James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, March 01, 2010

State Republicans can crush people, too

March 1, 2010

The Minnesota House of (you may laugh) Representatives failed Monday (today) to override a veto by right wing Gov. Tim Pawlenty of funding for General Assistance Health Care, a program that provides, until now, health care for poor people, mostly elderly, children and many military veterans. The vote was 87 to override, 46 against – 3 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override.

Very quickly, off the top of my head:

I attended the “rally” at the Minnesota State Capitol this afternoon in support of a House override of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of a bill to continue GAMC (a health-care program for the poor.)

Would guess about 150 – 200 people showed up to stand around outside the front door to the House chamber and, eventually, wander around the nearby halls. Ran into my state rep., good guy Frank Hornstein, in the hall outside the chamber. He told me that the Dems already knew the Republicans were taking a page from Congressional Republicans and voting as a block – no exceptions – to prevent an override. Republican minority wins again.

I was allowed into the House gallery and listened to what is loosely called “debate” for about half an hour. The stench of hypocrisy, combined with the stink of Republican smugness and the sounds of weak Democratic whining disgusted me and I left.

If you want to go on believing that “representative democracy” works, do not actually listen to what passes for debate in a legislative body.

Republican side was best represented by Rep. Tony Cornish, who is chief of police of Lake Crystal, Minn., a very small town in Blue Earth County in southern Minnesota.

The stylish Rep. Cornish – really nice, well cut sports jacket and what appeared to be razor-cut hair -- declared that he and other Republicans have “no need to be ashamed” of refusing to override the veto nor of supporting Pawlenty's decision to stop funding GAMC. “We can't afford to take care of everybody,” he declared with jutting jaw. Besides, funding health care for the poor “hurts other people” by forcing them to pay more taxes, he said.

The representative of – who the hell are this guy's constituents? -- also said he would “not be intimidated” by the very quiet people out in the halls and warned other Republicans against being intimidated. Very brave. Those elderly veterans and mostly gray haired matrons probably looked pretty dangerous to a tough cop.

Cornish also objected to frequent references to god and Biblical dictates of caring for others from Democrats. Cornish said he would put his church attendance record up against that of any other member of the House. He added that “I have a heart, too,” but he offered no evidence to support that contention.

I had to agree with him on the god references. It was a sad display by the Dems. They offered few real arguments for supporting GAMC and sounded merely pouty; they already had surrendered.

The other major argument, made by less forceful Republicans, was that there shouldn't be an override “because negotiations with Gov. Pawlenty and Republicans” are still continuing. That's eyewash for the press, soundbites for television. The Republicans have stuck, just like in Congress, and consider “negotiations” to mean the other side surrenders all.

Oh yeah: Cornish said most plainly something that came more obliquely from other Republicans: If people are going to use the Bible for justification of actions like supporting GAMC, then they have to stand by (his opinion) Biblical bans on abortion and gay unions and other things Republicans don't like.

Comment: Forget the old sausage-making analogy. I've seen the making of sausage. It doesn't come close to being as ugly or nauseating as the process of legislating for the rich and against the vast majority of citizens. It's not even as off-putting as the weak-kneed performance of Democrats when confronted with strong opposition from the right.

I used to subscribe to the common feeling, when seeing or hearing of someone's suffering because of great illness, severe injury or financial disaster: “I wouldn't wish that on anybody.”

Well now I do wish it. The right wing sociopaths will never concern themselves with the pain of the poor until their own insulation, or perceived insulation, is stripped away. So I will rejoice every time one of those heartless bastards is taken down by the kind of misery that afflicts so many who are not as well protected by relative wealth, family and other resources.

The exceptionalism of such people will prevent them from learning anything even if they are hit by physical or financial disaster, of course. When it happens to others, it is deserved, or at least a result of their own imprudence. When it happens to them, members of the smug right, only then does it become truly unfair, a victimization.