Last night the bad news wouldn't stop coming. Right now, two images are haunting my mind and weighing down my heart. On an island off of Norway, a "right-wing extremist" carrying a metallic piece of evil guns down fleeing children as though they were flies to be swatted out of existence. Their crime was that their parents were liberals. In Washington, the President of the United States, showing more anger than I am used to seeing him express - but not nearly as much as was called for - still seems baffled that his implacable opponents, acting like a pack of spoiled children, have once again walked out of the increasingly desperate negotiations to save the country.
My comparison of these two events is deliberate. In both cases, people who do not belong in a civilized society have managed to obtain power that such a society should give to no-one. In both cases, they have used it to shoot down their opponents: in one case literally, in the other metaphorically. A metaphor, though, is just another way of expressing reality. If the Congressional extremists get their way, people will die in this country just as surely as they did in Norway. They will starve or be turned away for medical care they desperately need so that the corporations can keep every single one of their obscene tax breaks.
I recently had a discussion with a friend who holds a concealed weapons permit. She needed it, she said, to defend herself. She seemed truly baffled by my response that I would not use violence under any circumstances, so the entire issue was moot for me. She's been smiling at me lately, though, so I guess she has at least accepted my point of view. Let me get a jump on the discussion of the events in Norway by saying that no, it wouldn't have been better if some of those children had been armed. A civilized society (and in my view, Norway has more right to be called civilized than the vast majority of other countries) does not make itself more civilized by allowing more people to have more weapons. It simply buckles under to evil.
By the same token, a civilized society does not make itself more civilized by trading away a century's worth of social progress in order to appease a bunch of grown-up spoiled children whose political careers are bankrolled by the very corporations whose "rights" they claim to be upholding. If President Obama has the makings of a truly great president, he will now recognize that he has no other option but to raise the debt ceiling on his own. Like Lincoln, FDR, and a handful of other presidents who have had greatness thrust upon them, he will venture into uncharted territory in order to save the country. Or he can also buckle under to evil, in which case everybody loses but the billionaires (and even many of them have pleaded with the president to raise their taxes).
This seems the appropriate place to record the fact that Congressman Bill Flores and his staff have so far rebuffed every attempt I have made to communicate with them about my beliefs. Since both of my senators did that a long time ago, I now know conclusively that I don't have a voice in Washington. That's why I'm raising it here.