Trivia 107

In another shining example of the pure absurdity of this Congress, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott is leading the charge to completely destroy any possibility of achieving a tobacco settlement. Somehow, this paragon of the corporate master/slave mentality has convinced himself that killing the agreement which would hike cigarette taxes by $1.10 and directly charge the tobacco industry an additional $516 billion over the next 25 years is, in his own words, a "spending bill"!

So, instead of reining in the massive health and individual costs to society of this legal drug which kills hundreds of thousands of people every year, this little person wants to forget his oath to protect the American people and move towards another useless photo op of pretending to control teen drug and smoking abuse. He and many other Republicans have achieved the death of a tobacco bill by adding on totally unrelated amendments they know the Democrats cannot accept and that, for good reason, have never been openly debated in Congress. The amendments also include laws which the Republicans have tried over and over to pass but cannot find any support for outside of their narrow-minded clique.

Of course, this moral midget Lott is also one of the key supporters of the so-called and badly misnamed "Welfare Reform Bill" that destroyed the last safety net for the poor and elderly and children while also demanding that the decisions regarding the birth of children be taken from women and given over to rich, white, male Republicans.

The Republican party has also attempted to make America believe that imposing a "family cap" on welfare families would reduce the number of children born after the women were enrolled as a recipient. By refusing to increase payments for additional children, they claimed, welfare mothers would simply refrain from becoming pregnant or would have to support that extra life without additional assistance which punished the innocent child far more than any of the so-called adults involved.

This deception surrounding these particular moves have been exposed in reports from the very state which was supposed to show America how these two opposing ideas could be merged. In New Jersey, where the controversial "family cap" was first instituted, the number of abortions in welfare families has increased by 240 for the 85,000 recipient families. In other words, at a time that the general population saw a decrease in the abortion rate, the rate for welfare mothers in New Jersey increased a substantial 6%. Of course, even though the state, itself, funded the Rutgers University research which led to this predictable information, the state is now trying desperately to explain that their own research methods were flawed and the results shouldn't be taken seriously. In other words, the state of New Jersey funded research which it is now trying to back away from because it blatantly exposes the insanity of the welfare reform, family cap and punitive anti-abortion demands of the GOP. How ridiculous can they get?!? As Al Jolson used to say, "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Next, that paragon of fairness (yes, Virginia, that's sarcasm) John Leo (On Society, U.S. News & World Report, pg. 17, 6/15/98) wrote an editorial regarding his views on what he sees as a new trend towards "Christian bashing". He wonders why the gay community, in particular, attacks the many Christian and Catholic icons. I had to write to remind him that both of these religious groups have gone far out of their way to attack and demean anyone not in conformance with their narrow-minded biblical beliefs and that the gay community has been a particularly favorite target. The religious right has tried to pass laws making discrimination against gays legal and to punish even the physical expression of their love. When any group spends as much energy as the religious right has spent vilifying the gay community one might expect that hatred to be returned. One might say, in fact, it's only fair.

Oh, by the by, all of that gas coming out of Newt Gingrich about creating another committee to investigate President Clinton, this time over allegations of special treatment for China in return for campaign contributions in 1996, has dissipated into nothing, once again. Claiming that his new committee would be formed by June, the reality is that funding hasn't been authorized nor has even the political make-up been agreed on or even the basic scope of the inquiry. Once again, Gingrich proves himself capable of creating noxious and distracting smoke without the necessity of first creating a fire.

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Copyright 6/27/98