Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Gang that couldn't Shoot Govern Straight

John Stewart let loose with a great analogy last night on the Daily Show in regard to the ineptitude of the Dems getting any legislation passed: "It's not that the Republicans are playing chess while the Democrats are playing checkers, it's that the Republicans are playing chess while the Democrats are in the nurse's office because they glued their balls to their thigh again."

It'll be interesting to see how much more glue the Massachusetts voters ends up wagging in the Dem's drooling face with today's special election, daring them to apply it to their gonads and then laughing all the way to a filibuster as the dingy donkeys rub the sticky stuff all over their junk yet again. Like Lucy with Charlie Brown and the football.

Notice I say "they" when referring to the donkey party since although it might surprise some readers of this blog, I don't consider myself among their ranks. Clearly, I'm politically and philosophically aligned with the Dems far more often than I am with the Republicans; in fact, the party of Jefferson is often too conservative for my taste on a broad number of issues. You might even label me a socialist of a sort (though certainly one with strong capitalist tendencies). But I can't stand the exclusivity of the two-party system and hate the idea that something as complex as a political philosophy can be consistently shoehorned into right/left, black/white, up/down, etc.

I am aligned in theory with the Republicans on one thing: smaller is usually better when it comes to government.

A small government socialist? Isn't that an oxymoron? Actually, not so much as you'd think. Like most philosophies, socialism has a multitude of sometimes conflicting variations, most of which can be broadly lumped into two categories: one authoritarian (expansive government) - by far the most popular - and the other libertarian. I fall firmly into the latter camp (my Facebook Political Compass result to the right testifies to this). I don't go to the orthodox extreme of "no government" (that's not very practical or even necessarily desirable) but rather am generally aligned with the tenant that big government and big corporations alike are inherently troublesome, not necessarily intentionally but simply in their natural inclination to get comfortable with ever increasing power.

So, like some Republicans, I'd prefer that government not grow. Now, where I part company with them is in what portions of the government I'd like to see shrink significantly and what portions might still benefit with some expansion. The elephants tend to want massive increases on "defense" and equally large reductions in social services whereas I want exactly the inverse. An inflated defense budget simply emboldens and stockpiles power in the corporations already greedily suckling at the teet of the DOD cash cow rather than actually assisting the military with their necessary missions (I worked in that world for over 17 years so I know from where I speak).

Alarming numbers today are screaming "socialism" and "communism" at McCarthyesque volume in Pavlovian response to talk of a public option for health care. But health care, like education and national defense, are basic things all citizens should be afforded. And health care (like education) is far more innocuous than military power.  People should fear the latter running amok more so than they should the former.  Why aren't the anti-socialism crowd crying out for private corporate armies? Nobody is worried about the "public" military, it seems. Shouldn't firms like Blackwater just take over the whole thing? Wouldn't they, as a for-profit enterprise, be more efficient than the "public" army, to use the right-wing anti-health care reformer argument? No? I didn't think so ...

But to get back to the point of this post, you have to give it to the Republicans when it comes to execution; they seem to have it all over the Democrats in that arena. Of course, the things they tend to get done are usually those I abhor, but still. Too bad the Dems can't hire the Republicans to get their agenda past ... well, past the Republicans.

Ahh, why bother? The Dems would still get in their own way somehow and fuck it up. It's amazing to me that some of them even manage to get dressed in the morning without polling focus groups, hemming and hawing over color and style and stuffing the pockets of the clothing they've finally chosen so that it satisfies no one. It's a wonder they don't walk out of their homes dressed like rainbow colored, bloated circus clowns. As the old saying goes, "they couldn't sell ice in hell." By the time they showed it to potential buyers, chances are they'd have compromised the refreshing cubes of frozen water into flaming cauldrons of gasoline.

Sadly, this donkey infused legislative ineptitude - or, to be more precise, the perception of ineptitude - seems to extend to the executive branch as well, though there have been exceptions (Bill Clinton being the most recent). Sadly, the Obama administration is looking less Clintonesque and more Carter-like in its (in)ability to get things done (or at least with the appearance that they're getting nothing accomplished, which is in the end almost as bad). That's not exactly fair, though (at least not yet): Obama was given a downright impossible task in the worst mess handed to an incoming chief executive since Franklin Delano (and Roosevelt didn't have wars on two fronts when he took the helm). Through all that, he's still done more in his first year than W did in his first eight (at least more of the things that I wanted to see done; Georgie did a whole truckload of abhorrent stuff). I hope Obama's learned some lessons over the past year and applies them going forward (lesson #1: no more Mr. Nice Guy, please, please).

I don't know what's worse: getting the wrong thing done or nothing done at all. Meanwhile, I'll keep my fingers - and expectations - crossed.