The Tea Party Gasses Itself

The letter that went out in paychecks as Ted Cruz flapped his gums 

I don’t know what Russian dictator Putin said to Syrian dictator Assad that convinced Assad to negotiate the future of his chemical weapons cache, but the title of a Richard Pryor album from 70s comes to mind. While Obama’s political friends and foes alike clamored to demean his leadership on Syria as weak, Putin convinced Assad to bet on Obama’s wavering exterior as some kind of boxing ring trap.

If only Tea Party Republicans were as smart as Pootie-Poot. Obama watches in amazement as they stick the banana in their own tailpipe. As the entire Republican party fights over how to fight Obamacare, it gives him breathing room. As long as the GOP tussles with itself, no one is directly confronting those responsible for executing the law of the land.

This determined cadre of opposition has become fueled by their own propaganda. They and their base love love love the idea of a weak and defeatable Barack Obama so they keep repeating how weak and defeatable he is which in turn fills them with a false sense of possibility. They’re like the villains in a holiday special plotting to cancel Christmas. Only, instead of Christmas, they think they can force Obama to cancel Obamacare. What they refuse to acknowledge is that OC is the law. It has not been fully implemented, but it is the law.

This is the pinnacle of stubborn unreasonability.  Their argument is not with Obama, but with reality. Yes, they hate OC. We get that, but just because they hate something doesn’t mean they can wish it away. The more they fight it, the more they embolden Obama, especially considering their strategy of shutting the government down is way more unpopular than OC is.

How crazy is it when homicidal dictators abroad are more rational than the president’s domestic opponents. Of course, Obama didn’t threaten to blow the Tea Party up (though I’m sure that is one of their hallucination-inspired talking points). Obama doesn’t have to touch the Tea Party or even acknowledge them. They are imploding the Republican party all on their own. Boo hoo.

Confessions of a Barack Blocker

Traditionally, opposition parties in America don't exist to simply oppose the president on everything. Though conflict is a central element to democracy, so is compromise. It is rare that a president can achieve his or her entire agenda over the course of their time in office, but there has always been common ground in Washington. Convincing people that the current obstruction is unprecedented is an uphill battle because most people who don't really pay attention assume that "both sides do it." Then when you ask for specific examples, they admit their lack of knowledge won't allow them to give a comparative analysis. You could turn around and gloss their eyes over with data on the constancy of the filibuster since Obama has been president, but what's the point? 

That's why it's so gratifying when a Republican slips up and admits clearly what the Republican modus operandi regarding the Obama presidency is. For example, following the 2008 election, a slew of states where Republicans held legislative majorities passed voter ID laws. The public justification for this was to combat voter fraud. The main argument against these measures was that the voter fraud they were claiming to combat was nearly non-existent as the data proved and that the new laws would overwhelmingly and adversely effect lower income, and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic.  As it turned out, that was the point of passing the voter ID laws in the first place, but no one would publicly admit it until Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania's Republican House Majority Leader stated publicly that voter ID laws were "gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania."

Turzai's brain fart was a full admission that voter ID laws were designed to weight voter turnout. No one besides Turzai would admit this because tactics like this are nefarious and immoral. Also, it would only help prove the charge that Republicans dislike the very people voter ID laws would adversely effect, a charge that Republicans vehemently deny. Unlike the old days, it is not politically advantageous to cop to racial or economic prejudice. So what are biased people to do? They disguise their true motivations with fake nobler sounding bullshit. So when Republicans want to  suppress Democratic voters, they pass laws claiming they want to combat voter fraud. 

So how can someone like me further prove the racial motivations for opposition to Obama or Obam-ositition? I have not been alone in alleging that much of the enmity for Obama and his agenda is racially motivated, but without confessions one can only extrapolate from people's behavior what their motivations are. As I stated, it is not the American legislative tradition for the opposition party to stonewall everything the president wants to do. Obama slanderer Newt Gingrich still brags about the bipartisan budget deals he made with Bill Clinton in the nineties. It took a government shutdown for the two to get together, but they finally found common ground.

The difference today is that more frequently than not, Republicans who are seen as cooperating with the president are targeted for ostracism and ousting by a hostile and vindictive Republican electorate. What accounts for cooperation these days can be as little as suggesting discussing negotiating with Obama. The proof is ample as in this excerpt from Sam R. Hall blogging for Mississippi's Clarion Ledger:
"On local conservative talk radio, [Sen.] Cochran has become a favorite target of guests and some hosts alike. He was recently berated right along with Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both Republican lawmakers who were part of a dinner Obama hosted for several Republican lawmakers two weeks ago."
So a group of Republicans have dinner with Barack Obama and draw ire from constituents and critics. Hall's post goes on to mention how Cochran is in the crosshairs of Tea Party Republicans, a group that has successfully reappropriated the word "primary" as a verb since 2009 with their goal to "primary" any Republican with with a reputation for being bipartisan. Whereas bipartisanship has previously been a virtue among our legislators, since 2009 Republicans have branded any of their own that have been deemed to be bipartisan as traitors. In their eyes, a bipartisan Republican in Washington is not a practical representative, but an Obama collaborator. 

This is part of the extreme reaction to the Obama presidency and anyone who suggests that "Democrats do the same thing" needs the neurological equivalent of a punch in the mouth if only as a corrective measure. To set the record straight, no Democrat has ever been "primaried" for their bipartisan tendencies. Imagine Ted Kennedy being ousted for helping craft W's No Child Left Behind. It just don't happen. 

It also didn't used to happen in Republican ranks, but something is different. What can it be? It's not Obama's policies, really. The signature items in his agenda include returning tax rates to what they were during the Clinton years. Bill Clinton was never reviled by Republicans as a socialist for the tax rates he marshaled. When the super conservative Heritage Foundation called for an individual mandate for health insurance, no Republicans cancelled their Heritage Foundation newsletter or membership. What exactly is it about Obama that incites extreme, over-the-top histrionics from the right? Quite simply, Obama's (half) black. 

Republican David Gergen commented during the 2012 presidential race how the use of "code" was being used to trigger a racial call to arms against Obama. Code is necessary in an era when you can't openly refer to race as a reason to oppose someone. After all, race is an unacceptably shallow reason to object to a person or so I thought. Thanks to South Carolina Republican State Rep Kris Crawford, the code has been cracked. Crawford, a physician has supported the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, but admitted politics prevents the expansion from becoming a reality in many states including South Carolina. Said Crawford in a January, 2013 interview: 
"The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party."
 In the end, the politics ended up overwhelming the policy to the point where Crawford voted against the position he supported. what makes it good politics for people like Crawford to oppose the black guy in the White House? There is a proportion of the Republican electorate who can only see things in an adversarial light. When they hear Democratic calls for equality, fairness, justice, and universally accepted notions of the like they assume it to mean (simplistically speaking) taking things that belong to the hard-working white people and giving it to the lazy undeserving black people. By that measure a black Democratic president, according to them would be most aggressive at that mythical model.

I enter as "exhibit A" excuses made by Mitt Romney following his loss in the 2012 presidential election. Romney claimed that he lost because he could not compete with the trillions of dollars in "gifts" Obama gave to minority and young voters. He cited free health care in perpetuity as an electoral inducement. So by Romney's claim, black and brown loafers showed up to the polls in droves because a provision in the law that had not yet taken effect. This is a lie of course. Black and Hispanic people did vote overwhelmingly for Obama, but it probably had more to do with historical trends and backlash from Republican attempts to curb the votes of minorities. Also, Obama won 71% of the Asian vote while Asians only make up 5.6% of the nation's uninsured. I'd almost pay money to hear Romney's racist out-of-touch assessment of why Asian-Americans preferred the black guy. 

My point is that even after losing the race, Romney continued his attempts to capitalize on racially adversarial sentiments of white people who are angry and resentful at the idea of a black president. Why bother? Romney is political toast. On the other hand, it's clear why people like State Rep Kris Crawford ride the race bait bus. He has political potential in a party that has proven itself to be vindictive against members who carry on normally with the people's business as if the president was white. 

I appreciate Kris Crawford's honesty and I see the short-term practicality of him opposing the black guy in the White House, but I don't agree with him that it's "good politics." Compromise in good faith is good politics. Encouraging race bias is not. It is odd to watch a party indignantly deflect charges of racism again and again then continue to cultivate false stereotypes that feed the ill-will of its most extreme members. 

It kind of reminds me of Atticus Finch's closing statements in the Tom Robinson trial from "To Kill a Mockingbird."
"The witnesses for the state with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb County have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court with the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption, the evil assumption that all Negroes lie. All Negroes are basically immoral beings. All Negro men are not to be trusted around our women. An assumption that one associates with minds of their caliber."
Minds of that caliber still exist and serve on juries and vote. They have taken control of the Republican Party and they don't take kindly to any of their elected officials doing anything that would contribute in any way giving a black president a legislative victory. They will cross any number of state lines to get back at that person by "primarying" them out of office. You would have to go back over 60 years to the 80th Congress when Republicans used their majorities in the House and Senate to block Harry Truman. No, Harry Truman wasn't black, but because of that, his opponents could not rely on racial appeals to bolster their agenda as can members of the 113th Congress. Lucky for Harry S., the Republican domination of Congress only lasted for two years after which both houses were returned to Democratic control. 

The U.S. census does not account for racists so it is really difficult to determine how many people are responsible for the lagging pace of progress in Washington. It is elementary that we do not suspect white liberals of harboring this anti-black president sentiment. A million dollars says that not one of the authors of the scads of racist tweets about Barack Obama considers themselves a Nancy Pelosi San Francisco liberal. If I am wrong, please tell me because I am dying to meet the person who HONESTLY tweets "I think Obama is a watermelon eatin' ape nigger, but I'm all for gay marriage and gun control."

The fact is, scientifically speaking, the anti-blacks (and anti-hispanics, etc.) will tend to identify as conservatives. If we're all mature about this, we can accept this as true. I'M NOT SAYING ALL CONSERVATIVES ARE RACISTS. Some conservatives like Grover Norquist are just over-reactive financial obsessives and actually draw ire from racist conservatives because they happen to be married to a Muslim person. Mitch McConnell has some love for at least one Asian person, his wife Elaine Chao (unless those gay rumors are true). Former Defense Secretary William Cohen is married to a black woman. 

Now that I have shamelessly qualified myself to judge, let us revisit the ugliness of Kris Crawford's statement. He fully acknowledges, perhaps cynically, that racism is a major factor in the Republican base's opposition to Barack Obama. In order to keep their seats, elected Republicans have to be on board with their base. To do this, elected Republicans must not only stand counter to nearly anything Barack Obama wants to do, they must create a cogent sounding justification for their position that doesn't make them seem that they are being as petty as they are. In addition, they play up any fears or ignorance that already exist. When the 112th Congress met, one of the first actions of the Republican House was to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They called HR 2 (112th) "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act" because it sounded scary. Incidentally, House Speaker John Boehner instructed his caucus to drop the "job-killing" because it wasn't polling well

Upon becoming chair of the House  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2011, Darrell Issa vowed to uncover corruption in the Obama Administration. As chair, Issa's method has been consistent. He takes an event. He exaggerates or twists the event into some type of travesty. He accuses Obama of creating the travesty Issa made up. He holds hearings. Testimony contradicts his fake travesty. Then the issue silently goes away. Here is Issa's track record as committee chair:
Solyndra probe - fail
Fast and Furious probe - fail
EPA emissions ruling probe - fail
Benghazi probe - fail
IRS probe - fail
Everything else Issa has pursued - fail

In all these cases, Issa's impotence is not a function of his ability, but of his choices. The same goes for the Republican party as a whole. In the scope of the interest of the American public, they are dead-ending. In their own eyes, they are placating and pandering to a constituency that is dying for Obama's blood. They are programmed to fulfill the outdated Republican agenda of "we just need to scare enough white people." That may have worked at one point, but whatever demographics used make that a winnable scheme are shifting, which is part of what is causing all the racial resentment in the first place. If their response is to double down to placate a shrinking ill-willed few, they have set the alarm for their own demise. Several Republicans warn that their party is in danger of extinction, but if this is how they're going to act, good riddance. 

AOTL News Quizzzzzz

How much do you know about recent events? Test your knowledge here. Good luck!

1. Senator Max Baucus announced that he will be retiring from the U.S. Senate leading watchers to ask:
a. Who will make fartty noises when Sen. Barbara Mikulski sits down?
b. Who will hipsters confuse with Mr. Howell portrayer, late Jim Backus?
c. Who will the NRA hire to replace Baucus?

2. The U.S. Surgeon-General has warned against the teen fad known as the cinnamon challenge because:
a. Illiterate kids die after unwittingly participating in the cayenne challenge
b. Mass increase in cinnamon consumption is causing upheaval in the volatile world cinnamon markets.
c. She was warned not to talk about masturbation

3. Attendees at the Bush Library dedication were surprised to see:
a. Barbara Bush chugging four Ensure-garitas
b. Lunch was catered by Hooters
c. Jimmy Carter spent the entire time on his Bluetooth

4. Three people are under investigation for nude photos released of the Duchess of Cambridge. Why does the Palace find the photos so embarrassing?
a. Kate's got some big ol' National Geographic wind flappers
b. Kate's got a 5 inch outty
c. The photos were taken at a Denny's

5. What was among the revelations captured terrorist Dzhokar Tsarnaev told investigators?
a. "I was actually hiding from this psycho chick I met Wednesday night"
b. "My mom wants to be played by Beyonce. Whatevs"
c. "Romneycare rocks"

6. The NBA playoffs have begun with security at an all-time high as a result of:
a. Boston
b. Syria
c. Death threats against LeBron James

Remote Lesson Out of Boston

War, violence, fighting, terrorism, retribution and such are all things attributable to male behavior. There are aberrations and women can not be broadly (no pun intended) eliminated as suspects in violent conspiracies, but this collection of the worst in human behavior is undoubtedly a guy thing. Through a recent work project, I was familiarized with the concept of the "testosterone storm," that point in a males life, during late teens and 20s when high testosterone levels lead to life-threatening behaviors. The newest notion here is that the phenomenon actually has a name beyond "typical male behavior." Insurance companies and insurance customers alike have been well familiar with the testosterone storm for decades. Males have an instinctive will to prove their invincibility and predominance in ways that are probably most often not well thought out and we all know it.

There is something typical to the story of a late teen male following an older male down a violent and tragic path. There is also something typical about violent outbursts from well-armed young males acting alone resulting in massive injury and death. Just as typical is the shock and sorrow that follows. Americans have been debating how to prevent these happenings, focusing mainly on legal solutions which I am unabashedly in favor of. A nation that prides itself on being enlightened and humane should   be able to set standards on what types of weapons are available to the general public regardless of whether or not those standards will be 100% fool-proof. Setting standards is what makes a population enlightened and humane. 

Furthermore, we need to set standards on behavior. We do fairly well at knowing the difference between right and wrong. But there is a difference between knowing the difference between right and wrong and creating the environment for the best outcome of character in our youth. We are all familiar with the phrase "boys will be boys."It speaks specifically to the issue at hand in a cutesy kind of way though the saying speaks more to events of petty mischief than acts of terror. There is an expectation for boys to be more troublesome and for some it serves as a fantasy relief that their li'l troublemaker will at least be able to fend for himself out in the real world. But there is some proportion of those boys that will find themselves committing some kind of peril. Violence, sexual assault, reckless endangerment are all realms far more common to boys than girls. 

Yet it is girls who are considered more of the biochemical enigma, what with the arrival of their menstruation and all. What if boys were given the same sort of dispensation for the biological change in their lives? I don't at all suggest that this is going to end violence, sexual assault, and reckless endangerment as we know it. I do suggest that as humane and enlightened people we confront something that has been an issue for as long as there has been such a thing as human behavior. I do think that it would be part of an effective regimen in teaching personal responsibility by showcasing what challenges to responsibility confront young males. It would give some young men a chance to get a grip on their impulses before they are sent to anger management, prison, or the grave. 

From Aurora to Steubenville, to Newtown, to Boston, there is a common thread. Yes, two of those cases are compounded by some degree of mental illness, but the fact remains that mentally ill women do not commit mass shootings. Some things are so obvious that we look right past them. Currently, we are ignoring the chance to discuss a cause and effect relationship that is at the root of every event that Facebook users constantly say makes their heart go out. I would not know off the bat what such a curriculum would look like and how intensive it would need to be. I'm no educator, I'm just a guy who is hip to a crisis. 

State of the Union 2013 Pre-Complaint

Manipulated photo depicting Beyonce performing at upcoming State of the Union address
Oh, U.S. Constitution Article 2, Section 3. What a monster you have become. All it says is that "from time to time" the president shall give Congress information on the state of the union. W was briefed on Katrina damage with a DVD capsule of news coverage compiled by aides. Wouldn't this be a more effective way for the president to fulfill his constitutional duties to Congress?

The TV news class gets so excited for this annual borefest, gabbing over what they think the prez is going to say and then trying to be first to report on what the White House has leaked of the speech. Afterwards they chew on the bones of the speech by speculating over what lines meant what. I'm predicting lots of useless discussion. We are six months out of where the height of election season. In that time, we have seen the president:
1. Give an acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention
2. Debate
3. Campaign
4. Give an election victory speech
5. Hold press conferences
6. Give an inauguration speech
7. Make statements concerning recent events

Am I missing anything? Is there anything new we need to hear Obama say for the time being? Are we going to put a man on Neptune? Like every year, we are basically getting pumped up for a digest speech of (stuff) we've heard a thousand times before, packed in between fillers of "that's not who we are" and "that's what makes us great."

A real state of the union address would be even more boring than what it already is. As suggested by the constitution, it should read like a spreadsheet: corn prices are up, manufacturing is up, government spending is down, etc. What the speech has actually turned out to be is a layout of the president's agenda. Now, if the president wants to present a state of the union spreadsheet to Congress and then make a speech in front of a joint session entitled "A Layout of My Agenda," that would make more sense. It would be even better if he forewent the speech in a post-election year like this one.

Obama is like Bill Clinton. They love to hear themselves talk and granted, they are quite eloquent dudes, but no one in America is getting obese on eloquence, figuratively speaking. This is the age of the tweet, and while I don't really get the Twitter concept, people seem to love it. So Mr. President, if you have something to say, change your name to Barack Obooboo Child and keep it to 140 characters or less.

As an after note, Article 2 of the Constitution refers to the president only as "he."Has the Republican party found its way to discredit and delegitimize a President Hillary? Stay tuned.