21 June 2012

Save your powder.

The smoke still hasn't cleared from the latest showdown over the Fast and the Furious issue. Congressman Issa, who's no stranger to illegal activity, who from the outset vowed to investigate the Obama Administration even before any wrongdoing had been suspected, is making as much hay as he can out of a failed idiotic Department of Justice attempt to snare violent criminals. The program began under the Bush Administration, but it was Obama's AG, Eric Holder, who presided over the program when it all went south. Thousands of guns went missing, and even though they were supposed to go missing, they were supposed to be tracked...whoops. I suppose one should read all directions before starting.

As a result, Mexican cartels ended up with many of the guns, a border agent was killed, and who knows how many Mexicans have lost their lives at the wrong end of one of the DoJ guns. I'm of the opinion that the cartels will be killing with or without DoJ guns, but there's no reason to make it any easier for them.

Of course the right wing nutsphere believes the true intent of the program -- begun under Bush, mind you (which by the way is not meant to "blame Bush," but rather to skewer the assumptions of the gun nuts) -- was to devise an excuse for taking away Americans' guns. It's a straw these nutjobs need to cling to, since the Obama Administration has taken absolutely no action to restrict gun ownership Of course, remembering that these gun nuts are the same people who advocate for "cop-killer" bullets, even the mention of the word "gun" sends them skittering off to a gun shop to restock before big bad Obama shuts all the gun sellers down. If I were a gun shop owner, I would be pouring all my political contributions into Obama's coffers, praying for a re-election so the NRA can keep scaring the bejeesus out of the rubes.

Anyway, Issa's fishing expedition has yielded at least some squirming on the part of Holder and Obama, who seriously should be taken to task for running their executive branch like a watered-down version of the Bush Imperial Presidency. Yesterday, Obama had to invoke executive privilege in what I can only see as a strategic move, since the DoJ has already turned over 7K+ pages of documents. In other words, it's all politicking, and while the initial reaction from the right wing was elation because "executive privilege must mean he's complicit and hiding something," what they'll probably find out is that much like Bush/Cheney's six -- that's right, six -- and Clinton's 14 -- yes, 14 -- uses of executive privilege, this use -- Obama's first if you're keeping score -- likely won't have any long-lasting effects.

What's different, though, is that Issa immediately went forward with a panel vote holding Holder in contempt. That's essentially like going all in before the first card has been flipped. Maybe he has a hunch. Maybe he thinks, where there's smoke, there's fire (a situation he is intimately familiar with), and he's going to catch Holder and Obama plotting the takeover of the country via Mexican drug cartels and a secret drug to turn Christians into Muslims and take away our guns.

Sadly for the right, the episode reveals more about incompetence and poor planning than it does about conspiracy. Incompetence is never good, though, but the problem for the right is that Obama is quickly spinning his practical blunder into a political trap for the Republicans in Congress, who even before this latest episode could be painted as having little interest in helping the country and all too much interest in "seeing this President fail" (Limbaugh, who gives most of them their base) and "making Obama a one-term President" (Senator McConnell, who must have the dumbest constituents in the world, because not one word of his makes any sense). Obama will play these fools like the ill-tuned instruments they are.

And in the end, Fast and Furious won't mean a thing legally, because the American voters will see the choice in the fall as between a moderate Democrat (please, right wing, stop acting like Obama has done anything Leftist...you show your ignorance) and an out of touch son of privilege in Romney. The campaign stops and speeches will overshadow any Congressional hearing (unless Issa's long shot comes through and Obama actually does have a smoking gun sitting in the top right drawer of his desk in the Oval Office), and if you've been paying attention comparing Obama and Romney on the campaign trail is like comparing Humphrey Bogart to Adam Sandler. And guess what: Mitt ain't playing Bogey.

14 March 2012

Once again, it's been a while.

I might try another crack at keeping this blog going. I have many good memories of the years past when I began writing in order to avoid writing things I was supposed to write.

It's a good season. Politics are going to be front and center for the next 8 months, and we have a ridiculous Republican field that will all but assure Barack Obama (or as their base likes to say, Barack Hussein Obama) remains President until 2016. What can we do to work on Obama so that the second term doesn't turn out like the first?

Don't get me wrong: Obama was a far better choice than McCain, and his administration has accomplished some good things, including the watered-down health care law. Only fools thought he was the Messiah (although that seems to be the dominant trope among disgruntled conservatives, who seem to think that everyone who voted for Obama did so because they thought he walked on water), and I for one take him to be pretty much what gets elected on the Democratic side these days: moderate corporate-friendly candidates. It's a sad state of affairs when Obama can be branded "anti-business" because he wants businesses to conduct affairs honestly and not sell products (financial or otherwise) to the public under false pretenses.

Guantanamo is still open. We still think propping up a corrupt puppet regime in Afghanistan is worthwhile (not an easy one there: we certainly don't need it to return to the failed state of twenty years ago or the Taliban nutcase state it was ten years ago). Obama, like Bush, seems to think that more surveillance, including Obama's authorization of drones in U.S. airspace, is the answer to some hideous question.

In other words, there's work to do.

Of the Republican hopefuls, Mitt Romney is the only one who isn't completely nuts. American Taliban Rick Santorum may play well in states that rank in the bottom for education, but most Americans aren't interested in ecclesiastic government. Newt Gingrich...well, what can you say about Newt that can't be summed up in the term "batshit crazy"? Speaking of which, Ron Paul, the man who nearly always comes in last but whose supporters think he's being ignored by the news media, is still out there, howling at the moon and spinning stories out of Hollywood conspiracy movies. Talk to Ron Paul supporters for a while and you will understand the psychology of both serial killers and despots. They are utterly convinced that they are correct about everything and the only reason more people (or "sheeple" as they like to say) don't know it is because of massive conspiracies by the government, the media, and establishment parties (and if you scratch hard enough...Jews).

Romney will eventually be the nominee, Obama will eventually be reelected, and what will actually matter the most is what happens in Congress.

Good luck.

11 January 2012

Dispatches from the asylum

As expected, New Hampshire went solidly for Romney, with two libertarians placing and showing. The race's social conservatives didn't fare to well (although if you count Ron Paul's racism as social conservatism, you could say that certain types of social conservatism are still acceptable to the New Hampshire electorate). The tenor of the race will change considerably when the candidates head into traditionally backwards South Carolina, where clear thought is generally seen as anti-American, and who better to know anti-American than the state that started a war with America.

You have to wonder how Ron Paul's flavor of politics will play in South Carolina. On the one hand, he hates the government that he's served in for about half his life, so that's a plus. On the other hand, he's a staunch isolationist who doesn't believe in crusading American Empire, which won't play well with those who think we're in a clash of civilizations.

A few months ago, Rick Perry may have done well in South Carolina, but his campaign is such a painful thing to watch that even his base surely must have weighed their options and realized that Santorum is actually a more coherent candidate. You know you're in trouble when you make Rick Santorum seem like the better candidate.

Speaking of Santorum, I think it's good that he and the others stay in the race as long as possible, bruising Romney and letting the general public see the wackiness that passes for Republican thought. It's a narrow rainbow, but it's very vibrant, from Santorum's musings on "man on dog" sex to Ron Paul's cloud cuckoo land dreaming.

04 January 2012

2012. Can you smell it yet?

I am so absolutely delighted in the opening of Primary Season with the wacky Iowa Caucuses. Iowa is the heartland, which is more a concept than a reality, since Iowa is more cornfield than courthouse, whose demographics hardly reflect the United States. Yet Iowa occupies all the pre-game maneuvering of the party out of power, as candidate after candidate traipses through as many crossroads towns as he or she can in order to folksy it up in diners, hotels, and auditoriums. At the end of the election season, in November's general election, Iowa will give its victor a scant 6 electoral votes out of the necessary 270. To paraphrase Mark Twain, Iowa maintains its political importance in our nation due to a fiction of law and custom.

In 2008, Iowa voters enthused over Mike Huckabee, whose main charm seemed to be that he was a Christian, which in American politics is hardly a shocker, even if many holier than thou professing Christians like to believe they're an oppressed minority. So Huckabee left Iowa voters enthused that the 44th President of the United States could possibly be a Christian, unlike the 42 others before him (Grover Cleveland, as the only President to server two non-consecutive terms, gets counted twice). Republican primary voters -- primary voters of political parties being the standard-bearers of the party's ideology -- have been clamoring for a return to what they call basic American values since a bunch of race traitors in Washington signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Iowans are good people, but we are talking about Republican primary voters here, so we're naturally talking of people who have a natural distrust of reason and a basic belief that we are all one America and if your vision of America is different than theirs, then you are at best a fool and at worst a treasonous dog.

In 2012, Iowa's Republicans seem to have handed the winner's cup to both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, with Ron Paul finishing a very close third. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Paul and Santorum not split the nutcase vote, or Michele Bachmann not claimed the better portion of the raging nutcase vote. Romney, the only candidate in the Republican field who resembles an earth creature, managed to use Iowa as a platform to look Presidential, rarely descending into the fray generated by his competitors. The big surprise is Santorum, a truly clueless oaf whose charisma kept him in the race. In fact, if you could combine Romney's relative moderation with Santorum's fervent yet personable approach, the Republicans would probably have a clear frontrunner and a viable challenger to Obama. Santorum, as co-winner of the Iowa Caucuses, gives his campaign a huge boost, but now he must leave homogenous Iowa behind for the meaner streets of a slightly less homogenous New Hampshire, where social conservatism doesn't play as strong a role among primary voters.

If one thing is clear after tonight's vote it's that no viable Republican candidate has connected with the voters, because Santorum is as unelectable as Paul and his strong showing -- along with Paul's -- might keep the campaign offices going in the other states, but will be nothing but a godsend to Barack Obama. Rick Santorum -- a candidate so dogmatic that Pennsylvania voters unceremoniously dumped him by 18 percentage points in favor of Bob Casey, Jr. (himself a true marvel for his ability to walk and talk without appearing to have a frontal lobe) -- may be a homophobe, an intolerant zealot, and a punchline to a Google search, but Iowa has propelled him to the front page and validated his campaign.

Iowa does love Santorum.