Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Friday--ah, Saturday--satire, anyone?
A Rock Springs, Wyo man yesterday realized that Republicans had duped him. "They don't give a damn about me," the unemployed potash miner said. "All that crap about tax cuts and keeping your own money so you can spend it--all that sounded a lot better when I had a job." The man, 44-year-old Michael Dutton, is a husband, father of three, and life-long member of the Party. "I was down at Rosie's Bar the other day, and ol' Fred Hinney was talkin' about the liberals this and the liberals that and I took one look at him and it hit me. All those Republicans we been listenin' to--Rush, Hannity, hell even Bush--they're stinkin rich. And here's ol' Fred talkin' like he drives a goddam Caddy. Hell, Fred ain't got a pot to piss in!"
The native Wyoming man had previously worked for Grunfeld Bremins, the Cheyenne-based company that was last year purchased by Halliburton. In January, Halliburton shuttered the last of the Wamsutter and Reliance mines that have been a mainstay of Sweetwater County for 47 years. Halliburton, in announcing the news, cited profitability as the reason for shuttering the mines. Although Grunfeld Bremins had earned on average 6% growth per annum over the past decade, Halliburton cited this as inadequate. "Six percent growth falls well below Halliburton benchmarks. Thanks to our new federal imbed program, we grew 92% in the last six months alone," spokesman Jay Poirier was quoted as saying.
Mr. Dutton describes the process as incremental, as he started observing inconsistencies in the Republicans actions. "I was all for the tax cuts. I mean, I hate the government just like any good American, right? But I didn't get very much back, I'll tell you. But what the hell; you know trickle down and all that--I figured it might work."
It didn't. In early 2002, just as Grunfeld Bremins was entering final negotiations with Halliburton, Dutton was laid off. "It was just after 9/11. Everything looked bad--airlines goin' out of business, tourism shot to hell. I thought at the time that's what did it. But I'll be damned if he didn't cut taxes again!"
During the lay-off, Dutton worked for an area Wal-Mart, but was laid off when the store closed down to make way for a Wal-Mart Supercenter. He then worked as a handyman, house painter, and did odd jobs.
"You know, guns kept me goin' for a little while. I kept thinkin,' Well, at least the Republicans'll let me keep my guns." But eventually, Mr. Dutton began to regard this as cold comfort.
"I don't know. Now we gotta pay for two wars, and the poor non-coms get their pay cut. We're building schools in Iraq and down the road here ours is going to seed. They say you can go down to the Baptist Church there for the government cheese, but I don't really like the Baptists. They kinda freak me out, you know? I look at the Republicans and I see Dick Cheney gettin' stinkin' rich, and all of Bush's oil buddies, but here I am cuttin lawns like I'm 16. It just ain't tricklin' down, you know what I'm sayin?"
Dutton is mostly alone in this town of Republican stalwarts. Yesterday, there were no harsh words in the cheese line at First Baptist Church. "Just think how bad it would be if the Democrats were in control," said Hope Jones, a 28-year-old mother of two. "We'd have to go down to the welfare office for the cheese."
"He's a hero, and I won't hear any of your liberal claptrap," said Homer Bly, a 69-year-old retiree. "You all just hate America."
"If it weren't for George W. Bush, we'd all be speakin' Arab," added his fishing buddy, Bill Poe. "He's the only thing standin' between Osama bin Laden and the United States of America. Hell, the Democrats'd invite 'im in and put 'im on welfare."
Tough words for tough times.
And here in a hardscrabble land, Mr. Dutton will find little support for his heterodox views. "But dammit, I don't care. My eyes are open now. The Republicans just aren't out for the common man."