Dr. Jekyll and President Hyde

Richard NixonAndrea gets mad at me when I rag on the president too much. To her, Obama is so much better than Bush that we should just be grateful that we don’t have a complete fucking idiot in the White House. But here’s the thing: I am grateful. I usually defend myself by saying, “I think Obama is the best president we could ever expect to have!” But this is more a statement of my terrifying level of cynicism than it is of my opinion of Obama.

Let me pull back for a moment. If I were in the Senate and I got to question John Brennan tomorrow, I would have only one question for him, “Do you want to be head of the CIA?” I assume his answer would be, “Yes.” And that would tell me everything I needed to know. “Then I’m afraid, Mr. Brennan, that you are not qualified to run the CIA. I’m very sorry. I hope you will spend the rest of your life volunteering at a local homeless shelter. The second to last place we can afford to put a power hungry asshole in charge is at the CIA.”

The very last place we can afford to put a power hungry asshole in charge is as the President of the United States. I suspect that when Obama was a community organizer, he was a great guy. He was the kind of guy who should be the President of the United States. But once he started to be noticed as a member of the Illinois State Senate? And certainly, by the time he became a United States Senator? He’d been corrupted.

Look, I’m sure even in December 2008, Obama still thought that he would do a lot. He still thought he would stand up for his ideals. But once he was in office, when it came to the stuff he had complete control over, he acted as despots have everywhere at every time. And nowhere is that more clear than in his approach to killing Americans that he doesn’t like.

Hey, I understand! There is no up-side to protecting civil rights and all that garbage about upholding the Constitution. But there is an upside to being the badass president. No president ever looked bad because he didn’t care about civil rights. Nixon? People don’t like him because of Watergate—a scandal that at this point just seems strange. Bombing Cambodia? What’s a “Cambodia”? Paranoia and the “enemies list”? Unitary executive? “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal”? None of that. It’s all Watergate and no one even remembers what that was all about.

But that doesn’t mean I have to accept it. And if the Democrats stand for anything at all, we will see tomorrow in the questioning of John Brennan.

Afterword

Five seconds of wonderful:

Gojira on CNN

The Human BibleI am a good historian when I get home, plop down in front of the TV, switch it on, see an image of a giant creature smashing Tokyo, and do not infer, “Oh! I must be watching CNN!” Is it because I know darn well that monsters do not and cannot exist? I know no such thing! Cryptozoology tell us we may yet discover lingering dinosaurs hidden away here and there (though none is likely to be this big). All I know is that I have seen the like of this big boy in a number of Toho Studios flicks over the years, and that this is probably Gojira or Baragon, and that I am probably watching the Sci-Fi channel, not CNN.

—Robert M. Price
The Christian Delusion

Must Destroy Republican Party

USPSThe same day that House Republicans are proposing to save $600 billion in defense spending by cutting 10% of all federal jobs, the United States Postal Service announces that it is cutting delivery of first class mail on Saturdays. These are linked together. You can file them under “stupid things we do because Republicans are crazy.” Let’s look briefly at what this all means.

The Postal Service cut has been a long time in coming. Back in 2006, during the lame duck after the Republicans lost control of the House and Senate, the Republicans passed a poison pill that required the Postal Service to pre-fund their retirement program. This is a requirement that no other business has and was put in place because, well, Republicans are evil. That really is what this all comes down to. The Republicans want to kill the Postal Service. Sure, there is the added benefit of helping out our corporate overlords at UPS and FedEx. But it is mostly about trying to destroy anything the government does well. See: Republicans just know that the government can’t do anything well. That’s why government programs like the Post Service (which is in the Constitution that they supposedly love so much) and Medicare and Social Security must be destroyed. If reality doesn’t conform to your ideology, change reality, because your ideology could not possibly be wrong!

Thankfully, the stupid Republican idea of cutting 10% of all federal jobs is not going to happen. But note: 36% of all federal jobs are military jobs. The Republican proposal is not yet available, but we can assume they are not calling for a reduction in that part of the labor force. Without that part of the federal workforce, there are roughly three million federal employees. So they are calling for eliminating 300,000 jobs. Plus all the jobs that would be lost via economic feedbacks. Can you say, “instant recession”? I suspect the Republicans can’t. They would have to claim that no jobs are lost, because they also claim that the government doesn’t create jobs. Therefore: why not fire them all? No one will lose a job by their logic.

I feel like a pinball these days regarding my thinking about the Republicans. Are they stupid? Yes, many of them are. Are they evil? Yes, most of them are. But more than anything, they are spoiled brats. They are the five year old at a family gathering who is going to ruin everything because he can’t get his way. John Boehner was lying when he said that Obama was trying to destroy the Republican Party. But I think he was onto something. We need to destroy the Republican Party. Then, the Democratic Party can split into a somewhat reasonable conservative party and an actual liberal party. The Republican Party is far worse than useless. And if we allow them, they will destroy the country.

Republicans Push Immigration Rightward

ImmigrantsThis morning, Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line blog tells us, On Immigration, Dems Hold the Middle Ground, and Republicans Don’t. In it, he argues that the Republicans are trying to claim that they are the ones that are staking out a middle ground and that it is the Democrats who are being all extreme by even proposing that an undocumented resident should be provided a path to citizenship (regardless of how labyrinthian the process may be).

He goes on to quote a new Washington Post poll that finds that people are quite fond of the idea of a path to citizenship all by itself. Even 45% Republicans feel that way. So how is it, Sargent asks, that the Republicans can push the idea that a path to citizenship wedded with more boarder security is the extreme leftist position? Well, you could ask the same thing of just about every Republican position: the Democratic policy is the popular one and the Republicans run around screaming that the Democratic Party wants to enact Sharia law in America.

Part of what is going on is just that the Republicans continue to think that they brand their way around having the most unpopular policies in the history of democratic party politics. The leadership of the Republican Party still seem to think that they can win elections via talking points. But here’s the sad truth: they are largely correct.

Most people do indeed want to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented residents. But they don’t care all that much about it. Unless you personally know someone in this undocumented hellscape we’ve created, it doesn’t much matter to you. So when Mitch McConnell comes on the TV and explains the Democrats are being unreasonable, you don’t really care. “Just pass something!” you say. And if that means a path to residency, so be it.

I’m not suggesting that the Republicans will succeed at this, however. Right now, they have very little credibility with the people or the press. They’ve been crying Sharia for too long now. And they’ve done it with respect to some things that the people do care about. Remember George W. Bush’s tour to convince everyone that privatizing Social Security was a great idea? That not only didn’t work, it hurt the Republican disinformation machine.

But we need to push hard against these Republican propaganda campaigns. It is wrong to assume they are foolish to try or that they won’t succeed. They have in the past and I’m sure they will in the future.