It's Friday -- Let's Get Out of Here

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

I don't remember these drastic budget cuts at Chico ISD (or Dallas ISD for that matter). And I feel like I was right: We hadn't seen school cuts like that before. And we haven't seen them since.    

  • Some things never change: We dropped some bombs on the Middle East last night. 

  • So yesterday evening the news broke that the Minimum Wage provision won't go into the Senate's version of the Stimulus Package because a parliamentarian said it wasn't procedurally proper? What's going on? The Republicans rammed through three Supreme Court justices and the Democrat controlled Senate now can't pass a law which the majority of American's overwhelming support? 

  • Seriously?

  • There were hearings at the state legislature yesterday on the energy fiasco last night. As expected, it didn't reveal or fix anything of note.  But I did learn the number of people who might find their monthly of electric bills to be in the thousands of dollars: 

  • DeAnn Walker is the head of the Public Utilities Commission, and was basically the only one to get beat up by legislators because she didn't seem to know very much. “I don’t think I understood the situation and underlying issues until we’ve lived through this,” she said. 

  • Much like the golden calf, a golden Trump was rolled into the CPAC convention last night. Now if they can just avoid the 40 years of wandering in the desert.  

  • I missed this particular picture at the rally before the Trump Supporters Stormed The Capitol.  It's a lot like that old Apple "1984" commercial from the Super Bowl. 

  • I got the mailer from the Runaway Bay Mayor going after the Messenger for criticizing Rep. Ronny Jackson for supporting of The Big Lie.  If I understand the mailer, his defense is the The Big Lie isn't a lie at all. Sheesh. (By the way, the complained of item in the Messenger was an "editorial" and not an "article.") Side note: How much did this cost him? 

  • An update on a wild story: This guy just received 10 years in federal prison  "Mark Kuper, 44, of Aledo began his career as a surgeon. But after several malpractice lawsuits related to his surgeries, he converted his practice in 2014 to an unregistered pain management clinic, the feds say."  He tried to burn the receipts in 2017 but accidentally burned his mansion down. Any chances that guy was a little wheels off in his every day life? 

  • Lady Gaga's dog walker was shot and wounded and her two dogs were stolen. The singer has offered $500,000 for their return - "no questions asked."  I'm not sure what the dog walker and attempted murder victim thinks about the "no questions" part. 

  • Watch this deep-fake of Tom Cruise. There's a scary world coming. 

  • It's legal stuff most of you won't care about but Ethan Couch's mom, Tonya, tried to get her cases thrown out First Amendment grounds. The Fort Worth Court of Appeals shot it down yesterday. I think the arguments are pretty interesting. Her lawyers are Houston lawyer, and noted First Amendment scholar, Mark Bennett as well as Stephanie Patten out of Fort Worth. 
  • In the nerdiest of legal things, some lawyers got very excited yesterday when the Supreme Court used the notation "cleaned up" for the first time yesterday.  ("Cleaned up" basically means the court is quoting another opinion but not using a verbatim quote because internal quotation marks, brackets, and ellipses have been omitted. This new citation tool was first proposed in a 21 page legal article in 2017  here, and I'm a little concerned that I care enough to dedicate a bullet point to this. 

  • Twenty-two years after it debuted, I'm six episodes into The Sopranos. Pretty, pretty good. 
  • Time which has passed since the Wise County Sheriff's Office has failed to solve the murder of Lauren Whitener in her home at Lake Bridgeport: 602 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

I have no memory of this. And the WFAA link is dead so I can't find out all the hubbub was about.  

  • There was another murder arrest made in Wise County this week by the Wise County Sheriff's Office after a "fistfight." But for the life of me I don't understand this quote which appeared in the Messenger:

  • Edit after published: We may have another murder this morning
  • Bridgeport is like Denton in that it is "its own electric utility", but according to the Messenger story yesterday they aren't worried about high bills. Denton is: 

  • A video of a Harris County deputy in Houston acting like a nutcase has been circulating.  (Language warning.)  He's been placed on administrative leave for now. And this is a good time to point out that I'm seeing an increase in cursing by law enforcement in Wise County in the videos I routinely view as part of my job.  I've seen a couple just casually drop an F bomb while confronting a motorist.  

  • If you've been following this story about the Attorney General of South Dakota who claimed he thought he hit a deer with his vehicle when it was actually a person, it just got a little crazy -- maybe. Look at those opening lines in the story below. (His police interview has been released, and I've cued up the video to start where he talks about finding the body the next day.)  But he'll probably escape punishment as he should: He stopped and called the cops as soon as impact was made. As for the glasses, his car had to be towed because of the damage, and I don' think anyone noticed them at the scene. 

  • We had a pretty good Trump Insurrectionist arrest story yesterday as one guy (next to the Jesus Saves sign, below) was caught because he texted his ex-girlfriend during the Storming to tell her,  "If you can’t see the election was stolen you’re a moron.”  She, taking offense at being called a moron by someone like that, then turned the guy in. He was seen on video inside the Capitol. 
    Man making life changing decisions because he loves Trump decides to tell
    ex that she's the one who is actually a moron. 

  • I've been on the I-35 tollway in Fort Worth many times before, but I finally had to use it to go directly into downtown.  I'm now a big fan. That dedicated exit and entrance from Belknap makes it easy as pie.   (But I did pay attention to the location of the icy pile-up from a couple of weeks ago. You can see how it could happen due to the contours and slight curves in the highway. It gave me chills. And I saw a guy on the shoulder taking photographs -- probably lawsuit related.)
  • High profile Republicans were out in full support of Trump yesterday.  And they are right. 

  • Congresswomen on both sides are in mature form. Both posts with videos are here. (But Newman has a transgendered child. Greene is just mean.)  

  • The crazy QAnon church in Frisco is at it again. Last night they held an event called "How the 2020 Election Was Stolen" with the speaker being the insurance attorney, Paul Davis, who got fired for being an Insurrectionist on January 6th.  I'm beginning to pity these delusional people. 

    • Davis is now involved in an embarrassing lawsuit to throw out the election which has been wildly made fun of by lawyers and anyone else with a half a brain. 

    • Oh, and Davis signature block now looks like this: 

  • The Bridgeport Sissies beat Argyle in the playoffs last night 37-36. Here's the last few seconds where Argyle got two good shots off that didn't fall. 

  • I'm going to link to this (possible paywall) because its author, David Sibley, is a faithful Liberally Lean reader. 

  • A county commissioner for Wichita County picked up a DWI . . . 


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

We were in the beginning of a Senate race in Texas 10 years ago because Kay Bailey Hutchison announced she wouldn't seek re-election. That poll from February 2011 was taken from the Texas Tribune and the story link it came from is still good. (I predicted Dewhurst? I hadn't quite fine-tuned my political prognostication skills. And I don't even know who the "Dallas mayor" was which I was referring to.) 

  • A lot of people are saying they are surprised that Tiger Woods survived his car crash. Considering the passenger compartment was intact, the air bags properly deployed, and he was wearing his seat belt, I'm surprised his leg was injured as badly as it was. (As to the location, I think I've got the Google Maps coordinates of the crash linked here.)

  • Texas mandated seat belts in 1985. Even back then, there were cries of, "We don't need the gubment telling us what to do!"
  • Jacksboro's David Spiller won the run off for a state representative position last night. Everyone call him at home this morning and ask him what he's going to do about ERCOT, and when he can direct a plumber your way. 

  • An 18-wheeler got in the way of a train in Milam County yesterday. (Video of explosion.)

  • The crazy QAnon Shaman and horn-headed Jacob Chansley has filed a motion to get released prior to trial, and his crazy lawyer started it off with a Mark Twain quote.  Like every one of Trump's supporters who stormed the Capitol as an act of insurrection, he doesn't care about the truth: Twain never said that. 

  • QAnon nutcases got really excited yesterday when the U.S. Marshals official account tweeted out the tweet below. (Just look at he replies to it.)  Apparently, they believe it is secret code regarding a clandestine plot to re-install Trump as president on March 4th. 

  • Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who might be one of the dumbest men in America, said last night he couldn't find "Q" after spending all day looking for him on the Internet.  Sheesh. And he doesn't realize that he just offended a lot of his viewers for downplaying the existence and importance of QAnon. 

  • That freezing week was awful, right? Well, the IRS has given Texas an olive branch. 

  • Frye's Electronics, which used to be a sight to behold when you walked into one of them but which had fallen on hard times, abruptly went out of business forever last night. At it's peak, it had eight stores in Texas (with one in South Arlington and one on LBJ in north Irving.)

  • I've heard there is a Wise County mayor sending out a flyer lambasting the Messenger for criticizing Rep. Ronny Jackson promotion of The Big Lie in an editorial last month entitled "Cancerous lies threaten democracy."   How could he, or anyone else for that matter, not possibly understand that 81 million people turned out to vote against who they perceived to be the most hated man in America? And I'm still not sure how Jackson got elected after he had to withdraw his nomination to be head of the VA. 

  • I really don't spend a lot of time following Wise County basketball, but I did see this photo from last weekend's game which eliminated Bridgeport from the playoffs. Hand to the face? 

  • Arkansas has a minimum wage that is 28% higher than that of Texas.  Arkansas.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

The similarities between now and 2011 are pretty amazing. We had two snow/ice storms hit during that Super Bowl Week, and then it warmed up dramatically.  It's going to be 80 degrees today. 

  • Thirty-one new Texas counties have been added to the Federal Disaster Declaration. Jack County is still not included. (Someone told me that the County Judge for each county had to submit a "Property Damage Assessment" in order to get on the list. I haven't confirmed this and need to ask Wise County Judge J.D. Clark about it.)
  • CPAC, the annual gathering of ultra-conservatives, had to kick someone off the agenda yesterday. Their theme this year was on of anti-cancel culture. 

  • In case you were wondering, it was "Young Pharaoh" who got cancelled by CPAC. "He has pushed several conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Pizzagate and Frazzledrip. He has also has said that both the COVID-19 pandemic and the January 6 Capitol riots were staged events planned by left-wing politicians . . . ."  Uh, if that's what it takes to get you disqualified, they might want to check the background of the rest of the speakers. 
  • Our next Attorney General, Merrick Garland -- a man who got screwed out of a Supreme Court seat by Mitch McConnell -- proved yesterday that he will not be Bill Barr. Go get 'em.

  • I finally watched the video of the black kid in Plano arrested for walking in the street in the snow. I've got some hot legal opinions.

    • You want to know something shocking? The cops did nothing illegal. Why? We've allowed Fourth Amendment law to evolve to such an extent that cops have the authority to jack with people for basically any reason -- prosecutors can almost always justify it for them. Let me explain.   
    • Notice how the Plano police first try to get him to stop by stalking him and "kindly" asking him to talk to them? They were just trying to use the "consensual encounter" law which allows them to voluntarily talk to anyone at any time without probable cause or without reasonable suspicion. If the kid would have stopped and talked to the cops, there wouldn't be a "detention" at all. The law would just consider it to be a citizen voluntarily talking to a cop. But the kid completely ignored the cops -- something he was perfectly allowed to do when cops attempt this "consensual encounter." 
    • Other than the "consensual encounter", is there another way where cops can detain someone who is doing nothing wrong? Yep. There's the Community Caretaking Function - law which is completely made up by the courts  and which Plano police initially tried to use to justify the stop. (The cop said, "Dude, stop, we’re trying to help you!”) That legal doctrine shouldn't work in this case, but there's a lot of judges who would bite on theory. 
    • Ok, let's assume it's not a valid use of the Community Caretaking Function (it's not), didn't the kid break the law and justify the detention once he failed to identify himself as requested by the cop as he walked away? Nope. You only have to identify yourself when you are "legally detained." You don't have identify yourself during a "consensual encounter." 
    • But in this case it evolved into a legal detention when they stopped the kid against his will. How was it legal? Police just need a suspicion that is reasonable that the kid was violating any law in order to detain. In this case, they could use a "fine only" law like Texas Transportation Code § 552.006 which provides "A pedestrian may not walk along and on a roadway if an adjacent sidewalk is provided and is accessible to the pedestrian." Ticky-tacky? You bet. But they just need a law -- any law -- to justify the stop. 
    • Wait! You noticed in § 552.006 that the sidewalk has to be "accessible"? Check out the big brain on Brad! Can't it be said the kid's stop and detention was illegal because the sidewalk wasn't "accessible" because it was icy? That is, he didn't actually break the law?  Nope. Doesn't matter. Get this massive loophole: A person doesn't actually have to be violating a law in order to be detained. The cops just need to "suspect" you are violating law so long as that the suspicion is "reasonable." They can even ultimately be wrong so long as they had a "reasonable suspicion" at the time of the stop.
    • Corollary: What if the cops didn't even know about Texas Transportation Code § 552.006? That is, they stopped him because they got pissed off at him?  Would that make the stop illegal? Nope. Their subjective intent doesn't matter. So long as their is an objective basis based upon some law, the stop of the kid is legal. Shocking? Yep. 
    • But they arrested the kid on a fine-only offense. That has to be illegal right? Nope. In Texas, cops can arrest you for any Class C fine-only offense (except speeding, open container in a car, and texting on a cell phone in a car. See Texas Transportation Code § 543.004.) 
    • So why did Plano drop the § 552.006 Walking In A Street case? Because this whole thing looked bad. That's the sole reason. They got scared of a public backlash. 
    • But you know how this works in real life with a slightly different factual situation? The cops searched the kid after the arrest (also completely legal) and find a little bit of weed on him. His lawyer can't get the case thrown out because the detention, arrest, and search was legal. The kid gets placed on probation, but is so pissed off that he got screwed over by the cops he blows it off. His probation gets revoked and gets a month in jail. And then he is forever branded a criminal and has difficulty getting a job for the rest of his life because he's a black guy with a criminal record. That's the American criminal justice system in a nutshell. 
  • Something I'll never get the chance to do, but would love to: Go inside the Oval Office. I've seen it so many times on the news and re-created to perfection in TV and movies, I feel like I know the place. (It's got four doors. Two are built into the wall in the back and hardly noticeable, a formal one to the direct left leads to a study, and another ornate one to the direct right leads to the Rose Garden.) If I were President, I'd wander out in the Rose Garden a lot.  

  • I pointed out the Live Streams of Texas courts yesterday and then noticed they didn't go live until late in the morning yesterday. I'm not sure what happened. (And many were showing "live" this morning even before 8:00 a.m.  That ain't right.)
  • Speaking of those live feeds, I got pissed off while randomly watching a municipal judge out of West Texas. Some young girl with two kids was appearing by Zoom conference, and the cops had wrote her up for three traffic violations for one stop. She then missed a court date and got an additional three Failure to Appear citations. She ignorantly pled guilty and the judge found her guilty on all six cases and jacked her with around $2,000 in fines -- money she obviously didn't have (she asked for community service but was ignored.) 
    • The only people who are truly "punished" for Class C fine-only offenses are the poor. 
  • I was thinking about the documentary Outcry which featured the high schooler in Williamson County who was wrongfully prosecuted and imprisoned for sexual assault of a child. I knew that one of the assistant D.A.s on the case, Geoffrey Puryear, was shockingly appointed by Gov. Abbott to be a judge in Travis County, but I hadn't seen an update. Here it is:  Puryear got slaughtered in an election last fall and is now in private practice in Lubbock.