Point of View Columns

Lessons Not Learned from Pearl Harbor

There are some important things to keep in mind as the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was observed. That day in 1941 demolished the self-taught myth of American invulnerability – the belief that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans formed an impregnable wall around Fortress America.

This myth was revived and fortified by the obliteration of the combined military might of the Axis powers and the dawning of the Nuclear Age. The myth evolved with the belief that the arrival of Mutually Assured Destruction combined with the overwhelming size of the American nuclear arsenal resulted in the overwhelming nature of the American military might – sufficient to deter any attack.

And then, on September 11, 2001 the myth was shredded – seemingly for good. After 9/11 it was clear that the United States could not engage in, nor finance, death a destruction in nations around the world without consequent blowback.

But the myth has died hard. Because after 9/11 the myth supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the thought being that America could once and for all convince the rest of the planet that it was, indeed, invincible and invulnerable to attack.

And then came the cyberattacks and the ransomware attacks, the election hacks and the ubiquitous and random hacking of hospitals, corporations, police and fire departments and the United States government. And this time there has been no target to bomb. This time there is no feasible troop deployment that will stop these attacks. Perhaps forever.

And then came COVID-19. And this pandemic has thoroughly shredded the myth of American invincibility. Again, there is no target to bomb. And this time Americans have almost gleefully joined in the exacerbation of this attack by literally refusing to protect themselves – burning masks and shunning vaccinations while attacking public health officials and governmental agencies.

There seem to be few if any limits to the stampede towards self-destructive behavior in too many parts of these United States. The notion that vaccine and mask-wearing mandates in the face of a clearly lethal pandemic would cause gunfire, death threats and absolute resistance seems absolutely absurd. And yet, in December of 2021, with over 600,000 COVID deaths in America – and 5 million worldwide – and with over 1000 deaths daily, there are tens of millions of presumably sane Americans who refuse to take even the most rudimentary steps to save themselves and their friends and families.

It is more that ironic that the greatest enemy to the United States and its future is not China. The greatest threat to the demise of the United States is not Russia. The greatest threat to the future of the United States and its future prospects is that massive segment of the American population that believes in lies, worships madness and is clearly committed to some kind of Jim Jones-like mass suicide, taking the rest of us along on this ride to oblivion.

This time, to paraphrase Walt Kelly, an iconic cartoonist from long ago, “we have met the enemy and it is us”.

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Point of View Columns

Trains, Planes and Obamacare

There is a line from the Walt Kelly’s old comic strip “Pogo” – “We have met the enemy and he is us.” And with all of the bile and rage that is launched against the Obama administration from the Teapublican rhetorical artillery installations, it sometimes seems that the progressive left is even more intent on defining the presidency of Barack Obama as a failure. The current status of Obamacare is a case in point.

Even though the Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land since March of 2010 and even though literally millions of Americans are benefiting from the features of this historic program, the right wing of the right wing continues to bray that Obamacare is “a disaster” or “a failure” or “the worst thing since slavery”. But by now we have come to expect that the rhetoric of the right wing would have a common link to something that you might scrape off the bottom of your shoe with a stick…….a very long stick.

But, despite the very clear facts relating to the successes of Obamacare to date, the recent technical flaws in the enrollment process have sent the commentators from the left streaming to the cliff of despair like lemmings. Not only has the executive capacity of President Obama been questioned, he is now accused of setting back the liberal movement for a) centuries or b) forever, because the American people have now learned that government cannot operate large programs for the benefit of the American people.

A few things need to be said about all of this gnashing of teeth. While the American people can be easily misled and many times have an attention span that is often exceeded by that of a goldfish, most Americans do understand that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, food stamps and college loan programs are run by the federal government.

Most Americans are reasonably satisfied with these programs and it is that satisfaction that provides a roadblock to the nihilist cohort of the right wing that would decimate and eviscerate most of these programs and many more. And while many Americans are deluded into drinking the Teapublican Kool-Aid they usually wake up when they realize that the big government that they hate so much is responsible for the programs that mean so much to them.

But all of this weeping and wailing on the left about setting back liberalism and permanently obliterating Americans’ faith in government seems to be intergalactic in origin because it cannot possibly come from an earth-based life form. While conceding the bamboozability of the American people, the American people are also used to organizations experiencing mishaps and even failures and recovering from them – consider trains, planes and automobiles.

Trains – during the Thanksgiving weekend a commuter train crashed in New York City and four people died and scores were injured. This is not the first train crash on the New York City public transport system and there have been, unfortunately, more crashes across this country during the past decade. No one has suggested that travel by train is unsafe or should be abandoned. Problems are meant to be solved.

Planes – Boeing has spent over a decade designing and building the 787 Dreamliner. After multiple mishaps and failures the planes were deemed worthy to be sold and flown all over the world – that is, until they were deemed unworthy and grounded all over the world. And now the planes have been fixed (presumably) and thousands of people are flying Dreamliners every day. No one has suggested that Boeing is an incompetent business. Problems are meant to be solved.

Automobiles – During the past few years we have seen millions of trucks and cars recalled by their manufacturers for all kinds of structural problems, some of which have caused the deaths of drivers and passengers. No one has suggested that Toyota, Ford or General Motors should go out of business or that they are incompetent organizations. Problems are meant to be solved.

But the naysayers who are against a national healthcare system, even if it worked perfectly from inception, would have us believe that the faults and flaws of Obamacare are reason to abandon a program that will allow uninsured people to be insured and will keep Americans from going bankrupt if they are seriously ill. They would have this country abandon a program that has already reduced the rate by which medical costs have been increasing.

But for the left wing to abandon ship because perfection has yet to be achieved means that they miss the point – national health care, a goal of American progressives for over a century, is the law of the land. By any measurement this is a tremendous achievement for President Obama.

One would think that now is the time to move forward with fixing what needs to be fixed rather than succumbing to the gloom and doom that is the eternal clarion call of the right wing.

 

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