Norman Ball

Gathering The Herd


The unfortunate truth is we’re going to have to go in ... and put our people in the tough 

situation to save people who did not choose wisely. We’ll probably do the largest search 

and rescue operation that’s ever been conducted in the state of Texas,” --Andrew Barlow, 

spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry (R)  


Like so many glorious contradictions in America today, the Hurricane Ike rescue effort 

provides the latest inducement not to probe too deeply the schism between wishful 

behavior (principle) and actions on the ground (reality.) People are suffering. This is true. 

Yet it begs asking: Why are lazy government bureaucrats endangering their lives to 

rescue rugged American individualists? These folks did not heed the New World Order's 

warnings to do the sensible thing. Perhaps it was a UN trap? The Trilateral Commission 

could easily have doctored those frightening hurricane trajectory videos. Photoshop can 

simulate choppy waters. 

This is the pile-debt-up-for-another-day paradigm. We'll sanction the morons later --more 

likely from the diminished role of third-world banana republic status. The fact is, with 

every proud Texan plucked from his roof, rank ignorance scores another victory in 

America. When, one reckons, will the day of reckoning arrive for the tin-foil hat crowd? 

Why not let these folks test their survivalist skills for a few days? Where's George Bush to 

put a stop to this bleeding-heart public policy of saving the herd's stragglers? Why are 

we keeping them dry for another rainy day? Let Texas be Texas! 

If America is hell-bent on being ignorant, then let it get about its business. But the world 

asks if it might hurry up and exit the world stage as its manifold errors redound to 

misadventure the world over. One hallmark of most successful civilizations is that rubes 

and provincials are encouraged to look upwards, aspiringly, if they are even addressed at 

all. In Karl Rove's America, the redneck is courted for his vote and exalted for his 

ignorance while the educated are held up for scorn and ridicule --mere effetes. In the 

current election, the operative Rosetta Stone is evolving towards whether the other guy 

can shoot and gut a caribou. This is a long way off from the arid abstraction of a credit 

crisis --though the latter may yet prove to be the bloodier enterprise. 

Though it says little for the 21st century information age, the edification of ignorance 

should at least bode well for automaton-fascism. America may well don the brown-shirts 

before anyone else. The military industrial complex will make a fortune on the uniforms. 

True to form, the Toby Keith crowd keeps putting boots up everyone’s asses while 

avoiding the thumbs firmly planted up their own. What politician wants to get booed at 

the next NASCAR rally?  

As one economist noted wryly, just as there are no atheists in a foxhole, there are no 

libertarians in a financial crisis. The credit debacle is yet another example of ideological 

dereliction: we are privatizing gains and socializing losses. When ignorance is the ethos, 

intellectual consistency resigns as a major sticking point. The Hurricane Ike rescue efforts 

are only the most recent example of socializing stupidity and privatizing tough cowboy 

talk. When will these people ever get to walk their walk? How will they ever come to 

learn whether they even have a walk? Why does America continue to alienate courage 

from conviction? Who are we? Do we even know? 

We know all politicians are Hugo Chavez in a crisis. That's how they get re-elected; by 

throwing money (not theirs) at their constituencies, however epically stupid the need 

may be. Ideological exactitudes are reserved for campaign bumper stickers. Then it's back 

to the real ideology: power and how to keep it. There is no expenditure too dumb if it 

can hold a congressional seat. Socialism wins elections by bailing out all manner of 

capitalist shenanigans while China --still run by the party of Mao-- finances Yankee self- 

indulgence. Has the world moved into the post-ironic age?  

Debt is a metaphor. There is a mountain of it. It keeps us from learning who we really 

are, what we in the present moment are capable of without recourse to the sweat of 

future generations. A $59 trillion debt liability makes every American a de facto 

hypocrite. No wonder we're coming to loathe one another. All speech slurs with a $59 

trillion bar-tab. The best rhetoricians try but fail. The euphemism is, 'he makes us feel 

good about ourselves'. So does a good bartender. We are a den of thieves. Flush with 

near-worthless Fannie and Freddie agency paper, the world seems to be catching on.  

Had Republican Texas Governor Perry denied on principle rescue services to those who 

rejected government-sponsored bus trips out of the area, it would have been a watershed 

event for two major reasons. First, it would have reconciled principle to political action. 

Second, it would have written Perry’s political obituary as no politician of any stripe is 

expected to show temerity when his constituency requires government largesse. 

People want their politicians to deviate from principle when they want something

Championing consistency is sort of like asking Rev. Haggard to please refrain from 

procuring male prostitutes because it casts a pall over his Sunday morning exhortations, 

you know all that Christian-talk for which he was paid handsomely.  

Dick Cheney, opponent of gay marriage has a gay 'married' daughter with, technically, an 

out-of-wedlock baby. Palin, spirited abstinence advocate, has an unwed teenage mother in 

her brood. Remember, it's a job, not a calling.  What we do off the job is our own 

business. Is America real? Are we holding consummate performances up to the grim light 

of day when in 'reality' they should be left in the Great American Playhouse? Does 

anyone in America lead a life worthy of the term authentic anymore? $59 trillion makes 

such hypocrites of us all perhaps it's hardly worth pointing out hypocrisy anymore. 

Thieves pointing out thieves are no less thieves themselves. In an ethos that extols 

thievery, why even bother? 

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