Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 29, 2010

Halloween approaches and that is the time for children and the young of heart of make believe. The midterm elections approach on November 2nd with signs that Fright Night can still be avoided:

Boot Camp
Recently in Kentucky a supporter of G.O.Tea Party senatorial candidate Rand Paul was videotaped pressing his foot on the head of a woman who had presumably not drunk the G.O.Tea. The woman’s glasses were crushed and she suffered a concussion.

The big footed miscreant’s explanation was that he was a “big guy” and couldn’t bend down to restrain her. And that is why he used his foot. And while the symbolism of the moment is inescapable, we are still waiting for someone from the Rand Paul camp to, at the very least; disavow the actions of this Kentucky Stomper.

It looks like we will be waiting for a long, long time.

Shake me, wake me……
The political pundits of every stripe and color predict a G.O.Tea Party avalanche on November 2nd. While Meg Whitman’s millions will not win her the gubernatorial election in California, Sharron Angle’s mindlessness has her substantially ahead of Harry Reid.

Carl Paladino’s anger may not win him the governor’s mansion in Albany but President Obama’s former senate seat in Illinois is in serious jeopardy.

It may be useful to ask at what point this “change” take place. Less than two years ago this country was celebrating the breathtaking spectacle of a young, progressive African American becoming President of the United States with the promise of transformative change that would benefit all Americans.

At what point did ignorance trump knowledge and insight? At what point did it become acceptable to run for the United States Congress (Rich Iott from Ohio) with an acknowledged practice of dressing up in Nazi S.S. uniforms.

At what point did a G.O.Tea Party candidate office (Jon Runyan of New Jersey) state without fear of criticism or retribution that his favorite Supreme Court decision was Dred Scott (that is the one which held that no black man had rights that a white man need respect).

These anecdotal nightmares are just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 750 G.O.Tea Party candidates for Congress and state legislatures that are on record as being against any kind of energy reform initiatives – the kind of legislation that might make this country less reliant on fossil fuels and……..oh yes, help save the environment of this planet.

Steven Thrasher in his September 29, 2010 Village Voice article “White America Has Lost Its Mind” http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-09-29/news/white-america-has-lost-its-mind/ identifies the point as a few minutes after noon on January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States.

It is hard to believe, however, that all of this bile and anger and stupidity and self-destructive dumbness metastasized so quickly.

These poisonous wellsprings disguised as patriotic crusades to “take back America” have been around all along. Perhaps the Obama inauguration motivated some aspects of the right wing of the right wing to come forward, but the madness has been around us for a long time.
How long it will stay with us is now the question.

A Question?
Assuming a worst case scenario on November 2nd, the G.O.Tea Party will take full control of the House of Representatives and will also effectively control any legislative initiatives that take place in the Senate.

Continuing with this nightmare, there will be governors and attorneys general and state legislators throughout the country who have also drunk the G.O.Tea and will be railing against the “leftist Marxist” in the White House.

We will see efforts to repeal the recently passed healthcare bill as well as the financial regulatory reform legislation. Environmental initiatives will be gutted and President Obama will be checkmated on any move to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

In just a few years we will see the economy of this country rocked like never before with the standard of living diminished for all except the very rich. Ignorant American children will graduate from high school believing that creationism is a scientific theory and the continued deterioration of this country’s national security will continue due to mindless military incursions in the name of some unknowable war on terror.

In just a few years your children will ask you what did you do to prevent this catastrophic scenario. Especially when you could see it coming.

What will your answer be?

(Try to) have a great weekend and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

Point of View Columns

Topless and Bottomless

It would be wise to simply abandon all sense of outrage and disgust while observing the mosh pit that passes for political discourse in America in 2010. Clearly the sky is the limit when it comes to outrageous and bizarre statements that are fobbed off the American public as facts. Consider:
• President Obama was not born in the United States
• President Obama is a Muslim
• The initial health care proposals included “death panels” for senior citizens
• The B.P. oil spill was an act of God

All of these statements of “fact”, and many more are part of the talking points of many Republican candidates running for governor, senator and Congress. That these “facts” are patently untrue has not moved the leadership of the Republican Party to distance itself from the members of their party responsible for these statements, much less correct them.

There is not the least bit of challenge or suggestion that accuracy might be useful that has emanated from Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele or Representative John Boehner or Representative Eric Cantor or Senator John McCain all known as leaders of the Republican Party.

The silence of the elephants is astounding as it is absurd as Republican candidates call for the dismantling of the Departments of Education and Energy (Angle – Nevada), question the constitutionality of unemployment insurance (Miller – Alaska), publicly refer to homosexuality as an “identity disorder (O’Donnell – Delaware) and question to viability and rationale for the 1964 Civil Rights Act (Paul – Kentucky). When it comes to outrageous comments and points of view, the right wing of the right wing is topless. But it is also bottomless.

We have now learned that Rich Iott, the Republican Party candidate for Congress in Toledo, Ohio, regularly attends Nazi reenactment activities, in some instances wearing an
SS uniform, presumably to enhance the authenticity of the moment. The fact that he is part of a society that conducts historical reenactments of a German SS division did bother Representative Cantor enough to express his distaste – being one the few Jewish members of the G.O.Tea Party Congressman Cantor’s response was somewhat predictable. Although neither Congressman Cantor nor any other Republican seemed to have any problem with Confederate heritage celebrations in Virginia – I guess it depends on which end of the whip one stands.

And so we see that the right wing of the right wing is not only topless, it is bottomless. And through some strange hypnotic force that renders logic, common sense and intelligence inert, the right wing of the right wing is calling the shots for the entire Republican Party. There are more sightings of unicorns and griffins than there are of Republicans who believe that there is a limit to the amount of hate and ignorance that is being injected into the American political blood stream.

Whether it’s Dinesh D’Souza recreating an imaginary communion between President Obama and his father in a cemetery to Rush Limbaugh hoping that the President of the United States “fails”, no member of the G.O.Tea Party feels compelled to say that enough is enough.

Meanwhile, as this topless/bottomless maelstrom ravages the intellectual countryside of this nation, the Democrats remain mute and muted. The silence of the donkeys is remarkable given the vehemence and intensity of the attacks perpetrated by the right wing of the right wing. I am amazed at poll results that show Tea Party adherents exceeding Republicans in their interest in voting in the upcoming elections while Democrats lag far behind both. What could the progressives and moderates be thinking?

Could dissatisfaction with the less than perfect presidency of Barack Obama be reason enough to sit by and let Sharron Engle and Linda McMahon and Sarah Palin become the voice of the future? Could the fact that the Democrats have not been able to fully revive the economy that was truly moribund at the end of the Bush Administration be reason enough to return to the policies that damn near cratered the economy in the first place?

Isn’t the prospect of birthers and witches and know-nothings and Nazi reenactment enthusiasts and Confederate heritage aficionados enough motivation to simply walk to the polls and say “enough is enough”?

Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision of earlier this year, millions of anonymous corporate dollars from the Koch brothers and the Scaifes and the Chinese are flowing into the coffers of G.O.Tea Party candidates as you read this column.

Fortunately, it is still a nation of one vote per person, but money doesn’t talk, it shouts in stentorian tones, and it seems to be drowning out the voices of reason and sanity across this country.

There are barely three weeks before the midterm elections. The members of the right wing of the right wing and their Tea Party cohorts are sharpening their pitchforks and fueling their torches in anticipation of a raucous victory celebration on the evening of November 2nd.

Right now, there is still time to create an unhappy ending to the G.O.Tea Party dream, which would be America’s nightmare if it comes true.