Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hard-Working Muscles

The hardest-working muscle in the body politic, at the moment, is not the Republican presidential candidates. Rodeo-clown season is winding down, and the serious players are probably on the field: Romney, Perry, and a few other people (Bachmann, Paul) who can't possibly win the nomination, much less the election, but who may influence the process. At this point, though, none of the candidates can afford to say anything noteworthy, and none has much power to do anything at all. The Supreme Court isn't in session yet, so Justices Scalia and Thomas are presumably enjoying sleepovers with their favorite corporations, roasting marshmallows and talking about which girls they like.

It's not even Ron Sukind, whose current book on sexism in the Obama administration quotes former communication director Anita Dunn as saying that the White House is such a boys' club that it "would be in court for a hostile workplace," when what she actually said was "if it weren't for the President, this place would be in court," etc. (It still doesn't make the White House sound like a lot of fun. C.J. Cregg never talked like this!)

No, the hardest-working muscle these days is made up of the Republicans in Congress. Attentive readers know that's not meant as a compliment.

Item: They're trying to destroy foreign confidence in America's fiscal stability. Key GOP leaders in Congress just wrote a letter to Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke, demanding that his institution refrain from stimulating the economy via "quantitative easing." (Politico report, here). We have, frankly, no grasp of the economics here. But we do know that the Fed's independence from politics is important to its ability to maintain the trust of international markets. So when politicians start throwing their weight around, they put the Fed in a tough spot. If it goes with them, it appears to be caving; if it resists, then it's defiant. Either way, its independence is open to question.

Item: They're going to almost-shut-down the government again. The question at hand is whether Congress can pass a stopgap funding bill. The Senate wants to add an amendment requiring the US to fund disaster relief at the levels Congress has already agreed to. Where you or I might call this "paying the bills," House Republicans call this "playing politics," and plan to blame Harry Reid when they make another big stupid stink that gets our credit rating downgraded and makes us all look like idiots.

Item: They don't actually know what Social Security is or how it functions, but they want to dismantle it anyway. According to Lawrence Hunter (who is obviously a Commie, even though he writes for Forbes, supports the gold standard, and thinks "Obamacare" is a cancer),
The position of the Republican establishment in Washington is not to convert Social Security from a financial house of cards into an actuarially sound retirement program that would improve everyone’s retirement income, but instead to scrub its rolls and transform it into a real welfare program by means testing it, reducing benefits and making people work longer.
He goes on:
Trying to make Social Security a better deal for government by making it a worse deal for workers as the Republican Establishment wants to do is the ultimate exploitation of the people by the government.
When Forbes is sticking up for the workers against the GOP, things are just plain scary.


Daniel Spigelmyer said...

What troubles me is the American people - that they can't seem to be able to see past these obstructionist tenancies of said strong-muscled party. The Republican Congresspeople are indeed not working for the good of the country, but the country can't seem to see that.

Father Anonymous said...

Yep. As a kinda-sorta Republican myself (long story, which I told here a while back), I've watched this situation develop over the past thirty-some years.

Back in the 60s and 70s, I think it was a pretty fair question which party was doing more good/harm to the country. Despite the Voting Rights Act, Johnson and Macnamara did some *very* bad things. Despite the Christmas Bombings and Watergate, Nixon did some pretty good ones.

In his own time, Reagan looked like a swaggering dimwit doing his best to undermine most of the things that had made postwar America great, in deference to a fabricated mythology. Compared to what has come since, as many Reagan Republicans have pointed out publicly, the guy was thoughtful, moderate, and -- heck -- only barely partisan.

These days, and despite their crazier outliers and the occasional overreach of their key leaders, the Democrats are beyond question the party of reason and compromise. At some point -- the Clinton impeachment? Bush v. Gore? it's hard to say -- the Republicans stopped trying to govern in any conventional sense. A significant number of them lost interest in facts, or in policies based on fact, or in any policies achieved through compromise. Their elected officials are not judged, by the party faithful, by legislative or executive effectiveness, but by ideological purity.

So, yes, they're obstructionist. They would actually rather see the country fall apart than compromise their ideals. And, of course, their ideals are largely unrelated to facts.

I don;t know how more or less normal guys like Bush I and Brent Scowcroft sleep at night, seeing what their party has become.

Anonymous said...

Why bother with religion when all you want to do is talk about politics?
In the Reality-based community, we try to bring facts and be able to demonstrate why we believe what we believe.
It seems that religious people try to bring it down to "Do this or god will be angry/Jesus will cry". Which has nothing to do with facts or logic.
One thing we could do to help reduce the deficit would be to take away the tax breaks religions get in the US. It would bring in a lot of money.
I've had it with people who think that Jesus was Che Guevara or that he rode a dinosaur. So have an increasing number of young people; over one-fourth of those under 30 describe themselves as agnostic or unaffiliated.

Father Anonymous said...

Trolling again? I notice you don't actually have anything to say about the opinions I express on this blog; you just object to the fact that I am manage to have both religious opinions and political ones.

So I'm going to stop hitting "publish" on comments that are whining and insulting for the sake of whining and being insulting. If you want to make a comment on a particular point, either theological or political, and think you can do it in a reasonable way, knock yourself out. I find that unlikely.

For the record, and not for the first time -- and as any reader paying attention can actually see -- I neither think that Jesus was Che nor that he rode a dinosaur; neither do most of the readers here. The fact is that, despite (or -- could it be? -- because of) our religious views, we have a variety of political views. They are often shaped by hard empirical data, and if you really were part of a reality-based community, you might find it easy and profitable to engage in reasoned discussion with some of us. But we both know that isn't the case, don't we?

Daniel Spigelmyer said...

I think it's also safe to recognize that the subtitle of this blog is "Sex. Religion. Politics. All the stuff they don't want you to talk about in public." Thus...while this blog has a religious bent on most matters, politics is perfectly within the self-appointed confines of appropriateness.

On a different note: when I've had it with someone after telling them time and time again of the error in their ways, I shake the dust from my sandals and move on, letting them to wallow in their ignorance and pigheadedness. Perhaps, if it frustrates enough, people would be well served to do the same in other situations. Some old habits die hard; some never at all.