Saturday, August 31, 2019

#TXLEGE: Even when they do something right, they still FAIL

"Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
2 Timothy 4:2

We had a two part reaction to this Texas Observer article:
The Texas Legislature never seems to pass up a chance to make voting harder, scarier, or more confusing. True to form, Texas was one of several states this year that restricted—rather than expanded—access to the polls.

HB 1888, which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law in June, goes into effect this week, effectively banning the use of mobile polling places, a strategy adopted by some counties to facilitate early voting in communities where people may have a harder time getting to a polling site. Travis County, for instance, has for the past several years operated dozens of temporary polling places at various times during the state’s two-week early voting window, opening up temporary sites at colleges, rural community centers, and senior living facilities. More than 28,000 people voted at those rotating polling sites last year, or nearly 6 percent of all Travis County votes cast during the 2018 midterm election.
You're welcome to read the rest of the article, but for the purposes of this blog post, all you have to know is that it exists..


Our first reaction: GOOD!!!

So-called "rolling polling" is one of the subtle, ongoing, swindles whereby the government biases the system to support whatever the government wants; you can learn more about why this is so problematic here.

Truthfully, the effect of rolling polling on major elections (ie. general and primary) is minimal.  Turnout in those elections is high enough that a few tens-of-thousands of rolling polling voters probably doesn't move the needle.  At least not much.

However, in lower profile elections (ie. May locals/bonds), rolling polling can be huge.

When turnout is low, the government manipulating polling locations to produce a favorable electorate can have massive implications.

Not allowing the government to manipulate polling locations to produce a favorable electorate can only be considered a win for taxpayers.

So good riddance.


Our second, more important, reaction: Why is this the first time we're hearing about this a hostile article in the Texas Observer?!?

Because it would have been nice to know about this both:
  • a) just to know

  • b) so we can anticipate the type of attacks outlets like the Observer made in the afore mentioned article.
This author is one of the closer observers (pun not intended) of these sorts of local government debt/transparency issues.  Yet even we had no idea this bill had passed.  Until this morning.

That's a problem.

How do they expect supporters to promote them if they don't even tell us about one of the few unambiguously good things they did?!?

During session, Governor Abbott had no problem communicating with voters about that worthless Chick-fil-a bill.  Imagine if the Governor had put a fraction of that effort into informing voters about the rolling polling bill.  Because the rolling polling bill is the type of things voters are going to need to know about if the GOP wants to have any credibility on taxpayer issues.

Instead, they allow supporters to learn about this bill in a hostile Texas Observer article.

That's a communications failure.


Bottom Line: Sure would've been nice to know about this three months ago....

Friday, August 30, 2019

#TXLEGE: Tinderholt recognizes the obvious as Klick continues to stonewall

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

Hoo boy:

Bottom Line: Drip, drip, drip....

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Cuellar's (Democrat) Primary is going to be FASCINATING to Watch

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

The Texan writes up the race for the Democrat nomination in CD-28:
Before a crowd gathered by the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA), South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable (STEER), and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC), Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) not only lauded bipartisanship but derided the much-discussed “Green New Deal.”

The stance was more than a little ironic considering the location — San Antonio’s Pearl Stable — being in the very city which earlier this year introduced its own version of the “Green New Deal.”

“At the state and federal level, we must advance energy policies that promote responsible, safe energy development,” Cuellar asserted at the beginning of his keynote speech.

Speaking to the importance of energy production for not only America but Texas specifically, Cuellar stated, “If Texas was a sovereign country, it would rank third in natural gas production behind the United States and Russia.”

Natural gas is a pivotal, if not the pivotal, component of Texas’ ongoing energy boom.


Specifically, about the Green New Deal, Cuellar posited, “Somebody’s got to pay for this.”

The plan has been estimated to cost upwards of $93 trillion, which Cuellar contrasted with our current $4 trillion per year expenditures.

Cuellar added, “How are we going to replace all the energy jobs lost if this were to be implemented?”

To Cuellar, there is a happy medium between tossing aside fossil fuels and spurning renewable energy altogether. He says it focuses on reliability, feasibility, and research.

Cuellar is facing primary challenger Jessica Cisneros, who is backed by Justice Democrats — the organization from which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sprung to prominence.

Cisneros is a supporter of the national Green New Deal.

Political races in South Texas tend to swing on which campaigns give politiqueras more 'walking around' money (Hint: Usually incumbents).   The degree to which actual 'issues' are at play varies.  Nevertheless, two worthwhile considerations:
  1. This part of the state is pretty dadgum socially conservative.
  2. Lots of people in this part of the state work in the energy industry.
Consider the map of CD-28 (left) vs. the Eagle Ford Shale (right):

It doesn't take a genius to see those territories overlap.

Given that backdrop, it's tough to see a D.S.A. backed pro-Abortion/anti-Fossil fuels candidate gaining tractions.

That being said, "tough to see" does not mean "impossible."

If D.S.A. types were to start gaining traction, it could start a chain reaction that would be riveting to watch.

[Note: On Monday, we wrote about the race for a Texas STATE Senate seat that overlaps this Congressional district.  We still think that's a likely D hold (in the short term).  However, if Cuellar were to actually get popped in the primary, that's the one circumstance under which we could see the seat flipping.]

Bottom Line: We tend to be of the opinion that incumbency will prevail, but if it doesn't....

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Patrick wins contest to distribute coveted TRUMP DOLLAZ to favored political consultants

"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,"
2 Timothy 3:2


PR 19 08 28 by DanPatrickTX on Scribd

Bottom Line: Allan Blakemore gonna get paid...........................

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

#TXLEGE: Seriously...Jim Murphy?!?

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

Texas Scorecard yesterday, discussing vacancy for house GOP caucus vice chair:
Thus far, three potential candidates have emerged for the position: State Reps. Jim Murphy (Houston), Hugh Shine (Temple), and Andrew Murr (Kerrville).

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Oy vey.

In case you forgot:
HOUSTON - It appears that state Rep. Jim Murphy likes taxpayer-funded hats. Channel 2 Investigates identified him wearing a couple of them. One is for the 133rd District on Houston's west side, and the other remains unclear.

Employment contracts between Murphy and the Westchase District, a governmental agency and political subdivision of the state, show Murphy banking a fixed monthly fee of over $26,000 a month. That is a whopping $312,000 a year. The contract also lists him as a "consultant" even though the website for the Westchase District clearly says he's the general manager.


State law says, "No member of the Legislature may hold any other office or position of profit, except as a notary public."

In other words, a legislator cannot hold another taxpayer-funded job.
[Note: Learn more about Jim Murphy's ethics issues here, here, and here.]

It doesn't take a genius to see how this goes horribly wrong.

Bottom Line: If the house GOP caucus is dumb enough to vote Jim Murphy into a position of responsibility, they deserve everything they get.

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: Casar calls Abbott's bluff (again)

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

Greg Casar is the guest on the Nation magazine's latest podcast:
There’s a smarter way of doing politics emerging in this country, one that recognizes that every elected position has the potential to serve as a platform for transformational change. This is especially true at the city council level. City councilors govern at the intersection of grassroots engagement and public policy. If they get it right, they can can have ripple effects on local, state, and even national policies.

Few of the thousands of city council members in communities across this country know this better than Austin City Council member Greg Casar. Casar came to Austin as an activist and quickly realized the potential of the city council to address economic, social, and racial justice issues. Casar ran for—and won—a seat on the Austin council at age 25—becoming the youngest council member in the city’s history.


As a local elected official, Cesar has led groundbreaking struggles on behalf of worker rights, immigrant rights, and economic justice. Austin has taken the lead on issues like paid sick leave and fair hiring practices. And Casar and his activist allies have succeeded in defending much of the progress they have achieved from threats of preemption by a Republican-controlled state government.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
If you've been following Casar, then the full podcast doesn't contain a ton of new information.  Casar's strategies and tactics are obvious to anyone paying attention.  If you're new to the topic, however, the full podcast is worth your half hour.

That being said, the section on the legislature is priceless.  Casar ridicules the legislature for being completely dickless backing down in the face of the left's "organizing."  While Casar doesn't say so explicitly, special derision on this topic must go to a governor more interested in running his mouth on twitter than actually doing anything.

Bottom Line: Maybe Abbott will buy him a chicken sandwich....


Full podcast:

Monday, August 26, 2019

#TXLEGE: Stephanie Klick is playing with FIRE

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

Not good:

Bottom Line: An in-person caucus meeting *might* have been an opportunity to begin putting this scandal in the rear-view mirror. Apparently, that's not happening. Drip, drip, drip....

#TXLEGE: Regardless of outcome, Frank Pomeroy will being needed perspective

"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

Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of the Sutherland Springs church where the 2017 fatal shooting took place, announced Sunday he is running for Texas Senate.

Pomeroy said he will run as a Republican for District 21, currently held by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo. It will be a uphill battle: The district is solidly Democratic, and Zaffirini has served since 1987.

“If I can bring civility and godliness and help stymie the downward spiraling of the great state of Texas, that’s what I’m choosing to try to do, Pomeroy said Sunday afternoon at his church after the service there. “I feel as though that morality and integrity is disappearing rapidly and I feel as though the direction Texas goes — if Texas falls, the country falls.”


District 21 stretches from Austin down to the Rio Grande Valley, wrapping around San Antonio, jutting out to near Corpus Christi and taking in Laredo to the south.
Let's get one thing out of the way: This author stopped endorsing candidates a looooooooong time ago, but as a resident of and voter in Senate District 21, we fully intend to vote for Pomeroy.

That being said, we should be realistic: The odds of Frank Pomeroy winning this district, especially with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, are minimal.

Nevertheless, Pomeroy can serve several useful functions.

Primarily: Southerland Springs was stopped by a good guy with a gun.  In an environment where everyone from the Governor on down is using El Paso as an excuse to attack lawful self defense, this point that cannot be stressed enough.  If Pomeroy's campaign accomplishes nothing else, keeping this fact front and center is a public service.

Beyond that, however, Pomeroy could serve a longer-term purpose.

Senate District 21 covers territory that has hosted some of the most staggering corruption in the history of this state:
Bottom Line: You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

#TXLEGE: house Republicans belatedly recognize their own political self interest

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,"
1 Peter 5:6

That's quite the Friday Afternoon Document Dump:

House Republican caucus meeting request by Cahnman on Scribd

Bottom Line: This should have been done a month ago, but better late than never....

Friday, August 23, 2019

#TXLEGE: One inference from Abbott's Burrows Endorsement

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

We said our piece yesterday about the morality of Governor Abbott's endorsement of Dustin Burrows.  Obviously, it's sleazy.  Obviously, it's sordid.

Nevertheless, one can probably make an inference.

Burrows' role in the scandal must not poll badly, because if it did, there's no way Abbott would stick his neck out for him.

Because you know Abbott polled this first.

That being said, even if the above is likely true, Abbott's move remains shortsighted.  It's one thing to say that, in mid-August a year before the election, Dustin Burrows isn't a political liability.  It's something else entirely to say Burrows won't become one if this story is allowed to slow drip over the next year and a half.

Still, however, Abbott's action likely reveals that this scandal has yet to penetrate the general public's consciousness.

Bottom Line: It's not something upon which one should base one's moral compass, but Abbott's habit of polling everything probably allows you to draw some conclusions.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

#TXLEGE: Abbott being Abbott (Burrows Endorsement Edition)

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
1 Corinthians 15:33

Of course he did:
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday endorsed state Rep. Dustin Burrows for reelection, giving the Lubbock lawmaker a vote of confidence as he deals with accusations that he and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen schemed to target fellow Republicans in the 2020 primaries.

"I am proud to endorse Representative Dustin Burrows for re-election, and I am grateful for his strong leadership in the Texas House," Abbott said in a statement. "Representative Burrows is a servant leader who puts the needs of his constituents first, and I look forward to continuing our important work together as we create an even brighter future for the state of Texas."

Abbott's endorsement comes days after Burrows resigned as chairman of the House Republican Caucus amid the ongoing fallout from the scandal with Bonnen, which the Texas Rangers are now investigating.
Yet they wonder why they're in political trouble (send money!!!).

This won't age well.

Bottom Line: Slow drip gonna keep drippin'....

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#TXLEGE, #atxcouncil: "Abortion access" workaround illustrates POINTLESS STUPIDITY of original lege bill

"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9

Of course they did:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council members were joined by advocates at City Hall Monday afternoon when they announced their proactive budget measure to protect residents’ access to abortion services.

Last week, four city council members announced they planned to support up to $150,000 of city money being used to support transportation, childcare and counseling for women seeking abortions.

Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza attended alongside council members Greg Casar, Leslie Pool and Paige Ellis, who were joined by representatives of several abortion rights advocate groups, including the Lilith Fund and Fund Texas Choice.

Under the budget, local tax dollars would help pay for services like rides to and from a clinic. Under Texas law, it is illegal for local tax dollars to directly support abortion providers, so city council members say their decision aims to work around the barriers put in place.
Is anyone surprised?!?

Because if you are, you've been living under a rock.

During session, our state 'leaders' touted SB 22 as a major pro-life victory:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday signed legislation that prohibits cities and counties from doing business with abortion providers. The bill, which takes effect Sept. 1, specifically prevents local governments from entering into reduced tax and lease agreements with such organizations. It also prevents cities and counties from "advocacy or lobbying on behalf of the interests of an abortion provider or affiliate."

It does not impact hospitals or doctor's offices that perform fewer than 50 abortions per year.

Clinics that could be impacted include the Planned Parenthood in East Austin, which signed a 20-year lease with the city for $1 per month.
 Blah, blah, blah.

For council to find a cleverly lawyered way to technically comply with the letter of the law, while gutting its spirit, was completely predictable.  That they did so is a textbook illustration of why that bill was always a waste of time.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a dullard, a liar, or a twit.

Imagine what could have happened if the lege had taken advantage of the opportunity to pass bills that actually did something.

(But send money....)

Bottom Line:  Council's action are awful.  Duh.  They're also completely predictable considering the incentives the lege created.  Spare us the phony outrage.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Abbott appoints Career Government Lawyer as new Sec'y of State

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Revelation 3:16

Today, Governor Greg Abbott appointed Ruth Ruggero Hughs as the acting Secretary of State.

Hughs has served as chair of the Texas Workforce Commission and was appointed by Abbott to that position in August of 2018. Of the three commissioners on the board, Hughs was charged with representing the employers in the state.

“Ruth is a proven leader who has done a tremendous job as both a commissioner and the Chair of the Texas Workforce Commission,” said Governor Abbott of his appointee in a press release.

Abbott continued, saying Hughs “has built strong relationships with the business community throughout Texas and has helped lead the way in developing the best workforce in the nation. I am proud to appoint Ruth as Secretary of State and I am confident that her experience at the Texas Workforce Commission will translate into success in this new role.”
Hughs is a career government lawyer who's been with Greg Abbott for a long time. She was with him in the Attorney General's office. He appointed her to the Workforce commission. Now she's his Sec'y of State appointee.

Career government lawyers tend to be cautious, risk-averse, and controversy shy.

Obviously, in a political environment where the left is going to pull out all stops, that's a worrisome combination.

In fairness to Hughs, the one time she was involved in something controversial, she pretty much told the left to pound sand.  It was an obscure regulatory fight involving how the state classifies people who partner with sharing economy companies.  If she can recognize when labor unions are trying to shakedown Uber, perhaps she'll recognize election related shenanigans.

But it's an open question.

The truth is that we don't know, and by the time we do know, it'll be too late to do anything about it.

Bottom Line: Missed opportunity.

Monday, August 19, 2019

#TXLEGE: Patrick first statewide offical to acknowlege the completely obvious re: Bonnen

"Make no friendship with an angry man,
And with a furious man do not go,"
Proverbs 22:24

AUSTIN — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, weighing in on the scandal that's roiled the Texas House in recent weeks, warned Republicans must resolve the issue or risk losing control of that chamber in 2020.

"We don't have many seats to lose in the House to the Democrats, and this could play a part of that," Patrick told radio show host Mark Davis on Monday morning, according to tweets from the Texas Tribune. Patrick called for "transparency" from everyone involved, adding, "The sooner it's behind us, however it turns out, is the better."
Patrick is completely correct.

As we've previously discussed, this scandal will unfold one of two ways: Either Bonnen goes away, or it becomes a slow-drip story for the next year and a half.  With his comments this morning, Patrick has shown he understands the second possibility.  He still needs to figure out the first, but at least it's a start.

It's certainly better than what others are saying (and doing).

Bottom Line: This really shouldn't be difficult....

Saturday, August 17, 2019

#TXLEGE: Burrows belatedly recognizes the completely obvious

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise."
Proverbs 12:15

About DAMN time:
State Rep. Dustin Burrows of Lubbock has resigned as chair of the Texas House GOP Caucus amid allegations that he and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen planned to politically target members from their own party in the 2020 primaries.

Burrows' departure marks the largest fallout yet since the accusations surfaced.

On Friday, the caucus executive committee sent an email to members saying that it had "met and accepted" Burrows' resignation as caucus chair. The email, which also announced that state Rep. Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth had been elevated from vice chair to chair of the caucus, confirmed what two sources had told The Texas Tribune earlier Friday.

Bonnen said in a statement that Burrows, who has served in the House since 2015, "was a strong leader for the caucus." Bonnen added: "I respect his decision and I remain committed to strengthening our majority."
Good. This is a slow-drip story that won't go away until Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows go away. That outcome is inevitable. The only question is how much pain Bonnen and Burrows want to endure first.

Bottom Line: Now do Bonnen....

Friday, August 16, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bettencourt LEADS charge to rescue children from Houston ISD

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me [a]to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."
Mark 9:24

It's about time:
The chronic low scores at HISD's Wheatley High School leave the Texas Education Commissioner with no choice under state law but to close the campus or overturn an election, kick out the entire Houston school board and appoint a new one.

According to state education leaders who spoke with 13 Investigates, that takeover now seems increasingly likely.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston and member of the State Senate Education Committee, told ABC13, "I've never had any criticism for the interim superintendent (Dr. Grenita Lathan) and will not, because she's not the problem. The problem is the board of trustees and everybody out there knows it, and that's what needs to be replaced."


It could be late fall before the official decision comes down. State accountability ratings aren't finalized until November, but HISD does not appear to be fighting the accountability ratings.
We wrote a longer piece about this situation back in January; TL,DR version:
  1. It's the morally right thing to do.
  2. If the GOP follows through then, over time, there **MIGHT** be political benefit (at a minimum, it's better than doing nothing).
Bottom Line:There are few failures of big government more blatant than urban school districts. Children being maleducated deserve an alternative to the entitled, spendaholic, bureaucracy. Kudos to Senator Bettencourt.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Abbott's so-called "Domestic Terrorism" Power Grab

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

Yesterday, we discussed the sleazier political aspects of Governor Abbott's new "Domestic Terrorism Task Force."  We still think that's the primary takeaway.  Having had a chance to sleep on it, however, there's another insanely bothersome aspect.

Politicians ALWAYS exploit tragedy for power grabs.

We have no idea what this so-called "task force" will propose, except on thing: This process will expand the power of the Governor's office.

Furthermore, that expansion of power will be around a lot longer than Greg Abbott.

Obviously, by any sane, rational, or data-driven standard, so-called "mass shootings" are statistically meaningless.  They're INSANELY rare.  That the media cynically gives them sensationalistic wall-to-wall coverage doesn't change the fact that they're extreme outlier events.

Sensationalistic, wall-to-wall, media coverage, however, is exactly the backdrop power hungry politicians always exploit.

Bottom Line: Have we not learned our lesson from the so-called "Patriot Act?!?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#TXLEGE: Abbott appoints Bonnen to Task Force

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

Umm, ok:
Governor Greg Abbott today, under Article 4, Sections 1, 7, and 10 of the Texas Constitution, formed a Domestic Terrorism Task Force in the wake of the El Paso shooting to combat these hateful acts and extremism in Texas. The group of experts will analyze and provide advice on strategies to maximize law enforcement’s ability to protect against acts of domestic terrorism. The task force will hold its first roundtable meeting with Governor Abbott on Friday, August 30th.
For the most part, this seems to the type of grandstanding that all politicians do following tragedies.  Obviously, it should be monitored.  That being said, this task-force likely won't amount to much.

That being said, one participant seems noteworthy:
  • Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen 
It doesn't take a genius to see why that's a bad idea.

Bottom Line: See no evil....

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

West's first interesting move during RPT campaign

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

This wasn't expected:
When asked about the [Dennis Bonnen quid pro quo] controversy on the Chris Salcedo Show this morning, former Congressman and military veteran Allen West said he believed Bonnen should resign from his position.

“I’m not an opportunist and I don’t want anyone to see me that way, but one of the things about being in the military is leadership is about honor, integrity, and character,” said West. “If we’re going to move forward with the Republican Party of Texas, I’ve got to tell you that I can’t work with someone who has a lack of honor, integrity, and character.”

“I would suggest the Speaker of the House, Dennis Bonnen, right now step down from speaker and resign from his State House seat, because we’re not going to be able to go forward as long as he stays in that position,” he concluded.
That's...certainly welcome.  To this point, West has campaigned on nothing but vague cliches.  With this statement, however, West might indicate a growing understanding of Texas-specific issues.

At a minimum, it makes West relevant.

Bottom Line:  Whatever happens between now and next convention, kudos to West for forcing this discussion....

Monday, August 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bonnen is dead man walking (and only FOOLS will pretend otherwise)

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

This morning went pretty much as expected:

The committee is still in executive session as we write this. They may or may not make news. That being said, it really won't matter.

One of two outcomes is now inevitable:
  • Dennis Bonnen leaves soon.  Whether it's genuinely voluntary or he's forced out doesn't matter.  The key point is that he's gone.
  • Bonnen becomes a gigantic campaign issue...and good luck to his defenders if that happens.
The silver lining is that, besides Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows, nobody else is implicated.  This scandal is contained to two people.  Once they go away, everything else follows.

If they don't, however, this will be a slow-drip story for the next year and a half.

Bottom Line: The path to making this story go away is obvious, but it's an open question whether anyone will take it....

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A trip to Yankee Stadium, and a renewed appreciation for Chris Del Conte

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

For anyone who follows this author on social media, it's not exactly a secret where we were or what we were doing during our week not publishing.

During our NYC trip, attending five separate games at Yankee stadium, we were repeatedly struck by a thought: How much the Yankee Stadium gameday experience reminds of Texas...2 to 3 years ago.

They didn't do anything "wrong," per se, but it still left us feeling nickeled, dimed, and underappreciated.

Of course, it wasn't that long ago you could say the same thing about Texas.  Then Chris Del Conte arrived, with a renewed commitment to fans and the gameday experience.  The results were instant.  A year and a half later, the fan base is more stoked than they've been in ages!!!

In 2005/2006, before we moved, the Yankees were the hottest ticket in town.  Today, despite having a better team, people are kinda "meh."  The difference is the attitude of the people in charge.

However, with an attitude adjustment and the right personnel, fan perception can change very quickly.

Bottom Line: Fans actually spend more money when they're not being nickled and dimed.  Texas eventually realized that.  Will the Yankees?!?

Friday, August 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on the Sullivan/Bonnen audio

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

Yesterday, we listened to the recording of the infamous meeting between Michael Quinn Sullivan and Dennis Bonnen.  For the most part, it reinforced our initial impression of this story.  If you've been following it, the recording doesn't contain a ton of "new" information.  But there's a lot of additional context.


  • Bonnen's arrogance, and Bonnen's stupidity, are...something.
  • On multiple occasions, Bonnen offers Sullivan official actions in exchange for political activity.
    • Each time, Sullivan instantly says no.
  • Bonnen also offers to allow Sullivan to stay in a property in New Mexico that his in-laws apparently own.
  • Bonnen has the demeanor of a frat boy who's trying waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hard to be your friend.
  • The hardest part to wrap your head around is that the substance of Bonnen's ask isn't necessarily crazy.  While he's doing it for the wrong reasons, Bonnen basically asks Sullivan to focus on rural members instead of suburban ones.  There's a certain logic to that strategy.  Unfortunately, there's no logic that suggests one make oneself a party to a felony in the process.
  • The most surprising part is the degree to which Bonnen's talking out of both sides of his mouth on his alleged "no campaigning" edict.  Bonnen spends nearly a quarter of the meeting telling Sullivan how he plans to vigorously enforce the edict against Democrats, but casually look the other way with Republicans.  At this point, the Democrats have every right to tell Bonnen to pound sand.
    • It's in this part of this discussion that Bonnen makes his causally vulgar remarks about Michelle Beckley and Jon Rosenthal.  The remarks themselves are not particularly bad.  That being said, we don't ever want to hear a lecture from Dennis Bonnen about "civility" or "respectful dialogue" ever again.
  • Speaking of the Democrats: If they're smart, they'll make this a gigantic campaign issue.  That being said, it's an open question whether the Democrats will be smart.  But they should....
  • On the other hand, if Bonnen departs soon, the impact on any future election should be minimal.
  • Apparently, Dennis Bonnen really hates Phil Stephenson.
    • Note: Stephenson's got a pretty mediocre record, but he's a nice guy.
  • Likewise Travis Clardy.
    • Note: This one's understandable.
  • Bonnen, and especially Dustin Burrows, are super thin-skinned about criticisms of the session.  They spend a quarter of the discussion trying to spin the results to Sullivan.  At one point, Burrows laughably accuses Sullivan of gaslighting the members.
  • According to Dustin Burrows, Allan Blakemore told Mike Schofield not to campaign last fall.
    • Note: It's not really relevant to this discussion...but why does anyone hire Allan Blakemore anymore?!?
  • Burrows claims the list is about members who voted against the ban on taxpayer funded lobbying, but Ken King and Gary van Deaver also voted against the ban and didn't make the list.
  • The list: Steve Allison, Trent Ashby, Dirty Ernie (Bailes), Travis Clardy ("the ringleader of all opposition" according to Burrows), Drew Darby, Kyle Kacal, Stan Lambert, Tan Parker, John Raney, Phil Stephenson.
    • Note: While they didn't make the list, Burrows also made disparaging remarks about Doc Anderson, Keith Bell, and John Smithee.
  • We don't know if 12 jurors vote to convict, but neither would it surprise us.
  • This author is not a lawyer, and we don't know the legal intricacies of this case, but there's no political reason not to release the recording publicly.
Bottom Line: Like it or not, this story will stick around as long as Dennis Bonnen sticks around....

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Van Duyne campaign = GOP's opportunity on Housing

"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands."
Psalm 90:17

Former Irving mayor Beth Van Duyne has left her post at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s office in Fort Worth.

She confirmed she is running for the 24th Congressional District after Rep. Kenny Marchant announced he’s retiring.

Van Duyne said she’ll make a formal announcement soon.
In 2015, we called van Duyne our "Texan of the Year."  It was a one-time award, designed for specific circumstances.  But we've been following her for awhile.

Over the past few years, during her time at HUD, van Duyne has come through town several times.  Thus, we've had several occasions to discuss the dysfunctional nature of federal housing policy.  None of the conversations were Earth shattering, but van Duyne knows her stuff.

It's not a secret that this website has been harping about housing costs for YEARS.  It's the largest item in most household budgets.  Reducing them is one of the lowest of the low hanging pieces of economic fruit.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Republicans are oblivious.

We'll defer to the candidate on policy.  There are a number of worthwhile possibilities.  Off the top of our head: HUD, the Federal housing administration, and Fannie/Freddie could all use significant reform/scaling back/outright elimination.  We're not sure where to draw the line between what we really want and what's realistically achievable.

Bottom Line: It's hard to think of a candidate better suited to address the largest item in most household budgets....

Media Misses Point On GOP Congressional Retirements

"Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes;
But by a man of understanding and knowledge
Right will be prolonged."
Proverbs 28:2

Representative sample of recent Congressional race reporting:
Rep. Kenny Marchant on Monday became the latest Texas Republican to announce he will not run for reelection, leaving a suburban district between Dallas and Fort Worth up for grabs. He is the fourth Republican in the state to bow out of the 2020 election; three of them represent very competitive districts.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates Marchant’s district as a “toss-up,” opening up a major opportunity for Democrats. Last week, Rep. Will Hurd, the House’s only black Republican, who represents a border district in Texas, also said he would be stepping down. Hurd was seen as the only Republican who could hold on to his border district, which runs from El Paso to San Antonio — a district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rep. Pete Olson, who represents a quickly diversifying Houston suburban district, is also not running for reelection.

House Democrats are reveling in a “Texodus” as they increasingly see an offensive strategy to grow their House majority running through the Lone Star State.
Kinda, sorta...a little...but not really.

The truth is that (with the possible exception of the Hurd district) the GOP is clearing dead weight.  Lukewarm incumbents with indefensible records are TERRIBLE general election candidates.  The GOP is in a stronger position today than it was three weeks ago.

Back in March, we wrote a piece outlining the math.  You really should read the whole thing.  But the TL,DR version is that, in 2018, the GOP held every single open seat while two incumbents lost.

Also, for the record: One of those incumbents who lost was a guy about whom we'd been warning for years.

In a challenging national environment, the last thing you need is additional baggage from an incumbent's indefensible record.

Bottom Line: During a storm, clearing excess weight doesn't guarantee avoiding shipwreck, but it dramatically increases the odds.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Patrick channels Marge Simpson

"The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness."
Proverbs 15:2

Oh good grief:
Appearing on "Fox & Friends" on Sunday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that while authorities have yet to classify it as such, he saw Saturday's shooting as a "hate crime against immigrants."

Patrick cited a list of possible contributing factors, starting with video games.

"We've always had guns, always had evil, but I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill," he said.

The Simpsons addressed this 30 years ago:
After Bart and Lisa watching an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, Maggie strikes Homer with a mallet. Marge is horrified and vows to put a stop to violence on children's television. But when the ball of censorship starts to roll, where will it all end?
Roger Myers' response to Marge, updated for new technology, is also the correct response to Patrick:
“In preparing for this debate I did a little research, and I discovered a startling thing. There was violence in the past, long before [video games] were invented....And there was something called The Crusades, for instance, tremendous violence, many people killed, the darn thing went on for thirty years!”
Bottom Line: Marge Simpson belatedly figured out that her position was asinine...will Dan Patrick?!?

#TXLEGE: Oh, Dennis

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

Even from 1500 miles away, it was pretty difficult to miss to continued devolution of the Bonnen saga.

To write a full analysis of the past week would require more time than we have interest, but some thoughts:
  • When we've been saying, for years, that state government in Texas is astonishingly corrupt...this is a pretty good example.
  • The members defending Bonnen are a bunch of dickless chodes.
    • aka. Mayes Middleton, Matt Shaheen, Drew Springer, Craig Goldman, and...especially...Jeff Leach.
    • Update: Add James White, Scott Sanford, Brad Buckley, and Cole Hefner to the list.
    • Update II: Add Tom Oliverson.
  • We haven't seen this level of willful blindness to serious misconduct since Wallace Hall.
  • Whether or not Bonnen survives as speaker is irrelevant.  Anyone who can get to 76 votes will be a scumbag.  Gib Lewis, Pete Laney, Tom Craddick, Joe Straus, and Dennis Bonnen have all sucked.
  • This is the same Texas house that, nearly two years into the scandal, has yet to say a word about Jim Murphy.
  • Does the Travis County DA have jurisdiction?!?
  • This is FUN!!!
Bottom Line: These people brought this on themselves and deserve everything that's coming....