(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To This Post)
Being our semi-regular weekly survey of what’s goin’ down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin’ gets done, and where they got mystery written all over their foreheads.
We begin in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott has called a special session of the state legislature, and Abbott wasted no time in establishing that the legislature will be little more than a GETTR comment section. The agenda, via the Austin American-Statesman:
• Appropriate money for property-tax relief, addressing cybersecurity threats and attracting private providers to the foster care system.
• Further limit Texas teachers from using critical race theory, which explores how racism and racial inequity shaped the nation, in the classroom.
• Limit the availability of abortion-inducing drugs to the first seven weeks of pregnancy, instead of 10 weeks as allowed under federal guidelines, and ban sending medication by mail or delivery service.
• Provide money to "support law enforcement agencies, counties, and other strategies as part of Texas’ comprehensive border security plan." Abbott's proposals include building a barrier along the Texas-Mexico border after President Joe Biden halted former President Donald Trump's wall-building initiative.
• Restore funding for the Legislature and affiliated agencies that he vetoed in retaliation for the Democratic walkout.
The outnumbered—and, at one point, fugitive—Democrats in the legislature have some questions about the governor’s priorities.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, accused Abbott of loading the special session with issues designed to shore up conservative support as he faces challenges from the right wing of his party in the 2022 GOP primary. "This list isn't good government, but rather Texans being held hostage for the sake of Republican primary politics," Rodriguez said on Twitter. "Where are the essential reforms to our power grid or Medicaid expansion?”
Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said a "real leader" would have focused on improving COVID-19 vaccination rates, which have hit a plateau, and improving the electric grid after "hundreds of Texans died because the governor couldn’t keep the heat on last February…Instead, Abbott wants to pick on children, tell teachers they can't talk about slavery, prevent women from accessing reproductive health care and infringe on Texans' freedom to vote," Turner said.
Hey, dudes, you’re not running against a serious crazy person in your primaries. Sacrifices will have to be made. Lay in some firewood, suckers.
(If you want to check out the spectacle of Texas eating its own innards as though they were the brisket at Stubbs, the good folks at the Texas Tribune are live streaming both houses of the legislature for as long as the special session lasts.)
We move along to Pennsylvania, where Audit Mania is asserting itself in the fertile fields of local Crazy. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
[State Senator Doug] Mastriano’s requests are sprawling and include essentially all election-related materials, such as ballots, mail ballot applications, mail ballot envelopes, voting machines, ballot scanners and vote-counting equipment, ballot production equipment, poll books, and computer equipment used throughout the election process. The letters warn that the Senate committee Mastriano leads may issue subpoenas if counties don’t respond by July 31 with a “plan to comply.” It’s not clear how Mastriano’s investigation would work. Basic questions that were unanswered Wednesday included where equipment and ballots would be stored securely, who would be involved and have access, what training those people would have, what standards and procedures they would follow, and what documentation would be required during the review.
Brother Mastriano was one of the ratfck tourists who dropped in on the extended farce in Arizona. He obviously picked up some pointers.
The push comes after Mastriano and two other Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers traveled to Arizona last month for a firsthand look at the widely criticized partisan “audit” in Maricopa County. That months-long review has been led by a contractor with no previous experience auditing elections and whose CEO amplified Trump’s false claims. Mastriano said his investigation will model the Arizona review. “It’s much of what we saw in Arizona, which really set the standard on a forensic analysis,” he said on OAN.
It’s becoming clearer “how Mastriano’s investigation would work,” I’d say.
Boy howdy, it’s getting weirder out there. Here’s a video from a local school board meeting at which some concerned parents sought to prevent the local schools in Utah from turning their children into little sheeple who hate freedom, especially the freedom to infect strangers with a serious epidemic disease. (Video from the Washington Post.) Subsequently, 11 people have been arrested for their part in this disruption. Personally, though, I like the board member who tells the yahoos in the audience that they don’t scare her because she taught junior high.
Meanwhile, up in Idaho, Marlene Tromp, the president of Boise State University, discovered recently that someone had signed her up for the culture wars. Her time there did not begin well. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Tromp had arrived at Boise State, after serving as provost of the University of California at Santa Cruz, with a plan to focus on student success. She grew up in a working-class family in rural Wyoming, and was sensitive to the needs of underserved students. Instead, she has found her time and energy consumed by the need to navigate partisan battles. How challenging is the political environment? Lawmakers refused to meet with her if she wore a mask, even though she is the sole caretaker for her 93-year-old mother.
The campus got roiled over a controversy about a Blue Lives Matter emblem in a local coffee shop, but that apparently was only the match applied to the tinder. The story goes on to demonstrate how, from little coffee beans, great fundraising scams grow. The student government president, a Hispanic student named Angel Cantu, tried to play the whole thing down the middle and got impeached and removed from office for his trouble, largely due to student activists who saw his attempt to reason his way through the controversy as an assertion of white supremacy. To his everlasting credit, Cantu refused a chance to play victim on Tucker Carlson’s White Power Hour. This may be enough to get Cantu into heaven.
And then there’s this guy.
Ron Nate was furious.
The Republican from eastern Idaho, a member of the powerful Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, is not who you’d expect to be leading the charge to trim the higher-education budget: He’s an economics professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho. “I love higher education,” says Nate. Not all of it, however. “The student-equity office, the gender-equity office — that’s actually critical race theory in action,” says Nate, who took part in a mask burning in March.
So he’s an all-purpose nuisance. And I’d like to know how the university’s gender-equity office is “critical race theory in action.”
“It’s dividing students into groups and treating them differently based on either their gender or race.” Much of Nate’s critique of higher education sounds indistinguishable from the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s talking points — he has a near-perfect Freedom Index score of 99 — filled with second- and thirdhand accounts about indoctrination on college campuses.
Which is where President Tromp re-enters our story.
[Nate] lamented that Boise State was “shifting dramatically from being a premier institution of higher education toward becoming an institute of higher indoctrination.” The campus-culture skirmishes of the fall were also on his mind. The university, he said, had ended its relationship with the local police department. (It had not.) It had “effectively expelled” the coffee shop from campus, a characterization the university disputes. Boise State had “singled itself out” for legislative scrutiny, he later said in an interview.
Tromp calmly corrected Nate. “There has been a great deal of misinformation that has fueled a sense that the university doesn’t care about what Idahoans think,” Tromp responded. “That is simply inaccurate.” Far from cutting ties with the police department, the university had “renewed our contract at a time when there was a great deal of conflict around this issue.”
Here’s the best part, and by the best part, I mean the part of the story that most makes me want to hurl myself into a live volcano.
Nate was not satisfied. Neither were many of his colleagues. “Social-justice involvement has got support for BSU in the ditch with the legislature and with constituents,” said Carl Crabtree, a Republican, according to the campus newspaper, The Arbiter. “We’ve tried for over a year to have our voices heard by that university and we’ve been largely unsuccessful.” Crabtree proposed a $409,000 cut from the university to send a message about its social-justice programming.
A Democratic lawmaker on the appropriations committee describes a surreal scene during a working-group meeting. “One of the Republican senators came into the room, and he’s just like, ‘We need to ban critical race theory,’” says Colin Nash, from Boise. “And the legislative drafter — nonpartisan staff — said, ‘OK. If you want to ban critical race theory, you need to define it.’ And he says, ‘I don’t know what critical race theory is.’ And he was laughing at himself about it. That’s a general sentiment among people who are legislating this, which is, ‘I don’t know, but someone told me this is real bad.’”
Maybe he can explain how gender-equity provisions constitute critical race theory. I mean, hell, they’re just making it up as they go along anyway. It’s getting crazy out there, people.
And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, whence Blog Official Baked Bean Sommelier Friedman of the Plains brings us the tale of yet another allegedly reasonable Republican senator who is discovering that there’s always room on the right for someone running as Crazier Than Thou. From the Tulsa World:
John Bennett, who was elected Oklahoma Republican Party chairman April 10, spoke later at the OKC Freedom Rally organized by Lankford’s Republican challenger, Jackson Lahmeyer, and is supporting him in his challenge to Lankford… Bennett told reporters after the June 26 rally that Lankford’s decision not to object to the results of the 2020 presidential election after the Jan. 6 insurrection was proof that the senator couldn’t keep promises made to constituents. Bennett reportedly also said being a Republican doesn’t necessarily make someone “the right pick.”
The king irony here is that Lankford had every intention of going along with the Republican scam on January 6. He was the senator speaking in the Senate when the chamber was forced to be evacuated. When the riot cleared, Lankford voted to certify the election, which is now all that matters in the Republican Party. Lankford subsequently has voted against any effort, bipartisan or otherwise, to investigate the events of January 6. Doesn’t matter, Jim. As the late Dr. Thompson once put it, you bought the ticket. Take the whole damn ride.
This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.
You Might Also Like