Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Texas vs. California Update for January 21, 2015

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
  • The working poor benefit from a lower cost of living in red states.
  • Five of the top ten U.S. cities in economic growth in 2014 were in Texas: Austin, Houston, Ft. Worth. Dallas and San Antonio. (There were also two in California: San Francisco and San Jose.)
  • The Texas Comptroller has released the Biennial Revenue Estimate 2016-2017, which estimates $113 billion in general revenue-related funds available. The report details also notes that “In the past six years, Texas created two-thirds of all net new jobs in the U.S.”

  • By contrast, with the California budget more or less temporarily balanced, Democrats want to start spending like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card again. Legislative analyst: You don’t want to do that.
  • The average CalPERS pension is up to five times comparable Social Security payouts.
  • Jerry Brown says he wants to tackle California’s pension crisis. Good luck with that. While Brown has occasionally been willing to buck his party, and may feel he has nothing to lose in his last term, there’s no reason to believe the Democrat-dominated state House and Senate share his sentiments. I predict a few cosmetic measures passing combined with a whole lot more can kicking until actual default looms. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “Central Valley farmers say farming is doomed in their areas.” California’s water regulations are driving them out of business.
  • Stockton’s bankruptcy judge: screw secured debtors, we’ve got to start paying retirees.
  • Key figure in CalPERS pension fraud case apparently committed suicide. Hmmm…..
  • California’s Set Seal retail chain files for bankruptcy.
  • John G. Westine of California convicted of 26 counts of mail fraud in a phony Kentucky oil well scheme.
  • Bankruptcy lawyers gone wild!
  • 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.
  • LinkSwarm for January 19, 2015

    Monday, January 19th, 2015

    Enjoy a Monday LinkSwarm to get your week started:

  • Police conduct anti-terrorism raids in Germany, Belgium and France. Could this be the start of a real effort to halt Islamic extremism in Europe? I rather doubt it. Too many leftist parties across Europe need Muslim votes, and European elites still seem implacably hostile to the Euroskeptic parties pushing for an end to unlimited Muslim immigration.
  • Old and Busted: Never again! The New Hotness: More dead Jews? Meh.
  • The late Anwar al-Awlaki was good at two things: drawing up plans to kill innocent people in the name of Islam, and banging skanky whores.
  • The Prime Minister of France: “I refuse to use this term ‘Islamophobia,’ because those who use this word are trying to invalidate any criticism at all of Islamist ideology.” (Hat tip: JihadWatch.)
  • More from France’s PM on the new antisemitism:

    “There is a new anti-Semitism in France,” he told me. “We have the old anti-Semitism, and I’m obviously not downplaying it, that comes from the extreme right, but this new anti-Semitism comes from the difficult neighborhoods, from immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who have turned anger about Gaza into something very dangerous. Israel and Palestine are just a pretext. There is something far more profound taking place now.”

    In discussing the attacks on French synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses this summer, during the Gaza war, he said, “It is legitimate to criticize the politics of Israel. This criticism exists in Israel itself. But this is not what we are talking about in France. This is radical criticism of the very existence of Israel, which is anti-Semitic. There is an incontestable link between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Behind anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

  • Michael Totten quotes the late Christopher Hitchens. on the jihadist opinion of the current controversy: “Carving up grandfathers and granddaughters with an axe on New Year’s Eve can be okay if it’s done to protect the reputation of a seventh century Arabian man who heard voices.”
  • Bobby Jindal: “Islam has a problem.”
  • Victimology is the language and currency of our politics.”
  • All those Harvard professors supporting ObamaCare are shocked to discover they’re paying for it.
  • “In 2009, 76 Democrats represented primarily white working-class congressional districts. Just 15 of them are still in the House today.”

    A majority of the GOP gains since then have come from the Democrats’ near-total collapse in one set of districts: the largely blue-collar places in which the white share of the population exceeds the national average, and the portion of whites with at least a four-year college degree is less that the national average. While Republicans held a 20-seat lead in the districts that fit that description in the 111th Congress, the party has swelled that advantage to a crushing 125 seats today. That 105-seat expansion of the GOP margin in these districts by itself accounts for about three-quarters of the 136-seat swing from the Democrats’ 77-seat majority in 2009 to the 59-seat majority Republicans enjoy in the Congress convening now.

  • “It was not merely Democratic politicians who were wiped out in November. A plethora of liberal shibboleths were also massacred.”
  • Virginia voters won’t let a little thing like pleading guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor prevent him from regaining his seat in the House of Delegates. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • How big is Texas?
  • Three myths about Medicaid expansion. I hope that Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick understand that we didn’t elect them to cave in on ObamaCare…
  • Are your tweets University of Indiana-approved, comrade? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Feminism’s empathy gap. Or the Shanley Kanes of the world reject the experiences of women that don’t fit their preferred victimhood narrative…
  • How a Global Warming true believer became a skeptic.
  • 10 bodies, 11 severed heads found in Mexico.
  • Pictures of empty Venezuelan store shelves, as Socialism continue to work its usual magic.
  • Liberal California billionaire Tom Steyer may run for the senate. Hopefully he’ll have the same luck as the politicians he donated to in 2014…
  • Only found out recently that Death by Government and genocide/democide expert R. J. Rummel died March 2, 2014.
  • Conservatives win several rule fights in the Texas House.
  • Rick Perry’s farewell address.
  • Gregg Abbott’s inauguration will have 4 tons of brisket. Or, as we call it in Texas, “an appetizer.”
  • Times when climbing down a chimney is a good idea: Your name is “Santa Claus.” Otherwise? Not so much.
  • A cure for cracked winter hands.
  • “My personality is as spartan as a Danish furniture catalog, why can’t yours be the same?” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • American Sniper kills at the box office:

  • “This is an Ex-EarthQuest!”

    Thursday, January 15th, 2015

    For those not up to speed on the EarthQuest saga, it was an attempt to build an “ecological theme park” northeast of Houston in Montgomery County. The fact that it was going to be built with a large dollop of taxpayer money via a special taxing district only enhanced the stench of Eu de Boondoggle EarthQuest gave off, as grandiose plans gave way to missed construction and funding dates, at least one bankruptcy filing and a complete halt to visible activity. It’s essentially been moribund since 2012.

    Now from dedicated EarthQuest watcher Sopboxmom comes news that the IRS has revoked Institute EarhQuest’s tax-exempt status:

    Exempt Organizations Select Check
    Automatic Revocation of Exemption Information

    The federal tax exemption of this organization was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years. The information listed below for each organization is historical; it is current as of the organization’s effective date of automatic revocation. The information is not necessarily current as of today’s date. Nor does this automatic revocation necessarily reflect the organization’s tax-exempt or non-exempt status. The organization may have applied to the IRS for recognition of exemption and been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt after its effective date of automatic revocation. To check whether an organization is currently recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt, call Customer Account Services at (877) 829-5500 (toll-free number).
    Revocation Date (effective date on which organization’s tax exemption was automatically revoked):
    15-May-2014
    Employer Identification Number (EIN):
    26-2454184
    Legal Name:
    INSTITUTE EARTHQUEST
    Doing Business As:
    Mailing Address:
    21575 US HIGHWAY 59 NORTH
    NEW CANEY, TX 77357-8355
    United States
    Exemption Type:
    501(c)(3)
    Revocation Posting Date (date on which IRS posted notice of automatic revocation on IRS.gov):
    15-Oct-2014
    Exemption Reinstatement Date (effective date of tax exemption, determined by the IRS
    after the organization’s exemption was automatically revoked and the organization applied for reinstatement of exemption.):

    Finally, despite their zombie website, EarthQuest has ceased to be, and even nailing it back on the perch wouldn’t help.

    More information here.

    Straus Re-Elected Speaker. And It Wasn’t Close.

    Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

    Sadly, my previous analysis was right on the money. Straus maintained his hold on the Texas Speaker’s chair by a 127-19 margin over Scott Turner. For all the numerous Tea Party endorsements of House candidates (indeed, the North Texas Tea Party said that a vote for Straus for Speaker would preclude their endorsement), it seems that only a tiny minority of Tea Party-endorsed candidates are interested in challenging Straus’ iron grip.

    I would be most interested in hearing behind-the-scenes information on how Straus has managed to continue to procure the votes of so many conservative Republicans despite widespread grassroots opposition to Straus’ Speakership…

    Annie’s List of Fail

    Monday, January 12th, 2015

    Via PushJunction comes word that Amber Mostyn (wife of rich trial lawyer Steve Mostyn) is stepping down as chair of Annie’s List. What’s Annie’s List, you ask? Essentially an attempt to do Emily’s List for Texas, i.e. elect liberal female Democrats to office.

    So how did Annie’s List do in 2014? By one measure they were quite successful: They raised 18th largest amount of money of any statewide political entity in 2014, raising $1,422,009.16 and spending $1,601,945.83.

    But by another, more important measure, namely winning elections…not so hot. Let’s look at the results for the candidates they endorsed

  • Wendy Davis – Candidate for Governor: Lost to Greg Abbott 2,790,227 votes (59.3%) to 1,832,254 votes (38.9%).
  • Leticia Van de Putte – Candidate for Lieutenant Governor: Lost to Dan Patrick 2,718,406 votes (58.1%), to 1,810,720 votes (38.7%).
  • Libby Willis – Candidate for Senate District 10 (Wendy Davis’s old seat): Lost to Konni Burton, 95,484 votes (52.8%) to 80,806 votes (44.7%).
  • Susan Criss – Candidate for House District 23 (Galveston Island, La Marque and Texas City): Lost to Wayne Faircloth 17,702 votes (54.6%) to 14,716 votes (45.4%).
  • Kim Gonzalez – Candidate for House District 43 (San Patricio, Jim Wells, Kleberg and Bee Counties): Lost to Jose Manuel Lozano 17,273 votes (61.4%) to 10,847 votes (38.6%).
  • Susan Motley – Candidate for House District 105 (Irving and Grand Prairie): Lost to Rodney Anderson 13,587 votes (55.4%) to 10,469 votes (42.7%).
  • Carol Donovan – Candidate for House District 107 (Dallas, Garland and Mesquite): Lost to Kenneth Sheets 16,879 votes (55%) to 13,803 votes (45%).
  • Leigh Bailey – Candidate for House District 108 (Dan Branch’s old district): Lost to Morgan Meyer, 24,953 votes (60.7%) to 16,170 votes (39.3%).
  • Celia Israel – Candidate for House District 50 (Austin, Pflugerville and Wells Branch): The lone bright spot among their endorsed candidates, she Won, beating Mike VanDeWalle 22,651 votes (58.7%) to 14,339 votes (37.1%). This is the district Democratic incumbent Mark Strama left to run Google Fiber Austin.
  • So Annie’s List racked up a winning percentage of .111 for the races they publicly supported, which is pretty far below the Mendoza Line, and their lone win came for a seat Democrats already held. Going through Annie’s List campaign reports for 2013-2014 (more about which anon) shows two other campaigns they backed at some point in the cycle:

  • Incumbent Mary Ann Perez’s campaign to retain House District 144 (Southeast suburban Houston area near the chip channel). She Lost to Gilbert Pena, 6,009 votes (50.7%) to 5,854 votes (49.3%). Maybe because it wasn’t a “new” endorsement, they didn’t do as much for Perez, but at just over 150 vote difference between the two candidates, this is one of the few races where additional support could have made a difference.
  • Incumbent Toni Rose’s successful attempt to win the Democratic Primary for House District 110, a 90% black southeast Dallas district that drew no Republican candidate in the 2014 general election.
  • One wonders how long Annie’s pale, middle-aged, female leadership can keep raising money with such poor results.

    For the sake of completeness, and providing a “one stop shop” for information about Annie’s List, here’s their official filing information via the Texas State Ethics Commission:

    POLITICAL COMMITTEE INFORMATION
    Annie’s List
    Account: 00053715
    Committee Type: General Purpose
    Files Reports: Semi-Annually
    8146-A Ceberry Drive
    Austin, TX 78759

    TREASURER INFORMATION
    Pinnelli, Janis W.
    P.O. Box 50038
    Austin, TX 78763
    (512) 478-4487

    And here are their electronic filings covering the 2013 to 2014 fundraising period:

  • October 27th, 2014
  • October 6th, 2014
  • July 15th, 2014 (semiannual)
  • May 19th, 2014 (runoff report; see how many times “The Mostyn Law Firm” appears in that list…)
  • February 25th, 2014 (very brief)
  • February 3rd, 2014
  • January 15th, 2014 (corrected semiannual report; uncorrected version omitted)
  • July 15th, 2013 (semiannual; another report where “The Mostyn Law Firm” makes many an appearance)
  • January 15th, 2013
  • Beyond Mostyn and Lisa Blue Baron, some of the names who gave significant amounts to Annie’s List include Obama bundler Naomi Aberly, Lee and Amy Fikes, and Serena Connelly, the daughter of late billionaire businessman Harold Simmons. So your usual batch of rich left-wing pro-abortion feminists. Fortunately for Texas, the state’s voters seem actively hostile to precisely the message they seek to push…

    More Inside Dirt on Battleground Texas’ Spectacular Failure

    Friday, January 2nd, 2015

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Liberal elitists confidently sweep into a new situation, arrogantly tell everyone they’re in charge, refuse to listen to advice, alienate all those around them, and make a gigantic hash of everything, worsening the problem they sought to “solve.”

    That could be a description of, well, just about everything the Obama Administration has done in the last six years, but in this case it’s a description of Battleground Texas’s spectacular failure in the 2014 elections from the left-wing Texas Observer.

    “Battleground was opaque in its dealings, shied from making firm commitments, negotiated with a heavy hand and was coy about its long-term goals.” Hmm, that sounds strangely familiar…

    Like a plane crash or an industrial accident, many things small and large had to go wrong to produce the dismal results on Nov. 4. The Davis campaign’s effort was bungled from the get-go, and it was certainly a bad year for Democrats nationally. But neither of these fully explain the scale of 2014’s loss. The most serious failing of the Democratic coalition this year was its inability to mobilize and turn out voters, a responsibility that fell largely to Battleground.

    As dozens of conversations with individuals associated with the party, local Democratic groups, campaigns and other progressive organizations make clear, Battleground Texas had a major part—though definitely not the only one—in contributing to Democrats’ terrible showing in November. The group, they argue, made critical and avoidable mistakes that cost candidates up and down the ticket.

    Snip.

    The models, the party staffers say, seemed to treat Bill White’s performance in 2010 as a floor, beyond which Davis could improve—failing to recognize that it had taken a lot of money and effort to reach White’s level.

    So in some parts of the state, Battleground volunteers spent time combing white suburban neighborhoods for “crossover” voters—soft Republicans and independents—while neighborhoods rich with potential Democratic votes went underworked.

    Snip.

    Battleground had a peculiarly fraught relationship with many county parties around the state. A huge number of Democratic voters live in the state’s 15 largest counties, so local parties are major footsoldiers of the Democratic effort, representing the permanent party infrastructure in Texas’ largest cities. Forging close cooperative relationships with them should have been a no-brainer, but Battleground wanted to dictate the terms of the relationship.

    Battleground tried to get county parties to sign formal working agreements, according to four individuals familiar with the negotiations, which included policies regarding data and sharing of volunteer resources. The common perception was that Battleground asked for far too much, and didn’t offer enough in return.

    The Travis County Democratic Party signed a contract, which worked more or less acceptably, according to both sides. It’s unknown how many others did. The fact that Travis County had signed such an agreement with Battleground was well known in other parts of the state, according to three local party officials, but Battleground refused to share details of the agreement with other county parties—presumably under the belief that it would weaken their negotiating position. One county party leader describes it as a “divide-and-conquer” approach: another, as an attempt to “annex” local party groups.

    Snip.

    In largely Hispanic Nueces County, home to Corpus Christi, Republicans swept every contested race in an area that should be fertile ground for Democrats. One of the problems, local organizers say, was that the coalition didn’t spend enough time mobilizing Democratic base voters early on.

    The Nueces County Democratic Party struggled to build a relationship with Battleground, which didn’t know how to talk to Hispanic voters and was reluctant to use volunteers to support Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte, says former Corpus Christi state Rep. Solomon “Solly” Ortiz Jr. When Battleground and the state party tried to compensate late in the game by running their own voter canvasses, they ended up unnecessarily duplicating each other’s efforts. “It was just a clusterfuck, man,” Ortiz says.

    Snip.

    Another ongoing dispute involves what may be Battleground’s greatest asset: the 34,000 Texans who have volunteered for the group since its inception. Even critics acknowledge that the scale of Battleground’s volunteer operation was impressive, and could prove helpful to future Democratic campaigns. Many who critique the group emphasize their appreciation and respect for the volunteers.

    But some Texas Democrats were operating under the belief that the list of volunteers would be shared with the party after the election. Their thinking is that the volunteer base should be a sort of communal property. Volunteers are the lifeblood of campaigns: Money can make campaigns viable, and data can inform strategy, but it’s volunteers who go out to walk blocks, make calls and keep people excited.

    Senior staffers with Battleground say that was never in the cards, that it would be virtually unprecedented to give away that kind of asset. The volunteers help give Battleground continued influence in the state—they are the group’s future.

    For all the talk of Hispanics being the key to turning Texas blue, Battleground Texas seemed distinctly uncomfortable reaching out to them.

    All in all, the piece offers a rich buffet of failure, and I’ve only skimmed some of the highlights here.

    So given the obvious and extensive dysfunction evident in 2014′s spectacular flameout, you’d think Battleground Texas’ backers would try something else.

    You’d be wrong.

    In the end, whether the group stays or folds comes down to one factor: money. Battleground’s operation, when in full gear, is extraordinarily expensive to run. The group’s most important financial backer is Steve Mostyn, the Houston lawyer. He has, according to those who know him, a great antipathy toward the Democratic Party itself. After the election, he pledged that he’d stick with Battleground.

    “I’m the guy who’s got the most money in it and I’m the one writing the checks,” Mostyn told the Houston Chronicle, “and I’m telling you I think it’s working.”

    He who calls the piper pays the tune. Presumably Battleground Texas will do precisely what one wealthy trial lawyer wants them to do, no matter what other Texas Democrats think.

    A growing number of Texas Democrats are worried that Battleground is getting ready to use its Texas volunteer base to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign nationally. Top Texas Democrats say Jenn Brown, Battleground’s executive director, has privately admitted that she sees Texas as an “export” state in 2016—meaning that the state’s money and volunteers would be best put to work elsewhere. Attempts to contact Brown through the group were unsuccessful. Sackin, Battleground’s spokesperson, told the Observer that “Battleground Texas was created specifically to keep resources in Texas—so that people didn’t feel like they have to leave Texas to volunteer or donate to make a difference. We’ve been saying that since we were founded, that’s why we were founded, and that hasn’t changed.”

    Bird, the group’s founder, and wealthy Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, the group’s most important financial backer, are prominent members of the leadership team of the Ready for Hillary Super PAC. If Battleground involves itself in a contested Democratic presidential primary, it could arouse indignation here, where not everyone has jumped on the Clinton bandwagon.

    But if Battleground Texas uses its volunteers to support Clinton’s campaign in other states during the general election, lot of Texas Democrats would be downright furious.

    So Battleground Texas is going to treat Texas Democrats the way Democrats treat taxpayers: As a pinata to bash and extract the goodies from.

    I wonder if Texas Democrats have other plans…

    (Hat tip: Push Junction.)

    Wendy Davis Admits She Was Lying About Open Carry

    Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

    Granted, that’s not what the headline says. But we all know that’s what she means.

    Sen. Wendy Davis said in a Monday interview with the Express-News that she opposes allowing the open carry of handguns and that she wishes she had a do-over on the support she expressed for the idea in her ill-fated run for governor.

    Everyone who saw Davis embrace open carry knew she was lying. Everyone, supporters and opponents alike, saw her clumsy, ham-handed lie for exactly what it was: blatant political pandering, and a left-wing media darling’s laughable attempt to move to the center to run statewide in Texas. Indeed, it was so blatant that it probably did more harm than good, helping reaffirm Davis’ reputation for dishonesty.

    So transparent was the lie you wonder why she even bothered. It’s also a mystery why she’s offering up a mea culpa for it just now. I suspect she may be trying to snag a job with a Democratic Party house organ like Media Matters or MSNBC.

    Davis admission reaffirms a basic political truth: there’s no such thing as a pro-gun Democrat. When push comes to shove, they’ll betray gun owners whenever the Party demands them to…

    Texas Economy Continues to Kick Ass

    Monday, December 22nd, 2014

    Two bits of news dropped right after I put up the most recent Texas vs. California update.

    First, Texas added 34,800 nonfarm jobs in November, and 441,200 more jobs year-over-year, more than any other state. And this happened despite the drop in oil prices.

    One reason Texas does so well is that it has the highest level of economic freedom of any state (tied with South Dakota).

    Needless to say, those two facts are strongly correlated. In the long run, free states produce jobs and economic activity while less free states produce dependency and stagnation.

    (Hat tip: TPPF.)

    Texas vs. California Update for December 17, 2014

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • California’s unfunded health care obligations for retired employees hits $72 billion. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Meanwhile, the state comptroller says that California’s unfunded pension liabilities has hit $198 billion. (Ditto.)
  • California may extend benefits to illegal aliens taking advantage of Obama’s amnesty.
  • Speaking of which, both California and Texas are on the hook for providing education for illegal alien children. “Today, those figures are $14.4 billion for California and $8.5 billion for the Lone Star state.”
  • California will go broke if it doesn’t adopt pension reform.
  • Lessons for California from Texas’ boom.
  • Costa Mesa police union tries to pin false DUI charge on City Councilman. Hilarity ensues. (Hat tip: Dwight.) And what caused the police union to go after him? Pension reform.
  • Pension spiking widespread in Cosa Contra County. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s high speed rail boondoggle won’t work with the current tracks.
  • Health industry software company vitaTrackr announces relocation of its headquarters from Baltimore to Austin.
  • Builders FirstSource announces expansion in San Antonio and Conroe.