The State of Texas: March 2, 2015
Happy Texas Independence Day
On this date, in 1836, a group of people (well, men) whose number equaled less than the Dallas Cowboys’ main roster declared their independence from, like, everyone. And the Lone Star State was born. So go on and celebrate, unless, of course, you actually want an Independent Texas. In that case, proceed with caution.
Poor Decision Of The Day
It was bound to happen, but did it have to be a Texan? Less than a week after #TheDress controversy (is it blue and black or are you colorblind?), an Austin man got the thing inked permanently on his body. The only good part of this story is that the man apparently did not pay for his mistake, monetarily speaking.
Party Foul Monday
During the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a.k.a. the conservative Woodstock, ended its run this weekend with great fanfare. Or rather, hard liquor. Unfortunately, our very own Ted Cruz showed just how much of a nerd he is, making it painfully clear that he rarely parties, much less drinks. “Beer foul”? Come on, brah.
And They’re (a Little) Off – Perhaps it’s because there are so many Texans vying for a spot, but it appears our most press-visible presidential candidates are having a little trouble gaining traction. During CPAC, “Cruz finished third in the straw poll with 12 percent, well behind repeat winner Paul, with 26 percent, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, with 21 percent. Former Gov. Rick Perry, who spoke at the conference Friday, received 1 percent, tied with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The meaning of the straw poll should not be overstated,” warns the Statesman, but with this year’s star, Scott Walker, it does seem to indicate that conservatives want an uncompromising warrior with a social bent. Perhaps Perry just needs a little bit more lovin’ from third parties. The Houston Chronicle does a wonderful job laying out the third-party nonprofit help Perry has received, particularly from Americans for Economic Freedom, which has “been more instrumental in helping to chart the narrative that has been coalescing around Perry’s 2016 presidential aspirations” than any other group.
Adults These Days – There was hope, a few weeks ago, that Texas’s criminal justice system might consider treating children like children until they’re old enough to vote and go to war. The Associated Press, unfortunately, is throwing some cold water on this idea. Although there are “legislators from both parties who have long been critical of Texas’ law,” the status quo is powerful, and “each party also has its defenders of the current practice of trying 17-year-olds as adults, including Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire. He chairs a committee that would have to advance the legislation before the full Senate could vote on it, and that’s unlikely to happen.” Texas has charged 17-year-olds as adults since 1918. The practice is problematic for a number of reasons, including “studies [showing] that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25.” Oh, and then there’s the biggest problem: creating adult criminals. “According to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, youths who were transferred into adult systems had 34 percent more felony re-arrests after age 18 than those detained in youth facilities.”
Revenge of the Nurse – Gone are the days when a nurse would selflessly aid the sick and stoically deal with whatever personal repercussions came after. Nina Pham, the Presbyterian Hospital nurse who contracted Ebola after caring for patient zero, Thomas Eric Duncan, is suing the hospital and its parent company. Pham is filing the lawsuit today, according to the Dallas Morning News, and “wants unspecified damages for physical pain and mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of future earnings. But she said that she wants to ‘make hospitals and big corporations realize that nurses and health care workers, especially frontline people, are important. And we don’t want nurses to start turning into patients.’” In her extensive (and exclusive) interview with the Morning News, Pham said that “Texas Health Resources violated her privacy while she was a patient at Presbyterian by ignoring her request that ‘no information’ be released about her,” then failed in most ways to properly care for her. Or, as her lawyer bluntly put it, the hospital simply “used Nina as a PR pawn.”
Sticker Shock? – Change is good, unless it has to do with bureaucratic paperwork. Then it’s “chaos.” That’s what officials are expecting with the changeover to a single-sticker system, which began yesterday. “Despite an extensive public education campaign, officials expect widespread confusion, even initial chaos, as the state rolls out a single-sticker system for inspection and registration of 24 million vehicles,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. For those who’ve missed the PSAs, “$25.50 will be paid to the inspection shop and the $14.25 owed to the state will be paid at registration. The timing of inspections will also change. Owners must get the inspection within 90 days before renewing their registrations.” Part of the reason for the change is efficiency. The main reason, however, is that officials hope to cut down on “the growing problem of counterfeit inspection stickers,” i.e., a loss of revenue.