Trivia Is Still Its Own Reward


Admit it! You love reading these trivia columns as much as I enjoy writing them, now don't you? Okay, you may begin!

Consider, in the same budget for 1999, $14 billion was cut from Medicaid in order to provide the military with $12 billion more than it asked for. Also, 98% of the vaunted inheritance and capital gains tax cuts go to the richest 5% and 20% of taxpayers, respectively. The two tax cuts which were aimed at the middle-class were purposely not indexed to inflation so they'll disappear after just a couple of years. I just love what the Republican leadership thinks is fair. I love that I'm still able to use the words "Republican leadership" and "think" in the same sentence.

Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, that scourge of Democratic fund raisers and all foreign governments who attempt to influence American politics through campaign contributions to Democrats, seems to have a fair number of skeletons in his closet, too. While the likelihood that his improprieties will ever be investigated stand at less than nil in a Republican Congress, he has, nevertheless, taken money from some of the world's most horrendous regimes. We're talking about the lowest of the low, here. His good friends have included brutal dictators and police states such as Turkey, Pakistan, Guatemala, Zaire and South Africa during the apartheid years. He has used the words of a Turkish lobbyist to defend that country's miserable human rights record during Congressional testimony as well as having vigorously defended the death squads of Guatemala and the good fellows who imprisoned Mandela in South Africa. Amazingly, his spokesmen actually claim that the massive amounts of money these evil people handed to Burton has never influenced his policies which means that Burton honestly likes and supports murderers and genocidal governments. Yes, America needs more of these wonderful Americans to lead us back into the seventh century.

I most assuredly enjoy the Republican tendency to update H.G. Welles' 1984 idea of twisting the language like silly putty. Naming their diseased little bill the Family Friendly Workplace Act, they have reached a new low in abusing not only the language of America but its workers, as well. This horrible example of how low Republicans will go for their corporate masters doesn't confer any benefits whatsoever on America's employees. Rather, it allows companies to refuse to pay workers time-and-a-half for work over eight hours a day and to substitute what they call "comp time", instead. In other words, if you work twelve hours in a day, you are paid regular wages for the entire time and granted two hours of the so-called "comp time" for the extra time-and-a-half work. Now, if the employee had the option of using that comp time instead of vacation or sick time, the system might actually have a level of fairness to it. Fairness, of course, is a progressive's term so this bill doesn't contain any. Instead, all comp time is controlled by the employer. That way, during the busy times of the year they can require their workers to toil for twelve or even sixteen hours a day, then force them to take the unpaid comp time whenever it is most profitable for the company. The worker's pay suffers dramatically during those off-peak periods, of course, but what Republican politician has ever cared about the common worker, in any event? Anyone with an ounce of sense should realize that the national 40 hour work week is next to be targeted by these monsters, too. They have succeeded in California in convincing the unthinking population that destroying all of labor's protection is good for them so convincing the rest of the nation should be a snap since few Americans have any idea what is going on in their government, anyway.

Bob Harris, who writes The Scoop column for Z Magazine, has offered a suggestion I think everyone who cares about America should support with all of their hearts. He calls it "Forehead Branding" and it is the idea that every politician should be required to be branded with the corporate logos of their owners. As he points out, Corporate America will happily jump at the chance to display their logos since every appearance by the politicians will provide huge advertising for them on the local and national news programs. It will provide America with much needed laughter, as well, when people like Bob Dole pretends to care about smoking related diseases while displaying the Marlboro logo on his forehead. Newt Gingrich will provide much needed comic relief while railing about his version of family values while tattooed with Rupert Murdoch's many corporate logos. Even our pretend Democratic President will have the honor of giving his followers a chuckle as he tries to convince them of his liberal beliefs while sporting a Mickey Mouse tattoo on his forehead and a Goldman Sachs tattoo somewhere equally conspicuous. Actually, this idea would make any future debates much more interesting since some entrepenuer might create a bingo game based on the owners of various politicians and national prizes could be awarded for those who won. I like this whole scenario, don't you? We could enforce it by citing the Truth in Advertising laws, too. Cool!

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Copyright 3/20/98