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The War on Reason Rages On

March 26th, 2013 2 comments

Remember how we believed that the horrific national tragedy of twenty little children being slaughtered with an assault rifle, especially after so many other shootings like the Aurora theater massacre, would lead to an assault weapons ban, or at least a law to limit the number of bullets in a cartridge?

Apparently not.

While the public may have been sufficiently aghast at such tragedies to pull the switch, Congress seems to feel differently. A majority appear to be saying, “No, we think more than two dozen first-graders need to be shot to bloody pieces before we act. Let’s wait and see.”

Not that an assault weapons ban would lead to an immediate halt to such slaughters, but the later you act, the longer they go on. So, good work, senators. You just proved that the NRA is not as weak and ineffective a lobby as some had started to believe.

But hey, at least we can all agree on universal background checks, right? Background checks, even in their currently weak form, have proven effective at stopping two million gun sales, over one million of those to felons, over the past few decades. Obama’s plan for shoring up their weaknesses so that criminals and the mentally ill will have a hurdle in their way before they can acquire a major arsenal is the most milquetoast, sensible, non—

Other gun control efforts like universal background checks on people buying guns are also struggling in Congress, despite public anger at the Connecticut shooting and other massacres.

<facepalm>

It is, after all, what, three months since we saw those children gunned down. So, who cares any more?

Senate Democrats Are Still Mostly Weak-Kneed Imbeciles

January 25th, 2013 4 comments

Why? Because they caved in on filibuster reform. They allowed Republicans to continue the 60-vote supermajority rule without cost.

Complete. Fracking. Idiots.

What are they thinking? What do they think they have accomplished?

They have just guaranteed that Democrats will be able to accomplish less than nothing for the next several years. With filibuster reform, they would have been able to get important presidential nominees passed, instead of just low-level positions they made room for here. They would have been able to pass legislation and at least force the House to face it. And were it possible for Democrats to take the House in the midterms—not likely but still possible—real progress could have been made. Vital progress.

What, do they think Republicans will be nice and not obstruct any more? Idiots.

Do they believe that if they lose the majority in the Senate, then Republicans will let them use the filibuster? On anything?

What’s a word stronger than “idiots”? Imbeciles? Schmucks? Chumps? Dumbasses? Nothing in the thesaurus seems to do justice.

If Republicans take control, the first thing they will do is make damned sure that Democrats can’t pull the same crap that the GOP has been getting away with and will continue to get away with. Democrats win nothing by being weak now. Not a thing.

In Virginia, a single Democrat goes to the Inaugural and Republicans ram through a non-census gerrymander. In Virginia and other key states, Republicans are gearing up to go nuclear on the gerrymander and rig the electoral votes so that even if a Democrat wins a striking majority of votes in the state, the Republican candidate will still win most of the electoral votes.

In short, they are now planning, overtly and outright, to literally steal the next few presidential elections—and you jackasses believe that they will play nice and fair with the filibuster?

Oh, you poor, brainless, pinheaded…. There are no words. You have failed us. Maybe there would not be much you could have done even with filibuster reform, but at least there was a glimmer of a chance. Now you have pretty much caved in and told the Republicans, “Go ahead, roll right over us. We’re stupid. We’ll let you.”

Am I over-reacting? Maybe. But like I said, if nothing else, this is at the very least symbolic.

Republicans are destroying this country. And Democrats are letting them.

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OWS at a Disadvantage

October 19th, 2011 4 comments

Some people are criticizing the Occupy Wall Street crowd for hating corporations, but using corporate goods–using video cameras made by Sony, cell phones by Samsung, clothes by The Gap, bags from Eddie Bauer–even razors, hair dye, posterboard, markers, etc.–all made by the corporations they are protesting.

The criticisms are, of course, idiotic. What do they expect, for people go go naked, unwashed, and carrying nothing? Virtually everything you get nowadays is made by corporations. It would be like criticizing workers going on strike for wearing clothes and eating food they bought with wages made by working at the company they were on strike from.

Worse, if the protesters did go for the non-corporate solutions–hemp clothes, papyrus banners, etc., they’d be ridiculed even more. In short, it’s a cheap, ill-considered, snarky jab.


A real problem with the OWS protests seems to be the nature of the political support behind it. When the Tea Party had far less groundswell (especially protests not paid for or otherwise supported by billionaires), they wielded incredible political influence. This was because the conservative establishment immediately picked up on the influence they represented and made the most of it. Fox put their full weight behind them, and the conservative political force responded strongly to it, took full advantage of a popular protest.

In the case of OWS, there is no “liberal media” (outside of a few MSNBC shows) to rally behind it (while Fox has spent all their time vilifying and/or mocking it), and Democrats seem to be unsure of what to do. Obama even seems to be ignoring them for the most part–all in character, of course. As a result, we see this huge movement which seems to be running in place, getting nothing at all accomplished.

Someone please tell me I’m wrong on this.

Same Old Same Old

April 10th, 2011 3 comments

The parties are really showing their stripes.

Obama opens by asking for $40 billion in new spending.

Republicans counter by asking for $32 billion in cuts, almost entirely from programs favored by the left.

The Democrats, naturally, compromise.

The compromise: $38.5 billion in cuts. Defense, where waste is greatest, got increased spending.

After the deal, Republicans whine that it’s not enough.

Why does this all sound so familiar?

Echoes

November 5th, 2010 7 comments

Obama, in some ways, is admirable, but in other ways, you just want to punch the guy out. I mean, seriously–after all the times he gave Republicans what they wanted and then began to compromise, and as many times as others criticized him and even told him to his face that this was not the way to deal with obstinacy, and here he is, doing it yet again–telling Republicans that he’s OK with giving in on the Bush tax cuts before the negotiations even start. I mean, a facepalm doesn’t even begin to cover it. Maybe the massive facepalm from Naked Gun 3.33 would be a good start. Contrast this with Bush in 2006, after having lost both houses of the Congress, interpreting the results as an indication that the voters wanted more of the same from him. Obama is going a bit too far in the opposite direction.

And here’s another little tidbit from 4 years ago:

As part of their campaigning, Republicans warned America that if Democrats won the election, they would use their control of the Congress to investigate the Bush administration, and even try to impeach him. They painted this as an unacceptable outcome.

Crooks & Liars reminds us that twelve years ago, Newt Gingrich promised that if Republicans took control of Congress, that is exactly what they would do: investigate Clinton to death. And that is one promise he kept, right up to the impeachment.

As we all know, the Democrats completely laid off the Bush administration in 2006 and 2008, and did not prosecute him or Cheney even though there were several highly legitimate and even demanding reasons to do so.

And here we are again, with Republicans taking over the House, and they can’t wait to start subpoenaing again.

The more things change, it seems, the more they stay the same.

What Now?

November 3rd, 2010 5 comments

OK, so the GOP now has control over the House, and the Democrats the Senate. What will that mean?

Some are saying the the GOP will become more reasonable now. That they will not follow people like Issa who want to do nothing in the House but investigate Obama 24/7, using the power to prosecute as a means to dredge up public distrust and hopefully some slime like they did back in the 90′s. These optimists are saying that the Republicans will actually have to deliver something, do something productive in order to stay afloat, which means they may actually have to compromise on a few things.

I desperately hope I am wrong, but I simply cannot imagine that happening. I made that mistake in 2008, naively opining about “Obama Republicans” and how lashing out and going balls-to-the-wall obstructionist would hurt them. Boy, was I wrong. And I have seen nothing to make me believe that Republicans will suddenly change now.

I could be wrong again, but I think it’s a safe bet that we will just see them alter their tactics, not reverse them. I think they will start ramming through legislation in the House just like they did in the Bush years, going back to being far more oppressive to Democrats than the Democrats ever were to them (despite their constant whining that the Dems were worst of all). And the legislation they will pass will be stuff they know will never make it into law–mostly because it will never be intended to become law, but instead will be designed to make them look good and the Dems look bad.

The Republican leadership has already made it clear that their first priority will not be to fix the economy, create jobs, or do anything else constructive. Instead, their number-one priority is to defeat Obama in 2012. That rules out compromise, even if they had not made it crystal clear over the last decade that the last thing they would ever do is compromise. They would sooner scorch the earth.

I think that the first thing they will do is to start in on the tax situation. They know Obama will fight any attempt to reinstate Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, but with control over the House, which they will strictly maintain with harsh discipline (again, as they have in the past), they will only allow tax bills to pass with the Bush cuts included. Then expect a rabid campaign where they will claim that Obama and the Dems are raising your taxes, blocking middle-class tax cuts, because all they want to do is penalize small businesses and tax them into oblivion. Yes, I know that the opposite was clearly demonstrated before the election, but the Republicans excel at remaking reality and rewriting history, and the American people have amply demonstrated that they can be easily fooled in this way. And Democrats will likely again fail to get their point across.

What we may in fact begin to see is big pressure against blue-dog Democrats, maybe even nullifying the Democratic majority in the Senate, even perhaps forcing Democrats to either begin filibustering legislation here and there (which Republicans will inevitably make big noises about), or allowing legislation to pass for Obama to veto.

And the legislation, as I indicated, will be designed to look great–but if passed, would sink the economy. It will be filled with tax cuts and other assorted right-wing goodies that the Republicans know the Dems will never go for, but they will look attractive and the Republicans will use them as cudgels, claiming the Democrats are the obstructionists and the Republicans were prevented from fixing the economy. A lie which they will not hesitate to scream from the rooftops, a claim that would have been true had Democrats run under it this year but they somehow fumbled and cowered into corners as usual.

As I said, I hope I am wrong. I would be happy to see Congress actually address issues in a spirit of actual bipartisanship and compromise. Obama has been all too willing to go there, and the Democrats too weak-kneed to do much else. Republicans, however, by their actions and rhetoric, have given no indication that they would even consider such a thing.

Misunderestimating the Asinine

September 28th, 2010 4 comments

Steven Benen got me on this one (emphasis mine):

Just a few months ago, the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein, not exactly a raging leftist, said House GOP leaders “are becoming the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious.”

Ornstein may have thought of that as a throwaway line, but I’ve considered it rather devastating. He didn’t just say Republicans aren’t serious; he said they can’t get serious and don’t even want to try. That’s not only a powerful critique, it has the added benefit of being true.

Early last year, as the GOP’s descent into nonsense picked up steam, there was some rejoicing on the left, and I understood why. As Republicans took on the collective persona of angry, over-medicated children, it seemed highly unlikely American voters would reward them with power. The GOP was becoming a national embarrassment, progressives assumed, and would need to come to its senses before it could return to the big kids’ table.

But that satisfaction was misplaced. Sure, Republicans abandoned the pretense of credibility, seriousness, reason, and thoughtful policymaking, but they’re nevertheless poised to make significant gains anyway. Voters care less about the GOP’s radical recklessness and more about a struggling national economy.

He’s right. Looking back at my posts from about 18 months ago, it’s almost painful how naive I was, smugly certain that people would see through the most transparent of political plays, and that the GOP would marginalize itself to obscurity. Of course, that was before the Obama and the Democrats truly revealed how weak-kneed and surrendering they could be with the GOP, but it’s not as if Democrats had never acted that way before. It’s also not as if demagoguery never worked before. But seriously: I had a much higher opinion and expectation from the centrist American voter a year and a half ago than I have now.

However bad the economy might be, it should be clear to any idiot that:

  • It was primarily Republican policies that got us into this mess;
  • While the economy is still bad, it is far, far better than it would have been thanks to the stimulus;
  • Democrats, for all their failings, have had better and more responsible policies;
  • Republicans are acting like deranged, idiotic maniacs who are mostly incapable of telling the truth;
  • Unless you’re wealthy, the Republicans are not on your side; and
  • Republicans don’t have any ideas worth listening to, certainly none that hold up to close inspection.

So, naturally, voters are set to sweep them into office–because with the massive damage left by Bush and the GOP, and the Republicans going all-out, balls-to-the-wall in obstructing every move the Democrats try to make, the Dems have only been able to partly undo the damage the GOP has done.

If campaign slogans had to be truthful, then the GOP would have to run with: “We’re Crazy and Destructive, but the Other Guys Are Ineffective at Stopping Us.”

Punting on First Down

September 25th, 2010 1 comment

Sometimes the Democrats just make me want to barf. They had a golden opportunity. No, they had the golden opportunity. In a pivotal election season where they need every advantage they can get, they had the entire Republican Party dead to rights, caught in a political trap that could have devastated them. It was an awesome chance to show how the GOP is beholden to the rich, and how they don’t in fact give a crap about the middle class. It would not have been a trick or any deception–it was Democrats for 98% of Americans, and Republicans against 98% of Americans. And it would have taken place right before the election.

The Republicans had made one of the worst mistakes in recent history, pledging openly to vote against a tax cut for the middle class if it did not also include a deficit-exploding tax giveaway for the rich, at a time when revenue is badly needed and the GOP plan goes 100% counter to their own promises to shrink the deficit.

The Democrats supported a plan to maintain tax cuts for the middle class, and even on the first $250,000 made by every single American–a tax cut for all Americans, including even the rich! But aimed at the middle class.

This was a no-brainer. All the pundits said the Dems should do it. All the supporters told the Dems to do it. All the polls showed it would be political gold if the Dems did it.

All the Dems had to do was to hold a damned vote.

It was 1st down and goal to go on the one-yard line, and the Democrats punted. Or more like handed the defense the ball. Politely.

Like I said, it makes you want to barf.

Ironically, this should not deter any person from voting for Democrats. Not because you want to show your approval and support for such magnificent stupidity, of course. No, it’s because it would be even more magnificently stupid to respond to this by electing the Republicans who are so openly against the interests of the American people. The Democrats may be strategically retarded, but for the most part, their hearts are in the right place, and their interests are the interests of most Americans; the Republicans in power would do even more damage than they are doing right now, which is a lot.

Remember, the Dems only fumbled the strategy, not the moral high ground. They still want the right tax plan, and the Republicans still favor the rich over the middle class.

What this should, logically, make you want to do is to elect as many Dems as possible this year, because they are still far better than the alternative, then re-organize within the next two years, and then identify every single damned Democrat who contributed to this debacle and vote them out in the Democratic primaries in 2012. (And in the Senate in 2014 and 2016. And for crying out loud, why is Harry Reid still in control of the Senate??) We must not vote for the Republicans now, but vote for better Democrats the next chance we get.

It’s a relatively sucky choice, but the best choice currently available. Not that it’ll even happen, but it’s what any good, reasonable, halfway-intelligent Democrat should do.

We constantly say that we deserve the government we elect, that we should make intelligent choices. Well, we should. It’s not like we’re forced to vote for these ninnies in the primaries. We can vote for anyone we damned please.

But for god’s sake, don’t vote for the Republicans, this year of all years, and don’t let this dampen your resolve to get out there and vote. Suck it up and do what’s right for America.

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The Low Bar?

April 29th, 2010 Comments off

Democrats are currently crowing about a major victory in the Senate right now, as Republicans folded under pressure and gave up on their obstructionist attempt to weaken or kill the financial reform legislation before debate even started.

On the other hand, the Democratic “victory” was that with a 59-41 majority, Democrats, after several days, were finally able to open debate on a bill that must later go through several other steps before passing.

One way of looking at it says that Democrats have done the equivalent of tying their shoelaces correctly. Hardly impressive. Another way of looking at it, though, is that they have successfully tied their shoelaces while a bunch of people make a concerted effort to keep them from doing it. Imagine trying to lace your shoes with three or four people constantly yanking at your hands and feet, trying to stop you. I think you’d be impressed by anyone who get their shoes tied under such conditions.

But in a political sense, the achievement or lack of same is less important than the fact that both sides had resolved, and one side caved. If Obama was trying to pass a law for “National Shoelace Day” but Republicans thwarted him, the relative importance of the law would be of little importance, as the main focus would be who has got stronger political will.

So, for the time being, at least, Democrats are doing pretty well, keeping a fairly good image ever since the passage of the health care law. And it doesn’t help the Republicans that they are making their stand for the banking industry, which everyone now detests, trying to thwart reform which will help keep another bailout from happening. That’s not a very defensible stance, which is most likely why they folded–along with the fact that they were preventing even debating the legislation. If Dems can similarly succeed in blasting the Republicans as being pro-bank and anti-reform when cloture and passage come to pass, it would be an even bigger win. Republicans are also not helped by right-wingers pulling crap like the immigration law in Arizona and the Nevada Republican seriously advocating livestock payments for health care.

Of course, one can always count on Republicans to provide a steady stream of idiots to do stupid stuff like that. The real question is, how long can the Dems keep this up without reverting to weak-kneed giga-wimp form?

Isn’t It Rather Obvious By Now?

January 3rd, 2010 2 comments

In the fallout from the failed crotch-bomb plot over Detroit, many have pointed out the fact that right-wingers have been particularly dishonest and hypocritical. Conservatives have been putting outright blame on Obama for the failure to catch this beforehand, whereas they blamed Clinton for the 9/11 attacks, not Bush; where Obama is to blame for an intelligence agency ignoring the father’s warning, Bush was somehow not to blame for ignoring a plethora of warning signs, several of which were delivered directly to him. Where Bush was hailed as “keeping us safe” even while the Shoe Bomber, in almost identical a fashion to the Crotch Bomber, attempted to blow up a plane to the U.S., Obama is criticized for not keeping us safe. And while Republicans excoriate the Obama administration for the lack of security, they brazenly ignore the fact that they themselves voted down more funding for airport security. Not to mention the fact that criticizing Bush on terror or security was seen as near-treasonous, while criticizing the president today is apparently not at all a problem.

I look at these criticisms and reflect on why I don’t blog on politics quite as much now: it’s all trite. Of course they’re acting like that. Of course the facts don’t matter one bit. Of course Republicans are being hypocritical, lying bags of scum; hasn’t that been all too well established? Just like it’s been established that Democratic politicians are generally weak-kneed sissies afraid of their own shadows.

The pattern is pretty simple: anything a conservative does: good; anything a liberal does: bad–even if the two acts are identical. Just claim they’re different somehow, ignore logic and consistency, blame any evidence to the contrary as an artifact of the “Liberal Media,” and there you have it. The neoconservative narrative. Throw in some social religion for further control, a few more tax cuts for the rich, disregard a few more civil liberties (while always steering clear of the control-irrelevant gun ownership), deepen the dependence on corporations, and you’re getting close to seeing the overall sheep-herding architecture of the New Conservative Society. Within that twisted framework, even Sarah Palin makes perfect sense.

Not Good News

November 29th, 2009 3 comments

One of the other reasons why I’m less enthusiastic about reporting on politics:

In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?
Party Affiliation definitely/probably not likely/not
Republican Voters 81 14
Independent Voters 65 23
Democratic Voters 56 40

This is what a looming national train wreck looks like, and seems to confirm that the Republican strategy of “screw the American people, we want to take control of this train so we can drive it off a cliff” is working beautifully. Obama and the Democrats are not helping by (a) beginning all negotiations with a compromise, (b) making it an imperative to look “bipartisan” when the Republicans both define what that means and make no effort to be bipartisan themselves, (c) not taking the Republican-style hardball stance of doing whatever it takes to get legislation through, and (d) generally wringing their hands and caving at the first sign of something going wrong. They are quite literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and even with a 60-vote supermajority (more or less), are having more trouble than any majority party I’ve ever heard of in getting anything passed. Democrats did not threaten the nuclear option when Republicans used the filibuster to obstruct, even though the Republicans did so–effectively–when the Democrats used it relatively sparingly; Democrats did not use reconciliation to get their major legislation past a potential filibuster, though Republicans did so–again, effectively–when they were in power.

On the media front, the conservative news media (let’s not play the game of “is the media librul?” when it is so blindingly obvious that it leans so notably right-wing) strategy is also working. Fox has dominated the national discourse and effectively created the neoconservative imperative: the self-serving narrative that everyone buys into.

I often wondered, “What could possibly happen which could blind the people to the egregiously vicious and idiotic insanity of the right wing and allow them to elect conservatives next year, when it is so clear that doing so will wreck any hope of recovery or future worth for the United States?”

And here we have the answer: a galvanized right wing whipped into a frenzy by the insane Becks, Bachmanns, Limbaughs, and Palins; a disheartened left wing driven to apathy by weak-kneed, ineffective Democrats; and independents robbed of a rational national discourse, pulled to the vitriol of the right or the lethargy of the left, or else left hanging in the middle with nowhere to go.

I keep hoping that Obama’s got a rabbit or two left in his hat, that the liberals and independents will rail against the vile madness of the conservatives, that the right will shrink into a tiny ball of fury unable to move elections, or that something will happen to restore sanity and allow the nation’s business to get back on track again.

Instead, we seem to be driven by the right wing’s incessant, obstructionist drive to destroy the nation in the name of regaining power, driven to charge off that cliff, waving flags and screaming “America’s Number ONE!!” at the top of our lungs as we go.

The most frightening thing is, when the right wing finds a strategy that works, it employs it even more strongly the next time. I thought we’d seen the worst the right wing could do under Reagan, when the neocons started taking over and saddled the economy with massive debt; then I thought I’d seen the worst with the relentless, eight-year smear campaign against the Clintons and the campaign to create a fictional narrative with the likes of Limbaugh and the birth of Fox News; then I thought I’d seen the worst with Bush & Cheney after 9/11, when the real national self-destruction got under full steam; but now we have a right-wing which is doing crap which frankly leaves me speechless. This is not a once-only thing, this is a trend. And it scares the living shit out of me to consider what’s next.

The Party Is Not the Mindset

September 20th, 2009 Comments off

Based on a recent poll, a graphical breakdown of support for the Republican shows a daunting picture for the GOP:

Gopregsup

The thing to note, however, is that this does not reflect a decrease in conservatism, but rather a decrease in support for the GOP as the party contracts into a tight, densely-packed ball of, shall we say, people with a dislike for certain attributes of our current president. In the meantime, the GOP is alienating most other people–but it is not really turning them away from their values.

One effect of this is Blue-dog Democrats, which one might say are DINOs (Democrats in name only), people like Max Baucus who joined the Democratic Party perhaps as much for strategic campaign reasons than because of their policy stands. That’s one of the drawbacks of big-tent politics: you have members of Congress in your party who, while a minority, can still throw a wrench in the works and cause things like health care reform to get mucked up. While Democrats enjoy a majority, Republicans at least have party unity.

Fact is, American government has been mostly conservative since Reagan took office. Clinton and Obama both are moderate Democrats, centrists really–decidedly not the full-out liberals that right-wingers have ranted about–while Reagan and Bush 43 were strong conservatives. Actual liberals have not had a president of their own for a long time (actually, have we ever had a president?)–which makes us the only large constituency not to have been fully represented in recent history. Right-wingers and moderates have been getting more of their fill, while the liberal third of the country has had to enjoy pseudo-representation and compromised crumbs falling off the edge of the table.

We’re the ones who are tolerant–we’ll be satisfied if things are simply balanced between all parties and will sometimes tilt our way. Look at Sotomayor–a centrist judge, far from the real liberal warrior that the left wing would like to have–but we’re OK with it. The third at the other end of the spectrum, however, as we have seen amply demonstrated, go completely fracking apeshit when things even look like they might be anything less than exactly what they want. And we are discovering that having mass tantrums like mobs of infants actually translates into getting a lot of what you want–if nothing else, it certainly helps weight the scales. It’s amazing, really–you like to think that Americans can be responsible, mature, tolerant adults, but about a third of the nation starts whining like babies when everything doesn’t go their way. We saw this during the Bush administration when Republicans were furious that Democrats didn’t let every single Bush nominee get confirmed.

I like to call that the coffee-cup effect, based on the classic story of a conservative woman during the deep-red days of the Bush era, when all the branches of government and almost all of the media were strongly on her side, but she claimed that she felt under-represented in life because most of her Starbucks coffee cups bore quotes she disagreed with.

Like it or not, as much as the GOP continues to implode, despite the majority that Democrats now have in Congress, as much as liberals like to hope that Obama will serve them, and as much as conservatives scream about how excessively liberal Obama is, the fact is that only centrist or conservative interests will be addressed. Health care reform, for example, is a centrist concern. If this were truly a liberal campaign, it would be about making a universal, government-run, single-payer health care system; it would not be about whether or not the public option is something we can do without.

For all the hoopla and all the “D”s we see after politicians’ names today, the truth is that liberals have virtually no hope of getting their core concerns addressed in a manner that they would prefer.