Newspapers may be dying, but everybody with a TV or a radio knew all about the icky corrupt Democrats in icky corrupt Louisiana, post-Katrina. They know all about William Jefferson and his freezer money — and that he was a black (gasp!) Democrat (double gasp!). But what they probably don’t know about, if all their news comes from the radio and the teevee, is the hellacious corruptness of the Republican-dominated state next door, Mississippi, whose governor is former RNC Chair (and midnight Hong Kong yacht rider) Haley Barbour. Hell, I pride myself on following current events, and the only reason I know about this particular iteration of said corruptness was because somebody forwarded it to me:
Mississippi’s Department of Transportation leaders are among the state’s most well-traveled government officials, with two of the four having traveled overseas, at taxpayer expense, nearly as much as the governor over the past four years, including trips to Budapest, Vienna, Brussels, Puerto Rico and Cancun.
They don’t appear to spare expense at home or abroad, submitting bills from such top-drawer hotels as the Ritz-Carlton, L’Enfant Plaza, Washington Court and Beau Rivage, with room rates as high as $457 a night in one instance. While not required by state rules to submit receipts proving meal expenses, the officials usually receive food reimbursement, as much as $90 a day records show, even when attending events whose programs indicate meals are provided.
Ah, Mississippi: Where the public schools are left to rot but the roads — or at least the people allegedly in charge of them — are rolling in dough. Why? Because while white parents enroll their kids in private schools so that the state government can feel free to starve the public-school system, roadways aren’t as easily segregated according to the skin tones of their users. Plus, if you believe that government is a scam and want to prove it by ripping it off yourself, you have to have at least one government agency to screw into the ground so you can enrich yourself while forcing your point.
Where did [the Republican] hostility to government come from? In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political consultant, explained the evolution of the G.O.P.’s “Southern strategy,” which originally focused on opposition to the Voting Rights Act but eventually took a more coded form: “You’re getting so abstract now you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In other words, government is the problem because it takes your money and gives it to Those People.
There you go.