Friday, November 17, 2017

#TXLEGE: STRAUS DONOR launches challenge to Donna Campbell from Left

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

Sometimes, you just happen to be on Twitter at the right time:

You can view McClendon's website for yourself here, but it's nothing more than generic Republican rhetoric.

But, we wonder, who is this "Shannon Mcclendon" lady?!?

SHOT (Courtesy of 30 Seconds on Google):

Chaser (Courtesy of 2 minutes on the Texas "Ethics" commission's website):

[Note: Jeff Wentworth was the pro-Abortion Senator Donna Campbell replaced in 2012.]

Furthermore, you'll notice on the Straus donation, that it came on June 30th OF THIS YEAR; that means she supports Straus after his actions this past session.

Honestly, it took longer to capture and format the screenshots than it did to find this information.

Bottom Line: Donna Campbell might not be perfect, but she's light years better than this hack.

Cornyn's "Background Check" Bill is dumbest Federal Overreaction since post-9/11 "Intelligence reform"

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

By now, we're sure you've heard about John Cornyn's latest anti-Second Amendment gambit.  We had originally intended to write a political post about how this was the final nail in his 2020 coffin.  But that point is obvious by now.

Instead, let's consider the stupidity of Cornyn's proposal:
The Texas Republican’s bill, known as the Fix NICS Act, tries to ensure federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said in a statement.

The NICS database is maintained by the FBI and used to determine if a prospective gun buyer has a criminal record or is ineligible to purchase a firearm. The database became the focus of national attention earlier this month after a man fired an assault rifle at a small church during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and injuring scores others. After the shooting, the U.S. Air Force disclosed that it failed to report the gunman’s history of domestic assault to the database, which should have prohibited him from purchasing a firearm.

Cornyn’s bill requires federal agencies and states to draft plans for how to better report background information to NICS thoroughly and accurately. It also includes a provision to allocate resources to states to help them report felony and domestic abuse charges.


To hold agencies accountable, Cornyn's office said the bill sets up a system of incentives for agencies that comply and penalties for those that fail to.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
  • "Draft plans"= hiring bureaucrats.
  • "Allocate Resources" = spending money.
  • "Sets up a system of incentives" = hiring bureaucrats AND spending money.
In other words, Cornyn proposes to reward bureaucratic failure by giving the bureaucrats that just failed more employees and a bigger budget.

In 2004, George W. Bush signed the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act."  The law's stated purpose was to get U.S. intelligence agencies "to share intelliegence" after 9/11.  Specifically, the law created the new Office of National Intelligence.

You can learn more about the Office of National Intelligence's subsequent performance here and here.

Just like Dubya in 2004, John Cornyn in 2017 claims to "solve" a problem that was caused by too much bureaucracy by creating yet another bureaucracy.

Bottom Line: Cornyn's proposal is stupid.  When government bureaucracies fail, they should be eliminated, not expanded.  But at least politicians can go on TV and grandstand about how they're "doing something" (with other people's money)....


Senator John Cornyn: (512) 469-6034

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#TXLEGE: Sports Welfare Bill explains recent past; points way forward....

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

[Note: We didn't realize this until we sat down to write this blog post, but apparently the Governor's office has three separate programs related to "major events."  We had originally thought there was only one.  That just makes everything else we have to say that much more important.]

The Texas Association of Crony Capitalism "Business" released their 2017 legislative rankings this week.  Empower Texans has a good summary of that farce here.  But one details stands out.

The Major Events "Reimbursement" Program is a politically driven enterprise that allows the State of Texas to "reimburse" alleged "costs" for public spectacles such as the Super Bowl [note: LOL, more NFL subsidies], various NBA/NHL/MLS activities [note: LOL, guess who wants to move to Austin], and the not at all corrupt annual Formula 1 race outside Austin.

This past legislative session, HB 3294 would have expanded the Major Events "Reimbursement" Program to include NASCAR races.  You can read the bill for yourself here.  Empower Texans created a good summary earlier this year:

Here's what's fascinating: The Texas Association of Crony Capitalism "Business" scored a vote for HB 3294 POSITIVELY.  By contrast, Empower Texans scored the same vote NEGATIVELY.  And that fact tells you everything you need to know about those respective organizations.

But, beyond this immediate insight, the various "Major Event" slush funds controlled by the Governor's office points to a deeper truth.

Yesterday's "economic competitiveness" fiasco made clear that several professional sports teams are wedded to crony capitalism and left wing social policy.  The Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars BOTH testified in favor of thinly disguised cultural marxism.  Shortly thereafter, the Mayor of Frisco bragged about how the Dallas Cowboys are ripping off his own taxpayers.  Given this development...why give them subsidies?!?

One of the most godawful euphemisms around the Capitol is to "have a conversation."  Maybe the time has come to "have a conversation" about the three 'Major Event' slush funds.  Do we need it?!?  Taxing average Texans to subsidize billionaire team owners is never good economic policy.  But when those same billionaire team owners grow so entitled that they demand cultural marxism and taxpayer rip-offs in the name of "economic competitiveness," it raises the profile of the issue.  Texas' professional sports teams have a nice, little, crony capitalist operation going on there.  It'd be a shame if anything happened to it.

Bottom Line: LOL, let's "have a conversation"....

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

#TXLEGE: Straus' loathsome "economic competitiveness" dog and pony show: Lawlessness, Crony Capitalism, and Spending....

"Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."
1 Corinthians 15:34

[Note: You can view the hearing yourself here.]

Team Straus' disgraceful effort to grandstand over "economic competitiveness" held it's first (of two) hearings today.  It began with a textbook example of the lawlessness that has plagued the House the past couple sessions.  Check out what happened to Matt Rinaldi:
The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, chaired by retiring State Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), told State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) that he was not allowed to ask any questions or testify during today’s committee hearing.

“Clearly they aren’t confident in their ability to defend their position,” Rinaldi said in response.
“Being told by a committee that my district would not be extended the basic courtesy of a voice in this process is disappointing, but not unexpected, given the past practices of House leadership. I tried to give this committee the benefit of the doubt, but it is clear that they already know what their findings will be, and there is no intention of deliberation or a pursuit of the facts.

“I wish we had a real opportunity to discuss all perspectives on important economic drivers for our state, but this committee has made it clear that a diversity of views is not welcome. They have the result planned, now it’s just a matter of putting on a show to publish those results.”

As to the hearing itself, it was a mix of the usual cliches and rent-seeking that you hear at these types of events.  Lots of talk about crony capitalism ("incentives!") and spending ("education!").  And, of course, plenty of fraudulent fear mongering over the Texas privacy act.

The most astounding aspect of the whole thing was the number of representatives they had bragging about the alleged economic benefit of professional sports.  This in spite of the fact that the national NFL protests have re-ignited a national discussion of the various subsidies the industry receives.  This seems slightly...tone deaf at best.

Dallas ?!? owner Mark Cuban proclaimed the need to spend prodigious sums on the education status quo.  Cuban would include pre-K "without question."  Cuban also spouted the usual cliches about economic doom and gloom from the Texas Privacy act.

The CEO of the Dallas Stars, a lifelong sports executive, tried to claim that "over 500 million" people have attended events at arenas he has managed without a bathroom assault. In the next sentence, he admitted that major public events at large arenas have above average security on hand. He also claimed "sports plays an oversized role" in how a community is percieved for economic purposes. Actually, it doesn't, but that was still a very revealing statement about ego.  At this point, we simply need to ask: how's pushing left-wing social policies working out for the NFL?!?

The mayor of Frisco bragged about having 6 sports team having office or practice space in the city.  He explained "you can't put a dollar figure" on having the Dallas Cowboys practice facility.  Actually, you can:
The site features a unique partnership among the Cowboys, the city of Frisco and Frisco ISD. They are sharing the costs on 20 acres for The Ford Center at The Star. The 12,000-seat indoor stadium will hold team practices as well as high school football games and other city and school events.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the city and the school district "bought into our vision of joining at the hip."

The stadium -- along with two outdoor practice fields for the Cowboys and an underground parking garage -- make up the city-owned portion of the development. And while the city retains ownership, the Cowboys will handle all the maintenance and operations at the site.

On Tuesday, the price tag for that city-owned portion climbed to $261.6 million with approval by the Frisco City Council. The city's contribution in The Star is capped at $60 million while the school district put in $30 million.
Beyond the fixation on the exaggerated economic impact of professional sports, the most notable discussion surrounded incentives.  Committee chairman Byron Cook, the soon-to-be-former state representative [Note: Doesn't that feel good to type.], seemed determined to prove that "incentive" packages aren't corporate welfare.  Several witnesses claimed incentives would be unnecessary in a perfect world, but "in the real world" we've got to have them or else other states will take away all of Texas' rent-seeking crony capitalists.

That being said, Ross Perot Jr. (who is apparently a big deal in Dallas crony capitalist circles) unintentionally made a strong case against the policy.  Perot spoke of the need for "flexibility" in incentive packages because "these industries are changing so fast."  That's actually a fantastic reason for the government not engage this activity in the first place.

A few more observations:
  • Apparently, the Republican Governor's Association is meeting in town today. Obviously, that means today's hearing was deliberately timed to embarrass Governor Abbott while the Vice President is in town.  This website's issues with Governor Abbott aren't a secret, but we appreciate his response:

  • Lots of cliches about "education" and "workforce development" which is code for dramatic increases in spending.
Bottom Line: Barf bag.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Abbott's "Veteran" initiatives rife with Unintended Consequences

"And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death."
Romans 7:10

In a Veterans Day appearance at the American Legion-Charles Johnson House in West Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday unveiled a series of proposals to boost economic opportunities and health care outcomes for Texas veterans.


To encourage hiring of veterans, Abbott proposed that a local option be provided for commercial property tax exemptions for each full-time, newly-hired veteran. He also proposed a local option property tax exemption of up to $30,000 for veteran entrepreneurs starting a business.

Abbott also said that, “Texas should accept licenses that are earned by military spouses in other states and waive license fees they already qualify for.”

Abbott called on the Texas Veterans Commission “to collaborate with businesses and non-profits to assist homeless veterans with housing, with employment, with better health and with substance abuse counseling.”

“I am proposing a commercial property tax exemption for entities that provide reduced-cost housing or substance abuse and mental health residential treatment programs to our veterans,” Abbott said.

[Note: Emphasis added.]
In other words, Greg Abbott is arguing for preferential tax treatment and government "collaboration" with businesses and non-profit all in the name of "helping veterans"; it doesn't take a genius to how this would backfire.

90%+ of the benefits would flow to politically connected 'veterans' who can afford the best lobbyists and the best access to politicians and bureaucrats.  As a result, everyone else pays higher tax rates.  In this case, everyone else includes the overwhelming majority of veterans.

One persistent local rumor is that various City of Austin veteran related programs are full of corruption.  We've never looked into those allegations, so we cast no specific stones, but it seems plausible.  It seems unwise to give these folks a new vehicle through the state of Texas.

Furthermore, how does Abbott plan to define the term "veteran"?!?  While the term implies someone who led a platoon in Anbar or Helmand provinces, frequently 'veterans' programs define the term so broadly that anyone who spent 10 minutes on an Army base 30 years ago can qualify.  You'll notice, specifically, that Abbott didn't use the phrase "combat veteran."

Bottom Line: The best way to help the average veteran (just like the best way to help anyone) is to keep central planners out of their way; creating new vehicles for scammers and crony capitalists only helps the politically connected.

Monday, November 13, 2017

#TXLEGE: Lying drunk files for re-election....

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
That they may follow intoxicating drink;
Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!"
Isaiah 5:11

Well, that answers that question:
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was that state Rep. Dan Huberty, the Houston Republican who chairs the House Public Education Committee, filed for re-election after months of uncertainty over whether he would run for another term. He faces a primary challenge from Kyle Stephenson.
As to the claims in the headline.

Dan Huberty is a liar because during this past legislative session he pushed a "school finance" bill that he claimed was about property tax relief.  But Huberty's bill wouldn't have provided a dime of property tax relief, it simply poured a couple Billion more dollars from the state into the socialized education status quo without any offsetting restraints at the local level.  While it's possible to write a school fiance bill that provides tax relief at the local level, Huberty's bill did not do that.

As to Dan Huberty being a drunk:

Bottom Line: Between the terrible bills he promotes and his wretched personal conduct, Dan Huberty is awful on many levels.

Abbott goes 1 for 2 in first #TXLEGE endorsement round

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."
Joshua 1:8

First off, the FANTASTIC news:

This is fantastic. Sarah Davis is a wretched legislator and an even worse human being.  In a world where we're starting to reconsider our longstanding policy of not focusing on personal conduct, Sarah Davis' combination of disgraceful personal conduct and a willingness to play the feminist card whenever someone calls her out politically is a level of hypocrisy that makes her a VERY tempting target.

Furthermore, there's a political angle here that's interesting regardless: Because this is Greg Abbott we're talking about, you know he polled Davis' district for both the primary and the general.  For Abbott to move forward here means that his polling said the narrative that "only a moderate can hold this district in the general" is BS.  Obviously, someone said that two years ago.

So good on Abbott, and good riddance to Sarah Davis.

But from the Trib article on the Davis announcement, this tidbit:
Abbott made his first endorsement in the 2018 House primaries last week, backing state Rep. Paul Workman, an Austin Republican who authored legislation for Abbott's special session agenda. Workman faces a primary challenger from his right, Jay Wiley.
Seriously?!?  Paul Workman?!?

As we wrote about Paul last month:
This isn't new. Paul Workman has now served four sessions. After that time, the Austin City Council remains as out of control as ever.
That Workman worked with the Governor on a couple of bills that went nowhere (because of the leadership Paul Workman voted for) doesn't offset the fact that the city of Austin now feels safer than ever to thumb their noses at the legislature.


Bottom Line:  This is such a typical Abbott thing to do.  On the one hand, getting rid of Sarah Davis is a public service for which the Governor deserves commendation.  But then he has to go and endorse Paul Workman....