The State of Texas: March 11, 2016
SXSW puts a halt to normal existence today, Chuck Norris walks back (or roundhouse kicks back?) on Ted Cruz endorsement, and Abbott wants Internet for all the school children.
Image of the day
If you thought the idea of a Ted Cruz presidency was trippy, be sure to check out the nightmare that is “Ted Zeppelin.”
Ted Zeppelin pic.twitter.com/J8K4HVrxuG
— John Nova Lomax (@geronimolomax) March 10, 2016
South By South Chaos — And so it begins. Whether you live in Austin or not, the nightmare, the chaos, the all-encompassing advertisement that is SXSW begins on Friday. And it’s one heck of an beginning. Already, the city’s mayor has, perhaps in a somewhat tone-deaf move, advised people to stay at home Friday thanks to the combined traffic mess of the first day of SXSW Interactive, and the arrival of President Obama to deliver a keynote. Even some of the schools are closed! As if that weren’t enough, there’s going to be some pretty poppin’ protesting in honor of the president’s appearance. Because why wouldn’t there be? “The same day, pro-gun protesters plan to march in the streets to show support for the state’s new open carry law,” reports the Dallas Morning News. Despite the desire of some gun-lovers to continue throwing their victory that no one wanted into everyone’s face, there probably won’t be too many fireworks. “Obama and members of Open Carry Texas are unlikely to be anywhere near each other,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. “The guns rights group begins its rally and downtown march at the south entrance to the Capitol at noon; Air Force One is not scheduled to touch down at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport until 1:10 p.m. — and Obama will then give a SXSW talk at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, a mile south of the Capitol, at 2:30 p.m. before attending fundraisers at the Austin Music Hall and a Tarrytown residence.”
Roundhouse Kick — The rumors were greatly exaggerated! Despite talk that Chuck Norris would be endorsing and campaigning for Ted Cruz (talk that was written up in the State of Texas), it appears that the world’s most successful ironic joke will not be helping out one of the most disliked presidential candidates. “Norris was supposed to hit the campaign trail for the Texas senator at a rally this weekend in North Carolina, according to Keep the Promise PAC, a pro-Cruz group. But a spokeswoman for the PAC said Norris ‘will no longer be appearing,'” according to The Hill. The PAC had been a tad misleading, suggesting that Norris was definitely on-board the Cruz caravan. But on Thursday the group clarified, saying “‘we learned that Chuck Norris will not be attending the rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has not officially endorsed any candidate for president. We regret that our publicity implied otherwise and apologize to Mr. Norris and our rally participants for the confusion.’ Rumors about Norris making a presidential endorsement were false, according to Jeff Duclos, a spokesman for Norris.” Although this might be the most disappointing non-endorsement of the campaign thus far, at least there was Jon Voight praising Donald Trump.
Broad(band) Ambitions — Texas isn’t known for providing top-tier education, but at least there are efforts being made to provide students with access to online games and porn. And, sure, academic resources. In honor of SXSW, Greg Abbott announced his plan to ensure that every school kid have broadband access by 2018. That’s about 5.2 million kids, for the curious. “The state will partner with Education Superhighway, a national nonprofit that is working with 38 other states to upgrade infrastructure and find affordable ways to meet the connectivity goals of students and communities,” writes the Morning News. “Education Superhighway co-founder Tony Swei said an analysis of the state’s broadband Internet needs showed 2 million schoolkids – roughly 46 percent of Texas’ K-12 students — “do not have broadband they need for today’s digital learning needs.” Now if only there were a way to ensure kids in Texas could get the broadband needed to pass state exams, AP tests, and generally stop failing out of regular school.
PU, VA — Remember that whole scandal about treating our soldiers with the kind of disregard we save for the stray dogs? Well, more bad news! “A long-awaited internal investigation has found that Department of Veterans Affairs scheduling clerks throughout Central Texas masked the true nature of wait times at hospitals and clinics in the region by inputting false appointment data,” writes the Statesman. “More than 20 VA employees, from San Antonio to Kerrville to Austin, told investigators they engaged in the practice, according to a report released this week. Several said supervisors instructed them to manipulate the data and that they feared being fired if they did not participate.” What’s even worse is that, this being a government bureaucracy, no one’s really getting blamed. Or, rather, there’s less of a scapegoat and more just a vague admittance to incompetency. “The report noted that ‘numerous employees opined that there was no malicious intent by any employee to defraud or mislead anyone regarding wait times. Many individuals indicated problems with scheduling ranged [sic] from improper training, lack of supervision, to non-centralized scheduling.'” Local VA leaders have, of course, said they will improve.