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The Brief: January 15, 2010

Note to self: don't bring gun to the grocery store. Even if you wish you could.

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Note to self: you can't bring a gun to the grocery store, no matter how much you wish you could.

The highlights of last night's Republican gubernatorial debate didn't come so much in substance, but in candidates' sniping strategies, which went largely unmoderated. Gov. Rick Perry evidently doesn't read The Dallas Morning News (at least not when it comes to his record on taxes) and Debra Medina, well, see the first line. 

Overall though, no major mistakes, no home runs.

Wayne Slater at The Dallas Morning News argued that while Kay Bailey Hutchison did a fine job criticizing the governor, she failed to make the case why social conservatives specifically should give their vote. She wouldn't give a yes or no on whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and as Slater writes, "The answer — nuanced and reasoned — probably isn't what many in the GOP primary electorate wanted to hear."

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram gave Hutchison some strategy points for asking Medina a tax related question — effectively allowing both women to criticize Perry without allowing him to respond.

And as the Statesman's Jason Embry reports, public education went virtually unmentioned, except in a Hutchison aside about the dropout rate.

Paul Burka — who was un-invited to be on the debate panel — was more willing to be specific, and apparently, he'd have preferred a radio debate. "But televised debates are as much about images as about words, and I thought [Perry] looked terrible, even creepy at times. He really looked uncomfortable."

Almost as uncomfortable as I felt when the Johns Hopkins student asked about the advanced directives act. No one really had much of an answer, but I think we all wondered: Could any of these candidates have gotten into that school?

CULLED:

• The Curious Case of Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, is getting stranger. The state senator announced he wouldn't seek re-election after all, and since the Democrats had not filed anyone to run, most of us assumed that Averitt's primary challenger, Darren Yancy, would likely take the seat unless the Libertarians fielded an especially strong candidate. Turns out, because of deadlines, Averitt's name will stay on the ballot. There's a reasonable chance he'll win the primary on name recognition alone. If that happens and he withdraws his candidacy, the Republicans and the Democrats will each get a chance to re-pick. Democrats of Waco rejoice. Republicans, on the other hand, aren't happy.

• The beat goes on at the State Board of Education. Today, after two days of testimony and debate, the board will finally vote on the social studies curriculum. The fights have largely been about whether the lists of people and groups that children must study includes enough minorities. The more extreme issues — whether the separation of church and state was intended, and Joe McCarthy's legacy — will also likely find their way into the discussion.

The heartwarming, Friday tale of sea turtles rescued and rehabilitated is a Lifetime movie waiting to happen. The creatures, which might have otherwise died in the Gulf of Mexico, are now warm and cozy in the temperate pools of the Texas State Aquarium. Just think of Finding Nemo!

“She’s a member of the Democratic Socialist Party of America. I don’t think she should be in a list of people exemplifying good citizenship, like Helen Keller and Clara Barton." — State Board of Education member Geraldine Miller on Dolores Huerta. Apparently she didn't realize Keller was also in the Socialist Party.

MUST READ:

Gone Baby GoneTexas Observer

Officers could face rebuke in Ft. Hood shootingDallas Morning News

National report gives Texas high marks for its self-crafted curriculum standardsFort Worth Star-Telegram

Confronting SCRAM Grits for Breakfast

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