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Not Yet a Perfect Storm

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Storm warnings in August? A regular occurrence in humid late summer throughout the mid-Atlantic region. It's the sticky air that makes New Jerseyans go "down the shore"and New Yorkers go "to the beach."

While not as certain as afternoon thunder and lightning in Miami this time of year, as we approach the 40th anniversary of Woodstock one doesn't need a weather map to see which way the wind's blowing.

OK, I'm really talking about politics here.

Confronted with the worst economic climate in more than a generation, Americans are scared and, fomented by know-nothing nothing-to-lose "leaders" ( did someone say Sarah Palin?), they need someone to blame. Incumbents will do.

The public has been dumbed down for years by things as global as the concentration of media outlets in too few commercial hands and the need for instant gratification experienced through a culture that offers little more than weekly $200 million releases of the same film with slightly different plot lines and ever-intensified special effects that convey a "me vs. the empire" ethic.

So, when confronted with issues as complex as health care reform, economic re-structuring, and globalization, is it any surprise that our countrymen are perplexed and very anxious?

It took a generation of scholarship to explain how educated Germans, suffering the effects of a painful first war and an even harder peace, could rally to the twisted nationalism of that nut-job Hitler. Even after centuries of Beethoven, Mendelsohn, et als, they abandoned civility for violence.

This is not to forecast a storm of that dimension but, as the man said, "It could happen here." The current concerted effort to disturb rational discourse at Congressional town meetings on health care issues has a "brownshirt" quality to it. Egged on by incendiaries ( read Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity), misinformation has clouded the debate. Efforts to find compromise that will solve our ever-deepening crisis are literally being out-shouted by those who choose to ignore the signal message of the 08 election: we can not afford further delay in implementing real reform.

To date, the president has stayed the course and Congressional leaders will be back in Washington soon, hopefully with the steel to enact legislation that will quiet the mob and demonstrate that we can weather the August storms.