No, thank you!

Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina and my parents get what’s coming to them

I had just sat down to write this column, racking my brain for anything, anything at all that I might actually be thankful for, when a message from Sen. Barbara Boxer popped in over the digital transom. “The news that California’s unemployment rate rose to 12.5 percent last month is another sign that too many of our families are still struggling,” Boxer averred. “We must take further action to put people back to work.”

Which immediately reminded me of the first thing I’m thankful for: I’ve got a goddamned job. And not just any old job, but a job in print journalism. That’s saying a lot in this, the era of the newspaper’s demise.

Am I thankful? You bet your ass I’m thankful. One of my best friends and colleagues is out there on the streets right now, applying for shit jobs he’ll never get (he’s too old), mooching bean burritos, getting thinner every day. His unemployment benefits were exhausted months ago, and he’s now among the legions of “discouraged workers.” Count them in with the regular jobless figures, and the real unemployment rate in California is pushing 20 percent.

I throw some work his way every chance I get, but as anyone who’s ever tried to make even half a living freelancing can tell you, it’s a hard row to hoe. If you know of anybody looking to hire a reasonably sane and intelligent individual no matter how old he is, please contact me immediately.

While Barbara Boxer is still fresh in my mind, I suppose I should thank fired Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina for challenging Boxer in next year’s election. I’ve had my eye on Fiorina since the days when she was driving HP into the ground, and let me tell you, she’s a piece of work. In Fiorina’s universe, offshoring—sending American manufacturing jobs overseas—is “right sourcing”; the answer to HP’s woes during her tenure was to fire even more employees, and the Bush tax cuts for the rich were sound economic policy. How exactly she became America’s most pre-eminent female executive is abundantly clear.

I’m not a great fan of Boxer, but to her credit, she is only one of seven Democrats in the Senate who voted against the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. Undoing this Depression-era banking regulation led directly to first the bubble and then the housing bubble. Now, we’re living through the aftermath, and I imagine Boxer is quite pleased to be running against Fiorina, who firmly supports all of the policies that got us here in the first place.

My greatest debt of gratitude is to my parents, who despite raising a troublesome, rebellious youngster such as myself have managed to stay together for more than 50 years. With all apologies to those of you whose parents have split up, I’m overwhelmingly pleased I’m not from a broken home because, as you know, such environments are a fertile breeding ground for serial killers. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for not turning me into a mass murderer.

Unfortunately, my parents’ perseverance doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on me; if I count long-term relationships as marriages, I’ve been divorced four times. Nevertheless, I’m thankful that No. 5 is putting up with me so far, and I’m even thankful to Nos. 1-4, just for giving me the time of day. I surely didn’t deserve it. Thank you, former girlfriends, for never, ever calling me again.

Since we’re still sort of on the topic of family, I’m thankful that my happily married brothers, Chris and Eric, didn’t follow me down the road to debauchery. Really, it’s not as fun as it sounds. Well, OK, it is as fun as it sounds, but there’s a reason I’ve been divorced seven times, and strangely enough, it isn’t because it was all their fault. Most of it, but not all. As the theme song to Baretta (starring acquitted murderer Robert Blake) so eloquently put it, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Finally, I’m thankful I’m an American. Sure, we have our drawbacks. If you’ve got something we want, we’ll simply kick your ass and take it. A sizeable percentage of us believe Sarah Palin is a sentient human being. We eat more fast food than the rest of the world combined. We’re obese pigs wallowing in a cesspool of gluttony and avarice, so god damned stingy that 50 million of us don’t even have health insurance. But I’m thankful all the same, if only because I’ve been given a chance to do something about it.