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      Herding Hyenas

      3 years ago

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      Herding Hyenas

      Boehner Joyfully Resigns/Far Right Moves Farther



      By Ray Cunneff

      September 25, 2015


      Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) once described his leadership roles in both the House and Senate as "herding cats". For more than thirty years, Trent Lott was one of the dominant figures in American political life. From the moment he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, he was a leader in the conservative movement that fought to change the course of the nation. From his years in Congress to his ascent to majority leader of the Senate, and his decision to leave that post in the heat of controversy, his book "Herding Cats - A life in Politics" offered a frank and revealing chronicle of a unique political life.

      But Trent Lott never had to deal with a situation now faced by House Republicans in the wake of John Boehner's resignation. Cats may scratch, shred the furniture, but rarely go for the jugular (except for the big cats). But today's crop of ultra-conservative Republicans, those who demand to govern but don't believe in governance, who don't believe in dialogue or compromise, cheer Boehner's departure as someone "too reasonable".

      Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said that Boehner had resigned because he knew that he could lose his position. "There's no question conservatives had a victory here," he said. Huelskamp is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, the group that was trying to oust Boehner. But Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said that Boehner was sacrificing his position for the good of the conference. "I think that following the pope's visit, this is sacrificial love on his behalf to strengthen the Republican conference. It's really amazing and unheard of in modern-day politics," he said.

      Meanwhile, a group of social conservatives were gathered for the start of the annual Values Voter Summit, where dozens of politicians were scheduled to speak over the next few days. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) delivered the news of Boehner's resignation to the audience to huge cheers and a standing ovation from attendees, underscoring the opposition Boehner often faced from within his own party.

      Asked about the resignation, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) skipped the niceties and went straight to criticizing Boehner, without naming him, and Mitch McConnell for making promises to conservatives and not keeping them. "I have long said leadership decisions are decisions to be made by the House, but I have also long called on Republican leadership to do something unusual, which is lead,” Cruz said at a press conference hosted by Liberty Institute. “To actually stand up and honor the commitments that we made to the American people. There’s a frustration across this country. It is volcanic. And it’s not complicated to understand.”

      One intriguing story is Boehner's desire yesterday for a brief private meeting with the Pope. He didn't quite get the truly private meeting, some Cardinals lingered in the room with them, but presumably Boehner, a devout Catholic, knew that he was about to resign and wanted to discuss it with Pope Francis. But the Pope's message of civility in the conduct of the nation's business collapsed within hours as the partisan vitriol erupted on the news of Boehner's resignation.

      While mainstream Republicans favored Kevin McCarthy to replace Boehner, the far-right finds McCarthy too amiable, not angry enough. They will march in lockstep to find someone singing "Burning Down The House".


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          Ray Cunneff
          3 years ago

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          Everything I needed to know about politics, I learned from the Two-headed Monster of Sesame Street. Picture the major political parties in Congress conjoined as a two headed character. Now imagine that character paddling in a kayak on a river with three hundred million people lining the river banks to watch and receive "gifts" stored in the kayak. The gifts they distribute were paid for with money collected from the crowd; as was the kayak, paddle, and the salary of the paddler. Even those who could not or simply did not contribute receive something. The choice of paddling upstream or downstream must be made because only a small portion of the crowd will see and benefit from the gifts and entertainment if they were merely paddling in a circle. Both heads enjoy making the spectacle and each aspires to be the head-head.

          Paddling upstream is harder, but they agree that it is the only way to keep the entire crowd's attention and distribute their cargo. Choosing to parallel the left bank or right bank and appease constituents on that side first is made. When they have distributed to everyone on their upstream journey, they casually drift downstream along the opposite bank to access the rest waiting along that stretch. When they have satisfied all of that part of their constiuency, they cross the stream and paddle back upstream to distribute the last of their largess and take on more cargo.

          They do not offer to share the kayak, give rides, or solicit advice. Although they have travelled far, they end where they began and have made no progress. No one chose to contribute, no one helped choose the "gifts" or to whom they would go, and most would have fared better if they had retained the money they had "contributed" and bought their own gifts. No one was saved, no one was spared the spectacle, and when the kayak and its occupant are removed from the stream, neither leaves an impression.

          Government is supposed to create a positive atmosphere in which all of the constituents have the opportunity to pursue positive goals that result in life, liberty and happiness. Government was not to favor those on the left bank over those on the right, or vice versa. These are the people whose forebearers had struck an agreement and made a binding compact as their legacy to all of their descendants. That some elements of the population have advantages in intelligence, creativity and productivity does not negate the claim that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...", as stated in The Declaration Of Independence.

          What that statement asserts is that there should not be, and is not, any advantage automatically obtained from the social or economic station of one's parents; essentially refuting the "God given right of kings" to rule in a hereditary succession. Just because one's forebearers were intelligent, capable, moral, and possessed of good character does not guarantee that their offspring will not be imbeciles, incompetents and generally sub-human miscreants or petty tyrants. Noble leaders rule only because their decisions have merit and resonate with the vast majority of those subject to those decisions; not because the individual is charasmatic, wealthy or physically powerful. In a democratic republic, leaders are selected from among the constituents based upon the best interest of the people, as they perceive it, and each individual candidate's perceived ability to accomplish their shared goals.

          Boehner is an appeaser, not a compromiser, just as McConnell is and Chamberlain was. One cannot negotiate with evil. It is not a compromise when one agrees to the lesser of two evils. It is a compromise when both parties to an agreement subscribe to an honorable common goal for the common welfare and which does no harm to anyone. It is a compromise when both parties agree to contribute equal effort for equal recognition on projects that benefit all the constituents fairly.

          Compromise, in politics, means exchanging pledges to back an opponent's self-serving legislation. If one legislator supports and a counterpart opposes legislation to build a shelter with public funds, a political compromise is building a shoddy house in the morning so it can collapse in the afternoon. Potential beneficiaries lose, the tax dollars are wasted, each legislator claims credit and denies culpability for making or obstructing the plan. The construction company, removal company, lawyers and insurance agencies make a profit and either the legislators, their families, their relatives, their business associates, their friends or acquaintences profit through investments, contracts, or employment. Those who are on the periphery or outside this circle benefit only marginally.

          Congress is a Two-Headed Monster infected with the twin diseases of politics and avarice since 1790. Those who occupy positions in the other branches of the government are not immune to infection; as they are bound by the intertwining tendrils of personal relationships, familial relationships, intermarriage, professional associations, community ties, bonds of having attended the same educational institutions, of shared religious belief or non-belief, of shared loyalties to military institutions or groups opposed to them, common economic interests; and an addiction to power, influence, and social status. The entire government bureaucracy is consumed by the pursuit of what is possible and/or expedient without concern for what is right and just.

          Government is hierarchical by nature, and politics is the application of principles to influence or manage the population subject to government. Politics is the antithesis of freedom. Government rejects "liberty, equality, fraternity" in favor of defacto social strata sorting based on demographics; individuals assigned to each class being equal to every other individual in their category, superior to those in lower strata, and inferior to those in higher categories. The populace seems to accept this arrangement, with the exception of instances where the government appears to pander to vocal minorities and special interest groups to curry favor and support from them. All those in government are the jackals, and anyone not supporting their policies are their prey. The poorest strata are simply grist for the mill, cannon fodder, disposable assets, and "useful idiots" to be bought with a party favor or a promise and ignored between election campaigns. Until public officials become public servants, endowed with wisdom and character, I feel justified in supporting the right wing conservatives. At least I am more confident that they do not intend to take my lunch without paying me a fair price, or giving a "free lunch " to someone who hasn't earned it and doesn't deserve it.

          My forbearers were nationalistic, patriotic, ethnocentric, native born Americans back to the seventeenth century. They and their kind developed this land, worked hard to support themselves and their families, and they personify hope and change. Helping themselves and others achieve independence, giving a hand up rather than a handout, making America a safer place to live, and providing useful goods and services so they and the American economy would experience prosperity were the heritage they passed to me, along with the responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. If opposing the political left and their fellow travelers makes me seem threatening, it is only because anything worth having is worth fighting to protect. Molon labe.

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              Ray Cunneff
              3 years ago

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              Simply vote the Constitution. Call it what you want that is what the people in Washington are supposed to do. Period. If you win, fine, if you don't, so be it. The Constitution is the rule book that keeps the game fair. Unfortunately that is considered to be extreme right wing. Sad where the country has gone.

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                  Tom Lowe
                  3 years ago

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                  The Constitution empowers Congress with extraordinary power to govern outside the explicit text of the Constitution. This was firmly established in United States v. Butler in reference to the General Welfare Clause.

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                      Ray Cunneff
                      3 years ago

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                      So McCarthy is too amiable (amiability might allow for compromise) because the radical Right wants to move even further to the Right by having a very angry person replace Boehner. Obstinance has been the stance for over 7 years, but it seems some wish to further destroy the "Grand Old Party" by morphing it into the Angry Obstinate Party, with Cruz leading the charge.

                      Herding hyenas does seem apt!

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                          DarOne
                          3 years ago

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                          "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froide" from Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 1782. It is best known as a line from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". "Revenge is a dish best served cold. It is very cold in space".

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