Politcal Junk, and We Mean That

podcast 11/22/13

POLITICAL JUNK, AND WE MEAN THAT

Last week we chose not to jump on the President for the Affordable Healthcare Act’s rollout, or the bill’s failings. We knew there would be plenty of time for that. There still is.

What is more troubling than a mess any chief executive should have been aware of is what’s coming down the pike in the future.

Firstly, of course, more shouting, accusing, bemoaning from Congress, the single insured, and fearful Democrats. The shouting will take place within the halls of Congress on those few days when both houses deign to work. Accusations will continue to arrive hourly from Congress “(How could he not have known?” to the press (“Obama’s low poll numbers are the lowest ever…what does this portend?”) The bemoaning will come from self-employed workers suddenly bereft of insurance plans they could afford and are now forced to consider plans they cannot afford. (“No one told us!”) And all will come from Democrats suddenly unsure of their own futures.

Nearly every anti-Obamacare criticism is justified.

In the long term, what has happened within seven weeks is that the moment Democrats began to feel secure, thinking they might have a chance at retaking the House – due to the closure of the government and other extreme Republican ideas expressed or even voted upon – the dream died. It gave the Republicans a cudgel with which to beat the hell out of the administration.

Worse than that, however, is that the rollout failure made every Republican who ever wanted to repeal the Act seem clairvoyant and believable.

All of which is to say that the advantage that once was the Democrats’ is now the Republicans’, and without an event between now and next November intruding – a foreign policy incident, for example – that suggests to change horses would be unwise, the future belongs to the Right Wing.

Right now, voters don’t even have to wait that long to make up their minds. The idea of remaining in Afghanistan until 2024 – in theory to give that country a hard-shell administration that could survive our departure – is beyond the pale. While we admire Mr.Kerry, what in hell is he thinking? It seems to us he is guaranteeing the corrupt Mr. Karzai another ten years of skimming millions from our assistance for his own purposes, whatever they are.

In addition, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a Texas abortion law means another year or three of challenges to Roe v Wade.
This on top of the gutting of Sections Four and Five of the Voting Rights Act which now means that individual states can put whatever obstacles it chooses in front of their electorate in order to ensure a Republican victory achieved without votes from blacks, the poor, the elderly, and young people.

All most of us can think to do is whisper to ourselves and our friends that things aren’t going very well here in the US of A.

While yesterday’s reversal of fortune in the senate made many feel hopeful that real government business could be done in the future, we have to remember that what looks rosy in the Senate looks ashen and gray in the House. A change in Senate rules means nothing in the House. We’ve experienced a moment of hope, but we can’t know whether that hope is justified.

A word about today November 22, 2013, when every television and cable show is commemorating the death, and life, of John Kennedy.

In 1963, we were not quite twenty-five. We had cast our first ballot for Mr. Kennedy. We think the country knew that despite his glamor and youth, Kennedy was not a perfect man. That did not matter then, or now. What he was was a man who knew how to inspire others, and did.

Texas in 1963 was, as it is today, the center of right-wing extremism. Excluding the cities of Houston, Ft. Worth, and Austin, Texas was a proverbial hotbed of hot heads who had, in the weeks prior to Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, given plenty of evidence that they would prefer to see him and his administration dead in the streets. His special envoys to the city in the weeks before the assassination were maltreated and spit upon. In effect, Kennedy undertook a stop there to do two things: shore up the Texas Democratic party and help it unite, and reinforce the state’s electoral importance by paying special attention to Vice-President Johnson and Governor John Connelly.

A few weeks after the President’s death at Dealey Plaza, the publisher of the Dallas Times Herald took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times. Its purpose was to say that all Dallas should not be held in moral disdain because one bad man did something execrable. It is possible that Dallas even then was beginning to feel withdrawal pains of national conventions cancelling, Neiman-Marcus sales diving, and a national press that would not let up in its blaming of the city for its atmosphere and deeds.

The advertisement was self-serving and dishonest.

In a letter to the publisher of the Dallas Times Herald, we went ballistic. That letter was never answered. Nor really could it have been. And while we subsequently made wonderful friends with some few citizens of that hellhole, we have never forgotten nor forgiven the city for fostering a climate of violence and hate.

Looking at that state’s representatives in the House of Representatives, in the Senate today, we see that nothing has changed.

Dallas robbed the nation of what might have been, and it merits neither sympathy nor forgiveness.

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