The State of Texas: Feb. 25, 2014
Slideshow of the Day
It could also be called “depressing news of the day.” While you’re slaving away, your representatives in government are raking in the dough. As the San Antonio Express-News notes in its slideshow of how much Texas delegates make, “for the first time in history, a majority of the members of the United States Congress are millionaires.”
Graded Stakes — There are some fresh results in the gubernatorial horse race. Attorney General Greg Abbott now has an eleven-point lead over Wendy Davis. “Abbott would beat Davis 47 percent to 36 percent in a general election held today, with 17 percent of registered voters saying they have not made up their minds about which candidate to support,” according to the poll conducted by UT and the Texas Tribune. For political junkies, the whole piece is definitely worth a read since it breaks down the other top state races. While the only poll that matters is the one on election day, these pre-primary numbers aren’t great for Team Wendy. “In the October survey, Davis’ announcement and sudden political celebrity cut the Republican’s lead over her to 6 percentage points.”
Bazkoo Wedding — “A national gay-rights group on Monday launched a $1 million campaign designed to increase support for same-sex marriage in Texas and eight other Southern states,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The one counter-opinion the Statesman obtained was both intentionally naive and fairly accurately at the same time: a rep from Texas Values said Texans will reject “politically motivated” efforts to change policy. The counter-point also said that direct change via the state’s constitution is a “fantasy.” For same-sex marriage advocates—as with most political advocates—money does make a difference. Case in point: The Atlantic‘s great 2007 piece on the gay, wealthy political donors fighting discrimination. But will it only take a cool million to make gay marriage legal in Texas? Probably not. The real game-changing stuff is happening via back channels, with gray-area legal fights popping up, like the fight over what benefits are due to a transgender wife of a deceased firefighter and some other transgender marriages issues. And it should be noted that George W. bush’s former media adviser, Mark McKinnon, has joined the million dollar campaign.
Jailhouse Wedding — Speaking of marriage, it appears the state is also spending its time objecting to another kind of wedding vow. Particularly the part about “or worse.” The Dallas Morning News has an extensive piece on how jailhouse marriages have been affected since a Catch-22 statute went into effect in September 2013. The new rule “requires both parties to be present at the ceremony,” except, “department policy prohibits weddings in prison facilities.” To be fair, there seems to be a consensus that the heartbreak wasn’t intentional, but rather confusing rule wording and that Texas is “probably going to get dinged in court and probably be ordered to allow prison marriages in some way, shape or form,” according to one law professor. Corrections, however, is pretty adamant that it’s not going to make any corrections. So only time (and good behavior?) will tell.
Sunken Treasures — Sinkholes can be quite dangerous, but they’re just so interesting! Exihibit A is the first line in a recent AP article discussing the “Wink Sinks of Winkler County.” While the county’s two big sinkholes are official barred to the public, its pretty clear from all the beer cans surrounding the sinkholes that scientists aren’t the only ones fascinated with the national phenomena. They’re such a “breathtaking” and “jarring” curiosities that “geologists keep studying the Wink Sinks, even though funds for a comprehensive effort dried up in 2010.” Apart from great puns and a general levity concerning such depressed subject matter, the article is a wonderful look at the earthly marvel. In the words of one county judge, “It’s very impressive. I guess that’s how I would say it.”
Johnny Football Jr. — We might look down our nose at the parents who extensively train their kids from conception to be star performers, and this story will only fuel the judgement fire: a fourteen-year-old quarterback from Somerset recently committed to play for LSU. While the eighth-grader doesn’t even have a license yet, he does have a six-foot-four frame. Mercifully, the commitment is non-binding should the wee-big-thing decide to change his mind between now and the time he goes to prom. Crazy as this all sounds, it actually “continues a trend of adolescents committing to play in college.” This man-child is the “third known junior high student from Texas to commit this school year.”