~Jim Wright, "State of Disunion," at Stonekettle.com
Jim Wright never ceases to amaze me with his analysis of any issue. During Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Obama could have read directions about how to assemble an Ikia chair and the result would have been the same. That is the state of our Union and it has been that way for some time.
Jim calls the State of the Union, the "Golden Globes" of American politics. Often these addresses are poetic with lofty ideas and ambitions put forth. There was a lot said about the economy, infrastructure, education, taxes, child care, equal pay, and diplomacy.
...and the GOP and Tea Party didn't applaud for much of it!
Okay. Maybe they sat on their hands because they felt there were already laws in place to deal with these issues. Perhaps they greeted these idea with silence because they worried how these ideas were going to be paid for. Maybe the bitter and bored looks on their faces were due to their belief that government doesn't have a role in any of these things.
But they can't support an idea? Not a bill or a policy--just an idea. They can't support that? They can't support the idea of having better infrastructure? We're all set in the department? We're good? How about education? Republicans can't support the idea of easier access to college? Not even for a better trained workforce? They're not on board with that? Equal pay? Republicans aren't on board for equal pay for women? Not even the female Republicans?
A bit of a side note: One of the more interesting things to come out of Tuesday night's coverage was the fact that the women's caucus--Republicans and Democrats--are finding common ground to tackle issues at a greater rate than their male colleagues. Y'know...doing their job! I wonder how female Republican legislators would feel paying a "vagina tax" and losing $20,000-$30,000 in their pay?
What did Republicans applaud and give a standing ovation for?
...and anything related to the military.
Maybe this has to do with the idea some Republicans have that the Federal government's only job is to see to our national defense. That would make sense! It would explain the bored, grumpy, apathetic looks. It would explain why the GOP only exhibited a pulse in regards to combating terrorism or the military. That would be consistent in their thinking.
Of course, that isn't the case and consistency is unknown amongst the GOP.
Joni Ernst (R-IA), Iowa's first female Senator, was tasked with the job of delivering the GOP's rebuttal to the State of the Union. This had to be a hellish duty, considering Ernst was following the likes of Jindahl and Rubio. The GOP seems to delight in trying to trot out some perceived minority in a vain attempt to try and distract us to the fact that the very speech being read was written by the same old pasty-faced bitter bastards that have been in government for decades. Ernst's rebuttal, was not her rebuttal and it is doubtful that the freshman Senator was even up to speed on the positions. Ernst's only hope in this untenable call to duty was to try and not appear as awkward as Jindahl or Rubio.
She did...okay. It wasn't as disastrous as Rubio's.
I wasn't alone in my thinking that the first moments of Ernst's rebuttal seemed like the opening number of a Saturday Night Live skit. Many on Twitter expected her to say, "Live from New York..." However one commentator who predicted Ernst would end her speech by saying, "Now where is Sarah Connor!" was the best tweet of the night in my opinion.
I can't fault Ernst for the GOP's rebuttal, as I said, it wasn't her speech. As I listened, I couldn't help but notice that the GOP's rebuttal touched on some of the same ideas, President Obama's own address had mentioned. The same ideas the GOP sat through with no applause and bored bitter faces. Hell, some of these thoughts didn't even involve the military or terrorists, even though the rebuttal was given from the Senate Armed Service Committee room--just in case you forgot how much the GOP loves war.
I was content to give Ernst a wide berth in her remarks. It seemingly has become mandatory that the higher-ups in the GOP who actually sanction these speeches hide behind the newbies, lest they have to take any responsibility for the content. But where Ernst went with this speech just can't be ignored.
|portion of Ernst's response|
Bread bags on shoes? Really?
Is it true? According to PolitiFact, not entirely. Regardless of the veracity of the statement, it was the fondness, ease, and sense of nostalgia Ernst portrayed while relaying this that bothered me.
What defines what it means to be "poor" and "impoverish" is a growing narrative among the GOP. Ernst is an accomplished woman and she has no reason to be embarrassed of her childhood, as embellished as it seems to be.
Yet she isn't alone in the GOP's wistful remembrance of poverty. During the 2012 GOP primary, Rick Santorum fondly remembered his own father's back breaking, high-risk work as a coal miner. Whether it's bread bags or facing daily death, the GOP truly has an idea of what "acceptably poor" looks like.
If the GOP position on the poor and poverty could be summed up, it would be that there is just not enough suffering going on. American poor have more living space than Europen citizens, they have televisions, air conditioning, coffee pots, and refrigerators. There's just not enough misery. Parents are not risking their lives! Where oh where are the bread bags?!? The standard of living for the poor is just too high in their estimation. In their mind there is a definite level of acceptable misery the poor must endure for the GOP to choke down their contempt.
If only the poor were content to "live within their means." What Ernst failed to disclose in her fond retelling of childhood of a modest childhood was the hundreds of thousands of dollars her family has received in farm subsidies, as reported by RawStory and anyone else who found her comments odd.
We're better than bread bags.
We better be!
The poor better have refrigerators.
If not, what the hell are we doing? Why are we spending all this money on defense? For what? To protect whom from what?
If we subscribe to the notion that those in need are only "truly" in need if they are living in a rickety shack, with no indoor plumbing or electricity, clothed in burlap sacks, with bread bags on their feet; then everything needs to stop.
Space exploration, medicine, wars on terrorism, research for new planes--it all needs to come to a stop, because what are we doing it for?
If we are so convinced that we are the greatest country on this planet able to dictate our values to others, we damn well better have our own house in check!
It's okay that our poor aren't stacked four people to a room for sleeping. We better be better than that. It's okay our poor have plumbing and access to utilities. They better--especially when we've given so much "concern" for the humanitarian status of others. It's okay for them to have access to medicine, while we spend millions sending supplies to the next earthquake, tsunami, or drought.
...and yes--the can have access to TVs, VCRs, the internet, air conditioning, the occasional dishwasher and even a refrigerator, because this is the United States of fucking America and not leaving our fellow citizens behind to die of starvation, exposure, or lack of medicine should be a source of pride, not regret.
Some will call that a nanny-state, or "enabling," or even "socialism." For Joni Ernst, it was called a "farm subsidy." Just look at her now! Yesterday, a bread bag wearing Iowan. Today a veteran and sitting Senator.
She might have even be "spoiled" with a refrigerator.