A couple of days ago I was asked to reflect upon — and possibly reconsider — my periodic denunciation of Republicans from Texas. It was suggested that categorizing Republicans as either being ‘from Texas’ or ‘not from Texas’ was, in effect, a way of claiming Texas Republicans were different from other Republicans — and different in a way that could be seen as demeaning and condescending.
Okay, it wasn’t actually put that way. What happened is I got an email from somebody who read a recent post here, and who wasn’t happy with my approach. He (I assume it’s a guy) wrote this:
Why do you say Republicans from Texas and Republicans not from Texas? It’s insulting. You act like Republicans from Texas are slobbering devils. What make you think your any better?!
Good question. What make me think I’m any better than Republicans from Texas? Nothing at all. I’m not better; I’m just not a lunatic. But in my defense, I’m pretty sure I’ve never said Republicans from Texas are devils. I may have suggested they drool and/or slobber; I can’t recall. But it sounds like something I might have said.
Also in my defense, Republicans from Texas have proven themselves to be — let’s say ‘irrational.’ No, let’s not say that. Let’s say completely fucking insane. And homophobic and misogynistic and paranoid and angry and pretty much dismissive of anybody NOT white or male or Christian. Also, stupid. I forgot to include stupid. Republicans from Texas seem to have a mortal lock on stupid.
Also too Republicans from Texas, your relationship with guns is unseemly and more than a little creepy. Seriously, it borders on perversion. And not in a good way.
But for the moment, let’s ignore the firearm fetishism of Republicans from Texas. Let’s ignore their entire 2014 Party Platform, which includes some phenomenally stupid planks (such as the notion that Congress should deny the Supreme Court jurisdiction over “cases involving abortion, religious freedom, and the Bill of Rights”, or the idea that the U.S. is in danger of falling under Shari’a law). Let’s ignore the fact that every Republican in Texas seems to think draft-dodging pedophile Ted Nugent is the epitome of American patriotism. Let’s even ignore the fact that a LOT of Texas Republicans would like to secede from the United States.
Let’s just look at one classic example of how Republicans from Texas perceive effective governance. Let’s take very brief look at how Greg Abbott, the current Texas Attorney General and the front-runner in the Texas gubernatorial race, would run his state.
You may recall that just under a year ago a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West exploded, killing 15 people (many of whom were firefighters and first responders), injuring more than 300 others, destroying around 150 buildings (including an elementary school and an apartment complex for senior citizens). We don’t know the direct cause of the explosion, but we DO know the indirect causes: nearly non-existent regulation of the industry compounded by over-regulation of health and safety agencies.
Seriously, think about this. There is NO statewide fire code. Some counties have a fire code, but it’s actually (and no, I’m not making this up) illegal for more than half of the counties in Texas to create their own fire code. That’s right, they’re forbidden by law from establishing a county fire code. If that’s not bad enough, the Texas Fire Marshal isn’t allowed to inspect fertilizer plants without permission from the plant to be inspected. That’s completely fucking nuts. The West, Texas plant hadn’t been inspected since 1985. Almost 30 years, without an inspection.
Without inspections, there was no way anybody could have known the plant was storing about 110,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia — twice the amount it was permitted to store. There was no way anybody could have known the plant was storing more than half a million pounds of ammonium nitrate (domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh needed only 4000 pounds of ammonium nitrate to blow up the Murragh Building in Oklahoma City). We’re talking about 1350 times the amount that would trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In other words, without inspections there was no way anybody could know the plant was, in effect, an undetonated bomb. At least not until it actually detonated.
But almost a year has gone by since the explosion. Surely by now the State of Texas has done something to protect its citizens.
Nope. No fucking way. We’re talking about a government of Republicans from Texas, remember. There are exactly zero changes in the way fertilizer plants are regulated or inspected.
I take that back. There’s at least one change. Attorney General Greg Abbott decided the Department of State Health Services, which maintains a list of facilities that store deadly chemicals, could deny the people of Texas access to that list. Why? Who the hell knows? Republicans from Texas, boyo.
So how would an ordinary citizen — let’s say, for example, somebody whose elderly parent had lived in the senior citizen apartment complex destroyed by last year’s chemical explosion — how would that person find out if their parent’s new apartment building was also at risk?
Simple! According to Abbott in a recent interview, all the nervous person would have to do is “drive around” and look at the facilities near the apartment house (or home, or school, or church, or gun shop).
“You can ask every facility whether or not they have chemicals or not. You can ask them if they do, and they can tell you, well, we do have chemicals or we don’t have chemicals, and if they do, they tell which ones they have.”
Just ask, that’s all you’d have to do. Surely the facility managers wouldn’t lie to you. Just drive around until you spot a suspicious-looking facility, park your car, walk up to the front door and…oh, wait. What if the privately-owned facility is on private property? What then? Happily, Abbott has an answer for that question:
“[Y]ou may not be able to walk on private property. But you can send an email or letter or notice to anyone who owns any kind of private property or facility, saying that under the community right to know law, you need to tell me within 10 days what chemicals you have.”
And he’s right. The law does say that. Sort of. Alternatively, if the facility didn’t want to send the list of deadly chemicals to a private person (who could, after all, be a terrorist intent on destroying America by taking our guns and making us gay marry our cousins), they have the option of sending the information to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Which, according to Abbott, can then deny the public access to that list.
That’s governing Texas Republican style. Back in 1963, when President John Kennedy was visiting Texas, a couple of hours before his motorcade took him to Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Kennedy told his wife, “We’re heading into nut country today.”
Little has changed, I’m sorry to say. That’s why I single out Republicans from Texas for special attention. Because those bastards deserve it. It’s
Chinatown Nut Country, Jake. Chinatown Nut Country.