Seeing the political nuttiness in Texas and national politics makes me think back to my mom’s fruitcakes. We weren’t fruitcake eaters when I was a kid, but mom always kept a few handy, not just for the holidays. She used them strategically year-round. She bought the fruitcakes from a neighbor who made them with crushed walnuts and colorful gelatinous, fruitlike chunks.
When our oddball aunt acted up, mom handed her a fruitcake. Same with the old guy up the street who yelled at the kids to get off his sidewalk, and the neighbor who called the cops if a dog barked or an unfamiliar car appeared on the street. Mom’s fruitcakes weren’t permanent solutions, but they quieted folks down, at least temporarily.
To honor mom’s admirable strategy, I plan to award faux fruitcakes occasionally to deserving persons. Today, I’m confining selections to Texans. What better place to start than the Texas Legislature.
I followed the legislature this past session mostly via the Austin American-Statesman, which did its usual credible job making sense of the chaos. It was a little like watching a zombie movie, where bad bills kept dying and coming back to life.
The Legislature has many potential fruitcake awardees to choose from, starting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who rules the state Senate and has a penchant for pushing bills that harm women, the poor, and LGBTQ people. But the top banana this year was Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, a tea party Republican, and former pest control peddler. He’s best known for being on the losing side of votes and for talking to death noncontroversial bills, apparently because he can. He also makes outrageous statements, like calling vaccines “sorcery,” and saying men can’t rape their wives.
This past session Stickland cast the lone vote against bills dealing with school finance, boosting the retired teachers pension fund, and letting active duty military defer property tax payments, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
He riled critics when he used a procedural move to stifle one bill that would have helped reduce teen suicides and another bill that would have protected dogs from cruelty by their owners. The latter may come back to bite Stickland, who narrowly retained his seat last year. Critics recently held a “Dogs Against Stickland” walk near his Bedford office, reportedly drawing 130 protesters and their pups.
To Jonathan Stickland I award two fruitcakes with extra nuts.
When it comes to political grandstanding with people’s lives, it’s hard to beat the recent antics of freshman U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Hays County, who temporarily prevented passage of a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill last month. Roy, whose congressional district extends from Austin into the Hill Country, is a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, which says all you need to know about him. The bipartisan disaster bill will assist millions of people, including Texans, hit by hurricanes, floods and other recent natural disasters.
To Chip Roy, here are two soggy fruitcakes and a free month in a FEMA trailer.
Closer to home, the Bastrop County Democratic and Republican parties put differences aside to hold a joint fundraiser on June 1 for the Children’s Advocacy Center. The fundraiser, a pancake breakfast, garnered more than $1,000 for the nonprofit center, which helps child victims of abuse in Bastrop, Lee, and Fayette counties. It was a classy gesture by the two political parties. But wouldn’t you know it, the fundraiser drew two protesters bearing anti-Democrat hate signs. The hand-made signs contained misspellings, including the word “American.”
To the two mean-spirited protesters, I offer a fruitcake each and a dictionary.