Every Thursday, we publish Bull Session, a roundup of the political odds and ends of the week, penning them all into one overstuffed corral.
With the winds of impeachment no longer in his sails, Ted Cruz’s podcast, once riding high atop the charts, now languishes around 165th place, behind Michael Moore and the official podcast of The Bachelor. As we suggested last time, Cruz needs a polarizing political issue and he needs it fast—and this week, he just may have found it. Surprising everyone, the Texas senator boldly came out as pro-choice, announcing that he’s adamantly opposed to an Alabama bill that would impose government regulation of reproductive rights, which Cruz firmly believes is wrong.
The bill, introduced by Alabama state representative Rolanda Hollis, requires mandatory vasectomies for men over fifty or any male who’s already fathered three children, requiring that they pay for the procedure out of their own pocket. It was never intended to actually pass, but rather to serve as a rejoinder to the state’s recent near-total ban on abortion. “It always takes two to tango,” Hollis said of her proposal, which she says aims to “neutralize” the fact that there are no similar restrictions on men. Still, the legislation found a worthy opponent in Cruz, who believes that it is not the government’s job to tell people what to do with their own bodies.
Yikes. A government big enough to give you everything is big enough to take everything…literally! Alabama Democrat proposes bill mandating all men have vasectomy at age 50 or after third child. https://t.co/PeaNUg1Joc— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 16, 2020
Of course, a lot of people were quick to point out the apparent hypocrisy, contrasting this with Cruz’s rather vociferous stance against abortion. (Or, as former debate champion Ted Cruz put it, “Lefties triggering over this tweet.”) Cruz—who was not mad, but actually laughing—responded by unfurling a long thread accusing liberals of supporting the “Malthusian nonsense” of overpopulation, forced sterilization (as referenced in the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell), and even communist China’s “one child” policy. No one should be subject to government-enforced sterilizations, Cruz successfully argued, about a very real proposal that we were all seriously debating. He concluded by clarifying that, because abortions are harmful to another person’s body, it’s naturally incumbent on the government to regulate a different body to prevent them, just as long as that body doesn’t have a penis. Granted, Cruz could have just deleted his tweet early on, but credit his unwavering convictions with ensuring it would live a long and miserable life.
The Rick Perry Prophecy Is Complete
After all, what hubristic folly it is for man to assume they know God’s will! Take Rick Perry, for instance. As he recently told a crowd at the Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner, way back in 2011 a “Christian prophet” told him she’d had a vision of Texas’s then-governor, taking a photo with his grandson in the Oval Office. And although Perry was without a grandson at the time, and generally familiar with his own capabilities, he still took this to mean it was his destiny to become president. Alas, that destiny was denied him several times over in a series of failed White House bids and a couple of granddaughters. But at last, Perry said, his faith was rewarded.
Yes, Perry eventually lost—rather badly!—to Donald Trump, a man who once jabbed that Perry should have to take an IQ test before being allowed into the debates. Perry also abandoned his principled stance that Trump was a “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense” in order to work for him, a tenure that ended with his imbroglio in the impeachment scandal. Still, as Perry explained to his rapt audience, he did finally get a grandson. And last year, Perry took that grandson into the Oval Office, snapping a quick photo with the openly abusive guy he’d pledged his total subservience to—just as the prophecy predicted. So you see, God has a plan for us all, and it is primarily for his own amusement.
Dan Patrick Calls the Paw Patrol
There have been a slew of critiques aimed at the kids’ series Paw Patrol lately, all of them justified. The bulk of these tend to focus on the cartoon’s exceptional shamelessness: Paw Patrol is a show, after all, whose opening disclaimer professes that it’s helping kids “build problem-solving abilities,” before suggesting that the solution to every problem is throwing a small, gadget-laden dog at it. But some have also read political messages into it, characterizing Paw Patrol’s portrait of a town bereft of any civil services—whose bumbling mayor relies entirely on a ten-year-old boy and his mercenary band of “pups”—as a grotesquely technocratic, Ayn Randian nightmare. The theme song sucks, too.
Most parents don’t take these essays very seriously, of course, or worry genuinely that the show may be planting subliminal messages in their children, beyond the desperate need to acquire every Paw Patrol action figure (and accompanying vehicle) right now. But when those critiques dare to inveigh against capitalism—like Canadian educator Liam Kennedy’s recent paper accusing the show of promoting the corporatization of social services—well, that’s when the alarm sounds at the Fox News lookout, signaling the cast of Fox & Friends to hurry down their big twisty slide (Go! Go! Go! Go!) and come to Paw Patrol’s rescue by railing against this “liberal professor” who dared criticize its “pro-capitalism” stance.
Inevitably, all this commotion caught the attention of loyal Fox & Friends viewer and Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick—our own bumbling mayor, who loves chasing a good straw man like a disobedient chicken. Patrick quickly extrapolated some sort of anti-Trump bias from it all, then called on conservatives to watch Paw Patrol even harder to own the libs.
Gotta laugh! The left-wing is now attacking #PawPatrol — a popular kids TV show. They claim it’s teaching Capitalism — in which case, we need our kids to watch it even more! Liberals can't blame this on POTUS. https://t.co/GKX5skeWCb— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) February 13, 2020
As a father of two young children, let me just say how much it would totally burn me if Dan Patrick and every other conservative were to watch Paw Patrol all the time—say, every single day for a year. Man, nothing would roil my soy-filled gut more than than knowing that Patrick’s home was reverberating with the constant din of dopey cartoon dogs falling off of things, making puns followed by laughter so forced and hollow that it chills the bones, all in the name of promoting the free market! So don’t do it! Please, Dan Patrick, don’t watch all six seasons of Paw Patrol, including the super-sized “Mighty Pups” episodes where they all get superpowers from a meteor, necessitating the purchase of an entirely separate line of toys—for the economy! Oooh, I’m absolutely triggered just thinking about it. There’s also this awful unicorn show my kids love called Mia and Me that, uh, blatantly promotes fracking! For the sake of my hot liberal tears, don’t watch that either!
Dan Crenshaw Reaches Across the Aisle to Insult Nickelback
Finally, while we may be divided along partisan lines when it comes to Canadian television, or Canadian-born carpetbaggers, at least we can find some common ground on Canada’s garbage bands: during a Valentine’s Day-themed interview with Heard on the Hill, Texas representative Dan Crenshaw was asked what sort of music gets him in “the mood to make laws,” a question the former Navy SEAL dodged, with predictable stealth, by replying, “I’ve been going back to my roots, listening to a lot of nineties rock.” And when reporter Kathryn Lyons teases, “Like Nickelback?,” we dare say that Crenshaw’s resounding “No!” is enough to swing several districts in his favor, ludicrously gerrymandered or no.
"Who’s the last person you texted?" and other burning questions for Congress on Valentine’s Day. Full video ➡️ https://t.co/uHjSE3LWkK— Heard on the Hill (@HeardontheHill) February 13, 2020
cc: @rollcall @StephenAtHome @Trevornoah @jimmyfallon @sethmeyers pic.twitter.com/6Q3AUVIDZ4
Crenshaw doesn’t really expand on the “good nineties rock” he says he listens to instead. (And here we will pause to explain pedantically that, while Nickelback technically released an album in the late nineties, it did not actually achieve commercial breakthrough until 2000’s The State. Your premise, while amusing, is flawed!) But he does share an anecdote about recently meeting Bush’s Gavin Rossdale—which, if that’s Crenshaw’s definition of “good nineties rock,” then perhaps there are still more ideological divides we must cross.