A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.
Why Do Texas Republicans Hate College Football?
Generally I don’t flag whacky proposed legislation at the state level or bills that don’t have much chance of passing. They’re too often trolly, and you have enough real stuff to keep track of. But yesterday’s vote by the Texas Senate to end tenure at the state’s three dozen or so public universities is so extraordinary and representative of the current cultural moment that it’s worth your attention.
Many observers in Texas think it’s unlikely that the tenure ban will pass the GOP-controlled Texas House. I hope that’s right. But even if it dies there, we have to reckon with how far Texas senators were willing to go.
The tenure ban contained some wrinkles to give the appearance of softening the blow, as the Texas Tribune notes (emphasis mine):
SB 18 would eliminate tenure only for newly hired professors and would allow a university system governing board to set up its own system of “tiered employment” for faculty, as long as professors receive an annual review.
But let’s not kid ourselves. Eliminating tenure for new hires would put Texas universities at an extreme disadvantage when recruiting faculty. It would cripple many graduate programs. It would inject politics deeply into university management and administration. It would allow state government to play the same kinds of games with higher ed that they love foisting on elementary and secondary educators.
Texas has a remarkable public university system. Long ago, Texas set up a unique funding mechanism that diverted significant value from the state’s extractive resources (oil and gas) to the state’s flagship public universities. That relatively stable and often very lucrative revenue source didn’t completely insulate them from the state budget wars that have decimated higher ed funding in recent decades, but it certainly helped.
With an enrollment of some 700,000 students, Texas public universities are a civic and economic driver for the state and the nation. But if I were a Texas Dem, I’d be homing in on what this means long term for … Aggie and Longhorn football. Kick ’em where it hurts.
Texas Senate Is On A Roll
Texas public schools would have to display the Ten Commandments and set aside time for prayer and Bible study under bills passed by the Texas Senate that now head to the state House.
I should mention that both the tenure ban and the religion in schools bills were pushed for or supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R).
What Is UP, Tennessee?
State Rep. Scotty Campbell (R) resigned his seat shortly after being confronted by a Nashville TV station about a three-weeks-old secret ethics panel finding that he sexually harassed an intern.
Campbell, 39, served as vice chair of the House Republican Caucus and was among the GOP lawmakers who recently voted to expel the Tennessee Three.
Is it okay to laugh at the fact that when NewsChannel 5 intercepted Campbell yesterday he mentioned a second intern they didn’t know about?
Confronted with the allegations Thursday as he headed to Capitol Hill, Campbell referenced a second intern who was also involved in the investigation. NewsChannel 5 was previously unaware of that individual’s complaint.
Smartmatic Wants MOAR Than Dominion Got
Smartmatic’s attorney tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that the company is seeking at least as much as Dominion’s $787 million from Fox News plus an apology and a full retraction.
Proud Boys Trial Still Going!
Almost every prediction about the Proud Boys trial schedule has been too optimistic, but there is a chance closing arguments will start today and the jury could get the the case next week.
Kevin McCarthy Is Trying It Again?!?
The House debt-ceiling-hostage vote next week is shaping up to look an awful lot like the vote for speaker back in January. As he was then, McCarthy is winging it, planning to bring it to the floor even though the whip count is uncertain; and again the extremist wing of his conference has him over a barrel, hence the-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink far-right-wish-list of a bill.
NYT: The Obscure G.O.P. Bookkeeper at the Center of the George Santos Mess
I Think Maybe Biden Is Running Again
WaPo: Biden preparing to announce reelection campaign next week
NYT: Biden in Final Stage of ’24 Planning, With Announcement as Early as Tuesday
CNN: Plans underway for Biden to announce bid for second term next week
TODAY: Waiting On SCOTUS To Rule On Abortion Pill
Expect a decision before midnight from the Supreme Court on whether to stay the abortion pill ruling from Texas pending a full appeal.
How Convenient For Judge Kacsmaryk
CNN has unearthed two interviews with Christian talk radio that Amarillo U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (of abortion pill and venue-shopping fame) failed to disclose during his 2017 confirmation process.
The future judge was, ummm, unfiltered in the interviews:
In undisclosed radio interviews, Matthew Kacsmaryk referred to being gay as “a lifestyle” and expressed concerns that new norms for “people who experience same-sex attraction” would lead to clashes with religious institutions, calling it the latest in a change in sexual norms that began with “no-fault divorce” and “permissive policies on contraception.”
Permissive policies on contraception! RIP Griswold.
The new disclosures come after the WaPo reported last weekend that Kacsmaryk failed to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee a law review article he authored (and bizarrely removed his name from) which criticized Obama-era protections for transgender people and people seeking abortions.
Senate Judiciary Summons John Roberts
In a slow but better-late-than-never response to the Clarence Thomas scandal, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) has invited Chief Justice John Roberts to come testify about ethics rules for the Supreme Court. Why an invite instead of a subpoena? Because of the absence of Sen. Dianna Feinstein (D-CA).
“Asked about a possible subpoena for Roberts, a frustrated Durbin threw up his hands and said, ‘I don’t have a majority,’” Punchbowl reports.
Keep An Eye On This
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) sent up an early warning flare this week that Senate Republicans might not even allow a permanent replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to sit on the Judiciary Committee. TPM looked into it, and for now key Republican senators are committing not to violate Senate norms and precedents in this way.
RIP Buzzfeed News
I worked at BuzzFeed News for nearly six years—from March 2013 until January 2019. For most of that time, it felt a bit like standing in the eye of the hurricane that is the internet. Glorious chaos was everywhere around you, yet it felt like the perfect vantage to observe the commercial web grow up. I don’t mean to sound self-aggrandizing, but it is legitimately hard to capture the cultural relevance of BuzzFeed to the media landscape of the mid-2010s, and the excitement and centrality of the organization’s approach to news.
A Good, Old-Fashioned Heist!
Some $20 million in gold and other valuables was stolen from the Toronto airport Monday in a caper reminiscent of the Lufthansa heist that was famously fictionalized in Goodfellas.
Everyone’s posting this as a GIF but you gotta include sound. RIP Ray Liotta pic.twitter.com/7QGCaKaj3t— Bobcat (@somebobcat8327) April 20, 2023
Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!