Quick Takes

Not enough for a weekend update….



di·chot·o·my   [dahy-kot-uh-mee]
noun, plural -mies.
division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.

Anyone saying that there are no differences between the two parties haven’t been paying attention.

  • Perry on Obama speech: America needs ‘a president with the courage to offer more than yet another speech’. Caroline May, The Daily Caller
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the current Republican presidential frontrunner, responded to President Barack Obama’s address to Congress Thursday night in less than favorable terms.

    “President Obama’s call for nearly a half-trillion dollars in more government stimulus when America has more than $14 trillion in debt is guided by his mistaken belief that we can spend our way to prosperity,” said Perry.

    The choice is pretty clear: “I want to make the Federal Government as insignificant in your life as possible” vs. “Government has a role”.

    While the Left and Karl Rove seem to be knocking themselves out trying to bring down Perry it appears that the Texas Governor might have the perfect message to use against an increasingly unpopular President.

    Salaries and cost of living.

    One is pretty much useless without the other.

    Keep that in mind when reading another one of those “it’s complicated” news pieces attempting to frame the Texas economy as a negative rather than a positive. For example…..

    Miracle or Mirage, What Kinds of Jobs Has Texas Created? Becca Aaronson, Texas Tribune

    According to statistics from the Texas Workforce Commission, the annual median wage in 2010 for all occupations in Texas was $31,500, or 7 percent less than the national median.

    There’s no reason to doubt those numbers. However, when you take into consideration Texas’ cost of living rankings:

    The cost of living in texas is much lower than almost every state in the nation. The same job that would generally only cover the cost of apartment living is the same cost ratio as the cost of home living. Whether you are looking to live in Austin, Houston, Dallas or San Antonio, Finding an affordable home to living in is not a stretch of the old imagination

    It’s easy to see where the raw number comparison falls flat.

    So, next time you see an article dismissing the Texas economy, make sure to see if it’s telling you the entire story, or just cherry-picking the pieces OF the story the news outlet in question wants you to see. Given Texas’ relatively inexpensive housing costs and low tax burdens, that 7% salary gap can be eaten away fairly quickly.

    Perry’s in.

    At today’s RedState annual Conservative blogger confab in South Carolina Gov. Rick Perry made official his intent to seek the office of the President of the United States of America.

    He’s decided to do this by following Evan’s elevator pitch advice, adopting “Get America back to work” as his one-line campaign slogan.

    Predictably, the Progs* are in full throat pointing out Perry’s negatives….

    Actually, no, they’re not. They’re busy quoting platitudes by the late Molly Ivins (whose contributions to the State’s political debate were “Governor Goodhair” and Shrub”) because, well, that’s what Texas Progs do.

    My early guess is that Perry will breeze through the GOP Primary with little difficulty and will continue to hone his anti-Obama message across the country. When the Texas primaries are held we’ll really see just how wrong the polls are when they suggest Perry won’t do well here. That’s just the liberal polling shop PPP HOPING things don’t go Perry’s way.


    1. The anti-Perry Texas Media. They’ve never forgiven him for snubbing them in the last election. Already Texas Monthly has given Perry’s vanquished opponents an unchallenged venue to downplay his drubbing of them and it’s only going to get more comedic as the State’s wheezing, past their expiration date editorial boards weigh in. (We won’t even talk about PolitiFarceTX and other “fact checking” sites.) That Paul Burka is being held up by the National media as the premier Perry expert in Texas tells you just how myopic this group has become.

    2. Endorsements. My guess is Sarah Palin will be the first, followed by Giuliani and then a host of other Republican big-wigs. Again, I don’t think the GOP nomination battle is going to be all that close now. Perry is, by far, the strongest candidate with the strongest conservative record. Romney vs. Perry is all that’s left and I expect Romney’s support to start melting away.

    3. Texas Dems. It’s going to be a rough political season for Texas’ least relevant political party. They’re going to have to attack Rick Perry without looking like they’re attacking Texas at the same time. Political history tells us they’ll fail at this miserably. Were I a down-ballot GOP nominee I’d tie my Democratic opponent to the Texas-hating Democratic establishment so fast it would make their heads spin.

    I’m sure that Evan will have a LOT more to say on this (and will have a lot better insight than I as well) in the coming days so I’m going to leave it here. Look for Evan soon on this blog and enjoy the show.

    *Progs = Progressives. And yes, I’m poking fun at them by rhyming Prog with frog, the English put-down of the French.

    Straw Polls and campaign realities

    Everything else is flat.

    The Addison campaign went to Twitter on Sunday to promote another good straw poll result, this time in Austin, where (reportedly) Dewhurst skipped and Leppert continued to under-perform.

    Unfortunately, for Addison, these showings are not translating into either campaign followers (at least on Twitter, where his campaign only has 20 followers as of this writing) or campaign donations From the FEC Website:

    Itemized Individual Contributions $25,353
    Unitemized Individual Contributions $74
    Party Committees Contributions $0
    Other Committees Contributions $0
    Candidate Contributions $0
    Transfers from Authorized Committees $0
    Candidate Loans $6,000
    Other Loans $0
    TOTAL LOANS $6,877
    Operating Expenditures Offsets $0
    Other Receipts $0
    TOTAL RECEIPTS $32,304

    Compare that to Ted Cruz who reported raising $1.8MM in the first half-year and Tom Leppert who also reported raising the same amount (not counting a $2MM loan he gave himself). Elizabeth Ames-Jones reported raising somewhere in the 450K range. Even worse for Addison, he was out-raised by Ricardo “Boilerplate” Sanchez, who’s done almost nothing on the campaign trail to date and is almost certainly relying on Steve Mostyn’s early money.

    Evan has surmised that there could be a schism between the on-line and off-line Tea Parties in Texas. That could be (and probably is) true. More importantly, I think, is that these numbers reveal just how silly these straw polls really are. Come primary time this election is going to come down to two candidates: Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst. The Tea Party would be wise to coalesce behind Cruz lest they get angered about having a “RINO” in DC representing them for the next six years.

    Addison (and Pettinger) are no doubt having a good time at these forums, but they would be much better served starting small (say City Council or the Texas House) and working their way up. The Republican Party bench is too deep for any candidate to pull a Radnofsky.


    According to David Catanese of Politico he’s in:

    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is planning to formalize his candidacy for U.S. Senate in Texas on July 18 and could accelerate that time frame if advisers see fit, a GOP source with knowledge of his plans tells POLITICO.

    So the money is now in the race. Some interesting questions arise from this now that it appears Dewhurst has officially made up his mind:

    What is Sen. Dan Patrick going to do? At the recent Senate forum, I was certain he was in. Now that Dewhurst (and his money) is in the race you have to wonder if the Dan thinks he can run against Dewhurst sucessfully? Since he attacked Dewhurst pretty hard in the forum I have to think that answer is yes.

    What is the Tea Party going to do? Dewhurst will NOT be a Tea Party favorite. He can’t run as a Conservative activist with any credibility. He’s a moderate in the vein of KBH, and many think that Hutchison didn’t run again because she didn’t think she could survive a primary having been type-cast as a RINO by Perry’s campaign team.

    How does this affect Ted Cruz? In the early parts of the race, Cruz looked like the clear favorite. Dewhurst changes that dynamic and places Cruz firmly in second place. Dewhurst will also give the State’s lackluster political media a “moderate” candidate to cheer for, before they turn on Dewhurst and support Ric Sanchez that is.

    Tour of Texas Senatorial Forums straw poll results

    And the winner is…

    Ted Cruz….

    Results from the Straw Poll:

    Cruz 47%
    Addison 43%
    Pittenger 5%
    Jones 3%
    Leppert 2%

    129 votes counted
    1 vote undecided
    1 vote Patrick
    1 vote Sanchez
    132 total votes
    Vote tally was witnessed and confirmed by all five campaign officials

    Addison has to be happy, he went from nothing (9 followers on Twitter) to 43%, 2nd behind Ted Cruz. Leppert, despite what I thought was a good performance in the forum, finished dead last in a vote that illustrates the problem this moderate mayor of Dallas is going to have in an environment where everyone who doesn’t toe the ultra-conservative line is deemed a RINO.

    If anything, this straw poll illustrates the power of Ted Cruz. I thought he had a sub-par performance in this forum, but he still came out on top by a comfortable margin. So far Dan Patrick’s pre-announcement strategy seems to be striking early and often against David Dewhurst, he might want to consider striking out at Ted Cruz. Still, I have no doubt that, had his supporters been allowed to vote for him, Mr. Patrick would have won on his home turf. Outside of Houston is going to be his bugaboo.

    On a side note: We know that at least on Democrat was there, which is probably going to be similar to the results in an actual Cruz/Sanchez stand-off. We also know that at least one Dan Patrick supporter is incapable of following simple instructions.

    One final thought: Last night Sen. Patrick made a big deal about having not made up his mind whether to enter the race or not. By the time he gets around too it, we could be witnessing Cruz’ victory lap.

    Tour of Texas Senatorial Forums (Houston)

    The biggest news coming out of the Tour of Texas Senatorial Forum, put on by New Revolution Now at the King Street Patriots headquarters in Houston, happened before the candidates had a chance to introduce themselves. State Sen. Dan Patrick was on the candidate panel (although, as he made perfectly clear, NOT a candidate and not allowed to participate in the straw poll) while Roger Williams was not.

    In all there were six candidates in the forum, including some of the major players in the race. Here’s my quick run-down of each candidate’s performance:

    1. Glenn Addison – Addison had a pretty good message “common man” and obviously has spent a lot of time thinking about the issues, but he dropped the ball when it came to communicating those issues in a forum setting. Having a well thought-out policy on a website is one thing, not being able to condense those thoughts into campaign-ready snippets another. Not sound bytes, but meaningful, non-wordy statements that drill to the heart of the matter. Still, with his obvious skills and smarts I think he’d do well to lower his focus a tad and consider a run for the State Lege.

    2. Ted Cruz – Cruz’s endorsement list is getting longer and longer by the day (including Evan from this site). In this forum I thought he had a great opening (made it about the audience, and not himself) and a great closing (his story about his father’s oppression in Cuba and “where would they go if America loses it’s liberty?” was perhaps the best line of the evening. In between that he almost seemed inconsequential to the forum. Most of this was due to the questioners ignoring him for long periods of time. I think Cruz is one of the two horses in this race that come across as Senatorial, but he needs to do better in these situations.

    3. Elizabeth Ames-Jones – It’s not that I don’t like Ames-Jones, I do, I just can’t bridge the gap between TX Railroad Commission and US Senate. If Ames-Jones were a Democrat, she’s be a team leader. As a Republican however she’s fourth, fifth or even sixth string. Her “Tea Party in my heart” line drew a chuckle from me every time she said it.

    4. Tom Leppert – In my opinion, the second thoroughbred in the field. Leppert had a good evening. He was thoughtful, his answers had both brevity and well-thought out detail. His big negative will be his resignation as Dallas Mayor to run for this office. I’m no fan of politicians resigning before their term is complete barring scandal. Still, this has to count as a positive evening for him, in Houston of all places.

    5. Dan Patrick – As I said earlier, Dan is still not saying he’s a candidate and he wasn’t allowed to be voted for in the straw poll but the fact that he was there speaks volumes *cough*he’s running*cough* and his public speaking experience sometimes serves him well here. What Dan still needs to learn is how to turn off the radio host and turn on the Senator. At times, you could feel the audience growing weary of his moral sermonizing. Dan saves his biggest attacks for David Dewhurst and Tom Leppert, which should surprise no one.

    6. Lela Pittenger – A political newcomer in every sense of the word this is Pittenger’s first shot at elected office. Like Addison, I’d love to see her channel her positive campaign and energy toward the Texas Lege. I think she’s make a great Texas Senator, but she’s going to get overwhelmed in both spending and experience in this race. She does have a great “it’s my generation’s time” hook going for her with which I identify however. Just not in this race. Texas has enough Barbara Ann Radnofsky’s we don’t need a Republican version. (Of course, the difference is the Democrats have no candidates, so Radnofsky could win the nomination, Pittenger and Addison won’t)

    The crowd numbered somewhere around 200 in my estimation, although I’m not much of a crowd estimator so it could have been anywhere from 100-300. The room was approximately 3/4 of the way full. Make no mistake about it, this was a forum for the hard-core Republican, so skipping it is probably not going to hurt Roger Williams all that much in a race where all of the money is still to be spent. Still, it could have an impact in your mind if you believe the Tea Party is more than just a passing political fad.

    There are several more of these forums scheduled State-wide. Check the New Revolution Now website and try to attend the one near you. If you see Roger, please tell him we missed him in Houston.

    Note: I live-tweeted this event. If you want to see the tweets you can find them here.

    A false argument “reframed”

    Courtesy of Patricia Kilday-Hart:

    (It’s time to reframe the school debate. Patricia Kilday-Hart, Chron.com)

    After the House vote to renege on the Howard amendment, State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, had an epiphany. What public education needs, he decided, is a scorecard, based on pro-school litmus test votes, to reframe the debate:

    Are you for public education, or are you against it?

    That’s not exactly the question at hand. After weeks of the media consistently mis-identifying an overall increase in school funding as “$4 Billion in Cuts” the real question should be this: “Are you a supporter of the status quo or would you believe education reform is necessary?”

    Given that, after years of throwing money at the problem, our public schools are doing a worse job of educating the public than ever there’s a strong argument to be made for the latter. Of course, the teacher’s unions and special interest groups who benefit from rolling out a catapult would argue for the former. What they have has worked quite well for them. By proposing her “reframe” of the issue what Kilday-Hart suggests is that she, and the Hearst Austin bureau, will be working aggressively to see that the status quo is defended.

    Facts be damned.

    Missing the point.

    One of the problems with a media whose members all self-identify with one ideology is that they frequently miss the point of legislation by the opposing party. Case in point:

    (Critics raise “doubts” over sanctuary cities bill. Peggy Fikac & Susan Carroll, Chron.com)

    Cesar Espinosa, a Houston-based immigrant advocate who led a caravan of protestors to the rally, said the bill already has sparked fear in Houston-area immigrant communities, where one in five residents is foreign-born, according to census data.

    “People are just generally afraid,” he said. “And a good amount of people are actually saying they’re considering leaving the state.”

    Emphasis mine.

    The bolded is framed as a negative, but the sponsor of the bill would certainly classify that as an intended outcome. Also missing from this story (and, let’s be honest, all of Kilday-Hart’s writing this session) is any sense of balance. Say for instance the fact that many officer’s unions (whose members form the front line against these crimes) support the issue.

    The bigger question is not one of anti-sanctuary city policy support, but whether they can be up for discussion. In most cases the answer of the state’s political media is, for issues with which they identify, no. This leads to demagogery and dubious arguments more often than not which, to be fair, is often the default behavior of many on both sides of the political aisle. It just finds its way into print more on the port side.

    UPDATE: Welcome Fark readers! We aggregate the best links daily in Texas politics (click for today’s links). Check out recent posts on Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate race, Texas’ Higher Ed Reform, or 10 Best/Worst Legislators lists.