Tag Archives: socialism

Defending Our Right to (Grizzly) Bear Arms

Back in May, at the White House press correspondents’ dinner, Barack Obama praised his wife Michelle, who was wearing a sleeveless dress.  He joked, “No matter which party you belong to, you agree that Michelle has the right to bare arms.”

It’s three months later, and for some reason, no one finds the Second Amendment funny anymore.

bear-arms

Maybe it’s because protesters are showing up at town hall rallies not only with handguns, but now, with assault rifles.  What’s next, grenade launchers and howitzers?  Maybe it’s because the same protesters are carrying signs urging us to refresh the “tree of liberty…with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  This metaphorical tree seems awfully high-maintenance.

Or maybe it’s because the rationale for bringing a semi-automatic weapon to a public event is just too simple:  “Because I can,” said one man carrying an AR-15 at Obama’s town hall in Arizona.

Who came up with this crazy amendment?

Some of the reasons for our right to bear arms seem awfully outdated.  Perhaps “self-defense” may still apply in some cases…but I’m guessing that “slave control” is no longer used as an argument.

From news reports, it appears that most of our gun-toting friends are against Obama’s healthcare plan.  That’s not a huge surprise: conservatives and guns go together like peas and carrots, red meat and huntin’, God and NASCAR.  Softy liberals like Obama are trying to convince people with logic and common sense; heat-packin’ conservatives just prefer to shoot their opponents.  So, I can see why the Second Amendment doesn’t play with a laugh track anymore.

The GOP has made it clear that bringing guns to these healthcare debates is justified: then again, they’ve also embraced alarmist terms like “death panels,” launched ads about Obama euthanizing Grandma, and made allusions to socialism, communism, and America turning into Russia.  If I didn’t have a lefty conscience, I’d be chasing Obama around with a Golden Gun too.

levi-andyAt least in recent days, conservatives have diversified their attack.  Now, they have a song (“Grandma Got Run Over By Obama”) and dance (former House majority leader Tom DeLay just confirmed that he will be on next season’s Dancing with the Stars).  And today, Bristol Palin’s baby daddy said he’d pose nude for money.  Perhaps Levi, the “prolific baby maker,” needs more artillery for sheep hunting.

But hey, in this country, we still have the right to bare arms.

———

Grandma Got Run Over By Obama:

Grandma got run over by Obama
Walking to the doctor’s without leave
You can say there’s no such thing as rationing
But as for me and Grandpa we believe

She’d been seeing Doc quite often
For her heart and lumbago
But one day she got a letter
Saying “sacrifice yourself; it’s time to go”

They found her DOA that mornin’
At the scene of the attack
“Rejected” stamped upon her forehead
And an incriminatin’ O upon her back

Grandma got run over by Obama
Walking to the doctor’s without leave
You can say there’s no such thing as rationing
But as for me and Grandpa we believe

Now we’re all so proud of Grandpa
They don’t have him on the run
See him in there watchin’ NASCAR
And clinging bitterly to God and guns

It’s just not the same without Grandma
She was too young to be whacked
Only 70 on her next birthday
But too old according to The One’s contract

Grandma got run over by Obama
Walking to the doctor’s without leave
You can say there’s no such thing as rationing
But as for me and Grandpa we believe

Now the funeral is over
And the family’s steeped in gloom
And now ACORN’s at the front door
Taking stock of Grandpa’s empty extra room

I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
Better watch out for your health
We should never have elected
A man whose main concern is spreading wealth

Grandma got run over by Obama
Walking to the doctor’s without leave
You can say there’s no such thing as rationing
But as for me and Grandpa we believe!

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Healthcare Reform for The Old and the Lethargic

During the past week, we found out about two high-profile affairs (Rick Pitino and Bernie Madoff), learned the fate of two embattled NFL athletes (Michael Vick and Donte Stallworth), and watched as Miley Cyrus danced on a stripper pole.  Yes, the second week of August had sex, sports, and scandal…

And yet, all anyone wants to talk about is healthcare reform. (That makes me happy, even if it means we have to hear from people like Katy Abram.)

daysofourlivesOf course, healthcare reform has been a pretty juicy topic.  Much of the past week was a soap opera of sorts, with quite a bit of melodramatic yelling, crying, and confusion.  Did Barack put out a hit on Sarah Palin’s son?  Did Chuck Grassley just stab Barack in the back?  Are Sarah and Chuck getting it on in the Aetna executive boardroom?

Like every good soap opera, we have an array of villains and the constant threat of violence (thanks Second Amendment!).   But unlike currently televised soap operas where it’s easy to spot the villain (it’s the man with the bulging neck), the healthcare reform soap leaves it up to you.  Are you convinced that wily Sarah is making up incendiary lies to discredit Barack?  Or do you think Barack wants to euthanize the elderly?  It’s a tough call.

Either way, I’m excited to see how this ends.  Will Sarah’s premonition come true in Guiding (Grandma’s) Light?  Will we see Chuck and Barack make up in One Life to Give?  Will our universal healthcare plan see defeat in As the World Turns Socialist?

I know one thing: this is way more exciting than General Hospital.

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Just a Good, Old-Fashioned Town Hall… With the Crazies

Remember when we used to have town halls to discuss trivial matters? — Like how to get the neighbors off your lawn, or where to host the July 4th fireworks?  Well, we’ve evolved since then… now, town halls are all about whether the government should allow Grandma to live.  From yesterday’s meetings in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Hampshire, it appears that public sentiment (or at least the sentiment of the old and jobless who can attend these midday town halls) is clear: We want Grandma to live!  We’re not going to let Obama’s death panels take her!!  Bring your socialist friends back to Russia!!!  WE… ARE… AMERICA!!!!! (Thunderous applause, chants of “USA”, hootin’, hollerin’, waving of American flag… or, if wearing a patriotic-themed shirt, some saggy boob-shakin’)

jerryspringerOf course, Grandma was never in danger yesterday… unless she found herself in the middle of the angry mob.  I was more afraid for Grandpa Specter (D-Penn), who turns 80 in February, and who hosted his second town hall in Lebanon, PA.  Wearing a dark black suit (he had a death panel meeting in the afternoon), Specter gallantly stood a foot away from his constituents as they railed him about budget deficits, tort reform, and his flippy floppies.  One particularly hostile man invoked God before making his dramatic exit.  After an hour in front of that crowd, I half-hoped that a loony Russian socialist would euthanize ol’ Arlen right there, and put him out of his misery.

Given that the morning session in Pennsylvania was so fun, I had to tune in for Senator McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) town hall in Missouri.  McCaskill one-upped Specter with some drama of her own: an African-American supporter with a sign was attacked, then escorted out of the room amidst cheers.  McCaskill did her motherly best to shush the crowd, but her scolding led to even more disorder.  Appealing to a higher power (“Remember, we had a prayer in the beginning!”), McCaskill still couldn’t prevent the boos, the interruptions, and the frequent appeals that she just “go home.”  Perhaps the attendees simply wanted to have a good Christian hee-haw without Mom getting all huffy about healthcare reform.

While Obama’s town hall in New Hampshire was infinitely more civil (although someone did bring a gun), it all begs the question: Why the outrage?  Do people really believe that Obama is going to put down Grandma?  That the government wants to emulate the (gasp) old Soviet Union?  Never mind that most Western Europe countries have universal healthcare…  I suppose the fear that we’re turning into Britain (the redcoats!) no longer stokes a fire in most Americans. 

Along with the crazies, I too, have legitimate concerns with a universal healthcare plan… But, as long as Grandma gets to live, I’m willing to listen.

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The Working Poor

I recently finished The Working Poor by David Shipler.  This was a monumental occasion on many fronts, since it’s been at least three or four months since I read a book in its entirety.   It was also an incredibly educational, enlightening read:

(From Amazon.com) The Working Poor examines the “forgotten America” where “millions live in the shadow of prosperity, in the twilight between poverty and well-being.”  These are citizens for whom the American Dream is out of reach despite their willingness to work hard.

workingpoorWe always think that if we work hard enough, we should be able to live a comfortable existence.  We may not be rich, but we won’t be living in destitution, either.  But Shipler points out that any one of the following factors can obstruct our socioeconomic mobility upward: poor health and health care, bad decisions (drugs, alcohol), environment (inadequate housing, violence in the community), race and ethnicity, and lack of educational opportunities, just to name a few.  Some of these derailing factors are self-inflicted, some are the results of traumatic events or abuse, some are perpetuated by our institutions, and some are just the results of bad luck.

So what can we do about the working poor?  Should we even care?  After all, we’re already paying taxes to support welfare, Medicaid, and various other anti-poverty initiatives.  But clearly, it’s not enough.  America still lacks several institutions of other developed countries, with universal healthcare being the most cited example.

Issues like universal healthcare and welfare reform are inherently political, and oftentimes the debate will focus on money–how are we paying for this?  But outside of an economic discussion about the inequities of a free market, consider your daily interaction with people who may be struggling near the poverty line.  These are taxi drivers and Wal-Mart greeters, crop pickers and factory workers, men, women, and families who are stuck in a perpetual cycle of anxiety over putting food on the table.

Even if we abide by the utmost conservative principles and say, “Well, they didn’t study hard enough in school”… or, “They made bad decisions to put themselves in their situation”, I believe we still have a self-interest in making sure that these people are decently fed, clothed, and healthy.

Every morning at 8 AM, I take a van to work, as do many of my co-workers who live in New York but work in New Jersey.  The van picks me up in Midtown, drives up along the west side highway, crosses the George Washington bridge into the Jerz, and drops me off at work so that I can pay my rent, buy my groceries, and save some money for the future.  But my future depends daily on the van driver: when we’re speeding over the GW bridge, I am at his mercy.  His mood, his health, his attentiveness: they all affect me.  This is a man who most likely makes less than $12/hour, with minimal or no benefits from his employer.  He probably hears people bitch and moan about their well-paying jobs every day.  Do I want him to be well-fed, to feel like he has something to live for, to keep his job for?  Of course.

gwbridgeAnd if it’s in my self-interest that this man deserves something like healthcare, then what about people who I never see?  What about the people who sew my clothes, pick my vegetables, and fix the roads over which I drive?

So when I pay taxes, I consider it an investment in society, in my security.  I wouldn’t mind paying more in taxes so that my van driver can get adequate healthcare; I don’t see anything wrong with taking a little from the top to make sure that the bottom can have basic needs met.   It may mean that our economic growth shrinks a bit, but I’m willing to sacrifice that for a more stable, less anxious society.  Because Shipler is right: no one who works hard in America deserves to go hungry.

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