Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Fuses

There's a passage from the chapter I read that says it all: "There are...many efficient arrangements of the basic structure...The problem is to choose between them."

There are different philosophies (or ordering theories) for how to do it, but necessarily better ways of going about those theories. At this point, that's about as far as I can go with A Theory of Justice. I've read the chapter, but I'm struggling to find something external to relate the lessons to. There's always politics, but I'm not quite caught up with the moves yet.

If I'm going to run my mouth about that, I can talk about how Obama is being strung out by two different camps, the news media and the centrists for not being bipartisan enough and then by the left for caving too much to the Republicans that will never give him anything. In the case of the extension of the full Bush tax cuts, I'm conflicted.

The GOP said they wouldn't sign anything without a promise that the full Bush tax cuts would be extended and for a whole week, it looked like the Democrats were going to fight it. Krugman was leading the chest beating, saying if they say no, just let the tax cuts expire, all of them, even the ones for the rest of the goddamn country and make the Republicans explain what their obstructionism cost the American people.

Which, for the record, makes a lot of sense to me, because fuck 'em, that's all they've been doing over the past two years. Then, Bill Clinton shows up with Obama saying that the tax cuts have to go through, the country needs it and we can't be pulling this brinksmanship garbage. Well, shit. He's a smart guy and is in no position to have to step out with Obama on anything. Maybe I've been playing too much political football and not enough seeing the wider picture.

Well, the tax cuts will probably go through and we'll still have a huge deficit, as opposed to one that was hacked into a little if the full tax cuts weren't passed. But. If the Democrats have capitulated on this, then I hope they'll use this opportunity to force votes on repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell and acting on a number of their other bafflingly large agenda for the lame duck Congress.

Now, finally to the point: There are two narratives and only two narratives. It goes between Obama not being bipartisan. He addresses that and the next day, he's being blasted for caving too quickly. When Obama turns to address that, trying to use compromise to achieve his goals, he's blasted for caving too quickly. They're burning Obama at two fuses and frankly, I hope he can keep it together for another term.

He can choose whichever, but there's better and worse ways to go about either, qualitatively and otherwise. I just hope he can figure out what they are, because, hell, I'm a leftist liberal and I'd like things that seem moral no-brainers like 9/11 responders health care coverage and the DADT repeal not to be held up much longer.

It's things like that which make me wonder: Is there really any justice and Rawls reminds me, no, not unless we work for it.

When I'm aggravated politically, I turn to the Suicide File, who wrote one of the, if not the, definitive political song of the Bush years, Ashcroft. ("If what it boils down to/is that you're either for us or against us/well, I guess I've got a tough, tough choice to make," is how Ashcroft OPENS. Yes.) They wrote it, in 2002, before it was clear just how fucked the United States was. That guitar riff will be in your head for the rest of your life. Have fun with it.

That they broke up before they could come up with a second full length of material, in the dark, dark heart of the Bush years, when we needed it most is tragic. Well, not really tragic, but sad at least, because I can only imagine how they would have been inspired by Bush's second term. It turns out that Ashcroft was one of the sane voices in the room on some matters, which, speaks volumes about the administration and runaway cabinet. Anyway. Ashcroft live. It's fun.

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