Friday, November 18, 2005

Crises, micro and macro

Perhaps crisis is too strong a word -- though a catchy headline always pulls in readers. The recent micro-crisis was Becky’s difficulty in sleeping last night because a) we couldn’t find her last remaining binky, b) she finally fell asleep but a couple of hours later wet the bed, which she hasn’t done in many months, and c) wound up in our bed at some indeterminate point due to a bad dream. Not that I’m complaining. It beats colic, or waking from a deep sleep twice a night for nursing sessions, or taking her to Children’s Hospital one croupy midnight because her breathing sounded like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist,” even from across the room and over the phone to the pediatrician. This happened almost two years ago -- I brought her in, they gave her an “epi-neb” treatment and admitted her. so I got to sleep in that comfy hospital-room chaise that Ben used after I gave birth to Sarah. Of course epinephrine is a stimulant, so she was toddling energetically down the hall in a teeny-tiny johnny with her diaper hanging out back. It would have been very cute if I hadn’t been so worried and tired. But I digress. The point is that I actually love having the kids in bed with us (though Sarah tends to move rather suddenly, like a bird). As Becky was snuggled up to Ben this morning, he said, “I’m going to miss these days when they’re over.” Addendum: Becky is learning how to read a calendar because she crosses off a day each evening in the countdown to Goodbye to Binky Forever Day on December 3. It’s a Saturday, so check this blog early the following week; we’ll either be happily adjusted to the new reality, or posting via dialup from McLean Hospital, having been admitted for shattered nerves and tired blood.

So what’s the macro crisis? Same old thing -- the gummint, as Molly Ivins calls it. The House narrowly passed a spending bill last night (217-215) that cut spending on various social programs as a way to trim the ballooning deficit. From today’s Washington Post: “Democrats castigated the plan as a blow to the poor and a sham deficit-reduction effort, since, as early as today, House Republicans hope to pass a five-year $57 billion tax cut that would more than undo the savings in the deficit-reduction measure.” If this bill is signed as is, “education funding would decline for the first time in a decade, with Pell grants frozen for the fourth year in a row. Infuriating many lawmakers from northern states, funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which subsidizes heating bills, would remain stagnant ...  health care programs would be cut by $976 million, including a $249 million reduction to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the smallest percentage increase for the National Institutes of Health in 35 years.” But hey, it’s not all bad news: “The bill includes language naming two CDC buildings after Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), another senior Appropriations Committee member.”

Meanwhile, the White House has compared John Murtha, the most hawkish Dem in the House and a decorated veteran of two wars, to filmmaker Michael Moore and the “extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party,” according to spokesman Scott McClellan, because he called for withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The centrist and previously pro-war Murtha was angered by this remark, as he was intended to be, though  I would’ve considered it a compliment. Remember when Mike Dukakis was ominously characterized by the GOP as a “card-carrying member of the ACLU”? Like many Dems, he was too wimpy to respond with any effectiveness, but Murtha ripped rabidly pro-war Dick Cheney, noting that the Dickster had never served in the military and in fact got five deferments.

McClellan also said, “After seeing [Murtha’s] statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.” Things are getting more Orwellian every day. Rather than try to sound reasonable, these guys twist things with such disregard for reality that people paradoxically figure they MUST be right, because they wouldn’t dare say something so ridiculous if it weren’t based in fact. Y’see, Scott, #1, the burden of proof about making American safer is actually on you and your bosses, not Murtha. And #2, withdrawing will make America safer, especially the troops getting blown up (they’re part of American even though they’re away at the moment), as well as the rest of us who will stand at least a slightly lower chance of terrorist attack once we’re off their turf.

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