Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

Big Brother’s Big Government

Big Brother's Big Government

Every day there is a new story of Republican excess.  Every day, somewhere that angry voters “threw the bums out,” last November, the current crop of Tea Party bums is trying to put wildly radical, unpopular union busting, democracy bending, and  New Deal killing legislation into law. Hundreds of thousands protest. The GOP doesn’t care.


You’re not the ones to whom they answer.

Sufferin’ Sufferage!

Big corporate law firms that can’t do reorganizations find getting paid by the State to do make-overs of failing cities generate billable hours. So is it any wonder that Michigan’s freshman governor, Rick Snyder and his Tea Party buccaneers passed a rewrite of a seldom-used emergency management order that allows him to put his private czar, an “emergency manager” in charge of  Benton Harbor.

The private manager stripped the power of the officials elected by the people in the town, and removed their power to hold official meetings.

The Michigan Messenger reports:

On Thursday the state-appointed Emergency Manager Joe Harris used the expanded powers granted by the new law to issue an order banning the city commission from taking any action without his written permission.

Benton Harbor City Commissioner Juanita Henry says her constituents are angry and looking for help, but without the power to hold meetings the city commission can’t even provide an official venue for citizens to ask questions and get answers.

“They are using Benton Harbor as a test case,“ Henry said. “If they have disenfranchised the people so badly they just don’t respond to anything, they can do this all over the country.”

Attention Tea Party: This is your democratic right to vote for your elected officials being taken away from you by the so-called patriots who said that they want the government off of your back.

Animal Cruelty

Of course, there are government-off-your-back Tea Partiers who walk the walk.  Take Missouri, for example. Known as the puppy mill capital of the world, dogs were being raised in such cruel conditions that even chickens had to step back and say… “damn..”  Small cages. High temperatures. No required health inspections.

Think progress reports:

“Last fall, Missouri voters approved a referendum [Proposition B] to finally solve this problem — the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act — which mandates regular veterinarian inspections of breeding facilities and ensures a basic level of treatment for dogs, such keeping temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees.”

The Governor has brokered a deal after the story developed unfavorable national attention, but, as the Kansas City Star opines:

Missourians last year voted to reform an industry that too often forces animals to live in misery and delivers a substandard product. Unless Nixon can significantly improve his compromise, he should veto the legislature’s bill and allow the strong rules in Proposition B to take effect.”

Fear Black-Guy-In-Chief. Will Legislate.

Some people dismiss the birthers as the harmless craziness of Donald Trump’s banter on “The View,” or Sarah Palin’s thinly veiled racist rants.

Nope. They have a law being drafted for that too. It is being introduced in 11 states and rising.

Arizona’s Birther bill even included a baptismal certificate or a circumcision certificate as a form of identification to get a presidential candidate on the ballot.

I guess American atheists who want to run for office in Arizona are just out of luck.

Republican  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who is certainly not a moderate, thought this was so out there that she had to veto it.

CNN reported:

“It was an untenable political situation,” said Darrell West, vice president of government studies at the Washington-based Brookings Institution. “It seems clear that those who question Obama’s birthplace represent a fringe element in the Republican Party.”

Iowa Poll shows 26% of Republicans there believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States

Was it that untenable though? The birthers are hardly a fringe element of the Republican Party.

Most are crowded into the large closet of racists whom McCain and Palin whipped into a frenzy in 2008 to try and stop Obama’s campaign momentum with good ol’ fashioned white fear of black people.

In Iowa, only 26% of Republicans in a recent poll could correctly identify President Barack Obama as being born in the United States.

Another 26% said that they were not sure, while a troubling 48% are so ignorant that the say-so of the State of Hawaii and countless credible sources has no meaning to them.

If 449,559 of Iowa’s 607,567 registered Republicans, 74% of registered Party members and one third of the total voting population in Iowa as of the 2010 election, express their racism and xenophobia this way, it hardly constitutes a “fringe.”

In Lousiana, governor Bobby Jindal, who is of Indian descent, said that he would sign birther legislation, if his legislature put it on his desk

So Mr. Obama, a sitting President of the United States, could find his application to appear on the ballot mired in legal challenges by 2012.   He might  even be kept off of some of the ballots, if these lawmakers have their way.

Unions, Working Women Under Attack

In recent testimony in Washington, D.C., Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was able to get Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to state that the anti-union legislation that he railroaded through the state-house in Madison has no net fiscal impact for his state.

Stripping the collective bargaining rights of workers in government opens the door to take the fight to the unions representing workers at America’s largest corporations.

Anti-union attacks are also a form of  payback against working women.

In the depths of the recession, women, who the Department of Labor found earn about 20% less than men in the same job/occupation, kept their jobs while men were losing millions of them.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s last look working women Women comprise 82% of our educators, 44.2 of  non-Postal federal government employees, and at least 50% of the employees in many state governments.

USA Today reported in 2009:

“The only parts of the economy still growing — health care, education and government — have traditionally hired mostly women. That dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments.

Women held 49.83% of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June and they’re gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Those sectors which benefited from the stimulus money which the Obama Administration injected into the economy after the Bush Administration nearly collapsed it are now the targets of payback. Women fare no better on the personal front with Republicans, though.

Women’s Health Rights Under Attack

Big Brother is watching you in your exam room. At the federal and state levels, women’s rights to choose their health care options are being besieged by anti-Abortion zealots in legislatures great and small.

One proposed Texas law requires women considering abortions to see sonograms of their pregnancy prior to having any procedure.

Tennessee Republicans just marched a bill through their legislature that expressly states that their constitution does not protect a woman’s right to choose, even though the Supreme Court in that state ruled otherwise in 2000.

At the federal level New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

Smith’s bill moves beyond the Hyde Amendment, which already prohibits federal funding for abortion services.

It goes after doctors and clinics who provide information and advice to their patients. The bill also proposes to remove tax subsides that workers now receive for their health care insurance if the private insurance companies provide insurance payments for abortion services.

So companies that provide insurance for their workers would either have to find healthcare without any abortion or family planning options, or ALL of the workers being insured by those companies would have to pay tax on their health care insurance that they do not pay now, even if they never use any of the offered services.

Rocking The Vote

In more than a dozen states, Republican legislatures are making it harder to register to vote. In Florida, the Right-wing legislature already passed  the controversial  “no match, no vote” reforms in 2008 that knocked out 27% each of Hispanic and African-American voters from that election, who were hung up in challenges to their ability to vote.

Many minority groups’ voter identifications experience higher error rates because  their driver’s license and social security information don’t always match up due to variations in the hyphenation of surnames or holding first names with nontraditional spellings.

“Just as when the law was initially enforced, it has a wildly disproportional effect on black and Latino voters,” Adam Skaggs of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law told the St. Petersburg Times. Their organization represented black and Haitian political groups in an unsuccessful lawsuit to strike down the law. “This is no surprise.”

The registration rules are being tightened in Georgia, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and other states, Republican-dominated legislatures are moving legislation along to require  the presentation of a valid U.S. passport and/or a valid birth certificate as a means test to vote.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed up in 2008, particularly minority voters, were reached at sign ups at malls, community events, and other public functions. It is unlikely that most people will have a copy of their birth certificate on them at the mall.  Less than a third of Americans even have a passport.

Which means, to vote, that they will have to go to a state office and wait on line, possibly for hours, to have someone check their paperwork.

The net effect is to throw a bucket of cold water on the exceptional voter registration drive that pro-democracy organizations did during the last election.

New voters of adult age who haven’t voted before generally come from low income and minority communities. They  register as Democrats at an almost 3 to 1 rate.  In California, in 2008, the San Jose Mercury News reported:

“California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres said 93 percent of all new voters in California from January to April of [2008] signed up as Democrats.”

Takin’ It to the Streets Is Not Enough To Turn the Tide

Hundreds of thousands of people in the affected areas have taken to the streets to protest the unconstitutional and morally reprehensible actions of the extreme Right. There’s just one problem…

None of you matter.

Their backers, radical Righties like the Koch Brothers, know that the agenda that the Tea Party politicos drive is as popular as a Bobcat Goldthwait film festival.

You have to ask: Why do all of this, particularly when poll after poll show Americans don’t like much of what they are doing.

Your will is being tested. The character of the American people is being tested. Extreme politics, fascism and communism, have been borne out silent frustration of the majority. Not voting, not participating, not expressing your democratic right to speak and to vote, is as good as putting a rubber stamp on the actions of extremists whose only restraint is your will.

So the question really isn’t why the Republicans are doing this, but what you are going to do about it.

Big Brother is watching you. Let him know you’re looking him right back in the eye, and the answer is “NO.”

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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