When Kathy first showed me this Facebook post, purportedly from the Mayor of some Texas town named Colorado, I figured, on a balance of probabilities, that it had to be some sort of satire. Like so much of what we’ve seen emanating from the American Right over the past few years, it seemed more fit for the Onion than the AP News Wire, and anyway, you’ve got to be immediately suspicious of anything that circulates over social media, especially when it’s so ludicrously over the top. You’ve likely heard of it by now, but have you read the whole thing? It’s indescribable, really:
I mean c’mon, pull the other one! Sink or swim, it’s your choice! ? The City or County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! ? Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic]? Yeah right, like an elected official in a North American city is going to tell his citizens to go ahead and freeze then, if they don’t have the grit and the smarts to live free and proud, and by the way if what it takes to weed out the parasitic socialists is the near Biblical calamity of a days-long power outage in the middle of an historic cold snap, than hooray, we’ve got one of those rare events that pleases both Darwin and the God of the Evangelicals. The many typos and spelling errors were a nice touch, bolstering the authenticity, but honestly. An anti-social screed written by Ayn Rand at the end of a three day bender? LOL, and har-dee-har etc. But then this:
I guess it was real then, and on second thought of course it was, because Texas. Maybe the only really surprising thing is that there was enough of a backlash to force the mayor’s resignation, especially since nearly all of his citizens, huddled in the freezing dark wondering how they’re going to keep turning the snow on their front lawns into something they can use to drink and flush the toilets, now that they’ve burned the last of their furniture, couldn’t possibly have logged in to Facebook to read what Mr. Mayor had to tell them.
Other luminaries in the Republican leadership caste were more politically astute than poor misguided Timmy Boyd. Governor Abbott showed up on Fox to explain to Sean Hannity that of course the freezing folk of the Great State of Texas deserved better than to die from dehydration and hypothermia in their darkened abodes despite living at the start of the the third decade of the 21st Century, but it wasn’t the GOP’s fault. It was all down to that mad bitch AOC and her stinking Green New Deal:
Yes, you betcha’, it was all those goddam windmills that the goddam libs foisted upon the helpless folk of the once mighty Lone Star State. Despite decades of GOP hegemony at all levels of governance, they’d all been helpless to prevent it! That terrible woman from the Bronx, probably with the help of Muslim buddies like Ilhan Omar, had somehow infiltrated the State and corrupted the grid with all sorts of novelty items and fashion accessories, not just windmills but f’ing solar panels too, and now look! F’ing tree huggers! Texas, starved of its staple oil and gas, was laid low by the liberal elites and their elite liberal fanaticism!
The veracity of this pained narrative was affirmed by fearless truth-teller Tucker Carlson, who assured his millions of avid disciples that this latest misery was just one more facet of politicall correctness run amok, as manifested in this case by the perverted war on fossil fuels:
You tell ’em Tucker! God damn those pernicious libs, and their manifestly boundless cunning, pulling the old switcheroo on the power grid right under all those GOP noses with such ruthless determination. Oh well. Shit happens, and now we know what to watch out for. Besides which, it wasn’t all bad. If you were as adept at accommodating mind-roasting cognitive dissonance as the average Republican, you could accept that the crisis was both the unintended consequence of being stabbed in the back by Democrats and the acceptable cost of liberty, borne willingly, because, as should be all too obvious at this point, freedom isn’t free:
No, there’s a hefty fuckin’ fee.
As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pointed out in one his tweets today, former Governor Perry, meathead though he is, was the one being honest. See, the total failure of power infrastructure in Texas isn’t the product of over-reliance on green energy sources. Actually, wind turbines and solar provide only about 10% of the power in Texas, and from what I can gather both have kept right on providing during the current fiasco. The real problem is that the fossil fuel infrastructure, particularly the elements that supply and distribute natural gas, have literally frozen, and aren’t working, on top of which the folks who manage the whole system have been paralyzed by the power failure too, creating a sort of feedback loop that’s keeping the lights out. This wouldn’t be such a catastrophe if Texas utilities could do what every other power provider in North America would be doing at this point, and import power from outside the jurisdiction, but it’s not possible. Texas removed itself from all extended power grids a number of years ago, in order to free itself from federal regulation, which in turn allowed the utility companies to cut corners and, despite repeated warnings, forgo spending the money necessary to proof their grid against extreme weather events. So here they are. All very predictable, and indeed predicted, most notably in post-mortems conducted in 2011 after the last massive blackout, when the culprit was also the freezing of instrumentation and equipment.
I only wish AOC actually possessed the vast power necessary to have made this all happen. Though of course if she did, she’d have used it to implement sound public policy, and this wouldn’t have happened.
As with many an apparently unmitigated disaster, there’s actually a small but immensely satisfying silver lining. Ted Cruz, determined to seize back the high ground lost recently to Josh Hawley, decided that this was a good time to get the hell out of Ice Age Houston and travel to Cancun, where the power is still on, which is a good thing because you really need the air conditioning come mid-afternoon. This caused so much of an uproar that it might actually do him political damage, albeit probably only temporarily, and provided the final raw material for this delightful Tweet:
One wonders whether the Texas electorate will start to wise up in the wake of this mess, which may end up costing far too many more than a few lives. Perhaps they’ll finally start to question the tenets of Republican orthodoxy? For decades, now, the GOP has been dining out on the sentiment articulated by Ronald Reagan, who made Gospel one of the most enragingly pernicious falsehoods of the last fifty years:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.
It was the laugh line that carried him through eight years of witless war on civil society, and the rancid musings of Mayor Tim Boyd represent nothing more than the logical extension of this quintessentially Ayn Rand-inspired Republican ideology. You don’t need Government. Government is bad. All collective endeavour designed to promote the common good is socialism, and thus the horrific handiwork of the Devil himself. Best to just leave it to markets. As everybody knows, free markets cater to all needs, and solve all problems.
Believe that horse shit long enough, turn it into Holy Writ, and this is what you get. The lights go out, you freeze to death, and some feckless prick who’s supposed to be running things shrugs and tells you to sink if you can’t swim, you blood-sucking parasite.