The step from demagoguery to enacting real policy change can be remarkably short, and a prime example of this is on full display in Texas right now. In 2003 state Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, had this to say about the state's obligation to provide public education for its citizens: "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it's cleverly disguised as having a tender heart. It's not a tender heart. It's ripping the heart out of this country." At the time, Riddle's remarks were roundly decried as a dangerous, fringe opinion. Fast forward to 2011, when state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, says almost the same thing, albeit in more diplomatic language. Acknowledging that the school finance plan currently under consideration does away with the longstanding guarantee that Texas schools would get enough money to provide a basic, foundational education for each student, Patrick is quoted in today's Austin American-Statesman: "[The school finance change in the new budget] is a true cut in an entitlement... There are no guarantees, and for…… Read More

Earlier this morning, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, paid a visit to his conservative talk-radio pal Laura Ingraham and announced on her nationally syndicated program that he’s forming an exploratory committee in preparation for a run at the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Since joining the Texas Senate in 2007, Patrick has made a name for himself as one of the most conservative politicians in the Texas Legislature — and a favorite of the religious right .

In the 2011 legislative session, he successfully pushed for the so-called sonogram bill, legislation that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram before they can go ahead with the procedure. When the bill was signed into law this week, Patrick said women who have had abortions can find forgiveness in the “blood of Jesus Christ.” Such a statement is not out of character for a legislator who is not shy about using faith to achieve political goals and vilify opponents on the floor of the Texas Senate or on his radio talk show.

TFN has been keeping an eye on Patrick since his arrival on… Read More

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, had the following to say today as Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law his bill requiring women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram of the fetus at least 24 hours before the procedure. Sen. Patrick was responding to remarks by someone in the audience talking about women who have abortions being guilty of killing their children. Patrick said:

“The good news is through the blood of Jesus Christ he forgives, and women who have aborted children need to know that message … I believe this can be the beginning of the end of 75,000 abortions we have every year in Texas.”

Here’s video from the Texas Tribune:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TZVAsmqdhc&w=450&h=284]

Sen. Patrick also told listeners just before that comment:

“Standing for life isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a God issue.”

The Dallas Morning News has more here about Sen. Patrick’s comments.

Patrick made similar comments earlier in the legislative session when the sonogram bill was debated on the Senate floor.

Here’s video from earlier in the session:… Read More

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