Sunday, June 03, 2007

"Why do y’all keep electing these morons? Seriously. How much more of this idiocy are y’all going to put up with?"

Shoo the cavemen out of Austin


Patrick Barkman
Cleburne Times Review
Copyright 2007

“There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones.”— Ecclesiastes 10:5-6

I think it’s safe to come out of the bomb shelters and storm cellars now. It’s over. Our long state nightmare has ended; the Legislature has adjourned sine die (Latin for “someone please get these idiots out of here before they cause any more damage!”). Mark Twain once said that America has no distinctly criminal class except for Congress.

In Texas, we have wisely chosen to force the criminals to gather in Austin every two years so we can keep an eye on them. So what did the average Texan get out of this biannual running of the fools? Not much.

It started with Rick Perry’s arrogance and incompetence provoking a race among Legislators to see who could more quickly prove that girls who might engage in sex should die a long and painful death from cancer as punishment. Things only got worse from there. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst pushed through “Jessica’s Law,” a well-intentioned hope of crime victims turned into a cynical vehicle for his 2010 campaign for governor, assuming Perry doesn’t intend to inflict himself on us for another four years.

An entire column could (and probably will) be written about this law that will actually make Texas children less safe. Next, the Republican majority attempted to pass a so-called Voter ID bill, which was in reality a blatant attempt to suppress turnout by people Republicans don’t want to vote, such as racial minorities, the elderly, the poor and rural voters. Through the heroic efforts of Sen. Mario Gallegos, who quite literally fought the bill from his sick bed after liver transplant surgery, this abomination, the most transparent attack on democracy in this state since Jim Crow, went down to a well-deserved ignominious defeat.

A fake “moratorium” on toll roads that exempts most of them, including the Pave Texas Corridor was passed to muzzle critics of the notion of selling off large chunks of the Lone Star State to foreign corporations who will then charge Texans to drive on roads they have already paid for with their taxes. And since Republicans think it’s perfectly OK to have the government meddle in your most intimate personal decisions, you now have to pay twice as much for a marriage license unless you take a course where the government will tell you how your marriage should be handled. Yeah, the homosexuals don’t know what they’re missing.

Retired Texas teachers get a small pittance thrown their way, but our ranking with Mississippi in terms of teacher pay will remain unchallenged. A small amount was tossed to the state parks system, just enough to cover up the embarrassment of the second largest state in the Union with parks that would shame a Third-World country. Some of the children that former Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth tossed overboard from the Children’s Health Insurance Program will get their health care back. The biggest story of the session, however, was the simmering rebellion against the petty tyrant Tom Craddick that finally boiled over into open warfare. The speaker of the house, evidently copying a page from George W. Bush, announced unilaterally that his power over the House was “absolute” and not subject to challenge from any mere peons.

This was too much for the House parliamentarian, Denise Davis, who quit in disgust. And it was too much for the House as well, even most of the Republicans, who normally have a pretty bizarre fetish for authoritarian fantasies that they really ought to discuss with their therapists.

The ensuing midnight walkout, which got so heated DPS troopers had to be called in like the United Nations to separate the warring factions, reminded me of the good ol’ days, when fist fights and all-out brawls of the sort normally not seen outside of Taiwan were a regular occurrence. It made me even sadder that Molly Ivins wasn’t around to see it; she would’ve had a blast covering this train wreck of a pathetic excuse for a legislative body.

Craddick only barely managed to cling to power through adroit use of a $176 million bribe — excuse me, I mean special higher education appropriations, which he doled out to the faithful, including a small number of Democrats who continue to shine his boots with their tongues.

You’ll be relieved to know, incidentally, that our alleged state representative, Rob Orr, continues to dwell safely and comfortably in Craddick’s vest pocket, like the obedient little toady we’ve all come to know and love.

So here’s the question of the day: Why do y’all keep electing these morons? Seriously. How much more of this idiocy are y’all going to put up with?

Is this the kind of state you really want to pass on to your children and grandchildren? Polluted, paved-over, with crumbling parks, no social services to speak of, an education system that’s falling down around our ears, our infrastructure auctioned off to the highest foreign bidder? That’s really what y’all think you deserve?

Or is it that we’ve become so inured to incompetent, corrupt and just plain stupid government in Austin we can’t conceive of anything else?

Patrick G. Barkman is a Cleburne whose weekly column on politics, religion, culture and American Indian issues is distributed nationally by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. He invites you to comment on this column and read more at his blog,

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