Political news

Obama birth certificate
Image courtesy FactCheck.org

Is there anything the national broadcast media loves more than a beatdown of a radically conservative politician? If so, State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) is making it way too easy for Anderson Cooper.

Despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence that President Obama was born in Hawaii, Berman took the bait last night on CNN.

You know I really don't know. If you look at my white hair, you can tell I've been around for awhile. And I've known everything about every president that I've come across for the last 70 some-odd years. I don't know anything about President Obama. I wish I did.

Check out the video.

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Photo by KUT

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison renewed attacks on the federal heath care bill yesterday during a floor speech in the Senate.  Hutchison called some of the new law’s tax reporting requirements are an “overbearing government intrusion on free enterprise in our country” in her floor speech Monday.

Korean Penninsula
Image courtesy Google Map Imagery, TerraMetrics, Mapabc, SK M&C, Zenrin

Relations between North and South Korea aren't exactly okey dokey these days. In March, North Korea sank a South Korean naval warship, killing 46 sailors.  Last week, the North shelled a South Korean island. Four people were killed then. We've also learned about the North's large uranium enrichment facility.

DeLay Found Guilty

Nov 24, 2010
Tom DeLay mug shot
Image courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office.

A Travis County jury has convicted former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on conspiracy and money laundering charges.  Delay was accused of illegally funneling corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002.
The crimes carry a maximum penalty of 99 years in prison, effectively a life sentence. DeLay's lawyer,Dick DeGuerin, indicated that he would prefer a judge to sentence his client instead of a jury. DeGuerin also made clear DeLay's intention to appeal the conviction.

home construction in Austin TX
Image by KUT News

Farmers Insurance wants to raise it's home insurance rate by nearly 4% next year.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Farmers' filled a 3.9% rate increase with the Texas Department of Insurance on Tuesday.  The rate would will affect about half of the company's Texas customers. 

Curious to know if your school district is taking payments from gas drilling companies? Dying to hear the 911 tapes from a campus lockdown set off by a fake gun? That's just a taste of the information you can unearth with the help of Texas' Open Records Act, and you don't even need to be a lawyer to do it.  

Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News.

Updated at 5:35pm: After the jury asked several questions of the judge during their deliberations, Judge Pat Priest says he will send jurors home for the night, without weighing in on one of their questions.  Deliberations will resume in the morning.

Updated at 1:43 pm: Closing arguments have finished the case has been handed to the jury.

Earlier: Lawyers in the  trial of former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay are finishing their closing arguments today. 

In case you missed it yesterday, here's our Governor's Sunday TV appearance. He attracted some attention for calling Social Security a "Ponzi scheme" and not directly answering a question over whether he would support its dismantling.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com

Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas
Photo courtesy Talke Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/talkephotography/

We already knew gaming lobbyists were pushing hard  to convince lawmakers that one answer to the whopping budget gap could be found at the Blackjack tables. But what kind of adult wonderland do these people envisage? 

Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) celebrates GOP victories on Election Night
KUT News

Over the last few days there have been reports of campaign phone calls being made to voters in Dallas and San Antonio telling Republicans the "Christian" thing to do would be to elect a new speaker.  Supporters of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) say the calls are anti-Semitic...since the speaker is Jewish.

This afternoon speaker  candidates Ken Paxton (R-McKenny) and Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) released a statements rejecting the idea that faith has anything to do with the race.  You can read Chisum's statement below.


Image courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Center

George W. Bush broke ground today on his new Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The $300 million facility isn't slated to open until 2013, but our friends at the Dallas NPR station KERA got a tour of some of the items that will be on display.  Take a look.

Texas State Capitol Building
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Sen. Kirk Watson is getting some face time in the local media today because of a legislative preview he held this morning at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. KXAN says Watson called on Texas Comptroller Susan Combs to release detailed numbers on the state's finances.

People voted all Republican or all Democratic at the highest rate of any gubernatorial election in twelve years, according to a study by Austin Community College's Center for Public Policy and Political Studies (CPPPS).

Texas is one several states that allows people to check one box for a political party, which prompts the electronic voting machine to fill in the "X" automatically for every race on the ballot.  The CPPPS study showed almost 58 percent chose that option in the most recent election.

Photo by KUT News

And then there were three.

State Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) has announced he's running to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.  The Associated Press reports that Rep. Paxton has thrown his hat into the ring because voters sent a message "that they favor leadership dedicated to protecting our freedoms and fighting government growth."

Conservative Republicans have been critical of current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) for not being conservative enough.  Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) has already announced that he's challenging Rep. Straus for the Speaker's chair.

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Republicans have 99 seats in the 2011 Texas House. They’re 16 votes away from having an even 100.

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) hung on to her House District 48 seat by 16 votes, after absentee ballots were added into the Election Night totals. Republican challenger Dan Neil hasn’t said publicly whether he’s going to call for a recount…yet.

Texas house Speaker Joe Straus has responded to Rep. Bryan Hughes's accusation that someone on his leadership team threatened to change the districts of lawmakers that don't back Straus. His statement in full is below. "These allegations are outrageous and I have a call into Rep. Hughes to insist that he name the individual with whom he had this alleged conversation.  I did not and would never authorize, allow, or condone linking redistricting in any way with the Speaker’s race, and anyone who knows me knows better than to give that assertion any credence.    When Rep.

Long hallway in the State Capitol
Photo by KUT


Today Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) withdrew his pledge for Straus. In a statement he said he made his decission after receiving a phone call from an unnamed lawmaker he says is on Straus's leadership team.

Texas House District 44
Image of HD 44 courtesy Texas Legislative Council

Texas Governor Rick Perry has ordered a special election for December 14 in House District 44.  State Representative Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin) died of a heart attack Thursday after being reelected there on November 2.

George W. Bush isn't the only high profile Texas Republican on a book tour. Texas Governor Rick Perry, fresh off his reelection victory last week, is touring the East Coast in support of his new critique of the federal government, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.

Last night he appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Here's the segment.