Where Were You?

When Kennedy was assassinated, I was sitting in the auditorium of the high school in Westfield, New Jersey, watching a play with a bunch of other elementary school kids. I don’t remember the play, but I remember the teacher coming out, white faced and shaking, to tell us that the president had been shot and we were being sent home. I was eight.

When the planes hit the towers on 9/11, I was in the gym in Boston, watching “Top Gun” on a big screen next to a screen showing news. I thought my movie was an Air Force scramble to respond to the destruction and terror on the other screen, as bodies fell from the sky and smoke billowed and the towers finally crumbled. I later learned that someone I knew slightly was on one of the planes that hit the towers. It was a searing image, a searing day. I never thought I would see its like again in my lifetime.

When the Capitol riot happened on January 6th, I was home watching cable news, waiting to see what the senators would say to challenge a fair and just election. Suddenly people swarmed around Mike Pence and wisked him away, and crowds started to scramble. All the news broadcasters were talking over each other – and then we saw shots of outside the Senate chamber. OMG. It was a dangerous, terrifying afternoon with armed thugs scaling walls, pipe bombs and tear gas, assaults of police, chants of “Hang Mike Pence” and “Trump is My President” and Confederate battle flags – and members of Congress and their staff scrambling to get to safety amid broken glass and angry, focused rioters.

They were unmasked white faces. I mean, how stupid can you get? Of course they were white – they were revved up Trump supporters who believed the falsehoods that Trump has been spreading for over a YEAR that the only way he could lose was in a rigged election. And of course they were unmasked, because wearing a mask is something that Democrats do because they don’t believe in individual liberty and the right to spread Covid as broadly as possible.

I knew what was coming would be bad but hadn’t expected this. The Capitol is a symbol of our democracy, of our form of government, and it was overrun by people with evil intent – who looked like me. If the rioters had been Black, they would have been shot. Instead, they took over the place and went peacefully home, only to be tracked down by digital detectives because, hello, they were unmasked and took selfies as they rampaged. Granted, not everyone at the Trump rally before the riot followed the crowd to the Capitol. But enough of them did that all of them are tarnished.

I am proud that the Congress went back into session and stayed late into the night to finish their work of confirming Joe Biden’s win in the Electoral College. I am angry with all of the senators and representatives who took it upon themselves to challenge elections in other states even after almost 90 court cases and recounts found no fraud. My Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Louie Gohmert need to resign or be expelled for their positions which helped convince people that the crazy fraud theory was true when it patently was not.

And I am very afraid of what is coming next. The inauguration is in 8 days and in the meantime, credible sources tell authorities that armed insurrections are planned for all 50 state capitals this weekend. I will be sticking even closer to home than usual, and sending up more than the usual prayers.

In Which Anne Expounds on National Politics

Abstract:  If you live in Massachusetts tomorrow, vote tomorrow and be sure it’s for Martha Coakley.  Anne expounds on national political parties.

In case you hadn’t heard, tomorrow is election day in Massachusetts to fill the Senate seat vacated by the late Teddy Kennedy.  The seat has been Democrat for as long as I’ve been alive, almost all of that time held by Teddy.  My Republican family hated him but I didn’t, and was proud and pleased to have voted for him during my years in Boston.  He was a good man and worked hard for the country and for the people of his state.  His loss is huge, especially in this year of health care reform.

I know not everyone likes the plan coming out of the Senate (my family certainly doesn’t).  It’s not perfect by a long shot but with so many people without any health care at all, it’s important.  The Kennedy vote matters if this is going to pass, even if Kennedy isn’t the one to cast it this time.

So the election tomorrow is crucial.  I completely support Martha Coakley for the position and wish I still lived in Massachusetts so I could vote for her.  Her opponent doesn’t pay health care costs for his current employees and has vowed to be the 41st vote against the health care bill if elected and sworn in by the time it comes to a vote.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not an “everything must be the Democrat way or the world will come to an end.”  Yes, I am a political liberal.  But I’m also a realist and watching the Congress just tires me out and makes me want to clean house of both parties.  All they do is wrangle for votes and do their best to make the other party fail or at least be ineffective.  Votes are stalled.  Nominees are held up for months or longer, leaving key positions vacant rather than let the government and judiciary run efficiently.  Both parties are wrong for doing this; they don’t help anything except making themselves look strong and purposeful even when they really look stupid.

I want health care to pass and move to the implementation stage so the Congress can actually pay attention to some of the other huge issues facing our country, including how to create jobs, fight two wars, provide long-term aid to quake devastated Haiti, and a thousand and one other things.  I don’t expect it will happen.  The Republicans want Obama to fail and the Democrats to be swept out in the mid-term elections.  The  Democrats want to save themselves their seats and to try and do as much as they can before the Republicans take over again.

Just think of what we could accomplish if the parties actually worked together instead.

On the Failed Bailout

Just in case you missed hearing this, Congress voted down the Wall Street rescue package.  With six weeks to go before the elections, the House voted to save their own skins instead of taking the big hard steps necessary to keep our economy from spinning out of control.

There is plenty of responsibility and blame to go around to all parties.  This problem did not start last week or last year or even 5 or 10 years ago.  We’ve been building a precarious scaffold of economic crazies for a long time.  But today we got slaughtered. The House voted against the bill; the stock market is down 777 points.

I confess that I don’t understand most of what’s going on.  Although I’m a smart person, my brain just isn’t wired to get this stuff that I’ve never heard of and makes no sense.  All I know is that it feels as though I’m being asked to fork over huge bucks to save Wall Street moguls who reaped enormous profits while dragging their companies into risky territory, getting us into this in the first place.

But I do get that voting against a bailout is a bad thing.  Unemployment is going to go up as companies can’t afford to make payroll.  People will lock down their spending to necessities, which will mean even more businesses going under.  Retirement is even longer away because suddenly I have far less money to rely on.  It’s scary, very scary.

Someone needs to sit down and write a bullet-point short essay that explains what’s going on, and what the consequences are for NOT taking a step.  The average person just doesn’t get it, and I think Congress voted to save their jobs and not risk a loss on Election Day.  Even if your constituents don’t want it, if it’s necessary, I want the folks in Washington to have the guts to take hard unpopular steps if it’s in the best interest of the country.

The only small bit of light I see in this is that John McCain can’t get any credit for saving the country by his actions last week.  It’s a small light, I’ll grant you, but I really do see the failure as the responsibility of the Republicans more than the Democrats on this one.  I think they’re going to pay a price.

Take a look at this animated look at the credit crunch that aired on ABC News tonight.