SocraticGadfly: Smokey Joe Barton — GONE

November 30, 2017

Smokey Joe Barton — GONE

Well, not until January 2019, as he will serve out his current term, but he Ennis Congresscritter has announced he won't run for re-election in light of his sexting scandal.

Leave it to the Dallas Morning Snooze to try one last time to normalize Barton. Todd Gilman claims that, outside the current sexting scandal, nobody would say that Barton was less than "honorable"?

Really, Todd?

Snooze nemesis Jim Schutze earlier this week reported on Barton's nepotism and shakedown work. He also refudiated the Snooze's attempt to portray Barton as having little Religious Right connection, as it just did again today.

Barton is a flamboyantly self-professed champion of something called Republican family values, and he is an arch-foe of LGBT rights.
And, maybe he wasn't as flamboyant as a Gohmert Pyle, aka Louie Gohmert, but he mentioned it enough. And Jim's got the details:
In his career in Congress, Barton has voted against any federal family planning assistance that includes abortion. He has voted to ban all federal health coverage that includes coverage for abortion. He has voted in favor of a ban on transporting minors to get abortions. He has voted in favor of a ban on partial-birth abortions. 
Barton has voted to exclude all funding for family planning from U.S. foreign aid. He has voted yes to make it a crime to harm a fetus during commission of another crime. 
Barton has voted to ban gay adoptions in Washington, D.C. He has voted in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. He has voted in favor of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. He has voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. He has voted against including anti-gay crimes under federal hate-crimes protection. 
Closer to home, in 2005, Barton created the Joe Barton Family Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit with a stated goal of providing “substantial support to select charitable organizations within Texas’s sixth congressional district to enable them to achieve aggressive goals that would have been otherwise unattainable.” He announced right off that he would use his foundation to provide almost a million dollars to a local Boys and Girls Club and a local Meals on Wheels program.

Rod Dreher, Mr. former Snooze homophobe columnist, also refudiates the Snooze's fake narrative attempt. As part of that, he notes that Barton repeatedly ran for office on "conservative family values." Dreher also rejects the idea of a Snooze editorial that this was just "poor judgment."

Back to Schutze's piece.

Jim goes on — go read it — about how much of the money for the foundation wasn't donated by him, or friends, but "friends" in the oil and gas big biz world. (More on that from the Washington Post; it triggered an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation.)

Barton also took a Religious Right stance on climate change:
He opposed wind energy on biblical grounds, warning, “Wind is God’s way of balancing heat.” Wind turbines, Barton said, “would slow the winds down” and increase global warming. He once barked at congressional colleague Nancy Pelosi, “You can’t regulate God!” which is probably true.
You can't make this stuff up, and Snooze folks, you can't make it go away, either.

And, it doesn't stop there. Wiki notes, as referenced as an aside by Schutze, the nepotism angle. Smokey Joe's daughter-in-law was the executive director of his foundation, also noted by the WaPost. Wiki also notes that his then-wife and daughter got paid for campaign work. And the New York Times, on the foundation nepotism, had him listed among top Congresscritter grifters.

He threw autistic kids under the bus in the name of Big Oil. He was well known as a witness-bullier during Congressional hearings.

Also per Wiki, Barton had been primaried the last three elections. Guess more and more fellow Republicans found him less than "honorable," Todd.

Meanwhile, I remember well how Smokey Joe got the Snooze to fire Jim Frisinger and Timothy O'Leary off its op-ed staff because of their environmental editorials about things like Midlothian cement plants. Folks like Downwinders at Risk remember, too. And Todd Gilman knows that too.

And, as far as less than honorable?

Buying gas wells from a lobbyist surely counts. Hell, Gilman's own paper reported that.

As does using Katrina aid funds to cut a blank check for Big Oil.

That's all from my blog, but I had plenty of opportunity to see Barton professionally during most the previous decade. I was, long ago, less impressed with his honor than is Gilman.


Speaking of the infamous firings, both Frisinger and O'Leary have moved on from their original landing spots. Frisinger, who went to the op-ed desk at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is now the Fort Worth district spox for the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has gotten a shade greener than it was a decade ago, but that's still less environmentalist than his stance long ago.

O'Leary went to the UN in Geneva. Can't remember what agency he went to. He's now a freelance journo in the Philippines; I tweeted him to ask if he wanted to comment at all.


There is a sidebar to this. With its changing reader demographics and other things, maybe the Snooze's ongoing attempt to normalize Smokey Joe will push it further over whatever fiscal cliff lies ahead. There's been ever more speculation about a JOA with the Fort Worth Startlegram looming in the future. The ST at least has the corporate backing and strength of the McClatchy chain, while after selling the Denton Wrecked Times, all the Snooze has left in the Belo hut is itself, Al Dia, and its "vaunted" digital marketing shop. The fact that Voice Media still keeps the Observer operating in print as well as online, and with regular staffers, even as it has gutted the Houston Press and LA Weekly, probably is another sign of Snooze market weakness.

And, yes, this does look like a coordinated attempt to normalize Smokey Joe. Whether it comes from the relatively new (but not THAT new) executive editor and managing editor, or whether it's staff oldsters like Todd selling coals to Newcastle, I don't know, but it's there.

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