What kind of a nation--what kind of people--do we want to be? Not just the idealized version offering temporary comfort, but the kind where we walk the talk.
Tuesday, on a 110-degree day underground in the Times Square subway station in Manhattan, I saw a young man--he appeared to be around 20--whose forearms had been severed in some type of accident. He was begging for money to buy prostheses.
I just don't understand how it is possible for Americans to reconcile scenes like this with the disgraceful spectacle of of politicians in Washington talking about cutting Medicaid and other 'entitlements' to reduce the budget deficit. The walking wounded are not rare sights in cities these days. Struggling old people who obviously need wheelchairs, severely wounded veterans of different generations, homeless people of varying age....
How does the so-called Christian right sleep at night?...
Something has gone profoundly wrong, in the deepest moral sense, in this wealthy country--still wealthy, in spite of everything--when our social safety net is so shredded that anyone walks around with stumps below his elbows because he cannot afford what modern medicine is easily capable of providing....
One thing that has surely gone wrong is the increasing capacity of the most ignorant American politicians to turn their callousness into a selling point. Rep. Michele Bachmann has the chutzpah to insist that the real moral issue of our time is not the vast disparity between rich and poor but such earthshaking matters as children being exposed to the sight of devoted gay couples. As guilty as Bachmann are the voters who elect whited sepulchers and give them the power to inflict more suffering on those they consider marginal and unimportant.
Forty-something-plus attempts by the Republican Party to defund a health-care plan whose success they fear far more than its implementation--because too many adhere to a political philosophy becoming more irrelevant with each added complexity in our world--and there is not a single proposal offered as an alternative.
Thirty-plus million people lacking health coverage? Ever-rising health-care costs causing far more economic damage now and long-term?
Also not important.
Ideology is what counts.
Real-world and real-life consequences to not just the tens of millions of fellow citizens uninsured, but to the rest of us (and our children, and th eirs as well) who in one way or another bear the costs?
Ideology is what counts. That's it.
How indeed do these "leaders" and their loudly pious supporters sleep at night knowing that, every day, their efforts to turn this nation into the manifestation of their most narrow-minded, mean-spirited, and ignorant ideological principles harm millions of innocents in order to protect the few most-privileged?
Patriotic? Exceptional? Christian?
In a recent [and outstanding] article by David Firestone on the deficit, he pointed out that Republicans in Congress had just blocked legislation that provided for an expansion of medical and education benefits for our military veterans. Such a shame that they are being asked to sacrifice even more in order that we all pitch in to reduce the budget deficit.
True patriots would make that sacrifice, right?
Genuine leaders, of course, wouldn't lie to the public and proclaim that more spending will only cause our deficit to spiral further out of control, knowing full well that it is doing nothing of the sort. But when facts get in the way of witless ideology to protect the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of " everyone else, facts are a convenient casualty.
Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government. This mission, let us be clear, is an ideological one. It does not emerge out of an attempt to solve real-world problems, such as managing increasing deficits or finding revenue to pay for entitlements built into the structure of federal legislation.