State of Texas: Sept. 20, 2013
Friday Movie Day
Once hipsters started shooting wild game, it was kinda inevitable that they’d start shooting highly saturated videos featuring ambient music and bearded men waxing philosophically. So here’s to Jesse Griffiths’ eight-minute video essay extolling the merits of hog hunting in Central Texas Hill Country. While it’s the same stuff them darn redneck hunters have been saying for years (and without the Whole Foods sponsorship), the video is an almost painfully earnest case for killin’ things.
Either Work Hard or You Might as Well Quit — Unbeknownst to most, former House Majority Leader (and forever Texan) Tom DeLay was not nicknamed “The Hammer” because of his notorious strong-arming of Republican colleagues. It’s actually an MC Hammer reference, made all the more obvious yesterday when it was announced that U Can’t Touch This. Early in the day, the Texas Third Court of Appeals, in Austin, threw out DeLay’s 2010 conviction on cryptic money laundering charges. The New York Times explains the charges well enough, but essentially, DeLay was totally funnelling bundles of cash (“from a state political action committee to the GOP’s federal accounts, which then contributed to seven candidates in Texas elections,” per the Texas Tribune‘s Ross Ramsey), which looked fishy, but did not actually violate any state laws, the court found. Texas Monthly‘s Paul Burka, while maintaining his distaste for DeLay, found much to like in the decision: “I think DeLay was a terrible public servant who was bad for the Republican party and bad for America, but as I wrote in my November 2005 column, ‘I’d feel a lot better [about the charges against DeLay] if I knew exactly what he did that was wrong.'” Notably, DeLay was at a gathering of Republican friends in Washington when the decision was announced. “We were all basically on our knees praying … And my lawyer calls and says, ‘You’re a free man,’” recounted DeLay, who Give’em this, DeLay had stamina The Hammer can’t be retried, but that doesn’t mean the prosecutor in charge of the state’s Public Integrity Unit won’t take another whack. “This is far from over,” Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg said. “We’re going to petition the Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals to review this opinion.” Good luck with that. DeLay made it through six grand juries a conviction and appeals, all the while “delivering speeches, offering consulting advice [and] writing a blog.” Or, to put it blunty by the hammer: “They never got rid of me.” Even though he’s now as “innocent” as any politician reasonably be, DeLay said he’s staying out of politics. Whatever his new life may hold, let us pray that it doesn’t involve Dancing with the Stars.
Voting Booth May Actually Be Simple Booby Trap — A Tweet from Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy likely scared the pants off any Texan not an upstanding member of their local Neighborhood Watch. Sent around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Kennedy wrote: “The @TXDPS confirms that voter card applicants are checked first for warrants. So anyone with an unpaid ticket can’t vote?” The Tweet concerned the identification cards issued to those lacking driver’s licenses, all due to the recently enacted (and recently contested) Voter ID law. Thankfully, Kennedy’s column from yesterday clarified things … a bit. “After a kerfluffle with lawyers and a senator, a DPS spokesman said Thursday that warrant checks won’t apply to election ID certificates.” That decision, of course, puts law enforcement officials in a bit of a catch-22: you’ll need to be legally identified in order to freely vote, but they can’t first identify you to see if you should be legally detained. Just to clear things up, however, “the policy of checking for warrants on any walk-in license renewal or address change ‘only applies to driver licenses’ and the more formal ID cards the state sells,” DPS spokesman Tom Vinger wrote by email: “It does not apply to Election Identification Certificates.” So remember, criminals: so long as you leave the driver’s license and stash at home, you too will be able to vote for the lesser of two evils. Like free man Tom DeLay in a candy striper outfit, this is Democracy in action.
‘Texan’ is a Deadly Weapon — People just love making fun of gun-totting Texans. But perhaps those rude comment should be holstered, even if the object of derision isn’t wielding a firearm. According to recently published FBI crime stats, Texans are packing heat even when they aren’t. “Texas leads the country in the number of people (101) killed by ‘hands, fists and feet,'” reports Time. “California – which clocked some 700 more homicides than Texas – was second in that category with 87.” In this Second Amendment paradise, “firearms only accounted for 65 percent of homicides for which additional data is available … That’s below other states like Illinois (86 percent), Michigan (76 percent) and California (69 percent).” With a gentle pat, repeat those figures to any person or entity—like Time—that feels compelled to make a vapid Chuck Norris reference.
The Line’s All You Need to Understand this Story — Pro-Life Lt. Guv Candidate Lacked Facts about Abortion Pill Investment, Terminated Deal, Experienced Sense of Money Loss, Made Justifiable Decision