Thursday, December 5, 2019

#TXLEGE: Latest Crisis Subsides, Toxic Culture Remains

"Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls."
Proverbs 25:28

State Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, is no longer running for reelection after he sparked a firestorm for saying he was facing primary challengers because they are Asian.

“During a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle I made some statements that were insensitive and inexcusable,” Miller said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. “In trying to make a point about the campaign I used a poor choice of words that are not indicative of my character or heart.

“I do not want to be a distraction for my party or my constituents, and therefore I have decided not to seek re-election,” he continued.
Obviously, this was the least bad solution.  Had Miller not withdrawn from the race, this would have become a slow drip.  So one cheer.

We guess.

But does anyone feel good about this?!?

 After Bonnen left, we wrote:
[I]s anyone confident a new scandal won't soon emerge?!?

Cuz' we ain't.
Barely six weeks later...another frickin' scandal!!!

We've seen this movie:

From October:
This specific scandal is the completely predictable result of the toxic culture in the Texas capitol that has prevailed for a long time.

The GOP, meanwhile, has been running the place for a quarter century.

This is the same Republican majority that:
  • Two years ago, put a man who had been in a sexual relationship with a lobbyist for over a decade in charge of writing its sexual harassment policy.
The pattern is anyone not under the influence of afore mentioned Egyptian rivers.

It can't be defended, and it shouldn't.
Yet, here we are.  Again.  Rick Miller, Dennis Bonnen, and Jim Pitts might be gone.  But Charlie Geren and Jim Murphy are still there.

Is anyone confident about that?!?

Cuz' we (still) ain't.

Bottom Line: Over/under six weeks before the next self-inflicted scandal?!?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Joe Barton might be completely terrible, but he's not "Bailing Out" anyone

"He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence."
Psalm 101:7

Obviously, this website doesn't like former Congressman Joe Barton.  In 2017, we were one of the first to call for his resignation over...all that.  But the truth is that we've not been a fan for a lot longer than that.

Thus, we were curious about the following headline in the Texas Observer:

Unfortunately, the article doesn't deliver the goods.

Turns out, Barton's launching an energy related lobby operation.  OK, fine.  There's a lot to criticize about the legislative/lobby revolving door.

But that's not where the Observer goes.

Instead, they attack him for...getting the ban on crude oil exports lifted:
[T]his week he reemerged with a lengthy retrospective in the Dallas Morning News humbly titled “I knew my bill to lift the ban on U.S. oil exports was important. I hardly expected it to change the world.” It’s an unusually revealing account of how Barton greased the congressional skids for one of the most consequential policies for oil and gas and the environment in modern political history.


The former lawmaker from Ennis paints himself as a shrewd legislative tactician with deep connections and policy know-how. He does not undersell the world-changing impacts of his handiwork. Not only is the U.S. now the top oil producer, but the introduction of American oil around the world has “destroyed OPEC’s ability to control world oil prices” and created a more “transparent” global energy market.


But as he details in his column, Barton set out to do the biggest favor of his career back in early 2014, when the Permian Basin was in the early days of a massive boom. New fracking technologies made it highly profitable to access the region’s huge reserves of oil hidden in dense shale formations. But fossil-fuel producers were sounding the alarm that the country’s existing domestic refining capacity couldn’t handle all of the newfound black gold.

So some of Texas’ oil behemoths began leaning on Barton to end the ban on crude oil exports from the United States, warning that the industry’s future depend on it.

Does the Texas Observer really think that Texas putting the Saudis out of business is a bad thing?!?

'Cause that's definitely what it sounds like.

Furthermore, how is Barton's effort a "bailout?!?"  Congressional action certainly expanded the markets available to Texan/American energy companies.  But expanding markets is hardly a "bailout."

It's kinda the opposite.

Which is a shame, because Barton's terrible.

But that doesn't change the fact that lifting the crude oil export ban was pretty much the only good thing he did in 30 years in Congress.

Bottom Line: For such a target rich environment, this was an odd selection.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

#TXLEGE: ANOTHER Cartoonish Debacle

"Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls."
Proverbs 25:28

Republican Rep. D.F. “Rick” Miller of Sugar Land is facing primary opposition for the first time since 2012 as he seeks to keep his seat representing Fort Bend County in the Texas House.

He summed up one of his opponents like this: “He’s a Korean,” said Miller, describing Jacey Jetton, a former chairman of the Fort Bend GOP. “He has decided because, because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win. And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet.”

A second Republican primary candidate, Houston Fire Department analyst Leonard Chan, “jumped in probably for the same reason,” said Miller, 74, during an interview with Hearst Newspapers. “I don’t know, I never met the guy. I have no idea who he is. He has not been around Republican channels at all, but he’s an Asian.”
It gets better:
Gov. Greg Abbott rescinded his endorsement of state Rep. Rick Miller on Tuesday after the Sugar Land Republican said he was facing primary challengers because they are “Asian.”

“Representative Miller’s comments are inappropriate and out of touch with the values of the Republican Party. In light of Rep. Miller’s comments, the governor is withdrawing his endorsement,” Abbott spokesman John Wittman said in a statement to The Texas Tribune.

Abbott endorsed Miller for another term on Oct. 15, calling him a “strong, principled conservative who has represented the people of Fort Bend County with integrity.” The governor has backed all but a few House Republicans for reelection at this point.

By late Tuesday morning, a page featuring Abbott’s endorsement of Miller had disappeared from the governor’s campaign website.
Hoo boy.

There's a lot we could say, but we're not sure how much we should.

Suffice to say: Rick Miller's behavior has grown increasingly erratic since...well, you know.  Nothing really major.  But enough to strike one as odd.

The comment in the Houston Chronicle was the first time Miller's...odd...behavior occurred in public.

We can't prove anything, but we know what we suspect.

That being said, why Rick Miller said what he said is no longer relevant.  He said it.  What matters now is what happens next.

The good news is that all of this came in response to a primary challenge.  So there's already a mechanism in place to deal with the situation.  We don't do candidate endorsements anymore, but we would suggest the best way to make this story go away is to retire Rep. Miller at the earliest practical date.

Also, while we've been very critical of Governor Abbott in recent months, he does deserve credit for being proactive in this case.

Bottom Line: This was bad.  However, if it's dealt with promptly, the fallout should be contained.  We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 2, 2019

First National Conservative Media Outlet, pretty much EVER, Calls BS on Abbott

"Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool."
Proverbs 19:1

One America News is a newer outlet.  To be honest, we're not super familiar.  We do, however, have a couple of business acquaintances who are big fans.

That being said, they've certainly taken the lead on one of the most important stories that needs to reach a broader audience.

In reporting on the Baby Tinslee case, OAN anchor illuminates deeper truths about Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP that can be applied to an number of issues.

  • "Republicans in Texas, our eyes are on you."
  • "Republicans in the state legislature, Governor Greg Abbott, YOU have the power to repeal this rule once and for all."
  • "Governor Abbott, call a special session and repeal this rule."
  • TxRTL likewise calling for a special.
  • "Call these Texas Republicans out for what they're doing!!!"
    • Dear National Conservative Media: MORE OF THIS.
  • "Texas legislature, and Governor Greg Abbott, they have the ability to call a special session."
  • TxRTL: Abbott "is the only one who has the power to end this right now."
  • TxRTL has learned about more cases since the Baby Tinslee case has been in the news.
Bottom Line: We need A LOT more of this, but you've got to start somewhere.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cook Children's "Hospital" conforms to WRETCHED Stereotypes

"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Matthew 5:12

This is astounding:
Lawyers from a Fort Worth hospital are harassing a conservative organization in North Texas as part of their plan to combat a judge’s interference in killing a 9-month-old baby.

Tinslee Lewis was born with congenital heart disease. She is currently at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth and relies on a ventilator to live. On October 31, against the objections of Tinslee’s mother, the hospital announced it would remove the ventilator from Tinslee on November 10, thus killing her. No reasons relating to bodily health were given by the hospital. Instead, only a vague “quality of life” argument was provided.

The action by Cook Children’s is legal under Texas’ controversial 10-day rule, which allows a hospital committee to end “life-sustaining care” even if the patient, or his or her surrogate, objects; it also overrides a duly executed medical power of attorney or advance directive from the patient.

Tinslee’s life was temporarily spared when Judge Alex Kim of the 323rd District Court approved a temporary restraining order filed by lawyers from Texas Right to Life on her behalf on November 10—the day she was scheduled to die. A hearing originally set for November 22 was postponed until December 10 after the hospital dispatched its lawyers to try and force Judge Kim to be recused.

The lawyers have now issued a subpoena to True Texas Project, the North Texas grassroots activist organization—formerly known as Northeast Tarrant Tea Party—led by Julie White McCarty. The subpoena contains a draconian list of communications to be turned over to them, including:
  • All documents and communications related to any endorsement of Judge Alex Kim’s judicial campaign by True Texas Project. 
  • All documents and communications related to any contributions True Texas Project made to Judge Alex Kim’s judicial campaign.
A similar subpoena was given to Empower Texans, the publisher of Texas Scorecard. The subpoenas included a deadline for compliance of less than 48 hours during the week of Thanksgiving.
Because nothing screams "everything we're doing is on the up and up" quite like attempting to sue your critics into silence.

Which is a shame.

Here's the secret: This type of care is extraordinarily expensive.  Hospitals frequently eat that cost.  These are some of the most challenging examples of what the industry calls "indigent care."

It's not an objection to which we are entirely unsympathetic.  A conversation about how to pay for this sort of treatment probably should.  There's got to be a better way.

But then they do something like this.

Cook Children's "Hospital" can find the money to sue their critics...but they can't find the money to treat a little girl?!?

It's quite something.

It also makes one wonder what else they're hiding.

Bottom Line: At a minimum, the optics are terrible...and it's probably worse than that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Genius Texas Republicans Do Something Super Genius-y!!!

"He who is slothful in his work
Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer."
Proverbs 18:9

Good grief:
In a bizarre political blunder, a document laying out the Republican Party of Texas’s election strategy for the 2020 elections has ended up in the hands of Texas Democrats. Attacking Democratic candidates through websites and mitigating “the polarizing nature” of President Donald Trump are part of the plan.

The document — called a draft for initial discussion by the Texas GOP Party chair — was titled “Primary/General Election 2020 [Draft]” and began showing up in Democratic emails Monday evening.

It includes a target list of 12 statehouse districts, including six in North Texas, that Republicans are aiming to take back in next year’s elections.


“Starting after the Primary, the RPT will generate microsites for negative hits against the Democrat candidates in our twelve target race—we expect each microsite to be roughly $500,” the document reads. “We will then begin rolling out these websites, prioritizing the races that were within 4% in the 2018 election.”


The document says Republicans will audit search engine optimization results to make sure that the negative attack websites are on the front pages of various search engines and work with other stakeholders — such as Texans for Greg Abbott, the governor’s campaign arm — “to get any more insight on issues that matter to these districts.”

“We will attack these Democrat candidates with contrast hits which we will obtain from, public votes from the 86th Legislative Session, their campaign websites, and any other means to gather negative material on them,” the document says.

In addition to the individual websites, the plan calls for a “master site" to house attacks on Democrats across the state, focusing on federal, state and down-ballot Democrats and “how Democrat values don’t match Texas values.”
Most of this stuff isn't earth shattering.  They're building websites.  Political parties build websites.

Still, the sloppiness illustrates so much more.

But maybe Karl Rove will fix things.

Bottom Line: When you can't competently execute basic campaign blocking and tackling...why should anybody trust you with anything else?!?

Monday, November 25, 2019

For an 18-year incumbent with "Seniority," Cornyn can't even work system

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."
Colossians 3:17

We recently observed traffic on I-35 in downtown Austin when we had a thought: Isn't I-35, technically, a federal highway?!?

Furthermore...isn't our senior Senator the #2 Republican in the United States Senate?!?

Obviously, this website doesn't *really* support pork-barrel governance.  Taxpayers elsewhere in the U.S. shouldn't *really* subsidize I-35 expansion.  Still, for such a situation to emerge under the jurisdiction of a  U.S. Senator who claims to "work within the system" indicates said U.S. Senator's incompetence.

Put differently: $23 Trillion national debt...and John Cornyn STILL can't secure funding for (already federal) I-35.

It's quite something.

Lyndon Johnson and Sam Rayburn may have been completely wretched.  But at least Texas got some infrastructure out of them.  With John Cornyn, we get the wretchedness without the infrastructure.

Bottom Line: If we're going to be stuck with a U.S. Senator who doesn't represent our values, they ought to at least manipulate the status quo to Texas' advantage.  Cornyn can't even do that.  What purpose does he serve?!?