Tenacious D had it right -- the tyranny and the bullshit's gone on too long.
Congressional Democrats have rolled out half a dozen initiatives remarkable mainly for their harmlessness. Raising the minimum wage, negotiating for Medicare drugs, making college tuition deductible (an idea that apparently came to them from an episode of the West Wing) are all politically palatable proposals, but they won't do much to address many of the country's most pressing problems. Meanwhile, calls are sure to grow to make truly difficult but necessary decisions -- things like signing the Kyoto Protocol, ending farm subsidies, instituting single-payer health care, and of course finding a solution to the situation we have created in Iraq.
Somewhere in between these two approaches is what I will call the Wiener platform. It focuses on ending policies that have failed so badly hardly anyone can honestly support them. This is not an argument against doing those other things, but I think these ought to be among the first priorities of the new Congress.
1) Decriminalize marijuana.
"It is recognized widely," writes Noam Chomsky, "that [the war on drugs] fails to achieve its stated ends, and the failed methods are then pursued more vigorously while effective ways to reach the stated goals are rejected. It is therefore natural to conclude that the drug war, cast in the harshly punitive form implemented since 1980, is achieving its goals, not failing."
2) End the embargo against Cuba.
Forty-five years in, and Cuba's still socialist. There's always next year. Even the Red Sox eventually won the World Series.
3) Classify SUVs as cars.
On average, the cars on American roads today get worse gas mileage than they did 20 years ago. The reason: in the twenty years since the end of mandatory increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, SUVs -- which are classified as light trucks under the law and therefore subject to lower standards -- have become far more popular.
There they are: three* proposals so clearly right you'd have to be with the terrorists to oppose them. Chip in here with your own ideas.
*Several of you are probably wondering why abolition of the penny did not make this list. I am retracting my previous support of that policy until I have more time to probe the $37,700 in campaign contributions from a copper company to Jim Kolbe, the retiring Arizona Congressman who sponsored the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation Act. Arizona is the U.S. largest producer of copper, the main ingredient in nickels.