The State of Texas: August 22, 2014
Video of the Day
The ALS ice bucket challenge has gotten somewhat out of control. Despite paving his own road during the Iraq War, not even our state’s fourth-greatest president, George W. Bush, was able to ignore the peer pressure. To his credit, Bush is so cute during his performance, claiming he’s skipping the actual ice part before Laura “surprises” him. Then Bush kindly challenges his friend Bill Clinton to feel the rush of ice-cold water, which seems a bit risky. Clinton has had three heart surgeries, including a quadruple bypass.
Ugly Mug — After the fun of Governor Rick Perry’s mugshot, discussion is returning to the serious matter at hand. Of the grand jury indictment, Perry has said that “those responsible will be held to account” and in Washington, D.C., yesterday, he continued the offensive by saying “I can assure you that I will fight this attack.” The only problem is that, legally speaking “those responsible” are the members of the grand jury that indicted him. As a state district judge warned, Perry’s statements could be construed as a threat against the grand jury. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Judge Julie Kocurek of the 390th District Court “intends to protect members of the grand jury that indicted Gov. Rick Perry from any threats — veiled or direct — from the governor or anyone else.” That Perry was even referring to the grand jury itself is highly debatable. Ironically, the judge’s comments seem like the “red herring” that Perry’s legal team is so aggressively attacking, namely accusations that his veto of the Public Integrity Unit’s money was based not on Rosemary Lehmberg arrest, but her office’s investigation of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Regardless, the scandal has not stopped Perry from keeping an eye on his future presidential plans. During his D.C. tour yesterday, Perry ratcheted up his rhetoric about border criminals to a truly national security level. “Perry went even further after being asked point blank about the threat of ISIS coming into the U.S. via southern border, telling the crowd that it is a very real possibility that ‘they may have already used’ the border to enter the United States,” according to CBS News.
Paradise On The Horizon — Texas just got one step closer to challenging Louisiana as a Sportsman’s Paradise. More than 17,000 acres of coastal prairie near the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge were purchased in a deal that was not only “decades in the making” but also “the largest conservation land purchase in Texas history,” according to the Texas Tribune. Even better, a “large portion of that funding, $34.5 million, will come from criminal penalties paid by BP and Transocean after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.” Just because this Calhoun County spread is conservation land used to protect endangered species like whooping cranes doesn’t mean Texans won’t be able to have any fun. “Parks and Wildlife officials said much of the land is prime property for hunting, fishing and other recreational activities that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state and local economies,” the Tribune noted.
Grey Money — Dark money flowing through state politics may soon see the light. “The Texas Ethics Commission appears poised to approve a regulation, possibly by the end of the year, aimed at requiring some dark money groups to start disclosing their shadow donors,” reports the Associated Press. “The proposal would require a politically active nonprofit group to start disclosing donors if 25 percent or more of the group’s expenditures can be classified as politically motivated. It also would require disclosure if political contributions account for more than 25 percent of the group’s total contributions in a calendar year.” Lawmakers have been wrestling with the issue since May, after Governor Perry vetoed a related bill. If anything, the proposal appears to be an attempt to get ahead of a problem that doesn’t quite exist yet, as “dark-money contributions have accounted for less than 2 percent of all political donations in Texas since 2010.”
Lubbock County War Zone — Ferguson, Missouri, certainly isn’t the only small American town that has seen its police turn into a militarized force. Piggy-backing off the controversy and violence that’s captured the nation’s attention, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal did some impressive digging of its own. “Rural law enforcement agencies in Lubbock County have received more than $400,000 in surplus military equipment through a program that … is seen as contributing to the militarization of the nation’s police force.” Lubbock being Lubbock, “We don’t face riots or hostages on a daily situation so we have not seen a need for that same kind of stuff,” said Police Chief Rick Scott. Instead, “everything we have” — like the “two dump trucks, a road grader, mobile office truck and a Humvee” — is for “a rescue-type situation.” The M16’s the department received are probably just used as flares. Jokes aside, the piece is a great read for both its reporting and balance. “The criticism of the program, when you look at how we’ve applied it, I think is unwarranted,” Scott said. “Some of it, yes, is camouflaged, but the paint scheme has nothing to do with what it’s used for.”