It's so interesting to watch the debate over President Obama's economic recovery bill. It's kinda like a Terry Gilliam movie. It's as if the Americans voters had not in fact rejected Republican economic policies both in 2006 and 2008. It's as if the election a few months ago never even happened. The Republicans are incredibly pissed off because this bill isn't exactly the same thing they've been doing for the last eight years.
Which, as we can all too clearly see, did not work, as half a million people lose their jobs each month...
One interesting aspect of the surrealistic debate going on, on Fox News, on conservative talk radio (yes, I do listen to Hannity for laughs, but I can only listen for about 10 minutes at a stretch), and on the internet, is that the definition of "pork" has completely changed. "Pork," in legislative jargon, used to mean earmarks, those pet projects that were stuck into bills without debate or vote, usually in the conference committee. Of course, the truth is that though McCain bet his entire campaign on his pledge to eliminate pork, it's really only a tiny, tiny percentage of the Federal budget, less than 1%. So McCain's quixotic quest to clean up earmarks may have had philosophic appeal, but it would have changed virtually nothing in the real world.
But "pork" isn't just earmarks anymore. These days, "pork" is anything the Rabid Right doesn't like. So even though there are zero earmarks in the recovery bill, Hannity and the other fringe lunatics are as enraged as ever over all the "pork." (Have you also noticed they're trying really hard to replace the word "Democratic" with "Democrat," as in "the Democrat Congress"... maybe someone needs to remind them about the difference between adjectives and nouns. They are not interchangeable.) One of the Republicans' biggest outrages is funding in the bill for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). "That's not stimulative!" they all shout. (Clearly, they've never seen a New Line show...)
This is mostly because they hate the NEA in principle. They are as afraid of art as they are of science and France. What they refuse to consider (among a thousand or so other things) is that the NEA gives much of its money to the state arts agencies, in our case the Missouri Arts Council. And then that money goes in large part to PAYING WORKING ARTISTS.
The screaming fringers want to keep stock brokers employed but not artists. Why? Because artists reveal the truth, and that terrifies the Right. The truth is that our country is significantly worse off than it was eight years ago. The truth is that Bush Jr. did not keep us safe -- we were attacked by Al Qaeda on his watch, well into his first term. He destroyed our economy. He almost destroyed our government. (Why do we ever elect hard-core Republicans who keep telling us that government doesn't work? If they don't think it can work, why would we hire them to run it...???)
Every civilization that survives requires art and artists. As I've said before, we are the tribe shamans. We tell our stories. We record our civilization. How many of us have ever read English history books? But lots of us have seen English history through the lens of good ol' Will Shakespeare. The artists always get the last word.
And there's nothing the Crazies fear more than that. Well, except homosexuals...
Long Live the Musical!