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NASCAR & Wisconsin

BY BEAU ELLIOT | FEBRUARY 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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You’ll be happy to know that U.S. House Republicans have killed a Democratic measure to halt the Defense Department’s financial support of NASCAR. And also killed funds for a peace institute (also a Democratic measure).

What were those Democrats thinking? If you can call it that. Everyone knows that peace doesn’t exist in the world and probably not anywhere in the universe (because who knows exactly anything about peace when the universe is full of dark matter and dark energy?).

I admit, those last two suggest that Dick Nixon — and H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichmann — are still running things. Which pretty much destroys my belief that there is no Heaven, no Hell. Or at least the no-Hell part. Oh, well; beliefs are probably born in order to be later destroyed. Kind of like humans, who believe those beliefs in the first place (and in the second place and the third place and you get the idea).

But Defense Department’s support of NASCAR? I thought Barack Obama won, not Dick (there’s that word again) Cheney.

I suppose that hundreds of thousands of people soaking up some really keen air pollutants while their eardrums get split by nuclear-weapon-size decibels in a NASCAR race is the American way, and far be it from me to deny Americans that particular pleasure.

Even if I don’t wish to participate.

On the other hand, because there always seem to be so many hands in this life, of course the Defense Department should fund NASCAR. Even when, according to the GOP, we can’t afford to fund poor kids’ education or school lunches, or clean air or water, or anybody’s health care who didn’t become fortunate enough to be elected to Congress or become a corporate executive. But, Republicans insist, the Defense Department should give money to NASCAR because big-assed cars that use up tons of fuel, pollute in a grand twofer (both small-particulate matter and greenhouse-gas emissions), and promote the white-male way are what made America great.

So, yeah — be all you can be, Talladega Nights and Daytona Days (or perhaps Daytona Daze).

What didn’t make America great, apparently, are labor unions.

At least, that’s the word from Wisconsin, where the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, seems dead set on taking away the right of public workers to organize and bargain collectively. The state is broke — what state isn’t? — so death to the public unions.

Curiously, Walker does not want to take that right to unionize away from all public employees in Wisconsin. Some — some police, state troopers, some fire departments — would retain the right.
What’s curious about that? you ask. Those employees tend to vote Republican.

So Republican unions are good, and Democratic unions are bad is the message Wisconsin is sending us.

Of course, if you’ve been following the news, you know that tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin have been protesting the governor’s move for around two weeks now — so many that Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan, who is the Republicans’ budget guru these days, said: It’s like Cairo has moved to Madison.

Which means Gov. Walker is Hosni Mubarak?

Well, that’s probably not what Ryan meant. In any case, it’s been great fun watching Wisconsin, what with the Democratic state senators dashing off into hiding to prevent the Senate from moving forward with the governor’s plan and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald threatening to send the state troopers after them.

Fitzgerald, as Gail Collins of the New York Times cheerily informs us, is the brother of the leader of the other house of the Wisconsin Legislature, Jeff Fitzgerald. And they happen to be the sons of the head of the state patrol, Stephen Fitzgerald.

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

And it’s a lot more fun than NASCAR.


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