www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Ballot measures -10/31/2014, 11:10 AM

Roberts not the answer -10/30/2014, 10:25 AM

See the signs -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Incumbents always win -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Convention center -10/30/2014, 10:23 AM

Schodorf for SOS -10/30/2014, 10:14 AM

Supermarket shenanigans -10/29/2014, 10:19 AM

Americans can fix the Senate -10/29/2014, 10:19 AM

A plea to city commissioners -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Having no price tag -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Leiker understands -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Justice doing his job -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Kansas and Greg Orman -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

'Surplus' KDOT money needed in western KS -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Ready for a budget spin -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Dishonest mailing -10/28/2014, 8:58 AM

Changing Republicans -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Follow the votes -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Shameful attempts -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Slanderous ads repulsive -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Medicare experiment -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Profile, or die -10/27/2014, 10:02 AM

Important issues -10/27/2014, 10:01 AM

Politics at their finest -10/27/2014, 10:01 AM

Most important election -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Enough is enough -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Is Roberts on final lap? -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Democrat turned Brownback supporter -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Editor Bradlee; For it All, 'Thank You' -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Davis for governor -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Roberts a changed man -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Time to stay the course -10/26/2014, 4:02 PM

Embarrassing economists -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

Sherow for House -10/24/2014, 5:07 PM

It can't get crazier (wanna bet?) -10/24/2014, 9:04 AM

Digital distractions -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Orman for Senate -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal persecutors -10/23/2014, 10:00 AM

More ed cuts coming -10/22/2014, 5:38 PM

Leiker is the answer -10/22/2014, 5:38 PM

Sun shining on schools? -10/22/2014, 5:38 PM

Airline a great addition -10/22/2014, 5:38 PM

Huelksamp: ideologue extraordinaire -10/22/2014, 5:38 PM

Kids do count -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

Needing the past in the future? -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

In praise of hunting -10/22/2014, 10:30 AM

What is a CID? Will it work for mall? -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Judging importance on the ballot -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Kansas Speaks -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

America is captive to extremists

Published on -10/14/2013, 8:38 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Welcome to America Held Hostage.

The reference is not just to the ongoing government shutdown that theoretically could be -- but in all likelihood won't be -- over by the time you read this. Rather, it is also to the intransigence and extremism of the Republican Party, a brand of government-by-crisis political thuggery that made this confrontation inevitable.

And not just the Republican Party but more specifically, that collection of cranks and outliers within the party so addled by hatred of the president, so crippled by the mental disorder known as Obama Dementia, that they are incapable of rationality and reason. They are the right wing of the right wing, a walking id so fully divorced from reality that even many of their fellow conservatives are wary -- and weary -- of them. And these are the people who are running the show.

God bless us, every one.

This latest in a series of manufactured crises centers on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's landmark health-care reform. It may be a good law, may be a bad law, may be (and probably is) a good law with some flaws, but one thing is certain: it is a law. Duly passed by Congress, duly signed by a duly elected president, it has survived no less than 41 votes by congressional Republicans to weaken or repeal it -- not to mention a showdown in the Supreme Court. No law in modern memory has been more thoroughly or energetically challenged.

Having failed epically and repeatedly to kill it, these right-wing Ahabs now embark upon an extortionate new tack that, even for them, is astonishing in its disingenuous gall. They have blocked passage of a routine resolution to fund the government unless the health-care act is defunded. Then they condemn the president because he won't "negotiate" with them.

It's as if a Little League team lost a big game on a critical call. They complain to the umps, they look at the instant replay, they file an appeal with the league, but the call still stands. So they take the ball and go home and say they will not play again until the other team agrees to "negotiate."

What a crock. In that scenario as in this one, there is nothing to talk about. The problem isn't the fairness of the process, but the inability of losers to accept the loss.

Once upon a time, a parent might have addressed the problem of children behaving like brats through the vigorous application of leather to the region of the gluteus maximus. Once upon a time, a voter might have addressed the problem of politicians behaving like brats in much the same way.

But the ability to spank legislators is largely lost. The reason in a word: gerrymandering -- voting district lines drawn to insulate legislators from voters with contrary viewpoints. Lawmakers choose their own voters, are answerable only to those true believers who already agree with them. It is a system guaranteed to reward extremism and make punishing it nearly impossible.

When you cannot "throw the bums out" (congressional incumbents are re-elected at a dictatorship rate: 90 percent), the bums are free to be as splenetic as they want to be. There is no pressure to be a statesman. Indeed, statesmanship becomes a liability.

The system must be fixed. Districts should be drawn by judges or other nonpartisan entities along sensible geographic and demographic lines. No more of these crazy-shaped districts that look like Plastic Man eating spaghetti on a rollercoaster.

The stakes could hardly be higher. The full faith and credit of the United States are at risk. Yet the right wing of the right wing engages in petulance, pettiness and pique that would embarrass a 4 year old. They will have things their way -- or they will shoot the hostage.

These people seem not to understand that elections have consequences. Unfortunately for this country, obstructionism does, too.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist

for the Miami Herald.

lpitts@miamiherald.com

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News
Kansas News