Posts tagged Texas

From the Inside Out

Cover of "All Politics Is Local: And Othe...

Cover via Amazon

The late Con­gress­man and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All pol­i­tics is local.” Even as the national Con­gress seems stale­mated, unable to enact even such vital leg­is­la­tion as a jobs bill or firearm reform or a new immi­gra­tion bill, locked in seem­ingly end­less par­ti­san obstruc­tion­ism — even as inac­tion reigns supreme, state leg­is­la­tures across the coun­try are mak­ing progress, though too often the progress is in tak­ing states backward.

There is some good news. Col­orado will require more back­ground checks for gun sales, and will out­law high-​​capacity ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines. At least eigh­teen other states, how­ever, have loos­ened firearms restric­tions. As of July 1, for instance, Kansas will allow schools to arm employ­ees with con­cealed hand­guns, and will ensure weapons can be car­ried into more pub­lic buildings.

Are there peo­ple who hon­estly believe that the way to reduce gun vio­lence is to have more guns? Per­haps so; or per­haps much action in state leg­is­la­tures is more par­ti­san than ratio­nal.
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Supreme Court Watch: Tarrant Regional Water District v. Hermann

The Red River, look­ing well-​​red indeed.

I wrote a cou­ple of arti­cles recently about water. It is no coin­ci­dence that today the Supreme Court is hear­ing argu­ments in Tar­rant Regional Water Dis­trict v. Her­mann, a case about water, pre­cip­i­tated by a bat­tle over lim­ited water resources. As I men­tioned before, the United States is con­sum­ing water from our var­i­ous sources at a rate that exceeds the replen­ish­ment rate.

In this par­tic­u­lar case, a water util­ity dis­trict in Tar­rant County, Texas, is suing the state of Okla­homa over the rights to water from trib­u­taries in Okla­homa that feed the Red River, which bor­ders the two states. This hap­pened because Okla­homa, rec­og­niz­ing the increas­ing short­age of a pre­cious resource, passed leg­is­la­tion pro­hibit­ing any increases in divert­ing water to other states. Tar­rant RWD filed suit on the grounds that the leg­is­la­tion vio­lated the Constitution’s Com­merce Clause.

While the bat­tle was wend­ing its way through the courts, the law’s sun­set clause expired. In the mean­time, Okla­homa passed a series of addi­tional laws mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult for other states to obtain water per­mits for sources within Okla­homa. At that point, Tar­rant RWD amended its suit to cover the dis­crim­i­na­tory nature of those new laws, on the same Com­merce Clause grounds.  (more…)

Revealing a Pattern

Ever won­der whether there is a dif­fer­ence between extreme left-​​wing groups and extreme right-​​wing groups?

Back in early 2009, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity released two reports which had been in the works for some time. The first one, released in late Jan­u­ary of that year, dealt with the threat posed to the nation by left­ist groups. It was titled, “Left­wing Extrem­ists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Com­ing Decade.” You can down­load it here. It was released to lit­tle fan­fare, and almost no notice was taken by the press, by politi­cians, or by, well, much of anyone.

In fact, there were two ear­lier DHS reports released on left-​​wing groups the pre­vi­ous year: “Plans to Tar­get Trans­porta­tion Infra­struc­ture Sur­round­ing Repub­li­can National Con­ven­tion” was released in March of 2008, and “Ecoter­ror­ism: Envi­ron­men­tal and Animal-​​Rights Mil­i­tants in the United States” from May of that year. These, too, went pretty much unnoticed.

The sec­ond report released in early 2009 described the threats posed by right­ist groups in the United States. It was released in early April of 2009, under the title, “Rightwing Extrem­ism: Cur­rent Eco­nomic and Polit­i­cal Cli­mate Fuel­ing Resur­gence in Rad­i­cal­iza­tion and Recruit­ment.” You can obtain it here. It resulted in a firestorm of com­plaint and objec­tion from con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dits, blog­gers, media chan­nels, and politi­cians.

Why the dif­fer­ence in recep­tion? (more…)

Petition Competition

Within a week of the elec­tion in which Barack Obama won a sec­ond term while Democ­rats gained seats in both Houses and Repub­li­cans got what George W. Bush might call a “thumpin’,” peti­tions call­ing for var­i­ous states to secede from the union began to spring up across the nation like mush­rooms after a thundershower.

Most of these peti­tions were reg­is­tered at the White House offi­cial web­site, where over 675,000 dig­i­tal sig­na­tures appeared on 69 sep­a­rate peti­tions cov­er­ing all 50 states. Peti­tions from seven states soon exceeded the 25,000-signature thresh­old for White House action, with Texas lead­ing the pack one week in at over 94,000 sig­na­tures. Peti­tions cov­er­ing Alabama, Florida, Geor­gia, North Car­olina and Ten­nessee also crossed the required thresh­old for White House action.

In response to the requests for seces­sion, sev­eral counter-​​petitions call­ing for the exile and depor­ta­tion of those who signed the seces­sion peti­tions have appeared, and another peti­tion wants to strip cit­i­zen­ship rights from those who signed peti­tions to help states secede, accord­ing to the Daily Caller. Res­i­dents in three Texas cities, Hous­ton, Austin and El Paso, have signed peti­tions ask­ing to secede from Texas if Texas secedes from the Union. The Hous­ton peti­tion says that “those ask­ing for seces­sion of the state of Texas are men­tally defi­cient and we do not want them rep­re­sent­ing us. We would like more edu­ca­tion in our state to erad­i­cate their dis­ease.” As of this writ­ing the “men­tally defi­cient” peti­tion has 134 signatures.

These “seces­sion peti­tions” reflect the wide­spread post-​​election angst among Repub­li­cans. “Think Progress” reports that twenty-​​five per­cent of reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans now want their state to secede from the United States, accord­ing to a new poll from Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling.

Twenty-​​five per­cent! That’s a lot of dis­con­tent out there in Mid­dle Amer­ica.  (more…)

Ballot Watch: Plains States

This is Bal­lot Watch. Today is the 12th in the series of arti­cles on the upcom­ing bal­lot ini­tia­tives and some key local elec­tions. Some of these cov­ered top­ics in com­mon with mul­ti­ple states, but the remain­der look at a state level.

This is the mid­dle of the coun­try. Most of this ter­ri­tory is deeply Repub­li­can, though Iowa and Mis­souri are more closely bal­anced. Of these six states, Kansas and Nebraska have noth­ing of par­tic­u­lar inter­est going on in Novem­ber. The other four are described below the fold, with sig­nif­i­cant help from a cou­ple of our reg­u­lar com­menters.
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Texas: It’s Like a Whole Other Country

Cruz­ing to vic­tory. Photo: AP/​Houston Chron­i­cle, Johnny Hanson

Texas has always been different.

As Tex­ans are fond of telling out­siders (even them­selves), it’s the only part of the United States that was once a sov­er­eign nation. That’s the basis for the Governor’s Office of Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment and Tourism’s slo­gan, “It’s Like a Whole Other Coun­try”. Texas insur­gent forces won inde­pen­dence for Texas on the bat­tle­field in 1835 and 1836. Texas was a Repub­lic from 1836 until it joined the United States in 1845. Texas then seceded from the Union along with the other Con­fed­er­ate States of Amer­ica in 1861, and rejoined the United States with the South’s defeat in 1865.

There is a gen­eral belief amongst most Tex­ans that some sort of spe­cial “get out of the Union free” Easter Egg was implanted in the doc­u­ments that joined Texas to the United States. How­ever, not even the Texas Secede! web­site believes such a thing: “No such pro­vi­sion is found in the cur­rent Texas Con­sti­tu­tion (adopted in 1876) or the terms of annexation.”

Texas estab­lished one more dif­fer­ence between itself and the rest of the Union on Tues­day: in an elec­tion cycle when the Tea Party has been declared dead and buried, Tex­ans showed that, in Faulkner’s words, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” They advanced for­mer state Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Ted Cruz as the Repub­li­can can­di­date in the gen­eral elec­tion, where he should cruise to an easy vic­tory over Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­nee Paul Sadler. (more…)

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