In Other Do-Nothing Congress News…

No minimum wage raise, either:

A bid to boost the U.S. minimum wage by about 41 percent failed Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed back an effort by Democrats to force a vote on the measure. Democrats said they will try again.

The House Appropriations Committee voted 34 to 28 against attaching a minimum-wage provision to the proposed spending measures for the departments of State, Justice and Commerce. The provision would have raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15, the first increase since 1997.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said last week that he wanted to hold off on debating minimum wage legislation until possibly after the November elections. House Majority Leader John Boehner also said he probably wouldn't allow the legislation to reach the House floor this week.
Exactly one week after giving themselves a raise.

Billmon says, “I have to admit, even I didn't think the political pimps in control of our national whorehouse would have the gall to sneak through a pay raise for themselves, then turn around a week later and kill the first increase in the minimum wage in almost ten years. Even I wouldn't have imagined they would think they could get away with it. Not in an election year. I guess it's their way of showing Tom DeLay they don't need him around to act like a pen full of swine with a taste for eating their own feces. The Bug Man may be gone, but his pestilence remains.”

The GOP has managed to repeatedly and shamelessly exploit the greatest weakness of the generally disengaged American electorate—the cognitive dissonance which allows them to concurrently hold the conflicting beliefs that our government can be trusted and all politicians are crooks.

It is that bizarre yet intractable dichotomy in which the possibility (and inevitability) of a culture of political disengagement resides. Trusting the government to do no deliberate harm to its people permits the denial of wrongdoing—“Our government wouldn’t do that”—unless and until the evidence becomes overwhelming, at which time the second rationalization kicks in—“Well, all politicians are crooks, anyway; what do you expect?” From naïveté to apathy, in one lazy step.

Leaping from one to the other skips over the middle ground in which the politically active reside, that constant state of awareness, connectivity, attention. It is that space from whence government accountability—and therefore good governance—springs, but such is dependent on a majority of the electorate being willing to do the important work of a democratic citizen. Leaving a small group to carry the burden of caring doesn’t work—especially when the party in power has endeavored to marginalize them as hysterical lunatics at every turn and the impetus to stay disengaged makes accepting that characterization so very appealing, conveniently masking as it does any reminder that one’s own indifference is not just ignoble, but dangerous.

As long as the majority of Americans insist on maintaining their illogical, disparate regard for government and the people who run it, and uncritically subscribing to the notion that those of us who don’t share their interest in preserving a lethargic freedom from responsibility are simply nuts, the GOP will continue to make hay out of the opportunity such dismal circumstance supplies. Why not give themselves a raise while denying the same to working Americans? Who’s going to stop them? Who will do anything more than grouse about those damn, dirty politicians, of whom we can imagine no better anyhow?

As frustrated as I am with the GOP, though, I’m even more angry at the millions of Americans who can’t even bother to be frustrated, who instead offer little more than a shrug, or, maddeningly, a chastisement that I am the fool, for firmly holding onto my belief that we can—and should—expect more. At least when someone like Tom DeLay finally, at long last, has pushed the bounds of propriety so far that the law pushes back, we have the possibility of accountability. But who is going to hold our fellow Americans to account for their dereliction of duty?

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