Category Archives: State news

Censure House speaker … for what?

For the life of me I cannot understand what in the world has gotten into the noggins of many Texas Republicans these days.

Now the state Republican Party has censured one of their own, House Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, because he didn’t stop the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton this past year.

Have these people lost their MAGA-muddled minds? Have they all gone ’round the bend? Have they all swilled the MAGA Kool-Aid offered by the former POTUS, the guy who has called for Phelan to resign from the House, even though he doesn’t know a damn thing about how Texas politics works?

Phelan presided over Paxton’s impeachment, which occurred after a House committee recommended the AG be impeached because of the shabby way he runs his office. The House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton, but then the Senate acquitted him in a trial that lasted about a week.

The state GOP is still chapped over the impeachment. The censure is being fueled by the MAGA wing of the Texas GOP

To be clear, I want to stipulate a couple of things about Phelan. I don’t know the fellow, even though I lived and worked in Beaumont for nearly 11 years. I only was casually acquainted with Phelan’s father, an uber-rich Beaumont developer. I have heard from some of my Golden Triangle snitches that Dade Phelan was cut from the traditional Republican fabric that creates a politician who favors wealthy Texans. Therefore, he is a standard GOP pol.

He also just happens to be a fellow, apparently, who dislikes corrupt politicians … even when such allegations stain the records of fellow Republicans.

Texas GOP censures House Speaker Dade Phelan over Paxton impeachment (houstonchronicle.com)

It makes me wonder: Why in the world is that such a bad thing, something the produces censure?

As the Houston Chronicle has reported: Phelan has remained defiant in the face of the criticism and has touted the House’s work to ban abortion and allow the permitless carry of handguns as conservative wins passed under his leadership.

Doesn’t any of that other stuff matter … or is the Texas GOP intent on protecting an attorney general who continually makes many Texans wince over the way he conducts himself?

Politics of revenge: unbecoming and ugly

Two of Texas’s top politicians are seeking to exact revenge against members of their own political party and frankly, it is unbecoming of both of them to seek to get back at their fellow Republicans.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have launched their revenge strategies seeking to defeat pols who voted against school vouchers and voted in favor of an impeachment initiative.

Abbott wants so badly to rob the public education till to benefit private schools that he’s targeting GOP lawmakers in the House who opposed the notion; most of the Republicans opposing the notion represent rural school districts where public schools are the centerpiece, the lifeblood of their communities

Paxton avoided being kicked out of office after the House impeached him on allegations that he’s a vengeful crook who did sweet deals to benefit a leading political ally. The Senate tossed the articles of impeachment aside.

These two MAGA Republicans are singing off the hymnal offered by Donald Trump, who has vowed to be “your retribution” in 2024.

It’s disgusting, man.

Abbott’s striking is more repugnant to me, given that he is attacking lawmakers who are listening to their constituents and following their wishes rather than heeding the demands of the governor. I am not excusing Paxton for an instant, though. I long have believed that Paxton is a disgrace to the legal profession and to the AG’s office.

But … here we are, on the eve of an election year. Two statewide politicians are vowing to engage in local elections and try to persuade legislators’ constituents that these Republicans should be defeated. Why? Because they aren’t doing governor’s and the AG’s bidding.

Disgraceful.

Hand-count ballots? Seriously?

Gillespie County, Texas, Republicans clearly have rocks in their heads if they believe that hand-counting every ballot cast in next year’s primary election is going to go without a hitch … or three.

Word to the wise: Don’t get any ideas, officials in other counties, about following the lead set by the Hill Country county of roughly 30,000 residents.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, let’s see. Human frailty, flaws and tendency to mistakes are likely to cause challenges to whatever tallies the many workers are going to face when they finish their work.

The Texas Tribune reports: This summer, leaders of the GOP in counties as large as Dallas and as small as Uvalde in South Texas seriously considered hand-counting ballots for their primary elections, according to public records and interviews with election officials.

Think about Dallas County relying on thousands of people hand-counting ballots in a county populated by more than 2.6 million people.

I guess the misplaced GOP fear of machine counting has gotten pols in Gillespie County — which is overwhelmingly Republican — to push some sort of panic button.

In addition to its potential unreliability, hand-counting is going to bring tremendous additional expense to Gillespie County, which is expected to train an additional 100 workers to count the ballots individually. Sheesh!

Again, according to the Texas Tribune: Citing his opposition to hand-counting ballots, Gillespie County GOP Chair Mo Saiidi resigned in September. Days after his departure, the remaining members of county Republican leadership finalized their decision to move forward.

“I could not in good conscience continue presiding over an election using a method that I did not feel was the right process to go through,” Saiidi said. “And I felt it was flawed. I felt it was not well thought out. I didn’t think it was the right thing for the community.”

Republicans led by the ex-POTUS have thrown an unreasonable fear into political leaders who used to depend on normal county election procedures to produce valid election totals. Are those days gone, along with trust in government at any level?

Let us hope not!

They work for us … not them!

How many times am I going to say what I’ve been saying since The Flood … which is that our legislators — be they state or federal — work for the people who elect them, not for those who run their respective legislative bodies?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, throttled in his effort to rob public schools of money and handing it to private institutions, is targeting Republican legislators who had the temerity to vote against his school voucher plan. He is endorsing opponents of GOP incumbents seeking re-election in 2024.

Let’s set the record straight. The GOP legislators who oppose school vouchers represent rural districts that depend heavily on the health and livelihood of their public schools. They pledge to their constituents to support public education, given that in many rural communities the school system serves as the lifeblood of the community. Abbott wants to unseat House Republicans who oppose his crusade for school vouchers, which would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to help pay for private school costs.

They did not pledge to support every single legislative agenda topic favored by Abbott!

This is ham-handed governance at its worst.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is employing the same strategy against those lawmakers who voted to impeach him earlier this year. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to concentrate on Abbott’s campaign of revenge.

It is absurd!

To their credit, the rural GOP legislators who dug in against vouchers have held firm in their opposition, likely signaling an end to the string of special legislative sessions Abbott kept calling in an effort to foist his voucher plan on Texans. Their resistance infuriates Abbott, to be sure.

My response to that? Big … fu**ing … deal!

These lawmakers are looking out for the interests of the folks who sent them to Austin to do their bidding, not dance to the tune called by Greg Abbott.

Rewrite this cruel abortion law!

Have we become so wedded in Texas to the notion of following a hidebound ideology that we cannot consider the human impact from policies that come out of our Legislature?

Don’t answer that. I know the answer. I believe it is yes.

Kate Cox is now the official poster woman for a policy that needs a serious revisiting when the next Legislature convenes in January 2025. Cox is the Dallas woman who was pregnant with a child who was doomed to die days if not hours after being born. Cox needed an abortion. Why? Because doctors told her that giving birth could harm her reproductive future, that she might be unable to get pregnant again.

Cox could obtain that abortion in Texas because of a cruel law that makes the procedure illegal, except when a pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. No other exceptions are allowed. Cox got kicked around. A lower court granted her permission; the Texas Supreme Court nixed that ruling. Then it issued a permanent ruling that disallowed Cox’s desire to end her pregnancy.

She went out of state to receive the procedure.

This is an insane law. It needs to be rewritten to allow for the type of exception that Cox faced.

The so-called “pro-life” movement is heralding the SCOTEX decision. This movement has nothing to do with being pro-life. It is instead a “pro-birth” movement that put Kate Cox’s parental future in dire peril.

The Texas law — one of the nation’s most restrictive — makes abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy. Hell, many women don’t even know they’re pregnant so soon after conception! That didn’t matter to the numbskulls who forced this bill onto the books.

To worsen matters, they wrote a law that punishes doctors who perform an abortion with criminal penalties. And, of course, they didn’t allow for the type of circumstance that Kate Cox faced were she to give birth to a baby who had zero chance of survival.

Think for a moment about the heartbreak that awaited Cox and her husband and their family.

The next Texas Legislature has the power to improve a bad law by broadening the exceptions allowed for ending a pregnancy. If our legislators have a beating heart, they will act to lessen the chance of other women being trapped in the vise that could have delivered permanent reproductive damage to Kate Cox.

They’re ignoring the ‘bosses’

To whom or what are our Texas legislators listening when it comes to abortion?

They do not heed the views of the bosses who elect them to public office. That’s for damn sure!

They have enacted an anti-abortion law that makes the practice of ending a pregnancy an illegal act. Meanwhile, a Dallas woman who faces possible permanent fertility damage if she is forced to give birth to a girl who is doomed to die is being kicked around like the political football she has become.

What is so damn troubling is that our lawmakers are ignoring the will of the people who put them into office. Texans, by a significant majority, favor women retaining the right to control their bodies and they oppose (mostly male) legislators making decisions they have no business making.

This is a representative democracy, last time I checked. Therefore, the people who represent the masses need to heed the will of their employers. That would be people such as the women in this state who are trapped by a law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, with damn near zero exceptions.

Kate Cox, the Dallas woman I mentioned, faces the heartache of giving birth to a baby who will die and, moreover, she well might be unable to give birth to another child in the future.

This is utter insanity.

Game over, Gov. Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t yet disclosed whether he plans to summon the Legislature for a fifth special session.

My hope is that he calls it a day, surrenders to the reality that his cherished school voucher program is DOA, that the House of Reps isn’t going to go along with his notion of robbing public education of money to benefit private schools.

He can wait until the 2025 Legislature to try again, even though it will remain a bad idea in two years.

Rural GOP lawmakers bristled at the notion of taking money from public schools. Why? Because the school system is the heart and soul of many of these communities. I endorse their resistance.

To that end, Gov. Abbott needs to call it quits on this notion.

Our Legislature comprises Texans who have day jobs when they’re not legislating. It’s expensive to the state to call them back. It’s also expensive to many of our lawmakers who need to put their working lives on hold.

Give it up, Gov. Abbott.

Abbott devoted to single issue?

Well … what do you think of this, which is that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed the re-election of 59 state lawmakers — all of whom have supported his school voucher idea?

Me? I think it stinks. Why? Because legislating on behalf of a state as large, diverse and demanding as this one ought to require a comprehensive approach to governing. Abbott doesn’t see it that way, I guess.

He wants to plunder public education funds, siphon them off to private schools and, in my view, deplete our state’s public schools of the resources they need to provide our children a quality education.

If you don’t see it his way, according to the governor, why, you just don’t deserve to be re-elected to the Texas Legislature.

What a pile of dog-dookie!

Give up voucher fight

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he is “in it to win it” as he fights to gut the state’s public education system in search of a voucher program that would bolster private schools.

I presume that’s his way of saying he intends to call a fifth special session of the Legislature if it fails to produce a plan he wants, which would be to enable parents to use taxpayer funds to send their children to private schools.

The Legislature approved an amendment this past week that tossed the voucher notion aside. Democrats oppose the voucher program. Legislative Republicans who represent rural House districts don’t like it either and they joined their Democratic colleagues in scuttling the notion.

I happen to be a strong supporter of public education, so I will use this forum to implore the governor to give up the fight to gut our state’s public school system.

The rural Texas Republicans understand the place that public education has in the communities they represent. In many instances — even if you discount the “Friday Night Lights” aspect — public schools are the heart and soul of these communities.

Their elected lawmakers know it. It’s a shame the governor does not grasp this obvious fact of everyday life in small-town Texas.

Vouchers torpedoed by GOP lawmakers

How ’bout them rural Republican Texas legislators for standing up for their public school systems?

They have helped torpedo a plan to allow public school money to be funneled away to enable parents to enroll their children in private schools. According to the Texas Tribune: The House voted 84-63 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, which removed the provision of the bill allowing some parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private and religious schools. Twenty-one Republicans, most of whom represent rural districts, joined all Democrats in support.

Texas House votes to remove school vouchers from massive education bill | The Texas Tribune

Is this a major embarrassment to Gov. Greg Abbott, who keeps calling legislators back into special session to enact his top priority? You bet it is.

My hope is that Abbott will surrender on this approach that he deems so vital.

The GOP lawmakers understand something fundamental about the role that public school systems play in their district. Which is that the schools are the heart and soul of their districts. Why damage or destroy them by taking money away? They won’t go there. Nor should they!

Pete Laney of Hale Center is the most recent Democrat to serve as speaker of the House. Laney always said that he wanted to let “the will of the House” determine the flow of legislation. One of his successors, Republican Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, is following that lead.

The will of the House has spoken on behalf of our public education system.