Marie Antoinette infamously said "Let them eat cake" when the French people had no bread, and then she lost her head.
Now, in the third year of America's tea-party hostage crisis, the guillotined queen of France ain't looking so bad. At least she didn't personally thrust the hungry masses into pauperism, and at least she offered them cake as an option.
For the Republicans' whack-job wing, otherwise known as the tea party, that's not nearly Darwinian enough. With the ongoing government shutdown it brought upon us -- not to mention the sovereign default and resulting financial carnage it would like to serve for the next course -- tea partiers in Congress seek to create the poor whom they would sacrifice to the god of natural selection.
This brings us to the plight of rangers and civilian workers at Grand Canyon National Park, as reported by The Los Angeles Times:
Patrick Dotson was in crisis mode. The Grand Canyon Community Church pastor had just emailed a state food bank with an unlikely request: Rush food to one of the world's seven natural wonders.HOW LONG is this going to last -- this reign of congressional terrorists? How long will we live with the threat of "Give us what we demand, or we'll wreck the government, victimize the marginalized and blow up the economy"?
Then came the knock on the door. A U.S. Park Service ranger asked whether Dotson could expand the small food pantry that was being run out of the church's garage. "He said, 'We've got families struggling here. How can we make this bigger?'" Dotson said.
The U.S. government shutdown has turned a prestigious national park where millions come each year to relax and recreate into a realm of high anxiety. Hundreds of employees are stranded without work or pay, prompting the donation of hundreds of boxes of food for families that have nowhere else to turn.
About 2,200 people remain inside the isolated Arizona park, 1,800 of them employees of private concessions that make the place run — the people who change the hotel room sheets, serve the meals, sell the gift shop mementos. Many are entry-level, minimum-wage workers with families who live paycheck to paycheck.
And while concessionaires are offering free rent and meals to those out of work, dependents often do not qualify. Families who rent apartments and send their children to a school near the park's famous South Rim have been left to their own devices, forced to rely on savings and fast-emptying supplies.
The result: Dotson's food pantry, which normally serves a dozen families a year, now has its hands full. The impromptu pantry has been moved to a community hall, where volunteers distribute boxes containing rice, beans, peanut butter and tuna.
Dotson requested the assistance of Phoenix-based St. Mary's Food Bank last week when he noticed that donated food at the church was quickly disappearing. He knew things would worsen as Washington's standoff dragged on.
Wednesday brought news that future handouts would contain perishable items such as lettuce and other vegetables, sending a buzz through the park, said Sarah Stuckey, a spokeswoman for St. Mary's.
"It's just a very strange situation for all of us inside the park," Dotson said. "There's a lot of nervousness here. People are worried. They're asking, 'How long is this going to last?'"
My fear is that the U.S. Constitution is unequal to the task of excising a fairly elected cancer from our body politic. That was John Adams' fear, too:
But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.MORALITY and religion are passé in postmodern America, some of the still-religious are bat-shit crazy for the tea-party terrorists, and "avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness" have become the ultimate public-private partnership today.
We're drowning in all that and Honey Boo Boo, too. We elected the bat-shit bastards who threaten to be the end of us. And short of a Latin American-style military coup, it beats me how we get out of the fine political mess we've fashioned for ourselves.
It just may be that we have to lie -- fitfully and uncomfortably -- in the bed we've made.
The good news, however, is that the United States has been this divided before -- faced down an existential threat from radicalized, extortionist lawmakers before -- and we're still here. We found a way to remove the malignant tumor from the heart of our national fabric.
The bad news is that about 625,000 Americans died in the process.