Monday, June 13, 2005

June 11, 2005

So, Is This What You Wanted?

Yo… Red State voters. I listen up. I have a question and I need you to focus for a moment.

I don’t know what you thought you were getting when you put these guys into office the first time. But by the second time around one would have thought you’d have a clue. So I have to ask: Is this what you thought you were voting for? And, now that you have it, is it what you really want?

Let’s look at some examples just from this morning’s papers:

Big Bird A L’Orange
Republicans rank public broadcasting right there alongside Fidel Castro – a little piece of commie-nism right here in the US of A. Rupert Murdoch agrees. Public broadcasting occupies prime frequency real estate that could be used to make a few worthy/wealthy contributors even more worthy. So the guys you sent to Washington last November figure it’s high time to kick those do-gooder, frequency squatters off the air.

“A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster. …."This could literally put us out of business," said Paul Stankavich, president and general manager of the Alaska Public Radio Network, “Almost all of us are down to the bone right now.” (Full Story)

So, I ask, was this one of the things you thought you were going to get when you sent Bush to the White House and gave Republicans majorities in both houses of Congress? Huh? Was it? As you filled out your ballot were you humming, “Bye, bye Big Bird.” Did you chuckle at the idea of Bert and Ernie as “Dead Men Walking?”

Well, did ya?

How about this:

Let ‘em Eat Chemo
After years of litigation seeking $130 billion in penalties from tobacco companies, that lied to its customers, the Bush DOJ cut the penalty request to just $10 billion earlier this week. All hell broke loose. Nevertheless, the fix was in. And this morning we see this:

“The government announced yesterday that it will further scale back its demands for penalties on the tobacco industry in a landmark civil racketeering case, saying it is no longer seeking to help 45 million American smokers quit their habit. In the surprising final day of an eight-month trial, the Justice Department's lead attorney said the government now wants tobacco companies to pay only for smoking cessation programs for an unspecified number of future smokers who may become addicted to cigarettes in the first year after the trial concludes.”(Full Story)

Let’s roll the tape and see what the Bush folks at DOJ are really saying here.
So what that Big Tobacco behaved liked an inner-city crack dealer and got millions of Americans hooked on their product. So what they peddled a product they knew was deadly to kids. So what they produced fake science to refute real research that showed their product killed people. And so what those tobacco executives lied to Congress, under oath. That’s all in the past. Let’s let bygones be bygones, okay?

What about all those customers Big Tobacco lied to and got addicted over the decades? No free stop smoking programs for them. Big Tobacco can keep them as customers. Let them die of cancer. All they are going to hold tobacco companies liable for are people they addict from now on, and even then, only for a short while. After that, it’s back to business as usual.

Is that what you Red Staters voted for? Is there anyone in your family addicted to smoking? Ever see anyone die from it? It’s not pretty. But hey, tough shit, right? Let ‘em eat chemo. To the Bush administration – which values life -- it’s nothing personal, just business. The administration has more to worry about than just your good health, or that of your kids. They also have to worry about Big Tobacco companies, their shareholders and all those God fearing Red State tobacco farmers the government still subsidizes. Get over it. It can’t just be about “the common good” all the time, you know. Business is business.

So, when you dropped the voting booth handle last November, is that what you voted for? Did you say to yourself, “Hey, those smokers were asking for it smoking like that.”? Did you feel the warm glow of satisfaction knowing you had just struck a blow for accountability? Well, individual accountability, anyway -- because clearly corporate accountability was not to have been part of the deal.

Did you know that? Do you know it now? Do you even care?

So, You Want Medicine?
You might be excused for not seeing this one coming, because it is so far out in right field it would have been impossible to imagine must a few years ago. But it’s happening now because rightwing Republicans have sold their souls to the religious fundamentalists in return for their votes. What I am talking about is this:

“A pharmacist in Illinois has filed a lawsuit challenging an order by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich requiring pharmacies to dispense birth control and emergency contraceptives without delay. The pharmacist, Luke Vander Bleek, 42, says in his lawsuit that the order violates state law by requiring pharmacists to act against ethical and religious beliefs that oppose morning-after birth control pills. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is the third contesting the governor's action.” (Full Story)

Let’s understand what we have here. We have here is a professional, licensed by government to dispense legal, prescription drugs to the public, who now claim they have a God-given unilateral right to deny any medications at odds with their religious beliefs.

“But I have a prescription from my doctor,” you whine. “Sorry,” the pharmacist says looking down on you. “I don’t believe in dispensing (birth control, enemas, anti-depressants, pain killers… fill in the blanks.)
Since there are an endless number of religious flavors and beliefs ranging from mainstream to screwball, this could get interesting. Someday soon finding a druggist to fill your prescription could become a daylong affair.

Is that the kind of world you thought you were creating when you voted for these guys? Did you chuckle when you passed the local high school on the way home from voting thinking, “Okay kids, go ahead, screw around, and get pregnant. Then we’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.” Huh, is that what you thought?

You might want to ask yourself this, what’s next? There are religions that oppose blood transfusions. Might you someday find yourself bleeding to death on an emergency room only to have a pious doc lean over and inform you, “I’m sorry. I can’t give you blood, that would just be wrong. But let us pray.”

Is that what you voted for? Don’t laugh. That’s where this kind of nonsense leads. It’s the slipperiest of slippery slopes and the folks you elected have started us down it.

While the Bush DOJ pursues sick patients who use medical marijuana, they’ve had nothing to say about forcing religious-nut-pharmacists to follow the law themselves. Is that what you voted for? Well, it’s what you got. Hope you never need a life-saving drug some holier-than-though pharmacist believes Jesus or Allah hates. That’s when that chicken will come home to roost at your house – or grave.

I could go on, and on, and on. But you get the point. Have you Red State voters spent any time lately reviewing what you thought you voted for and comparing what you it is you ended up getting out of these guys? Have you? Soaring deficits, two wars, declining military capabilities, job outsourcing on steroids, tearing down of the wall between church and state, torture, the “Patriot” Act, Social Security in the crosshairs, Medicare on the ropes, Medicaid slashed. Is that what you really wanted?

Well, is it? Since you guys put them in power, I think you owe the rest of us an answer. If your answer is “yes,” then there is no hope. If it’s “no” then you might want to let those guys you voted into office know it. Because they still think they have you in their pockets. They dangled a gay couple in wedding dress in front of you. You hated it. They dangled a plastic Jesus in front of you and that looked more like it. So you voted for them. They figured you were now a wholly owned asset of the GOP (God’s Own Party.)

If that’s wrong, please let them know before they do more damage in God and your names.

Dumb Labor Tricks
It’s no secret that organize labor is no longer the force it once was. But to listen to Big Labor big shots you might think that it’s all management’s fault. Well not entirely. Big Labor has, for decades, either been a part of organized crime, or acted like it. To wit:

BOSTON, June 9 - Union longshoremen here have been placing children as young as 2 years old on their payroll for years in a scheme to secure jobs and higher salaries for members' children when they reach working age, the state attorney general said Thursday…. The scheme guaranteed that the salaries of workers placed on the payroll as children were inflated, as employees are paid hourly wages that increase with seniority, said Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who has begun a criminal grand jury investigation into the practice. (Full Story)

Maybe if union workers took their unions away from their own corrupt management we would see more young, educated workers willing to join. But who wants to pay dues to union leaders that make their corporate employers look like Mother Teresa?


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