April 28, 2009

Tuesday and a post-op dog in pain, but recovering

Been a bit of a stressful day. Had to take my dog (Streak) into the vet to have an abscessed tooth removed. He is home now and the removal went fine, but the poor little guy is completely out of his head and in pain. He is sleeping right now. Man, I hate that. I hate seeing animals confused and in pain. But he will be better in a few days.


Busy day in news, of course. Swine flu capturing a lot of attention and anxiety, and deservedly so. Any student of history is well aware of the past outbreaks and just how serious they can be. I am glad to see Americans--and the rest of the world--taking this one seriously, even if it produces some inconsistencies along the way. Yesterday, Rick Perry, who has been threatening secession to woo his idiot base, asked the feds for extra doses of anti-virals in preparation for the outbreak. Perfectly reasonable and prudent, but not terribly consistent with the anti-washington mantra the right has perpetrated over the last 20 years. If the government is evil and the enemy, then shouldn't Texas be responsible for their hurricanes, fires, borders, and viruses? Why are they taking tax money from hard working Oklahomans?

Of course, when speaking about the swine flu and unbelievable stupidity, it is hard to match Michelle Bachmann, who suggested that swine flu outbreaks occur under Democratic presidents. You know. Like Gerald Ford. She is so dumb it really hurts to watch. Not much dumber, of course, than the leader of Concerned Women for America, who suggested that the Democrats were hyping the swine flu to get Kathleen Sebelius confirmed as HHS Secretary. Ouch. That hurts too.

Michael Steele didn't exactly show himself well, as he defended Republican opposition to pandemic preparedness under the stimulus with the defense of: "we didn't know about the pandemic threat when we voted that way." Kind of the point, Michael. Sort of like spending money on volcano monitoring.

Of course, it is not a great time to be a Republican. Polls showed yesterday that those identifying as Republicans has fallen to a 25 year low. That kind of thing is cyclical. I remember when being a Democrat was not very popular. But the GOP is not showing itself very well right now. They seem to be diluting themselves down to the very craziest of the crazy. Sorry, but that is how it looks. Those who don't listen to Limbaugh or dare to criticize him are not welcome in the party any more.

Take Arlen Spector, who switched parties today. Again, I remember the cycles. I remember when Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell switched the other way. I resented it then, very much. And I can understand those who resent Spector's change. More indicative than Spector's switch (which has more to do with the Pennsylvania primary than anything else) is how one of his moderate Republican colleagues, Olympia Snowe, responded.
Specter's switch to the Democratic Party "underscores the blunt reality" that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates, she said.

So far, she said, she's staying put. "I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven't abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.
If you are a Republican grownup, you have to look at this kind of change and wonder what is happening to your party.

I am under no illusions that his switch will dramatically change the landscape of the national political battle. Democrats are not like Republicans, they include a lot of different camps--and camps that vote their own mind. Republicans seem to get lockstep support, while Evan Bayh and other Democrats go against their party routinely. But it is not a good day for Republicans.


And just a reminder that the the right continues to defend torture. So much so that they can no longer clearly identify torture done to Americans in the past. And now they are asking if torture is any worse than warfare itself. Larison responds:
I have started doubting whether people who are openly pro-torture or engaged in the sophistry of Manzi’s post are part of the same moral universe as I am, and I have wondered whether there is even a point in contesting such torture apologia as if they were reasonable arguments deserving of real consideration. Such fundamental assumptions at the core of our civilization should not have to be re-stated or justified anew, and the fact that they have to be is evidence of how deeply corrupted our political life has become, but if such basic norms are not reinforced it seems clear that they will be leeched away over time.
And we get a nice little hypocritical quote from our former President:
"War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders,"
Unfortunately, Obama seems to think that following orders is a "get out of jail free" card as well. And we know what the Republicans think--that prosecution of torture enablers is pure politics.


I am going to tend to my dog. Him, I get.


steves said...

I posted a reply on my blog, so I will do a condensed version here. I know there are plenty of moderates in both parties, and certainly room for some dissent, but there has to be some point where a party says "wait a minute. Maybe you are better off joining another party or running as an independent."

Obviously, Specter must enjoy some level of popularity in his home state, but I am hard pressed to find any conservative I know that admires him or supports him. Contrast this with most of the dems I know seem to either kind of like him or tolerate him. Obviously, I don't think there is anything wrong with being a Democrat, but Specter switching parties comes as no surprise. He has always seemed to be a RINO.

steves said...

Bachman is pretty stupid. Even I remember the outbreak in the 70's and I was only a child. She probably would have been better off mentioning the 1918 outbreak that killed upwards of 100,000,000, but I fail to see what party politics has to do with the flu. Moron!

Streak said...

Actually, Steve, I don't know that there are plenty of moderates in both parties. I know that there are a lot of moderate and conservative Democrats. I can't think of any liberal Republicans, and as Olympia Snowe suggested, she certainly believes that the party is no longer welcoming to moderates. Who are those moderates? The two from Maine. Perhaps Kay Bailey can be considered moderate on some issues. Where are the others?

Streak said...

btw, I didn't mean it to sound so snippy. I really don't see much room for moderation in the current GOP. I know there are individual moderates, such as yourself. But at the national level, moderate Republican appears to be an endangered species.

leighton said...

I'm also not aware of any moderate Republicans in DC, though there are some moderate Republican state representatives and senators in Colorado. It seems like the national party's recent effort at rebranding is symptomatic of their whole dysfunctional approach to the public: they seem to focus on spin and creative advertising to the point where they've forgotten how to talk about principles in a coherent way. (That's not to say anyone could win an election by being plainspoken and honest, but Obama at least articulated some coherent guidelines that he planned to govern by, in addition to all the spin.) Or else they know the principles their base holds dear are some combination of crazy and politically suicidal, so they don't have much choice but to punt on questions of substance.

On some level I have to admit to quite a bit of schadenfreude. But thinking long term, I also hope that they can become a party comprised of not-stupid people, or else disintegrate and come up with one or more new opposition parties, before the Democrats get drunk on being heads of a de facto one party system and start screwing us up.

leighton said...

Btw, I read an argument somewhere (it might have been Pandagon, but I'm not sure) that the most plausible interpretation of Bachmann's comment is that it's supposed to be a dog whistle for God punishing sin. She reminds me of some Young Republicans I knew in college who ranked honesty on the level of personal hygiene: it's polite, necessary for a subset of social interactions, but not a moral requirement.

Streak said...

I agree, Leighton. While rather enjoyable to being on the winning side for a change, I would rather that we had a grownup Republican party that engaged in some kind of real debate on issues. I don't trust the Democrats either. I know we have idiots in our party as well. We just haven't put them in charge of foreign policy or the White House. But absent some kind of real opposition, those idiots will be harder to control.

Honestly, I just think that Bachmann is dumb to an appalling and incoherent level.

Speaking of dumb, btw, the Daily Show had a bit lat night on the collider that was pretty funny, but one of the really little shocking things was the "debate" over the danger posed by the collider, and the realization that one of the people proclaiming the danger of this (and elevated by people like Glenn Beck) is a high school science teacher, and from what he said about probability, not a very good one.

steves said...

btw, I didn't mean it to sound so snippy.No worries, I didn't get any snippy vibe at all from your posts.

I will admit right off the bat that discussing things like right and left and moderates is one that, IMO, doesn't lend itself too well to the internet. I tend to be issue oriented (probably because I am all over the place) rather than party oriented. This kind of discussion seems better suited for in person. Is there any centrally located place we can meet?

Who are those moderates?

I can name some, but with the caveat that this is just my opinion and that it depends on the issue. One person's moderate is another person's fascist...socialist...wingnut...etc.

I consider the following Republicans to be moderate in some degree:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell, Jody Rell, Jim Douglas, Christine Todd Whitman, Amo Houghton, David Loebsack, Jim Leach, Steve Gunderson, Fred Upton, Charles Dent, Brian Bilbray, Michael Castle, Mark Steven Kirk, and Judy Biggert.

A few of these people no longer are in office, though they are pretty recent and I have no reason to believe they were forced out because of some ideological shift. I would also argue that the vast majority of Michigan's Congressional Delegation is mostly moderate. There a are a few exceptions. I also think that, with the exception of their campaingning in the election, Mitt Romney, Rudy Guiliani, and John McCain have been historicaly moderate.

I don't know that the Republican party needs to be more moderate. I would prefer that they dump the neocons and the tone back the stuff on social policies. I would also like them to consistently support all civil liberties, starting with the Bill of Rights and quit ignoring the parts they don't like (unfortunately, both parties do this). I suppose some of this stuff could be considered a shift to the left, but others seem to defy any specific party ideology and have been embraced to some degree by both major parties.

As for Bachmann, I think the "dog whistle" stuff is a stretch and my vote goes for appallingly ignorant, or just dumb as a box of rocks.

I know there are individual moderates, such as yourself.I don't know about being moderate. I am pretty out there on many issues.

Streak said...

Steve, you are absolutely right that moderate v. hard core is often a judgement call and has a lot to do with where one is standing. And I recognize a lot of those names in your list, but didn't see one Senator. And while those may not be in office because they were forced out, where are the moderates who replaced them? Where is the Republican politician who takes stances like Powell?

I am not sure I buy your suggestion that Romney and McCain are moderates. Perhaps on some issues, but not in the main. And Giuliani may have been a moderate at one time, but his bug-eyed use of 9-11 and open embrace of torture and war removes him from that list now. And, in fact, those candidates you mention are kind of proof of my point. If they ever were moderate, look at how far right they went to try to get elected by the Republican party?

steves said...

Who are the moderate Democrats? I think Obama would like to be one, but I haven't seen it yet. Certainly not Pelosi or Reid.

As for the Senate, besides the few you mentioned, I would also add Gordon Smith and George Voinovich.

Romney supported many issues that were not popular with hardcore conservatives. He (and McCain) may like to suck up to the hard right, but their records paint them as at least borderline moderates. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of either of them and found them to be very insincere during the election.

Streak said...

Who are the moderate dems? Seriously? They call them the Blue Dogs. People like Evan Bayh, Nelson (nebraska?), Lincoln (arkansas), etc. And those are just a few in the Senate. What about Jim Webb, who used to be a Republican? In the house, there are numerous conservative dems who are far more moderate than Pelosi and some of the leadership. Oklahoma's one Democrat sounds more like a Republican than a Democrat.

It is the nature of what I am describing that the Democrats would have more moderates. I am not sure why you are arguing about this. It honestly seems to be pretty clear that Republicans are losing ground outside the South. Olympia Snowe said it pretty clearly--the Republican party is not exactly open to moderates any longer. Voinovich is retiring, and Smith kept his office by claiming to be more like Obama than McCain.

steves said...

I was interested in knowing who you considered were moderates. I am not arguing over who has the most moderates or which party appeals to the center. Obviously, the last election shows that the Democrats did a much better job. I am interested to see how this holds up, as history shows us that both parties have risen and fallen.

I think that Republicans have to do more than just appeal to Moderates. If they move too far to the middle and offer much of the same as the Democrats, then I don't see them winning anything. They have to establish some kind of platform that is different and will appeal to the most people. Unofortunately, they don't. They claim to be for small government, personal freedom, and fiscal responsibility. The last 8 years has shown that they are willing to completly abandon these principles.