Politics & Prejudices
Ain't seen nothin' yet
The wonderful places our new Republican leadership will take us
Published: December 22, 2010
Well, everyone seemed positively giddy at our great leap forward last week, the one in which Congress finally voted to let openly gay servicemen and -women enlist, fight and die in America's colonial wars.
Some even saw it as a sign of progress that eight — count 'em, eight — Republican senators broke ranks and voted to, in the words of the president, "recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity," are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by skin color.
Naturally, John McCain shoved aside the lid of his crypt long enough to protest bitterly and moan that "there would be a great cost," which I took as a sign that he was worried about morale among our troops — who he believes are fighting the Spanish-American War.
"Colonel Teddy Roosevelt hates them poofsters," I suspect he was muttering under his breath. Of course, it's hard not to laugh out loud at the man who inflicted Sarah Palin on this nation when he talks about the cost of inflicting harm on society. I mean, it's like Typhoid Mary complaining about the dirty sink at the Laundromat.
Actually, repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell comes as a secret relief to the Republicans, the intelligent ones, anyway. People like L. Brooks Patterson have been warning them to back off gay-bashing, since nearly all young voters have openly gay friends. Nor is Dick Cheney the only right-winger with a lesbian daughter or gay son. This was a calculated decision, and will be followed by conservative support for gay marriage within a decade. (Not to say there isn't still hypocrisy; perhaps the most recognizably gay GOP senator voted against gays in the military. He comes from a deep red state, one where slavery itself may still be an issue.)
But forget all that.
Republicans are coming to power — and you're about to see who they really are. Two weeks from now, Speaker John Boehner, the man with the Tang-colored tan, takes control of the House, replacing much-maligned Nancy Pelosi.
Republicans won't control the Senate. But the Democrats are down to 53 seats, including political transvestite Joe Lieberman. That means they won't have the ghost of a chance of stopping any blocking effort by the Republicans.
What will their priorities be? We have clues. They see themselves as on a mission, first, to defeat President Obama in 2012. Make no mistake about it: If they thought saving the earth from a Martian invasion would somehow help the president win re-election, the GOP would be on the side of the Martians. Even when that isn't an issue, they aren't gonna be on your side, unless you are very rich and give them money.
Want proof? What was the main cause that they've been fighting for over the last few weeks: Allowing even those who make more than a million dollars to keep the tax cuts they were given by the Bush administration. Affects you, doesn't it? I thought so, Magglio. However, most of us don't make a million bucks a year. Only three out of every thousand Americans do. But that's who the Republicans in Congress care about. That's who owns them.
Bear in mind the GOP has been screaming about record deficits, and continues to be outraged that Democrats wanted to extend long-term unemployment benefits for those with no money at all. They are furious at the thought of the government spending a dime to see that poor people have minimum health care.
Their Jesus evidently tells them that money is needed to give millionaires even bigger tax cuts. They managed to blackmail President Obama into giving in to them, because otherwise there would have been not only no tax cuts for the poor and middle class; they also would have blocked extending unemployment benefits, which would have left hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers without anything to live on.
That's not the Republicans' only cause, however. Here are a few other things they managed to do for/to us in recent weeks — things they managed while Democrats still had healthy majorities:
• They blocked mine safety reform inspired by the April deaths of 29 coal miners in West Virginia. The National Association of Manufacturers opposed it because it would have made it easier to sue unscrupulous mine companies.
• Senate Republicans blocked the "Paycheck Fairness Act" which would have helped women get fairer pay.
• The same day they allowed gays in the military, Republicans killed the DREAM act, which would have allowed "illegal immigrants" who were brought here as children to gain legal status by attending college or joining the military — in other words, becoming just the kind of Americans we admire most. (GOP to world: Remember that American dream? Go fuck yourself.)
• Best of all, they defeated a bill to provide health-care coverage for those first responders on Sept. 11, 2001, who were sickened by exposure to the toxic fumes. An exasperated McCain called the idea of giving these people benefits ridiculous "fooling around."
So there you have it, a small list of things Republicans in the House have been able to accomplish in Congress as a heavily outnumbered minority. Americans were evidently so impressed, they just gave them a solid House majority.
I just can't wait to see what they do to us next.
Is Kwame John Engler's fault? Nah, not exactly ... but now that I've got your attention: Few were surprised when a federal grand jury indicted the former mayor, his father Bernard the Bagman, and assorted shorter subjects on multiple corruption charges.
However, it was interesting that the indictment traced some of Kwame Kilpatrick's crimes back a decade, to when he was in the Legislature. And few noticed that something happened quite early that, if acted upon at the time, might have nipped his criminal career in the bud. Flash back to 2000, when Kilpatrick was the fast-rising 30-year-old minority floor leader in the Michigan House. Despite being a Democrat in the GOP-controlled House, the state gave him $800,000 for two nonprofits he said would help children and seniors.
Instead, it is alleged that much of it went to "personal expenses" for Kwame, his wife, Carlita, and to their longtime thuggish crony, Bobby Ferguson, to "refurbish the offices of Ferguson Enterprises." The indictment says the state budget office was unaware of what was really happening.
However, according to the Gongwer News Service, state officials had suspicions. Don Gilmer, then Gov. John Engler's budget director, noticed that after half the grant had been spent, Kilpatrick had never provided proper documentation. When he failed to provide it, Gilmer refused to release the second half of the grant money.
Good for Gilmer. But ... why didn't he, or other Engler administration officials, sound an alarm and start asking what KK did with the money? Why didn't anyone in Lansing demand an accounting? If they had, it might have saved a lot of people, mainly in Detroit, millions of dollars and a lot of heartache in the years that followed.
> Email Jack Lessenberry