fresh voices from the front lines of change







A while back I attempted to define “Drop Dead Conservatism.”

High on delusion, denial, and derision, it’s the face of a conservatism unequipped to recognize — let alone meet — the challenges America and the world now face, and blind to the possibility drowning itself in irrelevance. It’s the face of a conservatism that, facing the failure of its ideology, has more anger than answers.

In other words, it’s a conservatism fresh out of ideas, unwilling or unable to “get it” when it comes to the challenges we’re facing today.

Well, if “not getting it” were an olympic event, these guys would “medal.” No question.

For the bronze, we have newly elected RNC Chair Michael Steele, who is open to “punishing” the Republican senators who supported the stimulus, by withholding RNC dollars.

CAVUTO: Republican Senators Collins, Specter, and Snowe who voted for the stimulus plan in the Senate, what…uhh…retribution will you exact?

STEELE: Look, my retribution is the retribution of the voters in their states. They’re going to have to go through a primary in which they’re going to have to explain to those Republican voters in that primary…

CAVUTO: I know, but will you, as RNC head recommend no RNC funds being provided to help them?

STEELE: That is something I’ll talk to the state parties about and we’ll follow their lead.

CAVUTO: So, in other words, are you open to that?

STEELE: Oh, yes, I’m always open to everything, baby, absolutely.

Get rid of the few remaining Republicans who could actually lend the part something resembling relevance? Boom. Done.

These next couple of medals may be handed out at a later date, by those voters Steele mentioned.

The silver may go to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who is among those Republican governor’s making noises about rejecting the stimulus funds. Keep in mind that Georgia just furloughed 25,000 state workers.

Georgia regulators confirmed Tuesday that 25,000 state workers at various agencies have been furloughed over the last six months as part of ongoing budget reduction requirements.

The furloughs, which require workers to take days off without pay, apply to 27% of Georgia’s total workforce of nearly 90,000. News of the furloughs was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Chris Schrimph, a spokesman for Georgia governor Sonny Perdue, said the furloughs have been in place since September and will result in “significant” savings for the cash-strapped state.

The duration of the furloughs varied from agency to agency, but most were limited to one day off per month, Schrimph said.

Georgia is just one of at least 46 states facing shortfalls totaling $144.6 billion in their budgets for this fiscal year or next, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research group that studies fiscal policy at the state and federal level.

Billions of dollars in the hole, but unwilling to take even hundreds of millions that might keep some of those state employees working, and delivering services to Georgian’s who probably need them more than ever. Since Georgia’s unemployment claims surged in January — up 80.7% from January 2008. That’s why Georgia’s Labor Commissioner and Georgia families like Erica Greer’s are pleading with Perdue not to reject stimulus funds.

Tuesday afternoon, members of a family from Kennesaw went to the Governor’s office at the State Capitol in downtown Atlanta to plead with him — don’t.

“I decided to ask if I could speak to somebody, anybody, on his staff,” said Erica Greer.

Erica Greer and her mother, Candace Foss, hand-delivered a letter that Erica wrote to the Governor, asking him not to do what he’s been saying that he might — asking him not to turn down any of the federal stimulus money that’s targeted for expanding Georgia’s limited unemployment benefits.

Candace just lost her job at Home Depot.

She’s just about to turn 60.

“It’s only been three or four weeks that I’ve been unemployed,” Candace said, “but it’s like there’s a big, black hole out there,” impossible for her, so far, to find anyone who’s hiring.

They got in to see an aid to the governor, and came home hoping the governor will get the message — on behalf of the nearly 400,000 Georgians classified as unemployed now.

“I want to be heard,” Erica said, “I want him to understand — these are human beings. These are people. These are the faces of the people that your decisions affect…. We wanted to put a face to the issue so that in a meeting somewhere, some gentleman might say, you know, ‘I remember seeing a lady and her daughter who came in,'” and that might help in the governor’s decision.

“The extension of benefits, and possibly getting maybe a little bit higher benefit, is a resource that I need,” Candace said, “and I know that I’m not the only one in that position.”

“It affects everybody in Georgia who has lost their job,” Erica said.

No word on whether Greer got through to Perdue, or wether he read her letter, but one South Carolina citizen did get through to governor Mark Sanford on CSPAN. [Via Pam’s House Blend.]

South Carolina, with the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, is facing a budget crisis so bad that the state’s unemployment fund is nearly tapped out.

Nonetheless, Sanford says he won’t accept stimulus funds for his state, but he has say what he will do for South Carolina citizens (like student Ty’Sheoma Bethea, who attended president Obama’s speech last night, and whose seriously-in-need-of-repair school the president recalled in his speech). What does Sanford offer to South Carolinians who are hurting in this economy? Prayer, and not much else.

CALLER: I hope you all are not playing politics with this. People in South Carolina are hurting. You know how unemployment rates are high right now and going up higher. We are running out of money in the unemployment bank – we need money for that, the people that need help. And I’m one of them, I can’t get no help. […]

SANFORD: Well I’d say hello to Charleston because its home and I’d say hello to this fellow this morning and say that my prayers are going to be with him and his family because it sounds like he is in an awfully tough spot.

That’s it. Ask God for your bailout. Not the governor.

I don’t know if this will be a regular feature or not. That depends on Republicans. If they do a 180° turn and start offering ideas other than the ones they’ve tried and that have clearly failed, then probably not. If they stick to the script, however, the “Drop Dead Conservatives” winners’ circle could get crowded.

Stay tuned.

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