Sunday, August 04, 2013

Over the Cuckoo's Nest

"The world is grown so bad, the Wren's make prey where Eagles dare to perch."  That phrase, from William Shakespeare's Richard the Third, pretty much sums up my feeling about our American political system today.  Translated into today's idiom, "The lunatics are running the Asylum", the utter lunacy that pervades Washington D.C. these days is growing like a cancer that cannot be excised by surgery.  In most cases, the patient dies, but, ever optimistic, I am hopeful that one day the sleeping masses in our country will wake and decide they have had enough with the comedic enterprises of the United States Congress.

To be clear, this is not a screed against Republicanism or Democratic ideals from a party perspective.  it is an article about crime.  The crime is hijacking the United States government.  The Republican party has for some time been hijacked by a seething and narrow-minded group of people who's idea of progress is to stop the wheels of governance from working altogether.  Except of course when it comes to deciding what a woman does with her body. Or, who we decide to snoop on in our never ending paranoia about the bogeyman under our bed.   Now, with the growing influence of the Tea Party, the entire government has been hijacked by these zealots.  No substantial legislation can get passed due to Tea Party opposition.  No attempts at progression (Background checks anyone?) to improve the circumstances of the people at large will be allowed to get passed because the Tea Party has reasonable Republicans so cowed about being challenged in a primary that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position once so powerful, it "ran" the government, is taken to not consider any legislation on the floor unless a majority of the majority agrees.  Which of course, this will never happen because the Tea Party won't allow it.  God forbid something actually passes the house that might help the 47 million people in poverty, or help a family who's home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy rebuild, or get a job, or get training, or get medicine, or get food.  It really has come to that.  John Boehner is the most impotent Speaker in US History because the Tea Party has the establishment Republicans wetting themselves about getting a primary challenge.

There's enough material to write a couple of books about this, but I don't want to get sick to my stomach for a longer period than necessary so I'll just focus my bewilderment at two actors in this play:  The "Tea Party" darlings in Congress and the people who put them there.

First of all, to the "people" (I use this term loosely, because the word "people" implies cognitive ability) who elected people like Louis Gohmert, Mike Lee, Steve King, Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, and the rest of the Tea Party caucus.  What the hell were you thinking?  You, who started this movement with righteous indignation about the dysfunction of government and the out of control spending have by your actions made the situation significantly worse, bordering on making it non-repairable.   What started as a small, grass roots movement of middle class people who, feeling disaffected by Government largess to the Banks and mega-corporations who seemingly get away with everything they do with impunity, began to call for change in how we deal with these issues.  When you were yelling about TARP, I understood.  When you were raising hell about spending on two wars we didn't need to be in I was with you. When you said we need to reduce the wasteful spending in Washington and focus on limited but good governance I was with you.  

But, you lost me when you sold your soul to Charles & David Koch.  You lost me when you decided that all government is bad, except that part that sends you your Social Security and Medicare checks.  You lost me when you got co-opted by the lunatics in the religious right who decided all of a sudden that old-white men knew better than women what to do with their bodies.  You've sold your movement to a group of people who only care about winning and not about governing.  You're lost and descending into Gehenna if you don't wake up and realize you're being taken for a ride by a bunch of people who care nothing about you and in fact will use your anger and action to make sure you never, ever get their level of wealth or power. 

You bleat on and on about the second amendment without understanding the ramifications of your words and actions.  We've seen over and over again what the gun culture in this country brings and it is nothing but heartache.  But, you can feel supreme that you are "protecting the Constitution".  What claptrap and utter nonsense.  What you are really doing is protecting Winchester, Remington, and the rest of the gun manufacturers' bottom lines.  They don't give a care about your rights, they care about how much ammunition they sell to people like George Zimmerman, or those sick people who shot up Tucson Arizona, Aurora Colorado or Newtown Connecticut.    You decry government spending but then support people who will not take curbing government spending seriously.  You rage about immigration, but then bitch when your vegetables aren't fresh at the store, or that someone wants to charge you more for mowing your lawn, or roofing your house, or any other job that you wouldn't do that an immigrant will gladly do because it's a hell of a lot better than where they came from.  You want border security because you've bought into the lies of people like Steve King from Iowa who suggests that people coming across our borders have calf muscles the size of grapefruits because they are hauling 75 lbs. of pot across the border.   You go town hall meeting and accuse the President of the United States of being a communist.  You accuse him of being born somewhere other than the United States.  You accuse him of being a despot.  You accuse him of being Hitler.

Anyone with a modicum of rational thought can look at this cornucopia of paranoia and lies and understand there is something very wrong with the people who think this way.  If you don't understand what is going around you, you're contributing to the continued slide of turning this country who once put a man on the moon into a nation of idiots, where Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are considered to be reasonable voices.

Your vision of America is a scary place.  It is White, Christian (in the worst possible definition of Christianity), militant, and homophobic. Anyone who doesn't look like you, think like you, love like you, worship like you are to be derided.  Anyone with a differing opinion is labeled a communist, a "islamofascist", a queer, or any other 5 cent pejorative your small minds can conjure up.

Your attempts at "taking our country back" have failed because, you didn't realize who you were trying to take it back from.  You focused your fury on those who are different, and all along the fox was in the hen-house stealing your eggs.  Why?  Well because they look like you, they cover themselves with a cross and a flag and fool you into believing what they are selling is the cure for your ills. "let's strip all those lazy no-good people off of food stamps, welfare and any government assistance.  They don't deserve to eat".  "let's not give health care to people in a more cost effective manner because well, those folks who can't afford insurance don't deserve it and can just fend for themselves."  Who is telling you this?  The money people, that's who.  They want you mad at the "others" while they reap billions of dollars of profits and bonuses and vacation homes in places you would never be welcome.  They have taken you for a ride and you have gladly jumped on board. 

Good luck with all of that.  You've been remarkably successful with your efforts to date though.  You've gotten the screaming fringe elected into office and run out of town reasonable men and women who believed that government actually serves a purpose that is larger than our individual wants and needs.  People in the congress from Dick Lugar and Bob Bennett just to name two have lost their jobs to the far right who can't spell legislation let alone understand the process.  The idea that those who won the primaries would actually be better in government than those replaced is proven to be laughably wrong.   Ted Cruz, the smart and intelligent fanatic from Texas who won the Senate seat vacated by a reasonable human being, Kay Bailey Hutchison, has risen to the top of the circus by calling out ridiculous and false accusations against the democrats and in particular the President himself.  Ted Cruz, who may actually be a contender for the presidential election in 2016 is a fanatic.  A brilliant fanatic, but a fanatic none-the-less.  Those of you who like fanaticism have a new poster boy.  Those of you who think government should be a system of cooperation, compromise and production, pay close attention to this man because he is dangerous.   Mike Lee, the far right wing conservative who replaced another very conservative legislator from Utah, Bob Bennett, has done absolutely nothing productive while in office except to obstruct any legislation that is brought forward or supported by the president.  Michelle Bachmann, well, nothing really needs to be said about this woman, other than I have no sense of understanding why the people in her district voted for her.  She's not passed any meaningful legislation that helps anyone. She's spent a significant amount of her time running for a job she had no chance of winning, and she's been vocal about the "anti-Americanism" in Washington and Congress.   Yet, this woman captures more minutes on news programs than probably any other member of the US House of Representatives.   She makes Rand Paul look almost reasonable.   Louis Gohmert, the congressman from Texas, who believes "terrorists" are coming across the border to have "anchor babies" and therefore we should repeal the part of the 14th amendment that states people born in this country are citizens by birthright, is another member of the Tea Party caucus who's utterances are almost empty of rational thought and only serve to show how low a bar, the electorate who put this man in office will go to keep their narrow world-view intact.   An example of his brilliance is his response to the Supreme Court overturning DOMA (which if anyone bothered to think about was a right thing to do even in conservative circles because it is a clear example of Governmental Over-reach from the outset.  But, because it's "icky" and about not allowing same sex couples to marry, it was GREAT!.)  

Here's Mr. Gohmert's response:
“For them — I don’t know what kind of cloistered walls this court has been behind,” he opined. “They were not aware that the most wise man in history, Solomon, said there’s nothing new under the sun. And this isn’t new, and it’s been tried over and over. And it’s usually tried at the end of a great civilization.”

Oh, by the way,  if you've actually read your bible, you'd know that Solomon is probably not the best authority to cite in this circumstance, since the man was an avowed polygamist with hundreds of wives and concubines.  Anyway, Mr. Gohmert is the proto-typical Tea Party standard bearer:  
  • Strident and unbending view of what is right with no room for compromise.
  • Utter contempt for the US Constitution with the exception of the 2nd Amendment
  • Belief that government assistance to those less fortunate is wrong
  • Complete and total disdain for the US Government
  • Belief that those who aren't the right color are somehow less equal and therefore non-important
  • Lack of recognition that women make up the majority of the electorate and that they are flat out tired of old white men deciding what they can and cannot do about their health care decisions.
The Tea Party, as represented by the elected officials they have sent to the federal government, state houses and local governments have no recognizable similarities as to the group that started the movement in 2008.  That's really a shame, because that group, actually had some worth-while ideas.  This group, this current incarnation of the Tea Party, is like the cast of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

This group makes me miss Ronald Reagan and that is saying something.   Hopefully, one day the country will wake up from this nightmare and send these lunatics packing and recognize that governance is necessary, and good governance should be the goal, not the elimination of government altogether.