Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In My Professional Opinion...

I realize that this puts me at one step remove from tedious grammarians quibbling over the semi-colon and the comma, but I have had a confluence of experiences that have my historian's dander up.

First off, I did something no sane person should ever do: I waded into the comment threads at Yahoo.

Now, I might be the only person under 50 who uses Yahoo as a home page.  Partly I do this to keep track of my all important fantasy baseball teams, but also because I like to see what sort of awkward kisses Justin Bieber attempted today.  It also allows me to see what's trending on the AP wire.

Anyway, because Yahoo is full of antiquated yahoos, their comment section reads like the free flowing effluvia of a Tea Party meeting after a few too many glasses of Dickel.  It's like the cranky old uncle at Thanksgiving has been given a megaphone.

And what kills me - KILLS ME - is the incessant Jefferson quotes.  "The tree of liberty blah blah blah."  "The best defense against tyranny blah blah blah."

Look, if you want to find a quote to contradict a Jefferson quote, just look for another Jefferson quote.  Constancy was never Long Tom's thing.  When the Teatards at Yahoo are quoting Jefferson, they are quoting the Jefferson during his pre-1800 version.  This is the version that was enthusiastic about the French Revolution and unenthusiastic about the American Constitution.  In other words, the version that was wrong.

This was the version that was appalled - and rightly so - by the Alien and Sedition Acts, but that advocated a compact theory of constitutional law that directly led to secession.  This was the version that was convinced that the national government could only eventually bend towards tyranny.

And this version was superseded by Jefferson the President.  Jefferson the President slashed military spending to the point that we got our capitol burned down in 1814 by a few thousand well drilled British redcoats.  Jefferson the President nearly screwed up his signature achievement - the Louisiana Purchase - by dithering over whether it was constitutional for him to actually buy it and then nearly pissed it away by not moving aggressively to consolidate our hold on it.  In fact he trusted it to a notorious and well known scoundrel, General James Wilkinson who was a spy for the French AND the Spanish.

And this is the Jefferson who may very well have perpetrated the single greatest overreach of presidential power in our history: his simultaneous assault on judicial independence, via the impeachment of Samuel Chase, and his Embargo Act that effectively destroyed American international trade and the New England economy.  In fact, the first rumors of secession arose not from South Carolina in the 1830s, but from New England as they lay prostrate under the burden of Jefferson's Embargo.

So, if you want to quote Jefferson, go ahead.   But you have to own ALL of him, not just the clever soundbite maker.  You have to own the feckless commander and chief and the man who single handedly ended American trade.  You have to own the man who wrote lyrical odes to human liberty, but refused to emancipate his slaves the way Washington did.

My second point is this story about notorious nut job Allen West (R-Insaneville).  West got up and said that there were 80 communists in the Democratic House Caucus.

How can anyone hear those words and not think of Joe McCarthy is beyond me.  Now, I know that the walking, desiccated corpse of Ann Coulter wrote a long exegesis of why Joe McCarthy was really right.  But Ann Coulter is a bomb throwing provacateur who is probably a few green room snubs away from "Why Hitler Was Really Right."

Joe McCarthy was wrong.  He destroyed people's lives.  He was a drunken fool who careened across the American stage and accused George Marshall - GEORGE MARSHALL - of shielding communists in the state department.  Men like Eisenhower and Robert Taft tolerated McCarthy because of the political advantage he brought the Republican party, but nobody - and I mean nobody - thought that this guy was on to something real.

And so what did Allen West say made these 80 House Democrats communists?  The fact that they belong to the Progressive Caucus.  And then he levels the money shot: Woodrow Wilson was a communist.

I remember getting into a shouting match with a Teatard at a farm stand over Woodrow Wilson.  To this chucklehead, evolution didn't exist and Wilson was a leftist.

Woodrow Wilson was the son of a Presbyterian minister and a lifelong Burkean conservative who - as he entered politics late in life - realized that the forces creating modern America threatened to overwhelm elective democracy.

Woodrow Wilson gave us such communistic legislation as the Federal Reserve and the Underwood Tariff that promoted free trade.  He did give us our first income tax and the Federal Trade Commission, and he did enact some labor laws, but all in all pretty mild progressive measures.  (In other words, much like Obama's platform of a combination of Republican and Democratic ideas.)

But he also gave us the Sedition Act of 1917, which led to the imprisonment of actual Socialist Eugene V. Debs.  And when the war was over, despite pleas from just about everyone, Wilson refused to pardon him.  Warren Freaking Harding had to do that.

In 1918, in the closing days of the war, Wilson authorized a US expeditionary force to invade Russia in order to help prop up the Whites during the Russian Civil War.

In 1919, his attorney general launched the eponymous Palmer Raids and the Red Scare.  This eventually led to the expulsion of communists to the Soviet Union on the SS Buford.

But in the fevered dreams of Allen West, the fact that Wilson advocated against child labor, for the Clayton Anti-Trust bill, for the Federal Farm Loan Act, created an 8 hour workday for rail workers and created the first federal Workingman's Compensation Law, he's a communist.

Forgetting for a moment that no one gives a rats ass about communism anymore except some rage fueled, superannuated Cubans in South Florida, let's consider what West is saying constitutes communism: anything that protects workers, helps citizens or attacks monopolies is literally an "existential threat" to the American way of life.

In the comment section over at Pierce's thread, someone points out that West (or Walker or Snyder or Gohmert or Bachmann or any other Teatard in Congress) is only one part of a larger movement.

What if Sharon Angle had beaten Harry Reid?  What if Christine O'Donnell had... Ok, that's just silly, nevermind.

The GOP is full of crazy people.  They have been taken over by the John Birch Society.  The nice, polite Rotarian Republicans have lost control of the party to people who think Woodrow Wilson was a communist.

If they take over the government again any time soon, we are well and truly screwed.

And if you don't believe me, look at the impotence of John Boehner.  He can't control the raging Id of the Tea Party that rampages about destroying or attempting to destroy the organs of government.

God save us all if these knobs get control of the levers of power anytime soon.

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