What is it About Texas Politicians Who Have No Shame?

Texas used to have a healthy mystique about it that was often the envy of other states and far away places like Lithuania.  That’s been lost for future generations now since the presidency of George W. Bush and a host of other Texas politicians who have been in the national spotlight of late.  The butt of many jokes, Texas is now too often seen as a place where “stupid” comes to breed.

Perry-Texas-Miracle

In a recent Senate roll call vote to see if a bill containing gun control legislation could come to the floor for a debate, the two Senators from Texas both voted against it. They were two of the 31 Senators who cast a vote against a debate on the package which includes  a comprehensive package that expands background checks for gun purchases, increases penalties against gun trafficking, and invests in school safety.  One of the amendments that will be proposed is a watered-down version for universal background checks offered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa.   A full-throated universal background check amendment could prevent criminals, gang members and mentally unstable people from buying a gun.  The Manchin-Toomey compromise falls short of this and was even spoofed on SNL

In what was once considered the world’s greatest deliberative body, Senator Cornyn and junior Senator Ted Cruz voted to oppose discussion on any gun control measure including this important issue.   It’s no secret that both are opposed to most if not all attempts to rein in gun violence, especially measures to inhibit the purchase of deadly assault guns like those used in the mass shootings this country has seen over the last 30 years.  But that gun control measure will do little if we don’t also try to control who purchases any firearm for the very intent of inflicting harm on innocent people.

Recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans favor this sensible type of measure over every other suggestion that gun control advocates have presented.  What doesn’t make sense about ensuring that a wife beater, a vengeful gang member or someone who has a criminal record that includes armed robbery or murder is restricted from buying a weapon that puts them at a distinct advantage over their victims?  Currently there are background checks required if you purchase your weapon through a licensed gun dealer.   But 40% of all firearms are sold through gun shows and private sells that are not governed under the same guidelines.

Most of the Senators who oppose added gun control measures will likely vote against this bill once it comes to the floor but appeared willing to allow their constituents the right to hear their pro and con views.

I suspect however that the gun-advocate supporters in the Senate will actually say very little other than some NRA talking point that has little basis in fact.  They simply didn’t want to appear foolish as someone who would deny the constitutional prerogative of speaking freely and openly on a matter of grave concern.  So what were Cornyn and Cruz thinking?

This is after all, in theory at least, a democracy.  Only in dictatorships or oppressive oligarchs is speech suppressed that is critical of those in power.  And therein lies the rub.  Where does the real power lie?

For someone like Cruz, who campaigned on the theme about how his father fled the dictatorship of Fidel Castro to come to this country and make a life where people were, among other things, able to speak freely seems contradictory for him to oppose an honest and open debate on this issue.   He knows he also can vote against this bill once it’s time, so why would he and Cornyn choose not to even allow any debate that would include universal background checks?

The Power of the NRA

NRA politcal puppets

Though 14 years ago Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, told Congress the NRA supported “mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show”, today he and NRA President David Keene now oppose such checks for a variety of reasons, most of them that struggle with credibility issues.  From complaining to how much of a hassle this regulation would impose on “law-abiding citizens” to the obvious fear mongering argument that this legislation would lead to the slippery slope of confiscation, the NRA has dodged and weaved around  how nine out of ten Americans favor universal background checks.

“When you cut through the clutter of the gun-control debate,” say William Saletan with Slate.com, “this is the easiest conclusion to draw: The NRA has no compelling argument against universal background checks. Checks don’t regulate what kind of firearms or ammo you can buy. All they do is keep guns out of the hands of criminals, abusers, and mentally ill people. That’s worth $5 and two minutes of your time. Pass the law.”

Clearly then the pressure here being put on Senators Cornyn and Cruz is NOT from their constituents.  Even in pro-gun Texas where the NRA is trusted more on the issue of guns than Barack Obama by a 47% to 43%,  more Texans favor a ban on assault-style weapons by a 49% to 41% margin.  They also oppose the NRA’s suggestion to arm public school teachers and to putting armed police officers in every school.  It is highly likely then that they would also support a universal background check, especially when you consider that across the country 84% of gun-owners and 74% of NRA members are supportive for “requiring a universal background-check system for all gun sales”.

So this can only lead to one conclusion.  Cruz and Cornyn, like so many other politicians are dismissive of their constituents where there are powerful corporate interests that counter them.  In this case it is the gun manufacturing lobby who are pulling the strings to cancel out the people who actually elected them.  And who best represents the gun manufactures than the NRA.

In its early days, the National Rifle Association was a grassroots social club that prided itself on independence from corporate influence.

While that is still part of the organization’s core function, today less than half of the NRA’s revenues come from program fees and membership dues.

The bulk of the group’s money now comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income, and advertising, much of it originating from gun industry sources.   SOURCE 

Cruz received more money than any other Republican, on the Senate Judiciary Committee,  including Charles Grassley from Iowa, in just his first year as a U.S. Senator along with earning the NRA’s top rating of A+.   And though Cornyn only had an A rating from the NRA, he did receive $12,450 in donations last year. 

gun control cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas uses a life size photo of a Remington 750, a popular hunting rifle, to make a point about the proposed ban on certain kinds of guns

I haven’t been able to pinpoint information on donations from specific gun manufactures, but Cornyn has, over his Senate career, voted in favor of the gun industry in all of the gun-related legislation that has made it to the Senate floor for a vote, including the one in 2005 that prohibited lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

Most of the manufacturers’ donations to candidates are likely these days, in lieu of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United case, to be filtered through SuperPacs that allow unlimited money while keeping donor information secret.  Following the outcome of another federal court case known as SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission multiple SuperPacs began to appear.  One was the Texas Conservative Fund that spent its entire load – $5,872,431 – opposing Ted Cruz’s primary opponent, David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had an A rating from the NRA but failed to get the personal endorsement of Wayne Lapierre that Cruz received.  

Cruz and Cornyn are clearly patsies for the gun industry.  While cowering to the moneyed special interests and allowing the wing-nuts that support an over-zealous interpretation of the 2nd amendment provide a front for them, these two have demonstrated that Texas is once again in hot pursuit of winning the race to the bottom.

texas-cartoon-map

* Texas GOP rejects ‘critical thinking’ skills. Really. 

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10 responses to “What is it About Texas Politicians Who Have No Shame?

  1. Texans would be appalled to hear this but the quality of Texan politicians is due primarily to “natural selection” the driving force behind EVOLUTION! To succeed in today’s political climate one needs to be not too bright (so as to not overthink things) and be willing to compromise one’s morals without compromising one’s politics. That an anatomically having a hand that is continuously “out” helps.

    • Actually Stephen the conservative Texan has been inundated by the ultra-conservative gibberish of Tea Party-style political rhetoric. The extremist views that have taken historically conservative policies to over-the-top sensibility pushes the moderates to the background in primary voting. Once the extremist gets the Party nomination then the effective damage done by the right that says all Democrats are socialist-liberals forces all Party loyalist to vote for the GOP candidate, even though they would rather not. Ideology is the foe here and both Democrats and moderate Republicans need to constantly highlight this if we hope to bring sanity back to this state.

  2. This is why people just more and more check out of politics. The voices of the people are no longer being heard. Polls don’t matter. Constituents are considered valuable only during the election cycles. We have bought-and-paid-for politicians. That’s what governing has become. And President Obama has done nothing to overturn Citizens United. It’s all so damn depressing. And for some reason, people just don’t seem to remember when it comes time to vote again, that their elected representative screwed them over.

    • “The voices of the people are no longer being heard. Polls don’t matter. Constituents are considered valuable only during the election cycles”

      Exactly Jean. The real power is wealth and special corporate interest. Until we get all people to see that politicians who portray themselves as pro-business are really using this tact to convince voters that they will encourage economic growth and low taxes, voters will fail to see that the jobs they’re talking about and sustaining are their own. When anti-government rhetoric talks about government overreach that wants say, limit pollution in our air and water, the “pro-business meme gets thrown out there that says these regulations will cost jobs and increase taxes, forcing people to make a false choice between a paycheck, which are getting smaller every year, and their future health.

    • Is it possible she’s aware that the heat is more tolerable in Arizona being a bit more dryer than a lot of Texas humidity? And let;s face, Arizona only has potential drought issues where Texas has that and of course tornadoes and hurricanes. As usual, it’s all about Sarah more than anything else. But thanks anyway for trying to cheer me John,

      Actually though I’m not as concerned as I may have led some to believe. It’s my feeling that the more crazy the GOP exposes themselves they simply drive another nail into their own coffin. Extremism always has its limits and when we can effectively demonstrate that the GOP is headed for self-destruction because of the crazies they help put in office, the rational element and the corporate wealth that backs it will start to dump the nut jobs as quick as they rushed in to prop them up, if they want to have any serious role in American politics at all.

    • Actually no, Hans. There’s a lot of us here that feel as I do. Unfortunately there’s not quite enough to prevent the rascals from getting into elective office. But we’re working on it.

      My biggest regret is their attitude about marijuana here. Texas will only vote in marijuana use when they see the economic value of it. And we’re working on that too. 😉

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