This week, just opening the paper caused a lot of anguish. I didn't have a bad week, personally; but Kansas outdid itself in embarrassing news. The Speaker of the House in Kansas forwarded a bunch of objectionable e-mails about the Obamas, and had to apologize today. I don't agree with people being hounded for their personal e-mail accounts, to be sure, and the fact that this made the news is a violation of privacy.
One of those forwards, however, included a criticism of the Obamas' holiday trip to Hawaii. Holy God. Do people not remember that Obama is FROM Hawaii, and his family is there, so why in the name of all that is holy would he not go there for Christmas? Did any of us willingly not visit family we like over the holidays? Why should he never get to see his family? Oh, wait, I forgot that he's different from other U.S. presidents and other people with lots of money. The second forward involved a sick joke about a Bible verse. Great. Now we're using the Scriptures to back up violent impulses. What is it about Obama that makes small potatoes politicians think it's okay to make vaguely racist jokes about the president, or to subtly commend assassination? Goodness. If a Muslim were to start praying for the President's demise, would that be labeled a good joke, an exercise of free speech, or terrorism?
I don't exactly love our current president, but there are limits to decency. I'm not saying that the Kansas Speaker of the House should be officially censured or fined or anything like that--he was certainly within the limits of free speech, and again there is a privacy issue when e-mails sent from a personal account become a matter of public record. However, he opened himself up to harsh judgment from decent people everywhere; he demonstrated his underlying attitudes, his personal private attitudes, and they are very ugly indeed, and he deserves scorn from his fellow humans.
Kansas was also bummed this week to find out that the federal government denied a waiver associated with the Affordable Care Act. Dang it, now the insurance companies in our state will have to spend a whole 80% of the premiums they collect on health care. Did you hear that? The health insurers have to pay money for health care, and can't skim as much profit as they want off the top. Boo hoo. (And, according to this article, there is a company in Kansas that has been spending 62% of their premiums on health care. I imagine those kind of profit margins are painful to give up. Almost as painful as not being able to afford medical treatment when you are in pain, or having to lose your house to pay medical bills. Yup. It must hurt.)
I was sad to hear about Boeing's treason, though. The Kansas senators and representatives in D.C. worked hard to award contracts to the airplane company, as the company promised to bring thousands of new jobs to Kansas. Whoops--turns out that Boeing is just another unaccountable, sadistic, lying, psychopathic corporation, and they pulled one over on those rednecks in Kansas! Not only did they not bring the new jobs here, they're pulling their entire factory out of the state (it's a major driver of Wichita's economy). Some government officials keep saying it'll be ok, it's only a couple of thousand jobs, we can recover! They are probably wrong. In a state of our size, a couple thousand good paying jobs are a big deal. I mean, this certainly exposes the foolishness of government (or anyone) trusting corporations or working with them for this sort of thing. From an anarchist perspective, it's a perfect example of the unholy union of government and corporations always screwing over the workers. Still--sucks to be a worker in Wichita. No affirmation of an ideology can help them feel any better.
In other news, we lost a bunch of rights this week when Obama signed the indefensible National Defense Authorization Act that Congress passed; it created a new government right to indefinitely detain (read: imprison) American citizens without trial, if they're suspected of Doing Something Bad. It's not terribly reassuring to remember that we've already been doing that to lots of non-citizens, but now I have joined them in being potential targets for legalized injustice.
In lighter news, Santorum's near-win in the Iowa Caucuses brought great happiness many people; I hear his supporters were delighted with his triumph, the Democrats are thrilled with the thought of facing Santorum in the next election (although we might need to redefine Democrat next, after this freaking NDAA thing), and people with juvenile senses of humor everywhere enjoyed hearty laughter from actual news headlines such as "Santorum Surges from Behind in Iowa." All around, an excellent caucus. The only potential losers would appear if Santorum actually won everything. Then only women, non-straight people, non-child-having people, non-rich people, non-thin people, and non-healthy people have to be worried. Like, 12% of the country would be totally get to keep all their rights in a Santorum presidency! Or even 14%!