Thursday, August 11


This evening the tiniest of brownouts ate my longish piece on Bush signing the new Highway spending bill. I blame local teevee. Not for the Highway bill, although last week they were touting the fact that Indiana's share was going to rise from 92 cents on the dollar to 94--they said it like it represented a major coup--but because the Indiana State Fair opened Wednesday, which means the news hairdos redouble their efforts to tell you just how unbearably hot it is. They do this every frickin' year, like it's news that it's hot in August. "Will the heat affect Fair attendance?" has got to be among the top five reported stories of the year. Every year. I'm not sure why anyone is supposed to give a rat's ass about Fair attendence. Is there some danger they'll just decide not to have one next year? I'm not sure why I should care about that either. You've seen one cow, you've basically seen 'em all, has always been my motto.

I'll grant you, the last time I was actually in attendance at the Indiana State Fair was 1964, and I was in custody. I think that after about an hour I tried to get my dad to give me the car keys and let me pick up the rest of the family later. I was only half joking. I knew even then that 10-year-olds couldn't drive. But I still feel pretty current with all the goings-on, because the damn thing gets wall-to-wall coverage on local news. This started about a decade ago. The Fair had hit hard times, much like similar bucolic enterprises such as Hee-Haw, to name just one. Somebody must have induced the locals to fluff the thing, because suddenly, besides the one hapless cub reporter they used to send to eat cotton candy on camera and interview children who'd already had far too much sugar, they started sending a weather person, who informed you it was hot. Now it's like the whole crew camps there for two weeks. And there's been a big image makeover. The Fair is no longer the grandaddy of all 4-H meetings with a supermarket parking lot carnival on the side. Now it's a celebration of cuisine with a pig barn attached. The big story each year--I am not making this up--is what commercial piece of shit candy or confection somebody is deep frying. Deep fried Twinkies. Deep fried Snickers. I'm not sure this stuff is even approved for human consumption, even when it isn't prepared for you by someone in a trailer with no running water or toilet facilities, and it's all anybody can talk about for two weeks. It's a fortnight of all the unbridled enthusiasm of a Star Trek convention applied to melted and re-congealed Cheez Whiz served on a stick.

The whole thing does make for a nice respite from all the Health Beat stories about obesity and the dangers of sunburn, though.

And that Highway bill? Boondoggle. Sixty-three hundred earmarked projects, or roughly one dozen for each Congressman. A nine-billion dollar rescission so that Bush could claim it met his tough fiscal stance, which apparently amounted to a threat to veto the thing (like he even knows how to do that) if it held so much gravy that Don Young literally burst before the signing. This is the candidate Bush who vowed in 2000 to appoint a commission to investigate pork barrel spending. The Republican party of the Contract With America. The small government, decisions are best made at the local level guys. I suppose we should be thankful we aren't building a highway to Mars, although maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud.


D. Sidhe said...

I like cows. But not fairs. You can get much more intimate--and not in that way, you perverts--with a nice cow in a pasture somewhere than you can in a noisy, stifling hot barn with toddlers shrieking and dashing around. Cows are damned docile, but even they have their limits, and they stop being amiable pretty quickly under such circumstances. Also, they tend to get sold after. Which sucks for them.

The highway bill is a complete goddamned mess, but it's somewhat possible that we in Seattle will be able to do something about our major freeway that's been destined to collapse on half of the Waterfront in an earthquake since, well, forever.
This would be a net good for us here, and not just because it will surely piss off the Spokanites who've been suggesting in local blogs that the state should just let the thing collapse and kill all those liberal democrat Seattle homos.

If we're really lucky, no one will attempt to divert cash to do anything about our glorious municipal jewel the Monorail, which was built for the Seattle World's Fair back when the banana-and-marshmallow-cream-sandwiches had yet to affect Elvis' appearance, and which in the years since then has manage to double, yes *double*, in length-of-run, to a breathtaking twelve city blocks.
(Though it now goes over the roof of the Experience Music Project, and I can't say this does much for its appeal.)

The problem, of course, is that we have no effective mass transit here, and a certain communal blind spot that leads to our voting unfunded mandates for a widespread monorail system every chance we get. Since no one's ever, to my knowledge, gotten up at a city council meeting and sung about how great a monorail would be, it's most likely that we just do this to annoy whoever the mayor happens to be.

But essentially, every couple years, we get a ballot measure that says, more or less, "Hey! You guys like monorails?" and we all respond with a resounding "Yeah!" and occasionally this causes some well-intentioned civil servant to decide that maybe we should actually *do* something about the whole thing.
Bumper stickers, honestly, would be my suggestion. And I think it would work okay for the highway bill, too: a couple thousand well-designed "Ted Stevens Has A Giant Dick" stickers could save us, what was it, a hundred and thirty million?, all by itself.

Of course, I'm aware that Grover Norquist's shameful pork project example is Port of Seattle's last ditch effort to keep the gribbles from collapsing our seawall, but there you go. It's always something, innit.

I'm not even going to *think about* Deep Fried Snickers. I cook some weird-ass stuff, but at least I don't deep fry any of it. Please pardon my asides, I'm undermedicated again.

doghouse riley said...

Seattle. I'd forgotten. Remind me to tell you my Seattle story sometime, on double secret super background.

I like cows myself. Grew up across the street from a dairy farm and got to know some. I even watch bullriding sometimes and root for the bulls. They've all got their own personalities, as my stepfather once said about The Oakridge Boys.

And no question we should be funding highway maintenance. Well, maybe the hopelessly Randian think we should have seven firms competing to see whose highways we like best, but I mean on planet earth. I've listened to these guys bitch for thirty years about tax and spend libruls and irresponsible government playing with somebody else's money, and here's the first time since the interstate system was completed that one comes up when a single party controls both houses and the Oval office, and we get the worst one in history. Exponentially worse. And I know, not a single Democrat voted against; they don't deserve to get off unmarked. But the responsibility resides at the top, and it's now official: even rank partisans can no longer claim anything Republicans say is binding on their own behavior.

Yosef said...

Yeah, down here in Charlotte, they decided that we need to build arenas and Ritz-Carltons, and NASCAR museums, and send our City Council to far off retreats, and extra cops to direct traffic after the Bobcats games that most of the taxpayers can't afford to go to, but we can't fix the potholes in the roads. I've thought about sending my car repair bills to them. Maybe they would pay that since it's their fault.

I haven't kept up with the highway bill much, but i figure if Charlotte gets any money from it, then we can count on moving our minor league baseball team closer to downtown!

And I used to love the fair. In elementary school, the always made us learn the song about it every year: "The fair! The fair! The Dixie Classic Fair!"

Woodrowfan said...

I always liked the Ohio State fair, some good food, a few fun rides and games, the exhibits, etc. The butter cow was always cool. And you can always catch whatever rock group was big 10 years before playing live. Besides, it gives you a chance to catch up on all the new developments in tattoos by walking around and looking at the carny workers....

fragileindustries said...

The cover story in My Little Town's newspaper yesterday asked the musical question: What can you eat on a stick at this year's county fair (currently ongoing) Answer -- this just in -- CORN DOGS! Oh, and the cheesecake on a stick. The cover story. We get the heat stories (unless they're fog stories) too.

Phil said...

" I like cows. But not fairs. You can get much more intimate--and not in that way, you perverts"

You don't spend any time up in Enumclaw, do you?

"Spokanites who've been suggesting in local blogs that the state should just let the thing collapse and kill all those liberal democrat Seattle homos."

Adroitly missing, of course, their conservative homo mayor who'd ventured to Seattle for a little night life.

I like the monorail in principal - I think transit has to be separated from the traffic grid,and elevating is an attractive alternative to digging. No one ever wants to pay for anything around here, though, and when they decide to, Eyman or someone comes up with a referendum.

None of which says anything about a fair in Indiana.

D. Sidhe said...

I've been known to visit Enumclaw. Carnation, though it is cliche, has lovely cows.

I'm very fond of the monorail, myself, but it seems less than practical as the hub of a large municipal mass transit system. Of course, if we don't keep voting that we really think monorails are funky, the downtown developers will actually get a chance to build steadily more vacant office space where it once stood.

And you're right about the digging--the bus tunnel in downtown Seattle is a constant dripping mess, despite just as constant repairs.
Considering the flooding problems that basically built the city, you'd have thought that would have been a given, maybe.

As for Tim Eyman, I wish he'd just move to Texas if he's so determined to live in a low-tax low-service state. He doesn't have to turn ours into one. Of course, there's something diabolical about a guy who has established how to bribe taxpayers with their own money. Which actually *does*, rather, bring us right back to the highway bill.
Of course the dems don't get to skate on this one. Ethically, anyway. Realistically, they all will, because we're not really set up as a nation to express budgetary outrage, but none of them *should*.
They all bit into the damned apple, and all for the same reason: there was something in it for them.
Some more than others, but all of them.

Doghouse, be aware, re the Seattle story, that I require two sources unless you're Karl Rove. In which case, I'll smear anyone you want. Even the cows. ("Hay Loft Pitchforkers For Justice"?)