Austin at Large: Hanging Guns on the Wall: As Greg Abbott tries to keep the drama alive, whose butt will end up shattered? – New
This is the old dramatic maxim attributed to the Russian master Anton Chekhov: “If in the first act you hung a pistol on the wall, then in the next one you have to shoot.” Otherwise, don’t put it there. A modern, less aesthetic version might be, “Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.” As we enter the first act of our next election cycle – in Texas it starts a few weeks after sine die – guns are hung on every wall in the house and checks are written, post-dated to 2022, by all mouths in politics. .
People who like to quote dead old white men (which sells Chekhov a bit short; he had a short but very eventful life) can often miss that his gun thing is an order, an imperative; the pistol must get fired, or else you’re lying to the public. He defends a minimalist approach, every detail must count which makes much of his own writing boring and which later greats including Hemingway and Nabokov have soaked mercilessly. Their styles are probably more analogous to the wonderful world of showbiz, sponcon, and social action in which our politics now unfold. It’s already evident that much of the metaphorical, and most (but not enough) literal weapons hung on the walls of Texas during the Red Regime’s last decade of decline have never exploded. But some of them will, and I’m not convinced that they won’t turn on the people who put them there. They and their donkeys (Genesis 44: 3, KJV) will be destroyed.
Comin ‘Real, an upcoming episode
As our own city council meets again on July 29 to try and cook a meal (in the upcoming FY2022 budget and beyond) from garbage and rotten red meat, the Legislature and Governor Greg Abbott threw them off the streets. , the latter may already be in place and part of the first special session of the 87th Lege, convened by Governor Loveless to begin on July 8. He has yet to announce what will be on this call. We can surmise that there will be even more “electoral integrity” nonsense that could be rendered moot in no time if the US Senate is brought to consciousness and reaffirms our nation’s commitment to democratic rights and freedoms. It will also likely include an invitation to override Abbott’s veto on the Legislative Assembly budget for the next biennium (it will not have taken effect in July yet), which is a softening for Democrats who might otherwise let this broken quorum remain broken. And now he’s talking about “social media censorship” because of course. Are there any other fun topics that will be added to the call? Will other special sessions be called by the 2022 primary (apart from the September evening scheduled for the redistribution, which could explode without any card, and for the award of “Biden Bucks”, which he would prefer to anyway do it himself)? Only his pollsters know for sure.
Madness in its own way
Abbott also said he would put “bail reform” back on the agenda, as it was one of his top priorities for the state of state in February and (as a draft of Law 20 of the House) did not go beyond sine die alive. He is not talking about real bail reforms that have allowed innocent Texans without money to escape cruel and unlimited imprisonment; he means mind-blowing horror stories of very rare and sad people who come out of jail with personal connections and then commit heinous crimes, which he can exploit and turn into saturated TV buys that demonize the gentle Democrats against crime, just like Ronald Reagan did. (Research shows that jurisdictions that have terminated the cash bond have less crimes committed by those on bail.)
This is a prime example of how the speech, especially on the red side, has warped under MAGA stress. This branch of the great river of justice reform was made navigable by free market conservatives, especially Laura and John Arnold of Houston, who spent millions to create their public safety assessment tool, a risk-based algorithmic model, the de facto alternative to cash surety. They’re worth over $ 3 billion, a fortune the seeds of which were planted in Enron, so their donkeys could cash any checks their mouths can write. They care about fair and humane justice, but also about the cost and waste of incarceration and abuse of a corrupt bail cartel. They are also heavily involved in charter schools and pension reform, which many of their allies on the justice front politely overlook. Their foundation (which they turned into a social venture capital LLC, so Mackenzie Bezos Scott isn’t) was sued in a stunt case when one of those few sad people in New Jersey got into the act. was fired by a judge using the PSA tool and went on to murder; Chris Christie was a co-accused. Later bail reformers cooled themselves down using an algorithm, with potential layers of prejudice, to decide on people’s freedom, but the Arnolds helped “let the criminals go on the loose, eh!” become a widely accepted centrist position. That is why Abbott must now oppose it.
Even though he’s screaming and growling now, Abbott is from the same world as the Arnold; he appointed their head of pension reform, Josh McGee, to the state pension review board, to howls from labor groups. HB 20 began in the House this session as a baby separation plan that excludes personal ties (or in some cases any bail) for those charged with various frightening crimes, but tries to reduce pre-trial detention as a whole and promote tools like the PSA. The Arnold themselves were cautiously supportive. Then Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and his henchman Senator Joan Huffman deleted all of the more positive stuff, without a word from Abbott then or now. He has to bring it back to save face because he hung that gun on the wall in February. When it explodes, who will it kill?