Cognitive Psychology

The Texas Deep Freeze: Welcome to the Republican Dystopia


Ye Olde Blogge has been posting for literal years that the Repubes want to create single-party, pseudo-democratic, minority-rule authoritarian regime to transfer the nation’s wealth to the one percent as fast as possible. A kind of dystopia in which we all live in Cancer Alley, drinking Flint water, and dying as quickly and quietly as possible when we quit contributing more than we consume.

It’s here. Look at Texas.

By now everyone who isn’t hiding out in the Texas desert to escape the FEMA camps and child support police because the Texas utilities disaster is the first sign of #BidenHarris taking everyone’s guns, has heard about the Texas utility disaster and Texans living for days on end with no relief in sight without electricity. Electricity supplies just about everything in our homes because electric pumps, so water and natural gas. Also, it is cold enough that water and natural gas have frozen in their pipes. Natural gas has frozen. It’s gone from its gaseous state, to liquid, to solid. That’s how cold it is.

Think about everything that electricity supplies and what having no electricity means for your daily life:

  • No lights — no DUH! But no fucking lights! It’s really dark at night something that urban dwellers have lost touch with.
  • No Internet — no DUH! Your wireless router won’t work, so you have to plug into the wireless jack, if you can any more, or use a smart phone driven hotspot. Ever notice how many times you want to google something when you don’t have Internet access? You think, “I’ll just google what to do without Internet access,” reach for your device and, then, remember. Only to think, “I know, I’ll google how to get Internet access…” and start all over again.
  • No charging your smart phone — no DUH! But, we’re so reliant that we have a hard time imagining life without it and have lots of useful crap stored on them.
  • No refrigerators — no DUH! But critical thinking is hard, and it is surprising that more people don’t think to put there food on the porch or something — of course wandering raccoons and opossums — what is the difference between a possum and an opossum, any way? I know, I’ll google it! DOH! — will be happy about that, too.
  • No heat because everything is central heating nowadays. No one has a gas heater any more. I remember standing by the gas wall heater as a child on cold winter mornings to warm up, but mom installed central heating and air years ago.
  • No gas pumps! Yeow! Luckily idling your car doesn’t use much gas but all of us who lived off of putting $5.00 in at a time are SOL, amirite? And, carbon monoxide poisoning, which got a mother and daughter in Houston.
  • No credit cards or debit cards! Unless everything along the chain of service from the store to the bank has generators going. Who has stacks of cash lying around any more? “I know, I’ll go to the ATM and get some cash!”
  • No ATMs — “I know, I’ll go to the bank and get some cash!”
  • No bank transactions, unless they have a generator!
  • No water — How much water do you need? Well, you need to drink water, eventually. Beer will only get you so many days. But, what about flushing your fucking toilet? You can melt snow, if you can make a fire, but good luck with that.

You begin to see the depth of the disaster. Millions are suffering and dozens have died as they try to cope.

Republican Values and Principles Caused the Texas Disaster

How could this happen in the United States, you ask. The short answer is that the Repubes have turned us into the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid because profits are people, too, my friend. It’s not like this is the first time that this has happened in Texas, either. In fact, it happens pretty regularly, like once every decade. It happens because Texas emphasized profits and part of that prioritization included deregulation which meant avoiding federal regulations so they isolated themselves from the national grid. Not shipping electric power across state lines means no federal reason, but also, you can’t supply electric to the country when someone needs it and can’t get it when you need it, except in El Paso. Not very neighborly.

Other people have explained it much more clearly than I can and you’ve probably already read them. If not, see this Vox explainer, Why the Texas power grid is struggling to cope with the extreme cold.

The disaster is the result of the Repube governing philosophy, which is best embodied by Reagan’s line, I’m from the government and I’m here to help and an extension of Romney’s line, Profits are people, too, my friend. It is also the result of decades of deliberate cynical Repube propaganda and disinformation. It results in lots of unbelievable myths being believed by their low-information rural conservative Christian white voters including that companies will preserve the environment without regulation and oversight because it is in the companies’ economic interest to do so. For more of this same crap, see the post, The Making of the Republican Stooge Voter: A Review of “Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.”

What amazes me, and perhaps the unique contribution that Ye Olde Blogge can make is just how closely the Repube response to the Repube-made deadly disaster in Texas is how closely it hews to Hitler’s propaganda playbook. Let’s match it up play-by-play.

Abbott Uses Hitler’s Propaganda Playbook

The following are the main ideas from Hitler’s Propaganda Playbook. You can read more about them in the post, The Narcissist’s Playbook: Trump’s Adaptation of Hitler’s Propaganda Techniques.

  • never allow the public to cool off This was one of Trump’s favorite things. He always kept the country roiling over some controversy or other. Here, though, no sooner had the utility grid gone down, than Gov. Abbott and other Repubes were hitting the airwaves blaming renewables, especially wind, and the Green New Deal.
  • never admit a fault or wrong, never accept blame, and never leave room for alternatives As has been so amply demonstrated in the local MSM, the real issues were the relaxing of state regulations, avoidance of federal regulation, and the economizing that avoided winterizing the supply chain of the state utilities that occurred in the 1990’s. Gov. Abbott has not — PREDICTION: he will not — said that this is the issue. He’ll go on Fox, OANN, and other conservative media outlets and continue blaming renewable energy sources and the Green New Deal while telling the MSM that there must be an investigation and there may have been issues with all sources of energy production.
  • never concede that there may be some good in your enemy Gov. Abbott has not and will not ever mention the role of climate change in this year’s severe weather emergency and will not accept that such things will happen with increasing frequency and severity. He will continue to use this failure as a cudgel on renewable energy so that fossil fuels companies can make money for as long as possible despite the real and tangible consequences.
  • concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong Notice how often AOC, the Green New Deal, and renewable energy sources come up in the discussion of the catastrophe. They will blame the progressive left for this for as long as they can.
  • people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it This one is well established and used with frightening effectiveness by the cynical and manipulative conservative politicians to maintain their positions. They will continue exploiting the gullibility of their low-information rural conservative Christian white voters by repeating big and small lies whenever convenient for them.
  • take advantage of every opportunity to raise a political whirlwind Instead of actually governing, they will demagogue renewable energy, the Green New Deal, AOC, and progressives in general. They will not be addressing any of the issues that led up to this event.

The deadly disaster unfolding in Texas was born of the stubborn refusal of the Repubes to actually govern. They feed their base and anyone willing to listen lies and disinformation so that they can sell us to the corporate world as a cheap resource. I don’t think there is a clearer example of what our future will be like if we as voters let them continue. This is the latest installment of the dystopia that the Repubes would have us living in if we let them.

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Image Attribution

“Snow Day Texas” by Chris Zúniga is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

29 replies »

  1. Thanks for the article links. The Vox article was good, and accurate in regards to the maintenance schedule. We’re generally concerned about heat-stroke worthy weather, not freezes, so it’s a lack of imagination, lack of attention, and the time-honored tradition of something Really, REALLY bad happening to give the state a swift kick in the ass before there’s a discussion, let alone a response.

    Didn’t Harvey teach everyone “hey, it’s time to reassess infrastructure and emergency situations?” But I guess we’re STILL working on that one (grumble, grumble).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Tally!

      It would be a swift kick in the ass if it were the first time it has happened, but it isn’t. It’s happened about once a decade since the 1980’s that cold weather has stopped portions of the energy grid in this fashion. In 2011, there was a report issued that suggested major changes needed to be made to the energy infrastructure of Texas to prevent situations like this. That is what prompted El Paso to abandon the Texas energy grid and opt into the national energy grid. They made the changes necessary and have not suffered the same problems.

      Texas is experiencing a failure of political philosophy that abandons attempts at governance in favor of transferring wealth to the 1%. These problems were caused by a stubborn refusal to do anything that wouldn’t maximize the profits of the fossil fuel sector. They’re lying about it so that they don’t have to do anything to correct the problem so that the fossil fuel sector can continue maximizing profits.

      The real tragedy is that most Texans will probably return Republicans to office. This is what single-party pseudo-democratic minority rule looks like.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

      • Yeah, that’s the tragedy. I was a kid in 1989 when I first saw snow and the Houston area was shut down a few days because of road conditions. Ice storm of early 1997 knocked so many trees and limbs down we were without power five days because of the snapped transmission lines (a tiny fireplace is all that made it almost bearable). 2008 not enough de-icing in November meant bridges were impassable, and tunnels were damaged from Ike earlier that year, so no go there (I was supposed to go to work, following dad because i wasn’t used to driving in that. Found out from NPR the bridge we had to use was shut down. Tried to call him and warn him, and he ended up stuck in the middle of it for three hours). That event lasted a couple of days. And now here we are. And that’s just Houston. I’m guessing other parts of the state had their own similar stuff about every decade.

        It sucks because they make a big stink (while the event is going on) that we gotta fix this problem fast. As soon as folks stop complaining and something else grabs the headlines, they file it in interesting storage place called a garbage can. Forget keeping their feet to the fire when this is done, let’s burn the damned things so they have to feel the blistered skin pull to remind ’em not to be stupid again.

        I’m angry enough for sadistic imagery. Can’t help it at this point, my patience is very thin now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Tally!

        So, you’re living through this debacle right now? Jeez. I just can’t imagine. It looks like a developing country and not the richest country in the history of human kind. It is just unbelievable.

        When other states failed under Republican leadership, they’ve gone on to elect Democratic governors and a more balanced state legislature. Perhaps if someone like O’Rourke runs against Abbott in 2022, we’ll see the same thing in Texas. I’m hopeful.

        This event is statewide. It may make a big difference. The local media is covering the real causes of it and laying it at the feet of Republican governors and legislatures. That is my impression from witnessing it from a far. Is that what is happening from your vantage point?

        After Hurricanes Harvey and Ike, I was amazed at how hard-hearted fellow Texans could be towards residents there. There was a sense of that’s a Houston problem and they should’ve been better prepared rather than rely on aide after the fact. Maybe I’m wrong about that. There certainly was an outpouring of support from everyday citizens, but, certainly, no one in state government was held accountable.

        And, that is the general problem with Republican voters. They don’t connect their vote to the behavior of government.

        The proportions of the disaster in Texas may be so great that no one can ignore it or forget it. Hopefully, everyone’s patients have worn thin and their tolerance with it.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Like

  2. A neighboring example to Texas in this screw up is Mexico. They buy all their Natural Gas from Texas, because it was cheaper than developing their own supply. OOPS! And then there are all those “Remain In Mexico” migrants in tents (if they’re lucky) on the South bank of the Rio Grande, already being a humanitarian disaster.

    The general lesson: The essential resources and functions belong in the Commons. When they are privatized, they break down. That applies to energy supplies, medical care, education, and everything else the GOP wants to be for-profit and unregulated. And, climate change ain’t gonna slow down or ease up on testing those systems in the foreseeable future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      All of this would be true and great if the GOP had any intention of governing for anyone other than the 1%. They have zero concern for their constituents because they are confident that they will continue voting Republican based on the body of lies and disinformation that they’ve spread over the past fifty or so years Since the Democratic Party hasn’t been a serious threat to them since W beat Ann Richards in the gubernatorial race in 1994, they have ruled as a single-party pseudo-democratic regime. This is what our future looks like unless we can keep our elections free and fair and hold the GOP accountable at the ballot box.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!

        There have been several failed states when the GOP has had long-term exclusive control. Brownback’s Kansas, Jindel’s Louisiana, and Snyder’s Michigan come readily to mind. Brownback bankrupted Kansas by gutting their tax base. Jindel bankrupted Louisiana by giving the state’s wealth to the petrochemical industry threatening the viability of college football and condemning state residents to die young because of the resulting pollution. And, Snyder caused the Flint water crisis by usurping local elections.

        Michigan has swung more blue and elected Whitmore as a result. Louisiana elected Edwards as governor but are unlikely to elect any more Dems statewide. And Kansas went completely crazy and elected a Democrat, Kelly — ex-Republican, but still — and rejected Kris Kobach in multiple elections since then.

        But, the refusal to govern goes even further. Most Republican state legislation is written by ALEC. Most legislators and governors don’t have initiatives to address state problems outside of those provided by ALEC and limiting voting rights and abortion.

        This, too, is another blog post in the making.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 2 people

      • A Kleptocracy can never govern for the general good, and all Authoritarian Pseudo Democracies are exactly that. Perceived immunity from consequences breeds corruption and cronyism. And flat out dictators invariably loot the system to buy needed loyalty.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!
        The funny thing about states being de facto single-party pseudo-democratic minority rule autocracies is that they still must contend with the federal government. And, they have not perfected the pseudo-democratic part. Brownback, Jindel, and Snyder were all sent packing after their unique and absolute failures to govern. I guess we could add Wisconsin’s Walker to that mix. Scott of Florida, though, was rewarded for his mismanagement of the state. We’ll see if DeSantis and Kemp are as fortunate.

        If Dems can manage to get HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed into law, we might could level the playing field even more.

        I don’t know which stuns me more, the absolute lack of governance coming out the GOP or the willingness to accept it by MAGA nation.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is a problem of language and definition. For too many, “FREEDOM” means freedom from consequences and being governed, and “LIBERTY” means “nobody gets to tell me what to do or not do”. For MAGA Nation, they mean the preservation of perceived privilege and stopping “Those People” from taking what’s theirs. It is part and parcel with those filled in swimming pools.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I recall having to pass an exam on The Constitutions (Federal and State) to graduate HS. Has that fallen by the wayside? And, if so, which political party got it dropped? (As if I couldn’t guess.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Howdy Bob!
        I am about ten years younger than you are. By the time I graduated high school in 1978 that requirement had already passed. We had government classes in high school and civics in primary. I remember when they phased out civics. It was the same time they got rid of teaching grammar in English and times-tables in math.

        I also remember when Reagan got elected and all of my financial aid for university got harder to come by. I had to take out a student loan and pay taxes on my Pell grant. I was gratified to see that McGhee pointed out how we’ve made higher education harder to get when it opened up to women, PoC, and poorer folks.

        If you study the history of education, there is a pattern. When education is restricted to fewer people, it becomes a male-dominated profession. When it includes more people, it becomes a female-dominated paraprofession, and every male legislator in the country thinks he can mandate what schools should be like. Part of our education problem is sexism. The teaching profession isn’t respected because it is female-dominated.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the (depressing) history of the elimination of civics classes. Those changes also correlate with the rise of grading schools and teachers with standardized testing, which narrowed the curriculum to what the (presumably male) experts thought should be tested (not including critical thinking).

        The dominant image of the “School Marm” is not flattering; Old Maid, Spinster, homely (couldn’t get a man), etc. Add to that suspicion of intellectuals, academics, and experts. And, disrespect for the teaching profession is both a cause and consequence of low funding and low pay, partly also because the female teachers are presumed to be married and not really needing to be paid well. The nursing profession suffers from similar problems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!
        Our latest set of standardized testing came about because we could not trust teachers — women — to be professionals and educate our students properly. We had to make sure by evaluating the outcome, which has had the unintended consequence of further lowering the quality of education. Having spent quite a lot of time over the past twenty years or so in a classroom, the quality of education is more predicated on the emotional relationship between teachers and students than it is on the ability to pass a test.

        American society and culture seems to be based on our deep-seated prejudices and bigotry much to our detriment.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

      • One of the lessons (unlikely to be fully learned by the old, white men who make the decisions) from the COVID shutdown of in-person schooling and attempts to make the virtual classroom work, is exactly about that teacher-student relationship and the emotional environment of the classroom.

        If we look at the list of “Essential Workers”, which includes teachers, we see primarily underpaid, poorly benefited, generally disrespected women and POC. That list should include also the, mostly women, who as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters do unpaid child care. A friend, many years ago referred to “Shadow Work”, a metaphor drawn from the black clad stage hands of the Japanese Noh theater who are officially invisible.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!
        And the #COVID19 shutdown has virtually driven women out of the work force. Amazing isn’t it? We just keep finding ways to hurt those we have traditionally oppressed the most. Since reading Heather McGhee’s interview — I’ve reserved the book through the library — I just can’t get over how true that seems and see examples of it everywhere now.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

      • A system weighted to oppress some groups more than others will automatically damage those we have traditionally oppressed the most when under stress. It seems that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the nostalgia for the mythical “Ozzie and Harriet” 50s, when an average guy with a high school education could get a union factory job and a sole breadwinner support a wife and 2.5 kids, buy a decent house, etc, rules the thinking of (especially) “conservative” decision makers, the ones who froze wages to the point where all that is no longer possible and even a two income family generally lives paycheck to paycheck. Right now, I can almost hear Archie and Edith singing “Those Were The Days”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Bob!

        I LOVED “All in the Family!” Great show. Reflected the times. I loved this lyric from the theme:
        And you know where you were then,
        Girls were girls and men were men,
        Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again,
        Didn’t need no welfare states
        Everybody pulled his weight,
        Gee our old Lasalle ran great,
        Those were the days

        The line, “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again,” always cracked me up. I never realized just how seriously the GOP took it.

        I like Tim Snyder’s take on it when he talked about the politics of eternity and the romanticization of our history and longing for some non-existent halcyon day of yore. The ’50’s really were great if you were white and middle class. If you weren’t, you were denied most of the VA benefits given to the soldiers returning from WWII so a college education and home ownership were out of reach.

        I keep going back to Heather McGhee’s “The Sum of Us.” It just rings so true. It is like I’ve put on a new pair of glasses and can see things that I’ve never seen before.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy Suze!
        I remember having a government class that covered most civics topics, but no testing requirement for graduation, just the credit. Of course, these things varied by state and the quality of the classes by school district, which is by design to ensure that poor people don’t get the same quality education as the wealthy.

        Huzzah!
        Jack

        Liked by 1 person

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