I’ve now watched the Trump presser yesterday three times. Not because I am a masochist who enjoys inflicting as much pain as possible on himself, but because I don’t think I appreciated the full madness of it the first time. The surreality of it all just overloaded my senses and I really couldn’t take it in.
It was like the first time I went to New York City as a teenager. When I was 16, I left little old Bethany to head to upstate NY to live on a farmhouse with my friend Jason and his father Nick In Verbank, NY (east of Poughkeepsie, west of Millbrook). Jason’s parents were divorced, and his mom lived in Bethany and taught there, and he lived here and went to school here, and then in the summers we would go up there and get jobs. At any rate, I would go to the bus station in Wheeling with my big old backpack (the old kind with a frame) and a dufflebag filled with all my possessions for the summer, head up to NYC, and then I would navigate my way to the train to take me up to Poughkeepsie.
This was around 1986, and NYC was a markedly different place than it is now, and this was the first time I had ever been out on my own. I think prior to my trip to NYC, the most people I had ever seen in one place might have been a rock concert down in the old Wheeling Civic Center. To cut to the point, my senses were just overloaded the moment I got off the bus. Everything was bright, loud, moving, smelly, crazy. All I really remember is keeping my hand in my front pocket over my wallet and just trying to get to the train alive. It was chaos and just too much to take in, and it wasn’t until I had been to NYC about 4-5 times that I started to actually notice things and be able to really pay attention to what was going on, and even then I am sure I had just scratched the surface.
That’s how I felt watching the press conference yesterday, and why I had to watch it so many times to fully appreciate the crazy on display. The third time I was watching it, I was also reading the local (somewhatish) newspaper, the Charleston Gazette Mail, and came across this story:
Poor roads cost the average Charleston driver $1,357 a year in additional expenses, according to the latest TRIP report on West Virginia roads.
Statewide, deficient roads cost West Virginia drivers $1.4 billion a year for additional vehicle repair and maintenance costs, crashes where road deficiencies are a contributing factor, and lost time and fuel from traffic congestion, the report from the national transportation association concludes.
“The quality of life of state residents, visitors and businesses is significantly affected by the quality of the state’s road and bridge network,” Will Wilkins, TRIP’s executive director, said during a news conference Thursday to release the latest report on state roads.
In what has become something of a tradition during legislative sessions, the TRIP report outlines the costs of deficient roads and bridges on the state’s economy and quality of life. The release of the report frequently coincides with the annual West Virginians for Better Transportation rally at the Capitol, scheduled this year for Friday morning.
In past years, the call for additional funding for highway construction and maintenance has gone unheeded, but the advocates this year have an ally in Gov. Jim Justice, who wants to sell $2.8 billion in road bonds to build and upgrade West Virginia’s highways.
On Thursday, Justice administration Transportation Secretary Tom Smith called the TRIP report “alarming.”
“Roads are getting worse. Bridges are getting worse,” he said. “It really makes the point Governor Justice has asked us to make.”
In his State of the State address, Justice proposed the massive highways construction program through bond sales that would be financed through a $20 increase in the annual license plate renewal fee, a 10-cent a gallon increase in the state gasoline tax (estimated to cost average drivers about $130 a year), and a $1 increase in tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike.
Justice called the proposal the “800-pound gorilla” of his legislative agenda, saying it will create 48,000 jobs and cause an explosion in growth for the state’s tourism industry.
Smith said Thursday it is important to invest now in upgrading highways, paraphrasing Justice by saying, “The longer you wait, the behinder you get.”
Taking care of roads is the most basic of government services. It’s quite literally one of the lowest level responsibilities that the government has, but the state of West Virginia, much like the rest of the nation, can’t even fucking do that because we have gone quite literally insane. And this insanity goes back to tax cut Jeebus, our lord and savior, the deal the Republicans made with the devil years ago to keep together the racists, the godbotherers, the war hawks, the nihilists, the glibertarians, and the uninformed. From the trickled down words of Saint Ronnie of the Alzheimers, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government IS the problem.”
In 2012, Garry Wills wrote a splendid piece called “Our Moloch” about the deference and sacrifices we make to our blood God, the gun. I’d argue that there is a higher power, one that even “Our Moloch” serves, and that is tax cut Jeebus. That’s how we found ourselves where we are now- where even Democrats dance around the concept of raising taxes to pay for basic services and a cheeto dusted lunatic rants incoherently on national tv in front of the world and a solid portion of the Republican party says nothing and goes along with it. That’s why Republicans are so dead set on killing ACA. It’s why they want to gut social security and medicare. Tax Cut Jeebus demands it, and so it must be done