Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Joe Lieberman: Ted Cruz's BRILLIANT Wedge Issue

"For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
And her salvation as a lamp that burns."
Isaiah 62:1

The other day, Ted Cruz floated Joe Lieberman's name for defense secretary.  This move simultaneously offers an olive branch to Mitch McConnell while alienating Barack Obama from his base.  It's flippin' brilliant.

With one (possible) exception, Joe Lieberman is a unifying figure for Republicans.  His nomination would enable Republicans to take the moral high ground in the Kabuki theater of D.C.'s "bipartisan outreach."  How can a Democrat President oppose a Democrat nominee on whom the U.S. Senate majority has already signed off?!?

But here's the rub: the Left HATES Joe Lieberman.  Should Republicans rally around him, it would force Obama to either publicly reject "bipartisan compromise" or throw his party's 2016 nominating process into chaos.  Making Hillary Clinton squirm though this process is a bonus.

On the substance, Lieberman is probably the least crappy person we can get as SecDef for the next two years.  He's hardly our first choice, but he's a solid pick for mop-up duty in a lame duck Democrat administration.  He's also a gigantic step forward from Chuck Hagel.

Rallying behind Joe Lieberman is a consequence free way to inflict pain on Barack Obama.  It unifies Republicans.  Simultaneously, it divides Democrats on an issue too complicated for the average person to follow.  However he reacts, Obama loses.  Kudos to Senator Cruz for the idea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Stepford Republicans

"Your prophets have seen for you
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
To bring back your captives,
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions."
Lamentations 2:14

Groupthink - Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.

[Photo (l to r): Rep. James White, Rep. Dan Flynn, Rep. John Otto, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Rep. Jason Villalba, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Jim Keffer, Rep. Lyle Larson, Rep. Byron Cook, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. Larry Gonzales, Rep. Drew Springer.]


This website has never understood the psychology at the Texas Capitol.

Texas is a conservative state.  Texas voters routinely reward conservative legislators while punishing spendthrifts.  This has been going on for close to a decade.  Even when spendthrift legislators survive, they usually go down the next cycle (*).  Yet nothing changes.

One would think that if good governance wasn't sufficient cause for a new direction, naked self-interest would be.  Yet, time and again, it doesn't happen.  It's just bizarre.

Which brings us to the current race for Texas House speaker.

The reason there is such discontent with current House leadership is because of its recent output.  Last session, under current leadership, spending went up 26%.  Last session, under current leadership, meaningful school choice died (**).  Last session, under current leadership, none of this website's priorities became law.  Instead, the focus was on creating a slush fund for "water infrastructure development."

And nothing changes.

Since election night, Team Straus has released names of supporters every few days.  While, by itself, that isn't notable, the collectivized nature of it is.  As Sarah Rumpf explains:
Th[ese] statement[s] uses (sic) some nearly identical language: the Representatives declare themselves "conservative Members of the Texas House" who are "proud to support the re-election of Speaker Joe Straus," who they claim "will be decisively re-elected because he encourages members to vote in their districts' best interests and because he is a fair, principled leader."


The fact that individual Republican Representatives from different areas across this very large and diverse state are not just sending out letters endorsing Straus, but are using such oddly identical language in carefully timed releases, suggests that a coordinated effort is taking place. This mimicked language reminds one of the plot in the Academy Award-nominated 1962 movie "The Manchurian Candidate," in which the soldiers are all brainwashed to describe another character by saying, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." Considering Straus' long-rumored reputation for controlling his chamber with an iron fist behind the scenes, an analogy to the movie may be even more apt.

[Author's Note: Obviously, this website prefers the Stepford Wives comparison]
This author has, in the past, joked about legislators getting brainwashed once they get to the Capitol.  Legislators ignore the will of the voters to advance the spendthrift status quo.  That's why there's a speaker's race in the first place.  Yet Texas House Republicans choose to follow status quo leadership.  This will not continue indefinitely.


(*) Which will likely happen to Byron Cook and Jim Keffer in 2016.

(**) Watered down tripe doesn't count.

Straus holding Border Security funding hostage to Unrelated Spending

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

84th #TXLEGE Preview?!?
Continuing his pattern of undermining conservatives and deceiving voters, House Speaker Joe Straus is poised to unravel the state’s border security operations on Dec. 1, while giving Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives. Due to Straus’ opposition, the state’s celebrated “border surge” is set to end in March rather than receive full funding through the end of the fiscal year.


A new deadline is looming. On Dec. 1, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) will meet to consider a proposal to extend state funding for border security operations which are currently set to expire. Under law, the LBB can shift funds within the budget when the legislature is not in session.

While responsible conservative leaders want the border security funding extended through the end of the fiscal year (August 2015), Straus told the Houston Chronicle last week he would only agree to extend funding until March. This shortfall will result in an immediate “winding down” of the border surge. The Houston Chronicle called it a “defeat” for border-security conservatives and a “victory for Democrats who have sharply criticized the National Guard deployment.”

Worse, the move gives Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives in the coming session.

Straus’ efforts are designed to create a crisis next session which will empower Democrats to hold border security funding hostage to massive new spending increases.

As you know, Straus has relied on the support of the Left since first being elected Speaker in 2009 by the Democrats and 11 liberal Republicans. By cutting off funding for border security operations in March, Straus is lending the Left a distinct political advantage while handing a defeat to Texans wanting to protect our borders. When funds dry up in March, the withdrawal of the National Guard will create a crisis that can be exploited by Straus and the Democrats to bust the state’s constitutional spending cap.

Instead of meeting border security needs with existing funds, Straus will offer a new spending package in excess of the constitutional spending limit as the only option for maintaining the border deployment. Conservatives will be forced to choose between continued funding for border security, and busting the constitutional cap on spending, a move which would empower Democrats to spend billions on Medicaid funding and other pet projects instead of tax relief for hard working Texans.
 C-Pax has more:
With the 84th session of the Texas Legislature still over a month away, big-spending politicians are already scheming on how to massively expand the next state budget, all while claiming fiscal discipline.

The main obstacle to the grow-government crowd is our constitutional spending limit on the growth of appropriations commonly referred to as “the spending cap.” However, given the way the limit is calculated, it becomes clear that it proves only a small hurdle to budget bloat.

Under our constitution, the growth of appropriations from non-constitutionally-dedicated tax revenue may not exceed growth in the state’s economy—as defined by the legislature (Article 8, Section 22). As per state law, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB)—a handful of powerful legislators—must set this new spending cap for the upcoming legislative session.


On Dec. 1, the LBB will meet to set the cap based on this measurement. Preliminary reports in the Texas Register show that the board will likely consider a limit reflecting an increase in personal income growth that is twice the rate of population and inflation growth—between 11.7% and 15.7%.

To put this number in perspective, the Texas Public Policy Foundation has calculated that a budget limited to the combined increase in population and inflation should cap growth at 6.2%.


There is a different path the LBB could take: under current law, the LBB could just as easily adopt a population-plus-inflation limit that more faithfully represents economic growth and safeguards citizens from virtually unrestrained government expansion.

Texans deserve a conservative budget. Our state cannot have a conservative budget if it does not have realistic, limits that adequately protect taxpayers from budget-busting politicians.
Read the original pieces here and here.

Readers can contact the Legislative Budget Board at (512) 463-1185.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turner asks Straus (and Geren) for joint Recorded Vote call

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Well...THAT'S one way to preempt last minute shenanigans:

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"A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones."
Proverbs 17:22


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  • Over a thousand hashtag selections: #CoffeewithColossians #Serenity #Muchneeded and, over course, #Blessed.
  • 31 piece collection of things to put in the background.
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  • Bonus Book: Announcing your social media fast.

Recorded Speaker's Vote: Multiple Ways to Win

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

We'd intended to express similar sentiments, but Peggy Fikac beat us to the punch:
Straus foes may have more than one way to count a win

Rep. Scott Turner and his tea party supporters show no sign of backing off their beyond-longshot challenge of House Speaker Joe Straus — maybe because they see more than one way to gauge success.


But even absent a victory, Turner could build his profile for future endeavors.

The groups that support him can use a record vote against Straus backers in the next election. They contend Straus has squelched or moved slowly on some conservative legislation, while his GOP backers point to conservative victories under his tenure.

Straus foes also hope to exert pressure on the speaker to support some of their pet legislation — although the stronger Straus looks, the more problematic that approach may be.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: A recorded vote for Speaker on January 13th will lead to 1 of 3 outcomes: an unexpected (at the moment) win for Scott Turner, changed behavior from Team Straus during the session, or accountability with the voters in March 2016.  Any of the three is a win.  The only question is how long it takes.

Obamacare failing Austin's HIV+ Community

"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."
Ephesians 4:28

Sigh.  On the one hand, this is tragic.  On the other hand, it's amusing to see a group of people counting on big government to subsidize treatment for the consequences of their freely chosen activity disappointed:
A bartender at one of Austin’s gay nightclubs recently decided to donate all tips he and his fellow drink pourers received one night to a local group dedicated to helping people with HIV and AIDS.

Ripped, shirtless and offering plenty of flirty smiles, 26-year-old Bradley Franklin, who is HIV positive, wanted to give something back to AIDS Services of Austin, the group that shepherded him through the treacherous health insurance landscape that has emerged since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.


Franklin learned that the plans on the federally created health insurance exchange, the Internet-based marketplace where consumers can compare and buy health plans, didn’t offer affordable ways to buy the life-saving medications he needs or allow him to see a physician with expertise in HIV and AIDS, he said.


One of the most significant issues is that many HIV patients who bought plans on the exchange can’t afford medications, which often run as high as $2,000 a month, he said. In most exchange plans, policyholders must pay a percentage of the cost of their drugs, not an affordable co-pay. Also, expensive and frequent lab tests for HIV and AIDS patients can run upwards of $1,700 a test.

“For a lot of patients, it actually created more barriers,” Wright said. “It’s kind of overwhelming.”

In the days before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, only about 30 percent to 40 percent of HIV patients in Central Texas had private insurance. The percentage remains the same today, Wright said.


Peter Pitts, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official and current president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, echoed Wright’s assessment. He said before the law’s rollout, the standard talking point of proponents was that people shouldn’t have to choose between food or medicine.

Unfortunately not only did the ACA not solve that problem, it made it worse,” Pitts said. “That’s shameful.”

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: This website has no desire to stop anyone from engaging in whatever behavior they choose to engage.  But, in the event you choose to engage in risky behavior, you need to be prepared to accept the full financial consequences of your actions.  And those consequences can get very, VERY expensive....