Saturday, January 30, 2010

No action on Don't Ask Don't Tell: You want me to fetch, but you won’t throw me a goddamn bone…

Anyone with a brain knows the Democrats defeat in the MA senate race was not a backlash against a "leftist agenda" (I literally L-O-L when I hear that) but demonstrative of a turnout problem for their base. Recent polls show Republicans lead Democrats in likely voters 82% to 50%. The lack of results in Barack’s first year has left people like me wondering if there is even any point to electing Democrats. I’m unrealistic about a lot of things in my life, but political change isn't one of them. I know it's a long demoralizing slog, especially on massive issues like health care and the wars… but considering how little progress has been made on those fronts why can’t the Democrats at least throw me a bone with something much easier?

Imagine if at your job there was a policy whereby any employee discovered to be gay would be fired. By discovered I don’t mean he’s caught banging dudes in the office pantry. Simply being turned in by a friend or family member who he’s revealed his status to will suffice. Even if he was the best worker in the place, he gets fired. Even if he was one of a handful of people in the country with the skill-set to perform his job, he gets fired. It wouldn’t just be blatant, ugly, bigotry ridden discrimination - it’d be completely stupid business-wise (automatically dumping a worker regardless of his job performance??) It’d be mind-fucking-blowingly idiotic and morally reprehensible on about eight different levels.

That is exactly the policy the US military subscribes to via Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It’s moral failings are evident to anyone with a soul. It’s practical failings are evidenced by 58 desperately needed Arab linguists fired as of 2007. I can give no better concrete example for my frustration with Obama than his failure a year into his presidency to end (or at least suspend) this monstrosity. Not even because it's so wrong, but because it'd be so fucking easy.

Dealing with gay marriage, and by extension the Defense of Marriage Act, (thanks Bill Clinton!) is a religious, cultural, and political firebomb. No realistic progressive expected Obama to have taken care of that ugliness already. It can be strongly argued that repealing DOMA, while the right thing to do, would be an inefficient use of political capital.

You can’t say the same thing about repealing DADT and that’s what has me so pissed off. It’s not just a moral no-brainer, it’s not just a no brainer for having a better military… it would be an easy political battle. Hell, it wouldn’t even be a battle. As of a year ago, 81% of Americans supported gays being allowed to serve openly in the military. EIGHTY ONE PERCENT! And considering the number was around 60% in 2003 it's probably even higher now. Not even the Republicans are shameless enough to stand on the Senate floor and argue that firing those Arab linguists was good policy. Sarah Palin’s clown-car of idiot supporters wouldn't have any real problems ending this. Obama and the Dems can’t take this on politically? They fear losing votes from the closeted-homosexual KKK members who constitute the other 19%?

Of course not. So why the lack of action? Why all the hemming and hawing and bullshit excuses about how it’s very difficult to end and the need for “implementation plans” and exploratory committees. (Implementation plans? REALLY??) Is Barack a secret member of that bigoted 19%? Absolutely not, I would bet my beleaguered 401k savings that he agrees with everything I just wrote to his core. The most reasonable explanation is that after the Democrats ever actually got around to ending it with legislation (and the President could effectively suspend the madness with a stroke of the pen until congress is done) they can’t fucking talk about it anymore. Right now it’s a nice hunk of blue meat they can wave in front of us liberals to get us frothing – they figure we’re too stupid to ever demand they actually throw us the damn meat. If I see another liberal blogger calling Obama’s SOTU non-specific, non-urgent call for action supported by 81% of Americans “courageous” I'll be inclined to agree with them.

My guess is the Democrats are keeping this card in the deck. They’ll play it shortly before the midterm elections to give people like me some TINY PIECE of evidence that it’s worth bothering to vote instead of staying home while the Republicans cruise to victory. They fear if they did it on Day 1 like they could have, I would have forgotten about it come election time.

Good politics? I don’t even think so. When they finally get around to tossing me the bone of ending DADT (and touting it as a major difficult accomplishment when it was comically simple) I’ll be too dispirited to even bother fetching it and voting. Either way, in the meantime this disgusting policy will continue.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Are the Democrats Even Fucking Trying Anymore?

So I'm watching CNN and they did a piece on the Ouzinke, Alaska airport boondoggle. Typical example of a gigantic waste of 14.7 million of stimulus money.* Sorry, fellow DKos'ers, CNN is not in cahoots with the GOP to bring down Obama by misrepresenting totally valid infrastructure spending. This project actually is garbage. They're building a completely unnecessary airstrip (the town's second) for a tiny village of 200 people. Townspeople concede the new airstrip will barely even be used since it's farther away from the village and they've been using the current one without incident for over 30 years. It's in the same vain as the Bridge to Nowhere - though it only wastes 14 million instead of wasting 400 million.

The Bridge to Nowhere though, as hideously wasteful as it was, was the result of a logical political calculus. Republican Sen. Stevens and Rep. Young shamelessly looted the federal treasury to gain favor with their constituents. They traded their yay votes on an appropriations bill for a massive porky gift. The Republicans broke all kinds of pork records during W's reign, this was the way they did business.

Unsavory? Sure, but at least it made fucking sense.

Contrast it to the stimulus bill. The Republicans (along with a few Dems) voted against it across the board. "Wasteful... porkulous... simultaneously too large and not stimulative enough..." - but THEY STILL GOT THEIR PET PORK PROJECTS! **

Two out of Alaska's three representatives are Republican and of course they voted against the Stimulus bill but an at worst egregious and at best dubious 14.7 million project for a second airstrip for 200 people still gets through!

The Republicans, having one of the smallest minorities in a long time, should have close to zero leverage. The Democrats don't even need to buy their votes to pass anything.

But the Democrats are still giving Republicans pet pork projects in exchange for... NOTHING! (Not even votes they don't need!) Oh wait not nothing, in exchange for the right to be dragged over the coals and called big wasteful tax and spenders. In exchange for the right the be the poster children for wasteful spending and fiscal recklessness. The Republicans get to take the fiscally responsible high ground voting against the Stimulus while simultaneously reaping its political benefits. Is it any wonder the Democrats are setup to be massacred in 2010?

* Local Alaskan Op-Ed on the project

** WSJ Article about stimulus spending in GOP districts