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: Captain Nemo on 1/5/13 at 9:02

Must go lower. Ten times below zero and farther and the end will still not be in sight.

By: Ask01 on 1/5/13 at 9:27

The first Saturday of the New Year. The air is brisk, the birds happily chirping, and, despite the cold, the odor of troll droppings lingers over the board like the ambiance of an early summer morning in Altus, Oklahoma. (Cow pastures surround the Air Force Base there, providing at times a malodorous reminder of bovine digestion. Particularly on warm, humid spring days.)

To borrow a quote from the cartoon character, Pogo Possum, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

The electorate keeps returning the same reprehensible cretins to represent them in the legislature. I wonder if all those who voted for these people actually share their myopic view of the world, of if they are just so frightened by the right wing propaganda, they dare not vote any other way? The Republican leadership(?) in Tennessee will work hard, I am certain, to keep the voters ignorant and to make sure only the right people vote, so as to solidy their power while charging boldly forward into the past.

The writer who expressed concern about bills plunging us into a new Dark Age in the state may not be far off base.

The time is now for the opposing viewpoint to educate the masses about the social cliff they are approaching, so they don't drag the rest of us over with them.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/5/13 at 9:46

Good morning Ask01. A cow pasture has a better aroma than troll droppings.

When Rome fell the dark ages came into play. When the light return and mankind begin to stand upright once more, there were survivors of the dark clinging to their troll ways. We see the Children of trolls and fools trying to blow the light out.

By: Ask01 on 1/6/13 at 7:11

Mike touches briefly on the almost idolatrous preoccupation many in the Bible Belt devote to the Bible.

Considering the tinkering which has been inflicted on the book for the better part of two millenia, one has to wonder about what we have today .

How much was the result of those compiling the contents attempting to 'clarify' what was written to best express 'their' views, and not the intent of the original writers, and almost certainly not the message God intended?

Many books over the years have been removed because religious leaders felt there were 'issues' conflicting with their view. Other books inserted that provided basis for the desired message.

Aside from assembling the prefered and approved content, there is also a question, in my mind anyway, concerning the translation from the orginal writings, and any editorial tinkering.

Translating from just one language to another is difficult enough. (Just look at some of the instructions which accompany many items from foreign manufacturers if you have any doubt.) Consider what happens when you start with language A, translated to language B, then to C, and so on. Mistakes are bound to happen.

Then one must consider the prejudices, or perhaps fears, of the translators. For an example, suppose a translator didn't like apples. All he had to do was include a passage declaring apples to be evil, and the faithful would shun forever apples. (In public naturally, though they may have indulged privately.) Likewise, if a translator found a passage he feared would offend those who commissioned his work, say those translating for the King James version, it would be a simple matter to alter or omit the potentially offending segment.

I'm not attacking the Bible, Torah, or Quran, merely pointing out the problem with total, direct interpretation of any writings. Even Biblical scholars don't take everything in the Bible literally, taking many passages as parables or abstract concepts.

We have seen the danger brought about by Islamist zealots picking select texts to interpret literally, and the same danger presents itself in America as the extreme religious right exercises the same tactic with the Christian Bible.

This is the danger of allowing the fringe element lemmings to wield power unchecked. In the end, none of us will be safe.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 9:17

Good morning once more Ask01. I have thought the same as have raised about the Bible and I've come too a similar conclusion. In resent years I have dropped religion from my life, but I still believe in something bigger.

Religion has become the Whore in most part by Money Pimps.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 9:18

Let me add Power Pimps to this list.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 10:55

Let me add lower class and underclass pimps to this list.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 10:55

Let me add lower class and underclass pimps to this list.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 11:02

By all means Raspy old boy you can add yourself if you want, but the rest of us have known what your low class status as been from the first time you posted.

I'll just post this once.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 11:57

Nemo...........Just as a curious passing thought, it suddenly came to mind "what can a person like Nemo who has never been acclaimed for anything other than guessing correctly how many dried beans were in a gallon jar possibly think constitutes lower class?

It would have to be one of his neighbors at the Edgehill projects.

I do give him credit for having a job which is probably superior to some of the other five simpletons.

It is disgusting to think that these are allowed to vote. Alas, it is the latter stages of a democracy gone amok.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 12:30

You still have no clue as to I am. Ha,Ha,Ha,Ha!!

By: budlight on 1/6/13 at 1:20

And you have no clue, period, capt. You are judgmental and also clueless. Or else why would you have to brag so much and demean others so much?

Question: (if you can comprehend and answer it). If Obama had been president when 9/11 hit the World Trade Center, what do you think he would have done in response? or would he have even responded to the terrorists?

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 1:40

NEMO.......I know who you are . You are one of the people who elected Barack Hussein Obama.

I do not need to know anything else about you. That vote alone tells me enough about ypur IQ and your financial status.

Your posts confirms the vote and the envy and your life failures.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 2:35

First off bud fool, I don’t brag and I sure do not brag in any form or manner as you or Rasputin does about his imaginary wealth.

That is the stupid question to ask: "Question:(if you can comprehend and answer it). If Obama had been president when 9/11 hit the World Trade Center, what do you think he would have done in response? or would he have even responded to the terrorists?"

What if you had been raised better, bud? Would you be a nicer person today or just as hateful old hag as you are now?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 2:37

There you go again Rasputin, fishing in the dark with no bait, but your anger. I knew you when you were a punk and it appears you have only magnified your puckish way into being an older punk.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 2:40

Raspy old boy don’t you have some fish bones you can gnaw on today?

bud don’t you have a witches brew to stir?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 2:42

BTW you two, I was surprised that you did not jump on my typo that I had.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 3:05

NEMO.......Only a low income dropout could get "fishing" from any statement I made.

I would like to repeat that I know All I ever need to know about you from what you post.

In order to get fishing from statement you are a confirmed dunce.

Nemo. Any chance of being any more than what you are was gone by the seventh grade.

If I had to guess at what your name is, my first blush attempt would be first name ,"Passing"and last name "Through"

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 3:13

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 3:05
NEMO.......Only a low income dropout could get "fishing" from any statement I made.

I would like to repeat that I know All I ever need to know about you from what you post.

Translation;
Who is this person from my past?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 3:17

Funny that you mention the 7th grade, wasn’t that the time you were expelled from school for looking in the girls restroom?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 3:26

Say Raspy isn’t it about time for you to storm off and go to some dinner at the Club, old boy or are to play a hand of Go Fish?

By: yogiman on 1/6/13 at 3:26

I can't see his job superior to the others, Rasputin72. Most of them are much superior in using the English language.

From his "going from here to over yonder" I imagine he's either a sales or service agent for a company whom you don't have to be too bright for those jobs.

By: Ask01 on 1/6/13 at 3:33

I too, Captain Nemo, have foregone most organized religions as types of pyramid schemes to enrich those at the top. I have no animosity for the rank and file follower and feel if they are happy and content, so be it.

I also believe their is indeed a Supreme Power in the universe, but most religions have strayed so far from the message, each adding their own interpretation, the truth is difficult to ascertain.

As a footnote, you probably know many of the Founding Fathers were actually Deists, not as many believe, Christians. They did believe in a God, but not necessarily in the same vein as many of the Religious Right Wing fringe element.

Have a good evening Captain Nemo. I have some baking to finish. Don't step in the troll droppings.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 3:43

Good night Ask01, I wish you could have come in earlier. Your stimulating conversation would have been refreshing today. Have a good night.

By: Rasputin72 on 1/6/13 at 3:43

NEMO.........I hardly ever frequent the club on Sunday evening. This evening is reserved for football and some Stone Crabs and Oyster Stew made with half and half and butter.

The closest that you and have perhaps ever come to being within 10 yards of one another is most likely to have been at a traffic light. I hardly think the vehicles need to be mentioned as you know what you were driving and I know what I was driving.

Both vehicles match our lifestyles. You know what I mean? My God, why would I think that you could interpret that?

By: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 3:45

One more thing Ask01, I ware hip boots when dealing with the trolls of CP.

By: yogiman on 1/6/13 at 5:45

Do you wear your hip boots to sell them as your ware or just to make sure you don't get too deep in your sh!t?

By: budlight on 1/6/13 at 5:53

: Captain Nemo on 1/6/13 at 2:35
First off bud fool, I don’t brag and I sure do not brag in any form or manner as you or Rasputin does about his imaginary wealth.

That is the stupid question to ask: "Question:(if you can comprehend and answer it). If Obama had been president when 9/11 hit the World Trade Center, what do you think he would have done in response? or would he have even responded to the terrorists?"

What if you had been raised better, bud? Would you be a nicer person today or just as hateful old hag as you are now?

Actually you have no idea how I was raised. My Mom qualifies for sainthood. She was strong, ethical and loved her children very much. I am not a hateful old hag to many, many, many people. Only to you and you don't even know me. I don't think my challenge to you to be "nice" was actually taken seriously.

Stop being so mean to Yogi and others who do not have your same point of view. It is unhealthy. Dialogue should be healthy and respectful.

When do we start? I'm ready. Can you measure up to a higher standard? I sure hope so.

By: yogiman on 1/6/13 at 7:24

Fergit it, budlight. You have to have ethics to begin with and dumba$$ doesn't know what ethics means.

By: budlight on 1/7/13 at 7:27

But Yogi, I had a revelation that I need to be nice to everyone this year and I'm starting here. So I hear you. I'm just going to give it my best shot in the name of Jesus.