Monday, March 21, 2016

GOP's garden of fraudulent pretenses

We're told that women's health is the concern motivating increasingly restrictive laws bearing on abortion providers.

No, it's not.

We're told that voter fraud is the concern behind increasingly restrictive voter I.D. laws.

No, it's not.

We're told that more efficient and cost-effective government motivates privatization.

Again, no.

These lies have been sculpted into truths in the Orwellian nomenclature of modern-day Republicanism. In these cases and more, the objective of the policy is clear, while the stated rationale is a joke.

Take Texas' requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they practice and that clinics be upgraded to hospital-standard ambulatory surgical centers. Lawmakers said this is about protecting women.

One heard the "clang" of this claim in arguments before the Supreme Court, with three female justices hearing a major abortion case for the first time, and all homing in on the fraudulent justification for the Texas law. "Women's health"? Oh, yeah.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was particularly aggressive in pointing out that early abortion is "one of the lowest-risk medical procedures," and asking how that pretense could be used to place untenable burdens on millions of women seeking a constitutionally protected procedure.

The Texas law is what it is: a TRAP (targeted restriction on abortion providers) meant to shut them down. Call it what it is, GOP.

The same rhetorical fraudulence is used to justify voter I.D. laws. Considering how many have sprung from the fertile loam of GOP-controlled statehouses, you'd think we had a voter fraud crisis. The long wait for any such evidence of this means the rationale is as phony as the kiss of a Botox junkie.

With as little voter fraud as has been detected in (name your red state), HBO's John Oliver calls draconian ballot security laws "the biggest overreaction to a manageable problem since Sleeping Beauty's father ordered all the spinning wheels in the land to be burned."

We know exactly why the GOP had made these laws its mission: because they reduce turnout by poor people and people of color, and those people tend to vote Democratic. Of this there is no question. So why lie?

This brings us to the fraud called privatization – supposedly a better way to do what government does. Again, we await evidence of this. Still waiting.

After Hurricane Katrina it was convenient to blame government for the response that left so many hanging. However, as Naomi Klein writes in "The Shock Doctrine," the ineptitude more properly was the result of free enterprise – contractors hired by the Bush administration whose heads weren't in the game.

Klein identifies a new vulture-like creature she calls the Disaster Capitalism Complex, which is there to serve . . . well, itself, mostly.

Save tax dollars? Watch Robert Greenwald's scalding documentary, "Iraq for Sale," which in part is about the ungodly cost overruns by contractors during our military occupation of Iraq. We'll never know how much of the national debt so decried by the tea party was rung up by no-bid insiders like Halliburton and KBR Inc.

It reminds me of an exasperated regional director for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation who explained that, when the state set out to privatize its services, it made no requirement that the bidders do the services at a lower cost. They just needed to step forward to offer their services.

In other words, this wasn't about doing something government couldn't do at a cost savings. It was about scratching the itch of anti-government ideologues who simply didn't believe in government -- oh, and about awarding friends and donors with lucrative contracts.

You see, Mr. Ideologue, we know what you want in each case, even when lies are spun to convince us your motives are Snow White-pure.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:


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