Friday, February 3, 2012

Wingnuts Strike Back

In the last few months, it's been become marginally easier to forget that our Congress was inundated with a whole bunch of Republican newcomer nitwits last winter, and much of 2011 was spent in the sort of gridlock experienced when ignorant, doctrinaire American Taliban-types filled with self-righteous zeal to cleanse the world of its sins by imposing a sort of faux-Christian sharia on the country (with the LORD hanging on a dollar sign and the Apostles in an armored personnel carrier) gather in numbers. In the fall and winter, the Empty Suit found the courage to challenge and stand up to them on a few matters, which is welcome (it's wonderful what sort of balls some people can grow when it's their own position of power that's now at risk), but even more so, the reality show fondly known as Primates Flinging Poo has shown the two-thirds of the country that is not hopelessly locked into bigoted dogma what they wrought in November 2010, and the result has been a Congress with the lowest approval rating ever and an increasingly likely prospect of a second Obama term. And it is also becoming increasingly likely that the supposed watershed changes in the makeup of the House and Senate as a result of the 2010 elections will turn out to be as ephemeral as the 1964 wave of liberals entering Congress. As long as elections remain even partially honestly contested, this bunch is simply too much for too many people to long endure holding positions of responsibility. There are regions of the country where the wingnuts are concentrated enough so that there will always be a substantial number of them in Congress--any state that seceded from the Union in the nineteenth century, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. But elsewhere, ordinary people who filled out their ballots out of frustration or latent racism in 2010 are seeing that what they have inflicted on the country is even worse, and aren't going to prolong the nightmare.
Of course, the wingnuts are not going quietly away. There have been two items in the news this week that drove home that the American Taliban and the architects of the New Gilded Age have not folded their tents. Earlier this week, the Susan Komen Foundation, the outfit responsible for the ubiquitous pink breast-cancer awareness ribbons and related apparel, cut off its funding to Planned Parenthood under pressure from American jihadists--and ignited an absolute firestorm of criticism and invited a much more critical eye on its own operations. I'm not knowledgeable enough about the particulars to write in detail, but from what I've read, the decision came shortly after some Congressional wingnut put pressure on the foundation because in some places Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, and the director of the foundation--who ran (and lost badly) for governor of Georgia last year with the support and endorsement of America's Bimbo Sarah Palin--immediately did his bidding and cut off PP's money. Abortion is one of those subjects where minds are not going to be changed, but the fact is incontrovertible that it is a legal practice, and that despite 40 years of trying, those opposed to it have not been able to make it illegal again (for the record, although I definitely am not in favor of abortion as a method of birth control, I am not in favor of any more restrictions than there currently are. But then I live in a state that has moved beyond the sixteenth century ideologically, and it's never been a lightning rod issue here like it is in other parts of the country). The harm that is going to come out of this politically-motivated (there have already been three changing-story justifications for the decision issued in four days, all denying the obvious) retreat is that it has made it possible to be against the pink. I honestly doubt we are going to see NFL players wearing pink cleats, women's basketball teams wearing pink uniforms, and other manifestations of one of the most successful branding of a cause that has ever been devised again. And for no good reason other than catering to crypto-Fascists.(Note: four hours after this was posted, the Komen Foundation caved and announced that it was all a big mistake, that they will continue to fund Planned Parenthood after all. And I sincerely hope that nary a pink ribbon is seen this year, as testimony to the fact that no, we did not forget whom you regard as your lord and master)
The second greeted me with today's morning news. The House is taking up the jobless benefits legislation passed by the Senate recently, and of course, the House being the chamber where the true believers hold the balance of power, there are some very disturbing noises coming out of there. I'm not going to get into all the details, some of which are actually reasonable, because topping the list of demands is that favorite golden calf of conservative thought, The Drug-Addled Public Benefits Recipient, which is this generations Cadillac-driving Welfare Queen. Boner's Army want to give states blanket authority to require drug-testing for getting unemployment benefits. Never mind that drug use requires disposable income, and people who have lost their job almost by definition don't have it. Never mind that people on drugs aren't likely to even bother with the onerous burdens in time and effort to access benefits. The fact is that at least one state did implement this staple of conservative thought--and it's costing Florida far, far more to drug-test everybody than whatever they are saving by denying benefits to the 1-2% of applicants that have been caught. I've written about this two or three times this past year, and others with a much wider audience have repeated a lot of the same arguments, but all to no avail--these asshats just know that most people lose their jobs because they're firing up on their breaks and when they are home, and they'll be goddamned if any of these Dangerous People are going to get the public's money so they can enjoy their weed and their crack while they lay around the house on the dole. The actual evidence showing that the idea is a crock of shit doesn't interest them; it's become an article of faith, a litmus test that shows Which Side You Are On. And so we are likely to get stuck with some sort of provision for this in whatever gets passed, and the only people who will benefit will be whatever corporate behemoth makes the drug screening units.
Which was probably the intention all along.

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