Political Round-up 2/25/11

This week, we learn that a very special American is visiting India, a childhood icon is still a genius, and if you ever go down to Georgia, don’t drink anything anyone carrying a “Don’t Tread On Me” sign hands you. Especially if it’s in a little paper Dixie cup. Actually, that last bit of advice applies to any state.

The Road to New Delhi – If only this were a madcap, culturally insensitive comedy starring the wacky Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. One of those descriptors still applies, but this flick stars Sarah Palin a.k.a. Sarah the Unsinkable, who will be delivering a “keynote address” entitled, “My Vision of America” at the India Today Conclave event.

My predictions: her speechifying will involve observations culled mostly from Eat Pray Love, a joke about how curry gives her more stomach pains than moose stew, and a lot of sentences that start, “Well, ya know, in America “¦” Also, she will wear a flag lapel pin, ponder but ultimately decide against custom-ordering a Star-Spangled sari, and make a big show of not bowing to anyone.

This Week, In “What the Hell Is Wrong with People?!?” ““ Some Goober’s been  drinking too much of the Tea Party Treacheryâ„¢ kool-aid (it tastes like apple pie and 1 Corinthians 13 and the tears of a hard-working white country songstress!) down Georgia way. Said Goober asked, “Who’s going to shoot President Obama?” (though the Athens Banner-Herald says the exact wording is disputable) at a town hall meeting with Republican Rep. Paul Broun, who, it should be noted in indelible ink, did not reprimand the Goober.

So is it legal now to veil threats in Jeopardy-style formatting? Can I just be like, “Alex, I’m going to have to go with, “˜What is that bomb that’s going to explode in the next 24 hours at a treasured American landmark?’” I sure hope not, because my Internal Schadenfreude Meter is practically exploding with the anticipation of the Secret Service hauling Goober’s ass into federal lock-up for a nice, solemn chat about what you can and cannot say about the President of the United States

Ceeeeeeh-Le-Braaaaaaay-tion-Da-Dun-Dun-Dun ““ Kool & The Gang provide the perfect soundtrack for the news that Obama has declared the Defense of Marriage Act (otherwise known as legislating that gays are icky) legally indefensible and told the Justice Department to quit jumping through hoops trying to make DOMA seem logical. It’s never been logical.

Anyway, I haven’t had time to read most of these articles but I’ve seen some interesting headlines, mostly at HuffPo, about how Obama’s setting a slippery-slope precedent for future presidents to repeal laws just because they personally disagree with them, and also that Obama ought to have allowed American society to become more accepting of GLBT people before attempting a repeal.

To which I say: fie. There are obvious reasons why DOMA can be considered discriminatory, and therefore the DOJ ought not to support it. And it’s a personal belief of mine that we should actively work to fix the parts of our society that are broken, not wait until things get so unbearably awful that we have to change. And it’s worth noting that, from a democratic standpoint, most Americans are fine with gay marriage being legalized, so what on earth are we waiting for: an overwhelming majority  or miraculous (read “never going to happen”) backing from 100% of the public? Hmm?

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Still Cool! ““ Did you guys ever watch this show? I did and it was awesome. There was an episode about whale songs and one about blood – yeah, can’t remember many specifics, but there was blood. I also knew this girl who said Bill Nye was her cousin and I wanted her parents to adopt me because holy cow.

Anyway, Bill Nye the Science Guy told the Orlando Sentinel that it’s embarrassing that the U.S. doesn’t have a high-speed rail system. I’d take that a step further and say I think it’s embarrassing how lacking our public transportation is in general. The size of our country and penchant for suburban sprawl certainly don’t make it easy to organize transport, but the issue’s also been so highly politicized and painted as “liberal,” that many cities/towns/counties/etc. just haven’t even tried to prioritize it.

Something That, as a Government Employee, I Would Really Rather Not Think About ““ Government shutdown! Somehow it’s not as scary if I imagine Oprah yelling, “You get a government shutdown! You get a government shutdown! Everybody gets a government shutdown!!” But it makes it scarier when I imagine John Boehner rubbing his hands gleefully over a big, red button that says “Government Shutdown: DO NOT PUSH.” Conflicting images, man.

As always, the Democrats appear to have lost the staring contest. Now they’re looking at ways to cut enough from social spending to appease Republicans into not pressing that tempting, cherry-red button.

Union Busting Really Needs to Get a Less-Jolly Nickname – I propose “Screwing People Over” or “Taking the Low Road, You Know, the One That Gets Maintained by the Very People You’re Screwing Over.” It’s not succinct, but I prefer it to “busting unions,” which makes me think of that Whack-a-Mole arcade game. Seeing as how flippant Republicans have been about jerking state workers around, they probably think of it that way, too.

Salon has a good run-down of what’s happening in the various state legislatures that are considering Republican-backed bills to take away collective bargaining rights of state workers. Just so I don’t run the risk of exaggerating: the Wisconsin bill only specifies eliminating workers’ ability to bargain over benefits, sick days, vacation, or anything other than base pay. Only.

Following these union protests/strikes and the DNC’s response to the same has been really eye-opening for me. Initially, I was put off by Obama’s encouragement of protesters, thinking it wasn’t his mud to muck around in and he’d best avoid the subject altogether (2012’s coming up fast “¦), but I’ve changed my mind.

I think many Americans (myself totally included) are taught that unions are selfish and it’s somehow uncouth or rude to protest over wages/benefits. We’re taught that the only acceptable, truly necessary union strike is like something out of North Country–basically, if you’re not working a grueling job that involves manual labor and getting physically dirty, if you’re not being sexually harassed or assaulted at work, if you’re not being subjected to heinously lethal working conditions, you better sit down and shut up and be thankful for what you get.

I’m trying to recalibrate my mindset, because comparing every strike to North Country totally invalidates the needs of the vast majority of workers (particularly in pink-collar industries) whose situations are bad, but not necessarily dramatized-Hollywood-Oscar-bait-special-effects bad. States don’t have to cut unreasonable, unaffordable deals with unions, but it’s only fair they allow them the opportunity to bargain.

I b-b-believe that’s all, folks! If I missed something you were jonesing to talk about, the comments are our official political bullpen!

5 thoughts on “Political Round-up 2/25/11”

  1. 1. Bill Nye is the coolest person ever. I used to love that show.

    2. I was also raised to believe that unions were ‘selfish.’ This is not neccesarily based on anything my parents said, but because of society at large. Anyway, now that I am in a union I have changed my mind. One important bit you didn’t mention in WI is the fact that they also would strip away the union’s rights to negotiate for class size, which is a Very Big Deal.

  2. Today’s conservative question — why do unions get to bargain for vacation time and sick days? Does it really benefit all of the workers? OR just the mediocre workers who wouldn’t stand out and excel on their own?

    By doing it for everyone, it completely takes away employee motivation to do their own best in hopes for earning more vacation/PTO or whatever.

    My husbands in a union (non-gov job). He had his review the other day. It’s all good. All his boss could say was, good job. No performance based raise, no “extra” anything — he gets exactly what the guy next to him gets, relative to seniority. Kind of depressing and unmotivating if you ask me.

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