Thursday, 25 February 2010

State Of The Union

Whilst we wait to see what effect the Health Care Summit will have on the landscape (pretty much everyone seems to be saying "Not much", which I'd say was likely but far from certain), there are a couple of other interesting recent articles to consider. If nothing else, the three links below sum up an awful lot of what is so disgracefully wrong with the American system.

First of all, anyone still having trouble understanding why I spend so much time beating on the American media might want to take a look at this article, in which the New York Times concludes that there exists no conflict between calling themselves the "paper of record" and refusing to retract articles, irrespective of the amassed evidence that they are false, unless the guy that gave them the story - who was since arrested in an attempt to bug a Senator's office - admits he was lying.

Compare this with something like the Dan Rather incident, where three people were fired and Rather allegedly forced into retirement by CBC because they ran a story based on documents later found to have been forged by someone else. I guess accusing the President of doing something based on evidence which you later discover is false is far worse than accusing a non-profit organisation that helps racial minorities receive their constitutional rights of something which you later discover has been fabricated by an apparent criminal. Or maybe "paper of record" means you get to have a more relaxed standard of truth-telling. Maybe they'll just "record" anything their Public Editor unilaterally decides cannot be categorically proved as false.

And whilst we're on the subject of ACORN, the constant bleating by almost everyone from ombudsmen to Jon Stewart over how the media hadn't blindly piled on nearly enough, and the quite simply insane decision by Congress to strip said organisation of all federal funds - further proof, were it needed, that the constant noise machine of FOX, Drudge, talk radio and Republican officials invariably leads to everyone else in the government and media scrabbling around in a desperate effort to concur with as much stone-cold wingnut bullshit as is humanly possible - let's take a moment to consider the an organisation Congress believes should keep being sent taxpayer dollars.

Got that, people? Giving legal advice to pimps: unacceptable. Giving money to pimps, so as to procure a prostitute? No worries.

Of course, whilst this latest example of breathtaking hypocrisy might be particularly easy to spot, given they both involve pimps what are given shit, Blackwater would still have some way to go to reach the sickening level of Halliburton. Nothing says worthy of access to the public purse like gang-raping employees and blocking their access to legal recourse, huh? I mean, if she even was raped; maybe she was just delusional after being locked in a fucking box for 24 hours. It's a tough call. [1]

Presumably this exceptionally harrowing and upsetting story is why as many as 10 Republican Senators were persuaded to support an amendment that would withdraw funding from any company that prevented its employees from seeking legsal support.

Just think about that for a second. 75% of Republican Senators voted against a law designed to prevent rape victims being cut off from the justice system (number of Republican Congresspeople who voted against defunding ACORN: zero). A law written to tell those companies the taxpayers subsidise that as a bare minimum, they couldn't tell their employees that their only response to a sexual assault was to either quit or to keep their fucking mouths shut.

Of course, not only did 30 or so Republican Senators decide that rape victims were less of a concern than the merest fractional strengthening of employment laws, they actually had the nerve to start complaining that Senator Franken, by introducing the amendment, had forced them to vote against the interssts of sexually assaulted women. The nerve of the man!

This is the American problem in a nutshell. Hiring pimps is a non-issue, but helping them get what they are legally entitled to is a disgrace. Falsely accusing the powerful without effect leads to dismissal, but falsely accusing the average Joe leading to government punishmens is just worthy of tinkering with future semantic language. Abandoning rape victims is unfortunate, but limiting employer's actions is disasterous. And, on top of it all, the real villains in American politics are not those who ignore their responsibilities to their citizens, it is those who force their colleagues to confront those responsibilities.

Which brings me back to healthcare. It took me two hours on and off to write this post. Over that time, eight US citizens died due to a lack of health care. The current scuttlebutt in DC is that Congressman Stupak is once again threatening to sink HCR over his objections that poor women can get abortions as well as rich ones. He thinks "it's not the end of the world" if the bill fails to pass.

If we can be sure of nothing else in this ridiculous and heartbreaking situation, it's that it's going to be the end of a lot of people's worlds.

Pass the damn bill.

[1] Vitriol aside, I do realise that a story does not become more plausible simply because it is more hideous. It's taken more than four years to get to the point where an Appeals Court has ruled she has the right to be heard in open court, so we're still waiting to hear the full story (if indeed we ever will). What is most certainly clear however is that Jones' story might be true, and that Halliburton's attempts to block her access to the legal process are disgraceful and unjustifiable even if she is later found to be lying.

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