Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Which of these stories is from The Onion?

Tea Party Congressman Calls For Tax Breaks To Put Out Raging Wildfire In District
WASHINGTON—With a massive wildfire currently raging out of control in his district, Tea Party Caucus member Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) pressed Congress to pass immediate tax breaks Tuesday to combat the rapidly spreading blaze.

Or this:

House Republican Bill Cuts Hurricane Monitoring Funds That Help Save Millions Of Dollars
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, which caused billions of dollars in damages up and down the U.S.’s eastern seaboard, House Republicans are callously claiming that any aid to victims of the disaster needs to be offset by budget cuts elsewhere. The savings favored by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) would come from cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and first responders.

Pretty hard to tell, isn't it?


They're still fighting in Wisconsin

The recall elections in Wisconsin are done but the fight's not over.

The first Monday of September is Labor Day, and every year in Wausau the unions sponsor a parade.

Guess who's not invited this year.

Community parades often feature local politicians waving to the crowds, but this year's annual Labor Day parade in Wausau may be short a few elected officials.

That's because the head of the group that sponsors the Wausau Labor Day Parade, the Marathon County Central Labor Council, is telling Republican lawmakers from the area that they're not welcome Sept. 5.

"Usually they've been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don't really care," said Randy Radtke, president of the council.

At least one Republican got his widdle feewings hurt:

"Having walked in this parade in past years," the statement read, "Congressman Duffy was hoping that for a moment, we could set our differences aside and simply have some fun in a family-friendly event."

Guess what, Duffy: show that you support labor and maybe you get to march in their parade. How does that sound?

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

So conservatives are the ones who care about America?

Then what do you say about this?

Conservative radio host Glenn Beck told listeners Friday that Hurricane Irene, the Category 1 storm that’s working its deadly way up the Eastern Seaboard, is “a blessing from God.”

And we now have another Christian Republican, Michelle Bachman, and what she had to say about the hurricane.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

They may not care, but even though the storm was weaker than predicted, it killed 37 people across the country, including at least three in Vermont.

The Republicans can feel free to cheer for natural disasters and the damage they cause, but those of us who live in the real world wind up having to deal with the consequences.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Injustice x 2

It's tempting to call the stage collapse in Indiana this week a tragedy. It was certainly a tragic loss for the families of the dead and injured, that much is true. On the other hand, it appears that the organizers of the show should have known enough to evacuate the area, and especially to get the light operators down from the structure, before there was any loss of life. They had plenty of advance warning, and a nearby outdoor concert was evacuated in time based on the same information.

Whether the stage collapse was due to a fluke, unpredictable gust of wind known as a gustnado, and whether the force could have been anticipated, will undoubtedly be investigated in the coming weeks and months.

A different human tragedy, though, is entirely manmade, and could be easily remedied.

One of the concertgoers killed in the collapse was Christina Santiago, who had become known in the Chicago community as a dedicated advocate for gay women’s health care. Santiago, 29, was a program manager at the Howard Brown Health Center, which provides health and services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

It was reported on Facebook and Dailykos yesterday that the local coroner's office was refusing to release the body to Santiago's legally married spouse, Alisha Brennan, because of Indiana's discriminatory marriage laws. This appears to be incorrect. In fact, the groups concerned with Santiago, Brennan, and their family are reportedly working with the coroner's office to obtain release of the body.

Alfarena Ballew from the Marion County Coroner's office called to offer this statement, "Her friend and her aunt are working together with the life partner to take care of the remains. We have nothing in writing from the partner asking to claim the body. Our records show that the next of kin is her aunt. Our understanding now is that they're all working together to release the body and take care of the services." Ms. Ballew described the incident as a "misunderstanding" and says the office is on track to release the body shortly.

Still, the bolded language above deserves special attention. Even in the face of a legal marriage, this government agency has determined that Santiago's aunt is her next of kin. Would this be tolerated, or even suggested, if this were a married heterosexual couple?

To even ask the question is to answer it. It's encouraging that this situation appears to be on its way to a resolution, and the coroner's office appears to be handling it with sensitivity. Nevertheless, can someone explain to me how the public interest or family values are served by refusing to recognize this marriage?

Note: all the technical information about the storm and outdoor stage construction posted or referred to here comes from John Huntington, a colleague of my son at City Technical College in Brooklyn.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fiscal Responsibility, Tea Party style

Any Tea Party supporters around here might be interested in hearing how your elected representatives interpret the concepts of personal responsibility and fiscal responsibility.

For instance, here's a Tea Party member of Congress from Georgia who just got sued for not paying back a loan worth more than two million dollars. His excuse? "They knew I couldn't pay it back, so it's the bank's fault!"

CALHOUN -- While U.S. Rep. Tom Graves was calling for fiscal responsibility in Washington his attorney was arguing in a lawsuit that a North Georgia bank is at fault for issuing Graves a $2.2 million loan the bank knew he could not repay.

Put this guy together with the Tea Party Republican and deadbeat dad Joe Walsh and you get a picture of people who are in no position to be pointing fingers at the government or anyone else.

With guys like this in Congress I guess it's no surprise the Tea Party doesn't think the government should pay its bills.

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