When You Lie Down With Dogs

No one was happier than I was when Hank Gilbert entered the Democratic Primary for the gubernatorial nomination. Tom Schieffer, the semi-official candidate of what passes for the Texas Democratic Establishment, struck me as possessing all the charisma of Chris Bell taking a nap, making very real the awful prospect of getting stuck with D-List buffoon Kinky Friedman as our nominee and an automatic four more years of Governor For Life Goodhair. At last we had a guy who really seemed up to the job of kicking Rick Perry’s sorry ass down Congress Avenue.
So I suppressed my initial cynical thought “I guess Ag Commish wasn’t really the only job he wanted after all”, applauded instead, even made a donation that I really couldn’t afford. But… what should land in my inbox a few days ago but this fascinating communique…


TUESDAY: Hank Gilbert, TURF, and American Stewards Of Liberty Officials will be available via conference call to discuss the “death” of the Trans Texas Corridor and potential taxpayer liability

TYLER-Hank Gilbert will be available, along with leaders from Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) and American Stewards of Liberty (formerly the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range) to discuss the demise of TTC-35 and potential taxpayer liability related to the state’s contract termination with Cintra-Zachry.

WHO: Hank Gilbert, Democratic Candidate for Governor of Texas; Dan and Margaret Byfield, American Stewards of Liberty (formerly the American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range); Terri Hall, Texans Uniting For Reform and Freedom (TURF) [NOTE: Mrs. Hall’s availability is subject to change]

WHAT: Phone-in Press Conference, Media Q&A Session

WHEN: Wednesday, October 7, 2009, 12:00 P.M. CST

HOW: Participants must dial into the conference call as follows:


Now, for a lot of people, Hank Gilbert included, the Trans Texas Corridor has been a Great Satan. Me, not so much. Oh, to be sure, I figured that anything the governor wanted so bad probably couldn’t be good thing. But I just never really bought into the menace of a concrete Gargantua, sixteen football fields wide straight as an arrow from the Gulf of California to wherever the hell it supposed to be going; Rick Perry as the unholy spawn of Ozymandias and William Tecumseh Sherman, not so much. I figured that the TTC, like fluoride in the water, like broccoli, might turn out to not be quite as horrible as predicted. And who knows, it might not even really happen.
Well, who would have guessed it, the TTC was pronounced dead last week. Which you’d think would be Good News except apparently it’s bad news if a big part of your message has been fighting the TTC… kind of like how all the professional anticommunists who had flourished under Reagan weren’t all that happy about having to find new gigs after the Evil Empire landed in History’s Out Box. So Hank Gilbert is one of those proclaiming the project as The Thing That Wouldn’t Die. Fine, that’s his opinion, he can argue his case as he sees it. But his cohorts mentioned in the press advisory, I have to ask: Who ARE those guys?
The website of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (that’s TURF for those who can stomach cutesy acronyms) identifies it as a grassroots group. Of course, these days that’s a claim made by just about everyone smaller than Microsoft. Maybe a clearer picture of just who TURF is can be found by visiting their links page. It’s certainly no surprise to find the libertarian/paulite Texas Toll Party front group, together with its local cells. A little bit more on the crazy side is the NAU War Room, “leading the fight” against that bĂȘte noire of the black helicopter crowd, the North American Union. If you’ve never heard of it, they have a video of Tom Tancredo who will edjumacate you all about it. And then there’s Habeas Corpus Canada the lonely project of an activist who “is preparing legal proceedings in Habeas Corpus to halt the annexation of Canada to the United States.” (Anybody got Orly Taitz’s cell number?}
The American Stewards Of Liberty is a little harder to pin down, since it’s a merger of two groups and they haven’t finished construction on their new website. But we can get a taste from their “news service” Liberty Matters, which proclaims…

One of the most critical elements of the Liberty Matters project, however, is its strong affiliation with major think-tanks such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. While these groups already compile and provide sound, credible public policy solutions and very effectively influence lawmakers and the major media, often these ideas do not reach the grassroots until the political opportunities have passed. As a result, these ideas do not get the kind of push and backing that only the grassroots can provide.

In November 1994, the grassroots clearly demonstrated their political power by overloading the Capitol Switchboard more than once. The result was the shelving of every major piece of environmental legislation by the attachment of property rights amendments. By combining and coordinating the political strength of think-tanks and the grassroots on these issues, the political direction of this country will change.

I expect that most readers of this blog need no introduction to the Heritage Foundation. The Competitive Enterprise Institute isn’t as well known, in spite of actions like its campaign against the threat to civilization posed by World Car-Free Day.
A few months ago Rick Perry came in for his share of criticism for speaking to the motley collection of tea baggers, birthers, and unaffiliated nuts at the Fox News-inspired Austin Tea Party. Texans should expect better of their political leaders than associating themselves with the crackpots and astroturfers of the lunatic fringe. And that holds true even if you’re a Democrat.

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