Category Archives: Texas

And They Wonder Why We Laugh At Them

Trying hard not to laugh at the pants-wetters at Open Carry Texas who strutted around the state capitol in Austin over the weekend with their guns so they could whine about how THE MAN was hassling them because of their long hair big guns and nobody loves them or the Second Amendment or appreciates their service to humanity by walking around armed. Meanwhile they are apparently terrified of a homeless man with a garden trowel.

I mean, my first thought was that this was a parody. But it appears to be real. SO, kiddos, read, laugh, weep, etc.:

I was approached by another participant at the rally and was informed that there was a homeless man (who seemed to be mentally unstable) walking around waving what appeared to be a knife in people’s faces. While walking back and forth in front of our merchandise stand, he had somehow obtained one of our OCT hats that we hadn’t sold to him. I was told that he was heading up towards the main rally on the south steps of the Capitol. The potential weapon in his hand had a serrated edge on one side.

I told a couple of the closest DPS troopers (they stayed about 30 feet or so away from us) that we had a potential problem. I started approaching them to describe the man and why he might be a threat. I had forgotten that I had my AR-15 on my back (I was wearing body armor and couldn’t feel the rifle against my body), and instead of listening to me tell them there was a potential threat, several troopers began yelling at me to take my weapon off of the capitol grounds. Bear in mind, every single one of those troopers knows who I am, just as they know who Terry is.

You had forgotten you had an AR-15 on your back because of your body armor? Dude. You’re an idiot. But I digress:

I apologized and walked the less than ten feet back inside of the gate. I then asked them to come closer because we had an issue, but they chose to just stand there staring at me. I told them there was a potentially dangerous man at the rally, and that they needed to find him before someone got hurt. They continued to gawk at me. I finally demanded that they find someone else to come speak with me, and that every second they were wasting ignoring my warning, someone could be in danger. One of the troopers finally began be-bopping north towards another group of troopers who appeared to be supervisors.

I couldn’t stand it any longer. I handed a friend my rifle and went in yelling about the lack of urgency displayed by these troopers who were supposed to be keeping us safe, but were ignoring my warning solely because they don’t like us, particularly me. I quickly walked past them and yelled that if anyone was hurt, THEY all have blood on their hands!

A few of us got to the rally on the south steps and began frantically scanning the crowd. We were looking for a man with a camouflage OCT hat, jeans, and not wearing shoes. By this time, a DPS trooper decided I probably wasn’t exaggerating and asked who we were looking for, joining in the hunt.

After several minutes of searching through the mass of people, a trooper informed me that the potential threat had been located and escorted off the grounds. The “weapon” he was holding was a small gardening trowel similar to this:

trowel

Before returning to the armed rally, I thanked him for helping and explained how unprofessional it was that his troopers completely ignored a legitimate complaint.

So the guy in body armor with an AR-15 strapped to his back is running around frantically trying to warn state police about a potential threat to public safety: a homeless guy with a garden trowel. And he tells this story as if it were completely logical, not the utterly massive FAIL any sane person would see it to be?

Right. And they wonder why we laugh at them?

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Filed under fear, fear porn, gun control, gun violence, Texas

Tenthers When They Wanna Be

I guess this is pick on Texas week at Southern Beale’s place.

Texas, you annoy me to no end. Sorry, but you do. Get your shit together, please. First we’ve got ignorant legislators mistaking “rape kits” for abortions, now we have major outrage that FEMA is only covering 75% part of the cost associated with the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion (sorry that was 75% of the state’s costs associated with debris removal and emergency response, not total costs):

Federal officials have so far paid or agreed to pay an estimated $25 million to the state and to affected families after the explosion — about $17 million for emergency work and nearly $8 million in grants and low-interest disaster loans for individuals. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that under the federal disaster law, called the Stafford Act, the $17 million in uninsured public infrastructure damages were within the capabilities of the state and local governments. The state’s request to the president was denied because Texas failed to provide evidence that it “lacked the fiscal resources to address the remaining $17 million,” a FEMA spokesman said.

Mr. Perry has called the state’s strong economy “the envy of the nation.” Texas leads the country in job creation, and the two-year, $197 billion budget recently passed by state lawmakers provided Texans with more than $1 billion in tax relief. The state’s Rainy Day Fund, generated largely by oil and gas production taxes, has about $8 billion. The Legislature approved $2 million for West relief.

If you’re going to pass $1 billion in “tax relief” and deregulate your industries, then I’d say it takes a shit-ton of hubris to then demand the Feds bail you out when your chickens come home to roost.

Let me add, as was reported back in May, the fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, and Texas state law didn’t require any more.

Here’s how it looks from where I sit: Texas has lax laws governing hazardous industrial operations and even worse oversight. The Feds are chronically underfunded because the Tea Party Congress believes in small government, and is therefore ill equipped to do the kind of oversight needed in places like Texas, which are constantly touting their small-government Freedom-n-Founding-Fathers-States-Rights “business friendly” environment. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been going around the country touting that “business friendly” low-regulation, low-tax environment and how wonderful it is.

But when that “business friendly,” “low tax,” “low regulation” environment results in the predictable disaster as we saw in West, Texas? They still want the Feds to bail them out. And by “Feds” let me borrow a page from the Tea Party playbook: that’s you and me, bub. Mah Tax Dollahs.

I don’t think so. This is textbook “privatize the gains, socialize the losses” policy. And this shows just what big whiny babies the Tenthers really are. I seem to recall Rick Perry campaigning for president as a “state’s rights” Tenth Amendment guy, screeching about the Tenth Amendment when it’s something he doesn’t want to do (like Medicare, clean air standards, and education funds) — but when it’s something he wants (like disaster aid) he’s got his hand out like all the rest of them.

I’m just not feeling very sorry for Texas these days. Sorry your town exploded but maybe y’all should have shown some personal responsibility and actually regulated your hazardous industries and maybe even funded some inspectors. Or how about telling the idiots you guys send to Washington, D.C. that maybe funding agencies like OSHA and FEMA and the EPA is a good thing because you may need those folks some day? Instead of all your bluster and swagger about being rugged individualists who don’t need nobody fer nuttin’ and we’re better than y’all and churches can pay for it etc. etc. etc.

You know, that personal responsibility stuff you guys are always talking about? It’s not just for brown people and slutty ladies.

Adding ….

From the story:

Presidents have been generous to Texas when it comes to disaster declarations, despite the anti-Washington sentiments of the state’s political leadership. From 1953 to 2011, Texas received 86 major-disaster declarations, the most of any state in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. California received 78, and New York 65.

That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with giving aid where it’s needed. But don’t be flapping your jaws about how evil Washington is and the oppressive hand of the gummint and all that. The Mayor of West, Texas says:

“We don’t ask for a lot of handouts here in West,” he said. “But at the same time, if West is to survive, the support and the aid needs to be available.”

Yes. That’s right, your town may not have asked for a lot of “handouts,” but others in Texas have. And trust me, I have nooo problem with that, none, zip, we all come together to help out when help is needed. But you guys need to stop whining about the requests for aid that come in when natural disasters not the result of corporate negligence and lax oversight are needed — the kinds that come in from some other town in some other place, a liberal place perhaps (*cough*cough*New Orleans*cough*cough*Hurricane Sandy*cough*cough*California wildifres*cough*cough).

And also? If you’re going to refer to FEMA aid as a “handout”? Really I have no time for you. You need a big attitude adjustment.

Texas, get a reality check.

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Filed under corporations, Texas

Dear GOP: Please Stop Talking About Rape

Idiots.

While the Texas House debated an anti-abortion omnibus bill for 15 hours Sunday night, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D) called for an exemption for victims of rape and incest, the Associated Press reported. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) objected, saying “rape kits” make that exemption unneccessary:

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” [Laubenberg] said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”

Her apparent confusion about “rape kits” — a phrase generally used to describe the equipment used by medical personnel during forensic examinations to gather physical evidence following allegations of rape or sexual assault — sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.

Jesus, the ignorance of these people, to actually think a “rape kit” is an abortion. I’m trying to wrap my head around how this idiot in Texas can support anti-abortion legislation while thinking that abortions occur regularly whenever a woman goes to the police to report a rape.

Dumber than a box of hammers. This is scary shit. This isn’t the first time an elected representative who is tasked with making laws has shown such sheer ignorance about the issues he or she is legislating.

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Filed under abortion, Texas

Taxes, Texas-Style

Texas has to be the only state where they allow a company to collect taxes and then keep the money instead of turning it over to the government:

CBS 11’s I-Team has obtained a study that says Oncor, the giant electric utility company in North Texas, is collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from customers for federal taxes that don’t exist.

“Since 2008, they have collected $500 million for the purpose of paying taxes on their income,” said Randy Moravec, executive director of the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a coalition of member cities – including Arlington, Plano and Frisco – that works toward finding the lowest rates for residents.

Asked how much of that money has actually reached the Internal Revenue Services, Moravec said: “None … not a penny.”

Gee, where I’m from that’s called theft. But in Texas, it’s all perfectly legal:

Although Oncor collects for federal taxes, it actually does not owe the IRS anything because its majority owner, Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings, has been operating in the red for years.

“In the state of Texas, it’s perfectly legal for Oncor to do what they’re doing right now,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who is a critic of the utility company’s collection for federal taxes.

[…]

Sen. Davis said there should be a law against charging consumers for taxes that are never levied.

“Unfortunately, rather than moving in that direction, the state is actually trying to move in the opposite direction,” she said, referring to a bill that has already passed the senate and is still pending in the Texas House.

If the bill becomes law, the senator said, “It would remove the Public Utility Commission’s authority to regulate utility companies in this particular arena.”

See, you thought they hated taxes in Texas, right? Nope. Not as long as they’re another angle that can be played in the state’s culture of grift.

Reason #10,981 why I will never, ever live in Texas. Ever. Rick Perry can take his bogus campaign and shove it.

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Filed under taxes, Texas

Great Moments In Corporate Citizenship

The West, Texas fertilizer plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance, reports AP:

Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer’s owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant’s insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.

“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant’s owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

A $1 million policy is not gonna do squat for West, Texas or the 14 families who lost a loved one, or those 200 injured people. But I guess the glorious free hand of the market will be there for them, right? That and federal disaster aid, of course!

By the way, maybe in addition to all of the prayers and moments of silence, the Texas House and Senate might want to pass a few regulations to help ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. After all, taxpayers all around the country are going to be footing the bill for the negligence of a Texas business — and the failure of Texas legislators to adequately regulate their dangerous industries. So yes, Gov. Rick Perry, as long as we all have to pay for it, you can take your “states rights” and shove it, you arrogant phony cowboy.

And since we’re talking about this, Texas is starting to look an awful lot like Bangladesh and China. Except in those places, the evil business owners are arrested.

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Filed under corporations, Texas

Liberals/Muslims/Non-Christians Need Not Apply

[UPDATE]:

Shockingly, you can’t do that in Texas:

“The Texas Department of Public Safety certifies individuals to teach coursework and provide training required to be taken by individuals seeking to qualify for a Texas concealed handgun license. Certified instructors are required to comply with all applicable state and federal statutes. Conduct by an instructor that denied service to individuals on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion would place that instructor’s certification by the Department at risk of suspension or revocation. The Department became aware of the statements in question yesterday and has begun an investigation into the matter. The Department will take appropriate administrative action based on the findings from the investigation.”

Wooopsies!!!!!

——————————

A radio ad for a handgun safety course in Texas forwarded to me by a friend. No Democrats or other undesirables allowed (click on the link to play; money quote starts at the :43 mark). Makes the “hello friends and neighbors” salutation all the more ironic.

I don’t care how many guns Crocket Keller owns. He’s still an asshole:

KellersStore10-18-11

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Filed under advertising, Texas

It’s A Little Too Late To Do The Right Thing Now

Texas is reviewing the arson conviction of Cameron Todd Willingham which would be great except they executed him for it back in 2004.

Assholes.

I wrote about this last year.

Honest to God we are a fucked up country.

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Filed under death penalty, Texas

>Grand Old Petroleum

>[UPDATE]:

Nobody could have anticipated this! Oh, wait …

———————————–

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas just apologized to BP for being forced to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate the Gulf Coast. He called it a “shake down.”

I see.

This is why we don’t want any more Texas oil men in Washington. This is precisely the attitude we saw from Bush, Cheney, Condi (she had an oil tanker named after her!) and all the other Big Oil cronies handed the reins of power for eight years.

Meanwhile, you wacky kids on the internet are already having your fun:

Honestly, after months of hissy fits from the right wing about President Obama “apologizing for America” you’d think apologizing to BP over the oil spill might raise a few eyebrows in the Texas Teanut Party. But word has it Limbaugh opened his radio show today criticizing the “BP shakedown.” Guess they got the memo.

[UPDATE]

Video courtesy of JR Lind at Post Politics:

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Filed under BP, Gulf oil spill, Rep. Joe Barton, Texas

Shouting From The Rooftops

It should have been good news — the best news of Cameron Todd Willingham’s life.

Willingham, convicted of setting the raging fire on December 23, 1991 which destroyed his home and killed his three children, had been on Texas’ Death Row since 1992, awaiting execution. So when a group of leading forensic experts re-examined the evidence used to convict him and determined

that the core evidence against Willingham was not valid

it should have been a day of celebration. The report basically exonerated Willingham, at the very least would allow Willingham’s lawyers to seek a new trial. After more than 15 years on Death Row, during which he proclaimed his innocence, Cameron Todd Willingham might actually be set free.

Except for one thing. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the State of Texas in February 2004. The report was five years too late.

The New Yorker has the goods here. Read and weep for a broken system that, when it fails, does so tragically, monumentally, irredeemably.

Fatally.

Was Willingham a model citizen? He was not. Neighbors said he drank too much. He cheated on his wife, and had abused her. He was unemployed. He collected posters of skulls and snakes, even wore a tattoo of a snake entwining a skull.

But these are not capital offenses.

Willingham did not, however, set fire to his home and kill his children. He was not the “demon” and “sociopath” that Texas prosecutors claimed.

Sadly, questions about the conviction surfaced well before his execution. Even before the exhaustive report released today, the forensic science used to convict Willingham had been debunked while he was still alive on Death Row. Texas Governor Rick Perry might have offered Willingham clemency, had the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles bothered to read that report.

But they could not:

The Innocence Project obtained, through the Freedom of Information Act, all the records from the governor’s office and the board pertaining to Hurst’s report. “The documents show that they received the report, but neither office has any record of anyone acknowledging it, taking note of its significance, responding to it, or calling any attention to it within the government,” Barry Scheck said. “The only reasonable conclusion is that the governor’s office and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ignored scientific evidence.”

Petition denied. And Gov. Rick Perry, now running for re-election, has blood on his hands.

But he’s not the only one. More from the New Yorker article:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2006, voted with a majority to uphold the death penalty in a Kansas case. In his opinion, Scalia declared that, in the modern judicial system, there has not been “a single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”

There you have it, Justice Scalia. The name is CAMERON TODD WILLINGHAM. It should sound familiar to you since in December 2003, you and the rest of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.

Consider this my rooftop.

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Filed under death penalty, Texas