Friday, May 01, 2009

Rule city

Rule #94: No jacket required
Barack Obama can wear whatever he wants in the White House. George W. Bush installed a restrictive dress code that even he didn't follow, which was supposed to be a statement of respect and dignity. Funny, I don't remember the Founding Fathers ever wearing jackets. But I do remember at least one really bad president being obsessed with artifice. Can you guess who?

And come's not like they're wearing tracksuits in the Oval Office. Just not a jacket. If they dressed like that at the park, people would tell them to lighten up. Perspective. It helps.

De facto conservative leader Rush Limbaugh likes to brag that he doesn't own a pair of blue jeans. I won't even make the big-and-tall joke, because what it says about his mentality is more relevant. Apparently, to him, dressing up a turd turns it into Godiva chocolate - which is exactly how the GOP presents its policies, come to think of it.

Rush and others forget that a nice pair of jeans can look better than battered, wrinkly slacks. And that some people thrive when not bound by restrictive dress codes. It's good to know that the White House is once again putting brains over brownshirts.

Rule #95: Give piece a chance?
If the mere notion of putting "bitter" and "cling" in the same sentence still drives you to insane levels of steaming, tellingly defensive rage, then some theoretical repeal of the Second Amendment is the least of your worries. May I recommend Prozac? Maybe some Extenze?

A lot of firearm owners are quick to circle the wagons whenever someone utters the dreaded term, "gun nut." It doesn't matter that the utterer is referring to, say, someone picking off cops from his front porch because he thinks Obama's going to personally confiscate his stockpile - the term inevitably is twisted to mean literally everyone who owns a gun. But it seems to me that those who own firearms, are trained and responsible and who have no intention of ever using them in an illegal capacity, would be the very first to distance themselves from these extremists. But they don't. In fact, they're so eager to lump themselves in with the true nuts that you wonder if you should be worried about them as well. And then they accuse you of persecuting them, and suddenly you hate the Constitution.

Well, I don't, because it's my Constitution as well. I just hate that it's so hard to have an honest, candid conversation about gun rights. Defense is good, but defensiveness is dangerous.

Rule #96: Texas Roadshow
Texas can secede, but Ron Paul has to be its president. That way, we can see two much-hyped ideas go to hell at once.

Rule #97: A Grim Specter
Arlen Specter is not a traitor. A traitor is someone who undermines the safety of their country, for example, through the dissemination of secret information to enemies. Specter quit the Republican Party. That's a little different.

That Specter's being called a traitor says much about today's GOP. As the party becomes more extreme (and regional), it is increasingly less tolerant of any deviation from ideological purity. Sometime in the past eight years, the Republicans equated themselves not with a philosophy, but with America itself; consequently, anyone who opposes the GOP opposes the country. Is it any wonder, then, that they use such loaded terms as "traitor" so freely? The sad thing isn't that Specter left the party - it's that the ever-rightward party was so glad to see him go. And now they'll make sure he suffers for it.

That's what gangs and cults do, not major American political parties.

Rule #98: Ayn-guish
If the tea parties are any indicator, then "Going Galt" should be all kinds of awesome. The idea (as with all awesome things) comes from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. In the book, society's most productive/wealthy citizens have enough and stop working; this leads the economy to crumble and/or go, "Hey, it's bootstrap time!"

I, for one, can't wait for all of society's hardest-working citizens to take to the streets en masse in protest of all the poor people they have to coddle. Oh, wait, you mean that some of the most productive people in the country are the poorest? And that they can't take time off because their faraway CEO needs a bonus? And that some people might think it's a bad idea to be so selfish in such trying times? Must drown out such thoughts! SOCIALISM! SOCIALISM! SOCIALISM! SOCIALISM! SOCIALISM!

Oh yeah. This will be all kinds of awesome.

Rule #99: Without a paddle
Republicans must stop comparing something horrible to something slightly less horrible. When they compare waterboarding and other torture to "frat pranks" and "initiations," they're trying to downplay the severity of the practices. But since when did hazing itself become an OK thing? Don't pledges die from it on a disturbingly regular basis? If anything, the right should be selling waterboarding as less severe than frat pranks. But that might lead Greek recruitment to taper off, thus giving the Republicans one fewer farm system for narrowed minds.

Colleges everywhere are cracking down on even supposedly harmless "initiations." If they can do that, then the U.S. should at least be able to end the torturous practices that undermine our values as a nation and liken ourselves to the extremists we fight.

Otherwise, as the older frat boys say, one day it'll be your turn.

Rule #100: Rule of 100
Let's put a 100-day moratorium on the utterance, "Is that change we can believe in?" It was irritating enough when John McCain stumbled through it on the campaign trail, but it's downright obnoxious when spoken by smug conservatives and contrarian liberals.

These days, it's seemingly in vogue to point to Obama's term so far, compare it to some utopian ideal he never promised and conclude that he is a failure for not achieving it in his first 100 days. Which is like expecting Hayden Panettiere to show up on your doorstep and then becoming indignant when she doesn't. Either way, you have to separate reality from masturbatory fantasies.

The fact is, change doesn't happen overnight. Or over 100 nights, even. Obama himself has said repeatedly that times won't be easy. But he's confident he and the nation can do what is necessary and overcome the challenges, and is taking concrete steps to do so.

I think the real reason for the derision is that Obama is doing something that a lot of people don't want him to do: he's leveling with us. Unlike his predecessor, Obama is treating the recovery as a long-term team project. That is change worth giving a chance.

The rest of the rules


Chris said...

Any smart conservative knows that Specter was a Dem all along, it was no surprise this was coming. He is not a traitor in the least.

twodiddle said...

NOLA Progressive said...

I have no problem with Specter leaving the party of "No", but I want to know that he will stand firm with the party when it counts. Not a yes man, but there is no room for dissenting opinion on issues like EFCA and Healthcare. So far his voting record and his intentions have indicated we can't count on him in a pinch.