Monthly Archives: October 2013

No, we’re NOT all going Texan

A graphic of Texas divided into states

The lazy “journalists” at TIME have announced on the cover of the October 28 issue that “the Lone Star State [Texas, of course] is America’s future” — so much so that we’ll be “the United States of Texas.”

It’s popular these days to make such an assumption, perhaps especially after Gail Collins’ June 2012 book As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda.

But it’s also a ridiculous argument to make that any one state is going to take over the entire nation’s sociopolitical culture any decade soon.

Of course you can take the nation’s most populous states — California, Texas, New York and Florida are the top four, in that order — and find similarities between these states and the rest of the states.

We’re talking about the top two most-populous blue states and the top two most-populous red states, yet the combined population of California and New York exceeds 57.5 million Americans, whereas the combined population of Texas and Florida, by comparison, is around 45 million.

Texas and its red-state mentality aren’t exactly taking over the entire nation.

TIME helpfully notes that from 2010 to 2011, California lost 94,000 residents while Texas gained 110,000 residents, but the graph in the magazine does not give us the context of that, which is that California has just more than 38 million residents to Texas’ just-more-than 26 million — yes, Texas is a good 12 million people behind California, putting it at a distant second place — so we’re hardly talking about an exodus.

And comparing other red states to Texas is pretty fucking stupid because duh — they’re red states.

The God-awful red state of Arizona, for instance, where I lived for the first 30 years of my life, of course is much like Texas. In Arizona, like in Texas, the business owners, the plutocrats, the fat cats, call the shots. You, the commoner, probably especially in the workplace or as a consumer, have almost no rights, because that’s how these states’ laws are written: for the benefit of the plutocratic overlords and to the detriment of the working class and the poor. It’s set up that way.

Consumer protection? Employee protection? Environmental protection? Dream on! These Commie luxuries cut into the fat cats’ profits, and that’s anti-American! And anti-Christian, too (even though Jesus said to pay your taxes without complaint and that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of Heaven)!

This is how Arizona was when I left it for good 15 years ago, in 1998, so to claim that Arizona is copying Texas now is bullshit.

The red-state-blue-state divide has been with us since before the Civil War, and to claim that the entire nation is going to turn all blue or all red during our lifetimes is short-sighted and ridiculous.

Despite even the McDonald’s-ization of the United States of America — I refer to the monolithically capitalistic American culture, with McDonald’s and Wal-Mart stores in all 50 states, as well as movies and television shows that Americans watch in all 50 states — the regional sociopolitical and cultural differences throughout the U.S. persist, and they will for a long time to come.

TIME’s article quotes one person who puts the Texas “miracle” into a nutshell: “The Texas model basically calls for low taxes and low services,” TIME quotes Erica Grieder, author of the April 2013 book Big, Hot, Cheap, and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas. (Clearly, Grieder sees the Texas “miracle” in a different light than does Gail Collins, and I have to wonder if Grieder’s book was a response to Collins’.)

More emphasis needs to be placed on “low services,” the part of the red-state equation that almost everyone usually misses when singing the praises of Texas’ low taxes. There are low services because these red states don’t care about the individual, unless he or she is filthy rich. For the filthy rich — those who need the least amount of help — the red states can’t bend over backwards enough.

The commoner, however, is pretty fucking fucked in a red state. Those who need the most help in a red state are the most fucked, yet, ironically, these are the very same states that claim to be the most “Christian,” even though Jesus Christ was all about people helping other people (and not about claiming that the richer the plutocrats get, the more all of us will benefit — somehow!).

As far as taxes are concerned, you get what you pay for, and I experienced the “low-services” environment of Arizona, in which everyone except for the richest was pretty fucking miserable. The richest Arizonans could afford their own health care, education, transportation, etc.; the rest of us were quite on our own in this “low-services” environment.

So if you are a commoner and you want to pay lower taxes but stupidly don’t give a shit about your quality of life, then by all means, pack up your shit and move to Texas.

Concurrent with the myth that there is an exodus of commoners from California (and other blue states) to Texas is the myth that we Californians are so distraught over seeing anyone leave the state.

No, actually, we’re not.

The lower the population is, the lower the taxes can be, the lower the competition for resources will be, and the quality of life will increase for those of us who remain.

So: Go!

And most of us Californians are fine seeing greedy, unethical business owners packing up and moving their businesses to Texas (and other red states), where, without state regulations that protect the consumer, the employee and the environment, they can rape, pillage and plunder and profiteer far more effectively than they can do here in California, where we believe in protections for the environment, the employee and the consumer.

Most of us Californians aren’t abject fucktards, and so we are quite clear that the vast majority of plutocrats don’t exist to help out anyone else, but are in it almost entirely or entirely for themselves and their fortunes, which they gain at our expense as employees whom they under-compensate and as consumers whom they overcharge (and, of course, at the expense of our environment, which they destroy in their quest for obscene personal profits).

“Trickle down” is the fat cats urinating all over the working class, what little remains of the middle class, and the poor. The plutocrats don’t ensure that all boats rise. No, they keep buying larger and larger yachts for themselves while they foreclose upon our dinghies.

“Jobs!” is the mantra of the Texas-promoting plutocrats and those who love them like chickens showing love to Colonel Sanders.

Right: Jobs with shitty wages and shitty or even no benefits — in states with “low services,” so don’t expect any help outside of your employer, who only exists to fuck you over! Lots and lots of these shit jobs in Texas, but hey, they are jobs, in the strict, dictionary-definition sense of the word, right?

Again, does quality matter at all?

I say that it does, and so I’m staying here in California, where I’m happy to pay my fair share of taxes for a better quality of life — instead of evading taxes and living among the miserable in a dog-eat-dog, “low-services,” pro-plutocratic red state.

And again, when you are talking about the nation’s two most populous states, the blue state of California and the red state of Texas (states so populous and so influential that the two of them have the most influence on the public-school textbook industry, with, basically, Texas editions and California editions), it’s easy to compare the two states to other states — or even to the nation as a whole.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s accurate to do so.

I’m not a hypocrite on this matter; it works both ways. The New York Times on Friday apparently held out California as a model that, if followed, could break the gridlock in Washington, D.C.

Indeed, although wingnuts claim that California still has a state budget deficit, California for some time now actually has had a budget surplus under Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who after his November 2010 election reversed years of budget deficits under former Gov. Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger, the Repugnican fraud who ruled the state from the do-over gubernatorial election of 2003 through early 2011, and under the nation’s shitty economy under George W. Bush from early 2001 through early 2009.

Because Brown has accomplished in less than three years what Baby Daddy never accomplished in more than twice that amount of time, Brown’s re-election in November 2014, should he seek it, is guaranteed. Because Brown — unlike his Texas counterpart, the blowhard Repugnican Gov. Prick Perry — just quietly does his job (which I define as doing what’s best for the majority of the residents of the state that he governs, regardless of their income) without a lot of fanfare and bluster, Brown’s accomplishments aren’t well known outside of California, but here in California, Brown is on solid footing with the majority of the state’s voters.

That is the truth of where California and Californians stand today.

“The turnaround [in California] from just 10 years ago — striking in tone, productivity and, at least on fiscal issues, moderation — is certainly a lesson in the power of one-party rule,” the New York Times notes. “Democrats hold an overwhelming majority in the [state] Assembly and [state] Senate and the governor, Jerry Brown, is a Democrat. The Republican Party, which just three years ago held the governor’s seat and a feisty minority in both houses, has diminished to the point of near irrelevance [in California].”

Gridlock doesn’t happen when the Repugnican Tea Party is as impotent as it is in California, and, the aforementioned Times article also notes, because in most elections in California a Repugnican candidate would have to be moderate (or at least campaign as a moderate) in order to win, most Repugnican candidates in California don’t have to worry much, if at all, about being “primaried” by a far-far-right-wing whackjob of the so-called “tea party.”

But, unlike those who tout the so-called Texas “miracle” — and only our treasonous plutocrats have anything to gain from the “miraculous” arrangement in Texas — I’m realistic.

Yes, as the New York Times at least insinuates, if the treasonous Repugnican (Tea) Party were as weak in D.C. as it is here in California, the nation would be much, much better off. We most likely would have no more gridlock and a return to prosperity. It would be great.

But like the Texas “miracle” is a right-wing fantasy, that the much-quieter California miracle will sweep the nation is a left-wing fantasy.

It’s not like the long-standing dynamic of the red states and the blue states is going to go away soon. The entire nation isn’t going to California-ize any year soon any more than it’s going to Texas-ize any year soon.

Indeed, the Civil War still wages. The red-state-blue-state divide is not an oversimplification. It’s a fact. (I could produce a lot of proof, but how about [once again…] a map of the slave states and territories and the free states and territories compared to a map of the 2012 presidential election results?:

Florida went to Obama in 2012, by the way.)

It’s a long, hard slog, and the change is slooooow, but, I predict, once it becomes clear to enough Americans what, exactly, the so-called Texas “miracle” actually entails, and once more Americans realize that the right-wing lies about how California is today are just that — lies — the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. will see their power diminish, as it has here in California.

It’s already happening.

After all, in all but one of the past six presidential elections (the 2004 election), the Democratic candidate indisputably received more votes than did the Repugnican; Texas Gov. Prick Perry, for all of the blather about the coming “United States of Texas,” couldn’t win even his party’s presidential nomination, much more the White House; and more and more it’s appearing that the Democrats might take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2014 elections.

In the meantime, go to Texas and have your “miracle” there, while I enjoy the actual miracles that are happening here in California.

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Shutdown, shmutdown — let it burn!

A sign reading

Associated Press photo

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one of the national parks that were closed down yesterday in light of the impasse between the Democratically controlled U.S. Senate and the Repugnican Tea Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on passing a federal budget. Blame for this one lies squarely with the treasonous Repugnican Tea Party terrorists, who have made the abolition of “Obamacare” a mandatory requirement for passing a federal budget at all. 

For those whose lives have been affected adversely by the shutdown of the federal government — such as the young man I read about in a news article who stated that he can’t get a replacement Social Security card until after the shutdown is over, and who thus believes that he won’t be able to get a job until the shutdown is over — I do feel sorry, but otherwise: Meh.

D.C. hasn’t done the bidding of the majority of us Americans for years now. Maybe — no, probably — it needs to go to total shit before it ever can get better (that is, before it actually can be representative of the actual interests of the actual majority of us Americans — and not just a big rubber stamp for the plutocrats and their corporations and the military-corporate complex).

Human nature is that people don’t change until and unless a big outside force thrusts that change upon them. Ideally, this shutdown of the federal government will be a long one, and thus will cost the Repugnican Tea Party traitors a significant number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2014 elections.

Thankfully, polls indicate that more Americans thus far blame — correctly — the Repugnican Tea Party majority in the House than blame Barack Obama for the current shutdown drama.

Could this signal the long-overdue death of the myth that both parties always are equally to blame for everything?

Not that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are blameless. Obama (mis)spent his political capital in 2009 and 2010 pointlessly trying to negotiate with the terrorists who call themselves Republicans — instead of pushing through a progressive agenda while both houses of Congress were dominated by his own party.

I surmise that because Obama squandered his political capital in 2009 and 2010 in trying to negotiate with terrorists who already amply had demonstrated long previously that they cannot be negotiated with, the Democrats lost majority control of the House in the November 2010 elections and probably won’t regain the House until 2016 at the earliest.

And if the so-called Democrats in D.C. were even half as enthusiastic about doing the most amount of good for the highest number of Americans as the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. are enthusiastic about doing evil (including ensuring that the filthy rich only continue to get even richer and the dirt poor only continue to get even poorer), we’d have a much better, much more fair, must more just nation.

Pathetically and tragically, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors long have been quite bold and shameless in committing evil while the so-called Democrats have been too timid to commit much good.

This doesn’t have to remain a permanent condition, however, and I am thrilled to see that thus far in the blinking contest that is the federal government shutdown, the Democrats thus far have stood their ground against the Repugnican Tea Party terrorists. I’m so used to the so-called Democrats caving in to the treasonous, right-wing nut jobs that this comes as an at least mildly pleasant surprise.

There already has been gridlock in D.C. since January 2011 and there most likely will be gridlock until January 2017. At this point we might as well take this gridlock to the extreme, and force the Repugnican Tea Party traitors to suffer the consequences of the shutdown of the federal government that they, more than anyone else, have wanted and are responsible for.

We commoners have little else left to lose in a system that long has been set up against us and in favor of the plutocratic minority, but we have much to gain.

P.S. To be clear, I’m not a huge fan of “Obamacare.” Progressive writer David Sirota writes of “Obamacare” (the links are Sirota’s):

… [Obamacare] most definitely is the legislative manifestation of the insurance industry’s biggest wishes of all, providing massive no-strings-attached subsidies to the industry, and using government power to force citizens to become the industry’s permanent customers.

It also is not what the insurance industry most fears — it is not only not a single-payer system, it doesn’t even include a public option that would allow people to altogether avoid the rapacious private-insurance industry. It also does not prevent insurance companies from employing their typical devil-in-the-details tactics — the kind that provide the patina of health insurance while limiting access to actual health services.

Asking exactly why Obamacare was structured like this is another way to see that the law is really a gift to insurers hidden in the gaudy wrapping of altruism. That’s because the answer to that critical “why” question is simple: the law was written by the insurance industry.

Remember, the primary architect of Obamacare was Liz Fowler — the insurance industry executive who temporarily took a government post to write the new law, and then quickly moved back into health care lobbying.

She was ably assisted by an battalion of her fellow insurance industry cronies, who in 2009 deployed their army of lobbyists to shape the underlying health care legislation. She was also backed up by many other Obama administration officials who worked on the legislation and then immediately headed to the lucrative world of insurance-industry lobbying.

Of course, the fact that the health insurance companies have so much cash lying around to pay a mercenary army is probably the Obamacare cartoon’s most conspicuous smoking gun of all. Indeed, while Obama and Democrats have proudly claimed that the new law finally cracks down on insurance profiteering and attempts to reduce the health insurance industry’s out-sized economic footprint, the financials suggest exactly the opposite is happening. …

So I am not a defender of “Obamacare,” but if “liberals” (a.k.a. “Democrats”) confusedly believe that “Obamacare” does more good for than harm to the average American individual, well, apparently, so do many if not most Repugnican Tea Partiers, such as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who recently declared of “Obamacare” that “President Obama can’t wait to get Americans addicted to the crack cocaine of dependency on more government health care, because once they enroll millions of more individual Americans it, will be virtually impossible for us to pull these benefits back from people.”

The Repugnican Tea Party set, from what I can tell, oppose “Obamacare” not because it’s yet another giveaway to the already-filthy-rich health-care weasels, but because it is perceived as being helpful to the average American and because it has Barack Obama’s name attached to it.

But regardless of where one stands on “Obamacare,” “Obamacare” (a.k.a. the “Affordable Care Act”) was passed by Congress, and if Congress wants to abolish it, it can do so legislatively (not while the Democrats still control the U.S. Senate, though, of course…).

The way to undo legislation that you oppose, however, is not to hold up the federal budget in order to try to achieve that goal in your roundabout way (that is, stripping the funding for a piece of legislation instead of legislatively abolishing that legislation altogether).

That is not legislating; that is, indeed, hostage-taking.

And in most cases, you don’t negotiate with hostage-taking terrorists.

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