Texas To The World Dispatch #15

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“Texas is a den of thieves – a rendezvous of rascals for all the continent.”
– Horace Greeley, 1850.
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Desperately Seeking Sanctuary
“Your paperz, pleece!!”
Texas taxpayers are about to get stuck with another round of legal expenses caused by the state defending more unconstitutional laws passed by the legislature. The sanctuary city bill that is giving our angry governor a serious case of the happies was tossed out in Arizona not long after it became law in that state, and the Texas version is not really different. Even with a new justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, after years of costly litigation, Texas will be told immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government and not local police jurisdictions. Arizona’s anti-immigrant doctrine was shipped overboard after adoption, and following a six year fight the entire piece of propaganda led to the state and feds agreeing that “local law enforcement in Arizona has been directed they cannot make immigration arrests and they cannot extend arrests based on suspicions about immigration.”
Which, of course, is precisely the purpose of the Texas measure.
And that’s why police chiefs across the state are angry. Led by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, (late of Austin) law enforcement heads from Bexar, Travis, and El Paso Counties all testified at the capitol that this will do nothing but shut down sources of information and witnesses needed to clear crimes. Acevedo’s point is that having his officers deal with immigration questions does nothing to improve public safety in Houston. But not a single Republican responded to his pleas.
SB 4 might just give the chief a chance to learn about the other side of the law. If he refuses to order his officers to question people they detain about their immigration status, or if he lets minor miscreants out of jail instead of housing them on the taxpayer dime until ICE shows up to interview them, well, the Bayou City’s cop could end up in the hoosegow, lose his job, and face criminal conviction for not acting in a manner desired by Governor Goddamn Greg Abbott. And Acevedo doesn’t understand any of this. Who does? We are about to turn our cops into criminals and border patrol agents.
“What this legislation does is say to me and my team that we don’t have the authority to keep our [officers] focused on criminals,” Acevedo said. “If all the sudden I have a police officer who decides ‘I’m going to go play ICE agent all day and harass day laborers at Home Depot,’ explain to me, when I lose my authority to tell my officers they can’t do that, how does that enhance public safety? Tell me that with a straight face.”
The Spy Who Bored Me
Might be worth asking how good of a CIA agent was U.S. Congressman Will Hurd, a Republican from San Antonio. Or maybe we should give him a break for not knowing that his girlfriend, who is running for city council in the Alamo City, has lived in Austin since 2013, according to the person who rents a house from Hurd’s lady. Lynlie Wallace is being challenged in court over her legal residency to run for San Antonio’s District 9 council seat. Wallace’s opponent in the race, Patrick Von Dohlen, is asking a judge to disqualify Wallace from the election because the tenant renting her house has been sending checks to her “real address” in Austin for almost four years.
Hello, congressman? Weren’t you doing counter intelligence in the Mideast for the CIA? Your lady could have used some counsel.
What Wall?
Watching Trump’s wall come tumbling down even before construction is becoming a form of theater. Like singer Donovan’s old song, “First there was a mountain then there was no mountain then there was.” Just trade out the word mountain for wall. The compromise federal budget has no dinero for the absurdity on the border with Mexico. Trump is apparently waiting for Mexico to get its credit card confirmed before he allows them to pay for the wall.
He is so unhappy about the budget he’s being forced to approve that the temporary president is talking about wanting a government shutdown so we can start over. This is no more or less irresponsible than half of the other things he says, though. Trump also wants to change the rules in congress on how many votes are required to make matters into law, including an aspiration to get rid of the filibuster.
This is what you do when you consistently lose: You either change the rules to suit yourself or you take your ball and go home. Let’s hope he will consider the latter. Hell, even his Homeland Security secretary said there isn’t going to be a wall that fits Trump’s campaign narrative. “It’s unlikely that we will build a wall or physical barrier from sea to shining sea,” said John F. Kelly.
Anybody see a time when Mexican president is standing on the south bank of the Rio Grande giving a speech that begins with, “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall!”
Fin de la Lina
Federal courts have enough sense to not wait for the state of Texas to do what is right. A three-judge federal panel in San Antonio has ruled that a five-day trial will begin in July to try to undo what discriminatory politics has done. The federal court had already ruled that the state “intentionally” drew up congressional and house district lines to discriminate against minorities and reduce their influence. In Republican circles, this practice would be known as fair representation, and would prompt chants from the right of, “Let Texans run Texas.”
A decision from the court is expected by October to allow county clerks time to begin to print up voter registration cards, and the judges issued a written order warning the state to be diligent and prepared for trial so this matter can be adjudicated.
Those jokester judges.
“I would be annoyed if I were any more in tune with modern sensibilities. I was shaped differently. The world in which I grew up was Texan and Southern, and it had many, many failings. I think I’ve gotten rid of most of the bad things in myself from that earlier age, but I don’t adjust to the way things are progressing now.”
John Graves, Goodbye to a River: A Narrative
A Perfect Prayer
The late Reverend Gerald Mann of Austin was often called upon to offer invocation for daily gatherings of the Texas legislature. The most succinct pleading to an almighty in those chambers issued from Mann’s lips when he asked of his god, “Dear lord, let us not speak here today unless we can improve upon the silence.” The capitol ought to have been without words since that day.
Silent prayer is what more than 50 faith leaders used to protest the further pursuit of Lt. Gov. Damn Patrick’s petty little ablution block bill to make people pee in a room that has their birth gender on the door. The clergy men and women brought honesty to a building filled with obfuscation and general misdirection when they pointed out that the laws are nothing but discriminatory and solve a problem that does not exist. Two hundred leaders of religious institutions signed a petition urging lawmakers to make less laws.
Especially stupid ones like the bathroom bill. This will be another failure for the angry right. House Speaker Joe Strauss sent the measure to a committee and it is not likely to ever get a floor vote.
Harvest of Shame: A Reprise
While state leadership worries about where people pee, they remain decidedly unconcerned with where they sleep and drink and eat, if they are farmworkers. Texas has about 200,000 farmworkers that grow and harvest your food, often by hand, and who are dependent upon their employers for housing. Most of them end up sleeping on floors in bug-infested shacks without plumbing, even though there are a set of standards that are supposed to be met by growers hiring the farmworkers.
The standards are overseen by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), which has not fined a single grower since it was given that authority in 2005. There is a bill before the legislature, HB 2365, which would crank the screws on growers who fail to provide adequate and licensed housing. But there isn’t the slightest indication it is even going to get a committee hearing with less than a month left in the session.
There are, apparently, more important matters to confront, like, uh, who gets to pee and where.
A Cross Wired World
There are far too many incidences of horror and general insanity for most of us to process. Enough of the incomprehensible transpires on an almost daily basis that the general population of the world might be forgiven for making claims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a consequence of just living.
How are we supposed to understand the loss of two young Texans to circumstances that are not to be believed even when they are proved factual? What do we say to the family of Jordan Edwards, a handsome Balch Springs kid who was a good student, a football player, and exemplary teen who was in a car with friends when a local police officer fired several rounds into the cab with an AR-15 automatic rifle and put a bullet into Jordan’s forehead? Multiple rounds were fired into a vehicle filled with kids just starting out their lives.
Multiple, goddamned rounds.
Yes, there were reports of loud teenagers drinking but Jordan was leaving the scene and an officer opened fire after claiming the vehicle the boy was riding in had accelerated backwards in the cop’s direction at a high rate of speed. This turned out to not be true. Body cameras showed that the story told by officer Roy Oliver was not the way events transpired. He has been fired and is appealing his dismissal.
Jordan’s brothers were in the car with him when he died. Where do they go from here? Where do any of us go from here?
And what about Harrison Brown? Just last year he was in high school, and was just days ago enjoying being a college freshmen during the spring on the campus of the University of Texas. Brown was the son of a teacher in Graham, Texas, who loved being a longhorn, heard music in the air that was guiding his life, and was stabbed to death by a fellow student. The suspect had apparently been self-admitted for treatment of mental issues, and then released.
And now we have the pathology of confronting our losses. Makeshift memorials arise. Tributes are paid. We try to remember. No one thinks understanding is possible. Something is broken. Nothing feels right. Who can measure the value of lives unlived?
What the hell do we do?
Anything for Billy
They often say that outlaw Billy the Kid was killed in New Mexico and died in Texas.
There is a undying legend the gunman was not slain by Pat Garrett but lived into his 90s and fell down dead on the street in Hico, Texas in 1950. The kid, who may have also been the Sumner, New Mexico cowboy known as “Brushy Bill” Roberts, or William Bonney, or Henry McCarty, had supposedly been seeking a pardon from that state’s governor while he was living out his days in Texas. What’s never been adequately explained, however, is how the story arose that the Kid was laid out by Garrett and somehow got up and rode off to Texas.
Hardly matters any more, though. Hico has a Billy the Kid Museum, and a grave that is purportedly where one of the worst killers to have rode the western frontier is buried.
And Texas has always been more about myths than men.
We Gotcher Tee’s Right Here
“Texas has four seasons. Drought, Flood, Blizzard and Twister.”
Texana II
Clyde Barrow (born in Telico, Texas): “No man but the undertaker will ever get me, if officers ever cripple me to where I see they will take me alive, I’ll take my own life.”
Clyde Barrow was born on March 24, 1909, into a poor farming family in Telico, Texas. Under the influence of his older brother, Clyde began a life of crime at an early age. In 1930, he met Bonnie Parker. The couple and their affiliated gang eventually went on an almost two-year crime spree that spanned several states, with various gang members committing acts of murder. After sustaining a bedraggled, on-the-run life, Bonnie and Clyde were killed in a police ambush in Louisiana on May 23, 1934. Their story has been heavily romanticized by the media, inspiring famous screen and stage treatments.
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“I don’t blame you for writing of me as you have. You had to believe other stories, but then I don’t know if anyone would believe anything good of me anyway.”
Billy the Kid