Eli's Observations

Month: February, 2013

Deficits and Digressions

I listen to a lot of public radio and watch public television, too. No, it’s not usually even hard news. If I ever was a news junkie, I think cable news has tempered my addiction. Even the venerable PBS Newshour might more aptly be called the “Re-hash Hour.” It’s probably the ghastly alternative of the Faux News Channel that keeps me and a lot of other people loyal.

Here’s where I’m supposed to write “Oh, I may have begun to digress –” I haven’t really established a subject yet. Just push on, folks.

My subject today was going to be “the sequester and other hoaxes” (isn’t sequester a verb?) I’ve only seen the word used once before in the opening to a song by Rogers and Hart: How we love sequestering/Where no pests are pestering/No mama to hold us in tether — “which raises the question of whether Larry Hart had some kind of mother complex. Ah, but I fear that I –”

I’ve read that the sequester was to protect the politicians from avoiding the tough choices on budget matters, but who is protecting us from them? The sequester that the Congress cooked up is like playing Russian Roulette with blanks. Has the National Rifle Association taken any kind of position on this yet? “Sequesters don’t kill people –” I could question Wayne LaPierre on why he supports Le Sequester. I’ve been wondering if there’s any way you can sequester an individual. Like, say, Le Wayne LaPierre? Or maybe just drop him off le fiscal cliff? Ah, but I fear I’ve begun to —

Another reason to listen to NPR is to hope you are somehow magically balancing out Rush Limbaugh or hear a news bulletin that he’s blown his own head off. It’s really not nice to call people names, but somehow, the word Fat Head occurs to me.

Now, a few questions just for fun. 1.) Who looks more porcine, Limbaugh, or Mitch McConnell? If NPR did broadcast a bulletin about someone blowing Limbaugh’s head off, what do you think they’d find inside? Lee Atwater’s Collection of Dirty Tricks? Now, I’m certain I must be digressing —

Again, it’s not nice to call people names — but have any of you noticed that Lindsay Graham seems to rock back and forth constantly especially when he is harassing a witness? (Really! You should check the Hagel tapes.)

Question 2.) Has anyone else heard the rumor that John McCain has suggested water-boarding Hagel?

Final question: Pick the one Congressperson who was not ever in combat:

a.) Bob Kerry. b.) Tammy Duckworth c.) Max Cleland. d.) Robert Dole. e.) George W. Bush. f.) Daniel Inouye.

If you guessed Little Bush, you were right. Technically, paper cuts do not qualify as being wounded in combat. Oh, but now I really am digressing. I don’t care. John McCain doesn’t care either, except for one question he seems to think is a “gotcha” question: “Did you support The Surge?” My answer would be “Sorry, Boots. I went for the gray gaberdine.” Does that disqualify me for anything?

I hope I haven’t digressed too much.


Our Floundering Founders

The congressional branch of our government seemed from the beginning like a compromise both in its purpose and geographical location.  Contrary to the fervid fantasies of many of today’s Teapotheads, the men who tried to put this country together did not really have much “unum” in their attempts to establish the “E pluribus” part.

First of all, they weren’t sure they were Americans by any means. They may not have liked King George nor his policies, but they thought of themselves as Englishmen.  But, our present day Tea Party has not declared its independence from the U.S., possibly because no one wants them.

The first Thirteen colonies to sign up to ratify our Constitution might have seemed on the surface to have only a few commonalities with today’s GOP right wing extremists. Though they dumped some tea into Boston Harbor, most of these rebels were complaining about “burdensome red tape” and taxes.

Then there was the problem of slavery. About half of the original colonies were opposed to slavery, some vehemently. The rest of the colonies were almost as vehement in support of it. Division over slavery turned out to be primarily a Southern versus Northern quarrel, with not that many swing states in play.

The colonies might have been united by religion (does that ever happen?) Though the American rebels were overwhelmingly Christian, they were riven by a dozen schisms ranging from the Puritans to the Quakers. Once again, they were more united in what they didn’t want: an established state religion.

They were pretty much limited to muskets and one-shot pistols, not a Bushmaster in sight. They were keen on protecting themselves not so much from other groups of people as from the central government.

Thus, each colony was permitted, in what became our Bill of Rights, to raise a militia to defend its homes. But a “militia” was not a mass mail order business designed to sell weapons to anyone with the price. Nor was it intended to be a pressure group in our politics. That came much later.

Our Founding Fathers really valued privacy and would have been furious if any government had tried to tell them how to regulate their personal sex lives. Maybe they’re not such a good match for our present-day Teapotheads.

Their version of democracy was minus a Karl Rove or Koch Brothers so it still looks pretty good from our vantage point. Maybe we ought to pay attention to what they really believed in, starting with the Declaration of Independence.

To visit John O’Toole on the Huffington Post, click here.