Category Archives: State news

Texas GOP: rigidity matters

Yep, by all means it is true that the Texas Republican Party has gone bonkers over its fealty to the gun lobby.

The State Republican Executive Committee voted 57-5 to censure state Rep. Tony Gonzales of San Antonio over his vote for gun-control legislation. No can do, said the GOP, which now has opened the door for the party to oppose Gonzales in the next Republican Party primary race in that district set for the spring of 2024.

What a sham! And a joke! Not to mention a disgrace!

Texas GOP censures U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales | The Texas Tribune

“The reality is I’ve taken almost 1,400 votes, and the bulk of those have been with the Republican Party,” Gonzales said, according to the Texas Tribune. Ahh, but this vote was the deal-breaker.

The Tribune reported: Gonzales did not appear at the SREC meeting but addressed the issue after an unrelated news conference Thursday in San Antonio. He specifically defended his vote for the bipartisan gun law that passed last year after the Uvalde school shooting in his district. He said that if the vote were held again today, “I would vote twice on it if I could.”

Good for you, Rep. Gonzales.

His campaign issued a statement: “Today, like every day, Congressman Tony Gonzales went to work on behalf of the people of TX-23. He talked to veterans, visited with Border Patrol agents, and met constituents in a county he flipped from blue to red. The Republican Party of Texas would be wise to follow his lead and do some actual work,” campaign spokesperson Evan Albertson said.

Unbelievable, yes? Not really.

Ted Cruz: serial idiot

Ted Cruz just cannot seem to resist making an ass of himself while pretending to serve as a Republican U.S. senator from Texas.

I watched a snippet of his confrontation with Attorney General Merrick Garland today and came away thinking: What in the name of idiocy keeps this clown in office?

He was questioning the AG on whether he — Garland — had the authority to issue warrants to prosecute those who threatened federal judges. Garland sought to answer the question. Cruz wouldn’t let him answer the question.

He hectored, harangued and hassled the attorney general, accusing him of lying, of failing to do his job, of being a toadie for the left.

Good grief. The Cruz Missile simply is not to be trusted as a spokesman for anything or anyone other than himself.

Cruz says he will run for a third term in the Senate in 2024 and will forgo another run for the White House. That doesn’t make me feel one little bit better about the state of Texas politics.

Let’s remember at least this thing about Cruz: When hundreds of Texans were freezing to death in February 2021, Cruz decided to jet off to sunny — and warm — Cancun, only to blame his daughter for talking him into taking the family there when he got busted.

The guy is an utter ass.

Should we pay ’em more?

The reporting on three Texas legislators being eligible to collect a whopping six-figure salary after serving in the Legislature for a long time brings to mind an issue that has stuck in my craw for as long as I have lived in Texas.

Do we pay these men and women enough to serve in the Legislature?

State Sen. John Whitmire and state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Tom Craddick now are eligible to collect salaries totaling $144,000 annually, thanks to a law enacted in 2021 that rewards legislators for their lengthy terms of service. Whitmire turned it down; Thompson and Craddick haven’t disclosed their plans.

They earn normally just $7,200 per year, plus a per diem expense when the Legislature meets every other year for 140 days.

Is that enough to sustain these individuals’ interest in public service? I tend to think it’s a challenge.

Many legislatures put their members on full-time salary status. Yes, they become professional politicians. Then again, so do Texas legislators, even though we pay them a mere pittance to write laws. Even the lieutenant governor — as the Texas Senate’s presiding officer — draws the same measly “salary” as the senators over whom he presides.

This chintzy salary structure makes it nearly impossible for a working man or woman — someone with a regular job — to take time away, to spend five months every other year in Austin. How does that work for a guy who, say, sells shoes for a living at JC Penney? Have you seen any shoe salespeople serving in the Legislature? I didn’t think so!

What’s left? We get seriously rich men and women, such as heirs to family fortunes. A “citizen legislature” ought to be a place where working men and women can serve. I am not sure we have that now.

I am not suggesting a hefty six-figure sum is in order, but something a good bit more than the chump change they receive now is worth at least some serious discussion.

Double dipping = bad optics

Surely I am not the only Texan who is aghast at reports of three Texas state legislators being able to collect $144,000 annually in salary just because they’ve each been in office for more than 43 years.

Democratic Sen. John Whitmire, Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, both of Houston, and Republican Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland qualify for a “double-dipping” perk to which they are entitled.

Wow! Talk about “bad optics!”

The Texas Legislature has long prided itself as being a collection of 181 “citizen legislators” who travel to Austin every other year to do state business for 140 or so days. Then they go home to suffer the consequences or reap the rewards of the laws they enact. They do so for just $7,200 per year, plus a per diem expense when the Legislature is in session.

They all say they don’t serve “for the money,” that they are driven by the desire for engage in “public service” to the state or the districts they represent.

Now we hear about this? The 2021 Legislature passed this law that enables senior lawmakers to haul in a huge salary.

The Texas Tribune reports: Jon Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who has taught public administration ethics, said the arrangement has problematic optics.

Whitmire and Thompson both have served for 50 years. Craddick is the senior House member, with 54 years of service under his belt. Craddick and Thompson haven’t said whether they are collecting the windfall, according to the Tribune. Whitmire said he turned it down.

Why three Texas lawmakers are now eligible for an extra $140,000 a year | The Texas Tribune

This falls under a quirk in the Texas Employee Retirement System, which is a creation of the Legislature.

I will admit this law got past me in 2021 when the Legislature enacted it. It’s in full view now. I don’t like it. Not one little bit.

Buh-bye, Austin city manager

It is looking for all the world as if the Austin City Council is going to make a serious personnel decision next week.

The council appears ready to axe City Manager Spencer Cronk over the city’s pitiful response to the ice storm that hammered the Texas capital city this past week.

It happened on Cronk’s watch as city manager. It is his job ultimately to ensure the city’s 1 million residents are kept warm in the face of Mother Nature’s wrath. Cronk didn’t deliver and the city appears ready to move on from his tenure as city manager, a post he has held since 2018. Hundreds of thousands of Austinites were without power, despite assurances from Gov. Greg Abbott and others that the power grid was working … well, in fact.

Austin City Council to vote on replacing city manager Spencer Cronk | The Texas Tribune

I am a bit confused about whether the city should grant him a severance, which apparently will be on the table when the council decides his fate next Wednesday.

From my vantage point, the council is set to fire Cronk for cause, that he didn’t do his job while his Austin constituents were freezing in the dark. So, he’s going to get a severance … even though he failed to do his job?

Texas GOP turns on one of its own

The late Texas state Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo once lamented how Republicans have this way of “eating their own.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant when he said that to me. Now I am beginning to get it.

The Texas Republican Party has sanctioned a radio ad lambasting GOP Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for continuing a longstanding Texas legislative tradition, which is to appoint legislators of the minority party to committee chairmanships.

What the hell?

Phelan is a Beaumont Republican serving his second term as the Man of the Texas House. Is he doing something radical? Something so completely out of the ordinary? Is he capitulating to those dreaded Democrats on policy? No, no and hell no!

He is doing what speakers of both parties have done for a lot longer than any of the whippersnappers who oppose this concept have been alive.

The Texas Tribune reports: In the minute-long ad, a narrator says the speaker is “teaming up with Democrats to kill our Republican priorities.” 

What in the name of good government is that narrator talking about?

I spoke this week with one of the GOP insurgents, state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, about his vote against Phelan’s bid to retain the speakership. He said Phelan is rewarding Democrats unduly with legislative power they didn’t earn at the ballot box. Slaton is one of the fiery members of the Texas Freedom Caucus who seemingly doesn’t understand the longstanding Texas political culture.

Republican Gov. George W. Bush forged a tremendous relationship with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney when he took office in January 1995. Their cooperation with the governor continued a hallowed Texas tradition of good-government compromise between the parties. Laney made sure to appoint Republican legislators to committee chairs, as did his GOP successors appoint Democrats to chairmanships.

The current GOP caucus seemingly wants to change all that. Many of them believe Democrats should be ostracized. Not all of them share that view, according to the Texas Tribune, which reported:

Texas GOP launches radio attack ads against Republican state House speaker | The Texas Tribune

That takes me back to an earlier point, which is that Phelan isn’t a closet progressive masquerading as a conservative Republican.

The Texas Republican Party has lost its mind.

Wherever he is, Teel Bivins is laughing out loud.

It’s not just Biden’s ‘crisis’

President Biden clearly needs to face what is a crisis on our southern border, with illegal immigrants continuing to seek asylum into the Land of Opportunity, Freedom and Liberty.

However … to suggest that this is a crisis that Biden created is to ignore what I believe is quite obvious.

Which is that the crisis predates this president by several administrations. Whether they were led by Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan — presidents of both parties — this nation’s administrations have dealt with issues along the southern border.

Joe Biden came today to South Texas to get a look at what is happening there. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott greeted him, shook hands, exchanged some conservation and then handed Biden a letter. The letter says this crisis is of President Biden’s making.

No! It is not! It is a situation that has been festering for as long as I can remember. Here again, Abbott referred to Biden’s alleged desire to support “open borders.” Someone has to show me where the president has declared any desire for an open border. If he said something to that effect, I am willing to consider taking back everything I have said in support of the president.

The demagogues are out in force.

Election denier makes right call … imagine that

One of the more fascinating aspects of the Texas secretary of state’s findings about the integrity of the 2020 election is that the secretary of state is an election denier.

Imagine that, eh?

John Scott is leaving office soon, returning to private life. When Gov. Greg Abbott appointed him as the state’s chief election official, many critics were quick to say that Scott has called the result of the 2020 election into question, criticizing what he called “irregularities” in the vote process.

Well, it turns out that the audit his office did in four of the state’s most populous counties found what many of us have said all along: There wasn’t “widespread voter fraud” in Texas.

It reminds of the “forensic audit” done in Arizona earlier this year by the Cyber Ninja outfit hired to examine claims of widespread fraud in that state. They came up empty, despite fears that the Cyber Ninjas were nothing more than a stalking horse organization for the Big Liars — in that it had no experience auditing election returns.

Now we have the Texas secretary of state confirming that Collin, Dallas, Tarrant and Harris counties’ elections were done above board and were free, fair, legal and correct.

Who knew?

Open borders? Where?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t answer a direct question posed by ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz.

She prefaced the question by stating that President Biden never has said he favors “open borders.” The only people making that contention are Republican foes of the Democratic president. Gov. Abbott is one of them.

Is it the GOP mantra that is spawning the massive influx of migrants to our southern border? Raddatz asked Abbott that question directly, as it was broadcast this morning.

He didn’t answer it. He veered somewhere else with some rambling response about the chaos that will develop if a Donald Trump-era restriction is lifted.

C’mon, governor … aren’t Republican critics’ lies and demagoguery about an “open border” fueling this crisis?

Legislator hires lunatic

Suffice to say that Texas has no shortage of loons sitting in public office, or a shortage of certifiable lunatics willing to work for them.

Get a load of this tidbit out of Arlington, just down the road a piece from your blogger’s home in Collin County: State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, a Republican, has hired a guy to run his district office who has called for the public execution of anyone who takes children to drag shows.

Jake Niedert is just 22 years of age. He now is going to be Tinderholt’s legislative director working out of the lawmaker’s Tarrant County office.

Niedert is a self-proclaimed “Christian nationalist” who once said this on Twitter: “You want to force kids to see drag shows, I want to ‘drag’ you to the town square to be publicly executed for grooming kids. We are not the same.”

Texas Rep. Tony Tinderholt hires Christian nationalist Jake Neidert | The Texas Tribune

Is this idiot going to say he was “joking” or he was being “sarcastic”? Wait for it.

Tinderholt is running for speaker of the Texas House against the current speaker, Dade Phelan, a Beaumont Republican. He wants the House to be even more right wing than it currently has become. God help us.

Well, Tinderholt isn’t likely to defeat Phelan, but he remains a dangerous character serving in a Legislature that is likely to quarrel and squabble beginning January over anti-LGBTQ and transgender legislation.

This dude is a freak … who hires freaks to work for him!