Fightin’ Words

Ted Cruz is better than most at picking and continuing fights. Now, much like Donald Trump, he’s getting grief from his own kind. The famous-for-a-columnist conservative David Brooks took the candidate to task yesterday for his “brutalism.” While the story spread around the internet, Cruz had plenty of ways to respond. Some of them a bit catty, some of them a bit more calm. Below is Cruz’s response to liberal thinker Ezra Klein discussing Brooks. Let’s not even get into his budding birther fight with Trump.

Cameo Wednesday

Texas was featured on a Comedy Central show last night! Unfortunately, that means getting made fun of. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore featured a mock welcome video for the refugees coming to the state. It was, as one might expect, a brutal takedown.

Texas By the Numbers

New Year’s Resolutions — Texas’s rank among healthiest states: 34th. In obesity rates: 40th. Physical inactivity: 43rd. Diabetes: 43rd. Excessive drinking: 25th. Smoking: 5th.

Trouble Students — The state’s overall grade for its educational system according to a new national report: C+. Chance for success grade: C. K-12 achievement: C-. School finance: D.

Sweet Perks — Number of Texas Universities in the top 20 schools that saw an increase in new “sugar babies” signing up to a match-making website: three. University of Houston’s rank: 12th. Texas State University’s rank: 6th. University of Texas-Austin’s rank: 3rd.

Daily Roundup

Servant of the (Rich) People — We sure have missed Governor Rick Perry since he left office and, a little while later, left the presidential race. But it looks like Perr-Bear is getting back in the political game. Will he be the president of some university? The leader of some national/global initiative? Nope! He’s joining the long tradition of former state and national leaders by becoming a lobbyist. Hey, we all have to hustle to make the dough. So is Perry going for one of the meatiest lobbying gigs, like national defense, or innovative business interests? Close! He’ll be biting down for the odontological cartel. His newest job will be as “chief strategy officer at MCNA Dental, the largest privatively held dental insurance company in the country,” according to the Texas Tribune. Why would Perry pick such a seemingly random gig? “MCNA Dental — which has contracts with the Texas, Florida and Louisiana Medicaid programs, according to its website — was the top donor to Perry’s presidential bid, which ended in September, donating $37,800 directly to his campaign, according to MCNA Dental also gave $20,000 to Texans for Rick Perry, Perry’s state political action committee, in 2010, according to state records.” As Politico reported, Perry’s already been busy on the new job, visiting Florida Governor Rick Scott to lobby him to strip the state’s Medicaid of dental coverage.

Papal Prep — The border is getting ready for a grand delegate visit, and for once, it won’t involve one of the numerous presidential hopefuls. Pope Francis is coming to Juarez in mid-February and the area is all a flutter. For the open-air Mass, the diocese is handing out a select number of tickets to its El Paso parishes. “People who want to experience the Mass but can’t get tickets could hear Pope Francis during a live video feed to be streamed at El Paso’s Sun Bowl.” Curiously, the Pope was tentatively scheduled to appear at the Sun Bowl but church officials cited “safety concerns and scrapped plans for a celebration with the pope at the El Paso, Texas, side of a U.S.-Mexico border fence,” according to the Associated Press. So, for once, it looks like Juarez comes out on top. In other border news, the great Latin American invasion continues with not nearly as much attention being paid as the summer of 2014. “Border apprehensions of migrant women with children and migrant youth from Central America continued sharp rises in December, underscoring concern about the violence in the sending countries,” writes the Dallas Morning News. “Fresh numbers … show the largest increase in family units, generally mothers traveling with small children. Those numbers nearly tripled, representing 21,469 persons for the first three months of this fiscal year, compared to 7,468 in the previous period, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Unlawful crossings typically go down in the winter months.” How do these figures compare with the past surge that garnered so much coverage? June 2014, the height of previous increase, saw 10,400 migrant minors apprehended. So far 17,370 have been apprehended in the first three months of this latest cycle. During the same period last year, the number of those apprehensions was 8,000.

Biker Bonds — The national leader of the Bandidos motorcycle club was released on bail a week after he was arrested by federal authorities. The president is being charged with racketeering and extortion, but even the federal agent who testified on Monday about an encounter at the president’s house couldn’t “say Pike had been seen with a gun, drugs, stacks of cash, or been heard firsthand ordering anyone anywhere be harmed,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Not that there weren’t interesting tidbits from the hearing, as so wonderfully documented by the Chronicle in slideshow form. The Bandidos president had run-ins with Canadian authorities (after the murder of eight members of the club) and Panama authorities (who, on the advice of U.S. agents, didn’t want him in the country). And there was testimony to an alleged sniper assassination of a Hells Angel member in Austin. In less titillating biker news, “Two more bikers indicted two months ago in the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout pleaded not guilty Tuesday during brief court hearings,” reports the Waco Herald-Tribune. One of those bikers, offered a few details of the moments leading up to the massive brawl and following shoot-out, seeming to point the finger at the rival Cossacks gang for inciting at least some of the mayhem. It’s going to be a long year for motorcycle clubs in Texas.

Clickity Bits

Affluenza Mom Officially Out of Jail

Austin’s Mexican Consul to Push for Dual Citizenship Locally

Environmentalist Pull a Republican, Try Foolishly to Strip Powers

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