The State of Texas: March 24, 2015
Images of The Day
Back in 2012, three guys snuck into the abandoned Astrodome and gave themselves a tour of the facilities. Skip ahead three years, and they’ve finally uploaded the photos along with the story of their adventure (anonymously, of course). It reads and looks like the last two remaining humans trekking through the ruins of humanity, albeit with beers in hand.
Fighting Back – The Daughters of the Republic of Texas aren’t going down without a fight. Although they lost guardianship of the Alamo in a very polite and public manner earlier this month, the DRT is now suing the General Land Office and land commissioner George P. Bush, “claiming they are wrongfully trying to claim the DRT’s library,” according to the Texas Tribune. “The lawsuit, filed in Bexar County on Monday, alleges that shortly after Bush decided to terminate the DRT’s management, the land office told the organization of plans to ‘transition’ the group’s library collection to the state. The suit says this is an ‘unconstitutional taking’ of private property.” It sounds a lot like hostage taking and negotiating, which is what any reasonable group would do facing a last stand, its back against the wall. “In its petition, the DRT said it owns more than 77 percent of the collection, which consists of about 38,000 books, maps, flags, and other items related to the history of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, and the Alamo,” writes the San Antonio Express-News.
License to Offend – The license plate controversy finally made its grand appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday. In 2011 the Sons of Confederate Veterans tried to get a commemorative plate made, but the design—a rebel flag—was voted down by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board for possibly being offensive. At court, the SCV’s lawyer argued that the plate constituted free speech and showed just how far he was willing to go to defend some theoretical license plates. “‘Your position is that, if you prevail, a license plate can have a racial slur?’ asked Justice Anthony Kennedy, a frequent swing vote. ‘That’s your position?’” reports the McClatchy news service. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pressed [him] with similar examples, asking about specialty license plates imprinted with a swastika, an encouragement to commit jihad, or the phrases ‘Make Pot Legal’ or ‘Bong Hits for Jesus.’ In each case, [he] said Texas should be obliged to print the plate if requested to. ‘I don’t think the government can discriminate against content,’ [he said].” For their part, attorneys for Texas argued that “they’re free to regulate the speech that’s conveyed through a government-issued medium.” A decision in the case is expected in the next few months.
A Twenty-Month Cruz – Leave it to Ted Cruz to shake things up and start the twenty-month-long nightmare that is a presidential campaign. Cruz announced his candidacy to much fanfare (and media attention) at the Jerry Falwell–founded Liberty University yesterday and everyone got in their two cents. Slate explains why Cruz made his announcement at the school, which he said had “become a powerful organizing center for conservative activists” and its “thousands of graduates . . . volunteer and vote for conservative causes.” As Bloomberg Politics’ Dave Weigel notes, however, not everyone was thrilled to be there. Although attendance was required, Rand Paul–supporting students made a show of their political beliefs. The announcement was also a BFD, since it once again gives Texas some serious political capital. Houstonia magazine has an interesting look at how Cruz’s campaign will affect the area, saying Cruz is “possibly the first presidential candidate since 1980 to actually make Houston his campaign headquarters. . . . Adding further intrigue to Cruz’s announcement is the clash it sets up between him and the Bush dynasty.” For those needing a refresher on who, exactly, Ted Cruz is, be sure to read Erica Grieder’s 2014 profile, not to mention everything else Texas Monthly has written about the presidential candidate.
Fight of Biblical Proportions – A cursorary glance through the recent media would suggest that only politicians are vocally and feverishly against gay marriage. But the anti-gay crowd came out of the woodwork yesterday, with about 250 rallying at the Capitol for “biblical marriage,” reports the Associated Press. The Bible-thumping event was headlined by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. As the story notes, “the crowd . . . was mostly cordial” although “several attendees got into arguments after the rally with gay marriage advocates.” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made an appearance too, saying “it’s not about being ‘anti’ anyone. . . . it’s about being for marriage between a man and a woman,” according to the Houston Chronicle. It was a generous spin on the issue that even the leader of Conservative Republicans of Texas, Steve Hotze, disagreed with, saying “obviously, since we’re for biblical marriage between one man and one woman, we’re opposed to anything that’s contradictory to that.”