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Ooops! Rick Perry invokes God while saying nothing. Courtesy the Department of Energy

Fort Worth’s stalwart conservative choice in the House of Representatives has been Kay Granger for the past 22 years. When voters elected her to the House in 1997, she was fresh off her term as Fort Worth’s mayor and was being recruited by both Democrats and Republicans as their candidate. Oh, for those long-ago days when a few politicians were still able to work the middle of the road.

Her moderate nature blanched once she hit D.C. Granger leaned more right than centric and has continued to lean. She’s not Louie Gohmert-right, but she did vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, is mostly anti-choice for women, wants to build Trump’s wall — though she’s shy about saying it — and, most of the time, backs the president through every hare-brained comment, slip of the tongue, outright lie, self-serving scheme, or “moralistic” stand. Still, there’s a faintly moderate heart beating in there somewhere. Her anti-choice posture, for instance, allows for federal funding of abortion in pregnancies that result from rape or incest or endanger the life of the pregnant woman. She wants to ban federal funding for sanctuary cities and states but voted in favor of a failed bill that would have allowed DACA recipients to apply for citizenship.

Those little glimpses of humanity look like weaknesses to Chris Putnam, a former city councilperson from Colleyville who is challenging Granger in the March primary. Putnam did not return requests to explain his positions to the Weekly, but his opinion of Granger’s politics came over loud and clear in an October 24 interview on The Mark Davis Show, a libertarian-conservative gabfest that airs on 660-AM The Answer. “It’s not a secret that Ms. Granger is a liberal Republican who can at best be characterized as a soft moderate. She hasn’t even criticized the impeachment process. She’s firmly on the record as being a Never Trumper.”

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Putnam, a lifelong resident of Tarrant County and successful businessman, wants a big, bad wall, despises abortion even in cases of incest and rape, and believes blind loyalty to Trump is a requirement of every Republican in Congress. From his website: “Our district deserves a representative who will stand with President Trump, protect our border, and protect the sanctity of life.”

On the radio show, he described himself as “an unapologetic, fearless conservative fighter that supports this president and his agenda.”

Last week, Putnam kicked off his campaign, though he began fundraising in October. According to the conservative Texas Scorecard website, he received an ovation at his campaign opener for calling out Granger on her fiscal record. “Our federal budget is quadruple what it was the day she started. [Granger] passed every one of those bad budgets.”

(Of course, Putnam dared not blame the man who’s behind the ballooning budget or the deficit, which is the largest in history.)

Putnam went after Granger for her prize project, Panther Island, according to Texas Scorecard. “Putnam said the project has already cost taxpayers nearly $400 million, including [former Trinity River Vision Authority executive director] J.D. Granger’s six-figure salary for the past 13 years. ‘What have we got to show for it? We got a couple of broken bridges sitting on dry ground over in north downtown. Who spends $400 million and has basically their own personal swamp?’ ”

Later, Putnam added: “We’re here to go to Washington to fundamentally change it.”

Well, maybe. The last far-right guy who promised to drain the swamp only filled it with bigger and dirtier alligators of his own choosing. Nine members of Trump’s inner circle (and counting, Rudy) have already been convicted on federal charges, and the president is being impeached as we speak for suspending aid to Ukraine in return for dirt on Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Talk about a personal swamp.

We Heart Free Speech

“Why are you not allowing comments? Shady not to let comments be published. Free speech!”

A reader left this comment on our online story about Victor Toruno, the teacher and former frontman of dance-rock band Svenny Baby who has been accused of abusive relations with women. We published a story weeks ago (“Accusations of Sexual Assault Hit Former Svenny Baby Frontman,” Oct 9) and received a few comments at the time but not many. Last week, however, one of Toruno’s former students reposted our story on a Facebook page, and we received more than 50 comments in a short period of time. Some comments supported Toruno, characterizing him as an enthusiastic and caring teacher. Others called him names and related unsubstantiated claims. A woman contacted us to say her minor daughter and some of her school chums were leaving controversial comments under their real names, and she worried about the legal ramifications and possible fallout. At first, we began filtering through the comments, removing the ones left under full names and/or those making potentially libelous claims against Toruno. We are legally responsible if libel occurs on our website, even when it’s readers making unsubstantiated claims in the comments section.

However, removing the negative comments only and leaving the positive or non-accusatory ones might not accurately reflect reality. Editor Anthony Mariani made the rare decision to suspend comments on the story, even if one of our readers considered the move “shady.”

“The same rules that govern what we print as the Weekly also cover reader comments on our homepage and social media,” Mariani said. “Free speech does not guarantee anyone the right to libel another person with unsubstantiated claims, anyway.”

Questionable Headline

A former Texas governor created interesting headlines this week, most of them similar to this one from the Huffington Post: “Rick Perry Calls Donald Trump the Chosen One Sent by God to Rule Over Us.” The sensationalized headlines missed the point of what Perry was trying to say, which is understandable since he was saying nothing. Perry appeared on Fox News this week to proclaim that God is invested in politics and has used “imperfect” people to rule throughout history. Perry listed a few biblical figures as examples. “King David wasn’t perfect,” Perry said. “Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect.”

God chose Obama as well, Perry said.

Perry referred to Trump as an “extraordinary individual” and said he told the president that “God is using you.” Perry added that God “uses all of us that way.’ ”

OK. Let’s recap. God chose Trump to lead us. Before that, God chose Obama and every other politician from every party, culture, creed, and belief system known to mankind. A more accurate headline might say, “Rick Perry Says God Chooses All of Us to Do Whatever It Is We Do.”

News reports say Perry is expected to leave Trump’s cabinet by year’s end.

We prefer this headline: “President Trump’s Lapdog Secretary of Energy, a Longtime Lackey for the Oil and Gas Industry, Is Leaving the Administration Amid a Ukrainian Scandal He Helped Create and Kissing His Boss’ Ass on the Way Out in the Hopes of a Presidential Pardon Once He Gets Busted for Lord Knows What.”

In early October, the Ukrainian situation was beginning to heat up and putting yet another bull’s-eye on Trump. Seems our president had spoken on the phone with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky a couple of months earlier and prompted a whistle-blower to complain about a quid pro quo deal between the two. When news media began poking around, Trump responded by saying he called Zelensky only at the request of Perry, so, you know, talk to Perry about it because he’s the guy. Trump appointed Perry in 2017, knowing the former Texas governor would ask how high when Trump told him to promote the outdated coal industry while downplaying its role in climate change. There’s no telling now how low Perry will go to lift up the Donald. 

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