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Thursday, May 30, 2013 10:28 am

Nincompoopery at work

My state of Texas seems to have an inordinate share of nincompoops in public office. But it’s only fair that officeholders from other places be considered before deciding which state is the nincompoopiest of all.

Give credit to Pennsylvania, for example, whose GOP governor, Tom Corbett, recently scored big nincompoop points by explaining why his state ranks 49th in job creation. “Many employers,” the guv grumbled during a radio interview, “say, ‘We’re looking for people, but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test.’” Yes, the old my-constituents-are-a-bunch-of-drug-addicts dodge! That’s world-class nincompoopery. Did I mention that Tom’s voter approval rating is down to 38 percent?

But compare Corbett to one of the Lone Star state’s congress-critters, Steve Stockman. Steve’s reelection campaign has put out a bumper sticker with this uplifting thought: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.” Wow – that’s two nincompoopisms in only eight words!

Still, even Steve can’t hold a candle to Rep. Louie Gohmert, the mouth that never shuts. Vice chair of a House homeland security subcommittee, Gohmert recently revealed an astonishing piece of intelligence on the terrorist threat to the U.S. Al-Qaida, he informed the whole world, has set up radical Islamist camps on the “other side” of the Texas-Mexico border.

Really? No. But the Islamist alarmist proceeded to tell us that Mexican drug gangs are teaching al-Qaida infidels how to cross the border into Texas and to help them fit in. Gohmert says the drug cartels are teaching Islamists how to “act like Hispanics.”

Hmmm, wondered many Latinos on “this side,” how does Louie think one would “act” Hispanic? Sing “La Cucaracha,” drive a low-rider, dress up as landscapers? But “think” is not part of Gohmert’s shtick -- his mouth operates on its own without any connection to a brain or reality.

But when it comes to having its share of political nincompoops, few states can keep up with Virginia, thanks to the plethora of political stunts by Eric Cantor, the prancing political prissy who serves as the GOP’s House majority leader. He’s presently trying to pull a con on all of us under the guise of helping working families.

Apparently, Cantor thinks he’s too slick to get caught in an outright legislative lie -- or maybe he thinks we rubes are too dumb to figure out that he’s trying to slick us. Either way, a crude deceit is at the very heart of his “Working Families Flexibility Act,” which he recently slid through the House. His bill would eliminate a central piece of America’s middle-class framework, namely the eight-hour workday and 40-hour week. Under the 1938 Fair Labor Law passed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, bosses can only force hourly employees to work extra by paying an overtime wage for the added hours.

Cantor claims his bill would improve this New Deal protection by letting corporate managers require extra hours on the job without overtime pay by offering “comp time” to the employees. In other words, work more hours now in exchange for taking off those same number of hours later on.

With a wink at corporate lobbyists, Eric slyly refers to this switch as “women-friendly,” allowing working moms the flexibility to decide when to take time off. Therein lies the lie. It’s not workers who get to decide, but bosses. Note that Cantor’s bill provides no guarantee that employees can actually use the time off they supposedly get by giving up extra pay. In fact, they can use the comp time only if and when the employer says it’s OK -- which might be never. For more information, contact the National Partnership for Women and Families at nationalpartnership.org.

Jim Hightower is national radio commentator, columnist and author.

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