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These are desperate times, pundits keep reminding us, and desperate times demand desperate measures, as the sages keep reminding us.

I don't know, though.

I don't think the times are so desperate that we need to elect as president a guy with great hair who once strapped the family dog to the top of the family car and drove off to Canada. No word on the condition of the dog's hair.

Or, for that matter, elect as president a guy whose hair isn't as great, but is not bad, but who defends marriage as a union between one man and one woman so much that he keeps leaving one wife to marry another.

I mean, if everyone defended marriage that way, pretty soon marriage would be rather meaningless.

You'll note that the then-congressman who introduced the Defense of Marriage Act back in the dim years of the 1990s (when the economy, by the way, was booming), Bob Barr (who was born in Iowa City's Mercy Hospital, according to local lore) is now on his fourth wife. (Correction: I didn't mean "on," I meant "with.")

Oh, well. Is it time to bomb Iran yet?

And will that save Social Security?

Speaking of which, back in the days of President George WMD Bush (Remember him? Me, too. We could elect as president any one of the current Republican candidates and relive those days in "real" time, only with less competence.)

Anyway, back in the days of George WMD, as Paul Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist, pointed out, we could "save" Social Security by taking away the cap on the payroll tax. At present, that cap exempts all income over approximately $103,000 from the payroll tax, meaning that middle-class and working-class people pay a far higher percentage of their income than do rich people.

If we were to zap the cap and levy the payroll tax on all rich people's incomes, Social Security would be robust far into the next century.

This will never happen, of course, because if you propose taxing rich people, conservatives treat you as if you had just joined Al Qaeda.

It used to be that, if you proposed taxing rich people, conservatives accused you of being a communist and suggested you go back to Moscow — even though you had never been there before. But then communism went the way of the typewriter and the land line, so the conservatives had to find a new bogeyman.

Enter Osama bin Laden.

Of course, now that President Obama and the Navy SEALs have shown bin Laden the exit, conservatives will have to find yet another bogeyman. These are desperate times; we have to have a bogeyman.

Right now, conservatives are kind of thrashing around, trying to paint Obama as an appeaser of terrorists. I don't know — Obama seems to be blowing them up. Which, though I'm no expert of appeasement, seems to be a long way from the Munich Agreement.

Then again, some conservatives have found a new bogeyman: Teddy Roosevelt as a borderline socialist.

Teddy Roosevelt a borderline socialist? Conservatives could remember, assuming that their flash drives are plugged into the USB ports behind their ears, that one of Teddy's Bull Moose Progressive Party's largest backers was the biggest shareholder in U.S. Steel, Frank Munsey.

Another U.S. Steel Board of Director member, George W. Perkins, the chairman of the International Harvester Co., also backed the Bull Moose Progressive Party.

So U.S. Steel was borderline socialist?

Not to mention International Harvester?

I mean, there's ludicrous, and then there's absurdity. Then there's Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett. And then there are the mega-socialist goliaths U.S. Steel and International Harvester.

Could we get just slightly less insane?

Yeah, you're probably right. These are insane times, and some right-wingers are absolutely determined to outrun the times.

I'm a borderline socialist, so I know one when I see one. Although my friends who are real socialists continually point out to me that I never step far enough or deep enough over that socialist border.

To which I say: I don't like borders.

I vastly prefer Prairie Lights.

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