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scalesI’ve recently found myself having second thoughts about the Tea Party Movement. They are not the threat tof the Democratic Party like I first imagined, they are its savior.  Not only are they destined to fail by design, they are going to drag the GOP right into the black hole with them, until the GOP throws them under the bus that is.  But, if the tone-deaf strategy the Republicans have embraced going forward after getting shown the back of Obama’s hand on Health Care Reform is any indication, not only will they not see the bus coming, they won’t even know there was a bus until they read about it in their government-paid-for intensive care suite.
Now I must first admit, I hadn’t taken the time to look into the Official Site of the American Tea Party Movement  because the vile behavior I’ve seen on display at some of their rallies already made my mind up that I am not even remotely cut from the same cloth.  The fact that they tried, and are still trying, to adopt the wayward Sarah Palin as their matriarch was also a distress flare so bright that a welder’s mask should be required to look directly at it.  But, I finally succumbed to the same primal urges that somehow compel me to peek at the carnage of a car accident as I’m slowly being waved by.
When I arrived at the site, the first thing I noticed was post after post of user submitted content, with topics about things like Global Warming alarmists, Castro-Care, American ignorance, Satanic Obama defying God in Christian America and a slew of others topics that are just so bang-zoom-to-the-moon out there to me, I actually found myself feeling pity above all else. But maybe that was just the luck of the draw, maybe I happened to make my first visit when the lunatics were rioting for control of the asylum.  So I went straight to the horses mouth, the mission statement.
Clocking it at just over 500 riveting words, the breadth of this glorious proclamation intended to define a movement can be further condensed to these three phrases, Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, and Free Markets. In the name of fairness, you can read the whole thing yourself here .  It should take you all of three minutes to peruse the whole thing.  Personally I was hoping for more from a movement that claims to find its roots in the mold of our founding fathers, because those guys could really lay on the eloquence whenever their pen hit parchment.
Here is the problem though.  Where do they stand collectively on the society-defining major issues? Will they paint over their Pro-Life posters when it’s time to discuss the death penalty?  Will they be able to put a straglehold on the White Supremacists and Anti-Semite groups  that are using their rallies as a recruitment smorgasbord when the time comes to air their views on immigration and civil liberties? Will they successfully toe the line between the “tyrants” of our freely elected democratic government and their contradictory position that it is not actually a government of the people, by the people and for the people?  Will they embrace the fringe of their movement that are forming militias and contemplating acts of domestic terrorism?
They don’t know, they don’t have an answer.  They don’t have a leader and therefore no singular place to direct these kinds of questions, no one voice we can be directed to that can stand up and say THIS is what we are all about on any given issue.  They are of course against such hideous and violent idealism when called to the mat, yet they are powerless to control its spread within even their own ranks without a hierarchy in place to condemn or support such actions.
At this moment in time they are an exercise in irony.  Their biggest mouth-pieces right now are the bottom dwellers that are the poster children of hypocrisy.  People like Mike Vanderboegh, the guy who started the window breaking business at Democrat offices in the aftermath of the Health Care Reform vote, a guy that is living on the very government entitlements that he was forced to “fall back” on after a congenital heart problem made it impossible for him to work, all the while sticking the concept itself with a pitchfork every chance he gets, a guy whose brother is a US Army Lieutenant Colonel that calls the US government the enemy!
And don’t even get me started on these fools painting Hitler moustaches on posters of President Obama and calling his an agenda of Nazism, standing and walking shoulder to shoulder with some of the same pathetic hate-peddlers that emblazon themselves with swastika tattoos from toes to forehead and consider Hitler’s birthday some kind of solemn holiday, talk about hypocrisy.  In a logical world, shouldn’t they instead be bowing before Obama if they idolize and bear the mark of the guy they are so desperately trying to make him out to be?   These are the nuts falling from the nut tree right now and the gathering nets are filling up fast, all the while suffocating any struggling saplings that may have had at least some kind of reasonable hope to grow into a stout, respected tree on the American political landscape.
The GOP knows it too, they see in vivid color the backlash winding up.  They are very worried about the Tea Party fracturing the purity of their far-right-from-center conservative base as they watch them lock horns with the same, albeit loosely defined at the moment, conservative idealism of the Tea Party Movement.  To even loosen that once immovable cornerstone of the Republican party would be a harbinger of disaster.  But, at the same time, they are attracted to the fiery activism of a somewhat-allied grassroots movement like a moth is to a flame.  They saw firsthand the awesome force of the grassroots movement Obama started during his historic election and he’s been kicking their collective backsides with it ever since, and they are now desperately seeking their own foil to his power.  In the back of their minds though, they keep seeing what happened to the curious moth, so they have mostly kept the Tea Party at arms distance as best as they could so far, but the day is quickly coming when they are going to have to finally squeeze, or get off the pot.
If the Tea Party movement doesn’t swallow its own tail and finish the meal itself before November arrives, the Republican party is going to have to swallow whatever portion is left, and that will spell heart burn and upset stomach.  It will also cause those moderate and independent voters of a more delicate palate to be forced to find sustenance elsewhere. After all, it wasn’t spicy or novelty foods that made McDonalds number one in the world, it was the food that goes down easy, standard menu items that a great majority can bring themselves to swallow.  Our democracy bends to the same rule.
When Sean Hannity calls those at a Tea Party rally “a bunch of Tim McVeigh wannabes,” and they CHEER?!!?, most of the center lane starts reaching for the left blinker, the images of dead and anguished Americans doesn’t sit very well with true patriots and they don’t want anything to do with it, no matter how much they may have embraced some of the Tea Party’s basic principles and idealism concerning what the role of government should be in our lives.
Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party’s infatuation with her, is another wild card that I don’t think bodes well for the GOP.  If there is one thing time has testified to when it comes to Sarah Palin, she loves to follow the spotlight around and the almighty dollar has no truer servant.  When the flame of fame starts to dim, and by extension the money quits rolling in, she will more than likely reach for the kerosene bottle to get things going again, Palin-style.
I think that time will come when she inevitably finds it aligns with her best hopes for staying nationally relevant to finally step up and wholly take the reins of the Tea Party, and she will be taking a good portion of that conflicted conservative Republican base right along with her.  If they make her an actual candidate next year to run for the presidency on a third-party ticket, I assure you the scales of Demos vs the GOP stand no chance of tipping in the GOP’s favor. Even though the plurality of Americans from both parties think Captain Crunch is more than on par with Sarah Palin when it comes to taking the wheel of our nation to navigate the swirling, reef-laden waters of Washington, she will still tug at the heartstrings of the Tea Party faithful and siphon votes from the GOP.
So, to tie everything together, if the Tea Party can keep themselves relevant, and that will require naming some kind of leader eventually, the GOP is going to lose a good chunk of their most stalwart conservative supporters, and that’s bad news in political contests that are often won and lost by a razor’s edge.
If, on the other hand, the Tea Party consumes itself, most of the now vocal and FOX recognized “Tim McVeigh wannabes” are going to be forced to pick sides, and they are going to naturally gravitate to the same place they have always been, locked and loaded for the GOP, which means no net gain at all.  They will simply have managed to take the long scenic route, paying high tolls for using the road in the process, only to end this journey at the same starting line they have always just walked up to for free in the past.
But, do you think the worst and loudest elements of the Tea Party are going to ever magically close their mouths now that they’ve tasted the national spotlight of recognition? I don’t think so. And this will end up costing the GOP, in a guilt by association scenario,  the centrists needed to win big elections, a crucial group that they’ve had moderate-to-good success wooing in the past.
So what do you think?  Is the Tea Party movement really a threat to President Obama and the Democratic Party? To borrow a line from the queen bee Sarah Palin herself, I’m now thinking, “Hell No!” But it is one heck of a torpedo aimed at the USS Republican and it looks like sink or swim time is quickly approaching.  If they choose to swim, it is going to have to come in the form of participating in actual governing for progress instead of blind, status-quo obstructionism, it will be the only way they can hope to stay afloat, and that in itself would be good news for all of us looking to move forever forward.
I never thought I’d say it, especially without wincing, but here goes … “Gooo Tea Party!”
asteroid impactMy wife asked me the other day why I like to watch disaster movies so much.  No one in the world knows me better than she does, no one knows better the time and energy I’ve sacrificed to give my best effort to make at least some kind of small difference for the betterment of our collective future without the luxury of material compensation.  So she was baffled that I could possibly take pleasure in the catastrophe and mayhem that would follow an asteroid pulverizing a good portion of our planet, or the unbridled chaos of an alien invasion bent on the extermination of our species, or the upheaval and anarchy that would ensue if a virulent plague would indiscriminately ravage the globe and rob us of society as we know it today.  I would like to share my answer with all of you, with the hope that you may look at today with a slightly altered perspective, and that tomorrow, for all of us, will see brighter days to come. 
Hollywood is masterful in the way it brings vivid imagery to our most primal fears, no one does it better.  We’ve all had thoughts of “what if?” We’ve all wondered how humanity could possibly endure terrors of biblical proportions. We’ve all wondered if mankind would find a way to survive and how our civilization would look once we weathered the worst of the storm only to find that everything we know, everything we trust, everything we believe, has been turned inside out.  We’ve all wondered how the human spirit would endure,  how we would rebuild a new tomorrow when the comfort of yesterday was ripped from our grasp, how our most basic faith would survive.
It is the answers to those questions that magnetizes me to the genre.  It is my unshakeable trust that goodness and decency would see their finest hour if we were left with nothing to depend on but each other,  that’s what  wills me to watch.  It is my unwavering belief that collectively our moral compass doesn’t really need an arrow to point the way, that even without one we would all find ourselves instinctively stepping on the same path forward, that’s what keeps me coming back.  It is my desire to see the superficial dividing lines of race, national origin, or religious beliefs get wiped away by the powerful tide of the oldest human condition, the basic need to survive, that’s what  makes me gravitate to such tales. 
History has tested us all before, and no nation, or empire, has ever been spared.  We’ve seen hatred manifest in holocaust, we’ve seen tyranny evolve to genocide, we’ve seen arrogance unleash racism and sexism, we’ve seen heinous carnage in the name of the one thing that is supposed embody the best qualities of our character, religion, and somehow it continues to this day. Yes, we’ve seen the darkest sides of mankind. 
But, when Hollywood decides to torment our psyche with visions of an apocalypse at our doorstep, we all know deep down inside what it will take to ensure the continuity of our very existence, a unified stand that coalesces around our better angels, finally free of the deeply etched lines that divide us from one another.  To see that brought to glorious life on the sliver screen, that’s why I watch.
Lady Destiny knows our history too, but she gives us an opportunity every day to change our stars, she unrelentingly offers us her greatest treasure, the freedom of choice, and all of the magnificent possibilities that those choices could afford us if we choose to embrace the wisdom learned from past mistakes.  The question today, and every day to follow,  is what will we do with her gift?
America, today we find ourselves at just such a crossroad.  While the ramifications of the calamities we all see heading our way daily may not be as instantaneous and awesome as a gargantuan piece of the heavens on a collision course with the blue planet we all call home, they could prove just as potent and lethal for far too many of us that find ourselves inching our way toward the edge of the abyss.  If we choose to turn a blind eye once again, no soul will be left un-ravished, no individual will be untouched, and no dream will remain unscathed.  
In 2008 we found ourselves gripped in the life and treasure-draining torment of two far-away wars, the materializing specter of another great depression, and the indignity of joblessness claiming more and more of our fellow Americans by the day.  In 2008 I, and most of you, heard a man vocalize those fears, we saw a man with vision put his finger on the problems and fill us with the possibilities of hope for a better tomorrow. In 2008 we chose that man to lead our great nation, not unanimously of course, but with a strong democratic majority.  In 2008 we reached for Lady Destiny’s gift and chose a new course, a course that was breathtakingly simple, a course that was achievable, a course that we knew was right. 
When President Obama took the helm, our great American sailing vessel was already in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle and all of our navigation equipment was spinning out of control.  But instead of giving our new captain the authority to chart the direction we chose him for, we got panicked by the rough seas and decided to turn on the emergency radio for assistance. For some reason we chose to tune in to the very same station that had landed us in that foul harbor to begin with, and the minority of doom-sayers started to feel empowered.  All of a sudden, a crippling mutiny was, and still is, afoot. 
To make matters worse, Main-Stream-Media decided to open that sinister channel on all decks with unparalleled volume, giving pure repetition the ability to masquerade as truth, no matter how much farther off course it would send us.  I can only hope this deficiency of real truth won’t prove to be the 21st century version of scurvy that robs us of the strong-minded and able-bodied souls that we will need to man all the ropes and sails.   After all, we are all in this boat together, and like it, or not, we will all be voyaging as one until we find a new port to shelter us from the storm, as long as we can avoid finding the bottom of the ocean together first.
When we voted Barack Obama into office, we knew he wanted to reform our health care system and make it work for every American, we knew he wanted to create a new future by creating millions of green jobs and breaking our dependence on foreign oil, we knew he wanted to make a world-class education accessible to every American without regard to their financial station in life, we knew he wanted to end the misguided war in Iraq and bring the fight to those that brought the fight to our soil instead, the ones hiding like cowards in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, we knew he wanted to lessen the influence of special interest money in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to the workings of government, and we knew it was the right thing to do, we knew it was the right choice.  Why are we so busy now making the journey all the more difficult?
So I ask you America, what’s it going to be? Is our tale going to end in blackness and oblivion?  Or are we going to follow the lead of the great patriots of our past that bled for us and gave everything they had to make this an epic tale about what’s best in each of us, a tale about compassion and spirit, a tale about courage and honor, a tale about self-sacrifice and perseverance that deserves to be called an American epic? 
Scene one is about health care and it’s being written right now.  What’s it going to be America?  Will we fail under the self-imposed burdens of partisanship, or rise to the grander challenge together? Will we be blinded into tilting at windmills, or will we see clearly and overcome the real obstacles in our path?
Lady Destiny is waiting for our answer, for better or for worse. So, what’s it going to be?