House GOP: Terrorists or Traitors?

Yeah, the title is a tad inflammatory, but I’m with James Fallows on this:

This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.** Outsiders to this struggle — the president and his administration, Democratic legislators as a group, voters or “opinion leaders” outside the generally safe districts that elected the new House majority — have essentially no leverage over the outcome. I can’t recall any situation like this in my own experience, and the only even-approximate historic parallel (with obvious differences) is the inability of Northern/free-state opinion to affect the debate within the slave-state South from the 1840s onward. Nor is there a conceivable “compromise” the Democrats could offer that would placate the other side.

Here is the footnote, btw:

** The debt-ceiling vote, of course, is not about future spending decisions. It is about whether to cover expenditures the Congress has already authorized. There is no sane reason for subjecting this to a repeated vote. And there is no precedent for serious threats not to honor federal debt — as opposed to symbolic anti-Administration protest votes, which both parties have cast over the years. Nor for demanding the reversal of major legislation as a condition for routine government operations.

First, I agree with Fallows and David Kurtz that this crisis is not a standoff between President Obama and the Republican Party. It’s between extremists in the GOP versus the “not enough Thorazine on the planet to deal with these whackjobs” wing of the GOP. And Abraham Lincoln couldn’t reason or negotiate with the whackjobs of his day, either.

Second, the time for polite and tempered rhetoric on anyone’s part is over. Steve Benen called out Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer for saying “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” No, Republicans are not al Qaeda. But it’s becoming a difference in degree, not in kind.

I don’t expect anyone in Congress to strap a real bomb to his chest. They and their followers are not so much motivated by a cause, or a faith, but by a fundamental belief that they are the real Chosen People, the real Americans, dammit, and they deserve to rule. Self-sacrifice isn’t their thing, I don’t believe. But if the current fiasco ends in their humiliation, expect the more-unglued among them to step up with “second-amendment solutions.” They’re more than flirted with the idea already —

Steve Benen again,

In 2010, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he could “empathize” with a madman who flew an airplane into a building on American soil. In 2009, shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said if congressional Democrats didn’t allow Republicans to influence policy debates, the GOP would have to emulate the “insurgency” tactics of “the Taliban.” Sessions added, “[W]e need to understand that insurgency may be required,” and that if Democrats resist, Republicans “will then become an insurgency.” The Taliban, Sessions went on to say, offers the GOP a tactical “model.”

If a White House aide compares Republicans to suicide bombers, it’s outrageous, but if a Texas Republican congressman compares his own party to the Taliban, it’s fine?

Yes, because freedom.

But if you’re familiar with antebellum history, you must recognize the strong parallels between the old southern fire-eaters and today’s wingnuts. So the traitor label works, too. And it serves no purpose for people in the national spotlight to be expected to mince words and extend the usual courtesies to them.

Greg Sargent:

Do Dems have to give Republicans something in exchange for not allowing economic havoc to break out, and if so, why isn’t that threatening extensive harm to the country, and to all of us, in order to get your way? Or are Republicans of course going to raise the debt limit in the end, because of course they know it’s the right thing to do, and if so, why do Dems have to give them anything in exchange for it? …

… This gets to the core truth about this debate: As long as it’s an open question whether Republicans are prepared to allow default, the claim that Republicans are threatening to do extensive harm to the country in order to extort concessions from Dems that a radical faction of their party is demanding is 100 percent right.

So the suicide bomber metaphor is off. It would be more correct to compare them to hostage takers holding a gun to America’s head while they demand tax cuts for the rich and building the Keystone pipeline.

24 thoughts on “House GOP: Terrorists or Traitors?

  1. These GOP whackjobs are still traitors. Wanting to economically destroy the country is a treasonous act; and, they should be treated as such.

  2. Would love to see a study or a book drawing the parallels with the antebellum versus our own time: the level of polarization and the effects on politics. It would help a lot of people to see that we’ve been through this kind of thing before, although I would argue that today it’s much worse, driven as it is by massive amounts of concentrated wealth, and by the fact that the points of disagreement are many, compared to it being only about slavery (veneered over by the issue of “states’ rights”). It’s a rematch between the northern and southern visions for the country, and unfortunately, I don’t see the north winning this time. And I don’t understand why Lincoln thought it was necessary to hold the union together at all costs. I’m pretty sure majorities on both sides would elect to get an amicable divorce and be done with each other, this time.

  3. Moonbat pls draw me a line from Canada to New Orleans that only goes thru red states. Then talk amicable secession.

  4. So the suicide bomber metaphor is off.

    Not to me it isn’t.. I see it as totally fitting. I have a memory of a thought that occurred to me over 55 years ago. It was at a point between my 8th birthday and at whatever age childhood memories can be recalled. I don’t remember the exact injustice I was suffering from at the time that prompted the thought, probably just having to go to bed when my older brothers and sisters were allowed a later bedtime.
    My thought was to retaliate against my parents for their cruelty by holding my breath until I died, and that they would be sorrow for the cruelty they inflicted upon me
    I know that seems like a silly analogy, but in essence it boils down to a juvenile thought of inflicting pain on someone else because you can’t get your way.
    I suspect this will all end with averting a shut down and a round of back patting to accompany their reasonableness, but the fact that such threats are even out there should tell us that there’s a malignant element in our political process that needs to be rooted out.

  5. Yes most of the problem states are the old Confederate ones.
    But some states like WI and others in the old Rust Belt, have voted in Republican governors and state legislatures.
    The problem isn’t so much North v. South, as it is urban and suburban v. rural and suburban.
    In the US Congress, and in many state legislatures, rural districts are overly represented.
    I’ve written about this many times on maha’s great site, so I’ll spare you all another long word-turd on the subject.

    But it’s the same problem the young United States faced, when they were trying unite under a Constitution.
    The North had far more people, and the South didn’t want to be in a disproportionate minority in Congress.
    So, states got 2 Senators, regardless of population, and in the South, black people were counted as 3/5ths of a person, so that the South wouldn’t be vastly outnumbered in the House of Representatives.
    200+ years later, we face much the same problem.
    Cities, large and small, are usually culturally diverse – or, at least much more so than the rural areas.
    The near suburbs are a reflection of the nearest city.
    And the farther away from a city you get, the less culturally diverse, and the more Conservative – AND WHITE – an area is.

    Since the lines of demarcation aren’t purely North v. South, it’s almost impossible to split into two nations, much as many of us – myself included – would like.

    And if we did that, we’d still have to do “Berlin Airlifts” into cities and suburbs in a lot of states, because they would be surrounded by a sea of Red rural districts – full of hateful Conservative bigots, who’d rather starve the N*gger’s and Sp*cs, and N*gger-and-Sp*c-loving Liberals, than deal with the people living in the nearest city.

    I’m deeply afraid that almost 150 years after the North won The Civil War, we may yet lose “The Cold Civil War.”

    And on a final note, the Republican Party now consists of a gang of treasonous and traitorous Nihilistic Theocratic and Fascistic revolutionary Conservative terrorists trying to subvert representative democracy, and stuff the agenda’s that lost them the last few elections, down the countries throat.

    And you don’t negotiate with terrorist. Not foreign. Not domestic!

  6. Oh, in answer to the title question.. They are terrorists. I don’t think they are traitors because I think they believe they are doing the right thing for their country. Personally, I don’t see how making millions of people suffer needlessly benefits America, but I’m not a Teabagger, so how could I possibly know!

  7. ..pls draw me a line from Canada to New Orleans that only goes thru red states. Then talk amicable secession.

    I don’t understand your point.

    The problem isn’t so much North v. South, as it is urban and suburban v. rural and suburban.

    You’re right, but allowing one large chunk of the country to secede would solve a lot of the problem. Taken to extremes, each state could have its urban vs rural divide. But you have to admit that the rural POV dominates the South, even though by now they have large cities, and growing national influence, thanks to the invention of air conditioning.

    I am a little interested in this kind of redrawing the boundaries to fit cultural reality, but what interests me more is the polarization and the resulting political dynamic, which has happened before. In other words, our system has gone through periods of intense polarization where certain things happened, such as extremist political factions, or even a Civil War. It’s the recurring patterns of history that interest me.

  8. This has me so annoyed I can’t even make a reasoned comment that doesn’t include bungee cording cruz to a missile and firing him at Russia. If Obama negotiates with this group of terrorists I will be even more unhinged..

    All I can really say is “I told you so!” when it comes to texas. If the world would have just listened to me we wouldn’t be having this problem because we would have dropped texas like the bad habit it is YEARS ago. You would think them unleashing bush on us would have been enough but I guess nearly destroying the country just isn’t good enough – it has to actually BE destroyed before anyone takes notice.

  9. “Second, the time for polite and tempered rhetoric on anyone’s part is over.”

    My patience is certainly wearing thin.

    I am still experiencing some serious re-entry culture shock, so I am not thinking very clearly. But for those of us who are making our final decent into “retirement”, I find a bunch of yahoos injecting instability and insecurity into the economy as bad as the jerks that used to burglarize my house every six months down in good old Tampa. But, this time there won’t be enough of life left to “save up for another” of anything, it will just be gone, like the AIG stock that my mother sank her life savings into. A pox on them!

    I wonder if the US split into two countries, wouldn’t end with them circling each other in a miserable “pas de deux” like North and South Korea. It could also “balkanize”.

    I wish I could be optimistic about such an event, it would be nice to be shed of the baggers and their ilk.

  10. Texas does seem to spawn some pretty toxic ideas and personalities. I say let them split off,then invade and steal their oil and jail their leaders.

  11. erinyes,
    Why bother invading them for oil?
    After a few months, the crackers down there be so desperate, they’ll be willing to sell barrels of oil for a few stale crackers, and some old, moldy cheese.
    That sh*thole wouldn’t last a couple of months without federal help, before it caved in on itself.
    But FSM help the people in the Blue cities, who are actually better off than most of the state – especially the rural poor white goobers.
    They’re probably what will sustain the goobers diet’s until the nice people are all done ‘etted,’ and the yahoo’s and crackers are desperate enough to beg us to trade them some of our stale crackers and moldy cheese for their oil.

  12. Republicans will move ahead with plan to delay Obamacare, making government shutdown more likely

    Ramp up the stress! We gotta get Henny Penny moving.

    goatherd.. Welcome home. Did you find that gypsy guitar?

  13. Since they will insist that they be on the gold standard, they will lag behind in all economic areas compared with the rest of the world, and end up in the medium run trading all their gold for goods on the open market.

    But, in the mean time, they will drill, baby, drill without regulation and cause unforetold environmental destruction for themselves and their Spanish-speaking neighbors to the south, killing tourism and their only other viable export: seafood.

    Then the whole south will resemble Houston of the last decades!

  14. I think the bomb-strapped-to-the-chest metaphor is a bad one, but mostly because it minimizes the damage the GOP Nutjob Caucus is willing to do to the world. We’re not talking about taking out a room or a building, we’re talking about cratering the entire world economy, quite possibly worse than 2008.

    US Treasury bonds are a foundational commodity in valuing all the world’s assets. If suddenly the US defaults, and those bonds are no longer unquestionably reliable, it means everything else in the world has a value that needs to be recalculated. It also means that every dollar we spend or borrow will be worth less, immediately, forever (or until we have a complete revision of our political system.)

    In 2008 millions of dollars of assets being revealed as potentially worthless ruined the lives of people all over the world. Injecting the world’s markets with the uncertainty and doubt that would come from a GOP-crazy driven US default now could do more damage.

    They aren’t wearing bombs on their chests, they’ve got their finger on the nuclear trigger.

  15. The Constitution defines treason as waging war on the USA and giving aid and comfort to its enemies. That doesn’t fit the case here; nor is it terrorism, not in the literal sense. Calling them “radicals” and “extremists” will do.

  16. @paradoctor: you are correct that “treason” does not fit; I believe the correct word is “sedition”.

  17. Moonbat – I post late because I (usually) think about what I want to say. My last comment broke that rule, and I didn’t express myself well. My apologies. Allow me to try again. You said,

    And I don’t understand why Lincoln thought it was necessary to hold the union together at all costs. I’m pretty sure majorities on both sides would elect to get an amicable divorce and be done with each other, this time.

    The puppet masters have the puppets convinced we should do away with the EPA. How will you contain the pollution from the red States? The puppet masters have the puppets convinced that wages will go up if minimum wages are eliminated. When the red states can do manufacturing for wages that can compete with China, won’t businesses in blue states buy from their cousins at dirt cheap prices and ignore the lack of OSHA & EPA standards. The robber barons will get rich, the poor will be exploited in ways not seen in the US since the 1920s.

    As you observed, so correctly, the red/blue identification is as much a function of rural/urban identification as it is by state. Any secession would leave a large segment of the population in ‘enemy’ territory. Conservatives in CA or NY would feel totally disenfranchised as the ‘union’ federal government swings hard left and women anywhere in the center of the country would lose birth control and abortion rights under the new confederacy. The compromises that come with democracy take the hard swings out and make life tolerable,even if you have a minority viewpoint – secession enables hard swings – and intolerable changes provoke violence.

    Geographically, the new confederacy could run from North Dakota to Texas, which means they could embargo the East Coast from the West Coast. Why wouldn’t they do it if they wanted to extract concessions? Do you think a national Tea Party government would NOT use extortion?

    Granted, this is wild speculation and it can’t happen for a lot of reasons BUT the urge to respond to threats of a new confederacy with the suggestion that it might be a good idea if conservatives could have their own country and see how they really like it fuels the fire of division. The issue is not new and the principle better expressed long ago.

    “”Where the law of the majority ceases to be acknowledged, there government ends, the law of the strongest takes its place, and life and property are his who can take them.” –Thomas Jefferson

    The positions of the puppet masters in the Tea Party and Libertarian thought are a MINORITY position,which an informed electorate will not embrace. With that in mind, I have no problem accepting the will of the majority in all cases, because the occasions where I disagree will be seldom. There’s strength in real democracy – which we must ALL promote. Jefferson called the alternative correctly and I don’t want to go there.

  18. We here in WI have our own Teabagger infestation, even tho we voted with Obama and Tammy Baldwin in the last election. The congressional districts and the state house districts have been gerrymandered so badly it could be a decade before we can do something. One columnist wrote that it would take almost a 10% majority in the popular vote to retake the state house. Dems received almost 7% more votes here but the reps kept the state assembly with a 39-60 advantage. We have a state gov’t that does not reflect the will of the people. I think you have it exactly right, maha. The tbaggers think, no, believe, they are the only true Americans and therefore have the right to rule. So, why should they negotiate with an illegitimate president and a party based on Marxist ideals? Now, don’t flame me, but I almost hope the gov’t gets shut down and we default. I know, I don’t really hope for the pain it will certainly cause. But I think America needs to see what these traitors are really about.

  19. The paranoid and disgusted parts of my mentality are awaiting and dreading the day when they start floating the idea that “our democracy doesn’t work” and they start agitation for alternatives. There are already people who promote the idea that women shouldn’t be able to vote because the vote for Democrats (e.g. Ann Coulter) and some of the recent voter ID laws are accepted with a wink and nod by people who think poor people shouldn’t vote either. Here in the rural south, it’s easy to envision a “skin of our teeth” moment or worse. But, I hope that’s just the occasional rumble from my darker parts.

    Actually, Swami, I found two prime gypsy guitars on a French version of Craigslist. But, for better or worse, they were “contact by phone only” and my language skills were not good enough for that. It was still fun and since I am a luthier, I have some servicable old gypsy jazz guitars. Let’s face it, I am not Bireli Lagrene, just some old guy playing at it.

    After a few weeks in a relatively sane country, it’s strange to be back in the land of the baggers. I think what strikes me the most is the intellectual laziness and the annoying childishness. They’re infectious, so I haven’t exactly escaped unharmed.

    Well, maybe I should just end it there. We do have an escape plan, but since they are playing dice with the economy, we could be eating our goats in a year or two.

  20. Y’all know my remark was in jest. I’d much rather build a walk around Texas, offer wignuts free bibles and a year’s supply of jack Daniels (and a Toby Keith concert ) to move there. I’m just so weary of all this crap. How a minority of lunatics can screw things up this bad, after a history such blatant hostility, is beyond reality.

  21. Thanks Doug for your thoughtful reply. You raise some good points, some of which I had thought about, but not all the way through.

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