Debate Forum Left, 12/27/11

Call of Duty: Black Ops

By  Benjamin Tompkins

Benjamin Tompkins

As 2011 closes its eyes, so too has our country borne witness to the death of the two most influential and venomous propagators of fear and hate. The first, of course, is Osama bin Laden. By any account, left or right, this was a gutsy foray by the Obama administration into the gray areas of international politics and ethics, and one which brought closure to an era of fear.

The other, of course, was the cancellation of Glenn Beck on Fox News. Glenn ostensibly did more to generate fear and hate than bin Laden ever did, and he managed to do it with a goddamned chalkboard. Oh, and if you were thinking the other one was Kim Jong Il, I do think that’s pretty great. However, he still lived in North Korea. Glenn Beck is the one who scared everyone into thinking he lived in the White House.

And if you’re anything like me, in the din of the last six months of economic bellyaching, you’re probably saying, “Oh yeah, I guess that was this year, wasn’t it?” when you think about this stuff. That feeling right there is what I’m beginning to associate with the Obama presidency. In any given moment it seems like he’s doing a rather pedestrian job of running the country, but in retrospect you realize that, while you were crapping your pants about whether or not the supercommittee was going to meet some stupid, meaningless, arbitrary deadline, amazing things have been happening.

For instance:

12/18/11: The last of our combat troops crossed the Iraq border into Kuwait. The Iraq War is effectively over. I’m no expert, but that should do wonders towards reducing the deficit over the next few years. I mean seriously, did you realize we have been there for nine freaking years?

And speaking of war, how about Obama making the intelligent decision not to go riding into Libya like a rodeo clown on meth because some people think America has an obligation to be the moral barometer of the universe? Personally, I was thrilled to have a president who turned to the rest of the world and said, “Hey fellas, don’t you think it’s time you all stepped up for once?” And remember how much shit the Republicans gave him over that one while at the same time whining and scraping about debt control? It’s the same kind of nonsense they were spouting about Anwar Al-Awlaki. If you want to leave Iraq you are soft on terror. If you try to kill a terrorist who also happens to have been born in this country, you’re an asshole. Listen, a big part of the reason this whole “Arab Spring” thing has been successful is because the U.S. hasn’t done what it always does and intervene.

9/20/11: The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Apparently crazy Christians are saying that it should be reinstated because if you say it’s OK to be gay in the military, it’s going to make it awkward for chaplains to say it’s not OK to be gay. I like that one. “The right of others to say things that disagree with my ideas should be unconstitutional because it makes me look shallow and idiotic.” Fine. Then you can stop calling Obama the Messiah. How can he be the Messiah if he doesn’t think fags are evil?

1/1/11 – 12/31/11: You’ve paid a smaller percentage of income tax than anyone has paid since 1930. Congratulations. You can stop blaming the recession on ridiculously high taxes. As a matter of fact, the ‘82 Reagan tax cuts, which conservatives point to time and time again as evidence that cutting taxes creates jobs, only dropped the upper income tax bracket to 50 percent. Did you hear what I said? Taxes were 17 percent higher after Reagan’s “job creating tax cuts” than they are at this very moment. And when he dropped them to 28 percent in the late ‘80s, unemployment went back … UP. And the ‘82 recession was the result of nearly identical conservative policies as those that caused the recession today.  So you tell me — how in touch with reality are Republicans and Libertarians who are suggesting that taxes are too high and unfair, and we need to deregulate? Ohh…

11/30/11:  Besides, unemployment is at the lowest level at which it’s been in the last three years. Apparently someone’s policies are working. I swear, if I hear one more things about “job-killing” initiatives from Republican candidates, I’m going to puke. You know what kills more jobs than regulating mortgage firms? Deregulating mortgage firms. We all know who did that, don’t we? Oh wait, apparently the problem is we didn’t deregulate them enough, and we need to cut the taxes on the wealthy another 13-24 percent for good measure. Well, that and eliminate unions, entitlements, health care, the minimum wage and virtually everything else that doesn’t make us England in the 1880s. You know, I always thought “A Christmas Carol” would be much, much better if Dickens had cut it off at “Tell Tiny Tim to suck it.”

As far as I’m concerned, 2011 has been a fantastic year, full of progressive social policies, reasonable tax brackets, the beginnings of fiscal reform in the government, the deaths of several horrible people, continued economic improvement, and a carnival of ridiculous Republicans and Libertarians going to incredible lengths to break through the fourth wall of their little play to tell the American people how stupid they think we should be. I believe Obama has done an admirable job of guiding our country and that, history will look very fondly upon his body of work.

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colo. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of the issue. Reach Ben Tompkins at

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Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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