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

Published September 1, 2014 11:44AM (EDT)

          (<a href=''>revers</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(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!

By Jim Newell

Jim Newell covers politics and media for Salon.

MORE FROM Jim Newell