Too Dumb to Legislate?

I don't know much about John Whitmire, Democratic state senator from Houston (though not my state senator). I'm new in town, I'm still getting to know who all these folks are. But here's what I do know:

When the Democrats were trying to block the GOP/Tom Delay "let's get rid of everybody we don't like" gerrymandering plan last year, Whitmire apparently undid the effort - after the Dems all left the state to keep the legislature from reaching quorum (things really are more colorful in Texas) Whitmire is the one who snuck back from New Mexico.

A week or so ago, when everyone was screaming at the mayor's "safe clear" plan that gets you towed off a freeway if your car breaks down, Whitmire joined the chorus, adding that he would get the legislature involved. Right or wrong on the program's issues, I really hate when states or the feds decide to push cities around. The mayor moved pretty rapidly to address the issues, but Whitmire has just continued to grandstand.

Today, there was a story in the Chronicle about a proposal to report students' body mass index (BMI) on their report cards: - Lawmaker wants body fat measure on report card. I have mixed feelings about the idea, but the thinking is that many parents don't seem to realize that their kids are overweight, so the thought is to remind them.

Prize quote from Whitmire: ""It sounds like too much government to me. Schoolteachers have many more critical matters to put on a report card, instead of a ... What does BMI stand for?"

Is this man a complete moron? There are times when the government is being intrusive, but 99% of the time a legislator in Texas utters the words "too much government," it usually means, "but the people donating to my campaign need their free ride." Just using the phrase is a big warning: SOMEONE'S NOT THINKING TOO HARD. It's like saying "PC." It's shorthand for nothingness.

But what follows - "what does BMI stand for?" Now that's how you present yourself as making an intelligent comment in a discussion: "Huh? What are we talking about?"

I don't know much about John Whitmire but as I learn more I find myself thinking the man's a total putz.

(And speaking of putzes, you won't believe the trouble I had getting that link. I read the story in the paper edition of the Chronicle, so I went to find it on their web site. Now, the web site is so horrible that it makes the graphic-design-train-wreck of a newspaper look good. And their search tool - which simply does not work in many browsers, although when I told them that, the web team wrote back to tell me I was wrong, it did work! I was imagining that nothing was happening when I clicked the search button! - of course doesn't help. I have no idea how one might come across that article by actually visiting their web site - I finally had to use Google News.

How does the fourth-largest city in the US have a paper as shitty as the Houston Chronicle? Yes, I know there are some good individual writers there, and now and then they shock me by doing actual reporting, like this week's air quality series, but mostly I'm just horrified that this is the lone daily paper in Houston.)

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