Friday, November 15, 2019

#TXLEGE: Republicans still deserve to lose...but Democrats don't deserve to win.

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

[Note: We'll be travelling out of state most of the next week, we're not sure when we'll resume publication.]

Interesting column from Ross Ramsey this afternoon:
Who would have guessed that sharing political confidences with a political foe — a conversation that upended the speaker of the Texas House — would have real competition for the biggest blunder a House member might make this year?

The newest contender became public Wednesday: Dropping an envelope containing four packets of cocaine at an Austin airport is clearly a dumbfounding mistake. But the frosting on that particular cake was on the outside of said envelope — which bore the official letterhead of state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass.


The timeline raises some questions. Nevárez was seen on surveillance cameras dropping the envelope as he got into an SUV after arriving on a private plane — in September. For reasons that aren’t completely clear, the Texas Department of Public Safety kept a lid on the news for more than two months.


On Thursday afternoon, a warrant for the legislator's arrest was issued; he faces a charge of third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
Ramsey then speculates over how Bonnen's and Poncho's scandals could impact the current election cycle.  Ramsey's hypothesis is that the scandals portend well for conservatives.  Perhaps.

Allow us, however, to suggest an alternative: Regardless of how the 2020 cycle plays out, 90%(+) of legislators will either be cowards or scumbags.

The precise makeup of R's, D's, scumbags, and cowards won't change the nature of the beast.

Last month, as Bonnen's scandals continued to fester, we wrote the following about Republicans:
It's no longer just about Dennis Bonnen.  Or one act of political funny business.  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.
Since then, very little has changed for the GOP.  Sure, Bonnen's gone kinda sorta going away.  But the culture of corruption within their caucus remains.

But then you look to the Democrats...and...well...Poncho.

You can't justify either.

Bottom Line: Whether we're in the territory of "whoa," or the territory of "woe," neither is good.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

#TXLEGE: Adios Muchacho

"It is not good to show partiality to the wicked,
Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment."
Proverbs 18:5

Lolz, couldn't happen to a nicer guy....
On September 6 a pair of DPS employees at the TXDOT Flight Services location in Austin, Texas found a sealed white envelope on the ground outside of the terminal. Inside were four clear plastic baggies containing “white power.”

That powder was cocaine.

The envelope was white letterhead reading, “Office the State of Texas House of Representatives Member Poncho Nevarez.“ A review of video footage by DPS officers showed Poncho exiting the airport in burnt orange, dropping the sealed envelope and getting into an SUV driven by his chief of staff.

According to the affidavit, Poncho arrived in Austin that day flying a private Cessna T206 owned by the Nevarez Law Group. He was arriving from the Texas-Mexico border, where his legislative district is located.
In a CYA statement to the Trib, Nevarez belatedly claims:
Nevárez said "grief and addiction were consuming me" and noted that he plans to "seek treatment."
Blah, blah, blah.

[Note: Taxpayers gonna be on the hook for that so-called "treatment?!?"]

The only thing to which Poncho Nevarez was "addicted" was arrogance and entitlement.

This author doesn't care about Poncho Nevarez's recreational activities.  Glass houses, stones, the mid-2000's, and all that.  We do, however, care about arrogance and entitlement in the political arena.

It speaks volumes to the culture in the Texas house that the Chairman of the frickin' Homeland Security committee was caught trafficking cocaine.

Sure, it was a relatively small amount.  Sure, there was a big football game that weekend.  Sure, in isolation, this one specific action doesn't amount to much.

But he's the chairman of the Homeland Security committee.

Call us old-fashioned, but we don't think the chairman of the Homeland Security committee should fly cocaine from the Mexican border into the interior.

Just a thought.

Bottom Line: It's not the cocaine.  At least, not really.  It's the arrogance and the political entitlement.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

#TXLEGE: So-called "Campus Free Speech" Bill Accomplished NOTHING (Like We Predicted)

"Professing to be wise, they became fools,"
Proverbs 1:22

A speech panel titled “When Hate Comes to Campus: Free Speech” was held at the University of North Texas last week. What was intended to be a learning experience for us all devolved into toxicity and victimhood.

The panel opened with a speech by Caitlin Sewell, a lawyer on the university’s general counsel. Ms. Sewell discussed the First Amendment and Texas Senate Bill 18 by going over examples of what is protected by free speech and what is not. In one example of what is protected, she decided to use a racial epithet in its entirety. Later in her speech, however, she chose to censor an expletive by using the term “f-word.”

The students in the audience were not fond of these choices made by Ms. Sewell. Some jumped out of their seats to yell, and one student accused the speaker of “oppressing her.” The president of the student government, Yolian Ogbu, also had quite a bit to say on the matter, claiming that “we can think of a million words to harass black people, brown people … but we can’t even think of a single word to do that for white people. Why? Because we are living in a white supremacist system.”

The students rallied behind these outlandish claims made by Ms. Ogbu, and quite a few students on social media pushed for Ms. Sewell to be fired. She resigned the next day.
Despite lavish protestations otherwise, nothing's really changed.

As we said last month:
So why is anyone surprised?!?

We've been making this point for years: See 2017, and 2018, and 2019.
Once again, witness list from this past session's UNT Board confirmation hearing:

Bottom Line: The legislature can pass all the bills it wants.  Absent personnel that will faithfully implement those laws, however, nothing will change.  This has been obvious since (at least) 2016.  We've been on this soapbox since 2017.  But uprooting an entrenched bureaucracy is hard.  So-our so-called "leaders" do nothing.  "Keep Texas Red" Tho....

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Effective, Sustainable, Solutions for Gun Violence

"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18

From TPPF:

TPPF: Come and Take It

What Will – and What Will Not – Improve Public Safety in Firearm Violence Prevention

AUSTIN— Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the research paper Come and Take It: What Will—and What Will Not—Improve Public Safety in Firearm Violence Prevention.
“In the wake of recent shootings, many gun control proponents have demanded that state leadership ‘do something’ in the hopes of preventing future tragedies,” said Derek Cohen, Ph.D., director of Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime initiative. “However, these demands often contribute to a clear violation of an explicit right enumerated both in the United States and Texas constitutions—the individual right to keep and bear arms for lawful self-defense—while failing to empirically demonstrate the positive change the proposed policy seeks to achieve.”
Key Points:
  • Texas is the safest it has been in a generation, yet some are calling for stricter gun control.
  • Common gun control proposals often penalize law-abiding gun owners while failing to improve public safety.
To read the paper in full, please visit: 
Bottom Line: It's nothing you didn't already know, but it's good to have all the data in one place.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Kay Granger stands for NOTHING (except Cronyism and Patronage); We Have Proof.

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

The Trib has a write up on the primary in CD-12...see below:
When Granger first ran for Congress in 1996, both parties courted her as a candidate.

Doesn't that just tell you everything you need to know.

You stand for so little that "both parties courted her as a candidate."  Just keep the money flowing to her friends, cronies, and unqualified hack son.  Wall St. will cover the rest.

It's just so craven.

Bottom Line: Maybe it shouldn't surprise us, but we still find the blatantness of the whole thing astounding.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: When in Doubt, Don't Execute People

"For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."
Acts 25:11

On the one hand, we see this:
Bastrop, Texas (CNN)The outcry is growing from an army of supporters, including celebrities, clergy and state lawmakers, trying to stop the execution of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed, who is set to die in less than two weeks.

Reed's execution is scheduled for November 20. More than 20 years ago, he was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas, southeast of Austin. Police said he assaulted, raped and strangled Stites. Reed said he's innocent. His attorneys say the wrong man was convicted. They point to new witness accounts and evidence they say exonerates Reed.
On the other hand, we see this:
Honestly, we don't know. But by not knowing, we kinda know. Doubts certainly seem reasonable.

Bottom Line: See title of this post....

Friday, November 8, 2019

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: The Cynical Politics of Homelessness

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

This is depressing:
Crystal Brimm said she was gone all of 20 minutes.

That's all the time it took for the Texas Department of Transportation to clean the encampment where she lives under U.S. Highway 290 and Ben White Boulevard on Wednesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered homeless people to be removed from state overpasses in Austin. Abbott has spent months railing against Austin and its local leaders, accusing them of worsening what he calls a dangerous homelessness crisis by relaxing camping ordinances.

About 10 people returned to that area of the overpass, down from 30 before TxDOT arrived, Brimm said as she sat in a lawn chair Thursday outside the blue camping tent she shares with her husband.

"Everybody else packed up and ran like cockroaches," she said.

As Brimm pondered her future living situation, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office unveiled his plan to provide temporary living space for Austin’s homeless — a five-acre plot of land off State Highway 183 near Montopolis Drive.

The soon-to-be campground is a large expanse of concrete surrounded by a manufactured home factory and forest. It's about five miles away from the Texas Capitol, in a clearing adjacent to the historically low-income Montopolis neighborhood, across from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Slow motion train wreck continues to fester.


Unfortunately, it's not in any politician's interest to solve this issue:

  • From Greg Abbott's perspective, it's the campaign issue that keeps on giving.
The worst part is, it'll probably work (for both sides).

The homeless are pawns.

The rest of us are collateral damage.


Bottom Line: We love to be proven wrong, but we won't be.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

#atxcouncil: Was Flannigan Electioneering on Taxpayer Dime?!?

"nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Corinthians 6:10

Honestly, this is just sloppy.

Pick a local business and meet there.

That being said, it does illustrate a certain arrogance on Flannigan's part.  Not only does he expect us to pay for his agenda.  He expects us to pay to promote it.

It'll be interesting to see what mental gymnastics the city uses to get out of this one.

Bottom Line: It's the city.  So nothing will happen.  But kudos for forcing Flannigan to defend this nonsense.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

#TXLEGE: In newly competitive district, genius Texas Republicans nominate Worst Possible Candidate

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Oh no:
A Democrat and a Republican are advancing to a runoff in a nationally targeted special election for a previously Republican-held Texas House seat.

With all vote centers reporting Tuesday night, the sole Democratic candidate, Eliz Markowitz, finished first with 39% of the vote, according to unofficial returns. Republican Gary Gates was the runner-up at 28%.
Gates, who has run for a myriad of elected positions in previous elections, including railroad commissioner in 2016 and state senate in 2014, but failed to come out on top each time, was largely self-funded. He loaned himself a whopping $445,000 in the last reporting period alone.

Markowitz, the lone Democrat, garnered support from liberal special interest groups, and fellow Texas Democrats like former State Senator Wendy Davis, former presidential candidate and congressman Beto O’Rourke, and an array of sitting Texas House members.

She significantly outraised her Republican competition.
We didn't realize Gates was even running until this morning.  There's pretty much no candidate more poorly suited to a competitive environment.  Hoo boy.


Seven Time Loser:

From last time Gates ran for office:
His record of losses is complicated. Gates first sought a seat in the Texas House. He lost. He tried again. And he lost again. He ran for the Texas Senate. And lost. Then he tried again for the Texas Senate. And lost. Along the way, he twice ran for a local school board seat. And he lost both times.

It’s tempting to label such a record as “sad.” But “pathetic” seems more appropriate.
Gates went on to lose the election in question.



Ought oh:
HOUSTON — In his run for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, Gary Gates has campaigned heavily on his business credentials, noting that he built a sprawling real estate company from scratch with his own sweat and dollars.

Gates, who has run for public office several times but never held it, suggests that his experience shaping and leading companies that now employ 350 people and own roughly 5,500 apartment units qualifies him to join the three-member commission that oversees the state's oil and gas production, natural gas utilities and mining operations.


Gates said that most of the apartment complexes he buys are considered “Class C,” typically older units that need rehabilitation and are rented out relatively cheaply.

He said he bought the Deerfield Apartments out of bankruptcy in 1987, just as his business was getting off the ground. The city of Houston later lent him $1.12 million to rehabilitate the property.

“It was in a real difficult area,” he said. “That’s kind of my specialty — buying very difficult properties.”

And that complex did present challenges.

In 2007, Houston sought to shut down the Deerfield Apartments for a year. In a lawsuit, the city alleged that his companies — APTDF and Gatesco — tolerated the rampant crime on the property. The lawsuit documented 55 offenses on the property over a two-year period, ranging from prostitution and drug offenses to sexual assault and capital murder.

“Defendants have made no reasonable attempt to abate the criminal activity at Deerfield Apartments, and should be enjoined from maintaining a common nuisance,” Houston argued.

Houston’s lawsuit followed complaints from fearful residents. At a city council meeting in August 2006, for instance, Councilman M.J. Khan discussed an email from a constituent who reported being jolted awake one morning by six rounds of automatic gunfire — and hearing more shots while police dispatchers told them they had no one to send out.

The resident said such violence had persisted for years in the neighborhood and wanted Gates to hire a security guard to patrol the area and to replace a fence that had been torn down, according to council meeting minutes.

Earlier that year, Gates’ companies faced a similar lawsuit after 9-year-old Jose Luis Briones was shot in the back and severely injured during a 2004 robbery at the Deerfield complex. Briones’ family levied similar neglect allegations and ultimately received a $3,500 settlement from Gates' company, according to court documents.
It gets better:
In the midst of his seventh run for public office – this time for the Texas Railroad Commission – new documents are coming to light showing that Houston real estate investor Gary Gates defaulted on a loan of over $1 million from Bayou City taxpayers.

On April 29, 1998, the City Council of Houston passed Ordinance No. 98-330 entering into a loan agreement with Gates’ company, APTDF, Ltd.

The loan was for $1,120,000 for rehabilitation costs in connection with Gates’ Deerfield Apartments located at 10001 Club Creek Drive. The interest rate for the taxpayer-backed loan was set seven percent annually. Gates personally guaranteed the loan.

The loan matured on November 28, 2000, but Gates defaulted.

Full employment for (the worst) campaign consultants:

Again, from last campaign:
Campaign consultants keep taking Gary Gates to the cleaners as he desperately seeks one office after another. His reckless spending seeking Tuesday’s Texas Railroad Commission race demonstrates that even a big pile of money cannot make a bad candidate more attractive to voters.

Gates has no professional, educational or life experiences that would qualify him for a seat on the commission that has regulatory jurisdiction over the state’s oil and gas industry. As we have previously written, Gates merely wants to hold office but has been rejected in every single effort.

The Texas Tribune reports Gates spent $1.9 million in the race, which resulted in getting 28 percent of the vote.


Gates’ chief campaign adviser is disgraced State Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland).
From Gates' most recent campaign finance report:

That's only one payment to Murphy-Nasica.  Gates had dozens more.  The only reason we didn't screenshot all of them is because this blog post has already gotten long.

Easily $250k(+) to Murphy-Naiscia.  Just one finance report.  Just one election.

Learn more about Murphy-Nasica here.


Allegations regarding children and "the A word":

We have no specific comment about them.

We weren't there.

But only a fool would overlook them.

Learn more here.


Old White Dude:

Obviously, you don't want to make candidate decisions based upon identity politics.  In any given election, you're looking for the best candidate.  But that's not to say it's irrelevant.

Over the past decade, a lot has been written about how Ft. Bend County is now the most demographically diverse in the country.

There's nothing inherently wrong with running an old white dude.  It does, however, bring an additional set of challenges.  That being said, when the specific old white dude has the baggage listed doesn't take a genius to see where this goes.

The other two credible Republican candidates were both female and less than a zillion years old.


Bottom Line: For any other candidate, this runoff would be a slam dunk.  But for a candidate with this much baggage...who knows?!?  Way to go.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Bye Bobby Francis

"A prudent man conceals knowledge,
But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness."
Proverbs 12:23

Hundreds of supporters of Beto O’Rourke had come in from all over the country to cheer their candidate on at the big Democratic dinner, which launches the final stretch toward next February’s Iowa caucuses. Sure, they knew what the polls were saying, but their hopes were telling them something else. So they stood for hours Friday along the streets of downtown Des Moines in a freezing drizzle, waving their signs at passing cars.

Looking for a chance to dry out and warm up before the big event Friday night, three Texans — Brenda Guillen, a retired educator; Rocio Dumey, a second-grade teacher; and Elle Franklin, who does pet services — had found seats at the bar of the Residence Inn, across the street from the Wells Fargo Arena, where the dinner was to take place. They were making small talk with a couple of O’Rourke campaign staffers when the two campaign staffers suddenly excused themselves. Something about having to jump on a conference call.

When I came across them a few minutes later, Guillen and Dumey were finishing their Moscow Mules, and Franklin was downing an IPA. All three wore cheery blue O’Rourke campaign T-shirts touting the evening’s “Liberty and Justice Celebration” — and all of them were starting to cry. Thanks to the fact that CNN was on the screen behind the bar, they had just learned that O’Rourke had dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.


In the hotel lobby, I found Todd O’Day, who works for Microsoft in Seattle, and Scott Braymer, who develops apps in Santa Cruz, Calif.. They were still composed, but by the time we finished talking, they too were crying.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Honestly, we just wanted to use that picture.

Monday, November 4, 2019

However imperfectly, voters reward Cruz; disdain Cornyn

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Fascinating nugget in the latest Trib poll:

Cornyn's and Cruz's disapproval ###'s are within the margin of error.  Meanwhile, Cruz's approval number runs 11 points ahead of Cornyn (*).  The difference is the "don't know" category.

There's 34% of the electorate that will disapprove of ANY Republican.  Cornyn and Cruz both deal with that.  Among everybody else, Cruz outpolls Cornyn significantly.

This is a weird observation to make.  We've discussed the many mistakes we believe Cruz has made.  Yet, for all that, the basic pattern of 2013/14 seems to hold.

Bottom Line: Cruz has his flaws.  That's obvious to everyone.  That being said, at least he tries.  Last week's Trib poll illustrates that voters appreciate the effort.

* -- Even if you give Cornyn every benefit of the doubt on margin of error, and Cruz none, in a worst case scenario Cruz is still +5 on approval rating over Cornyn.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

#TXLEGE: GOP Likely Dodged the Bonnen Bullet

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Trib poll confirms what we've always suspected:
A recorded and reckless conversation between a top state official and a political activist rocked the state Capitol this summer and upended the career of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen last month. But it hardly registered with most voters, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

More than two-thirds of registered voters said they have heard “nothing at all” (50%) or “a little” (18%) “about the controversy over a June 2019 meeting between the speaker of the Texas House and the head of a political action committee.” Only 12% said they have heard “a lot,” and 19% said they have heard “some” about the incident. 

Bonnen, elected speaker in January, met shortly after the end of the legislative session in June with Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock. Sullivan alleged Bonnen and Burrows offered him media passes to the floor of the House and gave him a list of Republican colleagues they said they would be happy to replace. Sullivan recorded the conversation and released that recording last month, undermining denials made by Bonnen and Burrows and resulting in Bonnen’s decision not to run for another term in the House.

That’s been big news for months in Austin and among Capitol insiders. But not, apparently, to voters.
Duh.  That's why Bonnen had to leave when he did.  While not many people know about his scandal(s) now, that wouldn't have been the case a year from now.

Bottom Line: It took too long.  Taking too long revealed other alarming things.  That could all still have a reckoning. Concerning the Dennis Bonnen scandal specifically, however, this week's Trib poll suggests the public never caught on.

Friday, November 1, 2019

#atxcouncil: Successfully Recalling Adler will cost (at least) $1 Million

"I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread."
Psalm 37:25

We had several conversations yesterday with folks who've worked on local campaigns in recent years.  They were surprisingly lukewarm about recalling Adler.  Primarily because of money.

To recall a way that will stick...and be successful...won't be cheap.

That doesn't mean it's a bad idea.  Or that it's impossible.  It is to say that that's the level of resources it will take.

You're going to have to pay for the petition campaign.  Assuming the petition campaign is successful, you're then going to have to pay for the actual election campaign.  Furthermore, given the city's history with citizen petition campaigns, assume significant legal bills.  It'll add up.

Don't shoot the messenger.

If there's a realistic path to that level of resources, awesome!  Full speed ahead.  If nothing else, a recall campaign forces Adler to play defense for the next six months.  Absent financial resources in the $1 to 2 million range, however, don't get your hopes up.

Bottom Line:  We'd love to see this happen, but underestimating the heaviness of this lift won't help anyone.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

#TXLEGE: Lt. Dan continues campaign against scourge of...Mild Relaxation by teenagers

"The wise shall inherit glory,
But shame shall be the legacy of fools."
Proverbs 3:35

Dan Patrick dropped several interim charges yesterday.

[Note: Two hours before Game 7 of the World Series...CLASSY.]

In fairness to Patrick, most of them are fine.  A few of them are relatively good.  Most are fairly minor.

There was, however, this:
Keeping Vaping Devices/E-Cigarettes Out of the Hands of Children: Consider the emerging public safety concerns from the rise in “vaping” and ecigarette use by minors. Study whether current criminal penalties are sufficient to deter individuals from selling these devices and substances used to fill these devices to minors.
Keep in mind, this is the same Texas Senate that thought raising the tobacco age to 21 was a worthwhile endeavor.

Furthermore, we stand by our suspicion that somebody's getting paid.

Bottom Line: Vaping by teenagers might not be good.  But come on.  No, seriously, come on.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Hindman > Sessions

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Wasn't expecting this:
The race to replace retiring U.S. Congressman Bill Flores (R–Bryan) got a lot more interesting on Tuesday, with the entrance of rocket scientist George Hindman.

A Pflugerville resident and an aerospace engineer and business owner by trade, Hindman says he believes his background uniquely qualifies him to represent Congressional District 17, a central Texas district that encompasses Waco and the Bryan-College Station area, with a portion dipping down into Travis County and Austin.

“As a committed conservative Republican who wants our nation on the right path, I can’t watch from the sidelines while our liberties and values are under attack,” Hindman said in a release on Tuesday. “It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to fix our national problems. But Washington D.C. is so broken, a rocket scientist might be what we need.”

“Not only am I an aerospace engineer and pilot who has taught astronauts, I’m a successful inventor and entrepreneur. Most importantly, I’m a Christian conservative husband and father who is genuinely concerned with the direction of our nation. Let’s defend our country’s bedrock principles and stand strong for our conservative Republican values,” he added.

This website stopped endorsing politicians several cycles ago.  But we endorsed against Pete Sessions in both 2014 and 2016.  By 2018, we knew his corruption would drag him down.  We've already said our piece about 2020.

We've actually known George Hindman for...a whole bunch of years.  Mild-mannered dude.  Definitely a solid conservative.  While we no longer 'vouch' for politicians, Hindman's the type of guy who's more likely to resist the temptations of office.

Hindman is kind of a "fun with gerrymandering" candidacy.  As a Travis County resident, he's previously been the token Republican candidate in several safe Democrat seats.  But, due to how U.S. House districts are drawn, CD-17 is a safe Republican seat.  That being said, for a Waco-based district, we certainly understand if voters choose a Waco candidate.

Bottom Line: The final candidate lineup remains to be seen, but a one-on-one race between George Hindman and Pete Sessions is an easy call.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

#atxcouncil: Homelessness and the FASCINATING Political Geography of Abbott's Jurisdiction

"[R]edeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Ephesians 5:16

We've obviously said our piece about Greg Abbott and Austin homelessness.  We think Abbott's talked a lot more than he's acted.  Furthermore, the modest actions coming this week don't really solve anything.

Last night, however, we we discussing all of the above with a friend who lives in North Austin.  We explained why we think there's less to Abbott's announcements than meets the eye.  This person didn't disagree, but then said something we hadn't considered:
You're probably right...but if all Abbott does is use TxDOT to clean out the area under highway overpasses, it'll take care of everywhere [the homeless] congregate in my neighborhood.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Not a bad point.

The primary place the State of Texas (and thus Abbott) has jurisdiction is highways.
Given that, consider how highways intersect Austin city council districts.  Specifically in North Austin:

  • MoPac is entirely within district 10 and the most conservative parts of district 7.
  • US-183 snakes through districts 7, 10, and 6.
  • Even I-35 gets in on the act in district 7.
Districts 6 and 10 have elected Republicans in recent memory.  District 7 has never been seriously contested.  In the current climate, however, it really ought to be (*).

None of this, of course, is to say that TxDOT moving homeless individuals away from highway overpasses really solves the problem.

But it is to say that it could make a visible difference in the lives of the type of people who are swing voters in local elections.

Maybe even enough to change turnout models...especially for December runoffs.

Bottom Line: Given where everything's located, even underwhelming changes could have an oversize impact.


* - By Republicans AND sane Democrats.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Is Expanding the Scope of CPS really a good thing?!?

"Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?"
Psalm 94:8

We'd yet to fully articulate it, but were (kinda, sorta) thinking the same thing:

These points are fantastic.  Unintended consequences are a very real possibility.  Doesn't take a genius to see how.

CPS in Texas has been highly problematic.  The governor just gave them a new area of jurisdiction.  That expanded jurisdiction will stick around long after this specific case is resolved.

Does anyone think Abbott will monitor CPS over the long run?!?

Bottom Line: The phrase "cure might be worse than the disease" comes to mind.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

"The Texan" proves its chops

"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:"
Ezekiel 3:17

In the past few days, we've seen movement in both the Prado Family CPS case and the "Save James Younger" case.  Both remain works in progress.  But the past week has been less than completely terrible.  Considering that we're discussing government...that's progress.

That we're even aware of such cases, however, is a testament to one news outlet: The Texan.

Over the past several months, they've covered each story at a time when others lacked either a) bandwidth or b) interest.

This isn't necessarily bashing the traditional media.  They do some things well.  For all of their flaws, we're better off with them than we would be without them.  But it is to say important stories fall through the cracks.

For a media ecosystem to thrive, we need lots of outlets.  Competition and all that.  Right now, there's a void in Texas.  This past week demonstrates that the Texan can fill a rather significant chunk of that void.

Subscribe here.

Bottom Line: Without them, this past week could have looked very different....

Friday, October 25, 2019

#TXLEGE: "Save James" case proves longstanding hypothesis about Governor FoxNews

"And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’"
Matthew 19:4

[Note: We've been discussing this case with Capitol sources all day.  There's a lot that we can't publish.  Suffice to say, the so-called "Big 3" are a bunch of frickin' tyrants.]

Well, well, well:

So nice of you to show up.

Late > never etc.

This case has been in the public domain since January.  Since then, any number of folks have worked it doggedly.  Recollections vary, but Abbott's staff was told no later than the second week of February.  Almost immediately, they stopped returning phone calls.

It's impossible to know if Greg Abbott was personally informed.  But the boss sets the organizational tone.  If Greg Abbott's staff kept this information from Greg Abbott personally, it's because they knew Greg Abbott didn't want to hear it.

So the case festered until the verdict earlier this week (aka. seven months later).  Luckily, the verdict happened to go viral.  And the verdict happened to go viral on a slow news day for national conservative media.

  • Steve Deace - A Texas jury just told a father he cannot prevent his son from being mutilated. It is past time for Christians to act.
  • Matt Walsh - Court Rules That A Mom Can ‘Transition’ Son Into Girl Against His Dad’s Wishes. This Is Evil, Insane Child Abuse.
Finally, because this is Greg Abbott we're discussing, the most important outlet:
  • Fox News - James Younger, 7, to have Texas judge decide fate amid parents' gender transition battle.
Once Fox picked up the story, Abbott no longer had a choice.  The story became too hot to ignore.  So he tweeted.

Of course, none of this is surprising.  We've been arguing for years that Greg Abbott cares far more about national conservative media than the grassroots of his own party.  That's why we started calling him Governor FoxNews in the first place.

But it's always been more of a hypothesis than anything.  It's difficult to prove.  It's impossible to test.

Until this week:
  1. Abbott ignores issue for over seven months.
  2. Out of nowhere, national conservative media becomes very interested.
  3. Abbott at least pretends to do something.
If scientists had designed it in a lab, you couldn't have had a much better test of the "Governor FoxNews" hypothesis.

Greg Abbott behaved exactly how that hypothesis would predict.

Bottom Line: James Younger got lucky.  But the whims of social media and the national news cycle are no way to govern a self-respecting republic.  Even if it worked this one time.


Note: If you work for a national conservative media outlet who covered this story this week, thank you!  You made more of a difference than you know.  Thank You.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

#TXLEGE: Apparently, Planned Parenthood Supports Prop. 6

"You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch,
And the star of your god Remphan,
Images which you made to worship;
And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’"
Acts 7:43

The things you see scrolling through Twitter:


Obviously, we've opposed Prop. 6 since we first heard about it. CIPRIT has been scandal plagued for years.  They don't need an additional $3 Billion.

But we didn't expect Planned Parenthood to get in on the act.

Then again, we never expected NARAL and Wendy Davis to show up here.

Bottom Line: We already thought Prop. 6 was a boondoggle, but this is all the more reason to oppose it....

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

#atxcouncil: Can We PLEASE Recall Steve Adler?!?

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Yes thank you:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A political action committee has formed with a goal of ousting Austin Mayor Steve Adler and five members of the Austin City Council.

The PAC “Our Town Austin” formed yesterday. Sharon Blythe created it and says the PAC’s purpose is to prompt a recall election for Adler plus council members Natasha Harper-Madison, Pio Renteria, Ann Kitchen, Paige Ellis and Kathie Tovo. Those are the members of council who are not up for reelection in 2020.

To recall a council member “Our Town Austin” will have to gather signatures from at least 10% of each of their districts. For Mayor Adler, they will need 10% of registered voters within the entire city.

If the PAC gets the necessary signatures, the council members or Mayor Adler will have five days to resign or the city will hold a recall election.
We've been suggesting recall elections for awhile, but we knew nothing about this effort until we read the news reports.

As we've been arguing since June, the best solution for this one specific issue is a special session.  Obviously, that ain't happening.  Furthermore, given where things stand on other issues (eg. speaker, #2A), a special session is perilous for reasons unrelated to the situation in Austin.

So recall elections work.

If nothing else, they force council to play defense for the next six months, and probably render Adler a lame duck.

Bottom Line: May 2020 gonna be lit....

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

#TXLEGE: Acute crisis subsides, Toxic Culture Remains

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death."
2 Corinthians 7:10

This was always inevitable:
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) announced this morning he would not seek reelection to the Texas House.

“Since Friday, I have had numerous conversations with Members who care deeply about the Texas House, and I respect the manner in which they have handled the entire situation. After much prayer, consultation, and thoughtful consideration with my family, it is clear that I can no longer seek re-election as State Representative of District 25, and subsequently, as Speaker of the House,” said Bonnen in a statement.

“I care deeply about this body and the work we have accomplished over the years, namely, the outstanding success we achieved in the 86th Legislature,” he continued.

This announcement comes after Michael Quinn Sullivan, of the conservative grassroots group Empower Texans, released a recording of a closed-door meeting he had with Bonnen, in which Bonnen offered a clear quid pro quo — Texas House media credentials in exchange for Sullivan monetarily targeting 10 select “moderate” Republican House members.
Two and a half cheers.

It's certainly good that Bonnen is gone.  It always serves the public's interest to remove corrupt officials.  Furthermore, Bonnen's departure reduces the odds of a GOP electoral wipeout.

Still, it's hard to get too excited.  It took them three months to make a completely obvious decision.  It should have taken about three days.

Last Saturday we wrote that, given their inability to do that which is completely obvious re: Bonnen, the GOP deserved to lose the Texas house.  Obviously, this morning's announcement renders most of the specifics of that blog post moot. anyone confident a new scandal won't soon emerge?!?

Cuz' we ain't.

As we wrote:
It's no longer just about Dennis Bonnen.  Or one act of political funny business.  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.
Dennis Bonnen (and Joe Straus and Jim Pitts) might be gone, but Charlie Geren and Jim Murphy remain.

It's hard to feel confident in a culture that continues to tolerate the likes of Charlie Geren and elevates the likes of Jim Murphy.

Even if they did (very, very, belatedly) throw Dennis Bonnen overboard.

Bottom Line: We're certainly in a better place now than we were twelve hours ago...but that's not saying much.

Monday, October 21, 2019

#TXLEGE: Leach, Shaheen, ignore First Rule of Competitive General Elections


"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (kjv)

How to lose a competitive general election in one press release:

In terms of substance, all four representatives should be embarrassed. But at least Justin Holland and Scott Sanford represent safe seats. Jeff Leach and Matt Shaheen do not:

Yet these geniuses are vocally defending Bonnen.

It doesn't take a genius to see how this plays out: Leach and Shaheen are attacked as lackeys of corruption.  They reply with a complicated, political, answer.  The public, hating those sorts of answers in the same way that they always have, votes for the non-incumbent.

Leach and Shaheen lose.

Rule #1 of competitive general elections: Additional baggage is bad.  It's difficult enough to get across the finish line on your own.  Other people's drama can only sink you.  All the blockwalking, messaging, and money in the world won't save you.

Yet Leach and Shaheen chose to do exactly that with Bonnen.

Like we said, doesn't take a genius.

Bottom Line: This will be one of the most predictable political attacks in the history of political attacks...and Leach and Shaheen won't have a good answer.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

#TXLEGE: At this point, the GOP deserves to Lose the Texas house

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Never, ever, ever underestimate the cowardice, or the stupidity, of the Republican caucus in the Texas house:

That one has to go to the Twitter feed of a Texas Tribune reporter to find that statement, while the GOP caucus hasn't posted it to their own, tells you everything you need to know.

We'd call it denial, but we don't want to insult Egyptian rivers.

In other words:

Yet here we are.

It's 2006 on steroids.

We don't have anything new to say about this specific scandal.  There's nothing we can say that we didn't say three months ago.  And two months ago.  And ten days ago.

Yet here we are.

It's no longer just about Dennis Bonnen.  Or one act of political funny business.  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.

The New York Times, meanwhile, gets in on the act:
AUSTIN, Texas — With President Trump arriving in red-state Texas for a campaign rally in Dallas on Thursday, the Republican Party in the state faces a host of troubles.

The Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives is engulfed in scandal. Six of the state’s 23 Republican members of the United States House of Representatives say they will not run for re-election, opening new opportunities for Democrats. And one of the state’s three top Republican leaders believes that the president has become a political liability among a crucial bloc of voters.

“With all due respect to Trump — who I love, by the way — he’s killing us in urban-suburban districts,” Dennis Bonnen, the speaker of the state House and the central figure in the legislative scandal, said in a 64-minute tape recording released on Tuesday.

The recording of a sometimes salty conversation Mr. Bonnen had with a conservative activist at the State Capitol in June includes a description of what critics have called a quid-pro-quo offer that is now under investigation by the Texas Rangers.

Mr. Bonnen says the tape, which was recorded without his knowledge, proves that nothing he said in the conversation broke any laws.

Even so, the political landscape in Texas will now feature both an embattled state leader struggling to hold on to the speakership and an embattled president confronting an impeachment inquiry — a prospect that unquestionably raises the stakes for Republicans in a state their party has dominated for more than two decades.

Consequently, “corruption and abuse of power become not just a national issue but potentially a state-level issue for Republicans as well,” said Jim Henson, a pollster and political analyst based in Austin.
Obviously, a certain type of moron will reply "HashtagFAKENEWS" to the New York Times.  That's fine.  They'll get what they deserve.

To the reality based community, however, its' a warning.

You don't have to agree with every statement in that Times article to understand they've got the basic dynamic right.

The frickin' New York Times understands reality better than the majority party in the Texas legislature.

Think about that.

Yet here we are.

Bottom Line: The Democrats might not deserve to win.  It might remain the case that they suck even more.  It probably does.  But it shouldn't surprise anyone if "might" fails to defeat currently observable reality.