Target Rich Environment Vol. II (Post and Examiner edition)

Examining conservative pathologies:

One of my guilty pleasures since moving to D.C. has been reading the Washington Examiner a few times a week.  It’s funnier than the Washington Times because it exudes this sort-of faux intellectual seriousness, Reverend Moon and the Times just can’t aspire to, while spouting the exact same, straight from the playbook, conservative gibberish you hear in every other conservative media outlet.  Yesterday I had to laugh while reading an article titled “GOP Star Chris Christie endorses Bob Ehrlich” which was filled with breathless, fawning quotes about Christie being “a big star” and providing the “type of leadership voters want to see everywhere.”  The smiled faded when I encountered the following passage (emphasis mine):

“Since taking office, Christie has identified more than $2 billion in unspent funds, forced schoolteachers to pay for their health care benefits and slashed state spending by $3 billion without raising taxes.”

The fact that Christie forced teachers to pay for their own health care benefits was actually offered as evidence of his AWESOMENESS in a supposedly serious newspaper in our nations capitol.  I never cease being shocked and saddened by the pathological hatred and contempt conservatives have for teachers.  It’s mind-blowing.  The “heroic” Christie “slashed” $560 million in education funding for New Jersey schools.  Think about that.  Imagine the impact those cuts are having on teachers and schools in places like Camden, Hoboken and Newark.  Christie said he’d free up some of that aid if teachers agreed to a wage freeze and pay for a higher percentage of their benefits out of pocket.  Here is one of the many places the conservative mind goes entirely off the rails and out of the realms of reality: people like Christie and bottom-feeding, dime a dozen, radio hacks such as Neal Boortz actually seem to think that teachers are rich, pampered, overcompensated “terrorists.”  Part of me understands the reasons for this pathological antipathy towards teachers (in as much as I can as someone with a brain/soul).  Conservatives entire world view, ideology and conception of history shrinks and recedes further into fantasy every time a textbook is opened and a lesson is taught.  The shallowness, inadequacies and failures of their philosophy is laid bare as a child progresses through junior high and beyond.  They know this, so they do things like labeling plain-old curriculum based teaching and learning “indoctrination,” because it doesn’t adhere to, or reinforce, the fantasies conservatism depends on.  Modern education can’t nurture conservative fantasies because as Stephen Colbert once famously said: “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”  Labeling education “indoctrination” hasn’t gained much traction outside of the closed circle of the same-old fevered minds, so they are stepping up their efforts by going straight to the source and writing their own textbooks; objective reality be damned.
The other reason conservatives hate teachers so much is that they are unionized.  Not satisfied with decimating and destroying labor unions in almost every other economic sector, conservatives demonize unions like the National Education Association incessantly.  Starting in 2004 when Secretary of Education Rod Paige actually referred to the NEA as a “terrorist organization” in a speech, this dangerous and despicable slur has been echoed by unoriginal con-men like Boortz who took it a step further declaring teachers unions to be “more dangerous than Al-Qaeda.”
Why because they refuse to let what’s public be privatized?
Look, these teachers could get paid more money annually than Rush Limbaugh, Bill Gates and Tom Brady combined and it still wouldn’t enough in some cases.  Schools are underfunded from the outset and falling part, morale is low, parents expectations are different etc. etc. and there is always a conservative ‘star’ like Christie looking to squeeze blood from a stone and take more and more funding away.   Harold Meyerson said it eloquently in his Washington Post column yesterday, describing the conservative penchant for scapegoating teachers pitch-perfectly:
“Blaming teachers for the dysfunction of inner cities and the decline of American industry lets a lot of other, more culpable, parties off the hook.”
My biggest fear is that one day the idealism and commitment to public service that drives most men and women to become teachers will no longer be strong enough to withstand the low-pay, the demonization, the deteriorating schools, etc.  The conservative con-men and women like Sarah Palin who thrive on un-educated, so-called “low information” voters may then, finally,  be ensured of Rove’ “permanent majority” and Mike Judge’s prophecy of an Idiocracy will be fulfilled.

Lobbyist/Oil Industry exec. or Senator?

Senator of British Petroleum, Mary Landrieu wrote a letter to the Washington Post yesterday in which she attempted to defend her hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.  The language is interesting to say the least.  I can’t tell if it was written directly by one of her BP colleagues, only to have her name stamped on it at the last minute, or if she can no longer publicly maintain the fictional notion that she works for the people of Louisiana.   Let’s take a closer look at the language and tone (emphasis mine):

“Since the day an unprecedented moratorium shut down deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for every company except the one that was drilling relief wells after causing the April oil spill, I have tried in vain to show the Obama administration how its handling of this situation completely missed the mark. In the parlance of the industry, the administration’s policy struck a dry hole.”

Senator, you know what else is “unprecedented?”  The scale and scope of BP’s negligence in the destruction of the Gulf Coast.  You can actually sense the mask slip while reading the “In the parlance of the industry…” sentence.  I’m sure if Landrieu actually wrote this she had to hit the backspace key a few times to fix the initial draft where she’d no doubt instinctually written: “In the parlance of our industry.”

She, or the lobbyist, continues:

“My hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget comes as a last resort, after months of meetings, hearings and testimony from citizens and experts failed to move the administration from a misguided course. Instead of curtailing “big oil,” administration policy has crippled independents and smaller operators.”

You gotta love the paternalistic tone of the oil companies seeping directly through Senator Landrieu in the use of the phrase “misguided course” to describe Administration policy.  It is corporate speak extraordinaire.  Also note the dismissive use of quotes around the phrase “big oil” like it’s some radical, out-of bounds, Marxist epithet.  Then comes the predictable chorus of how it’s the poor small “operators” who are being hurt.  There is nothing like the spectacle of monolithic multinational companies speaking through corrupt Senators and hiding abjectly behind the concept that they are acting nobly in the interests of the little guy.

Cue the strings for Landrieu’s grand finale:

“When we met some weeks ago, Mr. Lew gave no indication that he understood how devastating the moratorium’s effect is on the Gulf Coast economy or how a prolonged blockage of new offshore oil production can affect the national economy. As the president’s top economic adviser, the budget director has the power and responsibility to overturn a detrimental economic policy. Mr. Lew simply repeated the administration’s policy stance and refused to consider the economic hardships it is causing. That is not good enough for me or the people I represent.”

It can, almost, go without comment and/or explication.   You cannot tell me a lobbyist or BP employee didn’t write this letter/press release.

The moratorium is “devastating” and “detrimental” (to BP’s bottom line).   A “prolonged blockage” will effect the “national economy.”  Can you sense the vague threat and overt fear-mongering in that sentence?   Finally, this policy just isn’t “good enough” for the Oil execs. “I represent.”

The truth at last.


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