Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Fire-Eaters: The Civil War Antecedent to John Boehner's Dangerous and Racist Lawsuit Against Barack Obama

The irresponsible and anti-government saboteurs in the House of Representatives have voted to sue Barack Obama, the United States's first Black President, for the "crime" of doing his job.

John Boehner's lawsuit is one more example of pathological white supremacy in the post civil rights era, a moment and deed, that reveals how white racists are willing to destroy the Common Good, hurt the American people, and create mayhem in order to spit in the face of Barack Obama's legacy and governance.

Again, white supremacy hurts white people: the ghost of America as a perennial and forever White Republic has transformed into a demon which now possesses the White Right.

I am sharpening up my own metaphorical razor on the old leather strap. As I get the cutting tool prepared, friend of WARN, the one and only Werner Herzog's Bear, has offered up a great essay on the American historical antecedents of the horrific and dangerous lawsuit by John Boehner against Barack Obama. I will slice later; Werner has struck the first blow.

Do call me an outlier, if you so choose. The White Right is so crazy, mad, deranged, and out of control--and they have a plurality of white racists in league with them among the white American public--that the political calculus and conspiranoid thinking of the Tea Party GOP may result in a path dependent solution where they MUST vote to impeach Barack Obama.

Republicans want to depose the black nigger ape Barack Obama. I used no overstrikes in that sentence. Why? For too long, the pundit classes and the news media have been too polite in making masking the white supremacist rage and hostility which have dogged and bitten at Obama from the Republican Party.

If Boehner and his allies in the Tea Party GOP and its Fox News media hate machine would just call Obama a "nigger" in plain speech, matters would be much more simplified and efficient. Racial honesty would be a gift to American democracy.

Movement conservatives in their present guise are dishonest liars; of course, they will not own their first principles and true feelings about the United States' first Black President.

The Tea Party GOP is dysfunctional, worship sedition and the memory and lived legacy of the Confederate States of America, and are pursuing a political rationale which is outside of normal consensus politics.

Unfortunately, the pundit classes insist on treating the Republican Party as though they are rational actors operating within a traditional model of American liberal democracy. As such, the Tea Party GOP are the American equivalent of political Islamists who infiltrate a system via the language of "balance", "democracy" and "inclusion" in order to break it and impose their own theocratic dogma and rule.

The Republican Party are led by mullahs and radicals. Watch them. They are very dangerous.

I am sharing Werner's new analysis and commentary below. Do please follow him. Do please comment on his site. Mr. Bear knocks it out of the park in the following essay. And in my highest complement, if I were to form a stable in keeping with my metaphor that "politics is professional wrestling", Werner Herzog's Bear would be Ole or Arn Anderson in my version of the Four Horseman.

1860 All Over Again

As loyal readers of the blog know, for the past few years I've been obsessed with the political and social history of the Civil War.  Out of that interest I recently read Year of Meteors by Douglas Egerton, a lively and incisive account of the election of 1860 and its aftermath.  That's the presidential election, of course, that put Abraham Lincoln in the White House and led to the secession of the Deep South.  Since I knew a lot about Lincoln and Douglas' actions during that election, I was most interested to read about the Southern "fire-eaters," since I knew little specific about them.

They were a crazy lot who intentionally broke the Democratic party apart in order to hasten secession.  This reckless strategy was based in the belief that seceding would be the only long-term way to preserve the South's slavery-based economic structure.  While most white Southerners weren't as radical, once Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, secession began.  Politicians in the Deep South simply refused to accept the legitimacy of the Lincoln administration to the point of leaving the country.  As far as they were concerned, any president who wanted to restrict the expansion of slavery (Lincoln only went that far in 1860, he was no abolitionist) was de facto illegitimate, since they felt that the Constitution defended their right to human property, the key to the Southern elite's wealth.

Obviously, if a large number of elected officials refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the president, the country either falls apart or becomes ungovernable.  Although we aren't in any real danger of civil war today, we are back in a place where the legitimacy of the president has been rejected, leading to strife and a dysfunctional government.  As I've said before, the Republican Party has ceased to be a party in the traditional sense.  It is merely the vehicle for an extremist conservative movement that values its ideology above all else.  It has been this way since the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, when hotheaded modern fire-eaters started calling for Clinton's impeachment years before Monica's blue dress

People scratch their heads today, wondering how in the hell the president of the United States got impeached over some sexual shenanigans.  It does sound ridiculous, doesn't it?  The main reason was not Clinton's behavior, but the fact that Republicans had been trying hard to find ways to get Clinton removed, and their fishing expedition turned up something to work with.  Of course, getting a hummer from an intern in Oval Office is cruddy behavior and reflective of Clinton's lack of self-control, but hardly qualifies as a high crime.  (Did anyone take the perjury angle seriously?)  The fact of the matter is, Republicans did not accept the legitimacy of the Clinton administration.

The current conservative opposition to Obama makes the anti-Clinton stuff tame by comparison.  Not only has the conservative movement and its media propaganda arm become more brazen in the last decade, the racial resentment against Obama has made the attacks on his legitimacy uglier and more intense.  For Exhibit A, look at Birtherism.  Obama has been much less mistake-prone than Clinton, which enrages conservatives even more, since they have to work that much harder to find grounds for impeachment.  Even more than under Clinton, Republicans have engaged in an obstructionist strategy, one unprecedented in this nation's history.  They are so unwilling to acknowledge the president's legitimacy that simply have refused to govern until he is out of office.  Recent Congresses have set records with their indolence, despite the many problems our country faces. 

That indolence sometimes awakens into obnoxious actions that harm the country's health.  Conservative radicals have used the debt ceiling as a hostage on multiple occasions, threatening to kill the economy if they don't get their way, much as fire-eaters used to threaten secession to get what they wanted.  In my thirty-eight years I've never seen anything like it.  We aren't to the point of 1860-levels of discord, but we are seeing a certain kind of history repeat itself.  Although the current legitimacy protest is not purely regional in nature, the South and West are where most of the current fire-eaters are located, and I hardly find that to be a mistake, since both regions have historically assumed that they get some kind of mythical veto power over national legislation that they don't like.

As stupid and comical John Boehner's lawsuit against the president may seem, we shouldn't be laughing. It is an escalation in the ongoing legitimacy crisis manufactured by conservative ideologues who feel that the end justifies the means.  Our political system is practically ungovernable, and as the United States navigates economic inequality, the loss of its imperial power, and recovery from the financial crisis, the refusal of Republicans to ever accept the legitimacy of a Democratic president has been and will continue to seriously hamper our society's ability to respond to its most pressing problems.  Or as somebody more famous than I once said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.


Scopedog said...

Excellent, Chauncey.

Some time ago, Chez Pazienza basically tossed down the gauntlet to the rabid Obama haters by saying, "Have some balls; call him a lazy nigger and be done with it. Stop it with the code words and dog whistles."

None of this should be laughed at. There are some seriously deranged people, mostly on the Right, but sadly there are some on the Left as well--who have become unhinged since Obama's election.

DanF said...

I'm not sure I'd call the impeachment of Clinton "tame by comparison" - that's about as serious as it gets for a sitting President - there is no denying the animosity directed at Obama the person has been taken to another level (no one seriously questioned Clinton's patriotism, competency and success for example), and the obstruction is unprecedented, but it's important to remember that the GOP spun conspiracies about the Clintons MURDERING their enemies and leaving a trail of bodies from Washington to Arkansas. They did, in fact, lose their shit over Clinton. The hatred for Obama is more visceral. Obama is the America-hating Kenyan socialist affirmative action teleprompt reading usurper who is in over his head. He is deep in their psyche in a way that Clinton wasn't, because: Black. The GOP would work with Clinton despite the politics, but not Obama. They'd rather shred the country first.

The fire-eaters is an apt parallel to the Tea Party. It will be interesting to see how they will react to an HRC presidency (or other white Democrat). I suspect they've spent so much time trying to convince themselves that it is NOT about race, that they will continue down the same destructive path.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

I will read Werner's full piece. So far, it is excellent. I can understand the anger at the racial angle, Chauncey. But Werner's piece and my comment point to a much deeper danger. As soon as Clinton won his first election, a three-way contest that included Ross Perot and the incumbent Bush the Elder, senior Republicans were already declaring that Clinton had no mandate. The Christian Right and its Council for National Policy began plotting how to destroy his presidency via The Arkansas Project. They plotted impeachment and finally succeeded.

In the earliest part of 2008 (and in 2007) Ron Paul's strategic thinkers were already planning a Tea Party movement and were already gearing up the propaganda machine to take down Hillary Clinton, whom they fully expected to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. All the nastiest of her being an alleged bull-dyke, a female Hitler, a dominatrix-in-chief were already out in the blogosphere. Clinton's campaign injected race into the primaries. Once Obama won, the Christian Right picked up the race card. Racism rather than misogyny became the dominant theme. But, the underlying strategy was to delegitimize the president, whoever he or she was.

Now, there is absolutely no doubt that white supremacy is central to understanding Republican and Christian Right politics. And, there is no doubt that racial animus plays a role in Christian Right and Republican elites mobilizing conservative white voters through dog-whistles and other rhetorical devices against Obama.

But, let's be clear. If Hillary were now president (ceteris paribus), we would still have an effort to delegitimize a Democratic president. There is no Democratic Party policy that the Christian Right and the Republican Party would not characterize as socialism, communism, tyranny, or any Democratic leader they would not cast as a tyrant or a dictator, or as a persecutor and eventual exterminator of Christians and "patriots."

Werner's analysis rightly points to the most dangerous aspect of the Republican and Christian Right behavior: we are in a systemic crisis of legitimacy. This is not politics as one normally understands politics. This is an existential crisis about who we are as a people and a nation, and what political rules we accept as right and wrong.

This is a legitimacy crisis that, while having white supremacy at its core, is also a religious conflict. I repeatedly mention the Christian Right in this and other commentary here because the Republican Party is not only a white supremacist party, it is also a Christian nationalist/supremacist party. Common to both is white supremacy which goes back before this country was even founded as a republic.

If Democrats, including the president and the leadership in Congress and our governors, do not recognize this deeper challenge to the legitimacy of President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Constitution (as we understand it), then it is a party that is virtually clueless.

Given that it is a moral conflict over legitimacy, it is also what the Christian Right's premier strategic thinker, William S. Lind, called Fourth Generation Warfare. The main aim of 4GW is underminging the legitimacy of the central government by a non-state actor (which can be a religious movement). Lind was a strategist with the Free Congress Foundation headed by Paul Weyrich. Weyrich was the key strategic thinker who worked with Joseph Coors and other funders to create the core of the Christian Right and its Council for National Policy.

We are witnessing what Fourth Generation Warfare actually looks like.

chauncey devega said...

Great comment as always. I need to look up Lind. Any links?

What is the end game? Destroy consensus politics so that a full on mix of corporations and religious fundies can rule? The country is already a corporateocracy. The Democrats are basically Rockefeller Republicans. What more do they want?

chauncey devega said...

You have likely seen the documentary Haunting of a President about the cabal that came together to destroy Clinton. If not, you may find it very useful. Boogey Man about Lee Atwater is also very good.

This is as good a summary as I have seen:

"The hatred for Obama is more visceral. Obama is the America-hating Kenyan socialist affirmative action teleprompt reading usurper who is in over his head. He is deep in their psyche in a way that Clinton wasn't, because: Black. The GOP would work with Clinton despite the politics, but not Obama. They'd rather shred the country first."

chauncey devega said...

It is authoritarianism and racism together. Scary toxic mix. Werner does a great job with the historical antecedents and puts them in context. My new essay which I will share next week or when Boehner's racist lawsuit is filed points out another dimension.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

My formative years were spent while Bush was in office and I don't recall Democrats being unapologetically obstructive to his policies.
Barack Obama's legitimacy as president was sort of surprising to me at the time. That House Republicans have sought to block any initiative from this presidency since they came into power has been very disheartening to politics. They couldn't even pass a budget. They did, but with certain stipulations that resulted in dead-lock at the fiscal cliff. They still pushed those problems back resulting in the government shut down.

I literally cannot talk to my parents. Barack Obama comes up in conversation no matter what. They just want him gone and don't understand how they don't get what they want and everything that happens revolves around him.

Republicans have a real entitlement problem and it ain't poor people getting small handouts from the government. It's them not being able to understand their worldview isn't shared by all nor will they always get everything they want.

Lkeke said...

Do you think that is something that will result in the destruction or serious decline of their Party though?
Most of the country is not running in lockstep with their views, especially minorities and young people. I see it as them madly scrabbling to hold on to power they believe to be their birthright. I think they see the failure of their party at some future date. They're such short-term thinkers that they fail to realize they are just speeding it up.

Buddy H said...

Every now and then, when I'm driving, I'll tune in to rightwing talk radio. I can only take it in small doses. It's all over my car radio dial. Even where you least expect it. Once I tuned into a commercial oldies station, found myself humming along with some hit record or another from 1965 (the year my wife was born) and then the dj came on, and out of the blue, he wondered out loud if there was any way we could get rid of Obama. It's like he was hoping to inspire some current-day Lee Harvey Oswald.

There is no progressive equivalent on my car radio, except for my local college radio station that plays one hour of Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" (one hour out of twenty four.)

Sometimes I play an amusing game with myself. I fantasize about Obama stepping out one day and acting the way the tea talk radio freaks see him. I mean, here he is, a mild-mannered centrist, wall street friendly, eager to compromise with corporations, and these people on the right have shit their pants over him. (I'm not the brightest guy or most politically astute, but I remember turning to my wife in 2008 when he was elected and saying " they're gonna go nuts now. Absolutely nuts that Obama won it.")

So to amuse myself in my car, when the tea people call in and talk about him, I imagine him appearing for a press conference with a leopard-skin hat and silk robe... He's got a gold cane in one hand that he waves around for emphasis. His eyes are bright, but shifty. He smirks as he gives his speech, implying somehow that he has no intention of leaving office. He is surrounded by black men, special UN forces he has deputized. He announces that because we live in extraordinary times, it is imperative that he not step down. He sprinkles his speech with allusions to the "grave injustice" his people have suffered, and how God has put him on earth to right these wrongs. He announces martial law. He announces his alliance with boko haram. While he speaks he holds a teeth-cleaning twig. This is literally how these right-wing freaks see him.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I agree with you they seem to be trying to hold together a tattered mess of a coalition. I think that's where all the dishonesty and anti-intellectualism steps in, conservatives lie to themselves constantly.

I thought back around 2012 that the Republican Party might be dying, but I think I was wrong. in some ways they seem to be strengthening, but only by appealing to the more extremist views within the conservative political spectrum.

I don't know that I want their party to split, honestly, because then there would be two extremist conservative factions that would most likely dead-lock all of Congress.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Oh yeah, I remember all of that stuff well. Late at night out of curiosity when I was in high school I would catch snippets of Limbaugh's TV show and see ads for books calling Clinton a murderer and drug dealer. I should clarify that the tameness I mention refers to the level of pure hate behind it all, which you rightly point out is more intense against Obama and has the added poison of racism attached to it. The fire eaters want to impeach Obama so badly, they have just don't have anything salacious or serious enough.

SabrinaBee said...

Republicans have found a sweet spot. They, incapable of amassing the populous of voters that democrats do, have found a way to continue to control most of government, even when they are out of office. They've shored up the money class, the christian class, the selfish and the hate fueled. And with that, terrorize whatever democrat that is elected. That person, in turn, is pressured to concede or defer the right, on practically all matters, but especially militarily and economically. They only way to ensure enough pressure is applied is to whip its dysfunctional base into a, mouth-foaming frenzy.

Just look at the mess we keep finding ourselves mired in, despite strong opposition towards, too much foreign intervention. They very seldom disagree on more of that. It's worked with Clinton, Bosnia, repeal of banking regulation, etc. And it is working with Obama, strengthening of Patriot Act, US oil fracking, drone warfare and this push for, war, any war, with China and Russia. What they know is, that those that voted for him will stand up for him in the face of what is unfair and racists attacks, by them. That serves to distract from what he manages to get through for them.

The victories won for the social stuff is merely reward to the Addams family base, for their usefulness. They could care less one way or the other. They are the elite of the elite and living under a theocracy won't effect them in the least. Not for the worst, anyway.

Lee Viola said...

And don't ever forget wet-brained "Leftist" Christopher Hitchens, who published endless essays in the "Leftist" Nation (now sucking up to Israel with the "Leftist" New Republic and the pathetic Atlantic) of how Clinton was a rapist and a murderer. Then the sociopath discovered how well the Right could top one's martini and help pay the rent on time, so he jumped over into the arena of endless Islamophobia and warmongering.

Alexander Cockburn had the turd, Hitchens, on his radar and warned everyone.

I'm quite happy the Right's favorite "Leftist," is not around to add to the "niggerization" of Obama.

joe manning said...

Witness the historical contest between fascism and socialism. The right mobilizes against political democracy, which it correctly regards as "creeping socialism." That is, given enough time, its reasonable to assume the country would go socialist by popular vote. In order to scotch that denouement the right automatically coalesces into a fascist movement characterized by misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, market fundamentalism, racism, vigilantism, and theocracy. President Obama exacerbates the racist element, President Hillary will aggravate the misogynist element. Obama hatred is particularly virulent due to the historical scapegoat function endemic to white supremacist fascism.