Political Round-Up 2/18/2011: The Gov’mint Wants Your Money, Your Job & Your Womb, Thankyouverymuch

This week I didn’t get to spend much time trolling Huffington Post and Salon and my other favorite liberal-tastic blogs, so when I actually got around to reading the news last night, my jaw basically unhinged itself and crawled underneath my desk and whimpered. Because seriously, what is wrong with America’s political system?! The answer is “lots of things, duh,” but I just want to let that rhetorical question hang in the air a minute. Specifics, below:

Democratic Officials Engage in Fraught Game of Hide-and-Seek with Wisconsin  State Police: I know that unions generally get a bad rap, what with all the deflection of blame for poor grades and educational under-funding onto teachers’ unions, plus the complete and total disregard of safety for the United Mine Workers of America (“You guys actually want breathable, maintained airways instead of these totally reliable, vetted, entertaining canaries? Get the fuck out of my collapsible hole, ya ingrates!!”)  but I didn’t know things were this bad.

So how do I feel about all the Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate “fleeing” (Huffington Post’s term, not mine) the state, so as to avoid having to vote or reach a quorum on Governor Walker’s dastardly anti-union bill?

Well, firstly, I really hope someone has video coverage of the flight, because in my imagination it happens like this: dozens of charcoal and navy blue suit-wearing folks abruptly leap up from their desks, flip them over barricade-style, and Army-crawl out of the capitol, where chartered helicopters drop rope ladders to whisk them up. One poor soul who is lost when his Tom Cruise-endorsed shoe-lifts rupture and break through the rope ladder, catapulting him into a vat of scalding cheese. (It’s Wisconsin, people: if I didn’t mention cheese I’d be contractually obligated to mention the Green Bay Packers. You pick your battles.)

Secondly, and more seriously, I’m proud of the lawmakers, but mostly the protesters (particularly the teachers), for holding the government accountable. It’s high time people realized that if you try to pass bills that anger the majority of your constituency, you’d best be prepared to duke it out, possibly even in the distracting presence of your over-caffeinated, rambunctious children, who are out of school for the second day in a row because you want to cut their teachers’ salaries and pensions.

Thirdly, and less seriously, shame on the Democratic senator who tattled to the AP that the Wisconsin Castaways are hiding out in Illinois. You know that person used to be the kid who could only play hide-and-seek for like two minutes before needing to get a drink of water/go to the bathroom/purposely sneeze so the seeker would find them. Fie, I say. Fie on that big-mouthed Wisconsin state senator.

The Government Continues to Pretend It Can Fund Itself With Monopoly Money: Now here’s a brain teaser for you guys: how long will it take government employees and contractors to stop doing any work when the government stops paying them on March 4?

The answer is totally subjective, but here’s my take: 2.5 fucking seconds. Personally, I’d work my ass off for minimum wage, even for vaguely sexual or dietary forms of compensation, but I wouldn’t copy so much as one single piece of paper for free. Nuh-uh. This recession’s bad enough without the government resorting to cannibalizing its own infrastructure and expecting put-upon federal employees to brave the carnage on a hope and a prayer and a scraggly I.O.U. printed on bald-eagle-watermarked letterhead.

What House Majority Leader John Boehner and all the other House Republicans who crafted and passed their FY2012 budget are suffering from is a severe case of britches-itis. Basically, they’ve grown too big for their own suspendered jodhpurs and now they think it’s cool to threaten to force millions of innocent government employees to walk a financial plank, to give the Democratic representatives (and even freshman Republicans!) swirlies in the Capitol bathrooms (“Who cares if we waste water! Everything’s, like, free now, right?”), take the last piece of carrot cake in the Capitol cafeteria, and parallel park two centimeters behind any and all Priuses because they hate that namby-pamby, save-the-earth pissing and moaning.

All I can say is, I eagerly await the day Boehner realizes he too will have to sacrifice something in the Republican-imposed Lean Weeks – namely, his tanning budget. I swore never to make jokes about that, but really, Boehner: you’ve stepped across the line, bro. Not only gloves, but also those miniature tanning goggles, are coming off.

Lastly, for those who don’t remember the ’95 and ’96 government shutdowns, the Washington Post has a friendly reminder of how much it sucked horse poop.

In a Prime Example of Bad People Doing Good Things, The House Finally Nixes DoD’s Alternative Jet Engine Program: I only have three words: it’s about time.

Ok, I actually have more words: did you know even Bush II wanted to chuck that extra baggage? That this program’s been looming around the outside of the Department of Defense’s budget, like an itchy, elephantine growth the president and Democrats just couldn’t reach, for over five years?

Good riddance. And please, for the love of all that’s good and non-wasteful, let’s not reroute the billions we’ll save into more black hole projects, even if a submarine capable of deploying more long-range nuclear missiles than the entire Middle East possesses does sound like a cool and absolutely non-threatening, peace-evoking invention.

Republicans in Texas Want Government to Not Interfere Except When the Sanctity of a Woman’s Uterus is Just Begging to Be Violated: Pardon me while I go punch a wall.

Negative things about this proposed bill: women will be required to view a sonogram and description of their fetus within 24 hours of an abortion, which means abortion will become more expensive and the process of obtaining an abortion more costly, inconvenient, and intimidating.

Positive things about this proposed bill: it’s reaffirmed my recent decision never to move back to a red state, no matter how awesome I think it might be (I say this totally without sarcasm – I like Texas. Used to love it, but hey, people change. States change. Reproductive rights, which should be forever, change).

In Conclusion: My apologies that this round-up basically turned into my thoughts on a measly four topics. This is what happens when you limit your news intake – the tiniest bit makes you all jumpy and eye-twitchy and ranty. It’s like me and caffeine, or me and Veronica Mars, or me and a gross quantity of Burger King onion rings. Overdosing on weirdly good things is the worst.

I’d love to hear what stories got you guys fired up this week. And if there are any readers out there who live in Wisconsin or Texas or any state where they would be immediately affected by the government shutting down, we’d all especially enjoy hearing your take.

Lastly,  I know that I’m a raging liberal with a tendency to talk smack, but please don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re conservative! We welcome all colors of the rainbow and wavelengths on the political spectrum at Persephone.

3 replies on “Political Round-Up 2/18/2011: The Gov’mint Wants Your Money, Your Job & Your Womb, Thankyouverymuch”

All right, a somewhat conservative comment here (I’m holding Selena’s GS cookies, so I don’t think I’ll be disemvoweled until at least I make that delivery :)) I’ll save my thoughts on the uteri for another day, here are just a few points about Wisconsin on my mind:

1) Logically, the only place the Dems could have gone is Illinois, Blue Union capital of the Midwest (if it weren’t for Lake Michigan, Detroit would have been another good hiding place), so I don’t think it was a huge secret. (although you’re right about the guy who ratted them out– BAD hide and seek player!)

2) I’ll concede that the GOP is probably power hungry, given it’s Wisconsin, where a GOP majority is kind of unheard of. But the people elected this government. And at least in Wisconsin they aren’t open to printing monopoly money, which is step. Budget cuts are going to hurt actual people, they always do. Does it suck that it’s teachers? Yes. But does increasing a deficit & prolonging the problem suck more and for more people? Probably.

3) It appears that the Dems have “fled” without a plan or a timeline. The last time this happened (2003, TX, GOP), lawmakers left for a week, knowing it would kill a bill. Leaving and then Sen. Jon Erpenbach giving the quote,”..really, truly is up to the governor, it’s his responsibility to bring the state together. The state is not unified. It is totally torn part,” is cowardly and finger-pointing. Stay and do your damn job. Everyday you hide away, you’re costing taxpayers of Wisconsin money, so I’m sure they thank you for that.

3) It sounds like government employees in Wisconsin are going to be asked to do what workers in the private sector have been sucking up for years — at my daughter’s private school (the one where I was laid off from due to low enrollment), the staff hasn’t gotten even a cost of living raise in three years. My husband’s union job has seen our health care contributions increases of 5-10% per year for the past two years, and we know it’s going to continue until we are paying a much higher share our health care costs than we ever have before. I have a friend who now works 32 hrs a week instead of 40 (w/ a paycut), and cleans her employer’s offices for free in exchange for keeping her health insurance eligibility.

It’s a recession and it sucks, but a game of hide and seek in the middle of it isn’t going to solve anything.

Ok, I’m done now.

Long, tangentially-related story on the topic of out-there defense projects:

Max Perutz was an Austrian scientist who won a Nobel Prize in the 50s for his work on protein structures. He did most of his work in the UK, but one year early in his career he wanted to take a ski vacation in Switzerland, so he got a grant to study glaciers. It was pretty interesting and he ended up publishing a couple papers on glacier stuff.

Fast forward to the early days of WWII. Since Perutz was an Austrian national, even though he’d been living in the UK for like 20 years at this point and his parents were refugees from the Nazis, he was interned with other “foreign nationals”. In Canada. It was a whole bunch of smart Germans and Austrians who would’ve loved to put their minds to work for the Allied cause.

Eventually the UK realized this was ridiculous and brought everyone back home. But then Perutz was contacted by the US government to do some research on ice, even though Perutz had been working on hemoglobin for years and years now. Apparently his papers on glaciers had been well-received! The US military wanted to find a way to make ice less brittle: find something to mix with water as you freese it so the ice doesn’t crack so easily. Eventually Perutz figured out that they wanted to build ships out of ice. Yes, that’s right. Assemble them in the North Atlantic and everything.

It didn’t end up working because, well, when there’s a huge hunk of ice, the ice at the bottom starts to flow (like a glacier). And that’s not really what you want in a warship, is it? Turns out that the amount of steel needed to reinforce an ice-ship was more than the amount of steel you’d need to build a normal ship.

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