The State of Texas: Nov. 20, 2013
Quote of the Day
“What if Davy Crockett had said, ‘How could we compete with the Mexican Army at the Alamo?’ Should they have given up? Absolutely not.” — Lisa Fritsch, the GOP underdog candidate for governor.
Yum of the Day
Just in time for Thanksgiving, an El Paso woman has grown a sweet potato big enough for eight, mother-flippin’, pies! Eight-pounds to be exact. Her secret, as the Austinist noted, was Miracle-Gro.
Video of the Day
Former president, current artist and lifelong Texan George W. Bush was on Leno last night, officially kicking off his re-imaging campaign. Special appearances by Laura Bush and an amusing line or two from Leno:
Texas By The Numbers
A Terrible Hangover — Number of alcohol-related driving fatalities in Texas in 2012: 1,296. Same figure for 2011: 1,216. Number of years Texas had gone without an increase in fatalities: 6. Most dangerous drunk driving city in Texas, per capita: San Antonio.
Our Citifed State — Percentage of state’s economic output coming from cities: 92.8 percent. Percentage claimed by Houston: 32.2 percent. By Dallas: 30 percent. Austin: 7.1 percent. Ranking among all 50 states: 12th. Percentage of output by Wyoming, the state with smallest share: 31.5 percent.
What’s Shakin’? — Number of earthquakes in North Texas last month: thirteen. Number of earthquakes in same area, between 1970-2007: four. Since the start of 2008: 37.
Un-blocked — Yesterday was a Supreme let-down for abortion-rights advocates after the High Court decided against blocking Texas’s new abortion law while the case gestates in lower courts. In a concurring opinion, Justice Antonin “Devil-hunter” Scalia said the law’s opponents had not “carried the heavy burden” of showing the unconstitutionality of law, particularly with the admitting privileges requirements. Apparently, no burden of any weight is needed to put the law in place, which defenders first said was for the safety of women, then basically said was for purely ideological reasons. In his statement regarding the decision, Governor Rick Perry mentioned both, saying it was “good news for … the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers” as well as noting that Texas will do everything “to protect the culture of life.” The next bout will take place in January, when the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case.
Game Over — Well, that didn’t take long. After what amounted to a national outcry over its “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game,” the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas have canceled the Wednesday event (what about the gift cards?!). In a letter as tone-deaf as the planned “game,” YCT-UT chairman, Lorenzo Garcia, said he was “shocked at the uproar over the event’s premise” that was “intentionally over-the-top.” Garcia said the group canceled the event because it feared the university would “retaliate” and he had his feelings hurt because people said mean things about him, like calling Garcia a “front man” and an “Uncle Tom.” At least one old-school conservative would be proud: the whole, bitter mea cupla is reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s infamous “Last Press Conference.”
An Arresting Survey — There are lots of ways to collect research data. Setting up a mock roadblock, intimidating drivers, and then “asking” for “volunteer” samples of saliva, breath, and blood is not one of them. According to a head-spinning story out of Fort Worth, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is trying to figure out the number of drunk or drug-impaired drivers. To do this, they made a checkpoint so real, including hiring off-duty police officers, that drivers felt they had no choice but to comply. “I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot,” said one “volunteer,” Kim Cope. After refusing the for-cash cheek swab and blood test, Cope “did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave.” An informal survey would probably show that 99.99 percent of people find this whole endeavor wildly inappropriate.
Selling Like Blockbusters — It was a sad day for many Americans when the Dallas-founded Blockbuster announced that it was shutting down the remainder of its stores earlier this month. Fortunately, you too can hold onto a piece of nostalgia as Blockbuster prepares for the “for the final rite of retail: The liquidation.” Naturally, all the memories are available for sale on Craigslist, and they include, but are certainly not limited to: the iconic neon “open” sign; gumball machines; new and used releases; and, of course, vacuum cleaners (never used).