Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

Best Quote of the Week – May 15, 2020

“Mail-in ballots aren’t where the election fraud is happening.  It’s happening in the office of our indicted attorney general.”

Kendall Scudder, a Dallas County businessman who – along with another man – filed a formal complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleging the latter committed voter fraud in each of the state’s 254 counties by contradicting a judge’s order expanding the availability of mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Truth Amid the Obstruction


No time is right for a health pandemic, but COVID-19 couldn’t have arisen at a more inconvenient period for Americans: at the start of the 2020 presidential election race.  Things had been proceeding somewhat normally until March, when concerns about the “novel coronavirus” began altering the social landscape.  When I saw that this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed – possibly to next year – I knew our world had been capsized by this invisible biological menace.  Viruses, like facts, always have a way of sneaking into our lives and making us rethink everything we’ve ever learned.  Facts, however, are good things.  But, while a crisis of any kind can bring out the best humanity has to offer, it can also bring out the worst.

Right now political conservatives in the U.S. are trying to finagle the COVID-19 miasma into an obstructionist nightmare for the voting populace.  Last week thousands of voters in Wisconsin were forced to leave their homes and venture out to designated polling places to cast their votes for a candidate in the Democratic primary.  On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to allow an extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin; thus, forcing the primary to go on as planned on April 7.  On April 2, a federal judge had ruled that absentee voting can be extended.  But unsurprisingly, the Republican National Committee appealed the ruling, which landed on the docket of the High Court.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.”  She went on: “Because gathering at the polling place now poses dire health risks, an unprecedented number of Wisconsin voters – at the encouragement of public officials – have turned to voting absentee.  About one million more voters have requested absentee ballots in this election than in 2016.  Accommodating the surge of absentee ballot requests has heavily burdened election officials, resulting in a severe backlog of ballots requested but not promptly mailed to voters.”

Political conservatives don’t like it when people they consider insignificant actually have the audacity to practice their right to vote.  For a good part of American history, they’ve done just about everything they could – including intimidation and violence – to stifle voting rights; which, they’ve obviously forgotten, is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society.  The right to vote is clearly mentioned in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution!  Then again, they may not necessarily forget about it, as they just ignore it.  And they always seem to skip over to focus attention on the 2nd Amendment, which addresses firearms.

Conservatives established and enforced such obstructionist tactics as “grandfather clauses”, literacy tests, and poll taxes.  Voting advocates had to fight for confidential voting.  Early feminists had to do the same to get the 19th Amendment ratified.  When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he conceded that he and his fellow Democrats had probably handed the South to the Republican Party.  And he was right!  Slowly, but surely, over the ensuing decade, many White southerners began switching to the GOP.  A number of well-known U.S. politicians, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, also changed their allegiances to the Republican Party.

The election of Barack Obama solidified in the minds of many conservatives the horrors of expanded voting.  They then launched a number of efforts – both at the national and state levels – to ensure that would never happen again.  A slew of voter identification rules were suddenly enacted.

The COVID-19 scourge has prompted calls across the nation for expanded absentee voting, such as mail-ins, which has been rebuffed by conservatives who holler voter fraud could result.  This week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that fear of catching the virus does not qualify voters to vote by mail

But State Judge Tim Sulak ruled that Texans afraid of catching COVID-19 should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, using the state’s disability clause in the state’s election code, and said he will issue a temporary injunction.  The Texas Democratic Party and several had filed a lawsuit over concerns that voters in this July’s elections, including the primary runoffs, could come in contact with infected people when voting in person.

“Based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan M. Vassar wrote in a letter to Fort Worth State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a fellow Republican.

And, of course, Paxton was “disappointed” that Sulak had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”

The voter fraud claim is the default mantra of right-wing politicians every time they enact legislation that impacts the voting process.  Texas Republicans have long opposed the expansion of mail-in voting.  In 2017 the GOP-dominated state legislature stiffened penalties for election fraud.

“Our state is better off when more Texans participate in our democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party.  “Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible.  It allows more voters to participate in our democracy, and it’s a common sense way to run an election, especially during a public health crisis.”

Like the Texas Innocence Project, you know the Texas Democratic Party has their work cut out for them!

Currently, residents over age 65, military members, those who will be away from their residence during voting and people with disabilities can request mail-in ballots.  Democrats argue that a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring voters’ health,” covers all Texas voters under the age of 65, including those who are afraid to catch the COVID-19 virus.

In his letter to Klick, Vassar naturally disagreed, stating that fears of catching the virus is neither a sickness nor a physical condition, but an emotional reaction to the pandemic is not “sufficient to meet the definition of disability”.

It’s ironic that Vassar regards concerns of contracting COVID-19 as emotional.  Throughout Obama’s presidency, conservatives screamed that his administration would ban all firearms, abandon Israel, and force churches to conduct same-sex weddings.  None of that happened.  It never has and most likely it never will.  Yet, liberals are always justifiably concerned that voter suppression is a real possibility when conservatives are elected to office.  Justifiably concerned because many state legislatures, such as Texas, actually have moved to enact legislation to combat the ubiquitous pandemic of voter fraud.

During Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, news cameras captured horrific scenes of police physically assaulting individuals or using water hoses to attack groups of African-Americans.  I’ve seen some of that footage – startling black-and-white images of mostly peaceful citizens wanting to vote or be able to enter a restaurant and have a meal.  We don’t see that now.  Instead, we see elected officials use the power of their position to suppress voting.  Firearms have metamorphosed into pens – but they pose no less of a risk.

While I have my own doubts about the effectiveness of the voting process – the fraud-ridden elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump being the most recent examples – people in any truly democratic society have the right to cast a ballot.  And eventually, the obstructionist tactics of those elected (not ordained) politicians will reveal the truth behind their dubious motives.

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God Damned Texas

texas

Well, hell!  God must have, considering the gallery of lunatics the Lone Star State has put into public office in recent years!  I can honestly say I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a Texan (or an American, if you look at the current presidential race) than I am now.  I opined two years ago that I hope Ted Cruz runs for president and gets his ass slaughtered in the process.  So far, he’s one of only three survivors in the Republican field.  I eagerly await the political bloodbath at the GOP convention in Cleveland this summer.  I have a perverted fascination with seeing arrogance publicly butchered.  Cruz has made a number of incendiary comments, including that the United States will collapse into the fires of Satan’s lair because gay marriage is now legal – as opposed to the centuries of European-induced Indian genocide and Negro slavery where nothing so calamitous occurred.  There are too many idiocies that came from his mouth to highlight here.  I mean, I wouldn’t know where to begin!  But one recent revelation is that he tried to uphold a state law banning the sale of sex toys, which he said safeguards “public morals”; adding that “police-power interests” are a tool (pun intended) in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.”  That’s right.  Cruz believes police have the power to invade your home and yank a dildo out of your ass or vagina!  All in the name of protecting children, of course.  Like so many right-wingers here in Texas, Cruz is willing to move heaven and Earth to protect children from wayward sexuality, while ignoring the fact most of those children are uninsured.  Priorities, people!  Priorities!

Canadian-born, Cuban-Italian Cruz certainly isn’t the first Texas official to spout out such twisted logic.  This state has a long history of generating some colorful characters.  During the 1990 governor’s race, Republican oilman Clayton Williams said, among other gaffes, that bad weather was like rape; it’s inevitable, so you might as well lay back and enjoy it.  As you might expect, the old bastard also insulted Blacks and Hispanics.  But here’s the sad part: he garnered nearly 40% of the votes.  Fortunately State Treasurer Ann Richards won.  Unfortunately, she lost four years later to the grandest of all Texas political goofballs: George W. Bush.  It’s around that time when Texas politics began sliding into the surreal – enough to make Salvador Dalí jealous.

But the past decade alone has seen the dramatic rise of Texas’ quirkiest politics stars.  I now present the following three jewels of cluelessness.

Ken Paxton – The state Attorney General has been in legal trouble almost from the moment he was sworn into office.  In July 2015, Paxton was indicted on felony charges for repeatedly breaking state securities laws during his tenure as a state lawmaker.  Then a new charge that he deliberately misled investors in a technology company arose.  Amid raising thousands of dollars from the investors, Paxton supposedly also received commissions – something he didn’t reveal and something that’s, you know, kind of illegal.  His attorneys tried to get all the charges dropped, but the judge handling the matter refused and ordered Paxton to be arrested in Collin County, just north of Dallas.  Paxton had to undergo the usual rigmarole of fingerprints and mug shots.  Whenever people in Collin County, Texas are arrested, officials wrap a white towel around their necks before taking the requisite glory shot.  But, because Paxton is a high-ranking state figure, he got the anticipated special treatment and was photographed sans towel.  (Trying to be discreet, Paxton had met with William Mapp, one of the energy company’s co-founders at a Dairy Queen in McKinney, which is in Collin County, in the summer of 2011.  According to most Texans, Dairy Queen is a step above Burger King.)  While Paxton is currently trying to stop a group called Exxotica from staging a sexually-oriented exposition in Dallas this summer, news reports now reveal that Paxton is still paying top aides who left the attorney general’s office more than a month ago.  The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the investment deal, and Exxotica is threatening to sue the city of Dallas, if it violates their contract to proceed with the exposition.  I truly hope the SEC wins, and then, I’ll join them at the Exxotica convention.

Louie GohmertThe East Texas congressman takes outlandishness to a new level.  As with most right-wing political figures, Gohmert doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do with their guns, but he feels the urge to tell people what to do in their own bedrooms.  Aside from his staunch opposition to abortion (a given trait among conservatives), he’s compared limiting the size of ammunition magazines to bestiality and opposes gays from serving in the military because they’d spend more time giving each other massages on the front lines than fighting.  (What the hell’s wrong with massages?!)  In light of President Obama’s election wins, Gohmert has co-sponsored a “birther” bill that would require presidential candidates to submit their birth certificates as proof of eligibility to run for the White House.  Recently he opposed a bill that would have directed education funding to recruiter more women in the sciences by claiming it’s gender-biased and that even Martin Luther King would have opposed it.  Not knowing when to shut the hell up, Gohmert went on to add that such a bill would have distracted Marie Curie’s research and put “millions and millions of lives” in jeopardy.

Sid Miller – Like most politicians, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner has a penchant for travel.  And, like most politicians, he claims it’s all done in the name of state business, and therefore, he’s justified in charging taxpayers for his expenses.  But the $2,000 he spent on a 2015 trip to Mississippi to compete in a rodeo for prize money probably doesn’t fall into the business category.  He engaged in calf-roping events and won $880.  He tried to explain the trip’s importance by claiming he had set up a “work meeting” with Mississippi’s agriculture commissioner and other business people.  But wait!  It gets weirder.  Miller also may have charged Texas taxpayers the $1,000 it cost to fly to Oklahoma to visit an old friend, Michael Lonergan, a discredited Ohio doctor, for a “Jesus shot.”  Yes, Miller – who apparently suffers from chronic back pain – needed the spirit of the Lord pumped into his tired body via a concoction of unknown ingredients that’s injected into the upper arm.  Lonergan served prison time in Ohio for tax evasion and mail fraud, before relocating to Edmond, Oklahoma.  Miller is reimbursing the state of Texas for the trip “out of an abundance of caution,” according to his spokeswoman.  But the Texas Rangers, a state police agency, is still investigating.  My idea of a “Jesus shot” is a heavy duty screwdriver made with Smirnoff citron vodka and a bottle of baby oil; then shouting, “Jesus!” as I wipe my face.  I have videos in exchange for contributions to a charity of my choice – mainly my freelance writing fund.

Miller spent $55,000 decorating his office.

Miller spent $55,000 decorating his office.

Mary Lou Bruner – The 69-year-old retired teacher is seeking to be the next president of the Texas State School Board, the entity that has made all of Texas the literal laughingstock of the nation.  Bruner subscribes to the usual right-wing ideology: the Earth is only about 6,000 years old; there was a man named Noah who built a massive ark and that dinosaurs were among its passengers; climate change science is leftist bullshit; and 20th century liberals rewrote the history of the Civil War only to make it look like slavery was the root cause.

But, among her myriad Facebook rants is this lovely tidbit: “Obama has a soft spot for homosexuals because of the years he spent as a male prostitute in his twenties. That is how he paid for his drugs. He has admitted he was addicted to drugs when he was young, and he is sympathetic to homosexuals; but he hasn’t come out of the closet about his own homosexual / bisexual background. He hasn’t quite evolved that much! Since he supports gay marriage, he should be proud of his background as a homosexual/bisexual. He is against everything else Christians stand for, he might as well be for infidelity.”

Facebook forcibly deleted that post, and even some of Obama’s most ardent critics here and across the country thought that went too far.  Of all the disrespectful crap lodged at our first biracial president, that’s the most slanderous.  As far as I can tell, though, she’s never apologized for it.  A spokeswoman for the Cherokee County, Texas Republican Party dismissed the response to Bruner as excessive; describing her as “a nice older lady who doesn’t understand social media and the impact that it can have.”

No one has to “understand social media” to realize calling somebody a prostitute and a drug addict is offensive and just plain stupid.  Do you need a PhD in astronomy to understand that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west?  What’s worst, however, is that – given Texas’ dismal voting record – Bruner stands a good chance of actually winning that coveted seat on the school board.

There’s also a good chance Paxton and Miller will both remain in office.  In the U.S., a true double standard exists when it comes to elected officials facing criminal charges.  People are routinely thrown in jail for possessing a pinch of marijuana or talking back to a police officer.  Sandra Bland, anyone?  But use your official power to skirt the system?  Well… that’s up for discussion.  I have no hope for the future, but will keep writing to avoid a visit from the FBI.

Although Texas gave the nation – and the world – Dick Cheney and Enron, it also produced the U.S. space program, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, frozen margaritas, Shiner Bock, Whole Foods Market, silicone breast implants and, of course, Chief Writing Wolf.  So, things aren’t that bad down here!

On a side note, I really do plan to patronize Exxotica and display my version of the “Jesus shot”: a bathtub filled with Mike’s HARD Lemonade; a liter of Red Bull; a sounding rod; heated Vaseline and a high-definition video camera.  I’ll email copies to Bruner and Cruz to show what they’re missing while campaigning.  After all, politics is bad for both body and soul.  Yee-hah!

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