And so the 111th Congress goes home, after a flurry of actually quite huge last-minute legislation. The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Extension of unemployment benefits. The START treaty. The Zadroga bill (albeit a scaled-back one).
Is this what 11-dimensional chess looks like?
If so, then what we are left with is an appalling reality amidst all the accomplishments: that all we need do in order to get worthy legislation that costs either nothing or comparatively little through the legislative sausage grinder is to shovel billions of dollars into the pockets of 0.3 percent of the population. If billionaires get their money, we can pass anything else we want. Because the bottom line for Republicans is this: It's never "country first", despite what the former "straight-shooter" turned senile, angry old man John McCain claimed during his failed 2008 presidential campaign. It's all about the greed. You can have health care reform, you can have health care for 9/11 responders, you can have extended unemployment benefits for people who are casualties of outsourcing and the greed of executives who made bad business decisions. You can have gays serving openly in the military. You can have all this -- as long as people who already have more money than they can spend in 1000 lifetimes get even more money. As long as Rush Limbaugh gets to pocket an additional seven figures in tax cuts every year, the Republicans really don't care about how much anything costs.
We already knew that almost everyone in Congress can be bought. The Republicans have historically been the expensive whores, while Democrats tend to settle for table scraps (though that is changing too). But now we know exactly where they stand: It's all about the Benjamins. As long as the people they serve -- the billionaires -- get more and more and more, Republicans have no principles and they don't really give a damn about anything but nurturing the plutocracy.