“Cutting off food? Really? Is this what our country has come to?”

I’ve written before about my respect for Politico columnist Roger Simon.  He’s an excellent writer, and thinker.  And he writes the kind of columns that few do, or can.  Think Mike Royko, Or Frank Rich.

This time, Simon takes on the Tea Party, and the larger – what to call it, malaise, drift, deadlock, lunacy? – to grip Washington, DC as the Tea Party stranglehold over the Republican party turns the GOP ever more to the right, and towards permanent confrontation.

Simon uses the story of the scorpion and frog, where both animals need to cross the river, and the scorpion suggests it catch a ride on the frog’s back.  The frog, understandably, says “no way, you’re going to sting me halfway through and I’m going to drown.”  The scorpion responds, reassuringly, “don’t be silly, if I sting you halfway through, then we both drown.”

So, won over by the incontrovertible scorpion logic, the frog carries his deadly adversary across the river, and midway through – what happens? – the scorpion stings the frog.

As they both start to drawn, the frog asks the scorpion, “why did you sting me?”

The scorpion replies, “I had no choice, it’s in my nature.”

Scorpion via Shutterstock

Scorpion via Shutterstock

Simon continues:

There are scorpions among us. They sit in Congress, committed not to solving problems, but blocking solutions.

They would take the food out of the mouths of children. They would put the insurance companies back in charge of health care. They would shut the government down, refuse to pay the nation’s bills, destroy the trust that other countries place in us when they buy our bonds, they would do all this rather than give President Obama the slimmest of political victories.

Why? It is their nature.

I am not talking about the entire Republican Party. I am talking about a faction of far-right, tea party-driven congressmen who do not care who drowns.

They don’t have real alternate plans to help people. They weren’t, they believe, elected to help people. They were elected, they believe, to keep the other side from helping people.

The thing is, Newt Gingrich didn’t care who drowned either.  Republicans all the way back to the early 1990s didn’t care who drowned.  And the scorpions go all the way back to the advent of the modern religious right, and the early 1980s.  The Tea Party is only the latest scorpion of indifference to visit the GOP.

Now, that doesn’t mean that things haven’t gotten particularly worse the last few years.  I think they have. In addition to being indifferent – and I’d argue antagonistic – to the suffering of others, the fringe controlling the GOP has now gotten a bit crazy to boot.

The Republican party is a coalition built on hate, intolerance, indifference, and lies.  It not only doesn’t exist to compromise, but as Simon notes, the GOP doesn’t exist to help people period – Simon says he’s talking about the Tea Party fringe, and not the entire GOP, but what’s the difference? The extremist tail is wagging the political dog, and it has been for thirty years.

What’s worse, as the GOP is not a party built on truth, or even reality – the age of the earth being 6,000 years, and climate change being a lie worthy of Hitler, come to mind – they see no cost to their lack of cooperation.  If they default on the national debt, cut food stamps $40 billion, repeal Obamacare, none of it will make any difference because to them none of it is real.

We’re dealing with people who hate government, in all its forms.

And they don’t particularly like people either.

So not only do they not believe that the world is going to come crashing down if they default on the national debt or cut programs for seniors.  But they also don’t particularly care if it does.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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42 Responses to ““Cutting off food? Really? Is this what our country has come to?””

  1. Blogvader says:

    Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were chiding Democrats for voting for a farm bill that included deep cuts to food stamps? How is this different?

  2. karmanot says:

    Witches cry rainbows—beautiful but sad.

  3. Whitewitch says:

    <|;o{ (a witch crying)

  4. fletcher says:

    Maybe that’s why they are so prejudiced against blacks. All the Afro-Americans are splitting a gut laughing as these so-called Congressmen grovel before the Koch Brothers and Rush Limbaugh saying “Yowsa, massah!”

  5. FauxReal says:

    Technically we are a republic – as in the Pledge “. . .and to the Republic for which it stands.”

    A republic is a form of government in which people elect representatives to make policy decisions on their behalf. In a democracy, the people make these decisions though town halls, ballot initiatives, etc.

    We are a democracy in the popular sense of that word – the government derives it’s power from the will of the people.

    When someone says this is a democracy, Conservatives love to declare that we aren’t a democracy but a republic. The vast majority of people though think of us as a democracy and not as a republic.

  6. karmanot says:

    I know I had such hope for him.

  7. Whitewitch says:

    Don’t make me cry Karmanot…he was my one last hope.

  8. karmanot says:

    Yep Franken is the Barney Frank of Minnesota.

  9. karmanot says:

    Franken is such a craven cave in and an utter disappointment.

  10. karmanot says:


  11. karmanot says:

    Cruz is the new McCarthy.

  12. karmanot says:

    The GOP: unpatriotic and borderline treasonous. Republicans and their militia the NRA are a clear and present danger to the country. One of them recently declared “We are a republic not a democracy.”

  13. Jim says:

    They care about one thing: enriching the 1%.

  14. KingCranky says:

    The GOP Death Cult, enthusiastically descending into ever-more viciousness, paranoia, willful ignorance, defiant stupidity and easily-debunked hypocrisy.

  15. rmthunter says:

    Just a footnote to this: While neither party is perfect, the Republicans have truly gone over the edge, and are trying to drag the rest of us along with them. I can’t give Obama or his surrogates in Congress any credit for trying to stop them — maybe because they’re too close to see what the problem is, maybe because they’ve lost any sense of what the country is about, or maybe just because they don’t have the kind of mentality that automatically classifies everyone who disagrees with them as a mortal enemy.

    But don’t forget the role of the press in this. With a very, very few exceptions (at least one of whom, Soledad O’Brien, was sidelined after challenging a right-winger on his lies), they’ve done nothing to question the narratives being spun by the teabaggers and their minions in D.C. They’re a big part of the problem. I’m not the first to say this, but when you have to go to Comedy Central to get any sort of rational take on current events, we’ve got a real problem.

  16. rmthunter says:

    They call us anti-American traitors because we’re not just like them. They don’t understand that no sane person wants to be like them.

  17. Bill_Perdue says:

    The Republicans are playing the same partisan game of brinkmanship they’ve played since 1992. It’s another demonstration of the inability and unsuitability of both parties to rule.

    Republicans want to slash food stamp funding and the Obama regime busts unions and offers to impose austerity so that people will need food stamps. (1) Democrat Congressional leaders like Pelosi chime in saying, “It is clear we must enter an era of austerity; to reduce the deficit through shared sacrifice.” Reid agrees. (2)

    These sociopathic politics of Boehner, Obama, Pelosi and other leaders of the Republicans and Democrats are nothing short of criminal and increase poverty the most devastating form of poverty, child poverty. “A new report released this week by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals alarming child poverty rates within affluent, or ‘developed’, nations. The US ranks second highest among all measured countries, with 23.1 per cent of children living in poverty, just under Romania’s 25.6 per cent.” (3) My emphasis

    This coming Tuesday, the 4th of November, 2014 and Tuesday, the 8th of November, 2016 I plan to vote socialist, write in Chelsea Manning or just sit it out as a protest vote since there is absolutely no point in voting for the enemies of working people who infest and control both the Democrats and Republicans. I won’t waste my vote on Democrats or Republicans.

    (1) http://aravosis.wpengine.com/2013/02/barack-obama-social-security-and-medicare-cuts-are-very-much-back-on-the-table.html

    (2) http://thepage.time.com/2011/07/25/pelosi-praises-reid-proposal/

    (3) https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/05/30-6

  18. eggroll_jr says:

    The world population crossed the 2 billion mark in 1927 and the 7 billion mark in 2011, just 84 years later. The US population was 118 million in 1927 and will hit 400 million in 2038, basically a quadrupling. At the same time arable land, in the traditional sense, has expanded 2%, with the result that we are actually knocking down the great tropical forests of the planet to grow soybeans. And we have to keep cutting down forests faster, overfishing more, salinizing existing farmland and fracking shale just to reach 10 billion. Struth. The advantage of the social democracy model is that it gives less credit to altruistic motive, both interclass and intergenerational, and gives a little more space for debate over longer term consequences of social policy. This lets a society focus on both long-term and short-term issues. The questions of what “What happens to our society if we allow, or even promote, malnutrition on a wide scale?” or “What happens if housing is unaffordable to a significant minority of the population?” “How do we build the infrastructure and feed the additional 100 million that are coming in the next 20 years?” I don’t know the answer, but you have to be totally out of it or a sociopath to ignore it.

  19. DrDignity says:

    John, a pox on both the democrat & republican houses. This is a polycracy, all are servants of what paid for their elections & more still, thanks to Citizens United. The US Congress, SCOTUS & POTUS are the servants of what paid for them & get their perks, too, like legal insider trading, the best health care, generous salaries & pensions, free travel. The corporate class gets their juicy contracts: military, pharmacy, health care, prisons, arms, education. Whomever wins, R or D, they know the game! Don’t you think we need to get serious about third party candidates & disempower these puttane?

  20. BeccaM says:

    Remember when quite a few of us on the left said the Iraq war was a bad idea, and based on lies?

    We were calling us anti-American traitors then, too.

  21. FauxReal says:

    Robert Parry had an article in 2010 that reminds of the history of just how far Republicans are willing to go to undermine Democratic Presidents to get back into the WH.

    A Method to Republican ‘Madness’

    “In this analysis, the Republicans believe they can reclaim the lucrative levers of national authority by making the country as ungovernable as possible while a Democrat is in the White House, essentially holding governance hostage until they are restored to power. Then, the Democrats are expected to behave as a docile opposition “for the good of the country” (and usually do).”


    “In all four cases – covering the last four Democratic presidencies – the Republicans did not behave as a loyal opposition but rather as a single-minded political enemy that viewed the White House as its birthright and Democratic control of the Executive Branch as illegitimate.”

    Parry summarizes what the Republicans did during each of those Presidencies and concludes with:

    “So, the Republicans have never been made to pay a political price for their scheming to undercut sitting Democratic presidents — and to grease the GOP’s route back to power. Whenever a Democrat is in the White House, the Republicans believe they are free do whatever they want to block him from solving national problems, making him look weak and ineffectual.”


    It’s a sobering reminder of how far Republicans are willing to go even if it damages the country.

  22. FauxReal says:

    GQ has a profile on Ted Cruz. An excerpt:

    “So far Cruz has proposed no major legislation and has shown little interest in changing that. He seems content accomplishing nothing because, in Cruz’s view of the federal government, nothing is the accomplishment.”


    “Stopping bad things,” Cruz told me, “is a significant public service.”

    Read More http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/201310/ted-cruz-republican-senator-october-2013#ixzz2fljgMqH2

    That’s their philosophy.

  23. dave3137 says:

    You know, as Stalin said, 1 death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic. We have the highest poverty rate of any “developed” nation. We have the most expensive healthcare system of any developed nation. We have one of the worst school systems, the highest rate of incarceration, a government that does littler besides blackmail and renaming (and defunding) post offices, an infrastructure that professional engineers rate as deficient, school boards that want to enshrine religion in science textbooks (time for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to make an appearance in Texas???), state legislatures that makes facts illegal, etc. We have become a dysfunctional society. 85% of the kids in my school district qualify for free or reduced lunches. We have a national political party that apparently says that all of their parents are lazy good for-nothings who need to get a job (which the same party has paid zero attention to helping to create despite their admiration for all those “job creators” out there). Voucherize education, but let the charter schools cherry pick who they admit. Privatize everything, and deregulate everything, so short-term profit is the rule of the day — and let that principle rule water, air, food….. As grandma used to say, we’re going to hell in a handbasket. The Republicans have given up to their extremists, and the Democrats are like herding cats, as usual.

  24. Monoceros Forth says:

    The story of the frog and the scorpion always reminds me of Orson Welles and Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report.)

  25. Naja pallida says:

    Sadly, Minnesota is one of the top agricultural states, so Monsanto has Franken by the balls. Of course, if he still had his radio show, he’d be ranting and raving about GMOs, and their related corporate malfeasance.

  26. Naja pallida says:

    They call us anti-American traitors for simply not thinking that they should be allowed to freely destroy all progress since the New Deal. If there were any actual Liberals in government working against them, they’d be shitting themselves.

  27. Whitewitch says:

    I would love to agree with you, I just really believe it is no longer America of the People, but is now America of the Corporations and we don’t have enough money to buy our way into the pockets of the politicians.

  28. Mighty says:

    What would happen if Liberals did this to them? If we essentially held the government hostage to get a single payor system? They’d be screaming calling us anti American traitors.

  29. GreenEagle says:

    This dysfunction in the Republican party goes back much farther than the advent of the religious right as a player in Republican politics. It goes back at least to the 1920’s. You only need to examine the attitudes of Calvin Coolidge and his rich as Croesus treasury secretary Andrew Mellon to find exactly the same kind of heartless avarice which governs Republicans today.

  30. judybrowni says:

    That’s been the problem with Democrats since the Republicans seized power: the belief that they had to be Republican-lite to survive.

    Only when Republicans have been again sent to their rightful minority hell, do we have a chance for decent Democrats.

    And we’re gonna hafta fight for both those things.

  31. FLL says:

    It’s the political equivalent of the fundie Christian apocalypse. If they lose the power to defeat their enemies, they’d rather see the world end.

  32. lmsinca says:

    The latest iteration is attempting to convince young adults that they don’t need medical insurance. Do they expect us to believe they care about their finances?

  33. Whitewitch says:

    Even Al Franken voted to cut foodstamps, in order to get the Farm Bill passed.

  34. NotoriousPAT says:

    You know the Democrats want to cut food stamps too, right?


  35. A_nonymoose says:

    I’ve been perplexed for the past few years about the popularity of “Zombie” movies in our culture, when the other night it occurred to me that maybe it’s some unconscious metaphor for the 1% (the living) and the rest of us (the undead). We’re just mindless creatures who want to take their stuff, and all we deserve is the wrong end of a shotgun.

  36. nicho says:

    The one percent isn’t afraid of guns. That’s why they let people still have them. They know that people will turn the guns on each other first. And the one percent have freaking armies, militarized police forces. The Second Amendment vigilantes and their guns will be neutralized in a heartbeat.

  37. nicho says:

    Right. They want to turn the working class into day laborers making scab wages, fighting each other for underpaid crap jobs, without any social benefits whatsoever. That’s the goal. One percent masters — 99 percent serfs barely getting by. And anyone who isn’t in the top one percent — no matter how much they make know — is living in a fool’s paradise. When the one percent no longer needs you to help them destroy the country, you’ll be scrambling for food and shelter too.

  38. arcadesproject says:

    I remember during the depths of the Great Recession. This nice quiet family man in my investment club, who said, when the unemployment numbers started getting truly scary, that people who lost their jobs would just sit around now, and maybe go look for one when their benefits ran out.

  39. BeccaM says:

    Hell yeah.

    I’d say it’s about time to take note of the constant projection of the GOP far right and realize what they’re doing is tantamount to treasonous behavior. Threatening default on the national debt is exactly that. So are their constant — and increasingly blatant — attempts to steal elections through voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering.

    They have no sense of decency, shame, or self-restraint. The worst elements of human society used to merely have an influence on outcomes — now they have a seat at the table, and the seeming ability to force everyone else to comply with their radical right minority agenda.

    GOP governors refusing to expand Medicaid — for no reason other than politics. GOP legislators arguing that disaster aid should only go to their states. Making things as hard as possible for citizens in their states to navigate through the health insurance exchanges.

    Food stamp cuts, for crissake. How low can they go? Wait, don’t answer that question… I suspect they won’t be happy until the entire country burns to the ground.

  40. bkmn says:

    Let’s see. We cut off their food and make sure they can’t get health insurance so that when they fall ill they can infect everyone.

    Not to mention that an empty stomach makes people feel like pissed off and angry, but they could buy a gun so what could go wrong?

  41. Dare I say it? AMEN!

  42. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I like that scorpion story. IIRC it was used to great effect in ‘The Crying Game”.

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