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Let’s mess with Texas

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I don’t have anything against Texas. My maternal grandparents and their children settled there and in Oklahoma, before the latter was even a state, in the early 1900s. I still have cousins who are proud Texans. Texas gave us a great liberal President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. But somewhere along the way, Texans decided to let the Bible, or their interpretation of it, rather than the U.S. Constitution, be their guiding document, with tragic consequences. They went deeply, tragically off the American rails.

There’s a meme out there that liberals look down at “flyover country,” including Texas, with disdain, but this is a lie. It is, however, expedient propaganda for Republicans to feed the useful idiots in their party, who feel disrespected, and whose sense of grievance is looking for scoundrels to blame. The Republican attack machine is eager to target liberals on the two coasts as the bad guys, and there’s very little we can do to refute the charge. It’s like the old accusation, “When did you stop beating your wife?” Whatever you say, you look bad.

Last week, you may recall, a Florida professor was fired for tweeting that Hurricane Harvey was “instant karma” for Texans, in terms of their Republican-inspired anti-science attitude. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do hope that some of them will reconsider Trump’s allegation that global warming, with its prospect of more, and more intense, storms, “is a hoax invented by the Chinese.”

It is, meanwhile, worth noting that in the most recent poll (March, 2017) I could find on Texans’ beliefs about climate change, the most dubious part of the state is the Gulf Coast (including Houston), which is “solid Trump country,” in addition to North Texas. Latino South and West Texas were the most concerned about the reality of global warming.

The Florida professor no doubt deserved to get fired for his stupid tweet. There’s no evidence that Democrats or liberals or anyone else is blaming Texas conservatism for Harvey. Of course, on the opposite side of the political spectrum, Christian conservatives often allege that liberal, and especially gay, areas are targets of God’s wrath: Pat Robertson, who, although senile, is still with us, warned Disney World that showing rainbow flags “will bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.” (The late, demented Jerry Falwell, and the Catholic bigot, Patrick Buchanan, made similar charges.) Still, despite that fact that this meme of liberals hating on Texas is a slur, that doesn’t stop the right from hauling it out anyway, every chance they get, in order to stir their base to righteous indignation.

Consider, for example, the Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial over the weekend: “Texas, Thou Hast Sinned,”  which advances the incredibly fake allegation that “the media left” is accusing “Texas, and especially Houston, for the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.”

Yes, you read that right. The editorial cites anonymous media sources for this slander. The only media it does mention by name is Bloomberg (of course; Rupert Murdoch hates Michael Bloomberg.) How did Bloomberg blame Harvey on Houston? They ran an article pointing out that Houston—a city everyone acknowledges is historically prone to floods—did not adequately plan for a major flood: the city paved over its prairies, reducing the ground’s capacity to absorb rainfall, and reservoirs were built too small to contain flood waters.

And yet, the same Wall Street Journal earlier reported on those very facts! An Aug. 28 article described how the limited size of Houston’s reservoirs confronted the Army Corps of Engineers with “a dilemma as water levels rose to perilous levels in its two reservoirs”: they could order controlled releases into already-flooded neighborhoods, or they could “hold tight and risk having water pour around or over the earthen dam…”.

Even more glaringly, an Aug. 25 article in the Journal, “Five Reasons Why Houston is Especially Vulnerable to Flooding,” described how newly-built “shopping malls and roads have added vast stretches of pavement to the Houston area. These expanses of concrete and asphalt inhibit drainage and worsen flooding…”. Which is what Bloomberg said.

In other words, the real reporters at the Wall Street Journal wrote exactly the same analysis as the reporters at Bloomberg (and other credible media), and then the Journal’s right wing editorialists–who are paid to opine, not report facts–under orders from the Murdochs bashed Bloomberg while letting their own journalists off the hook.

Well, you get the idea. The Wall Street Journal editorial pages no longer possess a shred of credibility. They exist for one reason only: to protect Republicans and blame Democrats. This is not a newspaper; it’s the P.R. arm of Murdoch’s conservative political empire.

As for Texas, well, Harvey was really bad, and I’m glad the nation is rallying to help. But I swear, the next time there’s an earthquake in California, I really don’t want to hear some sicko fundamentalist preacher blame it on the gays. Of course, they will, anyway, and it’d be nice to see the Wall Street Journal bash them for it. (Which the paper won’t.)

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