Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Whole Lot of Hat and Damned Little Cattle

“Wal,” said the cowboy as he blew the smoke from the barrels of his imaginary six-shooters, after the televised debate. “I guess I showed them varmints.”
“What varmints?” wondered one witness.
“Them panty waisted wannabes, o’ course.” he responded. “They ain’t got the right stuff, ain’t got the horsepower. None of ‘em do. I’m the one with the horsepower!”
“Yes, you took the fight right to them, but they got some good licks in on you too.” said the witness.
“Don’t matter none. I’m gonna blow ‘em all away. I got the image, I got the style, and most important I got the record. Cain’t none a-them touch my record.”
“What record is that?” asked the witness. 
“Job creation an’ tax cuttin’!” said the cowboy. “We created a million jobs in my state while the US Gummint lost 2 million, an’ I run the most business friendly state in the country.”
“But, wasn’t the job growth because of the gas and oil boom?” asked the witness.
“Wal, course it was mostly, but don’t forget since I was running things I still get the credit.”
“So, are you taking credit for the highest state illiteracy rate in the country?” asked the witness.
“Tain’t my fault. We got all them wetbacks coming across the border, and that’s bound to hurt our record.”
“How’s about having the lowest high school graduation rate in the country?” asked the witness.
“Same answer.” said the cowboy laconically.
“And that wouldn’t have anything to do with your state being dead last in teacher pay in the nation?” asked the witness.
“OK, then,” said the witness. “What about being dead last in money spent for citizens?”
“Nawp. Same answer. We cain’t go spending money we don’t have, on people who ain’t even citizens. Leastwise, and still be cutting taxes for business.”
“But, by giving tax breaks for business, aren’t you putting more burdens on everyday citizens, and especially for those who can least afford it?” asked the witness.
“Nawp. Not the way I see it.”
“So, that’s why your state ranks second in the nation on sales tax, #1 in the poverty level, first in people without health insurance, first in starving children, and next to last in money to help the mentally ill?” asked the witness.
“Look,” said the cowboy. “I done tole you why we got problems, and it’s those wetbacks, and the lazy, and the folks who won’t go out and get a good paying job to he’p themselves.”
“What if they can’t find a decent job?” asked the witness. “What if they’re so poorly educated they can’t get a job? Or so poor they can’t afford child care or transportation?”
“An’ the gummint is supposed to take care of them?” snorted the cowboy. “I don’t think so, leastwise in my state. And, if they cain’t afford child care they oughtn’t to have kids.”
“Your state is second in the nation in numbers of teenage pregnancies, mostly because young people don’t have access to sex education or birth control. 94% of your state’s schools teach ‘abstinence only’ birth control. What can you expect them to do if they don’t have enough money to buy food for themselves, or for their babies?” asked the witness. “Most states help their most vulnerable citizens, if for nothing else, to keep them from turning to crime to survive.”
“We deal with that differently. All I can say, is if someone commits a crime in my state, we put ‘em in jail.”
“So, maybe that’s why your state has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, and the biggest number of adults under probation?” asked the witness. “and, the highest execution rate per capita than anyplace in the world?”
“Mebbe so. If they do the crime, let ‘em do the time, or we’ll drop the dime, is my motto.” said the cowboy. “An’ besides, the prison industry is a growth industry in my state.
“That’s a pretty cold attitude coming from someone who claims to be a born again Christian.” said the witness. “And, I can’t help noticing the prison industry benefits from having ever more inmates.”
“Look,” snorted the cowboy. “I’m a business friendly governor in a business friendly state, and an Old Testament Christian. I don’t hold with all that liberal stuff in the New Testament!”
“But, prisons cost billions of taxpayer dollars, and you are presiding over your state’s over $34 billion dollar budget deficit!” protested the witness.
“An’, that’s exackly why we’ve cut public payrolls and done away with non-essential things in the public sector! Teachers, policemen, Medicare, things like that!”
“Fire protection?” asked the witness.
“Wal yeah, some o’ that too.”
“Some? I see where you cut the state fire protection budget by 75%, causing thousands of firefighters to be laid off or furloughed.” said the witness.
Wal yeah, we have to live within our means.”
"You cut $25 million out of the budget for firefighting, and over $300 million in houses burned up." said the witness. "Sounds sort of counter-productive to me. And, what will you say to the 1200 to 1500 or so homeowners who lost their homes due to wildfires, and not having enough firefighters or resources to protect them?”
“Wal, I guess most of 'em had insurance, and I’d tell ‘em they better had their insurance paid up.”
“Even though your state has the second highest home insurance rates in the nation, and this will cause them to go up even higher?”
“Gotta he’p the insurance companies stay in business so’s they can pay claims! Besides, I need to tell you I’ve appealed to FEMA for disaster relief.”
“I thought back in January you said FEMA needed to be reformed and ought to get out of the disaster relief business.” said the witness.
“Wal, that was before the wildfires, and not being able to control them. Right now jist ain’t the time to reform FEMA. An’ anyway, theys no way you can blame them fires on me, is there?”
“Well no.” said the witness. “I’m certainly not trying to do that. But, I do recall back in April you asked people to pray for rain to help the drought and stop the wildfires. In fact, you issued an official proclamation for ‘Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas’. Didn’t that work?”
“Wal, I know all the Christian prayers had to help, but God was prob’ly upset about gittin’ all those other infidel prayers that probably came up, you know Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, even Buddhist. All that crazy heathen stuff. That may be why he turned his back on Texas, and I cain’t take responsibility for that - and I won’t.
“I can’t help but notice you don’t take responsibility for anything bad, but jump right on anything good. What do you have to say about that?” asked the witness.
“Wal, whut can I say? I ain’t apologizing. I’m a Texakan politician.” said cowboy Rick Perry.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Whiff of Revolution in the Making . . .

Today’s Republicans are nothing like most Republicans of the 50’s through the 70’s who were THE progressive party. Republicans have always been ‘the business party’, but most members were reasonable and moderate - and were the responsible for things like the EPA and the Clean Water Act under Nixon for example.
When business morphed into huge mega-corporations operating on global scales is when things changed. The corporations, some of whom were financially more powerful than many of the nations wherein they operated evidently concluded regulatory agencies were insufferable monsters insofar as business profits are concerned. Since the populist ‘Reagan Revolution’ there has been a concerted and sustained attack on them, and anything else potentially affecting profits like unions.
There is always a conservative resentment against most social programs, Republicans viewing those as rewards for being ‘lazy’ - regardless of the realities. During Reagan’s time we saw the beginnings of an unholy but also largely unrecognized amalgamation of big business and theocracy. I believe business first saw religion as a vehicle they could guide and use on their crusades against anything smacking of socialism - even social justice. They began with anti-science, global warming being their focus. Business saw efforts to combat climate change as a clear danger to profit.  But, theocrats also crusade against evolution, abortion, homosexuality - anything religionists viewed as going against the bible - as interpreted by some of the religious leaders whether or not actually true to messages in The Book. This also happens to coincide, not incidentally, with much of the archaic culture, politics and thought of the South and Southwest, mired in visions of days gone by. The Tea Party seems almost cloned from that, and reminds me very much of the rise of George Wallace and his “American Independence Party” in the late 1960’s.
However theocracy, being irrational to begin with, is notoriously hard to control, and business has now found they have created yet another beast they have no choice but to continue to try to ride if they have any hope of guiding. But, I believe they have collectively misjudged this monster, and it will end up counter-productive to their aims. I am almost certain the conservative fundamentalist wing will now consume the Republican Party, especially if any of the Tea Baggers end up with the nomination. With Perry, Bachmann, and Palin they are definitely in the top tier. But, I also think/hope clearer heads will prevail in the end and someone like Romney or Huntsman will end up the nominee - not that that will make a huge difference in the election. That will split the party with some going for Ron Paul or a second conservative candidate, and resulting in Obama winning.
The current drive for conservative ideological ‘purity’ where social programs are destroyed, unions attacked, and the poor and dispossessed are further disenfranchised and marginalized is an extremely dangerous tactic for business. I believe the ones behind this do not recognize the risks they are taking. The apparently are ignorant of or deny history. It is as Karl Marx classically predicts in Das Kapital!,  when more and more people are dispossessed and more and more wealth concentrated in fewer hands, an explosion becomes inevitable. He has been proven right.
And when that day comes here, it will likely be violent and bloody. Big business capitalists will struggle mightily and brutally, and mount imaginative campaigns against their enemies, but in the end will be overwhelmed. Their economic might simply will not stand up to the mass numbers of people in the streets who will be arrayed against them. We have a whiff of this already in the revolts of the people in the Middle East against their leaders of decades. The tide becomes inexorable and will drown the oppressors. And as Marx wrote, “the expropriators become expropriated!”
It will not be a pretty sight, and many people will suffer or die. It will take years to recover, restore infrastructure, and regain a semblance of balance and prosperity. We have, in fact, already suffered damage like this. I have now become convinced this will happen, primarily because I have now come to realize there is no real difference between the two major political parties when it comes to business having dominance over them.
You can already hear lots of hostile rumblings in the mass of centrist moderates who make up the huge center of political thought in this country. These are the folks who really decide elections in the USA, and whose numbers outweigh both major political parties put together. When the inertia of this mass begins moving strongly in a definite direction, those in the line of march better watch out - and 'keeping their powder dry' won't matter one bit. Maybe our coming revolution will be a peaceable one, but I will not put money on that today.