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Ben Sherman is a proud progressive and has been a BOR staff writer since 2011.

Texas Continues to Suffer From That Historic Drought

by: Ben Sherman

Wed Feb 19, 2014 at 10:00 AM CST

Texas has never recovered from the 2011 drought that starved towns of water and killed billions of dollars in agriculture. Texas' water supplies are still at an extreme low, Texas' population continues to drain the resources without state leadership, and the prospect of another drought hovers in the near future.

The Austin American-Statesman has a great piece on the drought's lingering in the Lone Star State. "It's been a doozy of a drought," Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center told the paper. "It's cumulative so that system has not recovered."

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Ted Cruz Stopped the GOP's Immigration Reform Effort?

by: Ben Sherman

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:00 AM CST

In late January, Speaker John Boehner sent out Republican "principles" for immigration reform. There was a lot of hubbub and hope when he did so, because it looked like a bill was near. It looked like the only significant legislation Congress would pass this entire year, but it was something.

And then along came Ted Cruz. He blasted his own party's plan as "amnesty" in an interview, and from that point forward Republican movement on a bill came to a halt. "After that it was 'We'll get back to you on immigration reform,' " said one Republican congressman to Hearst Newspapers.

Could it be? More below the jump.

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Greg Abbott Will Take Ted Nugent On Campaign Trail Tomorrow

by: Ben Sherman

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM CST

On Tuesday, Greg Abbott will proudly appear with a man who defecated in his pants for a week to avoid serving in the army and who recently called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel". Nugent will be a centerpiece of Abbott's early vote push. "According to an itinerary put out by the Texas Eagle Forum, Nugent will join Abbott in Denton at 11 am at El Guapo's and again at 2:45 pm at Wichita Falls' 8th Street Coffee House," the Dallas Morning News reports.

Though Abbott's early vote push is purely symbolic (he's got the Republican nomination locked up), the choice to associate himself with Ted Nugent has a lot of meaning.

More below the jump.

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Greg Abbott For Marijuana Status Quo

by: Ben Sherman

Mon Feb 17, 2014 at 09:00 AM CST

Last week, Sen. Wendy Davis announced she is for considering decriminalization of marijuana, and supports medical marijuana.

She said Texas needs to consider the "cost" of possession incarcerations, and that she supports medical marijuana. "I personally believe that medical marijuana should be allowed for," she said. "I don't know where the state is on that, as a population. Certainly as governor I think it's important to be deferential to whether the state of Texas feels that it's ready for that."

Only two weeks before those comments, Rick Perry said he favors decriminalizing the plant. A recent polling survey by the firm which most accurately predicted the 2012 elections found that 61 percent of Texans favor decriminalizing marijuana. Only 35 percent of those surveyed were Democrats.

Greg Abbott's got no interest. His campaign has made clear in the ensuing days that he'll be sticking to the status quo, thank you very much.

Read what the Abbott campaign said below the jump.

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Republican Rep. Stefani Carter Caused Car Crash She Compared To War

by: Ben Sherman

Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM CST

State Rep. Stefani Carter

In late January, North Texas State Rep. Stefani Carter was leaving a shopping center in Addison. She took a left without looking, and crashed her car into that of a young man named Rolando Cerezo. He was seriously injured, and is still unable to stand up or sit down for long periods of time due to severe back and neck pain. Carter has denied fault repeatedly while refusing to discuss details, but the now-full police report shows her to be at fault in the way so described.

"I didn't see her coming," Cerezo told the Dallas Morning News. "You're not expecting someone coming out of a shopping center to come straight across like that. You think they are going to watch both ways before coming on the road." Cerezo's life was on the line after the crash, and he is grateful it wasn't worse. "My face could've been crushed," he said.

At a debate against her three primary opponents one day after the crash, Carter compared her experience in the crash to her wounded veteran opponent's experience in war.

Yup. Story continues below the jump.

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Ted Cruz Making Crazy Attempt To Block Judges From Ruling For Marriage Equality

by: Ben Sherman

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM CST

On Wednesday, with only one co-sponsor, Ted Cruz introduced a bill to "ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions."

This, of course, is in reaction to two recent, and very important, developments. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act which means that the federal government can (and now does) recognize same-sex marriages legal in their respective states. Also crucial in the push for marriage equality has been federal judges in several states ruling that same-sex marriage bans there are unconstitutional. This happened in Virginia on Wednesday, and in Utah late last year.

Basically, Cruz wants to force judges' interpretations of the constitutionality of preventing two loving Americans from getting married with a ham-handed new law.

More below the jump.

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Hispanic Texas Republican Leaders Disgusted By Texas Republicans

by: Ben Sherman

Wed Feb 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM CST

Massey Villareal is a Houston businessperson who was recently chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. But he's fed up with his party's jingoism, and he's speaking out.

"I have made the Kool-Aid for many years for other Hispanics to come into the party - I made the Kool-Aid and people drank it," Villarreal told the Houston Chronicle. "And I refuse to make that kind of Kool-Aid anymore. Not for this party. Not for these leaders."

This cycle's lieutenant governor primary has been a tipping point of sorts. All four candidates stood up late last month at a debate and could barely contain their nativism. Dan Patrick was the loudest-mouthed of them, and his campaign is largely centered around warning of "alien" "invasions" of Texas. Villareal says Hispanic Republicans have taken note of Patrick's views, which have become representative of Republicans' rejection of Hispanic people.

"I don't know of one Hispanic Republican who isn't appalled by Dan Patrick," he said. "If Dan Patrick wins, he will be the Pete Wilson of Texas...When Dan Patrick talks about illegals, he's talking about my father"

More outrage from Texas Hispanic Republicans below the jump.

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Rick Perry and Chris Christie Dislike One Another

by: Ben Sherman

Sun Feb 09, 2014 at 03:00 PM CST

Rick Perry and Chris Christie share something in common: no presidential chance after huge national blunders. For Perry, it was his painful three-month campaign that can be summed up with "oops". For Chris Christie, it's the burgeoning and widening scandal of Christie's office purposely blocking a bridge to get back at political opponents. Instead of commiserating together, it appears that both larger-than-life governors are at each other's warbling throats.

They've both gone at each other. "He was a successful governor in New Jersey," Perry said on ABC's "This Week" right after Christie's 2013 re-election. "Now does that transcend to the country? We'll see in later years and months to come. We're all different states. Is a conservative in New Jersey a conservative in the rest of the country?" It's not hard to intuit Perry's answer.

And Christie's apparently been talking trash right back long before then, something Perry's aware of. During the 2012 primaries, Christie made clear that he thought Perry shouldn't be president. "Christie was unequivocal in saying that the Perry he had gotten to know, while a nice guy, was not suited for the presidency," a Republican familiar with the conversations told CNN. "That was not kept a secret. He was pretty comfortable telling people that. Major donors, other governors and the like. That quickly got back to Perry."

More below the jump.

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Texas State Surplus Store Accidentally Sells Hundreds of Texans' Private Information

by: Ben Sherman

Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 02:00 PM CST

Several filing cabinets sold at the southeast Austin State of Texas Surplus Store contained hundreds of Texans' most supposedly-secure information. Luckily, they fell into the hands of an honest person.

"The first thing I saw was a social security number, and I'm like, 'Wow,' and then there was names, there was Medicaid numbers and one in particular had a birth certificate stapled to the back," said David Reynolds, who bought the cabinets for his Round Rock business.

The documents of between 200-250 Texans are dated 2010-2012. More below the jump.

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Texas Teen With 'Affluenza' Avoids Jail Again

by: Ben Sherman

Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:30 PM CST

Ethan Couch

This week, Fort Worth Judge Jean Boyd again kept 17-year-old Burleson teen Ethan Couch from serving jail time for killing four people and severely injuring two while driving drunk late last year. On Wednesday, Judge Boyd sentenced Couch to a rehab facility that costs $450,000, to be paid for by his (affluenza-inducing) parents. In December, Judge Boyd sided with the defense, which argued in part that Couch had "affluenza" and could not see human morality past his parents' gobs of cash, and kept him out of jail.

"Couch was 16 at the time of the accident. His blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for an adult and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup truck and plowed into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled," the New York Post explains.

The charges against Burleson's Couch were brought by the families of the two survivors. One of them, Sergio Molina, is completely paralyzed except for his eyes, and communicates by blinking.

More below the jump.

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