Me, My, Mine

Admit it. Many of us never really accepted the presidency of the person inaugurated in January, 2001. This blog, or whatever it was we did back then, insisted on referring to the occupant of the White House as “President” Bush since how he came to occupy that office was so bizarre and so wrong.

Still, when the country was attacked later that year, we turned to the only President there was and some of us even applauded at the speech he delivered to a joint session of Congress a week or so later (even if we thought of the speech more the product of Michael Gerson, and only reasonably well delivered at that.) We wanted a President that week and he was the only one available.

The current President was, in dramatic contrast, duly and fairly elected. He won states Democratic candidates had not won for many years, and his margin of victory in some states approached and vastly exceeded in several significant places the generally accepted definition of a landslide (winning 60% of the votes cast). Somehow, though, and we know why, his presidency has been rejected by those who did not support his candidacy.

The disrespect shown to, the hostility to and the direct rejection of President Obama has been there since almost the beginning. He is foreign, he is disloyal, he is (omigod) a Muslim (or he’s not “as far as I know”). He is referred to by public officials as “Obama” and sometimes, “Barack” and not “the President” or “President Obama,” making a mockery of the close friends of the man who became President in November, 1963, who refused to call the man they knew as “Lyndon” as anything but “Mr. President” or President Johnson.

And now we have the most incredible of them all. The President asks to speak to a joint session of Congress about the most pressing issue before the country today and the Speaker refuses to invite him. Something about important votes that night, or security considerations. (“Ummm, sorry Frank. I know the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor yesterday, but you haven’t given us much notice. Maybe you could come later in the week?”)

There was a debate scheduled that day? Put it off. Delay it an hour (it is being held on the west coast where 6pm would be a better time than 5pm anyhow). The President wants to speak to a joint session. There is only one answer to that request. Even if he were “President” Bush. Especially if he is President Obama.

And, of course, the President gave in. He always does. He was not born in Kenya, but he grew up in Hawaii. They do not flip the bird at drivers who cut them off in Hawaii, but, of course, drivers to not cut one another off in Hawaii.

Here, on the mainland, we revel in how mean we can be to one another. The Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, ostensibly representing people whose homes, lives and jobs were ravaged further by a natural disaster announces that whatever assistance the government can provide them will have to be offset by cuts to programs which assist other people . The Congresswoman who purports to represent the district where these words are written chimes in with the same message, and then denies it when angry victims of a terrible storm (aided by a foolish decision to try to protect them from the noise caused by traffic) question her about priorities and loyalty.

Put all the spin on this that you want. They didn’t say it has to be offset now or the real issue is whether the government should continue to pay for research into developing an electric car. We know better, because you have told us your views of government, ad nauseum: You want it to keep the Canadians on their side of the border and otherwise shrink it to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. You do not like government helping other people with what you consider to be your money even if it was “your money” and the chicanery you employed to get that money, which threatened to send people into the streets without their homes andchildren to go to bed hungry.

Me, my, mine. The mantra of those who have and want more. Why should they have to pay taxes to fund schools if their children are all grown? Why should they care if some elderly person who is not one’s own parent or relative cannot afford medicine, or even food?

The New York Times waded (oh; wrong word) into a story that concerns your blogger and his neighbors, about the massive destruction of our commuter railroad, something essential to many who commute from Orange and Rockland Counties north, and importantly, west of New York City. We are, of course, within the are that pays a sales tax to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a public agency (in that goofy New York sort of way that pretends to isolate it from politics) that operates bridges, tunnels and mass transit in the area, other than those which run between New Jersey and New York.

The issues about the MTA and its general lack of regard to its west of the Hudson customers are not worth discussing here, at least today. what is worth reading, though, are many of the comments below it: the brutish, piggy nastiness of the Santelli/Cantor crowd whose mantra is that if it is not important to me, it is not important.

Try, for instance, “Bill”‘s announcement that he does not approve of the choice others made as to where to live:

Just because you can travel a hundred miles each way for work each day, by rail or by car, doesn’t mean you should.

or, “OT”:

perhaps they should have considered more carefully the risks associated with living 100 miles from their place of work.

or, the guy from South Carolina who describes us as

commuters who wish to continue their lifestyle of big city wages and small town expenses

Well, Bill, it is 55 miles each way for me. Maybe the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is not really necessary as with some of the subway stops in residential portions of Brooklyn. How come some of us pay a toll to cross into and out of Manhattan, but the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges are free? Whose idea was it to build two new large office buildings at the World Trade Center?

And, Mr. Cantor, or Mr. South Carolina, tell me how the people in your states would fare were it not for a military establishment we pay for with our taxes. Nobody has the right to live in the confederacy and take advantage of wealthier states who subsidize their life style.

No. Let’s not go there. This is the debate that was largely inaugurated by the New Deal. 

It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States of America — a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer….

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize, as we have never realized before, our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take, but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward

To some people this is an evil socialism. To others it is the only way that government can properly function. There is, Mr. President, no middle ground in this debate much as you love trying to find one. The pigs among us always want one thing: what is good for them personally and immediately. They compare the federal government to running a private household because that make sense to them. The federal government has no responsibility beyond their individual needs.

The rest of us, the vast majority of us, know better. If Pat Robertson and Michelle Bachmann see the hurricane as a sign from God, maybe it is God’s way of saying that the stimulus being proposed is way too small. Here is a hurricane which will require that you spend more money fixing up what you had and, in the meantime, create a few jobs for people who desperately need them.

And we know this, as President Kennedy explained to the people of Arkansas in October, 1963:

which is more wasteful: the waste of life and property and hope or a multi-purpose project which can be used by all of our people? Which is more wasteful: to fail to tap the energies of that river, to let that water flood, to deny this chance for the development of recreation and power, or to use it and to use it wisely? Which is more wasteful: to let the land wash away, to let it lie arid, or to use it and use it wisely and to make those investments which will make this a richer State and country in the years to come?

These projects produce wealth, they bring industry, they bring jobs, and the wealth they bring brings wealth to other sections of the United States. This State had about 200,000 cars in 1929. It has a million cars now. They weren’t built in this State. They were built in Detroit. As this State’s income rises, so does the income of Michigan. As the income of Michigan rises, so does the income of the United States. A rising tide lifts all the boats and as Arkansas becomes more prosperous so does the United States and as this section declines so does the United States. So I regard this as an investment by the people of the United States in the United States.

Choose a side, Mr. President. We know you have, but that you don’t like having to do so. We will be listening whenever you are permitted to address them and when all the Santellis and Boehners and Cantors and McConnells start whining, we will know better.

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