Dipping The News In 40-Grade Sarcasm
Welcome to hump day, where the Midwest hopes its collective ass doesn’t freeze off and folks in the Northeast are checking out igloo design plans. It’s cold outside but the news is hot. So hot, in fact, that we’re avoiding talking about Aleppo because the situation there is changing so quickly this morning that anything we say about it is going to be wrong 30 minutes later. Actor Alan Thicke, the dad on Growing Pains died, by the way. And the whole Russian hacking thing is downright spooky.
We’re not talking about those things this morning, though. Why? Because people are stupid and we have to guard against stupid people before they ruin everyone’s lives, especially when the stupidity reaches the higher levels of government. We normally wouldn’t disparage our leaders quite to this degree, but what they’ve done in the past 24 hours is a bit over the top.
We start this morning talking about babies.
1. Country girls need to sober up
Once upon a time, the stereotype of a country girl was that she was sweet, innocent, and hard working. Well, you can just put that characterization on the shelf because it’s much more likely that she’s drugged out of her fucking mind, doesn’t know what she’s doing, and her baby is paying for her choices. Urban women are having much healthier babies and it’s not necessarily because they have access to better healthcare.
What’s going on? Research published Monday shows that the rate of drug-dependent babies has jumped a whopping 80 percent in rural counties since 2004.1 Increased opioid use, which is an increasing problem nationwide, is largely to blame. Addicted mothers are more likely to spend what little money they have on drugs. They’re less likely to work and less likely to receive a sufficient level of prenatal care because of their drug use.
Pediatricians are talking about something called “Neonatal abstinence syndrome,” which typically occurs while the fetus is still in the uterus. Newborns not only suffer from dangerously low birth weights, but also tend to have seizures, fever, and tremors. Doctors are having to use methadone on babies, tiny little newborn babies, in order to wean them off the fucking drugs!
On what planet is this situation acceptable? Don’t look to the government for help. Congressional Republicans can’t cut funding for health care fast enough. Even if they did keep funding in place, government policies on drug use and abuse have been misplaced for over 30 years. They don’t know what they’re doing. We need a better drug policy quickly before our infant mortality rate starts to resemble that of a third world country.
2. Getting Government Out Of The Womb
I am absolutely shocked at the number of stories popping up this week regarding abortion and a woman’s choice. Just in case you’ve never met me, let me be very clear on where I stand: if you’re not a woman capable of having children, you just need to keep your fucking mouth shut. You don’t get an opinion, you don’t get a voice, because it’s none of your fucking business. Government, especially, has absolutely no business dictating when, where, or under what conditions a woman should or should not have a baby. This is a woman’s choice and any interference with that choice is wrong.
Yet, state legislatures especially just keep tossing abortion laws up there and getting them knocked back down by federal courts. Yesterday, Ohio Governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich had two such bills on his desk. One was the controversial “heartbeat” bill that would have outlawed abortion as soon as a heartbeat was detectable, as early as six weeks. He vetoed that one, which was exactly what he should have done. However, before you go giving the governor a pat on the back, you should know that he signed a 20-week abortion bill, furthering the war on women and their bodies2.
In Oklahoma yesterday, the state supreme court tossed a law requiring abortion clinics to have doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals3. This is good news, though I can promise you there aren’t that many abortion clinics in Oklahoma to begin with. Still, a win is a win, right? Hold on. At the exact same time, the state’s Department of Health says it’s considering new regulations that would force hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and public schools to post signs inside public restrooms with information about abortion alternatives4. The signs would read:
There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you carry your child to term and assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.
We have a six-year-old in our house who is in first grade and catching on to reading rather quickly. She reads everything, especially signs. Do I want her going into the restroom at a pizza place and seeing that sign? Hell no!
Not only that, the agency isn’t providing any funding for the signs. Those hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, and schools are going to have to pay for those signs out of their own pocket. If the signs aren’t there, it is a health code violation and the facility can be fined or possibly even closed.
I have to stop my rant here because I’m out of time, but this is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever seen Oklahoma do, and trust me, I’ve seen them do some really stupid things in the past few years.
3. The Poor Don’t Get To Retire
One of the things the Department of Labor has been touting over the past year has been the reduction in the unemployment rate since the Obama administration took office in 2009. Statistics for the month of November show unemployment continues to decrease, falling to 4.6 percent5. However, what’s buried deep in those statistics is an alarming fact that 18.3 percent of the workforce is part-time. That particular little stat has only dropped less than two percent, from 20.1, since 2010. Sure, people have jobs, but they’re making shit wages and having to run from one job to another just to make ends meet.
There are many downsides to part-time employment, but long-term one of the biggest disadvantages is that these people typically don’t get benefits. They don’t have access to any kind of an employer-sponsored 401K or any other retirement plan. And even if they did have access to those plans, they wouldn’t have enough expendable income to be able to participate. We’re talking about people who already make so little money they have to worry about keeping the lights on, the kids fed, and a roof over their heads.
Sure, they’re paying into Social Security, but Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to steal that money from us. Just yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security, introduced a bill that would raise the retirement age and decrease benefits for a large number of seniors6. Congress seems to routinely forget that Social Security is not an entitlement program. Social Security is money we paid into the system with every freakin’ paycheck we’ve ever earned. We deserve every last dime of it, with interest.
This is yet another sign of how completely blind Congress is to the needs of the poor. Why we keep electing the bastards I don’t know.
4. Don’t Light That Candle
Candles are big business this time of year with all the holiday decorations and everything, but if you recently purchased one from the Yankee Candle Company, you might want to take it back before you risk lighting the thing. The candle company has announced a recall of some 31,000 candles due to what it calls a “laceration hazard7.” Apparently, when one lights the candle the glass around it breaks.
Now, before you go snatching up every candle in the house, you should know that the recall only applies to a select group of candles sold between September and November of this year. However, you won’t find any mention of the recall on their website. Nowhere. We looked. And while the whole “laceration hazard” thing sounds really dangerous, no one has actually been hurt. The candles don’t shatter, they crack.
While we don’t want to question the authenticity of the recall, the way Yankee Candle is handling it makes it look more like a stunt to get people back into their stores before the holidays. You go to return the candle, and not only do you get a replacement, you’re likely to pick up two or three more while you’re there. Maybe it’s just me, but this has a shady feel to it that dampens my holiday spirit (as if I actually had any).
5. And Finally …
Wonder Woman has gotten the boot from the United Nations8. The 75-year-old comic book character was presented back in October as the UN’s honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. However, there were a lot of people who didn’t exactly agree with that move. On one hand, the UN was giving a dominant voice to a character owned by a for-profit company, as it so happens, has a movie about this very character coming out in the near future. There seemed to be some ethics blurring here. Others, to no one’s surprise, were upset because of how they view Wonder Woman’s costume, which we might kindly refer to as “voluptuous.” Let’s be honest, there have been a lot of adolescent boys over the years who had wet dreams about having a Wonder Woman in their lives. Freud would have a field day.
The problem with the sudden dismissal of Wonder Woman from her honorary position is that it reeks of body shaming. Wonder Woman is too curvy, her outfit is too revealing, and therefore she is unfit to be an example for women and girls.
Bullshit. The real problem people have, and have always had, with Wonder Woman is that she’s a strong, independent female who defies the norms and kicks the boys’ asses on a regular basis. Wonder Woman doesn’t give a shit what you think about her body or how she chooses to dress, and that bothers a lot of people, especially men who happen to dominate the UN. Just how afraid are men at the UN afraid of women? In the recent search for a new Secretary General, the UN bypassed seven, count ’em, seven women, who were fully qualified and settled, once again, on a man.
Maybe pairing with a character from a for-profit company wasn’t the greatest of ideas, but the world needs to get over this fear of strong women, or any woman for that matter. Stop perpetuating the myth that attractive women aren’t as intelligent or as worthy or as strong as anyone else. We have to be better than that.
And with that, we’re out of time for today. There is still so very much more that I could probably continue for another 30 minutes. Be careful where you get your information, though. We’ve seen a lot of fake news in this cycle as well. Watch your sources. Stay warm out there and have a good day.