Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Texas Alliance for Life & Board of the Texas Republican Assembly Endorse Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House

Ken Paxton got the thumbs up, and thus Joe Straus the thumbs down, today from two groups that define social and fiscal conservatism in Texas.

Texas Alliance for Life (TAL), a pro-life organization that has played a key role in identifying and promoting pro-life legislators and pro-life legislation in Texas, gave Ken Paxton the nod and at the same time sub-headlined its news release, "Incumbent Joe Straus not considered pro-life." Ouch! That must make Joe Straus a bit uncomfortable considering how much his team keeps trying to convince everyone that he is pro-life.

Likewise, the Board of Directors of the Texas Republican Assembly (TxRA), a group that self identifies as the Republican Wing of the Republican Party, a fiscal and social conservative affiliate of the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) (which nonetheless is independent of the RPT since the TxRA and its local RA chapters' primary function is to endorse in contested Republican Primary races ), chose in its press release to focus on Paxton's conservative Republican credentials since, the release asserts, "[t]he race for speaker in the Texas House is the first fight for conservative principles that lawmakers will face in January."

Included below are the two endorsement announcements in their entirety:

Texas Alliance for Life Endorses Ken Paxton for Texas House

Incumbent Joe Straus not considered pro-life

December 29, 2010

Joe Pojman, Ph.D.
Executive Director
512.736.3708 (mobile)
512.477.1244 (office)

AUSTIN -- Today Texas Alliance for Life publicly endorses Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and urges all incumbent and newly-elected Representatives to support him in that race. Texas Alliance for Life also encourages pro-life Texans to contact their state representatives and urge them to support Rep. Paxton.

"We enthusiastically endorse pro-life Representative Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House," said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. "Texas deserves a committed, pro-life Speaker like Ken Paxton who will work to protect our most vulnerable Texans: the more than 80,000 innocent unborn children who die each year in Texas' abortion facilities. Ken has great integrity, and we believe he will allow the House to vote on greatly-needed, highly popular, pro-life bills that were passed last session by the Texas Senate but failed to pass the Texas House."

Pojman also announced that the vote for speaker will be used in Texas Alliance for Life's determination of the pro-life rating for each State Representative. He stated, "We intend to score the vote for speaker because we believe it will likely be among the most important votes in the 82nd Session."

Pojman said, "Texas Alliance for Life joins the large chorus of pro-life organizations and individuals who are asking House members not to support incumbent Speaker Joe Straus. Two years ago, Texas Alliance for Life voiced concern that under Speaker Straus, pro-life legislation would not pass the House. Unfortunately, our fears were realized."

Pojman continued, "Speaker Straus cannot be called pro-life. He has failed to pledge to oppose public funding for Planned Parenthood, received a $1,000 campaign contribution from a Planned Parenthood PAC, and has been given high praise by Planned Parenthood for his 'tireless efforts' during the last legislative session."[1],[2] In fact, Mr. Straus has praised Planned Parenthood, saying "they do so much good on the family planning and the women's health issues."[3]

In 2009 two pro-life bills that passed the Senate -- Senate Bill 182, the sonogram bill, and Senate Bill 1098, the "Choose Life" license plate bill to promote infant adoption -- died in the House without a floor vote. Both of these bills were strongly supported by Texas Alliance for Life.[4]

Rep. Ken Paxton is demonstrably pro-life and unequivocally opposes public funding for Planned Parenthood. On Monday, November 16, Texas Alliance for Life's standard candidate questionnaires were delivered, by email and by hand, to the offices of all announced candidates for speaker. Rep. Paxton responded within hours and answered all the questions[5] in agreement with Texas Alliance for Life's position, indicating that he supports the reversal of Roe v. Wade; supports a law banning partial-birth abortion; opposes public funding for Planned Parenthood; supports the current state law that recognizes the personhood of an unborn child beginning at conception and legally protects that child against violent crimes like of homicide and assault, performed against the mother's wishes; supports a ban on human cloning; and supports a sonogram law.

Speaker Straus has failed to answer the questionnaire.

Rep. Paxton has a strong history of authoring and supporting pro-life legislation supported by Texas Alliance for Life. For example, in 2007, Paxton authored House Bill 225, with the bipartisan support of 50 House members, to prevent state public funding of embryonic stem cell research, which requires the destruction of human embryos. In 2007 Paxton authored the "Choose Life" license plate bill, House Bill 224. In 2009, Paxton co-authored the sonogram bill, House Bill 36, as well as the "Choose Life" license plate bill, House Bill 109.

By contrast, in 2007, Representative Straus co-authored House Bill 2704, a phony ban on human cloning. House Bill 2704 would allow the creation of living, human embryos by any "method other than fertilization" (i.e., human cloning) and would require the destruction of those embryos before implantation.

[1] In June 2008, Straus accepted a $1,000 campaign contribution from Planned Parenthood's San Antonio PAC.

[2] Planned Parenthood Trust of San Antonio and South Central Texas' fall 2009 newsletter praised Straus for his "tireless efforts on behalf of Texas women and children during the last legislative session." Planned Parenthood receives at least $20 million per year in Texas in appropriated public funds. Planned Parenthood currently operates 13 abortion facilities throughout the state is purchasing their 14th in Lubbock.

[3] Texas Monthly Talks, Evan Smith Interview with Speaker Joe Straus, Jan. 28, 2009:

[4] Senate Bill 182 was scheduled for a House floor vote on the last possible day. Senate Bill 1098 and the companion bill House Bill 109, failed to pass the House Transportation Committee. The Straus-appointed committee chairman delayed these bills in their respective committees.

[5] See Speaker_Questionnaire_Paxton.

Texas Republican Assembly Board of Directors Endorses Ken Paxton for Texas Speaker of the House

Contact: Michael Gallops,

DALLAS – Today, the Texas Republican Assembly Board of Directors announced their endorsement of State Representative Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) for Speaker in the Texas House of Representatives.

The race for speaker in the Texas House is the first fight for conservative principles that lawmakers will face in January. In November, we saw an unprecedented mandate given to the Republican Party, and we believe that the interests of all Texans will be best served with a conservative leader in the House of Representatives. With that in mind, the TXRA Board of Directors opted to endorse in this race.

Representative Paxton is the very definition of a conservative Republican. He has ranked among the most consistent conservatives in the Texas House throughout his tenure as state representative, and our board of directors is confident in his ability to lead the Texas House beginning in January.

The Republican Assembly board is demanding that Republicans caucus and select the speaker without input from the Democrats. We are endorsing Ken Paxton and are recommending that legislators support and vote for him.

The board of directors chose to endorse in the speaker's race without the membership of the Republican Assembly due to the time constraints in this race. The Texas Republican Assembly is comprised of chapters around the state of Texas. The organization regularly endorses in Republican primary contests, and this year endorsed conservatives such as incoming state representatives David Simpson, Erwin Cain, Charles Perry, and others.

The Texas Republican Assembly is a grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent and moral America.

Disclosure: This author of this blog report is a member of the TxRA Board of Directors.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Census: 27 million more people in US since 2000

Census observations by CIS, Center for Immigration Studies, highlight the key driver for massive increases in our population - immigration:

Immigration Drives Huge Increase; Since 1980, Population Up 82 million, Equal to Calif., Texas & N.Y.

WASHINGTON (December 21, 2010) – Most of the media coverage of the 2010 Census will likely focus on the country's changing racial composition and the redistribution of seats in Congress. But neither of these is the most important finding. Rather, it is the dramatic increase in the size of the U.S. population itself that has profound implications for our nation's quality of life and environment. Most of the increase has been, and will continue to be, a result of one federal policy: immigration. Projections into the future from the Census Bureau show we are on track to add 130 million more people to the U.S. population in the just the next 40 years, primarily due to future immigration.
• Immigration accounted for three-quarters of population growth during the decade. Census Bureau data found 13.1 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) who arrived in the last 10 years; there were also about 8.2 million births to immigrant women during the decade.1
• The numerical increase of 27.3 million this decade is exceeded by only two other decades in American history.
• Without a change in immigration policy, the nation is projected to add roughly 30 million new residents each decade for the foreseeable future.
• Assuming the current ratio of population to infrastructure, adding roughly 30 each decade will mean:
o building and paying for 8,000 new schools every 10 years;
o developing land to accommodate 11.5 million new housing units every 10 years;
o constructing enough roads to handle 23.6 million more vehicles every 10 years.

As for the political ramifications of this, Texas will gain 4 seats in reapportionment. It's Cens-mas for Republicans, as Republican-leaning states like Texas are gaining seats from northern liberal states like New York and Illinois.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dan Neil Contests HD48 Election

Dan Neil, the Republican candidate for State Representative, district 48, has filed a contest to the election results. There were several irregularities found during the election recount, which reported him as behind Democrat Donna Howard by a mere 12 votes. His campaign released the following statement:

“With all the mistakes made by Travis County election officials that we have seen and discovered, we believe that a contest must be filed for every legal vote to be counted. I believe that when all of the legally cast ballots are counted that I will be the new representative for House District 48.

“Travis County did not provide us with all of the information we requested, but from the information given to us, we have found several mistakes made by election officials. Many of the overseas ballots were improperly marked, and the county remade these ballots when they realized their mistake. They compounded their mistake when 3 of the straight-Democratic ballots were not remade and their votes counted in this election, while the intent of the other overseas voters was disregarded. If they counted 3 of the straight ticket overseas voters, all of those should be counted.

“During the recount we found several straight-Republican ballots that had been remade, and we requested copies of all the remade overseas ballots. To this day, Travis County has not provided us with the copies of all of the remade overseas ballots, and the only way we can view them is to file the contest and go through the process of discovery. I sincerely believe that when all these votes are counted, there will be a new state representative in House District 48.

“We also found mail ballots that should have been counted, but they were not, due to mistakes made by election officials. Two ballots were not counted even though their ballot signatures match their registration applications. One ballot was rejected because it was mailed from within the county even though the law does not say it can be rejected for that reason. We have also found about 1900 felons who may have been ineligible to vote. We are in the process of confirming whether these voters should have been allowed to vote.

“According to the final vote tally after the recount, we are also missing two votes. On November 18th, the final vote tally was 51,554 votes. During the recount process, we found one vote not counted that should have been counted, so the final vote tally should have been 51,555. Instead, the final vote tally is 51,553. Where are those two votes? No matter how we look at this, the numbers just don’t add up. This is just another example of why we must file a contest to make sure that every legal vote has been counted.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Politifact's Lie of the Year

Politifact has labelled "Government-run health care" as their 'lie of the year.'

The Lie of the Year is that Politifact is unbiased and in a position to judge others' words. We have noticed errors, omissions, biases and a keen desire to push a liberal POV on the various "politifact" websites. This is not surprising as it is written by the same journalists who write who purvey liberal bias in their articles and op-eds. It's a bias exposed this year by the uncovering of the "Jorno-List" a list of left-liberal journalists who cooperated on getting the politically correct 'narrative' out there to advance liberal agenda in the media.

This detailed take-down of Polifact's egregious claim identifies multiple problems with Politifact's baised story:

Bias in sources is one - using a Professor who opined in favor of the health-care bill as an 'objective quote' on why 'government-run' is not accurate. That source said: "The label 'government takeover" has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a 'takeover.' "

The claim that using the term 'government takeover' is a lie is based on an absolutist assumption that anything less than 100% govt ownership is not 'control' or 'takeover'. This is based on a failure to acknowledge that government regulation of private action takes control out of private sector hands. The Sublime Bloviations blog goes point-by-point as to how that is not a valid way (or at minimum the only way) to look at 'Government takeover'. Regulation is control, and control is a 'takeover'; Obamacare is a massive increase in Government regulation and control on healthcare, ergo a 'takeover'.

Many lies have been told about ObamaCare, but most have been told by Obama and the sponsors and supporters. They lied about getting to keep your care (nope, regulations have forced millions to lose coverage they had, from children-only to medicare advantage), lied about the deficit impact (it is going to cost trillions when fully implemented), lied about 'death panels' (denied they existed then tweaked the policy on QALY that was in question), lied about alternatives (claimed there was none), lied about constitutionality (denied the fact that Obamacare mandate really is NOT in the Constitution at all and an honest Judge - like happened this week - would rule it unconstitutional).

But those are minor fibs. The 'big fib' to them is the 'takeover' meme. So according to these liberals, Government can mandate you buy health insurance, mandate what that insurance must or must not contain in exchanges, subsidize millions with govt funding, have govt panels determining the standards of care, have govt subsidies and taxes to enforce compliance, and smother all 50 states with forced massive expansions of govt-run medicaid and chip, tax medical devices and tanning salons, and add 50 bureaucracies to run all this ... do ALL this, and since it is not a 100% complete Govt-owned entity, but rather private sector insurance now harrassed, regulated and dictated by the Govt ... then its not honest to call it "Government-run health care." Even though Govt spends 60% of every health care dollar under this plan and the other 40% spent privately is almost all under the direction, dictation and regulation of the Federal Government.

"Government-run health care" is perhaps the most honest 4 word description you can come up for the Rube Goldberg device. Certainly less off-target than the lies such as:

"You will get to keep your healthcare plan" or "This bill will not increase the deficit"
and of course the old chestnut "There is no liberal media bias".

Friday, December 17, 2010

Speakers race is Establishment vs Grassroots

The Tea Party Message to Texas Republican Reps:

“This is a grassroots-up, not a Legislature-down caucus,”

- North Texas Tea Party.

They have a list of the Straus pledgers and non-pledgers, the committed Paxton supporters and others. This is an 'insider' versus 'grassroots' race. The status quo and incumbent-friendly Establishment sees no need to change from Straus, but the conservative grassroots does see a need for a bolder new direction and more active conservative leadership. This need, and the failures in 2009 (e.g. on Voter ID), is why most of the conservative activists have asked for a real 'conservative Speaker'.

It's why the Tea Party groups are agitating for grassroots opposition to Joe Straus. Straus, in turn, claims to be conservative, just as in the 2010 primaries many establishment Republicans touted their conservative bona fides.

The real question is: Do the current State Reps want to represent the establishment or their own grassroots supporters? Perhaps State Reps need to survey their own clubs, supporters and GOP exec committees to get an answer to the question "Who should I represent?" The 'insiders' and the 'establishment' are looking at the Tea Party and grassroots as the barbarians at the gates. Many of us see much of status quo special-interest political 'establishment' to be a problem not the solution.

The Tea Party website lists Smithee as a Straus pledger. Here is a Redstate article from a Rep Ken Paxton constituent touting Rep Paxton for Speaker, and the following comment was made:

I had already emailed and faxed my rep John Smithee and he was sitting on a fence at the time. I “requested” he put in writing who he would be supporting and I received a letter back from him which said basically he had not made up his mind one way or another and would be reviewing info, etc. Kinda disappointing as Amarillo is one of the most conversative cities in Texas. But I’ll contact him again.
So Rep Smithee, who "pledged" support for Speaker Straus is in reality undecided. If there are more calls and more pressure from the grassroots, more and more State Reps will remain in the 'undecided' column up until the end. We know that the Establishment has spoken - they paid money to Straus to spread around to help candidates. If the Speakers race is Establishment vs Grassroots, the question is - how loudly will the grassroots raise its voice? That will determine the result.

What Just Happened in the Lame-Duck Congress

"Appropriately, the tax bill passed and the spending bill died on the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party." -NRO

Despite the attempts by Reid and Pelosi to govern against the will of the people as expressed on Nov 2nd, America did well yesterday. A very bad pork-filled spending bill was stopped, and the possibility of a massive tax hike on January 1 was stopped as well. Good news.

The New York Times spins hopefully, asking: Could the lame-duck be a big win for Obama?

These are not 'victories' for Obama, but a victory against folly. It's dishonest to talk of this compromise as a 'tax cut' bill, all it does is merely extend the current rates in place for 2 more years. It's a status quo tax rate extension. As such, any claims of immediate success or tragedy are wrong - it is more of the same. No, it will not be bad for the deficit - not compared with trillions in stimulus, spending, pork and govt takeovers that are the real cause of the deficit.

The good part of the tax bill is that with the continued Bush tax rates, the middle-class pays less than they would have (thank you President Bush for that middle-class tax cut that the Democrats seem to refuse to acknowledge you made happen back in 2003), and with the overall tax rates maintained and payroll tax holiday in place for a year, the economy is on surer footing, and economic uncertainty is less. Yet it's not as if this will instantly supercharge the economy. Unemployment benefit extension may indeed continue to do what his has been doing - induce slower returns of employees to the workforce at a time when a new job may mean a downsized salary for many. The rest of it - ethanol subsidies, some of Obama's trinkets - are of no use to our economy, and so only a 'win' for the deal-making that is so wrong with DC.

While the tax which is why the loss of the $1.1 trillion spending bill is both more consequential, important and GOOD for America. That pork-infested earmark-laden over-spending bill is everything that is wrong with DC politics, and Reid's attempt to cram it down the senate was an act of political and economic sabotage against American taxpayers and voters. The exposure of the earmarks had chastened Republicans to get off the gravy train and left the bill bereft of support, even though Reid wanted to continue the over-spending past the expiration date. Hint: The Expiration date for over-spending, massive deficits and Government overreach was Nov 2nd.

Now the lame-duck Congress has only one responsibility: Go Home.

The only win for Obama here is how the combination of incompetence and extremism on his own side made an easy tax deal seem hard (causing him to look smaller and less capable than his predecessor-advisor Bill Clinton), and how he avoided looking as foolish as Pelosi and Co. by actually realizing that the Nov 2nd election did have consequences. Yet his churlish, disrespectful and ungrateful way of talking about his Republican counterparts (after he made his deal) and even his liberal critics shows both his leadership skills and his skin are both quite thin. I am not the only one who noticed that Obama blew the politics of the compromise. It will be a rough 2 years.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As D-Day for the Texas Speaker of the House Race Approaches...

"The hour grows late, and Gandalf the Grey rides to Isengard seeking my council."Saruman, as Gandalf rides into Isengard unaware that his former master has sold out to Sauron, the Dark Lord. From the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Based on responses to my previous inquiries into his stance, I can attest that Representative-Elect Jason Isaac has been consistent in his non-commitment to any particular Speaker candidate and of his commitment to "vote his district" on the question. I don't know if he is trying to be extra careful to hold a delicate balance because of Straus' role in aiding and abetting Patrick Rose in the (soon former) Representative's failed attempt to fend off Jason's successful campaign, or if Jason simply thinks he still has not fully heard from his District.

Well, if the Hays County Republican Party is any reflection of District 45's Hays county constituents, the AAS story linked below indicates that Isaac need now only get constituent input from Blanco and Caldwell counties to know how to "vote his district" on the question of who to tap for Speaker of the House:
Hays County Republican Party to Isaac: Don't pick Straus
By Corrie MacLaggan
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 01:36 PM
The Hays County Republican Party this week passed a resolution urging GOP state Rep.-elect Jason Isaac of Dripping Springs not to vote for Joe Straus for House speaker, according to a report by Jen Biundo in the Hays Free Press. Bud Wymore, chairman of the county party, was quoted in the Free Press as saying that there "is a place in the Republican Party for people like Joe Straus that are more moderateit's just not in leadership positions."

Isaac was quoted in the article as saying that "it's good to hear from people in the district" but that "it's not going to force me into making a decision one way or another."

Isaac, who defeated state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, told me this month that he has not pledged to any speaker candidate and is still undecided.

Straus, the current House speaker, is being challenged Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa and Rep. Ken Paxton of McKinney. All three are Republicans. Some conservative activists around the state have mounted an anti-Straus campaign, saying he isn't conservative enough given the fact that Republicans dramatically increased their majority in last month's elections.
For the full story from the local Hays County perspective, see Hays GOP: Say no to Joe Straus. Note that Hays County Executive Committee joins a growing list of county executive committees asking for right change (i.e. a more conservative speaker of the Texas House, to match the Nov. 2nd voter mandate).

On a related note,
David Jennings at Big Jolly Politics blog has been one of the loudest pro-Straus voices for some time. Yesterday, he turned up information on Straus and appraisal caps that does not meet with his approval or that of many of his readers. Jennings was a blogger at the now mothballed Lone Star Times back when folks were fighting for appraisal caps years ago, and he was one of pro-caps advocates' biggest allies in those early days of blogging. His post on the issue is very interesting and actually helps make the case against Straus (even though Jennings refuses to change sides).

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot to share this status update from Warren Chisum's Facebook profile page:
There is no two ways about it: the Republican House members must caucus and unite behind a single conservative candidate for Speaker. If there is no caucus I will remain a candidate for Speaker when the Legislature meets on January 11, 2011. - Posted Friday, December 10th at 1:25 pm.
Now that we have an ubermajority of Republicans in the Texas House (a first in Texas history), some of whom, however, are of recent Democrat extraction and others of whom are from the ranks of moderate/liberal Republicans (some would say of RINO extraction) we need more than ever to have a Speaker who can lead and appoint from the right, rather than the left as Speaker Straus has done on average.

Even though the origins of the Straus Speakership is commonly known (i.e. "the Gang of 11" RINOs, hating the leadership style of conservative Republican Speaker Tom Craddick and willing to have as speaker anybody but Craddick (ABC), a sentiment shared with their close Democrat relations, drew lots (so to speak) and the lot fell on a virtually unknown Representative from San Antonio, Joe Straus, and with the aid of the 65 democrats, some of who were apparently offered Chairmanship positions, Straus was handed the Speaker's gavel that
Craddick had welded so conservatively—and which the Democrats and ABC Republicans thought so unfairly and heavy handedly), Straus seems to be getting a free pass from the press in his patently false denial that he was chosen to be speaker by 65 Democrats and 11 Republicans.

Check it out here in this Star Telegram story.

I wish to point out just one excerpt from that story:
The San Antonio Republican took questions from attendees for about 30 minutes. Most were related to the Speaker's Race. Straus repeatedly described attacks on him as misinformation coming "from the Internet."
This sounds very much like Team Straus' previous assertion that "outside forces" were trying to influence the Speaker's race. Speaker Straus seems to fail to realize that "from the Internet" = "outside forces" = "We the People" = "Who Reps are supposed to represent." So this is just another attempt by Straus to silence opposition coming from the grass roots, from "We the People." That alone means Straus is not a conservative, as he portends.

The sequence of Straus' rise to power and the
Star Telegram story seems not to be supported by the journalistic evidence.

Cases in point:
While Straus will continue to collect supporters, the truth is that, when it really counted, he had far more support from Democrats than Republicans.Austin American Statesman, Jan. 6, 2009 (Gardner Selby)
Straus wants to keep the job he won last year, when a handful of House Republicans and most of the chamber's Democrats chose him to oust Republican Tom Craddick of Midland. Chisum and some Republican activists don't like the fact that it was mostly Democrats who chose the GOP speaker. Austin American Statesman, Oct. 18, 2010 (Jason Embry)
Additional related stories:
(1) Straus says he'll win race for Speaker
(2) County GOP leaders seek caucus on electing new House speaker
(3) Here is one from the Queer (their term, not mine) perspective:
UPDATE: Chisum Remains in Speakers Race

(4) And from another left leaning blogger rehashing the anti-Semite line:
Another Setback in the GOP Outreach To Minority Communities

(5) All Travis Monitor posts mentioning Straus

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

November 2nd reminder - Democrats lost, big

This week, President Obama is calling the minority party Republicans 'hostage takers' for having the courage to stick firmly to the right position on taxes (don't raise them now!), and his own party is revolting over Obama's compromise with Republicans. The partisan liberal Democrats are so used to arrogantly dictating terms of bills, they are unable to cope with the new reality and are having fits over extending all current tax rates. This begs a simple question - if the Democrats have a different position, why didn't they enact their position any time in the past 20 months, when they had the power? Since the results of the last election, the new reality is that liberal Democrats do not have a monopoly on power.

Which makes the temper tantrum on the left against Obama all the more remarkable. If the Democrats revolt against Obama's compromise, it will seal their fate in multiple ways. First, the expiring tax cuts will be a huge tax INCREASE that hits everyone, and the Democrats will be to blame for the economic damage hurting the American people. Second, backing out of this deal will seal President Obama's fate as an impotent weakling who caves to no effect; it will lame-duck the President. Third, it will show America that the Democrats are STILL not listening, and encourage a further shellacking in 2012.

Here's a reminder on the Democrat wipeout in November from the Houston Chronicle: Democrat losses severe at county level in Texas:

More than 105 Democratic county officeholders, including 16 incumbent county judges lost their re-election bids. Only one Democratic county judge up for re-election survived. Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi captured another term on his 63rd birthday.

Republicans swept Galveston and Hays counties. Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia lost. And the Yellow Dog Democrat country of East Texas — where even a yellow dog could win if it ran as a Democrat — passed into history from Texarkana to Beaumont.
"The untold story is the takeover of the counties," Texas Republican Chairman Steve Munisteri said.

Munisteri said the victories not only picked up GOP officeholders, but the newly elected Republicans also will become spokesmen for the local party and its issues.

The party is expecting to have a net gain of about 300 elected officials by the time all the information is gathered, Munisteri said. The Republican Party held 802 local, state and federal offices in 1990. After Jan. 1, 2011, the Republicans likely will hold about 1,673 elective offices in Texas, Munisteri said.

December SREC meeting - and the news is? ....

The major media is many things, but at the top of the list, quite predictable!  We could predict that all the major papers would endorse Bill White, while the voters endorsed Rick Perry, and it happened.

At the December (2010) State Republican Executive Committee meetings, one of the items in our folder was a "Press Packet".  What do you expect the press would be talking about in the wake of the Texas shellacking of Democrat state house candidates?  Well, they were talking about a spirited debate between two of my fellow SREC members regarding the Republican Speaker (of the House) race, and almost miraculously, they managed to conjure up a spirit of anti-semitism, which was immediately embraced by our more radical Democrat blogger friends:

SREC member wants to oust Speaker Joe Straus because he’s Jewish, doesn’t hate gays enough

Posted on 06 Dec 2010 at 5:09pm

So here's my take.  As a new SREC member (who started in June, 2010), I'm still idealistic about representing SD-14 constituents, as opposed to airing my own opinions, and fortuitously my opinions have lined up nicely with my constituents' demands (so far, those I've heard from want a more conservative speaker, and not Straus).  There was some debate at the last Travis Executive Committee meeting regarding asking our outstanding chairman, Dr. Rosemary Edwards, to sign a letter asking for a more conservative speaker, on behalf of the Travis GOP, but there was a clear consensus for her to do so - and she did.

But what's the real story here?  In my view, the real news - which the media still can't bring themselves to accept - is that the Tea Party pushed the GOP to big gains, and we're going to have a great 2011 session no matter who the Texas Speaker is!

Oh yeah, and there's that incredible accomplishment of the new Texas GOP, under Chairman Steve Munisteri's leadership, eliminating a huge debt AND contributing campaign resources to GOP victories, in just months after Steve took over as Chair.  That, in fact, is real news.  But it's so good for the GOP, can the major media stomach it?  We'll see.  Isn't it great that our political activism, and successes, exist in comfortable independence from a biased media?

Monday, December 6, 2010


By Bob Ward

(updated 12/07/2010)

Even though President Obama has agreed to extending the Bush tax cuts for all income levels of taxpayers in return for GOP concessions on unemployment benefits, some Congressional Democrats are still opposed claiming the tax cuts will add to the deficit by reducing Federal revenues. It’s anybody’s guess whether they are lying or just ignorant of the historical record which shows that just the opposite is true: lower taxes produce greater revenue for the Federal government, not less.

The Bush tax cuts did not diverge from this record. In July, 2006, Michael Franc of The Heritage Foundation reported that Federal revenues rose by $206 billion (13 per cent) during the first nine months of the fiscal year when he was writing. That increase followed that previous year's “record surge in revenues,” when Federal revenue grew by $274 billion (15 per cent). These increases following the Bush tax cuts allowed the White House to lower its projected budget deficit by more than $100 billion.

Franc noted that in the two years before the Bush tax cuts U.S. economic growth averaged about one per cent and unemployment was at six per cent. After the tax cuts, he said, economic growth averaged four per cent for three years and the unemployment rate dropped to an “historic low” of 4.6 per cent.

Economist Daniel Mitchell was not surprised by these results. “Lower taxes,” he said, “leads to more work, saving and investment. It's not exactly rocket science."

The experience with the Bush tax cuts was not unique. A similar result occurred when Ronald Reagan cut taxes. The Heritage Foundation notes that annual revenues over the next decade averaged $102 billion above their 1980 level. Total tax revenues for the decade rose by 99.4 per cent, just short of double. Heritage also noted that Federal revenues had been dropping in the years just prior to Reagan’s tax cut.

Once upon a time even Democrats understood economics. President Jack Kennedy observed: “Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that . . . an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits... In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

Kennedy’s solution to low tax revenues was to reduce the top tax rate (the one paid by Barack Obama’s hated millionaires) from more than 90 per cent down to 70 per cent. As a result, tax revenues went from $94 billion in 1961 to $153 billion in 1968, an increase of 62 per cent.

Kennedy, Reagan and Bush just retold an old story. Way back in the 1920s tax rates were slashed from over 70 per cent to less than 25 per cent. And revenues rose from $719 million in 1921 to $1164 million in 1928, an increase of more than 61 percent.

Andrew Mellon, Treasury Secretary during the 1920s, had figured out that when taxes are too high, people just don’t pay them. Wealthy taxpayers, the target of the high marginal rates, simply withdraw their money from productive business and invest instead in tax-exempt securities or other lawful methods of avoiding having their income taxed. The result, Mellon observed, is that capital is diverted into channels “which yield neither revenue to the Government nor profit to the people.”

Democrats have to choose. Do they want a tax policy that increases revenue and creates jobs, or do they want to indulge in class-warfare by opposing any tax cuts that might benefit a wealthy person.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dan Neil got so close, and yet...

As the saying goes, "It ain't over till the Fat Lady sings". Well tonight, after a two day recount, the fat lady started singing with regard to the Texas House District 48 race. Every paper ballot that had made it past the various ballot boards was examined by Republican and Democratic counters to determined the voter intent. Every electronically cast vote made on the eSlate machines was supposedly verified.

The final tally is as follows:

Donna Howard 25,023 votes
Dan Neil 25,011 votes
margin 12 votes

The margin of difference shrunk 25% from what it was before the recount, when it was just 16 votes. That's 25% human or paper ballot reader error in the spread between the two candidates' votes!

Dan Neil, in a post-recount TV interview, did not take the bait when he was asked by the reporter if he thought there might have been some malfeasance involved rather than human or machine error. He said that he simply wanted to eliminate error in the vote count and joked that "he does not make errors "but understands that "others sometimes do." There is still a possibility that error remains in the count and for that reason he is not quite ready to concede.

In a TV interview immediately following the unofficial results of the recount, in response to a question about what Dan Neil's recourse would be after the vote had been canvassed and reported to the Secretary of State, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said that it would be up to the Legislature to consider any challenge to the results and that the Legislature would have full and final authority to seat either Dan or Donna according to the will of the majority of its Members.

Dan said he has no plans at this time to make such a challenge. However, he remains concerned about some of the overseas ballots. In particular, he is concerned about those ballots that were supposed to be marked to limit the vote to Federal races only, i.e. the Congressional race (for voters living indefinitely outside of the country) but which were improperly marked by the County Clerk's office prior to mailing them to persons overseas who were/are in the military as well as to persons who were not residing indefinitely outside the country. His concern is that all voters who had a legitimate right to vote in the HD 48 race have their vote counted according to their intent, no matter the outcome.

I served as a ballot counter and in that capacity looked at the ballots in three different precincts (247, 379, and 364). Of all the ballots we counted there were no ballot issues that resulted in a change of the vote--so those precincts were recount neutral. Neil won the combined ballots in those precincts by 3 votes.

The ballots we counted included some of the limited ballots. For these ballots the non-Federal race choices were not all marked ineligible in the same manner on each ballot and in no case were the Straight Ticket choices marked ineligible. The recount ballot board Chairman, Judge Bill Aleshire said that the Straight Ticket choices were not eligible on a limited ballot and that the ballots should have been so marked--thus, Neil's claim that these ballots were marked improperly. I wondered if some of these ballots might have been mailed to voters who had not checked the box (c) A U.S. CITIZEN RESIDING OUTSIDE THE U.S. INDEFINITELY on their REGISTRATION AND ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUEST - FEDERAL POST CARD APPLICATION (FPCA)?

There were also some ballots by email that we looked at. The votes on each of these ballots had been made into (transferred to) a full size paper ballot. We saw both the printout of the original email (made to) ballot as well as the full size (made from) ballot that was used for the count. Most of these were limited ballots and since they were transmitted electronically, there was no question that the voter could only vote in the eligible race (the Congressional race) as that was the only race presented on the electronic ballot. Each of the other emailed (made to) ballots was simply a small version of a full size (made from) ballot with all races listed and eligible to vote in. I'm not sure how a voter requests an email ballot nor what the controls are on the eligibility and submission process.

There was one ambiguous ballot that my group counted and another similar ballot that I looked at from a precinct we didn't count but the bin of which I was asked to go through to look for certain ballots that poll watchers wanted copies of.

On the ballot that we counted, all boxes next to Republican candidates were clearly marked, but in the HD 48 race the check mark in the box beside Neil had been scratched out almost to the point that the box was completely shaded in and the box beside Howard was checked twice. Additionally, after Howard's name, in the white space, was a smaller check mark with a curved tail, unlike the other check marks on the ballot both in style and weight (it appeared to me to be from another's hand). I said that I could not determine the voter's intent, the Democrat counter objected and Chairman
Aleshire ruled it as a vote for Howard pointing out in the process that he does not consider how voters vote in other races when judging voter intent in a particular race.

On the ballot from the other precinct, in which I didn't count, I saw the same voting pattern in terms of Republican Party votes but this time there was an X through the Neil box and a check in the Howard box, plus the markings beside Neil included what appeared to be someone's initials.

That pretty much covers the "exciting stuff." Now for a couple of sobering points:

There were under votes in which other races on the ballot above and below the HD 48 race were voted on a ballot but the HD 48 race was not voted. In a contest this close that under-vote seems to me to be a critical mistake for a voter to make, i.e. to be knowledgeable enough, or simply willing, to make a choice in the race for their State Representative.

Need it be said again, "EVERY VOTE COUNTS" and every effort to earn a vote counts. The candidate, the donors, the volunteers and the paid campaign staff could have done more. I could have done more to turn out the vote for Dan Neil.

It still may not be the final line or final note of the Fat Lady's song with regard to the HD 48 race but we have all been politically exercised and educated no matter how the song ends. I know from observing and interacting with Dan Neil that he just wants the legitimate intent of each and every voter to count and to be counted, no matter the outcome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Liberty Institute Says House Ethics Committee Meeting Was Illegal

This morning, Liberty Institute issued a press release (the text of which is copied below) concerning the General Investigating and Ethics committee hearing that took place last week in Austin:
For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Grisham, Cell: 214.558.9455, Office: 972.941.4453,;

Texas House Ethics Committee Meeting Was Illegal, Only One Witness Put Under Oath, Most Details Hidden from Public

AUSTIN, Texas, December 1, 2010 – Today, Liberty Institute announced that the hearing held last Tuesday by the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee to investigate claims of political revenge by redistricting in the Texas Speaker race was illegal under Texas law.

Texas Government Code, section 301.022, states that “All legislative committees shall require witnesses to give testimony under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury.” The law further states, “The oath required by this section may be waived by any committee except a general investigating committee.” The House Ethics Committee is a general investigating committee.

“Putting only one side under oath, in direct violation of Texas law, is not our system of justice or a way to arrive at the truth,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and chief counsel of Liberty Institute. “For one of Straus’ cardinals to allegedly threaten members and then another provide cover by holding an illegal Ethics hearing is no way to set the ethics bar high before the Session even begins. The activity going on around Rep. Straus and his cardinals is disturbing. He must repudiate such actions and illegality immediately.”

Last Tuesday, the Texas House Ethics Committee took witness statements from Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman). When the hearing began, Rep. Phillips was named as the Texas House member who allegedly told Rep. Hughes that elected House members would be punished for not supporting current Speaker Joe Straus, and that redistricting maps were already being drawn to get rid of opposition, including Rep.-Elect Erwin Cain (R-Sulphur Springs) and Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van). Rep. Hughes also said that Rep. Phillips mentioned Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa) and Rep.-Elect Jim Landtroop (R-Plainview) in the discussion. Only Rep. Hughes was sworn in, and only at his request. Rep. Phillips was not put under oath, in direct violation of Texas law.

There is no public information as to whether Rep. Straus discussed and/or requested the Committee Chair to illegally waive the requirement of testimony under oath or whether the Chair, a Straus appointee, took such action on his own in an attempt to assist Straus or his cardinal. Additionally, the hearing was officially posted as a public hearing, but Committee Chair Hopson closed the more than three-hour hearing and ultimately only allowed the public to hear approximately ten minutes of committee discussions.

More information is available at Texas Legislative Update.

Liberty Institute, formerly The Free Market Foundation, is a public policy and non-profit legal organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of traditional family values and Constitutional freedoms.

This group sued the Texas Ethics Commission over provisions of the Texas government code which barred the public from involvement in the Speaker of the Texas House race. In the ruling on that case, United States District Judge Sam Sparks wrote:
The Court FINDS that Texas Government Code Sections 302.17 and 302.019 violate the First Amendment of the United States Constitution in that they are not narrowly tailored and therefore significantly chill core political speech protected by the First Amendment.
Beyond that legal victory which allows us to send lots of email, make blog and Facebook posts, tweet on Twitter, appear on or fund radio and TV shows, and ads, contact Representatives, donate money to Speaker candidates and interest groups, and even hold straw poll events or make endorsements, all for the purpose of exercising our First Amendment protected right to influence the Speaker race toward a candidate we feel would best serve the interest of Texas and Texans, Liberty Institute has a very good litigation track record. They are very good lawyers who do not engage in legal action which is not part of their mission and which they do not believe they can win on Constitutional grounds.

I provide this background and commentary regarding Liberty Institute to demonstrate that the allegations in the press release shown above should not be taken lightly by activist exercising their First Amendment rights to influence House members in their selection of Speaker, by Representatives and Representative-Elects themselves as they consider the Speaker candidates, and certainly not by Speaker Straus and the Representatives involved who are subject to the accusations made by
Liberty Institute.

More Travis Monitor posts related to the Speaker's race:
  1. Speaker's race update
  2. Refuting Statements by Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
  3. How to choose the Texas House Speaker
  4. Speaker Straus Waltzes into Power
  5. Tale of Two Speakers

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Speaker's race update

November 2 was a true Tsunami election that swept out Democrats in statehouses and in the Congress, and swept in stronger Republican majorities. Here in Texas, the conservative grassroots that got 99 Republican Texas State Reps elected are demanding a conservative Speaker of the House, to turn our massive majority into an organized conservative legislative body. This has turned the Speaker's race into a passionate race involving more than just the members of the Texas House. Interested parties from Redstate to Mike Huckabee are piling on.

November items for Your Information on the Texas Speaker's race:

(1) Flowchart on the Speaker race, created by The Texas Tribune. The flowchart shows the "who's who" in the Speaker's race:

(2) Video: "The Battle for the Texas House", In this video David Barton sums up what “we the people” seem to be saying—that Texans want a conservative Speaker! It lays out the history and the issues clearly and completely.

(3) Rep Ken Paxton now has his Speaker of the Texas House campaign website up at:

(4) The Austin American Statesman has a “postcard” history of its coverage of the Speaker’s Race which includes stories way back to January 9th, 2007:

(5) Empower Texans’ (Michael Quinn Sullivan’s group) Letter On Leadership:

(6) The Dallas Tea Party blog has a lot of information on the Speaker’s Race:

(7) On Nov 30, State Rep Van Taylor endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker. This brings the number of newly elected 'freshmen' State Reps endorsing Paxton publicly to 9: James White, Erwin Cain, Cindy Burkett, Bill Zedler, Charles Perry, Jim Landtroop, Kenneth Sheets, and David Simpson are also on the Paxton endorsement list.

(8) HUCK PAC has endorsed Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House (Huckabee is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(9) FreedomWorks / Dick Armey Oppose Speaker Straus, Announce Support for Paxton (Armey is on the Flowchart of Item 1):

(10) On November 10, 2010 Rep Brian Hughes withdraws his pledge to Straus, says that House leadership is trying to oust Reps Flynn and Cain and told Hughes that if he did not go along (i.e. support Straus) he would fall victim to similar retribution. Chairman Hopson’s General Investigating and Ethics Committee investigates the allegations and dismisses them after taking sworn testimony from Hughes and unsworn testimony from Rep Larry Phillips, who made the threats (Hughes and Hopson are on the Flowchart of Item 1): , and

(11) Straus Chairman Shuts Out Public From Speaker Race “Threats” Information at so-called “Public Hearing”—related to Item 10 above:

(12) Rep Warren Chisum announced his candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House on October 13, 2010:

(13) Rep Leo Berman, first Rep to file as opposition candidate to Joe Straus (June 23, 2010—see and ) wrote an Open Letter to Joe Straus on Nov 8, 2010 which is chopped full of enlightening information for those of us on the outside of the House of Representatives (Berman is on the Flowchart of Item 1): and

(14) Erick Erickson (of RedState) blogs that Ken Paxton should be Speaker of the Texas House:

(15) Gun Owners of America endorse Ken Paxton for Speaker of the Texas House:

(16) On the other side, we have primarily one group that is the apologist for and promoter of Speaker Joe Straus—that is, Conservatives4JoeStraus:

(17) Higher Education Committee Chair, Dan Branch questioned the constitutionality of the proposal of a Republican Caucus picking a consensus candidate for Speaker, as mentioned in the Flowchart of Item 1:

(18) If you want to read what Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka is saying in his left-of-center BURKABLOG, you can follow the following link (you might need to use the blog’s search engine to find all the relevant posts):

“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains, if friends stay true.”
- Elf Queen Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
The above items and quote are courtesy of "Freedom Ain't Free".

"This is why the People have Thrown You Out"

Wow. The stand-in Democrat Speaker decides not to recognize a ranking Republican on the House floor, in order to stop their lame lame-duck political stunt from being criticized and exposed. "This is why the People have Thrown You Out" said Rep Buyer. Must see:

Rep Alan Grayson was a case study in DC partisanship gone-mad, and I was attacked in a 30-second ad by my Democrat opponent for calling him and other partisan Congressional Democrats 'unfit to govern'. The above stunt by the stand-in Speaker, on top of a lame-duck session that is trying to cram legislation down our throats at the last minute before the Democrats lose their monopoly on power, is a reminder that perhaps the 'unfit to govern' label on these Congressional Democrats was accurate.

Meanwhile, no man is safe while Congress is in session.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Refuting Statements by "Conservatives 4 Joe Straus"

Timothy E. Bradberry
President, Central Texas Republican Assembly (CTRA)
National Committeeman, Texas Republican Assembly (TxRA)

The opinions and viewpoints expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions and viewpoints of the CTRA or the TxRA or their members.

Straus apologists talk about how conservative he is, now that conservatism is so popular. Below I attempt to refute, or at least pose questions about, some of their claims. All bulleted quotes are taken from Conservatives 4 Joe Straus.
  • Contrary to false rumors and allegations, Speaker Straus is and has always been pro-­life, and his pro-­life legislative record has been verified by Texans for Life President, Kyleen Wright, who is supporting Speaker Straus. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
If Speaker Joe Straus has been such an advocate for the unborn pray tell why/how did Rep. Joe Straus earn a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas in 2007? To date no explanation from the Straus team has been offered to this question.
  • Speaker Straus is a lifelong Republican, a family man, and a committed conservative. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
If Speaker Joe Straus is a committed conservative, why did he appoint exclusively moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats to chair committees when he became Speaker in 2009, thereby diluting the influence of conservatives and the potential of conservative bills, like Voter ID?
  • As Speaker, 81st Legislative Session, requested ZERO earmarks.
    - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
A ban on Congressional earmarks are all the rave these days. That seems to be the only reason that Conservatives 4 Joe Strauss made this statement. By saying Speaker Joe Straus has been anti-earmark it makes him appear ahead of the curve on earmarks. This simply exploits current sentiment to make Straus appear more fiscally conservative. I'm scratching my head trying to think of an example where a Speaker of the Texas House would ask for earmarks in the State budget, but I don't claim to be a legislative wonk.
  • Donated over $1.5 million to Republican House Members and candidates, helping increase the Republican majority to 99, 2010. - Conservatives 4 Joe Straus
And from the Conservatives 4 Joe Straus "Open Letter" we read this:
"...While our Republican Majority shrunk in the previous three elections, under Speaker Straus’ leadership, we made substantial gains in the November 2 election to an unprecedented 99 seats in the Texas House. Joe Straus gave unprecedented early sums of money to Republican incumbents, and Republican candidates in open seats, as well as to the Republican Party and Party organizations working to get out the vote, making the gains Tuesday possible. (emphasis added)
There was one candidate that Joe Straus did not give any money to. On the contrary, on May 12, 2010 Speaker Straus allowed his name and presence to be used to raise money for that Republican candidate's opponent, Patrick Rose. With no contribution from Joe Straus, and in fact the Speaker actually helping his opponent raise money, Jason Isaac proved to be not only a viable candidate (which Joe did not consider him to be), but he also soundly defeated Rose on Nov 2nd.

Shortly before the Rose fundraiser I had the unique privileged of talking to Speaker Straus about why he was headlining the Rose fundraiser. After our conversation I sent an email to the CTRA Members and Friends list. Here is what I wrote:
I have now talked to Speaker Straus (via phone) regarding this matter. He was very gracious and obviously had already fielded some calls on the issue. He was quite animated. He made the following points, and more I can't remember:

(1) He would not do anything that would jeopardize the Republican majority in the House;

(2) In spite of #1, he will support incumbent House Democrats if they are not vulnerable;

(3) He did not know that Rose had a viable opponent and had never spoken with Jason Issac;

(4) He is cognizant that Rose has a very substantial "war chest" (seem to implied that that is why Rose's opponent is not viable);

(5) Had he known about Jason Issac and felt like Rose was vulnerable, he would not have gotten involved with the Rose fundraiser;

(6) He said his (sic) is committed to growing the Republican majority and mentioned that the Republicans recently gained one seat with the flipping of a Democrat;

(7) He said Craddick did the exact same thing he (Speaker Straus) is doing for Rose and was not criticized. He said Craddick has been giving money to Democrats in this election cycle as well;

(8) He said he has been a lifelong Republican and mentioned his mom becoming a Republican in 1960;

(9) He mentioned that Rose voted with Republicans on some key pro-business votes in the last session;

(10) He was very gracious and said that I had the right to disagree with him. He even remembered the last time I criticized him at a TCRP Fundraiser in Austin about his committee appointments.
So lets be honest, Conservatives 4 Joe Straus, you cannot claim HD 45 as a seat Speaker Strauss helped a Republican fill. That leaves the Speaker only able to say that he was not in the way of some 98 seats, and perhaps less, and that he actively tied to fill some of those seats with Republicans, most or all of whom now actively support him in his bid to be re-elected Speaker.

Overall, Republican gains in the Texas House are due more to the backlash against Obama, Pelosi and Reid than to support from Speaker Joe Straus.

BTW, Speaker Straus and his team seem to blame Speaker Tom Craddick almost as much as Obama blames President George W Bush.
  • Donated over $100,000 to local Republican Party clubs, Republican Women clubs, and other local conservative groups to cultivate Republican grassroots support across Texas, 2010.
Interestingly, Speaker Straus did not give any money to the Travis County Republican Party, like he did to the Harris, Bexar and Dallas County varieties. I wonder why?

Maybe his support for and donations to the Alamo City and Bexar County Republican Women (though the amount given was peanuts compared with the Republican Party organizations and the candidates) explains this email from the TFRW that was forwarded to me with this message "Your club may not be a federated club like ours, but I have to agree with her particularly the last sentence":
Dear Club Presidents,

Again, Congratulations on an Excellent Election! Texas appreciates you. Now, as we enter the next Legislative Session we must remember our role as a Support Team for the Republicans that are making decisions for the State of Texas. One of the important decisions our Representatives will be making soon is to elect their leader, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Please remember that your members may choose to support their political views in the way they see best--as individuals. However, as an organization TFRW will not endorse or publicly support any candidate for Speaker of the House. Additionally, your club should not support or endorse in this race. Please encourage your members, should they choose to support one of the candidates, to do so in a positive manner.......Democrats just love when we hurl insults at each other.

Thank you,
Rebecca Bradford
TFRW President
Having that forwarded to me may be innocuous enough, but the same person sent me two emails warning me about being divisive over the Speaker race even though she knew, or should have known, that the Central Texas Republican Assembly, in it's bylaws is charged with rooting out RINOs and backing conservatives. This fellow conservative, for whom I have great respect, wrote in the second email:
Might think about William F Buckley's the most electable candidate. A "moderate" Republican may not be one's #1 choice but much better than the leftist alternative who will win against an unelectable one. Delaware is a prime example.

"Democrats just love when we hurl insults at each other."
The way I see it, the worse that could happen here is for Joe Straus to be reelected as Speaker under a mandate to move right, so I don't know why we conservatives have to back down from our clarion call for a true conservative to be picked as Speaker of the Texas House, someone like Rep. Ken Paxton who has a solid conservative voting record.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to choose the Texas House Speaker

It's the most important election in Texas that doesn't happen in November: The election of the Texas House Speaker. In the wake of the historic election of 99 Republicans in the Texas Statehouse, conservative activists and the grassroots of the party began demanding a conservative speaker that reflects that majority. Along with Rep Warren Chisum, Rep Ken Paxton stepped forward to challenge Speaker Straus. Rep Hughes defected from Straus, Rep Jodie Laubenberg and Rep Tan Parker endorsed Rep Paxton and even Mike Huckabee and Redstate's Eric Erickson weighed in with a Paxton endorsement. With complaints about last session, observations of Straus' unconservative committee chairmen and comparisons of their voting records showing Paxton to be the 'true conservative', it's easy to see why thousands of grassroots activists are rallying to get a conservative speaker and why Rep Ken Paxton is gaining most of the conservative grassroots support.

Will Lutz says the race is on the verge of "becoming a street brawl". Indeed, it appears that another one of these "establishment moderate" versus "grassroots conservative" choices needs to be made.

A few principles to keep in mind:

We need a Speaker who advocates, supports and will implement a conservative agenda in the House, an agenda that reflects the will of Texas voters in sending a large conservative and Republican contingent to the statehouse. All Republicans claim to agree on this matter, but voting records and past actions speak louder than words.

To have a productive session, the House Speaker must be supported by the majority of the House Republican caucus. To ensure this, the Republican House members should caucus and decide on a nominee for House Speaker. It will be dysfunctional to have a House speaker supported by 50 Democrats but opposed by 70 Republicans. The end result of that may be a repeat of what happened in 2009, when conservative bills that would have passed in a fair floor vote never got the chance to go forward. The further necessity of a Republican caucus is to keep the matter "in the family" of Republicans in the Statehouse, in order to maintain party unity on the House floor. An intra-party fight on the House floor might give the rump Democrat minority excessive leverage and worsen any intraparty split.

Given the 99-51 large Republican majority in the House, committees should be chaired by Republicans, and every committee should have a Republican majority on it; if not, the agenda is put at risk. However, Speaker Straus appointed and relies on Democrats for support, and that would compromise his willingness and ability to give the newly enlarged Republican majority a fair shake.

Finally, the conservative activists have already made clear on one thing: The Speaker's race affects all Texans, so it is time to stop imagining that Texans outside the statehouse shouldn't have a say on it. Citizen can, should and will sound off on this. As in all matters of public concern, one hopes the State Reps are listening.

To summarize: Let the people have their input; Have a Republican caucus meeting to select the majority-supported candidate for speaker; Pick a speaker who will implement a conservative agenda; Leverage the full strength of the new Republican majority in appointments and agenda-setting.

Do all this, and we will have a good Texas House Speaker. I suspect his name will be Paxton.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Every Vote Counts

Every election, we get another lesson in how every vote is important.

This election, we saw several central Texas incumbent Democrat State Representatives fall to their Republican challengers: Rep Moldanado was defeated by Larry Gonzales; Rep Valinda Bolton was defeated by Paul Workman; and Patrick Rose was defeated by Jason Isaac. Republicans picked up 22 seats from Texas House Democrats in this election, giving them an imposing 99-51 margin.

In Texas house district 48, the vote count is a split decision: State Rep Donna Howard holds a miniscule 15 vote lead over her Republican challenger Dan Neil. Hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots are yet to be counted, and this one will surely go to a recount. Consider those who decided not to vote due to late election day rain, or the many who cast a libertarian vote (would you vote libertarian if you could instead decide the victor between the Republican or Democrat?) Or consider those who voted for Governor but left this race blank. Did they know how important just a few votes could be?

Nobody was predicting the pickup of so many Texas House seats, and nobody can predict which race ends up with a razor-thin margin. So it's prudent to vote like your vote will decide the outcome in every race, because it just might be the deciding vote when you least expect it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

McGuinness responds to Strama's negative ad

The McGuinness campaign released the following press release concerning Mark Strama's negative ad that attacked Patrick McGuinness over some Travis Monitor blog comments:

Strama's desperate attack ad puts politics before Texas

AUSTIN, TX – Patrick McGuinness, Republican candidate for State Representative in House District 50, has responded to a recent advertisement by his opponent. His response follows.

I have focused my campaign on the key issues facing this district and Texas: how we create jobs and build our prosperity. I have been advocating fiscally responsible, pro-taxpayer policies, and excellence in education to build our current and future prosperity.

Rather than debate these issues or run on his record, my opponent Mark Strama has engaged in a desperate and deceptive attack that distorts my positions and statements. This 11th hour partisan attack from a career politician is all spin and no substance:

- He distorts my support for continued democratic oversight of curriculum and textbooks via an elected State Board of Education
- He takes blog comments, including satirical ones, out-of-context to distort my views

I have been critical of politicians who say one thing and do another, and it's my pledge to never be a 'say one thing, do another' politician. Apparently, I am running against such a politician.

Strama's partisan actions do not match his rhetoric. He fails to acknowledge his role in the partisan filibuster conducted by Texas House Democrats in the 2009 session, which killed hundreds of bills in order to stop voter identification legislation. I have pledged to never be as partisan as Texas House Democrats have been recently - I will not engage in partisan filibusters or leave the state to stop legislative progress. As a high-tech professional with a career in semiconductors, I'll bring a problem-solving approach to the challenges that face Texas, and I will work together with all sides to do what's best for Texas.

While I stand on my conservative principles, Strama will not own up to his liberal voting record, his support for Obama and his agenda of expanded government. Considered a "liberal Democrat" in a study released by Rice University, Strama got a failed rating from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and was rated one of the most liberal legislators in the 2009 session by Young Conservatives of Texas. Mark Strama has spent this campaign hiding from his record as a legislator - his opposition to voter identification laws, his support for higher gas taxes, and his proposed legislation to force Texas electric consumers to buy expensive forms of energy. He is running away from the president he endorsed and the signature "Obamacare" healthcare bill that will impose $27 billion in costs to Texas state budget over 10 years.

Liberal Democrat Mark Strama shouldn't pretend to be one thing on the campaign trail while voting another way in the legislature. Nor should he pretend to be above politics while reaching low to engage in the worst forms of it.

Patrick McGuinness is a longtime Austin resident, an engineer at Freescale with a doctorate in Computer Science, a husband to his wife Celeste, a father of four, and the Republican nominee for State Representative District 50. He can be reached at

UPDATE: Additional response to the specifics of Strama's claims can be found in this article: What 'Freedoms Truth' really said.