To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, June 24, 2024


The Republics Of Jackassia



VernTurnerThe older I get the more I remember my past. I remember my great high school education even though I wasn’t a great student. Then, we didn’t have high stakes, state sponsored tests that were directed at teachers and their unions.

The curriculum was challenging, but our teachers, being respected members of the community, taught us how to learn the material and coached us with expert lessons. It we failed it was our fault, not the teacher’s. My high school science courses were so good that over 50% of my freshman college science courses were like reruns of a good show.

Today, I see, freshman years spent bringing incoming students up to speed for information and knowledge that I’d already had from my junior and senior years in high school. This is a sign of infrastructure decay.

Today’s children are perhaps better prepared socially than I was back in the day, but they’re way behind in real skills and information regarding the basics of communication, mathematics and science. When I taught today’s kids these skills they thought I’d opened the door to paradise.

There are, of course, pockets of excellent education around the country where the schools and districts have ignored the stupid requirements of No Child Left Behind and just taught a good solid curriculum. Somehow the communities eschewed the idiotic politics and found the money to actually do the right thing by their children. I’ll venture that there are even some of these pockets in North and South Jackassia.

These two states are more familiarly known as Oklahoma and Texas, respectively. But Jackassia seems to better describe the politics in these states and who they send to Congress, the White House, their governor’s mansions and their state houses. Sending true jackasses like Inhofe, Coburn, Cornyn and Cruz to the U.S. Senate means that there’s something in the water that destroys brain cells when it’s time to vote.

Texas, being larger than Oklahoma, has the ability to send even more jackasses to Congress with the likes of Louis Ghomert, Ron Paul, Lamar Smith and Steve Stockman. The latter invited the rock star of doofuss, Ted Nugent, to the State of the Union speech. The angels wept when Ted was seated next to a prominent gay rights activist. Perfect.

Who can forget perhaps the all-time jackass, George W. Bush, the man who almost wrecked the world?

Back in the day, the states and the Federal government ran prisons. Today, around 20% of the prisons are operated FOR the states by private contractors … who make a profit off how many beds are filled with egregious criminals.

The U.S. now leads the world in per capita incarceration by a huge margin. Over 50% of the incarcerated are there for non-violent crimes – mostly drug related. Additionally, over 75% of those incarcerated are functionally illiterate.

Add to that the demographic disproportion of African-American/Hispanic inmates overwhelming the white prison population. The demographics that are the poorest, socio-economically, track this ratio, completing the correlation.

It’s the poverty, stupid!

Now, we want to make profit off of our gangsters, murderers and drug dealers. But doesn’t profit motive also invite corruption?

In 2009 a Pennsylvania judge was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering when he accepted millions of dollars from his juvenile detention center-owning friends for sending kids there for extended sentences. There have been other such scandals and the temptation to incarcerate longer and more often remains as profit drives privately operated prisons.

Is this another brick falling out of our national wall?

The recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965 shivers my timbers. Instead of considering applying Section 5, the federal oversight of election management in 12 states, to all 50 states we have one justice [who should be a resident of Jackassia] suggesting that the oversight should no longer be a legislative issue that perpetuates “racial entitlement.”

He must figure that we’re all good boys and girls that have no desire to mess with the voting rights of certain groups. I guess he hasn’t read the papers about the voting shenanigans in non-Southern states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Florida tried to fiddle voting rights, too, but stopped even though it is a Southern state, but not covered by Section 5.

Does anyone out there think racism is dead? How about the resurrection of Jim Crow? Not one single county in Oklahoma voted in the majority for President Obama in the last election even though the rest of the country voted over 50% to re-elect him. In the rural counties of Texas the voting plurality was almost 90% red.

Racial Jackassia speaks.

Would I have imagined, back in the day, that my Congress would actually do something that could destroy the government? No, but they did it anyway.

The one-way street of sequester is that thing that provides a springboard for the minority party in the Senate and the majority party in the House to create economic hardship on their own constituencies so they can get their way of killing the legislative process and the concept of a Republic.

The Tea Party, the founders of Jackassia, has intimidated the feeble-minded Republican Party “leadership” such that it sounds like the doomsday machine of representative democracy.

Next, is the government shutdown saga of Mar. 27. Will the Republican Party direct their slaves of Wall Street to burn the house down and destroy our government, or will they come to their senses and realize that there are 310 million Americans out there trying to live good lives?

This is probably my last decade of life in the USA. It’s been a good life. My country has struggled through many crises of many types, but always come out of them with an improved society.

I’m not so sure this time.

There is too much money in the wrong places doing the wrong things to the wrong people.

Can We the People fix it in time? If not, I’m really glad I’m old.

Vern Turner is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. He lives in Marble Falls, TX, where he writes a regular column for the River Cities Daily Tribune. He is the author of three books – A Worm in the Apple: The Inside Story of Public Schools, The Voters Guide to National Salvation and Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status –all available through


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  1. Thank you, Excellent story. Entertaining. Sad, so very sad, yet even more so due to it’s understated truth. Stumbbled in to the article. Plan to try and read more of your stuff.

    No other comments??? Seems odd?!
    I suppose a literacy joke is out of line?

    Moving on if I may:

    FFPP= Federal For Profit Prisions
    An additional leg or two regarding the FFPP: I am sure you already know.
    Fed prisioners required to work (ok I guess why not?).
    FFPP are becoming factories, which employee required to work prisioners at $1 per hr. +-
    Immigration violators 1st time offense 6mos min, second time 6years min…etc. Not certian of 100% accuracy on min times. Nonviolent offenders (most violent ones go to non-profit prisions) coming in to U.S. to work (get to work now, right?). Plus the FFPP’s get paid to house these prisioners $50 +- a day, in buildings built with tax dollars.
    These factories compete…under-cut… U.S. companies with no such benifits. Most contracts with U.S. gov agencies. There fore cost, cost plus pricing… tax breaks and so on & on.
    Not a bad deal all-in-all for the 4+0 companies that own FFPP’s and the Congress people they own…
    If you wrote this as a Sci-Fyi short story 30 years ago it would have been dismissed as way to far fetched to be remotely credible… even for Sci Fyi.
    Good Luck to you, I suppose good luck to us all eh???.

  2. When I graduated high school here in Oklahoma the teachers from the school had told many of us next year that the student will have to pass 7 subjects before having to graduate and get a diploma. In 2010 high school students only had to pass 3 courses. Where does that leave the graduates of 2010 and past graduates?? We’re we failed as well?? Where are we going to end up?? Who knows maybe the Texas and Oklahoma government people had the same problem… I guess that would make me an airhead as well….

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.