Friday, March 10, 2006

George Bush clears brush and drops his g's. John Kerry windsurfs and speaks French. That's the kind of thing you're suppose to pay attention to when trying to determine which party represents the interests of "the elites" and which one cares about "regular Americans." You're not supposed to pay attention to this:

...Last month, ... the bedding industry persuaded the Consumer Product Safety Commission to adopt a rule over the objections of safety groups that would limit the ability of consumers to win damages under state laws for mattresses that catch fire. The move was the first instance in the agency's 33-year history of the commission's voting to limit the ability of consumers to bring cases in state courts.

Or this:

In January, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug label rule that pre-empts state laws. The rule will make it easier for pharmaceutical makers to prevail in consumer lawsuits that could have been brought under state laws more favorable to victims.

Or this:

Pending before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are proposals announced last year by the agency that would pre-empt state laws on the safety standards for car roofs and seat positions. A third rule proposed by the traffic safety agency would preclude states from adopting more stringent fuel emission standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Or this:

This week, the Office of Thrift Supervision, a unit of the Treasury Department, successfully challenged a law recently adopted in Montgomery County, Md., a suburb of Washington, that was intended to reduce discriminatory lending practices.

Didn't know about any of this? Neither did I. This you might have heard about:

On Wednesday the House of Representatives, at the urging of the White House and the food industry, adopted a food safety measure that would prevent the states from imposing higher standards than those set by the F.D.A. The bill, which faces an uncertain future in the Senate, was strongly opposed by the states. They say it would undermine scores of stringent state laws and regulations.

Americans should resent all this (or at least the portion of it they hear about in between white-women-in-peril stories on the news). But even when these stories make the news, it doesn't matter: Republicans have diverted ordinary citizens' natural resentment of arrogant economic elitism by focusing everyone's attention on supposed cultural elitism. Pay no attention to that bankruptcy law that could send you to the poorhouse. Two guys are kissing onscreen at the multiplex!


(In the interests of equal time, I should point out that a "scholar" from the American Enterprise Institute insists that the stricter state regulations "hamper research and innovation." I guess being burned alive in your bed is a real spur to creativity.)

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