Hey Look, The President Found His Balls

   Civilizer
Ever had some neighbors that were really pissing you off?  Letting their dogs run all over the neighborhood, taking dumps all over your lawn?  Having people over all the time, telling them to park in front of your house?  And you try and talk to them every once in a while, try and say “Hey, don’t want to make a big thing out of this, but could you do everybody on the street a favor and clean up after your dogs?,” and they basically tell you to go fuck yourself?

You could respond in kind.  You could slash their visitors’ tires.  You could leave poisoned steaks laying around outside for their dogs to find.  But you decide to be an adult.  “Let’s not escalate this,” you say to yourself.  “I’m just going to keep asking them nicely, maybe offer to let them borrow my snowblower this winter if they’ll keep the dogs chained up, and they’ll see reason sooner or later.  Nobody wins if I start pushing back.”

And that’s where you’re wrong.  Your jackass neighbors win, and they’ve been winning the whole time.

While you’ve been picking up dogshit every day so your kids don’t fall in it, while you’ve been inching out of your driveway every weekend because those asshole friends of theirs pull their front bumpers right up to the edge because screw you, you pussy, what the hell are you going to do about it, their lives are an episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters V, I, C, T, O, R, and Y.  This is what being the bigger man gets you, my friend: a lifetime of picking up other people’s shit, while the other people bounce merrily through their day, fat and happy like the infield at Talladega.

It would appear that finally, after a summer of being a pansy the bigger man, the president has picked up his last load of dogshit.

Barack Obama Mans Up

"And my next 3 Supreme Court Nominess? All gay."

Barack Obama came into office promising, as all presidents do, to “reach across the aisle,” to search for “bipartisan consensus.”  The expectation was that this guy was so magnetic, so dignified, that the bitter divides that had characterized the United States Congress ever since Newt shut ‘er down would immediately dissolve into a highly productive legislative lovefest.  Key parties instead of tea parties.

This was an awesome plan that had a lot of promise; unfortunately, everyone involved failed to take into account the fact that a lot of people – people blessed by God and His son Jesus with an utter lack of both shame and self-consciousness, freeing them up to say some of the most awful stuff you’ve ever heard this side of a Klan rally – really hated this guy.  And it didn’t take long for that animus to trickle into the Congress, presenting the president with a choice: do I start cracking heads, Lyndon Baines Johnson style, or do I (*sigh – ed.) be the bigger man?  Of course, Barack Obama decided to be the bigger man.

I suspect he actually meant that bipartisan stuff – why he did, I have no earthly idea.  Perhaps he was arrogant enough to believe his own press, and thought that the frosty Republicans would melt when exposed to his polished, urbane charms.  Or maybe he thought it was the best way to govern.  Whatever it was, it reached the point of farce this summer over the debt ceiling fiasco, when, presented with a sweeping, ambitious bargain that achieved that perfect political balance of pissing off both sides, the GOP more or less Mayweather’d President Ortiz.  Following which, both sides just decided to mail it in and kick the can an election cycle down the road.

I’m not going to rehash that whole thing, mostly because it’s tough to admit that the country I love has gone so far down the rabbit hole.  Also, it kind of makes me hope that virus from Contagion was let loose in the Congressional cafeteria.  But after that disaster, I think the president finally figured it out: no matter what I do, these guys aren’t going to stop their dog from shitting all over my lawn.  I gave them climate change, I gave them financial reform, I gave them Guantanamo.  And what did I get in return?  A hostage situation with the U.S. economy.  Time to load the shotgun.  Time to do what Democrats do best – tax the hell out of rich people.

And so, President Barack Obama, the Compromiser, lays out a plan that gets his pensive mug on the splash page of Bloomberg.com next to the words “$1.5 trillion in taxes.”  Strong, man.  Strong.

I am not going to use this post to defend or discuss the merits of the plan.  I don’t like taxes, but a bureaucracy’s gotta eat, right?  No, I’m just here to congratulate the president for finally deciding screw it, time to start swinging the heavy lumber.  I’m under no illusions as to why he finally did this of course – it’s election time, and if he didn’t start acting like a Democratic president soon, the only bloc he could count on would be Portuguese water dogs (who can only vote in South Carolina, anyway).  But no matter – I was getting tired of this lame dance he was doing where he’d threaten to really start getting tough, and then fold like a card table.  It got to be like watching the movie “Air Force One,” when Harrison Ford would go “Get off my plane!,” only with Obama, five minutes later he’s saying “Well, ok, you can stay, but you’re paying for that wine!”

[Digression: The GOP, of course, immediately proved with its response that it’s never had a balls problem, accusing the president of “class warfare.”  John Boehner got out there and said “Pitting one group of Americans against another isn’t leadership.”  Now, if you’re John Boehner, it takes a real brass set to say something like that when you consider what they’re doing with gay marriage, evolution, and their Alaskan mascot’s attempt to claim the exclusive rights to define what the “real America” is.  Pitting groups of Americans against each other is what the GOP does now – they love wedge issues!  Love ’em!  It’s how you distract the middle class from the fact that their primary legislative objectives are protecting the wealthy investor class at the expense of the middle and lower class!  “Hey, socially conservative blue collar mom working two jobs…I may not lift a finger to get you better access to health care for your kids, but if you don’t vote for me, those gay guys that live in the apartment down the hall will be able to marry each other!  So make sure you take advantage of that 25 minute lunch break of yours and get down to the polling place double-time!”  And looking at changes to the tax code is “class warfare”?  All right then! End Digression.]

So President Obama, it’s nice to see you laying it out there.  Some of us want a Democrat for President.  Some of us want a Republican.  But nobody wants a pushover.

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The Republicans’ Conservative Test Will Do More Harm Than Good

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

The GOP is a perplexing party this election.  Say what you will about their legislative record during the past several years, or the family values Congressmen that like to have sex with dudes, but the GOP’s behavior as a party has been nothing if not unified and consistent.  Very rarely do you see internal policy squabbling spill into the press, and if one of their members screws up and makes the party look bad, he’s promptly devoured within the next news cycle.  Just look at how quickly Mitt Romney let go of pal Larry Craig’s hand and let him plummet down the cliff face. Again, you might not like how they govern, but policy discipline has nevertheless been a strength.  Which makes the conservative gauntlet that presumptive presidential nominee John McCain has been forced to run a real head-scratcher.  Watching the “conservative base” throw votes at the quixotic Mike Huckabee the way they have been, one gets the feeling that if John McCain doesn’t punch a Mexican immigrant in the face on camera pretty soon, then the base is willing to just stay home in the general.   

Of course, McCain has bigger headaches at the moment, namely that unbelievably weak New York Times article that turned a paragraph’s worth of uncorroborated insinuation about an affair with a lobbyist into a pointed rehash of McCain’s ethics record.  However, the article was so poorly sourced, and the substantive criticisms of McCain’s seeming ethical missteps will of course be drowned out by the infidelity accusations which will go nowhere, so this storm is probably going to blow over pretty soon.  Heck, it’s more likely that McCain’s crew will get this spun into a referendum on responsible reporting during a presidential election and take the heat off their candidate.  Which will be good, because there’s going to be plenty of hot air blown in the senator’s direction by the conservatives.

If conservatives get their way and put McCain through a very public litmus test-style examination of his conservative bona fides and force him to kiss the ring, they will have won a decidedly phyrric victory.  I think that after 8 years of Bush and the rout the Republicans suffered in the last Congressional elections, voting patterns in the ’08 presidential election will turn out to be a repudiation of the conservative policies of the past 8 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the country is suddenly going to veer left by any means, but moderates are going to have their say, and the candidate that can pull most of them along is probably going to win.  Popularity with moderates is McCain’s great strength, and forcing him to kowtow to the conservative wing of the party is going to sap that strength.

This part of the GOP seems unable to understand how their priorities fit into the greater context of our national condition.  The economy is weak, we are fighting two expensive hot wars as well as ramping up spending on the War on Terror in general, entitlement spending is set to expand dramatically as baby boomers retire, and yet they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. When McCain comes out against the cuts becoming permanent, the Club for Growth loses its shit.  I’m a Republican, and I like low taxes too, but depriving the government of tax revenue at this juncture strikes me as stupid, and I’m willing to bet it strikes a lot of people as stupid.  The problem with the GOP on taxes is emblematic of their problems nationwide – they are holding steadfastly to principles that are fine when confined to philosophy, but must be flexible when faced with reality.  Fiscal conservatism is a good philosophy.  But the conservative wing of the GOP has diluted the meaning of fiscal conservatism – no longer a prudent balancing of budgetary priorities with an eye towards keeping taxes and government spending low, but rather low taxes no matter what macroeconomic conditions dictate.  McCain should be applauded for expressing skepticism about cutting taxes when there’s so much to pay for.  He is, instead, vilified.

He also catches a fair amount of hell for his environmental policies.  He’s opposed to drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, for example.  Never mind that it’s an ecologically responsible and moral position to take, drilling for oil in Alaska would have precious little effect on fuel prices.  But forget all that, the conservatives pipe up that it “makes us more dependent on foreign oil.”  Driving big cars and failing to adopt energy efficient technologies is what makes us more dependent on foreign oil…yet conservatives and their oil company donors continue to make themselves look both environmentally destructive and avaricious in the extreme as the rest of the nation looks on and public opinion in favor of protecting the environment mounts.  It’s because these elements of the GOP don’t realize how far off the reservation, nationally, they are that McCain loses points for such a reasonable position…they don’t get that when McCain wins points with them, he loses votes.

The story right now is the prospect that a drawn-out Obama-Clinton fight for the nomination will lead to months of internecine fighting within the Democratic party and cleave it in two.  I don’t think that’s an issue facing the Republicans – they have to worry instead about the possibility that a conservative pounding will leave them with a weakened John McCain for the general election and will cause long-term alienation among undecided voters.  After a wide-open primary for both parties and no incumbent VP in the running, this is a branding election.  If the GOP lets a pill-popping fat man and his ilk brand them, they’re going to find themselves losing often and badly.

Today’s GOP: Missing The Middle By A Mile

 walter-2.jpg Civilizer

So before, Republican voters had to choose between a philandering, pro-abortion Yankee who may be, clinically, batshit insane and a guy who believes that the Garden of Eden was originally located in Jackson County, Missouri.  And now they’ve got a third option, a very nice man who always has a folksy, somewhat morbid quip at the ready, and who thinks the Book of Genesis actually happened.   

 Good luck in the general election guys!