Jimmy Zuma

Jimmy Zuma
Washington, District of Columbia,
August 01
After ten years haunting online political forums and much longer as a disability rights advocate, Jimmy Zuma started the online political journal, Smart v. Stupid. Since then, he has emerged as one of the left’s most direct new voices. Almost immediately, Jimmy was offered the opportunity to join the political team at Technorati where he writes DC Water Cooler, a weekly feature on what the politicians and pundits are talking about. Most recently, his columns began appearing in the Tucson Sentinel in Tucson Arizona. He is also an occasional contributor to OpEd News. Jimmy's goal is to return vetting to the marketplace of ideas, by elevating the status of smart ideas and debunking dumb ones.

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Editor’s Pick
JULY 21, 2011 8:06PM

American exceptionalism fuels Republican obstructionism

Rate: 13 Flag

If you want to understand Republican obstructionism, look no further than American exceptionalism.

“They’re not even informed enough to know what they don’t know.”

Congressman Jim Moran

Gohmert_Louis-Dummy3 200xAs near as I can tell, “exceptionalism” is a made up word only found in the phrase “American exceptionalism.” Yet that hasn’t stopped the creation  of a cottage industry asserting the mythological idea. Underpinned by both religion and hubris, American exceptionalism argues that the United States is the land chosen by God to enjoy the miracles of capitalism. According to the belief, Americans are a modern day chosen people – sorry Jews; you’re so yesterday -- meant to lead the world by divine right. Divine right, of course, is a concept that used to be associated only with kings. Nowadays, it’s associated with morons.

In the ethos of American exceptionalism, we are the best at everything. We have the best health care, the best economy, the best civil society, the most freedom and the greatest opportunity. God made it so. And who are you to question God? Never you mind any facts to the contrary. Everyone knows that only over-educated liberal snobs like to use facts to find the truth.

This belief is a big factor in why Republicans in Congress imagine we can default on our debt without consequences. Because this same American exceptionalism – borrowing from its 1st cousin, Neoconservatism – argues that we can do whatever we want. Who can stop us, after all? We’re the top of the food chain. Everyone else is dependent on us. Screw ‘em!

Did I mention that most believers have never been outside of the US? Never seeing (Or is it never looking?) is a necessary part of any self-delusion.

So here we are at the brink. Many in Congress are ready to renege on paying the debt created by a decade of government underfunding. A sneering Eric Cantor, for example, has voted to spend the money since 2001. Now he won’t vote to pay what he owes.

Republicans like to say that running the government is just like running a household. If so, then this is deciding to default on the mortgage, refusing to move out of the house and saying that’s OK because God says you are the greatest neighbor on the street. You can also forget this whole notion of just paying the interest, like the chronically under-informed Michelle Bachmann likes to argue. When a loan is due, both the interest and the principal are due. Try just paying just the interest on your car loan next month.

Meanwhile, investors are beginning a selloff of US Treasuries in anticipation that they’ll lose value. The Greece crisis is near-solved and the Euro is poised to restart its march to displace the dollar as the world reserve currency. And China continues to prosper by cornering the market for green tech manufacturing. They’re competing mostly with Germany in this market, not at all with us. Meanwhile, we’re focused on protecting coal and oil profits.

Today, the word “patriot” has been co-opted by dumb crackers and “Founding Fathers” has been stolen by high school dropouts. These words now make us cringe because we know that they are used as cover for some utterly selfish argument. Real history is competing with a belief-based version that imagines great leaders and great doers were promoting not democracy, but unfettered survival of the fittest. Selfishness is exactly the opposite of what our great patriots and Framers practiced. They were defenders and creators of cooperation through government.

But I wouldn’t expect these mooks to know that. They practice a weird kind of faith-based history. It’s true because I believe it’s true. Presented with a fact, they’re reply with an “I believe…” as if it trumps as evidence. I believe that lower taxes create jobs, they say, even though there is zero evidence of that. Lower taxes didn’t break the economy, eight years of no regulatory oversight did. Lower taxes only broke the government.

House Republicans intend to default. They don’t know what they don’t know. Through the foggy lens of American exceptionalism, default has no negatives. So if default is to be avoided, it can only happen by force. The President, the Senate, House Democrats and smarter House Republicans will need to shove it down the throats of these right-wing anarchists.

American exceptionalism? It means we’re the only country heading over a cliff because we decided to believe that dumb was the new smart. Now isn’t that special…

Note: I’m off to Costa Rica for two weeks and a birthday. Look for the next Smart v. Stupid on August 12.

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Proud to be the first to rate and comment. Open Salon, even underlines exceptionalism as an invalid word.

america believes it can achieve what has never been achieved before:

Guns AND Butter (and with no tax increases).

Perhaps, the key is underpaying the military and hiring mercenaries at five to ten times the pay, to make the budget look more pleasing.

If there is anyone that is truly "exceptional" it is those who stand up to the corporations and the republicans that have pretended to be exceptional!
Thanks for the great post. What I've been thinking is what you put down on paper and it was so great to see. That other people realize this is some of the most arrogant, shit on a stick that you can imagine. Mark in Japan. I second the feeling. I have lived outside the United States for over 25 years and makes me cringe when I hear Americans blaring about exceptionalism.
The other thing being, and this from a theologian, they are off in the theology. Not surprising as the most influential voice in the American Church, James Dobbs is neither a theologian nor does he have a good understanding of the Christian faith. American execptionalism would be thought of as a hersey in the early church. Dumb extends to a faux Christianity of the neo-cons
I get so tired of ignorant congressmen sticking to their "no tax" pledge like it was written in their bible. I hope the voters clean house next election.
Bunch of maroons...

Mr Prez needs to shove the 14th Amendment, like it or not, down the throats of Congress--and maybe up a few other places, too.

He needs to prove to everyone--probably including himself--that he's got a pair.
Bunch of maroons...

Mr Prez needs to shove the 14th Amendment, like it or not, down the throats of Congress--and maybe up a few other places, too.

He needs to prove to everyone--probably including himself--that he's got a pair.
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Jimmy - of all the people here you post some of the most blatant bullshit I have ever heard. And the worse part is that you make statements about conservatives' "wrong" behaviors and thinking and then you engage in the same stupidity yourself a paragraph or two later. You state "facts" for which you provide no evidence or support.

Yes I have hard American exceptionalism many times. I have NEVER heard anyone say it was Gods gift to conservative Americans. This is just a fabrication on your part.
So is this crap about "they" have never been outside the US. Where exactly do you get this horseshit from. My guess, and I state my guess, not fact, is that most people have not been outside the US or if so very little. But you imply with you clever spinning that it is ONLY Reps. that have not. Show me a statistic that there is some overwhelming difference between the number of conservatives vs liberals that have/have not traveled outside the US.

You state Reps. believe stuff because they heard it and want to believe it. You are guilty in the first degree of saying just that in this blog. You make statements of fact that you want to be true then base the rest of your article on those false facts.

You say we cannot pay only interest as if it is so obvious to all but an ignorant fool. You ever heard of an interest only loan.
So prove Bachmann is wrong. So me the official bonds/liabilities/cbligations we have. Show me proof that we have to pay principal and interest. Maybe it is true, maybe not. But more to the point, what does it matter? what matters is can we pay the obligation to debtors, whatever the terms include. And i have not heard any Dem deny we cannot pay the minimum obligations whatever the specifics of the terms are.

AND Bachmann and others have never said we should or are blessed my God to be so arrogant as to screw over our debtors.
She has said she will not vote to raise the debt without conditions.
You are assuming her conditions wont be met to her and others satisfaction for them to reach agreement.

And when it is said run the gov like a household, it is not meant to skip the mortgage and car payment. You intentionally distort the analogy. It IS to mean pay the damn mortgage and give up the fucking iPhone you cant afford. Not what you imply. In fact she would poay the obligations but not a dam thing else. . That is how you run a household. Pay the mortgage, the food and utilities and everything else goes unless you have the extra money. And we obviously don't have it since we are in 14T debt and 1T deficit. You want to get a cash advance on a credit card to pay the mortgage. Brilliant strategy.

Yes, we should pay the obligations. Even if it hurts. Dems want to pay the obligation the painless way. Borrow more. But it is not painless, just a temporary suspension of pain that will hurt more later.

The simple fact is that being 14T in debt and running 1T+ deficit
is plain stupid an irresponsible. No household can get away with that.

Regardless of who you want to blame or what opinions different people have about what we should spend on or not spend on,
one thing is clear. We cannot continue to spend more then we take in. That SHIT has to stop. we may disagree on how to balance it, but if you cant see the obvious NEED to balance it you are on the stupid side or smart v stupid.

SO maybe you are right , we have exceptionalism. and Dems take it that we are so exceptional that we can just raise the ceiling indefinitely and it will never have to pay the devil because our exceptionalism entitles us behave irresponsibly into eternity
and never pay the price.

Maybe you should reread the crap article and notice your own hypocrisy. the worse part is that you are not ignorant or stupid.
You intentionally write what you know is misleading bullshit with half assumptions asserted as facts followed by a ton of baseless self indulgent rhetoric.
House Republicans intend to default. They don’t know what they don’t know. Through the foggy lens of American exceptionalism, default has no negatives.

I do agree. I think there is a whole of three articles in the evolution of exceptional-ism. 1-Founding of America 2-Great Immigration of 1880-1910 3-2000-2011 Politics.

I think this was great. Loved the art! Wish the topic had to do with cooperation.
@Joseph Cole: You are exceptional, sir.

I like how spinning insults, aspersions and blame shifting works as a valid, factual argument. Great job.

@ Jimmy Zuma: Great read. I know that much of what you have to say comes from the gut, and my gut agrees. However, there are facts as well and those facts are:
We cannot decrease our debt obligations without increasing taxes.
Republicans voted to raise the debt limit 17 (Seventeen!) times under President Reagan and 7 (Seven) more times under Dubya's (for those with limited knowledge, that's George W. Bush) administration.
In that time banking regulations were gutted. The SEC was gutted. FERC was eliminated (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.) No bid contracts were awarded to companies like Halliburton, Blackwater, Bechtel and a few others. We were lied into going into an invasionary war of occupation in Iraq, an undercover CIA operative was outed by members of the administration. Warrantless wiretaps were instituted, aggressive interrogation was instituted (that's a euphemism for Torture) and big oil and big energy made more money than any other enterprise in the history of capital enterprise -- to the detriment of the general population -- all while paying little to no taxes and being subsidized for their research and development.

Those are facts. They're not opinion and they're the basis for that gut feeling that the current Republican Party is not only arrogant, they are also insane (and I refer to the leaders of that party, not the rank and file members.)

Until I read your piece, I had not heard the term Exceptionalism.

So if Republicans wish to invoke a modern day Manifest Destiny (which is heavily rooted in religious and divine authority) by using the phrase American Exceptionalism, then we should all do our level best to poke a multitude of holes in the balloon of that ideal.

Thanks, Jimmy, for putting into words a continuance of my thoughts and feelings on the matter. If Republican party members find this offensive, then I encourage them to read up, learn and refute not on insult, insinuation or shifting blame to the Dems (whom I also deplore for other reasons) but on facts, reflection and a harder and more unforgiving look at their own party leaders and the incredible amount of lies, hubris and condescension they place on people in general and their own party members in particular. You'd have to consider your own party members complete imbeciles to continue to say the things they do, compared to with what they have actually done.

keep up the good work.
These are the assholes who go all nuclear about the threat of sharia law in America. But I believe that Christian sharia law is just jake. ;)
Joseph Cole has it right. American exceptionalism is a political phenomenon unrelated to religion.

How come when Republicans oppose liberal efforts to compromise that exceptionalism it's called obstructionist, but when that death rattle standing called Harry Reid won't even permit a Senate vote on a bipartisan bill from the House he's not comparably accused. Another example of liberal, double-standard hypocrisy.
J'ever notice that whenever somebody questions the gospels of O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Beck, the end result is a rebuttal, often many paragraphs long and with more wind to it than Hurricane Katrina?

Seriously, in all my years of enduring Nixon and Agnew, Reagan, and Bush Sr., I always believed that while things might get pretty nasty, the Republic would essentially survive intact. These days, with the dominant party in congress ready to sail our ship of state onto the rocks just to discredit our first black president, I'm not so sure. While I'm no fan of Mr. Obama (his sell-out of his progressive base is the reason for Republican dominance of the House), I do believe this whole thing is large part about race.
"the dominant party in congress "

And which party might that be?

The race card doesn't apply here. Obama is perfectly capable of discrediting himself without any outside help.

Methinks you're a bit befuddled.

"You are exceptional, sir.I like how spinning insults, aspersions and blame shifting works as a valid, factual argument. Great job."

In fact he Jimmy is"exceptional" at it. Just the title and subtitle of his blog all the evidence I need.
"Smart v Stupid - Because today's battle for power is between smart and stupid"

That title itself is attention grabbing crap. i.e. Spin. And insulting as well. According to Jimmy anyone who agrees with him is smart and everyone else stupid. It is not possible that there are many educated, informed and intelligent people that can just disagree based on values, experience or whatever.
Someone (or all that disagree) must be stupid. And he made a huge assumption about exceptionalism and conservatism and religion.
He put forth a self defined assertion as fact and then went to town with it.

I would guess that are many liberals who have used the term in exactly the same way. Like maybe all those union auto workers.
I am pretty sure "American exceptioinalism" is exactly how a lot of those guys feel about the cars they been building. It is a term of pride, misused or not, that crosses political and religious boundaries. But Jimmy tells all us stupid people it means something that is flat wrong and states it as sure as the sun coming up tomorrow. I have to correct that. He was telling all you smart people in case you didn't know or forgot. That rhetoric is no better than Limbaugh, Mathews and all those other windbags.

I noticed you did not respond to any of my points. Like
-we can't afford to be 14T in debt and 1T in deficient regardless of political view. Do you disagree?
- Mr Reid is as obstructionist as they come. Why would he deem himself so self important that he wont allow a vote of the peoples representatives? As I said, running interference for Obama.
- Why hasn't Obama or Reid put forward any details themselves?

BTW I just heard today the the House deal was to cut all of
800B (.8T) over 10 years which is 46T in spending. That is a drop in the ocean. Less than 1T n 46T but it was too much for Obama to agree to.

And you are near exceptional with the spinning as well.
Just one example.Those no bid contracts to those evil Bush corporations. I guess it didn't cross your mind to mention how much of that goes on in every admin for both liberal and conservative causes. And just like Jimmy, it isn't that you don't know better, you just don't want to say so.

So why don't you , or Jimmy for that matter, tell us how to balance the budget? I can't because I'm stupid.
Ah, yes... American exceptionalism is the religion of the evil and simple minded, but the religion of statism is the symbol of enlightenment and urbane sophistication...oh, yes, and anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist. And the left wonders among themselves why they are losing ground with the population. How obvious and aged and morally bankrupt political philosophy is this?

I wish I could bottle up the combined progressive / liberal / Democrat hate for the United States and sell it... I could be almost as rich as George Soros... well, almost.
It used to be called the Manifest Destiny Doctrine, but I suppose Exceptionalism is much more gratifying and tangible. Why does it seem that there's no end to this dismal existence and self-destruction?
Politicians for Dummies rules...Good one!