View By Date
Printable Version of This Page

October 24, 2014      12:05 PM

Stanford: We reached Peak Gohmert

From the Left: QR’s liberal columnist Jason Stanford argues, among other things, that the Ebola scare has helped produce an epidemic of fear and ignorance

I wasn’t in favor of shutting off travel to Ebola countries until Rwanda and Tanzania started screening travelers from Texas. You never know what kind of crazy viruses could spread. The last thing developing nations need is an epidemic of Yee Haw conservatism from the likes of Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.

People have gone a little nuts in Texas over Ebola, even though more people have played quarterback for the Washington Redskins this year than have died from Ebola in the United States. Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas refused to admit a Nigerian student over Ebola worries even though there is no Ebola in Nigeria, which is more than Texas could say. If this is an epidemic, it’s one of fear, and it presents as an aggressive strain of stupidity.

And when it comes to dumb in Texas, Louie Gohmert is Patient Zero.

The Texas congressman sounded the alarm that “undocumented Democrats”—AKA, Central American refugees—were bringing Ebola across the border. His reasoning is that President Obama wants all these refugees to come, so a bunch of terrorists are going to sneak in with them, and they had Ebola. Because Obama.

“And, gee, since they’re coming across our border, and you know, they don’t get checked, and most of them don’t get really thoroughly checked, they could be coming in with disease that we simply do not need,” Gohmert said. “It’s silly not to be more careful.”

Well, he’s not completely wrong about it being silly.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

October 21, 2014      4:12 PM

Bearse: Trick-or-Treat

From the right--Last minute campaign antics and shenanigans sometime amuse and infuriate

It’s trick or treat season for campaign politics. Lots of tricks, few treats. I am reminded of this every time I drive by a campaign sign. In my first campaign in 1994, over-zealous supporters of our opponent didn’t steal our signs or lay them on the ground, they just cut a big hole in them with a box-cutter. They just stood there as a shameless monument to misdemeanor shenanigans.

I don’t blame Martin Frost or Matt Angle for this high crime. Sixteen years later, our campaign had nothing to do with black-toothing one of our opponent’s teeth on her sign. Stuff happens. Her teeth were too perfect anyway.

Psychological ops are in full force. By now, more than one campaign has dropped a racy flier at four or five houses that happen to be in their opponent’s neighborhood. They want the candidate to think it went district wide.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

October 17, 2014      3:58 PM

Stanford: Obama’s $1 Trillion Broken Promise

From the Left: Our liberal columnist Jason Stanford argues that President Obama must be held accountable for his nuclear disarmament promises

How much would you borrow to buy something that you would never use and might kill you and everyone around you? If we’re talking about Uncle Sam’s outdated and useless nuclear arsenal, the price tag is $1.1 trillion. A better—and cheaper—idea might be doing what Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and a host of others wanted to do in the first place: Get rid of nuclear weapons.

Here’s the basic problem: We’ve got about 4,800 nuclear weapons in silos, on submarines, and in airplane hangars that need to be fixed like old root canals. They’re way past their sell-by date and more dangerous to us than to an enemy that no longer exists, writes Eric Schlosser in “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.” By the way, that is now the scariest book I’ve ever read. It makes Revelations look like a Lifetime Movie.)  

In a 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” noted hippies and peaceniks George Schultz and Henry Kissinger (both former Republican Secretaries of State) and William J. Perry and Sam Nunn (each a Democratic hawk), argued that deterrence was dead as a military strategy because of the threat of nuclear terrorism. Intelligence, not realpolitik, is what stops terrorists from getting the bomb. And what’s stopping Iran’s nuclear program isn’t our ICBMs but economic sanctions and diplomacy.

Getting nuclear weapons off this planet before we’re all killed is a bipartisan idea. At the Reykjavik summit, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev briefly agreed to “eliminate… all nuclear weapons” before hotter heads prevailed. Reagan wouldn’t give up our missile defense program, not understanding that the Soviet Union saw that as a threat.  

Inspired by Nunn, then-Sen. Obama worked diligently on nuclear non-proliferation in the Senate and made a nuclear-free world a goal of his foreign policy as president that he articulated best in 2009 speech in Prague.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

October 16, 2014      11:58 AM

Coppedge: Many Texas Judges and lawyers are ignorant of or ignoring the law

Veteran of Texas judicial politics argues that criminal penalties might need to be available for judges in cases of breaking campaign finance law

There are some lawyers, judges, judicial candidates and individuals in Texas that are in clear violation of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act.  This includes some of the wealthiest personal injury trial lawyers in Texas and some judges and candidates for trial courts as well as appellate courts.  It seems that they either cannot read and understand the law or choose to ignore it.

They are violating the legal contribution limits. In some cases the amounts involved are tens of thousands of dollars.  Some individual contributors have made well over one hundred thousand dollars in prohibited contributions over the past few years to numerous judges and judicial candidates.  The law provides only civil remedies but those include a state cause of action against both the recipient and the contributor for three times the amount involved.  The law also includes a cause of action by any opposing candidates against both the recipient and the contributor of twice the amount involved plus legal fees.

Many people do not fully understand the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act. The folks violating it obviously must not.  Or they don't care – either because they don't think it will be enforced or that the potential penalties are not enough to dissuade them.

A law firm in Texas cannot write a check to a judicial candidate for more than the individual limit.

For a judicial race where the individual contribution limit is $5,000, a lar firm cannot make a $30,000 contribution. It can only make a $5,000 contribution. When added together with other contributions from anyone associated with that firm, the total cannot exceed $30,000. That is what many are either ignorant of or ignoring.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By John Coppedge, MD

October 14, 2014      3:00 PM

Bearse: That Ad

From the Right: QR’s conservative columnist argues that Sen. Davis’ wheelchair ad, and the fallout from it, demonstrates “the lunacy of identity politics”

Not to go all Kevorkian, but I am for campaign-assisted suicide. If Wendy Davis’ campaign wants to handle a delicate issue with a hammer instead of a scalpel, they have that right. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to recover damages for political malpractice, because Greg Abbott successfully defended caps. I’m joking. I am sure she will sue them when it is over, much like she did the newspaper in Fort Worth.

The greater issue with the Davis Campaign is their loose handling of the facts. Take the example in the ad of the doctor who botched surgeries under the influence of cocaine. They claim Abbott stepped in to help a major contributor on the hospital board. But in reality, Abbott’s role was to defend a law passed by the legislature. He was specifically defending the medical liability caps passed by the legislature, not intervening on behalf of the hospital. There is an important principle at work in many of Davis’ attacks: that Abbott should have ignored, in fact violated, his constitutional duties for the sake of empathy. The irony is he is the state’s lawyer, which includes defending the Legislature where she serves. Legislators would haul him before a committee if he took a pass on representing their interests when a lawsuit claims a statute is unconstitutional.

This line of attack is a pattern of the left. If they don’t like a law, or more specifically an outcome of the law, they expect attorneys general and justices to act against the law. They place the principle of empathy ahead of constitutional limits. Obama so much as said this when he declared in 2005, "the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart." But the duty of a justice is always to follow the law. They are to divorce themselves of the passions of the mob to ensure the rule of law is upheld, and endures. Once we begin to hammer at the edifice of the law, it crumbles.

Perhaps more appalling is this notion that because Greg Abbott was partially paralyzed after an accident, he is somehow duty bound to always side with people who have been victimized. But the truth is you can feel terrible for a woman who is raped and not hold a vacuum cleaner company liable for the actions of a sub-contractor. If you believe the law requires it.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

October 10, 2014      11:09 AM

Stanford: God Bless Texas

From the Left: Our liberal columnist Jason Stanford argues that a real Texas Miracle would be if taxpayer dollars were treated as if they belong to taxpayers.

What would Jesus tip? A diner in Dallas is putting a Texas spin to the pay-what-you-want restaurant movement by asking patrons to pay what God wants them to. So far, it’s working, but this cute idea loses its shine when you realize that it’s almost exactly how Texas looks after the taxpayers’ money.

Dana Parris, the owner of Just Cookin’, says revenues have tripled since God told her to take the prices off the menu.

"He just came to me and said I don't need to do it, I need to let him do it," she said. "The way I could show I was giving God control was to give him control of the cash register."

Churches have been doing this for years, but Parris’ success probably won’t produce many copy cats in the hospitality industry. Come to think of it though, you could probably start a thriving restaurant chain in Austin by asking diners to pay what Darrel Royal would have wanted them to. In fact, there’s really not that much difference between Just Cookin’ and how Texas has been running government for a while.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

October 7, 2014      1:37 PM

Bearse: Fear and Hope in the Mid-Terms

From the Right: QR’s conservative columnist Eric Bearse says “My fear is we will have an election where there is little conversation with non-primary voters. I am not talking about staged debates, but the day-to-day grist of fierce campaigning that appeals to the sensible center.”

“I’m not on the ballot this fall ... but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.” Those were President Obama’s words last week. Look for them in Republican ads all across the country.

This election has the feel of 2006 to me, when an unpopular president was being battered by daily reports of bad news overseas, and a domestic policy agenda that he literally surrendered right after he echoed the words “private accounts” in front of Congress. When the world goes to hell, you better have domestic policies you can pivot to in order to attract voters. Bush did not. Obama is in an equally perilous position.  

Think about the news cycle this year for the president.

There were reports that the incompetence of the Veterans Administration left our heroes on interminable waiting lists. Some died for a lack of treatment. Then there was the botched trade of five terrorists for a soldier held by the Taliban. This promising development went sour when his unit colleagues publicly expressed their opinion he was a deserter, and some died looking for him. From there we watched a new terrorist enemy march across large swaths of Iraq, killing indiscriminately in cities once secured by American blood. The surge in unaccompanied minors entering illegally across the Mexican border underscored a lack of enforcement troubling to anyone who can imagine more nefarious types exploiting the same border. Splash in reports of missing IRS emails, White House fence-jumpers, and Ebola in the U.S., and there is a growing sense in America that government is incompetent. This is worse than gridlock driven by partisanship. At least then the politicians express a desire to make government work. Our federal agencies have now proven it can’t.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

October 6, 2014      4:11 PM

O'Donnell: Time for some common sense solutions to today's most pressing issues

From dueling to the death to loss of citizenship for failure to vote, our resident curmudgeon is back with a laundry list of ways to deal simply with some of our most complex problems

With an election a mere month away, my keenness for public service is at its peak. I wish to offer candidates and policy makers some truly rational solutions to many of the thorniest contretemps we face on the state, national and international fronts. That's not to say there is a dearth of ideas to counter these issues. I'm just certain that the ideas I'm offering are more direct and effective.

Non-campaign political conflicts: We're constantly annoyed with press reports of a couple of politicians locking horns over something that has nothing to do with serving voters and everything to do with their ambitions/egos. These things drag on without resolution and both blowhards are still with us.

Time to bring back dueling to the death.

Example: Under the rules of the bipartisan-funded North American Dueling Society (NADS) when Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign after her DWI conviction, Governor Rick Perry could have questioned her honor and insisted on a duel, the winner to remain in office by virtue of being alive. At least we'd be rid of one of them. This should be applied to competing lobbyists and pundits.

Voter fraud:  There is more voter fraud committed during one day of a legislative session than in all the elections since LBJ was operating. Nevertheless, this non-issue is as good as any for attempting to hold down the number of registered voters of one stripe or another. The needed law is that every American of voting age must register to vote at the federal level or face being deprived of citizenship.

This registration would be simple. It would happen when you get a Social Security number. Anyone attempting to interfere with this registration in any way, legal or otherwise, would be deported to the nearest Islamic state.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Edd O'Donnell

October 3, 2014      2:19 PM

Stanford: Let women serve in combat

From the Left: Our liberal columnist Jason Stanford argues that women have been fighting for this country all along so this shouldn’t even be a controversy

There was joke that made the rounds when Bill Clinton was trying to figure out how to allow gays in the military without upsetting morale. “Gays in the military,” the joke went. “Next thing you know they’ll want to be interior decorators!” Of course, gays have always served in our military. Now, after long last, they can serve openly, and as it turns out it is no big whoop.

Next up is the Great National Freakout about women serving in combat. On his way out the door, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opened all military jobs to women, beginning a long process of the armed services appealing to keep certain jobs exclusively male. A great many women can’t wait to serve in combat positions. Good lord, next thing you know they’ll want to vote.

Of course, I understand why this idea makes people feel uncomfortable. I’m a dad. I speak stupid fluently, though I’m not sure I speak it as well as Fox NewsEric Bolling, who reacted to the sight of a female UAE fighter pilot with giggling misogyny.  

"Would that be considered boobs on the ground, or no?" he offered. "The problem is, after she bombed it, she couldn't park it."

As a columnist, I’m offended by his failed attempt at open-mic humor, but the Truman National Security Project—of which I’m a member—released an open letter signed by a dozens of severely PO’d veterans who were offended by more than just a blundered attempt at low humor.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

September 30, 2014      4:15 PM

Bearse: Politics and Football

From the right--the Bellichek/Brady and Patrick/Van de Putte blues

If you watched the lieutenant governor debate last night, you are not normal. It means you chose to watch two members of “the world’s most deliberative body” over the Belichick-Brady meltdown, re-runs of Californication on Netflix, the plastically enhanced housewives, or flossing your teeth.

But if you have the sort of sick interests I have, you got a helluva show. Unlike the Abbott equivalent of the ground and pound, “three yards and a cloud of dust” debating style, Dan Patrick gave us an Art Briles laser show against an opponent almost as hapless as SMU. An aside: Senator Leticia Van de Putte is quite likable, and formidable on the senate floor, but last night she was too canned, and seemingly too practiced. Her voice sounded like an actress trying to remember her lines instead of a candidate trying to exude the fighting persona needed to change the trajectory of this race. She will be a much better foe in the senate than on the campaign trail.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

September 30, 2014      4:00 PM

Coppedge: Statewide Judicial Races, 2014 Election

Lone Democrat on Court of Criminal Appeals and his many travails

The short version is there are four Texas Supreme Court races and three Texas Court of Criminal Appeals races.  The Repubicans will win them all. 

Democrates did not even field candidates in three races.  There are a handful of Libertarian and Green Party candidates but the Republican edge will make them inconsequential.

But this is the "Silly Season" when Democrats think that this will be their year.  Wendy Davis will lead them out of the electoral wilderness to the promised land, riding a wave of minority, labor, pro-choice, trial lawyer, liberal and LGBT support.  Ain't gonna happen this cycle.  Maybe someday but not now.

Incumbent Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht (R) who one colleague once called "a Mt. Rushmore figure in the legal life of Texas"  will easily outdistance perennial candidate Judge Bill Moody (D) from El Paso.  This time, Moody is not even hiking across Texas in order to get publicity.  Maybe he thought the wave was coming.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By John Coppedge, MD

September 29, 2014      12:39 PM

Householder: Lawyers for both sides proving Perry prosecution is not political

Veteran strategist Joe Householder argues neither side would behave as they are if the prosecution of the governor was a political witch hunt

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on television, but if what we’ve seen over the last few weeks in the matter of The State of Texas v James Richard Rick Perry is any indication, we’re in for both some potentially legendary Texas-style theatrics over the life of this case as well as some truly commendable lawyering – from both sides.

Make no mistake: the matter is serious. Even if you think the indictment is bogus the case raises fascinating questions about the parameters of proper behavior for Texas Governors, all of whom have struggled mightily to overcome the limits put on them by the state’s reactionary post-reconstruction constitution.

Nonetheless, it appears we’re in for a show of some tremendous courtroom skill, coupled with no small amount of political irony. Witness the first real skirmish, in which special prosecutor Michael McCrum condemned the governor for seeking a “special favor” in his request that he be permitted to skip many of the inevitable pre-trial procedural hearings.

What raised McCrum’s ire was a motion by Perry attorney Tony Buzbee that the governor be permitted to skip one upcoming hearing because of a pre-planned trip to Europe and – for that matter – all forthcoming “non-evidentiary” hearings. Buzbee says Perry fully intends to show up for all hearings in which evidence is discussed, but he shouldn’t have to attend many other procedural ones given his need to continue doing his day job.  

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Joe Householder

September 26, 2014      3:18 PM

Stanford: Bomb Mexico

From the left--Foreign policy pronouncements for two GOP candidates are just jokes....except they are not

Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a politician is crazy or just joking. The problem is usually that no one is laughing. Such was the case recently when two candidates offered a radical solution to the humanitarian crisis on the Texas border: Bomb Mexico. Serious or not, it shows how far the anti-immigrant tide has carried some politicians from realistically addressing border security and immigration reform.

The first example of this idea to turn South Texas into a war zone happened in June at a Republican candidate forum in North Carolina. Typically, these affairs encourage candidates to try to get to the right of each other in front of audiences of Republican activists, but even in this environment what Mark Walker said was so out there that Dick Cheney would have gasped in admiration.

In response to a question about drug cartels sneaking over our southern border, Walker, a Baptist preacher, preached war: “If we gotta go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that, either.”

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

September 25, 2014      4:53 PM

Greenfield: State Revenue Continues to Befuddle Comptroller

Comptroller unrevised revenue estimate undershoots bny $5B

Even though the state’s fiscal year (FY14) ended August 31, there’s not much news from the Comptroller on the state’s better-than-expected revenue collections. 

But why wouldn’t the Comptroller and Texans be happy that both state tax collections and total state revenue were greater than expected?   Wouldn’t additional revenue assist in improving public education, building new roads, addressing water issues, and providing health coverage to the 6 million Texans without health insurance?

A closer look at the Comptroller’s tax collections provides some insight to the state’s favorable fiscal condition.

Table I shows both state tax collections and total state revenue exceeded the Comptroller’s revenue estimate (CRE) released in December 2013.  Total tax revenues were $2.1 billion more than inthe CRE, while total state revenue exceeded the estimate by $2.4 billion.  Except for the cigarette tax, every tax exceeded the Comptroller’s estimate for FY14.  One should also note that, except for cigarette tax collections, the amount collected for each tax in FY14 exceeds the Comptroller’s current estimate for tax collections in FY15.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Stuart Greenfield, Ph.D.

September 24, 2014      5:12 PM

Visco and Enriquez: Online engagement changing the landscape of Texas politics

Redefining the ways in which we communicate about public policy development, Glasshouse Policy introduces ‘Texan-sourced’ public policy think tank

The grassroots forces that unseated Republican incumbents during this year’s primary elections didn’t start at kitchen tables - they started online.

Communicating online is inexpensive, there are few barriers to entry, and the tools that help us identify and speak to our preferred audiences are startlingly precise.  Texans get it, and they are using online engagement tools to dramatically impact Texas politics.  

We already know the immense value of online engagement for electoral politics, but are there opportunities to harness the intellectual capital of Texans communicating online for the public policy making process?

We know there are.

Glasshouse Policy is Texas’ first, fully collaborative and crowd-sourced think tank. Our not-for-profit online platform invites Texans to post policy-related ideas and comments. Those ideas and comments will then be ranked by other Texans through an “up-vote” system.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Thomas Visco and Francisco Enriquez

September 23, 2014      2:53 PM

Bearse: Energy as a Force for Good

From the right: Our conservative columnist argues that President Obama is playing small ball with energy policy when he could be using it to lead America and the world forward.

If you have driven the back roads to Corpus Christi through the Eagle Ford Shale, you know the energy business is booming. It’s like driving in Honduras, where potholes serve as an obstacle course and windshields get changed as often as your oil.

Outside of the perils of driving, the shale boom is making life better in parts of South Texas, North Texas and West Texas. It’s transforming family incomes, and transforming American energy.

Led by Texas, the United States has now surpassed Russia as the largest producer of natural gas. This is truly a national phenomenon. As one expert put it, the Marcellus Shale is bigger to Pennsylvania than the invention of the blast furnace. North Dakota has more trailer towns than Mobile-homa, and everything that goes with it (knife-fights and “self-employed models.”)

The United States now has a recoverable oil supply larger than Saudi Arabia and Russia. This is a big deal for a nation that for too long has been dependent on the whims of Middle East mullahs. We don’t have to continue to place our national security in the hands of hostile energy powers that hate us. We can now meet our own energy needs, and supply the world. All we need is a president with a vision.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

September 19, 2014      5:14 PM

Stanford: We are all Roger Goodell

From the left -- "So go ahead, America, let’s focus on the boorish, illegal, and sadistic behavior of the gladiators in the arena. Pay no mind that the Roman senate is perfectly happy to make a mockery of our democracy"

What if we held politicians to the same standards as football players? When football players break the law, Americans demand they be benched, cut, or suspended before they get due process, but when politicians are indicted they get to stick around, spending our money until a jury of their peers—there’s a terrifying thought—passes judgment. It’s possible that Americans have misplaced priorities.

Let’s get something straight: Getting cut from a football team is the least that should happen to those who punch women or whip children. I’m all for Americans declaring that violence against women and children is unacceptable and demanding justice. Delaying action to let the legal process play out is a moral dodge and a game for lawyers. We call balls and strikes on the field, and we should call right and wrong off the field.

So why are we so easygoing when politicians are indicted? When Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts for abuse of office and coercion of a public official, suddenly he became the poster boy of the Republican-of-the-Month club, celebrated in Iowa and New Hampshire for standing up to those liberals in Austin, by gum and by God.

In New York, Rep. Michael Grimm got hit with a 20-count indictment related to his past business dealings, and he’s not only running for re-election in a swing district, but according to sources quoted by POLITICO, he’s winning.

And before you say, “Oh, but we’re unforgiving about the sex scandals,” take a look at Mark Sanford (R-Appalachian Trail) and his fellow congressman Scott DesJarlais, the Tennessee doctor who got a patient pregnant and then pressured her to have an abortion. Both are locks to return to congress—and in deeply red districts, at that.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

September 16, 2014      4:01 PM

Bearse: D*#ates are a Necessary Evil

From the right: QR’s conservative columnist argues the low number of gubernatorial debates is sufficient. “I don’t know the right number of d*#ates, except it should be somewhere between 0 and the inane number conducted by the Republican presidential candidates of 2012.”

Is this not the most boring election cycle in modern memory? If it weren’t for Wendy Davis’ television ads where she says Greg Abbott is for rapists, cancer and standardized tests, we would all be comatose by now. The candidates for U.S. Senate, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Comptroller are all in the witness protection program. Who knew Dan Patrick could be so quiet for so long?

We do have our first gubernatorial d*#bate this week. As a survivor of Perry for President 1.0, I still get Vietnam flashbacks whenever someone says the word d*#bate. I will always remember where I was when I witnessed those 49 seconds of terror…under my desk, looking for phone numbers for the Letterman producer. The other night, former Alabama QB Greg McElroy was broadcasting the Aggie game against the Little Sisters of the Poor, and said only three people can call him Gregory, and then proceeded to list four. I had a panic attack.

The conventional wisdom for the gubernatorial d*#ate is that Abbott just wants to get by without any damage. No harm, no foul means he wins. There is some truth to that, though I think that is an over-simplification. This is the first time millions of Texans will see the main candidates for governor in an unscripted setting – well, sort of. I mean, Wendy Davis will be so scripted to say the word “insider” whenever possible it could lead to alcohol poisoning if you turn it into a drinking game. But there is always something the candidates don’t prepare for, which allows us to see them think on their feet. The point is not whether they can name the president of Mexico or the neighboring state governors (One Tough Monogram could not), but how they handle the unexpected. What do they emote on television? Are they cool under fire, too hot, robotic, warm, or drunk like Kinky seemed?

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

September 12, 2014      4:39 PM

Stanford: Time for GOP to deal with Gohmert

From the left: "It’s time for Republicans to put Gohmert down in front of the cartoons with a juice box. We’ve got enough real problems in the world without making up fake ones."

There are a lot of offensive ways to observe 9/11. A yoga studio near DC offered a 20% off sale (“9 + 11 = 20% OFF!”), and a sex toy company soberly tweeted remembrance of “those lost, & honor those still fighting for freedom.” But the most off-putting way to remember the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was by Rep. Louie Gohmert, who thinks of Sep. 11 as the anniversary of Benghazi, or as he says it, “BENGHAZI!!”

If this were a just world in which a person was judged by his merits and rose in life accordingly, Louie Gohmert would be relegated to writing the sorts of letters to the editor that are never published. He is a cranky man who needs no tin foil to achieve flights of self-assured delusion. He should be mowing lawns for a living and attending John Birch meetings in the evenings. But he’s from East Texas, so he’s a congressman.

It’s guys like Gohmert who have earned congress record-low approval ratings, lower even than colonoscopies, head lice, and root canals. Of course, liberals have their crazies, too. Go to any precinct meeting, and you’ll encounter earnest activists in bedazzled sweatshirts who will insist that George W. Bush allowed 9/11 to happen so that he could invade Iraq so Halliburton could get the oil to make Dick Cheney wealthier. But we don’t elect these people to congress.

Republican primary voters have decided to treat the United States House of Representatives like a tea party meeting and have turned the gavel over to folks like Gohmert, who believe—despite all documented evidence to the contrary—there remain legitimate questions about the president’s birthplace.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

September 10, 2014      3:55 PM

Grusendorf: Judge Dietz Erred –- Money alone is no solution

Supremes overturned him on two of three major conclusions in 2006 and are likely to do so again

Having sat through the both of the recent school finance trials I gained great respect for the intellect of Judge Dietz.  However, he gravely missed the mark in his recent school finance ruling.  The likelihood of his decision standing on appeal is slim.  Just as the Texas Supreme Court ignored most of his findings of fact in the last round of school finance litigation, they will likely do so again.

In 2006 the high court overturned Judge Dietz on both big issues -adequacy and equity.  They only allowed districts a minor victory on the state property tax issue thereby enabling them to recover legal fees.  The Texas Supreme Court refused to tell the legislature they had to spend more money on education.

On February 4, 2013 Judge Dietz said from the bench that he and I come from the opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Since I’m very conservative, the Judge obviously considers himself to be very liberal.  Having heard all the same evidence as the Judge, I have a very different interpretation of the evidence in this case.  In my opinion, the state presented a compelling case on both the adequacy and equity issues.  Further, from my perspective the evidence was overwhelming regarding the efficiency issue –which the Judge refused to give serious consideration.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Kent Grusendorf

September 9, 2014      4:14 PM

Bearse: Wordplay

From the right: Language frames debate; enhances chances of success or failure

I am fascinated by the use of language in politics. The framing of issues often determines the winner of a debate at the outset.

Take the issue of abortion. The reason Wendy Davis has never recovered politically from her abortion filibuster is she fought on turf where she couldn’t win. Outside of San Francisco and New York, most Americans oppose late-term abortions. In winning the public relations battle at the time -- becoming the national darling of the leftist intelligentsia -- she set herself up to lose the political war. She was arguing on the wrong turf.

Perhaps we know more today than we did back then, after the revelation about her own heartbreaking experiences. What would have offered a more compelling reason at the time of the filibuster – the trauma of whether to give birth to a child with a severe brain abnormality -- was shelved for an ideological argument. Which brings us to an important rule: while people can argue with your politics or ideology, they can’t argue with your own personal experience.

Rule #2 seems to be men can’t take part in the debate about abortion. The fact every man has passed through the female uterus apparently gives us no standing. But I’m not here to argue about abortion. I’m interested in the framing, and the words used by both sides.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

September 5, 2014      1:01 PM

Stanford: The craziest congressional candidate in America

From the Left: Our liberal columnist argues that the absolute weirdest thing a candidate could do is point to Sen. Ted Cruz as a model of how to govern

All politics is local, and sometimes it’s loco. In Texas, our most abundant resource is ludicrous politicians (see also: Gohmert, Louie), but as much as it pains me to admit it, the craziest congressional candidate this year comes from California where Carl DeMaio is in a tight race to become the latest lunatic in the asylum we all call Congress.

There are tons of candidates running around with their crazypants falling down about their ankles. There’s the one in Illinois who blames tornadoes on gay rights. And preacher Jodi Hice, who will represent a rural Georgia district, thinks homosexuality “enslaves” gays and lesbians. It’s usually the “blame the gays” with these folks, which might get folks to talking if they weren’t such good Christians.

DeMaio is not a fringe candidate, and he’s running in one of the few swing districts in the country, this one located in San Diego. The incumbent, Scott Peters, is one of the 10 most-vulnerable congressmen in the country largely because, well, he’s a Democrat, and his voters can’t be counted on to show up. The Rothenberg Political Report calls this race a true “toss-up,” which means the campaigns, parties, and super PACs will probably spend more than $3 million on this one race before Election Day.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

September 4, 2014      2:21 PM

Scheberle: Dietz ruling is about more than money for schools, it's about making college readiness the North Star

Senior Vice President of the Austin Chamber of Commerce argues that Dietz’s decision should spur policymakers to work toward greater college readiness

Last Thursday, Travis County State District Judge John Dietz ruled "college and career readiness is now the operational expectation of the Texas school system....Student performance measures show that the Texas educational system has fallen short."  Because the Legislature and Texas Education Agency do not make "suitable provision" for this "general diffusion of knowledge," Judge Dietz ruled that Texas violates Article 7, Section 1 of the Texas Constitution.

As the case moves through the likely appeals, I cannot determine whether the trial court decision will be overturned.  I'm not a lawyer.  But as a business representative on education policy issues for 15 years who sees that 62% of current local open jobs require at least an associate degree, I urge leaders and taxpayers to make legislative and administrative changes which will meet the Dietz standard for general diffusion of knowledge: college readiness.

In state law, the purpose of the Texas curriculum is to "prepare and enable all students to continue to learn in post-secondary educational, training and employment settings."

Judge Dietz points to Chapter 39 of the Texas Education Code that the level of preparation students must attain in English language arts and mathematics courses should prepare them "to enroll and succeed, without remediation, in an entry-level general education course for credit in that same content area for a baccalaureate degree or associate degree program."

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Drew Scheberle

September 2, 2014      3:54 PM

Bearse: Silly Season

From the Right: QR's conservative columnist argues Sen. Davis has made the classic Tony Sanchez mistake of going negative way too early instead of attacking in the fall from a position of greater strength.

Lock up the women and children, election season is upon us. With Labor Day behind us, we begin the nine-week sprint to Election Day. Or as most Texans consider it, a marathon of horror flicks disguised as political ads. Only Wendy Davis started it early, successfully raising her own negatives with an ad that should have received an NC-17 rating.

Coming soon to a mailbox near you are smarmy looking felons on a playground (if Republicans produce it, they will be white guys so Democrats can’t play the race card.) You will see babies crying. Seasoned citizens with an angry scowl. Political opponents with crazed eyes like the Uzo Aduba character in “Orange is the New Black.” By November 4 you will think you are choosing between crooks and communists. Or both.

Advertising has become so targeted that campaigns can buy satellite time that targets the individual home regardless of what channel you are watching. If you want to be stalked on the Internet wherever you go, keep your cookies on, enable Location Services on your iPhone and back up your private photos to iCloud. If you’re confused, ask your grandchildren.

But if you needed a reminder that the silly season is upon us, look at the coverage of Guard personnel supposedly starving on duty. Wendy Davis actually found a reason to campaign in the Rio Grande Valley, filling goodie bags for soldiers.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse

August 31, 2014      11:04 AM

Stanford: Perry gets his photo ops while National Guard begs for food

From the left: "It’s a cliché to work “oops” into any story about Rick Perry, but shouldn’t it tell us something that the word always fits so well

Texas has a new refugee crisis on the border, and this time it’s not a bunch of kids. When Rick Perry deployed the National Guard to the border, he remembered to go on Fox News, pose with assault weapons, and brag to Republicans in Iowa. But he forgot to make sure that our National Guardsmen and women got paid and were fed. Now they are turning to food banks to eat, underscoring how Perry’s big fake invasion of south Texas is really just a political put-up job.

Responding to the humanitarian crisis, Perry called up the National Guard and ordered them to the Rio Grande Valley to help deter drug smugglers. In a much-touted foreign policy speech, he even warned that ISIS may very well have snuck over the border to kill us all.

And while he’s been getting a lot of attention he forgot about the troops he deployed. The guardsmen and women have been in the Valley since August 11 and won’t get their first paychecks until after Labor Day. Now our troops need to eat, so they’re turning to local charities set up to help the residents of one of the poorest areas in the United States.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Jason Stanford

August 26, 2014      5:18 PM

Bearse: Bra burners

From the right: QR's conservative columnist argues that Texas journalists are twisting themselves into pretzels to make the Perry indictment seem more legitimate than it is

Have you tried driving on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin lately? No longer can you travel in the right lane, because that’s for buses and bikers. In the left lane, proceed at your own risk. If you get stuck behind a left turner, good luck getting back into the middle lane, because we have now jammed 80 percent of the traffic into that one middle lane. For those turning right, you have to dart over to the right lane in last-minute fashion instead of doing it with the flow of traffic blocks earlier – all so buses and bikers get their own lane.  

This is what happens when we elect social engineers. A generation ago, they were burning bras. Now they are banning bags. And if they could ban the combustible engine they would do that too. I am just hoping that the forces behind the city’s Prop 1 don’t defeat the statewide Prop 1 due to voter confusion about which one was put on the ballot by the nanny state caliphate.

Remember when the Ron Paulites came up with the idea of Paulville, where like-minded libertarians could live together in Hudspeth County? I think we ought to do the same with the Austin City Council. Put it on TV and call it, “Survivor: Goofy Edition.” Let them experiment with their social engineering schemes without hurting the rest of us. They can have their own trolley line, buses ¼ full, and bike lanes known also as car lanes. I am willing to give them Native American reservation status, so they can assemble peacefully and smoke peyote without the cops touching them. Let them legalize pot, and give out tax credits for soy milk and vegan products. They can even form their own unarmed police force.

We have not only elected a generation of hippies, but their children who grew up in the hippie commune. And apparently we sent a bunch of them to journalism school too.

I can only laugh at some in the Texas press, horrified that for the only time in Gov. Rick Perry’s life, the New York Times editorial page has agreed with him. And Alan Dershowitz and David Axelrod too. After a couple days of nationwide denunciation of the indictment of Governor Perry, some in the Texas press are working overtime to turn the narrative. They are disgusted that the big feet have weighed in so ignorant of the facts. They have called the special prosecutor a Republican when he was nominated by Obama and signed off on by Lloyd Doggett. They have ignored a story about a grand jury member attending the Texas Democratic Convention while she was empanelled, and posting a picture where she attended an event with a key witness. They want readers to think there really might be merit to the indictment, if you only knew as much as they do.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Eric Bearse