Tag Archives: Tea Party

Send in the Grown-Ups

Don’t bother to send in the clowns. They’re here. What we need are the adults.

For the past twenty years, I’ve been predicting a schism in the Republican party–or at the very least, a “smack down” of the extremists on the right by the establishment-types (aka the “country club” Republicans).

I was so certain the day of reckoning was close that I hung in as the GOP got weirder and wilder–reluctant to leave a party to which I’d given so many years, and unable to make sense of the zealots who’d displaced the rational, prudent folks I had worked with for so long.

But the day of reckoning never came, and in 2000 I left–or more accurately, I acknowledged that the party had left me. I watched from the sidelines as the GOP continued its seemingly inexorable trip into Tea Party fantasyland. I kept expecting the people who occupy reality and care about the party’s long-term prospects–the people whose own interests are tied to the viability of the national organization– to step in and say “enough.”

It never happened.

As Jon Lovett recently wrote in The Atlantic,

The Republican elite caught a ride on the tiger. But the tiger got sick of waiting for the gazelles it was promised, the gazelles that were always one election away. The tiger was hungry and angry and tired of being used and the longer it waited the more appetizing the elite on its back became. So the tiger got a radio station and a news channel. The tiger got organized and mobilized. And finally the tiger realized it didn’t need someone kicking its sides telling it which way to run and who to eat and when to eat and why it wasn’t time to eat and the time to eat would come, don’t worry, you’ll eat soon enough.

So the tiger ate its master and now here we are.

If the recent disastrous behavior of the so-called “suicide caucus” doesn’t finally precipitate the appropriate response by the sane remnant, nothing ever will.

When GOP figures like John McCain and Peter King (Peter King, for heaven’s sake!) place blame for the shutdown and the damage it caused squarely on the crazy caucus–when The Economist (hardly a leftwing organ) profiles Ted Cruz as a pandering “Cruz missile” promising the impossible and doing real damage to his fellow Republicans–when Michelle Bachmann (who welcomes the damage as a sign of the “End Times”) and Louis Gohmert (who threatened to impeach the President if Congress caused default) remain the face of the GOP along with the feckless John Boehner…

Surely it’s time for the grown-ups?

If any grown-ups are left…..

 

A Simple Quiz

I happened to catch a recent interview between a Tea Party Congressman and a reporter. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get the names of either.)  The Congressman defended  the decision to shut down government if that’s what it took to stop the hated “Obamacare” by saying that government had “no business” being involved in healthcare. When the reporter asked the obvious follow-up question, “what does that mean for your position on Medicare?”– the Congressman looked at her blankly and responded “What’s your point?” He rather clearly had no idea that Medicare is a government program.

Americans are electing to office people who are totally ignorant of the world they inhabit and the Constitution they claim to revere. As “Red George O’Malley,” a frequent commenter here, aptly put it, they are prisoners of their own ignorance.

Recently, I was asked to develop a “quick and dirty” quiz that might test the actual civic knowledge of some of the folks who are so vocal about government and political life. My guess is that readers of this blog would do well on that quiz–and far too many of our elected officials and vocal opinionators wouldn’t. It’s ten questions: see what you think. (Answers are at the end.)

1.     The American Constitution was based largely upon principles of “natural rights” and John Locke’s “social contract” theory. Those ideas came primarily from (a) the bible; (b) English common law; (c) Enlightenment philosophy; (d) James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. 

2.     The first ten Amendments to the Constitution are referred to as the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights (a) is the source of rights that government has granted to American citizens; (b) is a list of human or ‘natural’ rights that the government is prohibited from infringing; (c) was included in the Articles of Confederation; (d) all of the above; (e) none of the above.  

3.     Checks and balances were intended to limit concentrations of government power. They include (a) the three branches of government; (b) federalism; (c) judicial independence; (d) all of these; (e) none of these.  

4.     Freedom of Speech is (a) protected by the First Amendment; (b) protection against government censorship; (c) intended to protect unpopular views, even when majorities of citizens believe those views are dangerous; (d) all of the above; (e) none of the above.    

5.     The phrase “separation of church and state” refers to (a) the assault on Christianity by liberal judges; (b) the rule that Churches are tax exempt; (c) the operation of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment; (d) all of these (e) none of these.  

6.     The Fourth Amendment was an outgrowth of anger at searches by King George’s soldiers under what were called “General Warrants.” The Amendment (a) prohibits government from conducting searches without ‘probable cause’; (b) has been held to require individualized suspicion; (c) forbids government from conducting ‘fishing expeditions;’ (d) places the burden on government to justify a search; (e) all of these.  

7.     Equal Protection of the Laws requires government to (a) treat all citizens the same; (b) treat similarly-situated citizens equally; (c) protect citizens against discrimination by other citizens; (d) all of these; (e) none of these.  

8.     The Deficit is (a) the national debt; (b) the difference between what government takes in and what it spends on an annual basis; (c) calculated without taking entitlements into account; (d) all of these; (e) none of these.  

9.     The Debt Ceiling (a) is the amount of money the country is authorized to borrow; (b) allows the U.S. to borrow what is necessary to pay amounts Congress has previously spent or authorized spending; (c) has generally been raised by large, bipartisan Congressional majorities; (d) all of these; (e) none of these.

10.  A scientific theory is (a) scientists’ best guess about the way a natural phenomenon works; (b) a systematic methodology based on the accumulation of empirical evidence; (c) based on Darwinian ideology; (d) a rejection of religion.

 

Answers: 1(C); 2(B); 3(D); 4(D); 5(C); 6(E); 7(B); 8(B); 9(D); 10(B).  

Todd Rokita–Embarrassing Sentient Hoosiers Even More Than Mike Pence

Well, I see that Governor Pence just couldn’t help himself–despite the fact that he didn’t have to step into the controversy over the shutdown, despite the fact that anything he said about it was guaranteed to piss off one side or the other, he simply had to express his approval of an irresponsible and a-constitutional action that is damaging the American economy and hurting millions of innocent people.

Way to go, Mike.

For first class stupidity, though, you really have to turn to Representative Todd Rokita. And leave it to the Daily Show to expose how utterly clueless and embarrassing  Tea Party Todd can be.

Talking the Talk, Avoiding the Walk

Tea Party types love to talk about the Constitution. Evidently, the only thing they like more is evading its requirements.

George W. Bush showed the way. With his aggressive use of signing statements, he avoided that pesky “veto override” problem. (Recall the tactic: he would sign a bill he didn’t like, rather than vetoing it, but he’d issue a signing statement to the effect that he wouldn’t enforce the law if he didn’t feel like doing so. That “veto by another name” avoided an override vote by Congress.  Mission–i.e., end run around the Constitution– accomplished!)

Today’s Congressional zealots are doing George one better. As Robert Reich recently pointed out,

The Constitution of the United States does not allow a majority of the House of Representatives to repeal the law of the land by de-funding it (and threatening to close the entire government, or default on the nation’s full faith and credit, if the Senate and the President don’t come around).

If that were permissible, no law on the books would be safe. A majority of the House could get rid of unemployment insurance, federal aid to education, Social Security, Medicare, or any other law they didn’t like merely by deciding not to fund them.

Like it or hate it, the Affordable Care Act was passed into law by affirmative votes of both Houses of Congress. It was signed (without the crossed fingers of a Signing Statement) by the President, who subsequently ran for re-election on a record that prominently included it and who handily won. Its constitutionality has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  There are not nearly enough votes to repeal it using the proper process.

But none of that matters to the arrogant ideologues who want to circumvent the Constitution they claim to revere by failing to fund the law of the land.

The truth of the matter is, the only Constitutional provision they really care about is (their version of) the Second Amendment.

Thought for a Workday Morning

According to various reports, Harry Reid is finally so fed up over the constant use/abuse of the filibuster, he is reconsidering “the nuclear option.” According to other reports, the massive overhaul of immigration that the Senate miraculously managed to pass is DOA in the House, where the Tea Party zealots who control the GOP adamantly oppose anything favored by the Administration, no matter how reasonable or humane or good for the country.

Wonder why our government doesn’t work?

Barack Obama ran for office using the slogan “Yes We Can” and the Republicans in Congress responded with a slogan of their own: “No You Can’t–we won’t let you.”

I had a couple of two-year-olds like that.

The problem is, when the equivalent of two-year-olds are preventing the grown-ups from running the country, we are all in BIG trouble.