Maxed Out 

The decline of the American empire continues

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Three questions kept running through my head in the cool breeze of a November Phoenix evening. Watching the 'Merican mid-term election returns roll in like a red sea of abject Conservatism - necessarily capitalized, notwithstanding the lack of an actual Conservative party, due to this particular brand of populism having nothing whatsoever to do with any tenets of real conservatism - I couldn't help think I'd made an astute investment decision by procrastinating sending in my U.S. passport renewal, it having expired sometime in 2009 as it turns out.

My spirits were buoyed early in the evening when the news flashed that Christine O'Donnell had been trounced in the Delaware senate race. For those of you who don't follow American politics - and, having seen the light, I intend to join your ranks right after I file this column - Chrissy is the postergirl for both the Tea Party movement and institutional idiocy, a distinction requiring a finer grasp of philosophical nuance than I possess.

How dumb is she, I hear you ask? In her concession speech, having read the tea leaves and realized, even with her limited grasp of math, she wasn't a strong enough witch to bridge a gap of 16 percentage points between herself and her opponent, she proclaimed, "Be encouraged - we have won!" No, I'm not making this up. She rilly, rilly is that dumb.

Unfortunately, that was the last good news of the evening, if you happen to have a social liberal and fiscal conservative bent to you. From there on, Pink Floyd's Brain Damage keep looping through my head: "The lunatics are in my hall...."

In state after state, people with short attention spans gleefully handed the reins of power back to Republicans. Apparently there's a strong national longing here, a sweeping sense of sepia-toned nostalgia for the party that dismantled any sensible regulation over the country's banks, leading to the near-collapse of the world's economic system, plunged the country into two quagmires disguised as wars for reasons no one understands to this day, transferred the wealth of the nation to their already wealthy bankers, bagboys and hacks, and cheerfully followed a figurehead who couldn't pronounce nuclear. Ah, the good ol' days.

When it all became too much to endure - a point I knew I'd reached when Californians rejected a proposition to legalize marijuana and I found myself seriously thinking about flipping over to a rerun of Three's Company - I turned off the TV and wondered about those three questions. Has America reached its own tipping point of peak power? Just how dumb is my generation of swine? And, what's a guy like me, a lifelong political junkie with the aforementioned social liberal and fiscal conservative leanings, to do?

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