The chickens are coming home to roost in the Hays County drug war — at least those chickens that are not too whacked-out to fly. In “Zero Tolerance” (October 29), Nate Blakeslee reported on the shooting of Rusty Windle by Hays County Narcotics Task Force officers attempting to serve him arrest warrants for delivery of about an ounce of marijuana. Windle had been set up by a “confidential informant” (a snitch) named Roy Parrish, an ex-con from the Houston area. As Hays County parents and taxpayers have recently discovered, Parrish threw wild parties (complete with beer and pot) for local youth at his resort cabin in Wimberly — all courtesy of his employer, the Hays County Narcotics Task Force. It gets worse: police records recently obtained by the Observer reveal that Parrish ran into a little legal trouble of his own back in April, during the time he was setting up his new friends on behalf of the Hays County cops. It took his Hays County employer to keep him out of real trouble. At right, Jesse Reklaw illustrates another lowlight in the saga of a snitch and his employer.
Mending Horses and Breaking Hearts
Does your quarter horse seem “barn sour?” Does the trigger action on your Glock .40-caliber get sticky? Have a slipped disc in your back, or a daughter who spends too much time on hers? Tune in to the newest voice on Texas talk radio: Lampasas State Representative Suzanna Hupp. Every weeknight at 8:00, the Legislature’s most eclectic conservative iconette offers Central Texas listeners (according to her KLBJ 590 AM bio) the “voice of experience of a State Legislator, mother, horse breeder, Doctor of Chiropractic, and firearms enthusiast.”
Known statewide for her fiercely pro-gun legislative agenda, Hupp’s on-air persona — when the topic is not the Second Amendment — is surprisingly chummy and informal. Hupp’s show is in the tradition of the nationally syndicated Dr. Laura Schlesinger show — where grateful callers are regularly and harshly chastised for their cupidity and moral turpitude. What Dr. Laura lacks is Hupp’s unique Central Texas flair. Call it horse sense. (If listening to Dr. Laura is like watching buttoned-down British businessmen line up to be spanked, then listening to Dr. Hupp is like being stuck in a school cafeteria during a meeting of well-armed P.T.A. moms.)
On her special Valentine’s Day broadcast, the theme was sex and marriage. Hupp had in hand a University of Michigan study that found a correlation between pre-marital cohabitation (shacking up) and early divorce. “If you’re gonna make it,” Hupp concluded, “you gotta get married before you cohabitate.” Most of her callers turned out to be dedicated fans, with the exception of one man who had been divorced three times and was cohabiting again. “Do yourself a favor, man, oddswise,” Hupp told him. “Go get in front of a preacher and make it real.” Another caller tentatively suggested that although he himself had never cohabitated, his sister had done well to live with a musician (whom she later dumped) rather than marry him right off the bat. “Well, just thank God she didn’t have any children and she didn’t get any diseases,” Hupp concluded. (Actually, the caller never said one way or the other.)
But diseases and babies were on the mind of several of her callers. Which is one reason why girls — “the keepers of the gate,” as Hupp defined them – shouldn’t give it up until they get that ring. But it’s not the only reason; there’s also the sexual economy to consider. As Hupp put it, “Why would you buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” The marriage certificate is what keeps men from running off at the first sign of trouble. “People say, well it’s so easy to get a divorce, but it isn’t really. It takes a little bit of time.” And that short waiting period can keep you from doing something you’ll later regret. (Sounds strangely like the argument underlying the waiting period for handgun purchases.)
“Which is not to say you should just dive into marriage. I’m a firm believer in long engagements, man,” Hupp said. Which raises another question. Suzanna’s hubby bought the cow five years ago, but only, Hupp confided, after four years of dating. Did she “keep the gate” the whole four years? It never came up.
The Bush Beat
As Jim Hightower laments, in an election year the gods don’t provide the candidates. But the candidates we are provided are generally good at least for a few laughs and a little education. As George W. Bush and John McCain — representing the Party of Lincoln — headed South, it was amusing to watch the Republican candidates squirm over the issue of the Confederate battle flag, most notably that flag atop the South Carolina capitol. On different days, McCain pronounced the flag a symbol of hatred, and then of heritage, while the Governor declared himself firmly on both sides of the fence. Then poor George found himself on “Meet the Press,” defending the racialist Bob Jones University – where they abhor miscegenation, Mormons, and the Pope, and where they once described Bush’s father as “the devil.”
“A leader doesn’t shirk,” Bush told “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert. “A leader leads. A leader stands up and sets an agenda, and that’s what I’m going to do.” Asked if that meant he was coming out against the Confederate flag, Bush answered, “My opinion is that the people of South Carolina need to come together and get this issue resolved just like we resolved the issue in the state of Texas.” Hmmmm. Stunned at this good news, Left Field checked our Resolved-Issues-in-Texas File. Nope, the Confederate Flag Issue definitely appears to remain “Open.” Last fall, the state’s N.A.A.C.P. declared its determination to remove plaques honoring the Confederacy and its battle flag from the Texas Supreme Court building, and the organization’s president, Austin attorney Gary Bledsoe, remains adamant. “The Confederate battle flag has no official connection with the state of Texas,” Bledsoe told Left Field. “The Confederate battle flag is a hate symbol, and [in the Supreme Court building] would suggest that our highest courts are dedicated to a small group of people, to the exclusion of many others — particularly African Americans.” The Governor and the state responded that they hope to post “explanations” of the plaques, emphasizing nervously that money to build the Supreme Court building came from the Confederate Widows’ Pension Fund. Bledsoe remains unpersuaded. “The amendment that enabled that funding was repealed,” he said, “and the symbols have been there for forty-five years, long satisfying whatever obligation the state may have had.”
Meanwhile, down the road in Anderson, seat of Grimes County, the Sons of Confederate Veterans hope to erect a statue on the courthouse grounds, honoring the Confederacy — over the objections of local black citizens as well as several state legislators. The county commissioners have yet to request a formal decision from the state Historical Commission, which has jurisdiction over the courthouse. Campaigning recently in Detroit, Bush nervously told a group of black ministers, “I don’t think they ought to have the Confederate, the statue, on the courthouse grounds.” Bledsoe points out that the same objections apply, from county courthouse to the state courthouse. “A courthouse is where people go presumably to get justice,” he said. Raising the Confederate flag there, he added, is “like a ‘Buyer Beware!’ sign, a warning sign: ‘Minorities, seek justice at your own risk.’… It sends a chilling signal, that minorities cannot get justice inside the confines of that building.”
Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry, helpful as usual, threw up his hands and said, “like it or not, the Confederacy is part of our history.” “Heritage Not Hatred” is the bumper-sticker argument of the neo-Confederates. But just what is the “heritage” being celebrated by the flagraisers? Consider one of several similar passages from the Texas Ordinance of Secession, dated February 2, 1861: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”
“People say they were fighting for states’ rights,” said Gary Bledsoe, “But the Civil War was clearly fought over the right to enslave people with black skins.” It’s a history lesson worth recalling as the campaign begins its Deep Southern Swing.