Austin at Large: We Have Had It With That Guy
Republicans, come get your bros. Dems, get out your voters.
My friend Sarah Eckhardt, the county judge, got into a spot of bother a couple weeks back at the Texas Tribune Festival for cracking a good tasteless joke – an old one, sure, but the room loved it – about poor Gov. Greg Abbott. She felt genuinely bad about it later and apologized for not going high, though they go low. And low they went! As is now sadly predictable, she got threatened with violence – her phone and email flooded by abusive and misogynist wingnut trolls, extra security put in place at 700 Lavaca, the whole nine yards – over one joke that surely Abbott has heard before, even if it is still insensitive. This is how the game gets played now.
It's not even newsworthy anymore that the malfunctioning white men with guns who now drive the GOP party bus are casually and happily putting the rest of us in danger. From President Apeshit on down, it's just one fucked-up bully boy after another, borne to positions of power over others by the cruel uplift of structural bias, acting out their pathologies. Even poor Greg Abbott.
Punching Down, Under the Bridge
Yes, of course the governor has the same right as anyone to live with the trauma he's experienced as he chooses, without being mocked. That said, he's shown us enough times now that he's an asshole that we should believe it – a privileged white dude whose own collision with the cold walls of fate made him a multimillionaire, now braying about the threat posed by his fellow Austinites who have to live in tents under the bridges and highways. Those are his highways, the ones his state government abruptly stopped cleaning up this spring, part of the GOP game (yes, it's a deliberate strategy) to make America's homelessness crisis as ugly as possible and then blame it on the Democrats.
Abbott's threatening letters to Mayor Steve Adler kinda gave away that game, though, as Adler has pointed out in his responses. It would actually be a really good thing if the state "took action" to partner with its cities to address urban challenges like homelessness and weave social safety nets as big as Texas. The cities are where the action is – they're absorbing the state's population growth, creating its jobs, creating the culture, doing all the work to make Texas "miraculous" and a viable alternative to California as a template of the American future.
The state has done none of that work, and instead casts its cities and their leaders, like Adler and Eckhardt, as villains out to taint the precious bodily fluids of "real Texans," by which they mean the state's old moneybags, guarded by the aforementioned half-wit, drooling, racist incels with guns they call "the base." Problem is, if Abbott and the rest of the spiteful meatheads who run this state succeed in disabling the cities, then they'll have to take responsibility for the outcomes that ensue. They will not be good.
We Thought You Were Smarter Than That
This is widely understood by the grownups, but such awareness looks to have never even grazed the shiny bald brow of House Speaker (still, we think) Dennis Bonnen, as we all now know from listening to the tape of his fateful bro chat with Empower Texans' Michael Quinn Sullivan and now-deposed House GOP Caucus Chair Dustin Burrows. Now, even the dimmer bulbs on the GOP Christmas tree – not as dim as Burrows, apparently – know MQS (pronounced "mucus") is 110% asshole and not to be trusted. Even Bonnen knows that, telling us (now that he's been caught), "I've had it with that guy." Yeah, dude, the feeling is mutual.
Yet there the speaker is, on tape, fancying himself a hardball player while tipping his pitches just as badly as that dude on the Rays did to help the Astros. (Tyler Glasnow, to be specific. Sorry for the sports talk.) Even if this conversation wasn't caught on tape now, the perfidy and duplicity it captures would not have been secret for long, not in a Legislature that is a snakepit on its best days. While the marquee content – the insults and hit lists and quid pro quos – have been previewed in the months leading up to MQS finally dropping the tape this week, the bros' gleeful plans to fuck with Texas cities and counties now and in the future had not made it to prime time. (They include specific jerk moves directed at Mayor Adler personally.)
A lot of House Dems thought Bonnen was their friend. A lot of cities and counties thought the House would play fair even as the Senate stayed mired in culture-war bullshit, held hostage by Dan Patrick's own grievous set of pathologies. And a lot of moderate Republicans thought they had hope of achieving their own agendas and helping their also-neglected corners of the state. (The only thing worse than being a big city in Texas is being a small city.)
They've all now been galvanized by Speaker Bonehead's trash talk to make 2020 the year we finally clear the Texas decks of the feces, garbage, dirty needles, and other filth (we're channeling Abbott here) left behind by the GOP bully boys' unmoored rumble to ruin on the political vomit comet that is Mr. Trump's Wild Ride. Republicans, come get these bros, hose 'em down, sober 'em up, send 'em to rehab.
The rest of y'all – you know what you have to do.