If you have noticed lately, America isn’t doing too well. You pick the topic and it is hard to find a silver lining.
Let’s start with the mid-term elections. From a results standpoint, the Republicans would probably disagree with my assessment. With the election running true to form for the sixth year of an incumbent President, the GOP finally captured the Senate. The same thing happened back in 2006 for the Democrats. But on closer look, voter turnout dipped to below 37%, the lowest percentage of voter participation since 1942. Why? Part of it is the growing frustration of voters with government. Prior to the election, polls tracking the overall approval of Congress were at 9%. That’s right, NINE PERCENT! The response of way too many people was simply, why bother? The reasoning goes that since voting won’t fix what is broken beyond repair, why waste the time. Just go do something else; anything but vote. At least 73% of registered voters did just that. The result was the lowest per capita turnout since 1942 when it can be argued that not everybody was in walking distance of a polling place.
For those who did, we can thank the Citizens United decision for putting too many votes up for sale. Over $100,000,000 of Super PAC money was spent in the North Carolina senate race alone. Good for media outlets in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, etc. Bad for everyone else, not to mention democracy. When the Koch Brothers, et al. are paying to be favored and protected by and from government, can Fascism Lite be far behind?
But it is not just the legislative branch that is broken. Do the Veteran’s Administration, Secret Service, the NSA and on and on . . . Ring any bells? They have been in the news recently, not for competence, but for incompetence. And closer to home on the state level, how about the Mississippi Department of Corrections scandal? We all know that smoke doesn’t necessarily equal fire, but only the recent Ag Museum fire has produced more smoke lately.
“In short, government is too big, unless of course it is not big enough to take care of the many and manifest problems that plague us at the federal, state and local levels.”
In short, government is too big, unless of course it is not big enough to take care of the many and manifest problems that plague us at the federal, state and local levels. Worse yet, there seems no prospect in sight to fix the obvious. A case in point is our infrastructure. Anybody who drives in Jackson knows what I mean. From a national perspective, more and more roads and bridges are becoming more and more obsolete and dangerous. The federal trust fund that supports the upkeep is nearly broke. It is funded by an 18¢ per gallon federal tax which is clearly inadequate. Does Congress do anything to raise it or find supplemental funds? Of course not! The key to everything, at least for the Republicans, seems to be the XL pipeline to transport Canadian shale oil through the United States for export worldwide. Once built, the pipeline will create 35 permanent jobs in the U.S. No sense in addressing real problems. How much worse can bad get? Actually, this is a rhetorical question. With the Obama administration having two more years to go while the Republicans control both houses of Congress there is no limit to what will not be done. Bad.
There is plenty to go around here too. The one that leaps off the page is the Bill Cosby saga. Past allegations of rape that have festered for years have apparently caught one of the true entertainment icons of America. As of last count, 16 different women have come forward with similar stories of being drugged and violated. As a result, one of the true role models on and off camera has resigned his position as a trustee of Temple University while steadfastly refusing to discuss the allegations. From a legal standpoint, the 77-year-old Cosby is shielded from criminal charges by the statute of limitations. There was an out of court settlement on civil charges some years ago. Meanwhile, the ground breaking comedian’s reputation takes a hit with each passing day while everybody loses. Sad.
And then there is Ferguson, Missouri, which has become this decade’s Watts, California where facts are subordinate to anger and opinion. The only bit of outrage I can muster against the police and city fathers is the fact that Michael Brown’s corpse was allowed to remain in the street for four and a half hours before it could be removed to the morgue by authorities. I have never heard of anything that callous or inefficient. Beyond that we have the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict after nearly three months of deliberation. We also witnessed dozens of small businesses looted and burned in the so called name of Civil Rights. The victims here are clearly innocent, yet they were punished by self appointed mobs for the crime of trying to build a better life and serve the needs of the community. As was the case in the Rodney King riots a couple of decades ago, it is almost certain that the town of Ferguson will become a food and retail desert as was the case in South Central Los Angeles. There is little more to say except that our system of justice isn’t working particularly well when it comes to race related confrontations between the police and criminal suspects; at least it’s not in St. Louis County, Missouri. Fill in the details and you can reach but one conclusion whatever your opinion of the case may be. Ugly.
In the Death and Taxes department, if we last another two years we get to have a Presidential election in 2016 complete with the mind-numbing nomination process. It seems like only yesterday that Clint Eastwood was talking to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention as a prelude to Mitt “ 47%” Romney going down in flames to Kenya’s Barack Hussein Obama. Please don’t tell me we are getting ready to start the process all over again. I really don’t think I can take it.
And now that I think of what lies ahead in light of the recent turmoil of Civil Rights and Ferguson, Missouri I suddenly realize the ultimate irony. No matter what comes, I have already outlived the one sure thing I thought I knew. My funeral will not be at Wright and Ferguson because I have outlived the one destination I absolutely knew would be my last stop. Hmmm. Maybe I should start my own Super PAC, buy some Congressmen and legally avoid taxes too. Hey, it works for the Koch Brothers.
Oh yeah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…I hope!