Watching the world watch Texas.

January 24, 2023

In this issue of Branding Texas: Bordertown Laredo twinkles with streets of global gold; Texas schools California legislators on how budgets are managed; a favorite Houston philanthropist turns 100; Elon’s tweet trial won’t be coming to Texas; and music star Miranda Lambert sings the truth about her life in Lindale and her love for Gruene Hall in New Braunfels.

Thomas Graham


The streets of Laredo (and its warehouses) are now full of global trade

As Texans, we are often riveted by the amount of trade that passes through our Gulf-facing ports – for the past several years Crosswind has been agency of record for the booming Port of Corpus Christi, Texas.  Our  state, at last count, has a stunning 29 official ports of entry that serve as critical gateways to global markets.  Some of the most important are actually land ports – El Paso, Hidalgo and Laredo are on that short list.

The New York Times recently focused on Laredo, across from Mexico on the Rio Grande, which is on the upswing as the U.S. reduces its reliance on factories in Asia and turns south of our border.  Times reporter Peter Goodman toured Laredo, which traditionally dominates truck and rail trade between Mexico and the U.S., and he also visited Nuevo Leon in Mexico to detail the surge.  He noted that nearly two million square feet of warehouse space is under construction in Laredo alone and notes the value of goods traded between our two nations may soon exceed $700 billion.

In October of last year, writes Goodman, $27 billion worth of freight moved through Laredo – “exceeding the flow through the twin ocean ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, long considered the primary gateway for North American imports.”


Texas lawmakers take rival California to school

The Wall Street Journal fairly chortled in an editorial in January that Texas had a lesson for their rivals in California.

The now not-so-golden state on the West Coast suddenly has a whopping budget deficit of $22.5 billion while our own granite pink capitol is reporting a $32.7 billion surplus.

The turnabout comes, apparently, because the stock prices of high-flying tech companies (those that haven’t already moved to Texas) tumbled … and that drops state income tax collections that the Democrat-controlled legislature in Sacramento was depending on when it baked in too much spending as their budget baseline.

Anticipating flusher post-COVID times, the lawmakers in Sacramento had expanded Medicaid to undocumented workers, enacted universal free lunch programs for schools, and boosted the state’s climate spending by $10 billion – promises that, as it turns out, California suddenly can’t afford.

Writes the Journal: “Texas’s budget isn’t nearly as dependent on oil and gas as California’s is on Silicon Valley. Much of Texas’s surplus this year owes to surging sales-tax revenue from inflation and population growth—i.e., Californians moving to Texas and spending their tax savings.”


A Houston woman turns 100 but her life of service to others will amaze you more

USA Today, which quite plausible once claimed to be “The Nation’s Newspaper” and is today certainly the favorite newspaper of the nation’s travelers, likes to incorporate a bit of good news in each issue, to dilute just a bit all its nonstop coverage of global and domestic crisis – war in Ukraine, flood in California, inflation and layoffs.

Our favorite “goodie” from the newspaper this month was a sweet story about Houston’s Elaine Kuper who just turned 100 years old in November.  Kuper has donated 18,000 hours over six decades volunteering at Texas Children’s Hospital before she retired for all that in 2015.  According to USA Today reporter Ashley Williams: “She is the longest-serving volunteer at the largest pediatric hospital in the U.S.”

Kuper began her volunteer service two weeks after the hospital opened in 1954 and learned Spanish early on so she could guide Hispanic and Latino families around the hospital.  Texas Children’s recently honored Kuper by naming the hospital’s volunteer services office after her.


Elon Musk’s Tesla ‘funding secured’ trial won’t be coming to Texas

The global media carefully tracks and logs the latest manifestations of our state’s highest profile migrant, Texas resident Elon Musk.

Most of the world’s financial press are tracking a trial now begun in Federal Court in San Francisco over Musk’s tweets claiming he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private in 2018.

Financial Times correspondent Dave Lee reported from the courtroom: “Earlier in the case, Musk’s attorneys had unsuccessfully sought to move the trial from California to Texas, where Tesla is now based, amid concerns that the jury pool in San Francisco would be tainted due to discontent around Musk’s recent management of Twitter, which included cutting its 7,500-strong workforce nearly in half.”

Here in Texas, we are somewhat more excited by the news that Musk’s SpaceX may finally launch its huge and shiny Starship into orbit from its Starbase at Boca Chica on the Texas coast as early as March – with including an even more optimistic quote from Musk himself saying: “We have a real shot at late February.”

Starship, the next-gen deep-space transportation system, is intended to carry people and cargo to the moon and Mars.  Or, as Peter Pan once put it: “Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.”

Miranda tells the Texas truth

One of the more curious hybrids in the magazine industry is glossy Garden & Gun, which is published out of Charleston, South Carolina.

In the coming February/March 2023 issue, singer Miranda Lambert is celebrated for the honesty of her still-thick East Texas accent and the fact that she is a plain speaker in an industry that prefers to hide behind curtains and artifice.

Her bluntness may source from her homelife with two tough but loving parents who were private investigators in tiny Lindale which today, after the closing of its traditional canning industry, gets by on cattle, hay and rose-growing.

However Lambert still won’t talk publicly about her divorce from Blake Shelton in 2015 but tells looky-loo reporter Matt Hendrickson from G&G to just listen to her double album The Weight of These Wings: “If you wanna hear my side of the story, it’s all in there, very honestly.”

Her favorite place to play and sing in Texas: Gruene Hall in New Braunfels.  Says Lambert: “It’s the oldest dance hall in Texas, and it’s such a part of our history. You’ve gotta go see a show there and then float the Guadalupe River.”

Which we Crosswinders do from time to time.


From a Yellowstone Governor’s Party to Texas Inaugural Ball

On the subject of music, an Austin-based band has made headlines as the favorite band of “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan, as Men’s Health reports.  Smith & the Saints have performed a variety of times on the show, most recently in Season 5 Yellowstone premiere, titled “One Hundred Years Is Nothing,” playing the party celebrating John Dutton’s inauguration as Governor of Montana, who else would show up in the flesh? That’s right: Shane Smith and the Saints.

Shane and his crooners appeared Tuesday night for the very real governor of Texas Greg Abbott,  performing the Texas inaugural ball at ACL Live located on Willie Nelson Boulevard here in Austin, Texas.


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