Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – October 1, 2010

And just like that it’s October! It’s as if the year is in a hurry to be gone, and we are already anticipating that 2011 will be better, if only because it is not 2010. Today’s Weekend Edition deals with the death penalty, the disconnected military and true stories of Republican obstructionism. Also, recommended reading for this weekend is an article by Steven Thrasher from this week’s Village Voice in an effort to explain the madness – http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-09-29/news/white-america-has-lost-its-mind/ – the title is (intentionally) provocative, but the analysis is serious:

Irony

Recent news reports indicate that a nationwide shortage of anesthetics, especially thiopental sodium is postponing state executions. There is some irony in the notion that state-sponsored deaths are being delayed by manufacturing issues.

It may be only a matter of time before firing squads and the hangman are back in business. The right wing of the right wing in states with bulging death rows like Texas; this may be seen as a way to decrease unemployment.

Disconnect

Earlier this week Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke of the growing disconnect between most Americans and the military, leading most Americans and their political leaders to view military service – and war – as an abstraction. Secretary Gates mentioned, and has been noted in prior Point of View columns, less than 1% of the American population (2.4 million) is on active duty or in the military reserves.

A generous extrapolation of extended family members and friends would result in an estimated 10% of this country’s population being related to members of the military. With no draft and wars being fought on a national debit card, it has been very easy for armchair generals to be bellicose and grandiose. The result has been two mindless wars that are seemingly without end.

This disconnect is truly dangerous for this country and for the planet.

Manufactured Failure

Soon after President Obama was inaugurated, Rush Limbaugh, that indefatigable blowhard, was quoted as saying that he hoped Barack Obama would fail.

It was a statement struck many as bizarre (even for Limbaugh) and stunningly unpatriotic. Clearly if President Obama failed, this country (and the people in it) would suffer. I know that I dismissed Limbaugh’s uttering as just more howling and caterwauling from the right wing of the right wing.

Little did I suspect that Limbaugh was articulating the Republican strategy for the next two years. Case in point – as this column is being written not one penny of the $1.15 billion in aid promised to Haiti after the January 12th earthquake has been spent. Not one penny. The reason is that Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma has simply held up passage of the bill (every senator has the right and power to do so) and so, to date, the United States has failed in its commitment to the beleaguered and long suffering people of Haiti.

Case in point – in April of this year President Obama negotiated an historic nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia, a new and important step in avoided the abyss of nuclear warfare. The Congressional ratification of this treaty has been held up by a very few Republicans resulting in there being no nuclear disarmament treaty in effect between the United States and Russia for the first time in decades.

Case in point – President Obama nominated 23 judges for the federal bench and 16 of them were unanimously approved by the bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee. All sixteen appointments have been held up, some for as long as six months, by the threat of filibuster by, you guessed it, Republicans in the Senate.

The Republican Party has been transformed into the Party of No. Not just No to President Obama, but No to anything and everything that might represent compassion, progress or the simple functioning of government. Presumably the end game is to present President Obama’s record as one of failure.

Fortunately for those of us who have to live our lives every day, there is no reasonable analysis which could conclude that President Obama has failed. Healthcare, steering this country away from the brink of financial ruin, equal pay for women, rescue of the auto industry and the restoration of this country’s international stature only begin to define his successes to date.
But, of course, that will not deter the G.O.Tea Party, the Party of No, from trying to make President Obama fail, no matter what harm might result.

I guess you can call the rest of us collateral damage.

Have a great weekend!

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