Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beware of Texas Governors--as Texas Takes the Bill of Rights and Thomas Jefferson Out of Its Textbooks

Foto by tgw, New York City, 2011

I'm from Texas. I was born in West Texas. There are several parts to Texas: East Texas, South Texas, Central Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, North Texas, North Central Texas, Far West Texas, the Caprock, the Panhandle, La Frontera (the Border). I could go on, but you get the picture. Growing up in Texas I was taught (via rumor and observation) that all politicians, no matter what part of Texas they were from, even the ones from my hometown who my family knew, were not only a little on the wacky side, but they were for the most part crooked as snakes at night. People usually paid no mind to what went on down in Austin, the capital of Texas, and home of the University of Texas, at one time second only to Harvard in terms of its endowment since the running of the University was done with offshore oil monies and under the auspices of the Texas Railroad Commission, again rumored to be a very corrupt political arm of the very corrupt Texas political system. My dad, who I wrote in for governor of Texas the first time I voted, loved talking about the many characters who had been governor during his youth, his special favorites being Ma and Pa Ferguson, the husband and wife governors of Texas.

Ma Ferguson (Governor of Texas from 1925-1927 and 1932-1935 (Texas governors served 2-year terms))

Pa Ferguson (Governor of Texas: 1915-1917/1917-Impeachment),
his name was James Ferguson, was a lawyer from Temple, the county seat of Bell County in Central Texas. He was elected governor in 1915 and served until 1917 when he ran for a second term and won. Pa, however, was hardly comfortably seated in the governor's chair to start his second term when he decided he didn't like some of the professors at the University of Texas (especially Eugene Barker, one of Pa's loudest critics) and ordered the UT administration to fire them, which the University refused to do. So, Pa, in a show of power, vetoed UT's appropriations. That was too much for the political Power Elite in the Texas capital; you see you didn't veto appropriations for UT and get away with it, and so in 1917, the Texas Senate impeached Pa, charging him with over 20 counts of corruption, though only 9 stuck. And on the grounds of these 9 convictions, Pa was impeached with the stipulation he would never be allowed to hold a political office in the State of Texas ever again. So what did Pa do? Why he ran for Governor in 1918, though he was defeated by his ex-lieutenant governor, William P. Hobby, a newspaperman, owner of the Beaumont Enterprise, later becoming famous as publisher of the Houston Post, where he'd once worked as a circulation clerk and later as a business writer. In Houston, he married Olivia Culp Hobby, who later claimed national fame as being the first head of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare during Lyndon Johnson's administration.

After losing to Hobby, Pa didn't give up. In 1920, he ran for President of the USA as a progressive Democrat. Pa ran as an anti-Prohibition candidate, though he was only on the ballot in Texas--nowhere else--where he garnered 48,000 votes--Texas going Democrat that year giving its electoral votes to the Democratic candidate James Cox, who lost to Warren G. Harding in the general election.

Not one to give up, Pa ran for the Texas Senate in 1922, only to lose in a run off to Eugene Mayfield. Still not one to give up, Pa ran his wife, Miriam Amanda, thus the name "Ma," her initials, in 1924, giving Ma her first term as Governor of Texas. That same year, just two weeks before Ma's inauguration, Wyoming appointed Nellie Tayloe Ross to replace her deceased husband as governor, thus making her the first female in US history to become governor of a state thus beating Ma out of that title.

Texans loved Ma and Pa Ferguson. They were thought of as Populists in those days following World War I. They were life-long Democrats--as were most successful Texas politicians in those years--up until the 1950s when the Texas Democrats followed Strom Thurmond's walkout of the 1948 Democratic Convention after Harry Truman announced he was "integrating" the US Army. Strom stormed out of the Democrats and formed his own party, the pure racist Dixiecrat Party. It was the Dixiecrats who took the Democratic South (the Confederate States) into the Republican fold when they came out in 1952 backing Ike Eisenhower over the snobbish egghead Democratic candidate, Adlai "Till Hell Freezes Over" Stevenson--and Eisenhower carried Texas in '52, though in 1960, Texas went back Democrat (barely, yes) and voted for Kennedy, mainly because he chose Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. Lyndon was a Texas politically saavy decent but corruptible Good Ole Boy from deep in the heart of Central Texas over the hills west of Austin on the Perdenales River just outside of Johnson City, Texas. Lyndon was walking in the footsteps of former Vice President under Roosevelt, John Nance Garner, who put him under the care of the Texan Speaker of the House of Representatives, the famous or infamous depending on your partisanship Mr. Sam, Sam Rayburn, the man under whom Lyndon learned his style of hard-hitting, tough-talking politics, a style he used to his advantage when he was the Majority Leader and Majority Whip in the Senate. Lyndon's election to the Senate in 1948 was a heavily contested event, with Lyndon ending up beating popular Governor Coke Stevenson by 87 votes in a runoff election, 87 votes that some Texans declared were voters who were voting from their graves--especially in the infamous Duvall
County where voters came out of the graves to vote "Landslide Lyndon" into office. Lyndon, though known in Texas as a progressive Democrat, which means a Populist in Texas politics, proved himself a good conservative--Lyndon cosied up to Alabama's racist Dixiecrat Senator Richard Russell, who was head of what was called the Conservative Coalition, by voting for the Taft-Hartley Act and claiming he was anti-Union--later Lyndon would need Russell's backing in order to get the Civil Rights Act passed, though in private fact, Lyndon was opposed to the Civil Rights Act. We Texans were taught two sides to Lyndon, one a good side but the other a corrupt side, this side documented by a Texas historian, J. Evetts Haley, in his little book, Will the Real Lyndon Johnson Please Stand Up. Haley insisted that Lyndon was a total crook and sider with the large Mexican constituency in Texas--Mexicans always being the "ones you don't trust" in Texas history--after all, old General Sam Houston and the Texas Army had whipped the Mexicans's asses at the Battle of San Jacinto--where both General Sam and the Mexican General Santa Anna were injured, General Sam in the arm (as President of the Texas Republic and then the first Governor of the State of Texas, Sam Houston had to have his Secretary of the Treasury sign his name to official documents--his signature looking not like "Sam" Houston but like "I Am" Houston--due to his war-injured arm) and General Santa Anna in the leg. (As I wrote in an earlier post, Santa Anna, after he was impeached as President of Mexico, came and lived in New York City where he was introducing chicle, the first chewing gum, to the USA. Next time you're chewing a stick of gum, think of Santa Anna--I don't chew gum, but I think of old Santa Anna every time I walk on a New York City sidewalk that is covered with thousands of black spots, black spots that are in fact disposed of chewing gum people simply spit out of their mouths onto the sidewalks as they're walking along, where then these disposed of gum balls are smashed into the concrete until they become black spots. As
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shown in the above photograph...yes, those black spots are disposed of chewing gum wads.)

After Ma and Pa
Ma and Pa Ferguson were believe it or not considered Progressive Democrats--Pa and Ma, though nondrinkers, both voted against Prohibition and, too, he and Ma both were against the Ku Klux Klan's efforts to become a legal entity in Texas during the Klan uprisings in the 1920s and 1930s.

From Ma's Wikipedia entry:

"Fergusonism," as the Fergusons' brand of populism was called, is still a controversial subject in Texas. As governor, she tackled some of the tougher issues of the day. Though a teetotaler like her husband, she aligned herself with the "wets" in the battle over prohibition and took a firm stand against the Ku Klux Klan. She was a fiscal conservative.[3]

Miriam Ferguson, along with a few others, have been credited with the quote: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.”[7] However, variations of this going back to 1881 were often used to ridicule the backwardness of various unnamed Christians, which support the argument that the attribution to Ferguson is false.[8]

Mrs. Ferguson's infamously generous granting of pardons was her way of relieving the overcrowded conditions in Texas prisons. Some claimed that the pardons were the result of bribes, but it was never proven. Her actions caused the Legislature to amend the law so that the Governor could not unilaterally issue a pardon. The Texas Board of Pardon and Parole both must first recommend a pardon (though the Governor can choose whether to grant it).

After Ma left office after her second term ended in 1935, she made one more effort at becoming governor when she ran in 1940 against W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniels, president of the Burris Flour Mills of Fort Worth, and leader of his hillbilly band, the Lightcrust Doughboys. Ma lost to Pappy and then retired from politics. In the early 1940s, the Fergusons got into financial troubles and as a result lost their farm. The stress of that loss was too much for Pa, who in 1944 died after suffering a massive stroke. Ma was able to live on another 20 years, leaving the mortal coil in 1964 after suffering a heart attack.

I could go on writing about Texas nutjob governors, like Beaufort Jester, Allen Shivers, Price Daniels, John Connoly (Lyndon's presidential campaign manager), all Democrats; or the advent of the Republican governors, beginning with the first-ever, Bill Clements, and after two moderate Democrats, Mark White and Ann Richards, the worst of the worst, G.W. "Baby Bush" Bush and his successor, the true nutjob of all nutjob Texas governors, Rick "Born Again" Perry.

Perry is making a fool of himself in his Christian-Conservative run for the presidency--babbling out his Bible-based theories of pseudo-science (yes, you must believe the Sun goes around the Earth) that states the planet was created in a matter of 6 Holy Babble days, a job so strenuous, Big Daddy had to "rest" on that seventh day (the lucky day)(the Sabbath--Sunday to Christians--they borrowed the Sun's Day as their sabbath from the Pagans). The creationists make this more reasonable by saying 1 day in Holy Babble time equals 1,000 years; therefore the earth is at most 6,000 years old. Ricky Perry also believes that Global Warming is a devil-scientist hoax in order for nonChristian scientists to make big bucks off atheist-government grants--this because God said in the Christian Holy Book of Babble that he would never destroy the earth, the seat of his fictitious son's future kingdom, in the New Jerusalem, which, if he were elected president, Mitt Romney would declare New Jersusalem to be Salt Lake City, Utah, since his Holy Book of Christian Babble is the unbelievably laughable Book of the Mormon--a book I tried to read one time while holed up in a Pendleton, Oregon, motel where along with the typical Gideon Bible (the Christian Holy Book of Babble as translated from koine (common) Greek by the brilliant noncommoner King James of England) was a copy of the Book of the Mormon. I couldn't finish even 3 or 4 pages of that idiotic book--laughing so hard at every unbelievable paragraph that it brought my wife into the room from fixing herself up in the bathroom to find out why I was laughing so hard--then I read her a paragraph from this unbelievable book and soon we were both doubled up in monkey-like hooting we found the story of Mormonism so stupid and absolutely unbelievable. The Book of the Mormon reads as though it were written by a drunk...oh, that's right, Joe Smith was a drunk wasn't he!

Most of my friends and local political pundits I know, tell me Ricky Boy Perry hasn't got a chance in hell of becoming president. I then relate my story of being in California in the late 1960s when a Grade B actor, second banana to a monkey, announced he was running for Governor of California. All of my California friends were hollering no way Reagan will win the governorship over Edmund Pat Brown (Jerry's political parasite father)--maybe Southern California will vote for him, but not the whole of California. You know the results of that.

Also, when G.W. "Baby Bush" Bush ran against Ann Richards for Governor of Texas, nobody but old Pappy Bush figured this fool would beat her. And then, when this fool ran for president, who'd'a thought he really had a chance to beat the Democrats after Slick Willie Clinton had been so popular and had gone into office based on old Pappy Bush's wrecking the economy--yes, the big issue when Clinton ran was the economy--George H.W. Bush as president had taken us into a worst national debt than the record debt set by PRESIDENT Ronald "Flying to Tokyo in 3 1/2 Hours" Reagan. Bill Clinton, in spite of his Oval Office sexeperiences with the kind'a fat Monica Lewinsky, left office with a surplus--well, a lot of Bill's surplus was in futures, but anyway, he's credited with leaving a surplus and not a debt--so, most Americans figured there was really no need to worry about Bush beating Al "the Bore" Gore, now Mr. Environmental Savior--though I constantly ask Gore Bores why when Al was vice-president he was a part of Bill Clinton's wrecking of our environment (Deregulatin' Willie--now declaring himself a Vegen--have you seen that one yet? No more $200 Kobe steaks)...oh well, I'm considered a naughty boy for putting down both Slick Willie Clinton and Al "the Bore" Gore (his relative, Gore Vidal, said Al was the dullest human being he'd ever met) as worthless political scumbags--Bill left his cum stains on Monica's blue dress as proof of his Big Dog-ness--and Al rigged up his environmental dog and pony show to bail himself out after he lost his political parasite job--a new profession that at least bailed old Al out of his marriage to the righteous Tipper (the woman who wanted to rate Rock n Roll according to the righteousness or salaciousness of its lyrics) and found him a young environmentalist minky for a girl friend.

We have a tradition in this Land of the Shackled Free of electing nincompoops as governors and then shuffling them on up to the presidency (and We the People are shackled by the Patriot Act, given us by the Big Dog himself due to his alarmist attitude toward Osama bin Laden (remember when Slick Willie missled Osama's training camp in Afghanistan, only to find out he'd missled a school or a hospital or something?--what a sham all of our presidents have been--of course Slick Willie had his wars, too--like the Bosnia-Kosovo War and his going ashore with the Marines in Somalia or like his air striking daily the perimeters of Baghdad during Bush and Rumsfeld's old pal, Saddam Hussein's Bathist reign). And oh what a sad mess Iraq is today--and Obama is soon to announce he's reneging on his promise to take our troops totally out of Iraq by the end of this year--a promise any day now he'll override by declaring our troops will be staying pat in Iraq until the twelfth of never.

Another Texan
Ron Paul is now promoting himself as a "grass-roots populist." Why he's even advertising himself as such on Bartcop's Webpage ( and, I assume, Bartcop likes the guy. I don't trust him. He's a Libertarian, but not my kind--he doesn't lean far enough left for my liking, plus I figure him to be a phony, a millionaire phony, by the bye. But, it appears Good Ole Ron would be the best candidate to challenge Obama. Paul is for raising taxes on the wealthy (himself included) and he's for cutting the Defense Budget--did I read by 80%?

Whatever the results of the Republican/Teabagger Convention this year, somebody will come out the candidate. Don't be surprised if it is Rick Perry. Alexander Cockburn (I know I spelled his name wrong) has an article on Counterpunch that shows you how Rick Perry is "one lucky son of a bitch" when it comes to political good luck. Also, remember, starting with Lyndon Johnson, we've had 3 Texas Presidents: Lyndon; Pappy Bush; and Georgie Porgie Bush. Be aware, we could have a fourth soon--and you think the budget is in deficit now--wait until Little Ricky ("Hey, honey, I'm home!--in the White Man's House that is") is President and acting under orders from God (which God, you'll have to wait and find out--I think this God these politicians pray to and ask to bless America is Moulah, the God of Money).

for The Daily Growler

A Little Taste of American Art (courtesy Art News):

artwork: Jim Woodring - "Frank in the Pond, Cover of Jim Vol. 2.1", 1993 - Watercolor on watercolor board - 16" x 11". © 1994 by Jim Woodring. On view at the Boise Art Museum in ”Comics at the Crossroads: Art of the Graphic Novel" from August 20th until November 27th.

1 comment:

Marybeth said...

Interesting history lesson about good ole Texan politics. The world is and has largely been insane. What is beautiful in the human race never enters politics. Only the ugliest nut jobs go there. That's why I live in the realms of art, music, science, literature, etc.