Category Archives: Texas News

Let Lieutenant Dan be the First in Line

Red admits he was conflicted by the rolling shutdown of businesses in Texas and throughout the country.   First it was AustinDallas and then San Antonio issuing shelter-in-place orders.  But when Waco  and McClennan County officials announced a closure of all non-essential businesses, Red began to realize that we are in some seriously deep doo doo with this COVID-19 crisis in Texas.   When the heart of Texas and the heart of Texas conservatism (sorry Tarrant County – you’re getting kind of squishy) is taking this matter seriously, then something is really up.  Red doesn’t not pretend to be privy to the expert medical advice given to such officials, but if Waco is shutting down then the reports must be ominous.

Our Poor Idiot Governor Greg Abbott (and don’t take particular offense at this characterization as, in Red’s humble opinion, Abbott is just one in an almost continuous line of OPIG’s dating back to at least whoever came after Alan Shivers) has refused to do much of anything other than close schools and mumble something about gatherings of more than 10 people.  Even worse, Abbott has laughably claimed that he likes to defer to local authorities in such times of crisis.  Curious, how he and the GOP controlled legislature have repeatedly railed against local authorities when they have addressed relatively minor issues like plastic bag bans, tree protection ordinances and some more important ones like fracking bans.  His message has consistently been “I love local government – except when it goes against my right-wing Trumpian dogma.” But now it’s- “Hey, local guys you do what you think is right so that I can have my political cover come next election and say I didn’t destroy the Texas economy – it was all those local Democrats who overreacted.”  It must be tough to maintain a straight face . . .

And speaking of overreaction, here is Red’s take on the issue.  We will never know if the current measures being adopted were needed or effective.  Or at least there will never be an admission from the opponents of such measures that the a general shut down prevented thousands or perhaps millions of deaths.  If such shut-downs stop the spread of the virus, it would seem there is no real way to actually measure the effectiveness of such measures – other than maybe compare us to Italy or Spain.  Red did not do well in probability and statistics and will leave that to others.

However, if the naysayers get their way – maybe we will be able to tell if they were right or wrong.  If we all just go back to normal shoulder-to-shoulder daily life and work and play and COVID-19 kills off no more of us than might bite it in a typical bad flu season, then one could rightfully argue that a shut-down was not needed.  But here’s the kicker – if the let’s’-just-keep-rolling-along-as-if-this-is-no-big-deal crowd is wrong, really wrong, then the consequences could be catastrophic.  This is life and death folks – who wants to gamble?

Okay, so back to the real point of this little diatribe.  This morning Red awoke to the pronouncement of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that our senior citizens should be willing to go down taking one in the gut (or the lungs as the case may be) in order for their grandchildren to have a fully functioning economy.  Red will let Lt. Dan speak for himself here.

No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in. And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that.

I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me … that what we all care about and what we all love more than anything are those children.  And I want to, you know, live smart and see through this, but I don’t want to see the whole country to be sacrificed, and that’s what I see.

The message here seems to be pretty clear – Screw the old folks, we’ve got shit to sell.  And as an old man himself, Lt. Dan is taking the supposed high road.  In effect, “I’ll roll the dice because otherwise my political party and career are probably headed for the crapper.”

So while Red was conflicted (remember that’s how this all began), once he heard Lt. Dan’s noble gesture, Red knew that this was a serious problem and that any measures we take should not be half-hearted.  Stay at home as much as possible, wash your hands, maintain “social distance” (we really need a new name for that), enjoy your family, exercise, pull some weeds, have a nice drink, watch some Have Gun Will Travel reruns (highly recommended).  Do the right thing.

And while we are at, Red has some Kool-Aid ready for  Lt. Dan just in case he wants to be the first in line.  Take one for the team buddy!  One potential infection vector down!

P.S. –  On the way in, Red heard right-wing radio bloviator Michael Berry going on about what a crock these shut-downs are – effectively a Commie plot to destroy his beloved Republican Party and force everyone into government servitude.  If Red had any lingering doubts about whether a shut down was the right course of action, hearing Berry’s lying, fear-mongering rant removed any doubt.  A rule that is without exception:  When an utter POS like Berry is against something, it must be the right course of action.

The Year of the Woman (Judge that is)

Red was a bit perplexed by the utter dominance of the female judicial candidates in the Democratic primary earlier this month.  If you were a male running for judge in one of the major urban counties and faced a female opponent, you were very likely out of luck and not going to be on the ballot in November cruising to victory.  That women were winning was not a particular surprise, but the margins of victory in many of these races were astounding.  In your typical judicial race (where maybe 1% of the voters have some clue about the qualifications of the candidates) some of the female candidates were winning by up to 40 points.  Red can understand the woman candidate winning based on demographics and turnout but a 40 point margin in a race between two unknowns is almost bizarre.

In the process, Texas lost some very good male judges.  That is not to say that the new judges will not be as good, but booting out those with a proven track record for the unknown is somewhat disturbing.   Fortunately Off the Kuff has some analysis that may keep Red from going off the deep end.

Someone finally came to their senses and guess what, it wasn’t Our Poor Idiot Governor

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Despite repeated warnings, crowds of spring breakers still flooded into South Padre Island earlier this week as our State government did nothing to prevent such mass gatherings.  Our youths were not about to let the fear of COVID-19 stop the partying because – well, their brains are still forming and those judgment regions are still a work in progress.  That’s why sometimes you have to exercise some authority.  Our Poor Idiot Governor took no action and crowds of several thousand SBers were seen at venues across SPI.  Fortunately, some less idiotic heads prevailed and county officials in south Texas banned gatherings of more than 50 people.  This cut down the crowds considerably in the last day or two, but who know if the COVID-19 cow has kicked down the barn door.

Is Houston’s Economy Sinking?

Texas’ largest city is staring at some bleak economic numbers according to Texas Monthly.  With oil and gas prices falling and Houston not being known as an innovation hub, some economists are wondering what will prop up the Houston economy in the near-term.  It certainly is not a tourist destination.  As Red has remarked, one of the worst things about Houston is no one ever comes to visit you and one of the best things about Houston is no one ever comes to visit you.

One interesting point the TM article makes is how the University of Houston led by Tillman Fertita (billionaire owner of bad restaurants and crappy resorts) and State Sen. John Whitmire killed off the University of Texas’ planned expansion on a 300 acre site just south of Loop 610.  That project would have been a major engine of economic growth for the city, but was shit-canned because UH was afraid of any real competition. Maybe rightfully so.  For a city of almost 5 million to have only two major universities (UH and Rice) and a smattering of smaller second or third tiers (TSU, HBU, St. Thomas, UH-Downtown) is almost criminal and clearly has held Houston back compared to other areas who apparently value higher education.   Good work in protecting your turf at the expense of your community guys!

Red on Panic Buying

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Red and Mrs. Red went to the local larder on Tuesday night to stock up on a few things.  There wasn’t really panic buying yet, but there were some early signs.  Like the guy in front of Red in line who had snapped up 5 boxes of Whataburger Pancake Mix.  Mrs. Red noticed that he had forgotten the syrup.

But now, panic buying is probably done with for a few days because the shelves have been cleaned out.  This will be good news for the local food banks in a few months as people don’t know what to do with the case of tomato puree and canned potatoes that they bought.

Here’s Red’s simple tip for knowing when panic buying has reached the crazy stage:

WHEN THE LITTLE DEBBIES ARE GONE, THE END TIMES ARE NEAR!

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A local retail landmark for the Houston Jewish community and others is set to close in January.  Belden’s Food Market will cease operations after more than half a century in business.  Belden’s was one of the last big box independent grocers in Houston offering a wide variety of Kosher foods as well as being a full service grocery store.

The  Meyerland store has been struggling for some time as HEB, Kroger and Whole Foods have upgraded their stores and locations.  HEB tore down its old store and replaced it with an ultra-modern new outlet in Bellaire and is set to open a Meyerland location later this year about a mile away from Belden’s location.

Belden’s survival as an independent was not helped by the unending onslaught of floods in the Meyerland area (Tax Day Flood, Memorial Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey) which have pushed many of the older Jewish residents out of Meyerland and cutting into Belden’s customer base.

Is that a real Poncho, or is that a Sears Poncho?

With apologies to Frank Zappa, Red reports on the sad demise of State Rep. Poncho Nevarez (D – Eagle Pass).  A warrant for his arrest on felony drug charges was issued on Thursday.  Nevárez was apparently caught on surveillance footage at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport dropping an envelope filled with cocaine as he was leaving the airport.  It is unclear if the drop was intentional or accidental but unfortunately for Poncho, the envelope had his official House seal on it and contained about 2 ounces of coke.

On September 6, two Texas Department of Transportation employees found the envelope outside the special entrance to the airport that is used by state officials.  Who knew?  After DPS got involved, they reviewed the CCTV footage showing Poncho leaving the airport getting into the car of his chief of staff and dropping the envelope.

Frighteningly, Poncho chairs the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.  Soothingly, he announced last week he was retiring from the House.  And at least he has the cojones to admit he screwed up – big time.  According to  a statement released by Poncho, the news is correct.  “I do not have anyone to blame but myself. I accept this because it is true and it will help me get better.”