And, What Whine, Sir? Republican or Democratic?

Ukranians are being slaughtered, the Middle East is still a tinderbox, the US and China are in a new arms race, women need choices restored while we whine about masks and a gas price spike.

And, What Whine, Sir? Republican or Democratic?

Were you anything like me in that, when President Trump was voted out, I figured  we would no longer have to live with the daily, incomprehensible ramblings on twitter? We could relax and return to the usual political bickering we used to enjoy.

Apparently though, in his absence, oh I wish that were so, everyone else decided to take it up a notch. A notch?  I remember when Barry Goldwater was an extremist, not a RINO, by today's reckoning. Kennedy's Catholicism, Ike's heart attack, Live TV Presidential debates, and of course the Cold War were our big concerns. But the fight for civil rights was bubbling up, schools were integrated, Lyndon gave us Medicare and Medicaid with the help of cooperative Republicans (remember those guys?), along with the Voting Rights Act. And overshadowing it all was Viet Nam. But somehow in hindsight, these all seemed like a list of issues we could juggle mentally. Now, everyday brings a new outrage and the rhetoric heats up like the thermometer on my deck.  

But unlike the old days, that rhetoric gets not only more angry, but simply more infantile. I have mentioned the circular firing squad that is "The Squad" on the Democratic side of the aisle. AOC gets heckled by an apparently out of work conservative troll, like every attractive woman who ever walked past a construction site, and it's a two-day story in the news cycle. She could have suggested the guy get a job and get a girl, and walked on, but instead took to Instagram to continue the outrage. Really? Doesn't New York have bigger problems for you to work on than some some incel who left Mom's basement long enough to whistle at you?

As the January 6th Committee unearths more astonishing affronts to our democracy, Republicans have decided that asking Democrats to define a woman is the winning strategy in our national political sandbox. At a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on the subject of abortion, one representative asked a witness if a woman has ever given birth to a turtle or a taco. I expected the ghost of Everett Dirksen to rise up and pimp slap the guy. But again, two days worth of coverage of this insightful observation by the distinguished gentleman from Georgia.

One of these people is a woman. 

Our national controversies and heated debates, used to be about the above mentioned subjects, war, civil rights, health care, rights for women. Now, some  20-watt bulb like Marjorie Taylor Green wants to call the Centers for Disease Control the Gestapo, but calls it the Gazpacho instead, and we have have an uproar rivaling President Obama's tan suit.

Aside from the natural questions about the blood alcohol levels of the voters in Georgia, Colorado or New York, we have now raised these trivialities to a level that generates national news coverage. And through it all, I have come to the conclusion that the NRA and evangelical Christians have something in common. Politicians will go to absurd and dangerous lengths to appease them. They represent the most activist and extreme factions of their respective constituencies, said constituencies being Christians and gun owners.

We have shootings in El Paso and Odessa in 2021, for example, and the legislature passes laws making guns more available. In fact some of them, clearly violate the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution such as prohibiting the Feds from controlling guns during a national emergency or natural disaster, enforcing rules about silencers if they stay in the state and prohibiting local and state law enforcement from enforcing any new federal gun laws. Federal law trumps (pun intended) state law. It's in that piece of paper Madison put together along with some of his friends in Philadelphia.

But these middle fingers to Uncle Sam will please the NRA and that means votes, and that is a good thing for a politician. Public safety be damned. More guns, more good guys with guns, right? You know, like in Buffalo and Uvalde?

We see the same with the abortion issue. Now, my wife was raised a good, traditional Southern Baptist. OK, this was the part of the Baptist Church that supported slavery and thus split from the north, but things are all better now. Her favorite Christian author is C.S. Lewis and her favorite preacher is a Scottish Lutheran. She is solid in her beliefs and hates the crowd that decided a philandering casino mogul was the true exemplar of our faith. I on the other hand, was raised Episcopalian, and thus, barely have a say in this.

They might want to rethink this image.

But one night, while watching an evening talking head program, she exclaimed to me, "They're blaming all this on Christians!" I told her, no, on a specific flavor of Christian. You know, the ones I mentioned last week who believe guns are a God-given right, Trump won, and a sweeping, all-encompassing ban on abortion with no exceptions is a good idea. Now, I've talked about my complex feelings on the latter subject, but how does one address a 10-year-old rape victim who is pregnant and has to travel to another state, Indiana in this case, to get some help? Well, firstly, the folks at Fox and in Congress dismissed it as a lie. When it was proven to be true, the Republican Attorney General in Indiana said he'll investigate the Ob-Gyn who performed the procedure, and threatened her license. A ten-year-old girl, for crying out loud.

A photo of Ken Paxton not talking about his indictment.

And here in the Lone Star State, our ethically-challenged Attorney General, the much indicted Ken Paxton, has sued the Biden Administration for issuing guidance for doctors that they will not be in legal trouble for treating women with life-threatening problems during pregnancy. In other words, Paxton doesn't want them protected? The Dallas Morning News reported this today...

"The Texas Medical Association wants regulators to step in after hospitals reportedly refused to treat patients with serious pregnancy complications for fear of violating the state’s abortion ban. In a letter sent Wednesday to the Texas Medical Board, the association said it received complaints that hospitals, their administrators and their lawyers may be prohibiting physicians from providing medically appropriate care to women with ectopic pregnancies and other complications. It asks the board to “swiftly act to prevent any wrongful intrusion into the practice of medicine.” The letter from the state’s most prominent physicians group offers an early sign of how restrictive abortion laws have hindered medical care for pregnant Texans. A ban on abortions is set to take effect in the coming weeks, triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe vs. Wade. Doctors who run afoul of the restrictions can face six-figure fines and lengthy jail sentences. Since last September, Texas physicians have already had to contend with a law known as Senate Bill 8 that empowers citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” in an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy."

And to explain, an ectopic pregnancy is one that is taking place in a fallopian tube and not the uterus. It can kill you, to be blunt. Yes, doctors are afraid now to treat a potentially deadly pregnancy anomaly.That's where we are. And why are these guys taking these ridiculous and dangerous stands? It plays to the cheap seats, and those seats are full of the most ardent members of the faith. Like the NRA ignoring the massacres of children, these folks can forgive any misdeeds of their chosen representatives, and any collateral damage to women, if they give them what they want. It isn't politics anymore. As Chris Byrd, a member of the State Republican Executive Committee told the Texas Tribune about Paxton, "“I really don’t care as long as he’s fighting the fight. Like him or not, Ken Paxton has exhibited more courage in fighting evil than any attorney general we’ve had.”

Evil Beto supporters lying in wait.

Listen to the language here. Paxton isn't fighting Democrats, liberalism or simply bad ideas, he's fighting evil. It's an existential, almost biblical fight going on. And if you think this is anything but a cynical ploy to distract you from his personal problems, I have some swampland near Houston I'd like to interest you in. And as far as diversion from personal malfeasance, how about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn claiming that the Constitution is almost identical to the Bible. According to Mediaite, speaking with Pastor Steve Schultz on the podcast Prophets and Patriots, Flynn shared how he came to this conclusion.

“About 75 to 80% of the Constitution is created — and I use that word specifically — is created by the Bible itself.”

“Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, right? I mean the Ten — Bill of Rights, like I say, the Bill of Rights — and the Ten Commandments, right. The Bill of Rights and the Ten Commandments are the promises that we make to each other,” he added.

“When you really dig in and you list, and you read the Ten, the — the Bill of Rights and you list and read the Ten Commandments. Those are promises that we make. And then the fulfillment of those promises, you know, are the Constitution and the, and the Bible, that’s how we get fulfillment of those promises,” Flynn continued.

“I kind of have learned that, I guess, in the last, uh, you know probably the last few years, and I think partially because the more that I have studied our nation and what’s happening right now, what I have come to the realization of is that we in fact, were created by this, you know, ‘the creator,'” he continued. “It’s mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.”

“Oh yeah!” agreed Schultz.

In case you missed it, the January 6th Committee has presented evidence that Flynn was part of that meeting in the Oval Office that resembled the cantina scene in Star Wars, where sedition was discussed.

As with Governor Abbott mobilizing the National Guard on what has generally been acknowledged as an expensive failure at the border, we are seeing more and more extreme and damaging gestures to vested interest groups in the name of political expediency. The border truck inspections that cost Texas business millions is another example, when what we all want is for ERCOT to keep the lights on.

And don't think Democrats are immune. There is a race now to see who can be the most pro-choice and welcoming to women in the throes of maybe the most emotionally fraught decision of their lives. It's like a sad tourism campaign, for goodness sake. The elevation of the trans community, which is frankly minuscule, on both sides would make you think we're about to see another march in Birmingham. Now, your numbers shouldn't determine your rights, and I personally believe in live and let live, the law should protect and leave everyone to their own devices and I have no say at all about your personal life. But that isn't good enough for many, and both sides drone on about it endlessly. As moronic as the Congressman's question about turtles and tacos is, the refusal of the witness to give him a straight answer is as well. And a straight answer would have shown him for the demagogue he was. But Democrats have to hedge and hem and haw when confronted with politically motivated, but simple questions, when an honest, firm answer would shut down the questioner PDQ.

Here's an example. At that same hearing, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) asked several witnesses if it was alright to kill a child immediately after it was born. Now, that doesn't happen, is called murder and is against the law. But all they could talk about is how inflammatory the question was. Let me help with some advice and an answer. "Of course not, congressman, and I can't believe you asked such a moronic question. Google Wikipedia and check out the laws against infanticide and get back to me." Is that so hard? I didn't even have to bring up pronouns, for heaven's sake.

I hope my wife will forgive the blasphemy, but for God's sake people! When the ice caps are melting, coral reefs are dying, species are going extinct, hurricanes are more destructive, the earth is warming at a catastrophic rate and the world can't feed itself, we are arguing about how many AR-15's fit on the head of a pin, what is a woman and who competes in a swim meet?  Ukranians are being slaughtered, the Middle East is still a tinderbox, the US and China are in a new arms race, women need choices restored while we whine about masks and a gas price spike.

A man not worried if Starbucks got the name on his cup right.

The greatest generation raised their hands, stepped forward and fought and died in a world war that saved civilization as we know it. And those who didn't fight, worked and built and sacrificed to make victory possible. And when that work was done, they put their heads down and worked to create the greatest economy the world has ever seen. And we snowflakes on both sides, whine and moan about minor hindrances during a pandemic. You want to honor those real patriots the way you say you do? Then, cowboy up and let's tackle some real problems for a change.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.