Monday, May 19, 2008

Read 'Em and Weep

[WARNING: Long-winded diatribe follows. Proceed at your own risk.]

If you're a registered Republican right now, you're probably wondering whether your party leaders have merely taken momentary leave of their collective senses, or have gone whole-hog certifiable.

I'm afraid it's worse than that.

Behold, the "American Families Agenda."

On its surface — which is, I'm certain, all the deeper the GOP wants us to dig — it sounds wonderful. The Republican party has always been about the family; protecting its "values," defending it from all intruders, keeping it safe from enemies both foreign and domestic. Hurrah for the American family, without whom we wouldn't have anyone left to deceive have enough taxes to spend on meaningless tripe be any better than [insert favorite third-world scapegoat here].

Upon reading it, however, anyone with a functioning brain stem immediately recognizes the complete lack of any substance, the failure to give more than passing mention to many party-base hot buttons, and the utter arrogance of a party leadership who is completely out of touch with the voters who put their pathetic carcasses in office in the first place. In other words, they sound like Democratic leaders.

Even their latest catch-phrase "Change You Deserve" sounds like it was lifted right off the Democratic playbook. It's in their website's URL, for corn's sake:

And therein lies the rub. The change we crave is not in the traditional values of the Republican party. Those we support, and have supported for decades. It is our elected representatives who have long since forgotten what exactly it is they were supposed to represent when they took our votes and parlayed them into lucrative retirement benefits in the House or Senate. Those we need to change.

Gone are the days when a Ronald Reagan would take a copy of the tax code into Congress, thump it down on the podium, and demand they write one that works for all Americans. We don't hear that kind of rhetoric anymore, and I miss it. We no longer hear about reducing the size of the federal government. We no longer hear about making tough choices on such issues as social security, border security, and the welfare state.

Why is that, we wonder? What happened to create a Republican congressional leadership that has somehow lost its backbone? Why are they so afraid to be labelled "conservatives?" One can only guess. I blame global warming.

In the meantime, we have this "agenda" out there that will do absolutely none of what it "promises." Reading through the agenda, one finds at the end of each explanatory paragraph the words "We must:" followed by a short list of To Do's that are apparently supposed to impress us that Our Congress is Working for Us. It is, for lack of a more descriptive (and still family-friendly) phrase, entirely underwhelming. (I must also note that whenever Congress uses the phrase "we must," they really mean "the American taxpayers must." But you probably already knew that.)

Consider just one example of this classic piece of American political boondogglery:
Solution #1: Assuring More Time & Money For America’s Families
One of the biggest struggles families face is how to balance work and family. Caring for a sick child or elderly parent can make the traditional 40-hour work week a challenge. What parents need more than anything is more flexibility and time with their family. Moreover, the government must reduce the burden on America’s family-owned small businesses so they can grow and compete in the global economy. Across the board, it is costing families more and more just to put food on the table or drive to work. In many cases, it costs them more per month to fill their gas tank than it does to make their car payment. We must:
  • Lower gas prices and energy costs
  • Provide for a family-friendly work week
  • Grow our small businesses
Isn't that stirring? Wow. I don't know who wrote that, but it sure sounds like a committee.

Let's start with "balancing work and family." Like I need a Congressperson to tell me how to do that. When was the last time you got the impression that a Congressperson — any Congressperson — had any clue how to balance anything, including their own checkbook? Balancing work and family? Senator Boondoggle? Right.

I don't know about Congress, but I do alright with the "traditional 40-hour work week." I currently put in far more than 40 hours, as it happens, and still find time to spend with my family. I've even been able to work in an emergency or two just to keep myself limber. In fact, except for those few times when they feel a pathological need to fillibuster, I'd like to know when the last time was that Congress put in an honest 40-hour work week. And let's not even get started on how much time off they get during the year. All this for a larger salary than I happen to make nowadays, and with better guaranteed benefits than I'll ever see, especially in my future retirement. Now, if they're ready to guarantee that we get exactly the same flexibility in our work schedules as they have, complete with powers to subpoena whatever cretin Scapegoat-of-the-Week we like, then I'll buy into their little agenda.

Here's another corker: They want to "reduce the burden on America's family-owned small businesses." Most unfortunately, in the New Republican World Order, this means more government regulation, not less. Later in the hit-list they specifically name "Allow workers to take their benefits with them when they change jobs" as one of their "We must:s." Sounds like more regulation to me.

The "We must:" list that follows this first paragraph is also highly amusing. Lower gas and energy costs? Laughable. They have no power over either the supply or the demand, and the oil companies are already regulated to the corporate hilt. Anyone see gas prices dropping? Anyone? Me, neither. Provide for a "family friendly" work week? Now what kind of sense does that make? Whom, precisely, does this help? I already telecommute far more in my career than ever before. In fact, since Mrs. Woody took ill last summer, I've telecommuted more than I've spent working in my office. Was that any doing of the government? It was not. It was a company taking a hard look at the realities of life and realizing that they were gonna bleed to death when people began jumping ship to work for companies that already had "family friendly" work policies. That's like Gore taking credit for inventing the internet. He may have overseen policies to make it easier for people to get hooked up, but the market made that possible. Not Mr. Gore.

Finally there's "growing our small businesses." Right. Just like they've done for the last twenty five years that I've been working in the aerospace industry. I can't tell you how many small businesses started up, tanked up on government incentives, floated for a few years, then bombed out, never to be seen again. The government is incapable of growing anything but our federal debt. Debt they have perfected. They can't handle anything else. They're too dysfunctional.

So, to those Congressional staffers who may end up here on the Woundup reading this tripe, don't take it too hard. Your bosses are just trying to do their jobs, after all.

It's not your fault that they have no idea what their jobs are.

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