The State of Texas: Oct. 31, 2013
What’s your Texas-themed Halloween costume this year? A flame-scarred Big Tex? Medal-less Lance Pharmstrong? Sexy Greg Abbott? Before joining the other ghouls tonight, check out this Texas Monthly story about one Temple church’s “open and tolerant” hell house, which sounds like a trick. As for treats, Lewisville residents just released hundreds of baby tarantulas into the wild. So long as you don’t dress like a grasshopper, you should be fine.
Completely UN-True — Certain corners of the Internet went into panic mode after it was reported that that there might soon be seven flags over Texas. The story “United Nations to take over the Alamo” was on par with Orson Wells’s reporting of an intergalactic war. That is, it was both incredibly frightening and very much not true. This time, however, the story originally began not as one director’s moving performance but as a completely theoretical email from a local Tea Party activist. “We’ve been receiving calls and emails from people wondering about control of the Alamo and who would have it,” reported Fox 29, which eventually asked Land Commish Jerry Patterson if the rumors were true. As expected, Patterson categorically denied the claim. But conspiracist Alex Jones’s website Infowars had a full report, which noted that it was San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro who originally negotiated to make the Alamo a UN World Heritage Site in which “a blue UN flag may fly above.” Patterson called the claim “horse hockey,” which is exactly the kind of coded language a third-tier captain in the Illuminati would use.
Third-World Texas — We can claim the top two spots for something. Unfortunately, it’s really the two lowest spots and not something to be crowing about. Data collected from the Census Bureau and first reported on the economic website 24/7 Wall St. found that Brownsville-Harlingen is the poorest area in the U.S. It out-depressed the once-champion McAllen, which came in at number three. “Of Brownsville’s 415,557 residents, 36 percent live below the poverty level, compared to just 10.8 percent in San Jose,” notes the Houston Chronicle. “Texas’ overall poverty rate is 17 percent.” Perhaps everyone would be better off if the UN took control of that.
Out Of Remission — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is back. “State leaders on Wednesday finally lifted a nearly yearlong moratorium on Texas’ $3 billion cancer agency,” reports the AP, “which came unraveled by a criminal investigation, questionable spending and mass resignations by some of the nation’s top scientists.” CPRIT “controls the second-biggest pot of cancer research dollars in the country” all of which had been put on hold for almost a year. New members have been appointed to the organization’s oversight committee with Governor Perry promising “greater transparency, accountability and integrity,” according to the Texas Tribune.
The Crucible II: Hall of Mirrors — While lawmakers accuse UT Systems Regent Wallace Hall of going on a “witch hunt,” Governor Perry is calling their impeachment investigation something else: “extraordinary political theater.” In this production, unfortunately, there’s no singing and dancing. But it does have all the intrigue, betrayal, and generally nastiness of The Crucible. Perry was pretty unequivocal in his denouncement. “I think the idea that a regent or an appointee at any place in government is being stymied from asking questions about the operation of a particular agency is very, very bad public policy,” he said. Though Perry didn’t name names, fellow Republican Representative Jim Pitts—who’s been acting like both the Thomas Putnam and Reverend Hale characters—has been the main witch hunter in the inquisition of Hall, a Perry appointee.
Constitutionally Protected Sexts — Yesterday, the Court of Criminal Appeals found the penal code “criminalizing online solicitation of a minor” to be overbroad and “facially unconstitutional.” The always-great Grits for Breakfast law blog has a breakdown of the decision, which, on its face, could sound bad (soliciting minors is totes cool?!?). Basically, the justices said the statute, as written, is way too broad. In their decision, they listed a number of cultural items that would be illegal under the current definitions of solicitation and “dirty talk,” including but certainly not limited to: Lolita, 50 Shades of Grey, the erotic Japanese art Shunga, and, yes, Miley Cyrus’s twerking. To clarify: “Miley Cyrus” and “twerking” have now been legally recognized in the court of law. So while ancient Asian erotica, Miley Cyrus’s gross displays of cultural appropriation, and sexting like a naughty school girl are constitutionally protected, consensual relations between two adults of the same sex is not. Progress!