Ted Cruz is an embarrassment to Texas

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New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher tells CNN's Anderson Cooper that despite Sen. Ted Cruz claiming he traveled to Cancun, Mexico, to drop his children off for a vacation, the text messages his wife, Heidi Cruz, sent to neighbors and friends before the trip reveal otherwise.

Posted: Feb 19, 2021 4:30 PM
Updated: Feb 19, 2021 4:30 PM

Two images that have been circulating on social media capture the culture and government of Texas to a T.

One is a drone video showing Stateline Boulevard, the border road that divides the two cities of Texarkana, in Texas and Arkansas. On the Arkansas side, the pavement is cleared and plowed. The Texas roadbed is buried in snow.

The other image is that of Ted Cruz, Texas' Republican junior senator, traveling to Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday, while millions of his constituents were freezing at home, many without power, water or food.

What's the matter with Texas?

I have long insisted that a kind of frontier ethic still informs life down here in the Lone Star State. The old American myth of rugged individualism and self-reliance and neighbors helping neighbors. But that doesn't explain our overwhelming distaste for government.

Almost every conservative Texas politician elected in the modern era has won by running against perceived evils in Washington and Austin. The most successful of these anti-government outsiders have settled into long careers on the public payroll, with great government benefits like health care and pensions, which the regular citizens they serve have increasingly found difficult to acquire.

Texas's attitude toward government has become deadly.

The winter storm that was too much for Cruz offers a clear example of the tragedies that can accompany policies that are too conservative to make sense, but calculated enough to make some people money.

Texas fancied itself as independent from the rest of the Union, so it built an electrical grid all its own. The entire purpose seemed to be avoiding federal regulation and keeping energy cheap. Washington would have no say about what we Texans did regarding fuel prices and service delivery. Nor would we stoop to buying or borrowing power from the rest of the country.

The real reason, of course, was profits for energy companies. Supply and demand are easier to manipulate when there are no federal laws protecting consumers and the grid. The energy industry was able to ignore warnings about winterizing its natural gas, coal, and oil-powered infrastructure. We're Texas. We don't have those problems.

Until we do. Which is just another manifestation of anti-government, fossil-fuel-fixated conservatism that denies climate change.

The Texas grid, operated by the ironically named Electric Reliability Council of Texas, (ERCOT) collapsed because it was not designed or equipped to handle extreme weather like the current deep freeze. ERCOT supplies about 90% of the state's power, but does not pay plants to be on standby for emergencies, which means electricity prices can dramatically spike during peak demand.

Our governor, Greg Abbott spread a profound lie on conservative television that frozen windmills and solar caused the power failures that left millions freezing in the dark. He blamed the Green New Deal, which does not presently exist. He failed to note that renewables make up barely more than 10% of the state's total energy supply.

Abbott's predecessor, Rick Perry, suggested that Texans would rather suffer days of blackouts than submit to Washington's oversight. He said this even as people were freezing to death in their cars and homes; at least 21 people have died. Perhaps, their final thoughts were that they were grateful to Texas for the state's superior energy independence.

In Texas, we have learned never to expect much more than entertainment from our government and politicians. In that department, we are as grand as our legend. Last August, Cruz boldly mocked California's electricity problems during their heatwave and fires, tweeting that the state was "unable to perform even the basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity."

More hilariously, Cruz ridiculed the Austin mayor for flying to a Mexican beach during Covid after urging his city's residents to stay home.

Senator Sensitive will be performing his comedy act for at least four more years.

But Ted Cruz, as Texan Jimmie Dale Gilmore sings, is "just a wave, not the water." The state's governmental infrastructure is over-populated with people who brag about a pay-as-you go government while avoiding political criticism by hiding taxes in bonded indebtedness approaching $60 billion.

The state's gas tax has not been raised since 1991, and consequently road construction is being increasingly privatized and monetized for corporations that charge onerous tolls for profit.

To constrain Washington's reach in Texas, the past two governors have refused to expand Medicaid, which leaves about 5 million residents without health insurance, including an estimated 625,000 children.

And because conservatives have an aversion to an income tax, they have made Texas over-reliant on property taxes, unless, of course, you are a corporate interest looking for a handout or huge tax abatements.

We Texans ought to be embarrassed. But Cruz has shown how our state's conservatives avoid embarrassment by being slippery and disingenuous. Caught out at the airport -- taking vacation in the midst of a pandemic and energy crisis in his home state -- Cruz later admitted to a mistake in judgment. But not before he tossed his own daughters under the wheels of the plane.

The father of the year said he wasn't abandoning his state during a deadly emergency, he was lovingly protecting his girls by escorting them to Cancun to make sure they were safe.

The people he left freezing in Texas were not.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 72°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Canadian high pressure will continue to build into our area over the next few days. This will bring into our area some of the coolest air of the season so far. Some folks will see overnight lows down into the middle to upper 40s.
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WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather