Newspapers around the country are filled with grim economic news as the reality of "Dubyanomics" hits home. Oil prices and unemployment rates are soaring, while the stock market is falling.
The news is particularly bad in Alabama, where we persist in relying on unstable sales taxes to fund essential state services. The fiscal reality is not holding up to Governor Bob Riley's rosy projections, so the state is looking at massive budget cuts in both the general and education funds.
Several ironies are apparent in all of this:
* Remember how Riley crowed about his own economic prowess, trashing then Governor Don Siegelman when the national economy took a downturn following the collapse of the dot.com bubble in 2000 and 2001? Do you hear Riley crowing now? I didn't think so.
* Remember how Riley cavalierly refused to seek a rehearing--or an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court--after the Alabama Supreme Court screwed the state out of almost all of a $3.6 billion fraud judgment against oil giant ExxonMobil? Riley, of course, didn't want to take further action on the ExxonMobil ruling because a semi-honest brief would have shown the blatantly criminal behavior of the Alabama Supreme Court's Republican majority. And those Republican justices are bought and sold by the same corporate interests who bought and sold Riley for the governor's mansion.
So what do we learn today? That the state's reserve funds might be virtually drained to keep operations afloat during the upcoming fiscal year.
That $3.6 billion was slated to go into a reserve fund. Think the state could use some of that cash right about now?
For a refresher course on issues connected to the ExxonMobil ruling, check out posts here and here.
And here is the big question to ponder: Will the thousands of white, middle-class Alabamians who go to the polls and reflexively vote for Republicans ever come to their senses and realize there is a huge price to be paid for that kind of mindless voting?
Given that John McCain has a wide lead in the latest presidential polling in the state, it's hard to see it happening anytime soon.