Monday, September 30, 2019

#TXLEGE: Lang's Hamlet Act Encapsulates EVERYTHING Wrong with so-called "Freedom Caucus"

"And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word."
1 Kings 18:21

State Rep. Mike Lang is running for reelection after all.

The Granbury Republican announced Wednesday he would not seek another term and would instead run for Hood County commissioner. But on Friday evening, he told a crowd in the county that he had reversed his decision.

Lang serves as chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
For crying out loud.

This author has no specific knowledge of Mike Lang's personal situation.  Maybe it makes sense for him to hang 'em up.  Maybe it doesn't.  But there's no way it made sense on Wednesday, but didn't on Friday.

Which means Lang must not have thought his decision through.

Unfortunately, half-assed indecision from the so-called "Freedom caucus" is nothing new.

More unfortunately, it continues.

Bottom Line: When you change their positions every five minutes, you shouldn't be surprised when nobody takes you seriously....

Saturday, September 28, 2019

DMN Takes Mark Cuban's Word for It

"I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say."
1 Corinthians 10:15

This story is a week and a half old, although it didn't come onto our radar until yesterday:
As anniversaries go, this isn't one the Mavericks organization is likely to celebrate.

Acknowledge? Yes. Quietly commemorate it as a time for reflection? Absolutely.

No one can change the reality that last Sept. 19 was one of the most painful days in Mavericks history. But one year later, by all indications, the organization is mended if not healed.

"We've literally turned the corner," Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall says.

A year ago Thursday, ESPN viewers watched Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's at-times tearful response to a seven-month investigation that confirmed "numerous instances" of sexual harassment and other improper conduct within his franchise's business operations.

None of the transgressions, which spanned two decades, were basketball-related, but the entire organization was stigmatized as the #MeToo movement's NBA poster boy.

Fortunately for Cuban and the franchise, he hired former AT&T senior vice president and chief diversity officer Marshall in late February 2018, days after Sports Illustrated exposed the Mavericks' "corrosive workplace culture."

Marshall soon devised and began implementing her 100-day plan to cleanse and transform the Mavericks' business operations, months before the independent investigation concluded.

"She has completely revolutionized the culture of the business side of the Mavs," Cuban says. "Her imprint is in every part of the business. We have improved in every facet, and she deserves the credit."
The DMN "article" (if you can call it that) goes on to discuss several things Mark Cuban and people employed by Mark Cuban claim that Mark Cuban has done to address this situation.  Basically, Cuban hired bureaucrats and used financial donations to check off diversity boxes.  Most noteworthy, at least according to the DMN, Cuban doesn't appear to have fired anybody.

To be clear: This author has no specific knowledge of the internal operations of the Dallas Mavericks.  Given the nature of the problem, we certainly hope everything Cuban claims is true.  One thing we do know, however, is that billionaires frequently pitch self-serving stories to the press.

We don't begrudge a reporter picking up a story they've been pitched, but in such a situation the reporter should independently verify any claims.  The DMN piece doesn't.  It's a glorified Mark Cuban press release.

Furthermore, in this situation, there's another factor.

It's not a secret that the DMN is in financial trouble.  It's also not a secret that Mark Cuban is a local rich guy.  This author has heard rumors about Cuban buying the DMN on more than a few occasions.  For an organization in perennial financial trouble to accept the claims of a potential financial savior at face value...doesn't look good.

Especially not on a subject this serious.

Bottom Line:  Mark Cuban may or may not have fixed the Dallas Mavericks' internal cultural problems in the way Mark   claims.  We certainly hope so.  But in such a situation, no credible outlet should accept Mark Cuban's claims at face value.

Friday, September 27, 2019

#TXLEGE, #TribFest19: Legislators Unwilling to Sue Abbott over Plumbers Board

"The wicked flee when no one pursues,
But the righteous are bold as a lion."
Proverbs 28:1

[Note: Learn about Greg Abbott's executive order 'extending' the Plumber's Board here; see our commentary here.]

We spent part of today at TribFest.  The formal programming was what you'd expect.  But we had an interesting sideline conversation.

Apparently, there's been an examination of legal remedies to Greg Abbott's executive order 'extending' the Texas Plumbing board.  The strongest legal argument is separation of powers (ie. Abbott usurped authority the Texas Constitution grants the legislature).  The problem is that members of the legislature are the only ones with standing to sue.

At least to this point, no member of the legislature is willing to put their name down as the plaintiff.

Arif Panju of the Institute for Justice outlined in July:
Unlike the U.S. Constitution, our state constitution contains a separation of powers clause, which is essential to protect individual liberty. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recognized on June 20 in Gundy v. United States, “there can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person.” Simply put, the legislature can pass and sunset laws. The governor cannot do either.

If the Legislature could pass off its legislative power to the executive branch, the separation of powers enshrined in Article II, Section 1 would be rendered meaningless. By ignoring the Texas Constitution’s separation of powers to resurrect the plumbing board and licensing via executive order, the governor ignored both a bedrock principle of constitutional governance and a growing, bipartisan consensus on the harmful burdens imposed by occupational licensing.
Unfortunately, without a plaintiff, there's not a lot outside groups can do.

Of course, this should surprise precisely nobody.

Bottom Line:  Most politicians are cowards, Texas legislators are worse.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

#TXLEGE: Insufferable Senate Solipsists Waste Everybody's Time

"Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished."
Proverbs 16:5

[Note: If you care about the details, Lauren McGaughy of the DMN live tweeted the early part of the hearing here.  Her thread contains links to coverage of later parts.  Masochists can watch the full hearing here.]

[Note II: The definition for 'solipsism' is available here (see definition #2); the definition for 'pompous' is available here.]

It's mercifully over.

Today's initial hearing of the Texas Senate's interim committee on so-called "Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety" accomplished nothing.  Unless you consider an unintentional case study in ego and political grandstanding an accomplishment.  It delivered on that count.

DPS chief Steve McCraw was the hearing's primary witness.  This would be the same Steve McCraw who, earlier this year, bungled the state's voter roll eligibility review.  Honestly, that tells you everything you need to know.  Only in government could someone with Steve McCraw's recent record of grotesque incompetence not get fired.

A vignette: During his testimony, McCraw prattled on for several minutes about the alleged threat posed by incels.  Seriously, frickin' incels.  Obviously, incels are a demented sex cult.  But they're completely irrelevant.  Yet one of the top law enforcement officials in the state of Texas actually jabbered at the Texas Senate about this topic.  Even worse, the Senate took it seriously.  It was embarrassing (or should have been).

Also, this happened:

Apparently, Senator Nelson is unaware that Twitter is already a public forum.

Bottom Line: Obviously, recent events in El Paso and Odessa sucked.  That goes without saying.  Nevertheless, today's Texas Senate hearing was a reminder that showboating politicians rarely make things better after a tragedy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

#TXLEGE: Gonzalez and Springer Collude Against Public

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


So-called "water policy" is an ongoing act of larceny the state of Texas commits against its citizens.  You can read our full archive on the topic here.  Gonzalez and Springer continue this ignominious tradition.

[Note:  This one especially.]

As to the specifics of Prop. 2 this year, Texas Scorecard has details:


How it reads: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.”
What it means: The Texas Water Development Board will be allowed to issue bonds, and therefore go into debt, in order to continue financing water supply, sewer service, and drainage projects in economically distressed areas.
TFR Stance: Oppose Proposition 2
Our Reasoning: State-subsidized debt serves as a disincentive to properly prioritizing spending and distorts market forces.
Aka. Crony Capitalism.

What makes Prop. 2 particularly galling is that the lege got their so-called "water infrastructure development bank" in 2013.  But it's never enough.  Six years later (aka. long enough for voters to forget), they're asking for another slush fund.

[Note: We wonder who's gonna finance the relevant debt.]

Furthermore, there's a dirty little secret to which the lege hopes you never get wise: The state of Texas has plenty of water to meet all of its residential and commercial needs.  The only reason Texas has anything remotely resembling a water "shortage" is because we subsidize growing cotton (a water intensive crop) in the panhandle (an arid climate).  If rural cotton farmers paid market rates for water, it would change the game.

But, of course, a lot of that cotton is grown in Drew Springer's Springer wants the rest of us to pay.

We don't know how Gonzalez et. al. are getting paid, although history would suggest approaching this question with the most cynical lens possible.

Bottom Line: Government (with its attendant friends and cronies) never satisfies its appetite for other people's money.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Allred and Fletcher OBLIVIOUS to self-interest

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

They're joking...right?!?
WASHINGTON — All 13 Texas Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have indicated that they are open to impeaching President Donald Trump after recent reports that Trump asked the Ukranian president to investigate the business activities of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Six Texans jumped on board Tuesday. They were U.S. Reps. Colin Allred of Dallas, Lizzie Fletcher of Houston


"This Thursday, when the Director appears before the House Intelligence Committee, I expect that he will comply with the law and turn over the complaint to the Committee," Allred said in a statement. “If he does not, and this Administration continues to violate the law and obstruct Congress’s constitutional duty, I will be forced to conclude that the only remaining option is for the House to begin impeachment proceedings.”

The decisions by Allred and Fletcher to call for impeachment are particularly notable, given the swing seats they currently occupy. Both were elected in 2018, winning seats that had long been held by Republicans, and both are GOP targets in 2020.

Fletcher wrote in her own statement that the president's actions "represent a gross abuse of power and an abuse of the trust we the people have placed in the Office of the President."

"Consistent with the oaths of office we take, it is the responsibility of Congress to investigate these matters, and it is the responsibility of the administration to participate in that investigation: to comply with the law and the Constitution," she said. "The House of Representatives should act swiftly to investigate and should be prepared to use the remedy exclusively in its power: impeachment."
They can't be serious.

This author's feelings about the current president are well known, but we can't see how moving forward on this does anything other than blow up in its proponents faces.

We don't often comment on national stories, and we don't particularly want to do it here, but this alleged Ukraine story is preposterous.  Joe Biden's kid did a bunch of shady stuff with the Ukrainian natural gas company ("allegedly").  Joe Biden, as sitting Vice President, used the power of his office to bully the Ukrainians into shutting down their investigation.  Yet, for some reason, this is supposed to be grounds to impeach Trump?!?

Bottom Line: Good Luck with that, and good luck to Collin Allred and Lizzie Pannill Fletcher if they go along with it.

Monday, September 23, 2019

#TXLEGE: More Denial, Rationalization, from Lt. Dan

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

Hoo boy:
[Note: Lt. Dan's full interview is available here, although the tweet quoted above is all you need for this blog post.]

That's not good.

One example: How does one define the phrase "family member" for legal purposes?!?

Will "family member" be defined only as blood relatives?!?  If so, how many "drops of blood" will be required to qualify?!?  If not, will 'family members' via marriage be included?!?  If so, how does Obergefell factor into the definition of marriage (*) for purposes of this statute?!?   How about divorce?!?  We could go on, but you understand.  If defining the relatively simple phrase "family member" has this many unintended complexities, how will Lt. Dan ever define subjective phrases like "friend" and "stranger"?!?

Bottom Line: This will not end well....


* -- Imagine the mental gymnastics....

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Thoughts from the Upper Deck

"You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great."
Psalm 18:35

I wasn't the prettiest win, but it was the win we needed.

Tonight's victory over Oklahoma State at DKR was the first for the Longhorns since 2008.  As a matter of perspective, that's Colt McCoy's junior year.  Similarly, it was this author's first year in Texas.

Similar to last year's victory against K-State in Manhattan, this was a game the Longhorns HAD to win if the program had truly turned a corner.  They found that way.  That's the biggest takeaway.

Otherwise, some thoughts:
  • Sam Ehlinger is a danged stud.  His scramble for a first down to seal the victory blew this author's mind.  That's on top of his 4 TD's.
  • Keontay Ingram can chew yardage.
  • Jake Smith is one of the first Tom Herman recruits to come into his own.  There are going to be a lot more.  Soon.
  • The defense got better as the game went on and only gave up one touchdown in the second half.
  • That being said, bad punt coverage left the Longhorns unnecessarily vulnerable.
  • Oklahoma state's playcalling was atrociously bad in the fourth quarter.
  • Injuries starting to pile up on defense is cause for concern.  Still a year away from having that level of depth.  Bye week comes at a good time.

Friday, September 20, 2019

#TXLEGE: "Times"

"The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit."
Proverbs 14:8

A subtle, but insidious, sleight of hand:


It's a single word...that means everything.

The relevant standard is not population growth "times" inflation.  It's population growth PLUS inflation.  Addition, NOT multiplication.

When measuring spending, the rate of population growth PLUS the rate of inflation yields a meaningful number: The amount of total spending that will keep spending per person constant.

Population growth "times" the rate of inflation, by contrast, means nothing (*).  It sounds good, but it's completely worthless.  It's a form of gaslighting beloved by scoundrel politicians.

Apparently, Texas' GOP 'leadership' has now adopted the so-called "times" standard.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for an example of how indefensibly corrupt and intellectually bankrupt the GOP in Texas has become, I can't think of one much better.


* -- Except to give politicians excuses to spend.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fascinating Police Whistleblower Case in Tarrant County

"Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
James 4:17

We never signed up for the Texas Municipal Police Associations mailing list, so we're not sure why we received this press release, but WOW:
Texas Municipal Police Association Stands with
Tarrant County Whistleblower Chief Randy Baker
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Municipal Police Association stands in strong support of Chief Randy Baker who is currently fighting for his job, his livelihood, and his good name for blowing the whistle and exposing criminal activity and malfeasance by elected officials and government employees of the City of Blue Mound in Tarrant County.
Chief Baker was terminated July 2, 2019 after over a year of fighting against Mayor Alan Hooks and city staff over gross violations of state law and misappropriation of local tax payer funds and state grant money which culminated with his good faith effort to report this criminal conduct to the proper authorities. 
In a recent court filing against the City of Blue Mound under the Texas Whistleblower Act, Chief Baker makes the following statements of fact about the conduct of the City, its Mayor, and staff, which he reported to the proper authorities:
  • The City levied a property tax through the use of a Crime Control and Prevention District (CCPD) and while law requires it to be used specifically for police-related expenditures, these funds were instead added to the City's General Fund and spent accordingly. The City Secretary stated that this had been her practice since she started several years prior.
  • Additionally, the City Council, which serves as the board of CCPD is mandated to meet every two years to budget the tax dollars it levies with consultation from the Chief of Police for police-related expenditures. This had not been done for an unknown period of time.
  • Texas grants funds to departments called Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (LEOSE), which are to be used for the training and education of police officers. The City Secretary admitted that these funds had been used to fund the association membership dues of the previous chief. Additionally, no records exist documenting where the remaining funds received by the state were dispersed as required by law.
  • Mayor Hooks contracted for tree trimming services by an individual receiving benefits from Social Security Disability but paid the individual's spouse for the services so he would not have to claim the income and risk his benefits. Documents were falsified by City employees/officials to accomplish this.
  • This incident is under current criminal investigation by Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office.
On July 2, 2019, by a vote of 4-1, the City Council terminated Chief Baker sighting a "lack of confidence", even as Chief Baker's legal counsel warned them that such an action was in direct violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act.
TMPA demands the immediate reinstatement of Randy Baker as Chief of Police of the City of Blue Mound and all due compensation and benefits lost restored. 
When good men and women fight against corruption, especially in City Hall, it is our duty to stand up for them, and TMPA stands strong with Chief Randy Baker.
We don't have any specific comment related to this case.   TMPA's press release is the first we'd heard of it.  The Texas Monitor has more here and here.

We can envision plausible scenarios where either side is telling the truth.

Nevertheless, that's quite the series of allegations.

Bottom Line: We're not sure who, but it looks like somebody needs to go to prison here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Texas quietly rendering Saudi Arabia geopolitically Irrelevant

"He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord."
Psalm 33:5

This website hasn't done foreign policy in a long time, but this story is too good to ignore:
Half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production was torched over the weekend thanks to a drone strike.

It remains in question as to who is responsible for the attack — Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility, but U.S. intelligence is reported to believe Iran is ultimately behind it (and the President indicated this on Twitter, too).

Nevertheless, roughly 5.7 million barrels per day of oil are out of commission.

Had this happened a decade ago, the world might have spun into a frenzy. But after a Monday morning cost-per-barrel spike of 14 percent — which is largely being chalked up to uncertainty — prices dropped almost four percent.

Todd Staples, President of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, told The Texan, “Events like this are certainly meaningful and impactful but the good news for consumers is that hopefully the impact on price will be moderated somewhat, and that is largely due to the resurgence of the American energy industry.”

Saudi Arabia is responsible for roughly 12 percent of worldwide oil production. With half of that temporarily gone (Saudi Arabia said after the attack full production levels would return in two to three weeks time), America (18 percent) and Russia (11 percent) are the only producers remaining above five percent of worldwide production.

So why did this significant hit to worldwide oil production not result in a worldwide panic? Well, Texas likely has a lot to do with it.

“Without the vast supplies that the State of Texas has provided to energy consumers, it’s wild to think about the largest attack and disruption on [oil supply] in history — and yet the price impact has been pretty marginal,” Nick Loris, an energy and environmental economist with the Heritage Foundation told The Texan.
Put differently, innovation is changing geopolitical reality.

This is unambiguously good.


To be honest, the West Texas energy renaissance is the only reason to maintain Republican control of government (both state and federal).

For all of their other flaws, the GOP generally has the good sense to leave the energy industry alone.  Yesterday's news is the result.  Meanwhile, Democrats want to restore Saudi dominance.

On most issues, the difference between the parties is one of degree rather than kind.  Not energy development (with its geopolitical implications).  O
n energy, there really is a difference.

The GOP ought to tell that story.


To be fair, both John Cornyn and Glenn Hegar were quoted in the Texan article cited above.

It's a start.

They ought to do a lot more.

Because this is the only unambiguously good aspect of the GOP's record.


Bottom Line: We could use a lot more stories like these.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

#TXLEGE: Patrick falls deeper into denial, rationalization

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

Earlier this morning, Michael Quinn Sullivan wrote a short Twitter thread about constitution day.  Ok fine, whatever.   During the thread, Sullivan took a relatively tame jab at Dan Patrick's recent turn against the Second Amendment.

Which caused Lt. Dan's notoriously thin skin to return with a vengeance:

Guilty conscience, Lt. Dan?!?

Lt. Dan's supposition is, of course, preposterous.  Whatever one thinks about Sullivan's strategy re: the Bonnen audio, the notion that it's "destroying our party" has no basis in factJonathan Stickland explains:

Bottom Line: This farce would be entertaining if it weren't so serious.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Zimmerman's lawsuit is potentially VERY far reaching

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

By now, we assume you've heard about Don Zimmerman's latest lawsuit against the City of Austin:
On Wednesday, Don Zimmerman, a former Austin City Council member and current candidate for Texas House District 47, filed a lawsuit against the city of Austin over its budget amendment that provides $150,000 to assist women seeking abortions with logistical costs such as transportation.

The funds are intended by proponents of the bill to go to pro-choice organizations such as Fund Texas Choice and The Bridge Collective, which help women get abortions.

The lawsuit was filed the day after the city council approved the new budget and abortion amendment.
There's a lot that could be said about Zim's lawsuit, but we found the following section most interesting:
The city's expenditures, however, violate another Texas statute that imposes criminal liability on anyone who "furnishes the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purposes intended." 2A Texas Penal Code Article 1192, at 433 (1961).
Bottom Line: It doesn't take a genius to see the implications there.


Zim's full lawsuit:

Zimmerman v. City of Austin... by The Texan on Scribd

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

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.

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:


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

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.


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.


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.

"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"?!?


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


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:


  • 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....