Thursday, February 16, 2012

The gap between Republican and Democratic myths, and maybe the truth ...

As I have been saying, Glenn Greenwald has made a full time job of criticizing President Obama and his supporters. Targeting American citizens (not to mention non-citizen human beings) for execution without due process or any sort, the use of drones not only to hunt terrorists, but to attack funerals (in the attempt to kill more terrorists, although inevitably civilians are killed), the Obama justice department's war on whistle blowers and more, Greenwald is furious that Obama is, if not ordering these things done himself, then is not stopping them. That Obama is supposed to be a liberal and/or progressive is worse, and worse still that the left in America is giving Obama a pass on all of the above and more.

And yet, Republican's say nothing about these things. I mean, yes, there was some talk about whether Obama should have gone to Congress when he wanted to deploy troops in Libya per the War Powers Act, yet conservatives made themselves look silly alternately complaining and cheering Obama in that particular situation.

The more usual Republican view is neatly characterized by the first paragraph of Ruth Ann Dailey's PG column on Monday: "Conservatives and their libertarian kin have long contended that Barack Obama's vision for America is fundamentally different from the founders' ideal. With his policy on free birth control -- and even in his shell game of a reversal -- he has proven them right."

So (at least according to Greenwald) Obama has gone at least as far as George W Bush did in attacking civil liberties and due process, and (many of) Obama's advisers and appointed officials are straight from Wall Street. Yet the Republican's claim is that Obama is a European style socialist (Muslim), the most liberal since ... ever.

Mind you, my view of Obama does not mean I will not support any of the current crop of Republicans. Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul? None of them have any clue, and as far as I can see none have much potential. I believe Obama still has the potential to do better, to reverse himself on the current policy of assassination and using drones to attack civilians. I am fairly sure that a President Romney or President Gingrich would not.

Having said all that, I will only spend a little more space on the rest of Ms Dailey's column. She concentrates on how she believes the first amendment gives religions as almost unlimited right to declare actions (or not doing certain things) as central to their faith, and therefore things the government can not compel them to do (or not to do).

The fact that Catholics rarely if ever involve themselves in anti war demonstrations leads me to suspect there is (at least) some hypocrisy here. Further, we should really look at the contraception issue as it is in the real world. After all, if the Catholics succeed in being able to avoid paying for contraceptives for employees of their institutions (or presumably also patients of their hospitals), what will that mean in practical terms. Well, all the condoms in the grocery and drug stores will not disappear. what will happen is that middle income and especially poor women will lose access to an effective form of birth control that they can control, and yet if covered by ones health insurance can be relatively cheap. Essentially one has to say the Catholics are (once again) oppressing mostly poor women.

Of course, at least the Catholics have the excuse that the Church has always been this way. The Republicans trying to make points with conservative voters and Catholics are essentially willing to sacrifice poor women to curry favor particularly with wealthy donors. How should we look at that?

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