Although, I did hear someone on TV try to explain how a hole in the Arctic ice cap let the polar vortex escape sending frigid air shooting through Canada into the U.S. Or something like that. Usually those of us in the Southern climes can count on Minnesotans to stop the glacial blasts. But this time, even the residents in and around the 10,000 frozen lakes of that great state couldn’t contain the onslaught.
We of the human species just don’t have bodies made to handle temperatures and wind that will freeze skin on contact or make boiling water instantly vaporize when tossed in the air. (It’s true. My Minneapolis-based niece tried it. Unfortunately, she had to be outside to do the experiment and froze in place in mid-throw. We have arranged for a neighbor to bring her inside during the spring thaw.)
Those from the north country are at least somewhat prepared for the deep freeze. They already have polar bear coats, Russian Cossack hats, and battery-powered thermal socks and gloves in the closet. Here in the South, we’ve got old college sweatshirts and maybe some high-top tennis shoes to put on. Layers are recommended, but you can only put on so many dozen T-shirts and shorts before it becomes impossible to move. Not that we were going anywhere, mind you. Most schools and lots of businesses were closed.
While everyone was affected, one guy you almost feel sorriest for is Barack Obama. I say almost because he had spent the last two weeks in Hawaii. But he had to leave that heavenly haven of warm trade winds to return to a somewhat chillier (in more ways than one) Washington, D.C. Given the negative number chill-factor in the Capitol upon his arrival, the president may very well have experienced a 100-degree temperature differential in the space of six or seven hours. And that ain’t fun.
At least the cold has knocked the Obamacare roll-out fiasco off the front pages for a few days. That won’t last long. People are going to be lining up at doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in the next couple of weeks as a result of being unprepared for the outside icebox. (Either that or they’ve had to spend way too much extra time with the family and need a little prescriptive something to keep from killing each other.) Once that happens and folks find that their computer input information didn’t quite make it from the government website to the insurance company, the hue and cry from all quarters will be resurrected.
You know what else we have to look forward to this year, don’t you? Yep, it’s soon going to be election time once again. And that Affordable Healthcare Act is going to be front and center in many battles from now through November. Democrats are hoping and praying there are no more glitches and that the government-run program will run smooth as silk. Should that occur, it would, of course, be the first time in the recorded history of all mankind. Perhaps the best the Ds who are up for re-election can hope for is a slogan something like, “Still not as bad is it could have been.” Meanwhile, there’s not a Republican in a race who won’t let his or her opponent forget just who voted for that Act.
But first, the House and Senate are already hard at work fighting over the lapse of long-term jobless benefits. The Democrats have said the Republicans are against those who can’t find work, while the Republicans say there wouldn’t be as many people out of work if the Dems’ trillion-dollar stimulus bill had done what was promised.
Reports have it that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he’s “cautiously optimistic that the New Year will bring a renewed spirit of cooperation” to the upper chamber. Then, moments later, he accused Republicans of “never-ending obstruction” to Obama’s proposals. I’m wondering if the Republican response was, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo.”
Yes, indeed, off to a great start. Relations on the Hill are even chillier than the outside air.
Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.>