Tuesday, March 31, 2020

TPPF, once again, BAILING OUT Texas GOP

"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?!?"
Matthew 20:15

Inbox this morning:
TPPF Wins Injunction Stopping Dallas Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
Federal Judge Holds Dallas Ordinance Violates Federal Constitution and Is Preempted By Texas Law

AUSTIN – A federal judge in Plano issued an injunction yesterday stopping the city of Dallas from enforcing its mandatory paid sick leave mandate that was set to go into effect on April 1.

“Once again, Texas courts are unanimous that it is unconstitutional for cities to mandate paid sick leave,” said Robert Henneke, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case and general counsel for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “These unlawful city policies improperly interfere with the rights of employees to negotiate their own terms of employment. Now is not the time for government to force burdensome regulations upon small business struggling to keep their workers employed and doors open.”

The court found that the plaintiffs had shown a likelihood that the Dallas ordinance violated their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and was also preempted by Texas state law.

The court ordered, “The City of Dallas’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, Dallas, Texas, Ordinance No. 31181; Municipal Code § 20-1–20-12, is ENJOINED and unenforceable. No officer, agent, servant, employee, attorney, or other person in active concert with the City of Dallas may enforce the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance against any business or entity pending the resolution of this case.”

State courts have previously issued injunctions stopping similar mandatory paid sick leave ordinances in both Austin and San Antonio.

Read the Dallas injunction order in full here:

We addressed this subject at length a couple of months ago (in the context of the San Antonio ordinance).  We can't add anything.  But we do recommend reading that post.

The TL,DR version is that the lege was supposed to address this last session.  They didn't.  The GOP, from Greg Abbott down, hasn't lifted a damn finger since.

So someone had to pick up the ball.

Bottom Line: Texas is likely to dodge this bullet, no thanks to an of our elected so-called leaders.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Inga Cotton and the Utter, Total, and Complete Failure of Murphy Naisica

"For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness,"
Hebrews 7:18

Last week, a friend was helping this author carry groceries into our apartment when he noticed the leftover Inga Cotton campaign mailers pictured above.  For context, we received those mailers during the final month of the primary.  This friend observed that "Inga Cotton raised [almost] $200 grand for campaign mailers to finish third, while [Robert Morrow] spent zero dollars to finish first."

The more we think about it, the more we realize that that's actually a really good point.

Which gave us a hunch.

Guess who was Cotton's primary campaign consultant:

Rather than doing anything effective, M-N funneled all that money Inga Cotton raised into friendly mail vendors.  And they literally lost to Robert Morrow.  It's pretty funny.

Bottom Line:  Could not happen to a nicer bunch of campaign consultants....

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Of course Texas Monthly shills for Fertitta....

"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life."
Galatians 6:8

Yesterday, we observed that Houston Rockets owner (and alleged rape enabler) Tilmann Fertitta was taking it on the chin during the current economic downturn.  This was in addition to Fertitta's well documented bootlicking on behalf of the Chinese government last fall.  At a minimum, this would seem to be poetic justice (esp. considering the China angle).

But you'll never guess who sees things differently (ok, you'll totally guess):

The article is little more than a Fertitta press release.  "Matter of survival", etc.  Softball stuff.

The tell is this line: "I haven’t had one negative comment to me." Really?!? Cuz' that means one of two things.  Either Fertitta is a) such a dictator that his employees don't feel comfortable being honest with him or b) a liar.  Neither is good.  That Texas Monthly failed to ask any follow up questions tells you what you need to know.  None of it good.

To be fair, the current climate is obviously very challenging.  And the time might very well come when Fertitta has to make difficult decisions.  But this isn't about Tilmann Fertitta's business decisions (at least, not really).  This is about Texas Monthly acting like glorified stenographers for Tilmann Fertitta.

Of course, considering that Texas Monthly has been euphemistically dancing around Fertitta's descent from organized crime since at least 1997, this isn't surprising.

One more point of cynical speculation: Considering that they're in perennial financial trouble...might that be another reason why they're sucking up to a local rich dude?!?

Couldn't be.

Bottom Line: This remains a free country (for now).  Tilmann Fertitta can certainly run his businesses however Tilman Fertitta sees fit.  Whatever.  For Texas Monthly to engage this sort of psuedo-journalistic knob slobbering, however, is distasteful at best.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Not Tilmann Fertitta....

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7

Silver linings:
Last month, on the Friday before the U.S. stock market recorded its worst weekly plunge since 2008, Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta was beaming.

As he prepared to host an annual Mardi Gras celebration at a beachfront resort outside Houston, business was booming, pushing his personal fortune to more than $5 billion.

A few weeks later -- after the Covid-19 pandemic brought the travel and leisure industry to a virtual standstill -- his casinos and restaurants are shuttered and burning cash, 40,000 of his employees are temporarily out of a job, and a third of his net worth has evaporated.

Few could have predicted the devastating impact that the coronavirus outbreak would have on the global economy. Any business exposed to leisure and entertainment is struggling. Yet Fertitta’s use of financial leverage to build his riches -- including the purchase of a basketball team -- now leaves his corporate empire particularly at risk.


Even the Houston Rockets, which he acquired for $2.2 billion in 2017 by saddling more debt on his other businesses, are sitting idle after the National Basketball Association suspended its season.

“We are doing basically no business,” the billionaire said in the interview. “I think there have been so many people laid off that it could take up to a year later until we are back to normal.”

Debt Damage

Against this backdrop, the nearly $5 billion of junk-rated debt that Fertitta saddled on Golden Nugget -- a holding company for his restaurants and casinos -- has now become an even bigger burden, amplifying the damage caused by every dollar of lost earnings. Junk, or high-yield, ratings are assigned to debt that is at higher risk of default.

Credit-rating company Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Golden Nugget one level to B3 on Tuesday because of the dramatic hit to earnings and rise in key debt ratios expected from the shutdowns imposed to contain the virus. It also warned that further rating cuts could follow if closures last longer than anticipated.

Debt investors are also getting anxious.

Golden Nugget’s bonds are already trading at deeply distressed levels, having plunged more than 50 cents since the beginning of the month. The company’s subordinated notes trade at 45 cents on the dollar, while more senior bonds trade near 49 cents, according to Trace pricing data.

Only two months ago, sentiment in the credit market was so robust that debt investors allowed Fertitta to double the size of a debt-funded dividend he was taking from the company to $200 million. Golden Nugget was also able to lower the interest rate on a $2.4 billion existing loan, which has since tumbled to around 60 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
To which We can only say:

Not Tilmann Fertitta!!!

Tilmann Fertitta, for those who don't remember, is the guy who:

  • As the afore mentioned owner of the Houston Rockets, spent the Fall of 2019 licking the boots of the Chinese government when the Rockets GM expressed support for Hong Kong protestors on Twitter.
    • Note: Considering Fertitta's disgraceful conduct re: China last fall, it would be even funnier if Fertitta ended up being one of the primary casualties of a virus that originated there.
  • Has acted callous at best towards his employees during the current crisis.
Also, fwiw, as Fertitta has worked his way up the list of 'people we don't like' in recent years, we've heard other gossip about Fertitta.  We're not going to pass along unconfirmed stuff.  Suffice to say, however, they're consistent with all of the public information about Fertitta's arrogance and selfishness.

Bottom Line: Nicer guy, couldn't happen, etc.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Paxton's so-called "Price Gouging" crusade keeping 750,000 Surgical Masks in Limbo

"He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow,
And the rod of his anger will fail."
Proverbs 22:8

This was completely predictable:
HOUSTON — As Texas Medical Center hospital workers and first responders are dealing with a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, there are 750,000 medical-grade masks sitting in a Houston warehouse in limbo.

The masks were up for auction until Tuesday when a stop was placed on their distribution due to allegations of price gouging by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The auctioneer said he is now caught in the middle and wants someone to tell him what he is supposed to do with nearly a million masks.


Worstell received a demand letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Office on March 20, instructing him to discontinue all sales of the masks.

The letter accuses Worstell of price gouging during an emergency.

Worstell said he has been calling the investigator to find out what he is supposed to do with all of the masks now that the auction is closed.

He said nobody will call him back.

“We’re just waiting on the attorney general’s office,” Worstell said. “Can we let these facemasks go to the people who desperately need them, or can we not?”

KHOU called the Texas Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday to find out what the auctioneer should do with the critical PPE now in his possession.

The AG's Office could not confirm or deny any ongoing investigations, a spokeswoman stated in an emailed response, which states the office has received a total of nearly 2,200 COVID-19-related price gouging complaints.

Worstell said he’s cooperated with the Houston Police Department which came to his business to create a report and take photographs.

Without answers, Worstell is sitting and waiting with 750,000 medical masks.
We took Paxton to task on this topic during Hurricane Harvey and stand by everything we said back then.

This time, however, is worse.  This crisis isn't going away for awhile.  And we're obviously going to need new suppliers to enter this space.  Paxton's actions are a GIGANTIC red flag for potential new suppliers.

It's what people in the business world call "political risk."

Bottom Line: Paxton tends to be one of the better elected officials.  But right now he's responsible for a politically created shortage of needed medical supplies.  Knock it off.  Now.


Texas Attorney General: (512) 463-2100
E-mail form.
Twitter: @KenPaxtonTX.

John Zerwas...what could POSSIBLY go wrong?!?

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Apparently, this is a buncha days old, although we only learned about it last night:

We can't think of a worse choice.

The biggest problem with Zerwas is that he's a card-carrying member of the Medical cartel.  He's an insider's insider.  You can learn more about his misdeeds here and here (scroll down to District 28).  To be fair, a lot of those misdeeds aren't directly relevant to the current situation...but it ain't reassuring.

What's really alarming about Zerwas, however, is that he's a gigantic proponent of the so-called Texas "Advance Directives Act" (aka. the Texas Death Panels act).  That's the law that allows hospital bureaucrats to cut off care whenever they claim it's "medically futile."  Obviously, that's a...vague standard at best.

In the (unlikely) event that, God forbid, Texas is looking at a worst case scenario, we can't think of anyone with less credibility that John Zerwas to approach this discussion.

Bottom Line:  Awful selection.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

#TXLEGE: Bettencourt Talks Sense

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

It's about time:

Honestly, there's not much more to say.

Crazy part is that has to be said in the first place.

While we're on the subject, kudos to Bettencourt for focusing on the relevant issues, and not falling into counterproductive sidetracks.

Bottom Line:  In a sane and rational world, Bettencourt's sentiments would be considered completely obvious.  Yet here we are.  At least one elected official hasn't gone over the cliff.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Cornyn and Patrick AREN'T HELPING

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

What would a public health crisis be without Texas politicians acting like retards?!?

Exhibit #1:
Hoo boy.

We get it: This virus started in China.  Once the virus was out, the Chinese government made the situation infinitely worse by covering it up.  Since then, they've launched an international disinformation campaign to brand discussion of these facts as racist.  These are all valid points.

Unfortunately, John Cornyn didn't make any of those points.

Instead, John Cornyn made a sensationalistic comment about a third or fourth tier issue that's not relevant at the present time.

Maybe it is the case that some of the...strange...Chinese culinary habits contributed to this outbreak.  Maybe it isn't.  It certainly is yet to be proved.  At best, it's speculative.

Even if that does end up being the case, however, for elected officials to engage such idle chatter is insanely reckless.

And don't get us started on this.

That being said, on the subject of Texas politicians acting like retards, it's hard to beat Exhibit #2:


Once again, there's a very valid discussion to be had over whether or not actions currently being taken by government are good or bad.  It's not exactly a secret where this website stands.  But there's a responsible way to make that point.  Lt. Dan's comment's ain't it.

Instead, Lt. Dan provoked a backlash that will, if anything, make it more difficult to get back to normal.  It certainly doesn't help the credibility of our statewide so-called "leadership."  Reckless, at best.

Sensationalistic dumbassery helps nothing.

Bottom Line:  At best, Cornyn and Patrick unleashed an...extremely poor ratio of backlash to substance.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Abbott Greenlights Local Absolutism (while dodging responsibility)

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."
James 1:12

Oh good grief:
Gov. Greg Abbott took multiple measures Sunday designed to expand hospital staffing and capacity in Texas, but declined to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order — even as calls for such an action increased as the new coronavirus continued to spread across the state.


But he did not order all Texans to shelter in place, noting that there are still many counties in the state without confirmed cases and that he wants to see the full impact of an executive order he issued Thursday.

In the meantime, he welcomed local officials to take more restrictive action than he has statewide. Within two hours, Dallas County was the first local jurisdiction to do so by ordering all residents to stay at home if they were not doing certain essential activities.
The actual statute under which these alleged powers allegedly reside is insane: "The presiding officer of the governing body of an incorporated city or a county or the chief administrative officer of a joint board is designated as the emergency management director for the officer's political subdivision....An emergency management director may exercise the powers granted to the governor under this chapter on an appropriate local scale."  Meanwhile, Steve Adler and Sylvester Turner are going to determine "appropriate local scale."  What could possibly go wrong?!?

On a certain level you do have to stand in awe of how Abbott insulated himself politically.  Abbott gets his photo op.  When these local lockdowns predictably backfire, however, Abbott's going to shuffle off blame to the local officials.  In a cynical way, it's kinda brilliant.

Bottom Line: Woe unto all of us....

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Texas Democrats Exploiting Coronavirus as pretext for "Vote By Mail" Power Grab

"Do not remove the ancient landmark,
Nor enter the fields of the fatherless;"
Proverbs 23:10

PushJunction this morning:
RUNOFF ELECTIONS in Texas have been pushed to July. The move was telegraphed early in the day on Friday by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the Mark Davis radio show.

Before the ink was dry on the Governor's later afternoon proclamation, Democrats sued to expand balloting by mail, a predictable move and tasteless power grab during the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis.

Democrats, without a path to victory, must resort to protecting and expanding vote harvesting and illegal voting when possible. They've sued the state multiple times to try and accomplish this task.

So-called "ballot by mail" is a wretchedly terrible idea.  Learn why here.  But the TL,DR version is that so-called "ballot by mail" is the fastest path to make politiquerias a statewide, rather than a regional, thing.

Bottom Line: No thank you.

Friday, March 20, 2020

TPPF's "Recovery Agenda" Good Place to Start

"But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

All of this please:

Additional thoughts:
  • The federal stuff might be complicated, but there's no good reason for the state stuff to not happen.
  • There's a pretty good case to make for completely abolishing the FDA, although dramatically streamlining it might be a more realistic proposal.
  • "Eliminate regulations not necessary for public health and safety" = 90%(+) of all regulations.
  • Across all levels of government, MASSIVE, unprecedented, deregulation is the only way we'll be able to generate the levels of growth we'll need to climb out of this fiscal mess.
  • We're surprised efficiency audits weren't included on this list, because identifying pure waste ought to be step one for climbing out of this fiscal hole.
  • We're not sure why "Expanding Telemedicine" falls under the Texas legislature section, because it's our understanding that the primary obstacles are federal.
  • "Scope of practice" (ie. Allowing nurses to perform tasks traditionally performed by so-called 'licensed physicians') reform, if not outright abolition, should also be on this list.
  • Texas has had applications for Medicaid waivers pending since Dubya's final year in office.
Bottom Line: Most of this should have been done decades ago, but since that didn't happen, no time like the present.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

#atxcouncil: The Mother of All Judicial Rebukes

"Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear."
1 Timothy 5:20

In a ruling that could derail Austin’s rewrite of its land development code, a Travis County district judge voided two votes the City Council has taken so far on the changes.

The city has spent nearly eight years and more than $10 million trying to rewrite its land code – the rules that determine what can be built and where in Austin – in an attempt to allow more and different kinds of housing in the city.

The third and final vote was expected in late March or early April, but was delayed earlier this week because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Judge Jan Soifer ruled that the City of Austin violated local government code, when it failed to individually notify property owners of potential changes to the zoning of their land. Texas law requires municipal governments to do so, but the city had previously argued this did not apply in a comprehensive land code rewrite, equating it more to a policy change than smaller, targeted rezoning cases.

Soifer also ruled Austin homeowners have the legal right to protest changes to the zoning of their land under a citywide revision.

Under state law, property owners can challenge changes to the zoning of their own or nearby property. If they do so, a three-fourths vote of the local governing body is needed to veto that protest and let the new zoning go forward. In Austin, that means nine of the 11 City Council members would need to vote against any protests in order to stop them.
To understand how massive this is, you need two pieces of context:
  1. Judges in this town always bend over backwards to protect the government.
  2. Jan Soifer is a former chair of the Travis County Democrat party. 
This is unheard of.  You just had a Democrat judge, who's the former chair of the county Democrat party, rebuke an all-Democrat governmental body.  That's quite a statement about council's a) arrogance and b) lawlessness.

[Note: To understand how embedded Jan Soifer is within the local establishment, you can read her own bio in her own words here.]

Moving forward, this means that the LDC re-write is pretty much dead.  If the city doesn't appeal, they need nine votes (which they don't have) to pass it.  If the city does appeal, they need to clear both the Third Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court in time to pass it before January 2021.

Keep in mind: This is fully dead once the new council is sworn in in January.


Honestly, it's a shame that it had to come to this.  Because the status quo really is awful.  We need to dramatically streamline (if not eliminate) the land use development code.  But nothing currently under consideration would have achieved those objectives.

So it's best to let the whole thing die.

Way better to start over in January (hopefully with a council that has a different ideological makeup).

Bottom Line: This is easily the least bad realistic outcome we were going to see under the current council.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

#atxcouncil: Leaving Homeless Encampments in Place (while Shutting Down the Rest of Us)

"If a ruler pays attention to lies,
All his servants become wicked."
Proverbs 29:12

Because of course:

[Note: For those who are (blissfully) unaware, Austin Sanders is the city hall correspondent for the Austin Chronicle.]

Is this a joke?!?

At a time when 90% of the city is shut down due to a mayoral edict...they're going to allow homeless encampments to remain in place?!?

No, really...is this a joke?!?

We said our piece on this topic when they shut down #Sx, but it bears repeating:  Under normal circumstances, we think the so-called 'public health' claims about homeless encampments are exaggerated.  The real issue with the encampments is the petty crime and general unsightliness.  In the current situation, however, homeless encampments ought to be the first place you look to shut down transmission of infectious diseases.

Instead, those are the one place that will be left completely alone.


Bottom Line: Par for the course with this city council, but still....

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Statesman makes ASININE attack on Chip Roy

"Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool lays open his folly."
Proverbs 13:6

Editorial this morning:
Once again we find ourselves wondering: Who is U.S. Rep. Chip Roy representing?


With his vote over the weekend against a major coronavirus economic relief package, Roy chose hollow posturing over helping constituents. Thankfully the petty opposition by Roy, a Republican congressman for northern Hays and southern Travis counties, did not kill the measure, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support and now awaits Senate approval.


Roy protested that the package, hammered out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was unveiled shortly before the vote, with no opportunity for members of Congress to amend it. Certainly those circumstances are less than ideal. They also reflect the difficulty of the moment, with leaders of opposing parties racing to craft a relief package in the face of a public health emergency.


Reasonable debates continue over funding priorities and the reach of government. But when Americans are hurting, we expect members of Congress to set aside partisan squabbling and push for the greater good.
How silly.

Apparently, according to the Statesman, members of Congress actually knowing what's in the bill is "hollow posturing."  What else is there to say?!?  Pretty much speaks for itself.

But what's even more astounding is how the Statesman takes every single claim made by the government at face value.

On what planet does the government, as it actually exists in the real world, deserve that level of benefit of the doubt?!?

Bottom Line:  It's just astounding how, after every time we've been burned by the government rushing through major policy changes under the guise of crisis over the past 20 years, that an alleged watchdog organization would object to basic due diligence.


Bonus: How much do you want to bet that the Statesman will (correctly) cry bloody murder if council tries to do the exact same thing with the land development code re-write.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Gohmert is Completely Correct

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

Good for him:
A U.S. House-passed package intended to deal with the coronavirus faced serious jeopardy, including a potential delay caused by a Texan, as the Senate anticipated addressing the legislation Monday.

The bill faced trouble in several directions, but U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, is putting up an initial roadblock. House leaders are sorting out what they describe as "technical corrections" on the bill. Gohmert is demanding the revised legislation be read on the floor, per multiple reports.

Most House members returned to their districts over the weekend. The changes could glide through that chamber without their return if no present members object to a motion to unanimously consent to passing the bill. But if there is an objection, all House members must return to Washington to pass the bill — a process that could take days.

"We still do not have a final draft of the negotiated changes being called 'technical corrections' and some of us believe that the newly worded laws should be finished before we pass them. #CoronaVirus," Gohmert tweeted Monday afternoon.
Honesty, this isn't difficult.

Bottom Line: Having a final draft of legislation ready, so that members actually know what they're voting on...what a novel concept!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Troxclair charts sane, rational, path forward for Women in Politics (especially Conservatives)

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

We attended TPPF's book talk this afternoon for Ellen Troxclair's new book: "Step Up!: How To Advocate Like A Woman."  Troxclair's book is a mix of her personal story and a call to action for younger, conservative, women.  She adds a desperately needed perspective to an important discussion that is far too frequently discussed far too poorly.

Troxclair opens by discussing how few women have served in elected office over the years.  Even more staggering is how much fewer that number is for conservative women.  This has the practical effect of surrendering the argument before it's even made.

Troxclair tells her own story about being "a poor capitol staffer who was fed up" watching council misgovern Austin.  She decided to run when she realized the other candidates in the race weren't up to the task.  It was going to be her or nobody.

Thankfully, she ran.

One fascinating point Troxclair brought up was the "confidence gap" between women and men.  Whereas Men will give something a shot if they think they've got a 60 to 70% shot of success, women will tend to hesitate unless they're 100% confident.  This has the effect of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where, because women are more risk-averse than men, fewer of them tend to run, which repeats they cycle.  Rinse, lather, repeat.

If there's one shortcoming in the presentation, it's the degree to which Troxclair might not realize the degree to which she's a political unicorn.  Regardless of gender, the one thing we desperately need are elected officials who a) can speak in more than just cliches and b) who will follow through on their campaign promises once in office.  We've been watching politics for a long time, and Ellen Troxclair is pretty unique on those grounds.

Bottom Line:  This is an important discussion.  Unfortunately, it far too frequently devolves into buzzwords, cliches, and stereotypes.  This doesn't do that.  Kudos to Ellen Troxclair for charting a course towards a productive solution.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

#TXLEGE: (Ex-Senator) Carona's kid Arrested for Child Sexual Assault

"Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."
Romans 12:19

Via D Magazine:
On Tuesday, our sister publication Preston Hollow People broke the news that Kristin and Jeffrey Carona had been arrested in January on two counts of child sexual assault. Jeffrey also faces one count of possession of child pornography. He, of course, is the son of one of the most prominent people in town, a man who has appeared on the cover of D Magazine. That would be former state senator John Carona.

The news is gross and bizarre and shocking. It’s also, after two days, not anywhere else but in Preston Hollow People. Turns out that the best time for news to leak out that you’ve been busted for child sexual assault and child porn is during the early stages of a pandemic.
Jeffrey Carona, in case you've forgotten, is also this guy:
Four years ago Dallas businessman Wallace Hall, a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, uncovered evidence, confirmed in a later third-party investigation, of deep-rooted admissions cheating at UT Austin and the UT law school.


Reporter Jon Cassidy of Watchdog.org developed a database of UT law grads in 2006-13 who failed the bar exam in multiple tries and came up with the following interesting detail:

“Of nearly 2,700 UT Law grads,” Cassidy reported, “just 197 needed to retake the test. I found 90 who failed it twice. And I found 29 who failed it three times or more.

That last group of 29 included Zaffirini’s son Carlos, as well as Jeffrey Carona, son of Republican state Sen. John Carona, and Ryan Pitts, son of Rep. Jim Pitts, the House Appropriations Committee chairman. It also included these five: a lobbyist who’d worked for House Speaker Joe Straus, a legislative director, the former chief of staff for a congressman, the son of a major Zaffirini donor and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.”
Pretty crazy.

Obviously, right now these are still allegations.   Nothing has been proved.  And knowledge is limited to reports in a couple of hyperlocal sources.

We're nervous about publishing allegations like this this early in the process.  But part of this website's DNA is to amplify stories that aren't getting sufficient coverage.  This can't get buried in this so-called "Coronavirus" nonsense (although you do have to love the irony of the overlapping names...even if they're spelled differently).

[Note: Maybe, just maybe, the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tribune ought to cover this story.]

Furthermore, for the DA in Dallas county to pursue formal charges on something like this against someone from this prominent of a local family speaks volumes.

That being said, for charges like this to follow on the heels of Jeffrey and John Carona's known involvement in the UT admissions scandals of five years ago suggests a level of entitlement often seen in political circles.

Nevertheless, one still hopes that somehow, someway, this is a gigantic misunderstanding.ex
Bottom Line: Yikes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

#TXLEGE: Lt. Dan Thinks You've Forgotten History

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20


[Note: Due to formatting issues, we can't provide a link, but this was an e-mailed press release from the Lt. Governor's office yesterday afternoon.]

Some of the least-qualified graduates of the University of Texas School of Law in recent years have high-level connections in the Legislature, which may explain how they got into the prestigious law school in the first place.

A months-long Watchdog.org analysis of political influence on the admissions process at UT Law found there’s some truth, after all, to the old line about who you know mattering more than what you know. We found dozens of Longhorns who don’t know enough to be lawyers but know somebody important in the Legislature.

Two of those mediocre students are legislators themselves.

Some have connections to the leadership circle of House Speaker Joe Straus, others to powerful state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, who’s already been caught three times trying to pull end runs around the admissions process.


At least 12 of the students have roots in Laredo, home of state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, who is known to have pulled strings on behalf of other applicants. As Laredo has just 2 percent of the state’s population, it’s highly over represented in this sample.


Of the nearly 2,700 UT Law students to take the exam since 2006, only 29 have failed it three times or more. Thirteen made our list for closer inspection, and seven of those have ties to Laredo.

Among the 13 are Carlos Manuel Zaffirini Jr., the state senator’s only son, and Jeffrey Carona, the son of Republican state Sen. John Carona. Sen. Carona has donated some $31,043 to Zaffirini’s campaign in recent years, in addition to undisclosed sums his company paid her as a “communications consultant.”


Among the Laredo-connected bar failures are two brothers whose father is a top city health official who has worked with Zaffirini on state-funded projects. Another needed six tries to pass the bar and another passed on his fifth try.

Since this last graduate’s family has donated more than $52,000 during the years to Zaffirini, we asked the senator’s office whether the senator’s law school support was mercenary or a matter of family connections.

Zaffirini spokesman Will Krueger emailed us on March 7 to say the man’s “family and the senator’s family have been friends for at least three generations — on both his mother’s side of the family and his father’s side.”
Sounds like a great candidate for the higher ed. committee.


Bonus: To fully understand how far Patrick's fallen, see here.

Bottom Line: Scandal?!?  What scandal?!?  Lt. Dan don't see no scandal.  Besides, that was sooo five years ago.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

#TXLEGE: Matt Krause should run for Speaker

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

We've been nursing a thought for awhile.  We had been planning to wait until after the runoffs to make it public.  But with Dennis Bonnen trying to rewrite history, now is as good a time as any.

Matt Krause is the best choice to run for speaker out of the entire Republican caucus.

There are a number of reasons why.  We don't pretend this list is comprehensive.  However, a few:

  • Trustworthy -- Next session, the biggest challenge for whomever is speaker will be regaining the trust of the members.  That's Krause's best attribute.  Easily.

    Whatever else you want to say about Matt Krause, he's the same guy in private that he is in public.  Once Matt Krause tells you something, he sticks with it.  On those rare occasions when Matt Krause changes his mind, he'll explain why.

    One thing Matt Krause will not do is tell you what you want to hear to your face, then stab you in the back.

    Imagine, for example, you're someone like a James Talarico.  Bonnen pretended to mentor him.  Then it turned out Bonnen was lying the whole time.  If you're James Talarico (or someone similar), even if you're not aligned with his personal politics, the case for someone whose private actions are consistent with their public words is pretty obvious.
  • Everybody likes him -- Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but the fact remains that it is.  The members elect the speaker.  Like it or lump it.

    We've never met a member, in any faction or either party, who has anything but kind words for Matt Krause personally.  They might disagree with him on issues.  But members tend to hold him in universal esteem.

    Yes, it's dumb.  No, it shouldn't matter.  But that's just reality.
  • Reasonably Conservative -- Obviously, his record took a hit this past session.  But the overall body of work remains solid.  Krause is certainly the most conservative member who checks the two other boxes listed above.
  • Experience -- Next session will be Matt Krause's fifth, which is more than enough to know what you're doing.
That's not to say that we're always enamored of him.  Obviously, it's not a secret that this website spent most of last year ripping on Krause's primary legislative accomplishment.  We don't necessarily think Krause makes the best decisions.  Operating within reality, however, that's probably an acceptable tradeoff.

Bottom Line: Can you name anyone else who does a better job checking those four boxes?!?

Monday, March 9, 2020

#TXLEGE: Flynn returns to the Lobbyist Trough

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


Honestly, what else is there to say?!?

The whole knock on Dan Flynn is that he's been going native for about a decade.

Wednesday confirms the trend.

Still kinda gross.

Bottom Line:  Not surprising (but still revealing).

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Panic Mongering Idiocy

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

By now now you've heard about #Sx being cancelled:  This is one of the dumbest-assed overreactions in ages.

Panic sells.  Media business models are based upon hysteria.  That's why they've been shoving this down our throats the past couple weeks.

But that doesn't excuse our local "leaders" from caving to it.

Who remembers "Ebola in Dallas" from 2014?!?  Exactly.  You don't remember it because the whole thing blew over in a month.  The same thing's going to happen here.

The great raging irony, of course, is that there probably are genuine threats to public health (*) in Austin.  They come from the festering homeless population.  Yet the same so-called "leaders" currently running around like chickens with their heads cut off won't change that insanity.

Don't get us started on traffic fatalities.

Bottom Line:  Hysteria wins.


* - Those threats are, likewise, probably somewhat exaggerated.  The real issue with our skyrocketing homeless population is the increase in petty crime.  But the basic point about that being a real problem, as opposed to this overhyped nonsense, stands.

Friday, March 6, 2020

George P. Bush, Dan Patrick, and the soft bigotry of low expectations

"The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,
But the heart of the fool does not do so."
Proverbs 15:7

Inbox yesterday:

But here's the thing: Patrick's not wrong.  And that's completely depressing.  Because that's probably good enough to get Dan Patrick through the next election cycle.

It's not a secret that George P. Bush is looking at a primary against Patrick.  It's also not a secret that Bush has been awful on the subject of the Alamo.  So all Patrick needs to do is be less terrible than Bush on that one subject and his re-election is probably pretty safe.

Soo...cheers to Patrick.  We guess.  Ugh.

Bottom Line:  In comparison to the truly awful, we suppose the merely mediocre is better.  But that's not to say it's good.  Sadly, that might be the best our political system can do.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Quasi-Republican wins DEMOCRAT Travis County District Court primary (over hack incumbent)

"You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous."
Deuteronomy 16:19

This is pretty funny:
There will be at least four new district judges in Travis County after final results of the 2020 primary election came in early on March 4.


In the 353rd district court, Madeleine Connor defeated Tim Sulak, the incumbent serving in that position since 2011 in a closely contested race, winning by fewer than 2,000 votes. Connor received 50.6% of the vote to Sulak's 49.5%.

Sulak built an early voting lead of more than 6,000 votes in early voting, but Connor's election day margin of 48,514 votes to Sulak's 37,652 was enough to give her a narrow victory.

Both Wahlberg and Sulak were endorsed by a majority of respondents to the Austin Bar Association and Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association preference poll.
If you've been around awhile, you'll remember Madeline Connor. She ran for the Third Court of Appeals as a Republican in 2012. She lost to Scott Field, who was subsequently a victim of the Democrat wave in 2018.

We're not really sure what to say.  Connor seems to have...issues.  The Statesman did a write up of her and her campaign about a month ago.

Reading the Statesman article, it seems that Connor has voted in both parties primaries.  And that she's run for office multiple times in each party.  There's nothing necessarily wrong with that.  Although we remember Connor running around in 2012 and telling anyone who would listen that she was Ms. Tea Party.  She now claims that judicial positions should be "non-partisan."  At a minimum, that suggests a certain lack of convictions.  Telling people whatever they want to hear in order to obtain elected office doesn't exactly suggest a strong judicial temperament.

On the other hand Tim Sulak, the incumbent, is a hack.  We have a very specific reason from 2013 why we don't like him.  So we're happy to see him lose.

It's impossible to know why this happened.  Although it's a Democrat primary, and the female candidate defeated the male incumbent.  Identity politics is probably a good guess.  But it's just a guess.

Bottom Line: Pretty funny.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

GOP reaps COMPLETELY PREDICTABLE consequences of helping Robert Morrow build Name ID

"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Galatians 6:7


Only one appropriate reaction:

This was so OBVIOUSLY and COMPLETELY Predictable.

It began with that idiotic anti-Robert Morrow resolution the Travis County GOP passed six weeks ago.

At the time, nobody knew Robert Morrow was even running.  By passing that moronic resolution, the Travis county GOP gave Robert Morrow a week and a half of press coverage.  Political consultants have a phrase for that phenomenon: Earned Media.

The Travis county GOP gave Robert Morrow earned media in spades (including this gem).

Where this failure becomes really hilarious, however, is when you consider the fundraising for Robert Morrow's strongest challenger:

In a race where one candidate was getting tons of earned media, and the other candidate only raised $17 grand, the geniuses at the GOP decided to...help the candidate they didn't want to win get even more earned media.

Way to go geniuses.

Imagine an alternative world where, rather than spending the last six weeks helping Robert Morrow build name id, the GOP had poured $100 grand into helping Robert Morrow's strongest opponent build his or her own positive name ID.

You'd probably be looking at a different reality this morning.

[Note: We don't really want to get into it...but maybe, just maybe, Robert Morrow is the just desserts for 57 years of the Texas establishment's refusal to discuss the biggest open secret in the history of this corrupt state.]

[Note II: Just sayin'.]

Bottom Line: This was so completely preventable...but for the GOP to completely fail to prevent it is likewise completely hilarious.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020


"And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity."
Ecclesiastes 2:19

Today's primary day...whoop de frickin' doo.

You're probably going to be hit up by people pitching cheap, sentimental, claptrap.  Your "Patriotic duty" or some such nonsense.  Maybe something about veterans. 

Whatever.  97%(+) of the people who win today are going to suck within five years.  90%(+) are going to suck from the second they're sworn in.

Now, look, we're not saying don't vote (although we can't justify spending more than ten minutes in line).  Especially if you live somewhere where there's an open primary for state rep or Congress.  Furthermore, there are plenty of people running you should vote against (Kay Granger and Delia Garza come to mind).

But if you do choose to vote today, do so with very, very, very low expectations.

Cuz' you're gonna be disappointed with 97%(+) of these clowns.

In other words:

Do what works best for your schedule.

Bottom Line: Keep your expectations very low....

Monday, March 2, 2020

Cuellar probably wins big (if the results are close, however....)

"Do not remove the ancient landmark,
Nor enter the fields of the fatherless;"
Proverbs 23:10

The Texas Observer has a write up on the Democrat primary in CD-28.  Interesting read, but mostly what you'd expect.  This nugget about Henry Cuellar's 2006 race...however...stands out (rather significantly):
While Cuellar may have been viewed as a turncoat by plenty of Democrats, many in Laredo were eager to have their first hometown congressman in 20 years. Laredo was becoming a verifiable boomtown thanks to its lucrative trade and energy industries, and business leaders wanted a champion in Congress.

Cuellar, who had nurtured relationships with the region’s power brokers and business elite for nearly 20 years, was the perfect fit. As he ramped up his primary campaign, he tapped into a ready-made coalition of Webb County’s bankers, ranchers, oil and gas barons, and trading moguls who eagerly pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into his coffers. Cuellar said he was better equipped to represent the new district and often quipped on the trail that “Ciro has done zero.”

Rodriguez won by a razor-thin margin of 145 votes, but Cuellar demanded a recount. Election officials found nearly 500 new votes in Webb County and neighboring Zapataenough to swing the election in Cuellar’s favor. The batch of new votes immediately prompted suspicions of vote tampering, evoking comparisons to the infamous “Box 13” ballot-stuffing scandal in South Texas that helped Lyndon Johnson win his 1948 Senate race. “There is no way on God’s green earth that 177 ballots showed up for Cuellar [in Webb County] and zero for Rodriguez,” Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said at the time. “You have to look at this as one that will go down in Texas lore as a stolen election.”

Cuellar’s campaign declared victory. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit alleging voter fraud, which the courts eventually shot down. When all was said and done, Cuellar had eked his way into Congress by a margin of 58 votes.

Laredo had itself a congressman.

[Note: Emphasis added.]

We said our piece about this race back in August.   We stand by it.  The TL,DR version is that we suspect, in a district that contains 70% of the Eagle Ford shale, Jessica Cisneros' support for the Green New Deal will play very poorly.

Thus, we suspect Cuellar wins fairly easily.

That being said, "we suspect" is not the same thing as "guaranteed outcome."

In the event this race does end up closer than expected, would anybody put...shenanigans...past the vote counters in Laredo?!?

We certainly wouldn't.

Bottom Line:  Keep an eye on this race tomorrow night.