“This might be easy for you, Senator, but you’re not a server losing wages, a single mom losing her job to stay home with her kids, or one of 5 million Texans without insurance. I’m glad you’re ending your long weekend and hope you’ll pass the legislation they need QUICKLY.”
Tag Archives: texas politics
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, but it’s not a license to discriminate. Elected officials shouldn’t be allowed to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to pick and choose which taxpayers they would serve. If a government official can’t treat everyone equally under the law, then it’s time for them to find another line of work.”
– Dan Quinn, spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, on the public warning Texas’ State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued to Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley for violating ethical standards by failing to treat LGBTQ people fairly in her courtroom.
“Get a rope.”
– Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, responding to the refusal by organizers of a Veterans Day parade in his hometown of Stephenville, Texas, to allow a Confederate group to participate.
Miller was upset the group wasn’t granted requested permission to march in the parade and later said he borrowed the comment from a 1992 Pace Picante sauce commercial. People were equally – and justifiably – upset Miller didn’t seem to graph the legacy of lynching in the U.S. and how the comment, ‘get a rope’, is linked to it.
Then again, Miller is a right-wing Republican conservative; so while people are upset with him, they shouldn’t be surprised. And, while I’ll never apologize for my Texas heritage, I’m always embarrassed that the majority of voters in this state continually put these Civil War relics into office.
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 Gohmert – The 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.
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!
The mid-term elections are upon us here in the U.S. That means – as has been the practice for the past quarter century – that candidates shout at the voters in declaring why the other person is so much worse than they are. This trend gained momentum during the 2000 presidential campaign in which then-Texas Governor George W. Bush narrowly triumphed over Vice-President Al Gore. It was the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, and Bush couldn’t have won if his campaign staff hadn’t demonized Gore and ultimately convince the Supreme Court to circumvent the electoral process and proclaim Bush the winner. Under the direction of Karl Rove, Bush’s campaign apparently had to besmirch Gore’s reputation, since Bush had no other redeeming qualities. He was a failed businessman, a one-time failed congressional candidate and a former part-time owner of the Texas Rangers. His years as Texas governor were pretty much uneventful and marked by only three notable highlights: an increase of the speed limit on Texas highways; a law legalizing the right to carry firearms; and the execution of a woman for the first time in over 130 years. That was it; that was the extent of his professional resume. If he’d tried to run on that legacy alone – and if voters had actually paid attention to it – Bush probably would have lost to Gore.
The Rove sludge machine didn’t stop with the 2000 presidential elections though. They went on to denounce the reputations of other political candidates, such as Max Cleland, a military veteran who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War. Cleland, a Democrat, had served as a U.S. senator from Georgia from 1997 – 2003. But, during the 2002 mid-term elections, his patriotism was questioned – and he subsequently lost amidst a wave of hysteria following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. That a combat war veteran who nearly lost his life should have his patriotism and thereby, his credibility questioned against a president and vice-president who used just about every excuse imaginable to avoid military service during the same period is obscene and hypocritical. But, that’s how the Rove gang operated; they couldn’t run a decent campaign to highlight their candidate’s accomplishments.
The same questions of patriotism befell U.S. Senator John Kerry when he ran for the presidency in 2004. Also a military veteran who had served in Vietnam, Kerry came under attack from a group called “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” The group of former Vietnam War veterans was convened strictly to help Bush defeat Kerry. Financed by wealthy political donors, SBVT questioned Kerry’s credentials as a combat sailor during the Vietnam conflict and thereby insinuated that he wasn’t worthy of the Navy medals he’d received. Among their benefactors was Texas billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens who added dirt to the mud pool by offering $1 million to anyone who could disavow the SBVT allegations. When another group of Vietnam veterans finally proved that Kerry’s military credentials were impeccable, Pickens reneged on his challenge, saying the information wasn’t verifiable; thus proving no one is too old to be a punk.
Kerry, of course, made things bad for himself with his varied verbal fumbles – not nearly as bad as Bush, though. At least Kerry knows how to pronounce the word “nuclear.” Kerry initially didn’t authorize release of his military records to the public, even though it may have helped his campaign. He finally released them in 2005.
There was a time that even I remember when a military veteran’s credibility was not something you questioned. I also recall that politicians used to debate the issues and not each other’s reputations. Things rarely got personal in high-profile political elections. When they did, whoever made the unsavory accusation or dredged up some dirt from the past was pretty much shamed into obscurity. Now, that seems to be the standard for running a campaign.
I still think the average American’s distaste for all things political began with the Watergate fiasco. But, it reached its putrid zenith in the mid-1990s, when Republicans took over both houses of the U.S. Congress. Already filled with vile against Bill Clinton, they did everything they could remove him from office; a scheme that culminated in Clinton’s 1998 impeachment over a tawdry sex affair.
As the political season got underway here in Texas late last year, the state Republican Party quickly found itself in a curious state of division. In 2002, Republicans gained control over the Texas legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. If you listened to the state GOP, they sounded like a group of impoverished Jews who’d finally defeated the Nazis in post-World War II Europe after a century of oppression and brutality. But, the traditional Republican Party is now under attack from the “Tea Party,” a pack of extremists who formed in 2009 – conveniently – when Barack Obama took office. The “Tea Party” clan has denounced all elected Republican officials as RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). In other words, the standard GOP isn’t right-wing enough. It’s like Stalin calling Hitler a pot-smoking, tree hugger. To me, the only different is that “Tea Party” Republicans haven’t gotten their required rabies shots yet and keep forgetting to wipe their asses.
It was interesting to watch Texas Republicans try so hard to out-conservative one another. Each one (a White male) running for a statewide office lambasted his opponent as a (gasp!) Washington liberal who doesn’t support traditional (Christian) values. Ironically, they all had two things in common: they hate Obama and love the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Televised campaign ads showed many of them on hunting trips, waving guns like they were their penises. As a writer and left-of-center blogger, I have a fetish for the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech and the right to vote. But hey, I’m just kind of queer like that.
Last year I lamented how voter turnouts were lower in 2012 than in 2004 and 2008. More importantly, on average, only about a third of eligible Texas voters make a concerted effort to get to the polls. That explains why Texas appears to be a bastion of right-wing lunacy. The lone Democrat running for Texas governor, Wendy Davis, has already been labeled a one-issue candidate (because of her filibuster last year of a restrictive abortion bill), but questions arose recently about the veracity of her life story. Some were upset that she had said she was 21, not 19, when she and her husband divorced. In fact, Davis and her husband separated when she was 19; their divorce became final two years later. Do little things really mean a lot? That she lifted herself out of poverty by forging ahead with a college education apparently says nothing about her personal fortitude.
Image courtesy Ben Sargent.
But, instead of talking bad about their opponent, why don’t candidates promote what’s good about themselves? Tell us voters what good things you’ve done for your community. Although Texas has recovered more quickly from the recent economic downturn, what ideas does each candidate have to maintain that level of productivity? The Republican candidates despise the Affordable Care Act, but what solutions do they have for ensuring that all Texans have access to health care beyond a hospital emergency room or Band-Aids from Wal-Mart?
Is it really too much to ask that these people show some level of professionalism and focus on the issues? I guess so.
“Ugliness creates bitterness,” former First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, a Texas native, once said. “Ugliness is an eroding force on the people of our land. We are all here to try to change that.”
I truly wish that would happen.
“We are a backwards-ass state in a fast-forward world. Texas is a land of contradictions. We are creating some of the planet’s most advanced technology while teaching our children that archaeology proves the Bible to be factual.”
It would be easy for me to pack up my stuff and run to the nearest place of common sense – say, Hawaii or New Zealand. Politics here in Texas has taken a woefully right-wing turn, especially with the election of such extremists as Sen. Ted Cruz and the ongoing reelection of Rick Perry. I honestly believe it’s not that Texans lose their brains when they head to the voting booth, but rather, that too many of the decent, logical ones stay home come election season. Who can blame them? If you look at any crop of candidates, it’s like you’ve arrived at a going-out-of-business sale just moments before the store closes. There’s not much left.
Alas, I can’t afford to move and I certainly don’t want to leave my aging parents to the mercy of such scoundrels as Cruz and Perry. I can only hope that, in the ensuing years, more of my moderate fellow Texans will drag themselves to the polls each election and start bouncing the extremists back under the rocks from whence they came.
“And, believe me, being from Texas, I can tell you that nobody jumps up in Congress to help Texas. They don’t like us at all.”
– Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, reflecting on her nearly 20-year career in the U.S. Senate as a Republican from Texas.
No one in Congress wants to help Texas? Really?! I guess when you have a redneck governor who threatens secession, you shouldn’t expect much help from your constituents in Washington. But, there are other reasons why Texas isn’t too popular at the national level. For one, it helped to elect one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, George W. Bush. He actually managed to push Jimmy Carter down into third place! Last week Hutchison and fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn voted against support of the United Nations Disability Rights Treaty. Cornyn also supported senate candidate Todd (“legitimate rape”) Akin of Missouri. In his final days as Texas Attorney General, Cornyn forcibly shut down the Tigua Indian casino on the grounds gambling is illegal in Texas, which effectively forced the Tiguas back onto the welfare dole that most White Republicans hate because it seems to attract too many Indians, Negroes and other undesirables. Hutchison and Cornyn also voted against Sonia Sotomayor for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, “Tea Party” Republican Ted Cruz will replace Hutchison next month.
I don’t know why the Lone Star State keeps putting these clowns into office. I voted for Cornyn in 2008, but I won’t make that same mistake again. I’ll never be embarrassed to be a Texan, but I am embarrassed by people like Hutchison whose idiotic antics keep a negative light on this otherwise incredible state. Believe me! There’s more to Texas than Rick Perry and gunslinging!