Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, January 23, 2014 8:57 pm

Terrorist acts that our federal and state governments have ignored


Esquire’s Charlie Pierce with a thought experiment:

Imagine if there were three terrorist events in two weeks. First, terrorists poison a state’s water supply. Then, they rig a building to collapse and rig another one hundreds of miles away to explode. Nervous politicians would be blue-pencilling the Bill of Rights by daybreak. The NSA would throw a parade for itself. Edward Snowden would be hung in effigy, if we couldn’t do it in person. Somebody’s ass would get droned in Waziristan.

Sounds about right.

But in the past two weeks, we have seen West Virginia’s water supply be poisoned by a Koch Bros.-owned chemical plant (CORRECTION: As Roch notes below, the Kochs sold the plant Dec. 31, nine days before the leak), which promptly filed for bankruptcy protection so that the families who are harmed will have to be compensated by the state if they get compensated at all. Then we have the building collapse in Nebraska and the explosion in Oklahoma. And those events happened in the wake of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that killed 15 people, injured more than 160 others and damaged or destroyed more than 150 buildings. What do these things have in common? Freedom! The dead hand of government regulation has been removed, by fiat or via lack of enforcement, so that these companies could kill Americans without significantly harming their owners’ bottom lines.

At Cogitamus.com, the Low-Tech Cyclist says:

I keep on waiting for the Democratic Party to get a clue about this: to say after the latest such disaster, “This is why we regulate, [expletive] — this is why we need the regulations, and why we need enough Federal inspectors out in the field to make sure they’re followed.  Because otherwise, they’ll poison our food, dump chemicals in our rivers, steal your wages, and make you work in places that could blow up.”

But Dems at the state and federal levels seem almost as in thrall to industry as their GOP brethren and sistren, so we’re all screwed. Pierce concludes:

(Forklift operator) Kendrick Houston was brave enough to go back into the fire (in Omaha). Yet too many of our politicians, local and national, don’t have the simple stones to stand up to a corporate class that has come to represent nothing but death and pillage. But they will show up at the funerals, boy. They will do that, and they will talk about the indomitable spirit of American individualism, through which people will run back into the fire, and then they will go out onto the stump next fall and talk about how the dead hand of government regulation is stifling that same spirit, and that freedom demands more victims. The American Dream becomes the province of the dead, Moloch with stock options, and that is the country today, where things fall down and things blow up and almost nothing ever changes.

The Republicans got the Congress back in 1994 in part by using language to frame the terms of the debate and even to describe their opponents as outlined in the now-famous document “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” So is it excessive to, as Low-Tech Cyclist does, call our plutocrat class “terrorists”? I think not — if the poison-tipped jackboot fits, wear it — but even then, they do what they do because we allow our legislators to let them. This, among many, many other reasons, is why voting matters and why electing people to office who believe that government can and should do its job, not those who are bent on dismantling what remains of government, is so important.

Some of our most vicious terrorists are home-grown, and it’s time they did time. But in addition, and better, it’s time we prevented them from getting in the way of what’s needed to keep our food, water, drugs, cosmetics, workplaces, and so on, safe. Because the free market doesn’t give a rat’s ass if you live or die. If you doubt me, you can just go to West, Texas, or even just down to Hamlet and ask.

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3 Comments »

  1. “But in the past two weeks, we have seen West Virginia’s water supply be poisoned by a Koch Bros.-owned chemical plant”

    Are you sure about that? I don’t remember the source, but I read that it had, just weeks before, been purchased by a Pennsylvania business man. But still…

    Comment by Roch — Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:55 pm @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  2. Follow the money. That’s what it’s all about.We cannot elect officials “who believe that government can and should do its job, not those who are bent on dismantling what remains of government,” because thanks to a stupid Supreme Court, the money flows are almost limitless and are corrupting without limits. Finance reform and terms limits — among other Constitutional reforms — are the only answer. Maybe then we’ll get some politicians with “the simple stones to stand up to a corporate class that has come to represent nothing but death and pillage” — and money.

    Comment by Blair Pethel — Friday, January 24, 2014 1:24 am @ 1:24 am | Reply

  3. @Roch: You are correct; the plant changed hands Dec. 31, nine days before the spill. Good catch.

    @Blair: No kidding about the money. I doubt term limits would help, for reasons I lay out here, but the money, particularly post-Citizens United, is horribly corrosive. (Speaking of which, how ironic was it that Dinesh D’Souza was charged yesterday with violating a campaign-finance law? Post-Citizens United, do you know how STOOPID you have to be to break campaign-finance law?)

    Comment by Lex — Friday, January 24, 2014 8:41 am @ 8:41 am | Reply


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