Brian D. Sweany: I was interviewing former state senator Florence Shapiro in 2004 when Governor Perry appointed you to be chief justice. She was thrilled when she heard the news and thought you were a terrific choice. Obviously you had already been on the Supreme Court, but take me back to that moment and tell me what your expectations were for yourself as chief justice. How did you envision leading the court?
Attorney General Greg Abbott's latest revelation of his campaign platform represents a continuation of his tea-party oriented campaign. There's a lot of don't-tread-on-me proposals.
On Saturday, four members of Mothers Demand Action—a national gun control advocacy group that claims more than 100,000 members and has chapters around the country—met at a restaurant in Arlington. In the parking lot of that same restaurant, 40 members of Open Carry Texas arrived as part of an "awareness walk," in which they carry their weapons openly. That much of the story is not disputed. Just about everything else—from whether the Mothers Demand Action members misrepresented the behavior of the Open Carry demonstrators to the media to whether the Open Carry folks were there to intimidate the smaller group—is subject to interpretation.
The crux of the debate, which has raged on the social media channels of Open Carry Texas and progressive political outlets like Think Progress, involves the photograph at the top of this post, which definitely makes the Open Carry demonstrators look bad: They stand in a line, some crouches, forming what appears to be a heavily-armed wall. However, Open Carry Texas posted a picture to its Facebook page that provides some additional context for what's really happening with the members in the photo:
Public Policy Polling's most recent survey shows that Rick Perry has virtually no support for president among Texans. Indeed, he is so poorly regarded that he would lose a head-to-head matchup with Hillary Clinton.
The days when Perry was actually relevant are long gone. No one pays any attention to him. His only interest seems to be his war on the University of Texas, plus barnstorming around the country on the taxpayers' dime. He doesn't even seem to care about badmouthing other states any more. What is the last thing he has done that mattered? He spoke up for Proposition 6, but the public official who drove that train was Joe Straus, not Perry.
The news that Harris County voters turned down a proposal on Tuesday to remake the Astrodome into an exhibit and special events center makes me quite sad. In its heyday, the mid-sixties, the Astrodome was the symbol of Houston's ascension to major-league status, not just as a venue for baseball, but as Space City, the headquarters for NASA and the space program. In Houston they called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World."
I remember as if it were yesterday: driving to Houston on a spring Saturday after my UT law school classes were over, racing to the Astrodome to see the last innings of an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. I found a parking place and walked up the ramp to the stadium. I opened a door and there it was, a baseball game being played indoors. The scoreboard announced the tally as 1 to 1 in the ninth inning. Moments later, Nellie Fox, a fine player who had spent most of his career with the White Sox, hit a blooper over the shortstop's head to drive in the winning run in a 2 to 1 Astros' victory as a mighty roar filled the arena.
Having read the correspondence between Tom and Steve Hicks concerning the football coaching situation at UT, and having listened to media reports saying that new athletic director Steve Patterson is known for making big and bold decisions, I'm inclined to give considerable credence to the rumors that University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban may be the next football coach at the University of Texas. Here is a key paragraph from the Hicks' correspondence:
[UT Regent] Wallace [Hall] came to my home a little after 7 pm, and we talked it through prior to the call. We spoke on my home office speaker phone to Sexton [Saban's agent] for approximately 45 minutes. Both Wallace and I participated. [Sexton] confirmed that UT is the only job Nick would possibly consider leaving Alabama for, and that his success there created special pressure for him. We told Sexton that Mack had leadership’s support to stay, and that I would go talk to him as a friend to see if Mack had any interest in retiring. I told him it would have to be Mack’s idea, and that I really didn’t know how Mack and Sally were feeling about the pressures of the job at this time.
In that same call, Hall is reported to have said that UT president Bill Powers "wouldn't be here at the end of the year."
Perhaps I am being ridiculously optimistic, but I believe that the overwhelming vote for Proposition 6 and the state water plan--by a three-to-one margin--may turn out to be a watershed (so to speak) in Texas politics. It represents a return to sane public policy and a rejection of tea party naysaying. Another straw in the wind was the failure of Empower Texans to defeat Prop 6, despite their best efforts, as well as a number of bond issues across the state. As the Quorum Report pointed out, Empower Texans sought to turn back bond issues and failed miserably. Two of their top contributors will be familiar to many readers: Jeff Sandefer ($200,000) and controversial UT regent Wallace Hall ($100,000).
It's election day! Have you voted? Did you bring your ID? A pen to sign an affidavit affirming that you're the person you say you are, in case your ID features a different name than the one you registered to vote under? Because that's been a part of the experience for some prominent Texans—and, presumably, a lot more whose names don't make headlines.
Mark McCaig, Republican gadfly extraordinaire and frequent tormentor of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, posted a commentary on the Big Jolly Politics site over the weekend. Among his observations is an attack on the rankings of state legislators published by the Texas Association of Business. Writes McCaig:
With the legislative session in the rear view mirror and candidate filing set to kick off in a matter of days, a number of interest groups have published scorecards rating members of the state legislature. One of these groups is the Texas Association of Business, a powerful Austin lobby group. Over the years, the Texas Association of Business has given Republican voters the perception that they are a a conservative organization. The truth, however, is quite different.