Point of View Columns

Tea Party Terrorism

Recently some commentators in the press as well as White House staff members have referred to the Teapublicans in the United States Congress as “terrorists” by reason of their strategy of shutting down the federal government in order to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act. The thundering demands for apology as well as the cries and shouts of outrage and feigned injury cannot hide one basic fact – the Teapublicans in Congress are terrorists.

It has been said that one person’s patriot is another person’s terrorist. As has been noted before, George Washington, Jefferson Davis, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela have all been labeled with the term “terrorist” at some point. But in all of these examples, the individuals involved operated pursuant to a stated opposition to the governmental entity that they defied.

The Teapublicans are terrorists of a different order. Holding to a loudly articulate but philosophically incoherent view that “government is the problem”, the Teapublicans seem to believe that only the social service aspects of the federal government are “the problem”. On the Planet Tea Party there is no need for investment in education, health or infrastructure. But there is a rationale for funding law enforcement, penal institutions and farm subsidies.

But it is not their clouded view of government and the underlying social contract that has sustained the United States for over two centuries that is the problem. The problem is that, while claiming to be patriots and having this country’s best interests foremost in their hearts, they are willing to wreak havoc on the governmental process because they did not get their way.

There are two schools of thought regarding why the Teapublicans insist on playing Captain Ahab to the white whale of Obamacare. One is that there resides within the right wing of the right wing a belief that a national health care system is an unacceptable expansion of the federal government and should be opposed at all costs – even the cost of an orderly and healthy society and a stable economy.

The problem with this analysis is that Medicare and Medicaid have been a part of this country’s social safety net for almost fifty years. Social Security has been a part of this country’s array of citizen services for almost a century. Only the most rabid, foaming at the mouth Teapublican would advocate the repeal and destruction of these institutional supports, yet Obamacare has become the personal Alamo of the right wing of the right wing.

At some point someone will connect the dots and recognize that the viciousness of the modern neo-conservative movement known as the Tea Party coincides with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. And it is a fact that on the day that President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009, the leaders of the Republican Party and conservative operatives actively conspired to collapse and delegitimize his presidency. While political opposition is a healthy proposition in politics, the Teapublicans crashed past the boundaries of decency and logic a while ago.

And so, leaders of the Teapublicans felt comfortable suggesting that President Obama is not an American citizen, that he is by turns a fascist, a communist, a Trojan Horse for the domination of America by the United Nations and an anti-colonialist revolutionary. He could be called “a liar” from the floor of the Congress and “Second Amendment solutions” have been casually discussed in the most gun-choked nation on Earth.

It is through this clouded prism of mindlessness, illogic, bigotry and meanness that the Teapublicans view President Obama and Obamacare. And it with this godforsaken world view that they can justify shutting down the federal government or even collapsing the American and the global economies.

If this sounds familiar, it is because it the same bloody, soulless illogic that motivates every terrorist and hostage taker in the world today. In the view of the Teapublicans the end justifies the means even if the means cause tremendous harm and permanent damage to the United States and its citizens.

Having failed to fully advance their cause at the ballot box – losing two presidential elections to the Anti-Christ in Chief; having been betrayed by the AlitoThomasScaliaRoberts rightwing cabal in the United States Supreme Court; having been unable to secure veto-proof majorities in the House and the Senate; the Teapublicans have decided to jettison the rules since they haven’t been able to win by the rules.

Terrorism is used by those who can see no other way to advance their cause. Of course, in the case of the Teapublicans there is another way – advocate, legislate and adjudicate.

The Teapublicans in Congress are genuine terrorists who are only interested in advancing their demented vision of the future, by any means necessary. No apologies to the terrorists in the Capitol are necessary.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 4, 2013

While one person’s terrorist is another person’s patriot, in these United States it is hard to argue that the Teapublicans in Congress are not home grown terrorist as they revel in the damage that that they are inflicting on the American people. Meanwhile, the musty, funky smell of racism is attached to the mindless opposition of the Teapublican terrorists, reminiscent of a terrible time in this country’s history. And finally, ever wonder what would happen if the Teapublicans were black? History tells us what did actually happen.

Tea for Terror

The Teapublican terrorists in Congress are very clear that they are prepared to wreak damage on this country if they don’t get their way. This is not the way of the “loyal opposition” or the conflict resolution process envisioned by the Constitution. This is anarchy pure and simple.

It is true that “terrorist” is a subjective term. George Washington, Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, Jefferson Davis and William Tecumseh Sherman were all considered “terrorists” by the other side. By that standard, today’s congressional Teapublicans are certainly terrorists.

Even during their most virulent and repulsive iterations, racist Dixiecrats like George Wallace, Strom Thurmond and John Stennis never even hinted at collapsing the governmental infrastructure of this country as they sought to defend the hellish segregationist culture that they espoused. To their credit, they regrouped and reconfigured as Republicans and have indeed been able to roll back some key elements of the civil right movement that they opposed.

Today’s Teapublicans are not concerned with process or protocol. Their one basic demand is my way or the hostage gets it…and in this case the hostage is the United States government. It is certainly not the American way. It certainly is the way of terrorists.

The Return of the Nigger Breakers

In all discussions about the mindless opposition to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, there is an almost universal reluctance to confront the fact that there is a deep and undeniable racist element to the hard core Teapublican attacks on President Obama. Barack Obama’s presidency has been essentially moderate and middle of the road, much to the chagrin of some of his supporters who are truly on the left. Nevertheless this centrist president has been attacked as if he were getting his directions from Moscow, Beijing or Nairobi or wherever.

During the terrible hell that was slavery in the United States, plantations would employ specialists who had the ability to “break” recalcitrant or resistant slaves. They would either “tame” the oppositional slave or kill him/her. They were known as “nigger breakers”.

Similarly, the Teapublicans wish to “break” Barack Obama. Indeed, Senator Mitch McConnell was quoted in 2009 as saying that he would “break this boy” referring to the President of the United States.

And the Teapublicans have taken up the task of delegitimizing President Obama – through the “birther” nonsense to “Fast and Furious” to “Benghazi” to calling him a liar during his address to Congress to the multiple attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act – it is all about the Teapublicans seeking to “break” the first black President of the United States.

If the Teapublicans Were Black…..

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the Teapublicans were black? You need not wonder. In the 1960’s there was an organization called the Black Panther Party. The Black Panthers advocated that black Americans exercise their Second Amendment Rights. The Black Panthers argued that government should be limited in its presence in the lives of black Americans.

What happened? Many Black Panthers were shot down in the streets. Many Black Panthers were arrested, tried and convicted for conspiring against the government of the United States. Forty years later many Black Panthers are still in prison.

Clearly there is a difference between White Tea and Black Tea.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

Why SCOTUS Should Remember Harry T. Moore

The recent United State Supreme Court decision virtually disabling the Voting Rights Act is arguably the most racially negative decision since Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. In that decision SCOTUS confirmed the constitutionality of state-sponsored racial segregation, legalizing most iterations of Jim Crow in the process. In the wake of this most recent decision it is time for all of us, especially the ScaliaAlitoThomasRoberts gang to remember Harry T. Moore.

While there is plenty of time for legal experts to parse through the armada of arguments that justify the evisceration of a key foundation of the modern civil rights era, it is time to put this entire issue into a human perspective. The Voting Rights Act was never just about enabling black Americans to vote, it was also about putting into law a key element of full citizenship – citizenship that had been explicitly denied to black Americans since the founding of this country.

The issue of race has been a source of contradiction and hypocrisy, cruelty and denial, virtually from the time that the first European settlers came to that part of North America that eventually became the United States. The establishment of a slavery system totally based upon race was historically unique and particularly malignant because it created the malignant slime of racism that has been immune to the vaccine of emancipation and liberation.

The Slave Codes, the Dred Scott decision, the calamitous end of Reconstruction and the abandonment of the newly freed slaves, the blind eye turned to the rampages of the Ku Klux Klan, the case of Plessy v. Ferguson – all of these historical facts and many more have contributed to the American institutional effort to make America a living Hell for black Americans.

The slow and grudging progress towards some semblance of equal rights and the attainment of full citizenship took place in the face of outright violence. Justice Antonin Scalia should be ashamed of himself for referring to the Voting Rights Act as “racial entitlement” as if the VRA was part of some grand legal exercise. In point of fact the VRA arose out of the need to protect and preserve the place of black Americans in this very critical aspect of citizenship – the only “entitlement” in the VRA is meant to “entitle” black Americans to the same rights that Justice Scalia’s Italian immigrant parents obtained as soon as they could pass an English literacy test and a perfunctory civics exam.

From the earliest colonial times terrorism of black Americans was literally the law of the land in the American colonies. And, because literacy could be a key to liberation, access to literacy was severely limited when it came to black slaves.

The United States Constitution, ratified by such icons as George Washington (slave owner), Thomas Jefferson (slave owner), James Madison (slave owner) and James Monroe (slave owner) referred to black slaves as 3/5th of a person for electoral allocations but even that 3/5th designation failed to protect black Americans from the twin depredations of slavery and institutional racism.

After the Civil War the displaced slave hierarchy in the South immediately realized that upon emancipation the battle lines for depriving black Americans of citizenship no longer would be drawn at the point of literacy, but rather at the point of enfranchisement – voting rights. The Ku Klux Klan was born as a terrorist organization dedicated to keeping black Americans from voting. After the death knell of Reconstruction was sounded in 1876 as the bastard child of yet another soulless political bargain, every Southern state immediately established as many statutory barriers to black enfranchisement as possible.

For almost a century black voters have had to risk their lives and livelihoods just to get the right to vote. And that is why SCOTUS should learn about Harry T. Moore, the head of the Florida NAACP who, in 1951 was blown up along with his wife, for having the temerity to attempt to secure the right to vote for black Americans.

The Voting Rights Act was the legacy of Mr. and Mrs. Moore and the thousands of black and white Americans who literally died in order to this right to become a reality. To suggest that 50 years of the VRA is enough to erase the racial slime of over three and a half centuries is sadly preposterous and a dangerous proposition.

The rights won by these martyrs are not so safe and secure – as the voter suppression campaigns of 2012 proved.

June 24, 2103 was a shameful day for SCOTUS.

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Point of View Columns

R-E-S-P-E-C-T 2012

One of the notable aspects of the presidency of Barack Obama has been the blatant disrespect that the right wing of the right wing has been directed towards him, his administration, his policies and anything and everything that is associated with him. There can be no doubt that the spigot that has spewed this sewage has racism contaminating its source. The question now stands as Election Day arrives on November 6th – do Americans have the ability to overcome America’s original sin and vote rationally and in their own best interest?

It is true that the presidency of the United States has been a bull’s-eye for horrible insults and horrific personal attacks. George Washington was termed an idiot, Abraham Lincoln was likened to an ape and Franklin Roosevelt was rumored to be part of a global Zionist cabal. And certainly, the freedom of speech that is one of the foundations of democracy does result in personal attacks. Anyone who steps into the political ring should certainly wear their Big Boy or Big Girl Pants.

Nevertheless, an honest and thoughtful analysis of the sludge storm directed at President Obama will discern a difference from historical patterns of political attacks and criticism. The so-called “birther” controversy can serve as Exhibit A because it has meant so much more than a search for a birth certificate. It has been a concerted and focused effort to delegitimize the first black president of the United States.

Mitt Romney has “joked” about having no need to show his birth certificate (even though his own father was born in Mexico) sending out the same, tired, dog whistle – “Barack Obama is not one of us…..he’s black”. Rather than taking the high road, Mitt Romney has to wallow in the racially-tinged mud that has been tossed around by the birthers ever before President Obama was elected.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, Teapublicans and media outlets have managed to give a patina of respectability to the really awful behavior of Donald Trump with regards to President Obama. It is bad enough that he refueled the flagging birther crusade a year ago, his latest demand for the school transcripts of Barack Obama was insulting, disrespectful and stupid. But somewhere under that fake hair Donald Trump’s mind was working overtime to rebroadcast the dog whistle message – “Barack Obama is not one of us…he’s black and he could not possibly have honestly and legitimately attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School”.

Not to be outdone, Tagg Romney, the self-satisfied, pampered and entitled son of Mitt Romney was quoted as saying that he “wanted to take a swing” at President Obama. And while the Secret Service probably realized that Romney the Younger probably never threw a punch in his life, the disrespect offered by Tagg Romney was not followed by an apology from Tagg Romney, his father, the Teapublican Party or supporters of Mitt Romney. The dog whistle plays the tune – “Barack Obama is not one of us and I don’t care if he is president of the United States, he is black and is not worthy of even basic respect in our white right wing universe”.

Bringing up the rear, Sarah Palin and John Sununu seem to be in some kind of demented contest to come up with the most racially charged epithet to hurl at President Obama. John Sununu called the president “lazy” and claimed that he needed to learn how to “act like an American”. The Grizzly Mom decided to accuse President Obama of “shucking and jiving” when it came to Libya. The racist and racial implications of these statements and thousands more are clear and sad.

What is truly sad is that there are millions of white Americans who are prepared to vote against their own personal and family interest because their judgment has been clouded by the dog whistle politics practiced by Mitt Romney and the Teapublicans. Millions of white Americans are part of the 47% that Mitt Romney has derided and charged with lacking personal responsibility. Millions of white Americans are uninsured or underinsured and will suffer greatly if Obamacare is repealed.

And millions of white women will be given a real time history lesson of what life was like before reproductive rights were established. That life will be absent of choice, contraception services and not only will pregnancies from rape be the “will of God”, the outcome of any pregnancy will not be a woman’s choice.

It is sad that millions of white Americans might allow appeals to racism overcome their own instincts for survival and self-preservation. This election is not about race it is about the choice between competing visions for this country. Those who have chosen to make this election about race are the ones who have sought to cloud and blur their real message until they are able to seize power.

We can only hope that every American who votes does so with his/her eyes open and that we all can ignore the dog whistles.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – January 28, 2011

The first month of the new year has seen the renaissance of the Obama presidency, a massacre in Tucson and revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Looks like 2011 is off to a flying start:

A Tale of Three Justices

Tradition holds that for the State of the Union address all of the members of Congress, the Cabinet (save one Secretary for security purposes) and the Justices of the United State Supreme Court are in attendance.

For the attendees it is not an optional event, it is part of the job. Attending doesn’t indicate political or philosophical support for the President; it is a matter of respect for the institution known as the government of the United States.

Somehow three Supreme Court justices didn’t get the memo. Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas did not attend -Justice Scalia having accepted a speaking engagement in Hawaii that conflicted with his being present in Washington on that day.

The fact that these three neo-con icons saw fit to disrespect the President and the institution that they represent should come as no surprise. They have routinely imposed their right wing political vision in the guise of judicial pronouncements.

The theft of the 2000 election by Justices Scalia and Thomas will go down as one of the great heists in history. The institutional damage to democracy in this country wrought by the three of them in the Citizens United decision is beyond calculation.

The absence of these Three Judicial Amigos was little noted but it should have been. Chief Justice John Roberts is no less a conservative than Scalia, Alito and Thomas, but at least he had the decency and respect to be present last Tuesday.

I guess they didn’t get the memo.

Along Comes Ms. Bachmann

At the beginning of this year’s Congress Representative Michele Bachmann from Minnesota was appointed to the House Intelligence Committee. For anyone familiar with Ms. Bachmann’s mindless ranting and raving this sounds like a punch line waiting for a joke. But its no joke, it is true.

This is a member of Congress who has called President Obama and his supporters Un-American and has publicly stated that the “Founding Fathers” were always against slavery. Of course, these would be the same Founding Fathers who were slave owners (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson among many, many others).

She claimed that President Obama’s recent trip to Asia cost $200 million per day (a lie). And she is now conducting an ongoing seminar on constitutional law for members of Congress – one of her faculty members is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (can you say “conflict of interest” or “impropriety”?).

And, by the way, she is contemplating running for the presidency. I just don’t believe that Barack Obama could be that lucky.

Alternative Universe

Anyone watching the State of the Union address saw newly enthroned House Speaker John Boehner looking like a man who had swallowed a lemon and had a train to catch. I hope he doesn’t play poker because he doesn’t have a poker face.

He was clearly not pleased to have to listen to President Obama for almost an hour.
He also wasn’t listening.

The entire planet heard the President say “…..the United States is the greatest country in the world…” Then within 48 hours Speaker Boehner was quoted as saying that Barack Obama doesn’t believe in American “exceptionalism”.

Huh? We know that John Boehner is addicted to smoking cigarettes and that smoking is bad for your health. Obviously it is also bad for your hearing.

Have a great weekend!

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