Monday, November 30, 2020

#TXLEGE: Legacy media start buttering up Phelan (to kill GOP legislative priorities)

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

Houston Chronicle this morning:
Dade Phelan's rep as a hard-working, straight-shooting coalition builder made him a shoo-in as Texas' next House speaker

Tommy Williams was preparing to run for the Texas Senate in 2001 after two terms in the House when a young Dade Phelan strode into his office.

Phelan handed Williams a list of almost two dozen people in his hometown of Beaumont who he thought Williams needed to win over to cinch the election. Phelan told him he could help him do it. Williams, a Republican from The Woodlands, hired him on the spot.

“Beaumont was the largest city in my Senate district,” Williams recalled. “But I wasn’t from Beaumont. I didn’t ever live there. So I told him real quickly, ‘You know what? You’re my Jefferson County campaign manager.’”

It paid off: Williams won, and Phelan became the legislative aide the senator depended on for the next five years.

Now, almost two decades later, the 45-year-old Phelan is the presumptive House Speaker, and he has hired the former state senator to lead his transition team.

A similarly bold, self-starting move, exhibiting the same networking skills, propelled Phelan to the speakership earlier this month.
As results started rolling in on Election Day and dashing the Texas Democrats' hopes of flipping the Texas House, Rep. Dade Phelan, a three-term Republican from Beaumont, started working the phones to lock in his bid to become the next leader of the chamber.

The next morning, Phelan announced at a Capitol press conference that he had enough votes to become the next speaker of the House. He put out a list of 83 lawmakers from both parties that included most of his rivals for the speaker’s gavel, as well as a coalition of a majority of the Republican Caucus and prominent Black and Latino Democrats.

By Thursday, his final GOP rival, Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria, folded her campaign and left Phelan a clear path to becoming speaker.

Within three days, the 45-year-old Phelan had maneuvered his way into one of the most powerful jobs in Texas.
To be fair to the DMN, their piece isn't as revoltingly sycophantic as the Houston Chronicle piece. It's more of a straight news piece about the session. But it's still very "friendly."

The play here is obvious. The legacy media knows Phelan's going to kill the RPT legislative priorities. So they're going to give him glowing coverage.

(Obviously, this is a re-run of the playbook they used with Joe Straus.)

None of this is surprising.

But, seriously, get a room Houston Chronicle.

Bottom Line:  The specific identity of the speaker may be "new," but the playbook never changes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Court Rules in favor of DPS officer fired after sexual assault allegation

"One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established."
Deuteronomy 19:15

Seventeen months ago, officer John Jones the head of the Department of Public Safety’s “Intelligence and Counterterrorism” division was fired following a sexual assault allegation. The Texas Tribune wrote a salacious and sensationalistic report at the time.

Last week, however, a Travis County senior criminal judge declined to issue a protective against Officer Jones. This is noteworthy because protective orders require the lowest possible evidentiary standard: “Any reasonable basis.” As a point of comparison, the on-campus sexual assault tribunals that attracted controversy during the Obama administration required a “preponderance of evidence” standard.

In other words, the proceeding in question required a lower standard of evidence than that required on college campuses.

Yet, the Travis county DA was unable to meet that low standard.

In court documents and video obtained by Cahnman’s Musings, District Judge Jon Wisser denies the request for the protective order and rebukes the district attorney. Wisser says he “certainly would not find someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on this evidence.” Wisser then goes on to list a series of other legal evidentiary standards the prosecution's case fails to meet.

Most troubling, Judge Wisser rebukes the DA for having failed to take the case to a grand jury.

The Texas Tribune has failed to report on these developments by the time of publication.

The case against Officer Jones will continue its march through the courts.

Bottom Line: These cases are always difficult, but failure to reach even this low standard of evidence does raise any number of questions....

Monday, November 23, 2020

More incoherent, COVID-related, Gobldygook from Abbott

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

We have questions:
For the sake of discussion, we're going to assume those first three categories are fine. We've seen some questions raised on social media about how those terms are defined. Certainly, that's relevant. But, in terms of a macro-perspective, those populations are certainly where you should start distribution.

But, as far as those other categories are concerned, off the top of our head:
  • Who's going to determine "health inequities" and isn't that a vague catch-all phrase that can mean anything to anyone?!?
  • Why is "geographic diversity" a thing in the first place?!?  There's significant evidence that COVID spreads farther and faster in urban areas.  Shouldn't they get priority...especially if we're doing "data driven allocations?!?"
  • At this point, re: COVID, the idea that Abbott's will be anything remotely resembling "transparent" is laughable.
Bottom Line: None of the details from today's announcement make any sense...but that's also nothing new.

Friday, November 20, 2020

#TXLEGE: Texas house rules reform coalition letter

“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’
And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn."
Psalm 75:4

There's zero chance the Texas house adopts them, but these reforms are nevertheless a good idea:

Speaker Reforms Coalition L... by Brandon Waltens

Bottom Line: If they want to have a good session, the members should adopt these reforms. They won't. The session will proceed accordingly.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

#TXLEGE: Rinaldi makes point that should be completely OBVIOUS (yet apparently isn't)

"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,"
Matthew 22:31

We made a Facebook post the other day about Allen West. It set off quite the debate in the comment section. Including this:

Honestly, it's sad is that is that this proposition is even remotely in dispute.

How many times do we need to play this game?!?

Your bills are already dead.

All you can do is make killing them as painful as possible.

Bottom Line: None of this is complicated.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


"and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Thessalonians 2:10

[T]here are no discernible reasons [for the Texas Legislature] to continue to meet once every two years, letting important state business languish while we wait for the pages of the calendar to fall.


The legislature should meet for 70 days every year beginning in mid-March, finishing in May.
In other words, twice as many opportunities to pass bad bills.

Of course, this sort of gamesmanship is par for Larson's course.

PushJunction has more:
LYLE LARSON is pushing for Texas to have a 70-day annual legislative session. Part of his reasoning includes lamenting that lawmakers weren’t able to follow Rahm Emanuel’s mantra, “never let a crisis go to waste,” to enact gun regulations following recent shootings.

Likewise, Larson's use of the Rahm Emmanuel playbook is nothing new.

Bottom Line: This won't go anywhere, but it's a good insight into how far too many legislators think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

#TXLEGE: It's time to sue Texas over Constitutional Carry (or lack thereof)

"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18

Rachel Malone has a piece about the state of play on #2A issues as we head into session.
Texas lags far behind other states in our right to carry. While 31 states recognize the right to open carry without a government permit—and 17 states recognize the right to conceal carry a handgun without a permit—Texas still generally requires a permit for handgun carry outside of our property, business, or vehicle.


In the name of liberty and justice for all, and in the spirit of the Alamo, the 87th Legislature must pass Constitutional Carry and end “gun-free” zones. Our right to carry a firearm for protection should not rely on government. Texas, it’s time to move forward with freedom.
O.K, sure. Nothing she says is wrong. But it's hard to miss that Texas' elected officials care about "the name of liberty and justice for all" or "the spirit of the Alamo."

Something that's never been tried is a lawsuit against the state of Texas over its permitting system. Doesn't take a genius to see how one could argue it's an unconstitutional infringement. Such a lawsuit might not be successful, but it's worth a shot. Especially in the newly Trumpified federal courts.

At a minimum, such a lawsuit would increase pressure on the legislature far more than vauge appeals to buzzwords and cliches.

Bottom Line: This is a ongoing headline the powers that be won't want, so it's not inconceivable they'd take steps to make it go away.

Monday, November 16, 2020

#TXLEGE: Overton Window moving on Paxton impeachment

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

Ross Ramsey this morning:
In a political environment like Washington, D.C., the kinds of legal perils encircling Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton might be grounds for firing, impeachment or congressional investigation.


Because state lawmakers have gone through two full legislative sessions with an indicted attorney general, it doesn’t seem likely that they would consider impeachment. Paxton is hardly the first elected official in Texas to continue to serve while indicted. He’s not even the first attorney general in modern times: Jim Mattox, who served from 1983-91, was indicted and acquitted on commercial bribery charges early in his first term. Legislators let it play out in the courts. Mattox was reelected once and later ran unsuccessfully for governor and the U.S. Senate.

Impeaching someone in Texas isn’t like impeaching someone in Washington, D.C. It’s rarer, for one thing, and it has immediate consequences in a way that the federal system does not. The person being impeached is removed from office while the case is pending in Texas; in the federal system, they remain in office unless convicted by the Senate.

So what does that mean here? If a state official was impeached by the Texas House, they would be removed from office until after the Senate had held a trial and judged the House’s impeachment. It’s right there in the Texas Constitution: “All officers against whom articles of impeachment may be preferred shall be suspended from the exercise of the duties of their office, during the pendency of such impeachment. The governor may make a provisional appointment to fill the vacancy, occasioned by the suspension of an officer until the decision on the impeachment.”
Honestly, what's interesting isn't (yet) the merits or demerits of impeaching Paxton [Note: We're currently ambivalent]. It's about the fact that, by bringing this possibility into serious discussion, the Texas Tribune has changed the macro-environment. Expect more of this.

Bottom Line: This topic isn't going away anytime soon.

Friday, November 13, 2020

#TXLEGE/#atxcouncil: Hyberbole notwithstanding, Patick's substantive point about public safety was correct

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

We meant to bring this up before the election, but a few weeks back controversy erupted when the Lite Guv remarked about Austin's crime rate: “The City of Austin is a disaster if you haven't been there a great city now one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas.”

The Lt. Governor’s comment was met with disingenuous pearl clutching from Mayor Adler and Capitol sycophants. At issue were the precise details of Austin’s police budget cut and national rankings among Democrat-controlled cities with rising crime rates. Giving credit where due, the Lt. Governor’s critics caught him exaggerating.

To the degree that he made it easy for his political opponents to split statistical hairs, the Lt. Governor’s precise word choice was probably unhelpful.

Nevertheless, Austin’s rising crime rates and homelessness explosion aren’t hard to miss. Dan Patrick didn’t make the Austin City Council legalize tent cities while slashing the police budget. While it’s perhaps the case that other places have more violent crime, the 67% increase in Austin’s murder rate didn’t occur in a vacuum.

So, perhaps, it might have been more technically accurate for Patrick to say: “Under Democrat governance, Austin has become an open air homeless encampment that’s becoming one of the most dangerous cities in America and definitely in Texas.”

Also of note: The statistics used to fact check Patrick are from 2019. 2020 data won’t be out until next year. While it’s impossible to know in advance, there’s every reason to suspect last year’s trends have accelerated.

Bottom Line: That they attacked Patrick over verb tense rather than substance tells you what you need to know.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

#TXLEGE: Bonnen proving West's point

"The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory."
Psalm 64:10

We said our piece about Allan West going after house leadership the other day. Pretty self explanatory. Didn't have much to add.

At least, we didn't until Dennis Bonnen got in on the act:
Allen West is irrelevant. He is a failed politician from Florida who is a petulant child trying to get his parents’ attention, and Speaker Phelan, Gov. Abbott and others are true Republican conservative leaders who are smarter than to listen to the noise of a child.
Seriously...Dennis Bonnen?!?

Cuz, whatever you want to say about Allan West, he wasn't forced from office in a corruption scandal.

Indeed, the fact that Dennis Bonnen remains in good stadning, while West is personan non grata, tells you everything you need to know about the culutre of the legislature.

Bottom Line: Is there a worse judge of character than Dennis Bonnen?!?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

#TXLEGE, #SD30: Luther clearly living rent-free in Springer's head

"Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!"
Psalm 66:20

With bill filing now underway, Drew Springer has used his house seat to file two pieces of legislation related to the Governor's emergency powers.  HB 173 would create a board to oversee any emergency declarations.  HJR 15 is a constitutional amendment that would make a special session mandatory for any emergency that lasts longer than 21 days.

Reading the legislation, our first impression is how weak they are. HB 173 is a toothless joke that instituionalizes the rubber stamp treatment Abbott has gotten during COVID. The consituional amendment, while watered down, might be a decent shell bill to amend on the floor. But that's about all it's good for.

Clearly, these are acts taxpayer funded electioneering for Springer's senate campaign. File a bill that sounds great, but that doesn't actually do anything. It's an old trick. But at least you can talk about on the campaign trail.

While it's not surprising to see Springer deploy this tactic, the subject is noteworthy.

It's not a secret that challenging the Governor's COVID orders was why Shelley Luther became a thing. Springer most likely has polling data that says he needs to neutalize that advantage. So he'll file this bill, and claim to be "more effective."

Shelly Luther shouldn't have any of it. Every time Springer tries to play the "effective" card, she should point out Springer's bill doesn't do anything. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Bottom Line: They don't try to undermine your strongest issue if they're not afraid of you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

How did the Democrats not make Paxton a campaign issue?!?

"Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding,
But a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding."
Proverbs 10:13

For most of October, we ran a quiet test of Texas Democrats' political competence: Would they make Ken Paxton's various "alleged" misdeeds a campaign issue?!?

They didn't.

It's astounding when you think about it:
  • Right wing, Christian conservative elected official (who you already hate) is accused of bribery and adultery a month before the election.
  • His closest friends and allies have either abandoned him or have him on **VERY** thin ice
  • .As an opposition party, you claim to be making your biggest push in decades.

And yet, for all that, the Democrats let Paxton slide.

It doesn't take a genius to imagine the political ads: "Texas doesn't need corrupt Republicans like Ken Paxton and Craig Goldman/Morgan Meyer/Jeff Leach/etc. vote for [Insert Democrat candidates name here]." There's got to be stock photos or b-reel footage of all of the afore mentioned officals with Paxton. It's also the perfect topic for mailers.

This is Politics 101 type stuff when a member of the other party is enmeshed in scandal.

Texas Democrats didn't do any of it.

But, you know, let's have another ten zillion ads about "pre-existing conditions" and silly hysteria about "voter supression" in Harris County.

Bottom Line: If you're curious why Texas won't go blue anytime soon, this is a pretty good example.

Monday, November 9, 2020

#TXLEGE: West's comment about Phelan is AWESOME

"The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and trust in Him.
And all the upright in heart shall glory."
Psalm 64:10



Original post:

Soo, this happened:
Texas will not allow the undermining of our “Texas Republic.” This is why the Republican Party of Texas is perplexed, and will not support, a potential Texas Speaker of the House who would seek affirmation from progressive socialist Democrats to attain that position. It is utterly absurd and demonstrably idiotic that any Republican would join with Democrats to lead our Republican majority (83-67) Texas State House. Does anyone believe that Texas Democrats will support the Republican Party of Texas legislative priority of election integrity?

Therefore, let me clearly state this: the Republican Party of Texas will not support, nor accept, State Rep. Dade Phelan as Speaker of the Texas House. Texas does not need a Republican political traitor, not at a time when the two diverging philosophies of governance are this lucid.

The Republican Party of Texas will not sit back idly and watch leftist Democrats be placed as Committee Chairmen who will undermine, kill, our legislative priorities, as happened in the 86th Texas legislative session.

Texas will be led by Constitutional Conservatives, not middle of the road “road kill” individuals seeking alliance with Marxist, socialist, leftists. We fought hard in the 2020 election cycle — against massive odds and leftist resources — to retain a strong legislative majority.

This is a completely obvious statement that shouldn't be controversial in any way, shape, or form.

Nevertheless, we've seen commentary from assorted bedwetters, chumps, and GOP simps tisk tisking at West. Most of it's concern-trolling over "not wanting to alienate the speaker" or some such nonsense. Who cares?!?

The Phelan play is the Bonnen play's retarded step-cousin. The budget, COVID, and redistricting are this session's school finance/property tax reform. "We've just gotta get those done"..."so we can grow our majority." Try again in 2023.

Understand Something: Whatever your issue, whatever your cause, YOUR BILLS. ARE ALREADY. DEAD. There's nothing you can do about it. Except refuse to play that game again.

West's comments suggest he's not playing that game.

Good on him for that.

Bottom Line:  We've been trying the same thing over and over and over again.  It keeps not working.  Heaven forbid we try something different.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

#HookEm: Defense Gets It Done

"To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily."
Colossians 1:29

ON a day when the Blue politics team seemed to secure a victory over the Red politics team, the Burnt Orange football team did what they needed to do.

The Longhorn defense only gave up one touchdown, while holding West Virgina to 43 yards rushing. T'Vondre Sweat and D'Marion Overshown are studs. Also, the defense came up with two stops on fourth down deep in their own territory during the fourth quarter.

For the record, had West Virgina kicked both of those times, they would have had 19 points.

Which could have been problematic, considering that Texas only scored 17 points themselves.

Offense is a mess. Ehligher's hurt. Playcalling is inexplicable. Likewise personnel rotation.

To which we will add: We were sitting in the upper deck during the first half. We didn't notice and start paying attention until the second quarter, but Jake Smith was wide open every single play. Not coincidentally, Smith caught the only touchdown of the second half.

Might want to do that more, Mensa boy.  Rather than keep him on the sideline.  From the fourth quarter, with Texas on offense, with about five minutes remaining:

Bottom Line: Every win makes $19 million in buyouts to hire Aaron Hernandez's enabler less likely.

Friday, November 6, 2020

#TXLEGE: White Light Phelan

"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

So it's Phelan:
The race for the next Texas House Speaker is all but over after Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) withdrew on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement to the Texas Tribune, Morrison said, “My team and I are uniting the Republican Caucus with our support of Dade Phelan.”

Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced on Wednesday that he had the votes secured to become the next speaker. Morrison, however, had a last-minute push after Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) announced his withdrawal from the race to endorse her.

But after a meeting between Republican members, Morrison decided to drop out and get behind Phelan.
So, that's that. We stand by our sentiment that the process felt weird. File that one away in case it becomes relevant later. But, for now, Phelan can't be stopped.

It's gross, but there was never any reason to expect anything different.

Given that a Phelan speakership is now overwhelmingly likely, it's worth revisiting Bryan Slaton's recent comment:
Here is the truth: If the speaker vote is nothing more than picking which group gets to be in control, while the status quo of the Texas House remains the same, then I’m not interested in joining either team, and abstaining—or voting with a “white light”—would be my only option.
Now we know.

(Not that we didn't suspect it before.)

Bottom Line: A Phelan speakership means the status quo, and there's no reason to participate in that farce.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

#TXLEGE: This Phelan thing just feels weird

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1

Apparently, Dade Phelan has majorities in both parties' caucuses to become speaker:
He's so confident that he's even announced his "transition team":
Good for Phelan. We guess. But something about this just

Usually, people who are confident they have the votes to become speaker act that way. Beating your chest about how "confident" you are suggest the opposite. But that's admittedly speculative.

PushJunction speculates further:
DADE PHELAN held a talk-at-the-press event yesterday where he announced the Speaker’s race is over. Shortly after the event, a couple of his colleagues issued public statements contradicting Phelan’s remarks.

The Phelan play is the Bonnen play, just less convincing.

At the press conference, Phelan was all by himself, didn’t take questions, and his announcement wasn’t accompanied by an outpouring of public support on social media like events to boost Bonnen.
Bottom Line: It's impossible to know what any of this means from the outside, but it's certainly odd.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

#tx2020: Status Quo (in the short term)

"For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry."
Habakkuk 2:3

To summarize:
  • Trump wins Texas comfortably.
  • Cornyn wins even bigger.
  • Partisan split of Congressional Delegation and Texas house remain identical.
  • D's gain Senate seat they were widely expected to narrower than expected margin.
  • D's finally gain SBOE seat that was drawn to elect a Democrat ten years ago, that they'd previously blown twice.
None of this is surprising.

In terms of basic partisanship, there's a lot of reasons to be bullish if you're a Republican. Managed properly, conservatives should benefit as well. More in due time.

But Texas is going to remain an R+10 state for the forseeable future.

Bottom Line: There was never a good reason to believe otherwise, but the question has been answered.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

#tx2020: Huffines offers $5k reward for verifiable information re: Election Fraud

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

A former Texas state senator is offering $5,000 rewards out of his own pocket for tips on voter fraud that lead to criminal convictions in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"For me, the foundation of our country is to make sure we have fair and honest elections. ... This is a nonpartisan issue," former state Sen. Don Huffines told Fox News on Tuesday. "The most important thing that really matters in an election is who counts the votes."

Huffines reward applies to individuals who call or email tips to Direct Action Texas, an election integrity organization. Huffines promised to keep all tips in confidence.

His offer is meant to be a "broad sweep" to track down ballot harvesting, noncitizens voting or even software manipulation, Huffines said.

"I’m happy to pay it," Huffines said. "Hopefully I don’t have to, but I am committed to doing what I can."
Bottom Line: We'll never know what happened in Dallas county in 2018, but it's good to see real time efforts this time around.

Monday, November 2, 2020

#atxcouncil, ProjectConnect: The Ultimate Cautionary Example

Exit 96th st. and Second Ave

"Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it.
But the correction of fools is folly."
Proverbs 16:22

We just finished reading "The Last Subway: The Long Wait for the Next Train in New York City," by Philip Mark Plotch.  We're not going to do a full book review (although there's a very good one here), because most of the conclusions are obvious.  Nevertheless, for those interested in that level of detail, we strongly recommend Plotch's book.

We snapped the above photo during our recent trip to New York City. We had to see it. Because we never thought it would happen in our lifetime.

Obviously, we’ve all heard horror stories of construction projects taking years, if not decades, longer than anticipated to complete. Ten years. Twenty years. If you’ve been following the subject long enough, you’ve seen the examples.

But how about 113 years?!?

Because that’s how long it took New York City’s second avenue subway line to materialize after being originally proposed.

From the moment the system opened in 1903, a second avenue line was planned. Unfortunately, due to a combination of economic fluctuations, political incompetence, and the general arc of history, it never got done. Finally, in 2017 (ie. Just four years ago), a very truncated version finally came online.

The ‘completed’ version added a mere three stops, from what was originally envisioned as a Bronx to Brooklyn line. This despite the fact that project costs ballooned from an anticipated $300 million to over $4.6 Billion. Thus, did the second avenue subway become one of the most expensive per mile infrastructure projects in American history.

What does this mean for Austin?!?

Austin voters will are being asked to approve a gargantuan tax increase to fund the city council’s light rail proposal. Rail proponents claim their project will cost $7.1 Billion and that construction will take around a decade.

Given council’s long standing lack of credibility, there’s every reason to be skeptical of the numbers they’re selling. Still, it’s impossible to know what the final totals will be. All you know for sure is that the numbers are likely to be much higher.

The Second avenue subway, however, is a real world example where “the numbers are likely to be much higher” means fifteen times the cost and a full century behind schedule.

Bottom Line: We really would be well served to avoid making this obvious and predictable mistake.