in which i praise a texas republican

I have on occasion frequently mocked Republicans from Texas. In my defense, that particular breed of Republican richly deserves mocking. If you have any spare mocking lying about, spend it on Republicans from Texas. You won’t find a more mock-worthy group of folks.

So I’m delighted to say that today I have nothing but praise for one specific Republican from Texas. I’m talking about former Texas State Representative Todd Smith of Euless (which, by the way, is also known as ‘Tree City USA’.and which, I’m reliably informed, ranks ninth in the percentage of same-sex couples among cities in Texas — two facts that are completely unrelated. Which is a good thing, otherwise Republicans in Texas would likely engage in radical deforestation).

Why am I praising Republican Todd Smith? I’m about to tell you. But first, let’s chat a bit about Jade Helm 15. If you aren’t familiar with Jade Helm, let me first assure you it’s NOT the name of a Marvel Comics superhero. It’s actually a U.S. military training exercise scheduled to take place over a couple of months this summer. Similar exercises have been run in the United States for decades. But we live in Lunatic Times, which means there are a LOT of really stupid, paranoid people (almost all of whom belong to one or another febrile subset of the Republican party) who see Jade Helm as a strategy by our Muslim Kenyan president to…well, the true purpose of Jade Helm depends on which conspiracy theory you prefer to see revealed in ALL CAPS!!!

Here are some of the favorite theories. Jade Helm is a plot to: 1) Give Texas back to Mexico, 2) Impose martial law on…somebody, probably Texans, but can you trust Obama to stop there?, 3) Allow Baraq Hussein Obama to seize control of the entire nation, cancel the presidential elections, and declare him Dictator For Life, 4) Disarm patriotic, freedom-loving gun-owning white Christian patriots and intern them in FEMA camps, 5) Prepare a staging area in the American Southwest for Chinese troops to invade across the Mexican border, 6) Same scenario, only with Russian troops who’ve been arming Mexican drug cartels, 7) Same scenario, only with drug cartels and Islamic terrorists who have been training together for months in Juarez, 8) Same scenario again, only with United Nations peacekeeper troops.

caption maybe

The Russian Gambit — Jade Helm Variation

The evidence for these plots? Somebody spoke to a guy who is a former SEAL who says he saw a train with cattle cars fitted out with shackles. This completely reliable information can only mean the government is going to arrest Christian patriots and haul them to indoctrination camps. Also, Wal-Mart has closed several stores because of “plumbing problems”. Obviously this is a ruse. In reality, those stores are being converted into food distribution centers to feed the invading Chinese/Russian/drug cartel/ISIS/United Nations invasion troops. Also too, the US military has announced its intentions to operate this so-called “exercise” as a means of pacifying resistance, and they’ve asked permission from both State and County governments to conduct the exercise in their territory — and that’s completely fucking suspicious. Also too plus in addition, when asked about Jade Helm, military spokesmen claim it’s just a harmless exercise — and they are liars, because it’s perfectly clear that:

For years now, our veterans, Christians, patriots, gun owners, constitutionalists, pro-life advocates, small government supporters, small businesses, real journalists in the press, anti-corruption activists, anti-UN Agenda 21 advocates, anti-global warming supporters, anti-war patriots, anti-criminal immigration supporters, have all been targeted by this administration as enemies of the United States, even within government documents. Are we supposed to trust that they have pure intentions now?

Clearly, the people who believe any of these theories — or even spend a moment seriously considering them — are totally fucking nuts. Or suffering from some sort of terminal prion disease. Or both.

Infected with Jade Helmism

Gov. Abbott desperately trying to save Tinkerbelle

One of those people is Greg Abbott. A lot of folks confuse Greg Abbott with Bud Abbott. Easy mistake to make. Bud Abbott was the chubby putz who was half of the classic comedy team of Abbott and Costello. Greg Abbot is the putz who is the newly elected Governor of Texas. Gov. Abbott, concerned for the “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties” of Texans, ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercise.

And that finally brings me to Todd Smith. Smith served 16 years in the Texas legislature. He’s a solidly conservative Republican. And he just wrote the best goddamned letter to Greg Abbott. Granted, Smith’s prose is a tad convoluted, but it’s the thought that counts, right? I’m going to print the letter in its entirety. It’s that good.

Dear Governor Abbott,

Let me apologize in advance that your letter pandering to idiots who believe that US navy Seals and other US military personnel are somehow a threat to be watched has left me livid. As a 16 year Republican member of the Texas House and a patriotic AMERICAN, I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to those who do. I’m not sure which is worse. As one of the remaining Republicans who actually believes in making decisions based on facts and evidence — you used to be a judge? — I am appalled that you would give credence to the nonsense mouthed by those who instead make decisions based on internet or radio chock jock driven hysteria. Is there ANYBODY who is going to stand up to this radical nonsense that is cancer on our State and Party? It is alarming that our State Republican leadership is such that we must choose between DEGREES of demagoguery. I know that in many cases you are the better of the two demagogues (see the Lieutenant Governor driven nut job rant regarding your Pre-K program as a recent example). Having been there, I also know that politicians are not always able to speak their mind because they represent large groups of people and not just themselves. But this bone that you have thrown to those who believe that the US Military is a threat to the State of Texas is an embarrassing distance beyond the pale. You are Governor of Texas! This is an open request–from a ghost of our State’s recent Republican past–that you act like it. Enough is enough. You have embarrassed and disappointed all Texans who are informed, patriotic Americans. And it is important to rational governance that thinking Republicans call you out on it.

And he signs it sincerely. How great is that? Pretty great, is how great.

I’m confident I’d have some serious ideological and political (and grammatical) differences with Todd Smith, but at long last there’s a Republican (and one from Texas) who is calling bullshit on these lunatics and the Fuckwit Collective politicians who pander to them.

Yay for Todd Smith.

huckster

The term comes from the Middle Dutch word hoken, which referred to an itinerant peddler. You know, somebody who traveled from village to village, hawking (which also comes from hoken, by the way) his wares. Inexpensive pots and pans, jugs and jars, knives and scissors. Cheap goods that needed replacing or repair with some frequency.

By the middle of the 19th century, huckster had taken on an offensive connotation through much of the world. Hucksters were considered to be a low form of swindler, people who relied on the gullibility, greed, naïveté, prejudice, vanity, pride, and dishonesty of their customers to sell them a product of low quality — or one that didn’t work at all. A snake oil salesman.

snake oil

Which brings us to Senator Ted Cruz. Unlike many Republican politicians from Texas, Cruz isn’t stupid. I mean, when Congressman Louie Gohmert argues against providing US funds to China to help preserve the habitat of certain rare species of wild cats and dogs because (and seriously, I’m NOT making this up) he’s concerned the Chinese will turn those dogs and cats into “moo goo dog pan or moo goo cat pan,” you can assume he must have nibbled on lead paint as a child. Gohmert is just stupid.

Ted Cruz isn’t stupid. Cruz went to Harvard Law, and graduated magna cum laude, He clerked for J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is a big deal. He then clerked for William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, which is an even bigger deal. Ted Cruz is not stupid.

If you're a jackass and you know it, raise your hand.

If you’re a jackass and you know it, raise your hand.

He is, though, a complete jackass. An arrogant poseur, a smarmy and egregious dick, a huckster of the first order. His latest snake oil scam? He’s introduced two (not just one, but two) bills that would ‘protect’ states that bar same-sex couples from marrying.

The first bill (S.J. Res. 12) is called ‘a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to marriage’. It would apparently (and I say ‘apparently’ because Cruz hasn’t supplied the text of the proposed bill yet) create an actual constitutional amendment prohibiting legal action against states that banned same-sex marriage. That’s right, this wanker is proposing to change the goddam U.S. Constitution to reflect his own religious values. And I use the term ‘values’ loosely.

The second bill (S. 1080) would apparently (and again I say ‘apparently’ for the same reason; Cruz hasn’t bothered to actually write the text of the bill) limit the jurisdiction of Federal courts to consider cases involving same-sex marriage. Basically, Cruz wants to block the power of Federal courts to hear or rule on marriage equality cases until after his constitutional amendment bullshit has been resolved.

For external use only.

For external use only.

These two bills are theater, part of his right-wing kabuki dance intended to feed the homophobia of the ignorant yahoos who might vote for him during the presidential primaries. Neither of the bills has a fucking prayer of ever becoming law. Cruz knows this. Remember, he’s not actually stupid, though he plays stupid on television. These proposals will not only give him cred among right-wing lunatics, they’ll force the other Republican candidates to take a position on them. That means they’ll either fall in line with Cruz, which makes him look like a leader, or they’ll oppose them, which will weaken them in the eyes of the rabid Republican right-wing  Either way, it’s a waste of time and money on symbolic, self-serving claptrap.

In other words, it’s classic Ted Cruz — the strongest and best liniment known for the cure of all pain and lameness. For external use only.

well okay, ted cruz then

Extremism is a robust virus in the body politic. What does a virus do? It infects the host and uses it as a medium for reproducing itself. It uses the host as a platform for spreading itself to other hosts. An effective virus makes the host sick, but not too sick. Think common cold.

A co-worker catches a cold from her child, who caught it from a classmate at school. You catch the cold and spread it to your family. Your family spreads the cold around. That’s an effective virus. An effective virus doesn’t threaten the host’s survival, because a dead host means the virus can no longer reproduce.

An ineffective virus replicates too quickly, spreads too quickly, kills the host. Think rabies. Think Ebola.

horsey-republican-theories_t470

The modern Republican party is sick with extremism. It’s been sick since the early 1990s and it’s getting sicker. It used to be a healthy political party. There used to be a plentiful supply of moderate antibodies that kept the extremist infection at bay. Over time, the GOP has become increasingly sick. Fewer antibodies and a heavier viral load allowed more pernicious strains of extremism to infect the Republican party. This made a Ted Cruz presidential campaign possible — maybe even inevitable.

Ted Cruz is rabies. Ted Cruz is Ebola. A Ted Cruz presidential campaign will create an environment in which the GOP host necessarily must either improve and regain its health or enter a death spiral. His candidacy will force Republican moderates (assuming any still exist) who want to be president to either adopt Cruz-like extremist positions or reject them. If they adopt them, those candidates become poison in the general election. Candidates who reject Cruz-like extremist positions, however, will find it much more difficult to survive the primary campaign.

ted cruz 2016

Either way, the Ted Cruz candidacy almost certainly guarantees Republicans will lose the presidential election. Right now, the GOP is simply too sick to win the presidency. Still, the Ted Cruz campaign is good news — for the Republican party and for the nation. The GOP will either begin the long painful road to recovery or it will become terminal. Either result benefits the nation.

Shorter version:

Vote for Rabies in 2016!

a deep, fetid reservoir of stupid

Can somebody in Texas or Washington, DC find Congressman Blake Farenthold and attempt to explain to him the difference between real life and fiction? Because, seriously, there is just no goddamned fucking way this maroon should be sitting on Congressional hearings.

Let me just repeat the key sentence in that short video:

“Every outbreak novel or zombie movie you see starts with somebody from the government sitting in front of a panel like this saying there’s nothing to worry about.”

I am totally gobsmacked. Not by Farenthold’s total ignorance of Ebola and its transmission vectors — I mean, the guy is a dolt, so I don’t expect him to understand how the Ebola virus actually works. I’m gobsmacked by the fact that he actually really no-shit truly spoke from the bench in a Congressional hearing and without embarrassment or any sense of irony referenced zombie movies in a discussion on health policy oh Jeebus I still can NOT completely believe this.

I’ve written about Farenthold before. I predicted that “he has the potential to some day be known as the Louie Gohmert of South Texas.” But I had no notion his fetid reservoir of stupid ran so deep.

it could be all three

There’s really no polite way to put this. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is either 1) totally lying, or 2) completely delusional, or 3) a fucking idiot.

Allow me to ‘splain. Back in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In 5-4 decision, the court stated that corporations (and labor unions and other ‘associations’) have certain free speech rights. Since the court had ruled earlier that financial contributions to political candidates or parties are a form of speech, the ruling made it legal for corporations to spend as much as they want to convince people to vote for or against a candidate.

Totally lying, completely delusional, or just a fucking idiot?

Totally lying, completely delusional, or just a fucking idiot?

This is not a good thing. It is, in fact, a very bad thing. In response, Democrats in the Senate have proposed a Constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money. Seems pretty reasonable. But then… Enter Ted Cruz.

“I grew up watching Saturday Night Live, I love Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live over the years, has had some of the most tremendous political satire. Who can forget in 2008, Saturday Night Live’s wickedly funny characterization of the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin? It was wickedly funny and also [had] a profoundly powerful effect on people’s assessment of Gov. Palin, who’s a friend of mine. Congress would have the power to make it a criminal offense, Lorne Michaels could be put in jail under this amendment for making fun of any politician. That is extraordinary. It is breathtaking and it is dangerous.”

What’s extraordinary and breathtaking is Cruz actually said that. Out loud. He’s really and truly arguing that because NBC is a corporation, the proposed amendment would prohibit Saturday Night Live from engaging in political satire. And that, of course, is utter bullshit. (What kind of bullshit is it? Utter.)

Now. Back to the beginning. Ted Cruz is either lying, delusional, or a fucking idiot. If he actually knows the amendment doesn’t prohibit political satire, but he’s claiming it does anyway–he’s lying. On the other hand, if he truly believes the amendment would outlaw political satire on television, despite the reality of the amendment–he’s delusional. And on the third hand, if he simply doesn’t understand what the proposed amendment would do–he’s a fucking idiot.

It has to be one of those three, that’s all there is to it. It’s pretty simple. I’m just not sure which of those three applies. He might be lying. He might be delusional. Or he might be a fucking idiot. Or, of course, he might be a delusional fucking idiot who is lying.

It’s Ted Cruz. He’s a Republican from Texas. It’s possible he’s won the Trifecta.

heading into nut country

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.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and his demon-free Republican finger

Republicans from Texas, you elected this yahoo as your governor

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.

Republicans from Texas, this yahoo is your nominee for the next governor

Republicans from Texas, this yahoo is your nominee for the next governor

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.

The Republican NOT from Texas that Republicans from Texas most admire

The yahoo that Republicans from Texas most admire

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.

What's left of the West, Texas fertilizer plant

West, Texas fertilizer plant after the explosion

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.

Republican candidate for Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott

Republican candidate for Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott

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.

Senior citizen apartment complex, West, Texas

Senior citizen apartment complex, West, Texas

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.

West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion

West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion

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.

supersaturated stupidity

I thought we might have reached the saturation point in the Bundy Ranch Fuss. You know — the maximum capacity of stupid. A point at which the situation was so deeply and profoundly stupid that it couldn’t hold even one more drop of stupidity.

I thought we’d reached that point. I hadn’t counted on two things. First, the surface tension of stupidity — that quality that allows stupidity to resist external forces, in much the same way an amount of water can slightly exceed the capacity of the glass containing it. Surface tension means you can usually add a little more stupid to an existing container of stupid. Second, I hadn’t taken into account the supersaturation capabilities of Congressman Steve Stockman (Republican, of course — from Texas, of course). Stockman’s highly concentrated stupidity (which has been measured at .92 Gohmerts) allows him to exceed normal stupidity levels. Introducing Stockman into an already stupid situation can dramatically increase the overall volume of stupidity.

Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX, natch) voicing his considered opinions.

Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX, natch) voicing his considered opinions.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, you may remember, Stockman called President Obama’s proposed changes to gun safety “an existential threat to this nation” that he would “seek to thwart…by any means necessary.” And he did that before Obama even made those proposals. And it was Stockman who invited draft-dodging pedophile Ted Nugent — who Stockman considers to be “a patriot” — to the State of the Union speech. Stockman has claimed that the siege at Waco in 1993 was orchestrated by President Clinton in “to prove the need for a ban on so-called assault weapons.”

The list of Stockman’s assault on intelligent behavior is long and colorful — too long to include here (but wait, just one more: Stockman once tweeted ‘If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted’ and no, I’m not making that up). Because he’s such a dunderhead, I suppose it’s not such a surprise that he inserted himself into the Bundy Ranch Fuss. What did he do?

He wrote a letter to President Obama, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and BLM Director Neil Kornze saying:

Because of this standoff, I have looked into BLM’s authority to conduct such paramilitary raids against American citizens, and it appears that BLM is acting in a lawless manner in Nevada…. [T]he federal government must not only stand down, but remove all federal personnel from anywhere near the Bundy ranch…. [BLM has no] right to assume preemptory police powers, that role being reserved to the States.

Stockman (and this may be the only time I’ve ever uttered these words) is absolutely correct. The BLM doesn’t have authority to conduct paramilitary raids against American citizens. However, they do have authority to protect the public lands under BLM management and to enforce the law on BLM property. Which is exactly what they did.

Peaceful Bundy supporters peaceably demonstrating their peaceful disagreement with BLM.

Peaceful Bundy supporters peaceably demonstrating their peaceful disagreement with BLM.

Stockman’s understanding of the situation, of course, is an echo of the stupid shit we’re hearing from the so-called ‘patriots’ of the militia movement. Sadly, when it’s repeated by a sitting Member of Congress — even a nitwit like Stockman — it reinforces the idiocy. For example:

[T]he BLM had no business being armed up like the military in the first place nor did they have any business making an incursion into the State of Nevada. The whole thing was unbelievable. And they wonder why the militia showed up. I said there was a reason why you were not seeing the FBI and the US Marshals.

The fact (and yeah, I realize how useless it is to point out facts to these folks) is that BLM maintains an Office of Law Enforcement & Security specifically to deal with criminal behavior on Federal lands under BLM management (as opposed to US Parks, which has their own security officers). The reason the FBI and the US Marshal Service didn’t show up is because they don’t have jurisdiction. It’s not a conspiracy.

STEVE STOCKMAN KNOWS that Obama is an illegal alien terrorist. He’s been working closely with Arpaio/Zullo on Obama Fraud Investigation.

Well. Yeah. Facts and logic are pretty useless against somebody who claims (and may actually believe) the President of These United States is an illegal alien terrorist.

The Rancher needs to Sue the BLM for violating his Constitutional rights and abuse of authority under the color of law and so should anyone there that was moved, tasked or ordered to do anything by them!

Lawdy. This shouldn’t need to be pointed out, but dude there is NO Constitutional right to graze your cattle on public land. You are making the common conservative error of confusing Things I Do Not Like with Things That Are Unconstitutional.

[W]ho is really calling the shots here??? Who gave the order for the BLM to go in as they did is still not clear. I’d like to know ‘who’ ordered it.

Bonus points for having three (3!) question marks to show how sincerely confused you are. Who really gave the order? That would be any number of Federal judges over the last twenty years, all of whom have consistently ruled that Bundy was illegally grazing his cattle on public land. The most recent order, by Judge Lloyd George was issued on 9 July, 2013. The order states:

Bundy shall remove his livestock from the New Trespass Lands within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof.

So after giving Bundy two decades to stop trespassing on public land, and giving him a further 45 days to comply, the BLM gave him eight more months before finally moving in the enforce the order first given 20 years ago. You know, even a flatworm is capable of learning more efficiently than Bundy.

A quick background as to why the BLM should not be harassing Cliven Bundy. This issue goes all the way back to the Confederation Papers, prior to the writing of our US Constitution.

Jeebus on a tortilla, seriously? Did you stop to think the Articles of Confederation no longer apply? (Here’s a hint: they don’t.) Did you ever consider that the US Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation? (Here’s a hint: they did.)

Why are not Senators and US Representative asking for the immediate resignation of the Reids (Harry and his son from the BLM). With the resignation denial of pension and lifetime medical care. make the criminals pay. I know I may be deluded, but the US Congress critters need to stand up once and for all.

Yes, you are deluded. Neither Senator Harry Reid nor his son can resign from BLM because neither of them are employed by BLM. There is a flaw in your reasoning.

bundy no trespassing

There’s some minimal comfort in the knowledge that Steve Stockman will no longer be a Member of Congress as of January 2015 (though I’m sure Republicans in Texas are actively seeking somebody equally stupid to replace him). There’s not much comfort, though, in knowing that neither Bundy nor his supporters have any respect for public lands or any understanding of the law governing those lands.

It’s really pretty simple. Does Bundy own the land on which his cattle are grazing? No. Has he ever owned that land? No. Can he use that land to graze his cattle if he pays the allotment fee? Yes. Has he ever paid the allotment fees? Yes, in the past. Has he paid his allotment fee? No, not for twenty years. Is he trespassing on public land? Yes. Is he aware he’s trespassing? Yes. Is Cliven Bundy leeching of the American people? Yes. Yes, absolutely yes.

Is this stupidity over? Sadly, no.

texas, i declare

Fucking Texas. You know, I really want to like Texas. I really do. I have friends who deliberately live there. I’ve been there my ownself on occasion and mostly enjoyed it. It’s one of the very few states in the U.S. that can be accurately described as iconic. You know — cowboys, longhorns, oil, the open range, all that stuff.

I really want to like Texas, but over the last couple of decades it’s become a sinkhole where politics and religion combine with deep imbecility to form an impenetrable block of stupid. The mass of the stupidity of Texas is so dense it could bend light.

You may remember back in April of this year when a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, killing 15 people (several of whom were firefighters responding to a fire at the plant), injuring more than 300 others, destroying or severely damaging around 150 buildings, and causing US$135 million in damages.

We don’t know what started the initial fire at the fertilizer plant. The reason we don’t know is that the explosion caused by the stored ammonium nitrate was so powerful it destroyed any evidence of the fire. It was so powerful, in fact, that it was recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey as a 2.1-magnitude tremor.

The fertilizer plant was built in 1965. It was last inspected by OSHA in 1985. That’s right, it went uninspected by OSHA for nearly 30 years. Although it had a long record of burglaries and thefts (anhydrous ammonia is used in cooking meth), the plant had no security personnel. They had a permit to store 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. In fact, it was storing approximately 110,000 pounds, as well as 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate. Federal law requires any facility holding more than 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate and a combustible agent (like, say, anhydrous ammonia) to file a report with the Department of Homeland Security. The West, Texas fertilizer plant hadn’t bothered with that. Because, you know…freedom.

What's left of the West, Texas fertilizer plant

What’s left of the West, Texas fertilizer plant

So we’re talking about a facility that was essentially a giant bomb. Located next to an elementary school and an apartment complex for retired folks. And it was last inspected in 1985. Why? Because fucking Texas is pro-business. And pro-freedom.

That’s old news, of course. But yesterday, while all the major news agencies were focused on Miley Cyrus’ ass, the Texas Observer filed a news story: State Agencies Meet Resistance in Policing Fertilizer Industry. Here are a couple of sentences from the second paragraph:

The Fire Marshal’s Office has identified 153 facilities in the state that are believed to store ammonium nitrate. Since Texas doesn’t have a state fire code, the fire marshal lacks the authority to conduct inspections if the company resists.

Texas doesn’t have a state fire code. The entire fucking state…no fire code. Not only that, it’s actually illegal for 173 of Texas’ 254 counties to adopt a fire code. It seems only Texas counties with populations above 250,000 can legally adopt their own fire code. Those counties with more than a quarter of a million people aren’t required to have a fire code because, you know…freedom. But they can. If they want to. If they’re pussies.

Of the 153 facilities believed to be storing ammonium nitrate (they don’t even know for sure how many facilities are storing it), the Fire Marshal has been allowed to inspect only 62. Allowed. Because Texas is pro-business, and has no fire code, so the Fire Marshal has no authority to inspect any plant without an invitation. Five fertilizer plants completely refused an inspection. Because, you know…freedom again.

West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion

West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion

But hey, the Texas legislature is having a hearing on the matter. So that’s something, right? That’s a start. It’s a beginning. It’s a move toward insuring public safety. So there’s that. Right?

Nope.

Much of the hearing was dominated by Republican lawmakers worried about burdening fertilizer businesses with new requirements. Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, said while he respected the victims of the West tragedy, the industry has been doing a “pretty good job of policing themselves” and voluntarily submitting reports. “If we’re not careful we could get like the federal government and try to put diapers on cows,” he said.

Diapers on cows. If the Great State of Texas tried to limit the ability of fertilizer plants to store tons of massively explosive chemicals, it would be a burden on business. And Texas is pro-business. Seriously, if you allow the government to put restrictions on which plants can store explosive, you might just as well put diapers on cows — because that’s what would come next. (Dan Flynn, by the way, is the Texas legislator who tried to reduce the number of training hours required to get a concealed weapon permit from ten to four, because, you know…freedom.)

Texas Republican Dan 'Diapers on Cows' Flynn

Texas Republican Dan ‘Diapers on Cows’ Flynn

Unfortunately, the Texas legislature won’t be able to reach any real decision on how to deal with fertilizer plant safety during this legislative session. But they’ll address the issue again in the next regular session. Which is scheduled for January, 2015. (Governor Rick Perry may call for yet another special session, but only to deal with imposing even stricter legal restrictions on the few remaining women’s health centers that provide abortion services, because, you know…freedom Texas is pro-life.)