Politics and Poltroons

In Columns, Features, Pieces to Peter's Puzzling World by Peter Webster

Once in a while, it helps to vent.

When it appears things in Washington have settled down for a while, I try to pick an issue I care about and write about it. This time there are too many items so get ready to read about what churns in my mind.

Library of Congress

Just when I was settling down and trying to get focused the administration or Congress comes up with something either utterly outrageous or incredibly dumb.

Outrageous? The funding cuts for Medicaid and other social problems.

Or like the “President’s” proposal for changes in Social Security. I put the attribution to Bush in quotes because the President couldn’t possibly have come up with such a coherent plan.

We all have to face it: he is no more of a thinker than Warren G. Harding. He’s good at public relations, like a car salesman.

The other question is, “What’s the administration done that’s so dumb?” The insistence on lying to the citizens about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda when even the most conservative
intelligence information denies any link.
That’s just stupid.

It insults the intelligence of Americans. It’s the same with the insistence that Iraq possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction”.

Since I’m involved in the doings in my community and state as well as what’s happening on the national and international levels, I sometimes feel like I’m the little Dutch Boy, trying to plug all these leaks in the dikes that are holding back social catastrophe.

Here’s something that had me typing: a week or so ago, a local middle school girl was disciplined for hugging someone. Hugging is now against the rules. So is hand-holding.

That’s right up there with the school that expelled a student for coming to class with aspirin in her purse. I have to shake my head at that kind of rule following and reach for my laptop.

Our small boutique-ish downtown is being turned into wind tunnels as higher and higher buildings are permitted.

The result is more shade and more icy sidewalks in the winter. I don’t like icy sidewalks— nobody in their right mind likes icy sidewalks.

But the town is under the spell that says “grow, grow, grow.” The people in charge of things abuse the privilege of being stupid, a friend used to say. Yes, but he overlooked the power of plain old-fashion unglazed greed!

What amazes me is how few people speak out about this kind of stuff. The yawns are almost audible.

The politicians and rule-makers get away with this stuff, time and time again. The citizenry seems more interested in celebrity trials and pseudo-reality shows about carefully chosen wannabe celebrities. Maybe it’s because there’s just an overwhelming amount of bad stuff out there?

My ex-wife, whom I still care deeply about, is into New Age thinking. She believes in cosmic consciousness, meditation, and trying to understand that it’s all beyond her control. She’s a sort of throw-back to the 1960s.

Since we’re still friends, I often meet some of her fellow and sister believers. While most of them hope for some sort of change in our domestic and foreign policies, most of them believe that overt action is futile. If enough people “get their heads together,” the changes will happen.

Talking politics with them gets more into discussions about emotional processes than about why we are and/or are not political.

The questions that interest me, though, are the ones like, what happens to the people who are dependent on social services for decent care and support and who get cut off the rolls? Why are 45,000,000 people without decent health care in this country?

Just how, exactly, will gay marriages degrade heterosexual marriages? Why do we give so much foreign aid to places like Uzbekistan where dissenters are boiled in oil and security forces shoot down hundreds of unarmed people?

How does the government get away with repeated and transparent lies? I have trouble believing the voters are so stupid as to let our leaders get away with this.

I don’t think these questions are rhetorical. One way or another, these questions effect the quality of life of all of us, able-bodied and disabled, young and old, gay and straight, male and female.

We hear much about moral values, but nobody asks about the moral values involved in supporting brutal dictatorships, or in the talk of “tactical nuclear weapons.”

There’s nothing moral about the fact that many seniors have to choose between decent nutrition and being able to buy medications. Nor that tens of millions of children in this country live in poverty. There is nothing—repeat, nothing—moral about fighting a war that was launched on a basis of carefully considered lies.

So far this unjustified war has cost the taxpayers of this and many future generations over $300 billion—and seems likely to go on indefinitely. The idea of cutting domestic programs like Medicaid and housing assistance while we just keep pouring money into that bottomless pit is nuts.

My son is raised and has passed on; I’m nearly 67 years old and I’m not about to start a new family. I give time to a local organization that is attempting to reduce poverty around here. I question government leaders whenever I can.

Or maybe the cosmic-heads are right: I’m the reincarnation of Don Quixote. Except I’m pretty certain those aren’t windmills out there.

Whatever: for me things are never dull on the political front.

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