With the Texas Rangers mired in a terrible, injury-plagued season, Ron Washington stunned the baseball world last September by abruptly resigning as the team’s manager. Then for two weeks, the people involved left bewildered Rangers fans without an explanation for the move, with the team clarifying only that drugs were not involved. Irresponsible speculation rushed in to fill the void, with one blog making claims about a sexual-assault charge. Finally, Wash came forward, admitting to having cheated on his wife, an explanation that still left more questions than answers — if he was leaving temporarily, why didn’t the team hold the job open for him instead of hiring a permanent replacement in Jeff Banister? If he meant to take a more extended break, why did he express his hope that he’d be back managing a team soon? Washington did right to step away from his work to repair the damage to a 42-year marriage. A Turkey to the Rangers for their handling of the situation.
Turkey Logic: Fracking Good. Water Bad
Rex Tillerson is the CEO of ExxonMobil. Many of our readers may think that would qualify him for a Turkey right there, but that’s not why we’re giving him one. Nor is he receiving it for his 2010 declaration that “fracking” is safe, which goes under the heading of He Would Say That, Wouldn’t He? No, this year, his hypocrisy reached truly stellar heights when he joined his neighbors in Denton to try to block construction of a 160-foot water tower near his $5 million mansion, for fear of lowered property values. Water towers don’t come with anywhere near the health concerns and noise represented by drilling rigs and other lovely accoutrements of that industry. Tillerson’s worries about the water tower seem bizarre considering his lack of concern over all those who have to live next door to what his industry dishes out. We can console ourselves with the idea that if Denton’s ban on fracking is overturned, a drilling site might go in near his house.
Tea Party for Turkelephants
What, exactly, were Texas Republican leaders smoking when they drafted the party’s 2014 state platform during their convention in Fort Worth this year? The GOP’s Tea Party and religious-right factions clearly hate President Obama with a pathological intensity. But the Republican platform doesn’t just reject his policies. It’s a document so disconnected from reality that it calls for trashing virtually every modern advance in government policy, medicine, the economy, science, and civil rights.
The document opposes abortion even in cases of rape and medical danger to the mother’s life. Not only gay marriage but the most basic legal protections for gay couples are denounced, and homosexuality is declared to be a “chosen lifestyle” that can be treated with widely discredited “reparative therapy.” Climate change? The platform dismisses nearly unanimous scientific research, declaring global warming to be “a political agenda” and a fiction. The Texas GOP would also abolish Social Security, minimum-wage laws, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Reserve, most forms of foreign aid, and any attempts at gun control or firearms regulation for private citizens. The platform became a national laughingstock pretty much the instant it was unveiled at the state convention. But it’s not funny. It’s so far to the right as to remind one of Molly Ivins’ famous observation about an inflammatory speech by Pat Buchanan: “It sounded better in the original German.”
Religion on the Other Foot
When last we checked, the Midlothian school district was in a foot-dragging standoff with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an out-of-state group that advocates for the constitutional separation of church and state. At this writing, school board members hadn’t voted on the status of prominent plaques at two Midlothian elementary schools that declare the institutions were founded “in the name of the holy Christian Church.” Freedom From Religion continues to threaten legal action but hasn’t yet found a local plaintiff to take the school district to court; a group spokesman told the press that the plaques were so flagrantly unconstitutional, he expected the board’s legal advisors to (eventually) insist on their removal. But so far, the signs are still there. Do Midlothian school leaders really need outside legal counsel to understand that a public school sign explicitly endorsing one faith amounts to a government endorsement of religion? How would Christian parents feel if their children attended a taxpayer-funded school founded “in the name of Allah, there is no God but He”?
Egos Taller Than Their Toques
The relationship between food critics and restaurateurs –– especially star chefs whose names have become brands that attract a following –– has always been a rocky one. Nobody who’s poured their heart, soul, and cash into a new restaurant wants to have their delicately spiced kale and heirloom tomato soup trashed by some know-nothing scribe with a byline and an attitude. But restaurants also have traditionally relied on the media to create excitement around the opening of a new kitchen, and all publicity is good publicity, right? Apparently not. In the last couple of years, North Texas chefs and owners have begun to refuse service to certain critics and publications because of some perceived slight or pattern of slights. Fort Worth Weekly has certainly felt the sting of retaliation from bratty celebrity chefs, most notably Cowtown’s Tim Love, who last year kicked a Weekly photographer out of one of his restaurants as revenge for an unflattering “Last Call” column about another of his eateries. Love has refused to talk to the Weekly for years, including for a July cover story about him.
It takes a real turkey to carry loaded assault rifles into diners and public establishments, frightening families and little children — but that’s exactly what Kory Watkins and members of Open Carry Tarrant County do on a weekly basis. The group’s stated goal is to desensitize the public to the sight of firearms in public places and to thereby help pass laws that would weaken Texas’ already-lax gun regulations. On the top of their Christmas wish list is the freedom to carry handguns in plain sight. Even a National Rifle Association official has called Open Carry’s actions “downright weird.” In a time when folks are already on edge about gun violence and mass shootings, maybe Watkins and his supporters should find a new hobby, like, ya know, promoting responsible gun use.
Cackle of the Trust-Fund Grackle
Living near Texas Christian University’s vibrant campus has its perks, but nearby homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the costs. “TCU creep” is now familiar parlance for the steady encroachment of duplexes (often referred to as “stealth dorms”) and student parking garages sprouting up on the university’s outskirts. Neighbors’ concerns about a big parking garage in the University West area were rebuffed by TCU vice chancellor Brian Gutierrez, who said, in essence, that TCU students pay a lot to go to the private college and that they expert perks in return. North of the campus, Frisco Heights residents are asking Fort Worth City Council members to use zoning to allow no more than three unrelated adults to share a house in residential areas. The crisis inspired Historic Fort Worth to declare several historic neighborhoods as endangered. If these problems aren’t fixed, some fine neighborhoods could soon be flunking charm school.
A final turkey tailfeather to Rick Perry, to add to the collection he’s received over the years. This one’s for his behavior during the initial stages of Ebola Fright here in North Texas. Gov. Goodhair went through with a previously scheduled trip to tout liquefied natural gas to several European countries, while the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with the disease lay dying in a Dallas hospital and two nurses who worked with the patient became ill. Still, he managed to criticize President Obama for not taking “immediate steps to minimize” the crisis.
That’s the Perry we’ve come to know, if not love. The federal government is always too big and imposing for him until there’s a crisis or he needs federal money, or both.
Perry did cut short the Ukrainian portion of his trip when even rabidly right-wing Breitbart.com called him out on avoiding his duties at home. He put together a team of medical doctors to oversee the Ebola issue here in Texas. Too little, too late.