Friday, July 11, 2014

Fed-up Houston mom has a good point, but it’s not the one right-wingers are trumpeting

Bernadette Lancelin’s “epic rant” against the federal government spending billions of dollars to address the so-called “border crisis" is spreading like wildfire across right-wing talk radio and blogosphere.  See Top Right News, Mediaite, The Blaze, Real Clear Politics, Rush Limbaugh, Rush again, Herman Cain on facebook, the CainTV site, Larry Elder … etc.

A local TV reporter solicited Lancelin’s comments as part of a piece on Homeland Security touring a closed neighborhood middle school.  DHS was considering the site for temporary housing for some of the incoming aliens while their refugee petitions are processed.

Here's the video with a transcript of Lancelin's comments.  The reporter’s lead-in provided important context: “[O]ne resident who said her kids have gone without nothing, they have had nothing for years, she says she is furious.”

Top Right News notes that Terrell Middle School “had been closed due to ‘funding issues,’” but doesn't mention that the "issues" and closure happened in 2001, in the first year of the Bush presidency, after several years of his governorship. 

Herman Cain’s spin on his radio show this morning belongs in the “Are you frigging kiddin’ me?!?” Hall of Fame.  Here's how he phrased it on Facebook: 

“Bernadette Lancelin is sick of watching money go to illegals while American families struggle in poverty.  Like I always say, black voters who support Dems need to wake up and realize they're being played by this President and his party...”  

Really? I’d say it’s you, Mr. Cain, who’s attempting to play black voters (and anyone else who will listen.)

Ms. Lancelin is angry because our government doesn’t seem to give a damn about poor folks who are right here.  Seems like your Republican Party has been leading the way on that front.  And too many prominent right-wing and GOP leaders aren't just indifferent to struggling Americans - they've been down right hostile, constantly attacking and demonizing poor and working class folks for a few years now.

Ms. Lancelin has every right to be furious.  I share her fury, and so do millions of other folks who've long struggled just to survive.  But GOP talking heads like Herman Cain have absolutely no right to jump on the bandwagon.

It’s been the GOP that’s continually pushed for cuts in federal and state spending on the social welfare safety net FOR YEARS: in the 80's, in the 90's, in 2011 state & federal, in 2012, last year federal and state, and this year.

It was the GOP who shut down the federal government because they wanted to gut our federal budget and said the White House’s offers of compromise “didn’t cut enough.”  [I know they're now trying to revise history and pin the blame on Obama, so check reality at here and here

It’s the GOP that CONSTANTLY argues that most (if not all) anti-poverty programs “just create a culture of dependency.”     

It was Mitt Romney and other GOP leaders who derided “the 47% of Americans who don’t pay taxes” as free-riders.  (To clarify, 46% of Americans didn’t pay income taxes that year – most of those folks still paid FICA, state income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc.)  

It's been 2012 VP nominee & US Rep. Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, and many other conservatives who noted that 49% of people lived in a household where at least one member got some government benefit in 2011, and said – they're TAKERS. [For much more thoughtful analysis about the reasons behind this, this article is a good start.] 

So all you folks caring for an elderly or severely disabled relative in your own home – TAKERS. People who adopted a foster child who gets Medicaid until age 18 as part of the bargain (like I did) – TAKERS.  People who earn crap working 60 hours a week at two minimum-wage jobs and have the gall to get health insurance for your kids through Medicaid/SCHIP – TAKERS.

What about the corporations?  Yes, they’re people, too!  But even though many benefit from government gifts in the form of R&D grants, loan guarantees and subsidies, interest-free overnight borrowing via the discount window, specially-tailored tax breaks, etc., they’re never TAKERS, because they’re “job creators.”

But the flesh and blood people?  You’re TAKERS.  You’re parasites.  You’re lazy people who aren’t willing to work.  You make "the rest of us" subsidize your cushy, government-subsidized lifestyle of leisure.  At least, that’s what the right-wing narrative has been for the past couple of years, with the next federal election at a safe distance away.  I haven't heard as much of it since 2014 hit.

But back to Ms. Lancelin’s comments.  Rush Limbaugh took a slightly different tack, ignoring the reporter’s context and twisting Lancelin’s words to fit his own agenda: “She’s basically saying, ‘Look, we can’t fix everybody. It’s not our role.  Somebody’s gotta take care of themselves here.  We’re taking care of ourselves, we’re doing everything.’  That’s what her point is.”

NO, that’s not her point.  Ms. Lancelin asked, her voice rife with obvious pain, anger, and frustration: “What about the g*ddamn kids here?!?  The kids in our neighborhood?  In our country?”  That isn’t a woman saying “we’re doing everything” we can or should for our own families that are struggling.  That’s the voice of a woman who is fed up because we’re not doing enough for families struggling to survive right here in America.

If these right-wing talking heads dared a follow-up interview with Ms. Lancelin, they’d likely find that her primary complaint isn’t with government spending, but with powerful people's seeming indifference to the plight of poor and working-class folks like herself, folks who have been struggling to survive for years.  Powerful people like you, Rush Limbaugh.  And you, Herman Cain.

I hear you, Ms. Lancelin.  I share your anger and frustration.  But the solution isn’t to completely turn our backs on a burgeoning humanitarian crisis along our southern border.  The solution is to VOTE THIS NOVEMBER and defeat as many of those nitwit extremist GOP members of Congress, Governors, and legislators – especially the ones who continually  seek to defund any and all programs that help give folks spout nonsense about poor folks deserving their lot – as we can.

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