Wednesday, March 18, 2015

POLITICAL HACKS ARE RUINING TEXAS



Don't tell the stupid voters


I want to point out the hypocrisy and the pay to play attitude that permeates Austin.  It is dishonest and it is turning Texas into Washington, DC.  I hate to say it but it is because of Republicans, Republicans you and I have voted for.

I am talking about Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s attempt to restructure the spending cap and the deafening silence coming from the “conservative groups” and self-appointed conservative standard bearers.

Lt. Gov. Patrick wants to eliminate debt payments and tax cuts from being counted in the spending cap number.  This would be like you running up your credit card and not counting the monthly payment in your household or business budget.  It is insane and just two years ago Lt. Governor Patrick had a shit fit when former Governor Dewhurst tried to do basically the same thing. 

Can you imagine if Speaker Joe Straus tried this or if the House offered this irresponsible spending gimmick? Mike Sullivan and JoAnn Fleming would be having a epileptic fit, calling Straus a communist and enlisting their disciples to start an all out war on the State Representatives. (they have a knack for calling in artillery on fellow conservatives.)  But because the cool kids are doing it there is nothing to see here, move along now stupid voters.  Oh and where is that conservative firebrand Scott Turner?  Hiding behind Mike Sullivan’s skirt I suppose.

If the Legislature stays within the current spending cap, they can spend 11.6% more than they spent last session, which would be about $107 billion for the next biennium.  It turns out they want to spend more than that without voting to increase the spending limit.  That is conservative?  Give me a break!

From the Texas Tribune: 

“While a simple idea in theory, the spending cap in practice is a complicated measure that even some members of the Legislature have trouble grasping. The Texas Constitution says the government can't grow faster than the state's economy. State leaders set a growth rate of 11.68 percent for this session in December, based on the estimated rate of growth in Texans' personal income over the next two years. 

"For 36 years our state spending cap has helped enforce fiscal discipline, and we should be very cautious about any attempt to weaken it," House Speaker Joe Straus said in a statement responding to Patrick's proposals.”

 …”So is cutting property taxes, because it would require lawmakers approving extra state spending to make up for the loss to public schools.”

This sets a terrible precedent and is very short sighted. (I am beginning to detect a pattern with Dan Patrick’s governing style.)   But because Lt. Gov Patrick has endorsed the idea the usual “conservative stalwarts” like Michael Quinn Sullivan, the Young Conservatives of Texas, JoAnn Fleming, TPPF,  etc are not saying a word. 



In July of 2014 these same people sent a letter to the legislature saying they did not want government growth to exceed 6.2% of the 2014-15 biennium.  This little nugget was taken straight from Mike Sullivan’s webpage: 

Empower Texans President, Michael Quinn Sullivan stressed the importance of holding lawmakers accountable, “Only when we have a hard limit, can we make the right decisions and right choices with our spending. Every one of our families has to do the same thing. […] A hard limit allows Texans to judge the performance of their lawmakers.” Citing the last legislative session, Sullivan emphasized the importance of prioritizing vital state functions over waste”

And from April of 2013 on the same website: 

It appears budget writers are taking several billion dollars worth of revenue off the books — making the budget artificially lower than it is. Most notable are receipts associated with higher education and their affiliated hospitals. Those income dollars have for years been counted in the budget….Let’s be clear: this isn’t like the gimmicks of old, where dollars dedicated for one purpose were clearly being diverted to something else. No, it appears to be what it says, ‘excluding’ billions of dollars from the books. Poof. Gone. Not there. [Insert your favorite Enron joke here.]”


Who in the hell is using gimmicks now?  But because it is Dan Patrick and not Joe Straus all is ok in the world of conservative pay to play.  This is getting outrageous.   I just wish the conservative grassroots would understand that they are getting played by the very people they worked for in elections, voted for in March and November and unfortunately listen too.  Listen up Texas – your conservative groups and Mike Sullivan are lying to you.  A lot!


I guess my biggest questions is this:  what are these people and groups getting for remaining silent? (I wonder why Tim Dunn has so many Legislators advising his oil company these days) The only reason more people aren’t screaming about this is because we need the extra spending and everyone knows it.  I can tell you this though, this vote will come back to bite them in the ass.  Patrick may very well be a one term Lt Gov because this scheme is so easy to put on a mailer or make into a commercial. And voters will get it.  They understand they can’t hide their debt and neither can the Texas Senate.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Michael Quinn Sullivan Owes Straus an Appology

One Billion Dollars is stacked on 12 standard pallets … 10 million 100 USD notes

“Some want us to vote to break the spending cap. I was quoted in the Chronicle saying “not in my world.” I cannot vote to break the Constitutional spending cap.  If we do that then we will be on the same road to financial disaster that is our federal government is on.”  Any idea who said this?  Our very conservative Lt Governor… as a candidate in March of 2014 speaking to the Pearland Tea Party said it. 

Why the change of tune?  And does it represent a flip flop?  To bring you up to speed the Senate this week offered a plan to skirt the Constitutional Spending Cap.  And why?  Without breaking the cap they can spend more than 12 billion than they did last session.   Do we really want our politicians spending more than 12 billion than they did just two years ago?
 
That is a LOT of money Dan Patrick wants to spend

The Texas voters passed a spending cap because they knew our politicians, even our most conservative ones, would spend more than the voters wanted them to.  So they said you cannot break the spending cap without a majority vote to do so.  Now Patrick wants to change the spending cap because he wants to spend more than the 12 billion cap.  But Speaker Straus has indicated he won’t do it.  Straus will remain fiscally conservative and I find it interesting that MQS cannot bring himself to praise Straus and condemn Patrick.  See it is all about personal relationships and past grievances, not fiscal governing. 

I praise the House and Speaker Straus for holding firm to the spending cap.  The Senate, under Lt. Governor Patrick’s leadership, should be ashamed of themselves.  We bitch about Washington all the time but they have never ever tried to do something like this!

Texas Monthly wraps it up nicely: “Since the Senate is presumably planning to pass a budget, Patrick’s comment that there’s “no support for exceeding the spending cap” is, at best, a polite social fib. The Senate budget writers apparently would like to exceed the spending cap. Otherwise there would be no reason to offer such a proposal. And if they have enough votes to pass the budget, they should have enough votes to override the spending cap, in order to pass the budget that a majority of them support. So it would be more accurate to say that the Senate is reluctant to exceed the spending cap if they have to be transparent or accountable about it.”

And if you still believe Michael Quinn Sullivan you are a dumbass. 


Til’ Next Time – Adios Mofo!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Free Markets, Booze and Autos; The Texas Legislature is in Session

You can't get much closer to Government that this

There are battles brewing in Austin, and it looks like the biggest fights will occur in the regulated markets where two entities are waving the banner of free markets to change the laws so Texas will comply with their business models.  Who are the little Davids looking to take down Goliath this session?  None other than Wal-Mart and California billionaire Elon Musk, who owns TESLA, the taxpayer funded electric car company.  Looks like David has grown a couple feet and traded in his slingshot for a RPG.     

Wal-Mart wants to sell hard liquor and run over ma and pa.  I shop at Wal-Mart and I am not sure they have thought this through. I am not ready to explain to my grandson what Jim Bean is or the difference between MD 20/20 and grape juice. In a free market can't I buy 50 rolls of toilet paper without running into a bunch of drunks?   Of course we have seen this fight before.

That’s why I'm more interested in the TESLA battle. (that and the fact that I love cars but I prefer mine to burn old dead animals for power )  They tried this last session, but their bill didn't even get a hearing.  Maybe legislators didn't appreciate Elon Musk dangling a carrot in the form of a battery plant that was never coming to Texas in the first place. 

To help avoid a similar fate this session, TESLA has hired a high-powered team of lobbyists and PR folks – to the tune of $2 million - to try and beat the legislature into submission.  This makes sense.  TESLA lobbyists are now the only people in town who can actually afford a TESLA. 

If this high-powered team can’t get the job done, Elon has a $160,000 back-up plan.  That’s how much he personally donated to Texas legislators before the session.  He’s even flown down from California several times this session to personally lobby legislators and show them his Energizers on wheels….hope he registered with the Texas Ethics Commission.   Surely his team of team of cover boys advised him to do that?

It would have been smarter to drive down here in a TESLA to show off the product.  But that would have required some two hundred or so stops to recharge the battery, and we know billionaires don’t have two weeks to spend on the road.   Especially when you are busy monitoring your taxpayer funded effort to fly to the moon.  Space X anyone? 

I know I’m being tough on Elon, but I am tough on all billionaires. I just wish the press would dig into Elon’s motivation like they did with Dr. Leininger when he was throwing cash around trying to help little kids get a better education.  Let’s get to the core of his “free market” argument.  Right now, in Texas, the current motor vehicle franchise laws promote free markets by driving competition between locally owned and operated car dealerships.  These dealerships buy cars from major manufacturer then compete for your business.  This gives you, the consumer, bargaining power.  What’s more free market than that?

Elon wants to change that by carving out a legislative exemption that allows him, as a manufacturer, to sell directly to consumers.  This essentially puts government in the position of picking winners and losers, and manufacturers in the position of setting the price – public be damned. 

Still not convinced that TESLA doesn’t deserve special treatment? Look at what’s been written.   According to a National Review Article “…it is dangerous to allow Tesla to portray itself as a free-market champion, because the company is actually a prodigious harvester of government favors and handouts.”

Continuing the article “Tesla’s flagship automobile, the Model S, would not only fail to make money in a free market, it would likely bankrupt any company that tried.”  And the Los Angeles Times reported, “Tesla’s cars themselves aren’t making the company any money.” 

And one more from a Wall Street Journal editorial “…Capitalism needs visionaries, but its reputation suffers when companies worth billions soak middle-class taxpayers for profits. Turn off the taxpayer tap, Mr. Musk. It would earn you more friends for the long haul.”

That's right Mr. President, I am going to stick it to Texas


So how does Tesla make money?

Tesla makes money through hidden taxpayer subsidies paid directly to Tesla through “zero-emission vehicle” credits (ZEV).  These taxpayer funded credits are mandates dreamed up by bureaucrats in California, which require manufacturers to build, and dealers to sell an arbitrary number of zero-emission vehicles each year.(zero emission? where do these bureaucrats think electricity comes from, unicorn farts?)  Since TESLA doesn’t produce many cars, they can sell their ZEV credits to other manufacturers, essentially making consumers of traditional automobiles the subsidizer of billionaire Elon Musk.  Ain’t government grand?

In 2013 Tesla sold a total of $129.8 million worth of ZEV credits.  Were it not for the ability to sell tax credits, TESLA would be broke. 

Now Texas is being asked to change that laws that have protected consumers to benefit a special interest.  But if Tesla can only make money through government subsidies why in the world would we want to accommodate him?  I have also heard that Elon’s long-term plan is to get Tesla established in Texas and then offer a carbon tax swap program.  It would basically be a carbon copy (see what I did there) of the California plan.  Can you imagine the direct mail that would generate in a Republican primary?

We all want free markets, but what Tesla wants is far from a free market.  They can sell over the internet right now. (If you don't believe me go on down to Austin and spend a few minutes at the Starbucks in Tarrytown, you will see almost as many Teslas as you see conservatives)  Tesla can sell through dealerships if they want.  As a matter of fact Tesla can sell a model S just like Ford can sell an F150.  But that isn’t good enough for Musk.  He want special treatment because he thinks the people Ford hires to sell its trucks aren't smart enough to sell his big battery on wheels.

Mr. Musk is a smart man who has already made a fortune off taxpayers and the government.  Why should Texas help line his pockets even more by giving him an unfair market advantage?  Quite frankly I can’t believe we are even talking about this and we wouldn’t be if it weren’t for Tesla’s celebrity owner and his ability to come up with hugely expensive project plans in the states he wants to influence. 

This is going to be a fun fight and I intend to keep a sharp eye out on Mr. Musk and his all-star lobby team.


Til Next Time – Adios Mofos!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Open Carry



Open Carry Knuckleheads

First question I have is:  Are there any thin or healthy looking supporters of Open Carry?  If these mostly dateless men are really concern about their safety and well-being they would go on a diet instead of attacking a supporter like Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

Lt. Gov. Patrick is learning how it feels to be conservative but to get slammed by voters who should be his biggest supporters.  Patrick is getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Jim Keffer or Joe Straus or any other of smart conservative member who get a bad wrap because they voted the wrong way on a single issue.  



Those of you who know me know that I am conservative, have been conservative all my life and that is how I live my life. I don't just talk about it I live it.  I am also a long time member of the NRA and personally know Chris Cox, the Executive Director of the NRA legislative arm.  I have hunted since I was 6 years old but know and understand the 2nd amendment doesn't have a thing to do with hunting, it was written to protect the average American against tyranny, domestic or foreign.  I support the 2nd Amendment and would fight until my last breath was gone defending it. 

Having written that I do not support open carry.  I believe that open carry makes Texans less safe.  I carry a concealed firearm 90% of the time and I have a permit that allows me to do that.  I do not believe we should have to have a permit to carry but that is another post.  My wife, who also has a conceal permit but only carries 10% of the time.  My daughter, who lives out of state, is not allowed to carry at all and I worry about her all the time, I wish she could protect herself with a firearm.  The great thing about conceal carry is that the bad guys don't know who is carrying and who isn't.  Most bad guys are not the brightest people but they understand that if they assault someone in Texas there is a pretty good chance that person is carrying.  I believe that deters bad guys from assaulting people unless they KNOW they are not carrying.  If we decide to allow open carry the bad guys will know who is carrying and who isn't.  That makes my wife less safe, and that makes my daughter less safe when she comes to visit Texas.  I know that supporters of open carry are going to say that you can still choose to conceal but it just isn't the same and those supporters should know it is not.

Open Carry doesn't do anything but make a bunch of knuckleheads feel tough.  These are generally individuals who want to be army men but failed the weight limit and couldn't become a member of our armed forces.  I can't think of a good argument that is in favor of open carry that carries more weight than conceal carry deterring bad guys from attacking defenseless Texans.  If there is one that I am missing please explain it to me.  I just don't see it.



I am happy the knucklehead supporters of open carry are acting like jackasses.  It hurts their cause and argument.  They are treating Members of the legislature with disrespect which does not help their cause.  The supporters I have seen and read about are self righteous meatheads that are turning the Texas citizens against them which is fine with me.  And obviously they don't know Dan Patrick.  You don't paint Patrick in a box, you don't accuse him of lying or going back on his word.  These open carry fanatics are going to end up pissing Dan Patrick off so much that he is going to bury open carry legislation so far up their asses their proctologist isn't going to be able to help.  


Till Next Time - Adios Texans!