The Republic of T.

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When Parody Met Reality

By now most people have probably read about the alleged John Boehner interview with Matt Taibbi, that apparently turned out to be a hoax. It appeared on a non-news site called RumorMiller, and then without a link to original source.

Yet, it took of like wildfire across the web. And that’s what’s really interesting about it. Not that someone took the time to create and publish it, but that it was so readily believed by so many people, and what that says about conservatism.

A closer read suggests that what’s being called a hoax, is actually a parody. And a damn good one at that.  I’m not saying that conservatives have become a parody of themselves, when a parody it taken for fact and rocketed around world before anyone realized what it was, that says a lot in and of itself.

I mean, "John Boehner" "said" some pretty incredible things in that "interview."

Congressman John Boehner revealed his thoughts on the US unprecedented economic crisis in an interview with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. Taibbi was granted access to Boehner while preparing to cover the 2 year anniversarry of the angry town halls. Boehner stuck to Republican party talking points until Taibbi during a coffee break asked Boehner about today’s young people. Boehner, apparently unaware he was still on record unleashed a speech straight out of Atlas Shrugged. What follow are the excerpts distributed by Rolling Stone

Boehner: "Can’t pay your student loan? Face it your parents were lazy and you couldn’t afford college. The world needs ditch diggers and you were born into a family of them. Can’t pay your mortgage? Your house was too expensive and you couldn’t afford it. Your taxes going up too much? That’s what you get for electing a democrat president. Never had a job after you got a degree? You learned nothing in school and you’re lazy. I didn’t get to be a congressman by watching jersey shore or playing xbox. You think there’s no jobs for you? There used to be. There was when I was your age. You don’t have fee time because you have to work all days of the week for 16 hours a day and you don’t get paid hourly? Thank the unions. They made decent jobs so out of price range of the average American company that they can’t hire anymore people and the works’ gotta get done. These unions… I tell you they won’t be happy till no one in America has a job. And health care? Don’t get me started on health care- doctors study their entire lives and they barely make enough to live and yet Obama, who had his entire life handed to him on a silver plate wants to cut their pay. You know that’s gonna do? Increase costs- the average persons going to have to work even harder just to see a doctor. "

The thing is, if this is parody, it isn’t that far from reality. Those may not have been Boehner’s words, but you don’t have far to go to find a Republican who’s expressed those sentiments and meant it. Carl Paladino, tea party favorite and Republican candidate for governor of New York, announced that he would bring back workhouses for welfare recipients, and just one of the countless crazy things conservatives have said in the past year or so — said and meant.

Not that John Boehner actually advocated 16 hour workdays, or longed for the "good old days" before the 8-hour workday. (And Boehner couldn’t have been yearning for the America he grew up in, when union membership was 30%, the top marginal tax rate for the wealthy was 90%, the federal government undertook a huge public works project called the interstate highway system, and the Republican president was a staunch supporter of Social Security, unemployment benefits, and labor laws. Not when his party is so close to snuffing it out.)

But in Maine, Republican governor Paul LePage is backing a proposal to undo child labor laws.

The legislation is sponsored by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, and backed by Gov. Paul LePage. Both believe high school-age students should be allowed to work longer hours and more often during the school year.

Opponents said the proposal would dial back child-labor protections enacted in 1991 to prevent employers from pressuring minors into working longer hours. They also worried the proposal would shift emphasis from education and school-sponsored, extra-curricular activities.

Currently, 16- and 17-year-olds can work a maximum of 20 hours per week when school is in session. On school days, students can work a maximum of four hours a day and no later than 10 p.m.

Plowman’s bill would increase the weekly limit by 12 hours, from 20 to 32 hours. It would also allow minors to work six-hour days, up until 11 p.m.

Even better, Plowman actually sounds a bit like the John Beohner in the parody above.

"We have no other restrictions on any other things they do, They can play sports 32 hours-a-week. They can watch TV 32 hours-a-week. They can skateboard 32 hours-a-week," says Republican state Sen. Debra Plowman. Plowman sees no good reason why teenagers shouldn’t be able to work thirty-two hours-a-week too.

Plowman is sponsoring a bill that would let them do just that. It would also allow teens to work six hours in a given day, instead of four, and permit them to stay on the job an hour later in the evening—to 11:00 on school nights and midnight on weekends.

"By making it permissive, then the kids who do need to save for college, who do need to have more income, for whatever reason, can learn how to balance earlier than most kids do the need to work and the need to get good grades," she says.

Thus this parody by Zina Saunders.

This isn’t the first time parody has been mistaken for reality. This piece, supposedly written by a parent and Ayn Rand fan in defense of her daughter’s selfishness on the playground, was posted far and wide.

When little Aiden toddled up our daughter Johanna and asked to play with her Elmo ball, he was, admittedly, very sweet and polite. I think his exact words were, "Have a ball, peas [sic]?" And I’m sure you were very proud of him for using his manners.

To be sure, I was equally proud when Johanna yelled, "No! Looter!" right in his looter face, and then only marginally less proud when she sort of shoved him.

The thing is, in this family we take the philosophies of Ayn Rand seriously. We conspicuously reward ourselves for our own hard work, we never give to charity, and we only pay our taxes very, very begrudgingly.

Since the day Johanna was born, we’ve worked to indoctrinate her into the truth of Objectivism. Every night we read to her from the illustrated, unabridged edition of Atlas Shrugged—glossing over all the hardcore sex parts, mind you, but dwelling pretty thoroughly on the stuff about being proud of what you’ve earned and not letting James Taggart-types bring you down. For a long time we were convinced that our efforts to free her mind were for naught, but recently, as we’ve started socializing her a little bit, we’ve been delighted to find that she is completely antipathetic to the concept of sharing. As parents, we couldn’t have asked for a better daughter.

That’s why, when Johanna then began berating your son, accusing him of trying to coerce from her a moral sanction of his theft of the fruit of her labor, in as many words, I kind of egged her on. Even when Aiden started crying.

Again, it took a while before people started seeing it for the parody that it was. Not surprising, considering that Rand has become the favorite political philosopher of the Tea Party and thus the GOP.

Plus, it kinda reflects how some of today’s big name politicians were raised.

Again, I’m not saying the GOP has become a parody of itself, but….

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