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Flag and Country Bumpkins

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Let's just say that the farmers of SRP have been suckling off a multibillion-dollar government teat for almost a century.

After nearly 100 years of this kind of swindle, the wives of SRP farmers are awash in air conditioning and downtime. Wallowing in leisure, rural homemakers have discovered the humor of Junior Samples, and registered Republican, and developed a real attitude about that Hillary Rodham Clinton bitch.

It was neck-and-neck fighting the elements back there in the 19th century, but today it is clear that the wives of tractor drivers no longer live like Pimas. Farmers today get better federal handouts than the local Indians, without the bother of having to live on a reservation.

The good life did come with a string or two attached.
Shamed by the sheer heft of the federal giveaway to Valley farmers, the federal government said that because SRP had this lucrative power monopoly, maybe it would look better if the utility company's board of directors were elected by its customers--including the city dwellers who purchased so much electricity and water from the farmers.

But here again, Uncle Sam got ripped off by the farmers.
The deal the farmers at SRP had was so sweet that they resolved never to let democracy screw it up.

The board of directors of Salt River Project believed that the notion of one person, one vote--the notion that governed the rest of America--was a poor model.

The farmers decided that the more acres you owned, the more votes you got when it came time to elect the governors of SRP.

This colonial, one-acre/one-vote approach to ruling was challenged in court by the local William Kuntsler set over at the Center for Law in the Public Interest, which took the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

In Washington, D.C., the highest judges in the land sided with SRP. In a 5-to-4 split, the justices ruled that farmers were too stupid to compete on a level playing field. One acre, one vote was affirmed as the law of SRP land.

In the 1994 election for the board, a mere 22 farmers with large landholdings controlled the outcome of the vote.

Is it any wonder that these hog callers love my flag?
And still these gimme-cap gluttons wanted more.
To protect their subsidies, the farmers decided that they fancied having another politician in their pocket. They put their loaf-of-bread heads together, and the next thing anyone knew, Arizona's newest senator in Washington was Jon Kyl, SRP lobbyist and lawyer.

And, yes, he too has come out publicly, blasting the Phoenix Art Museum and the flag show.

Here's the point.
Having availed themselves of billions of dollars from the public till, you'd think Arizona farmers would have the decency to just shut up, plow their fields and drive their K-car Oldsmobiles to market.

You'd think the sod busters at Salt River Project would be so grateful for what America has given them that when any cultural organization approached them for a donation, they'd be glad to pitch in quietly.

But no.
The farmers are back from their vacations in Branson, Missouri, and these docents in dung-covered brogans have opinions on the flag art exhibit. It's unpatriotic, they say.

Well goll-ee.

When it comes to the flag exhibit, the only people who have behaved as shabbily as the farmers at SRP are the Phoenix Art Museum leaders who sucked up their gonads at the first sign of trouble and then spouted duplicitous nonsense from beneath their sun umbrellas to appease the rednecks.

Listening to museum representatives rationalize the controversial items in the show will give you a real, castor-oil lube job.

Two pieces of flag art have everyone puckered up: Dread Scott's "What Is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag?" which invites viewers to step on a flag draped upon the floor while they sign a guest register; and Kate Millett's "The American Dream Goes to Pot," which features a wooden jail cell containing a porcelain commode with a flag stuffed in it. Tres subtle.

Speaking to Legionnaires on a local television show, Scott Jacobsen, arts maven and Arizona Public Service Company exec, defended the flag-on-the-floor pimp by suggesting that it was a good way for little children to learn that you don't step on the flag. He kept trying to convince the grizzly vets that the show was a learning experience.

Do you think that a college-aged artist who changed his name to "Dread Scott" wanted little kids to learn how you properly fold the flag? Or do you think he was picking his nose in public?

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey