I can understand why many Americans are fed up with the federal government. Over the years, I have read (and written) stories of the scandalous waste in which Washington seems to revel. I vaguely remember back in the Sixties, for example, writing about military contracts that paid more than a thousand dollars for an ordinary hammer. And, from all accounts little has changed.
And don’t think for a minute that America is unique. I worked for the governments of Canada and Jamaica, and similar behavior was evident in both cases.
Once in Canada, flying first-class from Toronto to Ottawa on the government’s dime, I remarked to the senior civil servant next to me that it seemed outrageous for us to be enjoying such luxury when some poor old lady in Nova Scotia was gathering firewood to pay her taxes. After withering me with a glance, he patiently explained that the government doesn’t spend money, it just puts money in circulation and it all comes back in one tax or another (that’s what I got from his explanation anyway).
In Jamaica, I would spend as much wining and dining a visiting journalist in a week as the average Jamaican made in a month. And it was considered money well spent – at least by my government employers.
I suppose there is some justification for the lavish manner in which governments spend the taxes they collect, but it sure looks bad. And I cannot find any justification for such blatant robbery as the Savings & Loans collapse and the recent bailout of the financial giants on Wall Street. These coups were so obviously the result of some kind of criminal conspiracy that I wonder the American population did not take to the streets in rage.
Still, conceding all of that, I do not understand the Tea Party.
And I certainly do not understand the representatives the Tea Party sent to Washington.
I can only assume that the Tea Party is the result of undirected anger and frustration combined with extremely low intelligence. Enraged bumpkins lashing out in any and every direction to release their frustration have been manipulated by Machiavellian schemers to become allies of the very villains responsible for their pain. This was achieved by appealing to their ancient prejudices and unschooled mythology.
It’s as if the Bolsheviks were co-opted by the Czar.
One consequence of this unlikely alliance is the domination of the Republican Party by latter-day Joan of Arc types, who are pursuing a crusade to destroy the American government – and, I suppose, build a new Jerusalem on the ruins.
How else to explain the behavior of the 112th (and 113th) Congress?
Writing in Salon today, Alex Pareene concludes that Congress is afflicted by a group of members who are – in plain words – idiots. So mentally challenged that they cannot be led, these bulls in a china shop “are going to bumble us into catastrophe,” Pereene warns.
And he is not afraid to name the idiots. Here’s an example:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who held an iPad listing the names of would-be anti-Boehner conspirators in full view of a journalist’s camera, is an idiot. He is not just a person whose politics I find distasteful or extremist, he is a dumber-than-average human. Paul Broun and Louie Gohmert are two of the dumbest people on Earth. In a slightly better functioning political world, these three would just do what their smarter leader told them to do. Instead, they and their colleagues have forced their leader to act as if he is as dumb as they are regarding the process of governing. Boehner’s new position is that he will not attempt to negotiate with the party that shares control of the government, which makes no sense as a strategy for achieving conservative policy goals, but makes sense if you think the best way to achieve conservative policy goals is to destroy the country until everyone agrees with you.
Pereene points to a global financial disaster if the “idiots” are allowed to block payment of America’s debts, as they have vowed to do.
In a Third World country, the army might step in to restore order, but this is not a Third World country (not yet), this is America, the world’s foremost democracy. The Constitution does not leave room for military intervention. But something equally drastic is called for. The way the government is set up, its power rests on three legs – Congress, the Supreme Court and the President.
When one leg fails – as Congress so demonstrably has, the other two legs must bear the burden of government. In other words, the President, with the Court’s support, will have to make sure that America fulfills its financial obligations when the time comes.
With or without the consent of Congress.