Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Boehner and His Boys Fluff that Stimulus

I'm far from the first to point out that too often the government is a man's man's world. And that trickles down enough to leave folks pissed, as men can get health insurance for Viagra but women are denied benefits for birth control. But now, it seems, this age old paradigm is getting played out in the perhaps far-too-well-named stimulus package. We want to erect things. Money for other causes, however, isn't so important.

Take, for instance, the debate over the portion of the package to support family planning. The amount is a mere $200 million, a paltry .025% of the overall total stimulus. But it's become a battleground as John Boehner (and what else could the leader of the dying way be called? you'd get thrown out of a writing workshop with a character named Boehner for clumsy symbolism) wants to claim it's all about contraception. Of course, the Republicans (and, alas, as Crooks & Liars points out, the ever gullible, ever after opposition press) focus on one small part of the issue. The Republicans assume, perhaps correctly, that all their anti-choice folks are really anti-sex except for procreation. So jumping on this as a pork barrel full of condoms seems wise to them.

Because, of course, they're idiots. Family planning means lots of things, a huge part of which is education. That's how pro-choice people are most pro-choice--they want to see everyone have a full range of options. That means education so you know what sex is, how it is, why you might not want to have it, how to have it responsibly. Then, yes, it's good to be able to get free condoms. Fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer abortions then (imagine that). Fewer STDs. It's called preventive medicine. That's always cheaper, so it helps the economy.

Of course, family planning is most important for women, as they're the ones who wind up pregnant without it. And it's most important to poorer people, as they're the ones who hurt the most if they have too many mouths to feed. So, of course, it matters little to the Republicans.

But then there's this, from the SF Chronicle (hat tip to IIRTZ):

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana pointed to a $50 million outlay for the National Endowment for the Arts - an agency that conservatives have long criticized - to help arts groups hit by a drop-off in philanthropy.

"This is stimulus?" Pence asked.

Note first that $50 million is only a quarter of the family planning money that was only .025% of the entire stimulus package. So the amount would have bought you a third of Jackson Pollock's No. 5, 1948 the last time it went up for auction.

But, of course, the NEA has long been a bugaboo for Red Staters, who conveniently ignore Dana Gioia's Republican-friendly leadership since 2004 and instead like to scare folks with Robert Mapplethorpe's photos of naked gay men and Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, a work that's only become more true as rightwingers twist Christ's words into ways of hate (Rick Warren, you're soaking in it).

But I think there's something deeper than a distrust of the arts (which, it must be said, distrust government even more, if with good reason). I think it's that the arts tend to be thought of as women's work, decorative, pretty, and unnecessary. Men build, women draw.

So basically the things the Republicans most dislike in the stimulus package are the things that aren't manly enough for them.

As Katha Pollitt wrote back in December:

The economic stimulus is a great place to start addressing gender inequality. In a recent Boston Globe op-ed, "The Macho Stimulus Plan," economist Randy Albelda points out that the jobs Obama talks about--building roads, bridges and schools, developing eco-friendly technologies--are overwhelmingly held by men. It would be nice if suddenly half of construction workers were female, but given that they're now 2.7 percent, realistically that is not going to happen. Even doubling or tripling the small number of women in the relevant job categories would be a stretch. Albelda proposes an additional stimulus plan, for the female side of the economy: "Caring for those who cannot care for themselves, healthcare, and primary education are the very foundation of a civil society. Investing in these outcomes is as vital to our long-term economic health as airports, highways, wind turbines, and energy-retrofitted buildings." Not only do these jobs disproportionately employ women, she points out, but "investments in direct care, education, and healthcare would also go a long way in alleviating poverty."

As for the poverty of the Republican attack dogs and the media that loves them, that bailout will be a long time coming.



Blogger Smitty said...

I am sick of the Republican machismo rhetoric. Guns! Grr... Military! Gr... Lookm at me, the big man!

I just got another chain email from my neighbor, who is a fine drinking companion, but it was one of those emails where we get the camera view and radio chatter from the inside of what must be an AH-64 Apache. As you can guess, it lit-up a group of 8 or so "bad guys."

Having been in the military, I totally get our firepower. It is sickeningly massive. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why people keep firing at us once we really start laying it down.

Anyway, though I "get" our might, what I don't get is why people who will or have never served insist on watching morbid videos of how "totally awesome" we are. "You see that? We blew them to pieces!"

We who, chicken. Takes guts to pull a trigger, as well as a little piece of you every time you do it. It ain't deer hunting, folks...

These guys are also so good at playing the victim. The poor put-upon white male. All the while passing laws that in the end screw women (and not in the good way). The Judeo Christian bible, from which much of this "morality" stems, is chock-full of anti-female sentiment.


8:21 AM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

Speaking of "manly" things, it sure takes a lot of balls for the Republicans to crap all over this stimulus because they (all of a sudden) care about deficits.

Makes me so angry.

10:20 AM  

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