Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Two-fer Day

The other day I heard a commentator say that it was stupid to say that harsh rhetoric in the media and elsewhere in the political discourse of the Republic was "dangerous to our democracy."

She went on to say words the effect that "no one would object to the fact that political debate sometimes gets sharp and contentious."

I was in the car at the time and, although the speaker could not see me, my hand shot into the air.

I object to sharp and contentious political "debate" such as we have seen, for example, around the latest Supreme Court nomination. In fact, I object to sharp and contentious debate anywhere.

This kind of stuff locks people up, freezes them into opposition, makes it difficult if not impossible to do business with one another.

The danger, here, is that the discourse that allows people to call one another "murderers," and "traitors," and all kinds of other stuff of that ilk is so divisive that it makes the give and take of a self governing republic difficult to do.

The inability of the political parties to compromise with one another, on both the state and national levels, has created a gridlock that has left serious problems unaddressed for the better part of a decade. Who, after all, can compromise with "murderers" and "traitors" and expect good results. Who can even talk, let alone listen, to such people?

The rough and tumble of such things as "Tiller the baby killer" isn't harmless. The words matter.

And I think that some people who defend this kind of discourse, and dismiss it as "political correctness" or some such shibboleth, know full well what they are doing. There are those who are positively dis-interested in a "give and take" type of government. They want to rule as the Bush Administration did: going into power on a razor's edge (or perhaps no edge, at all) of a "mandate" they governed as though they won five votes to one.

I supported Mr. Obama because he said that wasn't a way to go about things and he has been trying to change that culture. In the end I know he will use the votes if he has them to get health care and climate change legislation--even if not one Republican supports it. But I admire his effort to compromise and bring some along some Republicans, to try to change the culture of overpowering opponents without any concern about their positions.

So, the Lily is for people like Rush Limbaugh--he is one of those who knows darned well that he is using language in a dishonest way to overcome those with whom he disagrees without any accommodation toward them, at all.

No compromise. Compromise is, apparently, now un American.

not rooting? not encouraging?

So, the idea is that Dick Cheney isn't really hoping that the United States will be attacked, again, so as to justify the illegal and inhumane treatment that the Bush Administration used to get information from people they believed had it (or, as some people would have it, to get false information about an Al Qaeda-Iraq connection out of people who could credibly be characterized to know of such a thing).

Some people believe that this is a set up: Cheney comes out and says that the Obama administration is "dismantling" the structure that "kept us safe" after the attack on September 11 in the hopes that "if it happens" it will be a boon to Republican electoral fortunes.

Does Cheney hope that will happen?

The other theory is that Cheney is selling the "we got useful information out of torture" idea as a prophylactic against indictment and conviction (of himself and those who, apparently, followed his orders) for the illegal program, or selling that idea so as to influence public opinion.

I don't know what, if any of these things, Cheney has in mind. It's entirely possible that he really believes what he is saying and he is trying to influence decision making to stop what he sees as eroding our security structure. Less likely things have, in my experience, turned out to be true.

But I do know this. If the parties were reversed, here, the entire right wing chorus would be singing in four part harmony about how comments like these were going to encourage those attacks and make them more likely to succeed in the same way disclosing blue prints of nuclear power plants would.

Cheney's remarks, made by an Al Gore, would be said to be telling the "enemy" that we are weak and vulnerable and therefore are encouraging (I believe the word the right favors in such situations is "emboldening") them to take a crack at an attack.

Remarking that a Republican administration was acting in such a way as to endanger national security would be called "treason" if it were done by a Democrat or non-partisan person.

How do I know that? It's not like I have to speculate. That's what they said, and the people who read their talking points in the media, said any time anyone objected to or ever questioned something proposed (or done in secret) by the Bush/Cheney administration.

No Lily, here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eight Is Enough for Court "Balance."

It's about integrity...

So, the Republicans want to give due attention to the solemn task of advising and consenting on a Supreme Court nomination and they want to spend as much time as they think it takes to review the record of Sonia Sotomayor . They say there are so many cases that it's unfair to rush the confirmation hearings. They didn't care to do that for nominees from President Bush, but a lot of things they did for President Bush are now not the right thing to do, anymore.

Do't think that's true? Well, aside from running up huge public debt there is the insistence, now, that war funding bills not carry funding for anything else as they did back in the day when it was conservative pork being carried...I digress. It's hard to focus on one example of a lack of integrity when so many others have their hands waving in the air to be recognized.

Back to the Supreme Court nomination...

Some in the media believe that the delay insisted on by Conservatives is a part of fund raising. Both sides will do it but the Conservatives need to shake down their base, at this point, more than the Progressives do. Others think that the Party of No is just dragging its feet to keep other things from getting done as they try to run out the clock til the next election when they hope, through the Fox style propaganda they are developing, they might win a few more seats and more power to frustrate change.

I wonder, though, in my own little cynical, bottom of the barrel corner of the world, if that's all there is to it.

If Justice Souter is gone and the court cranks up operation in October one justice short won't that work to the advantage of the "strict constructionalist" who also hold to the modern and radical doctrine of original intent of the founders (quite to the contrary of the intent of the founders)? It may cause a number of 4-4 ties. These in some cases will work out to the advantage of the Right, and in some may prevent them from denying things like redress of grievances for wage discrimination and the like.

I don't know for sure but if the retiring justice wasn't one of "theirs" might they not think it worth it to create an albeit small period of time in which the court can hear and make decisions in which there is one fewer justice who was not a safe vote for them, anyway.

So, there it is, in my view--a Lily Award for Senator Sessions and the gang.

Remember what Lily Tomlin, our patron saint, here, said: "No matter how cynical you get--it's hard to keep up."