Thursday, April 30, 2020

Christian completely correct about allowing free market to work re: Energy Prices


"Consider the work of God;
For who can make straight what He has made crooked?"
Ecclesiastes 7:13

Apparently, with the recent dip in oil prices, some really bad ideas are making a comeback.

Wayne Christian addresses one:
One solution proposed to my agency, the Texas Railroad Commission, is to “prorate” or limit the production of crude oil in Texas. That proposal will be considered at the May 5 meeting. The Commission adopted “prorationing” in the late 1920s, but abandoned the practice after 1973.

....

Over the last few weeks, I have thought long and hard over whether this is a direction Texas should take. A lot has changed since our state last prorated oil production. For example, in 1950, Texas controlled over 20 percent of the world's oil supply, today we control roughly 5 percent. Given this, a government mandate cutting oil production twenty percent across the board would not have a significant impact on worldwide oil supply. Furthermore, industry is already reducing production on its own. By allowing the free market to work, producers can determine for themselves what level of production is economical.

Virtually every major trade association has come out against this policy from the Texas Oil and Gas Association which represents small to large companies spanning every sector of the industry. The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers stated in its testimony against proration that a vast majority of its 2,600 members "employ 20 people or less." Diamondback Energy credited the competitive free market in allowing it to grow from 10 to 700 employees since 2007, and said it would halt all drilling in Texas if the state implements proration.

....

[T]he truly bold decision in governance is to not give in to pressure and to say no. Implementing an antiquated policy simply because it exists is not bold. I refuse to do something just to say I took action, because taking the wrong action can actually make things worse.
A few thoughts:

  • We weren't previously aware that this was even under consideration.
  • Over the long run, this would only handcuff Texas producers while helping all of the various petroleum producing global bad guys.
  • Most of the production cutbacks are already taking place, so-called "proration" would only make ramping back up in the future more difficult.
  • So-called "proration" removes the incentive to innovate.
  • We don't know with 100% certainty that this is the case, but we've heard that some of the bigger producers have escape clauses in some of their contracts that would kick in if the state took this action.
    • Note: Like we said, we don't know this with 100% certainty...but it would explain a lot.
Bottom Line: This would seem fairly obvious.  Yet, apparently, it isn't.  Kudos to Commissioner Christian for sticking to his guns.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Did Eric Johnson just throw Clay Jenkins under the bus?!?


"If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed."
1 Timothy 4:6

Well, this is certainly an interesting development:



Not sure what to make of this. Obviously, it would be easy to read too much into it. But still.

For infighting to break out between local officials in the same geographic area seems noteworthy.

Then there's this:



Bottom Line: This remains a fluid situation. So standard disclaimers obviously apply. Still, this degree of infighting is very, very, interesting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Will Abbott Ultimately be a Dead Armadillo?!?


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

While he is very liberal, former Texas Ag. Commissioner/Syndicated Columnist Jim Hightower once wrote a book about whose title we've been thinking in recent weeks:
There's nothing in the middle of a road but yellow stripes and dead Armadillos.
That's some advice Greg Abbott would be well advised to consider has he moves forward with this rather underwhelming "re-opening."

Because Abbott's already pissed off the stay-home-forever crowd.  Now, he's pissing of a not-insignificant part of his base.  He's creating a rather difficult needle to thread for himself.

If the virus stays reasonably contained, and the Texas economy bounces back in the second half of the year, Abbott might be able to maneuver through.

If both of those things don't happen, however, look out.  Cuz' Abbott's certainly planted a number of seeds in recent months that could germinate over time.  And that's before you get into what Abbott's passivity indicates for next session.

Bottom Line: The thing about trying to be all things to all people...is that you often end up becoming nothing to none.

Monday, April 27, 2020

#TXLEGE: This is what happens when you put Lobbyists in Charge


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

Meh:
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday said he will let the state’s stay-at-home order expire at the end of the month, and allow businesses to begin opening in phases in May.

First to open on Friday: Retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls. But they will only be allowed to operate at 25% capacity. Museums and libraries will also be allowed to open at 25% capacity, but hands-on exhibits must remain closed.

Abbott's order supersedes local orders saying those businesses must remain closed. But the reopenings are optional. Businesses can stay closed if they wish, Abbott said.

At the same time, Abbott said he is holding off on reopening certain businesses for the time being, including barbershops, hair salons, bars and gyms. He said he hopes those businesses can open "on or no later than mid-May."
Blah, blah, blah.

You're welcome to read the Trib's write up in full. There's more discussion on Twitter. But the TL,DR version is that Abbott's so-called "reopening Texas" order is a confused muddle.

Some businesses will be allowed to open under one set of standards this weekend.  Others will be allowed to open in two weeks under another set of standards.  Some businesses that were allowed to open last Friday under one set of standards, will have to adopt another set of standards this coming Friday, and might have to adopt a third set at some point in the coming weeks.  It's all quite confusing.

Of course, this is what happens when you put lobbyists in charge.  Some industries benefit.  Others, not so much.

On a very practical note: We pity anyone in the hospitality industry who has to navigate the line between "bar" and "restaurant."

But hey, as long as it props up the Governor's poll numbers.

Bottom Line: Chronic underperformance cannot continue indefinitely....

Saturday, April 25, 2020

West makes (half of) a good point


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

Allan West has a blog post about the Dennis Bonnen/Drew Darby/Mary Gonzalez triangle of the past few days:
Republicans in Texas Sucking up to the Left?

We have a Republican legislator, who is in a “leadership” position here in Texas, in dire need of our dubious “Stuck on Stupid” recognition. His name is Dennis Bonnen. What he has just done is most egregious in nature, and is the reason for the question posed as the title to this missive.

[Long description of Mary Gonzalez that can summarized by saying she's very liberal.]

This goes beyond being stuck on stupid, it is a special kind of stupid, and dangerous at that. Let me pose a question, does anyone believe that in California, their State Assembly Speaker would appoint a solid conservative to a major committee, such as Budget? Does anyone believe that in any blue controlled state legislative body, let’s say Virginia, that they would appoint a conservative to a key committee?

So, why is it here, in Texas, the preeminent constitutional conservative red state in America, that we have a Texas House Speaker taking this action?
West isn't wrong to ask the question.

It's about time somebody did.

If Texas' alleged incumbent "leadership" cares a whit about the long term future, that is a question for which they ought to have an answer.

That being said, the post also illustrates why we can't get too excited.  West is correct that placing Mary Gonzalez on LBB illustrates that the leadership of the Texas house has bad priorities.  But would Allan West really be happy with Drew Darby.

Because, if you're content with Drew Darby over Mary Gonzalez, that ain't gonna get Texas where it needs to go.

As we explained on Thursday, the biggest difference between Drew Darby and Mary Gonzalez is honest.  Yes, it's certainly true that Mary Gonzalez likes to spend taxpayer money for lots of dubious causes.  But Mary Gonzalez will at least tell you that to your face.  Drew Darby, on the other hand, will tell you what you want to hear to your face while undermining your position behind closed doors.

It's the difference between spending money on unions in El Paso vs. spending money on good ol' boys in San Angelo.

Neither is good.

Still, kudos to Allan West for breaching the subject.

It certainly warrants discussion.

Bottom Line: It's certainly the case that the so-called 'leadership' in the Texas house doesn't have the best priorities....

Friday, April 24, 2020

Why Abbott Can't Meet his Fundamental Challenge


"A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."
Proverbs 28:16

The Dallas Observer has an interesting write up about regulatory issues related to alcohol sales during the current government mandated shutdowns.  The whole thing is worth your time.  But one passage stands out:
April 17, the governor issued what he touted in national media as the first order reopening any state. He seemed very proud of being first. But as he has done with many issues, such as his alcohol and church service orders, he issues a bold press release that is followed with substantially less than was promised.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
The underlined part is the Greg Abbottest thing that Greg Abbott ever did Greg Abbott.

[Note: Especially because Greg Abbott put lobbyists and campaign contributors in charge of the so-called "re-opening."]

Beyond the specific regulatory issues related to alcohol sales, however, that half-sentence is interesting because it gets to the heart of what's plaguing Abbott: There's no way to make everyone happy.

At no point, certainly as Governor (and probably not as A.G. either), has Greg Abbott ever had to tell anybody "no."  Abbott has been able to give the good ol' boy/bidness-as-usual crowd most of the policy stuff they want, while using Fox News to toss his base empty calories flavored to resemble red meat.  We're rapidly learning that this strategy only works during times of plenty.

During times of scarcity, however, any decisions you make will inevitably piss someone off.  And, at least to this point, Abbott hasn't shown any willingness to do that.  So Abbott punts, and punts, and punts....

But here's the thing about punting: It only works as long as the defense holds up.

Abbott's defense, at least to this point, has always been a strong economy.

He doesn't have that anymore.

Bottom Line:  The diversionary tactics Abbott has used in the past seem, at least so far, to be poorly suited to a bad economy.  Time will tell if that holds up.  If it does, Abbott could be in for a very rough ride over the next few years.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

#TXLEGE: Bonnen replaces Dishonest, Unlikeable ,Liberal with Honest, Likeable, One


"Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another."
Ephesians 4:25

ICYMI:
AUSTIN – On Monday, Speaker Dennis Bonnen appointed Representative Mary Gonz├ílez to the Legislative Budget Board. “Thank you Speaker Bonnen for entrusting me with this opportunity to serve as a member of the Legislative Budget Board. I am humbled to carry on the work of Representative Drew Darby as a valued member of the Board and trusted voice for our rural communities,” Gonzalez shared.

“Our state’s budget at its core is a reflection of the values of all Texans. In the face of our current health and economic crisis, we will have an even bigger task to provide resources that prioritize working families, our seniors, and our children’s future. I look forward to joining the Board and continuing the work to achieve a fiscally sound budget that puts Texas families first.”

The Legislative Budget Board is a committee of ten legislators responsible for working with state agencies to form the preliminary state budget in advance of each legislative session.
There's been a decent amount of ink spilled about this move.  Texas Scorecard has a good summary of Gonzalez's record.  Likewise, Kyle Biedermann.

The criticisms tend to revolve around Bonnen replacing an alleged Republican with an open Democrat.  That's certainly true.  Bonnen really did do that and it's very valid to criticize him for so doing.

It's also very much the case that Darby was on Bonnen's list during this Michael Quinn Sullivan episode, and that Bonnen continues to play those games.

Still, it's hard to get too upset.

She's replacing Drew Darby.

Historically, Darby supported high property taxes until doing so became politically untenable.  He's never lifted a finger on spending.  Darby's career record on fiscal policy has been smoke and mirrors interspersed with occasional intervals of doing the bare minimum.

While it's absolutely true that Mary Gonzalez will pursue a pretty liberal fiscal policy, she'll also tell you the truth about that that's what she's doing.

That's not nothing.

Bottom Line: Neither one would be our first choice for this position, however...we understand the arguments.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

"Operation Save Texas" Moves on to Patrick


"Your princes are rebellious,
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves bribes,
And follows after rewards.
They do not defend the fatherless,
Nor does the cause of the widow come before them."
Isaiah 1:23

Inbox:
Operation: Save Texas
 Back to Work/Back to Liberty
Phase II
 
Thanks to all who contacted Gov. Abbott in Phase 1 of our “Operation: Save Texas” citizen action plan! If you didn’t get through on the phone, please keep trying! Try every day until you reach a staffer or the voice mail. We had thousands of calls going in yesterday!

Tuesday’s “painful to watch” Abbott press conference was nothing new. His task force is still working on “the plan.”  Missed it? See for yourself by clicking here.

What are other states doing?

Alabama released reopen plans last week. This Friday, Georgia opens these businesses:  gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, barbers, body art studios, nail salons, cosmetologists, hair designers, aestheticians and their respective schools, massage therapists. On Monday 4/27, theaters, private social clubs, and restaurant dine-in services reopen.

Missouri is the first state to file a federal lawsuit against China “for the enormous loss of life, human suffering and economic turmoil experienced by all Missourians from the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the entire world.”  Arkansas, which never had a stay-at-home-order, launched their economic recovery plan on April 18! What do Texans get? Prolonged suffering and loss of liberty!

Don’t you wish our Texas was leading?
Don’t give up! Make some noise!


Phase II | Operation Save Texas

Why are we doing this? 90% of Texans who contacted Grassroots America about getting Texans back to work and back to liberty had NOT called Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, their state legislators, or local officials (Mayor, Council Member, County Judge, County Commissioner)!

We need to fix that! Hurting Texas is depending on YOU!
 
Action #1
As always – with thankful hearts – pray for God’s mercy and protection. Ask Him to turn the hearts of our leaders toward His wisdom because it will always be for our good. Ask Him to bless and multiply your efforts, giving you favor on Action Steps #2 and #3!
 
Action #2
Let Lt. Governor Dan Patrick know that you support getting businesses open, health care services open for all non-COVID-19 patients, Texans back to work, back to church and back to liberty…not in two weeks, not in three weeks – but NOW.

If possible, use every method of communication below for a compounding, multiplier-effect! Remember – they work for you!

Call Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. These numbers were all working at 8 AM this morning:
Lt. Governor Message Line: (512) 463-5342
Lt. Governor Office Line: (512) 463-0001
Lt. Governor’s Chief of Staff, Darrell Davila (public #): (512) 463-0001
Lt. Governor’s Senior Policy Advisor, Sherry Sylvester (public #): (512) 463-2998
Email Lt. Gov. Patrick. Find the form by clicking here.
Email Lt. Gov. Patrick’s Senior Advisor:  Sherry.Sylvester@ltgov.texas.gov
Email Lt. Gov. Patrick’s Chief of Staff: Darrell.Davila@ltgov.texas.gov
Contact on social media:
Facebook @dan.patrick.texas
Twitter @DanPatrick
Instagram @danpatricktexas

Action #3
This step is critical! You must help spread this Call to Action to thousands of Texans!
Obviously, this blog post is how we're doing step three.

Bottom Line: You'll know it's working when he sends out a press release.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

(Abbott's Dithering Predictably Begets) "Operation Save Texas"


"Your princes are rebellious,
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves bribes,
And follows after rewards.
They do not defend the fatherless,
Nor does the cause of the widow come before them."
Isaiah 1:23

The least surprising news of the day:
We have three ACTION STEPS today and will send three more tomorrow!

90% of Texans who have contacted us about getting Texas back to work and back to liberty have NOT called Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, their state legislators, or local officials (Mayor, Council Member, County Judge, County Commissioner).

We need to fix that right now – TODAY!

Let’s get started! Please take these actions BEFORE the Governor’s 2 PM press conference today! (If you can’t get it all done before 2 PM, do what you can, when you can, but don’t be silent! Hurting Texans are depending on YOU!)
 
Action #1
As always – with thankful hearts – pray for God’s mercy and protection. Ask Him to turn the hearts of our leaders toward His wisdom because it will always be for our good. Ask Him to bless and multiply your efforts, giving you favor on Action Steps #2 and #3!
 
Action #2
Let the Governor know that you support getting businesses open, health care services open for non-COVID-19 patients, people back to work, back to church and back to liberty…not in two weeks, but NOW. If possible, use every method of communication below for a compounding, multiplier-effect!

Call Governor Abbott. These numbers were all working at 8 AM this morning:
(800) 843-5789 - Information and Referral Hotline (for Texas callers)
(512) 463-1782 - Opinion Hotline
(512) 463-2000 - Office of the Governor Main Switchboard (8:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
Email Gov. AbbottFind the form by clicking here.
Email Gov. Abbott’s Chief of Staff:  luis.saenz@gov.texas.gov

Contact on social media:
Facebook @TexansForAbbott
Twitter @GregAbbott_TX
Instagram @governorabbott

Action #3
This step is critical! You must help spread this Call to Action to thousands of Texans!

Forward this email to family, friends, business colleagues – and especially those shut in and out of work – by copying and pasting this link into your own email account.

(WARNING: Do NOT just hit forward! If you do, recipients can unsubscribe you from our list. We can’t do a thing about that. With thousands in our email data base, we cannot contact each one of you about an unsubscribe!)
 
Silence to an elected official,
their staff & campaign consultants
 = YOUR approval.

I beg you – do not be silent!
Texans Must Save Texas – Now!

Let’s get to it, Texans! Do these steps and do them with all your heart!

We’ll be back with Phase 2 tomorrow morning!
This blog post is, obviously, our method of assisting on #3.

Bottom Line:  As the stakes keep mounting, and as opportunities for genuine leadership keep being missed, it shouldn't surprise anyone to see the citizenry become more assertive.

Monday, April 20, 2020

#TXLEGE: So...yeah...how about cutting spending?!?


"Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;"
Proverbs 27:23

UPDATE:

A futures contract for U.S. crude prices dropped more than 100% and turned negative for the first time in history on Monday, showing just how much demand has collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Doesn't change the original post, it just makes it truer.

--------

Having missed an opportunity last Friday, Texas...hoo boy:
U.S. crude prices plunged to their lowest level in more than 30 years on Monday as traders continue to fret over a slump in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The price of the nearest oil futures contract, which expires Tuesday, was the hardest hit, detaching from later month futures contracts with a drop of more than 50%. This suggests that some believe there could be a recovery later in the year.

West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery tanked 52%, or $9.45, to $8.97 per barrel, the lowest level since 1986.
Brutal.

There's really not a lot to say. Obviously, Texas isn't a one industry state the way it was in the 80's. But there's no way around oil at less than $10.

We are going to have to cut spending on a hitherto unfathomable level. It's inevitable. The money simply doens't exist. The only real question is how to best structure those spending cuts to maximize long-term recovery.

Bottom Line: Next session got a lot more interesting next session.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Speaking of Abbott playing games...let's not overlook James Huffines


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

Yesterday, we wrote about Governor Abbott appointing Mike Toomey to his so-called "strike force" to guide re-opening the state.  Considering his history and his lobbying connections to industries receiving preferential treatment, Mike Toomey is a particularly egregious appointment.  That one needed to stand by itself.

But Toomey's hardly the only problematic appointment.

From the same announcement:
Abbott also named a "statewide strike force" devoted to developing reopening procedures. Austin banker James Huffines will chair the task force, while veteran lobbyist Mike Toomey will be its chief operating officer. The group will oversee what Abbott described as a phased reopening.
Now who, pray tell, is James Huffines?!?

You can learn about James Huffines' various activities here.  The TL,DR version is that he has a wide variety of business and philanthropic interests.  For our purposes, however, the relevant detail is that former Texas Senator Don Huffines is his brother.

Why is Don Huffines important?!?

Texas Scorecard (Tuesday):


Austin American Statesman (Wednesday):



DON Huffines has been one of Abbott's more outspoken critics for awhile.  In recent weeks, DON Huffines' criticism has become more pointed.  While not directly relevant to the current crisis, if you have 20 minutes we strongly recommend Huffines' full presentation.

In response, Abbott appoints James Huffines to his "reopen Texas" board.

Which means DON Huffines can't go after Abbott without going after James Huffines.

To be fair, James Huffines isn't an inherently terrible selection.  In isolation, there's not necessarily anything wrong with an elected officials consulting with someone with a wide array of business and philanthropic interests.  FWIW, James Huffines has struck this author as a perfectly capable individual on the couple of occasions when we've met.

(Certainily better than Mike Toomey.)

In context, however, this appointment means one thing: An attempt to shut DON Huffines up by making it socially awkward for him to criticize Abbott.

Only time will tell if it works.

Bottom Line: Kinda brilliant (in a dastardly kind of way).

Friday, April 17, 2020

Abbott appoints Perry's ex-Gardasil Lobbyist ex-Chief of Staff


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

In our post from a couple hours ago, we said that our expectations for the Governor's widely hyped announcement this afternoon were low.

But we weren't expecting this:
Abbott also named a "statewide strike force" devoted to developing reopening procedures. Austin banker James Huffines will chair the task force, while veteran lobbyist Mike Toomey will be its chief operating officer. The group will oversee what Abbott described as a phased reopening.
Mike Toomey, for those who don't remember, was this guy:
The most dramatic moment of the GOP debate in Florida last Monday revolved around Gov. Rick Perry and his 2007 executive order mandating that all 11- and 12-year-old girls in Texas get the HPV vaccine. The human papillomavirus vaccine protects women and teens against a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.

During the debate, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called Perry's executive order an example of crony capitalism.

"The governor's chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company," Bachmann said. "The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor. This is flat-out wrong. Was this about life, or was it billions of dollars for a drug company?"

Back in 2007, the first reaction to Perry's executive order was mystification on both sides of the political aisle.

....

It emerged that Merck's political action committee had donated $5,000 to the governor's campaign at the same moment their executives were negotiating with the governor's staff. Merck would eventually donate nearly $30,000 to Perry and more than $377,000 to the Republican Governors Association, which Perry chaired.
Yeah, same guy.

A quick perusal of Mike Toomey's recent lobby clients reveals:



It goes on.

Keep in mind, this only covers recent time periods.  This doesn't say anything about lobby clients further in the past.  Or, potentially, future lobby clients (wink, nod).

Even so, you have insurance companies, grocery stores, construction interests, local governments, medical device companies, and (imagine that) Merck.

Basically, every industry that's been getting special treatment this entire time.

Also, while we have no specific knowledge, it wouldn't surprise us if deeper direct conflicts of interest exist.

But that's speculative.

Bottom Line: Revolving door gonna keep revolving....

The First Mover Opportunity of a Lifetime


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

We started writing this at 8:48 AM.  The Governor's hyped "Opening Texas" announcement is in a few hours.  We'll keep expectations low.

Obviously, there's been a LOT written about the devastation government mandated hostage at home polices have wrought.  We agree with 80 to 90% of it.  Another aspect, however, has gone largely unremarked.

The opportunity Texas can seize going first.

Depending on how you measure it, Texas is either the tenth or the eleventh largest economy in the world.  That's quite the wallop.  Global implications abound.

(What starts here changes the world, etc.)

Decisions made in the next few weeks will impact capital flows for a generation.  Major moves are inevitable.  Once those moves happen, however, things are likely to stay that way for a long time.

The implications, when you're already #10 or #11 globally, are obvious.

Equally obvious, however, is that this must be done sustainably.  In other words, responsibly.  Otherwise, we're handing ammunition to our opponents.

North Texas financial analyst Kevin Freeman addressed the 'how-to's' earlier this week.  It's an almost hour long presentation, much of which is outside the scope of this website.  For those who are so inclined, they can view the whole program here.

That being said, the biggest takeaway is that protecting the vulnerable and quarantining our entire society are not the same thing.  The former can be much more targeted.  The latter is (putting it mildly) counterproductive.  Just follow a genuinely data driven approach.

To which this author would add: Avoid large crowds for a few more weeks.

If we can follow those fairly obvious guidelines, the opportunity is immense.

Bottom Line: Carpe diem.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

#atxcouncil: We Won't Snitch (but be responsible)


"For strangers have risen up against me,
And oppressors have sought after my life;
They have not set God before them. Selah"

Psalm 54:3

Well, this is all sorts of terrible:
Adler then stated that they are hoping for Austinites to “self-police,” and affirmed that “these kinds of orders carry with them criminal penalties and the force of law.” At this point, he urged residents to report those who are not complying with the order. “If you see violations in the community, construction sites, restaurants, it’d be good to call 311 and let the city and the county know that that’s happening.”
It's completely self-explanatory why that's awful.

That being said, seriously people, be responsible.

Here's what we mean by "responsible": Don't gratuitously hang out in large groups.  It's just reckless.  It gives the petty tyrants all the ammunition they need.  In terms of responsible...this ain't it.

We're not saying that every individual needs to comply with every jot and tittle of this looney tunes order at every second of their life.  Certainly not.  But there's a difference between common sense and stupidity.

Bottom Line:  Steve Adler needs to back off...but neither should he be given easy material with which to work.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

#TXLEGE: Krause Steps Into (Gaping) Leadership Void


"Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct"
Hebrews 13:7

Interesting:


We're not going to comment either way on Krause's proposal.  Others are more knowledgeable.  Our observation is more fundamental than that.

During this entire fiasco, Matt Krause if the first person who's shown actual, credible. leadership.

Greg Abbott, by contrast, has vacillated between hiding behind (Democrat) local officials, hiding behind Trump, and corporate welfare for Goldman Sachs.  In isolation, any of those might or might not be good policies [Note: 0 for 3, but that's really a separate discussion.]  But it ain't leadership.

Then there's Dan Patrick...yeah, nuff said.

Which brings us back to Matt Krause.

It's not a secret that this website has grown more ambivalent towards Krause in recent years.  We spent most of 2019 ripping on Krause's primary legislative "achievement."  Still....

Likewise, it's also not a secret that this website floated the idea of Krause as speaker last month.  This week's proposal is a good example why.  It doesn't take a genius to see how Krause provides a tangible path between the world as it exists and the world as it should be.

Put differently: Krause has a knack for finding the least bad realistic possibility.

Bottom Line: Somebody had to do it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Abbott's Hat to Cattle Ratio remains...underwhelming


"Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel"
Proverbs 20:17

Remember, less than a week ago, when Greg Abbott teased his vaunted "plan to reopen Texas?!?"

Yeah, about that:
On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott, together with Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer John Waldron, announced $50 million in loans that will be provided to small businesses in Texas.

Half of that will come from the LiftFund, a Goldman Sachs program purposed to provide small businesses with capital during difficult times.
Soo...businesses won't actually be allowed to serve their customers. Legitimate revenue = no way (TOO DANGEROUS DAWG...................).  But they can go into debt to Goldman friggin' Sachs.

We know (from experience) we're pretty cynical.  We know Wall Street makes its real money financing debt.  We know, over the past 100 years, government has primarily existed to facilitate that debt.  Even by that standard, however,...

...wow.

Just...wow.

What campaign contributor and/or lobbyist (but we repeat ourselves) came up with that plan?!?

But don't you worry your pretty little head, y'all.  Later this week, Greg Abbott's totally gonna announce his "team" to "oversee how to reopen Texas safely."  We're sure no campaign contributors and/or lobbyists will benefit.  That'd be too cynical.

It probably does make sense to reduce activity ("social distancing") for another few weeks.  Yes, the so-called "Coronavirus" is trending downward.  No, the hospitals aren't overwhelmed.  But we do understand why caution remains prudent (for now).

But...seriously...Goldman Sachs?!?

It's quite something.

Bottom Line: Cynicism *might* be justified here....

Monday, April 13, 2020

Lubbock Businesses Getting Close to Civil Disobedience


"But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:29

Interesting, via. Chad Hasty:



Highlights:

  • At least two Lubbock businesses "have spoken to an attorney and are ready to reopen."
  • Will take sensible precautions.
    • eg. Limiting the # of customers in the store at one time and so-called "social distancing."
  • The Lubbock city council is picking winners and losers.
    • Big box stores are ok, but small businesses aren't.
  • Amarillo is allowing small businesses to operate with sensible precautions.
  • It's time to do more.
  • "If Amarillo can do it, so can we."
  • "This really is a stand that people are making."
Last week, we suggested that lawsuits would soon be appropriate.  What we're seeing in Lubbock is, honestly, further than we would go personally (for now).  However, it's very interesting that others feel this way.

Bottom Line: The status quo can't go on much longer.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

(Dr.) Ron Paul calls for firing Fauci


Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ”
Exodus 5:1

Interesting:

(h/t. The Hayride)

Obviously, Ron Paul isn't the first person to advocate this position...but there are a few reasons why it's probably worth giving him a listen:

  1. He's a medical doctor.
    (That he's a medical doctor who doesn't take everything the medical cartel says at face value is a bonus.)
  2. His own son went through Coronavirus.
Thus, Ron Paul is probably has the life/personal/political experience to make a good judgement on this issue.

Bottom Line: When medical doctors who've had family members who've dealt with this virus start arguing this position...it's probably worth giving them a listen.

Friday, April 10, 2020

#atxcouncil: While we're on the subject of the homeless and "social distancing"


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

Our post yesterday about the homeless and so-called "social distancing" motivated us to finally get pictures of the homeless encampment down the street from us.

This is at the corner of Riverside and Pleasant Valley on the west side of the street.

Pretty self-explanatory.





But at least they're getting valet trash service at taxpayer expense:


Finally, this was a block and a half down Riverside from the other encampment, but there were probably close to a dozen under this bridge.


Bottom Line: Meanwhile, the rest of us are forced to huddle indoors like hostages.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

#atxcouncil: Meanwhile, the Homeless aren't "social distancing"


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

This speaks for itself:
So, at a time when the rest of us are being told to hostage in place, the city is letting the homeless continue to run wild.

Lovely.

As we've stated previously, under normal circumstances we tend to think that the "public health" argument is exaggerated.  But we're not currently in normal circumstances.  For where we are right now, homeless encampments ought to be the first place to go.

Instead, they're the one thing being protected.

Bottom Line: This really does tell you everything you need to know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Sometime soon, these local officials need to start getting SUED


"Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow."
Isaiah 1:17

Yesterday, Tony McDonald had a piece about the constitutional authority for local officials to issue the hostage in place edicts we've seen across Texas.  While we recommend reading the piece in full, the TL,DR version is that such authority is non-existent.  Unfortunately, McDonald also points out that courts have a long history of siding with government during times of alleged 'crisis.'

While it may make long-term sense to file such a suit to make the constitutional point...odds of it begetting short term relief are likely low.

There is, however, another alternative.

It's not a secret that these hostage in place orders are causing massive economic damage.  Perhaps it's appropriate to make the relevant local entities pay for the damage they've caused.  Thus, you'd be going after them for the practical damage they've caused, rather than some abstract constitutional point.

It gets better.  Because, odds are, such a suit wouldn't even have to be successful in court (though you would need to be prepared to argue it).  Just the threat of such a lawsuit would likely spur these local entities to change their behavior.

The biggest question is when.  We're still, obviously, in the process of having information about both the virus and the economic impact come in.  By some point between Thursday of next week and Tuesday of the week after (Apr. 16-21).

Bottom Line: We're not there yet, but the time is rapidly approaching.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Fascinating (But Difficult to Interpret) Development


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

ICYMI:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves will leave the state’s flagship university for Emory University in Atlanta.

Fenves announced the move in a letter to the UT community. Fenves says the Emory Board of Trustees voted to approve him as its next president Tuesday morning.

Fenves has been president of UT-Austin since 2015 with 12 years in total at the university serving as dean of engineering and provost. He says this decision to leave Austin was made during the 2019-20 academic year before the coronavirus pandemic hit Texas.
Wow. It's tough to know what to make of this.  We've heard rumors, but none in which we have sufficient confidence to pass along.

Truth be told, internal university politics aren't very interesting as long as they're protected by the Governor.  And there's no reason to believe that's going to change any time soon.

Bottom Line: Churn tends to be healthy in these positions.

Monday, April 6, 2020

#TXLEGE: Chapter 313 should be the FIRST Thing To Go


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

Interesting thought from Empower Texans this morning:

 

This is actually a really interesting proposal.  Because schools are still going to be clamoring for more money.  But nobody's going to want to raise taxes on individuals or homeowners.

The truth is that Chapter 313  carve outs don't serve any economic purpose.  They simply reward the people who hire the best lobbyists.  Bonus point: Eliminating chapter 313 would also make the school finance system more efficient over the long term.

Furthermore, it's absolutely true that there's widespread agreement between the left and the right on this subject.  We actually first learned about Chapter 313 from the Texas Observer.  UT professor Nathan Jensen has also done some fantastic work on the subject.

Chapter 313 is a subject that basically lines up all of the honest people across the political spectrum vs. all of the dishonest ones (aka. the overwhelming majority of legislators).

Bottom Line: Even in good times, special interest carve outs are bad policy...but in the coming crunch, there really isn't any excuse.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Still (Kinda Sorta) A Republic (For Now)


"When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, 'Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.' "
Acts 22:26

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, yesterday 2:31 pm:



Citizens go Ape[well, you know].

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, two hours later:



He backed down, at least this time.

Bottom Line: It's hard to be optimistic about where our liberties are headed, but we suppose Clay Jenkins backing down yesterday is one modestly positive sign.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Wall Builds Name ID


"A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

CD-22 GOP runoff candidate Kathleen Wall has a new ad out:



The ad itself is whatever. Way too Trump humpy for our tastes. But it's certainly factually accurate.

That being said, we find the degree to which it's gotten people talking to be very interesting.

Texas Scorecard:


PushJunction:


The Trib:


As a general matter, voters are ignorant about down ballot runoffs.  Anything one can do to get people talking (within certain obvious limits) is generally good.  That's even truer under current...unique...circumstances.

That being said, we do find this quote from the Democrat candidate astounding:
"Irresponsible, race-baiting comments like these from Kathaleen Wall are unacceptable and dangerous to TX-22’s large Asian American and Pacific Islander population, who are intimately aware of the FBI warning about the recent surge of hate crimes against their community," Democratic nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni said in a statement.
Ok dude.

If this Sri Kularni character wants to argue that it's somehow racist to point out that this virus originated in China...well...good luck with that.

Bottom Line: In a low-profile runoff, anything that can get people talking about you has got to be considered a win.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

#TXLEGE: Davis, meanwhile, attempting to set up Health Care Rationing


"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
2 Timothy 3:5

Never let a crisis go to waste:

This is actually a couple weeks old (the letter is dated March 20), although we just discovered it this morning.

The problem, of course, is that Davis doesn't propose doing anything to increase the supply of Health Care providers.  She just wants to pour more people (and, one presumes, more money) into the status quo.  In other words, make current challenges worse.

Medicaid already suffers acute shortages.  That's the whole reason why a bunch of left leaning organizations want to scale back (*) scope of practice restrictions.  Yet, Sarah Davis has never lifted a finger on scope of practice (**).

Instead, the medical cartel gets more power.

Bottom Line: Politicians gonna politician, but still....

-------

* - We'd prefer to see scope of practice abolished outright, but the proposals the lege has discussed the past few sessions are nevertheless a gigantic improvement over the status quo.

** - Rumor has it that she's a (very strong) opponent behind the scenes, but to our knowledge she's never said anything publicly.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

#TXLEGE: Springer Laying Foundation for Beef Shortages


"A fruitful land into barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it."
Psalm 107:34

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!?


One of the iron laws of economics is that price controls beget shortages.  This is true regardless of whether or not said controls are in response to alleged "gouging."  We've already seen this happen with surgical masks in Houston.

[Note: It's actually worse than that...the Houston case shows that just the regulatory uncertainty around these sorts of investigations produces shortages.]

To be fair to Springer, he did respond when we made a similar point of Facebook:


Springer hinges his argument around the idea that there are too few meatpackers in the country.  This gives them the opportunity to exploit the current situation.  Springer's not actually wrong about that point.

But here's the thing: Meatpacking has been a hot mess of protectionist regulation at the Federal level for the past 120 years.  That's the root cause of any practical problems we're having with meatpacker consolidation today.  Had Springer used the current challenges in the beef market to write a letter to his Congressman calling for the repeal of the underlying statutes, that would have been awesome.

But Springer didn't write to his Congressman.  Springer wrote to the Texas Attorney General.  At best, he's misdiagnosing.

Springer's observing a problem caused by too much government, and attempting to "fix" it by calling for even more government.

Nothing good happens when politicians do that.

It's the equivalent of trying to "fix" a knee injury by amputating your leg.

Bottom Line:  Springer's proposal is a great way to turn a short-term challenge into a long-term structural problem.