Not that I blame the Orange County Commissioners for ordering police into the schools - my three beautiful grandchildren are in elementary school here. But, dear God, what have we come to? Will our schools soon resemble the ones in Northern Ireland - surrounded by three stories of chainlink, topped with barbed wire? I remember how appalled I was when I saw those schools and realized that human beings had fallen so low they could harm children in the name of religion.
Yet look what's happened since. And not just in the name of religion. With no excuse except insanity. And, really, who can guard against that? Do we forget civil rights, rounding up potential shooters, shutting them away? With perhaps one in a thousand likely to go beserk, and nine hundred and ninety-nine deprived of a relatively normal life?
But armed guards? Armed TEACHERS?
Have we truly become a war zone? 'Cuz that's what it sounds like. We can't blame the Middle East. We can't blame Al-Quaeda. We can't blame the Russians (except possibly for the invention of the AK-47). We've done this to ourselves. With serious assistance from the NRA, whose members seem to live in a bubble completely unrelated to reality. (Compare the number of unarmed Europe's shooting dead to our own.)
The truth is, we're a nation born in violence, and there are those among us who still believe carrying a gun is synonymous with freedom. The more guns the merrier. And, I admit, with so many guns already out there, stricter regulation is not going to keep either a criminal or a kook from getting his/her hands on one. But assault weapons? Assault weapons are for just one thing. Killing people and killing them as rapidly as possible. There is no excuse for an assault weapon in the hands of anyone but the military or the police.
As for the "Fiscal Cliff" . . .
We elect men and women to Congress, expecting them to act for us. If our candidate didn't win, we pray the majority was right, and the people we sent to Washington are honest, intelligent, forthright, tuned to the people back home. Not to giant corporations, not to lobbyists, not swayed by their percs and privileges. Not so dazzled by power they forget about the people who put them where they are. Not become rabid dogs more willing to tear each other apart than find common ground.
Oh, sorry, I forgot. They do recall their special cronies back home, the ones who get those "earmarked" projects, the pork barrel rolling in for a privileged few, not only stuck into every bill presented to Congress, but even inserted in that last-minute "do or die" Fiscal Cliff bill.
And although I understand John Boehner's reluctance to vote on spending $9.7 billion for Hurricane Sandy relief on the same night he's twisting Republican arms to increase taxes on the wealthy, the House should have dealt with Sandy relief much sooner. Was it politics that decreed the Sandy vote was a good way to kick off the new Congress, making everyone, including the newbies, feel they were starting off the year right? Too bad our Congressmen and women weren't forced to spend a week or so in houses bereft of electricity, water, sewer, shored up with plywood and tarps, and smelling of mold. Or crowded in with relatives or camping out in a single hotel/motel room, all waiting for the insurance to come through - the insurance Congress voted on Friday a mere "lick and a promise" of what is actually needed.
I give the Senate credit, however. It passed the Fiscal Cliff bill almost unanimously. But the House? They had to take it to the wire, just so they could say to the people who seem to want to see the government come tumbling down, "Look, look, we fought the good fight." And then there were the die-hards who never gave in, compromise simply not part of their vocabulary, most of them from the South, I'm ashamed to say. I wanted to scream: "Hey, guys & gals in the House - did you notice who won the election? The People have spoken and it's time to give a little." [Oddly enough, the Orlando Sentinel on Sunday, January 6, had a front-page headline which read: State GOP vows to soften its image. And goes ahead to quote Adam Putnam, the agricultural commissioner, saying, "It's not just that we lost, but that nobody saw it coming." Ah, if the national GOP would only acknowledge the truth of that remark.]
What is the point of allegedly having a Democracy if its citizens - local, state, or national - refuse to compromise? This leads to nothing but "stand-off" and "no progress" - something Americans have become all too familiar with these last few years. It's time for all of us to tell our elected officials, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more. Get off your duffs and accomplish something."
Question: How can so many intelligent people arrive in Washington, starry-eyed and eager to change the status quo, yet find themselves reduced to idiocy by the intransigence of the Powers That Be? By their political parties? By the major corporations who are sure the government is intended only for them? By lobbyists who never met a Senator or Congressman they couldn't dazzle with money and special treatment? By . . .? You name it, they're all there in Washington, looking out for Number One, while the rest of us shrug and say, "That's politics." "I voted, what else can I do?"
There's enough shame to go around, but right now I place it squarely in Washington, where the outgoing Congress has brought government to a standstill. Any hope for those shiny new faces sworn in on January 3? Prayers, anyone? One ray of hope—I saw an interview with the new female members of Congress, who suggested women had learned the art of compromise long ago, and were more inclined to talk things over than butt heads like a couple of billygoats, neither budging an inch.
Keep your fingers crossed. I am. We have only one way to go from here. (At least I hope we've just experienced rock bottom. Anyone want to bet?)
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Thanks for stopping by.
Grace's books as Blair Bancroft