By Manifesto Joe
Forget the silliness about the bondage bar and other misspent donor money. I heard some of Michael Steele's speech yesterday to Republicans at the New Orleans conference, and he embodies everything that is screwed up about their way of thinking. You know, the kind of thinking that creates mining disasters.
What I heard was the good old American dream thing, which Mr. Steele has dredged up many times. He's made a career of it. I guess there's nothing really wrong with that, if your life has been like the plot line of a Horatio Alger novel. His life appears to have been thusly charmed. I'm sure he's worked hard, and of course he had to overcome the stigma of racism. But his personal journey seems to have left him with no understanding of what reality is like for most Americans, and perhaps especially fellow African-Americans.
The reason people come to America from all over the world, Steele told the Republican audience, is that this is supposed to be the one great place on Earth where the tentacles of big government are restrained. It's the place where people are free to become what they are capable of, through hard work and talent.
Nowhere to be heard on any Republican lectern are the many talented, hardworking folks out there who one day found themselves stuck in the middle of the pack, in large part because there simply isn't room at the top for everyone who fits that description.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, Mr. Steele, but folks like that still have to worry about things like keeping (or even having) health insurance, being laid off and left with a meager, unreliable public subsistence in the meantime, having your IRAs and 401(k) tank because of Wall Street malfeasance, etc., etc.
And then, there are those 29 dead West Virginia miners -- dead because they were all but forced to work in unsafe mining conditions, by a lack of area jobs, for an owner who has dedicated his life to busting unions and bitterly fighting government regulations that might have spared some lives.
Mr. Steele did all the perfunctory government-bashing in his speech. At no point did he seem to even think of those dead miners, who perished as a direct result of eight years of anti-government governing by the Il Doofus administration.
A government with proper and right regulatory powers could have saved lives. Instead, a fatcat named Don Blankenship, whom I'm certain agrees with every word of Steele's speech, can now waddle around and oink as though he has no miners' blood on his hands.
As you can see from this video link, Blankenship is an example of what results when you elevate swine to high stations in life. He acts mighty tough, with his bodyguard and all. He talks about a cameraman getting "shot." Blankenship wouldn't have to do it himself; he's got hired guns for that purpose, no doubt. I'd like to see fat boy up against one of the younger men in his coal mines. That's an asskicking I would enjoy seeing.
Granted, I've known people who ended up doing jobs like coal mining. The following was less true in earlier times, but people who end up in such jobs nowadays usually aren't the sharpest pencils in the box. Even in the region of West Virginia that they are from, the best and brightest tend to perform well at the poor-to-mediocre schools in such places, then probably get out of Coaltown to go to a university and eventually some job that won't give them black lung.
Even they, the best and the brightest from such circumstances, generally start out in life with so many handicaps that they often do well just to make it into the middle of the pack. And, where they are from, they are the lucky ones. Brains and decent health both come to us at the whim of genetics. Those who lack one or the other -- there but for the grace of God go any of us.
When I hear someone talking the sort of talk I was hearing from Mr. Steele yesterday, I instinctively check to see if I've still got my wallet.
And if Don Blankenship were in a room with me, I'd keep my hand on it every second until he and everyone around him left.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.