Friday, January 05, 2007

January Faces Both Ways

The news has picked up after the holidays, and the primary question for any blogger is, “Where to start?”

The now-minority Republicans are whining about the trampling of their rights by the big, mean Democrats. A few Republican pipsqueaks even re-submitted the Minority Bill of Rights, first circulated by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2004, when she was trying to get then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay's cowboy boot off her throat. That request was laughed aside. Now the Prada pump is on the other foot, and the GOP (which now stands for Grumpy Old Pussies) want the same treatment they denied Democrats.

What's fair? Pelosi and her peers promised bipartisanship, so some accommodation is in order. Worse things could happen than for the rule changes to be delayed a few weeks, if only to show Doughboy Denny Hastert and his merry band of midgets how the other half lives, and that the status quo ante could be revived by a 233-202 vote any time the Republicans become too obstructionist.

Shrub took his turn at disingenuous behavior by calling for Congress to cut spending and balance the budget by 2012. This tasks the new majority party (not his) with the Herculean task of cleaning up his party’s mess, while ensuring not much can happen until his successor is stuck with the heavy lifting. Conveniently overlooked is the fact that the budget is whacked in the first place because the Republicans simultaneously cut taxes, increased spending, and started a war. This trifecta had never been attempted in American history. Now we know why.

Speaking of American history, Keith Ellison was sworn in as the nation’s first Muslim lawmaker. His decision to take his oath on the Koran sparked an outburst of conservative indignity unseen since the advent of Freedom Fries in the congressional cafeteria.

Those who so staunchly (and irrationally) protest any perceived affront to either the Declaration of Independence or our “Christian Values” consistently forget one thing: the man who wrote the Declaration wasn’t a Christian. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who sees the wide divergence between the wish for religious freedom expressed in the Declaration and its current state of practice. In a rare example of justice, Ellison was sworn in with his left hand resting on Jefferson’s personal copy of the Koran.

Shrub also continued his unconstitutional practice of nullifying duly-passed statutes with signing statements. This time he “amended” a law prohibiting the government from opening private mail to read, “Unless I want to.” (Silly me, I thought this kind of thing was already covered by the Fourth Amendment.) Almost as bad, no one in the “watchdog” media noticed this for over two weeks, as the journalist who usually reads them is off writing a book. Hopefully it’s on the constitutionality of signing statements.

After a week like that, George F. Will advocating a minimum wage of $0.00 barely rates any space at all. Will is one of those columnists with whom I rarely agree, but often makes me think, and sometimes even changes my mind. Occasionally he writes something so dumb, it’s not worthy of comment. This is one of those times.

2007 is off and running. Let’s hope it’s not just a matter of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

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