Bipartisan Lawyers Step up to Defend Rick Perry. Seriously.

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A crew of bipartisan lawyers think that this should never have happened.

Traditionally, when anyone claims that a bipartisan group got together to protest anything, you can issue a snort of derision and comfortably state that if such group is bipartisan than pigs can take wing. However, in this one case Gov. Rick Perry seems to have pulled off the impossible.

Yes, somehow a bipartisan group of lawyers got together to file an amicus brief with the 390th District Court on behalf of Perry. On Monday, the group, led by former Texas Solicitor General James C. Ho, filed a brief contending that Perry's indictment was bogus and unconstitutional and that the charges should be dismissed.

The amici curiae is supposed to be a "diverse coalition of experts in the fields of constitutional and criminal law," as noted in the brief, but what's stunning in this case is that the group that signed on for this actually is diverse. There's Floyd Abrams, the lawyer who represented the New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case. Then there's Michael Barone, a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Ashutosh Bhagwat, a professor at UC Davis School of Law. Right alongside him on the list is Jeff Blackburn, founder and chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas. Stop and ponder that one for a minute. One of Perry's defenders is the guy who started the Innocence Project of Texas. Paul Coggins is a former U.S. Attorney appointed by former President Bill Clinton. Alan Deershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, is one of the most famous civil liberties lawyers in the country.

And we're not done yet.


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5 Signs the Cruz-pocalypse Is Upon Us

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Is the Cruz-pocolypse upon us?

It's finally happening. The time of the Cruz-pocalypse is nigh.

We tried to pretend it wasn't going to happen. After all, the Republicans gained control of the Senate and kept control of the House there was talk that Congress might actually do things going forward, instead of just constantly fighting. That would mean that everyone, even Sen. Ted Cruz, would have to stop yammering, sit down and actually do some legislating.

But then we read some tea leaves and examined the astrological signs and all the other harbingers and forced ourselves to face the inevitable: Cruz isn't going to slide back into the vast sea of Republican senators. He's already refusing to endorse Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senator Majority Leader and threatening to force a vote on President Obama's "amnesty" plans. And that's just for starters. No, the writing is on the wall that he'll continue to make headlines, make speeches and keep right on Cruz-ing things up as he picks up steam for that practically inevitable run for president.


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Texas Was Hardly a "Battleground" Last Night

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The man behind this ad is your new governor, Texas.

Anyone hoping Texas' deep red days were behind us got a big fat wakeup call last night. The AP called the governor's race for Greg Abbott just an hour after the polls closed (not much of a surprise there), and as election results continued to trickle in, this much became clear: big, moneyed efforts completely failed at pushing Texas any closer toward swing-state territory. No way in hell does it look like Texas will "turn blue" any time soon; last night, it just got a deeper shade of red.

Battleground Texas, the group started by former Obama operatives that hoped to boost the state's Democratic vote, appears to have changed very little this go at it. Some say its blunders -- like declaring in a memo right before Election Day that voter turnout was totally up, when it was really totally down -- may have actually hurt Democratic prospects in Texas. Maybe it really was impossible to make any gains with this level of anti-Obama fervor bleeding into state races across the country.

Battleground Texas had from the start said it was playing a long game, saying it couldn't change Texas overnight. But the statement last night from executive director Jenn Brown, lauding the group's "unprecedented data infrastructure" and "cutting-edge digital strategies that helped connect Texans in every community," was exactly the kind of opaque language you'd expect when there's very little silver lining to point to.

There are a number of reasons to believe Texas might not turn blue anytime soon -- booming population in the state's red-leaning suburbs, small towns that are even more staunchly Republican than they used to be, and a state Democratic party that can't field enough candidates to even put at Democrat in every race across the state (see this handy Texas Monthly graphic). So lets look at some of last night's races to see what prompted state GOP chairman Steve Munesteri to oh-so-humbly declare, "We annihilated Battleground Texas."

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Texas Is Seeing Red: The Best (and Worst) Election Night Twitter Rants

Well, it appears that Texas is remaining awfully red. At least for the next four years or so, anyway.

With the results of last night's elections leaning quite heavily in favor of Texas Republicans, quite a few of the folks who were aiming to turn Texas blue took to Twitter to voice their frustrations.

We love a good vent -- especially on social media -- and so many of the Dems' responses were too clever to pass up. So we've compiled some of the best to help you ease those blue-blooded wounds this morning.

But don't worry. There's more.

While we were trolling our Twitter timelines for reactions that measured up to comedic gold, we came across some of the worst sore winner comments we've ever seen, and because we were kind of horrified, we've thrown some in for good measure. Fair is fair, right?

Here's to four more years, folks.

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Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: HERO Supporters "Will Be Destroyed"

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Reality TV, duck calls and homophobia came to a head this weekend during the "I Stand Sunday" event at Grace Community Church, a protest thrown by conservative Christians in their fight against the "dark forces" and the "radical agenda" that is (apparently) sweeping our nation.

Thousands of people showed up last night for I Stand Sunday, a rally by conservatives against the City of Houston's HERO ordinance, which bans discrimination against gay and transgender people. The televised service featured speeches from a number of well-known conservative leaders, including Fox News host Mike Huckabee and the Duck Dynasty reality star Phil Robertson.

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Ex-Fire Union President Erased His Computer Weeks Before He Quit

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flickr/Christopher Ebdon

The tumultuous back-and-forth between the local fire union and the Parker administration was punctuated last month by the abrupt resignation of Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association president Bryan Sky-Eagle, just 11 months into a three-year term.

Discord within the ranks over Sky-Eagle steering the union in some very unpopular directions -- like suing the union's umbrella group, the International Association of Fire Fighters, or negotiating a contract with the city that a whopping 93 percent of fire fighters flatly rejected -- had boiled over into violent threats. In a September 1 letter to his members, Sky-Eagle quit citing "venomous actions, mental and physical, taken against me by those who call themselves my 'brothers.'"

Sky-Eagle said he received "threats of, and calls for, violence against me, my wife and my children" via email and Facebook.

While the city's Office of Inspector General is investigating those threats, union members are trying to figure out something else about their former president's resignation: Why did Sky-Eagle erase all data on his union computer weeks before he quit?


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The City Is Withdrawing Sermon Subpoenas, So Stop Sending Bibles

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carl & tracy gossett
The City of Houston is withdrawing the controversial "sermon subpoenas" that targeted five local religious leaders who vocally fought the city's equal rights ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker announced Wednesday.

"I am directing the city legal department to withdraw the subpoenas," said Parker.

Parker's announcement came amid heavy criticism over the subpoenas, which targeted local pastors who were particularly critical of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and worked with activists who petitioned to repeal it. The city is now fighting a lawsuit against a group of Christian activists who say they got enough signatures to put the anti-discrimination policy to a public ballot referendum; the city threw out entire pages of signatures, saying they were incorrectly gathered and that the petition failed to meet the mark.

Conservative leaders responded to the subpoenas with outrage, urging people to send sermons and bibles to the Mayor as a form of protest.

According to Parker's spokesperson, their office has received somewhere between 500 and 1,000 bibles so far.

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Citing "War on Teachers," Houston Educators Vow to Back Ogg in DA's Race

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Claiming incumbent Devon Anderson has helped launch a "war on teachers," representatives from five Houston-area teacher groups vowed to back Kim Ogg for District Attorney at a news conference Tuesday.

At issue is a supposed agreement between the Harris County District Attorney's Office and Superintendent Terry Grier, an agreement under which the DA's office would help investigate any future allegations of cheating on standardized tests in the district.

"The DA's office is not the testing police," Ogg declared. "Allegations of cheating are basically administrative violations."

There's just one little problem that Anderson-backed "war on teachers," though: it doesn't appear to exist.

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Black Panther Party Founder Rejects Local Successors

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Photo by Susan Du
Bobby Seale, founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, had some harsh words for local black organizations.

On a whirlwind tour of local media stations, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale firmly clashed with some local black activists on the role of armed resistance in current affairs.

Houston, home of an active New Black Panther chapter, hosted Seale this weekend for the revolutionary anti-police brutality organization's alumni reunion. Although the original Black Panther Party for Self Defense disbanded in 1982, a number of successor organizations around the country have adopted its iconic logo and its key practice of citizen armed resistance.

Houston's New Black Panther Party, led by high-profile activist Quanell X, is one, though Seale gave the organization a "two thumbs down" for hijacking the Black Panther name to incite violence against non-black people.

"Straight up, it's a bunch of racist rhetoric that's hijacked our name. What they do and what they say is totally antithetical to what the organizers of the Black Panther Party were about," Seale said, citing the leader of the national New Black Panther Party's endorsement of Al Qaeda. "I don't trust them. I can't care for them."

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DPS Tells Mayor Parker's Daughter She Can't Have Two Moms

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We already know that Texas' bullheaded stance on gay marriage -- that it won't in any way recognize it, even if couples were married in other states -- trickles down to individual Texas Department of Public Safety clerks. Same-sex couples in Texas have to navigate roadblocks that can royally screw with your day, even if you're the mayor of the 4th largest city in the country.

A tweet from Mayor Annise Parker caught some of that frustration with DPS Thursday, after one of the Houston offices barred her daughter from taking a driving test because, well, her daughter has two moms.

Parker, who is the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, wed her longtime partner in January, but the two women jointly adopted this child and her older sister in 2003. Both women are legally her parents.


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