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The State of Texas: February 2, 2015

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Bum Steer Nominee

The year’s still so young, yet we have a frontrunner for one of the silliest overreactions by school officials, or anyone for that matter. According to a Friday story in the Odessa American, a fourth-grader at Kermit ISD was suspended for allegedly making a terrorist threat. And how, by Gollum, could a fourth-grader make such threats? By referencing the Lord of the Rings, specifically The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. After watching the movie, the boy’s father said his son “brought a ring to his class at Kermit Elementary School and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear. [The father] said the principal said threats to another child’s safety would not be tolerated – whether magical or not. Principal Roxanne Greer declined to comment on the matter.” As story is now making a very expected journey through the internet.

Daily Roundup

The Texas Boy Who Could Be King – There seems to be something about Texas that makes possible Presidential contenders want to all but declare their candidacy. Our greatest example is Rick Perry, but this weekend, the baby-faced junior senator from Kentucky made a none-too-subtle swing through his old home state. More than one outlet reported on Rand Paul’s Texas tour, which began fortuitously with the announcement that the state’s Republican Party Chairman, Steve Munisteri, would step down to become an adviser to Paul. As CNN notes, it’s a much more politically relevant grab than, say, Chris Christie’s Cowboys/Jerry Jones’s man love. Paul was interviewed by at least two reporters while en route to Texas. Once here, Paul sat down with the Texas Tribune and pretty much cut to the chase. “If we decide to [run for president], we will want to broaden the coalition to include a winning majority that means something, that appeals to people that have libertarian leanings, but also some people who are traditional conservatives, Christian conservatives and mainstream conservatives of all walks of life,” he told the Tribune. The Texas tour might prove to be a pretty ingenious move on Paul’s part. As The Hill reports, Texas is “the biggest Republican state in the nation [and] holds more delegates than four key states ahead of it on the calendar. … The early map is favorable for Paul, who is near the top of a crowded field of possible GOP contenders.” If he could lock up Texas (by routing both Perry, Ted Cruz, Paul would have “a natural advantage in [early primaries in] New Hampshire and Nevada, two states with libertarian leanings that mirror his views.” And remember, it’s still twenty-one months away until the actual election, so there’s gonna be a lot more Texas kowtowing to come.

Not So Black And White? – Remember when Freshman Representative Molly White, in response to the Muslim community’s annual Capitol Day rally, requested any member of that faith visiting her office “publicly announce allegiance to America”? Turns out it was all a big misunderstanding! Or, more precisely, “sometimes things get taken out of context and blown completely out of proportion,” according to White. “I was quite shocked by it, but it is what it is,” White told KWTX of the incident that made national headline. “I always treat everybody with respect and listen, but if we have some things that are diabolically different then I need to let them know where I stand and they let me know where they stand.” Perhaps that was something of a Freudian slip and White meant to say things were diametrically different. Regardless, the interview is a little cringe-worthy as White backpedals and weaves away from questions. It would seem that those who took White’s Facebook comments being “out of context,” (she wrote “we’ll will see how long they stay in my office”) include both Governor Greg Abbott and Speaker Joe Straus.

A New Day In Texas – Generating Oscar buzz is one thing, so are record-breaking box office receipts. But it’s hard to deny the power of a movie that inspires a state holiday. Thanks to American Sniper (and Governor Abbott), today is officially Chris Kyle Day. “In honor of a Texas son, a Navy SEAL and an American hero — a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield — I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas,” Abbott said the Texans Veterans of Foreign Affairs Mid-Winter Convention on Friday. “We will commemorate his passing, but more importantly, remembering his answering of the call of duty.” As the Dallas Morning News notes, “Monday marks the second anniversary of Kyle’s death at the Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, where he and friend Chad Littlefield were gunned down while trying to help a fellow soldier coping with PTSD. The man accused of their murders — Eddie Ray Routh, a war veteran who had been in the Dallas V.A. Medical Center and Green Oaks Hospital in Dallas just days before the shootings — is scheduled to stand trial February 9. His attorneys have indicated they will use an insanity defense.”

The Next-Next Super Bowl – Like the presidential race, talk of the next Super Bowl starts earlier and earlier every year. While ESPN report on the 2016 prospects last night, some are already focused on 2017. Normally, that would be annoying, but all the 2017 action is happening in Texas, so it’s worth it. The Houston Business Journal interviewed Sallie Sargent, president and CEO of Houston’s Super Bowl Committee, which has already settled on a logo! Most of the focus of the committee, however, seems to be on the ultimate Texas nightmare: traffic. “’The last thing we want to do … [is have] people be disappointed because they couldn’t make it from one location to another because of traffic,’ Sargent said.  The plans, while still in the early stages, will utilize light rail and park-and-ride service to alleviate some of the stress on Houston’s already congested highways. With light rail connecting downtown to NRG Stadium and everything in between, there’s a lot of opportunity to place events along the route, she said.”

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Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet Texas Monthly and Jeff Winkler

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