Page 14


Now let us praise the Dirty Thirty Austin Evidently the Legislature has been getting the people’s message to them. It has been a little hard to make out, because naturally one listens for the words and it turns out to be a raspberry in a high wind. I guess they first started to make it out after laughing themselves into a terror over the session’s funniest image, Preston Smith on a white horse. The Dirty Thirty called on the governor and asked him to veto the tax bill, especially objecting to the two-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax increase. When Smith said he’d veto the bill, the legislators, especially the quick-with-a-quip senators, nearly fell off their own horses in stitches. Ben Barnes and Gus Mutscher sniffed a lot and snorted some but then started snuffling. What’s this? . a noise from the people? Everybody galloped for. the gate, and the gasoline tax increase was instantly repealed. There is no doubt in my mind that Smith, by this one stroke, scored more deeply with the voters than any governor has on a single legislative issue in the last 25 years. Then there were the returns from the May 18 election, the defeat of most of the august Legislature’s proposed constitutional amendments, especially that insulting combination of a phony ethics commission with the legislative pay raise. From the returns of that election it became clear that the people had concluded that the only thing to do about this Legislature is take a good, stiff drink. THE RASPBERRY the legislators are hearing accounts for the belated desertions from Mutscher’s sinking ship. These are anything but admirable. They are judicious, but they are not admirable. Most of the members casting off now have been presumably hypocritical members of Mutscher’s Mob all session. They have been voting against the reforms and protests of the Dirty Thirty. They have given themselves and their influence to a speaker of the House whose rotten use of his power has been one of the worst spectacles I have ever seen in the Legislature. Now that they have nothing to lose except re-election, they cut loose and say, in effect, “the only reason I stayed was because if I hadn’t of, the captain would have had me flogged.” They should have joined the Dirty Thirty in flogging the captain! There will be no simpler test among the voters at next year’s elections than whether a member of the House is pledged to Mutscher for speaker. They may not distinguish between those who voted for, and those who voted against, raising the sales tax to 4% and taxing gasoline, for which we are being systematically gouged at the filling stations. They may not be Observations able to find out who was actually for a full-disclosure “ethics” bill and who was trying to kill it. But they know, if they know anything, that Mutscher was no good. Some of the people, anyway, feel this deeply. Strangers say things in shops about this Legislature and about Mutscher. The people are shocked as they have not been, over a Texas scandal, since veterans’ land. Nor have they missed the general import of the main facts about the session: The tax bill was used to buy the politicians election money from the lobbyists. The other two major programs, appropriations and redistricting, were prostituted to petty vengeance. The insults to the public’s intelligence were so numerous, so contemptuous and so insolent, they can scarcely be believed. It is reported that Mutscher is going to campaign state-wide against his critics, hitting them with all the big-lobby propaganda he can, and that is serious. But it is also true that if you’re pledged to Mutscher you are in trouble with an undetermined but large segment of the voters. BACK JUST before World War II, along in those years, Pappy O’Daniel tried to pass a sales tax, and 56 members held out and killed it. They we still remember as the “Immortal 56.” After the war there was “the Gas House Gang,” a crew of hardy liberals who fought to tax the natural gas pipelines. Jim Sewell, D. B. Hardeman and George Nokes were among them. Now we have “the Dirty Thirty.” Frances Farenthold, Lane Denton, Tom Moore, Dick Reed, Tom Bass, Dave Allred, Paul Moreno, Curtis Graves, John Hannah, Bill Bass, Ed Harris, Zan Holmes, Nick Nichols, Rex Braun, John Bigham, Lindsey Rodriguez, Ben Grant, Walter Mengden, Carlos Truan, Charles Patterson, Bob Gammage . well, you name them. They weren’t dirty, they fought very clean and very hard against the dirty leaders. There weren’t thirty, their numbers ranged from a dozen to maybe 50. They take their place in the popular memory and affection with the Immortal 56 and the Gas House Gang because they saved this Legislature from total disgrace. The Senate liberals might have done it, but when they let the Senate canonize Calley and then the Senate caved in to the business lobby and Barnes on the corporate profits tax, the plumes on their chargers fell off. The Dirty Thirty held fast and they paid very high prices personally. That is what the people who were watching were looking for somebody who would do that. That is why the Dirty Thrity, and only they, in this Legislature, have the moral standing with the people to organize as they have done and speak together on cleaning up the corrupt system of legislative power and “Throwing the Rascals Out.” Meanwhile, Ben Barnes prepares to run for either this or that, congressmen and labor run around cutting deals, the lobbyists shell out commitments and dough, Nixon Cheerleader Connally and Johnson Cheerleader Johnson strike up the band, and they all go to singing, “Texas Fight, Texas Fight St0000pppp Yarborough!!” It’s sickening. This is the kind of cynical, “You go first, I’ll be along with the money bags” politics that has been ruining the United States. If we haven’t had our stomachful of it in Texas, if we do not insist on and help to create an actual alternative to it at once, we are simply not worth a damn. R.D. June 18, 1971 19 Call PICK, Before You Pack FOR SAN ANTONIO 1 Enjoy real money-saving I value, and relax at the 1 ALB E ILT 1 MOTEL 96 N.E. Loop Expressway I Adjacent to San Antonio 1 International Airport Color TV in every room Restaurant & Lounge Heated Pool Family Plan Free Parking ALL AT MODERATE RATES RESERVATIONS: CALL TOLL FREE American Express Space Bank 800 -AE 8-5000 410 IS INN OM NM MN MN NM IIMI DO MI