In the waning days of World War II, the once mighty forces of Imperial Japan were facing defeat in detail.
It was a situation nearly inconceivable only a few short years before.
The military commanders of Japan, xenophobic Bushido warriors who saw themselves as the spiritual descendants of the fabled Samurai, believed that they were favored by the ancient gods of their religion and as such felt morally superior and exceptional in every regard. So they confidently and deliberately started a war knowing they were outgunned and short on resources but certain of their victory. They began as a formidable force and they scored solid wins early on, but not in the later critical battles that would ultimately decide the conflict. After a series of rapid victories, Japan’s warriors suffered one bitter setback after another. It took a while and the fighting grew ever more fierce and brutal, but after Midway the ultimate end of the campaign was never really in doubt – and yet the most extreme elements in Japan’s military government continued to soldier on in a fervent state of denial, futilely praying that some miracle would reverse their fading fortunes.
Until finally, bloodied and ragged, even the extremists knew that they could not win.
In a sane and rational world they would have cut their losses and stopped fighting then (in a truly sane and rational world, they would have found a way to resolve their problems without going to war in the first place, but I digress). But, of course, we don’t live in a rational world and so the fighting raged on long after the end was no longer in doubt.
Knowing that they could not win, knowing what was at stake, knowing that millions of lives were hanging in the balance, the extremists choose instead to sacrifice entire populations.
As fate rushed inexorably toward them, they became increasingly desperate.
And desperate men choose desperate solutions.
These desperate men chose suicide.
Not just the small suicide of seppuku and of the kamikaze, but suicide on a grand scale.
They chose to end their way of life.
It was a civilization that had once, long ago, been admirable in it’s own unique way, steeped in honor and duty and selfless obligation enshrined in ancient tradition. But recently that way of life had been perverted by extremists and had become morally diseased and brutally bankrupt and stripped of all the ideals that had once made it great.
When such a philosophy decays to such a degree it is nearly impossible to reverse course, human nature being what it is, and mass suicide then almost always becomes an attractive option to the extremists.
When it became obvious that they could not win, the extremists of the Rising Sun chose to kill their entire civilization rather than surrender to the inevitable, rather than make an honest peace and seek compromise with their enemies. When those nuclear fireballs blossomed above Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they signaled not just the end of the war, but the end of the warrior.
It was the end of a religious and political philosophy.
It was the end of a way of life.
And it was the end of extremists who simply could not and would not meet others halfway.
History is replete with such examples big and small.
Always the extremists are willing to commit suicide rather than admit their defeat, rather than compromise.
“Does anyone remember Charlie Sheen when he was kind of going crazy last year? He was going around, jumping around saying ‘winning, winning, we’re winning.’ Well I kind of feel like that. We are winning. And I’m not on drugs but we’re winning, I think we really are.”
That was the Republican from Kentucky, Rand Paul, comparing conservatives to a deluded substance abuser before the Liberty Political Action Conference last Thursday night.
We’re winning, I think we really are. We’re like Charlie Sheen! Winning!
Meanwhile Armageddon falls even now from the sky, but, yeah, we’re winning.
We are a week from yet another self-inflicted disaster, from suicide writ large – and Rand Paul, like a drug-addled sociopath, is convinced that his extremism is winning.
That America is somehow winning.
“I think we’re also winning in regards to cutting spending. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that the sequester is not actually really cutting spending but it is cutting the rate of growth of spending. I didn’t vote for it because I didn’t think it was enough, but now I’m trying to hold firm to it so we don’t break the sequester and actually spend more than the sequester.”
Sequestration is a winning strategy about the same way as the Japanese sending the Battleship Yamato, alone and unprotected, low on fuel and ammunition, on a one way suicide mission to Okinawa was a winning strategy. Those who sent the battleship knew that she would not survive, they knew that the battle was lost before it even began, but they told those sailors that their sacrifice would change history and then they sent the ship anyway. Yamato was destroyed out of hand and went down with most of her crew still bizarrely convinced that they could turn the tide of an already lost war.
Extremists are always willing to sacrifice their loyal followers, and everybody else, in pursuit of their dogmatic idealism.
I think we’re winning, say the extremists, despite the fact that it’s obvious they are not.
And their fanatical minions charge into battle and commit suicide on command.
“I think if we approach these issues with passion and zeal…the passion and zeal to defend basic justice and the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, I think we will be the winning party.”
Because they have passion and a zeal to win. Because their hearts are pure. Because they die in the service of right and light. God loves them best. Blah blah blah, it’s always the same martial drumbeat. The same willingness of their leaders to suicide instead of compromise.
As if the opposition wasn’t just as passionate in their beliefs, wasn’t filled with just as much zeal and just as convinced of their own righteousness.
Passion and zeal, not reason, no compromise, idealism over the greater good. It’s all or nothing as they drive inevitably toward self immolation.
Paul says, “I think we will be the winning party.”
And that tells you all that you need to know.
Paul and his fellows are perfectly willing to burn down the country for their idealism, if they can’t have it, no one will.
These are extremists, the political equivalent of bushido warriors. They have seized control of the GOP and the once admirable conservative philosophy of small government and personal freedom, and perverted it into a fanatical xenophobic hatred of any government at all.
They have replaced reason and compromise with unblinking red-eyed zealotry.
House Republicans have now voted forty-two times to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.
And last Friday, by a vote of 230-189, the conservative majority in the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that would finance the federal government through December 15, but remove all funding for the ACA.
The bill has no chance in the Senate.
The bill has no chance of passing the president’s desk.
House Republicans cannot win no matter how many kamikaze attacks they launch – and yet they continue to throw themselves upon their swords and threaten to kill us all in some quixotic gesture of defiant seppuku.
Next the Senate, if they bring the bill to the floor at all, will strip out the provisions defunding the ACA and then send the resolution back to the House. They have less than a week to reach a compromise and if history is any guide, they won’t.
If no deal is struck, the government will shut down on October 1st.
And even if a deal is reached on the continuing resolution, the federal government will hit its borrowing limit, the so-called debt ceiling, a few weeks later.
The debt ceiling must be raised, there are no other options. This is not a limit on future spending, but a payment for money Congress – including conservatives members of the House – have already spent.
Republicans, or more correctly the fanatical extremists who hold them hostage, declare that the ACA must be repealed or they will shut down the government and default on the nation’s debt.
This is the equivalent of killing yourself to keep from losing.
Defaulting on the national debt will do more long term damage to the United States than all of the terrorist attacks we have ever faced, combined.
And yet, this is exactly what Republicans are threatening us with.
The last time republicans threatened to default on our debts, it cost the nation nearly $19 billion, put millions out of work, and resulted in a national credit downgrade. This time it will be far worse. And that is only the result of the threat, not its actual implementation.
Republicans justify this terroristic extremism by saying that we must reduce government spending, or more precisely the national debt.
And yet, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office the estimated budget impact of the ACA is a positive.
When estimates are compared on a year-by-year basis, CBO [Congressional Budget Office] and JCT’s [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate of the net budgetary impact of the ACA’s insurance coverage provisions has changed little since February 2013 and, indeed, has changed little since the legislation was being considered in March 2010. In March 2010, CBO and JCT projected that the provisions of the ACA related to health insurance coverage would cost the federal government $759 billion during fiscal years 2014 through 2019 (which was the last year in the 10-year budget window being used at that time). The newest projections indicate that those provisions will cost $710 billion over that same period.
Those amounts do not reflect the total budgetary impact of the ACA. That legislation includes many other provisions that, on net, will reduce budget deficits. Taking the coverage provisions and other provisions together, CBO and JCT have estimated that the ACA will reduce deficits over the next 10 years and in the subsequent decade.
That’s correct, a combined committee – both democrat and republican – continuously working since the ACA’s passage into law, having examined the law in detail, having continuously analyzed the ongoing implementation of the law, and having access to the best economic figures available and the best subject matter expertise in the nation, continue to the report that the ACA will in fact reduce overall government spending over the next twenty years.
The ACA will reduce government spending and will provide access to healthcare for more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
Conservative extremists know this, and yet still threaten us with suicide if they don’t get their way.
This isn’t about reducing the debt. By Rand Paul’s own admission, it’s about winning – in the Charlie Sheen fashion. QED.
If the continuing resolution is not passed, the government will shut down.
If the debt ceiling is not increased when the bill comes due, the federal government will default on its debts.
House Republicans, held hostage by a handful of Tea Party extremists in thrall to a small minority of libertarian fanatics, have loudly declared that they are perfectly willing to destroy the good faith and credit of the United States of America in utter defiance of the Constitution they claim to revere so very much, solely in order to defund the ACA.
Knowing that they can not win, they are fully willing to commit suicide on a grand scale.
If only they had put one fortieth the effort, one fortieth the passion and the zeal, into actual healthcare reform, into immigration reform, into election reform, into finding solutions to gun violence, into job creation, into creating an actual budget that actually decreased government spending and the national debt in a reasonable and sustainable and logical manner.
But they can not.
Instead they have chosen the illusion of winning.
Like those battle maddened Imperial Japanese commanders, they are no longer capable of reason.
House Republicans are no longer “the loyal opposition,” they exist only to seek revenge for the shame of their party’s loss to Barack Obama. Their uncompromising extremism drives them forward oblivious to all else, fixed on a single unobtainable goal that they will never reach even as their civilization crumbles unnoticed around them. Their unreasoning rage and boiling arrogance blinds them to the very people who they are supposed to be representing and they leave us all sitting out in the open, unprotected, while death falls from the sky.
Americans as a nation had a clear opportunity to end Obamacare themselves.
Last November they could have elected a president who promised to repeal the ACA by executive fiat on his first day in office. Instead they overwhelmingly reelected Barack Obama. The message to congress, to conservatives, and most especially to the Tea Party extremists, was clear and unequivocal: their philosophy was soundly rejected by the people and the country they claim to represent.
And yet, the extremists refuse to admit their defeat.
They are pathologically incapable of it, they are pathologically incapable of reason and compromise.
Which is, of course, the very nature of extremism.
Always there are extremists who know that they are on the wrong side of history, they know it, and yet instead of compromise and reason they inevitably choose to ride the last bomb down into oblivion.
This really isn’t about the Affordable Healthcare Act.
It’s about denial.
It’s about arrogance.
It’s about burning obsession
It’s about all consuming hatred.
It is about saving face.
It’s about willful pride.
For these men, it isn’t about winning – because they have already lost.
Rather than admit defeat, these extremes are willing to sacrifice the rest of us upon the altar of their own vainglory.
This isn’t about winning, it is about not having to admit defeat.
When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination…
- Tokkōtai Pilot’s Manual (Kamikaze), Imperial Japan, 1944
Postscript: After the bombs fell, the fanatics who had led Imperial Japan into a pointless conflict were gone forever.
They willingly destroyed themselves and their own followers.
And their way of life was erased from the flow of history.
Interestingly enough, the civilization that emerged from the ruins of their corrupt philosophy was sane and reasonable and willing to coexist with its neighbors in peace.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
The suicidal conservikazi in Congress should take note – but they probably won’t.