Thursday, August 29, 2013

Texas: Fort Hood Victims Were "Casualties of War" (Update: Effort to Overturn "Workplace Violence" Designation)

A Texas state agency has taken the latest initiative in the continuing conflict between Texas and the Obama administration, addressing the discrepancy of labeling the massacre at Fort Hood by the recently condemned self-declared jihadi Nidal Hasan as "workplace violence".

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has announced that the Texas Veterans Land Board, part of the network of state agencies that exemplify the generous attitude toward the sacrifices of Texas veterans, will now classify those killed and wounded at Fort Hood as being "casualties of war".  This specifically applies to the spouses of the victims.  According to Patterson:
This wasn't workplace violence – these were casualties of war and we're going to change the rules to give these families full access to VLB benefits.  We'll let the lawyers work out the details, but I intend to make sure we honor their sacrifice.
Each of the active and retired military members who died in the Fort Hood terrorist attack lost their life while assigned to duty in Texas or in support of the military in Texas.  They were physically on duty in Texas and chose to remain until the time of their death in defense of both the citizens of the United States and Texas.  Like Travis and Crockett, their spilled blood remains forever intermingled with Texas soil.  Their surviving spouses who are residents of Texas at the time of application should be eligible for VLB programs.

Fort Hood memorial service
The lines preceding Patterson's reference to two of the great heroes of the Texas Revolution speak parenthetically to the particulars of state law, and have the whiff of familiarity with my time dealing with Vernon's Annual Statutes.  The sentiment expressed, however, is pure Texas. 

Jerry Patterson (Texas A&M, Class of 1970) was an officer in artillery and aviation in the US Marine Corps, both active and reserve, retiring in 1993 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  He was elected to the Texas Senate in 1992, representing the area around Houston, and as the Texas Land Commissioner in 2002.  (All major state government positions are independently elected in Texas, which simply adds luster to the cachet of what some would call the almost Byzantine nature of Texas politics.)  Patterson's accomplishments in the Senate include his authorship of the state Concealed Carry Law, the properly environmental Coastal Management Plan, creation of the state Veterans Home Program (the VLB manages eight veterans homes and four state veterans cemeteries), and his chairmanship of the first Veterans Affairs Committee.
As Land Commissioner, he helps oversee what is likely the most generous compilation of state programs for support of veterans in the nation, and his passion for Texas history ensures that he takes his charge seriously.  (Texas' generosity includes the Hazlewood Act, an additional college GI Bill for Texas veterans, meaning those born in the state or who joined the military while in Texas.  This reflects the cultural identity that a Texan needn't have to be native born, but willing to take up the identity of a Texan and all that that entails.)

The Texas legal structure benefits from Texas having been a sovereign nation.  The Texas Land Commission, which includes the VLB, derives its powers from the original Texas General Land Office established after the independence of the Republic of Texas in 1836, and was created in part to ensure that veterans of the Texas Revolution against Mexico (and General Santa Anna in particular) received the land grants they were promised as a result of their service in that war and the ensuing military actions against Mexican army incursions into the Republic, and subsequent state after 1845.  That codified promise was updated in 1946 with the creation of the VLB, to ensure the same courtesy to veterans of World War II. 

The Obama administration, particularly in the form of the obdurate Attorney General Eric Holder, has been waging a petty war on Texas and the increasingly conservative political atmosphere of the state, and this continuing battle takes its form in Patterson's declaration of the obvious against the political expediency of the Obama nomenklatura.  Examples of this conflict include the season of wildfires that burned more than 2.5 million acres statewide in 2011 without a viable response of federal disaster aid; withholding of federal aid for the massive explosion in the town of West; battles over education funding; victory over the EPA when it violated the Clean Air Act; allocating the remaining space shuttles – remnants of the defunct American manned space program before Obama shut it down – to safely Democrat-voting cities, snubbing the obvious choice of Houston and the Johnson Space Center (You remember, don't you?  "Houston, this is Tranquility Base…"?).

Eric Holder, the day after the Supreme Court struck down the antiquated bondage in which some states had to ask permission of the federal government to affect voting laws (a status Constitutionally reserved to the states alone), announced that his Department of Justice would do precisely that anyway in the case of Texas and its move to require voter ID.  And in a related move, the Democrats have announced an all-out effort to target Texas in particular in order to move it from its conservative political make-up to a state that turns out predominantly blue results.

There is pre-eminently the political battle over border security, with the Texas border with Mexico covering over half the length of our 1954-mile frontier with that huge source of illegal drugs and massive illegal immigration, or as Jay Leno put it, "undocumented Democrats".  The press ballyhooed Obama allocating a temporary posting of a paltry 1200 National Guard troops to the southern border.  Only 286 of the troops were sent to Texas.  Governor Rick Perry railed against the federal abandonment of the issue, and called for more troops as well as enhanced security measures, and after being ignored on the issue, went so far as to press a letter to that effect onto Obama when he passed through the Austin airport on a campaign swing.  Obama refused to accept it and the ever-present Valerie Jarrett took it instead, with the same result of being pigeon-holed.

Perry turned down attendance at a useless briefing in Washington, DC, and an offer to briefly meet Obama in El Paso at another campaign stop, but that would have turned into another public dressing-down like Obama's 2010 State of the Union public berating of the Supreme Court over the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission decision, or Obama strongly criticizing Paul Ryan's budget proposals at a speech at George Washington University in 2011 as Ryan sat directly in front of him in the front row of the audience.  (The last laugh was on Obama at the El Paso appearance, should anyone have caught it: he laughed at his border security critics, saying that they wanted to build a moat along the border, with alligators.  Obama keeps presenting us with a running gag of how ignorant he is of simple geography: the Texas border with Mexico consists of its entire length being comprised of the Rio Grande, a habitat of alligators from Laredo all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.) 

If the administration seeks a political benefit over the bodies of the victims of the massacre at Fort Hood, insisting that the incident was a crime and not an act of war in the continuing effort to change our historical jurisprudence, then at least Texas in the form here of Jerry Patterson will stand athwart the 'progress' of Obama's minions, as William Buckley put it, and yell 'stop'.

Update: The effort continues, from the same source of Texas but on another front, attacking the "workplace violence" nonsense directly. 

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Representative John Carter (R-Texas), and Representative Roger Williams (R-Texas) are introducing the Honoring The Fort Hood Heroes Act to the US Congress, which would overturn the designation of the Justice Department and make the shooting a terrorist attack. 

The bill would grant the victims the same status as those of the attacks of 11 September 2001, and make them eligible for a Purple Heart or a Defense Department civilian award, with the appropriate benefits accruing thereto.


  1. This is good, thanks. Reminds me I need to do a post on this move of Patterson's. Of course, being an Aggie, he would do this. It's a great program they have, modest, but great. Modest, actually, in the tradition of Texas government. I never had occasion to need it, which was good because I do not qualify for it. I had my first birthday in Dallas but that wasn't good enough. ;-)

    It reminds me of the Lege's early attempt in the 70s at a consumer protection law which would work without building an expensive bureaucracy to administer it. It was the triple-damages law, which meant you'd get triple damages if you successfully sued a company under the law for fraud, etc. Lasted only a few years before the lobby succeeded in gutting it. Now they have a consumer protection bureaucracy, but it's still modest and nowhere near as effective as triple-damages was.

    1. Consumer protection -- another rendition of the Lawyer Protection Act. Rick Perry is right when he says that tort reform is what we really need to be focusing on, but it probably won't be passed unless all the lawyers in government can find a way to increase lawyer participation, which means that there is no real tort reform.

      As for your eligibility, did you enlist in Texas? That works for the Hazlewood Act. It's always good to check with the office involved -- let them tell you 'no' instead of someone else. (Unless you've already tried, but even then they might have updated it.)

    2. I was drafted out of college at the UofMaryland. I was an AF brat, living just about everywhere except Texas, which we only visited now and then. I did enlist after being drafted, so I could go to OCS, but that was done in College Park, Md.

    3. Bummer. Well, give them a call -- you never know what might turn up.

  2. There's really no need. I would if there was. Nice program, though. Nice to see Cornyn at least trying to help out, as well..


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