Monday, February 20, 2017

Hypocrisy. It's What's For Dinner.

For years I have heard people on the left complaining that the people on the right were hypocrites because they are all too willing to hold liberals to an impossibly high standard while allowing people who share their ideology to sail unhindered down the sewer. And for years I have tried to say that we need to hold on with charges like that because we were comparing apples to apples. After all, Bill Clinton WAS a horndog who didn't have any perspective when it came to his winkie, and George W. Bush could plausibly make the case that he started the war in Iraq based on faulty intelligence instead of some nefarious purpose.

Well, all that went out the window on November 8, 2016. That was the day that donald trump was elected President, and it was also the day that Mitch McConnell revealed openly his true colors as a partisan, hypocritical hack.

Okay, so it wasn't EXACTLY on that day. However, it was not long after the election that McConnell issued the following statement:

“Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. [...] I think this is something the American people simply will not tolerate [...] Our hope would be that our Democratic friends would treat President Trump’s nominees in the same way we treated Clinton and Obama.”

Mitch, you want the Democrats to treat trump's nominees the way the Republicans treated Clinton and Obama? Okay, so let's try these on for size.

1. Democrats should launch a series of investigations into non-issues that are being conflated into disasters of biblical proportions, and when they find there's noting there ... well, that just means the Republicans are being extra sneaky, darn it, and they should be investigated again.

I propose an investigation into why trump has refused to release his tax returns. Sure, there's noting illegal about him not releasing them, just like there was nothing illegal about Hillary's email server, but we will never know unless we scrutinize every detail of his tax returns down to the subatomic level. I also think we need to have the FBI release letters announcing new aspects of the investigation from time to time, and have them timed to cause the maximum amount of political damage to trump and his cronies.

2. Maybe Democrats can throw a tantrum and shut down the government, simply because they didn't get their way. After all, if the GOP can do it over the debt ceiling, howzabout the Dems are able to do it over something like irregularities in defense contracts to companies run by Republican donors, or aid to Israel? Seems fair.

3. I have evidence that I just made up that indicates that perhaps donald trump is not who he says he is, and that he is actually a small, nineteen year old Yemeni woman named Dalal ("spoiled one"), and that until he is able to produce documentation that he actually is an American citizen and of age to hold office he should not only be considered to be illegitimate, but hounded for it day and night every day for the next eight years.

Okay, enough of that nonsense. Let's get serious here for a moment.

There is some merit to the claims of hypocrisy against the GOP. For eight years. Mitch McConnell and his gang of pug-uglies obstructed President Obama at every turn, regardless of the merits of any of his proposals.

The Affordable Care Act? No. Too expensive, and it won't work. The fact that it was actually a Republican idea that had been successfully implemented in Massachusetts is irrelevant. As soon as Obama put his name to it, it became a non-starter and doomed to fail, and even if it did get passed it was going to destroy the country and people were going to die and death panels and everybody will be getting abortions as a pastime and on and on and on.

Curbs on carbon emissions to combat climate change? No. Climate change isn't real, and even if it is, it's not our fault, and even if it is, it would be bad for the economy (like extinction-level events are ever good for an economy), and it's all a liberal plot to destroy the coal industry because, you know, everybody just loves coal. No, really. I hear people talking all the time.

Negotiate with Iran so they halt their nuclear weapons development program? No. Iran is a terrorist state, and the only way to defeat them is to sanction them until they are crippled then take them over and turn them into Pleasantville, USA. Because that approach worked so well in Iraq, and they're only one letter off, so there ya go.

For eight years the GOP complained that President Obama was a tyrant, using executive orders to circumvent the legislative process. Their public stance was that it wasn't the content of the orders that bothered them per se, it was their very existence ... and executive order was cutting Congress out of the loop, and this was unAmerican. Now, however, trump is throwing out executive orders like fun-size Skittles at Halloween. They are so poorly written and executed, in fact, that they are either thrown a judge or pretty much ignored. And Congress just ... sits there, and doesn't say a word about it.

Now that trump is pretty much wiping his ass with the Constitution, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has decided that it is time to open an investigation into ... Hillary's email server. Because, you know, relevant, or something.

Look, I get it. There is a certain level of partisan brinksmanship that takes place in Washington, and there's really no getting around that. However, there is a very real difference between the normal level of jockeying back and forth between the two major parties, and the blatant power grabs we have seen over the past ten years or so.

First there was the Biden Rule nonsense. For the record, Joe Biden made a speech on the floor of the Senate in 1992 saying that, in order to prevent a Supreme Court pick from being overly politicized, a president should not present a nominee during an election. McConnell ran this one right out the door, across the Mall, and umped it into the Potomac when he used it as an excuse to block the nomination of Merrick Garland.

The differences were pretty plain. First, Biden had said that a president shouldn't nominate a Supreme Court pick until after an election, not an inauguration. He even made it a point to say that it was the president's duty to present a nominee to fill a vacancy, and the Senate's duty to hold hearings, even if he loses the election, and chooses to do so during the lame duck period between the election and the inauguration. Second, Biden was speaking hypothetically, as there were no Supreme Court vacancies at the time ... in fact, this whole thing came up because of the hearings for Clarence Thomas a few months prior.

Then there were the attempts to defund the Affordable Care Act using reconciliation resolutions (I think that's what they are called; I'm drawing a blank on the terminology). They did this because these resolutions only require a simple majority instead of a supermajority, which made it very easy for them to steamroll the Democrats.

The straw that broke the camel's back for me, however, was the meeting with the acting director of Immigrations Customs and Enforcement (ICE). Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-TX) had called the meeting to discuss trump's immigration executive order. When the meeting time came, however, he -- along with the other Hispanic representatives who had co-signed the letter sent to ICE (all of whom were Democrats, by the way) -- were told they were not allowed to attend the meeting and ordered to leave by Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). They were also told that any further meetings with ICE would have to be cleared with the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee -- who happens to be Bob Goodlatte.

The Republican Party is becoming un-American. They are becoming nothing more than an arm of an authoritarian buffoon who is out to loot and plunder this country for everything he can get, regardless of what damage is caused. They are complicit in the transformation of ICE from a Federal enforcement agency to a group of thugs rounding people up in the middle of the night, even to the point of separating children from their parents.

It is time to fight them, and fight hard. After the election I maintained that the Democrats should not resort to the Republican tactic of "obstruct at any cost," preferring to stay on the high road. It felt good to keep the moral high ground ... at least, until the Republicans started their slash-and-burn campaign against the American people.

Now I say, obstruct. Block. We need to do everything we can to stop these goons in their tracks before they inflict permanent damage. As it is, we are probably going to spend ten to twenty YEARS overcoming what they already have in the works: people with mental illnesses can now buy guns, coal companies no longer have to follow safe wastewater disposal practices and can dump their crap into whatever waterway happens to be nearby; in some states legislation has been passed that allow private citizens to run protesters over with their cars provided it was an "accident."

Obstruct. The only way we are going to prevent any further damage is to do everything we can to prevent anything from happening at all.

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