Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Decade Late and a Nutcracking Short

It seems that, at long last, Democrats are growing spines:

Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) on Wednesday delivered a fervent and stinging rebuke to former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent attack on President Obama after the failed Christmas bombing.
"I am sick and tired of the former vice president of the United States taking shots not only at this administration, for problems he was largely and personally responsible for, but by an extension at those of us who served in the military and bring that experience," Massa said on MSNBC's The Ed Show.
"This man suffers from a horrible case of political Tourette's [syndrome], and it's about time that we stand up and kick right back because I'm sick and tired of him kicking us in our shins," Massa said.

Cheney's forceful critique of Obama quickly garnered significant media attention, and several journalists accused the story's author Mike Allen of failing to fact-check Cheney's seemingly curious claims.

"We need to grow a spine and stand up and show America exactly who did what," Massa said, pointing to Cheney's role in the events leading to the Christmas day attempt and the fact that the Bush administration took several days longer than Obama to address the 2001 shoe-bomber incident.

"It was Dick Cheney personally responsible for the release of the masterminds of the Christmas airline terror plot," he said, accusing the former vice president of shifting his culpability to Democrats.

"It makes no difference what we do, this man suffers from political diarrhea of the mouth, and unless we stand up and call it as it is he's going to keep on getting away with it," Massa said.

Reasonable people gave up on the Republican Agenda producing anything even slightly resembling anything it predicted somewhere in 2004. I was certain before the election, which after the whole Texas redistricting fiasco, was clearly going to be a sham at best.

I'd come to the particularly depressing conclusion that the Republicans (The ones with access to power, at least) were, by and large, resigned to being lousy little cheating bastards because in their hearts they knew they could not win on the merits of their philosophy or on the coat-tails of a successful Presidency.

Hell, the time from 2000 to 2004 pretty much proved to anyone with a functional reading level and the ability to run a basic spreadsheet that "Conservatism" as presented to Republican voters and Republicanism as it had been performed upon us all were completely different things, not merely a difference between apples and oranges, but between Bananas and Batshit.

But until now, Democratic elective officials seemed too timid to mention the obvious out loud, and tried to treat their disloyal opposition as if they were sane, competent and honest representatives, capable of contributing a valid and honest balance to the sorts of passionate debates that should - indeed must - shape politics.

Well, I think we know how well that's worked out. And if youda ast me, I coulda tolja. Frankly, I'm moderately and pleasantly surprised that the really freakin' crazy wing of the rethuglicans have not managed to stage an outright coup. And it seems to me that it's increasingly obvious that the sort of people who would be very much in favor of crushing opposition are already well-represented within the various "public safety" organizations.

I returned to Canada just before Obama's election because I did not care to risk what I thought to be a very ugly possibility. This was my thinking in August, 2007:  Quagmire was the plan all along.

So let us look back at the net effects of this administration. The first thing it did, of course, was to squander a budget surplus and start to build the most massive debt in US history, debt that is held in part in the Middle East and in part in China, due to our massive trade imbalances. Laws were passed that gave tax breaks to large corporations moving offshore - taking HUGE tax revenues with them, while monetary and credit policies were pursued that encouraged the middle class to take on unsustainable levels of personal debt. Then, the mousetrap was sprung - completely unconscionable revisions in the Bankruptcy act.

Meanwhile, the War On Terror was declared, and many steps were taken - almost none of them having any effect on actual terrorism, save to increase the potential for it, while obvious precautions, such as securing ports, rail transport and airline baggage screening were dismissed in favor of purely cosmetic harassment that had the effect of ensuring that the American people became used to being arbitrarily questioned and inconvenienced by barely competent officials of the state, often in conspicuous violation of both the Constitution and personal dignity.

The Patriot act - along with widespread, clandestine and illegal activities, such as arbitrary arrest, suspension of habius corpus and of course the quite deliberate specter of torture as one possible fate for Administration critics became part of the national consciousness, with most of us still believing that, fearful and potentially disastrous as these policies were, the idea was to combat terrorism.

But in hindsight, it's clear that our national policies have taken what was a potential threat - one worth attention and concern, but by no means something to panic about - and turned it into a world-wide emergency situation. The only conclusion I can come to reasonably is that US policy has the direct and probably intentional effect of creating conditions where terrorism will flourish, both abroad and domestically.

How will domestic terror arise as a widespread thing? Well, the first acts will likely be "black operations." But Bush's domestic policies and what appears to be a calculated campaign of focused contempt for the sensibilities and needs of the vast majority of the citizenry can be reliably expected to result in an incident here and there, at least if the pump is primed by an example or two that is suitably publicized.

And what that permits is the imposition of martial law, the suspension of elections and the Constitution itself - "for the duration of the emergency."

It is very difficult to impose a dictatorship on a wealthy, secure nation - which is what we were when President Clinton handed off the Presidency to the Shrub. Now we are a debtor nation, both personally and nationally, with such levels of debts that many of us are effectively slaves to giant corporations that are no longer headquartered in the US, making them far less accountable to US law.

What we are seeing is the engineered collapse of the US economy - and far more critically, it's position of moral and social influence over the world's population.

But I am distinctly concerned that this agenda is one that is broadly advantageous to people of power and influence within and without the Government to a degree that it pushes politics aside. To be blunt - I think it's a pretty obvious agenda by now, that the Democrats are not idiots and that they are, in essence, furthering it by offering token and ineffective resistance.

President Obama may be able to forestall this - or he just might be better at swiping and fulfilling the Republican agenda than Clinton was. I found that, as much as I did hope and pray that Obama is as good a man as he seems, I also know what getting to where he is at this time in history implies about the substance within the seeming. So, while a change back to decent and competent government is required and I have hope that will happen... the bulk of US history and my studies of human nature suggested to me that betting my personal pink butt on that outcome would be unwise, when I had a perfectly good Canadian citizenship going to waste.

For the last year, I've been resisting the impulse to disclose how little moved I would be if the US dissolved into the spasms of civil war that some seem so determined to bring about. But aside from the naked odds against such a damn-fool enterprise, there's another dimension to the equasion y'all are forgetting. I doubt very much that the world will be willing to allow y'all to sort it out between yourselves.

However, they would be rather happy to intervene. Altruistically, of course. To minimize human suffering.

Hell, we here in Canada would be happy to secure Alaska for you. Come to think of it, we'd pretty much have to. All that coastline, all that oil, bunch of crazy people who need a federal reality-check?  Not something you leave lying around unattended. Tends to attract flies. White man's burden, y'know.

And good luck on getting it back, once the Alaskan people meet the RCMP and our Medical Services Plan.

But if you really must - well, go for it. Let the United States of America perish and be replaced by whatever smaller republics and client states may remain, with the help of entirely too willing foreign powers.

We all remember how well that whole Balkans thing worked out, don't we? We DO so hope to have an opportunity to do a better job. Practice, you know... Just a little more practice.

Pardon me, I need to go flight-prep my black helicopter.

Money quote from LGF article cited above:

If I still had any allegiance to the GOP, I’d probably be upset. But at this point, the only emotion I have left is amusement. This is where the conservative movement has been heading ever since Barack Obama was elected, and now they’re finally arriving at the black helicopter landing pad.

Quotes just don't come any more apt than this one. But a high five to the utter fucking surreality of Rachel Maddow being mentioned approvingly on Little Green Footballs. I'm sure this stuns the hell out of everyone involved.

Taken together with the John Birch Society becoming part of the "establishment" GOP - surely the End Times Must Be Upon Us.

Of course, as I always say, "Ah, but what precisely is about to End? All that God-bothering and you still seem to think it's a Bad Thing."

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Decade Ends: A Snark In Two T-Shirts

J.S. Mill on Conservatism shirt

William Rivers Pitt writes in his last column of 2009 or his first of 2010:
It is not at all difficult to argue that if the broken election of 2000 had not taken place; if the right-leaning majority on the Supreme Court did not take rank partisanship to the highest and lowest levels by giving that election to their party's man instead of letting the votes be counted in the proper fashion; if Al Gore had been allowed to assume the office he rightly won, his administration would have continued to pursue the rigorous Clinton-era anti-terror policies that had successfully defeated those would-be millennium murderers. In other words, but for the sad and sorry electoral debacle at the outset of this decade, two tall towers would still stand in New York City, the Pentagon would be whole and there would be no hero's graveyard in that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Three events - half a dozen terror attacks thwarted in the final year of Clinton's stewardship, followed by the ersatz ascendance of a brigand and his band of fools who came to power by way of a broad-daylight fraud that would make even Tammany Hall blush, followed by a day of horror that should have never been allowed to happen at all - came to define these last ten years. All that came to pass is aftermath, a deadly chain of events loosed by those three truths. For all his myriad flaws, President Clinton was the most significant anti-terror leader in American history, but the hard work of his administration was ignored by a bunch of Bible-beating absolutists who thought they knew better. Their failures - "failures" being used loosely, because a few special people got rich at our expense, and it's awfully hard to call that an accident - are our inheritance.

You know the rest all too well. Nearly 5,000 of the best soldiers America has to offer are dead. Almost 50,000 more are wounded, most of them permanently. Bush's wars have cut down a full third of America's combat strength, leaving us with fingers crossed that no other would-be foes decide to see if this punch-drunk champion can be taken down. Less important than the lives lost is the very present truth that hundreds of billions of dollars got spent to no good end, except to make a few people you'll never meet rich. The economic calamity still enveloping this nation should be called "The Iraq Depression," as it is a simple, bloody and absolute fact that we would all be better off in every measurable way had Bush not ignored Clinton's good work, had Bush not assumed an office he did not win and had this nation not been taken into the nightmare that defined these last ten years.

Amen. And may some good come of it; the possibility of a dawning awareness that there is good government and bad government, and when the people in government feel that the entire point to the job is not actually doing the job, that is a problem that makes any supposed economic or political philosophy beside the point.

The problem with the Bush years is that they were infested with people incapable of leading, unwilling to follow and absolutely incapable of getting out of the way.

But at least the majority of the American people now know what having sunshine blown up your ass feels like. Sadly, 26% of you prefer that sensation to any other.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Beer!

Originally uploaded by Denyska_13

And now you know where Miller Ice comes from!

Prorogues With Sour Grapes

Canada Above the Fray Rondel shirt
When returning to Canada, I had the hope that I would be returning to a nation governed by grownups, people promoted and selected for their competence, and those who viewed politics as being both a referendum and a sport, to be played upon the field of public opinion.

Instead, I came home to the Steven Harper government, who has made more prorogues than Hunky Bill.

I will certainly make a point of voting against Steven Harper at the earliest opportunity. I may even become sufficiently motivated to actually Write Letters and Make Phone Calls. I could even volunteer to stump for my various non-Conservative candidates. You see, that's how Parliamentary Democracy works.

Sweet Goddess On High, I'm glad I'm back in Canada. Two years now, and I'm STILL kissing the ground. For as bad as Steven Harper is - and he's approaching the levels of arrogance established by William Vander Zalm - his sort of opportunistic politics would not even raise an eyebrow in the Disunited States of Uhmurika. Which is why Steven Harper and his govenment may take this throat-clearing as being Constructive Criticism.

It's not that he's being Too Conservative. The man is barely corrupt and cynical enough to be elected as a Democrat in the US of A. We entrust our public servants with a great deal more latitude than our American Cousins because, by and large, we insist on far higher standards of competence. We expect our public servants to be aware of the letter of the law, but to adhere first to it's spirit - even when doing so leads to "Just Watch Me" moments.

That is the essence of conservatism - a profound appreciation for the quality and importance of the individual entrusted with any small portion of responsibility regarding our common weal.

But this is not "just watch me," It's "Pay No Attention to The Man Behind The Curtain."

My Fellow Canadians, it's our reflexively conservative approaches to Finance and Governance, our insistence on a Conservative appreciation of the dotting of the Ayes and the crossing of Tees in favor of the Citizenry and not the "First Citizens" that has spared us the embarrassment of our cousins to the south, who are largely governed by people who seem likely to fall for Nigerian email scams.

It's that he's starting to approach the degree of cynical abuse of process required of being an American Republican In Good Standing. Which is to say, a lying ignoramus with pretensions of godhood, and in no sense a Conservative.

And that, Sirrah, is something up with which I will not put. Not because I am Liberal, Sir, or a Green or a member of the NDP, whom I respect for their intentions if not their effects.

No, sir. I oppose you because your cynical abuse of process makes you unworthy of appearing before Parlement. A person deserving of the office would not be afraid of Question Period. I do not recall an instance where Mrs. Thatcher visibly flinched at her duty to defend contentious policies. Indeed, she often came away with the rhetorical testicles of those who had the effrontery to ask when she had stopped beating her husband. It seems your standards of Conservatism owe more to George Bush than the Iron Lady.

As a former and natural Progressive-Conservative, Mister Harper, I do not believe it unreasonable of me to ask you to be half the man Margret Thatcher was.

If you must collude with a tracticable appointee to evade the oversight of Parliament in order to achieve your goals - very well. But let it be observed that you had to collude and machinate and manipulate and contrive your way to your "success." It has been noted. And, as has happened before, there will be a price to pay. And if I really must vote Liberal to achieve that end - I shall do so unflinchingly.

I voted for John Chretien because I know who he was and for what he stood for - which was continuing to be the Prime Minister. In order to achieve that goal, he knew that he had to ensure that certain things were done well enough to please me and millions like me well enough. Fortunately, he had few "principles" that would get in the way of doing his job.

Peace. Order. Good Government. These are OUR essentials, Sir.

And should your "principles" interfere with your ability to deliver peace, order and good government, than I suggest your principles are likely incompatible with my own and many other Canadians of diverse views - all of which are protected eccentricities under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You wish to be Large And In Charge and Be In Photographs With World Leaders; well, in order to do this well enough to not be snickered at by your peers, at home and abroad, should you not be held to the same standards as a police officer or a sanitation worker? Good Government, Sir, does NOT involved the abrogation of the rights of Persons of or Parlament when it might frustrate your personal ambitions.

In order to be Right, sir, first you must be Correct. When you are incorrect - as does happen from time to time to the best of us - an honorable leader corrects themselves long before the apparent lack of honor comes to the notice those such as myself.

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