By Tom Burke / Herald Columnist
Our dog is pretty chill when we’re out. He heels nicely; doesn’t get distracted by other pups; and minds his manners (after a brief, get-acquainted sniff) around people.
Unless … Squirrel!
Then ka-boom, all bets are off. He’s instantly curious, distracted and desperately desiring to be off-lead to make a new friend.
He’s like a crow seeing a shiny object; easily dis-tracted from whatever he was doing and now consummately a-ttracted to the new, spinning, shimmering whirl-a-gig.
Likewise, the House Republican Party has been shouting, “Squirrel!” at the top of its lungs and offering a steady stream of bright, shiny objects to distract America from the party’s total failure to do their actual job for years.
We are two business days away from a government shut down; a Republican-caused government shut down.
A government shutdown meaning the federal government mostly can’t spend money; hundreds of thousands of federal workers won’t get paid; national parks will be closed; passports won’t be renewed; the IRS shuts down, so no refunds go out or questions answered; no new Social Security cards issued (60,000 a day without a shutdown); disruptions to environmental and food inspections; and a potential hit on your economic health.
Who’s to blame?
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Fla., admits it’s the Republicans, or rather a Republican; “We will have a government shutdown and it is absolutely Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy’s fault. We cannot blame Joe Biden for not having moved our individual spending bills. We cannot blame House Democrats. We can’t even blame Chuck Schumer in the Senate.”
But, like most Republican statements, this is a big, fat lie.
Because it isn’t really McCarthy’s fault; no dear Brutus, the fault lies not in ourselves or in our stars, but in the intra-party Republican feud between regular Republican House MAGAs and ultra, super, hard-right MAGA cultists. That’s why the House GOP can’t pass the spending bills that are its job to pass.
And rather than own up to their failure (or better yet, just do what we pay them to do) the Republicans have decorated the American political landscape with more shiny objects than found on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree; and are screaming, “Squirrel!” at the top of their little MAGA lungs to distract voters.
And how, gentle reader, are the Republicans trying to divert our attention?
Here’s a quick list.
• Make a big deal out of wardrobe of Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., and his preference to wear shorts and a hoody.
• Launch an impeachment inquiry agtainst Joe Biden without any evidence of wrongdoing, saying they’ll impeach first then go look for something to impeach him for.
• Yell, “Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden!”
• Call for Gen. Mark Milley’s execution for doing his job (Trump, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.)
• Claim Democrats want to outlaw gas stoves and confiscate your outdoor grill.
• Say we’ll shoot alleged Mexican drug “smugglers” on sight: no charges, no trial, no judge, no jury. Just shoot to murder (Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis).
• Call the Jan. 6 insurrection a hoax and claim all the rioters were FBI agents or antifa;
• Call climate change a hoax.
• Claim Attorney General Merrick Garland is anti-Catholic.
• Claim Michele Obama will replace Joe Biden for president in ’24 (Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas).
• Claim Joe Biden declared “open borders” after his inauguration.
• Claim the Department of Justice has been weaponized.
• Claim Ashley Babbit was murdered by the U.S. Capitol police.
• Claim women’s legal travel to other states for medical reproductive care is “abortion tourism;” then try to cancel their constitutional right to free access across state borders.
• Claim Biden is too “old” to run, while ignoring Trump’s age.
• Make it Republican policy to fire private-sector, union members for striking (as is their constitutional right), like the UAW auto workers against automakers (Sen. Tim Scott, R-N.C., says, “You strike, you’re fired.”).
• Promote firing a million federal workers (Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy).
• Promote the “No Labels” political third party, so Republicans can siphon off Democratic votes to get Trump re-elected.
• Attack Biden for being too pro-union;
• Attack Biden for being, according to Donald Trump, “Cognitively impaired” and “will lead us into “World War Two” if re-elected.
• Attack Biden for beinh Biden (and petting puppies).
All of this is, of course, total baloney. B.S. Lies. Gaslighting.
The Democrats don’t want your gas grill. Impeaching Biden without evidence is a absurd. Tim Scott and his “Fire them” mantra is only steps away from the union-busting terror of the Harlan County, K.Y. coal wars.
And the media too has been distracted by “squirrels:” Loren Boebert’s boobs and date-groping; Rudy Giuliano’s sexually groping a White House aide on Jan. 6, 2021; Trump refusing to wear a covid mask because his bronze-tanner makeup stained it; and the betting pool on when DeSantis will drop out of the race.
The media’s “squirrel” syndrome and fatal addiction to false equivalency is killing their credibility, distorting the real news, and hampering our decision-making.
So I’ll give yet another Republican, Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., the last word on the shutdown: “This is stupidity. The idea that we’re going to shut the government down when we (the Republicans) don’t control the Senate, we don’t control the White House … It’s a clown show … You keep running lunatics. You’re going to be in this position.”
So, voters, don’t be fooled by shouts of “Squirrel!” or spinning, shiny distractions. Hold Republicans, all Republicans, up and down ballots, to a standard that simply says, “Do your job!”
It’s gonna hurt everyone when they close down your government.
And these clowns, these lunatics, should all pay the price on Election Day.
Never vote for those with an R after their names again. For anything. Ever.
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.