#26. Fracking

Solyndra and fracking have more in common than just being remarkably fun words to say.  (Doesn’t Solyndra sound like the name of an exotic Bond girl who may or may not be a spy herself?  And fracking, well, Battlestar Galactica has helped mainstream it as yet another poorly-disguised curse word.)  As it turns out, both Solyndra and fracking wouldn’t have achieved their notoriety – or infamy – without the help of the federal government.  Solyndra may be one of Republicans’ favorite punching bags these days – and something we’ll likely hear more about again as Federal Budget Standoff 2012 gets underway – but fracking, well Republicans think fracking is pretty fraking cool. Continue Reading »

When I recently sat down to write very belated Christmas gift thank you notes – my wife is notably better about this – I went through the following sequence of thoughts:

  • I’m writing these notes on behalf of my two-year old daughter and I wonder if she will ever handwrite thank you notes in the future, or will she only send them via email, Facebook or whatever replaces Facebook in five years.
  • Now that I think about it, will my daughter ever learn to write cursive, other than for her signature?  (Of course, I’m assuming signatures will eventually be replaced by retinal scans or some sort of DNA signature.)  Why would she ever really need to learn how?
  • I’m going to stick these envelopes in the mail and within a couple of days they will arrive at the homes of friends and family all over the country.  And I 100% expect them to be delivered in a timely manner.
  • For all of the people’s complaints about the U.S Postal Service, it is a pretty amazing government enterprise, one that benefits everyone – including (especially?) Republicans. Continue Reading »

Abortion is always a tricky issue, one that often forces many thoughtful people to become philosophical contortionists in order to justify their points of view.  Take me, for example.  I’m opposed to the death penalty, but support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.  (A pretty standard pair of liberal positions.)  However, I can see how one can make a very logical argument that committing an abortion is tantamount to administering the death penalty.  My retort is then, well, it depends on when you believe a fertilized zygote becomes a human being, and that’s a pretty a gray area, and jeez…I can have that argument with myself and never reach a conclusion.  So, I just embrace the cognitive dissonance and call it a day.

Republicans are marvelous at this, too, particularly when it comes to abortion.  The way I see it, the Republican approach to abortion is best characterized as small government activism – they don’t want government to pay for it, but they want government to prevent women from doing it. Continue Reading »

#23. Newt Gingrich

So the latest “Not Mitt Romney” Republican presidential candidate to rise – and now apparently start to fall – is Newt Gingrich, everyone’s favorite leader of the 1994 “Republican Revolution.”  Six months ago, this seemed unfathomable.  How could this have happened?  Part of me wants to explain his ascendance to performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Now hear me out.  What do Gingrich and Barry Bonds have in common?  Enormous heads.  I’m not trying to be petty here, but both of their heads have grown well beyond normal human proportions and have exhibited the kind of growth caused by the use of human growth hormone (HGH).

Alas, this is probably not true (or is at least difficult to prove).  However, there may be another, more obvious explanation – Newt Gingrich loves government.  Could it be that his lifelong devotion to an active government is functioning like a dog whistle to Republican primary voters?  Is he just saying all the things Republican voters wish they could say out loud, but are afraid to mention?  (Much like my embarrassing and secret love for the admittedly schmaltzy movie, Love Actually.)  Let’s take a look at some of the things he has said about government… Continue Reading »

#22. The Death Penalty

Should this man host all Texas executions?

Last week Oregon’s Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber once again thrust the issue of the death penalty into the forefront of public discourse.  However, in contrast to Texas’ Republican Governor Rick Perry, Kitzhaber wasn’t touting government executions; rather, he issued a temporary moratorium on them until the Oregon State Legislature can review potential reforms in 2013.

Now, you might expect this kind of namby-pamby liberalism from a Democrat – it’s soft on crime and promotes more bureaucratic navel gazing.  Republicans, on the other hand, like to use government a bit more decisively.  For example, in 2007 the Bush Administration sought to give then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales the ability to shorten the appeals process in death penalty cases, or as put by Stephen Colbert, make him a “one-man justice system, like RoboCop.”

So maybe Republicans would like to streamline the process a bit, but there’s no denying that they love using federal and state government to execute convicted criminals.  For example: Continue Reading »

Image By LegofestoOver the weekend, several Republican presidential candidates engaged in a rousing discussion of waterboarding, torture and enhanced interrogation techniques during the CBS News/National Journal debate on foreign policy.  Much of the conversation centered on whether or not waterboarding should be considered torture or a completely acceptable enhanced interrogation technique.

(Obviously, the best way to resolve this debate would be to subject each candidate to several waterboarding sessions and then ask them whether or not they felt they had been tortured.  For the record, 2008 Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain – who was tortured in Vietnam for years – believes waterboarding is torture.  However, 2012 Republican presidential aspirant Rick Santorum – presumably based upon his comparable experience as an attorney representing the World Wrestling Federation – believes McCain, “doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.”)

While the candidates were divided on this particular issue – Bachman, Cain and Perry seemed to think waterboarding was not torture, but Huntsman and Paul thought it was – they appeared united in their support of our government using “enhanced interrogation techniques.”  This is not surprising given that anything “enhanced” is obviously good and that these sorts of techniques always seemed to work for Jack Bauer on 24.

In the end, this debate highlighted how much Republicans love giving our government – particularly the CIA and military – the ability to use enhanced interrogation techniques to keep our country safe, even if defining what those techniques are is somewhat challenging. Continue Reading »

#20. Airports

Eager for a distraction from their presidential candidates being accused of sexual harassment or of giving speeches while intoxicated, Republicans were able to enjoy a moment of pride and nostalgia this week when an enormous bronze statue of Ronald Reagan was unveiled at the Reagan National Airport.  This seems like the perfect prompt to talk a little about airports — government assets we all use that are critical to our personal lives and to our economy. Continue Reading »

My daughter recently learned the power of the word “mine,” and has been using it to redistribute all toys she sees to, well, herself.  Another child walked into our house the other morning holding a ball, she pointed to the ball and said, “Mine!”  (And cried when told it wasn’t hers.)  When told that the little boy we do a nanny share with was coming over, she immediately ran to her toys, shouting, “Mine, mine, mine!”  (Which incidentally, sounds like “nine, nine, nine.”)

While presumably this is just a phase for my daughter, using government to redistribute wealth has been a three-decade obsession of Republicans, and a key component of the “Reagan Revolution.”  While the free market distributes wealth on its own, if you really want to direct wealth to specific groups of people, government can be a more effective tool, a tool Republicans have used exceedingly well. Continue Reading »

#18. Voting

Philosopher king President Ronald Reagan once said, “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”  And what’s the cornerstone of our representative democracy?  Voting.  Through it, the authority of the people is entrusted to elected officials who run government at the federal, state and local levels.   Simply put, voting is how we all participate in our government.

And you know what?  Republicans think voting is pretty damn awesome.  After all, isn’t getting the public to vote (a certain way) the primary purpose of the Republican Party, or any political party, for that matter?  They love voting because, to different degrees over time, the results of voting allow then to do all sorts of great things with government, such as blowing things up, putting people in prisons and securing our borders. Continue Reading »

#17. Activist Judges

Judicial Activist & Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

With the U.S. Supreme Court starting its 2011-2012 term this week, it seems like the perfect time to talk about one of most important reasons Republicans love government – activists judges.  I know this may seem confusing.  After all, during the Senate confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Republican senators repeatedly warned against the evils of activist judges and this Friday, Newt Gingrich is planning a big speech about his plan to allow Congress to essentially fire activist judges.  (In his own humble words, this will be “one of the more important speeches of the campaign.”)

Of course, activism is all in the eye of the beholder.  I know what you are thinking…this is remarkably similar to whether someone believes his or her favorite baseball team was cheating in the 2000’s when pretty much every team had a few power hitters using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  I was thinking the same thing. Continue Reading »

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