The State of Texas: January 5, 2015
If you’re on Twitter, the biggest news about the Dallas Cowboys game last night wasn’t that the team finally won. It was the super weird hug between Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Below is evidence why no more than one older white man should never be allowed to congregate in public, lest they form some kind of awkward gang, hell-bent on stilted expressions of joy and armpit kisses:
Winter Break Party
If you thought you’re holiday season was fun, what with all that eating and movie watching, you’ve got nothing on Annise Parker. Just yesterday, the Houston mayor went skydiving because, well, why the heck not? After all, the Democrat is considering running for some sort of higher Texas office in the near future, which is just as dangerous. State Senator Rodney Ellis, it should be noted, chickened out, posting a selfie of his “Bayou bike ride” instead.
Speaker Gohmert — Louie Gohmert made national news yet again. This time, it wasn’t because of some wild thing he said, per se. Instead, the honorable gentleman from Tyler announced yesterday that he’s challenging Speaker of the House John Boehner for his position. For anyone who reports on politics or loves watching politicians say exactly what’s on their mind, this is great news. Unfortunately, the huge baseball fan who’s spoken in the past about such things as “terrror babies,” is “for now, likely a long-shot threat to Boehner,” according to the Texas Tribune. Apparently, “Gohmert’s strategy is to force multiple rounds of voting,” but “There is little evidence, however, that Gohmert has done the extensive behind-the-scenes politicking necessary to position himself to twist arms in a speaker’s race.” Not that that didn’t stop Gohmert from referring to Boehner as a “dictator.” A huge insult since it’s basically the same thing as Gohmert accusing Boehner of being Obama. No word yet on whether Gohmert is willing to engage in a mud wrasslin’ match with the other long-shot Speaker candidate, Ted Yoho.
Problems In Pasadena — After an odd sort of introduction that discusses the old movie Urban Cowboy, the Dallas Morning News reveals that the city of Pasadena is facing a “case could become a test of the Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down most of the federal Voting Rights Act.” A federal lawsuit filed recently claims a city ordinance allowing for at-large council members is a direct attack by white city leaders on Pasadena’s diversity. The city is 60 percent Hispanic, and the move to allow anyone to be elected to the city council rather than by district was proposed just a month after the Supreme Court decision. Hispanic leaders say new rules undercuts their influence. “The mayor and supporters counter that the new format will bring more participation by all Pasadena residents because they’ll have more to vote for,” according to the story. “Suing the city on behalf of five Hispanic residents is the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also took Texas to court over the state’s new voter ID law.”
Letting Kids Be (Felonious) Kids — Some exciting news about Texas jurisprudence. It looks like we might be one step closer to not trying so many minors as adults. Twice in December, “Texas appeals courts have overturned the convictions of two teenagers tried as adults, ruling that the juvenile courts did not provide enough evidence to explain why the youths were “certified” as adult defendants,” reports the Houston Chronicle. As the story explains, “Under current law, defendants aged 14 to 16 can be certified by a juvenile court judge to stand trial as adults based on criteria including whether the crime was against a person or property, the juvenile defendant’s maturity level and previous criminal record.” The certification process itself has long been criticized for lacking much thought. “In both instances, the decisions noted the Harris County juvenile court did not give sufficient evidence as to why the youths in question should stand trial as adults. Instead, it relied on a ‘form order’ process that allows judges to check off boxes and fill in the blanks for each certification,” a process that some find “arbitrary.” So far, those concerns have only resulted in the limited number of overturned convictions, but adovcates are hoping it opens debate into the entire juvenile certification process.
Bernie: The Sequel —The story of Bernie Tiede is looking less like a dark comedy and more like a cheap soap opera with innumerable cliff hangers. Late last week, the now-infamous nice-guy killer appeared before a judge who scheduled a re-sentencing hearing for June. Because of evidence brought by defense attorney’s claiming Tiede was sexually abused (and thanks to a lot of heavy duty public support including the prosecutor himself, who pushed for a reduction in sentence), Tiede could have his life sentence “wiped off the books,” as the Associated Press put it. Unsurprisingly, the family of Marjorie Nugent is furious with the recent plot twists. Perhaps as some sort of twisted consolation prize, the prosecutor has “raised the possibility of prosecuting Tiede for theft based on allegations that Tiede spent Nugent’s money after killing her.” Tiede is currently living in Austin.
Holy Father Church — The great thing about living in God’s Country, is that Texas is so large, there’s enough room for all kinds of worship. There is, of course, the cowboy church movement, and now there’s a dude movement. The Houston Chronicle has an interesting, sociological piece on the Katy’s Man Church, which apparently isn’t nearly as naughty as it sounds. The Man Church is “made for men in a world needing a Godly man” where “a group of 80 or so men go through books with titles like Strong Men in Tough Times.” The more liberal-hearted can rest easy knowing the church doesn’t spend its time preaching that men are the head of the household and all women must bow before them as they would before God. As experts in the story note, such outreach efforts demonstrate the difficulty religious organizations have had in bringing in male members, say nothing of the already-changed social, gender and economic dynamic of households in cities big and small. And while “their particular brand of male outreach may be a ‘tool for maintaining subgroup religious identity,’” there is “a nuance to the approach that the beefed up rhetoric often disguises. A man baring his teeth and clutching a football would seem to indicate something different from what Man Church actually is – a parenting and marriage counseling group centered on Christianity.”