Greg Abbott

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Abbott at the WTTC Global Summit 2016.
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Something, some force, some gathering of sane, rational, authentically concerned human beings generally at peace with reality must emerge in the next four to six years from the right, or our opportunity will be lost for a long generation. Needless to say, Greg Abbott and Jodi Ernst are not that force.
—Chris Ladd, a sweet and naive child[1]

Gregory "Greg" Wayne Abbott (1957–) is the current Governor of the state of Texas, taking office in January 2015. Prior to this, he served as Texas's attorney general, beginning in 2002, and, prior to that, he was actually an associate "justice" on the Texas Supreme Court. He has been in a wheelchair since the age of 26 when he was out jogging and a tree branch fell on his back. He is also far-right and a strong authoritarian who scapegoats entire communities, and thus is among a batch of Republican governors thought of as Trumpian, alongside Florida governor Ron DeSantis and South Dakota governor Kristi Noem.

Questionable jurisprudence[edit]

Abbott attempted to use federal anti-terrorism law to justify denying the Texas chapter of Planned Parenthood funding through the state's Women's Health Program because there was no guarantee that such funds could not be used to fund elective abortions and because the "First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to 'humanitarian' activities performed by terrorist organizations."[2] The hole in this argument is that Planned Parenthood's voluntary provision of completely legal abortion services (or other, less controversial "humanitarian" services, including pap smear and breast cancer screenings) seems quite unlike real terrorist acts undertaken by Al Qaeda or even certain extremists affiliated with Operation Rescue.

Establishment Clause follies[edit]

Abbott (along with his political ally Rick Perry) stuck his nose in a First Amendment case after a letter of complaint[3] was sent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the Kountze Independent School District after the FFRF became a little concerned that the banners the football team ran through at the beginning of games might be a bit, well, proselytizing in nature.[4] After a temporary restraining order overturned the prohibition of display of such banners, Abbott made predictable noises about how the Wisconsin-based FFRF was engaging in all sorts of "menacing and misleading intimidation tactics" and was probably going to attack Kountze with cheese-festooned tanks any day now.[5] Abbott might think that he's well within his rights to inveigh against "secular beliefs," but one or two[6] documents seem to contradict his views on the issue.

Dumb international incidents[edit]

Abbott also took issue with election observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)[7] Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights over actually coming to Texas in order to observe their 2012 election.[8] He even threatened to prosecute any ODIHR observers who stepped within 100 feet of a Texas polling place[9] despite the fact that the State Department invited ODIHR observers to not just Texas but to the rest of the United States as well.[10] Needless to say, ODIHR director Janez Lecarčič wasn't in on the joke,[11] and neither was the Washington Post (which went so far as to compare Abbott with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev).[12][13]

In his letter to the OSCE, Abbott also stated that the Supreme Court has ruled that "Voter ID laws are constitutional". Just not the ones in Texas, though.[14] Oops.

2014 Gubernatorial Bid[edit]

It's early, but an article in the Dallas Observer noted that Abbott's Facebook page was displaying all sorts of posturing noise after Obama's re-election, namely referring to how "Texas remains one of the reddest states in the country and is the last bastion of conservatism"[15] and that "now more than ever Texas must lead the nation" and that Abbott will "continue to fight every day against an overreaching federal government to protect the liberties that Texans hold so dearly".

All of this may come off as beyond the pale saber-rattling until you realize that a gubernatorial election (or another run for Texas AG, at the very least) is in the offing in 2014. It also panders nicely to fringe political groups like the Texas Nationalist Movement and other pro-secession types who then linked a petition (created by the TNM) to secede to Abbott's Facebook wall.[16]

He did end up running for governor in the 2014 midterms and (surprise, surprise) flattened opponent Wendy Davis 59%-39%. Mere hours after being elected, he's already promised to sign open-carry handgun laws and to continue to defy the government's current stand on same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, he has been worse than Rick Perry.

Abbott's Tenure as Governor[edit]

For the first few months, Abbott said very little and simply kept spouting the usual nonsense until he was one of the many idiots who thought the United States military's Jade Helm operation was an excuse to invade Texas. And then from there, it started snowballing.

Shortly after, in mid-2015, scientists at OGE at the University of Oklahoma released a report that supported a direct link between fracking and an exponentially-increasing frequency of earthquakes in the state. Oklahoma's government responded by implementing a bill to prevent towns from imposing any kind of fracking regulation. Down in Texas, the city of Denton passed an ordinance that prevented fracking within city limits, and within a week, Abbott signed into law a bill that prevented Texas cities from banning fracking in any sense. Like any real Republican governor, his COVID response neatly straddles the line between stupid and murderous. He would get another chance to fiddle while Rome burned during the power crisis of February 2021 (damn wind turbines! It's not the deregulated power grid, it couldn't be!).[17]

Allowing a record number of mass shootings[edit]

There comes a time when your inaction becomes complicity. Under Abbott's governorship, from 2015 through 2022, a grand total of six massacres happened on his watch - the Dallas police shooting in 2016, the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017, the Santa Fe High School shooting in 2018, the El Paso Walmart shooting in 2019, the Midland-Odessa shooting in 2019, and most infamously, the 2022 Uvalde school shooting. By contrast, Rick Perry, his immediate predecessor, "only" had two mass shootings on his watch - the first Fort Hood shooting in 2010 and the second Fort Hood in 2014.[18] Abbott responded by praising the police response to Uvalde, [19] blithely saying the slaughters "could have been worse," [20] doing nothing to stop unfettered access to firearms,[21] and in fact loosening gun restrictions instead, including passing a "permitless carry" bill allowing Texans to carry handguns in public without any training or permits. [22]

Banning Covid-19 vaccination requirements[edit]

Through executive order, Abbott banned government agencies from requiring individuals to get vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination. Public and private entities receiving state funding are prohibited from denying entry to individuals based on their vaccination status, but all nursing homes and living facilities can still require inoculations for their residents. He even threatened to issue fines of up to $1,000 on those who fail to comply.[23]

Anti-abortion bounty hunters[edit]

A new set of anti-abortion laws in Texas would ban abortions, even in cases of rape, at six weeks, and allow any U.S. citizen to sue Texas-based abortion clinics, doctors, and "anyone who aids in an abortion." If successful, the petitioner, who does not have to reside in Texas, will "receive an $10,000 award and the cost for attorney’s fees." Pro-choice advocates worry that "this cash prize may create a new cottage industry of aggressive antiabortion bounty hunters."[24]

Threatening to arrest political opponents[edit]

When Texas Republicans forwarded a bill that would restrict voting, Texas Democrats fled the state, depriving Abbott of a quorum required to actually conduct business in the state legislature. Frustrated with being unable to limit democracy for the time being, Governor Abbott threatened to use Texas House rules to arrest the Democrats, force them back to the state capitol, and get a quorum to restrict voting rights.[25][26] In May 2021, when Democrats walked out to prevent the voting restriction bill initially, Abbott vetoed a section of the state budget that funds the legislature for the two-year budget cycle that starts September 1.[27] Abbott's veto "threatens the livelihoods of 2,165 legislative staffers and individuals working at legislative agencies" who will lose their salaries and potentially cause a brain drain for the state legislature.[28]

Banning abortion after six weeks[edit]

Governor Abbott signed into law a bill that bans abortion after six weeks. Most women don't know they're pregnant until the sixth week, effectively banning abortion as a whole throughout the state of Texas while also putting up bounties for those who do abort their embryos. In addition, there are no exceptions for rape or incest.[29]

Kidnapping Trans Minors[edit]

Abbott ordered Family and Protective Services to investigate all trans children in Texas and to potentially prosecute their parents as "child abusers." He also instructed all teachers, doctors, and caregivers to begin "reporting" any trans kids they see. If they do not, they will lose their jobs.[30] That means you are now a "groomer" just by your trans kid merely existing.

Migrant buses[edit]

As reported by New York news sites, Abbott was pissed that the Biden Administration revoked Article 42, the Trump era pandemic measure used to expell migrants without the option for asylum. In response, the Texas governor said he would put immigrants on buses and ship them off to D.C., which he followed through on but had to make the program voluntary and requested by cities and counties.[31]

Shipment Clog[edit]

On April 6, 2022, Greg Abbott ordered the Department of Public Safety to begin enhanced inspections of all commercial vehicles crossing into Texas from Mexico, despite already being inspected by Federal authorities, for the same reason mentioned above.[32] The results were immediate, such as commercial traffic falling 60% on the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which usually saw 3,000 commercial trucks, and given that these commercial trucks carry $60-$70 million worth of daily goods and services, these inspections could lead to shortages.[33] Things only got more chaotic after truckers on the Mexican side blockaded the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in protest.[34] It even got to the point where even Texas Agriculture Commissioner, and fellow Republican, Sid Miller told Abbott to cut it out![35] Things have only gotten "slightly" better since then.[36][37]

Criminalizing abortion[edit]

Emboldened by Abbott's bullshit, a Texas district attorney in Starr County arrested Lizelle Herrera, a woman who performed an abortion, and charged her for "the death of an individual by self-induced abortion." Amid national backlash, the District Attorney, Gocha Allen Ramirez, dropped the charges once it became clear there was no Texas state law that Herrera specifically broke. [38]

Dehumanizing the entire LGBT community[edit]

Time after time, history shows that if you concede on the first group, you're done, because it won't just be that one group who is consigned to suffering and death. Abbott has also demonstrated he is far from afraid of targeting vulnerable minorities if it gains him approval from reactionaries. The Texas Republican Party, by vote, with Abbott's blessing, declared on their platform that homosexuality is an "abnormal choice" and that they oppose any efforts to "validate transgender identity". They called for a ban on medical transition until the age of 21 and also, a ban on non-medical transition before the age of 17 (supposedly, to protect children from grooming).[39]

They also want to keep conversion therapy legal, prevent transgender people from changing their legal gender, ban same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws, enforce Bible teachings in school, and pass bathroom bills. They also want to officially hold an unconstitutional vote in 2023 to secede, and presumably from there, execute homosexuals and transgender people. Not that they haven't tried that many times. [40]

Certainly horrific, but it's up to you whether it's something to actually be concerned about.

Other weird shit[edit]

The day after Obama's re-election, Abbott made some comments on his Facebook page pandering to in-state wingnut secessionist organizations like the Texas Nationalist Movement.[41] As governor, he hasn't brought back up the idea of secession, and secessionist fervor has generally died down around the country. At least, for now.

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling narrowing the scope of the Voting Rights Act in June 2013, Abbott seemed quite gleeful about imposing Texas' voter ID requirements (i.e., the same ones previously mentioned above) and — as usual — made it all about Texas vs. The Federal Gummint (as embodied in this case by Eric Holder and the Justice Department).[42] No word on whether he'd challenge Holder to a Mixed Martial Arts event.

Jade Helm conspiracy theory[edit]

In 2015, Abbott gave the veil of respectability to the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory by calling out the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercises, stating:

It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed upon. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.[43][44]

References[edit]

  1. Clearly a RINO
  2. Texas AG Uses Anti-Terror Law on Planned Parenthood, Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  3. FFRF letter to the Kountze ISD. ffrf.org.
  4. Texas Town Rallies for Christian Hegemony. Dispatches From the Culture Wars. freethoughtblogs.com, 23 September 2012.
  5. Texas AG stirs up wrath against atheists. ffrf.org.
  6. Freedom of Worship. The Texas Constitution, Bill of Rights.
  7. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe "addresses a wide range of security-related concerns, including arms control, confidence- and security-building measures, human rights, national minorities, democratization, policing strategies, counter-terrorism and economic and environmental activities."
  8. Texas Attorney General Threatens Foreign Poll Watchers, Talking Points Memo
  9. https://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2012/102312abbot_letter.pdf
  10. http://photos.state.gov/libraries/osce/242783/feb2012/FEB_16-12_USElections.pdf
  11. Threat of criminal prosecution of observers at odds with established co-operation on United States elections, ODIHR Director says, OSCE web site
  12. Texas, an election model for autocrats, Washington Post
  13. The Washington Post Sees Striking Similarities Between Greg Abbott and Vladimir Putin, Greg Abbott, Dallas Observer
  14. Federal Court Rules Texas Voter ID Law Is Discriminatory, Talking Points Memo
  15. Never mind all those other southern states that voted for Mitt Romney; obviously, they don't exist
  16. Texas Nationalist Movement Would Like to Secede Now, Please, Dallas Observer
  17. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/02/17/texas-abbott-wind-turbines-outages/
  18. "Texas has had eight mass shootings in the past 13 years, while lawmakers have steadily loosened restrictions on carrying firearms," Mandi Cai, Texas Tribune
  19. "Gov. Greg Abbott, After Yet Another Texas Mass Shooting, Focused on Praising Police—as Questions Emerge About Their Response," Time
  20. "Greg Abbott Is Full of Shit," Gus Bova, Texas Observer
  21. "Greg Abbott Once Promised to End School Shootings, but After Uvalde His Tone Has Changed," Texas Monthly
  22. "“Astounding”: Texas GOP repeatedly responded to mass shootings by loosening gun laws," Salon
  23. "Texas Gov. Abbott threatens fines again against local officials and businesses that enforce mask mandates, vaccine requirements," Robert Towey, CNBC
  24. "New Texas law opens up abortion bounty hunting," Nicole Goodkind, Fortune
  25. "Texas governor threatens to arrest lawmakers who fled state," Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Las Angeles Times
  26. "Texas House Democrats flee the state in move that could block voting restrictions bill, bring Legislature to a halt," Alexa Ura and Cassandra Pollock, Texas Tribune
  27. "Gov. Greg Abbott vetoes funding for Texas Legislature and its staff as punishment for Democrats’ walkout on elections bill," Cassandra Polluck, Texas Tribune
  28. "2,100 state workers caught in the crosshairs of Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto of Legislature funding," Heidi Pérez-Moreno, Texas Tribune
  29. "Texans Are ‘Scared, Confused, Angry’ As Extreme Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect," Sara Boboltz, Huffington Post
  30. Tweet of his order
  31. "First bus of migrants arrives in Washington, D.C., from Texas under Abbott’s new controversial plan" Andrew Zhang, James Barragán, and Jason Beefermen, Texas Tribune
  32. Governor Abbott Takes Aggressive Action To Secure The Border As President Biden Ends Title 42 Expulsions
  33. "Delays, closures and chaos mount at Texas-Mexico border crossings from new state inspections" Texas Tribune
  34. "International trade halted at Texas border crossings as truckers protest Greg Abbott’s new inspections" Texas Tribune
  35. "Predicting food shortages, Sid Miller calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to stop new vehicle inspections at the border" Texas Tribune
  36. Gov. Greg Abbott eases state inspections at one commercial bridge, as trade remains snarled across the border" Texas Tribune
  37. Gov. Greg Abbott announces deals with two more Mexican governors to halt Texas’ vehicle inspections at the border Texas Tribune
  38. "Under Pressure, Texas DA Drops Murder Charge Against Woman in Abortion Case," Julia Conley, Common Dreams
  39. "New Texas GOP Platform Declares Homosexuality 'Abnormal Lifestyle Choice'," Huffington Post
  40. https://texasgop.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/6-Permanent-Platform-Committee-FINAL-REPORT-6-16-2022.pdf
  41. Texas Nationalist Movement Would Like to Secede Now, Please Dallas Observer
  42. Texas Advances Voter ID Law After Supreme Court Strikes Down Voting Rights Act, Talking Points Memo
  43. "Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover", Wade Goodwyn, NPR.
  44. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/texas-governor-abbott-orders-national-guard-military-takeover