Friday, October 21, 2005

24 Hours In The Party Of "Values"

In the 2004 election, religious voters were heavily courted by the Republican Party. There were numerous attempts in churches to organize voters and the Christian Coalition distributed many "voter's guides" informing Christian which political party supposedly represented "values". The fact that the standard bearer at the top of this "values" party ticket spent the first 40 years of his life struggling with alcohol or cocaine abuse according to biographers such as Kitty Kelley and others did not seem to matter much. Equally, the last roughly 24 hours were hardly characteristic of a "values" party either.

House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, managed a wide grin as he was fingerprinted and given a mug shot as his trial for felony conspiracy to violate Texas campaign laws trial is set to progress. Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby faced another day of public scrutiny in the scandal of outing a CIA operative in a possible attempt to retailiate against an ambassador who did not support the war. Rumors that Dick Cheney may eventually resign continued. All issues that harm the political image of a self proclaimed "values" party.

In the Senate, a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997, promoted By Senator Kennedy was voted down, with most members of the "values" party voting "no". Only four republicans voted in favor. Meanwhile in the House, a proposal to cut the essential safety net for the poor by $50 billion, while considering $70 billion in new tax cuts for the wealthy was under consideration. In the Senate, cuts to the Food Stamp program were fortunately sparred thanks to the efforts of two Republican Senators, Rick Santorum and James Talent, but whether they survive in the House is a very good question. Genuine religious right members such as Pat Robertson and others strongly support the moral notion of the wealthy sharing with the poor. But as the political leadership in the House "values" party look for new ways to cut the social safety net, further stressing state and local human services budgets, while looking for new ways to reward the big lobbyies and corporate donators with huge new tax cuts.

The power of corporate lobbyies really proved itself when two bills to shield business from lawsuits were voted. One that shielded the restaurant and fast food industry from obesity lawsuits was voted. While such lawsuits may on the surface appear to be absurd, it was historically the role of courts to decide the merits of any case, not for the congress to prejudge cases before they are even heard. But this isn't the worst business lawsuit shield law voted in the last 24 hours. A far worse bill was passed to protect gun manufacturers and gun dealers from lawsuits by gunshot victims or their families was voted. This is yet another issue that begs the "values" question. Again the fact that congress is prejudging court cases without a hearing is brought into question. And some gun manufacturers have deliberately sought to profit by developing killer weapons such assault rifles that have no legitimate personal protection or hunting us. And gun dealers have knowingly sold dangerous guns to felons, drug dealers, gang members, criminals, mentally ill persons and others. Meanwhile stories abound in America cities of the use of guns in crime and in mentally illness situations and in suicide. In Portland, Oregon an argument resulted in a shooting, and a disturbed man climbed into a treehouse with a gun, held off police, then finally shot himself. The same man was involved in shooting earlier this month.

In a mere period of roughly 24 hours a bizarre and twisted sense of "values" by much of the leadership of the Republican party on important issues such as the minimum wage, gun crime liability, cutting social programs as well issues involving criminal conduct of figures connected to the White House are tearing down the "values" image of the Republican party. If the democrats cannot politically capitalize on this and offer alternative ways to govern as well reasonable counter proposals, then they are trully a sorry lot. In the next election, many voters may want to return to reasonable and moderate leadership, and Democrats and some moderate Republicans may have far better appeal than the hard right Republicans who talk about "values", but support a twisted platform with litle common sense or reason.

The last 24 hours were pretty bad. Well, today's another day.

3 Comments:

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