Also: Nazi commentary ain’t no thing for Orban at Dallas CPAC. Hondo boots NRA. Brittney Griner closer to hell or home? Mayor Turner aid caught in cookie jar.

Gun Rights

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Thumbs Down: Plenty of Texans dream of giving U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz the boot. But the hard-line Republican beat us to the punch this week during a Senate hearing in which he slammed his own cowboy-style boot on the desk in what surely must have been a spontaneous gesture of authentic incredulity. As if. Lamenting the increasing “politicization” of the FBI, Cruz lit into Director Christopher Wray for not doing more to address it. In questioning Wray, Cruz took issue with certain co-opted symbols that the FBI apparently considers suggestive of militia violent extremism, including the so-called Betsy Ross flag and (gasp!) Texas’ own Gonzales battle flag. The Canadian-born senator bounded to the defense of the beloved Lone Star symbol: “Well, I will self-report right now that every day in the Senate, I wear my boots that have the Gonzales battle flag on the back of them,” he said, leveling his boot emblazoned with the iconic cannon and the words “Come and Take It.” Cruz presented a supposedly leaked FBI document obtained by the conservative group Project Veritas that listed the symbols. Wray, who said he didn’t recognize the document, said that symbols alone aren’t considered proof of extremist affiliations. Maybe not but Cruz’s display was certainly proof of something else that we just wish somebody would come and take: his craven presidential ambitions.

Thumbs Down: In some circles, Nazi-ish rhetoric will get you excommunicated. It got Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban in deep trouble, costing him one of his closest associates, who resigned in protest of Orban’s disparagement of “mixed race” societies. But in Texas? It got him center stage and a standing ovation at the CPAC convention in Dallas. To be fair, Orban probably didn’t get the warm welcome specifically for his racist rant but it came with the package. We understand what today’s Trump-pining GOP might see in an autocratic strongman who flings anti-immigrant rhetoric like a T-shirt toss and counters criticism with that familiar refrain “fake news.” Pure nostalgia. We’re just not sure what Orban, who just weeks ago crowed that Hungarians “are not a mixed race” and that countries where Europeans and non-Europeans mingle were “no longer nations” would see in us. This is America, after all, the Mutt Capital of the World. Ethnic purity — even if it were a thing — wouldn’t be found here in this gumbo pot of humanity. By latest Census count, more than 10 percent of the population identifies as mixed race. The American experiment, at least ideally, is based on ideas, not blood, on merit, not inheritance — which, we guess, is why some people who have neither find it so threatening.

Thumbs Up: Maybe we’re finally getting somewhere with this fight for common sense gun reform. When the Hondo City Council votes 4-1 as it did this week to rescind the rental agreement for the Friends of the NRA to hold their fundraiser at a city facility like they’ve done for about 15 years, times could be a’changin.’ The vote followed an angry local backlash to the planned raffle of a semi-automatic rifle similar to the one used to kill 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde elementary school some 44 miles up the road from Hondo. Texans can make a difference, one small town at a time.

Thumbs Twiddled: A Russian court has convicted native Houstonian and WNBA star Brittney Griner of so-called drug smuggling, otherwise known as accidentally leaving less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage during a rush packing job on her way to the airport. She was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony, otherwise known as state-sanctioned hostage-taking. We won’t disparage any kangaroos in our condemnation of the sham trial Griner got or the severe sentence, which Texan and former Russia hostage Trevor Reed told CNN was “clearly political.” We’ll just say our hearts felt a swish of hope on Friday, when Russian officials signaled they were “ready to discuss” a proposed prisoner swap that could bring Griner home to her wife, her family and her growing fan base of Americans praying for her return. That the Biden administration is reportedly considering trading a notorious arms dealer for a woman whose infraction barely registers on a kitchen scale can’t be described as justice of any kind. Just a desperate rescue mission.

Thumbs down: What’s the price of a political favor between old friends? How about a possible prison sentence for conspiracy? William-Paul Thomas, a City Council liaison for Mayor Sylvester Turner, was caught with his hands in the cookie jar this week, pleading guilty to accepting a bribe from his bar owner buddy to help him pass a building inspection. Thomas allegedly contacted a fire official to approve the permit and pocketed a cool $13,000 for his troubles. If you’re keeping score at home, this is the second corruption scandal to dog the Turner administration in less than a year. He was accused last fall, but vehemently denied, steering affordable housing money to his former longtime law partner. While Turner claims he had no idea what Paul-Thomas was up to, maybe, just maybe that’s part of the problem? He similarly seemed blindsided by revelations that led his press secretary Darian Ward to resign in 2018 for routinely conducting personal business on the city’s time and failing to release public records. Wake up, mayor, and smell the stench.

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