Republicans need to be taken seriously again

The era of big-time dominance by the Democratic Party is over with Scott Brown’s win last night in the race for Massachusetts senator.  And it had only gotten underway in 2008 (2006 at the earliest).
Scott Brown[shirt] is a total creep–even Glenn Beck took a shot at him for the shady stuff he said about his daughters. But that makes it even scarier–if he can win, who else from the Republican side can?
What happened? It’s hard to say. Partly Barack Obama failed to live up to the promises he made to his liberal base, partly the Tea Party rebellion on the right helped stoke near-universal Republican obstructionism, which undermined the new administration’s plans.
But whatever the reasons, the Republicans are a political force once again, and it now seems that the near future might be a closely fought battle on a much more even playing field than thought likely just a few weeks ago–they might be emerging from their post-Bush hangover sooner than expected.

Barack Obama has been a disappointment

Barack Obama might be crying about how he’s perceived–and of course right-wingers are always going to greet any Democrat in the White House with attacks and lies. But his liberal critics are the ones who matter–he pretended he was one of them on the campaign trail. It’s not a pleasant prospect for political idealism, but it is clearly, terribly true: Obama should be upset about how lousy of a job he has done in his first year in office.

I hung back, not saying much about Barack Obama last year for two reasons–first, he was newly in office and it was hard to know the true direction of his administration without at least a modicum of observation; and second, every time some conservative idiot like Glenn Beck or Jim Demint fanned the pointless right-wing rage against Obama, it reminded how much worse the world would be if some filthy Republican like John McCain were president.

But those ratinales have run their course–the first expiring due to the new year, and the second largely evaporating in the face of Obama’s collusion with the vile and moronic George W. Bush on Haiti relief (yes the Haitian tragedy is awful and asking for donations is good, but do you really want George Katrina Bush up there ranting about “shysters” when you’re trying to raise money for disater relief?). To the powerful, it is all a game and working “across party lines” over epic foreign tragedies is arbitrarily fine, while pulling together to pass a bigger stimulus bill to put more Americans back to work is argued about and filibustered endlessly–or not even considered. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt over their false distinctions.

And that goes for Mr. Obama. Elected on a wave of popular disenchantment with America’s crusty, broken, self-righteous and lobbyist-dominated political culture, Obama has turned into another monster to rebel against, and nothing better.

I will list five of the enormous failures of the Obama administration:

A crazy and downright evil Afghanistan policy.

The lack of follow-though on the campaign promise to repeal the pointless and morale-undermining “Don’t ask, don’t tell” anti-gay policy in the military.

An economic policy driven by greedy Wall Street thugs Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers.

A corrupt, useless and inadequate attempt at health reform, including support for a deeply illiberal mandate for health insurance that Obama campaigned against.

Obama’s sneaky little attempt to sneak fascism in by the back door by asking for powers of “preventive detention.”

These aren’t the only things Obama has done wrong–there are many more–and in fairness he has actually done a few things right like passing the stimulus bill and slowing down the assault by mineral extracting industries on America’s national parks and forests. But his overall stance has been one hostile to the American people and their rights, and time for deference is over.

Barack Obama is better than Republicans, but still terribly vile.

President Obama is stepping in it with the Afghanistan escalation

Why would Barack Obama and his administration want to escalate the war in Afghanistan?

Well it is true that the president spoke of Afghanistan as a worthy campaign while running for office, and he is saying the same thing now after all. But that said, he is still making a grievous mistake.

The U.S., the cowering, shrinking NATO contingent (the Canadian and British military are both tragically underfunded farces, and the other countries sending troops can hardly be thought of as having true “armies” anymore at all), and the civilians that the president over-hyped in his recent speech will never get done whatever Obama claims he can accomplish in Afghanistan–something about fighting the Taliban (i.e. hassling and killing more civilians and offering body counts to the media) to clear the way for the Afghan central government (“undermined by corruption”  under Hamid Karzai), along with the largely illiterate Afghan security forces and police–and Karzai’s drug dealer CIA asset brother. There aren’t any oil fields of note in Afghanistan, and the pipline dreams of years past don’t make much sense anymore given the seeming parmanent instability in the area. But campaign promises must be kept, bribes must be paid, and General Stanley McChrystal (he of the Pat Tillman coverup) must have his surge.

So, it’s a stupid move by Barack Obama.  Afghanistan is not going to change, and this is just an enormous waste of lives, money and resources.  At the end of the day, there are no more gains to be made by America in Afghanistan–and very few to be defended (look at the still-awful plight of women in the country despite Laura Bush’s lies about the situation).

Just don’t bother trying to go to one of those protests, it’s just a bunch of meth-head anarchists out there anyway.

Barack Obama and secrecy

Barack Obama continues to embrace, in a menacing way, secrecy. He has reversed himself on releasing detainee abuse photos. A lawsuit may yet reverse Obama’s poor judgement, but this is certainly a dark chapter for the new administration. Would it be too far to suggest that Obama is starting to sound like a Republican? Consider this— “[Obama] did not take questions from reporters, but said disclosing the photos would have “a chilling effect” on future attempts to investigate detainee abuse.”

Nancy Pelosi is a red herring in the torture debate

Of course the right-wingers are going to try to distract from the crimes of the Bush administration with any red herring that they can find. But strangely, they have settled on Nancy Pelosi–a politician not widely liked in the first place, and certainly not unexpendable for the Democratic Party. If Attornery General Eric Holder determines that prosecutions (or a special prosecutor) are warranted over the torture (“enhanced interrogation techniques”) that took place under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, both in the military and the intelligence branches, then nothing should stop justice from being served. Even if Nancy Pelosi ends up in the dock along with John Yoo, David Addington, Dick Cheney, Jay Bybee and others.

Arlen Specter hits back

The Republican party, controlled as it is these days by right-wing extremists, has been threatening Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s last remaining Republican senator, for many years now.
First the so-called “Club for Growth,” a lobby group that for years has pushed for more deregulation and tax cuts for corporations and the rich, backed a far-right nut named Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary, which the incumbent Specter barely won.
Now Republicans had started making noises about attacking Specter again in this election cycle. Well, not anymore–Arlen Specter is changing parties and becoming a Democrat.

Barack Obama and the lame attacks of the right-wing

As I watch the laughable blowups of previous Republican top prospects Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele, I can’t help but wonder a little who will finally lead them at least partly out of the wilderness, David Cameron style.

In the short term, the remaining elected politicians from America’s permanent minority party are simply dispirited. Aware of the utter collapse of their party, they are consigning themselves to bitter, long-term opposition.

Into this void has moved a variety of media characters, always right-wing but now feeling under siege, who have launched one lame, useless attack after another on Barack Obama.

Over all this, Obama presides over a remarkably popular administration. Aside from the embarrassments in the cabinet like Robert Gates (he’s a Republican and former Bush administration member) and Tim Geithner (he’s a former IMF official who is a tax cheat and an incompetent bungler so far at Treasury).

But if we step back for a moment, let’s try to see the whole picture–conservatives are deeply alarmed about the “liberal” administration, and a large stimulus plan has already been passed.

And undaunted by right-wing challenges from the media and a few of the less timid Republicans, the Obama administration could be highly successful in turning back at least some of the de-regulatory madness and right-wing insanity in social and fiscal policy that Republicans have instituted over the last decades.

On the 2008 election

election night demonstration

With the historic election of American’s first African-American president, Barack Obama, the oft-repeated mantra that change is coming is finally seeming real. Winning a clear majority of votes cast, Obama proved himself to be the most compelling Democratic candidate in a generation. Whether they supported him due to his having better policy ideas than those offered by the erratic and unprincipled John McCain, or due to Obama’s steady hand and clear judgment, Obama’s supporters have much reason to be relieved and encouraged.

But the relief on my part goes much further than just happiness to see the back of McCain in national politics. It extends to the fact that no longer will rapacious right-wing ideologues have control of the federal government. Whether undermining environmental regulations, trumping up wars for no good reason aside from assisting contractor cronies, supporting hateful and discriminatory changes to the Constitution, building gulag dungeons that violate the laws of war, or packing courts with far-right clowns like Roberts and Alito, the Bush administration has done something much worse than just destroying respect for America’s government around the world–it has destroyed respect for America’s government among thinking people here at home.

So whatever the specifics of President Obama’s cabinet appointments or initial policy pronouncements, those matters of frenzied speculation in media and on blogs at the moment, no one will doubt that new leadership is ready to move America’s vast, powerful, and largely unaccountable federal government away from the evil ideas of Dick Cheney and toward sane policies that will enrage conservatives and reassure liberals.

Ted Stevens found guilty in federal court

Another corrupt Republican, this time the senior senator from Alaska, goes down to criminal charges.

Tod Robberson from the Dallas Morning News writes:

"Sen. Stevens’s claims of ignorance didn’t work for the jury in his corruption trial. Jurors found him guilty on all seven counts of receiving gifts that he failed to report on his disclosure forms. Considering this and the Anchorage Daily News’s endorsement of Barack Obama, it’s not looking very good for Alaska’s two most prominent Republicans right now."

Will this create even more problems for Sarah Palin?  Well, she does appear to have been close to Stevens.  But anyway Palin has ethical issues of her own.

It’s time to let George W. Bush and his cronies out–and more than that, it’s time to make sure not to let any similar people in.

So vote for Barack Obama.