Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Texas, Our Texas

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship. ~ Benjamin Franklin
     Texas’ Republicans plan to gut three state offices that help average folks in disputes with big business, including the Office of the Public Interest Counsel at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which occasionally helps consumers in environmental and water matters against corporate polluters. I say "occasionally" because the commission's stated mission is "to protect our state's human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development."
     Republicans snubbed efforts to declare the agency's mission to be "the protection of human health and the environment." That sounds too much like Nancy Pelosi.
     What does it mean? The oil refinery down the way is dumping benzene into the local creek, poisoning the ground water and wiping out the wildlife? Tough. You voted for these bastards because you oppose Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio and gay marriage and gun control and over-paid public school teachers who are sucking the state dry.
     So now, you're screwed, and forget about hiring a lawyer. Texas pols are about to create a "loser pays" system to address what the GOP claims to be a continuing "lawsuit crisis" here. In short, from now on, it’s every man for himself.
Women who miscalculate are called mothers. ~ Abigail Van Buren
     Twin Houston men were charged recently with the murder of their 89-year-old mother after police say the pair allowed her to die on the floor in their foyer after she fell. They then lived for three months with her decomposing, bug-infested corpse.
     Of course, they had justifiable cause, in a Texas sort of way. On Jan. 10, Edwin Berndt said he and his brother, Edward, were watching the BCS Championship football game when their mother "came in ranting and raving and she then fell down and did not get up." He said they decided to leave her on the floor because they didn't have money to provide her with medical treatment.
     For the first day, Sybil Berndt was conscious and able to speak but didn't, Edwin said, so he and his brother didn't offer her any food or water while she lay on the floor.
Three days later, the old woman died (or, as we say in Texas, "went to a better place.") Edwin told police he remembered the date because it was the day after her 89th birthday. The brothers left her on the floor because they didn't have money to bury her.
Saying is one thing, doing another. We must consider the sermon and the preacher distinctly and apart. ~ Montaigne
     Our Aggie Governor-for-Life Rick Perry is now sweet-talking Washington for help in battling wildfires after a woodland blaze gutted at least six homes and threatened hundreds more. He could probably smell the smoke from the patio of his sprawling $10,000 per month digs west of Austin, where he's resided for a couple of years while the Governor's Mansion is being restored.
     Since Jan. 1, an estimated 1.5 million acres of tinder-like brush and grasslands have gone up in flames in Texas, about half of that during the past week alone under some of the driest conditions in Texas history. Some 220 homes in all have been lost, according to a letter released recently from Perry to President Barack Obama requesting a federal disaster declaration.
      Of course, it’s instructive to remember that Perry believes the hard-working, Jesus-loving, gun-toting people of Texas and elsewhere (except California and New York) have been over-taxed, over-regulated and generally oppressed since that Muslim you-know-who from communist Kenya took office and ruined a perfectly good world economy with his stimulus this and TARP that.
     That Texas has the highest proportion of people lacking health insurance of all 50 states, the third highest poverty rate, the second highest imprisonment rate, the highest teenage birth rate, the lowest voter turnout, the lowest portion of high school graduates is not as worrisome. We're not sure how he feels about Edward and Edwin, although we can predict with some degree of certainty that he wants the federal government to keep its nose out of it until they show up on his doorstep.