Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just to remind everyone which party caused this "debt crisis" in the first place.

And that is why it is ABSOLUTELY IMPERATIVE to cut Social Security and Medicare, but not important enough to actually raise any taxes or cut defense spending.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I swear, I may never vote in another political election in my life.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Giving in to defeatism. Letting the bad guys wins. Go down swinging, and all that other rot. Not that I don't believe that there is a large amount of truth in each of those statements, or that I would encourage anyone I talk with to do the same. It's just me, on a personal level. I pretty much have lost faith in a democratic government where one half apparently is insane and their overall driving force is to destroy the other half. I can live with differences of opinion on how government should operate and differing points of view on policy issues. But I can't deal with a government that is being driven more and more to the right by a MINORITY of people who don't seem to have a clue about what governing actually means. And unlimited money coming in from undisclosed corporations, many probably foreign, just has so poisoned this form of government that very little will happen that will truly be for the good of the everyday citizen. It's all about how the rich and powerful get more rich and powerful. It's a rigged game, so why bother? That is the emotional state I am in right now.

Like many other Americans, I had just great hopes when Barack Obama was elected president. That was incredible feeling. I truly believed him when he was saying "Yes, we can." But that has turned out to be yet one more hollow campaign slogan, and President Obama has turned out to be a major disappointment. Whether this is because he truly believes in all the actions he is taking or whether he is just turning into a center-right politician because he so strongly desires to be seen as the "adult in the room," I don't know. He just never seems to catch on that negotiating with lunatics who really WANT to kill the hostage and get everything they want as well, which includes making Obama look bad on every single occasion, no matter how large or how insignificant it might be, DOES NOT WORK. All we ever seem to get is "political creep," where the country seems to start in one place and then is slowly dragged and coerced to the right, and we don't even seem to realize it's happening. Eight months ago, who would have thought we would have been looking at major changes to our social safety net to try to satisfy lunatics who think that the country defaulting on its financial obligations is a good thing? Yet, we all seem to have accepted that premise now, because the only thing that seems to matter at this point is to raise the debt ceiling, so worse things don't happen. And this is just what the extreme right wing of the Republican Party planned all the time. And we went for it.

Whatever Obama's driving motivations, we are now going to end up with a disastrous bill that will make major changes to Social Security and Medicare, neither of which add to the deficit, as well as make huge cuts in spending during a huge recession when we are getting close to 10% unemployment, and the Democrats are getting almost zero in return. There will be nothing in this final agreement, whatever it ends up looking like, that one could point to and say, "Look, that is a very progressive piece of legislation." No, it will all be big steaming piles of attempts at appeasing the radical right that really, really doesn't want to negotiate, even if negotiation were to give them 100% of what they want. The fact that they negotiated in the first place would be a major defeat for them, which is insane. That cannot continue if this country is to survive.

I don't know where this is all going to end and where the country will be when the Tea Party, a full 30% of the voting population of this country, gets its way. But I do know I probably won't recognize this country. At an emotional level, all I feel I can do at this point is to position myself as best I can, which luckily isn't that bad. I have a pretty good government job that will be there when I need it, unless the Tea Party decides that the FAA should be killed entirely, along with the EPA and all other government agencies that provide oversight and regulation of industry. I am not going to be rich in retirement, but it's beginning to appear that I'll do OK.

But actively trying to fight against this insanity that's gripped this country? And that's what it is, insanity.... I don't feel I can cope. My state votes exclusively by mail, so it's pretty easy for me to actually vote, so I might just throw it out there anyway. But really, enthusiasm about re-electing President Obama? Nope, my heart's not in it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

So, Obama's "bully pulpit" is to tell us we should call and twitter Congress?

Jesus H. Christ.

Here is the image that comes to mind for me when I think of the Tea Party.

I hope that everyone remembers what happened to Colin Clive at the end of the film.

What do you want to bet....?

If the U.S. government defaults on its payments and, as a result, Social Security checks do not get mailed out, the Republicans will try to blame Obama?

OK, that's not much of a wager. That is pretty much a given.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Republicans: Rioting the night after their team lost the NBA finals.

That my latest analogy to explain this madness. Republicans are still terribly, terribly pissed off because their team lost the NBA finals, aka Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential elections. They still cannot accept this reality, so they are really, really upset, and just to show everyone how upset they are, they are storming their own city (the U.S.A.) and proceeding to set cars on fire and throw anything they can find through plate glass windows. It won't stop the reality that their team lost, but it feels SO... DARN... GOOD!! It doesn't matter that those same people have to live in this country in the future. They are just out to show how awful it is that Obama is the president.

I hope that these white, elderly Tea Party types are really happy when they discover that their Social Security checks, the ones that they are either currently depending on or will in the very near future, are going to be for less than they were if they hadn't thrown their hissy fit.

(To be fully fair about this, that photo is from Vancouver, in Canada you know, after their team lost the NHL finals. But I thought that basketball is a bit more relevant of an analogy than is hockey, and a picture of a riot is a picture of a riot, regardless of the place or circumstances.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thank you, Texas, for being a leader in the drive to let crazy people carry guns anywhere.

From Huffington Post:

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- A gunman opened fire at a child's birthday celebration at a Texas roller rink, killing five people, wounding four others and then killing himself as the private party turned to panic and some fled screaming in their skates, police and witnesses say.

Authorities ascribed the gunman's rampage to an apparent domestic dispute and said no young children or rink employees were killed during the shooting that erupted about 7 p.m. at Forum Roller World in Grand Prairie, about 20 miles west of Dallas. Some people at nearby businesses said they watched as adults and children spilled from the rink in horror.

Police said the gunman began arguing with a woman in Forum Roller World's front area where the party was being held, although the rink was not open to the public because the family had rented it for several hours for the private party.

Clearly, this is a perfectly valid reason to pull a gun on someone, because they couldn't get into a roller rink when they wanted to. But by gosh, if all those kiddies going to a birthday party at a roller skating rink would have been packing heat, you know, then this would have never happened.

I guess if places like Norway get almost 100 of their young people slaughtered by a madman with a gun and a grudge, then I guess it's OK if the U.S. has our own "incidents" every now and again. Like almost every single day....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Republicans have lost their entire grip on reality.

Crazy doesn't even begin to explain this. One huge reason that I haven't been blogging in the last month is that I can't even begin to talk about how crazy this all is.... It's all been said before, so there really isn't any reason for me to try to reword what has already been written by more literate writers than I.

Parts of the FAA will be shut down tonight because Republicans want to make it more difficult for railroad and airline workers to unionize. Although I am safe for the moment, if the impasse goes on for too long (and I have absolutely no idea how long is "too long"), I will probably be out of a job as well. The government will probably end up going into default on payments on money that has already been spent because Republicans want.... I don't even know what they want anymore. For every single instance of someone on the right saying "This is what we are fighting for," you can find several instances of them doing exactly the opposite of what they are saying they support.

I am just in awe about how insane one of our two main political parties has gotten. Let's all hope the consequences of defaulting by the U.S. government are as bad as many are saying they will be, and these warnings are coming from BOTH the left and right. But the current Republicans absolutely don't care. They want to blow stuff up.

I see absolutely no path for this country ever to recover from this mess that started (in my mind) with George Bush getting the 2000 election handed to him by the Supreme Court. All we need is for a horse to somehow get appointed as a senator. The craziness will be complete at that point.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Incredibly, both David Brooks and Richard Cohen come to the conclusion that the Republican Party has lost its mind.

I am paraphrasing, of course. If you want to see the gist of what they both said, here is a summary from Washington Monthly.

First, Cohen:

Someone ought to study the Republican Party. I am not referring to yet another political scientist but to a mental health professional, preferably a specialist in the power of fixations, obsessions and the like. The GOP needs an intervention. It has become a cult. […]

The hallmark of a cult is to replace reason with feverish belief…. This intellectual rigidity has produced a GOP presidential field that’s a virtual political Jonestown. The Grand Old Party, so named when it really did evoke America, has so narrowed its base that it has become a political cult. It is a redoubt of certainty over reason and in itself significantly responsible for the government deficit that matters most: leadership.

Then Brooks:

If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.

A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing. It would seize the opportunity to do these things without putting any real crimp in economic growth.

The party is not being asked to raise marginal tax rates in a way that might pervert incentives. On the contrary, Republicans are merely being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures that are themselves distortionary.
This, as I say, is the mother of all no-brainers.

But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.

The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

I usually don’t read either of these columnists. Brooks sometimes makes some great points and comes across as a thinking, rational conservative. And then he spoils the moment by saying something completely insane. Cohen, well, I have no understanding about why he is thought of as a “center-left” journalist. I can’t think of much that he has written that I agreed with. I think he represents about the worst of the “beltway thinking.” But to have these two people put out columns on the same week that essentially say the same thing, that the Republican Party has lost it’s mind (yes, paraphrasing, but “Jonestown” and “cult” are pretty damning), that’s saying something.

Maybe the tide is finally turning. Maybe our press is finally going to find the backbone to stand up to the Republican Party and report on what is really going on in American politics these days.


Until then, I remain with a deep sense of despondency over the state of American politics. It’s like riding in a car going 90 mph with a madman at the wheel who really doesn’t care if he crashes the car or not, because he doesn’t believe in traveling by cars and if he does crash, well, that sort of “proves” his point, doesn’t it?

Update: Harsh words for Brooks from Driftglass, via Balloon Juice.