Archive for March 22nd, 2018

Exploiter in Chief

Excuse me, but I am skipping the MLB question this morning.

I have spent the last hour watching some fella trying to evade law enforcement on Houston’s freeways. They never learn. I was watching Channel 2’s coverage. Channel 2 let us know that they were providing us delayed coverage because they didn’t want us to see some stuff. I am guessing a live shootout. I switched it to another station and it didn’t look like it was delayed. Why don’t they leave it up to us to turn our heads if things get gruesome? Oh yeah, they caught the fella off of Hwy. 288.

The fella was driving the exact same kind of car and color that Commentary drives and supposedly the chase started in Baytown. I was in Baytown last night – weird.

It is good that we have journalists like R.G. Ratcliffe of Texas Monthly who in the middle of one of the biggest stories in a while can write a piece on how the Texas Attorney General acted during the manhunt of year. Here is how R.G. piece starts:

An editor asked me on Tuesday whether there was any political angle possible to the Austin bombings. While some broad social issues existed—such as whether the bombings could be called terrorism or were racially motivated because the first victims were black—the purely political angle did not appear to exist in bold letters. Governor Greg Abbott had offered a reward, which was within his discretion, and some mayors had stepped forward at news conferences to reassure their communities that everything possible was being done to stop the bomber. So nothing had yet occurred that justified the spotlight.

Then Texas’s exploiter in chief—Attorney General Ken Paxton—stepped forward to step in it again as a politician willing to turn any tragedy to his personal advantage by grabbing some television time, especially on Fox News. Paxton not only got it wrong on national television, but he used incorrect information to spread fear to people in Austin.

As a refresher, please recall the profile of Paxton that I wrote for the December 2016 issue of Texas Monthly: “The Televangelism of Ken Paxton.” Although Paxton had no official connection to the investigation of the sniper attack on Dallas police that left five officers dead and nine wounded, he rushed to the crime scene in the predawn hours of that July morning to take advantage of the line of local and network television cameras waiting for anyone who looked even vaguely official to step forward with information.

So that morning in Dallas, Paxton had no official role—the city’s police and prosecutors were handling the case, and if they needed help, they could call upon the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Dallas County sheriff’s office, and even the FBI. But Paxton had driven downtown for a specific purpose. He was there for the exposure.

With the crime scene as a backdrop, Paxton gave one television interview after another. What the reporters and anchors wanted in the confusing whirlwind of that early morning was information, but each interview revealed that Paxton was hopelessly out of the loop. On CBS This Morning at 7:09, Paxton had to answer questions with phrases like “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure of that,” and “I have not gotten an update.” Even by late morning, Paxton had to tell one reporter, “Actually, I don’t know a lot of details yet.”

As the serial bombings in Austin became national news, should anyone be surprised that Paxton showed up on various Fox News programs on Tuesday as the pretend authority on the Austin bombings?

A little after 3 p.m., Paxton told Fox viewers that it was “common sense” that a bomb detonated at a Shertz Federal Express facility was connected to the other bombings. Then he subtly revealed that he knew no more than anyone in Austin who was paying attention to the news. When the anchor asked Paxton whether the bomber was trying to increase the level of fear, Paxton responded: “You’re absolutely right. Obviously, as you know, an ongoing investigation, law enforcement can’t share everything they know. So there’s definitely things that law enforcement knows about what’s going on with bombs and potentially who this is that they’re not going to be able to share at this time. But, yes, I do think this guy, whoever it is, is trying to increase fear.” The takeaway? Law enforcement was not sharing information with the attorney general of Texas.

Here is all of the R.G. article: https://www.texasmonthly.com/article/attorney-general-ken-paxton-spread-false-information-austin-bombings/.

Dude, if you want to make a contribution to this investigation, have you and your staff take some water, soft drinks, pizzas and Austin barbecue and breakfast tacos to the hundreds of law enforcement officers chasing down leads and the hundreds of journalists chasing down the story. Make yourself useful. That would be a whole lot better than looking stupid on live TV. You gotta be kidding!

Great job, R.G.

Like a lot of folks, Commentary has family and friends who live in Austin. Chron columnist Erica Grieder has a brother who works at the FedEx facility in Schertz. Here is part of Greider’s column today:

That morning, Texans woke up to the news that a package bomb had exploded in a FedEx facility in Schertz, which is just north of San Antonio in Bexar County. There had already been four such incidents in Austin since the beginning of the month, which left two people dead and several others seriously injured.

I had been paying close attention to the story, for several reasons. One is that a lot of my friends live in Austin, and they were actually being terrorized, along with the rest of the community. And the fifth bombing disturbed me for a different reason. My brother Mark works in Schertz, at that FedEx facility. His shift ended about an hour before the package exploded Monday.

Go read all of Grieder’s column here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/grieder/article/Austin-bomber-reminds-us-that-grievances-come-at-12771870.php.

From Politico this morning:

On paper, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) appears to be a shoo-in for reelection. He‘s served nine terms in what’s been a GOP stronghold for decades, hasn’t had a serious challenger in years and sits on one of the most powerful committees in Congress.

But Culberson‘s suburban-Houston district went for Hillary Clinton by 1 percentage point in 2016. And when GOP leaders found out last year that he was being outraised by Democrats and barely had a campaign staff, they were exasperated.

Get your act together, they warned Culberson in so many words, according to sources familiar with the dressing-down.

Culberson’s slow start to his reelection campaign is what GOP leaders fear most heading into the thick of the midterm elections: incumbents who haven’t seen a real race in years snoozing as a Democratic wave builds.

Here is all of Politico: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/22/midterm-elections-lazy-republicans-477542.

I don’t have anything from The Yard this morning.

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