Nobody is paying much attention to the Republicans anymore. They long ago (well, last week, anyway) settled on their candidate, the aged military hero John McCain, pride of the Arizona Navy.
Everyone is rushing to endorse him. P.J. O'Rourke, the only intentionally funny Republican since Abe Lincoln, came up with the perfect slogan for Old Ironskull: "Strong and Wrong."
Want to know where that came from?
Well, during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, McCain was asked if U.S. troops would have to stay in Iraq for 50 years.
"Make it a hundred!" McCain shot back. Later he actually said we might have to be there for a thousand or a million years, before they presumably got him back on his medication. Nevertheless, some think he could be a real threat to carry Michigan this year.
And indeed, that may happen if the stone-faced bureaucrats of the Michigan Democratic Politburo continue to insist on sticking with the delegation the national party has ruled illegal. Remember, that's the one without a single Obama delegate. If it proves to be the tipping point that steals the nomination from Barack Obama, the candidate most people now clearly prefer, well, that would seem to give McCain a perfect opening. Especially if black voters stay home.
People think of McCain as a maverick and a moderate, and we in Michigan tend to like those types. Yet there is little moderate about the party that will nominate him. Last weekend Michigan Republicans held a convention and picked delegates.
That was covered in the press — but the other big part of what their convention did was pretty much ignored.
They took positions on four major issues. Two were standard campaign boilerplate; one called for more educational choice, a veiled swipe at public schools. The other (yawn) advocated more efficient, cheaper and smaller government.
But Republicans agreed on two other positions that made it clear that the party that once liked to call itself a big tent is now fast becoming a hardened little sect.
If you are a union member or sympathizer, know that they adopted this language. "The Michigan Republican Party supports Right-to-Work and Paycheck Protection from personally unauthorized deductions."
That means union-busting. That would mean outlawing a union shop and would mean no automatic deduction of union dues. Practically speaking, it would mean all existing unions would be destroyed.
Now try out this position:
"The Michigan Republican Party believes that life begins at conception and that the State of Michigan should always defend innocent human life from conception to natural death."
Always. That means no abortion, period. No exception for rape or incest. Nor, so far as I can see, is there even an exception for the health of the mother. As a matter of fact, this seems not even to allow an abortion to save the mother's life.
That's the real face of the today's Republican Party — strong, wrong and controlled by religious fundamentalists.
The only thing now protecting a woman's right to choose whether to end an unwanted early pregnancy is U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who will be 88 years old in a few weeks. You know he isn't going to last through the next president's term.
If John McCain is elected president, he will name a justice committed to carrying out the agenda listed above. A Democratic president would name someone very different. Democrats, if they want to win this election, need to make people understand that.
And speaking of the Democrats: One of the major players I mentioned last week called up to give me hell about that column, "Stealing Obama's votes." This particular honcho is perhaps the smartest of the inner-circle of the smoke-filled room.
He or she knows very well that they have made a mess of things and have a major problem. That is, they know they'll have a major problem with African-Americans if they attempt to ram Hillary Clinton down the convention's throat without letting people in this state have any chance to register support for Barack Obama.
However, so far as anyone can tell, Mark Brewer, the state party chair, couldn't care less. And even those members of the leadership who are more enlightened are so out of touch with what is happening it is scary. During a discussion with me last week, one of them repeatedly referred to Barack Obama as "the civil rights candidate."
This was one day after he had won a majority of the white vote in Virginia and had beaten Hillary Clinton by staggering landslides in eight contests in a row. (This was written before Tuesday's votes in Wisconsin and Hawaii.) Yes, he's the civil rights candidate, all right.
A number of readers wrote to Brewer after my last column on the sorry state of the democracy. They indicated they were angry, felt disenfranchised, and wanted another vote. Two of them sent me his replies, which could have been crafted by an apparatchik in Konstantin Chernenko's Kremlin. (We had free and fair election, comrade. Obama's name not on ballot. Discussion closed.)
Ralph Loomis, a retired professor at the University of Michigan, sent me a sensible idea: "Suggest to potential givers to the Michigan Democratic Party that they send envelopes without money in them to party headquarters, with a note that if they'll stop stealing votes from a major presidential candidate, contributions can resume.
"If enough people did this, it could have the desired effect." Dr. Loomis suggested I improve his language and then share this idea with all of you. But he put it better than I could have.
Beware of tax refund loans: There are all sorts of unscrupulous but technically legal services offering to help taxpayers with modest incomes do their returns (for a fee). These firms then offer to give you instant cash if there's a refund ... in return for a cut of the actual check when it arrives. This is a huge rip-off.
Actually, you can get tax assistance free from the dreaded Internal Revenue Service itself, which will make available for free the same software the tax preparation firms use. Luis Garcia, an IRS media relations guy who is from Detroit, tells me if you file electronically, your refund is likely to get to you in less than two weeks.
So, hang on to your money already.
This week's Kwame Moment in History: Today we've asked Peabody and Sherman (hey, it's a baby boomer thing) to set the Wayback Machine to July 1974. President Richard M. Nixon, desperate for survival, is fighting like a rat cornered in a Dumpster. He refuses a federal judge's subpoena to turn over reel-to-reel tape recordings of his conversations (the text messages of the day) to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski asks the U.S. Supreme Court to force him to do so.
The court quickly and unanimously votes to make him fork over the tapes. One of them had clear proof that Nixon was orchestrating the cover-up and committing obstruction of justice less than six days after the burglary. That was that, and the crook had to resign.
That's it for today, kids. And as always, any resemblance to any persons living or having perjured themselves, wasted millions of city money or having gone to the Michigan Supreme Court in a last desperate attempt to keep the evidence hidden, is strictly deliberate.Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Contact him at [email protected]