April 11th, 2009

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Wildfires

Large fires in thinly populated areas with little scenic value (e.g., no big beautiful national parks or forests) get little play in the national media.  However, it's worth mentioning that Texas and Oklahoma are once more dealing with many many thousands of acres of wildfires.   Yesterday, the smoke from fires well to the north permeated the air in central and SW Texas. 

Texas has 254 counties.   The governor has asked FEMA for an emergency declaration for 199 of them.  Many are rural counties with only volunteer firefighters, who are overwhelmed by the extent and frequency of the wildfires.  (It is ironic that the governor is staunchly against "taxes" and "big government",  and threatened to refuse any economic recovery funds....but he's always eager to ask for help in law enforcement and FEMA and brag about how much the feds provide for Texas in those areas...I guess he thinks the money for those comes from angels in heaven and not taxpayers.)

At any rate, our forecast for the weekend includes severe thunderstorms and either extreme fire danger (from high winds and dry air behind the front that is expected to trigger the thunderstorms) or slightly mitigated fire danger if the front moves slowly enough to produce a true wetting rain.  Large hail, high winds, and possible tornados are more likely, tnough.  No matter how heavy the downpour, if the storm zooms past in 15 minutes, it's not enough rain to lower fire danger, esp. when followed by dry wind that quickly sucks the water back out of the ground before plants have a chance to take it up.

The bad stuff (or good stuff, if it's rain without large hail or tornados) is supposed to hit between midnight Saturday and noon Sunday.   That means it will be going great about the time I need to leave for church.   I will have to watch the forecast carefully.  If there's large hail, I'm not going to try to drive 50 miles in it.





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woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Name-calling: Betty Brown and Asian-American Names

Betty Brown is the kind of Texas legislator that the Elephant clan point to with pride.   She and her husband own a ranch that's been in her family four generations.  She's a nice little white-haired grandmother.   She's done the appropriate-for-conservative-women volunteer things--historical society, etc.   She's been active in and supportive of her church (her official bio on the Texas House site doesn't say which, but having been in her home area last fall, I will bet you dollars to doughnuts I can narrow it down to three.)

As most of you have probably heard, Betty Brown spoke up Tuesday, in a public hearing on proposed legislation to "prevent voter fraud" (which there's been no proof of, but which the Elephants are sure must exist or there wouldn't BE any votes for the Dems...certainly not enough to unseat any Elephant) to suggest that citizens of Asian extraction change their names to something easier for Americans (she means people with names and faces like hers) to "deal with."   She now claims she was misunderstood (uh-huh) and her supporters are huffing and puffing about the state being "too PC."   (In Elephant-speak, having any concern for basic courtesy is being "too PC."   They expect courtesy from their serfs, of course, but do not expect to have it asked of them.)

My thoughts, since this little white-haired grandmother-rancher is so supportive of her church (which is for 100% certainty Christian and fundamentalist), run to the great gap between her personal beliefs about people-not-like-her and the theology she claims to follow.   I don't find any place in the New Testament suggesting that people must change their names for the convenience of others...or that those in power are in the right when they  impose their notions of convenience on guests and strangers in the land.    Is this treating others as Betty Brown would like to be treated?   I somehow doubt it.   It is clear from her other statements and actions that she expects to be treated with total understanding and courtesy--to be privileged as a white ranch-owning grandmother of the "right" political views.  She likes sitting on the raised platform and having mere citizens down on the floor, constrained to limit their remarks to a couple of minutes, herded about by the guards. She likes laying down the law; she likes power.   If she travels abroad,  I imagine she expects respect, courtesy, understanding of her culture and her position.   If she emigrated to another country, I would bet on her being determined to retain her own name, her own religious beliefs, her own customs.   So...that very basic Golden Rule thing has clearly passed her by.  Along with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

It may be the old failure of imagination.   She's never thought herself back into the first century Common Era, and imagined that someone taking a census then might stare at "Betty Brown" and insist she change her name to something Jewish, Greek, or Roman as hers was just too difficult for the record books.   She's never seriously considered that people not like her are in fact citizens, and on the level of citizenship being white, a grandmother, and a ranch owner does not give her any more rights than anyone else.   She's never reflected on the fact that her own situation (being white, having inherited wealth) is not the result of her own virtue, or her own hard work, and imagined herself in another body, in another family, with a different colored skin, with an inheritance of subjugation.

Texas legislators, like other public officials, both elected and appointed, take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  The Constitution does not require immigrants to change their names (though harried immigration officials in Ellis Island days did make that change, when they couldn't spell the Polish and Czech and Russian ones, and some people changed their names on their own.)   Too many Texas legislators seem to be ignorant of large chunks of the Constitution (as well as large chunks of the New Testament, something particularly true of those most likely to talk about God and country and family values.) 


Betty Brown's remarks were rude, arrogant, and ignorant.   That she denies she meant them to be rude, arrogant, and ignorant does not change the fact.   That her supporters are bleating about "PC-ness" doesn't change the fact.   She needs to shut up, go home, actually *read* those parts of the New Testament which inconveniently point out just how arrogant and rude she's been, and then read the Constitution, including those parts that point out just how ignorant she's been.  

As she is supposed to be a Christian, she needs to repent and follow Jesus instead of following the false gods of wealth, pride, and power.  Today is Holy Saturday.  Today would be a good day for her to start.