America’s epic fail

There are times when I almost wish the US was being led by an authoritarian government like China’s so it could get things done with no nonsense or political bravado. I say I “almost” wish that because, of course, there is enough bad that comes with authoritarianism to make democracy, for all its wretched faults, the best way to govern. But still, at the moment the notion of having the CCP run things is tempting.

We are now in the middle of the most shocking game of chicken we’ve ever seen in this country’s history. It is utterly unprecedented and frightening. The very idea that the US might default on its debts should scare everyone shitless. The fact that the Republicans needlessly forced the government to shut down ten days ago tells us this is no ordinary inter-party feud. The far right of the Republican party poses an existential threat to our democracy itself.

Andrew Sullivan, who should be a daily read, puts it succinctly:

How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections – think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.

When ideologies become as calcified, as cocooned and as extremist as those galvanizing the GOP, the American system of government cannot work. But I fear this nullification of the last two elections is a deliberate attempt to ensure that the American system of government as we have known it cannot work. It cannot, must not work, in the mindset of these radicals, because they simply do not accept the legitimacy of a President and Congress of the opposing party. The GOP does not regard the president as merely wrong – but as illegitimate. Not misguided – illegitimate.

Underneath it all run the venomous tendrils of racism. I saw on the news just yesterday an interview with one of the most radical GOP congressmen and he said we still didn’t know if Obama is American or Kenyan. From day one the far right has challenged Obama’s legitimacy in a shameful spectacle of outrageous accusations. He is different; he is not like you and me. He is not a real American. Everything he does must be challenged and overturned at any cost. Any cost. Right now, I’m embarrassed to be an American. I wish we could bring in the CCP for a few days to crack down on the radicals, then send them on their way once the debt ceiling is raised and the country has no fear of default.

I’ve never worried about the future of the US like I’m worrying now. I think ultimately there will be a bargain, and the Republicans will back down about defunding the Affordable Care Act, a totally lost cause, a stupid cause. But that they dare take the country right to the brink of default, threatening the stability of the entire world, tells us just how dangerous these people are. And we’re stuck with them. Thanks to gerrymandering, the far-right loons are almost guaranteed reelection, and we may go through this nightmare again and again. This isn’t democracy, it’s a perversion of democracy, a shameless attempt to delegitimize the elected president and impose the agenda of the right, one that the American public rejected in the last election. The Tea Party is the greatest blight on the history of America since the end of Jim Crow. Let’s hope they sicken enough Americans for them to lose control of the House in 2014. It’s a long shot, but it’s the best, maybe the only hope America has.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 32 Comments

“I wish we could bring in the CCP for a few days to crack down on the radicals, then send them on their way once the debt ceiling is raised and the country has no fear of default.”

I’m guessing this is a bit more strongly phrased than you intended. The GOP is involved in stupid brinksmanship right now, but nothing that calls for tanks on Pennsylvania Avenue.

October 10, 2013 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

FOARP, I hope you realize I was being very tongue in cheek.

October 10, 2013 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Welp, the country has NOT descended into total anarchy, cats and dogs are NOT living together and people are NOT on every street looting and cavorting with self-made fertility idols.

The point is here that the government can effectively cease to function and people can still live their lives normally. Would this be possible in China?

October 11, 2013 @ 8:25 am | Comment

Manifest Destiny of a dysfunctional nation state.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the US has turned out so much fabulous music, I’d join the peanut gallery and jeer.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg, Richard.

Enjoy.

October 11, 2013 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

The point is here that the government can effectively cease to function and people can still live their lives normally.

Bullshit! You might be living your life normally, but there’s a hell of a lot of people who aren’t.

October 12, 2013 @ 7:58 am | Comment

@ Bullshit! You might be living your life normally, but there’s a hell of a lot of people who aren’t.

Yep. For example: http://news.yahoo.com/for-a-cancer-patient–the-government-shutdown-is-a-matter-of-life-or-death-211105936.html

October 12, 2013 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

@Jason and Dogsbody

Let me add an addendum: People are living their lives normally – for a given value of normal.

October 13, 2013 @ 8:54 am | Comment

@narsfweasels

I guess getting furloughed is your definition of “People are living their lives normally – for a given value of normal.”

You are embarrassing yourself.

October 14, 2013 @ 12:55 am | Comment

The essential flaw in the argument is that the federal USG is a democracy [the public culture may have aspects of democracy]. It isn’t. Or it is no longer. Or is isn’t in any modern sense. The majority Supreme Court isn’t ‘democratic’ [doesn't even claim to be] even theoretically having abandoned the “equal justice” in favor of ‘law’. The Senate [ Wyoming population 580,000 has 2 senators, California population 50,000,000] fails. The Electoral College [an institution which is like a resetting land mine, it goes off, it isn't removed, it resets, it goes off again] isn’t any more democratic than the Senate. And both are relics of the defense of slavery. Which leaves the gerrymandered House. Also undemocratic though far ‘less so’. What is happening now isn’t a flaw, it is the most recent iteration of essential features. It is a ‘democracy’ only in the most primitive [18th Century] sense. A little less USG around the world wouldn’t be a bad thing, ask the Hawaiians, the Filipinos, the Haitians, the Guatemalans, the Nicaraguans, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the Iranian, the Iraqis, the Afghanistanis [or is it Afghanis?] and on and on and on. Ask the American Indian. The shutdown as a necessary and good [bad] thing as it allows the rest of the world a chance to learn to get along without American “help” err intervention.

October 14, 2013 @ 7:46 am | Comment

There are no people dying in the streets, disease is not ravaging the country, the night is not full of varied and unknown terrors.

Yes, people are suffering because of bullshit, tell me how that is different from every day? It isn’t. The BS and the people who suffer may be different, but the point is: the country has not collapsed. People may look at America and say “HA! Look at what partisan politics does! Boo! Democracy is crap! BOOO!” But the simple fact is that the nation is largely fine.

You disagree with me, and that’s perfectly fine. But I disagree with you, and you also have to accept that.

I do however agree with Richard that all Republicans should be lined up and shot in the nuts. That was his point, yes?

October 14, 2013 @ 9:13 am | Comment

The Senate and House were set up to balance power. If the states number of representatives in Congress are determined by population then states like NY and Cal. control the destiny of the country. Nice if you live in one of these states, not so good if you live in Iowa or the Dakotas. It may not be perfect, but it works. Even when it gets messy now and then. The system was not a defense of slavery. It was a way to get 13 colonies of varying population densities and economic bases to all be represented equally. It was not unique to the nascent US. The Iroquios confederacy had used almost the same system for centuries and Franklin may have adapted it from there.

Before closing, allow me another little trip down memory lane. Aren’t you all the same bunch that screamed about violent imagery and hate speech on the radio during the Giffords shooting? I could have sworn there was a lot of condemnation of things like saying opponents should be lined up and shot. Why do liberals get so violent? Are they so delicately mentally balanced that any difference so completely unhinges them? And spare me the “I did not mean it literally” crap. I would expect you to be ashamed of yourself – if you had a sense of shame.

Funny how its all the GOP’s fault. They are just using the Dem playbook and the Dem’s are throwing a hissy fit. Or have you forgotten 2008? Remember “elections have consequences” “we won” and my favorite “we are in control now and the GOP is welcome to come along with us but they will have to ride in the back of the bus.” Shoe is on the other foot now and the Dem’s have burned almost all their bridges. Obamacare was run thru Congress with the GOP being completely excluded from the process. They were against it then and won subsequent elections by voicing that opposition and promises to defund it. Well, they won. Elections have consequences and the people have spoken. Funny how none of that matters when the GOP wins.

Obama completely disdained bipartisan support in 2008 and pointedly excluded the GOP from the process. You all laughed and thought that was just sooo damn good. The GOP promised to stop Obamacare, and they are trying to fulfill that promise. If Obama had funded it via a 2008 or 2009 budget – there would be absolutely nothing anyone could do about it.

October 15, 2013 @ 3:32 am | Comment

This fake crisis is a GOP blunder, full stop, but some in China are deriving a teachable moment from it:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/10/where-are-the-riots-china-watches-the-shutdown.html?mbid=social_retweet

October 15, 2013 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

“venomous tendrils of racism” – what utter claptrap. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you do not know a single Tea Party supporter, not one. If you are relying on Andrew Sullivan (who daily gives new meaning to the word “hysteria”) for information, it’s not surprising that you are so misinformed. What motivates the vast majority of Tea Party supporters, from Ted Cruz on down, is the desire to roll back the welfare state – not slow down its growth, not make sure that it has enough taxes to pay its bills, not make it more efficient, but actually to roll it back, just like President Reagan wanted to roll back international communism and not merely contain or live with it. That’s what scares the establishment. Tea Party supporters are indeed radicals, but for God’s sake, playing the race card against every Obama opponent is getting really old.

October 20, 2013 @ 3:00 pm | Comment

Lack of Innovation is Precisely China’s Advantage Over the US

We let you lead the way, let you spend massive amounts of money to explore to technology, new science, new weapons, etc. And after you spent trillions of dollars and see 10,000 failed projects but get 10 successful ideas prototypes, we move in and make cheaper, lower quality knockoffs, but with 1/1000 the cost. Basically, you map out the road for us, so we reap the benefits.

An analog is like a marathon race, the 2nd runner steadily stays behind the 1st one and deliberately not try to surpass him, giving huge psychologicall pressure on the first runner to stay first. The first as a result, will run with all of his might, and eventually collapse 10m before the finish line, and the 2nd one leisurely walks past him to capture gold.

Over-innovation is not good, Western mind has no strategic vision to realize it. In China, there’s a saying called ‘late-comer advantage’.

October 21, 2013 @ 9:45 am | Comment

Clock lives down to his usual standard of logicality and originality in the above comment:

1) The US is not the only country on Earth where R&D happens.’China’ (i.e., Chinese research institutes and businesses) does R&D as well.

2) Very obviously following a strategy of copying is a self-limiting strategy that results in the copier forever trailing the people they are copying. They never run past to grab gold because they always follow the leader.

3) The patent system actually limits the degree to which the kind of copying you describe can be done without incurring liability.

4)”late/new-comer advantage” are not (only) Chinese sayings.

October 21, 2013 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

“What motivates the vast majority of Tea Party supporters, from Ted Cruz on down, is the desire to roll back the welfare state”

Then you have to ask where they were 2001-2009, and why this desire to roll back the welfare state only really took hold after Bush left power. And why cuts to Medicare seem to have been such an issue for older members. And why they spend such an inordinate amount of time talking about the nationality of the current president as if it were relevent to the legitimacy of his candidacy. And why they picked Obamacare as their target when it would not actually result in significant amounts of additional expenditure over and above what is already spent.

” . . . roll it back, just like President Reagan wanted to roll back international communism and not merely contain or live with it.”

This gratuitous (and not unrepresentative) comparison of Obama’s policies to communism tells you all you need to know about the Tea Party and their grasp on reality.

October 21, 2013 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

Reagan. The Soviet Union collapsed of its own accord and it had nothing to do with that Reagan sound bite directed at Gorbachev. Nor was that collapse anticipated by any of the US’s intelligence agencies, who were/are barely capable of predicting a sunrise/sunset.

Sure, Reagan rolled back international communism by covertly financing and training death squads in south America and blowing up a few palm trees in Grenada.

The Republicans and their fruit loop auxiliaries just can’t get over the fact that there is a Black American president. Best if they all moved to Idaho to recreate their Aryan dream and minimalist government.

October 22, 2013 @ 3:34 am | Comment

“venomous tendrils of racism”? The Tea Party has a higher percentage of minorities than the Democratic National Committee. But, you think its the Tea Party that racist. The Liberals howl about racism over any criticism of Obama. Why? They themselves were much more vicious in their treatment of Bush. Are Libs afraid Obama is to weak or somehow to fragile to endure criticism? That smacks of racism. The Libs did not try to shield Clinton from attack. Are Sharpton and Jesse Jackson racists because they criticized a white president? Or do you have a double standard on what constitutes racism? And would that not make you a racist?

One good thing to come out of the Obama presidency is that playing the race card has lost almost all its power. Even old line GOP pols laugh at the people who try to use it. It has become the prime indicator of desperation.

The Soviet Union was struggling before Reagan – but Reagan put the final nails in its coffin. Not by any thing they were doing in South America, but by putting huge pressure on the Soviet economy. The Soviets and their proxies in Cuba were also spending huge amounts of money in South America on death squads and revolutions. But the US economy went on with out so much as a hiccup. The Soviet system was faulty from the start. It failed because it did not make the necessary changes to adapt to the ever changing world.

No comments about the Dem’s arrogance and hubris after the 2008 elections? They specifically excluded the Republicans from the whole process of Obamacare. Now they need the GOPand the Dems want the GOP to just continue to shut up and go along. The GOP just wants to have their say – and frankly, they look to be a lot more accurate than the Dems. Have any of you seen the Debacle of the rollout of Obamacare? The website is joke. Four years and $165 million, and it uses technology that is 10 to 15 years old. Or actually, it doesn’t use it. What few rate quotes people have gotten have been grossly underestimated. And with the rollout, now comes the private employers cutting out their health care plans. Funny enough, exactly what the GOP said would happen. A prediction by the IT guys what were asked to evaluate this monstrosity is that by the end of Nov., more people will have lost health care coverage due to Obamacare than will have been able to sign up via this website. Way to go Obama. Lets all stand and cheer for this landmark legislation.

All the drama about Continuing Resolutions and Debt Limits would have been avoided if Obama had simply done his job and submitted a budget. But not a word from anyone here about this little point. Too busy making up reasons of blame everybody else I guess.

October 24, 2013 @ 3:15 am | Comment

The tea party is a crazed cult of rich white racist idiots, funded by reactionary billionaires the Koch brothers, a curse and a blight on society and a festering cancer America can not excise soon enough. No debate here; this is a matter of documented fact. Period.

October 24, 2013 @ 9:14 am | Comment

Richard,

May I take your response as an admission that you do not personally know a single Tea Party supporter?

October 24, 2013 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

@Doug – May I take your response as an admission that everything you said in comment number 13 was weapons-grade bolonium?

October 24, 2013 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

I know several teabaggers. Unfortunately I live in Arizona.

October 25, 2013 @ 12:46 am | Comment

The teabaggers I know, from my hometown in Pennsylvania, are every bit as majorly misinformed and reactionary (and proud of it) as the assclown car of TP leaders we’ve seen on national TV during the phony crisis.

October 25, 2013 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Hi Richard,
I know it is off topic but not sure were to comment. The BBC has published your comment about mix race marriage in China
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24371673

While I agree with some of your views most of the reason why Chinese men don’t marry western women is not entirely how you put it. It is not because western women are percieved better educated or higher earning potential that put Chinese men off their masculinity. In reality Chinese people believes westerners are not very clever and not hard working. Many Chinese women are very well educated and potential high earners, it does not detract them as potential wives. Chinese men generally believes western women are more selfish, demanding, disrespectful to husband, keen on over spending, promiscous and lazy. Many Chinese men also believe western women as exotic and play thing for the rich. Chinese men prefer to marry Chinese women because Chinese women understand relationship, family, rules, respecting husband and elderly, commitment and caring more so than western women. This is also a reason why some western men want to marry an eastern women.

October 26, 2013 @ 4:31 am | Comment

Only a tiny fraction of my interview with the BBC actually made it into the story, unfortunately. But that’s how these interviews always go.

October 27, 2013 @ 7:58 am | Comment

Richard, Congrats on getting a mention in the BBC. I thought the article interesting. It is definitely a greater challenge for a western woman to marry an Asian man. Heck, American women have challenges marrying Europeans, and in the U.S.,Northern, Eastern, and West Coast girls find that marrying Southern (small town) men presents it own cultural challenges.

October 30, 2013 @ 9:10 am | Comment

Slim, isn’t it funny how the so-called ass clowns were right from the very beginning of Obamacare? If the Tea Partiers are ass clowns, what kind of fools does that make Obama and his administration? How can you have any faith in a bunch of people who are dumber than ass clowns?

Richard @ #19; False statements do not become truthful merely by declaring them to be facts. You have not got a clue about the Tea Party or what it stands for. “No debate here” is just a way of saying your mind is made up and you don’t want to be confused by actual facts. Like putting your fingers in your ears and shouting LA la la la…

November 2, 2013 @ 4:13 am | Comment

I know the facts; have been studying the Tea Party for more than two years now and won’t debate who/what they are because I know. Feel free to express your views; I just don’t want to engage in that conversation. The topic, like abortion and gun control, is like quicksand and I won’t go there.

November 2, 2013 @ 8:04 am | Comment

Both political parties in the United States are inept and dysfunctional.

Throw them all out and start over.

Ultimately the fault is with us – the folks who elect these clowns. Surely we can do better. We need to elect pragmatic capable people – not the person who screeches the best.

November 13, 2013 @ 4:18 pm | Comment

Tea Party Racism:
http://www.forwardprogressives.com/the-tea-party-exists-mainly-because-many-rural-whites-just-dont-like-a-black-guy-being-in-charge/

You can’t “prove” racism. Sure, you can use a few examples, but most will be dismissed as the exception and not the rule.

Hell, I can throw up a map showing the states of the Confederacy, the states which supported segregation and the “strongly Republican” states today (nearly all of which are identical) and these people will continue to deny racism has anything to do with their hatred of President Obama.

And I always love how on an anniversary like Martin Luther King’s birthday, his “I Have a Dream Speech” or the Gettysburg Address, Republicans suddenly pretend to be some representative of equality and civil rights.

Because, you know, it was southern Democrats that were the real racists. But what’s actually more believable:

Entire regions, and generations, of Americans magically switched their system of beliefs on equality and race relations, or…

The two major political parties simply swapped ideological beliefs over a few decades.

For that answer, you can just refer to the “Southern Strategy” as evidence of exactly what happened.

Watch, 50 years from now Republicans will be deny that they ever stood in the way of homosexuals gaining equality.

But now Republicans have the tea party. Quite possibly the most hateful, vile, ignorant collection of people to garner mainstream attention in decades. And of course, they deny racism has anything to do with their opposition to President Obama.

It’s funny how racism undoubtedly exists, yet it’s rare that anyone claims to be a racist.

I’m sure it’s just a “pure coincidence” that the tea party happened to hold their first big events immediately after Obama took office.

But let’s be honest, shall we? It’s a reality almost every liberal is already well aware of. The main reason the tea party exists, and has grown to be as popular with hardcore conservatives as it has (especially rural, white conservatives), is that many of these rural whites really don’t want a black man telling them what to do.

That’s it.

Sure, he’s a Democrat, so many Republicans wouldn’t have supported him anyway. But their hatred of President Obama goes well beyond what political party he represents.

And trust me on this. I live in Texas and as I’ve said several times, I hear President Obama referred to as some derogatory term for African Americans far more than I do by his name or as “the president.” You can almost hear it in the voice of many of these white conservatives. They detest the idea of having someone who’s black telling them what to do. “He wants to tell me I have to buy health insurance? Who does he think he is? He’s not my president.”

Their tea party rallies are almost mirror images of protests decades ago against interracial marriage or the ending of segregation. Groups comprised almost entirely of white people, claiming they’re preserving the “American way of life.” But of course they are—for white people.

Hell, I’ve been to a couple tea party rallies. The openness at which racism was embraced stunned even me. I figured there would be some, but the fact that most people didn’t even try to hide it was what caught me off guard.

November 22, 2013 @ 11:56 am | Comment

Richard…this is what you call research? If you research democrats, do you go to Rush Limbaugh’s website too? This thing has more holes than a ton of swiss cheese.

Every state in the Confederacy was a solid Dem state. Not a Republican in the bunch. One of the Republican’s founding principles was abolition. Not exactly a popular cause in the Dem South. One of the Dem’s foundation beliefs was the protection of slavery. Your buddies called it the “Grand Institution”. The South went R because black people started getting to vote. And they remembered who kept them in chains before the Civil War. Black people also remembered it was Dems that created the KKK, organized it into the terrorist org it became and protected it. Funny how your expert failed to mention how his map of the solid R states in the South would have shown every one of them to be even more solid D in 1860, but instead tries to infer they were R. That alone should have shown you what a bunch of hacks this site is. Either that or they are just plain stupid. And then he expects us to take his word about going to Tea Party rallies?

Here are a few more facts your research failed to mention:
The Gov. who stood in the door of the U of Alabama flanked by State Police and promised “Segregation now, segregation forever” – Dem
Bull Conner, turned fired hoses and police dogs on peaceful marchers and ordered his police dept to stand by while KKK attacked the marchers with clubs – another Dem
Bull Conner’s punishment for the above – he was member of the DNC.
Dems passed segregation laws and enforced Jim Crow laws via the KKK.
The Dems also had the only Grand Dragon in the history of the US Congress. He was considered one of their great statesman.
Both MLK and his father were registered Republicans.
An R president brought black men into the Army, and a D pres officially ordered the Military to be segregated.
That same D president openly praised the KKK for all the good work they did in protecting the South during Reconstruction.

Apparently your research site has serious problems with history. Given the above short history of the Dems is it any wonder the South went R?

The Tea Party started because they were opposed to Obamacare. No “coincidence” since there was no Obamacare before Obama became pres. They did not like the underhanded way the law was passed without anyone knowing what was in it. Remember “You have to pass it to find out whats in it”? Guess what? The Tea Party was right. Even Dems are trying to run away from this albatross. The TP is also against the entrenched machine political machines. Why do you think John McCain and the old guard GOP don’t like them? The TP has already thrown a couple of them out on their ear and they are promising to fight a bunch more. There is going to be a huge shakeup in the GOP. The TP is just voicing the discontent and anger of the rank and file who feel they have been abandoned by their party.

Didn’t you get them memo? The race card has been maxed out and is no longer being accepted. Gotta find a new name to call the opposition. Empty name calling is all the Dems have left. Desperation has set in and things do not look good for the midterms. If the elections were held today, the Rs would take control of the Senate and gain an even larger majority in the House. Dems are running scared. Have you noticed the Dems who are in trouble are now openly critical of Obama? (Must be racists, right?)

By the way, you should write a thank you letter to Harry Reid for getting the nuclear option passed. Just wait until the Rs control the Senate again. The fun has just begun.

Good thing you don’t want to go there. This will probably get deleted. I have had this discussion on other lib sites and that is usually what happens when they run out of names to call and falsehoods to print. Craig’s post could be the TP’s motto.

November 29, 2013 @ 12:57 pm | Comment

I’ve never deleted a comment of yours and never will. I don’t delete comments that disagree with me. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

December 3, 2013 @ 11:28 am | Comment

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