I'm not voting Republican again any time soon.
I used to. I've never voted Republican in a Presidential election -- though I'd have voted for Reagan in 1980, had I been old enough to vote; I missed it by 3 weeks. (I'd probably still vote for Reagan over Carter, and I'm not a huge fan of Reagan. Carter is a nice man, had absolutely no business running a country.) But I've voted for Republicans for governor, for Senate, for various city and state-level posts, over the years. Overall I voted 2 or 3 to 1 Democratic:Republican -- I've been a registered Democrat my entire life -- but I did cross when I felt the Republican candidate was sufficiently better than the Democratic canddiate.
All else being equal, I voted Democratic, to put it another way.
This changed during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I don't suppose anyone who's read me over the years doesn't already know what I think about Clinton -- he's a scumbag of an individual, in the real short form -- but the Republican embrace of impeachment as a tool of politics, in an attempt to remove a man they couldn't beat at the ballot box, disgusted me at the time and disgusted me more as Republicans, en masse, thoroughly embraced the lawlessness of the Bush years.
The last 7 years have been appalling. Virtually everything I value in good government has been slagged by this administration. (For years I've avoided posting about Bush at length, because I despise him as an individual so much -- a mama's boy, probable closted homosexual who got his chuckles over killing Karla Faye Tucker, a full-blown sociopath who blew up frogs as a kid and branded people with hot wires when he was in college ... half the populations of our prisons are better people than George Bush. I liked the guy's Dad -- how a reasonably decent man could end up with a sociopathic son like that will be forever a mystery to me.)
But Bush could have been a nice guy along the lines of Jimmy Carter and I'd still despise what his administration has done to this country.
Bush took over a country in 2000 (we'll skip lightly over how he managed it, with a "victory" in a state that Al Gore won when the votes there were finally all counted) ... took over a country with a budget surplus over 236 billion dollars. I had an argument recently with a guy who asserted that the Clinton surplus was the result of cuts in defense spending. It ain't so.
This is the 2009 budget. Let's go back and compare by year (I'm using Table 1.3, central columns -- constant dollars adjusted for inflation -- for the deficit figures, and Table 6.1, Composition of Outlays, constant FY 2000 dollars, for the defense figures):
Year: -- Deficit -- Defense Spending
1990: -280B deficit -- 382.7B
1991: -327B deficit -- 333.7B
1992: -341B deficit -- 354.3B
1993: -292B deficit -- 340.3B
1994: -228B deficit -- 322.8B
1995: -179B deficit -- 305.9b
1996: -115B deficit -- 299.2B
1997: - 23B deficit -- 298.4B
1998: + 72B SURPLUS -- 292.4B
1999: +129B SURPLUS -- 293.6B
2000: +236B SURPLUS -- 294.4B
2001: +125B SURPLUS -- 297.2B
2002: -151B deficit -- 329.3B
2003: -352B deficit -- 364.4B
2004: -374B deficit -- 394.3B
2005: -279B deficit -- 407.3B
2006: -210B deficit -- 412.4B
2007: -134B deficit -- 426.4B
2008 (est): -330B deficit -- 463.9B
In 1992 the deficit was 341 billion dollars and defense spending was 354 billion.
In 2000 the SURPLUS was 236 billion dollars. Defense spending was 294 billion -- 60 billion less than in 1992, while the deficit/surplus was 577 billion dollars to the good. Take 60 out of that: that's 517 billion dollars in budget improvement that had nothing to do with defense spending ...
Within four years of taking office, George Bush had taken a 236 billion dollar surplus and turned it into a 374 billion dollar deficit -- through tax cuts for the rich, increased military spending, and increased social spending. (When Ronald Reagan took office the United States was the world's largest creditor. When he left office, it was the world's largest debtor. If you want to tax the unborn, vote Repbulican.)
The Iraq war was a mistake. A war entered into more for domestic political reasons than for anything to do with foreign policy, a tool for bashing Democrats and for funneling money to Bush supporters at the cost of American lives. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Hussein had no operational relationship with Al Qaeda. Tthe WMD the Bush administration claimed to know the actual locations of ... didn't exist. The one argument that ever had a lick of credibility to me, the moral one that we were removing a dictator and freeing the Iraqi people, was offered up by the architects of the Iraq war in an act of epic cynicism: "We came to free the Iraqi people. And fight al Qaeda in their neighborhood, so we don't have to fight them here. Enjoy your freedom. Try to avoid the crossfire. Sorry about your kids." And five long years have passed ...
The war in Afghanistan, which was a just war, accepted by the entire world as such, got back burnered and has cost us as a result. This war should have been won, the resistance flattened, rebuilding well under way -- but we took our eye off the ball and we're paying for it today. Whoever becomes President in '08 is going to have a war in Afghanistan that still needs to be won, because it hasn't been won after seven long years.
We didn't get Osama. There's no excuse for this. No excuse. None. It's been seven years since the towers went down, killing three thousand Americans, men, women, children, babies ... and the architect of that war has never been brought to justice. "Dead or Alive" turned into "I really am not that concerned about him."
When the two oilmen took office in 2000, gasoline was hovering around $1.50 a gallon, nationwide. It's nearly tripled since. Oil companies are reporting profits that exceed the GDP of most nations ... but taxing their profits is unAmerican, and Bush won't do it. You had your taxes lowered by George Bush? Man, unless you're richer than I am, you didn't; you had it raised by a lot. Except that instead of paying it to the American government, you're paying it to the multinational oil corporations that employ Bush and Cheney.
When I was a kid, corporations paid 35% of the taxes the government ran on. Today it's 7%. You and I are paying the difference.
The housing market soared on "free money" -- except it turned out that the free money wasn't free, and home ownership is going to be lower when Bush leaves office than it was when he entered office. (The free money was a pure side effect of the Bush Administration's need to keep interest rates low because they wanted to borrow our children into bankruptcy ...)
They deny global warming. Hell: three of the Republican candidates for President said they didn't believe in evolution.
For years I've been listening to various wise liberals -- William Saletan at Slate is a great example -- argue that Republicans don't really want to outlaw abortion, that the focus on abortion has been a tactic, that outlawing all abortions was not something they sincerely intended to enact if they ever possibly could. William Saletan is an idiot. They do and always did intend to outlaw abortion. If women have to die in back alley abortions, this is a price social conservatives are willing to pay. (To be fair to conservatives, if you believe a fetus is a human being, you can't really take a different position. But this same crowd, with again minor exceptions, is OK with fertility treatments that result in the waste of huge numbers of fertilized embryos. This is every bit as much murder as early abortions ... but I've only ever once heard a conservative speak out about it.)
The truth is that conservatives, again with rare exceptions, don't really believe that abortion is murder. Seriously: if you knew there was a place in your town where parents were taking children they didn't want and killing them, wouldn't you do something about it? I would. Sure, they'd jail me for the rest of my life ... small price to pay for the safety of all those children, though.
But with rare, rare exceptions, social conservatives don't do this. The guys blowing up clinics? They're merely taking the argument about abortion and applying it consistently to the facts on the ground. Look ... either all conservatives who believe abortion is murder should be taking the necessary steps to stop it ... or they're all cowards ... or they don't really believe their own rhetoric.
I don't think they're cowards at that level. I don't think many humans are.
Our next President will replace two liberal Supreme Court justices. If Roe v Wade matters to you, you'd damn well better not vote for the Republican candidate this time, because if you do, Roe v Wade is gone. Gone. Done. Period. One more Republican justice and it's all over.
Barrack Obama wasn't my preferred candidate this year; Hillary Clinton was. (And yeah, I know what I said about her husband, but I'm not going to get into the business of blaming people for their marriages.) But this country can't survive another four years of this, and there's no indication John McCain can or will change things in any meaningful way. I won't presume to tell people whom to vote for ... but I'll tell you who I'm voting for ... and phone banking for, and if I lived in a swing state, I'd be out organizing and driving people to the polls. Fiscal sanity, a lowering or reduction of the deficit, a return to habeus corpus and the rule of the Constitution, the preservation of safe abortion, the end of torture, the end of the Iraq war and the return of our soldiers, the winning of the Afghan war and the capture of Osama bin Ladin ...
Obama won't accomplish all that. But he'll get closer than any conceivable Republican administration, hampered by the ideology and the very same people who got us into this mess in the first place.