The State of Texas: May 7, 2015
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It’s a classic Texas story—a “guy in the black truck looking for the beautiful girl in the beige car.” As if it weren’t any sweeter, he decided to skip Craigslist Missed Connections and pursue his search IRL.
Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright went to that big Capitol Dome in the sky on Wednesday. Wright, a Democrat, was chased out of his position, and out of Washington, for ethics violations, or what he would describe as “mindless cannibalism” and “this manic idea of a frenzy of feeding on other people’s reputation.” In this respect, Wright would prove to be something of a guinea pig for the partisan politics we know today. His chief hound dog, it’s worth noting, was Newt Gingrich. Wright was 92.
Rabble Rousing – Conspiracy theories are like wildfires: once they start, it’s hard for anyone to stop them. And just like political wildfires, you can count on politicians to add gasoline. On Wednesday, referring to the Jade Helm 15 operations in Texas, Ted Cruz said, “I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty. Because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.” Trust in the government aside, the exercise (Cruz’s, not the military’s) can’t help but sound a little like pandering. Even Representative Louie Gohmert got in on the action and “called for changes to the exercise, particularly a war-simulation map that labels Texas, Utah, and part of Southern California as ‘hostile,’” according to the New York Times, which is now, unfortunately, taking note of our little panic. “He said that because the Obama administration believed ‘that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned.”
The Bad Bad – Great news! We now have more details on the Snoop Dogg incident that forced one Texas State Trooper to get counseling. As some may recall, trooper Billy Spears was reprimanded after agreeing to pose for a picture with Snoop Dogg during SXSW, all because he was cavorting with a known felon. Now, “emails obtained by Spears’s attorney through open records laws show that the incident went all the way to DPS director Steve McCraw, who is best known for overseeing the state’s expansive border security operations,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. In short, McCraw did not think kindly of the whole situation. “Apparently [Spears] would rather work the convention while on a week’s vacation to earn additional money rather than take an additional tour on the border,” McCraw wrote. “He must not understand that he was being lampooned by a dope-smoking cop hater, which reflects very poorly on the department.” As the story notes, Spears is “seeking unspecified damages” and “claims his discipline was retaliation for filing a complaint several weeks earlier against a superior.”
Confused – As is true across the nation, there are many stories in Texas that highlight the complications of banning same-sex marriage, like this instance in which one partner has life-threatening cancer. Or this battle within a very public family, as reported by the Associated Press. “A more personal side of such divides has already arisen in high-profile Republican families, including Ohio senator Rob Portman and his gay son and former vice president Dick Cheney and his lesbian daughter.” But “nowhere is the human dimension now more vividly illustrated” than between state representative Rick Miller and his son, an HIV-positive gay activist. It was shortly after the younger Miller came around for Christmas with his partner that the older Miller “filed a bill that would repeal local ordinances banning discrimination against gay and transgender people.” In March, “the younger Miller went to the Capitol to confront his father over the proposal. They haven’t spoken since, except for exchanging text messages when each had recent birthdays.” The story is worth a read, if only because it shows just how strange and steadfast people’s beliefs can become, even when family is involved. There is also a surprising amount of sympathy expressed by both sides that never seems to make it to the actual political arena.