Three-Point Shots, Vol. 1, No. 6: Lege Session Week 9
Like a St. Patrick's Day shamrock, three things to think about, plus some reading suggestions for your weekend.
Welcome to another edition of Three-Point Shots, an occasional series briefly surveying three interrelated stories of passing importance. Three-Point Shots is a part of my Life Its Ownself Substack page. If you enjoy reading it, please 1) hit the Like button at the bottom, 2) subscribe to the Life Its Ownself newsletter, and 3) share it with others in the link below. Also, comments welcome and encouraged.
Friday, March 17, 2023
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
1. In Memoriam: “Limited Government Conservatism”
Once upon a time, “limited government” was a shibboleth of the conservative movement. It was a pyramid, built on three principles: low taxes/spending, laissez faire regulation of business, and a libertarian, live-and-let-live approach to personal freedom. Each of these principles would have been instantly recognizable to icons of the modern conservative movement such as Bill Buckley and Irving Kristol.
Even when Texas was in Democratic hands, “limited government” was an operating principle. For generations, Texas prided itself on being “low taxes, low services.”
Now state government is in the grips of trying to tell Texans what to do about … well, everything.
Trans kids. Lite Guv Dan Patrick kicked it off with his “bathroom bill” crusade in 2016. The target was transgender kids, a population estimated to be one-tenth of one percent of all Texans. In 2021, the Legislature outlawed trans youth participation in high school sports, and efforts to prohibit “gender-affirming care” for trans youth continue this session.
Book bans. According to a PEN America study published last September, more books are banned in Texas than any other state. That hasn’t stopped the Legislature from filing numerous bills to allow further book bans, including a bill to authorize “book ban bounty hunters,” if you can believe it. And I know you can.
LGBTQ ideas. Bills have been filed to ban books and classroom instruction that discuss LGTBQ issues, particularly in a positive light, modeled on the “Don’t Say Gay” bills in Florida. Copycats!
Drag shows. It didn’t matter when Rudy Giuliani did it, but suddenly men in drag are a mortal danger to the Republic. Last week, Rep. Steve Toth (R-Cro-Magnon) filed HB 4378 to allow people to sue a drag show if they believe a minor attended the performance. This is one of several bills to ban or regulate drag show performances in front of minors.
Colleges and universities. Take your pick: banning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies; eliminating tenure; the ever-diabolical critical race theory; and so forth.
These initiatives – all championed by “conservative” Republicans –are sure to generate a lot of dark energy at the Capitol. Call it a “return to values” if you support it; a “Texas Taliban” if you don’t. Either way, don’t call it limited government.
2. National GOP Poll: Abbott comes in at 9%, just below “Other”
Politico magazine has a piece this week, handicapping the 2024 GOP presidential primary at this admittedly-early date. The methodology is interesting: a nationwide survey of GOP county chairs. County chairs are an appropriate subset, as author Seth Masket notes:
County chairs are a group whose opinions are worth gauging. County chairs are far more politically attentive and committed to their party than average American voters; they’re going to show up at the polls on primary day. They’re both activists and prominent local figures in the party, who are likely to help influence how others view the 2024 contenders. At the same time, county chairs are a bit removed from the top levels of leadership — they’re not party elites at the national or even state level. They’re still part of the grassroots. County chairs are the kind of people that successful candidates want on their side during the “invisible primary,” when fundraising and endorsements and polling start to matter.
Rather than ask for a definitive endorsement, the survey asked which candidates a county chair would consider endorsing, thus giving a better view of the current state of play. They were permitted to provide as many candidate names as they wanted, and most named more than one. (The percentages in the chart below thus add up to well over 100 percent.)
Here are the results:
Abbott comes in at 9%, right below “Other.” And it’s probably safe to assume he’s a second or third choice at that. Still, he’s ahead of Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump, Jr., so he’s got that going for him.
3. Sure and begorrah, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!
As I wrote last year,
St. Patrick’s Day was always a big day in my family. My sainted mother was Irish, and very proud of it. Her ancestors had emigrated from Ireland in the late 19th Century. My sisters and I were steeped in her Irish Catholicism. (It helped that the parish I grew up in – St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, in San Antonio – and its attached school were thick with the Irish. The priests had names like Boyle, O’Brien, Flanagan, and McNamara, and the Incarnate Word sisters who taught at the grade school all had Irish brogues.) …
Nowadays, celebrating my Irish heritage is limited to wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. And the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button, which in my experience produces little of its intended effect.
Let me conclude with a St. Patrick’s Day Blessing for you:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Weekend reading … The weather is supposed to be cool and inclement this weekend, so grab a hot beverage and check out these good reads I ran across this week:
If Greg Abbott thinks vouchers are good for more than just private Christian schools, why is he only talking them up to … private Christian schools?
“We had to take care of the people. It was that simple.” The inspiring story of the creation of the Sidewalk School in Matamoros, from our friends at The Border Chronicle.
SXSW Music is a one-week interruption in a much more vibrant, organic and entertaining Austin music scene, says author Thomas Ricks.
Think all this fussing over Ukraine is overblown? Check out what the Russians are up to in Georgia and Moldova.
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Keep serving up these delectable bits of Texana, amigo. There were things in here I was not aware of and that only add to my disdain for legislative body and the people our voters put in those seats. This must be stopped.
Thanks, as always, for keeping us up to date on the scads of mortal dangers to our Republic - who knew?
Keep on keepin’ on.