Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Smells Like Team Spirit

I know a few sports fans —impossible not to, in mainstream America — and notice their loyalties usually lean more towards a team uniform than any individual athlete. So, living in Connecticut as I do, you can’t help hearing about Joe Blow, who wears the Patriots’ uniform when he plays and is also a magnanimous philanthropist, stellar role model and all-around helluva guy … until he’s traded to some team out in California which defeats New England in a crucial game, and you won’t hear anybody outright say “Joe Blow is worse than Hitler” but you will hear a few neutral, straightforward observations: “Hitler was a bad man, yes, but he never scored any touchdown against the Patriots to disqualify them from the Super Bowl. Just pointing out.”

That’s team loyalty. It’s harmless and even fun for millions of fans of the Patriots or any other professional sports franchise. But what’s cute when applied to the Patriots is a poor substitute for patriotism, so here’s why America is doomed: too many people on both ends of the political spectrum bury loyalty to individual principles beneath loyalty to Team Republican or Team Democrat.

The left wing’s wallowed in it ever since Obama came to power, the ones who firmly opposed the TSA on civil-liberty grounds back when it was a Bush baby, then became TSA boosters once “criticizing TSA” entailed “criticizing Obama and his political appointees.” That’s how the prison camp at Guantanamo could be a civil liberties travesty when George Bush refused to close it, and a vital plank in our anti-terror platform once Obama wouldn’t.

And the right wing’s no improvement. Too many Tea Partiers whose concern for “unsustainable national debt” or “out-of-control government power” didn’t materialize until the exact nanosecond a black Democrat started wielding that power. Where the hell were they during the Bush/Cheney years? I remember: crying “traitor” when people like me suggested, “Government’s gone out of control since 9/11” or “Congress and the president are spending too damn much money.” No, the right wing brooked no such talk when Team Republican held the White House and the legislative branch too.

Which is why I halfheartedly favored Team Democrat up until it won Congress in the midterm elections, then the White House in 2008, and everyone did the exact opposite of what they promised: not curtailing military spending and expanding civil liberties, but vice-versa.

The country’s falling apart. We can’t upgrade our crumbling infrastructure because our money supports a military more costly than every other military on earth combined. The poor and middle-class see their taxes raised and their benefits cut to fund bailouts, pork and ridiculous corporate welfare.

My state bribes rich movie producers to come film here. My taxes are going up, but at least I have the following state-subsidized bragging right: “Hey, you know the ‘corpses float downriver’ scene in the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds remake? They filmed it right near my house! Impressive, no? You can touch the hem of my garment, if you wish.”

Maybe they’ll cut the movie budget, but they’re still putting nude scanners in the airport and I’ll have to pay for that too. And there’s no way to fix anything, not when the majority of Americans put team spirit and partisan loyalty over love of country and every noble principle ours once claimed to stand for. Best thing that could happen to America would be if the party-line Democrats and party-line Republicans all got together in a big bipartisan love feast and choked on each other in flagrante soixante-neuf.

23 Comments:

Anonymous smartass sob said...

too many people on both ends of the political spectrum bury loyalty to individual principles beneath loyalty to Team Republican or Team Democrat.

And yet...and yet most of the elections in this country are decided by independents - or so I've read. Perhaps they are the only ones who truly have any principles.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree we need to cut our spending and balance our budget. Stop the war and bring our military spending back to normal levels. However the federal government also spends $1.2 trillion a year on welfare. The constitution mandates that the federal government spends tax money on defense but it doesn't even allow the feds to spend one penny on welfare. So eliminate the many federal programs that are extra-constitutional and we could balance the budget and pay down the debt.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Too many Tea Partiers whose concern for “unsustainable national debt” or “out-of-control government power” didn’t materialize until the exact nanosecond a black Democrat started wielding that power. Where the hell were they during the Bush/Cheney years?

Rather than let the above just slide by, I'm tempted to tell you to stick that tired old race card back into the orifice out of which you pulled it.

Fact: The "bailout" was signed into law under Bush. You may recall that the first time they tried to pass the damned thing it failed because congressmen's constituents were raising hell about handing out welfare to a bunch of fat cat financial institutions. The bastards passed it anyway. That was the beginning of widespread dissatisfaction with an unresponsive government - not Obama's assumption of office. However, he certainly didn't help matters any by overseeing an additional huge spending outlay in the form of the Stimulus. If that one wasn't enough, what really got the Tea Party going was people's outrage at having a healthcare law they don't want rammed down their throats by a bunch of miscreants who couldn't be bothered to read the goddamned thing before they voted for it. All instigated by a miserable con artist who campaigned on being opposed to an insurance mandate, but then flipped as soon as he assumed power.

But you and lots of others think the Tea Party doesn't like Obama because he's black or because they can't stand to see a black man with power? Do you think for one minute they'd like the bastard any better if he were white? I don't! I think people are heartily offended by anyone who looks them straight in the eyes and smilingly tells them it's raining, all the while he's busy pissing on their shoes. As I recall they weren't too fond of Cigar Bill - "I did not have sex with that woman" - Clinton when he did it either.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

So eliminate the many federal programs that are extra-constitutional and we could balance the budget and pay down the debt.

You might balance the budget, but you aren't going to pay down the national debt in your lifetime - not even in your children's lifetimes. What is it now - fourteen trillion and something? If you try to raise taxes, you stifle economic growth and end up reducing overall revenue. If you try to pay it off with cheap dollars by expanding the money and/or credit supply, you either risk runaway inflation and collapse or you have to raise interest rates. Raise interest rates and the "service" on the debt gets even higher - and not only that, but it becomes more expensive for business to borrow money, again stifling economic growth and reducing tax revenues.

This country is very nearly in the same economic position as that of Greece. Our largest state economy, California, whose economy is as large as that of many countries, already is. The European Union bailed out Greece, partly with our help. We can and probably will bail out California - but who is going to bail out the US? China? They really aren't any better off than we are.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Smartass, there's a difference between "too many Tea Partiers" and "all of them." And yeah, too damn many of them didn't give a damn until Obama. That guy who started the Oath Keepers -- I initially thought that was a GREAT idea until he outright said he started it because of Obama; he trusted Bush to wield all that power, but not this new guy.

And anyone who needed the bailout to tip them off that we were spending too damn much money was also a fool.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

And yeah, too damn many of them didn't give a damn until Obama.

Or maybe they did, but not enough to get off their butts and do anything about it. Or perhaps they didn't know what they could do about it. At any rate I highly doubt that in most cases it was because Obama is black. If Americans were as racist as many on the left have accused them of being, Obama would not even have received the nomination, let alone won the election.

What you, as well as many on the Left, seem to overlook is the fact that this country has historically been center-right politically. Obama and his crew are, to put it mildly, anything but that. While most people in this country don't seem to have a problem with the government having a great deal of power, it really depends on what they perceive is being done with that power. Using it to fight a "war on terror" is perceived to be a legitimate justification and use of such power - redistributing or "spreading the wealth" is not for many people.

Likewise with the bailout. Whether or not one thinks the government is spending too much money has alot to do with what that money is being spent on. Spending it on a war is fine with those who think such a war is necessary or unavoidable - handing it out to the financial elite so they don't have to take a loss on their investments or using it to insure that government employees keep their jobs and that union retirement funds don't become worthless - not so much. Besides, even as contemptible as Bush was, when it comes to government spending he was a Piker compared to Obama. As for that Oath Keeper you mention - he's a damned fool.

But the basic thrust of your post is valid - both parties are quick to point out the mote in the eye of the other and neglect the beam in their own - or scream only when it's their own ox being gored. One is about as principled as the other.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

But the basic thrust of your post is valid - both parties are quick to point out the mote in the eye of the other and neglect the beam in their own - or scream only when it's their own ox being gored.

Between this and your frequent defense of the thesis "Sarah Palin: worth taking seriously as a legitimate statesman," you've nailed the "scream over your ox-goring" bit down hard.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Between this and your frequent defense of the thesis "Sarah Palin: worth taking seriously as a legitimate statesman," you've nailed the "scream over your ox-goring" bit down hard.

I don't know how "frequent" that defense is, but she seems at least as legitimate a statesman as anyone else the Republicans have to offer these days, with the possible exceptions of Ron and Rand Paul. Certainly she is as legitimate as the joker presently occupying the White House and his second stooge-in-command, Biden. Not that any of that is saying very much.

Palin is a Conservative, with a capital C, and frankly I have a number of problems with her, just as I do with most Conservatives: I disagree with her stance on abortion for one. Her support for that cheap little hustler, Christine O'donnell, in last Fall's elections is another. I also don't agree with her view that the editor of Wikileaks should be treated as a terrorist - if that is indeed, her position. Her endorsement of John McCain in his last election is another negative in my estimation of her. I also feel a vague unease concerning her attitude toward America's prosecution of the War On Terror. I don't know what her views on a military draft are, but I would bet that like many Conservatives, she'd have no problems with it morally or legally - that right there would make her anathema to me.

The criticism Palin receives from the media and the Left, and even from the Right, reminds me a great deal of what Ronald Reagan endured back in the day - most of it is anything from unsubstantive pettiness and cattiness to outright bullshit and smear tactics. I won't defend Reagan's performance as president - he failed to live up to even his own professed Conservative principles, let alone any libertarian ones. But he surely wasn't the dumb, uneducated, senile old fool his opponents often tried to make him out to be, because they either couldn't or didn't wish to deal substantively with his positions on various things.

Would it surprise you to learn that I also have problems with the Tea Partiers? To me they seem to be little more than just grass roots Conservatives or Republicans. I hasten to assure you - if I am a conservative it's with a lower case C. But that's just because I'm getting old.

There's that old saying that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." So it is with me concerning Palin and the Tea Party. I have my differences with them, but at the moment there is little else to stop or even impede the progress of the Progressives in this country's government. It's sure as hell that the mainstream Republican Party isn't going to be much help - not unless some grass roots people kick them in the ass a bit.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Russ 2000 said...

and yet most of the elections in this country are decided by independents

So what? Elections are just elections. When the actual legislatin' happens, it's all based on Team Red/Team Blue.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous James Hanley said...

The constitution mandates that the federal government spends tax money on defense

Actually, no. The Constitution authorizes defense spending; it doesn't mandate it. Article 1, section 8.

And keep in mind that our Founding Fathers abhorred the idea of a standing army (see the Declaration of Independence). A standing army any larger than necessary for purely defensive purposes would have appalled them. A standing army with bases in a majority of the world's countries would have persuaded them that the Republic was lost.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

So what? Elections are just elections. When the actual legislatin' happens, it's all based on Team Red/Team Blue.

Not entirely, I think; much of it is based on pork barrel spending to please the constituents back home and various pressure groups - and campaign donors, of course. Which particular ones are high on the priority list is likely determined by whether one is Team Red or Team Blue though.

Actually when I wrote that about independents, I guess I just assumed that presidential or senatorial elections were the ones in question. But if it's congressional races, then naturally quite often there are whole districts that are majority Red or Blue and independent voters don't make much of a difference at all. Come to think of it, that can be true of the entire state sometimes.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

And keep in mind that our Founding Fathers abhorred the idea of a standing army (see the Declaration of Independence). A standing army any larger than necessary for purely defensive purposes would have appalled them.

Perhaps, but it would be well to remember that the men who signed the Declaration were not necessarily those who more than a decade later drew up the Constitution. Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration but he was out of the country at the time of the Constitutional Convention. Men such as Hamilton and Adams - as well as other Federalists - were in favor of a stronger central government than what was provided for by the earlier Articles of Confederation. It's been said that Hamilton even prefered a monarchy. Give those proclivities an eventual Federal Army was almost a foregone conclusion. There was already a Navy - such as it was - which is why it is considered the senior service.

I wonder, too, just how large an army is required for "defensive purposes" and if the size might not be subject to change over the years with changing international political and strategic realities.

As you say, the US has military bases all over the world today. It is easily the most powerful military in existence with an ability to strike anywhere on the globe. I think we could get by with less, too. But how much less? Without the US as a military superpower there would be a power vacuum, and just as Nature abhors a physical spatial vacuum mankind seems unable to abide a military one. What country would you like to see fill it? China? Russia? Would the prospect of Germany becoming a strong power again be preferable? How about some sort of Islamic empire? All are possibilities.

While it is true that the US is a military superpower, we are also an economic one. If the US economy were to collapse, so would that of the rest of the world. How is being an economic power connected to the military part, if at all? Are they at all dependent on each other? In the event of a world economic meltdown would some new economic power arise? Would it entail a military power arising with it?























Although the Constitution doesn't "mandate" a standing army I see little in it to forbid one.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Although the Constitution doesn't "mandate" a standing army I see little in it to forbid one.

I wondered what happened to that line. It should have appeared somewhere in my first paragraph. See what happens when you have a kitten or two climbing around on you while trying to type?

12:28 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

The criticism Palin receives from the media and the Left, and even from the Right, reminds me a great deal of what Ronald Reagan endured back in the day ...

If you want to judge Palin's worthiness as a statesman, it doesn't matter if she's conservative or liberal, Team Republican or Team Democrat; it doesn't even matter how many stupid things she says in the course of a day, and whether or not she's willing to "refudiate" them. All you need to know is this: she already held an elected position as chief executive ... and she fucking quit in the middle of her term because she decided she'd rather do something else instead.

I did indeed make fun of GWB's reaction to hearing the country was under attack, but I'll give him credit for this: "staring off into space for several minutes" is still a better reaction than "resigning because when he agreed to take the job, he didn't realize it would be so darned difficult."

Everything else that's wrong with Palin is simply gravy.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

All you need to know is this: she already held an elected position as chief executive ... and she fucking quit in the middle of her term because she decided she'd rather do something else instead.

Oh, you mean like the way Obama quit his job as senator because he decided he'd rather do something else instead - like be president?

According to Palin she resigned the Governorship to save her state and herself the cost of fighting a bunch of frivolous lawsuits, and because said lawsuits were taking too much time away from her doing her job. Frankly I think that is pretty statesman-like behavior, and I admire her for it. I wish more politicians would resign when it becomes obvious they can't perform their duties for one reason or another; especially if that reason is that they don't know wtf they're doing. (A certain boy wonder president comes to mind.)

You and Palin's various other detractors can either accept her explanation at face value, or else you can come up with some bullshit suppositions that fit and/or justify your pre-existing biases. But unless you have something substantive with which to back them up they remain little more than just that: bullshit.

As for Bush staring off into space for several seconds when he got the news of the twin towers bombing - just what would you have had him do? What would you have done, weissenheimer? Did you expect him to jump up, rip off his coat and tie, and spring into action like Superman or somebody? Life isn't a comic book or an action film, (although some people do seem to be cartoon characters.) If he sat for a moment or two and gathered his wits about himself before making his next move, I see no problem with that; it's much better than panicking. Resign? I wish he had rather than get us into an ill-conceived and ill-timed war in Iraq. But it wouldn't have changed anything as long as Cheney was next in line of succession.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Kolohe said...

That guy who started the Oath Keepers -- I initially thought that was a GREAT idea until he outright said he started it because of Obama; he trusted Bush to wield all that power, but not this new guy.

You know that I find the idea of the Oath Keepers silly, but where did you get that? The guy who founded the Oath Keepers was a Ron Paul aide who was no fan of Bush.

http://amconmag.com/article/2010/may/01/00035

[Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers] spoke out about the state of civil liberties throughout the Bush era, writing angrily about the militarization of police work, the expansion of federal power during wartime, and the repression that followed Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, for example, he warned that “the Pentagon and its close allies, the defense contractors, turned to the ‘war on drugs’ and ‘terrorism’ as the new cash-crop reason for the bloated Pentagon budget”—not exactly a standard Red Team complaint. There may be people in the organization who showed little concern for the Bill of Rights from the first month of 2001 through the first month of 2009. But that problem isn’t found at the top. (em added)

7:02 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

You know that I find the idea of the Oath Keepers silly, but where did you get that?

One of the guys at the Gryll. I remember being particularly dismayed because I do NOT think the idea of the Oath Keepers is silly -- cops and the military are damned-well supposed to be loyal to principles, not Team Republican, Team Democrat or Team Whatever Asshole Fooled 50.01 or more percent of voters into choosing him -- but he turned out to just be same partisan, different wrapper. Fie.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Kolohe said...

I think the idea of Oath Keepers is silly insofar as the US military follows orders. That's what they do. They followed orders to keep black kids out of an Arkansas school, and then when those orders changed, they followed orders to keep white people from keeping black kids out of an Arkansas school. More importantly, the US Military has (and has had for 2 generations now), given about a 30 minute notice, the ability to exterminate much of the life on this planet; there's no doubt the missiles would fly if so ordered. That's why I find the Oath Keepers silly.

The search function on the previous iteration of Gryll is non-existent, so I'll take your word for it. I don't remember anything when this was discussed to pin the rose on 'this is about Obama', other than the exact timing of the founding and some Southern Poverty Law Center statements that equated these guys with the militia movement.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous the innominate one said...

"Although the Constitution doesn't "mandate" a standing army I see little in it to forbid one."

Did anyone claim that? No? Then what's your point? The constitution limited the funding of armies to two years (Article I, Section 8: "The Congress shall have power to...raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years"). That's at least one reason James Hanley makes the statement that the founders hated the idea of a standing army.

"Oh, you mean like the way Obama quit his job as senator because he decided he'd rather do something else instead - like be president?"

Yeah, Palin becoming a reality TV participant and going on a book tour and lecture circuit is exactly the same as moving from the senate to the presidency.

"According to Palin she resigned the Governorship to save her state and herself the cost of fighting a bunch of frivolous lawsuits, and because said lawsuits were taking too much time away from her doing her job."

The key phrase in your statement is "according to Palin". Is she believable? I believe she did it to save herself the cost of fighting lawsuits, not the state. You assume frivolity a priori. She was conducting state business and communications through a private email address to avoid disclosure laws. Sounds like she had something to hide, and thus that the lawsuits weren't frivolous.

"What you, as well as many on the Left, seem to overlook is the fact that this country has historically been center-right politically. Obama and his crew are, to put it mildly, anything but that."

Oh, I thought you were an honest debater. Clearly, I was wrong. Obama, Bush, McCain and Palin, among many, many others, are authoritarians. That's what matters. Left, right: they're the ones with the guns. I'd rather have a real leftist in the White House than Obama.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

@ the innonimate one:

"Although the Constitution doesn't "mandate" a standing army I see little in it to forbid one."

Did anyone claim that? No? Then what's your point?

I believe, if you'll look, that Anonymous said that the Constitution mandates that Congress spend money on defense. James Hanley replied that it does not mandate it and went on to explain about the founding fathers' abhorrence of a standing army.

My point? It was exactly what I wrote: There really is little in the Constitution to forbid one. If there were, it would be difficult to acount for the fact that we have had one since at least the end of the Civil War, and that it has grown larger and larger as time has progressed. One would think that the Framers would have done more to prevent that.

===================================

Yeah, Palin becoming a reality TV participant and going on a book tour and lecture circuit is exactly the same as moving from the senate to the presidency.

Didn't say it was. What I wrote - or words to the effect - was that Obama leaving his position as senator to become president is every bit as much quitting in the middle of one's term because one decided one would rather do something else instead as is Palin resigning the governorship to go do something else that she prefered; and it is. At least she didn't spend all her time in office campaigning for a higher position as Obama did.

You and many others seem to have a big problem with her going on to make a great deal of money. Is there something wrong with that? Most politicians I've ever heard of either leave office with a hell of a lot more money than they had to begin with, or else they soon make a bunch. You can bet Obama will make plenty after he leaves the presidency - just as they all do.

==================================

The key phrase in your statement is "according to Palin". Is she believable? I believe she did it to save herself the cost of fighting lawsuits, not the state. You assume frivolity a priori. She was conducting state business and communications through a private email address to avoid disclosure laws. Sounds like she had something to hide, and thus that the lawsuits weren't frivolous.

No, I do not "assume frivolity a priori." Frivolous is her word, or her representatives' word - perhaps I should have put it in quotes. I do note, however, that the lawsuits reportedly did not begin until her 2008 campaign for the vice-presidency, that they reportedly were brought or instigated primarily by various Democrats, and that they virtually disappeared once she resigned the governorship. Seems to me that if there had been any serious violations they would have kept after her; therefore I am left with the supposition that the lawsuits had some other, political purpose.

In any event she did say she was quitting because it was costing her family too much money. So what? Was she supposed to go bankrupt simply for the purpose of finishing her term of office? Why should she - especially if she wouldn't have been able to get anything else done anyway? Yes, she did give as an additional reason that her legal battles were consuming too much of the state's resources. I see no reason not to believe her - especially since state resources were being used.

Did she have something to hide? Who knows? Apparently no one any longer cares to pursue the matter. I wonder why?

17 March, 2011

2:51 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

Oh, I thought you were an honest debater. Clearly, I was wrong. Obama, Bush, McCain and Palin, among many, many others, are authoritarians. That's what matters. Left, right: they're the ones with the guns. I'd rather have a real leftist in the White House than Obama.

Dude, you have some nerve to come here after this thread has been dead for two weeks or more and accuse anyone of being a "dishonest debater." Were you hoping I wouldn't see your post and that it would look to future readers as though I were too spineless to respond? I almost didn't see it - I normally stop checking for responses after a week or so, or after Jennifer has made several new posts. I noticed your comment only by accident.

So you think it's dishonest to claim that the country is traditionally center-right politically? There are a whole lot of people much more knowledgable than I who claim that it is.

Or perhaps you meant calling Obama and his administration leftist is dishonest? Look, one doesn't have to be a doctrinaire Marxist to be considered left of center. What - you think he doesn't qualify as a leftist because he hasn't presided over the deaths of several gadzillion people yet?

When someone talks about re-distributing the wealth; when he greatly grows the size of government and its reach and presence into the everyday lives of the people; when he uses government to take over sizable chunks of the economy - when someone gets a goddamned abomination of a healthcare law passed that requires nearly every man, woman, and child to pay a tax or a fee to an insurance company or to the government just to live in the country of their birth - yeah, I'd say that's a leftist. Yes, it is also authoritarian - but the two are not mutually exclusive.

Obama's not a "real leftist" to you? Tell ya what, O Nameless One, I know he's not quite on the level of a Stalin or Mao, but maybe that psychopath that's running North Korea might meet your standards. Why don't you move there for a few years and find out - or aren't any of those guys to be considered real leftists either?

================================

17 March, 2011

I'm dating this comment just as I did the one previous to it, and out of fairness I'll check back for any responses over the next five days. Any made after that I won't see, because I won't bother to look. I have other things to do.

2:57 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

17 March 2011

Jennifer et al.,

I just posted, at considerable time and trouble, two comments in response to Innominate One. They have just now disappeared. If you have deleted them, you needn't be concerned that I'll bother posting on your blog again.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Nope, wasn't me. Something hinky in the software today.

7:52 PM  

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