Sunday, August 16, 2009

Drain-circling, GOP-style

For a politician supposedly molded in the take-no-prisoners crucible of Chicago politics, Barack Obama displays an Anne Frank-like faith in bipartisanship. I can imagine him writing in his diary,
"In spite of everything, I still believe that Republicans are basically human." Perhaps this will disillusion him: He has nominated Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) to be Secretary of the Army. Although McHugh breezed past the Armed Services Committee, two Republican senators from Kansas, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, have used an arcane rule to keep him from being confirmed, ostensibly because they heard that some Guantanamo prisoners might be transferred to Leavenworth. As we know, detainees in legal limbo give off deadly rays like the radioactive sea monsters in 1950s movies, which might harm the soybean crop if they were admitted to Kansas. I'm sure Obama Derangement Syndrome played no role in their action. The point is that the Army is raising an additional 22,000 troops, the fighting in Afghanistan escalates daily, and no one is in charge. This should outrage military families as soon as they hear about it, which is difficult to do over the yowling din of the teabag terrorists and their media ringleaders. Oh, well, another constituency the Republicans have decided they can do without.

Their response to Bill Clinton's mission of mercy for Laura Ling and Euna Lee was predictable but nonetheless revolting. By any measure, this is the feel-good story of the summer: Two young journalists arrested on baseless charges, held in solitary, convicted of espionage and sentenced to twelve years at hard labor in a country where that really means something -- and then, seemingly in a day, they were home with their families. One even has an adorable young daughter! Apparently, their rescue cost this country nothing but a hilarious photo-op with Clinton and Kim Jong Il posing like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Not good enough, apparently because the North Koreans asked for Clinton and not George Bush. (There's a thought to trouble your sleep.) The Republicans appointed John Bolton their Official Denouncer -- Bolton, who has yet to utter a sentence that isn't completely idiotic. Better to let the women rot than even talk to a charter member of the Axis of Evil. They work for Al Gore, don't they? Serves 'em right. Aid and comfort. Appeaser. Where's my Haldol?

Army families? Check. Asian voters? Check. Latino voters? After unleashing racist pipsqueaks like Jeff Sessions and Tom Coburn on Justice Sotomayor, I imagine they're down to die-hard, back-to-the-Bay-of-Pigs Cubans, the only immigrants the Republicans don't despise. That leaves just one more group -- non-idiots. By now you've read this gem by Brian Beutler in a publication called Investor's Business Daily:

"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

There is a molecule of truth here: Hawking is indeed brilliant. And physically handicapped. He has lived with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) for forty years, far longer than anyone expected -- all of them in the UK. Beutler's editorial was so spectacularly stupid that Dr. Hawking himself issued this statement: "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived." Yeah, well, he says he's British. Why hasn't he produced his birth certificate?

Watching the party of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon implode is like shooting a moose from a helicopter, except that you don't need to feel ashamed as you watch it stagger into the woods to bleed slowly to death.



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