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  • COMMENTARY

    The elephant whisperer

  • I admit that I view the Republican Party, including its cranky appendage, the tea party, through a prism of frustration ("seriously?"), and, at times, with complete disbelief.
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  • I admit that I view the Republican Party, including its cranky appendage, the tea party, through a prism of frustration ("seriously?"), and, at times, with complete disbelief.
    When I listen to conservatives insisting on a particular policy that seems so outrageous that it borders on the surreal, well, I'm more than baffled. As if the proponents of, say, shutting the government down should all be wearing tin foil hats.
    How to explain why conservatives, champions of the work ethic, would vote against women earning equal pay for equal work? Full-time working women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, despite the fact that women are increasingly surpassing men in achieving college degrees and making inroads into previously male-dominated employment. In 2013, married women accounted for 45 percent of total family earnings. And yet the Republicans consistently vote against correcting this form of blatant discrimination.
    Consider the linkage between equal pay and raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10. This increase would directly affect women, as they still tend to cluster in the lower paid jobs, many single mothers raising children while taking care of elderly parents. Doesn't it seem blatantly unconscionable that anyone, man or woman, can work a 40-plus hour week and still walk along the precipice of poverty?
    As was reported in the New York Times, "Climbing above the poverty line has become more daunting in recent years, as the composition of the nation's low-wage work force has been transformed by the Great Recession "¦ More than half of those who earn $9 or less an hour are 25 or older and more educated "¦" and find they still must rely on food stamps (under assault by conservatives) to feed their children.
    Regarding the financial precipice, I remain perplexed as to why Republicans in the House would fail to extend long-term unemployment insurance for some 2 million Americans. Ah, yes, there's the stereotype of the individual resting in a hammock, sipping a drink with a small umbrella in it, waiting for his or her unemployment check to arrive. While there will always be those who attempt to defraud the system, research shows that long-term insurance is not only efficacious, it is also the right thing to do and, in the main, not as they're portrayed by conservatives, a government-paid vacation. This is a pathetic urban legend perpetuated by "up by your bootstraps" ideologues who happily walk the corridors of Congress and state houses cashing their government checks, comforted by the fact that they themselves are employed and have good health care.
    Know that the "bootstraps" posture is not mere rhetoric. Republican Jack Kingston (Ga.) has suggested that if low-income kids get a subsidized breakfast or lunch at school they should be assigned janitorial duties. In other words, they should learn that there is no free lunch. Such hypocrisy is stunning.
    In an unguarded moment, Republican Paul Ryan addressed persistent poverty, connecting it to a "culture in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working." Ah yes, people of color waiting for the taxpayer freebee, living off the taxpayers' dollars. Passing an infrastructure bill? Not an option.
    Regarding health care, I remain perplexed by the consistent, vitriolic attempt by the Republicans to repeal "Obamacare." Offering no alternative. And how to understand Republican governors rejecting an expansion of Medicaid when the federal government will pay 100 percent of their states' costs the first year. These governors know that Medicaid will benefit the poorest in their states, but have taken their conservative ideology and twisted it to fit an absurd rationale, insisting that their states can't afford the expansion. It's breathtaking.
    Moving from political doctrine to religion, know that for many conservatives the separation of church and state represents less than six degrees. It is obvious that Republican legislatures are doing everything possible to deny women their constitutional right to have access to abortion and, by extension, prenatal and preventative care. Whatever the GOP policy makers may believe about conception and the right to life, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. And yet, by the end of this year in Texas, a state of 26 million, there will likely be only six clinics (or less) remaining where a woman can receive health care screenings, prenatal care, or a first trimester abortion because said clinics cannot meet the mandate required by newly created Texas law: the ability to perform surgical procedures such as a hip replacement. Other states are using Texas as a template.
    The conservative list goes on: impeach President Obama; the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Pentagon; the Obama library will be built in Kenya; gay people are bullying the states; and somehow the missing Malaysian airliner is connected to Benghazi. Ditto Crimea. Seriously? Pass the tin foil.
    Chris Honoré lives in Ashland.
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