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Place your bets on thick-headedness

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Eric Cantor leads the pack of jackals in the House of Representatives.

So, standing at the brink, the Senate finally realized earlier today that it probably was not a good idea to make the majority of Americans pay more in income taxes. I'm sure the senators would rather have been out socializing at midnight, but they acted like college freshmen who waited until the last possible moment to write a term paper. And the Senate's resulting "fiscal cliff" plan no doubt is as sloppy and error-prone as those term papers. Nonetheless, it passed by a vote of 89-8.

As for the president, liberals are criticizing him for what's become Obama's modus operandi: Claim to have the backs of millions of Americans, take a tough stand and then cave in to Republicans in the House.

This afternoon, attention is on the House, and you would think the members would pass the plan, given the Senate vote. You'd be giving the House too much credit. In fact, the New York Times is just reporting this:

House Republicans reacted with anger Tuesday afternoon to a Senate-passed plan to head off automatic tax increases and spending cuts, putting the fate of the legislation in doubt just hours after it appeared Congress was nearing a resolution of the fiscal crisis.

Lawmakers said that Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican, indicated to his colleagues in a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol that he could not support the legislation in its current form. Many other Republicans were voicing stiff objections to a plan that they saw as raising taxes while doing little to rein in spending. Several conservatives assailed it on the House floor as the chamber convened at noon for an unusual New Year’s Day session.



And about an hour ago, the Washington Post reported:

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), an ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he will urge his colleagues to amend the deal. “We should not take a package put together by a bunch of octogenarians on New Year’s Eve,” he said, referring to Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who personally crafted the agreement. Ageism, anyone?

FOXNews reports, "Rejection by the Republican-controlled House means that fiscal talks about have to start all over again when the new Congressional class is seated on Thursday." Perfect. That assures us of more cliffs, ravines, gorges and canyons starting—well, starting today, really.

I have come to never underestimate the thick-headedness and obstructionism of House Republicans, and I'm betting that later this afternoon, they'll either reject the Senate's plan outright or make amendments to so-called "entitlement" programs — a label that sends my rage skyrocketing because one, millions of people who receive benefits from these programs paid into them for decades, and two, these programs are part of an unwritten social contract for our nation to collectively take care of the least among us. An unwritten social contract to collectively take care of the least among us. The politicians who want to break this contract don't have a fkng idea what it's like for older Americans to have to choose between medications and food. They don't have a fkng idea of why pharmaceutical companies end advertisements that say, "If you cannot afford your medication, we may be able to help." In the richest country in history, the mere fact such advertising is needed is a shame and a sin. The politicians who want to break this social contract have no idea what it's like for single-parent families to be able to afford health insurance. They have no idea — well, I have to stop this rant, because I'm pounding the hell out of my keyboard. But let me continue with a passage in a short story called "Salida" by Poe Ballantine in the December edition of The Sun magazine:

The first thing you learn when you work in a convalescent home or a rest home is that they are neither hospitals nor rest homes. The second thing you learn is that there is not much rest for anyone, and even less convalescing. When the broken-down are turned over to low-wage earners in a rickety house that smells like a bad tooth, it is hard to escape the aura of apathy and despair.

This is our social safety net? This is the level of care provided by our "entitlement" programs? And there are people who see too much net, too much "entitlement." Who will take care of the least among us? "Not the government" seems to be the prevailing view of way too many of our policy-makers. Those politicians have the moral sense of jackals. I hope the self-professed Christians among them realize that someday, they'll reap what they sow.

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"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

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"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

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"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

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• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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