Will Texas Re-Elect America’s Craziest Attorney General?
Plus, Tim Miller on the "Don't Say Gay" law proposals...
Recently at The Bulwark:
CHARLIE SYKES: Your Five Tuesday BFDs 🔐
SONNY BUNCH: Can Anything Save the Oscars?
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
CORBIN BARTHOLD: Will Texas Re-Elect America’s Craziest Attorney General?
Paxton is campaigning as a “values conservative endorsed by Trump”—but the only “value” in question is courting Trump’s good opinion. Anyone who disregards that value is suspect. Last month, the nine Republican judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled, 8 to 1, that Paxton may not unilaterally prosecute violations of the state’s election laws. In response, Paxton went on Mike Lindell’s webcast channel, speculated that the judges are part of a left-wing (George Soros-backed?) conspiracy, and urged voters to “look [the judges] up” and “call them, send mail, send email.” (“How many new ways can Texas AG Ken Paxton find to disrespect the rule of law?” asked the headline of a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial on the interview.)
“Ken, I’ll tell you what, I am with you so much you have no idea—you have no idea.” On that December remark from Trump depends Paxton’s political survival. Paxton’s rivals are pitching themselves to Texas’s Republican electorate as Trump-aligned but scandal-free. Perhaps in their efforts to use Paxton’s character against him, Bush or Gohmert will succeed where past candidates have failed. But the point stands: Only Paxton enjoys the express endorsement of the Dear Leader. He holds the golden ticket. The polls suggest that, notwithstanding the miasma of discredit that wafts off his person, the nomination remains his to lose.
Here are the basics of what’s being proposed, where the relevant segment of the legislation is identical in both the House and Senate versions: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
The enforcement section of the legislation takes a cue from the Texas abortion bounty legislation: “A parent of a student may bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates this paragraph and seek injunctive relief. A court may award damages.”
So what exactly constitutes “encouragement” of classroom discussion?
Lets say a teacher asked their students to make a Valentine and the sample he gave was the card he made for his husband. Is that a violation? Or what if a student asked to draw a picture of their two moms? How about if she wanted to make her Valentine to Mirabel Madrigal. Or Spider-Ham? (Ye gods—encouraging bestiality!)
Or what about a project that asks students to complete a family tree? Could my daughter turn in an assignment featuring her two dads? On the anniversary of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando, could a kid whose uncle died there talk about him in class? Could the school assign the reading of My Tio’s Pulse?
The answer to these hypotheticals all hinge on whether a crazy-ass parent of another student sees the valentine or family tree or Pulse book and decides to target the school. In each case, the Don’t Say Gay bill would give our Panhandle Karen something to sue over.
In the last six years of his life, Abraham Lincoln sketched out a vision to win the peace after winning the war, principles that inspired future generations. CNN's John Avlon joins Charlie Sykes to share the story of Lincoln, the peacemaker.
Eliot returns from travels to discuss the secret origin story of the Shield of the Republic podcast, a review of the Biden administration's national security policy in its first year, the difficulties that the President has faced in articulating a foreign policy, the deficiencies of his national security apparatus, the impact of the catastrophic departure from Afghanistan, the AUKUS decision, and the effort to deter Russian President Putin.
AGNIA GRIGAS: What Will Europe Do If Russia Cuts Off Its Gas?
A new Russian military campaign in Ukraine could result in the interruption of European gas supplies for several reasons. First, there is a real concern that a full-scale attack could damage the Ukrainian pipeline system, interrupting the main export route of Russian gas to Europe. Even though construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is completed, until the German government allows gas to start flowing through it, both Russia and Germany are dependent on the Ukrainian pipelines. The full implications of disruptions to that system are still uncertain. On the one hand, an active Russian military campaign may delay or prevent the European certification of the Nord Stream 2 as a form of punishment to Moscow. On the other hand, being left without a key supply route of gas, some European countries may push to speed up Nord Stream 2 operations.
Even if the Ukrainian pipeline system is not damaged during the conflict, it is quite likely that Russia will severely reduce supplies via the Ukrainian pipeline system, or even cut off supplies entirely. Moscow’s goal in pursuing Nord Stream 2 and has been to eliminate politically non-cooperative energy transit states. Moreover, a cut during the conflict would put pressure on the Ukrainian government, society, and economy.
Washington and European powers have discussed sanctioning Gazprom in the case of military conflict. However, stopping all Gazprom gas deliveries to Europe remains largely unrealistic, and support for such a step would not be widespread in Europe. Europe has already experienced a gas crunch since last fall as Gazprom reduced delivery volumes. Prices soared and countries had to draw down on their gas reserves. It is highly unlikely that Europe would want a more acute gas shortage, especially in winter.
STEPHEN PETER ROSEN writes: Ukraine Is a Wake-Up Call for America.
Today, we face a hostile China along with an embittered Russia and radical Islamic theocracies in Iran and in Afghanistan. The only way to deal with these multiple threats at an affordable price is to have swords with which we can threaten what our enemies fear most.
That sword should have military and non-military components. The Department of Defense is now considering how to compete in a world with multiple hostile great powers. This effort should be supported.
At a minimum, it should not be hamstrung by the lack of budget approved by Congress. In many ways, our adversaries fear our non-military ability to support those who seek liberty in their own countries, as the United States supported the Polish workers and as the Israeli government assisted Soviet Jews in the 1970s and 1980s.
A call for military and non-military swords is not wishful thinking. The swords should be used carefully, as should all sharp implements, but it is naïve to think we can prevail without them.
Credo O'Rourke Adhuc Vivere… I was very sad to read that P.J. O’Rourke passed away. A former TWS and Bulwark writer, O’Rourke was a tour de force in political writing. He will be missed. I only dealt with P.J. on payments and met him once or twice, but those here who had the distinct pleasure of working with him are, indeed, bereft of a one-of-a-kind talent, and friend.
Growing up, as a TWS reader, he was a bit of a hero in my eyes. And in my professional dealings with him, he was very humble. Always, and I mean always, distrust the writer who is not. 74 is not a “gone too soon” age, but I sure, as many of us would agree, could have used more P.J. O’Rourke. But like many of us here, he was indeed a voice, nay, a cry, from the far middle.
I’ll let P.J. play it out here:
No ice hookers? Hudson, Ohio’s mayor resigns after his concerns about ice-fishing prostitution drew unnecessary scrutiny.
“Was it my fault?” Yeah, buddy, it was. And we can all learn from it.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.