What’d We Miss While America Lost Its S**t This Week?

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Every time one of our elected officials issues a press statement about Syrian refugees or appears on a local newscast to express his (they’re all he’s) alarm at the current situation, I can’t help but wonder what story we’re not hearing about or reading. This week, I kept of list of stories that had a hard time competing with the hysteria that’s becoming the new, horrific normal. Here are my top five stories for the reality-based society, in no particular order, complete with special musical bonus if you read to the end!

  1. There’s an Gigantic Technology Cost Overrun in the Attorney General’s Office, and the Texas House and the Federal Government Are Having None of It. The Austin American Statesman, in another of example of their excellent ongoing reporting on state contracting, first detailed the $100 million cost overrun of the Attorney General Office T2 project to overhaul the technology used to track and enforce child support back in October. This week, the story reached the Legislature where the House Appropriations Committee held a four-hour long hearing on the T2 project. The lawmakers were “completely floored” by the combination of cost overruns and the basic mismanagement under what one presumed to be under the former AG (and present governor’s) watch. And the federal government, which is covering the costs for 2/3 of this technology “upgrade,” stopped payment last week.
  2. In What Can Only Be Called an Ironic Twist, the State of Texas Actually Defended the Right to Vote at the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the redistricting case Evenwal v. Abbott. Texas is actually the defendant in this case and seeks to maintain the current state senate district maps.
  3. Two Special Immigration Detention Centers for Children Are Set to Open Because 800 Unaccompanied Kids Arrive in North Texas Today. On Tuesday, The San Antonio Express-News published the story about two new family detention centers to be opened in Texas this month. US Department of Homeland Security said, “Out of an abundance of caution, the Office of Refugee Resettlement at Health and Human Services has begun a process to expand its temporary capacity to house unaccompanied children.” Apparently, “begun a process” actually means “800 unaccompanied children will be sent to North Texas on Friday, and we’re only going to give Ellis and Rockwall Counties two days notice about it (even though we’ve arranged to have 200 volunteers there, so it’s not something we just threw together in the last 48 hours).” The number of children and families coming into Texas is at a higher-than-normal level for the winter months, so this story appears to be headed back to the headlines. Dallas television stations are already airing stories that highlight security fears and about the cost of caring for unaccompanied minors, suggesting that federal tax dollars should not be spent on them and that private charities should pay for their needs.
  4. There Are Serious Problems on the Border, Including the People Doing the Patrolling. The Texas Observer has published a chilling account of corruption and lawlessness among Border Patrol agents in Texas. Melissa Del Bosque and Patrick Michels continue their amazing reporting on the border. A must read.
  5. Ted Cruz Lied About Climate Change on NPR. Yes, it’s Ted Cruz story, but it’s one you may have missed in the blur of outrage and horror caused by Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets. In a media followup to his kangaroo court Senate subcommittee hearing on the science of climate change, Cruz was interviewed by NPR’s Steven Inskeep on Wednesday morning. Spoiler alert: he lied about the climate science, constantly, which McArthur Fellow James Gleick annotated lie-by-lie on Scienceblogs. (What’s more, Cruz slyly attacked science, period. Who says he’s not a bit of a Counter-reformer? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.)

Here’s a little lagniappe for all y’all who made it to the end! Apparently, I’m not the first American to wonder “What’d did I miss?” There’s a long tradition of people not keeping up with the news in the U.S. of A. Take a listen and smile, all you Hamilton fanatics out there. Sincerely, L. Burr


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