Point of View Columns

Biting the Hand……

The hypocrisy of the G.O.Tea Party gets to be more than a bit tiresome. But as long as right wing of the right wing wishes to drink hypocritical hemlock, it is important to point out the Grand Canyon between reality and the fairy tales that are peddled as public policy.

A common theme among the Noble Nine (soon to be the Terrible Ten if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie takes the plunge – an awesome thought) is that “government is the enemy”. From Herman Cain to Rodeo Rick Perry to Magic Mitt Romney to Michele Bachmann, the story line is consistent and unshakable – government is the problem in the lives of the American people and reducing the size of “big government” will be a huge step on the road to a better life for all of us. So let’s look at the facts, an act that is unfamiliar to the truth-averse G.O.Tea Party.

We can take the hypocrites in any order – Herman Cain, for example never misses an opportunity to dismiss the importance of the federal government and to rail against the “stupid people” who are running government. Please know that Mr. Cain graduated from Morehouse College and Purdue University, two institutions that have received millions of dollars in federal aid over the years. Mr. Cain also worked as a civilian employee for the United States Navy, presumably he was not one of the “stupid people” working in government.

As the Chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza he presumably benefited from the work of the Food and Drug Administration which gave his customers confidence to buy his pizza anywhere in the United States.

And, by the way, Purdue University is located in Indiana. Indiana used to have the largest membership of the Ku Klux Klan in the country. The efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Justice helped make it safe for the young Mr. Cain to attend an integrated university in the heart of what used to be Klan country.

Rodeo Rick Perry tells us in his “book”, “Fed Up” that government is the enemy. This would be the same Rick Perry who attended Texas A&M University. While he was busy earning a 2.5 G.P.A. and putting firecrackers in toilets, Governor Perry did get a degree and a commission in the United States Air Force. It is highly likely that getting a college degree helped him get that commission and it is absolutely true that his alma mater has received tens of millions of dollars of federal aid over the years.

In a masterful display of double jointed hypocrisy, Governor Perry criticized the Obama Administration for – you guessed it – not sending enough federal aid to Texas to help fight the wildfires that are consuming the state of Texas. Not that Rodeo Rick believes that the wildfires have anything to do with global warming since he doesn’t believe in global warming – or evolution.

Magic Mitt Romney is a little late to the party when he comes to attacking the federal government. We can assume that he hopes that his magical powers will help us forget that he attended Brigham Young and Harvard Universities, two institutions that receive millions of dollars from the federal government every year. We are also supposed to forget that the universal healthcare program that he introduced as governor of the state of Massachusetts was absolutely dependent upon the continuation of federal aid and assistance.

As president of the organization that ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah he was responsible for steering millions of federal dollars into that venture. Now his Olympic victory is put down on his presidential candidacy resume even as he claims that reducing the size of government is the holy grail that we all should seek.

Michele Bachmann is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to hypocrisy. Congresswoman Bachmann makes constant reference to her having over twenty foster children in addition to her five children. She conveniently omits telling us that her home was designated a treatment center for young girls most of whom stayed only a few months and very few of whom stayed for more than a year. And………you guessed it, the Bachmann “treatment center” received government payments for each child that crossed the threshold.

Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus Bachmann, runs a “controversial” counseling center which is said to be engaged in efforts to “cure” homosexuals. But the center can’t be that controversial as it has received over $137,000 in federal payments for treatments at the center.

The reality is that federal, state and local governments play a huge role in the lives of all Americans. The reality is that preaching that government is the “enemy” is simply false and misleading. This is reality that the G.O.Tea Party leaders know is truth from their own life narratives and yet they still seek to mislead. That is when hypocrisy turns to shame.

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Point of View Columns

The Road to Nowhere

It is very clear that just when you think the political scene cannot get any crazier, it does. The Teavangelical wing of the Republican Party has not only hijacked the party, it has dominated political discourse with a philosophy based on mini-facts and micro-knowledge. It is a scenario that could be the result of collaboration between Mel Brooks and Franz Kafka.

Consider the latest misadventures that are dumped in front of us on a daily basis. Just a few weeks ago Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the belle of the ball. After winning the absolutely meaningless Iowa straw poll some of her supporters were measuring the White House windows for red, white and blue Tea Party drapes.

And there she was, on the cover of Newsweek, national talk shows – all the time proving that when you don’t know what you are talking about it is better to be quiet. Ms. Bachmann proclaimed that the credit rating of the United States would not be damaged by a budget debate-fueled default. And then the U.S. credit rating was downgraded just for coming close to default.

Her proclaiming the national gay community as being in league with Satan was somehow considerable a passable point of view for a national political candidate. And she never backed away from that position. And, of course, she continued to announce that God had instructed her to run for president which, in the many empty rooms in her mind, should have settled the entire matter and made the actual campaign and election a mere formality.

And then, Rodeo Rick Perry jumped into the race with his spurs jangling and his six guns shooting. This would be the same Rick Perry who publicly entertained the advisability of his state seceding from the United States.

The current governor of Texas crowed that while he has been in office his state has led the nation in the creation of jobs. However, Rodeo Rick has neglected to mention that Texas also leads the nation in minimum wage jobs and if the Texas model were to somehow be applied nationally, it could only work if oil is discovered in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona and most of us could find a way to work for less than $10 per hour.

Not content with shadow dancing with the truth regarding his so-called job creation skills, Rodeo Rick has also proudly proclaimed that he doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming and the United States Departments of Education and Energy should be dismantled. And, by the way, Social Security should also be dismantled and handled at the state level.

The breadth of his bizarro approach to the issues and challenges that this country faces would be laughable except that he is serious and he is also now the leading candidate for the G.O.Tea Party nomination. He has somehow managed to outcrazy Michele Bachmann – no mean feat – and the zealots of the right wing of the right wing are following their man like lemmings headed for the cliff.

I am just fine with Rodeo Rick not believing in evolution even though there is over a century’s worth of science that he is choosing to ignore. But it is criminal for believers in intelligent design to have their faith-based beliefs taught as science. Indeed, it is as criminal as advocating the dismantling of the Department of Education at a time when educational system of this country is facing unprecedented global challenges.

Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania are all considered to be developing countries. They all have ministries of education. Japan, China and Germany are considered to be developed countries. They all have ministries of education. In what parallel universe could it make sense for the United States to abandon its efforts to establish a world class national educational infrastructure?

Rodeo Rick has mangled history in order to compare global warming naysayers to Galileo. He would do better to liken these pseudoscientific scientists to Jim Jones serving Kool-Aid to those who would believe.

And what must the rest of the world think? The leading G.O.Tea Party candidate does not believe in evolution or global warming, thinks that the Social Security system is a “Ponzi scheme” and has warned the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank against “treasonous” acts.

Imagining Rodeo Rick Perry on the national stage might be the stuff of late night humor, but we ignore or laugh at zealots at our own peril. Imagining Rick Perry bringing his faux Wild West demeanor to the global stage is the stuff of nightmares – and we would be wise to wake up before this nightmare comes true.

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