“There are two things a person should never be forced to see—how the sausage makers make sausage and how Texas politicians make their daily bread”
With the opening of the Texas Legislative session earlier this week, this age-old Texas proverb above has never been truer. Already the influence of Big Money has made its mark on the new legislature. Lieutenant Governor and Tea-Party darling Dan Patrick has already named “citizen” advisory commissions composed predominantly of big business interests and his political campaign donors.
All of us who have observed night crawlers in their native habit and who have had to wonder which end of that noble earthworm was the mouth and which end was not, will certainly understand that this allegory most definitely extends to the newly elected Republican leadership of the state of Texas—one really wonders from which end of the Republican Party apparatus the words are coming from.
For instance, even while some local Republican officials were bemoaning the lack of local control in their school districts, new governor Greg Abbott was loudly proclaiming how municipalities had too much local control, which enabled them to do nasty California-like things like banning fracking in their communities or banning plastic shopping bags.
These things, proclaimed Abbott, are a form of collectivism, and were an infringement on private property rights.
But, mind you, private property rights and local control do not seem to be a part of the larger Republican equation when it comes to the Keystone Pipeline, which plans to wind its path through East Texas. Former Agriculture Commissioner Jerry Patterson has no problems touting the glories of the pipeline even if it means arresting property-owners for trespassing---on their own land—for protesting the pipeline.
Public integrity? Not a problem with Dan Patrick, who says that government funding to the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office will not be restored, adding yeast to the further baking of the Texas politician’s daily bread. Our readers will recall that former Governor Rick Perry cut off funding to the Public Integrity Unity when Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign after a DWI arrest. (Perry has been subsequently indicted for this abuse of power). Already the lack of funding has delayed an investigation into the growing no-bid contractor scandal into Medicare fraud at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is now being investigated by the FBI, and, oh yes, by freshly inspired Governor Greg Abbott.
And state officials are complaining about the costs of over-weight trucks on the state’s highway infrastructure, even while the Department of Transportation has relaxed restrictions on NAFTA-esque Mexican trucking. And even while large oil field trucks are destroying hundreds of miles of county roads as a result of the fracking boom, state officials do not seem to be in any sort of hurry to help repair those roads. It’s a local control thing, you understand.
The Republican coup which has captured most of the country will most certainly lead to some amusing political bird watching here in Texas, and if indeed that proverbial bird will catch that proverbial worm. For many of us political observers, we will simply be trying hard to analyze that worm to see which is The Mouth and which is The Asshole.
---Steve Rossignol 1-18-2015