Dishonesty and hypocrisy. Those two character traits that help define most politicians worldwide. In the United States, dishonesty and hypocrisy know no party line boundaries, although in Texas, it seems to apply almost exclusively to Republicans.
And, as we move to the end of 2016, the horrific year for people whose votes and politics represent kindness and decency, Greg Abbott and the rest of the GOP mobsters have found one more way to support my case for those labels. As the Texas Tribune reported on Nov. 28, Abbott and his right-wing administration, tried to slip through regulations requiring health care providers to cremate or bury fetal remains. The rules would bar disposing those remains as proper medical waste in sanitary landfills. I won’t rehash the pros and cons of the proposal because the state received some 35,000 comments about these rules. And, thankfully, those in our society who wish to protect people’s, and especially women’s, privacy caught the sneak attack and made it public.
So where is the dishonesty?
The Tribune reports that Abbott was behind the rules. Abbott explained his rationale for the rules in a fundraising email. Yep, a fundraising email. Abbott argued that “fetal remains should (not) be ‘treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills.’” Now, Texas politics is notoriously and infamously hardball. But Abbott’s rationale he pulled from his cesspool of a political mind reaches a new low. This wasn’t about public health or protecting the environment. This wasn’t about the respect or the dignity of fetal remains. This wasn’t about respect and compassion for women or for their families. It was a crass tossing of red meat into the zoo cages of Abbott’s ignorant right-wing base.
I don’t need lectures here about knowing the mind and heart of the person currently infesting the governor’s office in Austin. As the lawyers say, “Res ipsa loquitur.” The thing speaks for itself.
And what about the hypocrisy? In this case, it comes on the personal level for Abbott and on a general level for the Republicans.
While jogging, a tree fell on Abbott. He sustained an injury that has left him in a wheelchair. He won a massive judgment, perhaps well-deserved. But later, he also backed “tort reform,” a corporatist mechanism and legal fiction to limit awards for people injured in a variety of circumstances. I will never forget this personal hypocrisy, for as much as I feel compassion for people injured and disabled this way, it reflects that flaw of character so prevalent on right-wing circles: “I’ve got mine, to hell with you.”
As for the more general hypocrisy? The Republican Party, dominated by right-wingers and dominionists, babble that government is too intrusive and the party’s role is to foster freedom by protecting us from “overreach.” That is a bald-faced lie. I have yet to get a rational and coherent answer to the question that essentially asks, “If the party is so committed to keeping government off our backs, why is it so committed to inserting government into our genitals. It's either our bodies and our persons or it isn't. And, the GOP's stand for privacy? How about respecting our bathrooms and our bedrooms. If the party is so bent on protecting our religious freedoms, why does it impose its interpretation of whatever randomly chosen scripture to drive law in a secular society? Is that not the equivalent of saying, “We’re not going to permit Sharia law here but we’re going to impose Christian law here?” And, note, the Christian law Republicans want to impose is from the Old Testament and has more common with Sharia law than real Christian law. Remember, there is only one Christian law and it’s in the New Testament and is spoken by Jesus himself, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” It is quite simple, isn't it?
Maybe the reason we, as a society and as citizens of Texas, aren’t getting an answer is that there is no rational or decent way to explain these Republican positions. The only way for the right-wing to explain this is simple: We are going to control you, enrich our corporations and eventually crush the middle class and the poor. And then we’re going to proclaim we’re good Christians adhering to the Gospel of Prosperity.
And that, my friends, is the truth.
Editorial Note: Associated Press style rules call for the use of titles or “honorifics” to indicate the roles of people covered in a story or commentary. These titles help readers understand how and where subjects fit into the scheme of things and they offer a modicum of respect. However, respect is earned and in my writings, I will indicate respect either overtly or subtly by using either titles or descriptors. For example, unless the Electoral College comes to its senses, I will not refer to the currently presumed president elect by name or title. When you see Biff Tannen or Biff, you will know to whom I refer. If you don’t, Google the “Back to the Future” films.