Saturday, June 30, 2012

Penny for Your Thoughts.

Penny Palfrey, a 49 year-old Australian grandmother of two, stepped into the water and set off from Havana, Cuba on Friday in an effort to swim 103 miles to Miami. She is doing it without snorkel, flippers or wet suit. Oh by the way, she is also swimming without a shark cage, even though much of the trip is through heavily shark-infested waters.

Chief Justice John Roberts also swam through shark-infested waters this week, by being the deciding opinion in the history making decision that kept the Affordable Care Act pretty much intact and gave The President a decisive win against the do-nothing Republican House, maniac Tea Party loons, and the red state reactionaries. In what was clearly a reasonable, well thought out opinion, Chief Justice Roberts essentially told the Veruca Salts of the Right that, like the character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, you don’t always get what you want by simply demanding “I want it NOW!” in  the petulant tone of a spoiled baby.

Of course, Veruca Palin, Veruca Cantor, Veruca Limbaugh and the rest of the flock stomped their feet and threatened to hold their breath until they turned blue. They branded Chief Justice Roberts a traitor and immediately vowed to begin an effort to repeal the law that the Supreme Court deemed Constitutional. Forget the fact that it passed both Houses of Congress and was signed by the President; the Verucas wanted it their way and thought that Roberts was the just the guy to give it to them.

Meanwhile, Penny Palfrey swims her way to Miami, “excited and a little nervous”, as she moves toward her goal one stroke at a time. She estimates the trip should take anywhere between 40 to 60 hours. She is swimming in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby, so calm seas are not guaranteed

President Obama knows a little about stormy seas too. When a good portion of his own party backed away from the healthcare plan because they were afraid of the political fallout if The Supreme Court had ruled against it, the President stood firm and risked it all, because, as he says, “it’s the right thing to do”. Both Roberts and the President put country first this time, while the Verucas called them traitors, socialists, incompetents and Lord knows what else.

The President, like Penny Palfrey, sees his journey as a series of strokes, each one leading toward a goal. He fought the Right on bailing out the auto industry and won. Now it is well on its way to being healthy again. He fought for TARP, and staved off another Great Depression. He promised to get Bin Laden and he did. Unemployment is coming down, albeit slowly. He introduced a number of programs to help those who are underwater in their mortgages get back on their feet, and it seems to be working. And has pushed relentlessly for a bill to begin rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; one stroke at a time.

Unlike the President however, Penny Palfrey is not alone out there. She has a crew of 15, who protect her from sharks, provide medical assistance and keep her hydrated and nourished. With all this help, she must be a socialist, no? No one who works with her is asking her political affiliation. Instead, they are working as a team for the greater good of the mission. The Verucas, on the other hand, would be sitting in their ivory towers after having dumped her into the ocean to fend for herself and rowed back to the country club just in time for cocktail hour. But if by some miracle she survived, they’d have been the first to greet her at the shore, touted the indomitable human spirit to the cameras, and claimed that this great feat could never happen in an Obama Presidency.

Yesterday, while Penny put one stroke in front of the other, President Obama made his way to Colorado to inspect damage done by the wildfires out there. He didn’t fly over it in a helicopter the way George Bush did when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. He walked among the ruins. He didn’t ask whether or not they were Republicans or Democrats, he just declared the entire area a disaster zone and promised Federal aid.

Now the Verucas would (and did) say that it was a purely political move, and maybe there’s some truth to that. But aside from George Bush, I cannot remember a president in my lifetime who didn’t visit the site of a natural disaster. These visits demonstrate leadership and unity. They are designed to let all of America know that we are one people who work for the greater good; one stroke at a time. I guess the Verucas would have just let the whole state burn up though, because to offer assistance that came from tax monies might be deemed socialist. But President Obama did what presidents are supposed to do, which is to lead by example.

The Verucas, Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck, Cantor, McConnell, et al, have one goal; to continue to foment discontent in America. That is how they make their millions. They need you to be riled up to insure that they have a means to continue to make the very substantial living they do. It sells books and coffee mugs. Your anger brings them huge speaking fees. They are the 1% and don’t give a rat’s ass whether you have health insurance or not. And they do it one stroke at a time. 

“Each swim comes with its own challenges; this is a really big challenge”, says Penny Palfrey. So too does each generation, I think. But it takes a visionary and not a Veruca to understand the challenge and rise to the occasion.

The Verucas want the United States to return to a white-dominated male society. Oh sure, they talk about freedom and democracy for all, but trust me when I say that all of that seems to go out the window when it gets to the backyards of the elite. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the color of America is changing. And all the lashing out at President Obama is merely a reaction to giving up two hundred and thirty six years of Veruca rule. They want their power back, and they want it now. True freedom and democracy may be slow to evolve, but eventually it does; one stroke at a time.

So they can demonize Chief Justice Roberts for upholding the Constitution. They find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt in Congress, stalemate and block any attempts at real change in America. They can question and re-question the birthplace of our President.  They can bad mouth, tear at, backbite, bluster and filibuster all they want, but they can’t change what’s happening here. It’s changing; one stroke at a time.

For those who want to opt out and follow the libertarian way, please, by all means go right ahead. Think of all the money the rest of us will save when the small government folks stop using Federal money for disaster relief, roads, armed forces, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Education, Environment, and any other services they currently take advantage of. Why, the deficit will be gone in no time!  

I haven’t mentioned Mitt Romney’s role in all of this. I want to thank him for two reasons-- First, for giving President Obama the role model for the Affordable Care Act. Without his tireless efforts, the idea of the individual mandate might never have made it to the Supreme Court. Second, I want to thank him for having offered absolutely no plans to deal with the issues that President Obama has so ably demonstrated he is capable of dealing with over the last three years. It should be an interesting debate this fall to hear exactly what he believes, although that may change three or four times before then.  

Finally, I hope that Penny Palfrey makes it to Miami safe and sound. She is a courageous person and a true role model for women and men everywhere because she believes that large, seemingly impossible goals can be achieved with stepping into the water first and with unwavering tenacity and courage, arrives at the place she’s imagined.

For the Verucas in total, I wish I could say the same for you. And for Veruca Palin in particular, a while ago you asked America how that “hopey changey thing” was working out for us. All in all, I’d say, pretty damned good. And like Penny Palfrey and our President, we’re doing it one stroke at a time.

That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!

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