Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

What should be required reading for Republicans? This story from Politico about how female voters see the party:

A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.” Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO. It was presented to a small number of senior aides this month on Capitol Hill, according to multiple sources involved.

The Left of Center Speaker?

A rather ridiculous piece of writing appeared recently in Forbes, under the byline of one Patrick Gleason, who allegedly covers the "intersection of state and federal policy and politics." Gleason attempts to make the point that the Texas House of Representatives is controlled by a "left-of-center speaker." This commentary has all the earmarks of a Michael Quinn Sullivan put-up job. Gleason writes,

"Conventional wisdom holds that Texas is a deep red state [that is] home to some of the most conservative politicians in the country. However, many outside the Lone Star State including most if not all Washington and New York based pundits are unaware that the House of Representatives is controlled by a left of center speaker, Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who came into power by ousting his conservative predecessor with a coalition of Democrats and a handful of left of center Republicans."

Perry's Defense

The governor has a first-class legal team, but some of its arguments concerning the indictment sound more like rhetoric than law.

Such as "an unconstitutional attack on Perry's rights"

And  ..."defies common sense"

And ..."a violation of the Texas and U.S. constitutions"

And ... "an improper attempt to criminalize politics"

And ... "based on state laws that are unconstitutional"

What Social Conservatives (and Liberals) Can Learn from Kyleen Wright

One of my recurring frustrations with debates over social issues is that such debates often rest on moral principles over empirical evidence, sometimes to the point where the latter are dismissed or even disdained. Philosophically, I have no objection; we should all aim to be serious about our moral reasoning, and the First Amendment protects free expression. Pragmatically, though, arguments that are primarily or exclusively based on moral principles are vulnerable and problematic. Vulnerable, because it's hard to build a lasting coalition of interest around a contentious and unverifiable premise. Problematic, because insofar as moral principles aren't derived from evidence, moral arguments aren't subject to re-evaluation in the face of contrary evidence. They're not even subject to evidentiary standards in the first place, which creates another practical problem: moral arguments don't anticipate or really even allow for the possibility of disagreement. They're blunt instruments. Advocates may be able to use them to ram a bill through the legislature, but they won't change anyone's mind doing things that way, and they create suspicion and hostility on both sides. 

With that in mind, I wanted to point you all to the September issue of Texas Monthly, which features a chat with Kyleen Wright, the head of Texans for Life. They were one of the pro-life groups that advocated for the passage of last year's omnibus abortion bill, and as Wright explained to me, their particular priority was the provision that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. The reason, she explained, was as follows. Two women had confided in her about their distressing abortion experiences--two women who were unrelated, except that they had seen the same doctor. It occurred to her that a law requiring hospital admitting privileges would effectively provide another layer of oversight and get some of the sketchier doctors out of the business. (Worth noting, although this was cut for space in the print edition: Wright added that they had run through the finite list of doctors who provide abortions in Texas and found that most of them either already had such admitting privileges or would be easily able to acquire them.) A year later, this was her overall summary of their work on the bill, and its effects: 

The Rise of Armed Teachers

Over nine days in July, the first class of school marshals gathered for training. The group of seven teachers and administrators, largely male, assembled at eight each morning at Tarrant County College’s Criminal Justice Training Center, in northwest Fort Worth, to discuss tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. They parsed the details and talked about how they would theoretically respond to such an emergency.

The Long Road to Asylum

A few moments after Harshdeep Grewal was led into a small, dimly lit room at the El Paso Processing Center on the morning of July 31, a switch was flipped and his image was beamed eight miles across town to a screen in a courtroom on the seventh floor of the Richard C. White Federal Building.

Huntsville Blues

It’s a place people sing the blues about: “If you go to Angola, they likely not see you no more,” warns one of the many lyrics immortalizing the fearsome reputation that the Louisiana State Penitentiary—better known by its nickname, Angola—has never managed to escape. For 113 years, the former plantation has been the isolated spot the state sends its longest-serving convicts, the closest thing to making them actually disappear. It remains the most notorious prison in the country.

Open Carry Texas Did Not March in Houston's Fifth Ward This Weekend

The past week has been a tense one in the U.S., and questions around race, guns, and state power have been asked repeatedly, every night, as the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to develop. But these issues aren't exclusive to that part of the country, and they take many forms. 

The Dumbest Thing You Can Do

Smearing the prosecutor is just about the dumbest thing a defendant in a criminal case can do. The second dumbest thing is to threaten the prosecutor. Perry appeared to do just that at the end of his press conference yesterday when he said, "And those responsible will be held to account." It sounded very much like a threat.

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