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“Patriot” Watch, Ctd. 7 – Jim Crow Edition

There has not been a “Patriot” Watch post on Semi-Partisan Sam for several months now, but this does not mean that America’s true patriots (ha) have been derelict in their duties. And by “duties”, I mean their habit of saying ever more outrageous things, associating themselves with thoroughly debunked ideologies and individuals, and generally causing embarrassment to mainstream conservatives who doesn’t necessarily view every implementation of an Obama policy as a call to reach for their muskets and tri-corner hats to march to Washington.

Honoring America...

Honoring America…

Salon Magazine has been keeping tabs, and has published a list of what they call “seven crazy right wing statements” that took place in just the past seven days. It is not an edifying spectacle:

1. Ted Cruz: We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the Senate

2. Glenn Beck: War is a progressive idea so I am now against it

3. Alex Jones: Globalist cyborgs are coming

4. Stuart Varney and Monica Crowley: EPA is trying to suffocate children

5. Minnesota archbishop: Satan is behind gay marriage

6. Texas GOP gov. candidate tweets that Wendy Davis is “too stupid to be governor.”

7. Internet advice from a nobody who wants to ruin perfect strangers’ lives: Dads, don’t educate your daughters!

Readers can delve into each of these gems at their own leisure; for the purposes of this entry I will focus on just one – Senator Ted Cruz’s unfortunate speech at a Heritage Foundation event honouring the late Senator Jesse Helms. Salon sums up Helms’ character and accomplishments thus:

For those who don’t remember, here are some of the fun-filled, wacky things Helms said and did:

  • He sang the confederate anthem “Dixie” in an elevator with Carol Moseley-Braun, the African-American senator from Illinois, and told Sen. Orrin Hatch in front of her that he was trying to make her cry.
  • He opposed integration, or “mixing of the races,” and called the University of North Carolina the “University of Negroes and Communists” because it was integrated.
  • He led a one-man, 16-day filibuster opposing the designation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday, and threatened to lead one to save South African apartheid.
  • More comically, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he seemed unable to absorb the fact that the North Korean president’s name was Kim Jong Il, not Kim Jong 2.
  • Unlike other like-minded Southern politicians Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, Helms never disavowed his racist, segregationist views even on his deathbed in 2008.

And this is the man that Ted Cruz chose to praise. In public.

Children, never meet your heroes. Never meet them, for you are bound to be disappointed. This blog has been an unabashed supporter of the likes of former Texas congressman Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, for some time. Frankly, their libertarian, small government message and advocacy for the “real people” as opposed to the moneyed and powerful special interest and elites is a very attractive political quality, albeit one that is dulled somewhat by their obsession with gold and abolishing the Federal Reserve.

But it seems that every time a seemingly viable libertarian-leaning politician emerges on the scene, they manage to torpedo themselves by doing something terribly naive, untoward or downright foolish. In the case of Paul Sr. we had the racist articles in the Ron Paul Newsletter, and in the case of Ted Cruz, the latest rising libertarian star, we now have recorded video footage of him praising an unrepentant racist and segregationist politician for going to Washington D.C. and “saying crazy things”.

Rachel Maddow does a good a job as any of expressing revulsion at Cruz’s decision to praise Helms in such a way:

 

With the Republican Party today, it always seems to be one step forward followed by two steps back. There were initially hopes after the 2012 election that the GOP might revise its stance on immigration reform so as to avoid demographic suicide in the coming decades, but this was swiftly followed by derogatory talk of latino “wetbacks” and children with “calves the size of cantaloupes” (from hauling drugs across the border, apparently) coming from elected Republican lawmakers.

Similarly, with the (at least partial) discrediting of the big-government, big-spending, deficits-be-damned, hawkish neo-conservative wing of the Republican party, it seemed as though an influx of new voices (such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio) might lead the GOP to a more appealing, sustainable stance in favour of protecting the rights of the average person rather than the moneyed special interest. One step forward. But, of course, this was followed by lots of shrieking about the unstoppable tide of Obamaist socialism in America, and coddling up to birthers and out-and-out racists. Two steps back.

Not enough people for the GOP to win a national majority again.

Not enough people for the GOP to win a national majority again.

Most of the reasons that this stance is so attractive to Republicans in the short term but so decisively in the medium to long terms have already been covered on this blog and elsewhere. But one angle that perhaps has not been discussed enough is the off-putting effect that these unsavoury positions have on younger voters. We have already seen the GOP reduce their opposition to gay marriage in light of its growing approval, seeming inevitability and support among young people.

Senators Cruz et al. would do well to remember that young people are also, generally speaking, not great fans of racism, segregation or Jim Crow laws, and that speaking at events honouring dead politicians who unabashedly supported all of these things is terrible, terrible PR for the party among new and future voters.

I beg the GOP, as someone who is naturally conservative and libertarian, and would have voted Republican in a previous age – courting the fringe as you are doing now is not worth the damage you are doing to the country, the two-party system or your own future political prospects.

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Beware Hurricane Bachmann

The pressure group Climate Name Change has published an hilarious video on YouTube, imagining a world where the World Meteorological Organisation names extreme storms not after everyday, innocent people (thereby tarring their names by association with devastating natural disasters), but instead after some of the more intractable anti-science climate change deniers currently serving in the US Congress:

 

I must say, I do quite like the idea of a Hurricane Bachmann or a Tropical Storm Steve King:

“Senator Marco Rubio is expected to pound the eastern seaboard sometime early tonight”

or

“Now, Michele Bachmann is on the way folks, and specifically the eye of Michele Bachmann will be hitting Florida in a few hours”

This is not to say that I am totally intolerant of climate change skeptics. I can certainly appreciate the potentially distorting effects of groupthink in the scientific community, and at a stretch I can see how some of the data points, correlations and trajectories may have been exaggerated to better fit a pre-ordained narrative, intentionally or not.

What I have no time for, however, are the mouth-breathing troglodytes – serving Republican members of the U.S. Congress – who talk about dinosaur flatulence or a literal interpretation of the Bible’s account of Noah’s flood as a way of trying to discredit scientific evidence. All in the cause, they innocently protest, of “having a fair debate about the issues”.

Semi-Partisan Sam says “no” to all of that.

Why Republicans Will Keep Losing

Because of shenanigans like this:

 

A normal, rational response when a constituent asks a question about how to stop the “foreign born, America-hating communist despot” illegally occupying the White House might be to correct him on the basic factual errors in his statement, and to move on to a saner question.

But not if you are US Representative Martha Roby from Alabama (where else). She thanks the gentleman for his question, makes a light-hearted joke about the volume at which he made his point…and then pivots and actually responds to his question, emphasising how important the congressional oversight aspect of her job is when it comes to keeping Obama’s evil Marxist plans in check.

Omar Rivero, writing at occupydemocrats, notes:

This is a big part of the reason why Pres. Obama trounced Mitt Romney in 2012, and why the Republican Party continues to push away moderates, minorities, young Americans, students, and the like. Instead of shining a spotlight on the ugliest and most extreme elements lurking and growing within their party, they are happy to look the other way as bigotry and xenophobia slowly capture their base.

It seems like anything is fair game as long as it is directed at Pres. Obama. The Republican Party has worked night and day to cleverly define him as the “other”, and their chickens have come home to roost.

Their shameless and opportunistically ploy to arouse suspicion of Pres. Obama’s goals and policies has backfired, creating an increasingly paranoid and bigoted base.

Absolutely right. You can’t be a serious national party and keep close ties to people like the town hall questioner in this video. While many Americans may disapprove of President Obama’s policies, a majority do understand that he was American-born and legally elected, and regard this fringe right-wing hysteria as silly, if not downright contemptible. And we see this time and again, with deranged anti-Obama loons asking their Republican representatives questions dripping with ignorance, racism or both, only to have those same representatives take the question and run with it rather than correcting the record.

Until the Republican Party grows a pair and stops being fearful of alienating these fringe lunatics by publicly correcting them and disassociating themselves from some of the more hyperbolic Tea Party nonsense, they won’t be taken seriously by enough Americans to win another national election. And as long as they tacitly endorse the idea – or rely on the support of those who believe – that the president of the United States secretly hates the country that he leads, they will continue to be a laughing stock and a source of shame to anyone with an average or higher IQ.

Romney’s huge, resounding, calamitous election defeat will soon be one year in the past. Time to grow up, now.

The Cowardice Of The American Right

It was recently confirmed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, has been presented with criminal charges for his actions.

Predictably, this has made many people on the American right wing very unhappy indeed.

Fox News had devoted hours of coverage post-capture to whether or not Tsarnaev should be read his miranda rights, and the talking heads are not pleased with this turn of events, which will see the suspect given access to legal advice and representation if he chooses to avail himself of it.

The ever-opportunistic Lindsey Graham has been vigorously agitating for Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant, despite being a United States citizen detained on US soil.

And Donald Trump – whom Republicans actually toyed with the idea of making their presidential nominee in 2012 – took to Twitter in high outrage, and was already dusting off his waterboard in order to torture the suspect before the criminal charges were filed.

All of these things happened, and were easily predictable, because the Republicans are the ones with the strong national security credentials, right? They are the ones that make the tough decisions required to keep us safe.

No. All of these things happened because the Republicans who espouse these views are cowards.

Cowards, cowards, cowards.

Of course, this form of cowardice has to masquerade as macho strength and firmness, but cowardice is what it is, and cowardice is what I will call it today.

There is no evidence as yet that the evil plot to kill and maim innocent civilians as they watched and ran in the Boston Marathon was part of a wider international conspiracy. It may be the case that the suspects acted under foreign direction, or received their radicalisation or training from abroad, but no evidence of this has yet been presented.

Neither is there any credible intelligence that these attacks were the first action of a broader wave of related strikes on the US mainland. Yes, there followed some suspicious mail packages in the following days, as happened after 9/11, but these are not thought to be related.

Nor does anyone yet know the motivations for the attack (not that this should matter – as with capriciously invented “hate crimes”, we should be punishing the act, not the motivation), whether it be jihadist in nature, domestic grievances or the alienation and evil act of specific individuals acting alone.

None of this is known.

And yet the Republican party – this group of people who routinely and unabashedly wrap themselves in the American flag and proclaim themselves the only real “patriots” and defenders of the constitution, would happily, eagerly, throw away some of the most fundamental rights granted to US citizens under the constitution.

It is absolutely astonishing that no one calls out the GOP for the rank hypocrisy which has emanated from the mouths of some of their members in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

That the same party who proclaimed “I Stand With Rand” when Senator Rand Paul mounted his laudable filibuster to register his objection to the idea of aerial drone strikes being used to kill US citizens on US soil denied those very same principles and agitated for the government to strip those same citizens of the right to a civilian trial.

These are the people, remember, who like to pump up their base with talk of second amendment remedies – because if you can’t beat Obama at the ballot box, the answer, of course, is to strap on your guns, rise up and overthrow his democratic mandate by force.

This is the party that says “you can pry my rifle from my cold dead hands” whenever anyone questions the modern applicability of, or limits to, the Second Amendment.

These are the people who take the fight to the enemy, who pre-emptively launch wars in order to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”.

In other words, those on the neo-conservative right in America like to play the hard man, and strut around as though there were a very large, impressive appendage between their legs whenever they talk about foreign policy or national security. Right up until the moment that something happens to spook them close to their own back yard.

But when the nation suffers an attack such as that which took place last Monday in Boston, all of the tough talk disappears and these Republican armchair warriors rush to shelter behind the legs of the Big Government that they love to trash at all other times, and they urge that erstwhile-“tyrannical” government to use the full weight of its vast might, plus an added heap of unconstitutionally appropriated power, to hurt the Bad People and make them go away. Even if the Bad People are US citizens. It’s pathetic.

Weak, weak, weak.

Andrew Sullivan says it best today on his blog, and I quote in full:

The first US citizen, Jose Padilla, was captured on US soil, detained without formal charges, accused of plotting a dirty bomb, and then brutally tortured until he was a human wreck. Eventually, the dirty bomb charges were dropped in the legal process. And there was a serious question about whether, after such brutal torture and isolation, he had been psychologically brutalized by his own government to the point of insanity.

Tsarnaev, in contrast, was formally charged this morning, will be tried in a civilian court, go through due process, and face a weight of evidence against him.

This is why we elected Obama. To bring America back. To defend this country without betraying its core principles.

Hear, hear.

Santorum Lurks

Rick Santorum

In case anyone was worried that Rick Santorum had taken his Republican primary election loss, or the GOP’s presidential election blow-out too much to heart, they need fear no longer.

RealClearPolitics reports that, undeterred by the now undeniable shift away from his socially regressive, paternalistic, authoritarian positions on just about all social issues, he is laying the groundwork to run for the Republican nomination once again in 2016.

Scott Conroy from RealClearPolitics writes:

The main event during Santorum’s impending return to Iowa will be his keynote speech in Urbandale at the annual spring fundraising dinner for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a Christian conservative group that holds deep influence among evangelical caucus-goers in the state. He also is slated to participate in a Des Moines luncheon on behalf of a pro-life medical research group.

In both appearances, Santorum is expected to defend what he has called the “soul of the Republican Party” against forces within it that are increasingly eager to downplay or reconsider longstanding aspects of its platform.

His eagerness to remain on the front lines of this intra-party fight comes after Santorum spent much of the 2012 campaign defending his hard-line positions on social issues while also aiming to expand his appeal by touting his blue-collar credentials and economic populism.

Apparently, Rick Santorum is particularly eager to ensure that the GOP does not follow in the footsteps of Senator Rob Portman and others, and continue to “evolve” on those social issues where they are increasingly at odds with public sentiment:

But well before the 2016 GOP field begins to take shape, Santorum’s paramount political priority is to push back against the winds of change within the party. In particular, he’s focused on a de-emphasis — and in some cases an evolution — of stances on social issues in order to attract more moderate voters in general elections and acknowledge shifts in the broader electorate’s views.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register this week that set the stage for his upcoming visit, Santorum was asked about the recent avowals of support for gay marriage made by Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Santorum dismissed the growing notion that further movement within the GOP on the issue is inevitable, given polls showing a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

“The Republican Party’s not going to change on this issue,” he said. “In my opinion, it would be suicidal if it did.”

I suppose one must admire Santorum’s consistency. He doesn’t believe that the GOP should evolve politically in terms of their stance on gay marriage, just as he rejects the notion of biological evolution in nature.

Two universal truths of politics in the United States of America – Iowa will continue to play a disproportionately large role in vetting and selecting presidential candidates given it’s sparse population and lack of relative real importance in the union; and Rick Santorum will remain thoroughly uncompromising on all matters social and “moral”.