"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Friday, January 02, 2015

Looking Back at 2014

I know, the president says we must look forward, to which I reply, "Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it." Or words to that effect. The Torture Report bears me out. I'm going to cop out, though, and leave the retrospective to Roy Edroso, than whom none can do better. Here are his ten worst moment of conservative excess, with notes on my favorites:

The Year in Bullshit, Part I. Since I adore (ahem) Vladimir Putin, this resonated:

Conservatives fall in love with Vladimir Putin. When Putin muscled Ukraine in March, very few conservatives called for the U.S. to intervene militarily. Nonetheless they blamed the Commander in Chief because, in the words of Rand Paul, he “hasn't projected enough strength and hasn't shown a priority to the national defense” — that is, he hadn’t rattled a saber that no one expected or wanted him to unsheathe.

How odd that the right doesn't want to go to war with someone -- oh, wait: he's not brown. And of course, the "family values" crowd thinks he's the cat's pajamas, because he uses "traditional values" as a mask to hide his consolidation of power. (Of course, I doubt any of them would describe it that way -- too close to home.)

The Year in Bullshit, Part II.

Impeachment for the hell of it. Conservatives have been threatening to impeach Obama since 2009. You’d think the schtick would have gotten tiresome even to them by now, particularly when their favorite impeachable offenses, like #Benghazi, keep going belly-up in their own Congressional committees.

I don't think I need to expand on this, but it seems to be part of the right-wing playbook. If you don't like the president, impeach him. For something. Anything.

The Year in Bullshit, Part III.
Torture as an American value. I’m not sure how old you have to be to remember when torturing prisoners was something the United States simply didn’t do. As a lad I, like many Americans, was shocked to learn about the My Lai massacre; if I had been then told that Lt. William Calley also waterboarded and hung from chains his Vietnamese victims, whether they were Viet Cong or not, I’m sure I would have been even more shocked. Maybe Dirty Harry did that shit, but not John Wayne.

I am old and jaded now, but I must admit, when after the Senate released the torture report in December a number of Americans, including a former Vice-President of the United States, told us that torture was great and it was actually the citizens who balked at it that were anti-American, I was still a little shocked.

I guess I was a little shocked, too. Not at the torture program -- we knew it was going on, we just didn't know how bad it was. But the fact that a majority of Americans were OK with it was more than a bit appalling. (Footnote: atheists and humanists had the lowest percentage of those who approved the program; evangelical Christians had the highest percentage. You do the math.)

The Year in Bullshit, Part IV.

Both items deserve mention:

When CDC declined to seal America’s borders, citing the best science, conservatives declared this was part of Obama’s one-world agenda to unite the globe in disease and misery. (Heather Mac Donald of City Journal actually claimed the “public-health establishment” wouldn’t quarantine other countries because it was “awash in social-justice ideology” and “influenced as much by belief in America’s responsibility for the postcolonial oppression of Africa, and suspicion of American border enforcement, as it is by a commitment to public-health principles of containment and control.”) They ramped up their own custom science: Rand Paul told us you could get Ebola from being in the same room as an Ebola person. Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, whose degree is not in medicine, wondered aloud “if this strain of Ebola is easier to catch than we think.”

You know, what with one thing or another, I've spent a lot of time with doctors. They tend to know what they're talking about. Rand Paul, not so much. (Oh, by the way -- my doctors are not self-certified.) My own take is that Benghazi!!1! had gotten stale, and IRS!!1! wasn't gaining the traction they wanted.

And last but certainly not least: Cons, cops, and the end of the “libertarian moment."

There's a lot in this one, but the Cliven Bundy part is good:
This theme reached a sort of climax in April at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, where an old white rancher refused to pay his legally-owed user fees and, surrounded by armed supporters, defied federal authorities’ right to collect his property in restitution. Bundy was celebrated not just by survivalist nuts, but also by elected officials such as Rick Perry and Ted Cruz, and by mainstream pundits such as National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson, who wrote, in an essay called “The Case for a Little Sedition,” “Of course the law is against Cliven Bundy. How could it be otherwise? The law was against Mohandas Gandhi, too, when he was tried for sedition…” Lest his neckless readers accuse him of siding with a half-naked fakir, Williamson also compared Bundy to the Founding Fathers, not to mention the architects of the previous year’s government shutdown, in which “every one of the veterans and cheesed-off citizens who disregarded President Obama’s political theater and pushed aside his barricades was a law-breaker, too — and bless them for being that.” Moving barricades, pointing rifles at federal agents — same diff!

You know, one thing that struck me pretty much instantly that no one else seems to have mentioned: Cliven Bundy is nothing more than a thief -- not quite at the level of Wall Street, but look at it this way: it's not his land, it's not "government land," it's our land. He agreed to pay rent to use it for feeding his cattle, and now he's reneging. It's pretty simple, really. So simple that even Ted Cruz can't figure it out.

There. That's it. 2014 is officially over.

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