Monday, November 8, 2010

Here Come the 'Boss Hogg' Republicans

I think we can reasonably expect that Boss Hogg himself will receive a committee chairmanship in the new Republican-led House of Representatives.
Think about it. Jefferson Davis (J.D.) "Boss" Hogg merged political, corporate, and judicial power in a way that even today's Republicans would have to admire. He was the perpetual commissioner of Hazzard County and the owner of virtually all property and business in the county. But because no amount of money and power was enough, he continually engaged in criminal schemes to rob and defraud the public.

The GOP's "Boss Hogg" Committee Chairs

Now consider a few likely Republican committee chairs in the new House of Representatives, whose political operations and policy positions are indistinguishable from the PR operations of the industries they will oversee.

Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), "the quintessential oil congressman," will probably chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barton infamously apologized to the CEO of BP during the Gulf oil spill crisis, calling the compensation account BP was setting up for the economic victims of the spill the result of "a shakedown" by the government. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barton has been the top House recipient of campaign cash from the oil industry, including $22,800 from poor old BP.
--Please let me know if Barton does a single thing while chairman that does not absolutely delight oil companies.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (California), will probably chair the House Armed Services Committee. It's no coincidence that the cash flowing his way from military contractors skyrocketed to $400,000 over the last election cycle (compared to $86,000 for the previous cycle). It's not that his re-election campaign was a nail biter. It's just that Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and others want more funding for weapons programs America doesn't need. They've made a big bet that "Buck" is their man. Although, "bet" would imply that the outcome is in some doubt, so "solid investment" or "bribe" would probably be more accurate.
--Please let me know if McKeon does a single thing while chairman that does not give weapons manufacturers a warm fuzzy.

Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings (Washington), will probably chair the House Natural Resources Committee. Hastings' committee will oversee mining safety, national forests, endangered species, and fisheries, among other things. It should be no surprise that his top PAC contributor was a timber company. While BP's oil well was pumping into the Gulf, Hastings was busy opposing stricter safety standards for off-shore drilling operations. And--what do you know?--he collected $70,000 from the oil and gas industry for the recent election cycle (compared to $10,000 for the last cycle).
--Please let me know if Hastings does a single thing while chairman that does not make extraction industry CEOs want to dance a little jig.

Boss Hogg For President 2012!

As I was writing this, I came across Jonathan Chait's posts at The New Republic about Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's potential run for president in 2012. Chait, in what he concedes is "a fairly juvenile shtick," has been referring to Barbour as "Boss Hogg" in his articles for some time now.

Haley Barbour really is like a fictional character come to life. He's the governor of what was once the most anti-civil rights state in the country (which we won't hold against him personally, but he has been involved in conservative politics since the '60s, and I'm just sayin'). He's the chairman of the Republican Governor's Association, where he oversees a large campaign war chest and can make contacts in crucial Republican primary states. He's the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former tobacco industry lobbyist, which I'm sure has nothing to do with why he vetoed a broadly supported cigarette tax in Mississippi, where the cigarette taxes are the third lowest in the country and grocery taxes are the highest.

But it's the personal touches that put Haley Barbour over the top. According to a Newsweek profile:
"The Republican governor of Mississippi keeps a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that suffered 100 percent casualties at Gettysburg, on a wall not far from a Stars and Bars Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis. Then there's the man himself. Rather than walking across the street from his office to the state capitol, he rides a hundred or so yards in the back seat of a large SUV, air conditioning on full blast."
Wow. We'll see how far glorifying the slavocracy gets his presidential campaign.

You couldn't make this stuff up. The "Boss Hogg" Republicans everyone: corporate power and government power become one unified force, and we're supposed to feel nostalgic for the Confederacy.


Camp Papa said...

Don't you think that if the majority of middle- and working-class Americans would pay as much attention to national politics as they do their cell phone plans or their cable options, we wouldn't see the bozos on the national stage?

Dave said...

I think you're on to something. One thing is, it's pretty clear to people how they can be gypped by not paying attention to their cell phone or cable plans. But it's less clear to most people how they are gypped by not paying attention to and getting involved in politics.