The Widdershins

Shutnado shutstorm…

Posted on: October 4, 2013

Here’s hoping this is a great day on the cusp of a great weekend for all the Widdershin clan.

Every pundit with a pencil has opined as to the causes of this governmental go-to-pieces. Their reasons center around Onionmoney, gerrymandering, and the conservative media bubble. I don’t disagree. All have played a role, but those reasons just don’t peel away enough layers of the onion to savor the particularly unctuous and redolent parts. Today I’d like to take a stab at the onion by way of a prolixous peeling.

First, this whole shutdown mess was avoidable, but as with any great mess, there was some planning. Remember last year’s omnipresent Republican whine of, “The Senate Democrats won’t pass a budget.”

Well, early this year a budget was passed and since March, Sen. Patty Murray has tried eighteen (18) times to appoint budget conferees to work with the House. Mysteriously, an anonymous senatorial “block” was placed on the appointment of conferees. Who exactly placed the block is unknown, but it seems to be an open secret it was either Ted Cruz or his latter day sibling Mike Lee. In any event, without conferees a budget was impossible resulting in the need for continuing resolutions or CRs.

This presented the right atmospherics for the perfect shutstorm. The need to pass a CR prior to the end of the fiscal year was just two weeks prior to the debt ceiling cluster-fornication. Since Obama had folded like cheap origami in earlier negotiations, it was a perfect time for a CruzApalooza. This CruzApalooza and the Tea Party provided an answer to the age old question your parents always asked, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?” The answer was yes.

The next layer of the onion is the letter written by Rep. Mark Meadows. He is from the reddest of the red districts in North Carolina. His letter, written in August and signed by eighty (80) other fringe representatives, demanded a government shutdown. The letter contorted itself to conclude “shutting down the government was their duty.”

As a prelude to peeling the onion to its most odoriferous parts, let’s look at these 80 districts. Conveniently, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza did that for us. These 80 districts and their representatives look like this:

Seventy-nine of the eighty representatives are white. The eightieth is an Hispanic who opposes comprehensive immigration reform.

Seventy-six of the eighty are male.

The average U.S. congressional district is 63% white. These 80 districts are 75% white.

Prior to the census and redistricting, they were 73% white. So as the country actually got more racially diverse, these districts actually got whiter. An amazing feat of artful district drawing.

The average congressional district is 17% Latino. These districts are 9% Latino.

These districts have a consistently low level of educational attainment — four percent below the national average.

Here’s the big one: Obama bested Romney by about 5% nationally. In these districts, Romney beat Obama by an average margin of 23%.

Courtesy of gerrymandering, these representatives won their races by an average of 34%. Their only fear, someone more rabidly conservative.

These 80 districts are whiter, with fewer minorities, less educated, more rural, and most importantly, as robustly Republican as they can possibly be.

In short, these districts are just like the real world, only reversed. It is the embodiment of Seinfeld‘s “bizarro world” where everything and everyone was the same, only 180 degrees backward.

With these demographics, these districts are the sweet spot for the infotainment faux news offerings of talk radio and Fox. Most likely without a major city newspaper and garnering their news from a single source, it is giddy up time for the Grand Old Party.

The civet cat secretes an unpleasant fecal odor, but in the right proportion transforms perfume into an aphrodisiac. So far efforts at crossbreeding the civet with the Tea Partiers has been unsuccessful. Evolution is a cruel mistress.

The civet cat secretes an unpleasant fecal odor, but in the right proportion transforms perfume into an aphrodisiac. So far efforts at crossbreeding the civet with the Tea Partiers has been unsuccessful. Evolution is a cruel mistress.

The next level of analysis is the fact these districts, for the most part, are in the rural South. When Richard Nixon promulgated his “Southern Strategy” back in the 1960s to capitalize upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it was termed politically brilliant, but Nixon was inadvertently laying the groundwork for infecting the host.


In political science terms, the Southern Strategy was to turn the southern Dixiecrats into rock-ribbed Republicans. The Southern Strategy accomplished that, but it also infected the Republican Party with the absolutism, parochialism, and isolationism of the Dixiecrats. As anyone knows who has a biology background beyond hydrating sea monkeys, when the host is infected at a genetic level, it mutates. That is what the Dixiecrats did to the Republican Party.

Absolutism, parochialism, and isolationism run deep and rampant in these homogenously engineered districts. These traits engender the distrust of science, mistrust of government, and distaste for those who don’t mirror the traits of the majority.

The provincialism represented by these districts even lends itself to a language of absolutes laden with fear. This is not new. This has been the language and sociology of the region for ages. This isn’t about race although race does play a tertiary role. This is about absolutism without any doubt as to degree. It is about fatalism without hope of redemption. It is about elevating any anomalous circumstance to proof positive with absolute certitude the end is near.

A great example of this is any speech given by Newt Gingrich within the last thirty years. Without prompting, these ominous words will be the chorus for any subject:

“I believe we are now in a struggle over whether or not we are going to save America.”

If Rudy Giuliani’s speeches were a noun, verb, and 911, then Newt’s speeches are a noun, verb, and kiss your arse goodbye.

Another example is the battle cry of the Tea Party, “We want to take our country back!”   Who took it and where did they take it?  And can we get store credit?

The Suicide Party just prior to cliff diving sans water...

The Suicide Party just prior to cliff diving sans water…

These 80 districts have been engineered so precisely they resemble a mob with a congressional moniker. These districts will champion those who parrot unchallenged and untested beliefs. They will banish and punish those who dare question. They will celebrate those who extol the past while fearing the future. They vilify anyone who veers from their values. They ostracize anyone who might dare be different.

In the study of leadership, analyzing what does not work is just as important as studying what does. In many ways, studying what doesn’t work is easier since you have discernible proof of the cause and effect of the failings. Without fear of contradiction, there has never been a sustainable leadership model that has ever worked based upon pandering to a mob mentality. Never.

While these 80 representatives see themselves as glorious protectors of their way of life, they are nothing more than propagators of fear, disillusionment, and failure. They are not leaders. They are merely the mob’s current torch bearers.

Culling down to the most pungent part of the onion, the question is, “Who would benefit from such a stench?” The answer is: Those who benefit from paralysis, stalemate, and inaction. With nearly four decades of the wealthiest of the wealthy profiting at the expense of the rest of American society, the answer seems clear — those who believe this engineered stench is the sweetest they have ever smelled.

This is an open thread.


21 Responses to "Shutnado shutstorm…"

Well said – love the term “shutstorm”.

This was just published today so I didn’t have the benefit of its insights. This is an interview with a political scientist named Christopher Parker. He has written a book about the Tea Party based upon some seemingly pretty robust research. His conclusions aren’t surprising, but at least we have hard data to support our assumptions.

Lack of compromise appears to be the bedrock principle of the TP.

@3, they also seem to be waiting anxiously on the invention of the “way back machine.” They have taken a cue from Don Quixote only they seem to be tilting against clocks. The passage of time seems to be a particular irritant to them.

Excellent post Prolix and you completely nail it on the T.P.

John Oliver splains it so well here about the gerrymandering and talks about La congresscritter Bill Cassidy of the La 6th district. The clip runs about 6 minutes. Sorry, can’t embed.–america-sits-on-its-balls—republican-shutdown?xrs=share_copy

BTW, Fleming is the one who is a doc and owns a bunch of Subway franchises and “can’t afford” to live on about $400k after taxes.

My response to the good congresscritter.

The Tea Party Give Tea a bad name…

BTW Prolix, loved the civet cat breeding experiment! 😆

Prolix, brilliant post and scary that there are 80 (!) of these creepy stepford-ish districts. LOL on the civets, also, what is a Sea Monkey exactly?

@ fuzzy, too true!

Totally OT, but we’ve had the Dodgers/Braves games on the last couple of days and am already so sick of that annoying fake “Indian” noise they make all through the game. I looked it up and found this article, which I pretty much agree with. Why do they still do this nonsense?

socal@11: Well you certainly haven’t seen a football game with Florida State have you? You definitely wouldn’t like them! They are the Seminoles.

I’m only 1/8, and didn’t live a Native American lifestyle, so am not claiming a right to be offended by it, but the Cherokees and other tribes have come out and said its “rascist and offensive”, so why do it? Its lame and unbelievably annoying. A couple of responses to the article: one guy says can you imagine the outrage if a teams fans burst out in slave songs, and since it would be unthinkable to do a fan chant based on Aftrican Americans, why is it ok to offend Native Americans? Another guy says the noise bugs him so much he mutes it and when you see shots of all the arms sticking out (those that don’t have the hideous foam things) that it looks disturbingly like a rally at Nuremburg. All the Southerners I’ve ever known are extremely polite. I don’t get this. I don’t like the stupid wave thing they do at Dodger Stadium either, or throwing a beach ball around, but at least those things don’t go on for the entire game and give you a headache.

Oh I didn’t know you were part Am. Indian socal. The Fl. State team is named the Seminoles and they do the chop too.

Although I never traced it, I do have some Am. Indian on my father’s side. You could really see it in his facial features and the same for my paternal grandmother. It really showed in her. In Kentucky, the Am. Indian background would have been Cherokee.

Watching the news from nola and it looks like T.S. Karen is fizzling out some. They have moved the track further off the coast of La.

Thats good news about the TS. We are having the “Santa Ana Winds” here in socal. Hot dry winds from desert in the southeast. They’re wretched. They generate positive charged ions which give you headaches, allergies and general grumpiness, and I have all three! The main concern about them though is that they create the perfect condition for fires. We desperately need rain.

My great grandma was Cherokee from OK. My big sis went to North Carolina & Ok this summer after their sojourn in SoBe ended to verify what tribe she was from. My mom said her Dad & Grandma completely ignored the Cherokee roots becuz of the prejudice they dealt with, people would spit on them when they were in town, etc, also she wouldn’t accept the govt checks she was due, (the govt gave them a small stipend for taking their land), and my mom said when she visited her grandma and they went to town, some man would chase her yelling at her to come and get her damn checks! My mom also said her grandma made her a beaded headband, and when she (my mom) visited the Smithsonian and went to the Cherokee exhibit, there was a headband just like hers. Unfortunately though, we don’t know much about her family cuz they just didn’t talk about it.

socal@16: Oh good grief, I know those Santa Ana’s are the ones that help stir up the fires out there.

My grandma was short and stout and “the boys” (my uncles) used to tease her and call her squaw and she would get p.o.’d and say yeah that was right and she was gonna go on the warpath if they didn’t hush! LOL!

I had thought about trying to trace the heritage, if for nothing else than I thought it might help with some fin. aid for college, but it was difficult getting a lot of info from my grandma. She knew some of the lineage but not enough to help me trace things back. And with my luck the bloodline would have been diluted enough that it wouldn’t have helped me for anything.

My mom has the Cherokee bone structure in her face, and even their shaped lips and nose, but Irish coloring, dark brown hair with auburn and blueish hazel eyes. She was very pretty and ran with a Hollywood crowd when she was young and did the famous nightclubs like the Cocoanut Grove at the old Ambassador Hotel. She has great stories. When we went to Chicago when I was little to meet my Greek grandpa, and she was introduced to him, he babbled something in Greek and my Greek relatives burst out laughing. He said “she doesn’t look like any squaw!” Apparently he loved cowboy movies and my relatives told him my dad married an Indian woman and he expected (and hoped for) a squaw. My mom was quite the fashionista btw, she dressed like Jackie Kennedy in those days.

Fredster, I thought about establishing mine also to see about fin aid for school but never got around to it. I can’t believe my older sister was the one to finally do it. She never seemed to care about family history. They were Ok during early July and she said the storms there were terrifying, lightning and a tornado.

That was Dad, he had the bone structure in the cheeks and the nose. His dad didn’t have those features so I know it all came from my grandma’s side for him.

Just gone done adding a few things to the post for (now) later today. Think I’ll call it a night.

BTW socal, did you ever think about what we had emailed you about? Just curious.

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