Grandmothers Are "IN"

Much has been made lately of the influx of women into the power centers of government, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s been generally accepted that the ladies certainly have the brain-power and bring a badly needed modicum of integrity to bear on the serious problems the nation faces. The highest placed government figure is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Senator Clinton, as many would have it.

Even before taking office, Pelosi advertised the fact that she would see to it that her crony, John Murtha of ABScam fame (or infamy), would replace her as majority leader, notwithstanding the natural accession to that post of Steny Hoyer, the previous Whip. Her colleagues turned her around big-time on that decision. So…what was a poor girl to do? There was one area in her bailiwick to where smokers could repair on a hard day of legislating in order to indulge themselves and relieve the stress. Pelosi, by fiat of the Speakership, declared that very piece of the Capitol to be a no-smoking zone…so there!…you smelly tobacco-heads…and take note, Hoyer, lest you get in her sights again! That’s leadership! Anyway, the House has a “twofer” in Pelosi, namely, a speaker and a nanny (or make that grand-nanny).

Then came the most glorious opportunity in years – the raising of the minimum wage. Pelosi was in her element, the grandmotherly emblem of all that’s right in this world…setting things straight for the wage-challenged downtrodden, relatively few of whom are household-supporters. There’s nothing wrong, however, with ratcheting up the minimum wage since it could be argued sensibly that a raise was long overdue, even though democrats last year sank such a bill. In the bargain, the increase was also mandated for U.S. Territories…a magnanimous gesture of caring.

This meant that the increase applied to Territories such as the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, those exotic paradises in the South Pacific. But whoa, there, ol’ pardner! American Samoa? Yeah…that’s right, a perfectly good, upstanding American outpost. A strange thing happened, however, while the minimum-wage bill was snaking its way through the maze of pits along the legislative zoo-paths. American Samoa was EXEMPTED from the minimum-wage requirement.

How come? Is there something unduly egregious about American Samoa that would cause such discrimination against American Samoan workers? Well, no…American Samoa is a perfectly respectable, law-abiding territory, though it rarely if ever furnishes a Major league Baseball player. However, the huge food conglomerates Del Monte and Chicken-of-the-Sea employ nearly three-fourths of the work force on American Samoa (5,000 souls), and could not be expected to welcome a mandate trifling with their low wages. “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” as Gomer Pyle would say. The headquarters of both of these food-giants are located in California, Del Monte right in Pelosi’s home district of San Francisco. Enough said?

Actually, the fallout from this bit of legislative skullduggery provided the best show in town for the week. While Massachusetts’ own congressional icon, Barney Frank, was acting speaker, this shabby mess was brought to the House’s attention by a congressman who wondered (tongue-in-cheek) if American Samoa could also be exempt from the stem-cell legislation, whereupon (seen by this writer on a TV news-program) Congressman Frank waxed apoplectic, waving the huge gavel and nearly destroying the Speaker’s “sacred desk” with it while SHOUTING DOWN the offending congressman. Great theater! Laughter still reigns, especially since it has been brought out that the worthy congress-people hadn’t had time – or taken time – to read the bill. Well…of course! That was the whole point. Caught red-handed, Pelosi might have handled things differently, but she was conveniently AWOL.

Actually, the ladies will never descend to the level of the men in Congress vis-à-vis shenanigans of this sort (think Abramoff, Foley, Hastings, Jefferson for starters, recently), although Senator Boxer showcased her IQ (Insult Quota) when she got in a few licks against State Secretary Rice in Rice’s appearance before “Buddy” (his term of endearment for Attorney General Gonzales) Biden’s lynch-mob known as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – mainly that Rice, not being married and (gasp) not having children or even grandchildren (though Boxer noted that she had both), couldn’t understand the sacrifices involved by American GIs and their families. This sort of viciousness seemed to permeate that committee. Since Boxer thinks Rice is a senseless, insensitive robot, she obviously was exhibiting her other IQ by not understanding that she was ineffectively insulting a rock. One wonders if Boxer thinks she should be on that particular committee, since she’s never dealt with heads of state (probably doesn’t play the piano, either), as Rice has/does.

But, then, there’s Hillary, perhaps the cleverest of the distaff, since she interprets polls better than anyone else and acts accordingly, not to mention that she bought New York fair and square. Of course, she was not smart enough to buy her home state of Illinois instead of New York, and so now she must face the Media’s new poster-boy, Barack Obama, who by his being such a darling “hunk” has captivated the soccer moms and little old ladies in blue hair – a large segment of the vote.