Friday, August 08, 2014


The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Will the Republicans in the House actually impeach President Obama? I don’t know, but the recent furor over the question has provided us with the hilarious spectacle of one-half of the party trying desperately to keep people from noticing what the other half is doing.
Some Republicans, of course, have been muttering the “I” word since Mr. Obama’s election. The carping got louder when they found, to their shock, that they couldn’t beat him in 2012. Recently, the issue burst back onto the national conversation as the Queen of Wingnuttia herself, failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, wrote an inflammatory op-ed for the current flagship for right-wing lunacy, the website
“It’s time to impeach,” the Quitta From Wasilla said flatly. “Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis is the last straw that makes the battered wife say, ‘No mas.’”
Well, I guess comparing not getting your political way to being an abused spouse is more classy than their usual complaint of being just like chattel slaves or Holocaust victims, but not by much.
Conservative pundit Smilin’ Bill Kristol, usually a Palin cheerleader, was unequivocal in his rejection of the whole idea of impeachment. He directly responded to Palin’s call on ABC’s “This Week” by flatly declaring, “No responsible elected official has called for impeachment.”
That one had to sting, because Kristol has always pushed Palin’s seriousness as a political voice. Of course, this means that impeachment is inevitable, because, as we all know, Bill Kristol is always, always wrong.
Orange John Boehner was even firmer in his denial, claiming that the “whole talk about impeachment” was a “scam” started by Democratic fundraisers to try to drum up contributions for the upcoming election. It’s all “coming from the president’s own staff and Democrats on Capitol Hill.”
This should come as a surprise to:
— Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who told Breitbart News Saturday, “From my standpoint, if the president [enacts more executive actions], we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives. That’s my position, and that’s my prediction.”
— Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who told a radio interviewer: “Not a day goes by when people don’t talk to us about impeachment. I don’t know what rises to that level yet, but I know that there’s a mounting frustration that a lot of people are getting to, and I think Congress is going to start looking at it very seriously.”
— Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), who, according to another story on, “told colleagues that the House should pass legislation with new steps to secure the border, and tell Obama if he didn’t implement it, they would impeach him.”
— Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-N.H.), who said she’d vote for impeachment because, according to her, the president “has many, many impeachable offenses, it seems to me, in terms of his disregard for our Constitution alone.”
And of course, no parade of wingnuts would be complete without its grand marshal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Bedlam), who stopped short of calling for immediate impeachment, then immediately claimed it’s “what the people want.”
“There isn’t a weekend that hasn’t gone by,” she said, “that someone says to me, ‘Michele, what in the world are you all waiting for in Congress? Why aren’t you impeaching the president?”
While it is highly likely that the “someone” she refers to is one of the voices buzzing in her head, she and her pals in the Teahadist Caucus seem awfully fixated on something that their alleged leader says is a Democratic idea.
Did all of these people (and a half-dozen other House Republicans who have either outright called for impeachment or who can’t stop talking about unspecified “impeachable offenses”) join the White House staff or cross the aisle to the Dem side when we weren’t looking?
John Boehner knows the lessons of history. He knows that the doomed impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton caused Clinton’s popularity ratings to skyrocket. He also knows that while impeachment is a big seller among Republicans, less than a third of the general electorate favors it, and 63 percent of independents flat out oppose it.
So, in a weak imitation of the Great and Powerful Oz, Orange John is bellowing for us to “pay no attention to those Republicans behind the curtain!” while pushing his own substitute: a lawsuit against President Obama’s delay in enacting a law the House has tried to repeal so many times I’ve lost count.
Sadly, Boehner is neither great nor powerful. His caucus is out of control and pushing not solutions to problems, but bogus lawsuits and political grandstanding. That’s what the Democrats are raising money to fight. They’re right to do so.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Truth or Parody?

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Lord, it’s hot out there. It’s hot enough to make a bishop cuss. Birds are pulling worms out of the ground using potholders. I saw a dog chasing a cat and they were both walking.
So, since it’s too hot to go outside, let’s stay inside and play a game. How about one of my favorite games: “Truth or Parody”? I’ll tell you an occurrence and you tell me if it actually happened, or if it’s satire.
Ready? Here we go:
1. A Republican congressman from Florida created a series of awkward moments during a congressional hearing when he warmly welcomed a pair of witnesses with brown skin and East Asian names by talking about how he wanted closer relations with their country and how fond he was of “Bollywood” movies (a genre of musical cinema made in India). Unfortunately, the witnesses were both Americans who are senior officials in the U.S. government.
2.  Ex-Alaska Gov. and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin recently unveiled an online subscription video service where her fans can pay $9.95 a month to watch messages from Palin and hear her commentaries on a variety of issues. Unfortunately, the launch of the service was spoiled by a glitch in which all of the videos quit halfway through playback.
3. Outgoing Minnesota Rep. and potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann recently proposed solving the problem of unaccompanied immigrant children by creating labor camps, or as she called them, “Americanization facilities.” She said, “We’d get private-sector business leaders to locate to those facilities and give these children low-risk jobs to do. And they’d learn about the American way of life, earn their keep, and everyone wins in the end.”
4. An Arizona state legislator spoke out against national Common Core standards by claiming he’d heard they used “fuzzy math” that “substitutes letters for numbers at some points” — a description of algebra.
And now, the answers:
1.  True. Last Thursday, freshman Rep. Curt Clawson, despite having a list of witnesses to a congressional hearing before him, mistook Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar as representatives of the Indian government.
According to an article in Foreign Policy Magazine, “Although both Biswal and Kumar were introduced as U.S. officials by the chairman of the Asia and Pacific subcommittee, Clawson repeatedly asked them questions about ‘your country’ and ‘your government,’ in reference to the state of India.”
Clawson (the tea party candidate, naturally) later used a basketball metaphor, describing the incident as “throwing an air ball” on his part. I’d say it’s more like he came on the court and tackled one of his assistant coaches after unsuccessfully trying to throw him out at third.
2.  Half true. Sarah Palin’s new Internet subscription website is designed, in her words, to “go beyond the sound bites and cut through the media’s politically correct filter.” And, one suspects, avoid those pesky confrontations with reality that even the formerly fawning Fox News has been forcing on her.
But the part about the videos cutting off halfway through was my little joke. Given half-term governor Palin’s track record in regard to sticking with things, however, I wouldn’t spring for the long-term subscription.
3.  Parody. One that caught quite a few people, because when it comes to Congresswoman Crazy Eyes, no pronouncement seems too bizarre. This is, after all, the woman who recently said that the unaccompanied children flooding the U.S. Southern border came from “Yemen, Iran, Iraq and other terrorist nations,” and that they might be carrying “Ebola and other diseases like that,” even though there is not a shred of evidence for either claim.
4.  True. State Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, told a Senate education committee that he was suspicious of Common Core standards because they’d been “hijacked by Washington.” Asked by another legislator if he’d actually seen the standards, Melvin said he’d been “exposed to them” and that there was “fuzzy math that substitutes letters for numbers.” For God’s sake, let’s not expose the poor man to calculus. Those Greek letters will blow his little mind.
A maxim developed on the Internet, known as Poe’s Law, states that “without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism” (definition via Wikipedia).
Or, as I put it, “The hard part about satire is staying ahead of reality.” This difficulty is particularly pronounced when you’re dealing with the party of proud ignorance, manic xenophobia, and general craziness.
Enjoy your August!