Saturday, June 23, 2012

War or Playground Games?

I worked in a factory once in which we were presented with a new union contract that was an insult and a slap in the face to employees. We voted it down, so management pulled all kinds of dirty tricks to put the fear of God into us and gain our compliance. They boarded up the cafeteria windows, moved out some of the machines, brought in (non-union) workers from a sister plant for us to train, had the foreman conspicuously carry around the familiarly scary pink lay-off papers. Before the next vote, they offered us a $300 "signing bonus" and told us they would ship the plant to Mexico if we didn't approve the contract. The fear-mongering worked and the ayes won. I voted "no". My attitude was; "shut the son-of-a-bitch down then".  I had reached the point of being so angry, I was willing to cut off my nose to spite my face. (Incidentally, two years later, the company moved the factory to Mexico anyway. So much for "you work with us and we'll work with you".)

I have reached the same place with the Republicans. I'm tired of being the sensible adult to their spoiled brat routine. When the Republicans lose, they move into rape and plunder and pillage mode. They impeach our president. Nothing in sacred to them. They bring the First Lady before a grand jury. They call on Secret Service agents to testify (something that had never been done before). They force Democratic aides to run up huge legal bills testifying over and over before Congress. Forget that "criticism ends at the water's edge" thing we used to believe in. When Clinton is trying to get Osama Bin Laden (before we even knew he was Osama bin Laden), they accused him of "wag the dog".  Then they put it all on the internet, every sordid detail, in order to humiliate him.

So, then what happens? We have the election of 2000. Again, the Republicans are willing to dive into the slime to have George Bush declared the winner even though he lost the popular vote. It all rests on a few hundred hanging chads in Florida. Republicans send their agents to that State pretending to be protesters and almost start a riot. The Bush loyalists file suit and it finally goes to the Supreme Court where, low and behold, the conservatives all stick together and in a 5/4 vote, award Bush the presidency. Al Gore makes a gracious speech like the gentleman he is and retires from the field of battle, encouraging his troops to do the same. Despite the bitter taste in our mouths and the feeling that we'd been royally screwed, we Democrats reluctantly accepted Bush as our president "for the good of the country".

The Bush administration did many things during its eight years in office that seem at least borderline impeachable to many of us including warrantless domestic surveillance and not upholding the tenets of the Geneva Convention regarding torture (of which, the U.S. was one of the intiators) and holding prisoners indefinitely without charges or legal counsel, to name just a few. But as the grown-up party, Democrats realized that we simply couldn't embark on an endless cycle of impeachment. So, Bush got his two terms.

I supported Hillary in the last presidential primaries because I thought the Democrats needed a fighter like never before to take on what the modern Republican party has become. After all, Hillary and Bill learned first-hand how vicious the R's could be. The Clintons took a bunch of body blows but in the end, they fought their opponents to a standstill and came out ahead.

I never believed in Obama's hope and change nor his ability to moderate the hyper-partisan tone in Washington....not that I didn't think he was sincere but that the Republicans had no intention of allowing that to happen. Early on, when Mitch McConnell stated the goal of the Republicans was "to make Obama a one-term president", I thought to myself - "here we go, folks."

But no, the Democrats wanted to believe in the miracle of transformation. Obama, they were sure, would be able to soothe the savage Republican beast. (Hillary would be too polarizing - ha!ha!) So powerful was his otherworldly charisma that McConnell and Boehner and Ryan and all the rest would clasp hands and break into a rousing rendition of Kumbaya.

Of course, that didn't happen. Of course, it didn't happen! The Republicans have been even more obstructionist than before. They've voted no on every piece of legislation Obama has put forth, even ideas they believed in before, even ideas that were their own to begin with, like individual mandates (developed by the Heritage Foundation, a freaking Republican think tank!) and cap and trade (a plank in McCain's platform!) Republicans have refused to confirm Obama's nominees to courts and cabinet positions. They've refused so far to pass a transportation bill or to renew the Violence Against Women Act although that legislation was always bipartisan in the past. They stonewalled about increasing the debt ceiling though it has been done routinely under every president, Republican and Democrat alike. They've refused to act on allowing student loan rates to double. They've embarked on a massive campaign to suppress the vote. They've attempted to deny women's health care by means of both the Blunt Amendment (which failed by only one vote) and defunding Planned Parenthood. A Republican group brought the suit that foisted the anti-(small d) democratic Citizens United decision upon us whereby conservative millionaires and billionaires can simply buy our elections. A Republican group brought the case to the Supreme Court by which the Affordable Healthcare Act may be declared unconstitutional by the conservative majority. (I'm convinced the Roberts' Supreme Court will go down in history as a time when the Court totally jumped the track of objectivity and became simply another political advocacy group).

For me, the vote to hold Eric Holder in contempt of Congress (something that has never been done before in our entire history - notice a pattern here?)  is the very last straw. The Fast and Furious program at issue began under the Bush Administration (known then as Operation Wide Receiver). It was a flawed plan to begin with although you can see how it might have been supposed to work. The ATF would let gun sales from America to Mexico go through in the hopes of tracking the weapons to the ultimate buyers, the drug cartel kingpins, whom they could then arrest. That never happened. The guns disappeared into Mexico to turn up later at the scenes of crimes, including the death of an ATF agent. This program was mostly run out of Arizona and it was one that simply continued under the radar screen of a new administration. Eric Holder knew nothing about Fast and Furious, a fact about which the head of the ATF was willing the testify had Darrell Issa allowed him to....which he wouldn't. When Holder did find out about it, he shut it down. In fact, no Bush administration official has testified before the investigatory committee. The Democrats have not been allowed to call any witnesses. Because Issa and his compadres aren't interested in knowing the history of the program, only in trying to hang it around the neck of the Obama Justice department. The committee has even asked Eric Holder to commit felonies by requesting paperwork, such as transcripts of grand jury testimony, that it is illegal for him to provide.

And who gets to keep score in all of this? Why, its Fox News and Rush and the NRA and the rest of the Republican noise machine, who have all been harping and harping and harping on this issue for months until finally the vote to hold Holder in contempt made it impossible for the mainstream media to avoid. But, of course, as always, they will take the timid tack that it is a 50/50 proposition - that there is a Republican "side" and a Democrat "side" when the reality is that it is a witch hunt, pure and simple. Will they have the guts enough to call it what it is?

I couldn't do it. I couldn't continue to appear before this committee with all of us pretending it wasn't the huge farce that we know it is, just as we did when they impeached Clinton. I would have to stand up and tell them to go fuck themselves. Because that's where I am with the Republicans now. I'm ready to go to war. I don't care if I lose. I don't care if they shut the country down and send it to Mexico. I'd rather go down fighting than to keep pretending to play the political game by the Republicans' bullshit rules. I'm sick of the Republicans fighting a war with live ammunition while Democrats play ring-a-round-the-rosy over in the corner.