Point of View Columns

The Republican Party of 2023 – Apocalypse Now

There was the hope that 2023 would be better than 2022, if only because it wasn’t going to be 2022. Leave it to our Republican brothers and sisters to dump the cold water of madness on those nascent embers of hope.

As this column is being written, the House Republicans are making history, and not the good kind. For the first time in 100 years the majority party in the House has been unable to elect a Speaker after six votes and counting. The constitutional machinery of the United States is sufficiently complex so that the entire Congress can do no legislative work whatsoever until a Speaker of the House of Representatives has been chosen.

While issues related to a possible recession, climate change, the war in Ukraine, racial division, immigration impasse, pandemic (both present and possible) and crime are in the forefront of the American consciousness, ten to twenty right wing of the right-wing Republicans have chosen to bring one branch of the American government to a virtual stand still in order to enforce their mandates of the minority of the minority of Republicans on the entire institution.

Those mandates include:

  • A special committee to consider defunding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (this while domestic white right-wing terrorism is a greater mortal danger to the nation than it has been over the last century and a half.  
  • Impeachment proceedings against the Secretary of Homeland Security as if he is responsible for three decades of any truly useful immigration reform.
  • Even in the wake of the most violent assault against the Capitol since the War of 1812, all magnetometers and other weapons detection systems should be removed from the Capitol and the adjacent Legislative Office Buildings (I am not making this up).
  • Even though over one million Americans have died from COVID-19, and with other variants arriving from around the planet on a daily basis, the removal of all vaccine and mask mandates for all Capitol personnel.
  • A commitment by Kevin McCarthy to lead a shutdown of the United States government should there be a move to increase the debt ceiling which, if it went into effect, could cause the virtual collapse of the global economy – really.
  • A demand that any one member of the House Republican caucus can demand an immediate vote of no confidence in the Speaker virtually insuring that literally no work will be done that benefits an American.

This move towards nihilism can be said to have begun during the reign of Wild Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House in 1995. Why it would seem to be a good idea to deconstruct the government that has resulted in the largest and most successful economy in the world is beyond understanding.

What can be understood is that lurking just below the surface of the beast is the desire to deconstruct those aspects of government that provide social services, protect the environment and add have only just begun to address the root causes of institutional racism in this country.

What can be understood that this particular brand of Republicans absolutely supports the reduction of voting rights, especially for Black and Latino populations.

What can be understood is that if the right wing of the right wing has its way the rights of women to an abortion will one day just be a memory contained in banned history books.

Finally, what must be understood is that the current cabal in the Republican Caucus is tacitly supported by scores of Representatives who already are in denial of the 2020 election results and would gladly accede to a type “gentle authoritarianism” from which this nation will not easily recover.

The sirens may not be loud enough just yet, but the current Republican cabal represents a clear and present danger to democracy, however flawed it may be today, and it behooves all of us to do more than pay attention.

It is past time to act.

The Last Word from NegrodamusHe now predicts that George Santos is contemplating a sex change so that he can claim gender bias in the face of the tsunami of state, federal and international investigations and charges that are headed his way.

Standard
Point of View Columns

The Sky is Falling………..Really!

On the evening of May 12, 2015 an Amtrak train derailed just outside of Philadelphia. What we know is that 8 people died. What we know is that over 200 people were injured. What we know is that it is the deadliest train crash in this country in 7 years. And what we know is that another tragedy will happen. It is only a matter of time.

What we also know is that this country has a $3.6 trillion infrastructure deficit. That means that the United States needs to spend almost $4 trillion before 2020 just to repair and maintain the current decrepit and crumbling infrastructure of the so-called greatest nation on Earth. This multi-trillion dollar figure does not include a single new bridge, new highway, new airport or new railroad system. What we are talking about is the most expensive patch and repair job in history.

It is a damn shame that of the 83,000 dams in this country, almost 10,000 of them are considered to be high risk. Over 50% of the dams in this country are over 50 years of age and it is only a matter of time before some monstrous dam disaster inundates a huge swath of this country killing countless Americans and costing countless billions of dollars.

And while we are on the subject, there are over 300,000 miles of federal highways and major roads in this country. According to the Federal Highway Administration 45 percent, or 135,000 miles of these roads that carry families, schoolchildren, explosives and the food that is on your table are considered to be not in good condition. And more than 71,000 of this country’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient and 78,000 bridges are rated as functionally obsolete. These are roads and bridges that carry the families, schoolchildren, explosives and the food that is on your table. It is more than logical to assume that when it comes to the next tragedy, it is only a matter of time.

And as anyone with a car knows, poor road conditions are expensive, costing American drivers $67 billion per year – an average of $335 per motorist. And the Associated General Contractors of America estimate that the construction industry loses $23 billion annually due to delays caused by traffic congestion.

The problem with these statistics is that they tend to anesthetize the public instead of rousing people to action. There are so many signs of the decay and deterioration of the American infrastructure that all one has to do is visit an American airport, ride on an American railroad or be aware of the fact that some of the water pipes in its greatest city – New York – are made of wood and were built by the Dutch centuries ago. Yet the statistics and the actual personal witness of decay have not been enough to move this country in the logical direction of rebuilding its infrastructure before a cascade of tragedies and disasters leave us all in endless rubble and wholesale carnage.

It is a fact of history that this country has not been invaded by a foreign power since the War of 1812. With the exception of a few harmless Japanese balloon bombs in World War II and 9/11 of course, the United States has been remarkably untouched by the wars of the world. And ironically, it is this fact of history that has resulted in this country having critical infrastructure components that are many times more than a century old.

Every major country in Europe suffered widespread devastation during World War II. Japan, China and Korea were subject to bombings that left the major cities of those countries in ruins. As a result, just about every aspect of these countries had to be rebuilt – airports, shipping terminals, factories, power plants, dams, railroads, bridges, highways and housing – all had to be replaced. And they were replaced with 20th century technology making it easier for transitions into the 21st century.

Yet, as this incredible infrastructure disparity oozes into plain view, infrastructure repair and replacement is simply not in the current political discussion. Social issues, trade agreements and foreign policy are of incredible importance. But so is this country’s infrastructure.

The Teapublicans see infrastructure expenditures as just another item to be sacrificed on their No-Tax altar. Democrats fear the “tax and spend” label so much that many times they stand mute as this country literally collapses before our very eyes.

And so we mourn the loss of life in Philadelphia with the very clear knowledge that this will not be the last time that lives will be lost due to the damaged and decrepit American infrastructure. It is only a matter of time.

Standard