Wed April 2, 2014 11:01 pm By Paul Burka

The idea of high-speed rail in Texas has been around at least since the nineties, and it has reared its head again. I am skeptical that rail could work in this state. If you thought that the Trans-Texas Corridor was controversial, wait until the French or the Germans start running trains through bucolic Central Texas at 220 miles per hour. It is a multi-billion dollar project, and the eminent domain issues will be extremely difficult for landowners.

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Wed April 2, 2014 2:11 pm By Erica Grieder

Last month I had a chance to sit down with journalist Alexis Garcia of Reason, a libertarian magazine and website, to talk about Texas. The interview was published last week, and you can watch it at the link. I'll revisit two points from the interview here. 

First, an elaboration on what I mean by "tacitly libertarian." People who describe themselves as libertarian or as part of the liberty movement are concerned with liberty as a first principle. Insofar as government encroaches on liberty, they generally align with fiscal conservatives, albeit not necessarily for the same reasons. Drug policy is one of the issues where the two perspectives result in support for similar policies, albeit for different reasons. Rick Perry, for example, has emerged as a critic of the War on Drugs; later today he's making an appearance in Lubbock, to accept a "Governor of the Year" award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. When he talks about the issue, he's generally emphasized controlling costs and reducing recidivism. That's a fiscally conservative mindset. Libertarians may approach the issue differently--by arguing, for example, that the criminalization of marijuana is government overreach analogous to prohibition--but the result is that they'll typically support fiscally conservative reforms in this area. 

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Mon March 31, 2014 2:36 pm By Paul Burka

Glenn Hegar, the Republican nominee for comptroller, wants to eliminate property taxes. He is among a number of Republicans who have sounded an alarm about the subject, and called for them to be reduced if not eliminated. The main argument is that Texas's average property tax burden is too high. But it also has an ideological dimension: If a homeowner has to pay property taxes, does he or she really own his own home? I don't have any problem saying yes, but apparently others do.

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Fri March 28, 2014 9:13 am By Brian D. Sweany

“Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.” Monday marks the anniversary of those words, spoken by Lyndon Johnson from the White House on the evening of March 31, 1968. It marked a stunning end to a singular political career: congressman, senator, vice president, and president. Johnson, of course, assumed the presidency in the midst of a terrible national tragedy, but in 1964 he went on to win the highest percentage of the popular vote in the 20th century.

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Fri March 21, 2014 11:05 am By Brian D. Sweany

“I’ve never been a long-term planner about anything,” George W. Bush told this magazine in a May 1994 cover story. “I have lived my life with more of a short-term focus—on the theory that other interesting things would come up for me to do.” That candor (Bush insists that he didn’t decide to run until June 1993) is a revealing part of his personality, and it was an important aspect of a feature written by one of Texas Monthly’s most celebrated profile writers, Skip Hollandsworth. As the 1994 general election geared up between Bush and the popular incumbent, Democrat Ann Richards, Hollandsworth saw part of the campaign’s dynamic this way:

Bush is keenly aware that a lot of people, even those who swear allegiance to him, don’t know a thing about him as a politician except that he is the former president’s boy. George the Younger, he’s called. The First Son. The Shrub. Regardless of how much George W. Bush wants to talk about issues, the decisive factors in many voters’ minds are likely to be how they perceive him to be like his father and how they perceive him to be different—whether they believe he has his father’s strengths or his weaknesses.

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