The Big Conversation:
The war between Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday turned briefly into the war over a historical analogy.
Top Republican leaders in Texas took great umbrage with comments made by Al Armendariz, the EPA's regional director for Texas, in a video that surfaced Thursday, as the Tribune's Kate Galbraith reported. In the video, from 2010, Armendariz compares the way Romans subdued Turkish towns to the way the EPA could carry out enforcement.
"It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean," Armendariz said. "They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years." The idea, he said, was to "find people who are not complying with the law, you hit them as hard as you can."
Republican leaders fired off angry statements in response to the comments. Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has filed several lawsuits against the EPA over air pollution regulations, called the comments "further proof that this Administration is more worried about aggressively advancing its radical agenda then fostering job growth and expanding our economy."
Gov. Rick Perry wrote on Twitter: "Another reason to all-but-eliminate EPA. Armendariz equating EPA philosophy to 'crucifixion' unacceptable & offensive."
Armendariz has apologized for his remarks, calling them "offensive and inaccurate." But the incident marked another high-profile misstep for Armendariz's Region 6, which last month announced that it would withdraw a case filed against a natural gas driller that the EPA had accused of contaminating water wells in North Texas.
- Ron Paul on Thursday drew thousands of supporters to a rally at the University of Texas. With Mitt Romney nearly assured the Republican nomination, Paul, on a three-day swing through Texas, said he was still playing to win the state but acknowledged that he's now seeking more than an electoral victory. "It is going to be difficult, but it is always glorious to have success. And we will have success," he told the audience, which his campaign estimated at 6,000. "Regardless of what happens next week, next month, November — the spirit of this revolution is not going away." Paul today will attend a rally at the University of Houston.
- The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm two U.S. District Court judges in Texas, Gregg Costa of Houston and David Guaderrama of El Paso, leaving four judicial openings in the state. Though a scuffle over President Barack Obama's recess appointments had delayed the appointments for five months, the two judges were confirmed with bipartisan support. “While this process took far too long and there remain too many unfilled judicial vacancies in Texas, this vote represents modest progress,” said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
- The Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports today on the Democratic primary in Dallas' Congressional District 30, in which incumbent U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, though widely expected to win the race, faces DeSoto lawyer Taj Clayton and state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, D-Dallas — two of the longtime congresswoman's most dynamic primary challengers in years.
“I really feel quite hypocritical about hairy-legged males who will never be pregnant and never have that life-altering decision to make being the ones writing the rules for the opposite gender as though we had nothing to do with their condition." — State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, on his support for abortion rights
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