creating de jure barriers to third party challengers in addition to the de facto barriers that already existed thanks to Duverger’s Law.
In July, America celebrates her bicentennial. This marks my earliest actual memories; I recall the fire hydrants in my sleepy little Oregon college town being painted red, white, and blue for the occasion. This celebration reminds citizens of just how far the republic has fallen since its inception 200 years hence.
Mitigating factors for 1976: Viking 1 landed on Mars. Not bad, NASA. Not bad. Also, the Muppet Show debuts. Not bad, Jim Henson. Not bad. Also, “meme” is born, thanks to Richard Dawkins. Not sure if that’s a net good or bad yet. The jury is still out.

1977:
In January, Ford pardons Tokyo Rose, infamous WWII Imperial Japanese propagandist. This was unquestionably a noble act of clemency, but the apt question here is how the typical American voter might interpret the act: righteous decree of mercy, or hideous utterance of betrayal? In the absence of readily available public polling data at the time, I shall leave this to the imagination of the reader. Also in January, Carter takes office, only to almost immediately pardon conscription evaders. I applaud the decision, as I see conscription as contemptible, execrable public policy, but I can appreciate the viewpoint of those who decry the unfairness of the decision.
Mitigating factors for 1977: they discovered rings around Uranus. Star Wars releases in theaters in pursuit of a decades-long, ongoing effort to disappoint devoted fans. The Voyager project embarks as a symbol of humanity’s hope in the face of colossal odds. Smallpox is finally eradicated.

1978:
In January, the seeds of the Iran-Contra affair are planted with the assassination of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, possibly in connection with Cuban-American operatives. The CIA is not directly implicated. Yet.
In February, Senate proceedings begin radio broadcast. The nation can hear the sausage being made in real time.
In March, the Coastal Road Massacre re-ignites spirited debate on the issue of Palestinian sovereignty. Again.
In April, the Afghan Civil War begins. This war continues to this day.
In October, more fallout from the Vietnam war as Vietnam attacks Cambodia. But then again, they were fighting Pol Pot, so maybe they were the good guys this time? Manichean politics sure are hard.
The nuclear arsenal of the USSR exceeds that of the US. This leads to the horrific and wasteful arms race of the Reagan administration.
Mitigating factors for 1978: Pope John Paul II takes over. My impression (recall that I hadn’t even started elementary school at this point) was that he was pretty popular in America, even among non-Catholics. The Camp David accords are signed, easing old tensions between Egypt and Israel.

1979:
In January, Brenda Ann Spencer opens fire at the Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, prompting a wave of copycat school shootings that persist to this day.
In April, buoyed by the (CIA-backed) absence of the Shah, Iran establishes a caliphate. “This will end well” is on the lips of every red-blooded American voter.
In June, Ixtoc I spews crude all up and down the Gulf of Mexico. Good thing the offshore drilling industry learned their lesson from that one, eh?
In July, Carter secretly backs the Mujaheddin in Kabul. “This will end well” is on the lips of every red-blooded American voter. Also, the Sandinista regime ascends to power in Nicaragua. Surely there is nothing amiss here.
In November, the hostage crisis. Carter douses what’s left of his term in light sweet crude and sets it ablaze.
Additionally, 1979 marked the start of the one-child policy. Now, you might debate the importance of US involvement here, but compared to the scale of the horror visited by this policy, official US condemnation has been tepid, particularly for the pro-life sector of the American public. In all, it might be a mild point in favor of this year’s roster, but it could still be worth including for a nudge in the primary season.
Mitigating factors for 1979: the US and China establish diplomatic relations. Although, according to at least one candidate, this is proving to be to the nation’s disadvantage, possibly because Carter was a flaccid negotiator or something. Idi Amin is ousted.

1980:
In January, lame duck Carter slaps the Soviets with a grain embargo. Great idea: contribute to famine. That’ll show those insolent apparatchiks.
In March, our pal Mugabe takes office in Zimbabwe. The country is never the same again. Carter announces a boycott of the Olympics.
In April, a botched hostage rescue stomps on the few remaining ashes of the public’s goodwill towards the Peanut Farmer in Chief.
In June, CNN quietly begins its unholy reign of round-the-clock terror.
Mitigating factors for 1980: the Mariel boatlift. The Empire Strikes Back.

1981:
In March, Pinochet resumes power, a painful reminder of the US involvement in his 1973 coup, as well as the bloody purges that followed. Former child actress Jodie Foster gains brief notoriety as the inspiration for the assassin who is ultimately responsible for the Brady Bill restricting the sale of handguns.
In June, the AIDS crisis begins. The stunning callousness of the President and his staff raise grave concerns among the LGBTQ community and their allies about his fitness to govern a diverse nation.
In September, Ric Flair defeats Dusty Rhodes for the WCW heavyweight championship. A nation mourns.
In October, Anwar Sadat is assassinated by pro-jihad forces for the crime of negotiating with Israel. I told you this would end well.
In November, Iran-Contra shenanigans begin. I have to confess that I have conflicting opinions on this one. I’m too young to recall the Watergate hearings, so the first big political scandal that I can really remember was this one. The adults in my life were occasionally divided on their opinions of the key actors in this little dog and pony show, and the more I learned about it in the intervening years, the more I came to conclude that the core problem wasn’t with who knew what when and who sold what to whom, but rather that the set of institutions and incentives faced by the military and intelligence entities involved were far more to blame than Ollie North or Weinberger or whoever. Enabling a system that permits proxy bloodshed and misery is just as broken as one that inflicts it directly, perhaps more so, since it can continue in the shadows for as long as the public remains blissfully ignorant. In other words, the thing that scoured the last of my faith in the system wasn’t Iran-Contra, it was all the Iran-Contras that I never heard about. If that makes sense.
Mitigating factors for 1981: the first woman Justice is nominated to SCOTUS. Whatever your eventual opinion of O’Connor, that’s quite a landmark.

1982:
In February, the president of Syria purges the city of Harran of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ask one of the major party candidates about it. They’re sure to have an informed opinion.
In March, the Libyan oil embargo begins, laying the groundwork for a crucial plot point three years later in Robert Zemekis’s seminal feature film Back to the Future.
In April, the benighted Falklands War begins. Though the US wasn’t involved, Reagan and Thatcher were so chummy that there was surely some proxy embarrassment, much like the Bush-Blair Mutual Fellation Accords two decades later.
In June, the ERA peters out. Much consternation ensues. Perhaps if the public possessed a better notion of what constitutes a “right” some rancor and simmering resentment could be avoided. Perhaps if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their ass every time they jumped.
In August, the US joins the fight in Lebanon, with the USMC arriving in the midst of cicada season.
Mitigating factors for 1982: Commercial whaling ban is enacted by the IWC.

1983:
In April, Reagan announced the SDI. Many in the media excoriated this as a beyond pie-in-the-sky fantasy boondoggle, which it was–technically speaking. However, viewed as saber-rattling when translated to the Russian, it might have been one of Reagan’s smarted strategic moves. Yes, yes. Damning by faint praise. Still, it’s worth remembering that Reagan remains one of the most simultaneously loathed and loved holder of high office in the land. Voters may want to posthumously punish his legacy by electing a maniac this November. Some voters.
In September Korean Air 007 is shot down by Soviet aircraft, killing a US Congressman.
Mitigating factors for 1983: ARPANET is migrated to TCP/IP. HELLO WORLD. Stanislav Petrov singlehandedly prevents total nuclear war.

1984:
Unassuming party member Winston Smith is imprisoned, interrogated, and ultimately executed for crimes against public order. Eastasia remains at war with Oceania.
Mitigating factors for 1984: idk, Beverly Hills Cop maybe?

1985:
In January, Reagan is sworn in for a second term. Supporters rejoice, detractors fume. His was the first presidency I can recall that partisan rancor survived during his entire term in office. It seems a pretty regular thing these days, but I’m not sure it was always that way. At least with these two bozos, the whole country will get to agree that the dipshit they elected is utter slime. Also in January, intolerable earworm “We Are The World” is recorded to torment the nation for the rest of the year.
In February, Hezbollah begins. Again, there’s not any conclusive evidence, but this reprehensible rubbish has the stink of CIA bullshit all over it [citation needed].
In May, living ghoul Rudy Giuliani earns his bones by pursuing the Five Families. Nothing bad will come of his ascendance, I’m sure.
Mitigating factors for 1985: an uncommonly good year for music and movies (also Wrestlemania I). Good entertainment goes a long way to building constituents’ goodwill.

1986:
In February, as millions of schoolchildren watched (me included), schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe and six other crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger detonated above the dusky swamps of Cape Canaveral. Part of the debris that settled back to earth were the shattered promises made by a drug-addled John Kennedy when he commanded his constituents to look to the stars in a race to the future.
In February, the Senate approves a treaty outlawing genocide. Better late than never?
In April, cartoon villain Geraldo Rivera embarks on his nonstop errand to make a public spectacle of himself by opening the (empty) vault of Al Capone. This is unrelated to voters’ trust in their political institutions, but it was funny as hell, and presaged the quality of the journalism we’ve come to expect in the intervening years.
In October, President Reagan signs the Goldwater-Nichols Act. You know how it seems a lot easier to deploy US armed forces at a whim than it was, oh, say, 50 years ago? Thank the Goldwater-Nichols Act for that. For your reading pleasure.
In November, Iran-Contra breaks, exposing more than five years of DoD skulduggery. The emanations and penumbras of this revelation are still with us.
Mitigating factors for 1986: Miyazaki releases Castle in the Sky. Awesome, awesome. Also, The Simpsons

1987:
In January, Reagan undergoes prostate surgery. Weirdly, at the time this was enough reason to question his fitness for office. These days, TIA symptoms get a pass. Standards change, as they are wont to do. Also in January, a couple of mobsters get burned on RICO, to the continuing consternation of Ken White.
In February, Reagan gets a light slap on the wrist over Iran-Contra. For some, this was the final turd swirling down the toilet of public trust. If this dickhead couldn’t be bothered to know what’s going on in his own administration, how could we ever trust ANYONE with that much political authority. THE SYSTEM, PEOPLE. THE SYSTEM ITSELF IS THE ABUSE.
In October, Black Monday. Weirdly, this didn’t do much to expose the cozy revolving door relationship powerful bankers had with regulators. Weird.
Mitigating factors for 1987: Canada introduces the Loonie, possibly with the express intent of badgering Toronto’s excellent exotic dancers. I wonder why the $1 coin never took off in the States.

1988:
Gary Hart was eliminated from the pool thanks to the Monkey Business saga. Remember that? It sort of puts Anthony Weiner in perspective, doesn’t it?
In April, Operation Praying Mantis gets the Navy into a scrap with Iran. Lovely.
In November, former CIA director George Herbert Walker Bush is elected to the highest office in the land.
In December, Libyans claim responsibility for a flight shot down over Lockerbie, Scotland. But I’m sure there was no motive for that apart from a desire to foment chaos.
Mitigating factors for 1988: Falwell loses to Larry Flynt. The First Amendment withstands yet another misguided assault. Soviet forces agree to withdraw from Afghanistan. Years later, Russian veterans would snicker as US forces dipped a toe in those poison waters.

1989:
In March, a drunken Joe Hazelwood drove the Exxon Valdez aground. Good lord. 1989. Has it really been that long?
In May, a disgraced Ollie North is convicted. Way to jump under that bus, buddy. Also, way to distract from the budding US invasion of Panama, the extent of which is still something of a mystery to most citizens. Those who even know about it think it was a bloodless ousting of ol’ Pineapple Face. Not true. Operation Just Cause killed hundred of civilians. I remember watching this live on TV and the big point of public interest was when they blared Guns N’ Roses at Noriega’s compound all night. I’m sure my fellow citizens weren’t disillusioned a bit when they learned the truth. Most ofthis stuff happened the following year though, so it shouldn’t be in this entry, I suppose.
Mitigating factors for 1989: Tienanmen Square Defiance. True courage still exists. Also, the Berlin Wall fell. Which was pretty cool if you’re into that sort of thing.

1990:
In September, GHWB told Iraq that this aggression [in Kuwait] will not stand, (man). Some kooky wingnuts have suggested that his involvement with Operation Desert Shield and the subsequent Operation Desert Storm would lay the foundations for his son to finish the family business (so to speak) by invading Iraq on flimsy grounds. But that’s too cynical, simply too cynical for the enlightened American voting public.
Mitigating factors for 1990: Truthfully, 1990 was a pretty good year for liberation. Apartheid was coming to an end, the Soviet Union was disintegrating, and the PRC was loosening its grip on rural areas. Way to go, 1990. Pat yourself on the back.

1991:
In January, the American public learned what a Scud missile was.
Mitigating factors for 1991: the USSR collapsed. Of course, what emerged from the ashes might still be a problem, but hey: let’s not let that spoil the party, eh? Also, the terrible reign of the Duvaliers ended, and Haiti returned to… hang on, let me check… …uh, never mind.

1992:
In January, Bush barks his groceries into the Japanese Prime Minister’s lap. On television, no less. Hilarity ensues as this wacky pair embark on a cross-country journey accompanied by a talking chimp who also plays the banjo!
Quietly, at least to the typical television viewer, radical Islam spreads. An Algerian election is cancelled when it looks like the Islamic Salvation Front might win. Civil war erupts shortly thereafter. Eventually, American voters will come to believe that either a sustained bombing campaign or “tough negotiations” (whatever the fuck that means) is just what the doctor ordered. Good luck with that, guys. Good luck especially since the big news item at the time was that lady who sued McDonalds for a million bucks over a scalding cup of coffee. Way to get your priorities in order, national news services.
In November, the first Clinton president is elected.
Mitigating factors for 1992: Nothing. 1992 was the swine anus of the nineties.

1993:
In February, members of the ATF raid a compound in Waco, Texas. murdering 5 members of the Branch Davidians while serving a warrant on David Koresh. Eventually, the FBI led by Attorney General Janet Reno would become involved, incinerating every man, woman, and child in the place through the use of flammable gas followed by tracer rounds. Compliant news organizations would describe the inhabitants of the compound as a dangerous cult and would withhold footage that clearly showed FBI agents firing on unarmed civilians. Trust in the government was running high thanks to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
Mitigating factors for 1993: Though it’s now reviled, Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy really was a big step forward for the inclusion of otherwise-qualified service members into the ranks.

1994:
Rodney King earns a civil settlement. Too little, too late. Racial animus remains unsettled despite King’s plea that we all get along.
In March, rough beast Justin Bieber, its hour come round at last, Slouches toward London, Ontario to be born.
Mitigating factors for 1994: NAFTA goes into effect. Residents of member nations now have access to cheaper and more plentiful goods and services.

Some other crap happened in the mid-nineties, but I was either underway on a submarine at the time or passed out drunk in the barracks. I intentionally stopped following the news. It was dismal, disappointing the way partisan interests had usurped the news cycle, doubly so when it occurred to me that they’d been there the whole time.

2001:
In September, a platoon of poorly-educated clods smashed commercial airliners into major symbolic landmarks in New York and DC. The administration and those following it have done nearly everything in their power to squander what little of the public’s trust that remained after roughly a century of malfeasance. The bill is now coming due. The American public will no longer suffer this abusive regime and is willing to put economic pressure on it in the hopes that its ceaseless meddling with international affairs will at long last be put to an end.

It now at this late hour further occurs to me that I can’t possibly be alone in my mawkish cynicism, and that now, finally, with the blinding flash of flaming jet fuel out of our eyes, my fellow Americans are seeing the same thing I see: that the ruling cabal has deeply and inexcusably betrayed us. They see that the governing institutions are corrupt to the core. They see the endless promises that have been yanked from under us, and they are now, at long last, ready to punish the thieves, the barrow-crows, the wheedling monsters that lurk under the covers for all they have done to us. The public has few instruments with which to prod the giant, shaggy beast that dwells across the Potomac, but the one it does have is mighty and awful: elect naked swine. And so that is what we will do this November. Proudly and triumphantly. I can’t wait.

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