Dancin’ with the Devil
Here in Texas, the legislature just introduced a law retaining tax breaks for those put-upon souls buying yachts. We couldn’t have them going to Florida to purchase their gaudy baubles. Meanwhile, the state is slashing the number of teachers — those blood-sucking leeches draining our economy — regardless of the fact that we rank near the bottom in education. All because of tax cuts earlier in the Rick Perry administration that were supposed to be covered by a business tax. How did that work out for us? Not so well. Our fine bidness economy Governor Good Hair likes to crow about is billions in the hole as a result.
Nationally, the Obama administration has come out in favor of doing away with federal subsidies for the oil industry, which just posted record profits — again yet again, ad infinitum — while people’s budgets strain under soaring gasoline prices. The republican response? It would be a mistake to be “raising taxes.” Hunh? That same, tired bromide to gloss over the ugly truth. At one time that cynical sophistry would slide right down the throats of a gullible electorate, but the veneer of sensible conservatism is wearing thin as a war on the middle class and a hard-right agenda bear fruit.
It’s just the latest discordant note in the dysfunctional funk that has sunk us into a miasma of confusion and despair. A major disconnect between ringing phrases of our fearless leaders and the reality on the ground. An all-too-true unreality TV.
It would be naive to think that the majority of democrats are no less beholden to the moneyed elite in this country. In truth, we have the best government money can buy. And it is bought and paid for, plain and simple. But at least some of the firebrands of the party pay lip service to fighting the battle — albeit, however, a rear-guard action — against the crush of American royalty, the oligarchs. There is little hope, when push comes to shove, that anything the people may want, as shown in poll after poll — be it single-payer health care, an end to the senseless wars in the Middle East propping up corrupt charlatans, or a revocation of tax cuts for the wealthy — will gain any traction anytime soon among these corporate toadies.
And the lame-stream press — how dare they be called the “liberal media”! — only parrot the script prepared by the puppet masters, as corporate “largesse” and control has turned the media into toothless old watchdogs. They make good company for the regulatory agencies once charged with protecting the public from the excesses of corporate greed. They’re good dogs now, too.
What kind of affected christianity can countenance the mean-spirited, vitriolic attacks against the most powerless and helpless in our society? We are in a battle for the very soul of our country, with the most disgusting human beings, the glory hounds of politics, pimping for the plutocrats. This hard-right conservative vision born in the days of the Moral Majority was in fact a perverse gameplan that has pretty much gained ascendancy in the political sphere and dominated what passes (rather poorly) for rational thought these days. It’s a well-orchestrated attack proclaiming “rampant spending” the cause of our economic distress — a sanctimonious psychobabble designed to lend an ersatz legitimacy to the savaging of budgets for domestic programs.
Little is heard in the “liberal press” challenging these assertions, even as fine-tuned oratory gives way to bald-face lie. Aside from the isolated progressive or populist outlets, media mouthpieces bear mute witness to this predatory politics — if not giving wholehearted support.
Yet every day, on Facebook and YouTube and in discussion groups, newsletters, and the alternative press, outraged people seethe at the injustice, post on the hypocrisies and blatant callowness of political discourse. Post after post — “intended to be factual statement” — gives lie to the manufactured morality of the stump, citing real statistics and refuting outrageous distortions. Pity is, succeeding posts relegate previous notes to the history bin of back pages. Sadly, truth is lost in the process, lacking the organization and exposure of the coordinated spew that confronts us daily bolstering the status quo.
One hopes that, as in the Middle East, collective outrage finds an outlet beyond the thin prospects of impending elections, a rallying point in the social network of the internet. The web has shown to be a source for campaign funds; perhaps it too can provide a framework for the consolidation of protest into a unified force now.
* * *
The preceding screed has been brought to you in the interest of sanity: ours.
In the grand scheme of things, the corporate creep in radio — be it commercial, “public,” or religious programming — is just part and parcel, unfortunately, of a much bigger picture. When we first began looking into the cold-blooded maneuvers of bean counters in our local “public” radio station, as chronicled on the saveKUTaustin website, it quickly became apparent that what was happening locally was being repeated nationwide.
And as republican zealots in state after state — Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Texas — launched concerted attacks on worker rights, reproductive rights, health care, and more, it became increasingly apparent that the issue of consolidation in radio was itself just a small part of an even bigger picture. And it’s become increasingly difficult to stay out of it . . . We’ve now reached a turning point. So much of import comes to light each day out in the blogosphere, only to vanish into oblivion with the next flurry of posts. We hope to both disseminate information as well as provide a repository for democratic thought. In sharing, we can spread the word to others of a like mind, and in numbers comes strength.
* * *
A graduate summa cum laude of the UT journalism school, writer/editor Craig Hattersley has done work for publications such as 3rd Coast magazine, Austin Weekly, the Village Voice, the Texas Observer, the Austin Chronicle, and Texas Monthly Press. A misspent youth saw him in the music business playing and working at the Fillmore East and Armadillo World Headquarters, as well as in a VW dealership working for seven years as a mechanic during his “blue period” — his blue-collar experience in redneck Texas that shaped many of his political beliefs. He also spent seven years with Frank Morrow and Doug Kellner on the public-access TV show “Alternative Views,” which dealt with news ignored by the mainstream media. And the older he gets, the more everybody else can kiss his ass.