Someone — Thomas Jefferson, I think, or Fela Kuti or Chthulu or somebody — once said that America needed a good war every 20 years or so to keep the economy going. Of course, that was based on a consensus rationale during a period in our country’s history when it was totally on the up-and-up to own another human being, and before we had the good sense to figure out that cocaine was a viable medical treatment for everything from hysteria to gout to a severe case of Why the Hell Nots.
We’re more enlightened now, obviously: today, cocaine is the No. 1 decision-maker in Hollywood — just ahead of the Weinsteins and Xenu — and wars are started and continued primarily to stoke the inadequacy-induced rage-boners of world leaders with inferiority complexes. Indeed, we’ve come a long way.
Timeline-wise, though, war has been replaced with impeachment. With regards to frequency, it’s even accelerated; our last three presidents have either been impeached or have had talks of impeachment drummed up against them. Bill Clinton actually had the whole process levied against him — ostensibly and officially for committing perjury, but truthfully because America, in a pre-“Real Tory” scenario, couldn’t deal with watching a high-profile married couple work out their personal crises in the public eye — and George W. Bush, inarguably the best case for actual impeachment, if only because of Cheney’s opportunistic grab at power, suffered the rallying cry of a million dispossessed college freshmen discovering politics for the first time (holds up hand, sheepishly).
Now Barack Obama is in a similar spot because… I don’t know, reasons? Look, in terms of politics-by-numbers, I get it. The man has either outright implemented, or indicated that he will, sweeping reform across a number of different fields: education, environmental awareness, healthcare, you name it. Immigration reform is the outrage of the day, with Obama considering citing executive power to grant quasi-legal status to millions of illegal immigrants residing in the United States.
This is an issue that I’m way too much of an idiot to knowledgeably comment upon, but this issue isn’t really… well, the issue at all. Let me back-track a little, and try to offer some perspective.
My wife is awesome. Her job is basically to make sure hospitals function properly so, y’know… you’re welcome and all that. We met while attending the same graduate school in Georgia and, even though she only lived there for a year and a half, that’s apparently plenty of time to get on the email lists of a few state representatives. We both still get these emails; I delete them without even reading them, because when I pass a lunatic on the street muttering into his soup can, I don’t see the merit in stopping to engage him in conversation.
She, however, occasionally reads them. The latest was from John Barrow, and read thusly:
This week, we are scheduled to vote on a resolution by Speaker John Boehner allowing the House of Representatives to initiate a lawsuit against the President. I take issues like this very seriously, and I want to know where you stand on this issue.
The lawsuit comes after multiple delays of provisions from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I voted against the ACA because I didn’t think it was the right approach to overhauling our nation’s health care system, and I’m leading the effort to fully repeal the very provisions that the President has failed to enforce. But now the Speaker of the House wants to sue the President for delaying parts of this law.
Will you please share your thoughts with me by taking part in our quick poll below? Your responses are very important to me.
Besides being implicitly self-contradictory — note how Barrow takes Obama to task for “failing to enforce” the very facets of the law that Barrow is leading the charge to repeal — emails and rallying cries like this are inherently disingenuous because they completely avoid the bigger picture, favoring sensationalist rhetoric like this instead of tackling real, tangible, urgent problems. Like what? Let me count the ways:
1. The Malaysian Air flight that was shot down over the Ukraine reportedly resulted in the death of some 20 of the world’s top AIDS researchers, effectively resetting the dial on insight into one of this era’s most deadly and confounding diseases by about a half century.
2. Anywhere between 1 in 3 and 1 in 5 restaurant workers are going hungry or are on government assistance, a state dubbed “food insecurity.” I work in this industry, alongside some people who are in this predicament, and this aspect of it is inexcusable. If there’s not a think tank somewhere in Washington that can figure out a way to mandate decent, livable wages for food service employees, then somebody somewhere is having the most evil, maniacal laugh ever.
3. Women’s equality. They still make a fair bit less across the industry than their male counterparts. Fix this. Now.
4. F***ING EBOLA.
5. Mountaintop-removal mining. Ever been to West Virginia? Pennsylvania? Geographically, it’s like drooling over a supermodel, then getting to her face and realizing that, holy shit, her face is gone from the lip up.
And look, I’m not even getting into the root cause behind the thing that’s given rise to this whole impeachment nonsense: mass child immigration. These kids, and most South American immigrants, are fleeing drug-related gang violence in their home nations. This violence is fueled by demand here in the United States, and we’re doing dick-all to stop it.
I don’t have the answer. Regulation and legalization is a good start — look to Prohibition and its repeal for a fair parallel — but I’m not an expert. Those experts, though, are disappointingly silent. In the meantime, we — Democrats and Republicans alike — are ignoring the real issues at hand in favor of hot-button, dead-end legislation that will serve no purpose short of fundraising.