Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Revolt of the House Pets

It's not the rain, which held off long enough to make a long day in the field bearable. The wind was friggin' cold, but wind I can handle. Rain and wind?

Not so much.

And it wasn't the soil, although I can now tell you with some confidence that Sandy, Oregon should be called "Clayey", Oregon. Clay and elastic silt are nasty things to drill with mud rotary methods. The drilling mud, which is pretty slippery to begin with makes them slimy and as goopy as you can imagine. Think of the "pottery" scene from "Ghost" only without the skimpy clothing and the groping.

I think it had to do with the special election in Massachusetts yesterday.

To explain WHY a goddam single election all the way across the country has me feeling grim - about my country, about my kids - I have to walk you back a little.

First of all, I'm pretty liberal. You know that, eh?

Mm. Thought so.

But I didn't start out that way. Nope, I was a good son of my father, who was a duty Democrat in his youth (when FDR made it impossible to be a Republican if you weren't either a bloated plutocrat, practically a fascist, or a damn idiot) who became what a lot of those middle-class Democrats became after the end of the war; an Eisenhower Republican.These critters used to be called "Rockefeller Republicans", and, as the Wiki entry says:
"...were moderate or liberal on domestic and social policies. They typically favored New Deal programs and a reasonable social safety net; they sought to run these programs more efficiently than the Democrats. They were strong supporters of big business and Wall Street...In fiscal policy they favored balanced budgets, and were not averse to raising taxes in order to achieve them. In state politics, they were strong supporters of state colleges and universities, low tuition, and large research budgets. They favored infrastructure improvements, such as highway projects. In foreign policy, they tended to be Hamiltonian, espousing internationalist and realist policies, supporting the United Nations and promoting American business interests abroad."
Yep. That was my dad. Still is, pretty much.

And I was a little chip of that sturdy block (I think my Dad is a pretty great man, in case you haven't guessed). Like him, I believed that your religion (should you have one and desire to fiddle with it) was your own goddam business - and your religious beliefs were not my business, either, or yours to force them on me.

Like him, I believed that the point of even HAVING a government was simple - it did things that he and I and everyone else couldn't do on our own, like equip nuclear submarines, build dams and bridges, deliver the mail, help the poor, the sick and the injured. And to do that, it collected taxes from those who could pay them, and the most from those who benefited the most from the civil society those taxes paid for.

One of the huge reasons my Dad felt and feels this way is because he had seen about the worst the world had to show him. He'd grown up seeing grown men, proud men cry and beg for work and find none, while the rich turned away or, worse, reviled them for begging. He'd seen millions killed in war and then a world, destroyed, trying to rebuild itself.

He'd been a very small dog in a dangerous world where wolves and tigers prowled loose, impoverishing, destroying, killing and taking what they wanted.He felt and feels that taxes, even the high taxes he paid on his income in the Sixties and Seventies - before Ronald Reagan convinced us that All Taxes Are Bad - were a small price to pay if it helped build fences and train wolfhounds to keep the wild animals at bay, and to build schools and help young people go to them so that they would grow into hardworking, civilized creatures; dogs, cats, horses...rather than rats, and skunks, and wolves, and tigers themselves.

When you think about it, this country was founded on the remarkable premise that its citizens would continue to exact the price of this civilization from themselves. In the European monarchies and oligarchies from which it descended taxes were the province of the powerful. They were extracted by main force, or, worse, turned over to tax farmers who collected them for their own profit, with the expected accompanying corruption.

I understand that we have come a long way from where I started, but...

Yesterday the people of Massachusetts were offered a choice:

On the one hand they were offered a woman who is, apparently, a solid liberal but a political idiot. A complacent, antisocial idiot at that, who ran one of the poorest campaigns anyone could have who didn't haul off and shoot an actual baby on live TV.

But...this woman was running for the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy, one of the most liberal of liberal Democrats of 2010 - which means fairly close to the sort of Rockefeller Republican my Dad is, and I was. And this woman - although, yes! Shes! A! Fucking! Idiot! - held political views relatively similar to Kennedy's, the views that the voters of Massachusetts liked well enough to return the man to the Senate for, Jesus, seems like forever. If you liked Kennedy, one would assume, you would like Coakley.

On the other hand they were offered a man who, by all accounts, has the political convictions of a brain-dead Capuchin monkey.

Harsh, you say?

Read. Here's Brown on the subject of the "public debt":
"My plan for the economy is simple: an across-the-board tax cut - in the tradition of John F. Kennedy - for families and businesses that will increase investment and lead to immediate new job growth. More tax increases will hurt our recovery. That’s why I have taken a no-new-tax pledge. My opponent will raise taxes."
Tax cuts. Got it? Tax cuts will heal your wounds, feed the hungry and house the homeless.

At least, that's what the Bushies told us for goddam eight years. Tax cuts. Surplus government revenue? Tax cuts? Deficits? Tax cuts. All we needed to grow the economy like a hydroponic tomato was tax cuts.How'd that work out?Oh.Yeah.

And on top of the prima facie foolishness, like every goddam Republican I've ever heard of since Ronnie, he has no plan, no details, on what he we's going to axe to pay for the damn tax cuts. Mom's health care? Dad's Social Security? The cop car at the end of the street? Oh, yeah, "waste and inefficiency"! So we cut taxes and...ummm...we'll, that's it. We still pay for lots of war and lots of corporate handouts and lots of other stuff we can't cut or the people affected would not re-elect us.

That'll work. That and a fucking magical pony.


Like every Republican I've seen - and I have another post full of snark for our Oregon GOP, I might add - this little fucker was all about not connecting the dots and not wanting YOU to connect the dots.

He was for the Massachusetts state health care plan but against the federal one...which is BASED on the Massachusetts plan.

He was for for tax cuts but against cutting, say, Medicare Part D, the massive unfunded mandate the GOP passed back in their salad days.

He doesn't think we should be spending money to put people to work but has no problem spending money to send people to West Buttfuckistan to fight the Buttfuckistanis who are fighting us...because we're in West Buttfuckistan.

In other words, he's a typical Republican circa 2010.Well except maybe the "posing nude for Cosmo" thing

So...when they had to choose, who did the people of Massachusetts choose?

You know who they chose.

This really sets me off for some reason, and I think it's because these Republicans, these people just like Brown, who have NEVER seen a tax they liked, who would like to turn your parents' Social Security over to the Goldman Sachs Ponzi schemers, who have huge problems finding money to help poor kids get to college or people downsized by corporations find work but gleefully throw money at whatever idiocy can be tagged as "fighting terror"...these people seem to want some sort of libertarian utopia, where there are no taxes and no "services", where the wealthy and powerful exercise all the power and control the wealth, while us poor schmucks can subsist as best we can.

And all I can think of is that most of these people must live in a safe, comfortable world where taxes are a penury and a byword and a hissing. Where a hand up is a hand out. Where, despite the ooga-booga scary brown boogiemen, there is no danger in reducing our ability to do things together to the point where we CAN'T do anything. Where we reach the Tea Party people's dream and have nothing but the tiniest of ineffective governments.

It's like these people are sweet, fat little house pets; adorable Persian kitties and plump little Pomeranians, who think that every scrap of largesse given to someone else is stealing the Tender Vittles from their own bowls. It's like my cats, who seem to think that their food and warm sleepy-spots magically appear and will ALWAYS be there. These people seem to believe, like most conservatives, that civil society is something magical that just happens, and that all this fuss about taxes and infrastructure and social safety nets is just a scam to take THEIR food and soft pillows.And since 1980 these pets have been rebelling, having their own little tea party revolution, where they will shout down talk of balanced budgets and fiscal policies and tax strategies, ramming their fingers in their ears and shrieking "lalalalalalaI'mnotlistening!!!" when we tell them that you can't have society without taxes.

And that once you've set the bottom limit on taxes as "none" you've kicked the prop out from under the structure the Framers built, because you've given the other idiots - the real mouthbreathing, dumb-as-dirt-really-believe-all-that-Ayn-Rand-bullshit CHUDS - the green light to try and reduce the government to the levels of Haiti and the Sudan.

And all this because their world will only be right when all the Tender Vittles belong to them and no mean taxes can take them, or social programs put claims on them, because after all, there's no need to worry about wolves and tigers?

We all live in the suburbs, after all, don't we?

Here where everything is safe, where people's hands are always gentle, where everyone is Good and Kind, and we will never, ever need someone to keep out the cold wind, or the claws of the tiger, or the teeth of the wolf.

I hope so, people of the Bay State. Because you just gave us another one of these goddam revolting house pets where you used to have a wolfhound.

And that just depresses the shit out of me.


Pluto said...

A study of economic booms and busts teaches us that most busts occur when confidence in the economy is at its maximum.

We're seeing a similar political event here. Most of America believes that the country is, and forever shall be, the most powerful organization in the world. This belief has become the equivalent of religious doctrine.

A corollary of this belief is that nothing can damage or destroy the country, regardless of what happens. Undoubtedly this belief comforts Congresspeople as they vote for pork projects and systematically knock out the pillars of good governance in the name of getting re-elected.

Most Republican actions become understandable once you comprehend this belief. The Republicans want to control the most powerful (and indestructible entity) in the world and they are willing to do or say ANYTHING to get control.

I've more to say on this topic but am out of time. You should cross-post this to the Milpub.

FDChief said...

Pluto: What frustrates me - as a former Rocky Republican - is watching the GOP spiral into the party of guns, gays, abortion and tax cuts.

I mean, there's some sort of way of governing from the right, but not if you abandon governence as process to governance as theology. Cutting taxes is fine; but there has to be more to it that "Tax cuts! Tax cuts!"

I can't seem to find a GOP analysis of the REAL political realities that would shape these fantastical actions. Privatize social security? Throw millions of unemployment, welfare, reduce the social safety net to a could of threads? Gut regulations from OSHA to the Fed...where the fuck are these people living, cloud-cuckooland?

The essential insanity of Republican "governance" became obvious during the Bush years. Yes, there were tax cuts, monstrous tax cuts - if you were truly wealthy. But there were no real spending cuts to go with them, just insanely immense deficits.

The Dems are shitepokes, unwilling to risk anything to govern the way they SAY they want to govern. Cowardly, gutless bastards whose only real thoughts are to run from the GOP and try and extract cash from donors. The Dems are the bystanders watching the building go up in flames was they sell poosicles to the rubes. Fuck them.

But the GOP has truly left the building. There's just no logical thinking there. They've become a parody of the late Roman Senators, guzzling and grafting, sating the populares with games and the grain dole (or abortion, gay marriage, "the war on terror", and flag-buring) as the state decays around them. The GOP is setting fire to the goddam building in order to collect the insurance money. Fuck them harder.

Pluto said...

I'm not disagreeing with you at all, I'm just trying out a theme and seeing if it flies.

You've done a fine job of discussing governance issues, I'm talking about control. Control doesn't mean using the government for the good of the nation (which contradicts your description of why it should exist), it means that the military, police forces, major media outlets, and major businesses recognize that you're the sugar daddy and are willing to cooperate with you to get some of the pie. Nothing else matters at all.

The Brits had something similar from the Tudors to early 1700's and it worked passably well. The big differences between the British system and the American one is that:
a) the British government was DESIGNED to work on the divine right of Kings
b) because the Monarch theoretically owned the country, it was in his best interests to invest in it to gain maximum long-term benefit (note that the French had roughly the same system but managed to screw it up except for Louis XIV)

A lot of what passes for Republican policy thinking is actually derived from their own advertising rather than from reality. Nothing can damage America (except, apparently an idiot in exploding underwear) so they are free to do anything they want.

Remember my 3 post rant on advertising and its deleterious effects on the Milpub in August? This is what I was ranting about.
The Republicans aren't all that far away from Hitler's end, giving orders to units that only existed in his head to fight both imagined and real enemies.

This is why when people compare the US to Rome I always say that we're past Constantine (Lyndon Johnson or Ronald Reagan, depending on your viewpoint) and going down fast. Our sole saving grace is that we don't have a long history of militarily stomping on neighbors who eventually became more powerful than us. So we don't have to worry about barbarians coming over the wall at us with murder in their eye, we just have to watch the rot expand in the central government until logic suggests that we ignore it and make our own way.

I should also state that I'm REALLY NOT looking forward to that day because we are NOT likely to get the level of government the US used to provide.

P.S. - Do you have an opinion on today's Supreme Court decision to allow unions and corporations to weigh more heavily on the election process? Just what we need, more money being pitched into the fray.