For everyone who thought the culture warriors on the religious right would take a back seat at the Texas Legislature during this once-a-generation budget crisis, ladies and gentlemen, we give you exhibit A:

During last week’s debate in the Texas Senate over the “sonogram bill” — legislation that would require a doctor show a sonogram and play the heartbeat of the fetus to women seeking an abortion — Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, offered a little nugget that makes it clear that his bill has less to do with “empowering women” with information (as he has claimed) than imposing his personal religious beliefs on women in the state.

While responding to a question from another senator, Patrick was briefly interrupted by a crying baby in the audience. Here’s what he said:

You know, so often in life we try to do things on our timing — there’s the hand of God right there, with the cry of a baby who says, ‘vote for this bill, let’s get it moving. Let’s get the 24 suspended, 21 votes suspended. But life is about God’s timing not our timing. This bill wasn’t right in 2007 and it obviously wasn’t right in 2009.… Read More

Both the Texas House and Senate have now released initial budgets intended to cover a massive state fiscal deficit that experts have placed as high as $27 billion. Cuts outlined in those budgets could mean the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in education -- one lawmaker describes the effect on public schools as "Armageddon." The budgets also include drastic cuts in critical state services, such as health care, public safety and criminal justice. And that's only part of the terrible fiscal bloodbath facing the state. But Gov. Rick Perry has spent the last few weeks declaring as "emergencies" a long list of divisive issues that appeal to his base of hard-right supporters. Legislators will be able to take those issues up quickly because of the "emergency" declaration. And what are those supposed "emergencies"? Voter ID. Outlawing "sanctuary" cities. Passing a symbolic resolution calling for a federal balanced budget amendment. And forcing women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram first. Read More

by Dan Quinn

The shooting this morning of an Arizona congresswoman (who at this writing is in critical condition) is a chilling moment in American history. It appears that six people were killed, including a young child and a federal judge.

Some have already noted that Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was featured last year in a map created by Sarah Palin’s Political Action Committee. The map used crosshairs to identify 20 members of Congress who supported health care reform legislation.

Just as stunning is the language we continue to hear and see from extremist right-wing groups, including in Texas. This morning, in fact, the Houston-based Life & Liberty Political Action Committee sent out an e-mail accusing the Obama administration and congressional supporters of “death-dealing” health care reform of using tax dollars to murder babies through abortion and subject the sick and elderly to “death panels.” Then we read this passage:

“Politicians’ home offices are staffed by locals… locals who do not want to look their neighbors in the face and lie. These Congress Critters LIVE in these areas and when they come home on breaks and to campaign (continuously) they are no longer sheltered by taxpayer-paid Capitol Hill… Read More

The Associated Press notes that the religious right is preparing to use the November elections to push a radical legislative agenda in states across the country starting in January. The religious right's hit list includes women's reproductive rights, embryonic stem cell research, divorce laws and equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. The Texas Freedom Network has already identified other likely battles coming when the legislative session opens in Austin in January, including reform of the State Board of Education and responsible sex education in public schools. You can help stop the religious right's radical agenda in Texas by signing up for a TFN Rapid Response Team. TFN will keep Rapid Response Team members updated on critical legislation as it moves through the state House and Senate. We will also provide the tools you need to take action to top attacks on religious freedom, equal rights and public education. But how does the Associated Press see the religious right's legislative agenda shaping up across the country? Read on. Read More

Experience has taught us this: when someone from the religious right insists that a provocative event he has scheduled isn't really about politics, you can be pretty certain that politics is exactly what it's about. Today's example: a far-right group called Operation Save America plans on Saturday "to present a prophetic message" about 9/11 at an event in New York. Says the group's assistant director, Rev. Rusty Less Thomas, in a press release today: "We are going to New York City at this hallowed time not to politicize September 11th, but to present a prophetic message, that if heeded, may prevent future attacks and restore God's hand of blessing upon our beleaguered nation." Uh-huh. And what is that prophetic message? Read on:…… Read More

Just Texas

To all who celebrate, we wish a very happy and sweet new year this Rosh Hashanah! We are incredibly grateful for the passionate Jewish leaders in our community working towards reproductive freedom, LGBTQ inclusion, and the empowerment of women. pic.twitter.com/jCcZ…