“A Crazy World”
As I think back over the last two weeks, I shake my head, in concern, frustration and even a small part of wonderment.
There is the threatened shutdown of Homeland Security. Who would have believed that there would be a contingent of 40-50 Republicans in the House who would defy their own leader, not to mention common sense, and threaten to shut down Homeland Security in order to try to hold Obama hostage for what history will recount as a rational humanitarian act to protect a well-defined group of immigrants from deportation, an action made necessary only because Republican House leadership has not had the courage (call it what you will) to put the matter to a vote. One wonders what foreign governments and citizens think about this at a time of terrorist attacks and high risk.
Then there is the continued assault on Obama’s health care plan. The Republicans simply won’t give up in trying to overturn the affordable health care legislation. Forget the fact that 11 million more people now have health insurance than they did before and that millions more have coverage that previously might have been denied because of a pre-existing condition, or students past the age of 26 now being covered on their parent’s insurance, or that the rate of health care cost increases has declined? No, despite all of that, we are moving toward a Supreme Court decision whether a very small different interpretation of language in the Act might disqualify the subsidies which are being provided to people in all those states which did not adopt plans of their own. The Republicans have come forward with alternative plans, obscure in their details, and to the extent knowable, representing either a major reduction in coverage (who could want that; we’re already the only developed country providing such narrow coverage), or being what some conservative Republicans are calling “Obama-Lite.”
Then there is the irony of the Iranian military supporting Iraqi Shiite militia in combatting ISIS. But the United States studiously indicating that in no way will the support we are also providing to the Iraqi Army and Shiite militia be coordinated with Iran.
At the same time, we have a Republican bloc fighting to stop a negotiation on nuclear arms control with Iran before the deal is completed, without identifying a realistic alternative.
Which brings us to Israeli President Netanyahu’s address to a Republican-dominated Congress, receiving multiple standing ovations, even as he defied the President’s position on negotiating with Iran, offering no alternative in its place other than “no deal” which would have Iran proceeding untrammeled in the development of their nuclear capability.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Party so consumed with “dislike” for a President to so reflexively oppose almost every initiative proposed by the President and his administration.
And then there is the Russian-Ukrainian development. The most perilous development that I’ve seen on a global level since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here, we have Republicans, and some Democrats, too, demonizing Putin to a degree that I have not seen imposed on any Russian leader, even during the Cold War. There are those who have concluded the Minsk ceasefire wouldn’t work even before it had a chance to take hold. The threat to provide lethal defensive equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces continues even with its all-too predictable consequence of triggering an escalation of Russian involvement. Where do people think that will end? There is only one conceivable positive outcome to the situation in Ukraine: a negotiated settlement that will create a constitutional structure giving reasonable autonomy to Eastern Ukraine and economic support that offers the opportunity for providing a stable, relatively uncorrupt Ukrainian government.
I honestly can’t recall a recent time where I have seen more dysfunctionality in our government. Still, we have been in this kind of place before, and we have to try to do what we can in our own circle of influence. And we are doing that here in Cincinnati surely as we work to achieve a ballot initiative that will provide quality pre-K education for all children and home visiting for families who need it.