Pirates On Land




As we in the US hit governmental shutdown over the GOP’s efforts to derail the Affordable Care Act (as someone pointed out, if President Obama spoke in support of Mom and apple pie, the GOP hardliners would find some way to toss both pie and Mother to the curb), it occurred to me that there are similarities between current events and the actions depicted in the recent film “Captain Phillips”, starring Tom Hanks.


Richard Phillips, who captained the Maersk Alabama in 2009, sailed in what he knew to be pirate-infested waters (for which action he is being sued by his crew for subjecting them to needless danger). His ship was hijacked, and he was taken hostage and later rescued by US Navy SEALS.


The Maersk Alabama is not much different from our ship of state.


It was sailing along, fully operational though in dangerous waters, when other people who had no right to commandeer it decided to board it and take over.


The US government – though sailing in rough waters, given the Tea Party’s determination to bring it down (which, come to think, is a lot like Israel surrounded by nations bent on its destruction) – was chugging along, providing services. Such as, for example, defense . . . did you see how World War II veterans broke through so they could visit their memorial in Washington DC?


As I say, plugging away, the economy improving, and about to embark on the Affordable Care Act, which embodies an idea (affordable healthcare for all) that was actually approved by those two staunch socialists, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. The Act will help millions of people who are too young for the socialized medicine called Medicare. When pollsters inquire about individual aspects of the Act, it is also desired by the majority of Americans.


Up popped the pirates, oops, the GOP. It’s not like they had not tried to derail the ACA in the past. Multiple times, wasting time and money. They lost, every single time. Now, a last-ditch effort to obstruct a law called constitutional by the Supreme Court has hijacked the ship of state as effectively as the Somalians took over the Maersk Alabama. It was dead in the water. So are we.


The fact that a radio station in a southern state calls these pirates “patriots” – I heard it myself – is just more proof that the group not acting like “loyal opposition” is, frankly, nuts. (This parody of John Boehner doing Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” is hilarious yet ignores the fact that sane GOPers are distancing themselves from the T-partiers in droves.)


The rest of the world watches in disgust and apprehension as a small part of what used to be a respectable, “cloth coat” (Nixon’s words) political party shuts down the government over proposed healthcare insurance changes that don’t come close to what citizens in other Western nations – Canada, Germany, France – have. In Canada and France, use of medical care is free at point of service, paid for through taxes. In Germany, citizens buy health insurance at low cost from companies that are non-profit (they don’t have to make money for shareholders), thus lowering their expenses and strengthening their negotiating power with suppliers.


In all three countries, 90% of the population loves their system. The only ones who don’t like it are the very wealthy, who can afford to buy their medical care – and in Canada, jump the queue for non-emergency surgeries – anywhere.


Meanwhile, back in the benighted US, the standing of our nation is, frankly, wobbly. A handful of people are selfish enough to threaten our citizens, our financial standing, our credit rating, and thus the well-being of the world, over a healthcare change that should have happened decades ago.


If only we could call in the SEALS.


Pirates – they live up to their name, whether at sea or on land.



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