She said, ‘Hang the rich’

She said, ‘Hang the rich’ August 18, 2023

• In terms of dollar value, Ken Paxton’s corruption isn’t in the same league as that of Clarence Thomas, or maybe even of Brett Favre. But the Texas Republican’s brazen self-seeking earns points for sheer chutzpah.

Ken Paxton’s actual mug shot

The Lone Star state’s attorney general has been under federal indictment for securities fraud for years, but he’s still spent most of his time in office — allegedly — abusing his power to benefit wealthy benefactors, especially the developer who provided him with a $500,000 home renovation in exchange for various favors. Paxton’s fellow Republicans in the state legislature were willing to overlook a lot of his egregious behavior, but they finally balked when he tried to get them to budget more than $3 million in state funds to cover his personal legal expenses. That led to his impeachment in Texas’ House of Representatives, leading to his upcoming trial in the state Senate.

This is fascinating to me because Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a state senator.

In a criminal trial in an actual court of law no one would ever be allowed to serve on a jury if their spouse was the defendant, but apparently there’s no specific rule requiring Angela Paxton to recuse herself from her husband’s impeachment trial. It’s not clear to me whether her role in that trial gives Ken Paxton an unfair advantage or an unfair disadvantage. I mean, yeah, Angela Paxton’s household wealth has benefitted greatly from her husband’s (alleged) corruption. She allegedly oversaw the renovations the Paxtons received — what the articles of impeachment describe as a bribe.

But, on the other hand, some of the favors/bribes Ken Paxton allegedly received involved his mistress. That same developer/donor/co-conspirator, Nate Paul, allegedly hired Ken’s mistress specifically to move her closer to the attorney general’s office and to cut down on the commuting time for their affair. Paul allegedly even set up an anonymous Uber account for Ken to use to conceal his visits to his mistress. So maybe it’s not great for Ken Paxton that his wife will be among those weighing this evidence.

Then again, it seems that Paxton’s attempts to conceal his extramarital affair were mostly an effort to conceal it from voters, not from his spouse. In the upper classes, marriage doesn’t always entail the same assumptions about fidelity that it does for the rest of us. For them, it’s often more about the forming of financial alliance than about a commitment to forsaking all others.

This is just as true among wealthy “social conservatives” as it is among more cosmopolitan, secular jet-setters. You know all those conferences advocating marriage as the best anti-poverty program? They’re often funded by rich guys with mistresses.

Maybe that’s the kind of arrangement the Paxtons have. Maybe not. We may find out when the Texas Senate votes in his impeachment trial.

(My interest in, and understanding of, Texas politics is entirely second-hand. Anything I’ve gotten right in my summary of l’affair Paxton is entirely due to two fine Texas-based blogs: Off the Kuff and Adventus. Anything I’ve gotten wrong about it is not their fault.)

• Lowell Gates, a wealthy supporter of Pennsylvania MAGA Republican Rep. Scott Perry — who is also Perry’s landlord — was arrested earlier this month for his role in the January 6 riots in Washington, where Gates assaulted Capitol police officers with a flagpole.

Perry, an enthusiastic supporter of the fake electors scheme intended to disregard the votes of his own constituents, has somehow not yet been indicted himself. He should be, and he seems to know this himself — which is why he sought a pardon from then-President Trump in the final, fevered weeks of his term in office.

It hasn’t been a good month for central Pennsylvania Republicans:

A former Somerset County district attorney was sentenced Thursday to up to seven years in prison after a jury convicted him of attacking a woman in her home.

Jeffrey Thomas was sentenced to between just over two years to seven years in prison after a jury found him guilty earlier this year of strangulation and criminal trespassing, both felonies, and simple assault, unlawful restraint, indecent assault and false imprisonment. He was acquitted of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault.

Thomas, 37, a Republican, is required to register with police as a sex offender for 15 years, the state attorney general’s office said.

• Alvin McEwen regularly reminds us that the lies told by anti-gay bigots for more than a generation never change, they just get adapted, updated, and rephrased. The post at that link includes examples of outrageously nasty anti-gay propaganda from 1985. The graphic design and production values are dated, but everything else about it is exactly like the anti-trans propaganda being feverishly repeated today.

Did those bearing this false witness against their neighbors believe what they were saying in 1985? No. Nor do those bearing this same false witness against their neighbors in 2023.

The “it’s about protecting the children” claim is not intended to deceive others, but to deceive oneself. When you’re lying and you know you’re lying, it allows you to reassure yourself that “Lying isn’t so bad if it’s done to protect the children, right?” and to look in the mirror and say, “I may have staked my identity and personality on a lie, but that’s OK if the lie is for a good cause.”

• Back in the spring we discussed Confederate monuments and King Philip’s head on a pike, and how it was abysmally ignorant to claim that the removal of such monuments “will not make the two races less divided or less prejudiced” and “will not improve the worldly lot of any black person.”

Alexander N. Taylor has been studying evidence related to that argument, and found “When Confederate-glorifying monuments went up in the South, voting in Black areas went down,”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Those monuments were intended to be a monumental threat of lethal violence warning Black citizens not to attempt to exercise any of their rights, or else. And those monuments have stood as an enduring, perpetual expression of that threat ever since.

• The title for this post comes from one of my favorite songs by the late great Robbie Robertson, “Somewhere Down the Crazy River“:

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