Saturday, October 26, 2013

The 'United States of Tex-Ass"? Don't Make Me Laugh!

In the lead up to the framing of Lee Harvey Oswald, it's documented how a paid Oswald impostor arrived at a Dallas car dealership in March, 1963 and remarked to a salesman (after denigrating American -made cars): "If someone wanted to give America an enema, all they'd have to do is stick the nozzle right Dallas, Texas!"

The Oswald impostor certainly got the salesman's attention and probably went overboard, though the authors of the new book, Dallas 1963, document how Dallas had become a cesspool of KKK, John Bircher and Confederate hate by late 1963, thanks to the likes of "leading citizens" - such as Ted Dealey (who ran The Dallas Morning News as a prominent, anti-Kennedy hate rag), Bill Criswell- Baptist Preacher who made a thing of preaching racial and political hate, and H.L. Hunt - the oil tycoon - who used his "Facts Forum" as one of the first radio hate platforms, against Catholics, Blacks, Jews ....oh and the Kennedys. (The Reich wing kool aid drinkers at 'The American Spectator' insist Dallas "was never a city of hate" - but then they didn't read the same book I did!)

The authors also noted the level of hate crimes in the city including the practice by Dallas cops of grabbing black men off the streets, hustling them blind -folded into some garage, removing their pants then using thick belts on them and daring them to name the person wielding them. All this perhaps a prelude to several cases where - just before JFK's arrival in November, 1963, one black man was dragged out of his home, had gasoline poured all over him and was set on fire by the "upstanding" disenchanted, anti-liberal yahoos of good ol' Big D.  Of course, this itself was preceded by the infamous incident in which Adlai Stevenson, on a UN visit in October, was smacked with placards and spat upon by anti-UN protestors.

When asked by a reporter from the rival Dallas Times Herald if he hated Dallas, Stevenson- after wiping off a gob of spit and blood from a head wound - replied:

"I don't hate the people of Dallas, I just want to educate them."

Of course, he then warned Kennedy not to come on his planned November trip.(Which was intended to shore up a split between the Texas Democratic party's liberal faction led by Sen. Ralph Yarborough, and the conservative faction led by Gov. John Connolly).

All this is a prelude to the question of whether Dallas and Texas have changed much in the intervening years, at least to the level of minimum civility. Also, how it is that the latest issue of TIME magazine features a 'puzzle' map of Texas on its cover, with all 50 states jack-screwed into it, and the header 'The United States of Texas'.    And then in the sub-header we read:

"Why The Lone Star State Is America's Future"

And I then looked askance, wondering what manner of ignoramus or half-idiot could write such dreck. It either had to be Rick Perry, or some libertarian jackwad who probably just got high on some kind of rope. Well, it turned out it was the latter, a libertarian prof from George Mason University named Tyler Cowen.

Cowen's piece was fairly readable and at least he's honest in parts. It also helps (in the other parts of the article)  if you don't easily have the wool pulled over your eyes by Libertarian propaganda and nonsense about "self reliance".  As I said before in other blogs, if the Libbies really believed this bullshit they'd have their own defense departments and health departments. (Btw, Libertarian icon Ayn Rand's answer was for all communities in the country to "buy enough insurance" to protect themselves from rapes, murders, arson and ordinary accidental fires .)

Is Texas more civilized now than it was in '63 when black men were snatched off the streets and beaten in the dark by white apes with badges and KKK hoods hidden in their trunks? You be the judge. Here are some markers of modern Texas from the pen of Cowen himself (p. 32):

- The state's social services are thin and welfare benefits are skimpy

- Roughly a quarter of residents have no health insurance.

- Texas schools "are less than stellar" and rank in the bottom quintile of U.S. education.

- Rates of murder and rape, as well as property crimes are among the nation's highest.

- Texas  "led the nation as the place the most people got punched or kicked to death in 2012"

Wow! Sounds like Tex-Ass really really progressed since 1963! The place where most people get stomped to death or punched to death! But he left out a number of other aspects such as:

- Half the state is a chemical -fracking nightmare, especially in the region known as "the Barnett shale" where most fracking is ongoing. People are having such problems (respiratory, skin lesions, brain dysfunction etc.)  that it's affecting their health - causing them to move from homes and engendering flammable water (as shown in Gasland II.) Water testing of wells - when it is done, which is seldom - shows: boron, methane, strontium, benzene, and  toluene.

- The state is ground zero for the new "normal" as climate change accelerates to a new tempo. People in the  state will face the same massive fires the Aussies (in New South Wales) are enduring now.  This past summer 97% of the state was in persistent drought.

- As Rachel Maddow noted three nights ago, the new Texas Voter ID law will disenfranchise nearly 1.4 million already registered voters in the state, of whom only 50 so far- may have succeeded in getting what they need before next year's mid terms. Democracy? Hell no!

- A new anti-abortion law passed in Texas will limit abortion clinics to barely 13 across the state. Women who need it will be forced to take a "Mexican prescription" of assorted herbs and chemicals to try and induce abortions themselves - as Rachel Maddow also pointed out. In other words, yeah ladies, go ahead and move to Tex Ass but just hope and pray you don't get raped there and become pregnant! Or at least you can get some of that Mexican concoction if it happens!

- Texas is another one of the states that's disallowed the Medicaid expansion that would have provided health insurance to some 4.3 million needy people mainly in poor families. Now they will have to fend for themselves.

- On the educational scene, Texas is an abomination - leading the charge for textbooks that attempt to deny climate change and evolution, as well as rewriting parts of American history to make it more favorable to the Johnny Reb traitors.

A more recent outrage, as highlighted in a recent piece in salon, is the adoption of a curriculum known as "ResponsiveEd"   founded by Donald R. Howard, former owner of ACE (Accelerated Christian Education). ACE is a fundamentalist curriculum that teaches young-Earth creationism as fact as well as teaching the crappola that Darwin’s theory of evolution was adopted by Hitler ("survival of the fittest") and was responsible for the Holocaust. These morons don't even know that "survival of the fittest" was never used by Charles Darwin but by philosopher Herbert Spencer - who attempted to (falsely) extrapolate evolution to social regimes.

Anyway, Cowen makes sure at least we know (in his own way) that the minimal social  safety net of Texas is what awaits the rest of America if we don't fight now like rabid ferrets to make sure the Neoliberal asswipes don't destroy what's left of the Middle Class. That includes preventing them from cutting the prime programs that now support most of the elderly Middle Class: Social Security and Medicare.

Texas, or what Cowen writes Marshall Whitman once called "America's America" (sic) "is already one of our most unequal states" and "its safety net was already built frayed".  But hey, don't despair! Americans are moving to Texas at the rate of 106,000 a year (net migration) because the cost of living is cheaper! You can buy more home for the buck, and there are no state taxes! Ah, but unsaid is that the wages are generally lower for most paid work, and there are few or no job benefits- so you damned well better have that "untaxed" money saved up in case you need to buy your own health insurance!

Entrepreneurial wannabes also are flocking because the state features "a less regulated climate in which to do business". Cowen invokes this regulatory "freedom" to point to Texas' phenomenal growth (p. 35) as well as it's relatively low (6.4%) unemployment. But who is he fooling? Only the unread.

What is Texas' secret? Economists have summarized the template thusly:

"low wages, low taxes and light regulations"

In other words, applied to the first, wages for most are kept at just state minimum wage level, meaning most Texans with such jobs lack benefits and have to find at least another gig to make ends meet pay their mortgage, buy groceries or get health care.

As for the second, any corporations entering to set up business are given passes on property taxes and other (state) income taxes while those burdens are passed on to the state's citizens. Meanwhile, in order to pay for them, cuts are made to programs including education, school meals, and Medicaid. (Another reason why Rick Perry insisted on no Medicaid expansion.)

The third means that new companies are free to pollute to their hearts' content including chucking toxic runoff (i.e. dioxins, chromium III, potassium perchlorate, toluene etc.) wherever they want and no reg cop will look, as well as easing up on the labor safety regs - so workers may be forced to work under risky conditions and well....if they lose a hand or foot...they will have to take care of it themselves!

Not surprisingly, Texans' health issues have exploded, and as many as 100,000 new cancers are forecast over the next five years, most of which (cancer of the breast, liver, lungs, prostate, bladder) citizens will have to take care of on their own with precious little in the way of medical insurance (which they can't afford given the low quality of 85% of Texas' 1 million great jobs).

The most loathsome thing about this whole hyped up sham is how Perry has not just let many companies go tax-free, but actually showered largesse from his "slush fund" for setting up shop! For example, The Dallas Morning News reported three years ago this October that more than $16 million of Perry's special fund had gone to companies with substantial links to some of Perry's campaign backers.(Ibid.)

Perry himself is a throwback neo-Confederate almost in the old Ted Dealey mold, who - after Obama was re-elected- had also been espousing secession like his Confederate ancestors. The guy is also best known - or perhaps maybe just from my perspective - for issuing hidden threats regarding Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke coming to Texas a couple years ago.  See, for example:

Cowen's last observation bears repeating:

"Americans heading to Texas and other cheap living states are a bit like the mythical cowboys of our past, self-reliant for better or worse."

Actually, the cowboys existed in a truly more self-reliant world where mega-corporations hadn't yet taken over the food supply with industrial genetic farming, Monsanto techniques, etc. and there still existed wide open spaces- which hadn't been compromised by fracking wells, or corporate redoubts - not to mention million square foot properties owned by rich oilmen, corporate honchos earning 50,000 times more than their workers, and mountains debased to make room for immense play areas for the investment bankers and celebrities.

Today's Americans running to Texas for relief, remind me more of  Tom Joad-  the forlorn, dispossessed share cropper in The Grapes of Wrath. Unable to afford barely a  pot to piss in, his family's only recourse was to try to make it to California where they at least might have a chance.

In short, Cowen's prescription of "moving to Texas" signals a submission and a surrender to the Neoliberal imperative that citizens are no longer entitled to any protections, and the world and nation is owned by the corporatists, the capitalists and their war monger and security spawn. At least I am glad I will likely not be alive to see how this morose narrative fully plays out.  In the meantime, I suggest that we not give in so amicably but fight like Devils so as not to become the lowest common denominator symbolized by Texas and its misplaced priorities.

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