Burch: American lemmings

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Lemmings are famous, or infamous, for playing “follow the leader” to such an extent that they end up leaping from high cliffs together. This is not entirely a myth: there are videos of their strange behavior on YouTube.

Did we just see something similar with the famous, or infamous, “fiscal cliff”? It seems America’s lemming-like politicians — euphemistically called “leaders” — are never content except when engaging in brinkmanship on the verge of doom. Now that might not be so bad, if they were only thinning out their own numbers, but unfortunately they seem to be intent on taking us down with them.

I am reminded of the wit and wisdom of two of my favorite writers. Here’s Mark Twain on the subject of American politics:

“There is probably no distinctly American criminal class, except Congress.”

“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. Now suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”

And here’s the inimitable Will Rogers:

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.”

“The U.S. Senate opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

“Congress in session is like when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

“It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so.”

I think the last jibe is both unfortunately true and especially appropriate here in Tennessee. We are increasing the victims of what the not-so-super-majority of befuddled Republican bumpkins insist they “know” that just “ain’t so.”

For instance, the bumpkins know that “guns don’t kill people” and therefore we should have guns in restaurants, bars, parks, trunks, business parking lots and schools. Never mind that the U.S. has 20 times as many gun-related deaths as the other 22 richest industrialized nations, according to a U.N. report. The bumpkins know that gun control “doesn’t work” even though it really does, elsewhere in the civilized world.

The bumpkins also know that global warming is a liberal “myth,” even though the fabled Northwest Passage is now a reality, and explorers are talking about being able to kayak to the magnetic North Pole because so much arctic ice has melted recently.

The bumpkins also know that chastity is the only God-ordained solution to unwanted pregnancies, so Planned Parenthood must be demonized and defunded. (But of course the bumpkins don’t want to pay the additional taxes needed to care for all the unwanted babies.)

The bumpkins also know that homosexuality is a “sin” because the “Bible says so.” Never mind that according to the Bible, Jesus Christ never said a word about homosexuality, suggesting that it didn’t rank high on his agenda. And never mind that the ethics of the writers of the Bible are suspect because the Bible repeatedly commands and/or condones racism, slavery, sex slavery, matricide, infanticide, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The bumpkins also know that our nation’s problems in the Middle East are entirely the result of Muslims hating American freedoms and values, and have absolutely nothing to do with our government’s wild injustices in the region, such as the CIA engineering a coup of Iran’s democratically-elected government in 1953, or our government’s support for Israel despite what Nobel Peace Prize winners Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu have called a system of apartheid.

The bumpkins know all sorts of other things too: that business is good and government is bad; that raising taxes is the path to “totalitarian socialism” even though other civilized nations have higher taxes on their wealthiest citizens; that unions are evil and union busters are heroes; that rich people are morally superior to poor people; and so on.

The thing I find most interesting about the bumpkins is that they somehow manage to be wrong on every single issue. How is that possible? Did nature endow them with a death wish, to keep them from overpopulating? That is, after all, how some experts explain the strange behavior of lemmings.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

130 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 1/4/13 at 2:17

There is some truth to what the twit writes and some half-truths and of course as always a cry for help and passion towards the rejects and failures of humanity.

As long as democracy stands we will continue to elect the people to office with the best campaign treasury. It matters not whether or not they are democrat or republican. The common thread is that all want a position where they can serve themselves.

Politics are a nasty nasty business and with few exceptions attract the same mentality as criminals but always a more sophisticated face.

2000 years from (if there is a world) another article about the politicians of that society. It will condemn them much as the twit condems them today.

What we are seeing is normal human behavior of individuals in a position of power and infuence. No one goes into politics to serve the people they go to serve themselves.

By: Mike Burch on 1/4/13 at 2:59


Do you really think that JFK, FDR and Bill Clinton were nothing but self-serving politicians?

I don't think it's true that ALL politicians are greedy pigs. However it may be the case that most conservatives are so hopelessly regressive that they can't form a single decent policy.

When politicians are dumber than rocks, it hardly matters if they are corrupt or not, since they're going to do the wrong things regardless. And that seems to be the case with the GOP these days.

By: yogiman on 1/4/13 at 4:28


If "gun control" works so well, how do you account Chicago (with the strictest gun laws) having the most killings of any city in the Nation?

In the last six months 292 people were murdered in Chicago (221 were killed in Iraq).

I understand you and your fellow Democrats love for you political party, but look at the facts on Chicago:

President: Barack Hussein Obama.
Senator: Dick Durbin.
House of Representatives: Jesse Jackson Jr.
Governor: Pat Quinn.
House leader: Mike Madigan.
Atty. Gen.: Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike).
Mayor: Rahm Emanuel.

All Democrats and the Chicago school system is rated one of the worst ion the country. The State pension fund in 78 Billion in debt, the worst in the country and the Cook County sales tax is 10.25%, the highest in the country.

Would this mean those numbers would be much higher if they were all Republicans?

By: yogiman on 1/4/13 at 4:46


I agree JFK was a good man no longer than he was in office. But FDR was the man who began the creation of the United Nations. Why would an American president see the benefit of having his nation controlled by a world government? Right after his second usurpation, Barry has come right out the door [up front] seeking gun control through the UN. Why? How can the United Nations control the US Constitution's 2nd Amendment? By world order?

Bill Clinton? Who was in the President's office when NAFTA was formed which started companies moving their companies overseas and reducing the number of employed Americans? Who reduced the military services and began using our National Guard in [conflicts] overseas? I thought the National Guard was formed to protect the USA from within if we was attacked from without.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 4:55

This is another good article Mr. Burch. The first two responses explain the reason why America is having this kind of leadership.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 4:58

By Mayo Clinic staff

Narcissistic personality ( Rasputin ) disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a "deep need for admiration." Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered on psychotherapy.

Mason Cooley

Get help Raspy old boy.

By: Ask01 on 1/4/13 at 5:09

On the national stage, our elected leaders(?) are engaging in what I believe to be 'political theater,' keeping the populace on edge and distracted as they attend to other more nefarious schemes unhindered by public scrutiny.

On the local stage, amatuer hour is underway in Nashville as the supermajority runs wild, believing they have carte blanche to do what they will unimpeded. They discovered the right formula of rhetoric to appeal to the simple minded, and gerrymandered districts to take over, however briefly, control of the state.

By: Kosh III on 1/4/13 at 7:03

Where the lemmings are rushing towards is Fascism: the merger of business and government along with excessive patriotism/jingoism, continual war and religous fervor used as a means of control.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:21

There should be a new image to replace the lemmings in today’s world. It could be substitute by the fringe Tea Bagger, the Dittos Head or The FOX News hounds. These should be seen rushing over the sea cliff in blind panic over rumors and superstition.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/4/13 at 7:38

NEMO, this was your best attempt to justify why you are where you are and where I am.

When all else fails bring out the word narcisstic. This is a word pulled from the bowels of of language to assault the personna of successful people.

Never in the history of human relationships has a failure such as you been called narcisstic.


By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 7:44

Kosh - excellent post.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:46

When life gives me Lemmings, I make Lemming Aid.

Bea Itch-

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 7:48

The GOP is against funding the victims of Sandy, Planned Parenthood, Obamacare and SS/Medicare. However, they don't mind funding Guatanamo Bay, Rick Scott's fiasco in FL and discrimination of gays.




By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:48

There was no attempt on my part Raspy old boy. You are the one with a problem.

By: Loner on 1/4/13 at 7:48

Good morning, Nashville.

Once again, the NCP has posted a fine piece of writing by Mike Burch, the blue voice in a red choir....thanks, Mike, you old choir boy.

Mike Burch compared Congress to a herd of lemmings; there's a lot of truth in that.

There are several different types of rodents on this planet; mice and lemmings are not all that closely related related, but since they occupy the same niche, they tend to look like alike...scientists call this, convergent evolution".

Since the Democratic and the Republican politicians are fighting to occupy the same political niche, they tend to look similar.

GOP and Democratic politicians both have the well-coiffed hair, the super-whitened teeth, the tailored suits, and other superficial similarities....both the Democratic and the GOP "rodents" are primarily a bunch of egotistical lawyers with fawning staff who do the actual work. And both types of critters are on the take to special interest financial backers....but here, the similarity ends and the diversity in diet begins....some feed on the war-related stuff, others feed on the social welfare stuff.

It would have been nice to see some of those human lemmings take a flying leap over some cliff.....but these lemmings are self-preservationists.....all they care about is their own personal well-being....it's every lemming for his or her self.....and their backers, of course.

The FBI needs to spread a little rat-poison around the halls of Congress....then wait to see who takes the bait. Some really big rats have burrowed into the US federal government; let this be the year of the exposed rat....let the ratting begin!

By: Loner on 1/4/13 at 7:51

Sorry for the typos etc. in my 7:48 post...my bad.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:52

I am not the one who goes around bragging of Country Clubs, Raspy old boy. That is your domain that you excel in.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 7:53

Nemo, notice that he has to ramble on about his "perceived" wealth because he has nothing of substance to say.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:57

Blanket, he did that 40yrs ago and must have got stuck in that time period. LOL

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 7:57

I bet it really frustrates him to be shacked up in subsidized housing with his latest meal ticket while you live in a nice home that is paid off. He even lost that crappy condo in Inglewood to his ex. I guess he was off his game and didn't manage to pull that property out from under her.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 7:59

Loner says, "The FBI needs to spread a little rat-poison around the halls of Congress....then wait to see who takes the bait. Some really big rats have burrowed into the US federal government; let this be the year of the exposed rat....let the ratting begin!"

Let the Big Rats Eat. lol

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:01

Who knows, if he buddies up to budlight he might manage to swindle her out of money. She needs to be careful about posting so much personal stuff online. It's not safe especially knowing that we have a con man fraud in our midst.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 8:02

Blanket as I have said before he is a one trick pony.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 8:05

It's too late for old bud, she thinks he is richer than God and he see her as his next meal ticket.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:06

Mike, the "bumpkins" live in such a state of delusion that when you show them the facts that contradict their belief system the STILL will insist they are right. It defies logic.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:08

Yesterday, Ben and bud could not conceed that unemployment is improving (still not where it needs to be but it is improving) even when you show them facts of companies who are adding jobs for Q1 2013.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:09

s/h/b "concede". Need more coffee!

By: BenDover on 1/4/13 at 8:10

I remember when I used to know everything.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:12

Geez, Ben. Why don't you whine a little louder?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:13


Stocks point to a higher open, after the U.S. government reported better-than-expected jobs numbers for December.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:14

The "bumpkins" cheer failure because it pains them so much to see something go well under Obama's leadership. How Un-American can you get?

By: BenDover on 1/4/13 at 8:20

I was commenting on Burch's article, not you, bn.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:21


Why the fiscal cliff deal isn't all the gloom and doom that Ben whined about yesterday.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:22

Sorry, Ben. I thought you were talking to me.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:22

Corporations and entrepreneurs generally require confidence in knowing what taxes will be for at least 5 years before deploying capital. The 2003 Bush tax cuts were powerful, but their inherent flaw was their sunset provision in 2010, which created uncertainty for economic actors about the 5-year tax outlook by 2006. Beginning today, corporations and entrepreneurs have significantly more confidence in their after-tax returns for more than 5 years.

There’s the permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax. The current AMT exemption is $33,750 for individuals and $45,000 for couples. It will be increased to $50,600 and $78,750, respectively, and it will be permanently indexed for inflation. Middle and upper income Americans will no longer be seriously threatened by the AMT as periodic AMT patches will no longer be necessary.

Then there are family estates. They will be tax exempt for their first $10 million in value, and then will be taxed at 40 percent thereafter. Excluding certain one-time technicalities, the estate tax exemption ranged between $1 and $5.1 million since 2003 and taxed between 35 percent and 49 percent. Clearly, the new estate tax exemption is a significant improvement, Hoffmeister says.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:33

The fiscal cliff was a manufactured crisis


Corporate welfare is sacrosanct: For all the effort to make wasteful spending the villain in the “fiscal cliff” TV show, Congress ultimately refused to touch that spending. Somehow, defense contractor largess in the bloated Pentagon budget was off the table. Somehow, subsidies to corporate agribusiness were separated from the negotiations and then extended. Meanwhile, as the Roosevelt Institution’s Matt Stoller documented, the final “fiscal cliff” bill included taxpayer handouts for everything from NASCAR racetracks, to Hollywood studios, to a new Goldman Sachs headquarters.

By: Loner on 1/4/13 at 8:38

Ben does not like whine and cheesy commentary this early in the morning, am I right on that, Ben?

By: Loner on 1/4/13 at 8:46

Bn, "manufactured crisis" falls under the rubric of Hoax. Some folks liquidated their assets, out of fear of the cliff....hustlers took advantage of the fear....the media was certainly complicit in the fraud....nobody will be charged, of course.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 8:54

The manufactured crisis is part of what created uncertainty in the stock market and keeps companies from investing and creating jobs. As much as these idiots think they're trying to "solve the spending problem" they are creating havoc.

By: Mike Burch on 1/4/13 at 8:56


Good post, great points. We live in a democracy, so if we want to avoid a descent into fascism, it's up to voters to stop voting for the rottenest eggs in the basket.


You are correct that most Democratic politicians leave a lot to be desired. But it's better, for instance to waste money on healthcare, than to waste it on warmongering adventures overseas. Whenever we have the chance, we should vote for the person with the better policies, always realizing that the majority of politicians on both sides will act in self-serving, rather than nation-serving, ways.

By: Mike Burch on 1/4/13 at 8:58


Bush Junior was especially good at manufacturing a crisis, then using the GOP-created crisis to make it seem Republicans are the "saviors."

By: BenDover on 1/4/13 at 8:58

Give me a break Blanket... Obama's use of the class envy politics since before he was elected the first time is what has contributed so much to the uncertainty and job stagnation we've suffered.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 9:01

Ben, that is simply your opinion.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 9:02

But then you still think Bush was a great president.

By: Loner on 1/4/13 at 9:11

I agree, Mike. But the most powerful force in Washington, DC has to be the tripartite war super-lobby: Defense, Israel & Energy (DIE). There selfish interests overlap in the Middle East.

The feared AARP has less clout than the DIE group.

The guns versus butter conundrum has always been vexing in secular democratic societies....there is no easy solution, but finding common ground, agreeing to a genuine compromise and mutual sacrifice are key factors.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/4/13 at 9:12

There lies the rub. lol

By: Moonglow1 on 1/4/13 at 9:16

Moonglow1: The sole purpose of Congress is to carry out the agenda of lobbyists who represent corporations, most of which are multinational.

For the people and by the people is true in a sense because The Supreme Court (the new aristocracy) has deemed corporations as "people. " Those are the "people" our government serves.

We the real people can make a difference only by not purchasing junk from places like Walmart. Hit their bottom line.

I like the lemming analogy. Actually, I wish they would have jumped over their man made cliff together.

A bunch of morally compromised greed infested lot: easily bought but also easily sold!!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 9:17

Good point, Moonglow. Buy locally!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 9:20

As we know, in the upcoming debt ceiling fight, the Republicans will position themselves as the fiscally responsible people who want to stop borrowing money for spending we can’t afford. This is a lie, of course, since the debt ceiling concerns money that has already been appropriated by Congress.

But hardly anyone knows that. Maybe it’s time to steal a page from the wingnut playbook and craft a simple analogy of our own.

The president has pointed out that the debt ceiling isn’t about new spending. But maybe he should say not raising it would be like a family that wanted to cut its overall spending refusing to make mortgage and car payments on their existing home and vehicles instead of making smarter choices about future purchases.


By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/4/13 at 9:21

Congress approved the spending already and now doesn't want to pay it and wants to hold our economy hostage in order to get their way.