Posts Tagged ‘85th Texas Legislature’

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Democrat Rep. Dawnna Dukes Spent $51,348 in Taxpayer Money on Telephone Psychics

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

Having been busy with Stuff and Things, Dwight beat me to the punch on the last news on the upcoming corruption trial against State Democratic Representative Dawnna Dukes. But the latest revelation is a doozy:

As they prepare for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ corruption trial next month, Travis County prosecutors are prepared to present evidence that she showed up to work at the Capitol impaired, hid a cellphone from investigators and spent more than $51,000 on an online psychic.

At least with regular draft, you can understand how the corrupt pol benefits. Blowing $51 grand of taxpayer money on Miss Cleao just adds insult to idiocy.

More of Dukes’ Greatest Hits:

In other “extraneous acts” listed in the filing, prosecutors say Dukes:

  • Was absent for roll call 65 percent of the time during the 2017 legislative regular session, and 36 percent of the time in the special session.
  • Responded to a search warrant for her cellphone by providing investigators a phone that did not match the identification number on the phone they had requested
  • Was noticeably impaired while trying to perform legislative duties at the Capitol and showed up late to a House Appropriations Committee hearing on March 29, stating, “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon.”
  • Agreed to a contract with the Austin school district for her company, DM Dukes and Associates, to provide business evaluations but subcontracted the work to a consulting firm. The district paid Dukes $514,224 from May 2015 to March 2016.
  • Arrived late to court settings on June 30 and Aug. 21. Judge Brad Urrutia threatened to hold Dukes in contempt if she does it again.
  • Failed to submit in a timely fashion both a campaign finance report before the 2016 election and a 2017 personal financial statement. She was fined $1,000.
  • It’s a veritable buffet of bad behavior, and I look forward to Dukes appearing on Most Shocking: Legislators Out of Control.

    LinkSwarm for August 25, 2017

    Friday, August 25th, 2017

    Harvey has intensified into a Class 2 Hurricane overnight, and is expected to make landfall sometime around 1 AM, then stall and dump as much as 15-25 inches of rain from Brownsville to Houston.

    Naturally Houstonians are stocking up on the essentials: booze.

    Stay safe.

    Now enjoy your regularly scheduled Friday LinkSwarm:

  • “The Very Strange Indictment of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT Scammers:”

    To summarize, the indictment is an exercise in omission. No mention of the Awan group’s theft of information from Congress. Not a hint about the astronomical sums the family was paid, much of it for no-show “work.” Not a word about Wasserman Schultz’s keeping Awan on the payroll for six months during which (a) he was known to be under investigation, (b) his wife was known to have fled to Pakistan, and (c) he was not credentialed to do the IT work for which he had been hired. Nothing about Wasserman Schultz’s energetic efforts to prevent investigators from examining Awan’s laptop. A likely currency-transportation offense against Alvi goes uncharged. And, as for the offenses that are charged, prosecutors plead them in a manner that avoids any reference to what should be their best evidence.

    There is something very strange going on here.

  • Jihadists wanted to blow up Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona with a massive truck bomb.
  • DNC fundraising still sucking wind:

    The Democratic National Committee just posted its worst July fundraising numbers in a decade, raising questions about why the party machine cannot capitalize on President Trump’s low approval ratings and whether new Chairman Tom Perez is up to the task.

    The DNC raised $3.8 million last month, compared to $10.2 million for the Republican National Committee. The tally fit a pattern for the Democrats, who have posted a string of depressed fundraising numbers month after month this year, even after new party boss Perez took charge in February.

    Why, it’s almost like Russian conspiracy theories, LARP Nazis and the the imminent threat of Confederate statues doesn’t motivate Democratic donors to open their wallets. Or that Bernie Sanders supporters realize that the DNC is still the the hands of the same corrupt Clinton cronies who rigged the 2016 primaries…

  • “Ask yourself a few questions: Does the typical ‘swing’ voter who made the difference for Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin consider monuments to Robert E. Lee a major social problem?”
  • “Antifa Declares: ‘F**k Your F***ing Constitution, We’re Here to Punch Nazis.'” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Antifa beats their own ally at a rally. Way to win friends and influence people!
  • Arrest warrants are out for three men who skipped their arraignments yesterday after being cuffed following the ‘Free Speech Rally’ on the Boston Common Saturday and massive counterdemonstration.” So if you spot Antifa dumbasses Adan Daroba, Roberto Bonilla or Chad Cruger, contact the police… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • It’s all fun and games until you take one in the yarbles.
  • Update: Joshua Stuart Cobin, AKA “tear gas in the nads guy” has been arrested for assault, evidently for kicking the tear gas canister back toward police. There are a lot of real crimes numerous Antifa protestors should be arrested for, but this one seems a very dubious charge if that’s all it’s for.
  • Kurt Schlichter wonders just what the hell does #NeverTrump think they’re accomplishing?

    Oh yeah, we’ll repeal Obamacare. Oh yeah, we’ll defend the border. Oh yeah, we’ll defund the baby-butchering cartel. Oh yeah, blah blah blah blah blah. All lies, but they didn’t care. They had their power and prestige and the promise of a fat paycheck down the road when they moved from Congress to K Street. Actual conservative ideology? Well, that was for the rubes. And we were the rubes. We in the base, who are suffering from the establishment’s incompetent mismanagement of the society it had been foolish to try to micromanage in the first place, tried to warn them. But the Fredocons wouldn’t listen, because they’re smart, not like everyone says, like dumb…

    That warning was called ‘the Tea Party,” and the GOP establishment didn’t like it either. Remember how all those activated Republican voters helped recapture Congress, yet most of the establishment types looked at them like they were something nasty that was smeared on their shoes? See, the base isn’t supposed to be activated. It’s supposed to be obedient. It’s supposed to turn out on election day to do volunteer work and write checks. It’s not supposed to try to have input. That’s for our betters, not for us.

    But the thing is, now we’re woke, and we’ve realized that our establishment sucks, and that we’re tired of being the suckees. They didn’t listen to us when we gave them the Tea Party, so now we gave them Trump. And they’re very, very upset with us. That’s a key reason they want to undercut Trump. Some people are just always going to want to trash the guy getting the attention and wielding the influence they think rightfully belongs to them. That’s true whether they are some donkey–looking senator from Arizona or Nebraska pimping a book about his agonizing moral struggles, or some tiresome op-ed scribbler serving as the domesticated house conservative on a failing liberal rag, or the invasion-happy beneficiary of his parents’ success who finds he can’t fill the cabins on his brochure’s cruises anymore.

  • Chief Obamacare Architect Fired, Forced To Settle Fraudulent Billing Investigation In Vermont.” I know we were all hoping he’d be pushed off the Nakatomi Tower…
  • Mike Rowe smacks down a moron who called him a white nationalist:

    You say that White Nationalists believe that everyone who goes to college is an “academic elite.” You then say that Republicans promote “anti-intellectualism.” You offer no proof to support either claim, but it really doesn’t matter – your statements successfully connect two radically different organizations by alleging a shared belief. Thus, White Nationalists and The Republican Party suddenly have something in common – a contempt for higher education. Then, you make it personal. You say that Republicans “love” me because they believe that my initiative and “their” initiative are one and the same. But of course, “their” initiative is now the same initiative as White Nationalists.

    Very clever. Without offering a shred of evidence, you’ve implied that Republicans who support mikeroweWORKS do so because they believe I share their disdain for all things “intellectual.” And poof – just like that, Republicans, White Nationalists, and mikeroweWORKS are suddenly conflated, and the next thing you know, I’m off on a press tour to disavow rumors of my troubling association with the Nazis!

    Far-fetched? Far from it. That’s how logical fallacies work. A flaw in reasoning or a mistaken belief undermines the logic of a conclusion, often leading to real-world consequences. And right now, logical fallacies are not limited to the warped beliefs of morons with tiki torches, and other morons calling for “more dead cops.” Logical fallacies are everywhere.

  • “A Thorium-Salt Reactor Has Fired Up for the First Time in Four Decades.”
  • “One Statistics Professor Was Just Banned By Google.” Statistics professor Salil Mehta, adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science, was banned by Google last Friday. “On Friday afternoon East Coast Time by surprise, I was completely shut down in all my Google accounts (all of my gmail accounts, blog, all of my university pages that were on google sites, etc.) for no reason and no warning.” His blog isn’t political and his Twitter account follows several prominent Democrats. (Update: restored.)
  • Mapping terrorist groups operating in Pakistan.
  • “After applying the latest big data technique to six 2,000 year-long proxy-temperature series we cannot confirm that recent warming is anything but natural – what might have occurred anyway, even if there was no industrial revolution.”
  • “For many Republicans, what matters most about Donald Trump is that he’s demonstrated resolve against the enemy — not the Islamic State or the Taliban, but the media.”
  • The Village Voice to end print publication. “Under its current ownership, the paper eliminated sex advertising.” Given that’s the only way “alternative” weeklies make money, I bet that was the final nail in the coffin. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Empower Texas has released their legislature ratings. A lot of Republicans ranked a lot lower than you might think…
  • Go to Cancun, do shots, get raped. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Freedom Center demands a retraction from the SPLC.
  • San Antonio ends ShotSpotters, one of those acoustic gunshot locator systems, because it doesn’t work. (Hat tip: Say Uncle.)
  • Whole Paycheck no more?
  • Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ strategy starting to crack Eastern European markets.” Shipping coal to Ukraine and LNG to Lithuania to replace Russian sources. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Why it took time for electricity to replace the steam engine.
  • “A rising number of young Chinese people are failing fitness tests required to join the army because they are too fat and masturbate too much.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Captain Kirk destroys social justice warrior cling-ons.
  • Heh:

  • Nearing its 50th Anniversary, here’s a look back at how The Prisoner TV show got made.
  • Ladies, important safety tip: never allow a loaded gun in your vagina. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Straus Spikes Abbott Special Session Agenda By Adjourning Early

    Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

    Once again Texas Speaker Joe Straus has used parliamentary maneuvers to thwart conservative reform:

    In an unprecedented abuse of power, House Speaker Joe Straus unilaterally adjourned the Texas House without warning a day before the special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott was scheduled to end. In doing so, he ignored loud objections from the floor and denied members their right to vote on the move.

    Shortly after the Texas House voted to approve a half-billion-dollar education spending program, State Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angelton) began briefing lawmakers on the progress of negotiations about a property tax reform measure. Bonnen told lawmakers he would not appoint a conference committee on what was arguably the center-piece legislation of both the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that was watered down over the weekend in the House.

    Instead, Bonnen told his colleagues, the Senate would have to take the House version or leave it.

    Then, without warning, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Humble) stepped to the microphone and moved that the House adjourn “sine die” – the constitutional language concluding the chamber’s work for the special session.

    Besides property tax reform, the adjournment killed the key issues in Gov. Abbott’s agenda, such as spending limits, privacy protections, paycheck protection, and more.

    Straus’ radical move could be a last hurrah for the liberal Republican speaker.

    The House Republican Caucus is scheduled to meet on Wednesday at 8:30am to discuss adopting procedures for a caucus nominee for speaker.

    After Straus gaveled the House out, conservative members confirmed on social media that the speaker ignored a chorus of objections and demands for a record vote on the motion to adjourn.

    It is Straus’s most insolent rebuke yet of Gov. Abbott’s authority to call a special session, and the basic foundations of our constitutional order.

    Over the past several sessions, Straus had gradually consolidated power, refusing to recognize member’s motion, refusing to allow members to lay out amendments, and refusing to answer questions or justify his actions on any legal basis.

    Governor Abbott was blunt about who was to blame for the special session failure:

    Gov. Greg Abbott laid the blame for the failure of the Legsialture to pass half of his 20-item special session agenda on the House and its speaker, Joe Straus, laying the groundwork for a challenge to Straus in the next session.

    In an interview with KTRH radio in Houston Wednesday morning, Abbott said he was gratified by the progress made in the special session, which ended a day early Tuesday, but unhappy with the failure of the House to even vote on nine of his agenda items.

    “I’m disappointed that all 20 items did not receive the up or down vote that I wanted,” the governor said.

    While the Senate worked quickly to pass 18 of his priorities at session’s start, Abbott said the House was “dilly-dallying” on unrelated matters, and laid the blame at the doorstep of the speaker, who he said had made plain during the regular session that he would block any transgender bathroom legislation in a regular or special session and delivered on that promise.

    “We [sic-LP] was not tricky. He was open and overt that he would not let it on the House floor,” Abbott said.

    The governor said he was especially disappointed that the session ended without agreeing on his top priority of property tax reform. He said he could call another special session at any time, but it would not make sense to do so with the same cast of characters, suggesting, “that’s why elections matter.”

    That seemed to be an invitation to members of the House Freedom Caucus to seek to replace Straus in the next session. In that he is on the same page at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who blistered Straus at a sine die press conference Tuesday night.

    The Texas House Republican Caucus is meeting right now to address the Speaker question.

    DA to Dukes: Resign or Else

    Monday, July 31st, 2017

    There’s been a new development in Democrat State Rep. Dawnna Dukes corruption case:

    Beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes has until the end of the day Tuesday to resign from office — and submit to a drug and alcohol assessment — as part of a plea offer in her criminal corruption case.

    The plea offer is similar to one Dukes rejected last year prior to the Texas Rangers launching an investigation that led to a Travis County grand jury indicting Dukes on 13 felony charges and two misdemeanors.

    Dukes did not respond to messages left by the American-Statesman on Monday morning. She told reporters in June after pleading not guilty that she would not take any plea deals and instead will proceed to trial on Oct. 16.

    The deal expires at the close of the business day on Tuesday and will not be re-offered, according to Justin Wood of the district attorney’s office. In addition to her resignation, the plea offer calls for Dukes to:

  • Submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and complete any treatment and counseling recommended as a result of the assessment. In a March 29 meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, Dukes showed up late and, after posing a rambling question, referred to medication she was on — “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon,” she said.
  • Pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 related to charges of tampering with governmental records and abuse of official capacity. Dukes is alleged to have collected pay for days she did not travel to the Capitol in the 2014 Legislative session. She’s also charged with using her legislative staff for personal chores.
  • Pay a $500 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission. Dukes was sued by the commission earlier this month for missing a deadline for an elections finance report and then not paying the fine.
  • Waive her right to a speedy trial in any future litigation related to these matters
  • In exchange for accepting the offer, the DA’s office has agreed to drop all charges, but only after Dukes has complied with all conditions.

    If found guilty at trial, Dukes could face a maximum punishment of 28 years in prison.

    Dukes’ attorney, Dane Ball, of Houston, declined comment Monday morning and would not say if he is still representing Dukes in this case.

    Dukes was indicted in January and pled not guilty June 30. Her continuing in the legislature was a surprise, as she had been absent from from the legislature for more than a year for “medical reasons,” and had previously said she would step down, but then changed her mind and was sworn in for the 85th Texas legislature.

    Dukes previously stated she wanted to go to trial, but she has continually delayed the case, most recently on the grounds of legislative continuance, a cause that would still presumably hold while the special session is active.

    And if she beats the rap, Dukes says she’s considering running for reelection again in 2018.

    Stay tuned…

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”
  • Texas 2017 Special Session Begins

    Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

    The Texas Special Session opened Tuesday, ushering in a 30 day flurry of legislative activity. Naturally the media is focusing on the bathroom bill, because liberals are incensed that an unpopular culture war victory imposed by Obama fiat could possibly be overturned. But a lot of other important items are on the agenda, most of which liberals will hate just as much.

    The uncontroversial portion of the session is sailing right through:

    Waiving rules and blocking Democrats, Republicans in the Texas Senate opened the special legislative session Tuesday by taking rapid action on two key bills, potentially allowing Gov. Greg Abbott to open the overtime session to a longer list of conservative priorities as early as Wednesday afternoon.

    Abbott said he will expand the special session’s agenda after the Senate approves two “sunset” bills allowing five state agencies, including the Texas Medical Board, to continue operating.

    To hasten action on the bills, Republicans voted along party lines to waive a rule requiring 24-hour notice of meetings so the Business and Commerce Committee could consider the sunset measures while the Senate was in a late-morning recess.

    For the first time in more than 30 years, senators also voted — again along party lines — to suspend a rule allowing one senator to “tag” legislation, requiring a 48-hour wait before a bill can be heard in committee.

    Here again are the 19 items after the must-pass Sunset legislation that Gov. Abbot has put on the agenda:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Bathroom bill
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • Here is the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s issue guide for the special session.

    Gov. Abbott Does Not Sound Pleased With Joe Straus

    Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

    Gov. Gregg Abbott has a tendency to hold opinions close to his chest. But in this Chad Hasty Show interview, he sounds genuinely irritated when talking about the need for the special session he’s been forced to call because so many of his priorities died in the Joe Straus-led house:

    Gov. Abbott: If you guys are not going to take care of business during the regular session, if you’re going to use this must-past bill about ensuring the Texas Medical Board is going to continue on as political fodder, then I’m going to make sure we have a special session that counts, that focuses on the issues that I know are very important to our fellow Texans. Such as reducing property taxes. Such as addressing something that has turned out to be a very substantial issue all the way from Dallas, Texas to the Rio Grande Valley, which is to crack down on fraud that has taken place in the mail ballot process.

    Chad Hasty: Governor, you said that the Speaker of the House [prioritized] his priorities, you prioritized the issues for the state of Texas. Are you saying that maybe the House Speaker didn’t have the priorities of all Texans in mind?

    Gov. Abbott: In my conversations, and also in my perceptions, it seems like his priorities differed from, for example, these priorities I have on the special session call. His priorities differed from the deals that we were trying to broker at the end of the session. Some easy examples: I called, in my state of the state address, that I gave at the very beginning of the session, for meaningful property tax reform. Several weeks before the end of the session, I said publicly, in the press, there were a couple of items that were must press items in order for this session to be concluded successfully, ine of those was property tax reform. I know that I articulated, both in my state-of-the-state address as well as during the course of the session, to have at least some form of ability, especially for parents of special needs children, to have the opportunity to pick the school that’s right for them. And none of these have an opportunity of being addressed in the Texas House of Representatives.

    Chad Hasty: Now, I’m looking at 20 items here, one that is much-pass before we get to everything else, which is the sunset legislation. I’m going to be honest with you, Governor: I watched this past session. How do you expect all these lawmakers to get all 20 of these done in 30 days?

    Gov. Abbott: It’s pretty easy, because for almost all of them, nothing new needs to be created. I am resurrecting bills that were already proposed, that were largely debated on, many of them already passed out of the senate. I know, in my conversations with the Lt. Governor, that these are all items that can be passed out of the Texas senate in short order. It’s just a matter of of getting them to the house floor, getting a vote on them. The issue is not one of timing, because these are not difficult issues to grapple with, because they’ve already grappled with most of them. It’s just a matter of are they going to stand for them and vote for them, or evade them and not vote for them?

    Here’s the interview, which goes into more detail on the special needs education bill, which is a bigger issue than most people realize:

    Governor Abbott is essentially saying what conservative activists have: These are popular bills, and the only reason they haven’t passed is the obstruction of Speaker Joe Straus and his lieutenants

    TPPF Legislative Update Recap

    Thursday, June 8th, 2017

    Tuesday I attended the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Legislative Update following the close of the regular 85th Texas Legislative Session. I meant to live-blog it, but I neglected to get the WiFi password before it started, so I ended up live-tweeting it from my iPhone instead.

    So here’s a recap in tweet form of what was discussed.

    The panel was introduced by TPPF Executive Vice President Dr. Kevin Roberts.

    Next was Dr. Vance Ginn, economist at the center for Public Policy.

    Next was James Quintero, who you may remember from this interview on the Texas municipal debt crisis.

    That was Gov. Abbott’s call for a special session, and one of the items on his agenda was indeed property tax reform.

    Next was Stephanie Matthews, Senior Policy Advisor of the Center for Education Freedom.

    ESA mentioned here stands for Education Savings Accounts.

    Next was Dr. Derek Cohen, Deputy Director of the Center for Effective Justice.

    The final panelist was Brandon Logan, Director of the Center for Families and Children.

    In case it’s unclear from the tweet, Logan was not enthused at the prospect of CPS using predictive analytics.

    I hope these tweets give you at least the gist of what was discussed.

    If you want to attend yourself, the Legislative Update has other dates around the state open to the public, so sign up for free tickets in advance if you’re interested.

    Gov. Abbott Calls Special Session

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18:

    Abbott gave legislators an ambitious 19-item agenda to work on — including a so-called “bathroom bill” — after they approve must-pass legislation that they failed to advance during the regular session. An overtime round, Abbott said, was “entirely avoidable.”

    “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business,” Abbott told reporters. “But if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count.”

    (Ignore the usual Texas Tribune hand-wringing about the “controversial” nature of the bathroom law; it’s just a restoration of the status quo, reversing what the Obama Administration imposed on the nation via executive fiat.)

    Here are Governor Abbott’s 19 items:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • That’s an ambitious agenda…if Texas Speaker Joe Straus, who did so much to thwart so many of those items, let’s any of them pass.

    In an effort to force the special session, [Lieutenant Governor] Patrick had held hostage legislation, known as a “sunset bill,” that would keep some state agencies from closing. That “will be the only legislation on the special session [agenda] until they pass out of the Senate in full,” Abbott said.

    That’s quite defensible from a governance perspective, but it is going to eliminate Lt. Gov. Patrick’s biggest piece of leverage against Straus.

    With fewer items on the agenda, maybe House Republicans will have a chance to concentrate and actually act like Republicans rather than let Straus’ liberal coalition run roughshod over them.

    Illegal Alien Pro-Tip

    Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

    If you’re in the country illegally, don’t draw attention to yourself. Especially by unrolling banner proclaiming you’re an illegal alien.

    Especially inside the Texas legislature.

    Or someone (in this case Republican state representative Matt Rinaldi) might call immigration enforcement on you. Which is what happened.

    Naturally, hilarity ensued.

    (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)