Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Foolish Little Hobgoblin

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has a little mind. He's also a fool. He's a grotesque hobgoblin who doesn't even have the decency to wait for scores of constituent bodies to be dug out of the wreckage before announcing that aid to his state must first be offset by cuts.

 From the Huffington Post:
Coburn spokesman John Hart on Monday evening confirmed that the senator will seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget. "That's always been his position [to offset disaster aid]," Hart said. "He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort." Those offsets were achieved in 1995 by tapping federal funds that had not yet been appropriated.
You do have to give the guy an A for consistency. Coburn is treating Oklahoma exactly the same way he treats the other 49 states -- with all the sadistic intensity of a Charles Dickens villain. Most recently, he voted against Hurricane Sandy relief and against increasing the FEMA budget.

Emerson, quoted above, was an American contemporary of Dickens and the pacifistic founder of Transcendentalism. But ironically, he has become co-opted by the anti-government Tea Party movement, which in turn has been co-opted with great success by the Koch Brothers/Fox News oligarchic cult of selfishness now being represented by Coburn & Co. The famous line about consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds is from the essay called Self-Reliance, written as an anti-government rallying cry for independent thought. But the Tom Coburns of the world have now twisted Emersonian philosophy into a rallying cry for slashing the social safety net, for urging Americans to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pull themselves out of the rubble, whether it be natural or created by the global financial Mafia. Emerson's emphasis on the spiritual over the scientific also fits in nicely with the creed of climate change denialism and the anti-intellectualism being peddled by the right wing in order to keep the heaving masses in their place and the plutocracy on its perch.

In a New York Times Magazine essay published in late 2011, Benjamin Anastas actually went so far as to blame Emerson himself for the rise of pathological right-wing selfishness: 
The excessive love of individual liberty that debases our national politics? It found its original poet in Ralph Waldo. The plague of devices that keep us staring into the shallow puddle of our dopamine reactions, caressing our touch screens for another fix of our own importance? That’s right: it all started with Emerson’s “Self-Reliance.” Our fetish for the authentically homespun and the American affliction of ignoring volumes of evidence in favor of the flashes that meet the eye, the hunches that seize the gut? It’s Emerson again, skulking through Harvard Yard in his cravat and greasy undertaker’s waistcoat, while in his mind he’s trailing silken robes fit for Zoroaster and levitating on the grass.
That's quite a stretch. Blaming Emerson for the rise of John Galt is like blaming Jesus for the rise of the Christian right. The Tom Coburns of the world have always pretended to love Christianity at the same time they've thumbed their noses at the radical socialism of its founder.
It's not even about the individual liberty they profess to love. It's about their pathological love of money, and making sure that once it's confiscated from the national treasury, it finds its way into the right plutocratic pockets. It's all about their pathological hatred of humanity.

The risk of tornadoes remains high in Oklahoma today. The risk to Oklahomans of the toxic stormcloud known as Tom Coburn will remain elevated for the foreseeable future, until that magical day when they come to their senses and send him on a one-way transcendental trajectory to somewhere over the political oblivion rainbow.


Fred Drumlevitch said...

Not being enamored of disaster voyeurism, I watched little of the Oklahoma tornado "news coverage". (As usual, it seemed to follow the standard stereotypical pattern/patter of tragedy reporting). Nowhere within what I did watch did I hear any discussion whatsoever about 1) anthropogenic global warming (or even "climate change") and the consequential increase in extreme weather events, 2) budget cuts impacting NOAA, satellite remote sensing, and ground instrumentation networks, 3) how decreases in government support for education --- or indeed any communal activity, such as disaster prevention --- might have led to a school in the middle of the tornado belt being constructed without adequate structural rigidity or at least a stronger subset safe area in which students could shelter.

James F Traynor said...

I'll feel sorry for the Okies after they stop voting forCoburn. And it's a damned crime that those schools didn't have tornado shelters.

Anonymous said...

What would Steinbeck do?
I think you can go ahead and feel sorry for Oklahomans (not "Okies") regardless of who holds office in their state. No doubt a mess of victims weren't yet of voting age, anyhows.
Tom Joad

Denis Neville said...

Oklahoma’s other fool with a little mind is Senator James Inhofe.

Inhofe is one of the most vehement global climate change deniers. God controls the climate, not humans. Global warming is a hoax. The Bible refutes climate change. In his book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe cites Genesis 8:22 as God’s promise that 'as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.’ "The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous," says Inhofe.

Scientific illiteracy is fertile ground for Inhofe’s ignorance. Facts are now just whatever anyone wishes to believe.

“One of the biggest changes in politics in my life time is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seats of power…For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.” – Bill Moyers, The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal, New York Review of Books, March 24, 2005

Inhofe is also 'Big Oil's Top Call Girl,' an ‘Oil Whore’, who sells the public interest for $$$$: http://dirtyenergymoney.com/view.php?searchvalue=inhofe&search=1&type=search#view=connections

Will Senator Inhofe join Senator Tom Coburn in supporting federal disaster relief for his own constituents if it's financed by comparable spending cuts elsewhere?

Inhofe says Oklahoma has "everything that we need," but he suggests donations to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. "It's going to be necessary to raise a lot of money."

One cannot help but feel sorry for Oklahomans who suffered such horrific losses.

Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, the Republican congressman, whose district bore the brunt of the tornado, supported Hurricane Sandy relief, one of just forty-nine Republicans, because he remembered the F5 tornado that ripped through Moore in 1999. At that time, Cole was Oklahoma's Secretary of State and has said many times how grateful he was for the federal government’s help.