Swine before Pearls
GOP clutches pearls in trivial outrage
March 6th, 2021
Of course you’ve heard about the paroxysms of outrage gripping the snake pits of the right this past week. Mister Potatohead has been desexed. Libruls have taken Doctor Seuss and served him up with green eggs and ham. And worst of all, the President called Republicans Neanderthals! (Yes, that was unfair. Neanderthals greatly resembled humans. Republicans do not.)
Of course, there isn’t much else they can talk about. Every once in a while you hear a murmur about pork in the Covid Relief Package (which passed yesterday!) which amounted to 142 million dollars (about 0.07% of the bill). That pork was removed, making no discernible difference in the size of the bill. Similarly, Manchin of West Virginia got his wish, and ¼ of the supplemental payment on unemployment was cut, which amounted to another $100 million or so. Subtract $242 million from $1.9 trillion and you get $1,899,758,000. My god, the republic has been saved!
The Covid relief bill is widely popular, with even 44% of Republican voters supporting it. But the efforts to derail this badly-needed and popular bill started out tawdry and ended up ridiculous. Ron Johnson, as a delaying tactic, demanded that the poor clerks read every word of the 758 page bill to the Senate, a process that took some 10 very dreary hours. It was so boring that by the end, all the Republicans had gone home, including the estimable Senator Johnson. The Democrats spotted an opportunity, and voted unanimously to limit debate on the bill to six hours. The Republicans had hoped to force votes on hundreds of amendments to the bill, and that tactic was eliminated. So the next day, the bill was passed and awaits President Biden’s signature to become law. Yes, Republicans will stand for their beliefs, but luckily for us, they’re all nihilists.
It was a massive win for the Democrats and Biden, and more to the point, it was a massive win for the country. By the end of summer, life may be generally back to normal for most people.
Republicans don’t want to talk about the vaccination program. Biden on his first day in office promised 100 million shots would be given in the first 100 days, a goal many people had dismissed as unlikely even before it was discovered that the Trump administration had left absolutely no plans to distribute the vaccines—a final little nasty bit of vindictiveness from the defeated Trump.
Instead, we have some 75 million shots administered in the first 45 days, and the Biden administration is now promising that everyone will have had both shots by some time in May. Even by the standards of an America that existed before Republicans privatized it, that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.
The infrastructure bill is next on the schedule. It’s even bigger (some 2 – 4 trillion dollars) and most assuredly will have pork, both Republican and Democratic. Back in the Nixon days, Republicans decided that it would be far more efficient and cheaper to contract government road work out to the Sopranos. The results were predictable enough. Most infrastructure projects will end up in the hands of contractors who will skim 40% off the top and use the cheapest materials they can get away with. But it’s expected to include some items that will be hugely controversial (in other words, will annoy the rich) while providing vast improvements to society. It will include a Civilian Conservation Corps project that will employ up to two million people in public works and public improvements projects. It will eliminate most if not all tax credits for the fossil fuels industries and transfer those credits to renewable clean energy projects. On a level playing field, renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels. This will make it MUCH cheaper.
Republicans will fight this, but they know that even with the inevitable flaws, they are on the wrong side with public opinion.
The mad, deposed Trump is going to be a gigantic problem for the GOP. One Trump official was indicted yesterday for involvement with the January 6th crowd, and Trump himself is lashing out furiously and blindly, attacking all GOP members who didn’t support his stolen election fantasy and even going so far as to send a cease and desist order to the GOP to not use his image or name in their promotional materials. Historians didn’t bother to see if any former president did anything like that. It hasn’t happened before. And in the justice system, a tidal wave of evidence is mounting that will sweep Trump into prison, probably for life. A sizable percentage of Republicans have fled the party and will not return until the Trump movement is dead. That will take a couple of more years.
Republican policy, such as it is, is to cling blindly to power, no matter what it takes. Gerrymandering, stacked courts, 258 different bills in 43 states designed to make it harder for people to vote, and endless attacks on the media. People are realizing that they aren’t doing this for the benefit of the people, and public opinion is mounting against that.
Then there’s the matter of raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. Over three-quarters of voters approve of that, and in any real democracy, the outcome would be a no-brainer. But Republicans will continue to unanimously oppose it, even as many of the corporations and rich people they serve approve of it. In that way, they’re a bit like the Japanese soldiers marooned on Pacific islands for 25 year or more, unaware that World War II had ended.
Given all that, is it any wonder Republicans would sooner whine about Potatohead and Doctor Seuss?