And Speaking of the Cold Civil War...


Your kids are all crazy -- give them drugs!

Your cars are going to kill us all – better to ride bicycles, even in sub-zero weather! Right down the middle of the internal-combustion-engine-propelled traffic we haven’t managed to eliminate yet!

Religion is the opiate of the masses – so go see a shrink!

Cow farts are destroying the ionosphere, or whatever it is – eat veggies!

Criminals should be allowed to vote!

Marriage is an outmoded, sexist, patriarchal institution – but let gays marry!

And it’s all your fault! So shut up and die, already.

It’s like that scene in Goldfinger, when Bond, James Bond, is lying there strapped to the table, with a laser beam (standing in for the usual buzz saw) slowing sliding up his legs towards his crotch, and he asks the villain, “You expect me to talk?” To which Goldfinger replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die. There is nothing you can talk to me about that I don’t already know.”

Or, if it’s a movie closer to our own time you’re after, what about this exchange from Independence Day. You remember, the scene where the Area 51 alien has wrapped his tentacles around Brent Spiner’s neck so he can communicate with the pitiful earthlings:

THE PRESIDENT: What is it that you want us to do?


Well, those two scenes pretty much sum up our attitude vis a vis you.

And now you’ve reached the central conundrum, which is why you’re having such a hard time engaging us on the field of battle. And for this I must reach for an unpleasant metaphor from the so-called “war on terror,” now blessedly over, to explain our position.

Think of us as slow-motion suicide bombers. In the end, we understand that we will have to go, too, certainly if we follow through on the logic of our positions, such as it is. But, as proud atheists who see nothing beyond but darkness, we don’t care. We don’t care what happens in the long run, because, as John Maynard Keynes said, in the long run we’re all dead. And he should know, because a) he’s the guy whose cockamamie economic nostrums basically wrecked the soundness of the American dollar when Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971 (I try to tell my progressive friends that Nixon was the greatest friend we ever had, but they’re still mad about the “Pink Lady,” Helen Gahagan Douglas), and b) he’s dead. Meanwhile, we’re damn well going to enjoy living in each and every “moment” while we’re here – being atheists, we are nothing if not “in the moment” – and failing that, at least make sure that your lives are as miserable as ours are.

I don’t want to bore you all with a lesson about, you know, ancient history that happened way before I was born, and about which I wouldn’t care a fig were my family not so heavily invested in the outcome, but – given my marching orders from Che and his homies down there in Lanskyland to at least try and bring you up to speed, it’s important that you get at least some of the deep background on the seminal events of our time. Much as we all would like to, we can’t blame this fight on Clinton or Bush and the “polarization of our politics” that the chin-waggers like to wag about. You think we’re polarized now, you should see the family photographs of Che and Uncle Joe, blood streaming down their faces from the truncheon beatings they got as, for some reason now lost in the mists of history, they tried to prevent Hubert Humphrey from becoming President of the United States.

I mean, you could practically pick an arbitrary starting point just about anywhere in American history to kick off the fisticuffs between Left and Right, and I realize those terms have changed meanings a lot over the past three centuries, but the point I’m trying to make here is that the Cold Civil War started during the Nixon Administration, and really is nothing new. The difference is that now it is no longer a battle between generations, but a civil war within a generation, yes, the good old Baby Boomers. If their parents were the Greatest Generation, what can we say of our glorious Boomer forbears? The Worst Generation slips trippingly off the tongue. The Me Generation got hung on them long ago. The Narcissistic, Irresponsible, Arrogant and Entitled Generation is a little long. So how about this: the Viper Generation.