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Abbott’s War on Local Government

On tree ordinances and other subversive things cities do.

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Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP

“Wars don’t just go away, they are only postponed to someone else’s advantage.”

Half a millennium has passed since Niccolò Machiavelli wrote those words, but they rang true at the Texas Capitol this week. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus challenged Governor Greg Abbott on the agenda of the upcoming special legislative session, demonstrating that he has no intention of surrendering on the contentious issues that tanked the regular session.

When Abbott called the special session for July 18, he tried to take command by declaring that he would not add anything to the agenda until the Senate passed some agency renewal bills, which Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick used to force the session in the first place. Abbott said he would only add other items to the session call after those agency bills had passed. Then, and only then, would he add Patrick’s priorities: the bathroom bill, school vouchers, and restrictions on city and county governments to restrain property tax increases.

Postponing Machiavelli’s war, Straus told a gathering of the Texas Association of School Boards on Wednesday that he remains opposed to the bathroom bill and private school vouchers, and that he believes the only true property tax reform will come from overhauling the public school finance system. “This is a defining moment for public education in Texas, and we cannot squander it,” Straus said.

While Straus is taking his war statewide, Abbott is going local. Kings and politicians have known for centuries that the best way to rally your people is to have a common enemy. Sometimes that means taking on geopolitical enemies, but there have been wars on hate, wars on poverty, wars on drugs, and even wars on war. In his special session agenda, Abbott might as well have declared a war on local government—especially Austin’s.

The assault, as contained in the bills Abbott promised to add to the special session agenda, was so obvious that the Houston Chronicle declared him, “Comrade Abbott,” who “laid out an agenda that would make a centralized government commissar downright jealous.” They continued, “Gone are the days when the Republican Party of Texas could be counted on to defend local control. No longer do Texas conservatives believe that government closest to the people is the best kind of government. Instead we’ve witnessed the emergence of a political movement dedicated to stealing power away from local voters and moving it to Austin, where big money donors have created a one-stop shop to get what they want out of government.”

Although most of the policies Abbott wants to see enacted affect local control across the state, Abbott’s poster child for the evils of local government is the capital city—sometimes referred to by conservatives as the People’s Republic of Austin. Abbott promised at a Bell Country Republican dinner that he will not allow Austin to “Californiaize the Lone Star State” with liberal policies. As reporter Jonathan Tilove quoted Abbott: “As you leave Austin and start heading north, you start feeling different,” Abbott told the dinner audience. “Once you cross the Travis County line, it starts smelling different. And you know what that fragrance is? Freedom. It’s the smell of freedom that does not exist in Austin, Texas.”

But apparently Abbott felt free enough to pull a George Washington on trees in Austin. But in Abbott’s version, the cherry tree and hatchet are replaced with a pecan tree and a bulldozer. The story goes back to 2011, when Abbott wanted to take down a pecan tree on his Austin property when he was attorney general. That’s when he ran into Austin’s heritage tree ordinance, which protects specific types of trees with certain trunk diameters. He told WBAP radio that Austin wanted to stop him. “I had a house. I wanted to cut down a very common pecan tree in my yard,” Abbott told WBAP. “And the city of Austin told me, ‘No.’ I could not cut it down. And I had to pay money to the city of Austin to add more trees to my yard because I wanted to cut down one very common tree that was in a bad location.”

In the radio interview, Abbott called Austin’s heritage tree ordinance “socialistic,” but it appears that Abbott’s construction crew did not follow a plan to protect several trees on his property. When Politifact Texas checked Abbott’s statements against city records, it found that Abbott had never been denied permission to cut down several trees on his property.

Even as the news focuses on Abbott’s personal problems with trees, the Dallas Morning News has been reporting on incidents of trees being removed or over-pruned in the city without proper permits. One headline stated that “butchered trees offer ‘horrific’ peek”of a dystopian libertarian world without tree ordinances.

Just to get an idea of how many “socialist” cities there are in Texas, I downloaded this list of tree ordinances from the Texas Chapter of International Arboriculture: Abilene, Allen, Austin, Bedford, Bunker Hill Village, Carrollton, Cedar Hill, Colleyville, Columbus, Coppell,Dickenson, Duncanville, Frisco, Grapevine, Helotes, Hewig Village, Hillshire Village, Houston, Hunters Creek Village, Ingleside, Kennedale, La Porte, Lake Dallas, Lancaster, League City, Little Elm, Lockhart,Mansfield, McKinney, Mesquite, North Richland Hills, Oak Point, Orange, Paris, Pearland, Pflugerville,Roanoke, Rockwall, Round Rock, Rowlett, Sachse, San Antonio, San Marcos, Seabrook, Shenandoah,Sunset Valley, The Colony, Weatherford, West Lake Hills

But trees aren’t Abbott’s only target when it comes to local control. Abbott is advocating automatic property tax rollback elections and spending caps for cities and counties; legislation to overturn local non-discrimination ordinances that protect the LGBT community as well as veterans; local ordinances barring the use of mobile phones in motor vehicles; limits on cities annexing adjacent property into the city limits; and support for statewide requirements on cities to speed up issuing permits.

The Texas Municipal League has taken exception with Abbott’s proposals. “From proposed revenue caps, to spending caps, to tree ordinances, to texting while driving, and more, no one has ever proposed such sweeping restrictions on local voters having a voice in shaping the character of their communities. Seventy-four percent of Texans live in our 1,215 towns and cities and the decisions they have made at the local level have put Texas cities at the top of the nation in success. Stifling their voices through an all-powerful, overreaching state government is a recipe for disaster.”

Meanwhile, Abbott signed into law the state’s $217 billion, two-year budget this week while vetoing $120 million in line items. “I am once again signing a budget that addresses the most pressing challenges faced by our state,” Abbott said. “This budget funds a life-saving overhaul of Child Protection Services, continues to fund the state’s role in securing our border, and ensures that the workforce of today and tomorrow have the resources they need to keep Texas’ economy growing and thriving. Lastly, this budget restrains state-controlled spending below the growth in the state’s estimated population and inflation.”

The Texas Observer noted that one of those line item vetoes was for a $5 million program to protect people who have been put under court-ordered guardianships: “In a pilot program over the last two years, state auditors have reviewed more than 17,000 cases in 18 counties and found that more than half the cases are out of compliance with state law, missing reports from guardians appointed by a judge to look after an elderly or incapacitated person.”  The author of the legislation, Senator Judith Zaffirini said she was “flabbergasted” by the veto and had not gotten any warning that it was coming.

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  • WUSRPH

    Abbott believes in “local control” only when the decisions made by locally ELECTED officials with the support of their citizenry are what he wants them to do. If the citizens objected, they can change the policy by a vote….They do not need Abbott reaching down on high to smote the evil doers. Of course, he and his friends have the same view about voters in general—-they should only have a right to vote when they are certain to vote RIGHT…Otherwise he wants to make it as hard as possible…..His hypocrisy in fighting the federal government for “local control” while opposing it for the real “locals” is more than pathetic. But, this was to be expected. As the Fort. Worth TPer remarked after they lost all the local campaigns funded by Dunn and company earlier this year…”It is hard for a Conservative to be elected in local elections”,….so Abbott and his ilk want to effectively do away with them…We have to hope that the non-Socialist local governments (and their state representatives) under stand that “first they came” means that their local control can also be taken away if they offend Abbott…as those good Republicans in Denton found out in 2015.

  • José

    Any man who lies about the Official State Tree of Texas is surely unfit to be her Governor.

  • John Bernard Books

    You’ll never know how to hate unless you’re a democrat….

  • SpiritofPearl

    Abbott needs to get out of Texas more. California is doing quite well these days.

    • Barbaramryan

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  • John Bernard Books

    I’ve observed the left becoming more unhinged as they continue to lose power….

  • BCinBCS

    R.G. wrote: “Lastly, this budget restrains state-controlled spending below the growth in the state’s estimated population and inflation.

    First there was Kansas, then Wisconsin, then Louisiana and then Oklahoma. Now comes Texas.

    Trickle-down (supply side) economics and starving government did not work in experiments in those four states and it will not work in Texas. Will Republicans never learn?

    • WUSRPH

      Patrick has been trying to years to put such a limit on the state’s budget growth from year to year…The impact would be to gradually strangle the state’s ability to meet its responsibilities with a fiscal garrote. He has passed a bill to do that thru the Senate during the past two sessions….and it is on Abbott’s “19 extras” list for the special session. The House came up with a much logical version in 2015 which recognized that some areas of the budget grow faster than they would under a strict population and inflation control and treated them differently….But Patrick insisted on a complete garrote. This session the House did not bother to even hold a hearing on the Senate bill. The LBB did a study of the impact a few years ago….that found that state spending would have been about $40 billion less had that limit been in effect for the prior 10 years……Abbott has seen to it that no updated study has been done on his proposals. The effect of adopting such a plan will be to gradually force the state to make deeper and deeper cuts in the general programs….which is just what government haters like Patrick have in mind.

      • BCinBCS

        This anti-science attitude of Republicans is one of several major factors that pi$$es me off when it comes to that party and its members. Patrick will not allow the LBB to study the impacts of his granny starving budget bill, Republicans at the federal level pass laws prohibiting the CDC from collecting data on the mortality and morbidity of gun violence under massive pressure from the NRA and now, in utter secrecy, Senate Republicans are trying to pass a health care bill that will literally kill thousands of people without studying its impacts on the country. Combine those with their denial of global warming climate change and you get a party that disrespects science and the American people. My god, how their future children and grandchildren will curse them.

        • WUSRPH

          There is a great phrase that I saw in an article elsewhere that expresses what was tried in Kansas and is being advocated here in Texas and in the Trump budget and tax plan—-“the trivialization of government”. These are people who want to repeal most of the 20th Century and these early years of the 21st and go back to some mythical golden era.

          • SpiritofPearl

            That never really existed . . .

  • WUSRPH

    This story from the Washington Post may give some insight on this new “war on cities” being waged in our legislatures and Congress and in the minds of people like Abbott:

    http://tinyurl.com/yd882l38

    • SpiritofPearl

      Saw this myself and shared it with others. Good analysis of the divide in America, not just Abbott’s war on cities.

      The question is: why do rural residents stay in dead-end locations? Fear of “The Other”?

      • Jillgrea

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      • WUSRPH

        Fear of the other is one reason…..inability to sell (at other than loss), lack of job skills for another job that might be available elsewhere and of the funds needed to move, family connections all those reasons why people stay at home….Aid in moving costs and in selling out in order to move is one way to help this problem…but it is far too reasonable for the GOP/Trump to even consider. “Voting with your feet” was a lot easier when all you had to do was put your entire worldly possessions into a Studebaker Covered Wagon and head west where virtually free land was available and even then only a minority did it……

        • SpiritofPearl

          I’m sure this has been done, but it would be interesting to see cohort studies of age mates who stayed in dying communities vs. those who moved to find better jobs.

          I was always struck by how the local staff at I.U. had numerous family members to help with child care on snow days, sick days, holidays while Mr. P. and I were a two-man tag team. Fortunately we had jobs that permitted us a lot of flexibility as long as we got the job done.

          NYT did an article several years ago about American migration from one state to another. Fewer than 50% of us move to a different state, some times as little as 30% depending on the state.

  • John Bernard Books

    Is the democrat party suicidal?
    “A New Jersey Democratic strategist is capitalizing on the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) by launching the hashtags #HuntRepublicans and #HuntRepublicanCongressmen, and he is showing no signs of backing down, claiming “the chickens came home to roost.”
    James Devine, a longtime political strategist in the Garden State, tweeted in the wake of the shooting at a Republican baseball practice in Alexandria on Wednesday that “we are in a war with selfish, foolish & narcissistic rich people”:”

    sicko…..reminds me of most posting here.

  • BCinBCS

    Amazon, headed by CEO Jeff Bezos, bought the Austin based Whole Foods grocery chain. For those of you that want to know the “inside story” on how and why this purchase happened, I give you the following information:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8a2069b0f9664d19f1e24074aff782a769c4a29ef208f664a10872b7aef9878b.jpg

    .

    • Dorothyakuhn

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    • SpiritofPearl

      My son calls it “Whole Paycheck.”

      • Jed

        sustainably sourced food costs more, but what is it worth to avoid poison in your food or exploiting farm workers or third world farmers?

        people who complain about how much whole foods costs don’t understand the economic concept of externalities (and how it is basically a license to exploit). shopping at HEB or Randall’s costs all of us much more than a paycheck.

        unfortunately, so does shopping at amazon (of which i am already guilty).

        • SpiritofPearl

          Organic food can be obtained at other vendors than WF.

          • Jed

            organic food, yes. sustainably sourced, a big maybe.

          • SpiritofPearl

            The poor get shafted either way – American poor or foreign slaves.

  • WUSRPH

    The SCOTUS has agreed to hear the Wisconsin “political gerrymandering” case. Although Texas’ status as a state covered by the Voting Rights Act (and possibility about to be put back under the Sec. 5 “pre-filing” requirements) is some degree of protection against gerrymandering, I think that this case has the possibility of having a real impact on at least parts of Texas. IF the court holds that the deliberate “disenfranchisement” of people based on their political beliefs—which is what is alleged here—is unconstitutional I can think of no better example than the way the Texas Legislature has treated Travis County in drawing lines for Texas Senate and US House districts. Dividing one of Texas’ most Blue counties up among at least 4 or 5 Senate and US House districts solely to prevent Democrats from being elected would, to me, fall under such a ruling. (They would do it to the Texas House districts too if they could but a provision in the Texas Constitution stands in their way.)

    • Mary Compean

      Aug. 28, 2012. A federal court rules that Texas’s redistricting maps were “enacted with discriminatory purpose” and finds that Texas Republicans not only failed to grant new power to minority voters in the state, but also took away vital economic resources from minority Democratic members of Congress.

      • WUSRPH

        True….but up to now the SCOTUS has not struck down a redistricting like the ones involved here. It has struck down districts that discriminated against a specific race/ethnic group….as in the case you cite….but let those based on partisan….GOP v Dem, etc. basis stand…..The Wisconsin case says that you cannot deliberately setout to make Democrats votes worthless by drawing districts, that guarantee that they will never be able to elect a Democrat. In this case, the TOTAL Democratic vote in the state was substantially higher than the GOP vote, but the Republicans had split them up so thoroughly, that their votes had no effect. This is just what the Texas Legislature has done in Travis County.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Maybe those of us who lost Lloyd Doggett as a rep will be saved.

      • WUSRPH

        Just getting Doggett back as your repsentative is far less important that forcing the Legislature to adopt a congressional redistricting plan that INCREASES the number of Democratic congress members by three or four above the current number. Personally, I’d forgo the pleasure, if any, of having Doggett represent me for that outcome.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Doggett wouldn’t be your rep in any case. Don’t you live west of I-35?

          • WUSRPH

            Nope…I have lived east of 35 in a tri-ethnic/racial neighborhood since 1983. “23 the pace tp be” (78723 that is). But because of the way Travis County was gerrymandered my congressman is the car dealer from Ft. Worth.

          • SpiritofPearl

            We’re neighbors!

  • WUSRPH

    PC takes another hit…The SCOTUS says that the Washington Redskins can call themselves what they want under the First Amendment. (I guess this also gets the Cleveland Indians off the hook).
    Some of us are old enough to remember the first round of the effort to get sports teams, etc. to change their names….One of the first to do so was the Stanford Indians….They changed their name to the Stanford Cardinal but, being Stanford, it is the color and not the bird. Plus their mascot is a pine tree. That way no one can be offended.

  • WUSRPH

    Another analysis of the 2016 election that suggests that racial and cultural views had more to do with the election outcome than economic worries, etc.

    http://tinyurl.com/yccnf4bz

    Each of these studies fills in a gap in the overall picture that is gradually emerging……of a country divided more divided along racial/cultural views than any other… Another refutation of the myth of the melting pot.

  • SeeItMyWay

    Mr. Ratcliffe, you post a thread, and then, one guy in particular, just takes off in any topic direction he chooses. Maybe you should put him on the TM payroll, or ask him to go set up his own blog.

    I scrolled down expecting to read peoples’ thoughts on Abbott, Patrick and the Empower Texans legislative team trying to take local control away from us. After Jose’s on topic post, I got cramps in my finger trying to move down and find another one. I gave up.

    I don’t like it. Bet others don’t either, even if they are not speaking up.

    • WUSRPH

      You might look at the very first post on this thread…..it was all about local control and why Abbott and company do not like it….(See below) Jose’s post was a one-line joke.
      BYW, what are your views on the subject of uniformity at the statewide level (anti-Californization) v. local control? How far should that extend? How about ride-sharing services where there could be different rules within multiple areas of a county? Anti-drilling? Billboard and advertising limits? Tree preservation? Plastic bags? Controls on the amount of sound that can be generated by a business?
      If we have “local control” how far should it extend? Should we be allowed to, by zoning, etc., limit where certain people and live and/or earn their living? We used to do that with deed restrictions (most of which were on race/ethnicity or religion) but the federal government won’t let us do that any more….So in some places we use zoning to do it? ? Historic preservation districts? Controls on impervious cover? All those things that limit someone’s “freedoms”, supposedly in pursuit of the “public good”. Should that be allowed? How far can we allow government to control what a man can do with his own property?
      Should local govt’s be allowed to use special fees and/or reinvested taxes to help people either stay in their homes or be able to afford housing. (Abbott vetoed such legislation and the Legislature banned other attempts).
      Should the state step-in in all these areas (and more) as Abbot would have it? How about a state law that says a city has only x number of days to process a building permit? Where do you draw the line between personal property rights and the rights of the public? Between matters that should be controlled by the State or by local governments?
      You must have opinions on all of these. Do more than complain about others….Let us hear your views.

      • SeeItMyWay

        Thanks for the invite. I think I’ll just sit back and watch you steer the ship.

        • WUSRPH

          Too bad. You might have had some comments worth hearing……but you’d rather complain…….Actually, I do more rowing than steering…

          • John Bernard Books

            He said you were a pedantic blowhard….where have we heard that?

        • BCinBCS

          SeeIt, you complain about what you see as a problem and then refuse to do anything to solve it. Sad.

          • WUSRPH

            He did something about what he sees as the problem of the thread going off subject (often my fault). He complained…..but he could help solve that problem by commenting on the subject itself….That he did not do…..

  • Hugh Everett

    “no one has ever proposed such sweeping restrictions on local voters having a voice in shaping the character of their communities”

    Talk about shameless hypocrisy. When was the last time you heard democrats defend the constitutional rights of the States against encroachment and bullying from the federal government?

    “government closest to the people is the best kind of government”

    I’m laughing at democrats using this cynical approach. The Constitution has nothing to say about municipalities.

    If you don’t like texting, plastic bags, and open carry firearms, feel free to move to California.

    • José

      So you don’t actually dispute or disagree with either statement?

      • WUSRPH

        The problem is that Abbott, in theory, may be correct about the relationship between the State and local governments, even if he is wrong about the relationship between the states and the federal government. Local governments in Texas are only possible because they are authorized by the State and have only the powers the State grants them…..They are as such subordinate to the State government. This means that he can legally do what he proposes. Of course, that does not mean that he should.

        The GOP made a dogma out of “the government closest to the people: being the best and a mantra of the words “local control” UNTIL local governments started doing things that some conservatives did not like—such as passing local anti-discriminatory ordinances and later such things a plastic bag and oil-well drilling controls—and they discovered that at least a voting majority of the local voters supported such heresies. It got worse when voters in the larger cities became more “Blue”, making it harder for conservative business interests to control what local governments do. (Austin’s move to single-member districts, resulting in only one “conservative” on an 11-memmber council was probably the final straw.) At that point, Abbott and others started talking about the need for uniformity across city and county lines to avoid “Californization” (by which he really means the voters deciding their own needs and policies).

        It is hypocrisy at its worst, but beyond trying to defeat him in the Legislature, there is little that local government can do to stop this “overreaching” by the State. That is why I (only partially joking) am advocating that Texas adopt the its own versions of the 9th and 10th amendments to the US Constitution that were intended to protect the States from the federal government. But, in this case, would protect local governments and citizens from the State. You can see my suggested language in a post, below.

        • BCinBCS

          W, it is the hypocrisy of the Republican party that bothers me as well. Be it at the state or at the federal level, Republicans say and do one thing when they are in the minority and then do an about-face when they are in the majority. Hypocrisy is a defining characteristic of Republicans.

    • SpiritofPearl

      I don’t. I’ll work to change the system. Demographics are on my side.

      • Hugh Everett
        • WUSRPH

          You make a partially good point—one I made a couple of years ago when I did an analysis of where “new Texans” are coming from that demonstrated that a large plurality were coming from either the state’s directly adjacent to Texas or from the South and, as such, were likely to hold views on social, cultural and political issues similar to those of the voting plurality in Texas.

          However, what you do not consider, is that the number of “new Texans” coming from outside Texas is a smaller number than the number of “new Texans” (particularly Hispanics) being born here which is having the effect of making Texas an ethnic minority state. IF the politics of Texas are to change it will be because of those home-grown Texans and the GOP/conservatives continuing failure to attract their support as shown in elections in the major cities in Texas. This means that, while you may be right in the short-run, Pearl is probably correct in the long term.

          • Hugh Everett

            I am personally acquainted with hundreds of transplants to Texas who work in the manufacturing and energy sectors of the economy. Regardless of their original home state, these people are Republican.

            So rather than focus on where they’re moving from, you might ask what industry they work in. We live in an oil and gas producing state.

          • WUSRPH

            Since I recognize that your views are shaped primarily by your personal experience it would clearly be a waste of time to try to overwhelm you with studies and polls that conflict with your fixed viewpoints.

            BUT, the basic fact is that the number of those coming to Texas is outweighed by the natural increase in births among those who are less likely to be Republicans. What you are deliberately ignoring is the fact that Immigrants from other states constitute a much smaller portion of our population increase. As such, as I said before, the long-term demographics are against you, no matter how many of the new comers that you personally come into contact with are Republican.
            As to what kind of state Texas is…..oil and gas have been a primary force in our economy for many years and will continue to be for some years to come…HOWEVER, its proportion is declining as other sectors develop and grow. As such, basing a future projection only on the views of those employed in that industry, distorts its importance.

            BYW, I think you will find that studies not based on your personal experience demonstrate that those coming to Texas in the higher tech/information/computer industries and other developing sectors are not as GOP as those in the sector with which you are most familiar.
            You may not have also noticed that our society is re-segregating along cultural/religious and political views so that it is becoming less likely that you will come into contact with any large number of those with differing viewpoints. This self-isolation also tends to distort the view of someone who bases his conclusions primarily on personal experience.

          • SpiritofPearl

            I know dozens of transplants – like me – who came here from outside the south and are Democrats.

        • SpiritofPearl
          • Hugh Everett

            Latinos don’t have a great record of voter turnout, and Texas Latinos split their vote 50-50.
            http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Texas-Latino-vote-splits-5876952.php

            That means Latinos have no political impact in Texas elections.

            White Texans vote 70% republican, which is why the GOP owns the state.

          • WUSRPH

            Almost all true…for now…..Hispanics do not turn out in the same percentages as other groups…They are slightly lower, BUT their rate is increasing election after election. And, remember, they soon will be the (if they are not already) the largest population group in the state.
            No responsible, respected analyst accepts that 50% for GOP figure. George W. Bush probably did the best, but people like Patrick just cannot attract that level of support.
            The 70% of white Texas who vote Republican is about right….but the group is both declining as a percentage of the population and aging as younger voters, including Whites are increasingly voting for Democrats. (Remember the old rule that what counts if not the percentage but the percentage of what. 70% of a smaller group may be less than 50%F ANOTHER

          • SpiritofPearl

            “No impact”? One election . . .

            By the time President Loco is through with Texas, expect more movement of all voters to the left. That’s why Texas GOP pols have been disenfranchising potential Democratic voters with with hokey photo ID laws and gerrymandering.

            But time is on the side of justice . . .

        • WUSRPH

          Not if this trend continues….Hispanics make up more than half of the growth in the state.

          (panic–which is what you are doing—is part of the word Hispanic)

          http://tinyurl.com/y9zjd7uv

          • Hugh Everett

            I think we’re discussing two different trends.

            I’m providing data on new arrivals of Republican voters.

            By contrast, you’re providing historical data describing the growth in illegal alien population during the Obama years.

            As they say, “past performance is not an indicator of future outcomes.”
            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/9/illegal-immigration-southwest-border-down-70-pct/

            I hope democrats continue celebrating and ballyhooing the term “demographics is destiny” when bragging about the rate of entry of illegal aliens and refugees into the country. No single issue better explains the ongoing conversion of battleground states WI, IA, OH, MI, PA, MN, ME, NH from blue to red.

            Most people don’t realize that 90% of the people who vote in those states are non-minority, and about half of those don’t have college degrees. So that’s a large voting block of new Republicans in the all-important battleground states.

            If you like the current balance of political power in the country, you’re gonna love the direction for the rest of your life.

    • SeeItMyWay

      I’m no liberal, and I don’t want Abbott and other bought and paid for politicians in Austin deciding how my city is governed.

      • WUSRPH

        See, expressing your opinion didn’t hurt that much. I look forward to seeing many more such expressions.

  • WUSRPH

    TM’s best and worst legislators list is out on its new Armadillo Newsletter….I won’t repeat it here…but it is interesting to note that one of the best, Sarah Davis, is the same GOP representative that the TPers and anti-choice forces have been trying (without success) to defeat for years. It seems her Houston/Bellaire constituents–even in the GOP Primary–are more interested in having an effective representative who can get things done than an ideologue. She is the ONLY pro-choice Republican left in the Legislature..

    Speaking of ideologues….Yes, Stickland made the worst list…but not for his ideology but for the way he expresses it. He will, of course, claim that is all some sort of “liberal conspiracy” and “fake news”…but when even his fellow GOPers dislike the way he behaves, that is far from being the case.

  • John Bernard Books

    Holy smokes PBS forgot to mention how many million of innocent children Rachel Carson killed with her misguided crusade against DDT.
    Thankfully the WHO has gotten DDT back on the approved list to help stamp out Malaria.
    The left often overlooks facts and uses hysteria to promote its agenda.
    “Carson’s book was rife with omissions, misrepresentations, and errors. She neglected to mention that the spraying of Huckin’s bird sanctuary was accompanied by fuel oil, which would have harmed the birds in and of itself. The fact that DDT had eliminated malaria in the northern hemisphere went unnoted. The threat of cancer (Carson herself had been diagnosed with breast cancer while at work on the book) was overemphasized — to put it mildly — on no scientific basis.”

    Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/05/rachel_carson_and_the_deaths_o.html#ixzz4kZILihIr

    On a side note this hysteria by the left led to the formation of the EPA.
    These kooks are killing America.

    • SeeItMyWay

      Army surplus jeeps hauling sprayers used to pump clouds of DDT into the evening air every summer where I lived to kill mosquitos. We were in our yards when it happened -some were following behind on their bikes. Never heard of any getting sick, and we have lost few, if any, of my class to cancer. I am in mid-60’s.

  • WUSRPH

    The lessons of Tuesday’s special congressional election in Georgia:

    1) Democratic candidates in most cases cannot and will not win in districts that both have a long record of electing Republicans and that were specifically drawn to be dominated by the GOP.

    2) Trump has not yet scared or disappointed enough voters in such a district to get them to consider a Democratic candidate or draw enough uncommitted or “new” voters to the polls. (The relative closeness of the various special elections compared to the regular GOP vote in the districts involved, etc. does show some dissatisfaction with Trump, but not enough for the “revolution at the polls” that people like Bernie Sanders are talking about. In fact, earlier in the race, Sanders suggested that the Democratic candidate was not sufficiently radical.)

    3.) Until the development of sufficient dissatisfaction with Trump and the GOP actions in Congress (assuming they ever act) when Democrats try to unseat Republicans they should concentrate on those marginal GOP districts which Clinton carried.

    4,) It is still to early to make any even informed guesstimates about what will happen in the 2018 elections.

    At least, as JJ would say, that is how I see it.

    • John Bernard Books

      It tells us dems are losing because of their misguided policies not skin color as dems are falsely claiming.

    • BCinBCS

      “Until the development of sufficient dissatisfaction with Trump and the GOP actions in Congress (assuming they ever act) when Democrats try to unseat Republicans they should concentrate on those marginal GOP districts which Clinton carried.”

      And Democrats should also concentrate on marginal GOP districts that the Republican narrowly carried.

      • José

        I always wondered why the Dems are far less likely than the GOP to run candidates in “lost” districts. Even if they spend next to nothing it still seems worthwhile, if for no other reason than you get people in the habit of remembering that they have a choice. And every once in a while you get lucky.

        • WUSRPH

          I have mixed feelings about your “show the flag” policy for non-winnable districts. It does show people that Democrats still exist, but fact that time after time they are going to loose may also discourage voters in other perhaps winnable larger (district or statewide) races. It also could tend to draw our limited resources away from races where we had a chance. I had a classmate who insisted that the party had to run a candidate against Ted Poe because Poe was, in his view, such a bad congressman and somebody had to oppose him.. He ran…He got slaughtered and then complained that the party and contributors did not support him. Of course, this was the same year as one the Pete Gallego contests in West Texas where every penny was vital. My feeling towards candidates like him who declare that “someone has to run” is, fine, go ahead, but don’t expect us to waste effort on you. The sad fact is that with the way the districts were drawn—and will likely be drawn in 2021 barring some help from the SCOTUS or a national upheaval against Trump/GOP—the best Texas Democrats can expect is to try their hand in the few “marginal” districts, This means that it will be a long haul back to power as it will have be done district-by-district one after another.

          • José

            Yes, any sacrificial lamb candidate should understand up front that they’ll be on their own, without party assistance, and that it will be a truly humbling (or humiliating) experience. Other than that, is there a downside?

            The particular scenario in my imagination is where a safe incumbent has some truly horrendous problem late in the campaign, a scandal or rapidly declining health or legal matter. It’s possible that a challenger can eke one out. Case in point, Rep. Cao of Louisiana. You might recall him as the sole Republican who voted for the ACA. Cao was elected because the incumbent Bill Jefferson got caught with a freezer full of cold cash. He was convicted and sentenced.

  • WUSRPH

    Russian government actors tried to hack election systems in 21 states, Homeland Security official says (Washington Post)
    Boy, The Donald is going to be pissed (again)…..Here he keeps telling us that this whole Russia thing is “fake news” made up by the media and the Democrats to distract from his great victory…and some flunky of a bureaucrat goes and says the Russians actually were doing it……He’s going to want to see some heads fall over this kind of “disloyalty”. Get on the program folks. The Donald has spoken and the TRUTH has been declared.

  • John Bernard Books

    Conservatives love Nancy…
    ““I think you’d have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top,” said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), who supported Pelosi in her last leadership race. “Nancy Pelosi is not the only reason that Ossoff lost. But she certainly is one of the reasons.””
    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/21/nancy-pelosi-fallout-georgia-special-election-239804

    I’m starting to have doubts if dems will ever win again…..

  • WUSRPH

    A big question—whether we as a people believe it is in the best interests of the nation that all persons have adequate health care—may be at least partially answered tomorrow when the US Senate GOP majority unveils is top-secret plan to repeal (but not really replace) the ADA.

    Of course, we don’t yet have “universal health care” in the US….being the only major nation in the world without such a program—but the ADA (AKA Obamacare) is the closest we have ever come to it any may well be the closest we will ever get depending on what the GOP majority in the Congress finally adopts.

    It is clear that the GOP plan will result in fewer people receiving health care insurance and, eventually, any kind of health care…but what is not yet clear is how far it will go to the eventual creation of a GOP-version of the fabled “death panels” that the ADA was supposed to have created. That did not happen….and could not have happened under Obamacare…BUT provisions the GOP is said to be considering to put “caps” on spending for health care with the effect of forcing the state governments to eventually ration care and decide just what to provide could well make such panels a reality.

    • WUSRPH

      Well. its out…and the best you can say about the AHCA bill is that it isn’t as bad as the House. It will take health insurance coverage away from millions but it spreads that pain out a bit more.

  • WUSRPH

    While people are complaining to TM about various postings or, on another thread, lambasting its choices for Best and Worst legislators, I thought I’d register my own serious complaint about what it has done to make my life worse….By that I mean that, by its declaring my favorite barbeque joint one of the 50 best in Texas, it has made it almost impossible for me to get into the place. Is no secret safe any longer?

    • SpiritofPearl

      Franklin’s? Did you know you can order it in advance? Easy Peasy . . . Shipped some to a friend in Hoosierland and was in and outmin five minutes.

      • WUSRPH

        No, not Franklin’s. I only went there once…had to stand in line for an hour and they had only a tiny amount of beef left when I got to the counter. It was good, but not enough to justify all that forced anticipation…..I think they do it on purpose to give them an image.

        My favorite place, which I will not reveal since TM has already made it hard to get served, is far less pretentious about its product….but it is all great. (Don’t bother with the “lean” cut of beef. It is only for those who are afraid they are committing a sin by eating the fatty good stuff.)