Autumn Fundraiser 2013, Day 5
Everything is relative, isn’t it? For Gates of Vienna, it’s the fifth day of our Autumn 2013 Fundraiser, one of the most successful to date. Frankly, it’s puzzling: GoV is a dot in the blogosphere, times are hard, etc., so the robust response is a startling (though welcome) surprise.
Actually, every quarter we’re surprised at our donors’ generosity, but recently there’s been a new trend leading up to our
Week Octave of Blegging. Before we can even get things together to announce the fundraiser, donations begin coming in, notes attached. Some folks are concerned they might have missed the whole thing so they send amends and money; others say they want to nudge us to get it going before some date interferes that might interfere with our success. In this case, several people mentioned the approach of both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah as possible obstacles to our success.
That proves y’all know us very well by now; “late” is part and parcel of our modus operandi… not purposely, but simply because life keeps interfering. Thus, our blog life is but a logical extension of real life, that place where we’re notoriously late for most events. Heck even our posts about “current” events are behind the curve.
But now we pause at this intersection where real life crosses paths with our stated mission of cultural remembrances.
Today America — and to some extent the larger world — observes the anniversary of the assassination of our 35th president. Every American who had reached the age of reason in 1963 can tell you where he was when life came to a shuddering halt. Our gaze was fixed on those endlessly repeated images of John Kennedy’s body, flung back from the force of the bullet smashing his skull on that Dallas roadway, of what appeared to be Mrs. Kennedy’s pathetic, horrified attempts to retrieve fragments of her husband’s head, of the endless wait at the hospital for word.
That was a place, that was a time, that was an event which sent our country spiraling in a new direction on the Garden of Forking Paths. In a moment we were all changed. Those changes were central to our sense of our selves and of our nation. Our participation in Kennedy’s death and interment took place outside of time. Television, an extension of Self by that point, permitted a national ‘sacred’ space where everyone could participate and mourn together.
As Lincoln’s assassination had done a century before, one of the consequences of Kennedy’s sudden death was a severe course correction in our national life. There was a radical change in both the process and the content of domestic affairs and of foreign events. The former led to a massively Newer Deal, a huge potlatch of entitlement programs that set the Democratic party on the road to dominance by voting for benefits that de Tocqueville warned would be our undoing. It also led to the destruction of black culture and the black family. Johnson was a wily politician; he knew at least partially what he did in buying those votes. Could he have foreseen the endgame of his policies, i.e., our unmanageable debt and deficit? Those are the questions which haunt our “what-might-have-beens”.
In foreign affairs we made a thorough mess of Vietnam. Kennedy was a World War II man who inherited the situation in Vietnam from a World War II heavyweight. Eisenhower was preceding cautiously; he knew the real story of what had happened in Berlin and in Korea. He was unlikely to have upped the stakes in Southeast Asia.
Kennedy might have made an adequate commander-in-chief in a conventional war. But in a small civil war where we fought Russia by proxy? That wasn’t in his skill set. His generals, too, understood conventional wars. Despite the post-dated “conflict” in Korea’s civil war in the 1950s, Kennedy’s military had no feel nor understanding of next-generation warfare as it first flared in Vietnam. We had neither China’s thousands of years of intrigue, nor an adequate understanding of guerilla warfare.
And we certainly had little understanding of our allies in South Vietnam. Kennedy was never prepared for the convoluted layers of the French-Catholic culture embedded in the colonial experience of that country. He was naïve in the same way he had been in allowing himself and our military to be pulled into the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. With the Cubans in exile egging him on — and who knows what dreams of glory — Kennedy simply wasn’t seasoned enough to manage the contingencies of a poorly-planned and even more poorly executed “invasion” to bring down Castro’s Communist regime at the Playa Giron:
In both situations he was saddled with the help of the CIA’s covert activities. Dealing in black ops far over his head, Kennedy was swimming in the deeps with those sharks. These were their home waters and they all knew the shoals and hiding places much better than any president ever learns. In short, they swam circles around Kennedy. In 1961, the debacle at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba should have served to inform him of two basic facts: (1) He was out of his league in covert operations against other sovereign states, and (2) our CIA is often filled with rogue actors who can foul the best of plans. Given what transpired in November 1963 with the killings of the Diem brothers, it may have been he’d learned something. We’ll never know.
America has never been skilled at statecraft in the old European tradition and we never will be. Our form of government isn’t geared for that, nor is our character suited to those ancient games. Had we stayed true to the King, we could’ve been like Canada, with no need to make it on our own. But that is not in our character either, so we stumble through as best we can. In the beginning we paid for our costly mistakes and we learned. However, it has been the case for at least a hundred years that we are big enough to do as we please and let the devil take the hindmost. Under the tutelage of our current president, that is beginning to change. His huge mistakes and misadventures have soured his subjects on his many excellent, expensive, and seemingly random
In domestic affairs, Kennedy left us with another killing legacy that has limped on after him, destroying countless lives and reducing many to an existence as homeless prey for the underclass criminals who steal from them or simply beat them up “for fun”.
In 1963, with the best of big government Democrat intentions, Kennedy signed a national mental health care bill that would see the ruin of a system of state mental hospitals. They were to be replaced with a ambitious, idealistic community-based program where mental patients could be treated closer to home, out of “institutions” and in what would be called Community Mental Health Care Centers.
This grandiose idea was as ill-conceived and poorly funded as the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
Previous to federal interference, states ran their own mental health care systems. Some were better than others, but probably none were as bad as what has replaced them, certainly not as far as the families of the mentally ill are concerned.
I have worked with two of these Community Service Boards in two separate federal catchment areas, which are designated by number. If you live in the United States, you live within a “catchment area”, and if you need services you must receive them there.
For cities and towns that have the money, some of these Centers aren’t bad. Some areas, not so wealthy, provide bare-bones dismal facilities. In all of them, psychiatric outpatient services are scant: brief medication reviews lasting fifteen minutes at most. Social workers with case loads that would burden Sisyphus do the best they can. By caseload I mean a hundred moderately to severely mentally ill “consumers” (all people who access federally-funded ‘entitlement’ programs are aptly termed “consumers”. That word replaced “clients” as previously it had replaced “patients”, this last deemed too ‘medical’’ and not a positive designation. And “consumer” is better? Well, at least the latest is the most accurate, for these folks do not produce anything; they’re too ill to do so. But they do consume a lot of services and the time of hapless, burned-out workers).
The Heritage Foundation recently ran a report — a plea — to end this charade. Here is the abstract:
Fifty years ago, America began a grand experiment by transferring to the federal government the fiscal responsibility for individuals with mental illnesses. During that half-century, it has become increasingly clear that the experiment has been a costly failure, both in terms of human lives and in terms of dollars. The outcome was, in fact, clear as early as 1984, when the chief architect of the federal community mental health centers program proclaimed it to be a failure: “The result is not what we intended, and perhaps we didn’t ask the questions that should have been asked when developing a new concept….” Bringing sanity to our present mental health system is dependent on one essential change: Return the primary responsibility for such services to the states.
For those of us who understand the growing problem we face with the legion of mentally ill youngsters, please read the bullet points at the link above.
This is a vitally important problem, one that needs immediate remediation if we want to see the random mass murder totals go down. They are not a function of our gun laws. Almost without exception these random killings are carried out by mentally ill young males. These fellows “fall through the cracks” because, thanks to our miserably inadequate federal mental health care system, all we have left are cracks.
Here in Virginia this week, we witnessed the suicide of a young man after he (probably) thought he’d killed his father by stabbing him repeatedly. The father, Creigh Deeds, is a well-known and respected state politician. As other pols were interviewed they sent coded messages about Austin, the son, saying things like “Creigh Deeds is a good man. He worked hard for years to help his son, Gus. We send our prayers and condolences, blah blah…”
The initial story was that Mr. Deeds and his wife tried to have his mentally ill twenty-four year-old son admitted to a psychiatric facility the day before his suicide/stabbing. Legally, a person can only be held for six hours with a temporary detaining order (it used to be 24 hours. Perhaps that has changed?). At any rate, they couldn’t find a psychiatric bed for this man/child, and so he was brought home. The next day he stabbed his father repeatedly and in a fashion he probably thought fatal before he shot himself, dying a little while later. The father was air-lifted to the University of Virginia Hospital. Initially his condition was listed as “critical” but it has since been downgraded to “fair”. Now The Washington Post has a report that several area treatment facilities did have beds but were never contacted. And the big guns are hot on the trail, after the fact:
“We’re going to investigate the circumstances that led up to Austin Deeds’s release at the expiration of the emergency custody order,” said G. Douglas Bevelacqua of the Office of the Inspector General.
That sad family story is one of thousands of unintended consequences set in motion by President Kennedy’s radical shift in federalizing mental health care.
Except in Democrat circles, the myth of the Kennedys’ Camelot, created out of whole cloth by the family with the help of the mainstream media, has long since been reduced to rubble. Bill Clinton tried to resurrect it, but too many bimbo eruptions — more than even the press could contain — sank that project early on. It might have helped had his wife been a more sympathetic figure. At any rate, it’s mostly gone and that’s a good thing. We ought always to prefer reality to gauzy myth. Reality is actually far more interesting.
What started me on this road in American culture was my realization that we’d come to the golden anniversary of the Kennedy Remembrance Machine. The statues are tarnished now. Well, they always were, once the press stopped spit-shining the haloes.
It came together for me with a brief essay at the Diplomad, sent in an email by one of our subscribers.
The Diplomad says of the New Kennedy:
The current disaster we have in the White House is the child of the Kennedy era. He is the rebirth of the demand for coolness and hipness as the primary qualifications for the most important job in the world. As was discovered by the abandoned Cuban freedom fighters on Playa Giron; by our veterans of Vietnam as well as by the people of South Vietnam; by our people in Benghazi; by our friends and allies around the world; and now by millions of ordinary Americans watching as their health insurance plans collapse and their jobs go away, there is a real world price to be paid for making hipness and coolness the requirements for the presidency. That is the legacy of JFK and the modern day liberals who so admire him.
Obama is not only the child of the Kennedy era, he is its logical successor. Incompetent, rewarded by life for looking the part, impulsive and lazy, all he has in his favor is that he’s not on drugs. However, at least Kennedy left us the well-meaning Peace Corps, through which thousands of idealistic young Americans have passed. The only thing Obama is going to leave behind are thousands of resentful and murderously rageful ‘sons’ plus a medical care program even more destructive and ill-conceived than our mental illness program. If anything, ObamaCare will drive many of us to the Poor House and the Funny Farm.
Oh…except Kennedy got rid of the latter. How convenient for BHO.
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