Monday, December 7, 2020

#TXLEGE: Murphy's elevation illustrates, once again, how incompetent the Democrats really are

"As snow in summer and rain in harvest,
So honor is not fitting for a fool."
Proverbs 26:1

Soo...this happened:


Jim Murphy, of course, being this guy:
It appears that state Rep. Jim Murphy likes taxpayer-funded hats. Channel 2 Investigates identified him wearing a couple of them. One is for the 133rd District on Houston's west side, and the other remains unclear.

Employment contracts between Murphy and the Westchase District, a governmental agency and political subdivision of the state, show Murphy banking a fixed monthly fee of over $26,000 a month. That is a whopping $312,000 a year. The contract also lists him as a "consultant" even though the website for the Westchase District clearly says he's the general manager.

So what is the problem?

State law says, "No member of the Legislature may hold any other office or position of profit, except as a notary public."

In other words, a legislator cannot hold another taxpayer-funded job.
[Note: We can't post the original TV report due to formatting issues, but we strongly recommend you click through the link above and watch the whole thing (approx. 5 minutes).]

There's a lot we could say about what this means for the session. TL,DR: Nothing good. But that's all obvious.

Instead, we want to focus on how this announcement is almost forty eight hours old, yet the Democrats haven't said a peep.

For anything remotely resembling a credible opposition party, this is a softball down the middle of the plate. Yet the Democrats are standing there with the bat on their shoulder. Textbook example of why Texas Democrats aren't likely to win anything anytime soon.

Of course, none of this is new. We've been baffled, for years, at the Democrats' inability to capitalize on Jim Murphy's scandals. This should be a gimme for them.

But it won't be, 'cuz the Democrats in Texas really are **THAT** incompetent.

(On a not entirely unrelated note, this is also a great example of why they just spent $100 million on Texas house races to come up with bupkus.)

Bottom Line: To miss this obvious of an opportunity tells you what you need to know.

Friday, December 4, 2020

#TXLEGE: The state ONLY taking over policing in Central Austin is POINTLESS

"O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed."
Psalm 84:9

In his latest move in a political fight against Austin over police funding, Gov. Greg Abbott says he is considering a proposal to put the state in charge of policing a large area in the middle of the city, including downtown, the Texas Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin.

Abbott floated the idea during a campaign tele-town hall Wednesday while discussing his push to punish cities that "defund the police" during the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. He has for months railed against the Austin City Council's August vote to slash its police department budget by one-third, primarily by shifting some responsibilities out of law enforcement oversight. He has also already proposed measures such as freezing property tax revenues for cities that cut police budgets.

"Something else that I'm thinking about doing, and that is because we have people coming from across the world and across the country into our capital city, as well as to the university, we can't make our fellow Texans be victims of crime ... because of the city of Austin leadership," Abbott said, "and so what I think we need to do is have a Capitol zone area that the state will be in charge of policing, and we can use city of Austin police officers for this."

If the Governor were to actually do this (a big if), the criminals will simply move outside the zone. If you're going to go this route, have the state takeover law enforcement over the whole city. That way you actually achieve your objective. Or, you could revoke the city's charter.

Bottom Line: This type of poll-driven half measure that won't accomplish anything, but will invite the full fury of a backlash; classic Abbott.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

#TXLEGE: Phelan's Senior Staff hires tell you what you need to know

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

Soo, this happened:

The list is long on so-called “capitol experience” and revolving door relationships with the lobby. Far less clear is whether any of them has ever worked a real job. It’s swampier than Cajun country.

As PushJunction points out, about half of the names on this list are direct holdovers from former speaker Dennis Bonnen.

Beyond those obvious conclusions, however, a few other stand out:
  • As someone who started with Governor Abbott, went to UT-Austin, and is now back in the legislature, Jay Dyer encapsulates Texas’ failure to address either steadily rising tuition or the various leftists uprisings we see on college campuses.
  • As Dennis Bonnen’s communications director, Kate Misenheimer carried water for her boss throughout last year’s quid-pro-quo controversy and viscously attacked anyone who questioned Bonnen’s carefully constructed narrative.
  • Andrew Blifford was Joe Straus’ former Chief of Staff.
These are just the surface level concerns, there’s no telling what a deeper dive would uncover.

Phelan’s staffing announcements will likely reinforce the sense of pessimism with which grassroots conservatives were already viewing the legislative session.

Bottom Line: None of this is surprising, but at least it's now official.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

#TXLEGE: Patrick should make school choice the precondition for any marijuana bill

Note: We had originally planned to crop this photo to only
show Patrick and Phelan, but Abbott being irrelevant in the
 background is likewise apt.

"Show us Your mercy, Lord,
And grant us Your salvation."
Psalm 85:7

The biannual boomlet of "will Texas or won't Texas legalize marijuana this session?!?" has started. This time, it's accompanied by a subplot related to the budget. Allow us to cut to the chase.

Dan Patrick is still the Lieuentant Governor.

So, no. Marijuana legalization isn't happening. LOL.

That being said, if he's smart enough to take it, there's an opportuity for Patrick.

It's not a secret that Patrick has recently taken a tactical retreat on school choice. That house hasn't left him any option. But, if the house wants to try and force Dan Patrick to do something he doesn't want...well...two can play at that game.

Besides, in the extraordinarily unlikely chance the house were to agree to it, that would be a good trade.

Bottom Line: There's nothing Patrick can lose. There's potentially something he can gain. No brainer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Branch offers reminder why (recent issues notwithstanding) Paxton was the better choice

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
Matthew 7:15

Wasn't expecting this:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — During a one-on-one interview with KXAN earlier this month, indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, now the subject of an FBI investigation into allegations of bribery and misuse of office, was asked why the public should trust him as the state’s top law enforcement official.

“Look at what we’re doing with Google,” Paxton explained, when listing his accomplishments.

Paxton was referring to an antitrust lawsuit against Google that his office has been preparing for more than a year. Texas joined the Trump administration’s antitrust lawsuit against Google in October.

In an open letter sent to the Dept. of Justice on Tuesday, a group of Texas leaders, including former members of Congress, academic leaders, mayors, and a former state supreme court justice, criticized the use of antitrust laws against Google and warned of the potential harm the effort could cause Texans.


Dan Branch, a former member of the Texas House, said Texas policymakers have an opportunity to reform antitrust laws to fit technology companies in the 21st century.

Branch, a Republican, lost to Paxton in the primary runoff for attorney general in 2014. He said he has concerns about censorship and free speech within the tech industry, but added that the antitrust lawsuit is a different issue.

“We’re known as a business-friendly state, that’s part of our moniker,” Branch said. “We shouldn’t be out leading the charge on litigation, we ought to be leading the charge on thoughtful reform.”
Translation: Coming from Dan Branch, the phrase "thoughtful reform" means "opportunity for crony capitalism and graft."

We've always been ambivalent about this particular lawsuit. We don't have a problem with it, but neither do we think it will accomplish its intended goals. It won't have much impact on Google one way or the other.

But the idea that you should avoid such a lawsuit because it will hinder your ability to extract legisaltive graft...tells you what you need to know about Dan Branch.

That gets to something else about which we've recently been pondering.

It's not a secret that this website was...rather outspoken in support of Ken Paxton in 2014. Since Paxton's recent issues came into play, we've been thinking back to that period. A lot.

We can't shake the conclusion that, whatever Paxton's subsequent shortcomings, his opponent at the time really was that much worse.

Now Dan Branch, obligingly, reminds us why.

So, yeah, Paxton's recent issues might be pretty bad...but no ragerts re: 2014.

Bottom Line: None of this is surprising, but it is illuminating given recent developments.