God and Country

Governor Rick Perry at CPCA conference, February 11, 2011. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst.)

Governor Rick Perry, as you may recall, is a member of the Republican Party. That party, as you may also recall, recently voted to overturn a finding by the EPA on the dangers of man-made global warming. But Perry was well ahead of his party on that one. In 2010 he actually sued the EPA for attempting to regulate greenhouse emissions. The governor of big oil strung together all the anti-science screeds, the right-wing blogs, the paid for “research” and the politically motivated cynics to “prove” that nothing was wrong and the EPA should mind its own business.

Among the many ludicrous things that climate science has got wrong, according to the anti-intellectual party that runs the House and the State of Texas, are the predictions that climate change will involve great changes in the water cycle of the planet. The National Resources Defense Council, for example, made the silly prediction last July that almost all of Texas, among other parts of the country, would soon face extreme shortages of water as a result of changes in precipitation patterns. And there’s nothing that will anger a Texas right-winger than predictions that have no basis in fact.

So this year, as Texas is suffering from an extraordinary plague of state-wide wildfires, resulting from the abnormal heat and unusual drought conditions now prevailing, there obviously is no explanation for something that no one could have foreseen. And since no one’s to blame and there is nothing we can do about it, there is only one thing to do: Pray. This is no time for “God helps him who helps himself.” This is time for God to deliver, given all that Texas has done for him.

So the executive of Texas issued this proclamation yesterday:

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:

WHEREAS, the state of Texas is in the midst of an exceptional drought, with some parts of the state receiving no significant rainfall for almost three months, matching rainfall deficit records dating back to the 1930s; and

WHEREAS, a combination of higher than normal temperatures, low precipitation and low relative humidity has caused an extreme fire danger over most of the State, sparking more than 8,000 wildfires which have cost several lives, engulfed more than 1.8 million acres of land and destroyed almost 400 homes, causing me to issue an ongoing disaster declaration since December of last year; and

WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

NOWTHEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of April, 2011.

RICK PERRY
Governor of Texas

[Italics added for the irony-deprived.]

I hope that God takes this the right way. It seems like a lot of additional work at an especially busy season, given Good Friday and Easter and all. But I suppose this is Texas, and all that dying-for-the-salvation-of-all-mankind stuff can take back seat till everything is back to normal in the Me First State.

The proclamation reminds me of a similar proclamation by another Republican, Abraham Lincoln. Except Perry’s is missing the eloquence, humility and willingness to learn. But then, Texas was on the wrong side of that dispute as well.

Perry would be Sam Houston if Perry had Houston's courage, common sense, patriotism and integrity. And if Houston had spent more time on his hair. (Lithograph by Konrad in Huber, History of Texas (1856) vol. 2, frontispiece)

But a crisis will bring out the best and worst of a person in more ways than one. Rick Perry, you may recall, even before he was independent enough to use tax-payer money to support big oil, was independent enough to threaten the rest of the country with Texas’s secession. At the time he was trying to channel the fighting spirit of Sam Houston to show a Tea Party crowd exactly how independent he was. Sam Houston is the gold standard for Texas governors. Unfortunately, Houston disapproved of secession enough to resign. But if Governor Perry got mad enough to secede, I’m sure the Texas School Board would direct all textbooks to eliminate any reference to Houston’s reticence on that point (assuming they haven’t already). The governor might also want to erase the phrase “An Honest Man” on Houston’s gravestone, as it might cast something of a rebuke on Perry’s own ethical problems.

But it’s not time to secede yet. In addition to praying, Governor Perry has his hand out for federal funds. Federal spending! That acid to the very skin of Tea Party democracy.

“As wildfires continue to rage across our state, Texas is reaching its capacity to respond to these emergencies and is in need of federal assistance,” said Perry in a letter sent to President Barack Obama on Sunday. “I urge President Obama to approve our request quickly so Texans can continue receiving the resources and support they need as wildfires remain an ongoing threat.”

It is a good thing that Texas is still part of the Union. Otherwise Perry would have been asking for foreign aid. And you know what the Republicans in the remaining 49 think about that.

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    • Dude
    • April 27th, 2011

    the worst part is, they’ll take credit for the rain, because it will rain eventually. in fact, i think the national weather service (i.e. the gubment) has said it’s a’gunna rain in may. so, there you go. reminds me of the brother of that indian cat tecumseh, the one who predicted an eclipse from an almanac. i give that dude credit, though. rick perry, not so much.

    hey, your stuff is a pleasure to read, unlike almost everything else in print, so keep it up, even though i’m quite sure no one’s reading you, but what can you do.

  1. Thanks, Dude.

    As for readership, it’s overrated. When people are not going to be persuaded (the current state of our civilization), it doesn’t matter if they read you or not. The result is the same.

    By the way, on the Rain Praying / Conjuring / Dancing business, Sam Houston had it over Rick Perry here as well. The Cherokees made Houston an honorary member of the tribe, and Houston married a Cherokee woman. And the Cherokee tribe was one of the groups that actually performed a real rain dance. I don’t think, however, they had a CO2 capture dance.

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