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The Wrecking Crew

We have reached the nadir of the dumbing down of American politics. The path was cleared by ideologues: and why should the devastation not be delivered by the conservative right holding the Book of to their American flag lapels? I am half-tempted to go along with the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party and let August 2nd come and go: just like Y2K right? (On Jan 1, 2000 apocalypse was predicted when computers would all shut down or short circuit because they had not been programmed to accept the millenium date. If you don’t know what happens on August 2nd, stop reading now.)

Republican brainiacs believe they can pin “this budget thing” on President Obama and the Democrats, but if there is no resolution to the budget and debt ceiling crisis, expect a stock market crash of at least 20 percent off the bat. No one thought home values could be worth only half of what they were, five years ago. Let the GOP masterminds like Karl Rove explain how it is the Democrats’ fault our savings turn out to be worth only half of what they were.

That the Republican Party turned into a party of unrecognizable extremists didn’t happen overnight. For those who thought Grover Norquist was just trying to shrink the size of government, look at the consequences of the decapitations that are working themselves out in slow motion. Turn, for example, to Florida’s GOP wrecking crew in the House of Representatives.

If you were too focused on Texas’ GOP initiative to save the incandescent light bulb, or the electric utilities’ decision to abandon investment to reduce man-made chemicals that cause global warming (because of regulatory uncertainty as a result of Republicans effort to kill environmental regulations), then you might have missed the Florida GOP delegations’ most recent tactic in the Holy War against the US EPA: to gut the Clean Water Act as revenge for the federal agency’s efforts (after decades of lawsuits and inaction) to clean up Florida’s filthy waters where the state refuses (thank you, Governor Barely Legal Rick Scott).

The GOP is ginned up by campaign contributors from polluting industries like Big Sugar and its lobbyists; Florida’s Associated Industries and its Jack-Ass-In-Chief Barney Bishop. “US EPA’s proposed nutrient criteria rules will impose ‘crushing burden’ on families, economy” is the alarmist press statement dated July 9, 2011. It is a piece of the 40 Year War Against the Environment that provides the foundation for Florida’s future: a haven for polluters.

Yesterday, a week after Associated Industries’ kick-off– followed up by a full scale lobbying press by Big Sugar in the halls of Congress– the House passed The Dirty Water Bill sponsored by Florida REp. John Mica. Sierra Club wrote of the measure (supported, naturally by the Republican delegation from coal-polluting West Virginia); “H.R. 2018 guts the Clean Water Act, severely limits the federal government’s ability to protect waterways, and seeks to return the country to an era of inconsistent and ineffective state water safety standards without a federal safety net. Representatives also voted against an amendment that would have ensured continued protection of municipal drinking water sources.”

H.R. 2018 would “prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, without state concurrence, from taking action to revise outdated state water quality standards, making it easier for companies to dump their waste and garbage into lakes and rivers.” Like Big Sugar, frantically trying to fend off paying for its pollution of Florida and the Everglades.

It is nauseating: the GOP Congress is using the budget crisis– otherwise consuming the nation’s bandwidth for political turmoil– to insert the will of big polluters and Republican campaign contributors. Call it “Particle Board Democracy” to the benefit of the Koch brothers (billionaires like the Fanjuls) whose profits derive, among other sources, from the manufacturing of formaldehyde; the binder in chip board. Chip board: a symbol of American democracy. That’s what we have come to: binding democracy to Big Sugar and carcinogenic fixatives. When you strip away “Obamacare” and the other wisps of Frank Luntz rhetorical magic tricks, the key Republican issue is protecting polluters; just look at the states where the GOP leadership comes from. In addition to Florida, the co-signer of H.R. 2018: West Virginia. Mitch McConnell, opponent of campaign finance reform and Senate minority leader, Kentucky. Big Coal, Big Sugar, then there are the Kochs.

When the EPA recently– after more than a decade of “study”– declared formaldehyde to be a carcinogen, the Koch’s frenzy added even more vigor to the funders of the Tea Party and other reactionary, revenge-seekers against the EPA. Consider U.S. EPA costs relative to other monthly expenses of the federal government: the subject of so much spent energy by the Florida GOP delegation in the context of the budget crisis.

The monthly obligations of the federal government, all-in, are approximately $307 billion. One must ask the question, if the best the GOP Congress and Florida’s extremist Republicans in Congress can find to do is beat up on the EPA, whose budget represents .3 percent of monthly federal obligations, WTF is going on? We know what is going on: the House of Representatives and its Florida GOP delegation is marching through our democracy like General Sherman through Georgia; laying waste to everything of value. In 2012 voters will have a chance to redress the shameful ploys by Republicans. But God help us, the next two weeks.

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Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

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