The Follies

The Follies

- in Fitzsimon File

Half a misleading loaf

The Wall Street bailout and worries over the economy may be dominating campaign speeches these days, but that doesn’t mean some pandering politicians and the think thanks that support them aren’t still willing to demagogue immigration every chance they get.

They were at it again last week when during a visit to North Carolina, Barack Obama told WUNC radio that he supported allowing undocumented students to attend community college in North Carolina.

The community college board recently voted to deny undocumented students admission, reversing an earlier decision to let them enroll if they pay out-of-state tuition, which is more than it costs the state to educate them. 

McCain’s campaign issued a statement after Obama’s interview saying McCain is opposed to giving any benefits to illegal immigrants, which doesn’t even apply in this case since paying out of state tuition does not give the students a benefit that other North Carolina residents enjoy.

One of Raleigh’s right-wing think tanks piled on, saying that Obama doesn’t respect the rule of law.

Neither the post nor McCain’s campaign spin machine saw fit to mention that in the last three congressional sessions, McCain has co-sponsored the Dream Act, which among other things would allow undocumented students to attend public universities and pay in-state tuition.

Pesky facts.

Upset about parity

The folks over at the Civitas Institute are lamenting that Congress passed a mental health parity bill Friday that the Bush Administration, insurance companies, and mental health advocates all support.

The Civistasers claim the legislation will drive up insurance costs for families but neglect to mention that any increase in costs (which evidence shows will be very small) will be more than made up for by increased productivity of workers, not to mention the benefit of helping people with an addiction turn their lives around.

The bailout will command most of the media attention, but this an important day for people with a mental illness and their families and good for Congress for passing it.

The tilted view of government

Speaking of the folks at Civitas, they reached new heights this week in their demonization of the government, blaming it for all the problems with health care and the financial market. Nothing would ever happen if folks would just realize that the holy magic market is the solution to every problem.

The latest rant not only says that government creates a socialist patchwork health care system, then government wants to help the system out with a “full tilt single-payer socialism.”  Guess we have a half-tilt system now.

Government in this scary world view is something separate and apart, like a foreign invader. It also is an interest group that wants to help itself out and lobby itself.  

At last check, we all elect the people who run the government. It works for us. It’s just a way we organize ourselves to make decisions about our communities. And it doesn’t “want” anything. 

There’s a tilt here alright, but it’s the folks at Civitas who are seriously off kilter.

The teapot museum lives on

It has been almost a year since plans for a teapot museum in Western North Carolina were abandoned, but you’d never know it listening to the political campaigns this fall.

State Senate candidate Louis Pate rails against the museum as an example of pork barrel spending in his television commercial and at one point actually holds up a colorfully painted teapot to somehow illustrate his point.

Senate candidate Michael Lee brought up the museum recently in a radio debate with his opponent, Senator Julia Boseman, citing the museum as an example of wasteful spending by the General Assembly.

It has primarily been Republicans who have railed against the museum. Both Pate and Lee are Republican candidates. The market fundamentalist think tanks have incorporated a sound bite about the museum into their antigovernment talking points. It often pops up in congressional campaign speeches about ending earmarks in the federal budget.

But Senator Richard Burr and Rep. Virginia Foxx both sought federal funding for the museum, though their efforts are rarely mentioned. Foxx and Burr are both Republicans and often rail against earmarks and wasteful spending.

The teapot museum may never be built, but it lives on in the hypocritical world of right-wing politics.