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.If you are a Republican grownup, you have to look at this kind of change and wonder what is happening to your party.
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.
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.