I was reading the other day where some members of Congress and the punditocracy think that a cap and trade bill is dead in the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill. Huh? A bill designed to limit the long term damage being done to our environment (read, the place we all live in) by slowly changing our energy infrastructure, is at risk because of an event doing massive damage to our environment. Does the term, ice cream headache, mean anything to the good folks we elect as our representatives? Admittedly, the politics of passing a bill as involved as cap and trade are daunting; stranger bedfellows than John Kerry and Lindsey Graham are hard to imagine. But this whole episode is hard to swallow; days on end of politicians straining to turn themselves inside out in search of political brownie points.
A couple of weeks ago, liberals were incensed that Obama cleared the way for expanded off-shore drilling. In the aftermath of the disaster, Rush Limbaugh went on the air to describe a conspiracy theory involving Obama, SWAT teams, and the intentional detonation of the rig…at the President’s direction and with the intention of helping environmentalists. This idea friends, represents the depth of insanity and clearly describes how Limbaugh and others think. Power and glory are so important to them, that they could imagine the President ordering the literal destruction of a major ecosystem and staple economy, all to help a bill designed to safeguard the environment.
When the average soul takes a look at the news of the day, it is hard to see how anyone is ever happy. Nancy Grace reports; “Somewhere there is a victim I can exploit for ratings.” TMZ reports; “Jesse James and Tiger Woods vie for the title of most mistresses by a man not in a country where harems are legal.” Fox News reports; “Mainstream liberal elite media ignores Republicans who call Democrats Communists.” The rest of the media reports; “Fox News is GOP propaganda machine and anyone who likes Sarah Palin is a crazy fool.”
The Rational Middle reports; “Americans who like to sit down with their neighbors or coworkers over a cup of coffee to discuss problems and opportunities, would like the network blowhards and punditocracy to shut the hell up!” There are very few things in the world that have only two sides; our nation isn’t a game of chess. This pattern of name calling is past ridiculous and moving towards dangerous, and I see plenty of fault to go around. Invoking a speech given in “The American President”, “America isn’t easy…this is advanced citizenship…you want to talk about the land of the free, let’s see you acknowledge someone standing center stage, advocating something at the top of his lungs, which you would advocate against at the top of yours.”
The Congress of the United States of America, both Democrats and Republicans, have taken up a holy quest of sorts this week; the mission to be the heroes who vanquish that eternal enemy, the earmark! This week the Democrats in the House proposed outlawing “for profit earmarks”, measures where a lawmaker inserts an appropriation into a bill that specifically benefits a for profit firm. Not to be outdone, the Republicans in the House passed a resolution in their caucus swearing off all earmarks for this year.
Wow! We are really getting somewhere now, aren’t we? Well, not really. The 2008 budget proposed by President Bush and passed by the Congress totalled $2.9 trillion. Included in that measure was a grand total of $18 billion in earmarks, or just a little more than the budget of NASA. In fact, earmarks rarely total more than 1.5% of all federal spending. Attacking earmarks in the government is the same as a homeowner who can’t pay their mortgage stressing out over whether they should cancel their newspaper subscription.
The images from the protests held Thursday on the steps of the Capitol were disturbing; the (by now) typical Obama-as-Death effigies and confused references to both Fascism and Communism shared the stage with a new twist. One of the protesters decided that graphically comparing the health care bill to a Nazi death camp was a good idea.
“National Socialist Health Care” was the label, superimposed over the emaciated bodies stacked at Dachau. Horrifying.
To protest legislation on the steps of the Capitol is a responsibility as well as a right; it is one of the prices we must pay for freedom. The rational middle contends that those protests should be passionate and pointed, but that they should also stay within some set of boundaries. There was a time when we were able to recognize when those boundaries were violated. Has that time passed?
I misspoke, or made an error, or omitted a fact, or misremembered, or, or, or, errrr….I am a politician (or a ballplayer). If we said to our parents what these folks say to their constituents on a regular basis, we would be slapped and grounded.
They get to continue pretending to be important.
After spending weeks fighting the stimulus bill as “wasteful big government”, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri went on a bus trip to promote projects funded by….the stimulus bill.