Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Instant karma?

Watching C-SPAN is like watching kudzu grow. If you stare at it long enough, in a kind of alpha-brain-wave state, you can detect progress, but there are more fun things most people this side of catatonia can think of to do. Nevertheless, when an important and closely-contested vote comes along, watching the slow tally of the roll call notching up on the screen can build knuckle-whitening tension to rival an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Sunday was my night to watch C-SPAN. I spent the afternoon flitting back and forth between news channels, trying to keep up with the fluctuating vote pledges, bribes, and power plays, while avoiding the spinsters on both sides of the health-care issue. I spoke with several Constant Readers on the phone, and we laid odds and opined about the unfolding proceedings. They may not have had the slam-bang hustle of The Super Bowl, but politics is the ultimate blood sport, and a hell of a lot more nuanced than John Kerry’s wettest dream about French culture.

So, the rules having been laid, and the final sound bites having been recorded, the actual voting began. History was being made, one way or the other.

Then, just as the numbers began ticking up in the “Yea” and “Nay” columns…BANG! Out went the lights. And the TV. Our local EMC had popped us with another power failure, and this wasn’t one of their momentary lapses of service. I located a flashlight—never far from reach, as the EMC seems to find it impossible to provide uninterrupted power—and lit Grandma’s faithful oil lamp, also constantly accessible. I smoked a cigarette and waited, talking to Miz Possum in the next room while she moved about with the big four-cell MagLite. She announced that she was going to bed and read for a while with assistance from another oil lamp. I listened to the soothing drizzle of rain on the metal roof for a while, and decided to call the power company out of sheer boredom. There is a timer on the phone beside my TV chair, and when I checked it after an interminable time on hold, I saw I was at 22 minutes and counting. I went back to listening to the speakerphone repeating “A customer service agent will be right with you” for a few more minutes.

Finally, the weekend dispatcher answered. I gave him my name and address, and remarked that it must be a fairly large power outage, judging by the half hour I’d been on hold. He sighed. “Yeah, it’s at least three counties on our grid. We got other calls from your neighborhood, so we’ll get it on as soon as possible.” I thanked him, hung up, and joined Miz Possum in bed shortly thereafter.

Shortly after midnight the power flickered back on. The splendid suspense of the Congressional vote was ruined, so I wandered around turning off lights, re-setting clocks, and letting the dogs out for one last duty call. I decided the outcome of the vote could wait until sunrise.

At 0700, the bedroom TV blurted to life, pre-tuned to “FOX and Friends.” Without opening my eyes, I knew how the vote had gone. Ebullient voices with a smirking undertone were cheerfully announcing that millions of people would now have insurance coverage, the economy was saved, and the government takeover of the health-care industry would miraculously “create jobs” in spite of the thousands of doctors who threatened to quit their profession if the “reform” bill became law. I decided the blackout of the night before was a sinister omen, and had almost drifted back to sleep when some progressive idiot told an interviewer that the American people would love the new legislation once they learned how good it is for them, and the Democrats have no fear at all of being re-elected this fall.

That jolted me awake. I wondered if all the recent glitches in my own “federalized” insurance had been straightened out, because I suddenly felt extremely queasy, and thought a return to the ER might be imminent. Fighting down the nausea, I wondered if I had actually fallen asleep and dreamed what that politician just said. Could any sane, rational person be that removed from reality? Did these elitists really believe that the American people are so stupid that by November they’ll forget all about who sold them down the river? I had just about convinced myself I dreamed the congressman’s fantastic statement when a clip of Nancy Pelsosi came on. She prattled about how this socialist coup had been carried off “for the good of the American people.” Then she reiterated that the populace will come to love health-care rationing, euthanasia panels, and the IRS enforcing the government mandate that Americans will purchase a product whether they want it or not. The news anchor came back on to inform us that The Manchurian Candidate will be hitting the road right after he signs the bill—possibly before the Senate has a chance to vote on it—to kick off his Acceptance Indoctrination Rock Star tour of America. I closed my eyes and wafted into a disturbing dream where someone was offering me a cheap drugstore pen with microscopically fine print engraved on the plastic barrel, saying it was one of the pens Barack Obama had used to sign the health-care bill into law.

Later that morning a Constant Reader called. We commiserated for a few minutes about the abandonment of reason in the nation’s capital. I told him about the power failure of the previous night, laughingly referring to it as “a harbinger of doom.” (Yes, I really say things like that at times.) He then told me something extremely thought-provoking.

“You know,” he said, “Abraham Lincoln once said that the Civil War, and what it cost this country in lives and pain and destruction, was God’s retribution for slavery. I think this health-care thing, and what it’s going to cost us, is divine retribution for our acceptance of abortion.”

I had to agree. 55 million dead babies is a lot of bad karma. My friend went on to paraphrase the Old Testament, wherein it says something about woe unto those who try to usurp God’s authority.

This country was founded on the premise that man’s rights are God-given. Lately, all I’ve heard from secular progressives is that the government is the arbiter of human rights. I would regard that as an arrogant usurpation of The Higher Power. God gave us the intelligence to know—individually—what is right for us. He also gave us free will to make choices, for better or worse. Many of us—myself included—have made bad decisions and engaged in behavior that was immoral, or just plain wrong. Most of that behavior—including things that are repulsive to even a jaded hooligan like me—is currently embraced and promoted by progressives, because it denies the existence of God. This denial is very important to those who would presume to dictate what they consider right and wrong “for our own good.” Like the tree-huggers and bunny-huggers who insist that we “worship” the earth, and an animal’s life is the equivalent of a human life, if there is no Higher Power in their warped reality, then The State becomes the ultimate authority. When The State dictates what is right and wrong, what is good and bad for us, without any acknowledgement of God, then The State is once again treading where angels fear to. God’s rights—things like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”—become subordinate to the will of thugs and witch doctors: those sleazy opportunists and arrogant ideologues that lie, bribe, cheat and scratch their way to the top of the dung heap of secular politics. For them, there is no Higher Power than what they possess in the moment, and the only tenet they carry forth from The Bible is Christ’s assertion that “you’re with me or against me,” suitably twisted to serve their own self-aggrandizement. I think my friend is right about instant karma. We get the government we deserve, and I think our collective behavior as a society over the last twenty years has led us to this moment, where we, the unwilling, are being led by the incompetent to try and accomplish the unspeakable.

I laughed and rolled my eyes when Jerry Falwell said the 9/11 attacks were a divine judgment on America because the nation had “fallen away from God.” I am staunchly against any form of public legislation of morality; that is a matter of individual choice, and I don’t believe that God has endowed anyone in the here-and-now with the authority to violate another person’s divine rights by sitting in judgment on them. The line is drawn, of course, when a person’s actions are harmful to others or to society in general. Your rights end where mine begin. It is not up to government to arbitrarily establish “human rights” that supersede the “inalienable” rights set forth by our founding fathers.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the asylum has been taken over by the lunatics, and in their eagerness to dethrone God and replace Him with their despotic visions, they are pissing Him off. Most people have a moral compass, and spiritual values. We vote for, and elect, other people whom we perceive to have a heightened sense of morality, established ethics, and some form of spiritual values to lead our society. Sometimes these people prove to be charlatans or moral failures. In the natural course of things, these people are replaced by others more adequately suited to the role of leadership by representing the will of the people.

As Sunday’s vote in Congress proves, we are currently in thrall to an arrogant, godless leadership whose blatant disregard of the will of the people reflects their own lust for power and lacks any sort of simple, decent human morality. Instead of coming up with rational solutions to real problems—and yes, health care needs some tweaking, but not this 2700 page monstrosity that has been foisted on us—they seek to expand their power base and then indoctrinate the populace that “it’s for your own good.”

Suicide is regarded as irrational. By suicide, I mean the willful, meaningless destruction of one’s self, not the self-sacrifice of soldiers and others who go in harm’s way for what they regard as the greater good or a higher cause. In redneck terms, suicide’s just plain crazy. Only a deranged person will destroy their life, or any part of it. This includes political suicide, as most politicians today are not motivated by the notion of public service; rather they see the attainment of office as the ultimate goal of their lives. This is a sort of adjunct to the old saying: “Them as teach, and them as do.” Now we might as well say: “Them as govern, and them as do.”

What we saw this weekend was the greatest act of suicide since Jim Jones persuaded the citizens of Jonestown to drink the Kool-Aid. Those people were misguided and indoctrinated to the point of their free wills being enslaved by a perverse ideology. Thus it is with those who voted for, and passed, this health-care bill. They have committed political suicide. They may be hailing each other as heroes and patting each other on the back, as though they are soldiers who have survived a fierce battle, but they are just as deranged as a weeping jumper on a skyscraper ledge, and just as pathetic. It’s a further sign of their irrationality that they proudly proclaim their denial and condescension by saying the people who elected them will forget all about this travesty by November, and the politicians who have betrayed the ideals of this country will safely be returned to office.

It’s only about eight months until the next election. That’s about 240 days, give or take a couple.

I don’t think we’ll be forgetting what’s been done to us. Jay Leno had a good line about the IRS enforcing health care mandates: “If you thought it was painful being audited, wait until they’re in charge of your prostate exam!” He’s right. This wasn’t an “up-or-down” vote; it was an “up-your-ass” vote.

We’ll remember those who brought about this political colonoscopy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A cautionary tale on the eve of destruction

Okay, I knew things were getting weird in mid-February when the “climate change” loons said the unusual amount of snow we were getting in otherwise temperate parts of the country was somehow due to global warming. Go figure. They already had their minds made up, and didn’t want to be confused with facts.

Normally, our corner of the biosphere gets a few inches of snow at most every winter. It’s here for a day or two, then it’s gone. Between December and the end of February, we suffer through about six weeks of what people in other parts of the country would refer to as “serious winter weather.” The rest of the season is just mildly cold and sufficiently gloomy.

This year we got a lot of snow. I am always enamored of the stuff, figuring if we’re going to have cold temperatures, we might as well have some rare seasonal beauty to accompany it. Miz Possum is a Michigander by birth, and has been devoid of any enchantment with the white stuff since she was a teenager.

With snow comes ice, and that turned the narrow road curving up Scorpion Hill into a ski slope worthy of the Olympics. Shaun White is welcome to stop by with his snowboard any time the weather's right for him. Miz Possum had to abandon her car in white-out conditions long before she made it into the neighborhood when “the big one” caught her at work late one Friday afternoon. Two days later, the sun was out and it looked like things were melting off sufficiently, so she retrieved the car and made a run at the 30° incline. The little red car spun out halfway up and ended fetched up against a fence post. Two of our intrepid and fully ambulatory neighbors showed up the following day with a come-along hand winch, chains, and tow straps. What followed looked like—as mentioned in the previous post—the German army’s retreat from Russia during War II. The neighbor’s Jeep 4X4 got mired in the ice as well. He was able to slide back down to dry ground without too much trouble, but Miz Possum’s car had to be winched inch-by-inch up the hill to a thawed spot, accompanied by a lot of shoveling and chipping at the black ice/gravel mix, where some professional stunt driving finally got it across the tundra to a parking space.

The next day, a large delivery truck tried its luck and failed. The driver spent over an hour hacking and shoveling to prep enough road surface to gain traction and skid onto the dry spot for a turnaround. (No one in their right mind tries backing down Scorpion Hill in any sort of weather.)

During both of these misadventures, I made fresh coffee, bundled up, and watched from the deck. I wanted to be down there helping, but a wheelchair on a ski slope recalls the proverbial redneck’s last words: “Hey! Watch this!” I was of a mind that I should at least share the suffering in the biting wind, and offer what moral support I could thereby.

That notion was not one of my better ideas. I was already wheezing with some kind of bronchial malfunction, and the hours spent in the cold air aggravated the condition. By the time the vehicular follies were finished and things had really thawed out, I was choking and gasping even in the relative warmth of my living room. At one point Miz Possum threatened to drag me to the doctor, whereupon I gave my standard reply: “I’m not bleeding, so I don’t need a doctor!”

I had my regularly scheduled checkup with the aforementioned doctor the second week of this month. As I was explaining the creeping miseries I had endured the previous month, I broke into another coughing fit. The doctor listened to my lungs and reached for the prescription pad. She said it was a mild infection, and a dose of antibiotics would clear it right up.

That was on a Thursday. Saturday afternoon, Miz Possum and I made our weekly grocery run into Blue Ridge. The store that we frequent has an in-house pharmacy. Since my regular pharmacy closes early on Saturdays, it was strongly suggested that I get my one-up antibiotic prescription filled at the grocery store. Once inside, I went straight to the counter and handed the prescription and my insurance card to the competent-looking druggist. “Come back in fifteen minutes,” he told me.

So, I cruised around on the little electric cripple cart and stocked up on necessities like beer, frozen pizza, nacho chips, cigarettes, and dog food. When the allotted time had passed, I returned to the drug counter. The pharmacist handed my insurance card and unfilled prescription back to me.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve tried for twenty minutes to get verification on your coverage. I tried with your card number, your name, and your birth date. Nothing is going through. I can’t verify your coverage.”

Now, this is vital to this narrative: I have “federalized” health care insurance. My coverage—well ahead of Obama-care as proposed—already has the full backing and blessing of The State. My handing over of that insurance card should be the equivalent of giving a Ferrari dealer a platinum MasterCard and saying “I’ll take the red one.” Instead, I’m suddenly denied a bottle of antibiotics for a simple respiratory ailment.

“So what’s up with this?” I asked. “They haven’t even voted on reforming health care yet. Why am I cut off?” The pharmacist shrugged; that was something I’d see a lot more of in the next few days. I assured him I’d get to the bottom of this mystery, and we talked for a minute about what Obama-care might portend for others. The pharmacist was of the opinion that many of his customers would find themselves in the same situation if “reform” became law.

When we got home, I called the toll-free number on the back of my insurance card, even though it was 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon; not the ideal time to catch a bureaucrat napping on the job. I went through the automated menu, entered my number and date of service as prompted, and the mechanical voice told me I was covered. I noted down, and then called, the other number it gave me for prescription assistance. To my surprise, I reached a live person, who also told me I was covered. Great, I thought. I’ll just wait until Monday and call my regular pharmacist.

Waiting until Monday was yet another bad idea. The cough worsened, and Sunday night I ended up in the emergency room of our local hospital, begging for my life like an illegal alien. They took my insurance card during the admittance process, only to show up at my bedside the next morning asking how I planned to pay for my treatment since they couldn’t verify my coverage. I was too exhausted to rip the IV out of my arm and pitch a proper Irish fit of temper, so I mumbled something about it being taken care of, foamed at the mouth a bit, and went back to sleep.

The next day, on my way out the door, I happened to pass the hospital administrator. I whipped out my insurance card and—reading the address off the back—told her where to send the bill. Had I been less of a gentleman, I would’ve told her where to shove it. Doctors do not like me; I am an irascible patient who loathes hospitals.

On the drive home, I remarked to Miz Possum: “You know what? I think all of this is just a sneak preview of what we’re in for when they pass this health-care crap.”

She just nodded.

A couple of days ago, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wryly remarked that Nancy Pelosi has her portion of Congress “liquored up on sake” regarding the big health-care “reform” bill. The honorable Senator is obviously familiar with history. A snort of sake was part of the departure ritual for Japanese kamikaze pilots during War II. They knew they were headed for self-immolation, but the majority of them went anyway, diving through a hellfire of flying bullets and exploding shells to their deaths. The film footage of them going down in flames is breathtaking.

Stick a fork in Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and as many Democrat members of Congress as are up for re-election this November. They’re done. If they pass this wildly unpopular health-care bill, they’ll make history, but it will be the kind of Pyrrhic victory those Japanese pilots achieved in the 1940s.


I’ll close with the e-mail I sent to my Congressman, Nathan Deal of the 9th District of Georgia, last Wednesday:

"I appreciate your staying on in Washington to vote on 'Obamacare' after announcing your retirement from Congress. If this disastrous bill ever comes up for a vote, I trust you will do the right thing and deny it any form of support.

"Please bear in mind that your constituents at home are watching this travesty unfold, and your gubernatorial aspirations may well hinge on your keeping well away from this radioactive legislation, unless you act in opposition to it.

"My urging you to vote "NO" on health care "reform" may well be a moot point, as the dictatorial elite in DC seems to have discovered a parliamentary hat-trick that will remove them yet another notch from any semblance of service or response to the will of the people who elected them.

"You have my tentative vote for governor, but I do read the Congressional Quarterly. Please do the right thing."

Let’s pray enough of our elected officials respond to the will of the people and do the right thing.

"Look, hon! Democrats!"

Flashback: February.

Despite cars and delivery trucks becoming trapped on the icy goat path leading up Scorpion Hill, and my getting a dandy case of pneumonia watching what came to resemble the German retreat from Moscow in the winter of 1941, it was a banner month.

First week of the month: I’m having my second cup of coffee, watching “Clash of Wings: Return to the Pacific” one morning. The program has just reached the footage of the kamikazes at Okinawa, diving through the tracers and flak. Miz Possum comes into the living room, headed out to work. She pauses to glance at the TV.

“What are you watching?”

I point. “Look, hon! Democrats!”

She called me later from the office to say she finally got it.

“Health care, right?”

“You got it, babe.”

Last week of the month: We’re watching “Titanic” on TCM, as it should be seen; letterboxed with no commercials.

Comes the scene where the ship is sinking, and there is a shot of the water rising along a passenger-deck corridor. Rats are fleeing by the hundreds ahead of it.

I point. “Look, hon! Democrats!”

I got tea to come out of her nose that time.

Life seldom offers these perfectly timed moments.