The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Lee

Overheard at the Widdershin water cooler this week – we are fed up with: (A) Anthropological stories about down-on-their-luck rural Trump voters; (B) Blind hypocrisy by Republicans; and (C) Craven, cowardly, chicken-hearted Democrats.

No can of Pepsi delivered by a Kardashian will cure these ills, but if you can tolerate the next 600 words, what’s say we start a conversation about it?

Everyone and their dog have written about the poor rural Trump voter. You’d think they are forgotten indigenous tribes being described by Sir Stanley as he plundered the jungles of Appalachia looking for Livingstone. The money-shot quotes are as cheap and unrevealing as assisted living porn.

Capturing a chronically ill Trump voter is crazy good copy, but it does nothing to explain the highest truth of political science: Humans are complex creatures.

Stories about individual voting patterns are useless. They are not actionable. People may vote on God, guns, or gays. They may vote based upon what they divine from chicken entrails. Who knows? You can’t divorce someone from their experiential data. You can try to expand it by education, but you can’t bleach an imprinted brain.

For instance, we can accurately say 2 out of 3 of these woebegone Trump voters believe “discrimination has become just as large a problem for white people as it has for blacks and other minorities.” We can also accurately say such a belief is highly correlated to bigotry and racism, but that doesn’t mean everyone who voted for Trump is a racist.

Keeping two competing truisms in one brain at the same time is impossible for many people. It can result in exploding heads, but realizing such complexity is just the beginning of trying to understand voting patterns.

I live amongst Trump voters. My county went 80% for Trump. They aren’t all unemployed ignorant hillbilly coal miners. While some are, if you asked the vast majority, they believe the “liberal media” portrays them that way. There is no chance of starting a conversation around those two data points.

Likewise, I catch myself in perpetual agony over Republican hypocrisy until I remind myself, “Those who ride high horses are always above hypocrisy.”

For instance, there is no Republican guilt over 78 filibusters in the first five years of the Obama administration compared to only 68 in the entire previous history of the country.

The most recent act of hypocrisy doesn’t even seem to register. During the Obama years, almost 100 Republican members of Congress threatened impeachment if he dared attack Syria. Then Dolt 45 chucks $80 Million in cruise missiles closing an abandoned airfield for about twelve hours and it is time for ticker tape and Mt. Rushmore sculpting. Obama was excoriated for following the Constitution and Dolt 45 basks in his glistening orangey-ness.

Which leads us to the feckless Democrats who always seem to find a chicken-hearted way to react? The Gorsuch debacle is a prime example.

Utah acne cream model and Senator Mike Lee implied that Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are wild-eyed liberals. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth, but this, like so many other issues, demonstrates how unanswered hyperbole sets the narrative.

Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have been so far to the right you can’t even see the center from where they are perched. Proof of this: Justice Kennedy is the swing vote and he’s one of the most conservative justices in the history of the court.

Mitch McConnell has broken the Senate in an ultimate power play after denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing or a vote. Such an act will rank up there in all time political slime, but he did it because he could.

Democrats have made it easy for Republicans to beat them like rented mules. There is no punishment for a Manchin or Heitkamp other than the broken legs they get from jumping to the Republican side on issues. There is no punishment for a non-Democrat to waltz into a Democratic primary and harm the eventual nominee.

Because of this behavior voters see one party as definitive and the other as milquetoast. Republicans take incredibly asinine positions, but they stake out ground for their voters and never look back. Democrats bathe everything in lukewarm timidity. As my old boss once told me, “In politics if you try to get away with being half-assed, you aren’t even good at being an ass.” I wish more Democrats understood that.

This brings us full circle – when it comes to voters, you can’t replace catnip with broccoli and expect the same result. Democrats are coming to understand that, but the understanding is being driven by the grassroots. We need to keep it up. Call congressional offices. Write letters. It makes a difference.

What’s on your mind today?

 

 

 

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Good afternoon Widdershinners.  Here’s hoping your Tuesday is a great one.

Last Friday we looked at the causality links between Tea Party adherents and their loss of social prestige — their fear of Palin Cruz Vet Marchlosing the “real America.”  And this past weekend, as if it was an annoyingly persistent STD, it appeared — let’s call it “CLP”, the Cruz, Lee, Palin syndrome. Too bad Rep. Amash was not a part of it so it could have been plain old CLAP.

To recap, Friday was to bring thousands of enraged truckers to D.C. in what was billed as a truckocalypse.  Few showed up.  Sunday was to bring a Million Veterans March.  A few hundred showed up.  Not to worry, where there is the slightest ember of outrage, the usual cast of characters will show up to stoke it.

Sunday’s Hundreds of Veterans March was co-opted by Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Sarah Palin.  So there is no confusion, Cruz and Lee were there to register their outrage at the government shutdown.  The very shutdown they helped engineer.  This fact had the analogy engines working overtime this weekend.  One analogy was:  Ted Cruz wailing about the government shutdown is like O.J. searching for the real killer.

While good, I thought I would try my hand:  Ted Cruz appearing at a rally to protest the shutdown is like Dr. Jekyll leading a support group for multiple personalities and being infuriated when Mr. Hyde shows up and asks, “Did I miss anything?”

A particularly interesting speaker Sunday was Mr. Larry Klayman, founder of FreedomWatch.  For those keeping score, Mr. Klayman’s prior claim to fame was during the Clinton impeachment.  Shortly thereafter, his next claim to fame was being booted from his own organization.  With the same spittle splattered microphone used by Cruz, Lee, and Palin, Klayman dialed up the insurrectionist hatemongering by saying:

I call on all Americans to engage in a non-violent second American  revolution of civil disobedience.  Obama bows down to Allah.  I demand this President leave town and get out.  He should put the Quran down, get off his knees, and figuratively come out with his hands up.

Confederate Flag American Flag White HouseThis raving lunacy is a pitched cry for relevancy.  The shutdown is now a 15-day wail of “pay attention to me” by a 30-40 Tea Party insurgents who have sworn fealty to Cruz and are following him down the swirl of the cesspool.  In the land of the blind a one-eyed man is king.  Given that most Tea Partiers would have difficulty spelling “CR” there is little wonder how Cruz has captured their attention.

The saner precincts of the Republican party are asking, “How did we allow this to happen?”  This is the same establishment that ceded its philosophical direction and soul to radio clowns who are paid tens of millions a year to fulminate this type of outrageous rhetoric.  I would just remind these Republican party elders, “When you climb in a clown car it’s hard to complain about your fellow commuters.”

Daniel Goleman, the psychologist who wrote Emotional Intelligence, recently penned an interesting essay entitled, Rich People Just Care Less.  It is an insightful look at the chasm between the One-percenters and everyone else.  For those who lack the time to enjoy the full essay, here are some excerpts:

[M]etaphors for condescending or dismissive behavior are more than just descriptive.  They suggest the social distance between those with greater power and those with less…A prerequisite to empathy is simply paying attention to the person in pain….Tuning in to the needs and feelings of another person is a prerequisite to empathy, which in turn can lead to understanding, concern and, if the circumstances are right, compassionate action….Social distance makes it all the easier to focus on small differences between groups and to put a negative spin on the ways of others and a positive spin on our own.  Freud called this “the narcissism of minor differences“…This widening gulf between the haves and have-less troubles me, but not for the obvious reasons.  Apart from the financial inequities, I fear the expansion of an entirely different gap, caused by the inability to see oneself in a less advantaged person’s shoes.  Reducing the economic gap may be impossible without also addressing the gap in empathy.

Goleman’s hypothesis was on full display this weekend.  Lee, Palin, and Klayman boarded the “Cruz line” plying the seas of narcissistic differences.  On this cruise there are no lifeboats of empathy — there aren’t even life vests of understanding, concern, or compassionate action.  There is only a burgeoning lack of understanding being stoked by the flames of hate, discord, and indifference.  Those who employ such tactics too often fail to consider:  When you burn white-hot, the light is bright, but the fuel is soon spent.  That time can’t come soon enough for me.

This is an open thread.

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.

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Morning Widdershin friends.  Here’s to a grand and glorious Friday.

Let’s review.

In talking about the tendency of the Tea Party caucus to always say, “No,” who said, “We could send monkeys to just push the red ‘No’ button?”

A. Jack Hanna

B. Tarzan

C.  Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) self-retired

In analogizing the Tea Party caucus to kamikaze pilots, what publication said, “It’s a practice that doesn’t turn out too well for the pilots?”

A. Mad Magazine

B. Drink More Saki Monthly

C. Wall Street Journal

In explaining the downside of Republicans shutting down the government, who said, “We can’t be Custer?”

A. Sarah Palin when she stated, “Of course we can’t be ice cream!”

B. Donald Trump when he stated, “He’s a loser, Custer wore a toupee!”

C. Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

In explaining the depth of Sen. Ted Cruz’ self-serving, pandering, political cowardice, who said, “Texas State Senator Wendy Davis has more balls than Ted Cruz?”

A. Ted Cruz’ gynecologist

B. Camel toe expert Kathy Griffin

C. An aide to Speaker John Boehner

So, in review:  Mad, crazy things happen.  Politicians sometimes say some very unlikely things, but one thing of Palin Cruzwhich we can always be sure — when it comes to politics, there is always some underlying reason for the madness.

With that as a basis, let’s consider for a moment why the Republican Party, at all costs, would defend big insurance companies and at the same time do incalculable damage to the economy.

It just doesn’t make sense or does it?

The Daily Beast has surmised it’s because of the fundraising cottage industry that has sprung up around lesser known fringe Republicans.  These are the good souls who are capitalizing on the adage, “The best way to separate a senior citizen from their social security check is fear and at the moment the best way to fulminate fear is Obamacare.”

While motives as bald as fundraising scams are nice, neat, and easy to understand, the real reasons are rarely as straightforward.

Here’s what I believe is going on.  Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and various conservative 501(c)(4)s, most notably the political arm of Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation, see Obamacare as the easiest, surest way to motivate the fringe base.  It isn’t just motivating the fringe of the fringe for 2014, it’s about building a political infrastructure for 2016.

When asked what he did on his summer vacation, Cruz can tell about crisscrossing the country talking to the primordial base about killing Obamacare — talking to the most active and certainly the surest primary voters.

Cruz’ plan, underwritten by a half-million dollars from Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation’s PAC, is politically and strategically brilliant.  Cruz knows there is no chance of the defunding plan to get a second gulp of air in the Senate.

The alternative?

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That’s a line from Macbeth where Ross is about to tell Macduff “all his pretty chickens and their dam” have been sent to the great Perdue Farm in the sky. When hearing this week John McCain had gotten all mavericky again, I thought of that line.

Senate Republican Caucus meeting...

Senate Republican Caucus meeting…

It seems as though McCain and Lady Lindsay, the Kukla and Fran of the Senate, have had enough of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. While I would like to believe McCain is getting his “altruism on” for the country, I think he smells blood in the water.

Given that Mitch McTurtle now has a Tea Party primary on his fins, he finds himself in a box (hmmm, box turtle?). Sen. McTurtle has to guard against his right flank, but not too aggressively since Alison Lundergan Grimes can use it as a wedge. So McTurtle’s strategy is most likely to climb back in his shell and hope he can ride out the coming storm over appropriations.

McCain sees this as an opportunity to be wall-to-wall on the Sunday shows for the next two months. The battle is already brewing since only 11 senators have signed up with Santa Anna Cruz for his Alamo strategy of tying all appropriations to yet another repeal Obamacare gambit.

Anyone with hobbling around sense in the Senate knows Cruz’s strategy is a fool’s errand since the enabling legislation of the ACA deemed its funding as essential. This means even if Cruz were successful, the funding for Obamacare would continue apace (spillover from the earlier Shakespeare quote) because it has protected status.

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