“Hey, partner, you got a lot to be thankful for. How was turkey day?” Sid had slipped up on me while I was butchering the second of the two whitetail deer I had been so fortunate to bag this beautiful but unusual fall.
“Indeed I do, Sid,” I said. “Life is precious and life is good. Can’t complain. Thanksgiving is a worthy holiday, and combined with Veterans Day, November is an entire month to remember our blessings and humbly give thanks. And neither of the November holidays is devoted to long lists of obligatory cards and decorations to haul out, or to commercialism run amuck. That alone is something to give thanks for, ain’a? How you been? Had any luck?”
“You mean hunting? Ah, don’t worry about me, I’ll catch up ‘fore you know it, long as I got any time left,” Sid assured me. “But, tell the truth, Thanksgiving was a pretty sad time this year. The hearty laughter of one of our hard-working Ozaukee County family farmers, who fought the odds and managed to keep independent and out of the commute race was suddenly stopped without warning, in the midst of a day’s work.
“And the live music of one of the finest, most exuberant guitarists in our neck of the woods has been silenced forever, before his prime, and way before his time … as far as the rest of us mortals are concerned, anyhow.”
“Yeah, I knew ‘em both, and heard about it, Sid. I agree – way before his time. We’re all richer for having shared the planet with the likes of them.” I reached around the bench for the whiskey, poured two fingers each into three tumblers, and passed one to Sid. “Another Wisconsin soldier was just killed taking that neo-con ‘cakewalk’ in Iraq, and far as I’m concerned, that’s another one too many,” I said.
We each downed our portions, I tossed the third in the dirt, and we stood silently.
Finally, I picked up the knife again. “As warm as it’s been, I’ve gotta finish this or the meat’s gonna spoil,” I apologized.
“Go right ahead,” Sid urged. “You want a hand? Say, what do you make of the election results? Won some and lost some, huh?”
“True enough,” I said. “Overall, I figure America won, and democracy won this round. The people sorta woke up, blinked a couple of times, frowned, and hollered WHOA! … Just in time… Whaddya think’s gonna happen now?”
“I dunno. Some folks think the new Congress oughta pull out the stops and finally, after years of a complete absence of needed oversight and checks and balances, start conducting long overdue investigations of obscene war profiteering, of complete failure to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina, of scandalous influence peddling and pay-to-play, of corporate lobbyists writing legislation, of official cover-ups of disgusting personal behavior, of intentionally misleading America into invading Iraq which we know had absolutely nothing to do with 9-11. That’s just for a couple starters.
“Others think that the new Congress should focus on introducing and passing legislation to solve some of our most pressing neglected problems, like the health care crisis and the growing numbers of uninsured and under-insured; like global warming; like the debilitating trade deficits and their consequences, caused by completely unrestrained free trade policies; like the crushing long-term structural budget deficits, caused partly by the invasion of Iraq whose cost is already ten or a hundred times more than all the Administration estimates were before ‘bringing it on’, and partly by the perplexing policy of simultaneously and massively cutting taxes for the super-rich; like the crying need for ethics and election reform with teeth. That’s just for starters, too,” said Sid.
“You mean legislation to address real problems for a change, instead of Constitutional Amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning, and allow everybody to carry concealed weapons?” I was shocked.
“That’s what I mean,” Sid averred. “And some people think the new Congress ought to let by-gones be by-gones, and stop being suspicious of Dubya and the neo-con ideologues and their allies, who are suddenly changing their tunes from ‘Stiff the Liberals’ and ‘Take No Prisoners’, to ‘Bi-Partisan Co-operation’ and ‘Let’s Make Nice’. But you know what I think? I think people who never showed good sportsmanship when they were on top are not the ones who will show good sportsmanship when they’re not on the top. Co-operation is very important in good government. But anyone would have to be a fool to trust them wing-nuts. And I hope these new people aren’t a bunch of fools. (Just read and compare the wing-nuts very own words and look at their deeds.)”
“You got that right, Sid. You know, we need a rule change in Congress, and have needed it for a long time,” I theorized. “The way it is, whether tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum holds a (slim) majority in the House or the Senate, that party gets to pick the committee chairs of every single committee. The way it should be, the party with the most seats should get to select and name the chair of one committee, and the next largest party should get to select and name the second committee chair. And so forth, with the percentage of committee chairs equal to the percentage of seats held by each party. That would be only fair, and better for the people. But after the way the Autorepublicrats changed precedent and the rules, and completely cut out the Fraidydemicans over the last twelve years (and especially the last several years) I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’d just let them live under the very yoke they fashioned themselves. Not to be arrogant and mean in return, but because they’ve shown they can’t be trusted and won’t play fair.
“Just because the majority party has changed is no reason to change the rules of the game. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. Show them a conciliatory gesture and they’ll take it as nothing but a sign of wimpy weakness. They only respect you if you’re tough and you stand for something. And the thing to stand for, for a change, is for the people, not for the corporations. That’s what I’d advise those Fraidydemicans now.
“Hey, how did our write-in protest turn out?” I inquired.
“Not counting the automatic straight party line Autorepublicrat vote (and before election officials expunged half the write-in votes cast, as they always do here) there were more votes cast AGAINST incumbents Mark Gottlieb (state legislature) and Sandy Williams (district attorney) in Ozaukee County than were cast FOR those two. So you tell me whether we won or not,” said Sid.
December 1, 2006