Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Indicting the Witch Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: Indicting the Witch Edition
Pour a bucket of water over him. See if he'll melt.

If you're conducting a well run witch hunt, sometimes you can really find an authentic witch!

Four felony counts. Even more are on the way in Georgia. Robert Reich points out in his newsletter that sadly, these indictments are boosting Trump's cred in the Republican party.

Before the indictment from Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg charging Trump with falsifying business records in New York came down on April 4, Trump’s approval rating stood at 44 percent on average of national polls.
Then came the first Justice Department indictment on June 9, charging Trump with violating the Espionage Act and obstructing justice.
By July 18, when a federal judge clarified that Trump had “raped” writer E. Jean Carroll, Trump’s approval had risen to 54 percent in the RealClearPolitics national polling average — a 10-point climb during the spring and summer.
So today’s long-expected Justice Department indictment of Trump for trying to overturn the last presidential election is likely to boost his favorable rating into the polling stratosphere as far as the Republican nomination is concerned. -Reich

"Witch hunt!" "Fake News!" "Deep State Conspiracy to steal my election!"

His GOP rivals hilariously/tragically nod their heads in agreement with their messiah, like a shelf full of bizarre bobbleheads. They are as terrified of him as they are of his rabid "base." If you think "messiah" is over the top, consider that I saw a sound bite this week from a lady at what looked to be a midwest fairground. The correspondent asked her if any of the allegations against Trump concerned her. She smiled enthusiastically and shook her head, "Oh No!"
"Why not?" he wanted to know.
She pointed skyward, "Because it's God..." and she pointed earthward, "...and then Trump."

When your opponent is second only to God, political strategy gets complicated.
It seems tough to win a debate when you're forced to agree with and support your opponent's resolution and dare not refute a single contention. Even a small criticism is considered a betrayal to Trump, the party, the country, and well... the Lord, evidently.

Sure, there have been a couple of outliers. Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor with a famous Jersey attitude, ("I'm half-Sicilian and half-Irish, and so both of those together are rather a combustible combination,") has been punching into Trump for a while. He has not been afraid to call out his criming. When discussing the stolen documents case, he jabbed, “This is bad stuff. And you can’t say there was no underlying potential crime here.” This was with CNN’s Kasie Hunt on “State of the Union.” He also compared called out Trump for being “the Corleones with no experience."

Former S.C. Governor Nimarata Nikki Randhawa Haley, ("Nikki") a woman, obviously, with immigrant heritage has also thrown her name into the Republican hat. Isn't that adorable? She sincerely thinks she has a shot in the GOP against Trump. After months of carefully tiptoing around the minefield of Trump's criminal activity, she finally weighed in this week. "While I think he was the right president at the right time, you know, earlier and while I think his policies were good, I don’t think he’s the right president at the right time going forward... otherwise, we will have a general election that’s doing nothing but dealing with lawsuits.” (-Face the Nation)

Tough, bold words, Gov. Haley. Now please take your seat in the back of the class with Gov. Mike Pence, who also puffed out his plumage this week. "Today's indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States." (He quickly added that he should be allowed the presumption of innocence. Good call, Gov.) "On January 6th, former President Trump demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. I chose the Constitution, and I always will."
Mother will be proud of her big, brave boy, Mikey. Now go sit down.

Even former Texas Congressman Will Hurd had the juevos to call out Trump. And in an actual, gutsy way. Hurd said Tuesday on NBC News Now, “Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great. He’s not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 or 2020 or who donated to his campaign. He’s running to stay out of prison.” Weh-heh-heh-hell! Apparently Will is not interested in a free round of golf at Mar-a-Lago.

When Hurd delivered that same message to the crowd at the GOP's Lincoln Dinner in Iowa, he was boo'ed, and had to talk over the crowd's displeasure.

But how refreshing. Hurd, whose district encompassed the Big Bend region of West Texas (and 800 miles of Texas/Mexico border) all the way to El Paso, has been critical of Trump for a while. (Shoutout also to Asa Hutchinson, former Arkansas governor who has also been fairly fearless about speaking out against Trump.) To be clear, all of these folks are reliable, red-state, red/right leaning politicians. Hurd did not vote for impeachment, Hutchinson signed one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country. But they are openly done with Trump. Hurd has so far refused to sign a pledge to support the winner of the Republican primary - the pledge is necessary to land a spot on the GOP debate stage. That alone may end his campaign before it begins.

The Haleys and Pences of the GOP have crawled back time and time again after promising to talk tough, tails tucked between their legs, groveling before his Orangeness. Even Christie, after constantly attacking The Don before the 2016 election, quickly jumped back on the Trump train after he won.

What have they gotten for their courage? They're all polling in low, single digits. Hurd and Hutchison are barely registering, both with less than 1% in the fivethirtyeight polling averages.

NBC News attempted to connect with all of Trump's former cabinet members. Of the dozens and dozens that served under the president, many were fired or walked out after policy disputes. NBC could only find four that would unequivocally endorse him at this point in time. Others waffled their answers like so many in party leadership. Many avoided the question or implied that they were not interested in seeing Trump serve another term. Some out and out vowed not to vote for him. These are all folks who were hand selected by the MAGA Man. Former defense secretary Mark Esper said in a recent CNN interview, that he "is not fit for office because he puts himself first and I think anybody running for office should put the country first.” If you can't trust your friends to vote for you...

Trump, the Strongman Messiah, cows his party (and it IS his party) into silence or submission. It only takes a word or a pejorative nickname from him to sic his "base" onto disloyal individuals like a pack of thugs. (See: January 6.)

It was years of anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, misogynistic and racist rhetoric from GOP leadership (and their mouthpieces) that got us to this moment. It's going to take a concerted effort from strong leaders forming strong coalitions to knock this political pathogen out of our system. It's nice to see one or two of them taking brave little baby steps and speaking up, but it will take many more. With the few that have stuck their heads out, they have been rewarded with fractions of poll points, and very little money in their campaign coffers. I don't hold out on too many to join them, even with the indictments against Trump stacking high.

"Who would have thought a good little <prosecutor> like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?"

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So much going on this week. Roger Gray found it hard to focus on so many headlines. There's Hunter (isn't there ALWAYS Hunter?) There's Donald. There are Iranian sex tapes. And there's even our current political class that is old enough to have known the Founding Fathers personally. But after Rep. Nancy Mace's prayer breakfast confession, Roger's mind began to wander. So, it's a bit of a hopscotch.

That Was the Week That Was | Texas Outlaw Writers
In his memoir, “Beautiful Things,” Hunter claimed he had “no recollection of our encounter.” That recollection was no doubt clouded by a Vesuvius of Peruvian Marching Powder.

Roger's piece got me to wonderin'... Shouldn't we put Congresswoman Nancy Mace together with Hunter Biden? What a win/win for both sides of the bed, er, aisle! They both seem pretty carefree... unspoiled by the judgmental expectations of others. And besides, Lil' Navy could use a playmate! Let's make this happen!

And speaking of a nuclear family...

Even if you are half asleep in frog pajamas, by now you’ve heard of the movie Oppenheimer. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning biography American Prometheus. it is the story of the scientist who created the atomic bomb. The nuclear weapon may have won World War II, but it set the world eternally on edge with the fear that it will someday be deployed again. Outlaw Jim Moore grew up with the specter of the bomb in his childhood - with fallout drills in school and bomb shelters in backyards. And like most of us, he still lives with the frightening thoughts of what might happen if the wrong person has control of such a weapon. Not hard to imagine these days.

Oppenheimer and Me | Texas Outlaw Writers
Humans continue to live with the same fear that has haunted us since we initially split the atom. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant and heroic man, was just the first scientist to accomplish the inevitable. There tends to be little moral calculus to science.

There are "different flavors of everyday evil," Myra Jolivet found out when she began to do a little research on the causes of grossly immoral behavior. She, like all of the Outlaws, has been more than a little upset with a political direction in our state that demands that women and children immigrants be "thrown back into the river." Or that young girls be forced to deliver the babies of their rapists.
Evil, like everything else, is complicated.

Immoral Dilemma | Texas Outlaw Writers
People who believe it’s okay to force women to have babies, to cheat fellow humans out of jobs, homes, and opportunities, or to shove children to their deaths in bodies of water, evidently operate from a belief system that people who look like them are valuable and those who don’t are not.

A quick update from last week's headline issue on "Texucation," (the sorry state of education in Texas.) I referenced several times how the Houston Independent School District has been taken over by the Texas Education Agency. They have appointed an unelected school superintendent and established their own board as they make "needed" changes. I pointed out that this has been seen as a political move - most Texas urban areas are blue, and Houston is the bluest of all. Most of the schools had been performing up to state standards, all were improving after the pandemic disruption.

Another reason for the takeover, is the attack on education in general by the GOP. Abbott in particular wants to establish a school "voucher" system so that his evangelical base can use state money to attend religious schools. He and others would also like to privatize all of education as a business giveaway to their cronies.

This week, the mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, and the state appointed superintendent, Mike Miles, are openly feuding over Miles' renewal plans. One of the key outrages was one that we mentioned here... the layoff of dozens of librarians as the physical libraries were being turned into disciplinary centers for underperforming students.

Another huge problem: a teacher and staff shortage. From low pay to crowded classrooms, teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Districts are trying their best to bring teacher salaries up to a livable wage, but that usually means raising local property taxes (which is at odds with a state government that wants to limit higher property taxes.) And the state, with a budget surplus worth about 30 billion, refuses to use it for teachers.

Teaching has never been a lucrative profession. In the past however, teachers would say that it was a rewarding profession Boy, those days are gone. They will tell you that beyond pay issues, teachers are burned out after two years struggling to keep their students engaged and learning during the pandemic. As teacher numbers dwindle, more kids are packed into already overcrowded classrooms. Educators are also more and more terrified over the violence in schools. From out-of-control students threatening (and attacking them,) to the daily fear of another mass shooting. After Uvalde, teachers know that they're on their own and can't count on law enforcement to save them, or the government to regulate gun purchases. They are also just tired of the lack of respect shown to them - by students, parents, and administrators.

And finally, there's the constant fury being served to them over the culture wars. They're sick of being scapegoated and second guessed. Almost any teacher you talk to in the public school system has a story or two of being harassed, curriculums and reading material being questioned, or administrators or the state dictating what and how to teach, or NOT teach their class.

They're leaving, and they're not coming back.

From one reader, a teacher who recently left the profession: "So many schools across Texas are now desperately posting on social media platforms trying to find teachers, even for coveted positions in formerly desirable schools and districts."

HISD's state appointed superintendent Miles has assured the public that the district will have enough teachers. But he has asked the state to allow him to hire uncertified teachers. "A waiver from the state allows individuals to teach with no certification, teaching experience or education degree."

HISD started the 2022-2023 school year with more than 600 teacher vacancies across its 274 campuses, an "unacceptable" number that the new administration hopes to slash considerably with a certification waiver, according to Miles' spokesperson. The district on Monday declined to release an exact number of teacher vacancies, but said it has fewer open spots compared to this time last year.
"If you have a bachelor's degree and are interested in working as a full-time teacher, you may be eligible for a teaching position," the manager wrote in the email blast. "That's right, even if you don't have a teaching certificate, even if you are NOT in an alternative certification program, you can still get a job as a classroom teacher."
The new superintendent has said he wants to improve the quality of instruction by attracting high-quality teachers to NES schools with higher salaries and $10,000 stipends. Instead, Yarborough said, "what he did was run off the experienced certified teachers to bring in whoever is walking down the street that has a bachelor’s degree, because now he doesn’t have teachers to fill all the vacancies."

Sounds like this whole reboot is off to a great start, right? And the summer's not over... plenty of time to scare even more teachers off.

And speaking of being certified and all, here's the kicker. Again, from the Chronicle:

Parents must be notified if their child is assigned to an uncertified teacher for more than 30 days. The district, which is currently being run by an uncertified superintendent, also plans to ask to hire uncertified deans and assistant principals at its Aug. 10 board meeting.

"Certifications? We ain't got no certifications! We don't need no certifications! I don't have to show you any stinking certifications!!"

If you are teachers, where are your badges?