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