Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's good that they don't get it

Welcome to a carefully-staged and choreographed visit to the second-most conservative city in America: Lubbock, Texas. Greg Abbott’s visit was a movie set, a Potemkin village where the façade is designed to fool the populace, rather than inform.

His first words to the crowd were typical Abbott braggadocio. He touted his thirty lawsuits against the federal government. We’ve heard this before and I’m certain we will hear it again: "I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home." And the crowd goes wild…

This is better than not disavowing Ted Nugent, much better not apologizing for calling South Texas a third-world country.  This isn't a tailspin, it's a kamikaze.  This is doubling down on a losing streak.  This is Mitt Romney in a swanky ballroom complaining to the .1 of the 1% about the 47%.

What I’m wondering is this: Did someone in the crowd ask the question, “How much money did your thirty lawsuits cost the Texas taxpayers?”

Apparently, no one asked, so I’ll answer. According to various reports, the costs of Greg Abbott’s litigations against America are estimated at $2.58 million dollars, and that’s with over half of the lawsuits still pending. Think of what Texas could have accomplished with $2.58 million dollars: More education funding, important infrastructure repair, expanding Medicaid or compensating for the SNAP cuts by the illustrious GOP lawmakers in Congress?

It took $2.58 million to satisfy Abbott’s chest-beating contest with our government with zero dollars benefit for the people of Texas. Because of his continued feud with Washington, Abbott’s been elevated to cult status with the secessionists and the states’ rights fringe.  

Carol Morgan, author of these excerpts, is just killing it.  One of the best things about that TexTrib poll coming out before Nugentpalooza is that Abbott is still coasting.  The only work he's doing isn't suing Barack Obama, it's dialing for $100,000 checks.  And he can knock that shit out in less than an hour.

The only thing missing from Greg Abbott’s traveling show today was his brother-in-arms, Ted Nugent. Of course, the Abbott campaign realized their mistake earlier in the week, admitting it was nothing more than a clever political strategy and adding that they “meant to do it”. And Greg Abbott? He remarked, “I never look back.”

Wayne Slater also pointed out recently that the TXGOP has met the enemy, and it is them.  Chris Ladd, aka GOPlifer, is one of the very few Republicans who get it on Nugent.  More on that in a minute, because Carol is on a roll.

When Austin enacted water rationing last year, Greg Abbott drilled his own personal well at his residence to keep his lawn green, thereby circumventing the law that the little people had to follow.

In the twelve years he’s been in office, he’s aided and abetted those who’ve damaged the credibility of election funding (just in case, you’ve forgotten the names John Colyandro and Tom Delay). I suppose Texas voters have forgotten about 2006 when Abbott’s office illegally seized court records from a federal storage facility without consulting the presiding judge (and then “lost” the evidence).

Perhaps voters forgot how he used state-owned money, equipment and staff for his political campaign. Or perhaps they forget Abbott’s history with public education. No matter what he claims, he’s never been a champion of public education. In 2011, he fought with Representative Lloyd Doggett over the $830 millions’ worth of federal money for Texas education. He was a part of the heartless cabal that cut $5.4 billion dollars from education that caused educators to lose their jobs and school districts to slash budgets resulting in teacher’s serving as school janitors and some smaller districts were forced to eliminate sports altogether, the social lifeblood of rural Texas communities.

This is every bit of the opposition research Wendy Davis needs (much of it previously compiled, in a tip of the cap, by her guru Matt Angle at the Lone Star Project).  The archives here are full of similar posts.

Both Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP constantly remind all of us of the “Texas Miracle”, but that miracle is merely a sleight-of-hand trick. The policies of the Texas GOP are not responsible for Texas’ growth. It’s Texas’ abundant natural resources in oil and gas which has allowed Texas to attract 1000 new residents each day. And with oil spills, Abbott’s duels with the EPA, and hydraulic fracturing, who knows how long the “Texas Miracle” will last.

Even with the good news, Texas has a laundry list of dishonorable mentions on which Abbott remains silent:
  • Texas ranks first in executions.
  • Texas ranks first in the number of uninsured.
  • Texas ranks first in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Texas ranks first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water.
  • Texas ranks second in food insecurity.
  • Texas ranks fourth in the percentage of children living in poverty.
  • Texas ranks 47th in tax expenditures that directly benefit Texas citizens.
  • Texas ranks 48th in the number of people covered by employer-based health insurance.
  • Texas ranks 49th in the number of poor people covered by Medicaid and per capita Medicaid spending.
  • Texas ranks 49th in the national average for credit score.
  • Texas ranks 50th in the percentage of the population which graduates from high school.
  • Texas ranks 50th in Workers’ compensation coverage.
  • Texas ranks 50th in the percentage of non-elderly women with health insurance and in the percentage of women receiving prenatal care in the first trimester.
  • Texas ranks 50th in mental health expenditures.
  • Texas was labeled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as "the worst state in America to be a child." 

And the coup de grâce...

Far be it from me to rain on Greg Abbott’s lawsuit-pride-parade, but it seems his time would be better spent addressing how he would change these negative statistics, instead of taking credit for things that never happened on his watch.

Greg Abbott has been the Texas Attorney General for twelve years. Unfortunately, in the span of twelve years, it’s easy to forget. I hope you don’t forget when you go to the polls. Texans can’t possibly endure another single year of Greg Abbott.

Carol Morgan is correct, of course; Texans have short memories and even shorter attention spans.  But Texas Republican primary voters are primal and ignorant, and Chris Ladd understands why they are so easily motivated by fear.

Calling out Nugent’s racism is not as important as recognizing where it comes from. As long as Republicans are satisfied living on steady diet of high-calorie, low-fact fear, the country will continue to limp forward. Global capitalism is a complex gift that our ancestors bled to deliver to for us. It is bringing freedom and prosperity we never imagined. It is bringing demands for management and regulation we did not anticipate.

Freedom is forcing us to accept differences in other people that some people find scary. The structural demands of capitalism are forcing us to use government in ways we had not thought necessary. Preserving liberty, humanity, and peace in such a dynamic world will require intelligence, but most of all it will demand courage.

Ted Nugent is a symbol of cowardice. He displays it in his personal life and it soaks every aspect of his public persona. No one with a reasonably secure mind needs to wave guns around. As a party we have to decide whether we still believe in America, whether we still believe in freedom, and whether we still believe in ourselves.

I'd have to say that's a 'no', Chris.  But I only say that because I have observed this animal up close for a couple of decades now.

Honestly, it's a good thing that Greg Abbott doesn't get it.  Because if he were clued in, he'd be worried.  This arrogant ignorance is Wendy Davis' best shot at beating him.

Update: Jay Root at the TexTrib has more on the Nugent effect.

“There are plenty of figures on the Republican right you could use without generating this kind of blowback,” said University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato. “Everyone knows the guy is nuts. Why would you let your candidate do that?”

It's a decent question — and one that is met with derision and eye-rolling from the highest levels of the Abbott campaign.

A day after the rocker helped turn out voters for Abbott in North Texas last week, a senior Abbott campaign official was asked who had the bright idea of bringing the controversial rocker onto the campaign trail.

There was no hesitation.

“It worked, didn’t it?” he said.

Yep.  It's still working, too.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

As I've called him, "Texas' chief money waster." And, again, if Wendy Davis wants another campaign angle besides the hot-button social issues, this is one.

Between special sessions of the Lege and lawsuits, how much does the GOP waste?