It’s hard to convey the inexpressible sense of relief that swept over me when I learned that we had avoided, first for a week, but now a blessed year, a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. Like everyone else, I was shaking in my boots at the prospect of losing the agency’s protection, even for a minute. Ever since 2001, I’ve felt secure, knowing it was there, sort of like a Big Brother, someone I could count on to provide protection from the terrorists that I feel sure would have gotten me by now, if not for its omnipresence and omniscience. Shame on the Republicans for holding it hostage to their demand that we treat immigrants like sub-human trash; shame on the Democrats for not giving in to those demands. After all, they always have before. All hail Netanyahu, for providing the cover John Boehner needed to allow rationality to prevail in the House, if only for a minute.
Perhaps it’s churlish to point out that in this country reason only prevails when the continued existence of something we may not really need is on the line. The Department of Homeland Security was given its Orwellian name (along with its companion tribute to Orwell, the Patriot Act) in part to aid in keeping Americans in a constant state of terror, the better to keep them distracted while their rights and livelihoods are steadily stripped away. Boehner would feel no pressure at all to step back from the brink if, say, the continued existence of food stamps was on the line. Were I a Republican crazy, the lesson I would take from this is that I picked the wrong target. I would attach the immigration rider to the next food stamp authorization bill, or the next bill funding education. Boehner would back me to the hilt, and Democrats would be forced to “compromise” because they would have none of the leverage they had on Homeland Security funding; that leverage being in the form of a media that, for the most part, (Fox News excepted) pretty much presumed that a DHS shutdown would be a threat to the Republic. That same media would consider starving little kids a mere political issue, with both sides equally to blame, a situation which always seems to call for Democratic surrender.