I Really Want to Be Fair to Republicans

Paxton is suing Pfizer for "overstating the effectiveness of their vaccine." Really? This guy has decided that the testing of the vaccine was flawed. No doubt renowned scientist George Santos will be an expert witness, if he can interrupt his renewed work with Goldman-Sachs, NASA, and the Beatles.

I Really Want to Be Fair to Republicans
Our own state firehose of BS, Ken Paxton.

I've been pretty rough on my Republican friends of late, and I want to make amends. Despite the best efforts of Dan Patrick to help Greg Abbott to turn this past legislative marathon into a Powerball win for private schools, and allowing the most useless Attorney General since Jim Mattox to slither through an impeachment, some very good work was done by the conservative majority.

Texans pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation since we don't have a state income tax to fund our schools. But we also had a $33 million budget surplus, so they decided to do a couple of very good things with the money. Firstly, they gave all of us impecunious homeowners a break, a $2500 break, over the next two years. I know I'm praising the GOP here, and rightfully so, but I just can't bring myself to include one of the prime movers of the tax cut, Rep. Paul Bettencourt.

Being from Houston, I know and have met this guy. He is one of those political remoras who swim around the big boys long enough and finally get elected to something.

Actual video of Bettencourt in Houston.

He also does a talk show on Dan Patrick's radio station, KSEV, which apparently doesn't even register in the latest Nielsen Ratings anymore.

Houston/Galveston - RadioInsight
Nielsen Audio PPM Monthly Ratings Houston (Market #6) Population: 6,197,500 Black: 1,129,200 - Hispanic: 2,260,400 Average Quarter Hour Share for Persons 6+, Mon-Sun 6AM-Mid 5/25-6/216/22-7/197/20-8/168/17-9/139/14-10/1110/12-11/8 JUN 23JUL 23AUG 23SEP 23OCT 23NOV 23STATIONNAMEFORMATOWNERCUME 6.87.0…

In addition to the property tax cut, these guys actually remembered that our teachers, who spend their working days trying to cram some knowledge into small skulls despite the best efforts of the Texas Education Agency, need money. Texas teachers make 13% less than the national average of $66,397 for K-12 teachers, putting Texas in 26th place for teacher salaries.

So, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, each teacher statewide will be entitled to a $3,000 permanent pay raise to continue the retention payment. Teachers in districts with 5,000 or fewer students will receive $10,000 on top of their regular salary ($3,000 + $7,000 rural add on.)

And our retired teachers got a few shekels as well. The Texas American Federation of Teachers, said the average monthly pension of a retired educator is about $2,174. The pension increase would add about $80 more to their monthly checks. OK, not as much as homeowners get, but better than nothing. Which should be the slogan for our state government, by the way, since it is the first raise they have gotten in, believe it or not, 20 years.

boy in gray sweater beside boy in gray and white plaid dress shirt
"And, Johnny, here are the books you can't read."

And, Texas voters in November overwhelmingly approved these moves. So far so good, right. But hold the end zone dance. It turns out some right wing loons from several counties seem to have a problem with our Christmas joy. From the Texas Tribune...

At least six lawsuits — filed by residents from Bexar, Llano, Denton, Rains, Brazoria, Liberty, and Atascosa counties who have ties to local promoters of election conspiracies — are challenging the 14 constitutional amendment propositions that were on the ballot in November.

And what will this do? Oh, gum up the works since the only Governor we have can't certify the election until the courts rule on this. You are probably wondering what was actually wrong with the election? Frankly, nothing. The fantasy charges from this confederacy of dunces are the usual laundry list of the tin foil hat brigade.

 They are based on claims that Texas’ voting equipment is not certified and that voting machines are connected to the internet so, hell, the Chinese, Canadians or someone can interfere. By the way, neither of those is true, but I'm sure they contacted Rudy or Steve Bannon to make sure.

But there are 6, count 'em, six suits and until they are dismissed as they should be, none of this good stuff happens. This all stems from, and is meant to enhance, doubts about our elections, and I for one have had it. I understand recounts. I understand that every candidate has a perfect right to reexamine voting results. A Sheriff in one Parish in Louisiana lost by exactly one vote. Even after a recount, it was one vote, and I see his frustration.

But this logical offal is now getting in the way of actual governing. And it all stems from you-know-who and his rhetorical claptrap when it seems every person who saw him after his Little Big Horn says he knew it was over. Just stop catering to the harebrained caucus out there so that when the occasional bit of good legislation is passed, it can actually be enacted. The Silly Party has held sway long enough.

I earlier mentioned the slimiest Texas Attorney General since, well, the last one. And, of course, Ken Paxton has lived down to our lowest expectations. He has decided to use his considerable (?) political clout (?) to campaign against those who sought to hold him accountable for his various indiscretions and basic dumbfuckery, as well as undertaking the kinds of state lawsuits that not only have nothing to do with Texas but are just plain dopey.

For example, he serves a craven governor who produced a video when he contracted Covid 19, declaring he wasn't suffering many symptoms since he was fully vaccinated.

And then, said governor, later signed a bill forbidding any vaccine mandates, even for private companies who seemingly, can run their own operations thank you very much. Seems he stuck a wet finger in the wind in the interim and decided to go with the flat earthers on this one.

Well, our Ken, doubling down on the craven part, has decided to sue the Pfizer drug folks for "overstating the effectiveness of their vaccine." Really, people? This guy has decided, like the judge in Amarillo in the abortion pill, that he is certain that the testing of the vaccine was flawed and they pumped up the results. I can only assume that the renowned research scientist George Santos will be the expert witness in this suit. That is if he can interrupt his renewed work with Goldman-Sachs, NASA and rejoining the Beatles.

"Call me Rafael. Or, they."

Finally, and I know I promised to be fair to Republicans, but really. Our own Senator Ted Cruz (R-Cancun) has proposed a bill for no other reason than it appeals to the aforementioned flat-earthers. Oh, let the Houston Chronicle explain...

Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced a bill that would limit the use of preferred names by trans people. The irony, critics point out? The senator, whose legal name is Rafael Edward Cruz, uses a preferred name himself: Ted. The Texas Republican introduced the Safeguarding Honest Speech Act on Nov. 15. It seeks to prohibit the use of federal funds in any policy or guidance requiring an employee or contractor of any federal agency or department to use another person's preferred pronouns if they are "incompatible with such person’s sex." The same goes for a name other than an employee's legal name.

Perhaps this is because Ted's heart was two sizes too small. Or, simply that he is the jerk who keeps on giving.

And there was so much else this week. For example, the Texas Republican Party Executive Committee voting not to disassociate itself with Nazis. From the Tribune...

Two months after a prominent conservative activist and fundraiser was caught hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes, leaders of the Republican Party of Texas have voted against barring the party from associating with known Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers. In a 32-29 vote on Saturday, members of the Texas GOP’s executive committee stripped a pro-Israel resolution of a clause that would have included the ban— delivering a major blow to a faction that has called for the party to confront its ties to groups that have recently employed, elevated or associated with outspoken white supremacists or antisemitic figures. In addition, roughly half thee board wanted to prevent any record of their vote on this.

Let me add an emphatic, WTF? Is the Texas GOP, which is pretty much handling all the levers of power in the state, so insecure it can't discard the Nazi vote? Is it just me or is that so pusillanimous as to be, how to put it, fellow travelers?

grayscale photo of concrete bridge
Yeah, just ignore this part.

And in a week full of writer bounty, Elon Musk told advertisers who don't like his Nazi content to "F*** off." No wonder Mark Cuban is the only billionaire anyone likes anymore.

Maria Bartiromo on Fox News said the only reason a 4-year-old hostage was released in the Gaza is that her parents were Biden contributors. And there's no evidence they were.

And the mentally deficient affirmative action hire at Fox, Jesse Watters asserted that since Joe Biden drank a milk shake through a straw, he was unmanly.

All this and the man who should have been in the dock at the Hague with Slobodan Milosević, Henry Kissinger, died this week with florid eulogies on every network.

It's been more than I could write about in one article.

And, to my conservative friends, I really tried.


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.