How to argue with right-wing relatives: Labor Day BBQ edition!

No one enjoys a political debate while eating hot dogs. But here's how to prep for your Tea Party uncle's madness

Topics: Holidays, Labor Day, GOP, Republicans, Barack Obama golf, Mitt Romney, Immigration, executive orders, Editor's Picks, The Right, BBQ,

How to argue with right-wing relatives: Labor Day BBQ edition! (Credit: revers via Shutterstock/Salon)

Labor Day, the most bittersweet of holidays. Gives you a three-day weekend, sure, and that’s great — no one’s turning that down. But then you realize, oh, crap, this will be the last three-day weekend for months and also summer is over, and with it, fun and a general sense of relaxation. And warmth. It’s going to be winter soon and you’ll be depressed and fat and working all the time. Oh well, worry about that later. Labor Day!

What does one do on Labor Day, a day in which Americans traditionally honor the herculean efforts and cracking discipline of business owners and bosses over the years? You get up, pray to your boss for the noblesse oblige of bestowing upon you some lousy piece of underemployment, and then do the same damn thing you always do on summer holidays: go to a barbecue with your weird, politically diverse extended family.

Again: The best thing to do in a politically diverse family is to never talk about politics. Talking about politics is not fun. Who enjoys it? Nobody. Much better to stick to chatter over summer blockbuster motion pictures or the Major League Baseball standings or Internet memes. But somehow, in these hypercharged Modern Times, almost anything can funnel into a political bitchfest. If you’re talking about summer movies, and you’re mentioning how you liked, say, “Captain America 2,” someone in the family might say, “Speaking of America …” You’re off to the races, there’s no turning back. Your beloved Tea Party uncle would like to list some grievances.


Your Tea Party uncle here is referring to the well-reported and analyzed fact that President Obama enjoys playing golf. Some would say it’s his favorite hobby and means of getting away from the grind for a few hours. Your uncle, however, believes that President Obama literally lives on the seventh hole of a golf course on Martha’s Vineyard — not just in a house lining the fairway of the hole, but in a big tent, set up on the green. Can you believe that Obummer has stopped being president and now lives in a big tent on the seventh hole of a golf course? This is what the chain email from World Net Daily said, right under the ads for cheap dietary penis supplements and gold bullion and crank-wheel manual flashlights for the post-EMP apocalyptic hellscape.

Just kindly mention that Barack Obama still does live in the White House and still does spend his time being president — although this won’t go over well either, for a whole other set of reasons. Note that Obama went on a two-week vacation during August on Martha’s Vineyard, and while on vacation, he played golf frequently. Now that he’s back from vacation, he will play fewer rounds of golf — maybe one round during the weekends, until it gets cold. This roughly corresponds to typical leisure patterns: a lot of it during vacations, and otherwise, a little bit on the weekends.

Obama’s going to give all the illegal Mexicans citizenship and free cars and cellphones and welfare by executive edict. Can you believe this.

Obama cannot give out citizenship or permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants. What he can do, however, is use executive authority to delay deportations of certain classes of undocumented immigrants and shift ICE resources. Executive branch lawyers and officials are looking at his options right now.

The latest word suggests that he may delay his action, which he previously suggested would come at the end of the summer, until after the midterm elections. So, we can continue arguing this at Thanksgiving, or never.

The Democrat Party wants to shut down the government to ruin Republicans’ chances in November.

Close! The Democratic Party would almost certainly be delighted to see the Republicans shut down the government and ruin their own chances in November.

Government funding runs out on Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2014, and Congress will need to pass at least a continuing resolution by then to keep things running. This shouldn’t be so hard — just pass a short-term measure with spending levels at or around where they’ve been and then consider broader funding measures after the elections.

A government shutdown will only happen if Republicans like Steve King and Ted Cruz insist on including some sort of grand policy change through the short-term funding process. If they want to use a measly six-week continuing resolution to defund Obamacare or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or some other thing that will die in the Senate and/or face a certain veto at the president’s desk. Republicans would really have to go out of their way for there to be a government shutdown. It would be in their best interests to not do so. We’ll see.

Mitt Romney is going to beat Hillary in 2016 by a 97-to-3 margin. Can we just call it now?

One can only dream!

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows


Loading Comments...