Want to know how unhappy I am with the constant stream of lies and smears told by the Republicans? How angry at their open threats to take away reproduction rights and the health-care safety net Americans finally won? Not to mention their gleeful, open intention to continue stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
Well, let's put it this way: If Mitt Romney becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. And if you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating party ...
I don't know what you are made out of.
Outrageous words? Damn right. Had I written them a few weeks ago, my guess is that my editors never would have printed them. Besides being badly written and grammatically incorrect, they are pretty close to a threat to incite violence, possibly against the president of the United States, which is against federal law.
But these aren't my words at all. They are a near-exact quote from Ted Nugent, an aging minor rocker who is better known these days as a gun nut. Nugent, who especially loves to kill defenseless animals, said the outrageous words above in a video posted on YouTube. All I did was substitute "Mitt Romney" for "Barack Obama," and "party" for "administration." His outburst earned him a visit from the Secret Service, at which Nugent rolled on his back like a frightened puppy, whimpering, "I have never made any threats of violence against anyone. God bless the good federal agents."
By the end of the week, the fading Motor City Madman had other things to think about; he was off pleading guilty to transporting an illegally killed bear in Alaska, and cutting a deal to stay out of jail.
The problem, however, is far deeper than Nugent. There are an alarming number of nasty and crazy right-wing nuts out there, many of whom clearly cannot tolerate that an African-American is the president of the United States.
They spew a torrent of lies and hate onto the Internet and the airwaves, when broadcasters let them on. They are spurred on by unscrupulous showmen like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their imitators, and have been given aid and comfort by many Republican candidates, some at the highest level. Far from denouncing and disavowing them, which is what any decent Republican would have been expected to do a half-century ago, they slyly encourage them.
Take Newt Gingrich, a brawling, grossly pathetic has-been who is still running for the GOP presidential nomination, even though any chance of his winning evaporated weeks ago.
Newt recently told ABC News that he finds it "very bizarre" that the president is "desperately concerned to apologize to Muslim religious fanatics." He added that the Obama administration was "going to war against the Catholic Church and against every right-to-life Protestant organization in the country."
Both those statements are not even subjective; they are demonstrably untrue. Yet that is just the kind of rhetoric that could easily get some troubled young fanatic fired up.
Yet nothing will happen to Gingrich. Before Rick Santorum pulled out of the race, he took target practice at a shooting range where a woman hollered, "Pretend it's Obama."
He later said he didn't hear her. However, when another woman in a town hall meeting told Santorum that the president was "an avowed Muslim," he did not correct her. Instead, he just said, "Believe me, I'm doing anything I can to get him out of the government."
These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Besides writing this column, I am the ombudsman for an Ohio newspaper, the Toledo Blade. In that capacity, I receive torrents of right-wing attacks on the president, many filled with hatred, thinly veiled racism and rage.
Recently I got bombarded from an "open letter" from one Lou Pritchett, a former soap salesman who rose to become a Procter & Gamble vice president. It begins:
"Dear President Obama; You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and, unlike any of the others, you truly scare me."
Really? The soap salesman wasn't bothered by John F. Kennedy taking us to the brink of nuclear war? Not worried by the possibility that the felonious Richard Nixon might try some kind of a coup when he was about to be removed from office? Not worried about Lyndon Johnson bombing Vietnam back to the Stone Age?
Having demonstrated that he is clueless, Pritchett goes on to list a whole lot of reasons why he is scared of Obama, including that "culturally you are not an American." That settles that.
Incidentally, it turns out that soap man wrote this letter back in May of 2009, when President Obama had barely been in office four months. There are many similar rants. One Joe Quinn, apparently of Toledo, tells me in the course of a long letter that "the list of [Obama's] atrocities against the American people is too long to list here." However, he does disclose that if he is re-elected, "he will be much freer to completely transform America into a socialist state."
Well, we can only hope, but my guess is the Republicans in Congress might raise some mild objections.
There are, in fact. legitimate conservative arguments that can be made against the president's policies. The huge deficits are frightening, and it is fair to challenge the assumptions of his health care plan or his foreign policy in an intellectually legitimate way
But by not repudiating the racists, the crazies, and those filled with hate, today's GOP is giving up any claim to legitimacy. Not to mention taking a serious risk of having blood on their hands.
Consent Agreement update: Last week, as I was watching the Detroit City Council refusing to agree on salaries for the new positions the "consent agreement" is supposed to create, a ghastly Kennedy assassination metaphor popped into my mind.
It was the scene from William Manchester's classic book The Death of a President, when they rush the dying John F. Kennedy into the emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Had he been anybody else, they would have put a tag on his toes. Seeing that he was the president, however, they hooked him up to machines and started blood transfusions. Alas, the blood just flowed out of the immense hole in the side of his head just as fast as it went in.
Which brings us to the city. Detroit was supposed to create two new powerful positions, program manager and chief financial officer, within a week and fill them within a month. But this now seems hopelessly behind schedule. The first three members were named to the overseeing financial advisory board last week.
They were strong names. But there are six more to come, two to be named by the governor and two by Mayor Bing, who tends to move slowly, and two by a City Council that seems to usually have great difficulty deciding what day of the week it is.
I've been asking a number of high-ranking and high-placed politicians and corporate executives whether they thought the consent agreement would work — or whether Detroit eventually would be forced to face an emergency manager, go through bankruptcy, or both. I asked them all to tell me off the record.
But I can reveal the names of those who think the consent agreement is likely to succeed. Ready? OK. Here they are:
See you next week.
Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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