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More political chicken is sure to come

Opinion column

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

I am often confused over what goes on in the nation’s capital, no doubt due to my constant switching of TV news channels that lean left and right.

And, of course, they all lean one way or the other, despite their best protestations that they deliver the news straight-up, without favor to any persuasion. In my humble opinion, CNN is a left-wing outfit if one ever existed, and FOX is so far to the right, Attila the Hun is probably embarrassed.

My personal favorite among political talk is the “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC, starting at 6 a.m. Eastern. Hosted by the mild, Clark Kent-looking former Republican Rep. Joe Scarborough, who grew up in Meridian, Miss., and Pensacola, Fla., it brings together the day’s best philosophical mix of news analysts.

“Sequestration,” or automatic budget cuts, is being discussed non-stop on political talk these days. The states, “we the people,” are gearing up for the possible avalanche of reductions to all sorts of federal government-financed programs. Public education, military bases, mental health facilities and prisons could see major reductions. Some illegal immigration detainees have already been released due to the looming cuts. Be sure to “welcome” these new countrymen.

Here in Georgia, civilian jobs at several military bases are threatened despite ongoing operations in the Middle East that depend on local installations. Within a short drive of our home are four bases — the Marine Corps supply house in Albany, the sprawling Air Force base at Warner-Robins, the lead soldier-training outfit at Fort Benning and the helicopter training unit at Fort Rucker — that are as vital as any facilities anywhere to the warfare in the Middle East.

Can you imagine the impact on our Marines if they are suddenly hamstrung in a firefight because the supply chain from Albany to Afghanistan has been interrupted? Robins AFB is another major logistical center that keeps the Air Force in warplanes, engines, weapons and avionics. If the number of helicopter pilots trained at Fort Rucker was even slightly diminished, it could have a devastating effect on the removal of wounded warriors from Fort Benning on the battlefields. Lives are clearly on the line.

Almost daily above our home in the country southeast of Fort Rucker, we see and hear the helicopters with new pilots being trained for the rigors of war. I’d hate for that sight and sound to disappear.

The states and the federal government share the arduous task of ensuring that our food chain is protected from contamination. A breakdown of the food inspection system would pose dangers for everyone. I am not quite ready to experience the exquisite taste of horsemeat in my Swedish meatballs, as has occurred in Sweden itself. Tainted shipments of frozen meatballs labeled as pork and beef have reportedly been sent to 13 other countries, but not the U.S. (yet).

The stalemate in Washington is another major result of the partisanship that has gripped our political system for two decades. It is likely that some sort of Band-Aid approach will end the sequestration battle before the most severe budget cuts are implemented.

But that will not mean that all is healed in the nation’s capital. The partisanship — which now reaches into all levels of government, to the school boards and planning commissions — will not end simply because this budget crisis was averted.

It will simply mean that another game of political chicken is waiting to happen.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at macmarygordon@gmails.com.