Wed July 1, 2015 6:26 pm By Erica Grieder

It’s summer, and the interim—thanks, Governor Abbott!—so yesterday I grabbed a beach towel and a glass of iced tea and settled down to read Ted Cruz’s new book, “A Time for Truth.” 

The title, in my view, is smarmy. Other than that I found it an enjoyable read, as these things go. Cruz is a deft troll, and although he worked with a ghostwriter, the result is very much Cruz’s voice. [UPDATE: See note, below.] On page 80, he notes that Michael Luttig, the federal appellate judge for whom he clerked, is “an immensely meticulous man.” On page 125, he describes his future wife: “Heidi is a brilliant, meticulous, sunny blonde from California, and I was smitten with her almost immediately.”

No one describes a wife as “meticulous” because they were looking for a filler word, so based on details like that, along with Cruz’s habitual, lawyerly precision, I think we can proceed on the assumption that some of the more newsy passages in the book are conveying the messages that they were intended to. The book doesn’t say anything unduly critical of Karl Rove, for example, but the mutual contempt between the two jumps off the page.

Reading between the lines a little, here are five things that jumped out to me. The last one is the best, so read on below.

Read More
Mon June 29, 2015 9:49 am By Paul Burka

The takeaway from last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decisions and our leadership’s reactions to them show just how far Texas has slipped away from the mainstream. Same-sex marriage? Republicans are against it. Health care for everyone? Against it. Discrimination in housing projects? We’re on the wrong side of that too.

Read More
Thu June 25, 2015 2:33 pm By Dave Mann

The lieutenant governor responds to our selections:


Tue June 23, 2015 4:53 pm By Erica Grieder

Earlier today Konni Burton, the Republican senator from Fort Worth, took the capitol press corps to task on Twitter for its collective disinterest in the EmpowerTexans/Texans for Fiscal Responsibilty’s biennial “Fiscal Responsibility Index,” which was released yesterday. As is typically the case with that particular ranking, the legislators who earned the highest praise were self-declared “fiscal conservatives,” including Burton herself. She was one of three senators, along with Bob Hall and Van Taylor, to receive a perfect score, and the implication, at least, was that the media had ignored this achievement because it didn’t fit our narrative.

I can’t speak for all media, obviously. But I can explain to readers why I ignored this index. I agreed with some of its conclusions (Burton, for example, is clearly a fiscal conservative, and I thought she was the best of the Senate’s true freshmen.) Still, as I said yesterday, the Fiscal Responsibility Index is too garbled to be meaningful. The methodology is distorted, and—as with all scorecards—overly simplistic. That’s why its results are so erratic. 

Just to make sure I’m clear: It’s true that I don’t respect EmpowerTexans as a group or take most of its “work” seriously. But I’m not dismissing the Fiscal Responsibility Index just because I don’t like Michael Quinn Sullivan or his fiscally subliterate belligerence. I’m dismissing the analysis because it’s not good analysis.

Read More
Mon June 22, 2015 8:22 am By R.G. Ratcliffe

Dylann Roof, photo from his website

Sadly, the shooting deaths of nine African-Americans in Charleston apparently were rooted in a white nationalist web site run by the Council of Conservative Citizens. The president of that group is a former St. Louis, Missouri, school board member who now lives in Longview and is a political donor to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott, among others.

In a manifesto that became public this weekend, accused Emanuel AME church shooter Dylann Roof said he became convinced of the need to start a race war after reading about black on white crime on a web site run by the Council. In response, Council President Earl P. Holt III of Longview issued a statement condemning the killings as “despicable,” while at the same time defending Roof’s views on race.

It has been brought to the attention of the Council of Conservative Citizens that Dylann Roof — the alleged perpetrator of mass murder in Charleston this week — credits the CofCC website for his knowledge of black-on-white violent crime.

This is not surprising: The CofCC is one of perhaps three websites in the world that accurately and honestly report black-on-white violent crime, and in particular, the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder…

The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.

The Guardian newspaper this morning reported that Holt has donated $65,000 to several Republican presidential candidates, including $8,500 Cruz, who is refunding the money. A quick search of the Texas Ethics Commission site turned up a $500 donation from Holt to Abbott in 2013, as well as contributions to state legislators, Matthew Schaefer, Konni Burton, and David Simpson, as well as Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown. Holt also was among a group of “grassroots Texans” who signed a letter in 2012 urging David Dewhurst to debate Cruz in the U.S. Senate race. (I’m sure the refund checks will be in the mail by the end of today, and in fairness to the candidates, few campaigns can vet the background of all their donors.)

Read More