Like native Texan Gary Busey, the state of Texas has gone from an enviable position of having a lot going for it to one where it has people wondering what gutter we rolled out of.
It appears fellow liberal Texas blogger Neil Aquino and I were on the same thought wave for a blog today but Neil got his on-line first at his Texas Liberal website. So rather than duplicate some of what Neil’s said about the sorry state of Texas politics I‘ll just latch onto his and offer examples of why the Red State mentality here in Texas is the butt of jokes around the country
Texas is one of the top five states that has the highest per capita incarceration rates, has one of the higher rates of churches per capita with the city of Lubbock having “more churches per capita than any other place in the nation” and the highest rate of uninsured citizens. All that worshipping and nothing to show for it but unhealthy people and a large criminal base.
Texas has the highest number of public school districts and the 2nd highest enrollment rate in the nation, yet it ranks near the bottom with verbal and math SAT scores. It also has less nationally recognized research institutions than other populous states and has only one private institution, Rice University, ranked among the nation’s top 50. SOURCE
I really do love my home state and was once typical of the braggart Texan that so many other Americans ridiculed, or as most Texans felt, were just simply jealous of. But the migration of ultra-conservatives to this state beginning in the late 80’s and early nineties has changed the populist character of this state to one where radical fringe groups now predominate and anti-intellectualism exceeds anything ever seen here before.
There use to be a comfortable coexistence between homespun conservative thought and progressive grass-roots democracy in this state, with conservatives for the most part being the stronger of the two. But it was a conservative type that was anything but anti-intellectual for the most part; one with a comprehensible view of things. That no longer exists and instead we have what appears to be the result of the insane asylum occupants being released and taking over the cultural and political leadership roles in the state.
Examples of mindless prattle from the wing-nuts in this state abound and many can be found in the Letters to the Editor column in our local newspaper,the Denton Record-Chronicle. In just the last couple of days some of my fellow Dentonites, who claim to be American (I’ll just have to take them at their word on that) have spouted off some of the worst ruminations that, if one didn’t know better, would have thought came from a 3rd grader.
There’s a couple of characters who constantly begin their tirades with chicken little rantings about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and it all started when Obama and the Democrats wrested control from the Republicans a couple of years ago. All the ugly budgets numbers are thrown out there and the likely consequences that will affect future generations if we don’t get them under control NOW.
I’ve been reading and contributing to this editorial page for years and I do not recall a single lamenting comment from the likes of these people when their Party of preference took a trillion-dollar deficit under Clinton and turned it into a $500 billion deficit in 4 short years. But this is politics as usual. What continues to amaze me is how Obama can do nothing right in the eyes of these people, even when he does.
Here in Texas they’ve been going after what would normally be viewed as a positive thing – the killing of the outlaw Osama bin Laden. Yet one contributor chastised the President who made this call while sitting “safely and comfortably in the Situation Room, living vicariously while SEALs eliminate Mr. bin Laden.” He then goes on to complain that our mission in Libya looks more like a personal attack on Muammar Gaddafi than protecting innocent civilians. Would many people in Obama’s position that night have had the courage to send those SEALS into harms way knowing in all likelihood some if not most of them may not make it out? And when did Gaddafi take on a certain glow with these weirdos? After Reagan sent his missile strike to kill this North African dictator and terrorist promoter back in 1986?
Remember the “shock and awe” campaign Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld boasted about as they began their war in Iraq, where bombs destroyed numerous buildings thought to house Saddam Hussein but killed more innocent civilians than military personnel? Clearly this modern day right-wing peace-nik in his assault on Obama has changed from one that a few short years ago would have viewed our actions in Libya as the hazards of war and what some euphemistically refer to as “collateral damage”.
And how are we supposed to take these unbelievable comments from this writer; “Is anyone godlike enough to know who is in hell? And why would the editorial stoop so low as to call Donald Trump a ‘blowhard’?” The first comment refers to Obama’s reference to bin Laden’s new location after the bullet-to-the-head shot and the latter comment was in reference to an excellent editorial in the Record-Chronicle about the idiocy of the birther King. If there really is a hell, why would any bible-thumpin’, red-neck Texan think bin Laden was not there and who other than a blowhard would think Donald Trump is not one?
On the same page, the very same day is another fellow Dentonite who clearly demonstrates that he gets all of his misinformation from the FOX cable airheads. Here’s my interpretation of how he gets things wrong. You be the judge:
- Obama has cancelled all oil drilling in the Gulf and is opposed to drilling anywhere in the U.S.
- Despite making record profits, oil companies must have tax payer subsidies to keep cheap gas at the pumps
- Subsidizing new start-up businesses is the same thing as subsidizing highly profitable ones. Also, federal outlays to help low-income people with health insurance and nutritional meals for their children is equal to subsidizing very wealthy corporations who use our taxpayer dollars to pay share holder dividends and executive bonuses.
- A lot of G.E.’s profits last year came from selling CFLs
- Bush is not to be held accountable at all for our current economic mess.
It’s usually only one day a week that the insanity is published in the Letters column but it seems we were cursed with one more irrational thought in today’s pages. A former police officer who I have known slightly in the past and who is now retired contributes regularly to the editorial pages. And though most of his conservative views differ from my progressive perceptions, his thoughts and comments are usually cogent and reasonable.
As a law officer I have to appreciate the man’s concern for justice being properly dispensed in all situations but there are of course exceptions to this norm and in the case of Osama bin Laden, I think most people would agree that his is an exceptional case. Yet this writer wants us to believe that the President has committed an impeachable offense by killing the man responsible for the deaths of some 3000 innocent Americans on that September morning back in 2001.
The retired police officer, Tillman Uland, complains that due process was not extended to bin Laden and that his killing was illegal. This from a man who supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq to get one man who never posed a direct threat to the U.S. and who told all America that bin Laden must be brought to justice “dead or alive”. Many innocent Iraqis died in George Bush’s attempt to get even with the man who tried to assassinate his father years earlier, yet I don’t recall seeing a similar letter from Mr. Uland on the editorial page of the Record-Chronicle calling for Bush Jr.’s impeachment for the many war crimes he has been accused of.
Clearly, perception is reality for many people and there is no exception to this premise by those on the Right. But the reality that often comes across from these people is one that is unfamiliar with most of us, unless of course you were ensconced in an insane asylum at one time. Is it any wonder then that we see bizarre laws that lowers prices on cancer causing tobacco from tax cuts and offering deeper tax cuts on yachts while school districts in this state have to fire teachers and crowd more students into classrooms for lack of funding?
It’s not easy to ignore jokes about Texas as I was able to at one time thinking the joke-makers were just jealous of what we truly had in this state. Now I have to shrug and simply nod agreeably that there are indeed clowns in this state that have some of us envying those who live in Mississippi.