Saturday, September 14, 2019

#TXLEGE: With Jim Murphy, house GOP makes its bed; now they lie (Die?!?) in it


"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly."
Proverbs 26:11

SMDH:
State Rep. Jim Murphy of Houston, who was considered the favored candidate of embattled House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, was elected vice chair of the House Republican Caucus on Friday night.
Wow.

The full DMN piece discusses Murphy's election in the context of Bonnen's scandals.  That's certainly an important angle.  Read the whole thing here.

Unfortunately for the GOP, there's a whole separate dumpster fire:
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 herehere, and here.]

In other words, the house GOP is trying to ride out one scandal by bringing in a guy enmeshed in a separate scandal.

Bottom Line: It doesn't take a genius to see how this blows up in their face....

Friday, September 13, 2019

#TXLEGE: Abbott's "safety action report" means Patrick's gun registry doesn't poll well


"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 Texas Scorecard:
On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott released a list of suggestions for the state legislature on gun violence, following roundtable meetings in the wake of the El Paso and Odessa shootings.

Dubbed the “Texas Safety Action Report,” many of Abbott’s suggestions are either broad, such as his request to consider expediting the reporting of criminal convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety” or duplicative, like prohibiting the straw purchases of firearms under state law—something already illegal under Federal law.

Most immediately notable in his list of recommendations, however, concerns expanding background checks of person-to-person sales.

While Lt. Gov Dan Patrick has been waging war against gun owners and advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association over the past week over his support for expanding mandatory government background checks on private firearm sales, the governor took a markedly different tact.

Instead, Abbott recommends that “The Legislature should consider ways to make it easy, affordable, and beneficial for a private seller of firearms to voluntarily use background checks when selling firearms to strangers.”
Lots to unpack.

The biggest takeaway is that, for the second time in as many days, a major statewide elected official has distanced themselves from Patrick's gun registry.

That being said, for the statewide official to be Abbott rather than Cruz is very noteworthy.

Whatever, else you want to say about Abbott...he polls EVERYTHING.

What makes this even more interesting is that Patrick has been citing alleged polling data to justify his gun registry.

While the following is nothing but informed speculation, here's what we suspect happened:
  • Patrick polled, or cited polls, framing the question in the friendliest way possible for Patrick's position.
  • Abbott polled the issue neutrally.
  • Abbott didn't like what he saw.
Thus, Abbott put out what he put out.

Bottom Line: Sometimes the actions of elected officials who govern by polls reveal interesting nuggets about public opinion.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Cruz calls legislature a "lunatic asylum"


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

Via the DMN:
WASHINGTON -- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is distancing himself from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's proposal to require background checks for all stranger to stranger gun sales, painting his fellow Republican's idea as in line with broader proposals offered by Democrats.

Asked on Thursday if he supported Patrick's specific idea -- which would not affect private sales between friends and families -- Cruz compared it to the notion of universal background checks.

"The consistent focus of Democrats in Congress is precisely the proposal that you laid out -- it is mandating that all private person to person sales have a federal background check," he said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. "That's a mistake."

Cruz was pressed on the fact that Patrick's idea would focus only on private gun transactions between strangers -- and not all private person to person sales -- and was asked if that distinction would change his feelings.

The senator demurred.

"Dan Patrick is a good man," he said, before noting that his focus is on policy proposals being considered in Congress. "I have every confidence the Legislature in Texas will debate and consider these issues. Thankfully, I serve in a different lunatic asylum."

[Note: Emphasis added.]
Wow.  Lots to unpack there.  Obviously, a rift between Ted Cruz and Dan Patrick would be...a rather significant development.

The truth, however, is that we don't know how this situation will unfold.  Speculation is pointless.  Whatever's going to happen will happen; we'll know soon enough.

For now, take a second to relish the awesomeness of that Cruz quote.

Bottom Line: He's not wrong.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

#TXLEGE: Creighton, Leach, Springer and the GROTESQUE Cheapening of 9/11


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


UPDATE II: Say whatever else you want about Leach, but his recognized this misjudgement and fixed it.


-------

UPDATE (20ish minutes after publication): We just received a message from Jeff Leach acknowledging error, and pledging to fix it.  We appreciate the attention.

-------

Original post:

It started innocently enough:



Then culprits emerged:





Not to be outdone, Brandon Creighton used an actual photo of the plane hitting the building:



Ugh.

How tacky.

9/11 was many things to many people.  One thing it is not, however, is relevant to the job of a state representative or state senator 18 years later and 1500 miles away.  One would think you wouldn't have to explain such things.

Yet here we are.

The ironic thing, if you explore social media (which we did after discovering the above), is that the overwhelming majority of politicians get this.  Or at least they have enough political sense to understand why it's a bad idea.  Either way, they kept campaign logos out of their tributes.

Apparently, however, for Brandon Creighton, Jeff Leach, and Drew Springer, 9/11 was all about them.  We know politicians have egos.  But still.

[Fun Fact: Speaking of 9/11 and Texas Legislators, guess which Senator didn't smack their campaign logo on 9/11 imagery?!?  Brian Birdwell.  Probably a lesson in there.]

Bottom Line: It's a small thing in the grand scheme, but it does speak to the degree to which that which once mattered has become a cheap platitude.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

If Fallon's Serious


"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much."
Luke 16:10

Interesting:
Today, State Senator Pat Fallon (R-Prosper) said he would explore challenging incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Fallon said he would launch an exploratory committee, and told The Texan, “I want to have an open and honest conversation with GOP primary voters to see if there is a groundswell of support for a primary challenge for U.S. Senate.”

A former Frisco City Council member, Fallon was elected to the Texas State House in 2012. He served there until 2017 when he announced he would challenge incumbent Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) in the Republican primary.
This is mostly good.

Obviously, John Cornyn's a terrible U.S. Senator.  Equally obvious, despite being terrible, John Cornyn's never received a credible primary challenge.  So, good on Pat Fallon for positioning himself to run a credible campaign.

Two cheers.

Still.

While Fallon has been historically one of the more conservative members of the legislature, with the exception of his vote for Scott Turner in 2015, he's tended to talk a bigger game than he's delivered.

It's unclear if, as a U.S. Senator, Fallon merely intends to vote more conservatively than Cornyn, or whether he's going to push the envelope.

HOWEVER....

Pat Fallon is a sitting member of the Texas Senate.  It just so happens to be the case that the current presiding officer of that chamber has recently taken up the cause of gun control.  We desperately need a sitting TEXAS senator to lead that fight against the Lt. Governor.

If Fallon were to be that Texas Senator, the case for his own promotion to the U.S. Senate would grow infinitely stronger.

Furthermore, it just so happens to be the case that the Lt. Governor in question is supporting Cornyn.

So Pat Fallon has nothing to lose.

Bottom Line: Words on the campaign trail are cheap, but Pat Fallon's current position will offer plenty of opportunity to demonstrate action in the coming months.

Monday, September 9, 2019

#TXLEGE: Dan Patrick is the new Dubya


"Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But such as keep the law contend with them."
Proverbs 28:4

Dan Patrick sent...quite the e-mail yesterday:
I am sorry that some of my allies in the battle to protect our Second Amendment rights are angry about this — but as I say in this Fox clip, the National Rifle Association is just wrong on this. Their refusal to compromise on this issue will only hurt our long-term defense of the Second Amendment.

....

If those of us who support the Second Amendment won’t begin a discussion on this common sense change in our current laws, we risk losing everything. The crazed gun control crowd— from Biden to Beto — will sweep in and destroy our rights. They want to take away our guns — and even remove the Second Amendment from the Constitution.
In other words: Dan Patrick wants to suspend the Second Amendment to save the Second Amendment.

[Note: Does Patrick feel the same way about the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments?!?]

Where have we heard that logic before?!?
BUSH: Well, I have obviously made a decision to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse. I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.
[Note: It's absolutely insane, but all video clips of that Dubya quote have been scrubbed from the internet.]

Eleven years after that Dubya remark, the free market has never recovered.  It might be in modestly better shape than it was 3 or 4 years ago.  But the U.S. economy remains less free to this day.

With all due respect to Dan Patrick, we don't want to see that happen to the Second Amendment (or the fourth, fifth and sixth).

Bottom Line: They're not even coming up with new talking points anymore.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

#TXLEGE: Will Lt. Dan accept Loesch's offer?!?


"As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17

Things just got a little more interesting:



Thank you Dana.  This author understands how, as a national radio host, you're pulled in 25 different directions every day.  Fortunately, you recognize this moment's dire stakes.  We're gonna need you.

For now, however, the ball is in Dan Patrick's court.

He's likely to accept.  When it comes to firearms related public policy, however, Dana Loesch knows her stuff.  Lt. Dan, putting it mildly, doesn't always do well in these scenarios.

Bottom Line: We have no idea what will happen, but the Bill of Rights could hang in the balance.

Friday, September 6, 2019

#TXLEGE: Greg Abbott Don't Need No Stinkin' Bill of Rights


"You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor."
Leviticus 19:15

That's not good:
  • Order No. 1 Within thirty days of this order, the Texas Department of Public Safety shall develop standardized intake questions that can be used by all Texas law enforcement agencies to better identify whether a person calling the agency has information that should be reported to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network.
  • Order No. 2 Within thirty days of this order, the Department of Public Safety shall develop clear guidance, based on the appropriate legal standard, for when and how Texas law-enforcement agencies should submit Suspicious Activity Reports.
  • Order No. 3 Within sixty days of this order, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement shall make training available to educate all law-enforcement officers regarding the standards that will be developed pursuant to Order No. 1 and Order No. 2.
  • Order No. 4 The Department of Public Safety shall create and conduct an initiative to raise public awareness and understanding of how Suspicious Activity Reports are used by law-enforcement agencies to identify potential mass shooters or terroristic threats, so that the general public and friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, and classmates will be more likely to report information about potential gunmen.
  • Order No. 5 The Department of Public Safety shall work with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on ways to better inform schools, students, staff, and families about the importance of Suspicious Activity Reports and how to initiate that process.
  • Order No. 6 The Department of Public Safety shall work with local law enforcement, mental-health professionals, school districts, and others to create multidisciplinary threat assessment teams for each of its regions, and when appropriate shall coordinate with federal partners.
  • Order No. 7 The Department of Public Safety, as well as the Office of the Governor, shall use all available resources to increase staff at all fusion centers in Texas for the purpose of better collecting and responding to Suspicious Activity Reports, and better monitoring and analyzing social media and other online forums, for potential threats.
  • Order No. 8 Beginning January 1, 2020, all future grant awards from the Office of the Governor to counties shall require a commitment that the county will report at least 90 percent of convictions within seven business days to the Criminal Justice Information System at the Department of Public Safety. By January 1, 2021, such reporting must take place within five business days.
Chilling.

"Suspicious activity reporting," "multidisciplinary threat assessment teams," and "fusion centers."  It doesn't take a genius to see how this goes horribly, horribly, wrong.  Greg Abbott should party with George Orwell.

[Note: You can learn why so-called 'fusion centers' are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad news here; likewise 'multidisciplinary threat assessment teams' here.]

There's been a lot of commentary about how Greg Abbott's actions will impact the Second Amendment.  That's certainly appropriate.  However, the truth is that the long term impact remains to be seen.

That being said, we don't have to speculate how Greg Abbott's actions will impact other parts of the Bill of Rights.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Fifth:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
The Sixth:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
[Note: Emphasis added.]

Go back an re-read Greg Abbott's executive orders.

Do you see the phrase "probable cause"?!?

Neither do we.

How about "indictment" or "due process of law"?!?

NOPE.

"[I]nformed of the nature and cause of the accusation," "confronted with the witnesses against him," or "assistance of counsel?!?

LOL.

Furthermore, remember that these new powers the office of the Governor just assumed for itself will remain on the books long after Greg Abbott departs.

Bottom Line: While the long-term impact on the Second Amendment remains to be seen, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments are already toast.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

#TXLEGE: Patrick's "Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention" appointments aren't much better


"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

Yesterday, we discussed Bonnen's appointments to this new select committee to exploit El Paso and Odessa to push a longstanding agenda.  Lt. Dan waited until later in the day to release his appointees.  Likewise YIKES:


Thoughts:

  • The fact that Huffman is chairing this committee tells you everything.
  • If you don't see the chilling implications for civil liberties in second and fourth charges...are you even paying attention?!?
  • That being said, the list of charges does seem long enough that to suggest that there won't be a special session in the immediate future.
  • At least a committee of 5 R's and 3 D's is an accurate reflection of the partisan breakdown of the Texas Senate.
  • We can't go into detail without burning sources, but some of the R's on that committee have been talking out of both sides of their mouth on the second amendment for a long time.
  • It might very well be for the best, but considering that he's the Senator who represents Odessa, for Patrick to not include Seliger is insanely petty.
  • Pray for Kelly Hancock.
    • For real y'all.
  • Bryan Hughes taking over State Affairs might have positive implications over the longer run.
Bottom Line: Nothing good is coming out of this process....

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

#TXLEGE: Bonnen's "Select Committee on Mass Violence prevention" is a Rogue's Gallery


"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

YIKES:

That list...pretty much speaks for itself.

A couple of these can be justified due to geography.  Specifically, Joe Moody and Cesar Blanco are from El Paso.  So those are understandable.  Likewise, Brooks Landgraf from Odessa.

Still...Poncho?!?  Julie Johnson?!?  Disproportionate Democrat representation?!?

[sarc]We're sure Chairman Drew Darby, Charlie Geren, and Giovanni Capriglione won't sell out our rights. [/sarc]

Bottom Line: That this committee has an equal number of D's and R's despite a solid R majority tells you everything you need to know.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

#TXLEGE: Will Bonnen's scandals FORESTALL GUN CONTROL?!?


"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:9

For as much as we LOATHE Scott Braddock, this isn't a bad point:



Good.

The last thing we need right now is for the legislature to attempt to "be effective."

For as much as we should have a special session on things like so-called "sick leave" ordinances, election integrity, ending public subsidies for labor unions, and the new Austin homelessness debacle...none of those seem to be in the cards.  Thus, special sessions are dangerous right now.  Stay home lege.

If Bonnen's scandals are a catalyst for keeping the lege at home, so much the better.

Bottom Line: Unintended consequences can do strange, strange, things sometimes....

Monday, September 2, 2019

#TXLEGE: Schaefer makes OBVIOUS point; Demonic Hordes throw a tantrum


"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."
John 15:18

Following Saturday's shooting in Odessa, Matt Schaefer made a couple of comments on Twitter that should not be controversial.

Spiritual point:



Public policy point:





In other words: Evil acts are the result of sin.   Jesus' resurrection is the antidote to sin.  And gun control doesn't work and wouldn't have prevented a single one of the so-called "mass shootings."

And?!?

Honestly, however, believers should expect that reaction.

You cannot expect the world to understand the things of God.  You just can't.  While that's not the central point of the new testament, it's one of the 3 or 4 most important subpoints.

Bottom Line: Good on Matt Schaefer for earning himself some treasure in heaven.