A Party without Judgment

Capt. Willard: “They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.”

Col. Kurtz: “I remember when I was with Special Forces… seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried, I wept like some grandmother. … And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men… trained cadres. … If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us.”

John Milius & Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now.


I remember how in the run up to a debt ceiling debate last summer I wrote on my wall: “In the battle between the Tea Party and Wall Street I’m betting on Wall Street.” How naïve I was back then. How much faith I put, wishfully, into Republicans’ supposed concerns for other people’s hard earned money. How much weight I gave to the notion that Republicans will put business interests, money and fiscal responsibility first. How much significance I assigned to the bond between Wall Street and Republicans. In my head I had pictures of Wall Street moguls frantically dialing their buddies in Congress, saying: dude, look, I understand you hate Obama and stuff, but I have a huge position in this and that, you have to pass this, I don’t care about politics – just pass the damn thing! That was my bet. I lost, of course. I underestimated the will of the Republicans to cut off the arms of little children if it meant victory.

Back in the day when Republicans were reasonable people with whom I just disagreed on issues I always thought: Well, if Republicans run things in Washington at least I’m gonna make some money. At least my portfolio will increase in value and I’m gonna get some tax cuts. At least I will receive some monetary compensation for inconveniences such as Jesus, compulsory parenthood and wars. It’s a crude description but that’s how I view the effect of either party in power. I always look at the bright side, at the benefits rather than focus on the negative.

While I have freed myself, back in the Bush years, from the belief of Republicans being fiscally responsible, I have considered “tax cuts” to be a sacred Republican cow that will never be sacrificed. They had to stand for something and since there was nothing left that they were for, “tax cuts”, I thought, was their last stand, their family jewels. No more! I got the first taste of what’s to come last summer (2010) when they filibustered the bill that would give tax cuts to small businesses. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/30/us/politics/30cong.html?_r=1&hpw

This bill had the backing of US Chamber of Commerce (!) – a right-wing business lobbying group, but Republicans still blocked it because even though they got the ice cream, they didn’t get the topping that they liked. So screw it – no ice cream then.

This year, and putting the debt ceiling hostage taking aside http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_debt-ceiling_crisis , they again had an ample opportunity to demonstrate how much they cared for the regular working folks by reducing the payroll tax. What’s not to like? 2% tax cut for all 100% of us! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-29/all-americans-lose-if-payroll-tax-cut-isn-t-renewed-ron-klain.html But the Republicans rejected that too. To any observer, left and right, it should be clear at this point that, to use Bill Maher’s quote, it’s not the dish they don’t like, it’s the waiter.

Dealmaking with Republicans these days is like “playing not to lose” (I know, I bombard you with poker terms in my posts, but it gets my point across). Playing “not to lose” means your upside is you get to keep what you have, your downside is – you lose it. On top of that we’re playing against opponent who does not play to his own benefit, the one who plays without sound judgment. But we have time on our side. If Democrats do nothing, Bush’s tax cuts will expire next year, thus making the Republican Congress preside over the tax increase! Which puts Republicans in the position of having to do something about it, although somehow I don’t see them coming to talk to Democrats, hat in hand. I expect dirty politics, especially in the election year, to continue.

Republican Party is not a political party anymore. They are not even on a Wall Street’s retainer anymore. They have disobeyed the orders, gone totally, completely insane and, like Colonel Kurtz, have receded deep into the ideological jungle.  They got off the boat and split from the entire fucking program!

I say it’s time to send a messenger into the jungle. It’s time for Democrats to:

 1. Learn to play dirty when necessary;

2. Claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility;

3. Circle the wagons around Obama.


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