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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 17 - 23, 2003

Opinion Columns

Lone Star rising

Commentary by Betty Bell

Many years ago, before many of you were born, I went to Texas to buy a little old putt-putt airplane that had been glowingly described in a trade magazine. I already owned a putt-putt airplane, but mine had only 65 horsepower, and no electrical system. The new putt-putt boasted 90 horses plus an electrical system and a coffee-grinder radio. Best of all, it had a "start" button so that I wouldn’t have to stand in front of the plane with my body half-turned and ready to bolt should it successfully leap its chocks. No surprise, the new plane wasn’t as elegant as described and the coffee-grinder radio turned out to be mostly for show, but the starter worked, and the next morning I took-off before sun-up. Even so, I didn’t put Texas behind me until the cars below turned on their lights--lights, that on this one of the many yellow brick roads leading me home, made it depressingly clear that only hay wagons and tractors were slower. In the last of the light, I squinted to gratefully spot the runway in Raton, N.M., and I put the putt-putt on the ground with only two or three bounces. So, the most vivid memory I have of Texas is it’s big.

After this adventure I didn’t give much thought to Texas until the last few years when that state became the most newsworthy state in the nation. The second White House there in Crawdad generates a lot of news, of course, but it’s more than that—Texans demand attention. With not a whit of justification they call their football team America’s Team; their tailgate parties get magazine-section treatment ad nauseam; it was their Enron corporation that led to the unveiling of all the corporate scandals; they still own the behemoth Halliburton that, even with all the national gifts we bestow upon it, generates only unsavory news; and finally, topping the list, there’s that latest ethnic minority back there in D.C.—the many Texas powerhouses who run the government as if it’s their fiefdom.

Powerhouse Tom DeLay commands the most attention. The man is a national billboard. The "Hammer," as he likes to be called, makes breaking-news about three times a day with either tales of the pots of gold he collects for his cabal, or lobbying for and conniving to pass anti-environmental and Neanderthal fundamentalist laws. Even without those credits, the Hammer deserves every bonus buck he pockets for his creative voting redistricting that positively-absolutely guarantees that only Republicans are issued tickets to Washington.

There are so many Texans running the country I think it’s time we offer them sovereignty. It wouldn’t be the first Republic of Texas—the first one, back in 1845, became the first sovereign nation in history to voluntarily relinquish its sovereignty to become a part of another nation. There are still die-hards who think that was a big mistake, but it’s a mistake that we ought to be able to rectify for them.

Now that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has successfully mainstreamed the Internet, the time is ripe to hold the First National Internet Vote and move beyond the voting procedures of the 13 colonies. But instead of the same-old-same-old voting for candidates offered by the United Corporations of America, the ballot should offer the option of "redistricting" the states. Let’s vote on which state, severed from the Union, will best contribute to the well-being of the rest. Don’t look for my home state, Nebraska, to be in the running, and even goofed-up California won’t come close. Nope. Texas wins. No contest.

Texas won’t need our sympathy—they’ll market hubris, more abundant there than oil. They already have their Lone Star flag, and they have their own language, too—Texas-speak. The president has so perfectly nailed down Texas-speak we can scarcely remember that Yale-speak used to fit him better than his custom-made cowboy boots.

It won’t be a simple matter to shed Texas. Right off the bat we have to offer sanctuary, or amnesty, or whatever you call it to Ann Richards and Molly Ivins. Those two old lefties will stand out like Al Sharpton in the Mormon Tabernacle choir. Right off the bat, too, some Midland oil mogul needs to send his 747 to D.C. to load-up the Texas power-gang and fly them back to the Republic. Do you think Cheney will ask for a boarding pass?

A big challenge will be to take care of all the major adjustments we 49 remainders have to make. The Republicans are probably going to put a little soft-shoe into their act, and the Democrats are probably going to get a hurry-up petition off to the Wizard of Oz asking him to please restore their courage.

And the biggie, the presidency. If Bush II doesn’t get elected to Term II—no problem. But what if just before the New Republic of Texas becomes official, Bush II claims another dubious election? Then what? As a citizen of the New Republic, he can’t be our president—can he?



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.