Updated: Dan Patrick Has Ebola Covered

Know what this Ebola crisis needs? A little more Dan Patrick, of course.

Update: Gov. Rick Perry and his presidential hair have returned from their European jaunt and the two (Perry and his hair) held a press conference on Friday to reassure us all that while Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz have opinions about what to do, Perry is the guy getting things done.

Perry stated that he had joined Patrick, Cruz and the rest of Republican chorus in calling for President Obama to enact an air travel ban from the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak (he actually asked Obama to do this during a phone call between the two on Thursday.)
"Air travel is how this disease crosses borders, and it's certainly how it got here to Texas," Perry says, though he went on to stipulate there should be exceptions for aid workers.

Plus, Perry had news from his Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, created earlier this month. Despite Patrick's claims in a release issued this morning that the task force wouldn't have recommendations until December, Perry had a whole list of things his team is already recommending:

"Establishment of two Ebola treatment centers in Texas; Establishment of specialized patient transport teams; Expanded training of infectious disease protocols for health care workers;
More testing labs for infectious disease; and increased authority for Department of State Health Services chief to issue enforceable control orders."

Those who have been worrying about the dreaded Ebola can stop right now because the guy who will most likely be the next lieutenant governor of Texas has determined both the cause of the epically mishandled Ebola mess and the solution. Yep, you can turn those frowns upside down and put down the industrial-sized barrels of hand sanitizer because state Sen. Dan Patrick has got this one.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Patrick explained that while Texas has been at the center of the repeatedly mismanaged containment of the nation's first Ebola patient, the fault for the many, many missteps lies with the federal government. Specifically:

"It's no surprise the first case of the Ebola virus to present itself in the United States was in Texas. We are this nation's leading economy and a hub for international travel. This otherwise enviable position in the global economy comes with unwanted risks.

It's also no surprise that Washington has failed us once again; failure to properly screen all travelers at ports of entry, and a failure to provide meaningful support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

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Why Didn't the City Think Subpoenaing a Bunch of Pastors Might Be a Big Deal?

Paul Aningat
It's hard to understand how or why the City of Houston didn't anticipate a clamorous backlash before it sent sweeping subpoenas to five local pastors critical of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.

Maybe it's because Mayor Annise Parker and City Attorney David Feldman truly didn't understand the scope of those subpoenas, which asked for not just any internal records related to "equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity," but also the pastors' "speeches" and "sermons" that reference the city's fight to ban LGBT discrimination. The excuse floated Wednesday by Parker and Feldman that they aren't to blame, since an outside legal firm filed the broad request for documents, rings somewhat hollow, given Feldman's unwavering stance supporting the subpoenas earlier in the week and the less-than-apologetic tone coming out of Parker's office...

Beneath the outrage and the demagoguery, there's an underlying question: is there a legitimate legal basis for the city to subpoena this stuff? And, does the city's request (which Feldman says he'll amend to be a bit more narrow) violate the pastors' religious freedom protections?

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Christians Freak Out After City Subpoenas Sermons in Anti-HERO Lawsuit

Aaron Reiss
In a tone-deaf moment of legal strategy, the City of Houston last month sent local pastors critical of the city's anti-discrimination ordinance sweeping subpoenas for notes and sermons.

The move comes in a lawsuit challenging the City of Houston for throwing out a petition from anti-HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) Christians that sought to repeal the law and put it to a ballot referendum. In their vociferous opposition to the ordinance, which bans anti-gay discrimination (with an exemption for religious organizations), religious-right groups were most riled up about the provision allowing transgender people barred from a restroom to file a complaint with the city. In circulating their petition, the group -- led, in part, by Jared Woodfill, former Harris County Republican Party chairman -- claimed that the ordinance threatens "the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!"

But last month's subpoenas by the City of Houston, which only came to light this past week when attorneys filed a motion to quash the request, weren't lobbed at any of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the city. The subpoenas targeted pastors who have been vocal critics of the anti-discrimination ordinance, including Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khan Huynh, Steve Riggle, and David Welch.

And the subpoenas were far reaching. Among other documents, the city asked the pastors to turn over records related to...

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District Attorney Candidate Kim Ogg on the "Human Toll" of Prosecuting Misdemeanor Pot Offenders

Last Friday, Kim Ogg, the Democratic candidate for Harris County District Attorney, was the guest of honor at a gathering of the Houston chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a pro-pot legalization group.

Just let that sink in for a moment. A major party candidate vying for the largest prosecutor's office in Texas, and one of the largest in the country, took her campaign to a pro-marijuana gathering. There, Ogg spoke not only of the money Harris County taxpayers could save if the county shifted how it prosecutes misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, but of the war on drugs' human toll.

Here's part of what she told the NORML crowd Friday at Cafe Adobe:

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Why Is Dredging Oysters at Night a Felony, Anyway?

Stay tuned for Law & Order STU: Steve Toth Unit.
You probably didn't know that, in Texas, lying in a fishing tournament is a punishable offense that can land you in jail for a year.

You probably didn't know that because you're a generally honest person, you don't fish competitively, or you aren't Texas Representative Steve Toth, who tried once and for all how to codify obscure offenses that lay outside the Texas Penal Code. Think of it as silly laws meeting a silly legislative bill in a perfect storm of utter silliness. The bill was DOA. Now a dude at the Texas Public Policy Foundation wants Toth to revive it.

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The Harris County DA's Race Is Mostly About Drugs

Thumbnail image for Marijuana.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
This year, the race for Harris County District Attorney, who heads the largest prosecutor's office in Texas and one of the largest in the country, is mostly about drugs.

That much was clear in a debate this weekend hosted by Fox 26 between incumbent Republican Devon Anderson and Democratic challenger Kim Ogg. Instead of trading tough-on-crime bona fides, or arguing over who's "soft" on the death penalty (Harris County is, after all, the most execution-friendly county in the nation), the vast majority of the debate centered on how to handle low-level, nonviolent drug offenders.

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Steven Hotze Reams Gays in Conference Call

This book will not be found in the LGBT section.
If there's one think Steven Hotze has thought long and hard about, it's sex between a man and a boy.

As elder statesman of Houston's homophobic right-wingnutters, the doctor (we use that term loosely) wants everyone to know what will happen if the gays aren't forced back into the closet where they belong. Which is why Hotze joined Texas GOP chair candidate Jared Woodfill and anti-gay "pro-family" group leader Brian Camenker, in a "Marriage Battle Plan" conference call earlier this month. Fortunately, Media Matters sat in on the call and has captured the crazy.

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Harris County Treasurer Candidate Brings His Moms Into Politics

Rick Perry does it; Ted Cruz does it; Harris County treasurer nominee David Rosen doesn't see why he can't run on a family values platform too just because he has two moms.

In a bid to redefine the tired jargon of political ads, Rosen released a video starring his mothers, retired HISD teachers who have been married for only two years out of a decades-long relationship. Despite having that certificate, Rosen's moms are still unable to share health insurance because the state doesn't recognize their marriage. One of Rosen's top priorities is to extend equal rights to gay county employees if he is elected.

Rosen's other dreams include creating an online portal for anyone with an internet connection to see money going in and out of government coffers in real time, and to partner with local nonprofits to teach basic personal finance to at-risk kids. His third goal, to give health benefits to gay employees, is personal.

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Ted Cruz: The Heckler of the Senate Gets Heckled Over Israel


The champion heckler of the U.S. Senate was finally heckled right off stage.

Yes, shocking as it is, it's finally happened. Houston's own Sen. Ted Cruz has proved impervious to censure, to disapproval and even to heckling since his big leap onto the national political stage back in 2012. This is the dude who read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor during a fake filibuster over Obamacare, ignoring the fact that Republican party leaders looked like they were trying to make him burst into flames with the sheer force of their collective minds. Talking is what he does. Heck, he helped talk the federal government right into a shutdown.

The leaders of his own party can't quiet him down, and run-of-the-mill hecklers are generally, like flies buzzing around his ears during a speech, more irritants than things that will actually make him stop speaking. When people don't like what he is saying or when they question the often questionable logic that Cruz so often twists and bends to suit his own political purposes, Cruz just keeps talking. And talking. And talking.

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Rick Perry: King of the Awkward Twitter Pic

via Rick Perry's Twitter
Does he ever look comfortable in a photo-op?

The other day while combing through Gov. Rick Perry's Twitter feed (we make our own fun, don't judge) we were jolted by a shocking revelation. Perry, the man with the best head of hair in professional politics, the guy who will burble every advantage in a debate but still manage to pose for a great mug shot, is terrible at the fine art known as the political photo-op.

Perry has been in the political arena for many moons now, so we've always just assumed he had already acquired all of the ridiculous-but-necessary skills required to make it in professional politics. Politicians wishing to appeal to enough of the populous to actually obtain office are more often than not skilled at kissing babies (among other things), shaking hands and smiling with absolute plastic sincerity while posing for photos that are studies at the art of insincere sincerity.

But, judging by his own Twitter feed, Perry seems to have lost the knack. Whether he is throwing his arm around a fellow politician, posing with supporters or just standing against a wall, he almost always looks like he's about to have to take a math test. Don't just take our word for it though. The proof is in the tweets.

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