Where Are We Going, or So Very Tired

7 08 2013

It’s been a rough few weeks. I am a liberal, and like most liberals, I had high hopes that the Obama administration was going to be a paragon of rationality, ethical behavior, and adherence to the spirit of our laws. Obviously, that hasn’t happened. We knew about the failure to close the detention facility at Guantanamo, but that could be reasonably blamed on Congress. We knew about the drone strikes, but President Obama made it seem like he feels just as uneasy about them as I do, so that makes things a bit better, right? Of course it doesn’t – if he feels misgivings, he should either not order the strikes or should explain in very clear terms why he feels each specific strike is appropriate, full stop. He certainly shouldn’t apply the same kind of end-run, wheedling legal garbage that we lefties railed against during the Bush administration. Any males of fighting age in the area of a drone strike are automatically judged to be combatants? What the hell is that? Still, plenty among us could swallow their bile as long as the drones were operating overseas. They could even tell themselves that Attorney General Holder’s dithering about whether it would be legal to use a drone strike against a US citizen within the US was all theoretical, even if that’s very weak tea, indeed. Then we learned about the IRS targeting groups that seemed to be Tea Party affiliates, and even if that didn’t come from the top, it’s the kind of dirty trick that focuses on winning to the exclusion of the reason there’s something worth winning in the first place, and no one – liberal, conservative, whatever – should stand for it. And then we learned about the PRISM and the other NSA spying programs that very likely sweep up plenty of innocent people in their hunt for threats, and we cling to the thinnest threads of rationale, like “That all started under Bush,” and “It’s actually legal,” rather than rearing up and saying “Enough! I don’t care if it’s legal, I don’t care who started it. It’s wrong, and you can and should stop it.” And the beat goes on. The Republicans swarm all over the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, trying to uncover what is almost certainly just a tragic nothingburger, while real and awful abuses are happening stateside, but go unaddressed because they’ve got bipartisan backing.

Not that anything much would get done, anyway, because again, the people in power are so desperate to maintain that power that they forget what the point was in the first place. The House of Representatives has become a cruel joke. The Senate comes off as slightly more reasonable, but really, what’s that saying? And while the federal government can’t get anything done, state legislatures are happily passing whatever nonsense they can. As has been widely reported, Texas took all of two hours to institute voter restrictions after being freed from the confines of the Voting Rights Act, and other states have followed suit, beefing up restrictions designed to prevent voter fraud that no one can demonstrate is an actual problem that exists. So in our proud democracy where the government is for the people, by the people, and of the people, the government – specifically the party that’s all for small government and individual rights – is working to keep people from voting. How does reducing the availability of early voting combat voter fraud? How does it do anything other than make it harder for people to vote, especially people who don’t have reliable transportation or jobs that provide scheduling flexibility? The answer – it doesn’t, because that was never the point. Hell of a democracy we’ve got. Abortion rights have been repeatedly upheld by the Supreme Court, so the state legislatures are getting creative, coming up with restrictions designed entirely to make providing abortions impossible. It’s “legal,” of course, but it’s nigh impossible to get one safely, regardless of the circumstances of your situation, and regardless of the fact that it’s well known that abortions will continue in the absence of safe providers – they just won’t be safe.

And in Pennsylvania, there’s apparently a local sheriff who runs with a militia that shows up armed at public meetings discussing whether the sheriff has gone off his nut. He arrested and strip-searched a city councilman for no reason. He shot himself in the hand during a disagreement in a bar full of people. He posts videos railing against liberals, making it clear that he bears a great deal of ill will toward, oh, about 50% of the population. He advocates violent resistance to gun control measures. A real charmer.

So that’s the world. That’s what’s going on. And I’m tired of it. I don’t see anything getting better, and that just makes it worse. I’m so damnably tired.

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