FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Levity on the Right

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

Among animals, one  has a sense of humor.

— Marianne Moore, The Pangolin

It is always refreshing when folks who are charged with dealing with really serious subject matter bring a note of levity into the proceedings so people don’t get too depressed.  Of course, sometimes the levity may seem out of place but that is a reflection on the observer and not the speaker.  The observer should not take things so seriously.  Two examples were offered last week, one in the United States Supreme Court and the other in a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.

For the first three days of the week of March 25, 2012,  the United States Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of legislation enacted in 2010 commonly known as “Obamacare”.   Although the Court has many questions to answer in considering the question, the central issue is whether a law that compels individuals to buy health insurance is constitutional.  In 2010, roughly fifty one million Americans were without health insurance.   In 2011, the number had gone up to approximately fifty two million.   Once Obamacare is fully implemented it is anticipated the number of people without health insurance will drop to 26 million.  If that part of the law is unconstitutional questions will arise as to whether other parts of the law, such as requiring insurance companies to insure those with “pre-existing” conditions,  are also unconstitutional. (Houston Tracy can tell you about that.    He was born March 15, 2010 with a defect in his arteries and needed immediate  corrective surgery.   Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas explained to his parents that newborn Houston had a pre-existing condition and was not insured under their policy. After news of Houston’s condition spread around the world and people had time to mock Blue Cross’s crabbed approach,  Blue Cross  added Houston  to his parents’ policy.)  The foregoing shows how terribly serious the discussion in the Supreme Court was and puts in perspective the really funny thing  Justice Tony Scalia said in trying to explain why forcing people to buy health insurance was bad.

Justice Scalia likened requiring people to buy insurance so that more Americans could have health coverage to a requirement that people buy broccoli.  It is unlikely that the Justice was thinking of President George H.W. Bush who famously once said he disliked broccoli.  It was simply a really clever way of getting a few laughs and getting everyone to think that forcing people to buy broccoli was the same as forcing people to buy health care.  It was a really funny comparison and everyone enjoyed the moment of levity it produced. Justice Scalia is reputedly a very funny man and this is just one of those rare moments when we all get to enjoy it.  Justice Scalia was not the only  person to introduce levity into a serious matter.  Representative  Lamar Smith (R-TX) was another.

Just as the Supreme Court hearings were drawing to a close, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Smith, began an oversight hearing to review the administration’s policy with respect to the detention of undocumented immigrants. He named the hearing  “Holiday on ICE” after the popular ice-skating group of that name that tours the world and features really good  ice skaters.   By picking up that name Rep. Smith showed a whimsical streak not always associated with Republican legislators.  The matter the Judiciary Committee was considering had nothing to do with ice-skating but with immigrants who have often been subject to horrific abuse while in the custody of ICE. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)  Those descriptions of abuse are documented in numerous places including an October 19, 2011 Front Line Report and a 2011 report by the Arizona ACLU.

The hearings coincided with the opening of two new ICE facilities and the issuance of a new detention manual addressing the treatment of detainees.  Lamar Smith, chairman of the Committee  said the manual “reads more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.”  He also complained that the new facilities were a waste of taxpayer dollars although they were paid for by the company operating them as Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)pointed out.  She also said she was “deeply disappointed” that her colleagues referred to the Judiciary Committee hearing as a Holiday on Ice.  She said that “immigrants are people who deserve respect by virtue of our common humanity.  They deserve not to be raped.  Not to be tortured, whether through physical or mental abuse or through gross medical neglect.  They deserve not to be shackled when they give birth.”

Rep. Steve King of (R-IA) disagreed saying:  “I can’t think of a more descriptive name for the hearings.  I thought it was right on point. . . . All they need to do to avoid that ‘holiday on ICE’ is put themselves back in the condition they were in before, which is go to their home country.”

The only thing the committee could have done that would have made things more amusing would have been to announce that on a date certain every illegal immigrant in detention would be forced to eat a plate full of broccoli.  That would have been really funny.

Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail