This West, Texas Political Cartoon Has Governor Rick Perry "Disgusted," "Disappointed"

Categories: Politics

westcartoon.gif
via
"I am pretty sure I am not a sick human being," California comic artist Jack Ohman wrote on his blog this week. But some folks in Texas, including the governor, are pretty sure he is.

Ohman published the above comic this week in the Sacramento Bee, the daily newspaper in the state's capitol. It was, he said, "about Gov. Rick Perry's marketing of Texas' loose regulations, juxtaposed with the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas."

Perry, and a lot of Ohman's readers, found it disrespectful to the 14 people who died that explosion. The governor said so in a letter to the paper's editors.

From the AP:

"While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won't stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans," Perry wrote. "Additionally, publishing this on the very day our state and nation paused to honor and mourn those who died only compounds the pain and suffering of the many Texans who lost family and friends in this disaster."

Ohman had already responded to his critics on his blog, writing:

The question is whether it is tasteless or not.

My answer, respectfully, is that it isn't. ...

Should I have used the explosion as a vehicle to illustrate my point? I did. I stand by it. Here's why: Many readers said things along the lines of, "Would you have portrayed the severed limbs created by the Boston bomber to make a political point?" Hmm. No. I would not. But I have drawn a faceless Iraq war veteran, wrapped in bandages, wanting to know who had to invade Iraq to save face.

Yes, I got the same kind of reaction.

"Tasteless."

But you know something? I would draw that cartoon again. Wouldn't even think twice about it.


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72 comments
Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

So Rick Perry only likes thumping the Constitution when it suits his needs? Shocker. 

Is it in poor taste? Yes, in my opinion, but I also see the point of it. Which is indeed the point. And perhaps Perry can just be consistent with his trumpeting of our rights and mention the First Amendment, then shut up and do something to really help West and prevent it from happening again.

barnes.ann
barnes.ann

I think he's standing up for the poor victims, no, it won't bring them back, but questioning our governments lack of protecting their citizens might save someone's life in the future.  QUESTION AUTHORITY!

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Personally, I find the cartoon to be in poor taste, although relevant.  I would not have drawn (even if I did have artistic talent, which I dont), I would not have submitted it, nor would I have approved it for printing were I the editor.  Obviously, this humorist and his editor felt differently.

For the victims' families in West, there can be no more outrage, only overwhelming grief.  Knowing what caused the blast won't bring anyone back to life.  Hurling invectives at Gov. Perry won't ease the pain of losing a husband, father, wife, mother or child.  For the people of West, the tragedy is beyond the reach of politics, journalism or satire.

With regards to the plant explosion, I hope answers are found soon, so future events can be avoided.  With regards to the cartoon, I wish the good governor had simply let it slide, we might never even have known it existed if he had.  One more instance of foolish bravado in a long line of them from Gov. Perry.

John1073
John1073

Perry ought to be worried more about the lack of proper regulation in his state and the overwhelming public disappointment in him, than worrying about how a cartoon makes him look.

ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Sucks when the shoes on the other foot doesn't it Good Hair...We need to boot this guy and anyone related to his policies this next election cycle..2014 cannot come soon enough

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Look at the information coming out about the McClennan county e.erg preparedness dept. A joke. So that makes the cartoon spot on.

ruddski
ruddski

A cartoon of the Boston/Obama/business booming would be equally tasteless, especially since Obama's boys dropped the ball just like Behghazi resulting in dead Americans.

But Perry is a right wing idiot, so there is no "tasteless" in condemning him, even if there is no logical connection.

keithdylan
keithdylan

I guess he was being respectful of the dead when he saw fit to come out soon after to let everybody know that more regulation and oversight would not have prevented the tragedy.  "Nothing to see here, not my fault....."

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I hope voters will remember that Bill Flores, republican representative for the district including West, chose to take a trip to Afghanistan after the blast.  It took him a week to finally show up... in Waco.  OOPS showed up after two days and immediately ran away from responsibility by saying Texas did all it could to prevent such a disaster.  Cruz and Cornyn, who voted against aid for Sandy victims, immediately called for federal aid.

The republicans are getting away with murder in Texas, and are making Texans look stupider and stupider in the eyes of the world.

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

Nothing bad ever happens in California. The government has made sure of it. You will all be perfectly safe if you move there. 

txsouthpaw
txsouthpaw

I'm offended by the constant flow of all out bigotry, mysogyny, and homophobia that oozes from the G.O.P. on a daily basis. They never seem to apologize. In fact, they simply double down. We have a meat puppet for a governor. What a disgrace.

txsouthpaw
txsouthpaw

Why is it that the left is always shamed for questioning policy after disasters such as this? How dare we question Pretty Dick's policies of industry coziness, appointing hacks for regulatory bodies, and total disdain for science? We could offend someone. How dare we question the justification of the war in Iraq? We might offend someone's patriotic sensibilities. I'm sick of all the flag waiving hysterical fear mongering and hyper emotional responses to tragedies like this. This is done for the purposes of obfuscating bad policy and egregious profiteering.

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

The explosion was at a facility that STORED ammonium nitrate. The facility did not manufacture the product. The cartoonist's  blog unfortunately fails to mention this inconvenient truth. The ProPublica article that the cartoonist links to goes one step further into actual reader manipulation by implying the dangers should have been known due to previous ammonium nitrate MANUFACTURING facility explosions.

The incident has prompted regulators across ALL STATES to reconsider regulation on facilities such as the one in West.

"

"We have a major black eye here. Under normal circumstances, can this happen at a location? The answer is 'no,'" said Steil, whose Regulatory Management and Consulting company works with 60 fertilizer companies in seven states to comply with federal laws.

"There had to be something else in that building that caused the explosion."

Some sort of human error, and not terrorism, is suspected.

It was a new type of site for such an explosion, said Steil, who has been in the business more than four decades and did safety work several years ago at the plant in West.

Previous fatal accidents involving ammonium nitrate have occurred at factories or during transportation, not at a warehouse.

"

http://omaha.agnet.net/85/nws/8856

That being said, it is uncertain whether existing regulation by any government organization would have prevented the explosion. 

Additionlly, ammonium nitrate safety regulation is mainly implemented at a federal level by OSHA.

Also, it is uncertain that Texas small town zoning laws in general are different than other states' small town patchwork of zoning laws, which are usually implemented at local levels.

So the cartoon was based upon a general implication that looser regulations in Texas caused the accident, which seems genuinely distasteful in light of the lack of support related to the specific facts involved.

Governor OOPS suggestion of 'helpful policy debate' would provide more benefit than the depiction of recent blast victims for speculative political purposes.

jswerve386
jswerve386

And after finding out that reports had been doctored, inspections had been missed or glossed over, local politicians sited schools and nursing homes in the blast zone, violations had been repeatedly found, public servants failed to do their jobs....

Rick Perry goes after a cartoonist. ---- THIS is why no one takes you reactionary teabaggers seriously. Youre reactionary outrage EVERYTAIME you perceive a slight has become laughable. 

Sandra Scarborough
Sandra Scarborough

And Justin, less regulation caused this. I eagerly wait your thorough report.

Sandra Scarborough
Sandra Scarborough

Has there been anything final on the investigation Linda? Do you know why this happened? Lax safety checks or just an accident. The cartoons are in poor taste.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

Aha! It's funny because he says BOOMING which is like the sound that the bomb made when it killed 70+ people and ruined many people's lives. That's a really good pun!


I think this guy should deliver this hilarious comic to the victims of the tragedy and see how they react. Hey Billy, check out this comic! Don't you hate Rick Perry for causing your dad to die? Isn't it funny that he says BOOMING?! Because that's the sound...

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

You know what's disrespectful to the victims? A Governor and Lege that cuts regulations, defunds inspections, and takes bribes, er, campaign contributions from businesses that kill their employees and other innocent people.

Bobtex
Bobtex

You want comedy--watch the Dallas County Commissioners Court meetings.  Rick Perry long ago crossed the line into tragedy with his policies that hurt the sick, the poor, the hungry, the uneducated--just to name some of his victim groups.  Whether better regulatory oversight could have prevented the tragedy or mitigated its consequentces won't be determined until the proximate cause of the explosion, but that very question is certainly a central one.

The victims of West are not being mocked--they are being pitied, especially if their deaths and injuries and economic losses could have been prevented.  The arrogance of Rick Perry's statements that all is well in Texas governance is what mocks the victims of West.

I have not yet read that Religious Rick has proclaimed the West tragedy to be God's will, but I won't be surprised when I do.  Using God as a scapegoat is typical Rick.  Wait for it.

John1073
John1073

There is no logical connection in these 2 cases. One is a lack of government oversight, regulation, etc. The other is an opinion of whether or not you arrest innocent citizens before they commit a crime if you have no evidence against them. The latter was preventable. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Myrna, just what exactly do you expect Rep. Flores to do?  Pull out his magic wand and make it all better?


People such as Rep Flores and Li'l Ricky showing up right away would probably cause more disruption; and, be more of a hindrance than a help.


Of course Cruz and Cornyn are going to ask for federal relief, this is Texas.

Politicians showing up at a disaster scene is a photo op at best and political grandstanding at its worst.

GuessWho-I-Sue
GuessWho-I-Sue

You are spot on girl.  Although I am not sure how much more stupid we can take. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown The problem began when OOPS took his ignorant, arrogant ass out to California to stir up the pot.  I don't see the California governor crossing state lines into Texas to create animosity.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@txsouthpaw The left does their fair share of deflection after policy blunders.  Tell you what, don't slam the entire right for the idiocy of the far right and I won't slam the entire left for the idiocy of their lunatic fringe.  What was Hillary's comment "What difference does it make?", if not an attempt to obfuscate bad policy decisions and egregious pandering to avowed enemies of the American state?  Just as Gov. Perry owes it to his State, his constituents to answer for the lack of regulatory oversight in West, Hillary owed it to the people of this nation to answer the damn questions she was being asked.

It all goes back to the great deception known as partisan politics. There's really only two parts to it: The Political Class and the Subjects.  The politicians, from either or any party, believe they are above reproach from the Subjects, which is how they view us.  The Subjects need to start standing up and being Citizens again, forcing the Pols to answer to us instead of the other way around.  It is Us against Them, and the extremes of the right and left among the citizenry had better learn which side they're on, that of the Citizens, with inalienable rights, or that of the Subjects, with discretionary privileges.

TXsharon
TXsharon

@PersistentID2345 Let's see... manufacturing ammonium nitrate = explosions. STORED ammonium nitrate = explosions. Let me see if I can make this huge leap... huff, puff = Ammonium nitrate can be explosive. That's not really a big leap for me. It's probably not for most readers. 

jsblakemore
jsblakemore

1) It wasn't a bomb. It was an accident caused by a company's negligence. Negligence made possible by a lack of oversight. Lack of oversight facilitated by Perry

jsblakemore
jsblakemore

1) it wasn't a bomb. It was an industrial accident caused by negligence. Negligence that was made possible by Perry's policies of deregulation.

2) 70 people did not die. it was 14.10 of them were emergency responders. None of those emergency responders would have been there had Perry used reasonable regulation. But he didn't.

You may not find the comic funny. It's satire. The joke is dark. But you wanna know what is actually OFFENSIVE? Listening to you pretend this is not about Perry.

Fred_Dorfman76
Fred_Dorfman76

@alteredjustice

You need to take a journalism class and learn how this whole free press thing works.  It is the job of editorialists and cartoonists to draw attention these issues and sometimes it does offend peoples sensabilities.  Last time I checked, political cartoons never resulted in the deaths of scores of innocent workers, but I can give a lengthy list of instances throughout history where corporations have cut corners at the expense of worker safety.

Even if you don't believe lax regulation is to blame for the explosion, there does need to be an investigation to find out for sure.  Especially when you have an anti regulation zealot like Perry traveling the country at taxpayer expense touting his policies.  Good on the Sacramento Bee for standing behind their cartoonist. 

jsblakemore
jsblakemore

@alteredjustice 

1) There was no bomb. There was an industrial accident. That accident was caused (at least in part) by a lack of oversight. That lack of oversight was embraced by Perry who LOVES deregulation and wants businesses to govern themselves (as if businessmen suddenly become morally superior to the rest of the world and therefore need no laws). No bomb.

2) 70 people did not die. It was 14. 10 of the dead were first responders who never would have been there if the plant had been regulated properly. Perry saw to it that it wasn't. Getting a recurring theme here? I hope so.

I get that this comic offends you. Now let me tell you what offends ME:

I'm offended by hacks who try to obscure Perry's role in this by making it a joke about dead people who were pretty much his victims. I'm offended by the fact that people died in the first place. I'm offended by the Right wing belief that being RICH means you are automatically WISE, therefore immune to laws (regulation). I'm offended by people who make up numbers and facts (like saying 70 people died or that there was a BOMB) so they can make a false point at the expense of people stupid enough to believe them (and hit the "like" button, as some idiot did for you).

I think my offended can beat up your offended. So...

Shut up.


smithjosh
smithjosh

@John1073 I'm sorry, is there new information out there that puts the "lack of oversight" as a cause of the explosion? I would go for "just poor taste" if the connection had already been drawn. Right now it looks like opportunism.

ruddski
ruddski

The only people aghast and upset at Perry's trip to Northern Mexico are liberals who get pissed that the man has the audacity to breathe. Get over yourself.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@TXsharon @PersistentID2345  

TXsharon, please get a grip on reality and actual risks as opposed to perceived risks. 


US Ammonium nitrate production in 2012 was about 9 million tons.  The 270 tons at West is .003% of the US production.


Properly stored and handled Ammonium nitrate is safe.


The explosion was probably the result of the way that the Ammonium nitrate was  stored.


If stored properly, Ammonium nitrate will burn rather than detonate.


Also, there was liquid Ammonia stored at the West site.  There have been some reports that the Ammonia tanks were leaking and that the Ammonia had ignited.


One possibility is that an Ammonia cloud may have accumulated and then detonated, this detonation then triggering the detonation of the Ammonium nitrate.


Is this a tragedy?  It most certainly is.  West is a special place for me.


One other question to think of, is why was so much Ammonium nitrate and Ammonia stored at West?  It is very simple.  It is used to grow corn to produce ethanol for use in motor fuels to combat pollution.  The near term options contract for corn is currently trading at $6.62 per bushel.  Drive through Hill, Mclennan, Limestone and Falls Counties and look at all of the corn that is being grown. That is where all of this Ammonium nitrate and Ammonia was likely going.  Think carefully about this before proclaiming something to be green.


And speaking of "green" problems, does anyone have any idea of which automobile(s) have the greatest environmental impact?

NOWiGETit
NOWiGETit

@Fred_Dorfman76 I believe Obama and his administration wanted us to believe that a cartoon resulted in the deaths at Benghazi...

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@Fred_Dorfman76  

I need to take a journalism class? I have no desire to be involved in journalism because journalism is dead (see how the Boston Marathon incident was handled).

I think you missed my point entirely. This guy does not work in Texas. He works in California. I'm assuming you know this based on your post, but you don't seem to understand the point of the comic. Yes, the comic is making fun of Perry, but it's also making fun of Texas as a whole. This comic came out of California because California feels that they have a rivalry with us. None of that is explicitly said here, but it can be inferred if you think about it a bit.

I also never said a damn thing about "free press" or being offended. Being offended is meaningless, and honestly I know the guy doesn't care about who he offends. My problem is that he's creating this comic at the expense of the victims. Can he do it? Sure, but he's a coward. Need proof? He won't make a comic about Boston, but will about Texas. That says a lot about him. He's afraid of national criticism, but he'll make a joke to get attention so long as it won't get him fired. Make the same joke about Boston and I guarantee he'd get thousands of emails asking for his resignation.

And as far as political cartoons not killing anybody, ehhh. The Mohammed cartoon where he had a bomb on his head led to many attacks if I'm not mistaken. But that's neither here nor there, I just don't think it's right to make a (bad) joke at the expense of any victim.


Oh, and I hate Perry. Why is it that you have to hate Perry to like respecting victims of a tragedy? Baffling. Never said anything about regulation, either. Fun to play fill in the blanks and then tell people they need to take a journalism class, eh?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@jsblakemore Congratulations, in your unwavering pursuit of factual numbers and words, you missed the entire focus of his statement.  It takes a truly dedicated hack to be that myopic.  His point was, if the humorist is so convinced of the righteousness of his submitted artwork, he should have the courage to hand deliver it to the citizens of West TX.  After all, if anyone should be able to appreciate the point he was trying to make, it SHOULD be the ones who have suffered so much, should it not?  But, the humorist won't do that, because that would be tacky, without class or taste.  Changing the location of the delivery doesn't change the character of the delivered goods.  If it would be tasteless and crude in West, it should be tasteless and crude in Sacramento.

Not to mention, you tried to make it 'all about you' or all about whatever it is you purport to care about.  "My offended can beat up your offended.  So..... Shut up."  Got news for you, your bruised sensibilities and suffering political views are puff pieces in this story.  Your 'offended', along with mine and anyone else who didn't lose a loved one down there, don't even rate on the scale.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@jsblakemore 1. You're right, it wasn't a bomb. I misspoke.

2. I was hearing that there were 70 originally. I'm reading now that it's 15 (not 14, you're wrong on a blog post! oh my god!!!). With that said, it's confirmed deaths and discussing this is kinda splitting hairs here, right?

As for the rest, um, what? I don't fucking like Perry, you dolt. I haaaaaate Perry. I'm not right wing. I have never voted for or supported Perry, nor have I voted Republican in the Presidential election. I would take practically any candidate over Perry.

I didn't not "make up numbers and facts." I misspoke about the bomb part, and should have made sure my comment on a blog post was of the utmost quality before the peanut gallery split hairs about it. The 70 number also was not made up. In early reports, the number of deaths was suspected to be upwards of 70. A quick google search confirms this. The 15 number is an estimate as well. Those are the confirmed dead. It makes my point no less "false," as the number of deaths and injuries makes no difference to the people who suffer from them. In fact, I think you missed the point entirely.

I also did not say this offends me. I think there is a degree of difference between being offended and saying something is disrespectful to others. As someone said below, if you can't find another way to make fun of Perry, you're not trying. I also think there are respectful ways of making this comic, but inserting a 2nd grade pun is not one of them. Would you show this comic to one of the victims? That was the important question that you seemed to miss while you were ranting about how I was "defending" King Perry and the right wing (lol).

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

Aren't we in Northern Mexico as well?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@TXsharon @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @PersistentID2345  

TXsharon, just giving background on why there was that amount of fertilizer stored there.  Ethanol production is the reason why so much corn is being grown.  Most accounts that I read discuss how "green" ethanol production is.  Well, this is part of that "green activity".

As far as DHS not knowing, I guess that just points out what a waste of money DHS is.  If DHS's reportable quantity for Ammonium nitrate is 0.2 tons or 400 lbs, then just about every feed and seed store needs to be on their list.  When I used to farm, it was nothing to go to the store and buy 3 to 4 tons at a time.

Again my main point is that likely key to the explosion will be how the fertilizer was stored, not the quantity stored.

I didn't say anything about GMO corn.

As far as the firefighters still being alive had they known of the amount, we probably will never know the answer to that questions.


Have a nice day.

 

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

@TXsharon @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @PersistentID2345 DHS is concerned about people stealing the ammonium nitrate. OSHA would be concerned about what actually happened in West. OSHA and industry experts work together to craft regulations according to perceived risk of incident, which was low at the storage facility. OSHA and DHS are federal agencies, so why exactly should the State of Texas be singled out for blame by the reckless/clueless cartoonist ?

BTW: Why did the Dallas Observer go through the extra effort and produce a toned down black-and-white copy of the original color cartoon? Is it because they found the more graphic realism of the original distasteful?



TXsharon
TXsharon

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @TXsharon @PersistentID2345

Do you mean a grip on reality like the fact that that West plant was storing 1350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would trigger concern by DHS and no one knew? I wonder if those firefighters had known the truth if they would still be alive today. Firefighters are smart when it comes to fires and chemicals that cause explosions so I'm just guessing here but I guess they might have taken extra precautions had they known. 

Or, do you mean a grip on the reality that the plant blew up killing 14 people and injuring 200? 

I really don't give a rat's ass about ethanol and I'll pass on the GMO corn. Way off topic. My family grew lots of corn and we fertilized with cow shit. 

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@jsblakemore  

If you think this or the garbage reporting that came out of Boston is "journalism," then perhaps I'm not the only one who needs a journalism class.

jsblakemore
jsblakemore

Guys... stop. Alteredjustice has proclaimed journalism is dead. No need to have any further discussion.

Now we can all catch up on watching those box sets of "Honey Boo-Boo" or staring at interesting wall paper. Thanks, man!

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@Fred_dorfman76 

Reread what he said: "'Would you have portrayed the severed limbs created by the Boston bomber to make a political point?' Hmm. No. I would not."

The question was not, could you make a political cartoon about the Boston bomber? The question was, would you make a cartoon about the Boston bomber to make a political point? And he said no.

And there were points to be made about the government's handling of these brothers previous to the bombing. Do I need to list them?

Point here is, he's willing to exploit specific groups of people for a cheap joke but not others (because like I said, it'd get him fired). The guy knows what he's doing and is loving the attention he's getting, no doubt. I'd hesitate to call this top notch journalism like you seem to think it is.

At least you acknowledge that this is a vendetta against Perry like I said. And shit man, he deserves it. But the people of West don't. Especially not now.

Fred_dorfman76
Fred_dorfman76

@alteredjustice

He went after Perry because Perry is the one going to states like California and Illinois and preaching the gospel of lower taxes and less regulation.  Who would the cartoonist attack if he made fun of the Boston bombing?  There is no direct government policies in Massachessetts that you can link to the Boston bombing.  Government and big industry have a long history in this country of cutting corners at workers expense.  Triangle shirtwaste fire look it up.  People of West if you continue to vote for Perry he will continue to drink your milkshake

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