The Salem News
---- — The Sunday before Christmas, I could have tried to find a solution to the fiscal cliff situation and emailed it to Washington, D.C., or I could watch “The Sound of Music,” a four-hour special on ABC.
The movie came out the year after my son was born. I added the record album to my collection of show tunes: “Oklahoma,” “Carousel,” “The Desert Song,” “West Side Story” and others.
Someone was saying last week that our best Christmas memories aren’t about material things, but about the pleasure of being with family, singing carols, baking cookies. Those are all nice, but my favorite Christmas memory was getting a hi-fi, which I should probably explain to younger readers was the music-playing machine between a simple one-record — at a time player and a stereo, which we later created by attaching the hi-fi to a radio with a speaker so that sound came from two directions.
I was in high school, but not too old to get up before dawn to just see what Santa had put under the tree. There, unwrapped: My own hi-fidelity record player and “Oklahoma,” the first of my musicals! I hadn’t even asked for it, didn’t dream such a gift was possible.
After opening presents, we left to spend the day with relatives; I could hardly wait to get home to my hi-fi. Didn’t know then, of course, how I would miss my parents and aunts someday at Christmas. But I do still have my musicals, the latest being “Wicked,” which has displaced “Les Miserables” as my favorite: It had displaced “Hair” when I moved from my hippie to my political revolutionary phase.
The message of “Wicked” is to get out of Oz and live a happy, uninvolved life elsewhere. I am trying, just for Christmas week, but politics is intruding more than it usually does during the holidays. Washington is finally admitting what most normal people have known for years: that it is hopelessly out of touch with reality, and therefore unable to function rationally by attempting to actually balance its budget.
The most normal person there in the past few weeks was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who laughed when President Obama proposed that he be allowed to increase the debt limit all by himself, without Congress. I laughed, too; until on Christmas Eve, The Boston Globe lead editorial advocated that “Congress limit its own power by abolishing the debt limit entirely as part of any fiscal-cliff deal.” Of course. Who needs a debt limit? And by the way, who needs a Congress? Obama won the election, and now he can borrow any amount he wants — $20 trillion, $50 trillion, what’s the difference? Just electronically transfer the money from the Federal Reserve to the wheelbarrows ...
I feel this allows me to mention another Mayan apocalypse cartoon. Two Mayans are looking at the stone calendar. One asks, “So how come it ends in 2012?” The other says, “Those idiots re-elect Obama.”
Sorry. But why be filled with Christmas spirit, good will to men? Others don’t feel the need. All over America, anti-gun zealots are tweeting that NRA leaders like Wayne LaPierre should be shot. On Dec. 14, author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, “If sizable numbers of NRA members become gun-victims themselves, maybe hope for legislation of firearms?”
I’d call the FBI to suggest they arrest her for inciting to violence, but a calm agent would probably tell me that the kind of people she was tweeting to probably wouldn’t have guns with which to shoot anyone, and wouldn’t be able to get close enough to stab LaPierre because, of course, he is armed.
Back to “The Sound of Music.” Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. ... And look, the Nazis have just taken over Austria, though so many Austrians had believed that it could never happen there. The Trapp family is escaping over the Alps to the West, where Winston Churchill will be vowing in 1940, “We shall fight on the beaches ... we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” England prides itself on its gun control, which began in 1937; one wonders what Mr. Churchill thought they were going to fight the Germans WITH, on the beaches and in the streets. Fortunately, a well-armed America saved them.
I know I’m not the only one imagining how it would feel to be the parents and grandparents of the children slaughtered in Connecticut. But am I the only one imagining grandchildren living in a country that had lost its right to defend itself against a too-powerful government? I think not, which is why this week there are more “assault weapons” in homes across America than there were last month, as people who had no real desire to own one ran out to buy them before they are banned by politicians grabbing the opportunity afforded by tragedy.
I got myself a membership in the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League for Christmas and am thinking about joining the NRA. I’ll let you know what I decide next week, when I start the new year with a column on the Second Amendment.
Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a Salem News columnist.