Saturday, February 20, 2010

A post filled with unbridled passion

I wish I could be as passionate about anything as today's conservatives are about government spending.

I say this as a football fan whose team just won the Super Bowl for the first time.

I say this as someone whose mother just endured major surgery and was informed that her insurance company is refusing to pay for the final two days of her hospitalization.

I say this as someone not known for keeping his feelings to himself in any given situation, no matter how unprofessional or juvenile it might make him seem to present company.

If I could change something about myself, it would be my ability to channel my energy and emotion to fit a situation rather than treat everything with equal gravity. It's a battle I've struggled with since before I was old enough to play "Duck Duck Goose."

But man oh man, am I a regular stoic next to these teabaggers!

Day after day, I read seemingly endless reams of commentary about how government spending is out of hand. Conservative Facebook friends of mine post articles suggesting such with the sort of outrage once reserved for unjust wars. Bloggers I know write thousand-word screeds on the impending death of our country from congressional bloat. Their cries are echoed by the collective thousands who have attended Tea Party events in the past year.

And yes, it's only been a year, because for some reason, said outrage took until 2009 to really take flight. Almost as if the election of a certain president had something to do with it. But that's old ground that I've tackled enough here to erode several layers of topsoil.

What interests me today is the way that spending has become the catalyst for so much of the anger now driving conservatives. It's remarkable, really, given that the past few Republican presidents have expanded government and government spending like they were on a trans-fat bender, and none of these people were taking to the streets then. But now, not only is spending the Big Issue, it's the Biggest Issue of Them All. In their minds, nothing is wrong with America, and any attempt to spend on new (Obama) issues is a dagger in freedom's heart.

Even as many of these people grapple with their own woes — health care and substantial employment, to name just two — somehow it is the deficit that really gets their blood boiling. How does this happen? As ambivalent as I am about the banking situation and the bailouts, I admit that it isn't even in my Top 10 when it comes to outrage-igniters.

And I think I know why. Because I think in terms of people. I support health care reform because, as expensive as it might be (and even that's debatable), it would have a profound effect on millions of Americans. I am in favor of taxes that support infrastructure, because well-maintained roads and public facilities benefit us all and might even save lives. I also have no problem with the government creating public-works jobs, as it did during the Great Depression, because an employed population is the key to stability, especially if it helps public infrastructure. (And no, I don't buy the argument that no government job is ever permanent. What job is or ever has been?)

None of that matters to today's teabaggers, who seem incapable of seeing any value in congressional spending, or of seeing anything beyond dollar signs. They may or may not care about their fellow man, but damned if they'll pay for it. While I sympathize with the need to save money, a lot of this is simply greed. And very telling about their priorities. For them, the country isn't worth saving if it costs anything. Best health care system, bootstraps and all that.

I understand the root of the outrage. But what I'll never understand is the fervor. How can a group investing so much passion in their pocketbooks be so blind to the human costs surrounding them every day?

You couldn't pay me enough to think that way.


Sky Girl said...

I'm going to get slammed for saying this. But here it goes:

It's all tied up in a bunch of moral judgement conservative v. liberal mumbo jumbo. You have on one side the Democrats, wanting to pass reform legislation to make the changes you just suggested in employment in healtcare.

You have on the other side the conservatives, who self-describe as fiscal conservatives despite their spending records.

The Repubicans went out and courted the religious right for their voting numbers and tied themselves in with the extreme values of the hard-cord far right- wing moralists. These folks believe that Democrat is a dirty word. It stands for baby-killing, sodomite-loving people who will bring the wrath of Jesus on this great God-fearing nation of ours.

They will not, under any circumstances, support what is seen as a "liberal agenda," even when some of that agenda could be in their own interests (better healthcare, more jobs). I have actually had these discussions with people. This is because they believe that somehow, the Deomcrats will also therefore gain footing on abortion, stem-cell research, and gay marriage. They believe this because their pastors tell them this at church. They believe it becuase their Republican representatives make an issue of talking only about public funding for abortion rather than any other aspect of healthcare reform.

Until we can get all of the morality war issues out of every single political discussion we have in this country, we will continue to have these vast differences in thinking. It is unncessary, but true.

Let the slamming begin.

NOLA Progressive said...

Slammed for what? Telling the truth? That size-up is pretty much dead on. Are there plenty of fiscally conservative folks in the ranks that aren't convinced that Jesus is going to end us all in brimfire tomorrow if we don't repent of our loose morals? Yeah sure there are, but they aren't who runs the show.

I mean look at the red meat that Beck was tossing to the pups at CPAC. I'm paraphrasing here, but he called the cancer that is eating at our society "Progressivism". He explained that the cancer must be killed because it can't coexist with the healthy body. Yeah a little think on analogy, but his schtick not mine. These Reaganites ate this shit up with nickel-plated elephant embossed spoons!

Slam you? Nah. Wish more people saw it for what it is.

Michael said...

At least as far as the teabaggers themselves are concerned (as measured by this CPAC poll), it's not that big a deal. Ranks second behind shrinking the size of government, and that only because 21% of respondents picked it as their second most important issue.

And Sky Girl, you might take some hope from that poll. The traditional religious/social conservative issues come in more or less dead last. Abortion only got 10% of the votes, and stopping gay marriage, 1% (and all of those were "second most important" votes). The times they are a-changin'.

Jim said...

Teabaggers aren't paid to think.

These folks are heavily manipulated: there is a synergistic coupling of "propagandists and their fearful targets".

There is a way past the dilemma presented by obstructionists. That is action. For health care reform, refer to 'An open letter to my Senator'.

If we effect real change, the "vast differences" will be diminished, as they were after Medicare and Civil Rights legislation.

Sky Girl said...

NOLA, you are a rationally thinking person. But the last time I was here, there was a little blog troll lurking around. Just figured he or one of his ilk would jump on this.

Ian McGibboney said...

Sky Girl - The trolls are not likely to jump on this, because there aren't yet any tired talking points to counter what we've all said here. Of course, I've written personal stories that weren't the least bit political (or maybe had one or two almost throwaway references) that garnered just as much bile from these guys, so you never know. Their whole schtick is to try to impede intellectual dialogue, because if we're too busy splitting hairs, we're not supposed to notice that they have no agenda save for disruption. Because they got nothing.

By the way, I don't even publish all of the comments I get from the trolls. I had to start moderating a year ago (something I hate doing) because they were so hateful and counterproductive. I've since banned people outright.

NOLA - I saw part of Glenn Beck's CPAC speech. I thought it was the whole thing, but apparently it was only one part of six. Wow. What a blowhard. I'd be embarrassed to even know this guy, much less have him represent my philosophy. Not a tingle of sanity to be had there.

Jim - Well said. Despite all the noise and obstruction, the real changes are going to happen the way they should happen. Deep down, the loudmouths know this, I think.

herb said...

Ian, none if us "teabaggers" are responding because there is nothing of substance in this post (plus you've banned anyone besides me that would dare espouse conservative ideals here) Everyone opposed to Obama's plans are greedy racists and that hate America. It's remarkable how Obama's inauguration day pledge of bipartisanship and working with the other side is dead the minute he gets a hint of opposition. The guy has a serious glass jaw. And all you bloggers, well you've just picked up from where you left off during the Bush years, you know when dissent was patriotic and questioning/opposing the president was the greatest thing a budding non-conformist could do. Back then us neanderthal conservatives were in the majority and the evil in the minority we are still the boogeyman, somehow.

You guys love to complain about "obstruction" but refuse to acknowledge that despite a super majority Obama couldn't get his health care take over passed. Bush passed a lot more with a lot less.

NOLA Progressive said...

I was watching Bill Maher's new standup special the other night, and he made a hilarious but extremely cogent analogy for this.

Paraphrase here. Basically he said You don't explain healthcare to the people. They can't handle that! It's just like you don't explain the vet to your pet. You just coax him into the car with the leash and come on boy, and when he doesn't die of rabies it's all good.

This is really the case here. These folks aren't going to get it. Just as Jim points out, they didn't get Civil Rights legislation or Medicare. However, once it was passed and digested for a while, they see it works, it's good, it's as though they were for it all along. Then they can all start screaming about keeping your government hands off of their universal health care coverage! Or if all else fails fly a private plane into an IRS building.

Sky Girl said...


Ian McGibboney said...

Herb, I haven't banned anyone besides those who are abusive. I can't help it that every person I've banned happens to be conservative (as far as they have a philosophy beyond simply chastising everything I say). The fact that you're speaking your mind here sort of undermines your point about lack of dissent. Hell, I love intelligent debate, if ever I could find it.

But that seems to be increasingly difficult since Obama came into the Oval Office. You guys are really off the deep end about it, without offering any honest counter-proposals. You can say you're just some anonymous troll, but unfortunately you are representative of the Republican Party. Those five-page PDFs full of vague talking points and personal slams on Nancy Pelosi is not valid health care legislation. Indeed, your side seems to want to gloat about Obama's failure more than to succeed at anything in its own right.

And that attitude may be the very thing that gets health care reform passed in a purer form, now that the supermajority is gone. Thank you!

NOLA Progressive said...

Not to mention the fact that the White House health bill being pushed today is chocked full of GOP goodness (I really don't like putting those two words together). Large amount of GOP ideas and stipulations have been inserted. You can hit for a full page of them. The problem is GOP leadership is not going to be happy unless the entire thing is scrapped. That's death by delay, not substatantive ideaology or interest in the general public.

I will say this. There are a couple of substative GOP health care proposals out there now. Hit for a full list (I believe there are 3 that are at least worth the powder to blow them to hell). The problem is that not one of them achieves anything close to universal coverage.

For all of the b.s. about "behind closed doors" and no cooperation, the GOP has had many points and ideas included in the bill, and provided with ample time to debate the bill and make the case for their points. Put up or shut up time.

herb said...

I like how NOW the opposition has to put up their own version of every Democrat policy when for the past 8 years Democrats did nothing of the sort and all of you applauded it.

Ah, how glorious it must have been for you all to wake up on January 20th 2009 and totally forget all the bullshit and obstruction your side pulled the previous 8 years.

NOLA Progressive said...

For a guy who emphasizes how much we just blame Bush to justify our current actions, you do an awful lot of this type of comment going on.

Not exactly stand firm kinda stuff dude.

herb said...

So I'm not allowed to call you out on your hypocrisy?

It must be cool to think all the rules don't apply to you, ah, the life of a liberal.

Ian McGibboney said...

Herb, it must be so convenient to conflate our grievances with yours, as if they're exactly the same. They're not. Not even close. When we protested going into Iraq, or disagreed with regressive tax cuts that would provably destabilize the economy, those were real causes with nuanced reasoning behind them. More importantly, each had a corresponding solution: keep up the al-Qaida hunt in Afghanistan and don't divert valuable resources to Iraq. Lower taxes on the middle class or don't lower taxes at all during wartime.

And that's where we diverge, Herb. Today's most vocal - and apparently mainstream - opposition to the Obama administration runs along the lines of "You lie" and the "socialist" talk egged on by head cases like Glenn Beck. People aren't so much calling for alternate solutions as they are yelling, screaming and (in your case) on some imagined crusade to discredit obscure bloggers. Your leaders aren't much better. While there was a lot of Bu$Hitler talk among liberals (though not me) in the previous eight years, it did not represent mainstream D.C. talk. You'd better hope the Republican Party abandons the CPAC and Sarah Palin teabagging crowds, not just in terms of electoral success, but also because we don't need that vile, extreme exclusionary policy masquerading as conservative leadership.

herb said...

Do you ever stop and think that just as much as you believe you had justification for protests that the other side believes they have just as much justification? People have differing opinions on how to govern, just because your personal ideology doesn't vibe with one way doesn't allow you to explain away your obvious hypocrisy. You may have issues with the way the protest is handled, but to state that protesting is wrong simply because it's going against your chosen party is wrong and will just expose you as nothing more than a partisan out to advance his side no matter what.

As for the rest, I really don't think I, nor GOP leaders, need to take advice on who to include/exclude in our "tent" from someone with a vested interest in seeing us lose. You're party is collapsing Ian, maybe you should focus your energies less on taking us down or attacking Bush and look more on why independents and moderates are abandoning Obama and flocking to the GOP.

Ian McGibboney said...

Herb: "Do you ever stop and think that just as much as you believe you had justification for protests that the other side believes they have just as much justification?"

No, at least as far as government spending goes. All of this teabagger outrage erupted, fully formed, in 2009. Why then, after decades of explosive government spending, capped off by eight years of record deficits? Especially considering that major tax cuts for the middle class that had already been enacted by the time the movement gained steam, thus undermining one of its main causes? You don't have to answer these. The reason is clear. And given that even the protesters themselves can't largely admit that their real problem is Obama at the helm, it's just as dishonest as it is disgusting.

I didn't want war or a destabilized economy. You don't want a Democrat as president. How are those two things even remotely equivalent?

As for the Democrats, I don't think they're failing. Inter-party bickering, for better or worse, is one of their hallmarks. It happens when a party invites diversity. On the other hand, when a historically lockstep GOP splits into factions, that is a cause for concern. And far from being vested in Republican failure, I think we need both parties to be strong as a method of checks and balances. This will not continue if Republicans continue its purge of all non-extremists.

herb said...

"I didn't want war or a destabilized economy."

Funny how we have both of those NOW and you're not complaining nearly as much as you did during the Bush years. It's almost like you're willing to let those problems slide since your guy is in charge now. That's the hypocrisy I'm talking about with liberals these days.

"This will not continue if Republicans continue its purge of all non-extremists."

You mean like Democrats did with Joe Lieberman?

Ian McGibboney said...

I want the wars to stop as much as anybody. But I will not criticize Obama for getting us into them by choice, which he didn't. I think he's taking some good, smart steps toward winding down Iraq, though I wish he'd do more to withdraw from Afghanistan. Obama inherited these wars, so he necessarily has to make these decisions. I can criticize those decisions, but that will never be on the same level as my criticism against Bush, who could have avoided much of this but made his whole presidency about kickin' ass. I hope that isn't too subtle for your black-and-white mind.

Joe Lieberman has actively campaigned with Republicans and pushed for conservative measures. That's fine, but it also doesn't make him a Democrat. The Republicans are moving away from their own principles, and that's the difference. They're more interested in getting elected and political payback than adhering to their principles. If that weren't true, then they wouldn't endorse pretty know-nothings like Sarah Palin and tokens like Michael Steele.

herb said...

If you criticized the wars as unnecessary and subscribed to the whole "bring them home now" mantra then, then you still should. The only reason you don't is because you don't want to criticize the leader of your chosen political party. No matter what convoluted reasoning you try to present that's all it boils down to. So what we can infer from that is you cynically took an anti-war position for no other reason than hoping it would advance your chosen party politically. Oppose it now as vociferously as you did then and you might not look like quite the partisan.

"The Republicans are moving away from their own principles"

This is so ridiculously wrong it makes me wonder if you have any idea what Republican principles are. The Republicans certainly strayed from their core principles during the Bush years, but lately they have moved more towards wanting a smaller government and promoting individualism.

Ian McGibboney said...

I actually supported the war in Afghanistan, and knew Obama wanted to escalate it. I no longer agree with that, knowing what I know now. It's called changing your mind in the face of evidence.

I knew no viable presidential candidate wanted to "bring them home now," but I thought Obama had the best plan among the viable ones. I also support him for other reasons. It is not I who is the partisan, simplistic one here.

As for the GOP: Funny how that "individualism" stops at spending and does a 180 in the bedroom and the wedding chapel, huh?

NOLA Progressive said...

Every argument that Herb is making here just digs his hole deeper.

The only reason you don't is because you don't want to criticize the leader of your chosen political party. No matter what convoluted reasoning you try to present that's all it boils down to.

Obama has taken large amounts of heat from his party members and his base for his escalation of troops in Afghanistan. Protests and rallies are still held daily in the name of bringing our troops home and ending our occupations. To state that somehow the Democrat's mindset and core stance has changed to support Obama is ludicrous and unfounded. Do you have any idea how many blogposts are dedicated to just this issue? Scores.

Ian, I don't know if Republicans have gotten away from their values as much as a) they never actually got to them in the first place, and b)their social values are either irrelevant or nauseating. Their courthip of the way out there "Jesus hates you unless you are like us" crowd has alienated them from the mainstream morality of America. They still want the 1950's and fail to understand that unless you were a white male the 1950's weren't all that great.

The GOP has the national debt and government efficiency to stand on as any credible platform, period. They can still snow the average fella into being scared for his (and his kid's kid's kid's kids too apparently)life. Problem there is, we can withstand a significantly larger debt as percentage of GDP if necessary (much less affluent countries have done so and overcome it) and corporate efficience hasn't proven to be much better than the government's lately.

herb said...

God, you guys are so utterly banal and repetitive. Yes yes, Republicans are evil racists and noble liberals are the only shining beacon this world has against their hope destroying blight. We heard all this shit for 8 years, it's time for a new shtick. Do you think "Oh maybe the 9 millionth time I prattle on about how evil Republicans are it will change his mind!". Hey here's a hint, when you blindly label a large swathe of the electorate as mindless racists and akin to subhuman filth it kinda makes them not want to vote for your guys. You would think you would have learned this after your last recent electoral loses but I guess it will take a drubbing in November to get it through your head.

Like I said, the way you guys are so negative about EVERYTHING you would think your party was in the minority.

Ian McGibboney said...

NOLA, not to mention that if there is any true burden on future generations, the GOP is mostly responsible with its deficit spending in the 1980s and 2000s. But like you said, I do hope that our economy can absorb the debt.

Herb, you are the only one being repetitive, answering every comment with more personal rebukes. It's tiresome and more than a little defensive. After all, I never said the GOP was full of mindless racists akin to subhuman filth. I see them as people - misguided people, to be sure, but as I already said, we need them as much as we need liberals. But the extremists can take a hike.

NOLA Progressive said...

Again you don't get even close to what I'm saying. There are many Republicans out there who are not courters of the religious right. They are the people I work with and the people that I am related to, and they are good folks. They possess credible ideas, about government waste and abuse of entitlements, and morality. Their voices would be an excellent addition to their kindred liberal voices, but the leadership has embraced the far out religous right, and that is what their party has come to represent.

Just as so many Democrats in leadership have become corporate whores unwilling to further the populist interest in favor of their corporate sugar daddies, the Republican leadership is putting citizens behind the eight ball idealogically. It's not true to what the Republican base really wants. I mean look at the jobs bill that was passed yesterday. The GOP tried to kill it procedurally, but when that sucker made it to an open vote on the floor, it was voted for by an overwhelming majority. That's because the GOP leadership knew if they didn't their base would be very unhappy. Again let me repeat one more time for the cheap seats. I do not paint all Republicans with the same brush. That is all.