Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Republican American Tragedy

Update 1/28: Further evidence of GOP government cynicism: the state gov provided bottled water for state employees in Flint beginning at least a year ago.

The tragedy of Flint illustrates the major features of the current Republican destruction of the American political process.

First, the demi-fascist takeover of cities by the Michigan state government, who appoint an "emergency manager."  Nearly all of the white representatives of the Republican politico-corporate complex rule over minority majority cities,  industrial ruins made more ruinous by racism.

Then the refusal to believe any reality that runs counter to rabid right ideology.  Then the incompetence bred by contempt for government, resulting in political appointees or corporate stooges.  Then the deflection of responsibility to others while the high priced ass-covering goes droning on for years.

Amy Davidson at the New Yorker has the basic story. To save some money, the Flint manager stopped getting water from Lake Huron that had been clean and safe for years, and tapped into the highly polluted local river in Flint.  Not even copious chlorine could sanitize it, and either from gross incompetence, contempt for the non-white non-rich of Flint (Davidson's emphasis) or another attempt to save money--likely some combination of all three--they failed to add an anti-corrosion agent to the water.  It was flowing through lead pipes, and the lead began to corrode and crumble into the water.  The citizens of Flint--including the most vulnerable, growing children--were being poisoned.

And the state government headed by new GOPer darling Rick Snyder insisted it wasn't happening, the water was fine, just a bunch of lazy whiners in Flint, as per GOPer mythology--sorry, GOPer Gospel.

 Meanwhile their supposed environmental people were doing a heckava job trying to support their governor's contention with bad or downright fraudulent testing.  Because polluted lead-infested water is a liberal hoax, like global warming.  Just a lamestream media fantasy.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Flint were getting hit with exorbitant bills to pay for the water that was poisoning their children and possibly killing them.

The regional branch of the federal EPA was not blameless either, and it took citizen agitation and the independent research of a whistle-blowing professor who had previously exposed danger in the DC water system during the GW Bush administration. But eventually even a GOPer darling governor had to face the poisonous reality.  Though some heads rolled, the state investigations illustrate another facet of corrupt GOPer governance: investigation of state actions under GOPer control by GOPer state officials, in this case directed by an attorney general who both defends and investigates the state government he hopes to lead (pronounced "leed") by running for governor in the next election.

Meanwhile, starve-the-government conservative Gov. Snyder is complaining that the federal government isn't giving him enough money to pay for all the damage done as a consequence of his style of non-governance.   Flint is reconnected to the Lake Huron water now, but the pipes may carry lead poison until they are replaced.  Which in Flint may mean never.  It hasn't gotten any less black or poor, after all.

Reality has consequences, and this will for years, not only feeding layers of lawyers and investigators for years, but the illnesses and conditions and stunted growth and disabilities that well may accrue.  Not to mention that it's all going to turn out to be much more expensive, further hobbling the economic future of Flint.  (And let's not forget the folks in  the auto companies and their industrial satellites that polluted those waters and the pols who refused to deal with that reality.)

Yet the GOP is so invested in its increasingly insular and detached from reality gospel that the likelihood that they learn anything from this approaches zero.

It's an American tragedy, different from the Greek.  In classical tragedy, the leader's hubris brings him down.  In American tragedy, the people pay for the leader's hubris, with their lives.  The leader may have to learn to survive on speaking fees and corporate board handouts.

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