Good Monday, all! It’s good to be back, albeit with a slower, sadder heart these days. RIP, Alex.
One thing that is pumping some adrenaline into my leaden veins is the thought of Hillary and the Dems together on the debate stage on Tuesday night. I have always thought Hillary is at her best when debating, as her clarity of thought and speech, depth of experience and ability to think on the fly are highlighted in this forum. While you don’t get to showcase these skills much during a campaign, relying more on pre-packaged speeches and personal charisma, you do need them every day when governing.
After all, what is the American presidency? I see it as an exercise in planetary-scale problem-solving. And who do you want in that job? My answer is, someone who thinks and speaks clearly, has the experience and proven ability to solve the problems, and who can adapt to change easily and quickly. This is why my choice in 2008 was Hillary rather than Obama, since he gave a great speech and had loads of charisma (or most people thought so), but showed no signs he had the ability, experience or inclination to solve any problems at all. And so it was…he managed to somehow adapt the Heritage Foundation’s Romneycare to a national level and take some of the worst parts out of it, but despite having a year and a half of a Congressional majority to back up any policy he wanted to push through, failed to take the initiative to address any of the nation’s larger issues. Terrorism is worse; income inequality is far worse; women’s rights to control their own reproductive destinies continue to be successfully eroded; the “jobless recovery” goes on (despite what the massaged unemployment figures state); we continue to have horrible issues with gun violence despite repeated attempts to address it politically; institutionalized racism continues to be as intractable as ever (see the many police murders of black men this year); and as the Pope has been pointing out, Washington fiddles while the planet burns. And some of the measures he favors will actually worsen the issues we’re having, such as the TPP and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Well, it’s water under the bridge now, and we can only hope that Hillary will have a chance to solve some of these problems starting on January, 2017. Meanwhile, what will happen in Tuesday night’s debate? Well, all five candidates (did you forget there were five? :-)) are prepping furiously. It truly amazes me that Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley are taking themselves this seriously. But they are, Blanche, they are!
Mr. O’Malley is hoping the chance to sell his executive experience and liberal policy prescriptions, including breaking up commercial and investment banks, to a prime-time audience will give his stalled candidacy some fresh momentum.
For Mr. Sanders, the debate is an opportunity to widen his appeal and persuade skeptical Democrats that he would be a viable nominee. Aides say he needs to flesh out his big policies but also talk about incremental achievements he won during more than two decades in Congress.
“He understands he has to introduce himself to a big audience that doesn’t know about him,” said Tad Davine, Mr. Sanders’s senior strategist. “He needs to demonstrate a capacity to be president.”
To prepare, he has been meeting with policy experts and reading briefing materials, particularly on foreign affairs and military policy, but also the economy, and running through possible questions with advisers.
“I am studying hard,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview last week. “There are hundreds of possible questions that can be asked and we’re trying to figure out what they are, and how you can give a response to an important question in 30 seconds or 60 seconds.”
Yes, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders are going to have some tough going against Hillary. They are weak in all the areas she is strong in…and they aren’t Barack Obama, so they won’t be given a pass by the Democratic Party when they whiff on important questions.
Good day, Widdershins. We’ve come to another weekend, which is traditionally the time to lay our burdens down here at TW. These have been some difficult times here as well, with almost everyone associated with the blog experiencing varying degrees of personal challenges So, we spent a weekend weasel stomping, then moved on to Primal Scream Therapy. Now it’s time to collect ourselves and move forward.
Long years ago, I took a Transcendental Meditation class. The session always began with sitting comfortably, breathing deeply, and thinking “calm and serene, calm and serene, calm and serene……”, etc. In an effort to help us all regroup, I think that it’s time for some music that will help us all arrive at some more relaxed plane than the one currently in use.
So, post your tunes, your suggestions for relaxation, or anything else that you might find noteworthy. I’ll dim the lights and fire up some aromatherapy candles in an effort to give this a push in the right direction.
(1) Canon in D Major Johann Pachelbel
(2) Peace Train – Cat Stevens
(3) Athair ar Neamh (Father in Heaven) – Enya
(4) Both Sides Now- Judy Collins
(5) In My Room – The Beach Boys
Good Afternoon Widdershins!
It’s been a few days since Pope Francis left the U.S. and he certainly left a swirl of stories and confusion behind him. One of those stories concerned his meeting with Rowan County (Ky.) court clerk Kim Davis.
The story of the meeting was first made public in Inside the Vatican in a story written by Robert Moynihan. There was no official record of the meeting because it was more of a “meet and greet” visit. However, lil Kim recalls it this way:
“The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.
Now we already know that this Pope is a hugger; kissing the ring doesn’t seem to be high up on his list. He also said to lil Kim: “Pray for me.”. Again, that’s not unusual for this Pope to ask that of anyone that he meets. Still, this meeting caused a lot of questions to be asked such as: “Who arranged the meeting?”, “How did Francis hear of Kim Davis?”, “Where did the meeting occur?”. As more information came out about the “meeting”, we found out who was doing the publicizing and it was that good old hate group Liberty Counsel, the same group that’s been
raking in the money, uh, defending Kim:
Matt Staver, a Liberty Counsel lawyer, told Time magazine that he, Davis and Vatican Embassy officials began discussing a possible meeting on Sept. 14. The Sept. 24 meeting lasted about 15 minutes, prior to the pope flying from Washington to New York.
Now, besides being part of a hate group, and we also know now that Matt Staver is a liar.
Kim Davis’ lawyer stood onstage in a Washington D.C. hotel and pointed to a photo on the screen. It showed 100,000 people packed into a Peruvian soccer stadium, Mat Staver told the crowd, all there to pray for the Kentucky clerk battling against gay marriage.
The crowd erupted.
It wasn’t true.
Staver’s firm, the Liberty Counsel, which revealed Davis’ secret meeting with Pope Francis, has been accused by advocacy groups of peddling misrepresentations in the past. Yet it has become the main source of details about the controversial pope meeting.
Online sleuths quickly debunked the Peru story Staver told at the Values Voter Summit, a conference for the conservative Family Research Council. The photo was from a year-old gathering unrelated to Davis, who spent five days in jail for defying a court order and refusing to license gay marriages. Staver could provide no evidence of a massive Davis rally. On Monday, he called it a mistake and blamed miscommunication with the Peruvian authorities who gave him the photo.
There was an excellent piece on this meeting written by Fr. James Martin, SJ. and brings out some salient points that you can read at the article but one of them being:
It’s ill advised to use a private visit with the pope to make political point. It’s also unfortunate that after the pope’s visit, during which he sought to reconcile divisions, during which he explicitly lamented political polarization in his speech to Congress and during which he sought to show how foolish the “culture wars” are, that his meeting with Ms. Davis may be used to score political points.
When all the uproar finally sunk through to the Vatican they finally had to release a statement about the meeting.
In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:
Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.
The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.
Ah poor Kim! Can’t get no respect anywhere. But wait! Let’s rub some salt into the wound.
Pope Francis privately met with a gay couple last week while visiting Washington, D.C., according to several news reports Friday.
Yayo Grassi, an openly gay Argentine-American caterer who lives in the Washington area and is a former student of the pope’s, met with Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature one day before the pope met Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has been at the center of a national controversy over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Joining Grassi was his boyfriend of 19 years, Iwan. (and here’s some salt Kim)
The Associated Press reported Friday that the Vatican confirmed Francis had met with a “gay former student and his partner.”
This must have sent Matt Staver and L.C. over the edge because they felt the need to issue their own story of what happened between lil Kim and Francis despite the Vatican saying it was a meet and greet.
The Liberty Counsel didn’t back down at all. They argued that Pope Francis made clear in an interview that he does in fact support their client by virtue of the fact that he supports conscientious objection.
Staver argued that whether or not his story was factually accurate, it was symbolically accurate: Pope Francis supports conscientious objection, and since the Liberty Counsel sees Davis as a conscientious objector (many disagree with that assessment, by the way), then they don’t think it’s a lie to present Francis and Kim’s meeting the way they have.
To put it in theological terms, the Liberty Counsel expects us to ignore the letter of what they say and pay attention to the spirit of what they say. This explanation is an odd strategy for, you know, attorneys. “Your honor, you’re getting tripped up here on the evidence! Look at the big metaphorical picture!”
Well we now know that Staver met with Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio to the United States and these two were involved with setting up the meeting. We also know that Benedict (the widow Ratzinger) appointed Viganò as secretary of the governorate of Vatican City State. And when Francis was made Pope he cleared Viganò out and sent him to the U.S. Said Staver:
Mr. Staver said a conservative deacon, Keith Fournier, introduced him to Archbishop Viganò back in April before speaking at a National Organization for Marriage rally on the Washington Mall in opposition to same-sex marriage. As Mr. Staver descended from the stage, Archbishop Viganò made a point to “thank me for my message,” the lawyer said.
It figures that Staver was at a N.O.M. rally. This is the group that believes you can “pray the gay away” and you can be changed to heterosexuality by “conversion therapy”.
Lastly, two things: I wrote that Liberty Council is considered a hate group and that designation is from The Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC says it ” does not classify religious groups as hate groups simply because they believe or preach that homosexuality is sinful (religious groups have a protected right to that belief) but because they propagate known falsehoods, and often employ’ groundless name-calling.’.”
And the second thing is this from James Martin who wrote the article linked to earlier:
Most of all, despite what Ms. Davis said, a meeting with the pope does not “kind of validate everything.” Again, the pope meets with many people, some of whom he may know well, others of whom may be introduced to him as a reward for long service, and perhaps others who will use a meeting to make a political point. Meeting with the pope is a great honor, but it does not betoken a blanket blessing on “everything” one does. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Pope Francis also met Mark Wahlberg, and that does not mean that he liked “Ted.”
Consider this a completely wide open thread. Don’t feel as if you need to confine yourself to the topic . Take the discussion wherever you wish.
If loss of innocence is the price you pay for life lessons, the shipping and handling cost for such discovery is the disappointment one feels from unrealized expectations. Trouble is, unrealistic expectations are always moving targets scampering about like over-caffeinated bunnies.
Personally, I was well into my fourth decade before learning that silently projecting even minimal expectations on others, be it family, friends, or business associates, was nothing more than rolling out the welcome mat for world-class disappointment. That’s a hard lesson and one I’m not sure I‘ve yet mastered.
What I have learned is that constantly reminding oneself of unmet expectations is the surest way to keep things in perspective, thereby making sure every tomorrow surprises you with new discoveries. For example:
When I’m reminded thinking it was impossible for someone to set back women’s rights more than a vice presidential nominee who couldn’t name a newspaper or magazine she read while passing the time surreptitiously surveilling Russia, Carly Fiorina then comes along as a presidential candidate.
It begins with Fiorina living some kind of Sixth Sense type existence where she’s the only person who sees videotape that isn’t there. Next, her major selling point is a lie about a hardscrabble upbringing rather than the real one of privilege, further built around a half-truth of working as a secretarial intern, and wrapping it up in a fiction of her being something other than an abject failure as C.E.O. at H.P.
But, Fiorina’s greatest talent so far is tearing down another woman with lies, innuendos, and half-baked conspiracy theories. That might be politics as usual, but to me there’s plenty of disappointment there.
When I’m reminded that it can’t get worse than someone killing 20 first graders and six of their teachers, then there’s another mass killing. Last week on the 274th day of the year, the Oregon killings were the 294th mass shooting of the year. Yet, the country hardly works up a collective whimper.
We add to the toll of senseless death not just with “event murders,” but we pile up bodies with over thirty deaths every single day. Succumbing to the inevitability of the NRA’s omnipresence, we blithely accept there is now loose in society the equivalent of a gun for each man, woman, and child in the country.
We know that reducing the numbers of guns through commonsense regulation reduces the number of suicides, but the NRA is made rich by being a pro-suicide organization. Our government, with what little background checking there is, accedes to gun lobby demands that if the check isn’t completed in 72 hours, the applicant gets the gun by default no matter what the results are. Think about that for a moment – first, the default position is giving a gun to someone whose background hasn’t been checked, and second, and by far the most anger-making, the inconvenience of a mass shooter outweighs the lives of anonymous victims yet to be selected.
If that’s not disappointment enough, sober up on the fact that one of two major political parties finds it expedient to prostitute itself to the NRA and other trade groups whose sole job is to make it politically palatable to accept increasing numbers of mass killings. That’s beyond disappointment, that’s just pure evil.
There’s the reminder that trickle down, supply-side economics has never worked – not once, not ever. Armed with that undisputable fact, you find the Republican candidates like Jeb! Bush and Forrest Trump trotting out tax plans recycling the same failed plans to enrich the rich and add Trillions with a “T” to the deficit.
This economic/political sloganeering, like every other identical plan to lower taxes since 1981, is the divine inspiration of an actor and a football player who became star-struck with the buffoonery of an economist who believed tax rates alter the brain function of the world’s wealthy. The economist believing in magical, mystical brain remodeling is ironically named Laffer. Honestly, does any more need be said?
Disappointment grows almost as fast as does the self-indulgent quackery.
You don’t need a reminder to remember congressional inquires sprout like toadstools after a spring rain when Republicans are in charge of Congress. After seven (7) independent inquiries, the Special Super-Dooper, immaculately conceived, spiky-haired chaired, Benghazi Committee has lasted longer than the Watergate Committee, the Iran/Contra Inquiry, the Warren Commission on the Kennedy assassination, the Church Commission revamping the nation’s intelligence agencies, and the investigation into the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Benghazi is a tragedy looking for a scandal that isn’t there, but of course, never being satisfied with the mere waste of money or the futile waste of energy, the fact checkers want to focus on the “gotcha aspects” of four obscure congressional inquiries having lasted longer than Benghazi. Disappointment always follows when you try to plumb the depths of the contagion known as HDS (Hillary Derangement Syndrome).
This list of disappointments is long and virtually inexhaustible. Here’s what takes the sting out of it for me: I remind myself of what it must be like to be a traitor to feminism like Carly Fiorina, an NRA executive paid to write press releases excusing mass killings, or a politician making political points on the deaths of Americans. When I do that, being disappointed isn’t such a bad thing at all. In fact, I’m reminded of how gratifying disappointment can be.
I’ll be out-of-pocket some this week so if I don’t quickly respond to comments, please don’t let that slow you down. I’ll catch up.
This is an open thread itching for your thoughts and insights.
Have a most glorious week!
Happy Friday, Widdershins. We’ve made it to the culmination of (yet) another difficult week. John Boehner had laid his burden down, and the balance of the Repubs in the House are conspiring to ascertain that Hillary Clinton grow old testifying in front of one bogus committee after (yet) another. The media is off the chain in their drooling hatred for her, and have elevated Bernie Sanders to near-knighthood. More of our college students have been injured or killed thanks to our 45th school shooter of the year.
Your posters here at TW have been up to their kneecaps in challenges as well. We are wading our way through individually, and some of us have found our way through the darkness. I know that I appreciate the supportive comments that y’all made during my recent speedbumps. After all of this, I have decided that what we require is a good, loud, group primal scream.
For those too young to remember, primal scream therapy was trés chic during the 1970s. PST was introduced by Arthur Janov, with a working hypothesis that neuroses were created by childhood trauma. If we were to be able to recreate the trauma and experience the pain in a theraputic setting, we could then respond to the pain rather than repressing the feelings and thus shed the accompanying neurosis. This was really hot stuff at the time, and attracted the likes of John Lennon, Roger Williams, and James Earl Jones. Sadly, results were statistically unmeaningful, and the therapy was quickly discarded.
Okay, so psychiatrists no longer advise this, but that does not make it useless. Honestly, I spent much of my life being reminded to smile sweetly, keep my voice modulated, and remain a proper little lady. Fair enough, but just this once, let me lead The Widdershins in a loud primal scream. Are you ready? Deep breath…….
Let ‘er rip!
Please post any songs, movie clips, what have you that help us with today’s therapy. Otherwise, it’s an open thread.
(1) Shout – The Isley Brothers
(2) Primal Scream – Motley Crew
(3) Screaming Night Hog – Steppenwolf
(4) Shout – Tears for Fears
(5) Screaming and Yelling – Carole King
(6) Anything with a screaming goat –
Good afternoon Widdershins!
I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that watching Morning schmoe has become an exercise…not so much in futility but more of an arm exercise because the show has become something that makes you want to throw things at your teevee.
Not being satisfied with deliberately mouthing untruths about Hillary Clinton’s email server, they have now gone to the point where they will purposefully edit out anything that may sound favorable to Hillary.
Recently Washington Post columnist David Ignatius was on the show and attempted to provide, not so much a defense of Clinton’s actions, but rather an explanation that no, she did not do anything wrong or criminal, and in his WaPo column he explained (but apparently not clearly enough to #socklessdeadintern and #drunkmika) that there was no similarity to the situation with David Petraeus’ situation.
Potential criminal violations arise when officials knowingly disseminate documents marked as classified to unauthorized officials or on unclassified systems, or otherwise misuse classified materials. That happened in two cases involving former CIA directors that are cited as parallels for the Clinton e-mail issue, but are quite different. John Deutch was pardoned in 2001 for using an unsecured CIA computer at his home to improperly access classified material; he reportedly had been prepared to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in April for “knowingly” removing classified documents from authorized locations and retaining them at “unauthorized locations.” Neither case fits the fact pattern with the Clinton e-mails.
But going back to my first item, when Ignatius was on the show, in the initial segment Ignatius said:
“As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
(Bolding in the original C&L article)
Now, #socklessdeadintern wasn’t happy with this so he had to add his own little twists and turns:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your editorial, in some of your op-eds, you’ve said you would rather hear Hillary’s policy positions than more talk about the servers, you said you don’t think she faces any criminal prosecution. You haven’t exactly said nothing is here, move along, move along, but you’ve certainly —
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Getting tired of it, which is what they’re hoping.
(thatagirl #drunkmika!) -my comment
SCARBOROUGH: — Yeah, I mean aren’t you playing into what the Clinton sort of scandal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, “Come on, let’s just move on.”
DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I’ve tried to respond as a journalist but in particular I’ve tried to look at what is a real prosecutable offense here. There are violations clearly both of administrative procedure and probably technically of law and how classified information was handled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
But #sockless…still not happy, has to keep harping on his preconceived ideas.
SCARBOROUGH: But this isn’t happenstance. This is a very calculated move to say if you want to communicate with the Secretary of State, as Edwards Snowden said, whether you are a foreign diplomat or a spy chief from another country or a leader of another country, which they all did, you’ve got to come to this unsecured server, whether it is in Colorado or wherever it is, and there is a standard in the U.S. Code under prosecutions for this sort of thing which is gross negligence. It’s not a know or should have known –
(Italics mine. Now neither lawyerJoe or (former) congresscritterJoe cited what title and part of the U.S. Code Hillary was violating.)
So Ignatius, trying to be as patient as possible I guess, explained it a bit more s-l-o-w-l-y and thoroughly for #sockless:
This issue comes up surprisingly often because there is an administrative problem where people do these things and their security officers summon them and warn them and issue reprimands and it goes in their file and it’s a serious personnel administrative problem. My only point is I couldn’t find a case where this kind of activity had been prosecuted and that’s just worth noting as we assemble our Clinton e-mail – and more thing, Joe, legally there is no difference between her using her private server and if she’d used State.gov, which is also not a classified system. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legally, no difference.
And here is the edited version that they re-aired later in the program, leaving out that key part.
As Peter Daou and Tom Watson said over at HillaryMen, “How Low Can Morning Joe Go?”
As Hillary Clinton attempts to make history as America’s first woman president, Morning Joe has emerged as the global headquarters of the He-Man Hillary Haters Club, with Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski presiding over a daily boys club that relentlessly attacks Hillary’s candidacy, her accomplishments, her very humanity. It is an ugly and self-righteous spectacle, rife with misleading allegations, insinuations and false indignation. Searching for words to describe Morning Joe’s particular brand of anti-Hillary invective, we’ve described it as “an unhealthy and unhinged combination of envy, awe, muted rage and dripping disdain.”
And #socklessdeadintern has never been one to back off, even if it comes to bullying his own guests.
and perhaps on a previous show that’s why Jeremy Peters did this:
Also, if you are curious about how we came up with #deadintern for schmoe, then you can go here and read about it. Prolix, catching something in an article about schmoe’s tendency to go sockless thought it was a good idea to add that to the hashtag. Works for me.
But back to that article:
Just the facts: Scarborough got a divorce. Then he suddenly resigned from Congress, just six months after re-election. (Invoked old fallback excuse of wanting to “spend more time” with children.) Then he suddenly resigned as publisher of the Independent Florida Sun. Then, just as suddenly, Lori Klausutis, 28-year-old staffer to Scarborough, was found dead in Scarborough’s district office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Date was July 20, 2001. Cause of death: Blow to the head. Conclusion: Heart condition caused her to collapse, fall, hit head on a desk, and die. Story barely a blip on the radar. Lots of people left with lots of questions.
Lotsa good stuff at that link and some other links on that site.
And lastly, if you think I’m being sexist or misogynistic about #drunkmika, I’m not. As they say on the teevee, let’s roll the tape.
Okay, this is a completely open thread so feel free to take it wherever you wish.
For those of you tuning in expecting MB, she can’t be here today. Here’s what I have to offer.
It always starts out innocent enough. There are subtle changes in behavior. There might be changes in tone, maybe there’s an elevated temperature and things are a bit warmer than normal, and there is the constant irritation – always irritated about any and everything.
The next phase of the infection manifests itself in wantonness craving – craving to eat anything, even inedible objects. This craving gives way to incessant growling and grousing. There is a general disorientation to the world as it exists. Nothing goes right – can’t go right – won’t go right – the whole world is wrong since it fails to listen to the copious amounts of advice so freely offered.
Then the erratic behavior begins. There are episodes of aggressive behavior toward others. The erratic behavior is unexplainable since it often goes against convention and the world as it presents itself.
Those suffering from the condition show visible signs of anxiety and alertness to even the slightest provocation. The irritability is palpable. There is constant restlessness and episodic outbursts of irrationality.
When it gets to this point, time has drawn short for those suffering from the “Furious Phase of Mad Dog Syndrome”. I could have just as easily been describing the cabal of U.S. Representatives who are celebrating the resignation of John Boehner as Speaker last Friday. Simply put, John Boehner didn’t have a prayer.
If the analogy holds, for rabid dogs the next phase is paralysis and total incapacitation. We can only hope this group of the fringiest of the fringe holds true to the symptomatology they have exhibited so far.
Who are these mad dogs of the House? They are a group of about thirty-seven members of Congress (36 testosterone-based and 1 estrogen-based). They call themselves the Freedom Caucus. They are new members mostly having been elected in 2010. They are Tea Party swilling ideologues who detest gubmint in all its forms especially the gubmint presently headed by a commie Afro-Kenyan named Obama.
These caucusteers suffer from Mad Dog Syndrome and banded together after the House Republican Study Caucus (RSC) became too liberal or better said, not severely conservative enough for them. Lest you get the wrong idea, the RSC was headed at the time by Steve Scalise, the guy who claimed to have all the good points of David Duke, but none of the baggage.
Emblematic of the membership is a cast of characters who are, according to Republican sources, the “craziest of the crazies.” There are the usual suspects like Steve King of “cantaloupe calves” fame and Raul Labrador of Idaho, who himself is of immigrant heritage and is an immigration attorney, but who has fought immigration reform at every turn.
There are those who are not as well-known like Gary Palmer of Alabama who is “set his hair on fire” angry about Planned Parenthood funding even though the tapes that have him so upset were doctored and edited with stock images.
There’s Mark Meadows of North Carolina, one of the founders of the group, who submitted the resolution in August declaring the office of the speaker vacant. One of his seven reasons: The Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker. Well Mark, welcome to two-hundred years of House of Representatives history.
Another member is Justin Amash of Michigan. Amash was profiled by the NY Times as the most contrarian member of Congress. What an honorific! One of his brilliant policy points is that he isn’t sure Planned Parenthood will stay dead after Congress kills it because it can just change its name to something else. He’s frightened of zombie health care workers.
Then there’s Cynthia Lummis, who represents the entire state of Wyoming. What is it about Wyoming? Her most eloquent statement is this: I wouldn’t trust Obama with a clod of dirt, let alone international trade deals.
Then there’s my new personal favorite from Oklahoma, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (one name, no space) who is a former competitor in mixed martial arts cage matches. (See, rabid dog explanation earlier in this post.) Markwayne runs a workout session in the mornings in the Congressional Gym and is stealing members from Paul Ryan’s P90X workout because Markwayne’s sessions create prettier abs or at least that is what the Tulsa World surmised.
- Gerrymandering has been very, very good to these crazies. Their districts vote 14% more Republican than the average district and there are very few minorities in their districts.
- Most came to power during the 2010 midterms. They came promising to pull Obamacare out by root and branch. They proclaimed Obamacare the end of civilization as we know it.
- If you only have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. This group of representatives only knows two gears – anger and fear. They know nothing else; therefore, the apocalypse is an event happening on the half-hour according to their timekeeping.
- Not only are these folk science-deniers, as Republican Rep. Tom Cole said, “These people deny simple mathematics. Either they can’t count or they won’t count. Unless you have 60 in the Senate, your agenda is going nowhere.”
- This is a group who represent a constantly moving target. The kiss of death of any proposal is an Obama thumbs-up even if it is a policy proposal they have supported in the past.
- Finally, policy doesn’t mean diddlely squat to this caucus outside of refusing to compromise. Their positions are pathological for the most part. Hurting people and even hurting the country by downgrading the credit of the U.S. is acceptable to their philosophy of scorched earth politics.
John Boehner is happily getting out. The cigarettes will burn brightly, the Merlot will flow, and tee times await him. For him, just like in Pagliacci, it is curtain time with the closing line: La commedia è finita! – “The comedy is finished!” Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it is just beginning.
Take the conversation in any direction you might like.