Posts Tagged ‘Dan Patrick’

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…”
  • 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

    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.

    LinkSwarm for May 19, 2017

    Friday, May 19th, 2017

    Another eventful week, and not just for the special-prosecutor and impeachment talk freakout Democrats are having. (Looks like they failed to learn the lesson of “Fitzmas.”)

    Now the LinkSwarm:

  • “Almost every promise made eight years ago about Obamacare turned out to be a falsehood.”

    No, you couldn’t keep your insurance plan, doctor or provider in many cases. No, it didn’t save $2,500 per family (more like cost $2,500 more per family). No, it didn’t lead to expanded patient choice. And yes, the tax increases and insurance mandates damaged the economy and cost jobs. We are now left with insurance markets that have entered a death spiral. The entire health insurance market will financially implode unless it’s changed.

  • “Several raids by federal and local authorities across Los Angeles on Wednesday led to the arrests of 44 MS-13 gang members, including murderers, CNN reported. The series of 50 raids occurred before dawn and were led by ATF agents and 1,000 other officers who have been working on the case for around three years. More than half of the 44 gang members arrested were undocumented immigrants, while three members are currently on the run.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Boston prosecutors go out of their way not to deport a foreign national for bank robbery. Result? Two American citizens murdered.
  • More proof that the Obama Administration used national security intelligence gathering to spy on domestic political opponents.
  • Anthony Weiner pleads guilty. “Prosecutors said they would ask for 21 months to 27 months in prison for Weiner once his plea is entered. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.” That would put him safely past the 2018 midterm elections, but not the 2020 election…
  • The peoples of the bubbles:

    “Call it the zeroth bubble.

    In it are the self-proclaimed elites of government and media. The residents of the zeroth bubble reside in coastal enclaves and surrounded by elaborate systems that protect them from those who live in the first, second and third bubbles.

    The residents of the zeroth bubble often secure permanent employment in the form of government sinecure or job-hopping between government, media, academia, lobbying, and public relations.

    Their personal security is assured by heavily-armed forces that offer many of them around-the-clock protection.

    There is little crossover from the zeroth bubble to the first. And certainly less still between the zeroth and the second.

    It’s also safe to say that the device has yet to be invented that can measure the empathy that the elites feel for the residents of the third bubble.

    Which helps explain why illegal immigration — from human- and drug-smuggling to MS-13 — is of no concern to the Chamber of Commerce, or your typical Senator, or Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.

    The zeroth bubble people wouldn’t ever see the results of the open borders policies they espouse and support, nor can they even countenance them.

    In fact, they’re sufficiently disconnected from the residents of the first bubble that they missed the entire Trump phenomenon.

  • Scott Adams looks at positives (the economy, jobs) and negatives (“Unproven allegations of Russian collusion with Trump campaign”) of the Trump era. “All the important stuff is trending positive.”
  • President Trump rolls back another Obama Administration power grab:

    President Donald Trump reversed another eleventh-hour Obama administration regulation, rolling back Democrats’ effort to push private sector workers into state government retirement plans.

    Trump signed House Resolution 66 on Wednesday, undoing a regulation adopted by the Department of Labor on October 31, 2016. The department’s rule would have allowed state and local governments to create IRA accounts for private sector workers and automatically deduct contributions from their paychecks without the protections savers enjoy under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Draining the swamp: Half of EPA advisory board dismissed. Also: “The Interior Department has also frozen the work of more than 200 advisory boards, committees and subcommittees last week.” Just think of all the damage they won’t be able to do to the American economy for a while…
  • Democratic congressional leaders: Ixnay on the mpeachmentinay alktay! (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • In Montana, Democrats have recruited a signing socialist in favor of gun control for their candidate.
  • “Routine arrest of arguing Muslims leads Minneapolis police to huge weapons cache and bomb-making devices.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Former Social Justice Warrior on why she quit the cult:

    I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.

    The most pernicious aspect of this evolution of the left, is how it seems to be changing people, and how rapidly since the election. I have been dwelling on this Nietzsche quote for almost six months now, “He who fights with monsters, should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.

    (Hat tip: PJMedia via Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Signs of cognitive dissonance that show you’re winning the debate: “If you have been well-behaved in a debate, and you trigger an oversized personal attack, it means you won.”
  • #NeverTrump was (mostly) wrong.
  • The challenges of treating children who are born psychopaths:

    One bitter December day in 2011, Jen was driving the children along a winding road near their home. Samantha had just turned 6. Suddenly Jen heard screaming from the back seat, and when she looked in the mirror, she saw Samantha with her hands around the throat of her 2-year-old sister, who was trapped in her car seat. Jen separated them, and once they were home, she pulled Samantha aside.

    “What were you doing?,” Jen asked.

    “I was trying to choke her,” Samantha said.

    “You realize that would have killed her? She would not have been able to breathe. She would have died.”

    “I know.”

    “What about the rest of us?”

    “I want to kill all of you.”

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • “Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, the first admiral ever convicted of a federal crime while on active duty, was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about his involvement in a bribery scandal that has ensnared numerous Navy officers.” That would be for the Fat Leonard scandal. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Senate Conservative Fund-backed Ralph Norman wins primary for South Carolina’s Fifth Congressional seat by 203 votes.
  • “After a drug search, a cop brushes some residue off his shirt and within minutes falls to the floor overdosing.” Carfentanyl, which is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, sounds less like a drug and more like a chemical warfare agent…
  • UK election watch: Why Labour is about to get wiped out in Wales:

    it becomes clear that what you’re seeing is the strange death of Labour Wales – one that goes back further and deeper than June 2016.

    In its heartlands, Labour was always a working-class party, and what’s changed is that the working class has been smashed up. The physical traces of that are evident all over south Wales. The mines are now museum pieces. The Sony factory in Bridgend has long since gone, while the town’s Ford plant is reportedly preparing to shed over half its workers. What’s replaced those careers? A scan of the windows of the recruitment agencies tells you: fork-lift drivers, warehouse staff, “recycling operatives”. All at around minimum wage, and hardly any full-time.

    For decades, Labour took this area and its other heartlands for granted – while it flirted with Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman. It parachuted in its plastic professional politicians – just think of the way Tristram Hunt was airlifted into Stoke – and ignored the need to nurture local talent. Now in Wales and elsewhere, it is paying the price of decades of ingrained arrogance.

    (Hat tip: The Political Hat.)

  • “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened the British government with ‘consequences’ if it were to restrict immigration from the EU member states after the country formally breaks away from the union.” This brings up a number of questions, foremost among them why does she care? First, why should the leader of one country care how another country sets its immigration policy? Second, this suggests that Frau Merkel thinks she’s President of the EU rather than Germany (to be fair, so does most of the world). Third, why would the EU fight to make it easier for their own citizens to leave the EU? Why it’s almost as if Merkel is more loyal to the interests of open borders elites than the German people. Or else the EU wants to dump more Islamic “refugees” on the UK…
  • Texas House Speaker Joe Straus seems to have finally met his match in Lt. Governor Dan Patrick:

    Joe Straus looked like a speaker unquestionably in charge. Then things started falling apart.

    The problems for the speaker have been caused by a small group of Republican legislators known as the Freedom Caucus. The core group is nine lawmakers out of the 150-member House, and sometimes they can get their vote up to nineteen. Even some conservative Republicans complain that the Freedom Caucus is not truly Republican, but rather a group of libertarians more bent on causing chaos in the House than anything else. Some of the most prominent members are Matt Schaefer of Tyler, Jeff Leach of Plano, and Matt Rinaldi of Irving. Their titular leader is Bedford Representative Jonathan Stickland, who uses parliamentary rules to kill other members’ bills and then strongly objects when his own legislation suffers a similar fate. The Freedom Caucus opposes Straus but have generally been an ineffective annoyance.

    That changed on April 27, when the House endured sixteen hours of debate on an anti-immigration bill to address so-called sanctuary cities. In the course of the debate, Schaefer offered an amendment to prevent police chiefs from restricting their officers from asking people who have been detained about their immigration status. In a moment of conciliation, Schaefer offered to pull down his amendment if Democrats would stop offering their own amendments designed to make Republicans look heartless and cruel. Some Democrats wanted to take the deal, but Representatives Armando Walle of Houston, Cesar Blanco of El Paso and Roland Gutierrez of San Antonio argued against it. By refusing to compromise, the three guaranteed that the so-called “show me your papers” amendment would become part of the bill that Abbott eventually signed into law.

    But undeniably, Straus had an opportunity to affect the outcome of that bill. He could have kept it bottled up as he was doing with the bathroom bill, though he had allowed a similar sanctuary cities bill to go through the House in 2011. Straus also could have demanded discipline out of his chairs to vote against Schaefer. The amendment went on the bill by a vote of 81-64, with fourteen of Straus’s committee chairs voting for the Schaefer amendment, while three other members of his leadership team were away at a conference committee on the budget. Straus needed to switch only a dozen votes to keep the most controversial language out of the bill.

    The Freedom Caucus was empowered, at least in perception.

    In the days that followed, caucus members got an amendment on a foster care bill to prevent the vaccination of children who have been removed from their homes until a court ordered the child’s permanent removal. And last week they used maneuvers to slow down the House calendar so that a “safety net” bill failed to pass to keep agencies subject to the sunset review process alive even if their reauthorization legislation failed. And finally, they won passage of an amendment to a State Bar of Texas bill to make it an affirmative defense for a lawyer under disciplinary review to claim he or she acted because of a sincerely held religious belief—an amendment that Democrats viewed as giving lawyers the ability to discriminate against the LGBT community.

    After the religious beliefs amendment passed on a vote of 85-59, Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas blurted out, “Last session these guys couldn’t pass gas. Now they’re running the floor.”

    Several senior Republican members of the Straus leadership team have told me they don’t feel like anyone is in charge in the House. One called it a rudderless ship. None said they are ready to abandon Straus or revolt against him, though the frustration is rising.

    With the Freedom Caucus suddenly finding some success in the House, Patrick no doubt saw an opportunity to reassert control of the session. The death of the House version of the “safety net” bill was important. It’s called a safety net bill because it allows agencies under sunset review to continue operating. It has to pass. With the demise of the House’s bill, the only option left is the Senate’s version. And Patrick made clear he intends to hold that bill hostage.

    In his press conference Wednesday, flanked by the flags of Texas and the United States, Patrick noted that he had control of the Senate version of the safety net bill. Then he demanded the House surrender on using the state’s rainy day fund to pay for a revenue shortfall in the budget; that the House accept both a private school voucher program in a substantially reduced school funding plan, and a controversial property tax reform for cities and counties; and that some form of his bathroom bill receive House approval. Otherwise, Patrick would force a special session to get what he wants.

    Ignore the analysis of the Freedom Caucus. What’s really going on here is that Patrick has emboldened House Republicans who previously lived in fear of Straus’ vengeance to actually start acting like Republicans again.

  • The Germans are coming…to lower your grocery bill.
  • Turns out that female college graduates are now making more than their male counterparts. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Roger Ailes, RIP.
  • Deal reached on Dallas pension crisis? (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Saudis to Make $6 Billion Deal for Lockheed’s Littoral Ships.” This is evidently just one component of a $110 billion arms deal negotiated by both the Trump and Obama Administrations. Though most famous for aircraft, Lockheed has built combat ships off and on for decades and, especially after their merger with Martin Marietta in 1995, has a lot of fingers in a lot of defense contracting pies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital closes.
  • Good things for a track coach: Burning speed. Bad things for a track coach: burning his own home.
  • “How ‘social justice warriors’ are like McCarthyites and the Ku Klux Klan.”
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates’ social justice warrior Marvel comic Black Panther & The Crew cancelled after two issues due to low sales. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Slowdive just released their first new album in two decades. It’s excellent and you should buy it.
  • Texas Primary Runoff Results

    Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

    A few quick results from last night’s runoffs:

  • Wayne Christian defeated Gary Gates in the Republican Railroad Commissioner’s runoff, despite Gates dropping considerable money into a dishonest, scorched earth direct mailer campaign against Christian. That makes Gates 0-7 running for office.
  • Wayne Christian will face Democrat Grady Yarbrough (as well as Libertarian Mark Miller and Green Party candidate Martina Salinas) in November.
  • Mary Lou Keel defeated Ray Wheless and Scott Walker (not that Scott Walker) defeated Brent Webster in Republican Court of Criminal Appeals runoffs. Keel will face Republican-turned-Democrat incumbent Lawrence Meyers in November, while Walker will face Democrat Betsy Johnson.
  • Bryan Hughes stomped David Simpson in the Texas Senate District 1 race. Hughes was backed by both Ted Cruz and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Hughes has no Democratic Party opposition in November.
  • In Williamson County runoffs, Laura Barker defeated Warren Oliver Waterman for County Court at Law #2 and Landy Warren defeated Donna Parker for County Commissioner Precinct 1. Warren will face Democrat Terry Cook in November, while Baker faces no Democratic Party opponent.
  • Texas vs. California Update for February 26, 2015

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • CalPERS believes that it has police powers to seize property to sell to support public employee pensions. “It is hard to imagine a bigger or more blatant example of collusion between business interests and government employees at the expense of ordinary private citizens.” Plus the impossibility of maintaining the 7.5% returns necessary for the pension fund to remain solvent. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalPERS and CalSTARS want direct proxy access for candidates for corporate boards.
  • Speaking of CalSTARS, the cost of funding it going forward looms large on California’s horizon.
  • Stockton exits bankruptcy.
  • Daughters of Charity Health Systems sues the SEIU over interference in a merger deal.
  • Part of the demands from California’s liberal Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris to approve the merger include forcing currently Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
  • It’s all but impossible for the Middle Class to live in Silicon Valley.
  • West coast port strike ends. Yet another reason to ship through Houston instead…
  • Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick files a bill for $4.6 billion in tax relief.
  • Texas Right to Work laws help keep the state prosperous, but more can be done.
  • Dan Patrick Sends Three Second Amendment Bills On To Committee

    Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

    Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced that he’s sending three pro-Second Amendment bills to the Senate State Affairs Committee:

  • Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), An act relating to the carrying of concealed handguns on the campuses of and certain other locations associated with institutions of higher education, by Sen. Brian Birdwell (SD22).
  • Senate Bill 342 (SB 342), Relating to providing for the open and concealed carrying of handguns without a license and to related offenses and penalties, by Sen. Don Huffines (SD16).
  • Senate Bill 346 (SB 346), Relating to the authority of a person who is licensed to carry a handgun to openly carry a holstered handgun, by Sen. Craig Estes (SD30).
  • Except for the effectivity date, the campus carry bill is essentially identical to Birdwell’s SB 182 in the 83rd legislative session, which was killed in 2013.

    SB342 provides for essentially unlimited constitutional carry, while SB346 would authorize open carry only for CHL holders. I think it’s canny of Patrick to advance both at the same time. Some squishy republicans may balk at universal carry, but voting for SB 346 will allow them to split the difference and still appear pro-gun.

    One possible snag for any pro Second Amendment bill: the Senate Criminal Justice Committee is still headed by Democrat John Whitmire. However, since Whitmire is considerably more pro-gun than the average Democrat this may not be a problem.

    Will Speaker Joe Straus kill pro-Second Amendment bills in the House? He’s killed some in the past, but he’s also been very careful not to leave his fingerprints on the knife. Given how Straus has crowed about endorsements from the NRA and the Texas State Rifle Association, I’m guessing he won’t go to the mat to kill popular Second Amendment bills supported by a clear majority of senators. Straus is another reason I think SB 346 is more likely to pass than SB 342.

    Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick Sworn In

    Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

    Greg Abbott has been sworn in as the 48th Governor of Texas, and Dan Patrick has been sworn in as Lt. Governor.

  • Gregg Abbott’s inaugural address.
  • Dan Patrick’s inaugural address.
  • Texas Statewide Race Oddities

    Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

    With all the votes in, we can start analyzing some of odder aspects of the Texas statewide race results.

    For those watching the race, it’s no surprise that (discounting 2006’s strange four-way race) Wendy Davis was the worst-performing Democratic gubernatorial candidate this century. The surprising thing is that, as bad as she was, Davis was the Democrat’s best statewide candidate this year. Her 38.9% was the highest statewide vote percentage by any Texas Democrat in 2014. Leticia Van de Putte’s 38.7% was the second highest. Otherwise statewide Democratic candidates ranged from a low of 34.3% for invisible Senate candidate David Alameel to a high of 38% for Attorney General candidate Sam Houston.

    Possible explanations:

  • Perhaps Wendy Davis’ antics didn’t cause people to switch so much as it caused Democrats to stay home entirely.
  • Perhaps in lower-pofile races people felt free to vote for third party candidates.
  • Perhaps there is indeed a staunchly “pro-abortion Republican” segment of the Texas electorate, but evidence suggests that, if so, it ranges from 0.5% to 1% of the total…
  • And those who said Abbott would outpoll Dan Patrick were right…but only by 1.2%.

    Abbott took ten counties that Bill White won in 2010: Harris, Bexar, Brooks, Culberson, Falls, Foard, Kleberg, La Salle, Reeves and Trinity. Harris (Houston) and Bexar (San Antonio) are the 800-pound gorillas on that list. In 2012, Ted Cruz won Harris by 2% (while Romney was edged there by a thousand votes) while losing Bexar by 4%. For a while Democrats were able to stay competitive statewide by racking up big margins in those urban counties even while they were losing rural and suburban counties. If Republicans can now win those counties outright, it may be a long, long time before a Democrat can win statewide again.

    Two statewide Republican candidates got more votes than Abbott’s 2,790,227: Senator John Cornyn and Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush. The rest of the country may suffer from Bush-fatigue (though I imagine that it’s now dwarfed by Obama-fatigue), but you’d be hard-pressed to find signs of it in Texas…

    Since Democrats failed to contest three statewide court races, both the Libertarian and Green parties reached the minimum 5% threshold to maintain ballot access in 2016.

    Shockingly, David Weigel actually brings the wood when discussing Battleground Texas:

    “These are the greatest geniuses of data in the f**king world and they can’t figure out that less people voted?” asked Carney. “Every publicly pronounced goal of Battleground, every one, has been an abject failure.”

    (snip)

    Davis only out-performed the 2010 ticket in her home base of Tarrant County (Ft. Worth).

    Oh, and it got worse. Abbott’s campaign said throughout the campaign that it would poach Latino voters, especially in the Rio Grande valley. A quick look at a Texas map might tell you that Abbott failed. Not quite true. Perry had lost Hidalgo County (McAllen) by 34 points; Abbott kept the margin down to 28 points. Perry had lost Webb County by 53 points; Abbott lost it by 39. In exit polling, Perry ended up pulling only 38 percent of the Latino vote. Abbott won 44 percent of it, about what was expected in a Texas Tribune poll that Davis allies tried to debunk. Abbott actually won Latino men, 50-49 over Davis. The Democratic wane and Republican outreach helped oust Rep. Pete Gallego, elected in 2012 in a district that sprawled across most of the border. He won 96,477 votes that year; he won only 55,436 this year, allowing black Republican Will Hurd to win, despite being out-fundraised 2-1.

    Weigel may be a partisan, but at least he can read a spreadsheet…

    Wallace Hall Followup: Dan Patrick Win = Witchhunt End?

    Monday, June 2nd, 2014

    The witchhunt against UT regent Wallace Hall for uncovering cronyism and favoritism in UT admissions may be coming to an an end, thanks to Dan Patrick’s decisive win the Lt. Governor runoff. Patrick has constantly supported Hall in his investigative efforts and condemned the attempt to impeach him.

    The effect of Patrick’s statement was immediate. The next day, a legislative committee that had met to draft articles of impeachment against Hall failed to do so. Several members of the committee were quoted saying that it would take a while. Others expressed hope that the Travis County District Attorney would, basically, take the case off their hands.

    The piece goes on to note that it is unlikely for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (who is up to his eyeballs in the scandal) to call a special session just to consider the impeachment of a regent who earns no salary. That would put off a House vote to send the formal charges of impeachment to the senate until next year, when then Lt. Governor Patrick, who controls the Senate agenda, would have numerous tools to delay or kill consideration of the impeachment charges.

    In other Wallace Hall/UT Scandal news, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial by Joe Straus ally Charles Matthews in which he tut-tuts the scandal, saying “nothing to see here.”

    Says Matthews: “A review has already been conducted by the UT system. After a nine-month inquiry, the report released to the public ‘did not uncover any evidence of a systematic, structured or centralized process of reviewing and admitting applicants recommended by influential individuals.'”

    Translation: We’ve investigated ourselves and found ourselves innocent! At least in “the report released to the public,” which seems and awfully specific formulation. (And how about non-“systematic, structured or centralized” abuse?)

    The biographical blurb on Matthews states that “Charles Matthews, a Dallas resident, is former vice president and general counsel of the Exxon Mobil Corp.” But the editorial fails to note that Matthews was the University system chancellor from 2005-2010 (i.e., at least some of the scandal presumably occurred on his watch), which would seem to be fairly important information for readers to judge his impartiality.

    Also, Hall has threatened to sue one of his legislative critics for making false statements about him…