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April 20th, 2013:

Saturday video break: For Boston

This is how you sing the national anthem:

And switching sports, but with the same sentiment:

Three cheers for Boston’s hospitals as well as their first responders. You are all amazing. For anyone who wants to help, here’s what you can do.

I wish I had a song for Waco as well, but I can’t think of one. If you can, by all means please suggest it. In the meantime, here are some ways you can help with that disaster.

Lehmberg pleads guilty, gets 45 days

Off she goes.

Rosemary Lehmberg

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has pleaded guilty to drunken driving, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and immediately taken into custody.

Lehmberg’s blood alcohol level registered at 0.23 when she was arrested April 13, her attorney David Sheppard said.

Sheppard said the the punishment is “without a doubt” the “harshest” sentence for a first-time drunken driving charge in the history of Travis County.

Lehmberg’s driver’s license was also suspended for 180 days.

I didn’t think she’d see the inside of a cell. I was wrong about that, but not because jail time is the norm in these cases. I’ve heard some chatter that she preferred the jail option to probation on the grounds that after the 45 days are up (*) she’s done, she isn’t tethered to a probation officer for a year or two, which can be quite onerous. It’s not long ago that choosing jail over probation was commonly done in Harris County. I don’t know what I’d have done in her shoes, but I can see the appeal of this.

With that aspect of the case now over, the focus is on the political fallout.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg has said she won’t resign despite pleading guilty to drunken driving and being sentenced to 45 days in prison, though the drumbeat for her to do so is getting louder.

It’s a decision that may have its roots in party politics.

That’s because the DA in left-leaning Travis County oversees the state-funded public integrity unit, which investigates allegations of malfeasance against elected officials, and has been a thorn in the side of GOP lawmakers.

If Lehmberg resigns, as the Austin American-Statesman has editorialized that she should — or if she’s forced out by a lawsuit under a rarely used tenet of state law that authorizes the removal of county officials over drunkenness — Gov. Rick Perry would get to appoint a replacement to finish out her term, which isn’t set to expire until 2016. That would almost certainly put a Republican (or a conservative Democrat Perry believed could hold the seat in future elections) in the highly politicized post.

Josh Havens, a Perry spokesman, said that whenever there is a DA vacancy, the governor appoints the replacement, “just like what happened in Kaufman County” this month after the murder of that jurisdiction’s chief prosecutor and his wife.

The Travis County DA holds the lead responsibility for enforcing the state’s government and election code. It was created under the leadership of Ronnie Earle, the Democrat who served as Travis County DA for three decades until his retirement in 2008. Earle captured national attention with his investigations into former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, and became the poster child for what Republicans view as the unit’s politically motivated prosecutions.

Dismantling the unit is a perennial platform plank of the Texas Republican Party, and numerous members of the GOP, including DeLay and Hutchison, have criticized what they view as its politically motivated prosecutions.

Lehmberg has continued to maintain that she will not resign. I don’t know if that petition that’s been filed can force her to resign or if only political pressure can do it. If it’s the latter then I doubt she will step down, even if the threat of Rick Perry messing with the Public Integrity Unit is temporary and overblown. But you never know – political scandals often unfold in unexpected ways. The thing about DUI is that while it’s a serious offense, it’s not necessarily an indicator of an underlying character issue, at least for a first time offender. Unlike scandals involving money or sex, you can fairly credibly claim it was a mistake. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences – certainly, Rosemary Lehmberg is facing consequences for this – but it might mitigate the extent of them. Who knows? If this is still being talked about in a week or two, then maybe the pressure builds up enough to knock her over. If not, then I think she survives. Ask me again in two weeks. BOR has more.

(*) – In Harris County, at least, non-violent inmates can get time shaved off their sentences for doing things like enrolling in educational or work programs. I rather doubt that would apply to Lehmberg even if the Travis County jail offers a similar option. Point being, Lehmberg might wind up serving fewer than 45 days. I could well be wrong about that, I’m just saying it does happen in some cases.

Adios, Aeros

It was nice knowing you.

After 19 years, the Houston Aeros will be no more after this season.

The Minnesota Wild, who own the majority of the Aeros AHL franchise, were unable to reach a new lease agreement with the Toyota Center.

According to person familiar with the situation, the team [sought approval] Thursday from the AHL Board of Governors to relocate the franchise to Des Moines, Iowa starting next season.

The Iowa Wild would play at Well Fargo Arena, which holds over 15,000 for hockey. A press conference is expected on Monday in Des Moines.

According to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the Toyota Center felt they were turning away more profitable concerts to accommodate the Aeros, who often tie up weekend dates between October and April.

The Wild and sports authority sought, but were unable to find, a suitable alternate venue for the team in Houston.

See here for background. The approval was granted, and the team will henceforth be known as the Iowa Wild. My interpretation of this is that we shouldn’t expect another franchise to seek out Houston as its home anytime soon. If the Toyota Center isn’t available, it’s probably not worth their time. Sorry about that, hockey fans. Hair Balls has more.

Zaffirini and Uresti stand against needless abortion restrictions

Good to hear, but given their histories it’s wise to be vigilant.

Texas Republicans are one vote short of passing a controversial abortion bill in the Senate — and the fate of the legislation now rests squarely on the shoulders of two South Texas Democrats.

Sens. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, and Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, oppose the bill, and without their votes it won’t have the supermajority needed under Senate rules to get to a floor vote.

Both senators occasionally have sided with Republicans to pass anti-abortion measures, voting as recently as 2011 for a contentious bill that requires women to have a sonogram before an abortion. But if they maintain their opposition to Senate Bill 537, which would increase regulations for abortion clinics, the bill is stuck.

The measure has been on the Senate’s calendar for nearly two weeks but has yet to be considered. The Senate requires a two-thirds majority, or 21 votes, to consider legislation. SB 537 has 20 supporters — 19 Republicans and a lone Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville.


Zaffirini said she is “strongly pro-life” but opposes this bill because it “does nothing to make abortions less necessary” and “has the potential to limit access to critical health care services for thousands of Texas women.”

“Instead of attempting to address problems that do not exist, the Texas Legislature should focus on making women’s health care and prenatal care more accessible and affordable,” she said.

Uresti, who voted against the measure in committee, said it would reduce health care services, including abortion, for women in his district, specifically in rural areas.

“I don’t want to create barriers for women to access health services,” said Uresti, noting that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the bill.

They’re saying the right things, but believe me, I have not forgotten their role in letting the awful sonogram bill pass in 2011. All we needed was one of them plus Lucio to say no, since Jeff Wentworth was also a No vote, but in the end Uresti sold out for a small modification to the bill that somewhat exempted his own district from its reach. Ultimately, Uresti and Zaffirini need to hear from Democrats, around the state but especially in their district, thanking them for holding fast on this, with at least the vague hint of a threat to be primaried if they cave in. They have it exactly right on what it is that SB537 will do. All they need to do is stick to that.

And before anyone says “Kermit Gosnell”, read this and this and this and this. Kermit Gosnell is what happens when women don’t have access to reliable abortion providers. It’s called the back alley, and it was supposed to have been banished forty years ago. Take away enough other choices, however, and it’s what’s left, just like it was before 1973.

From the “Simple Answers To Simple Questions” department

Is Rick Perry the next Comeback Kid?

Corndogs make bad news go down easier

Corndogs are always in style

Americans love a comeback story.

Tiger Woods has clawed himself back on top of the pro golf tour after a nasty scandal involving nightclub waitresses, lingerie models and his wife swinging a 9-iron near his head. But the whole golf world is watching to see if he can capture another Grand Slam, thus confirming his sponsor Nike’s new TV ad: “Winning Takes Care of Everything.”

The New York Times Magazine has a cover story about disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s plunge back into public life after a marital and political catastrophe. In South Carolina, former Gov. Mark Sanford is making a political comeback.

Bill Clinton once declared himself the “Comeback Kid.” John McCain jump-started a moribund campaign in 2008. And the 2004 Boston Red Sox surmounted nearly impossible odds to win the World Series.

Comeback stories, all.

And then there is Rick Perry, who famously blew up his front-runner presidential bid with an oops moment in which he couldn’t remember all three federal agencies he promised to abolish. A poll showed that even Texans, embarrassed for the state, didn’t want him to run again.

But the Republican governor is sending signals he might join the GOP sweepstakes for 2016.

There seems to be little going for another Perry bid. The big-money contributors who helped launch his brief, spectacular flameout might be reluctant to dig deep again. A reputation as a less-than-informed politico now precedes him.

Bob Vander Plaats, an influential conservative Christian activist in the key early-voting state of Iowa, didn’t even volunteer Perry’s name when asked about the GOP’s prospects to win back the White House in 2016.

Inside the Perry camp, word is that some around him who would benefit are encouraging Perry to run again — this time by studying up on the issues, getting enough rest and meticulously tending to grass-roots voters in a way he didn’t last year.

Playing the comeback card might be one of the few things Perry has going for him.

No. No, he is not poised for a “comeback”, and no, he has no future as a Presidential candidate in 2016. Even if you can somehow forget what a massive clusterfsck his 2012 campaign was, he’s still yesterday’s news. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz are the new hotness, and Rick Santorum gets whatever benefit there is to be derived from being runnerup to Mitt Romney. But speaking as someone who loves a good farce, I’m all in for him to make another attempt. I can’t wait to see what he tries to do for an encore. If it means he runs for Governor again and thus continues to frustrate the ambitions of Greg Abbott, so much the better. Oh, and on a side note, maybe Mark Sanford isn’t a good role model for this after all. Via the equally skeptical Burka.