As presidential copy, probably the best ever, with the possible exception of, as he would have it, the late, great Abraham “Civil War” Lincoln.
As an above-the-fold headliner, Trump is a truly Promethean figure, who somehow has his liver eaten daily by the twin eagles of The New York Times and the Washington Post and assorted other journalistic vultures, only to somehow regenerate it in time to tweet new bile by dawn’s early light – day after day after day after day.
And it’s not just ephemeral newspaper headlines.
Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list.
1 – A book about Trump and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
2 – A book about the making of the Trump electorate.
3 – Astrophysics for Dummies.
4 – A book about a stalwart Democratic comedian-turned-senator in the Age of Trump.
(Don’t be fooled. This book is number 4 because of its collection of the author’s caustic anecdotes explaining why he so loathes Ted Cruz.)
From the Amazon description:
The liberal media machine did everything they could to keep this book out of your hands. Now, finally, Dangerous, the most controversial book of the decade, is tearing down safe spaces everywhere.
The New York Times Bestseller List thumbnail reads: The alt-right provocateur criticizes political correctness.
According to Milo, the “alt-right” part no longer applies.
It is true that in March 2016, Milo (in the interests of time and character husbandry and because, that is how he refers to himself, not least on his book cover, I will refer to him simply as Milo), wrote an influential taxonomy – An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right – with Allum Bokhari, a Breitbart colleague at the time, that mapped that political terrain and, in the process, helped put it on the political map.
At the time, Milo was identified as a senior editor for Breitbart, who “can be followed at @Nero.”
But if Milo is no longer with Breitbart, neither is his mentor, Bannon, who along with the Almighty, merits last mention in his book, just before the end notes.
In the book, Milo proclaims the alt-right dead, killed, he says, by the media and by Richard Spencer, who Statesman readers may recall from his tumultuous appearance last December at Texas A&M.
And, Milo writes, what is left of the alt-right hates him.
So Milo prefers to think of himself as dangerous like Lenny Bruce or Zsa Zsa, or Anna Nicole Smith.
And Milo’s evident talent, as he writes, is as a troll.
And, it seems, President Trump is never not trolling.
The man trolled the Boy Scout Jamboree.
Milo only mentions Alex Jones by name once in his book.
Which brings us to Milo’s visit to Austin yesterday and his appearance on Infowars, in which he and Alex Jones for 90 minutes played off one another in some tandem trolling to their mutual delight, and in the midst of which, Milo said that, in fact, researchers had confirmed Jones was right about the frogs.
(Note: I was scheduled to meet Milo for an interview yesterday evening, but it didn’t come off as scheduled.)
Milo began with some obligatory MSM bashing:
… the American media, which has always been the dumbest media, it has always been the stupidest media of anywhere in the world. I mean you go to Britain, you’ve got sharp, smart, brilliant, incredibly gifted, waspish gadflies, whether it’s the tabloid media or whatever.
You come to America and they are, by some margin, the dumbest people, they are the dumbest press, anywhere in the Western world. And we’ve gone from pitying them to be in open warfare against them. Anybody who believes in freedom, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, any of those things that make this country such a fantastic place to live, if you care about any of that stuff, have no choice but to be in open warfare.
They talked about John Oliver’s recent show devoted to Jones and the stuff he sells (which now includes Milo’s book).
I watched that John Oliver segment. He’s supposed to be a comedian and not a single one of his punch lines landed. I was trying to think of something to ask you about it but it was so boring and so rubbish. I mean, neither of us is difficult people to satirize, because we like to have fun with ourselves, because we enjoy laughing at ourselves, we’re not difficult people to satirize, yet they can’t do it because they’re such bad comedians.
It’s not just that their last resort is comedy, it’s that their last resort is to unfunny comedy. It’s awful.
They trolled their mutual antagonist, Glenn Beck and his network, The Blaze.
Dangerous, available at Infowars.com. Dangerous, which is the most manly name you could have. Not The Blaze, the blazing fag of Glenn Beck. I’m sorry. It’s fun to say that. We’re not being anti-gay. We love the fact that Glenn is gay
I’m a latent person. I want you Glenn Beck.
Marry me. I’m not going to lie anymore. I want Glenn Beck.
You know what this is called? Mac Trolls. This will be all over the newspapers.
Milo: He dresses like an elderly gay antique dealer.
Milo and Alex had great fun going page by page through the Madam President Newsweek commemorative edition, with Jones matching Milo’s British accent with the one he regularly uses when he wants to sound snooty.
The most unintentional comedy in the galaxy.
A caller told Milo, “I love your outspoken honesty, especially on the subject of Jewish control in America.” He cited Milo’s appearance on the Rubin Report.
Well, we were talking about antisemitism, and I said I think that one thing that’s not antisemitic is merely pointing out that we, as Jews, are vastly over-represented in industries that are perceived as powerful, like the media and like banking, and that’s perfectly true and not an antisemitic statement.
My deal is, a lot of the anti-Jew crowd, that they attribute magical powers, they’re saying that everything I have is Jewish and Jews tell me what to do, and it’s just an excuse for people not to be successful … It just gets old, and personally I’ve experienced it. If somebody slips on a banana peel a Jew did it. It gets old, but I let the caller get on and talk about it.
They concluded their 90 minutes by toasting one another with pink Cosmos with complementary rose-pink and lime green umbrellas.
AJ: What a delicious Jewish-made drink.
AJ: You know I think this could be chilled a bit more.
Milo: Maybe two or three degrees. It’s good though.
The special session of the Texas Legislature is half over.
Last night, the hour-long Facebook live Jim and Michael Show – that is Texas Right to Life’s Jim Graham and Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan – had as their guest (via echoey Big Brother remote) Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who, to Graham and Sullivan, is the hero of the piece, delivering on almost all of Gov. Greg Abbott’s 20-point agenda, which is identical to their own.
The villain, no surprise, is House Speaker Joe Straus, their arch-nemsis throughout his tenure, and, once again, in the special session, the master of passive-aggressive obstruction of truth, justice and the Texas way.
MQS: Believe it or not we’re at the halfway mark of the special session. Fifteen days down. Fifteen days to go in the 30 days of the special session.
JG: And the House has passed three bills and at that rate we will only need 71 more days and three more special sessions. Football season. Hunting season. We’re going to be here a long time.
MQS: Over at the Texas House, they’re literally running out the clock.
Patrick talked about the Senate’s strenuous schedule in passing 18 of the 20 agenda items in such short order – That’s never happened in the history of the Legislature that I know of – even with Democratic stalling tactics, which he said were perfectly in order and what he would have done were he in the minority.
We came in at midnight.
One day we worked until 2 a.m.
Two remain. One deals with construction and the other with caps on local government growth.
Eighteen bills out. Remarkable work by the 20 senators.
One day we worked 16 hours straight.
MQ Sullivan salutes the Senate special session work ethic. Dan Patrick: You don't have to sit back and do nothing, day after day after day. pic.twitter.com/Z57Gdsl1OQ
DP: Almost all these bills have overwhelming support among Republicans and should have almost no opposition and in almost all cases have 50 percent support or more of Democrat voters, maybe not Democrat elected officials, but Democrat voters.
DP: What happens from here on out is out of my hands to some extent, but we did our job.
He said that it is high property taxes, and not “privacy” legislation, that imperils the Texas’ business climate.
Graham says the special session agenda is “arguably the most conservative agenda anywhere.”
JG: Are we being obstructed in the House or is there any chance we get this across the finish line?
DP: We have different bodies to work with. I have 31 members. They have 150. I understand we can move a little quicker. Plus it’s my nature to want to get the job done and get the tough work behind us.
Today they finally started to refer our bills to committee. We started referring some of their bills to committee today. We will have hearings on their bills starting Friday.
Dan Patrick says Senate committees will start hearings on House bills Fri (nothing scheduled so far) and voting them out next week. #txlege
DP: We will start voting on House bills next week on the floor and we need the House to follow in kind. There’s still time for the House to get the job done.
DP: I am going to say something that is going to shock a lot of people, and I don’t mean it to be critical. I know people like to try to pit the House and the Senate and sometimes the speaker will take a shot at me and I will respond in kind. But the bottom line is this. We need to have better communication with the House. The governor and I talk every other day, every three days, sometimes at length, or meet at length. We try to have a plan.
I think what most people would think is that the speaker, the lieutenant governor and the governor would sit down and say, OK, we have 20 bills. How many of these bills do you think we can pass. We want to pass all 20, I think would be the comment of the governor and myself. What bills does the House want to pass. What bills does the Senate want to pass. What’s the timetable. Like you would do with any business. You’d sit down with the three leaders and you would have a plan.
We have no communication with the House.
DP: I requested a meeting from the speaker the entire session, the special session, and with the exception of a few breakfasts with the governor that are for the most part small talk breakfasts and then move on, I’ve not had one meeting with the speaker of the House in nine months on policy, and I don’t know if the governor has sat down with the speaker, and I don’t know, but maybe once in the last two months and I don’t even know if they talk on the phone.
We need a speaker, regardless of – look, I may disagree with any speaker on the position they take on a bill, I may have a different view. But we have to have someone we can communicate with, and I think people would be appalled that it’s very difficult for the governor to get Joe Straus and Dan Patrick – and I’m always willing. I’ve offered time and time again, every time I see Joe, when we’re somewhere in public, “Let’s meet Mr. Speaker.” He’s yet to ever agree to a meeting. So it’s hard, Jim, to predict what’s going to happen or work out a seamless way to do the people’s business if no one will sit down and talk with us.
So, the special session is really left to the governor and I to try to direct it. That’s why I wanted to pass our bills out in a hurry and now we’ll see what the House does. I’m hopeful that the speaker will sit down with the governor. I’m hopeful the speaker will sit down with me.
This is the way that business works This is the way people expect politics to work. We’re all in the same party. But even if it were a Democrat speaker and a Democrat governor. Let’s have a plan. Let’s execute the plan. Let’s do the people’s work. And that’s what we do in the Senate, and that’s what we do with the governor. And I welcome Joe any time he wants to sit down and meet, let’s sit down and meet and work out a plan and get this done for the benefit of the people of Texas.
JG: Governor, I would argue that, one, you’re too kind and too humble because the Senate is the deliberative body and historically it is the body that moves much slower than the House, and the House is supposed to be more responsive to the people, and we’re seeing the exact opposite. You pass your bills by roughly a two-to-one margin and we know if we saw those same bills were on the floor tomorrow they would pass by the same two-to-one margin, and there are several individuals – Byron Cook in particular – he is obstructing the will of the people.
JG: He is telling Texas Right to Life that we have to rewrite all the bills that y’all sent over, and the beauty of the Senate and your work is that you sent over bills that were basically perfect, at least on our life issues and that’s all I know, but I got to assume that was true on all these other issues.
These were clean bills, that were written the way they needed to be and they were efficacious pieces of legislation. Now we’re coming over to the House and they are basically trying to gut our legislation. They are doing it to our life bills and I’ve got to assume that people like Byron Cook and others are trying to gut all the legislation and send back shells.
Ya’ll have done great work on the Senate side but we’re worried it will all be hollowed out on the House side if it even gets a vote.
MQS: And I’m going to pile on real quickly. We saw that one of the bills passed by the House and sent over to the Senate is a bill the governor vetoed and specially asked the House not to pass over to the Senate, and yet the House moved it.
MQS: And I guess my concern Gov. Patrick is, the next 15 days, at what point will members of the Texas House realize that they may not want to go down in Texas political history as obstructionist? At what point will they realize that maybe they want to be on the side of the citizens, of the grassroots, and at what point will they decide they want to be on the side of their party platform?
MQS: At some point it feels like the members of the House are going to have to have a little bit of an awakening that they are on the wrong side of history.
JG: And they’re not representing their voters.
DP: Let me just kind of close this loop. I disagree with the speaker on a number of issues of policy, I think everyone knows he comes from the very moderate wing of the party and I am arguably the most conservative lieutenant governor we’ve ever had, and when I was in the Senate one of the most conservative we’ve ever had.
That aside, the people expect us to do their work, they expect us to vote on public policy. They expect a debate. You know I heard someone say the other day, if a bill doesn’t have 76 sponsors, the number of votes it takes to pass a bill, we don’t need to have a hearing on it, it doesn’t have support. Well, that’s nonsense. Probably 90 percent of the bills we pass have fewer sponsors than voters. Not every supporter signs on to every bill. The whole purpose of a hearing, the whole purpose of a floor debate is to gather support or not support, so I hope everything gets a vote.
DP: But I am going to say this one more time – my door is open, the speaker has my phone number. He knows where I am most of the time. I don’t care about our differences. I don’t care about anything that’s been said in the past. I want to sit down and find a way to complete the governor’s agenda, which is my agenda and is the people’s agenda. And if the speaker is against one, two or three of these bills, fine. But if a majority of his members want to vote on them, I hope he will let them vote on those bills because that is what the people expect us to do.
DP: I’m willing to sit down. I’m willing to talk. But in the interim I’m going to do what the people expect me to do, I’m going to represent what I said I was going to do in my campaign. We’re going to work as hard as we possibly can.
I think we are the most efficient, productive legislative body in the entire United States today. We get our work done in the regular session and now in the special. We’re going to stand firm in what we believe for the people, and I’m willing to sit down and try to work all this out.
It’s really up to him.
At end of Jim and Michael Show with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Michael Quinn Sullivan signs off with, "216 days until the Republican primary." pic.twitter.com/nQd09ktEQW
On the other side is Speaker Joe Straus, whose House is threatening to slow the session’s momentum and scuttle any chance of passing the full slate, including a transgender bathroom bill — divisive, yet popular among social conservatives.
It’s a stark and compelling storyline, and may prove true.
But it is not the whole truth. For that, Texans need to get to know the likes of Rep. Tom Oliverson, who was chosen by his Republican colleagues as the GOP freshman of the year, is admired by both Patrick and Straus, and welcomed the governor’s special session call.
“The vast, vast majority of those issues were issues that I understood very well, and I was sad we didn’t get them done during the regular session,” said Oliverson, from suburban Houston.
“I would like an opportunity to consider 20 for 20,” Oliverson said during a two-hour interview in his Capitol office last week. “I’m not sure 20 for 20 would pass, but I would at least like the opportunity to debate them all.
And yet, confounding the preconceived battle lines, Oliverson also trusts Straus and the ways of the House, even if that means the Legislature falls short of achieving many of the objectives he shares.
“I don’t think he inserts himself into the process personally as much as he could as speaker,” Oliverson said of Straus, a San Antonio Republican who in January was unanimously elected by the members of the House to a fifth term as speaker and has said he intends to seek an unprecedented sixth term in 2019.
“It’s just not a process that’s designed to pass things,” he said. “Statistically speaking, the legislative process is pretty efficient at destroying bills. It’s not so good at passing them.”
The genesis of this story was an interview I had with Oliverson last Wednesday.
I had talked to Oliverson for the first time at the end of the regular session thanks to his kids.
They're already having a special session. Logan and Emma, children of Rep. Tom Oliverson, during lull in the action. pic.twitter.com/Ix53QfZCK5
He subsequently was named freshman of the year by his Republican colleagues in the House.
I called him last week to see if I could talk to him, with a mind to doing a First Reading looking at the special session through the eyes of the GOP freshman of the year.
We ended up talking for more than two hours, and when I returned the next day with Statesman photographer Kamir Talifa to get some photos of him in his office, we talked for another hour.
When I arrived Wednesday, Oliverson was watching Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, testify before the House Appropriations Committee about House Joint Resolution 18, a constitutional amendment what would require the state to bear at least 50 percent of the cost of educating Texas students. Earlier, Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, had testified about House Bill 82, “abolishing school district maintenance and operations property taxes by 2020, forcing the Legislature to implement a new way to fund schools for the 2020-21 school year.”
Can we really come up with a good system to replace local property tax revenue for local school districts in two years that we’re going to agree on?
I don ‘t know
(Darby) is more experienced than I am. Two years seems like a short time … it gives us only one legislative session to get it right
Oliverson had been giving the issue a lot of thought of late.
We’re starting to hear a lot of that. That maybe this is the issue we should be focused on. Meaningful tax reform through school finance reform.
It’s been popular in my district and other members that I have talked to. That’s what people really would like. If you ask them what the number one thing they would want they say, “Man, do something about these property taxes.”
We spent the whole regular session talking about property tax reform and at the end of the day, we really couldn’t find anything that the two chambers could agree on.
And here we find ourselves in a special session, when, on the list of things we’re supposed to be talking about is property tax reform and school finance and, to my way of thinking, that is the same issue.
That is the issue: public education finance that is more centered around what the state government does, what we are constitutionally obligated to provide, which is a free and an equitable and fair system of public education. And as long as we’re collecting taxes from the four corners of Texas with different property values, and that represents more than 50 percent of the money that goes into the school system, the public education system, how is it ever going to be fair? There’s just too much variation in property values.
That’s been something we’ve been looking at this session and really spending a lot of time thinking about. It’s something the citizens are really demanding that we do.
I’ve had some conservative economists in here today, telling me you can do this. Just get control some of these exemptions to the sales tax, broaden the base a little bit. It’s achievable. You don’t have to raise the sales tax to 12 percent to do this.
Sales tax, people have said, that’s kind of a regressive tax, you’re penalizing the poor. Well I’m thinking, actually it doesn’t, it’s actually a very progressive tax because the more you buy, the more you pay; the less you buy, the less you pay. It’s the only tax I’m aware of where you can, midstream, mid-calendar year, you can experience a sudden change in income and you an adjust the amount of taxes you are going to pay.
Property taxes are so fixed. If I lose my job and I need to cut back on my expenses I can buy less groceries, I can stop eating out, I can ride my bike to work, I can defer major purchases. I can do all of these hings but I have no ability to modulate the tax I pay.re so fixed. If I lose my job and I need to cut back on my expenses I can buy less groceries, I can stop eating out, I can ride my bike to work, I can defer major purchases. I can do all of these hings but I have no ability to modulate the tax I pay.
It’s just a question of whether people are wiling to trade consumption taxation for property taxation. For me, I’d be wiling to pay taxes on doctor visits, hair cuts ,food, auto repairs, water, electricity, I’d be wiling to pay sales tax on all that if I didn’t have to write a five-figure check to the school every year.
It is going to be tough, man. I am not naive that when you start talking bout repealing exemptions, when you ask people to exchange one tax for another – you wont’ pay property taxes but you might pay a sales tax on services you haven’t paid before – there will be people who will line up outside my door to complain about that. Each one of those exemptions has a lobbyist and group that is 100 percent for that, that’s their deal and they’ll fight like hell to keep it. We’ll see how that goes
I know I’m just a freshman , and it’s not really my place or my area of expertise or even my committee. It’s just really something about it call it a God thing and on your heart thing, I just think that is the issue that’s the elephant in the room.
I’m actually working on something.
I’m hoping we can get something filed field before the end of the special session. I don’t know . It’s probably going to be more of a conversation starter.
We’ll try to get it done as quick as we can, but I’m trying to be deliberative about it and if I don’t get it done before the end of special session and the clock runs out, I will go to the lieutenant governor and the speaker and say, “Here is an idea. I hope you will consider this as an interim charge or as part of this school finance thing.”
Oliverson isn’t keen on Gov. Greg Abbott’s call to create a commission to study school finance.
Commissions to me can get hijacked quickly. I’d much rather see a joint select committee. When you have a joint select committee you have elected officials who are responsible to the voters, to the taxpayers, not necessarily a group of individual who may represent different special interest groups.
Oliverson has signed on to 18 bills aligned with the governor’s special session agenda.
The tree one I’m not 100 percent sure of. I’m still trying to figure that one but it kind of hit me out of left field.
I work in The Woodlands. (Sen.) Brandon Creighton got that carved out of the Senate bill. The Woodlands as a community, they have all kinds of rules about minimally disrupting the forest. You’re not really even allowed to do a lot of landscaping.. You have to try to leave the natural appearance so that as you’re driving down the street the parkway is literally lied with tees and there are houses behind them.
Oliverson also recalled the case of Mr. T 30 years ago in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest. He bought a mansion and immediately clear-cut some 100 trees on his property.
It made the news and they asked him about it and he said, “It’s my land. I hate trees. They’re messy. I can do what I want”.
LAKE FOREST, IL — The former mansion of Mr. T was listed for $7.5 million last week, 30 years after an infamous arboreal “massacre” felled more than 100 mature trees and led to a preservation ordinance from the city council.
LAKE FOREST, Ill., May 29— In this wealthy old community, a bastion of gentility and reserve, the leading citizens would hardly be expected to greet Mohawk hair styles.
But in the case of Mr. T, the gruff, burly, television actor, it was not the way he trimmed his hair that sent this Chicago suburb into an uproar, but rather the way he trimmed his property.
In recent weeks, Mr. T, reportedly suffering from allergies, has already cut down more than a hundred of the oak trees on his English Tudor estate here, violating an unwritten code of esthetics in this picturesque town along the shore of Lake Michigan.
Angry residents here are calling it ”The Lake Forest Chain Saw Massacre.”
The telephones at City Hall have been ringing ceaselessly with complaints from neighbors. The local newspaper, The Lake Forest News/Voice, condemned Mr. T in an editorial last week for what it described as his ”arrogant, insensitive action.” And an alderwoman, Mary Barb Johnson, has promised to draft an ordinance to prohibit any further ”outrageous destruction.” Pride in ‘Tree City, U.S.A.’
”We take great pride in our trees,” Char Kreuz, the city’s spokeswoman, said earlier this week. ”You can tell that by the name of our town.”
“I don’t now about that one,” Oliverson said of the governor’s desire to ban local tree ordinances.
THE BATHROOM BILL
The bathroom issue to me is important. It’s not as important to me because of the bathroom per se but I don’t think its the proper role of local government to create protected classes. I think that’s the proper role for the state Constitution.
Oliverson blames the Obama administration’s 2016 directive for provoking the controversy. It was, he said, “a vast overreach.”
From the May 13, 2016 Dear Colleague letter to schools across the nation from the Obama Administration’s Justice and Education departments advising schools on the appropriate way to treat transgender students:
3. Sex-Segregated Activities and Facilities.
Title IX’s implementing regulations permit a school to provide sex-segregated restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, and athletic teams, as well as single-sex classes under certain circumstances. When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.
– Restrooms and Locker Rooms
A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.
A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender
identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-user options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy.
The Trump Administration rescinded that policy, but, Oliverson said, they also suggested the states step in.
The State of Minnesota basically reinstated that over the weekend, the Obama directive, which to me felt more like shaming students who felt uncomfortable having to undress around their classmates who had different external genitalia than they did and showering with them, than it did about denying somebody the right to use a bathroom stall. I think that issue’s gotten kid of distorted.
The bottom line to me is it’s not the proper role for local government, certainly not school boards or cities, to create protected classes.
Pre -Obama directive, I think the status quo was working. I had not heard anything that this was a problem until after that letter came out.
Schools were not in the business of trying to make life difficult for their students or to shame or humiliate certain students whose needs were different than others.
I think that in general, a school board, a school district, a principal, a teacher generally tries to do what’s in the best interests of all their students. I think that that’s what they’ve been doing.
What was different about the Dear Colleague letter, the part I didn’t like, which was very characteristic of what I see as a pattern, which is why I’m supporting Ron Simmons’ bill.
The Dear Colleague letter said a transgender student had to be given full access to the communal changing, dressing, showering area of the gender that they identify with , without any privacy accommodations, so, in other words, it is communal, and that if another student who was genetically, biologically in the bathroom locker room of their gender felt uncomfortable changing around the transgender student, you had to pull them out of the bathroom and stick them into a private accommodation. So we’re humiliating and shaming somebody because they are put into a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.
In other words you better get OK with this and if you’re not OK with that, we’re going to pull you out and segregate you and shame you. That’s how I read the letter.
There are some in our country who are intent upon creating protected classes by hook, crook or whatever they can so if they can’t get their remedy legislatively, they attempt to take over a small political subdivision and force their will there.
If that doesn’t work, they file lawsuits, they shame, humiliate, boycott, divest , sanction, all of the kind of strategies in order to affect the societal change they are looking for , instead of doing the one thing that I think is constitutionally appropriate, which is to bring that issue here and let us debate that at the Capitol.
If we wanted to create a new protected class for transgender individuals, the appropriate thing to do would be to amend the Constitution to add that to the list of protected classes alongside race, sex, religion. I don’t buy the argument that because sex is in there that that covers it. It’s very clear, you can go back to the 1950s, pre -64 Civil Rights, and at that point there was already a distinction in the psychiatric literature between gender and sex. Sex refers to biological sex, gender referring to their internal identity or what they perceive to be themselves. I don’t buy the argument that gender and sex meant exactly the same thing.
I don’t want to go in the opposite direction. I don’t want to micro manage. I just don’t want school boards, city council, local entities creating and inventing ordinances and polices because they believe it’s their responsibility to create a protected class of individuals.
If that’s what you believe is important, that we should add gender identity to the list of protected classes, then amend the state Constitution to do that.
One of the attributes that works up here is the ability to be nice to everybody but not sort of fake or false, but to be legitimately kind and honest but friendly and I really think Trent Ashby does a good job of that. He’s not going to lie to you. If here’s something you want his help on but he can’t help you, he’s gonna say, “You’re a good guy, but I can’t help you and here’s why.” But he’s nice. He works well with others, somebody I respect.
So many of my colleagues I’ve really come to treasure and enjoy working with. It would be really hard for me to make a list of people that I felt like I couldn’t get along with or that I didn’t think there’s some issue that I couldn’t work with them on.
A BIPARTISAN ANSWER TO NURSING HOME ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD
Oliverson was able to put together a bipartisan coalition behind a measure, that was ultimately folded into an election reform bill, to deal with the problem of agents of different candidates fraudulently filling out absentee forms for unsuspecting nursing home residents.
You’re not going to steal a presidential election with mail ballot fraud but you could affect a primary. You could win a school board race. you could perhaps win a county judge or a county commissioner race in a rural county.
We started the process with some very conservative stakeholders in Harris county Ed Johnson (senior director in the IT department of the Harris County Clerk’s office (and Alan Vera (former national poll watcher trainer for True the Vote).
The first week of session, Glenn Maxey (a former Democratic state representative from Austin and now legislative director for Texas Democratic Party) walks in this office – never met him before. He came to see me. He said, “I want to help.”
Any time we can get both parties to agree that there a) is fraud b) that’s right here and c) that we can fix it, it’s something we have to pursue.
Under Oliverson’s plan, borrowed form a successful practice in Wisconsin, “election judges go in as team to the nursing homes and manually the ballots are completed in front of them and they collect ballots from the residents. You’ve just removed the opportunity to commit fraud.”
Glenn suggested I go tot talk to (Austin Rep.) Celia Israel, she’s vice chair of Elections, and Glenn, he told me flat-out, he just said, “In my party she is probably the most respected name in terms of elections for us.” He said you should go talk to her I think she’ll really like this bill.
I did. She said, “Let me think about it,” and she got back to me the next day, “I really like it .”
“I’d like you to be my co-author,” Oliverson told Israel, who agreed. He talked with Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, who chairs the Elections Comitee, and she joined as co-author.
I talked Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) He walked me right over to Eric Johnson ‘s desk – “This almost got him in his election.”
Oliverson said Johnson, another Dallas Democrat, told him:
This is ground zero for me. Can I be a joint author? This is what’s happening in my back yard.
CARRY A GUN
I pretty much carry a gun everywhere.
I love to shoot and hunt and stuff like that.
I’m carrying right now. I usually have a Glock on my hip right here.
(Designed for professionals, the GLOCK 17 is the most widely used law enforcement pistol worldwide. It’s just what you need in high-pressure situations)
I got a custom shoulder holster for session and I had this beautiful .45, a Sig Sauer that is called the Texas Gold Edition. It said “Lone Star State” and had a quote from Robert E. Lee.
It’s a beautiful gun and I got this custom holster and the first day of the session I was wearing it and I was all proud of myself – this is great and it doesn’t stick out on my hip … and the leather totally stained and ruined that shirt.
So for the next week-and-a- half I was coming in and wrapping it with paper towels.
To no avail. He gave up and went back to the Glock.
Has he ever had to use the gun for protection?
Thank the Lord I have not had to do that. I hope to never have to.
It’s one of those things we try to prepare for and pray that it never happens, but I just don’t want to be a victim and it just seems like all that kind of stuff is on the rise and you just never know anymore.
Oliverson, an anesthesiologist, is a partner in practice with Dr. John Zerwas, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.
We’re good friends and colleagues. I don’t know that were 100 percent ideologically in line. On some issues, in fat, he actually worked against me. That’s fine. That happens.
When he was contemplating running for representative, he called to ask if she should run and whether Zerwas thought he’d make a good legislator.
His initial response, was, “Well, let me ask a question. What does you wife think?”
I said my wife thinks this is where God has called us to serve. She believes this is mission work and I do too. And we kind of came to this conclusion.
She sat me down one day and said, “God has done all these things in our lives and we’ve kind of moved in this direction.” She said, “I believe that He’s calling us to public service,” and (Zerwas) said, “I don’t need to hear any more. I think you’ll do a great job.”
STRAUS AND PATRICK
From Sunday’s story:
Oliverson is Patrick’s representative in the House.
They live next door to each other in Cypress, on the northwest edge of Houston — “across the fence, driveway to driveway,” Patrick said. (Patrick recently told Oliverson he was moving to nearby Montgomery County. The lieutenant governor’s new representative will be Republican Cecil Bell of Magnolia.)
Patrick and Oliverson got to know each other when Oliverson approached then-state Sen. Patrick in 2013 to talk politics and back him in his 2014 primary campaign for lieutenant governor.
“I had a good feeling that I knew who he was and what kind of lieutenant governor he was going to be, so he had my support,” Oliverson said.
“I think he’s been a good lieutenant governor.”
And he thinks Straus is a good speaker.
He has a good rapport with both men?
I like to think so. I respect both of them.
They’re kind of in different positions.
It’s interesting how we do it in Teas, I remember saying the speaker gets a lot of criticism because he’s not able to move things as, quote, quickly. I
The House is made up of many different groups of people. I think the House is very reflective of the people of Texas. It sort of shows the diversity we have in the state and I have yet to meet a House member who isn’t up her doing his or her level best to represent the people of his district.
So (Straus) gets a lot of criticism sometimes but I think that the process is meant to be more deliberative in the House because there is more diversity in the House. We are all over the place. I tend to be a pretty conservative thinker ideologically. Obviously, some of the things we’ve talked about puts me pretty far to the right. But I respect the process and I respect the people that I work with and I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
So, might he be in a position to broker a truce between Patrick and Straus?
I’m just a freshman OK. I may be freshman of the year, but I’m just a freshman.
But if there’s something I can bring them together on, an issue, if there’s a part I have, a role to play to be part of the process, I am here to work and do good for the people.