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R.G.’s Roundup: Ken Paxton Edition

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When I profiled Attorney General Ken Paxton last year for Texas Monthly, I intentionally avoided writing about the details of the securities fraud cases against him as much as possible. The story was more about Paxton’s performance as attorney general. However, with a federal judge this week throwing out the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Paxton and a criminal fraud trial scheduled to begin on May 1, this seems like a good time to do a roundup of the coverage of his case so far. This is a story in two parts.

PART ONE: The Allegations

As so many political scandals do, the Paxton case became public during a campaign. While Paxton was running for AG in 2014, the Texas Tribune’s Jay Root reported that Paxton had been receiving management fees from a company called Mowery Capital Management without registering as a securities broker:

Teri and David Goettsche later sued Mowery and Paxton, alleging that their actions helped lead the couple into a doomed real estate investment scheme with one of Mowery’s own business partners, who soon declared bankruptcy. David Goettsche entered into a separate investment arrangement with Mowery in 2005 and was later told in writing that Paxton was getting a 30 percent cut from his fees, too.

The Goettsches’ lawyer, John Sloan of Longview, said the couple lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the failed land deal, and only found out about Paxton’s role when things started to go south in the summer of 2006. Teri Goettsche was referred to Mowery after hiring Paxton to prepare a post-nuptial agreement in 2003 and didn’t realize the lawyer-turned-politician was also getting paid as a solicitor, they said in the lawsuit.

Paxton attempted to put the controversy behind him by signing an agreed-to order with the Texas State Securities Board that accused him of acting as “an investment adviser representative” for Mowery without registering. The board issued a reprimand and a $1,000 fine against Paxton.

When a Collin County grand jury returned a third-degree felony indictment  against Paxton in August 2015, it accused him of acting as an investment adviser without registering or disclosing it to his clients, James and Freddie Henry. If convicted, Paxton could face two to ten years in prison and the loss of his law license. The state securities board document is pivotal in this case.

Many times in administrative proceedings such as this, a person signs a document agreeing to the punishment with a line included that their signature is not an admission of guilt. The document Paxton signed did not include such a disclaimer, so it is a critical piece of evidence for prosecutors and a hurdle for Paxton’s defense team to prove his failure to register with the securities board was an administrative error and not the result of criminal intent. At a court hearing last month, special prosecutors in the case said they plan to try Paxton first on the failure to register charge and leave more serious fraud charges to a later second trial. If prosecutors win this case, it gives them leverage in negotiating a plea deal on the other charges. For instance, Paxton might agree to a plea that would involve him resigning from office to avoid a prison sentence. If prosecutors lose this round, success on the more complicated charges would seem less likely.

The more complex case involves Paxton’s role in convincing fellow legislator and Corsicana Republican Byron Cook and a South Texas investor named Joel Hochberg to each buy $100,000 in stock in a high tech company called Servergy, without disclosing that he was receiving Servergy stock as an incentive. A Collin County grand jury returned two first-degree felony charges against Paxton, and he faces five to ninety-nine years in prison if convicted, though first time offenders usually receive probation. Paxton has claimed the charges are politically motivated because as a Texas House member he opposed the re-election of Joe Straus as speaker. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to dismiss the indictments before trial.

PART TWO: The Lawyer Wars

In the tangled mess that has been the Paxton case, his long-time friend and business associate, Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis, in 2015 recused himself from the case. A state district judge then appointed Houston lawyers Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer as special prosecutors. A third attorney, Nicole DeBorde, later was added to the team.

As much as Paxton’s defense has been about the legal issues, his supporters have banded together in an effort to undermine the credibility of the prosecutors. Phase one has been to cut off their funding from the Collin County Commissioner’s Court, and they scored a victory when the Texas 5th Court of Appeals in January temporarily halted the payments because of a taxpayer lawsuit. The prosecutors had submitted a bill to the county for $205,000.

Paxton’s backers received a public relations gift from federal prosecutors in December in a separate Houston case when prosecutors filed papers asking to have Schaffer removed as the attorney for the former head of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, claiming Schaffer was an “unidentified co-conspirator” in the racketeering case. “I am incredibly flattered at their latest filing; obviously this prosecutor is afraid to try the case against me,” Schaffer told the Houston Chronicle. “They do just want me off the case.”

Closer to the Paxton case, former Houston television reporter turned private investigator Wayne Dolcefino leaked the Texas Rangers investigation of Paxton to the libertarian-leaning Watchdog news organization. Though he had worked for the Paxton defense team, Dolcefino testified in court that he was not paid to leak the document and believed it was a public record. “I did what I did, and I didn’t get paid for it,” Dolcefino said. The Watchdog report was generally favorable to Paxton, and portrayed the Servergy investors as savvy enough to understand Paxton probably was making money off of the investments:

Yet that’s the linchpin of the state criminal case. “Hochberg recalled Paxton making statements such as (sic) Servergy was a good deal, don’t let it go, I suggest you don’t delay and you need to invest now,” the Ranger investigator wrote.

Did Paxton tell him he was investing?

“Hochberg said he believed Paxton was involved in the Servergy investment due to his knowledge of the company,” the investigator wrote.

Cook, who used to be Paxton’s friend when he was in the state legislature, says he also thought Paxton was investing, “based upon past business ventures with Paxton not on any direct statements made by Paxton,” according to the investigation.

Cook said he invested because he believed a larger tech company would buy the company within three to five years, but also said he wouldn’t have invested if he’d known Paxton was getting shares in Servergy.

The prosecutors in court filings claim Watchdog is “another adjunct of Team Paxton” with “close ties to Tim Dunn, a Midland oilman and a noted Paxton supporter.” In November and December 2016, the prosecutors said, Watchdog ran two commercials on WBAP-AM attacking the Collin County payments to prosecutors, and the integrity of Cook and Hochberg. The prosecutors claimed the ads were meant to taint the jury pool in North Texas, and they implied that Dunn had paid for them.  Judge George Gallagher ruled that he wants to at least try to seat a jury in Collin County before moving the trial elsewhere.

That brings us to the federal Securities and Exchange civil fraud case against Paxton that was thrown out for a second time this week. The federal lawyers wanted to bring a case against Paxton based on the Servergy investments and similar to the state prosecution. To hype its case, the SEC claimed in a news release that it had “charged” Paxton with fraud. The crusty old city editor in me wanted to say: You charge people in a criminal case, you accuse them in a civil case. More than one reporter took the bait and wrote a story that Paxton had been “charged.” However, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant dismissed the case “with prejudice”—meaning it can’t be filed again—on the grounds that what Paxton did or did not do simply is not a matter of federal law. “The question before the court is not whether Paxton should have disclosed his compensation arrangement but whether Paxton had a legal duty under federal securities law to disclose. As alleged, Paxton’s conduct simply does not give rise to liability under the federal securities laws as they exist today.”

The right-leaning website Breitbart was quick to point out that the judge was an appointee of former President Obama, while the liberal Dallas Observer’s online headline was Paxton Beats SEC Claim.

That ends my guided tour of the Ken Paxton case. A lot more information is contained in the links. The next stop for Paxton appears to be the start of jury selection on May 1.

ODDS AND ENDS

When I knew Bush as governor, he was pretty thin-skinned when someone else teased him, but he was pretty good at getting a laugh at his own expense. And he did that this week with TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

Mega-rich conservative donors are behind Texas’ obsession with amending the Constitution

By Brandi Grissom

The Dallas Morning News

The ACLU opposes a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution. Even the conservative Eagle Forum has come out against the Convention of the States, because there’s no real way to limit the actions of such a convention—except for the fact thirteen states can block an amendment proposed by such a convention. Some conservatives, such as Governor Greg Abbott, say amending the Constitution is the only way to shift power away from the federal government and back to the states. Brandi Grissom of the Morning News found that the debate is not just philosophical. There’s some real money pushing it:

“The governor is trying to carve off a kind of conservative policy he can call his own,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor.

Those suppositions may hold water. But experts say for the first time in decades, the convention of states movement may stand a remote chance of becoming reality thanks, in part, to the support of mega-rich conservative donors who have given millions to Abbott and other Texas Republicans.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry confirmed as energy secretary

By Fox News

Perry’s failure to remember during a 2011 GOP presidential primary debate that he wanted to eliminate the Energy Department sank his presidential prospects that cycle, but did not factor heavily into his confirmation process.

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said in January during his Senate hearing.

As Perry moves into the job, keep an eye on that nuclear waste dump in Andrews County.

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  • John Johnson

    Paxton is a tragic figure. If he is not guilty of criminal charges, can we not, at least, call him ignorant and not worthy of public office…especially as our AG? He rode the Cruz wave of crazy into public office, along with Miller, and Patrick. Thank God that radical movement seems to have run its course. Sane people are waking up.

    With regards to Perry…he was simply a good looking guy who was in the right place at the right time. With the state drowning in oil and gas, and then the Barnett Shale NG discovery, he rode the wave. We seem to forget about how wealthy he got while in office through things like stinky lake lot flips aided by the senator from Marble Falls, and the Central Corridor deal and mandated vaccine programs brokered by his right hand man, and the state slush fund money he gave to friends who gave him board seats after he left office.

    We are an ignorant lot.

    • donuthin2

      Yup, we are. Hard to believe that there is not a shred of statesmanship in the whole bunch. Strauss is the only one in a leadership role that shows any real leadership.

      • donuthin2

        And you are right, Perry was in the right place at the right time. He rode the coat tails of Bush to Lt. Gov, otherwise it would have been John Sharp and Perry would have never made it beyond Ag Commish.

        • WUSRPH

          If Jim Hightower had done his job in 1990 we would never have heard of Perry again.

          • donuthin2

            Maybe, but those who absolutely hated Hightower, and there were many, came to hate Perry even more.

      • John Johnson

        Agree.

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  • John Bernard Books

    The Paxton witch hunt is over, when will we go after the crooks….the dems.

  • WUSRPH

    Would someone please break Trump’s tweeter toy……He is digging a deeper and deeper hole for himself and it does the U.S. no good to have its president’s sanity under question. What is really a sad thought is that some of his minions will believe this latest one.

  • WUSRPH

    Is it just me or has Trump’s hair gotten less orange/yellow since the inauguration? The president’s hair usually gets more grey/white over time, but to me his looks noticeably whiter. Is being president having that much effect on him so soon or are they gradually taking the dye out so that he won’t look so weird?

  • WUSRPH

    The right-wing National Review talks about how it is okay to be afraid of a Trump presidency.

    http://tinyurl.com/h8mk6ew

  • BCinBCS
  • BCinBCS

    I was doing some reading about our illustrious ex-governor and ex-president, George W. and it dawned on me that we essentially have a repeat of the same phenomena: W (The George type, not the BB commenter type) decided to invade Iraq and then was stuck not knowing what to do with it and Comrade Trump/Bannon decided to run for President as part of a economic grift and, having unexpectedly won, is now stuck not knowing what to do with that.

    (That’s it. I thought that it might be an interesting comparison but I’m not able to draw any lessons or conclusions from it other than to be careful what you wish for.)

    • José

      It’s a lot easier to complain about problems that to solve them. Things that look easy at first glance often turn out to be amazingly complicated when you actually get in to doing the job.

      As an engineer I follow two principles that seem contradictory but which really balance out nicely. Both have relevance to the political domain. The liberal principle says that you should be willing to explore new and different ways of doing things. Anything that has evolved over time with incremental improvements is likely to be terribly inefficient compared to a design that uses newer technologies and ideas and which addresses the current needs as opposed to the original ones. The conservative principle says that before deciding to make changes, even minor ones, one should consider all the risks and effects very carefully beforehand. Quite often the total costs of the changes exceed the benefits.

  • John Bernard Books

    Trump turns on dems…
    “White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for a congressional investigation of allegations that the former Obama administration ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower during the last presidential campaign. But Sanders refused to say where the current president got his information or why he blamed the former president.

    Sanders says on ABC’s “This Week”: “If they’re going to investigate Russia ties, let’s include this as part of it. That’s what we’re asking.””
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TRUMP_THE_LATEST?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-03-05-10-01-52

    and Hillary thought she could beat Trump…..

  • SpiritofPearl
    • WUSRPH

      Years ago there was a story about a Madison Avenue executive who asked his employees, if they were going to drink at lunch, to please drink scotch or bourbon than vodka. He said that would because if would be better from the firm if their afternoon clients thought they were drunk rather than dumb. I sure wish someone could tell us that Trump is just high when he goes off like this recent time. It would be better to know that our president was on something than to think he is insane.

      • BCinBCS

        Maybe they should give him more of what he got before his address to Congress last week. Whatever that was seemed to work.

        • WUSRPH

          But how do you fit a teleprompter on a tweet screen?

      • SpiritofPearl

        The “speech” was a bare minimum of discipline from a president, but then he reverts to form – “paranoia runs deep.”

        Is he so uninformed that he didn’t know that Trump Towers had a server in the basement that was linked to Russia’s Alpha Bank? He refuses to do his homework, just like most of his voters. They mindlessly watch Fox and listen to Alex Jones and believe it’s the truth.

        But make no mistake – Pence will be much more damaging to democracy.

        • BCinBCS

          “Into your life it will creep…”

          • SpiritofPearl

            “Creep” is right!

          • BCinBCS

            Yup,
            “It starts when you’re always afraid
            You step out of line, the man comes and takes you away”

          • SpiritofPearl

            Oldies, but goodies!

            Do you still listen?

          • BCinBCS

            Absolutely!
            And other music, as well – blues (especially blues ), classical & country.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Indian ragas . . .

          • BCinBCS

            Really?
            Any suggestions (on You Tube)?

          • SpiritofPearl

            Do you have Alexa? She plays Ravi Shankar for me. I’ll have to check with my Indian boys for specific performers. Because they are young, they favor beautiful females singing Bollywood music.

            What I enjoy is Hindu devotional music – morning rags, afternoon rags, evening rags. Many of these works have been played for hundreds of years. The musicians learn from their fathers, then teach their own sons. It’s an ancient religious tradition.

          • BCinBCS

            As a child of the 50’s and 60’s, I am very familiar with Ravi Shankar (and his talented daughter Anoushka). I very much love that style of music. It’s great to relax to. (yea, I wrote that ending preposition but it says what I mean.)

          • SpiritofPearl

            Did you know that Norah Jones is also his daughter?

          • BCinBCS

            Yes, I didn’t mention her because she leans toward jazz rather than “Indian music-sitar music” (I don’t know the proper terminology). He had a son who accompanied him in concert but he died some time ago. It’s an amazingly musically talented family.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Ravi got around . . .

            I like both Hindu devotional music and bhangra rock (Bollywood sound tracks), but prefer the devotional music. A large number of wealthy Indians live in Austin, so there are a couple of well-funded organizations here who bring in talented Indian musicians for concerts throughout the year – all sorts of Indian music and classical dance. Two Hindu temples also provide music opprtunities for “farangis.”

          • SpiritofPearl

            I googled “Hindu devotional music” and got a lot hits on youtube. Check them out. Remember – this is NOT Bollywood music.

    • BCinBCS

      From the N.Y. Times article:

      Mr. Trump’s demand for a congressional investigation appears to be based, at least in part, on unproven claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Mr. Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.

      The claims about wiretapping appear similar in some ways to the unfounded voter fraud charges that Mr. Trump made during his first days in the Oval Office. Just after Inauguration Day, he reiterated in a series of Twitter posts his belief that millions of voters had cast ballots illegally — claims that also appeared to be based on conspiracy theories from right-wing websites.

      I hope that Comrade Trump/Bannon doesn’t get us into a nuclear (or conventional) war just because he believes the garbage being spewed by Breitfart and other right wing conspiracy sites.

  • John Bernard Books

    There is no proof that Mr Comey told President Trump anything…
    “It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/05/us/politics/trump-seeks-inquiry-into-allegations-that-obama-tapped-his-phones.html?_r=0

    no statement, no video, no direct quotes…only the words of a liberal and we all know better than to believe the NYTimes. Didn’t they tell us everyday for two years Hillary would win……

  • WUSRPH

    There is every reason to believe that Trump is just in yah-yah land or that he seriously believes that conspiracy theories hatched by the far right constitute intelligence briefings but, if we assume for a quarter-of-a-second that he is right, can you imagine the amount and kind of evidence that would have to be shown to any intelligence court judge to get him to issue a warrant for a tap on Trump’s phone. The evidence would have to have been more than damning…..If I were Trump and I really believed—as his right wing crazy supporter allege—that there really was such a warrant issued, I’d keep quiet about the whole thing rather than have that evidence revealed.

    I thought a Trump Administration would be weird, but its getting surealistic.

    • WUSRPH

      P.S. Just to be sure why don’t we all agree to send Pence copies of the 25th Amendment.

  • WUSRPH

    In some ways I feel a little sorry for Trump. After all, he’s the world’s greatest businessman, fresh from a victory he wasn’t supposed to have, who was going to remake the world in less than 90 days with his overwhelming WILL and nothing seems to be working…..Congress is thinking about his great plans and promises…all he gets to do is sign a few fancy parchments and the pesky courts block his big one….and that magic 100 days are getting closer and he’s accomplished virtually nothing, much less beating FDR and LBJ’s records. It wasn’t supposed to be like this….It can’t be is fault…..after all he is TRUMP….and just because he was totally inexperienced and unqualified for the job and made promises that he could never keep is no reason for it not to be like he dreamed it would be…Or is it?

    • SpiritofPearl

      For some reason Trump hateshateshates Obama. “The Black Man in the White House” enrages him.

      • John Johnson

        Of course all the awards presented by Black organizations to Trump over the years and the Blacks who actually support him are ignored by angry Pearl. She just can’t grasp that Obama did more to set back racial relations than any Pres in my lifetime. Obama is the hater.

        • BCinBCS

          JJ, I’ve got to object! Obama did make it okay for covert racist to become overt but I don’t see that as changing the fact that they were already racist. Just because they felt free to openly display their hatred of the brown is not because Obama “did more to set back racial relations than any Pres in my lifetime”.

          • WUSRPH

            You don’t understand…..Obama was a racist because he rose above his allotted role in life….thereby making some people uncomfortable at “one of those people” rising in status above them….at least that’s how those folks see it.

          • Jed

            ah, didn’t see this before i wrote same thing.

          • Jed

            you miss the implied point.

            obama set back race relations because he was a black man in the white house.

            how dare he.

            racial relations were just fine when those people knew their place.

            dude you’re talking to is a stone cold racist who doesn’t even know it.

    • John Johnson

      Another far out opinion from you. “He hasn’t…”. “He can’t…”

      He has been in office how many days? Let’s just say that he has made enough moves thus far to keep those who voted for him happy, even though he has received an unprecedented amount of stinky press, based on hearsay, and unnamed sources introduced to us as “high ranking officials”. Me thinks these are less than upper echelon personnel who are Obama holdovers due to be on the street soon. The hate is deep and wide. So be it.

      He will carry on toward stated goals, but would be well advised to listen to those who are telling him to ignore the drama, avoid responding to every criticism, and keep his head pointed in the right direction.

      I want him to get all “his” people” in place, let an independent investigator do his job, get a tax and healthcare plan out for discussion, and delagate responsibilities to those he has appointed. Priebus and Bannon need to go, and I predict they will as he grows in the job and finds out who provides him the soundest advice.

      Trump is not going to go away. He is here for at least four years. I plan on ignoring you whiners and teeth gnashers who, I know, are going to continue to attempt to turn mole hills into mountains.

      I learned to dislike Obama over concrete things he did and said…not what some unnamed source spit out. The same with Hillary. Obama was not qualified to be President; neither is Trump.

      This future is going to be interesting and ugly. Most wholesale course redirections are. We have needed one for several decades now.

      • WUSRPH

        You have this overwhelming need and compulsion to think that Trump is something other than what we are seeing to date. Why do you think it is going to be any different? Why not suppose that the people he chose—Bannon and his ilk—are the people he wants? Why can you not accept that he is the kind of emotionally childlike person who one week can tell us how much he likes Obama and what a nice guy he is and the next tell us that Obama is evil and sick and worse than Nixon? Why don’t you see that he lives for the adulation of the mob and that he will say and probably do anything to get their cheers? You clearly admit that he is not qualified to be president….but you expect him to do wonderful things? For the good of the country, I wish I was wrong about these things……but so far I have seen and heard nothing to make me think otherwise. If you were to be truthful to yourself, you would have to admit that you haven’t either…..but you keep hoping, hoping and hoping.

        • John Johnson

          I see stumbles and mistakes. To say he “can’t” or “won’t” is premature and expected from those of you Hillary supporters who had you hopes crushed. I am totally optimistic and will remain so until he actually makes a policy or directive move I disagree with. That has not been the case.

  • John Bernard Books

    I do not feel sorry for dems…..
    “The most unpopular figure in American politics remains House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with 19 percent who feel positively about her in any way against 44 percent who feel negatively about her. The Democratic Party’s negatives double up the Republican Party’s.”
    http://nypost.com/2017/03/03/the-polls-actually-show-that-trump-is-still-winning/

    dems have earned America’s wrath……

  • WUSRPH

    Trump now says he has intelligence sources that no one else has—including apparently our own national intelligence. I suppose that means either he has been leaving his aluminum hat off too much or he’s been talking to the Russians.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Mark Levin is his co-pilot.

      By the way India wasn’t on the list even though there are 180 million Muslims there, more than all the other countries ON the list combined.

      Rumors are that this is a Bannon scheme to suppress Dem voters in the long term.

      • John Johnson

        Hahaha. Talk about tinfoil headwear.

        • WUSRPH

          Actually, Bannon is on record as saying we have to control the kind of people we let in, including their race and religion, in order to preserve White-Western civilization. As such, he is certain to want to suppress the arrival of all those disagreeable types. We tried to limit them after 1924 with strict quotas that favored Western European (as against Southern and Eastern) and other non-Western places, but that got junked with immigration reform in 1965 that took out the bais. Bannon wants to go back.

          • John Johnson

            Don’t totally disagree. If the incoming immigrant population is unwilling to assimilate, as Teddy so pointedly stated, they have no business here. We have only to look toward Europe to find what this produces…areas of a city where Sharia law is enforced, infidels are not welcome, and the police refuse to go. If you have blinders on, or simply choose not to learn from this, you are ignorant. Gringos love Little Havana and Arlington’s Vietnamese area has become popular for area citizens dining. UTA has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, and we find successful Muslims from all over the world who live among us in virtually every neighborhood. They worship as they please, but they speak English and have fully Americanized. Two of my daughter’s best friends from high school are Muslims. We need to give the new arrivals a chance, but to allow them to allow them to formulate little “cities” within our cities and attempt to rule themselves as they see fit, is just not going to work.

          • WUSRPH

            Why should we expect today’s new immigrants to be any different than the millions who came before them who set up Little Cities within our cities? I presume you never heard of Chinatown, Germanville, “that’s the Italian’s neighborhood”, “The Irish Channel”, etc.. EACH AND EVERY group who have come in have joined together for self-help and protection for the first and often the second generation. Their children start the process of assimilation and their grandchildren complete it. The same is happening now around you with Hispanics, the Vietnamese and other who have been here a while and will happen with the other groups. As to having their old laws and schools., what do you think the Catholics were doing with all those parochial schools?

          • John Johnson

            There you go with that history stuff again. How about just looking at what’s going on right now? Can you do that? Can you take a look at Europe today and at least admit that we do not want the same here? If not, you are what I have suggested all along…a guy who loves himself some history so much that his head is twisted around looking backwards and he lacks the ability to see what is in front of him. I don’t want you getting anywhere close to governing. Your time has passed. Write a book, teach a class, but lay off prognosticating. You don’t have the ability to understand that the world has changed and keep wanting to put square pegs in round holes.

          • WUSRPH

            What is happening here is what has happened every time before. Nothing that difference, except the religion of some of the immigrants. But, of course those Catholics and Jews were going to destroy America too when they came. And think of all the crime we got from those Italians….Can you not understand that what “is happening in Europe” (which you drastically overstate according to any objective observers) is not happening here. WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM EUROPE in case you have not noticed. They are predominately homogeneous nations having to learn to deal with differences…..we have been a heterogeneous nation for some time and are much better at absorbing new elements.

          • WUSRPH

            “Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged.”
            Abraham Lincoln

          • donuthin2

            JJ, I am always disappointed in you when you attack WUSRPH as it seems to be when you can’t win the argument on its merits.

          • WUSRPH

            He doesn’t really bother me that much. I just have to consider the source.

          • John Johnson

            More of the same from you….a succinct answer is wrong answer.

            In your pseudo intellectual world, intelligence is judged by (1) Does he agree with me?, and (2), Did he use enough words?

  • WUSRPH

    I presume the new EO on immigrants will standup better to court challenges now that it has removed most of the 14th Amendment problems…..Too bad Trump didn’t listen to the lawyers the first time….Maybe he’s learned not to take legal advice from Bannon/Flynn. Some judge might still look at the reasonableness of it—-since no terrorist acts in the US have been committed by people from the now six (down from seven) countries–and the anti-Muslim argument….but I assume the lawyers have been able to find ways to get around those attacks.

  • John Bernard Books

    Draining the swamp….
    “First, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS Act) would help restore the balance between the executive and legislative branches by requiring congressional approval for any new regulation that would have a major impact ($100 million or more) on the economy.

    Second, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act would amend the Administrative Procedures Act and require judges hearing challenges to agency actions to review all relevant questions of law “de novo,” thereby ending the dysfunctional status quo that tilts the legal playing field in favor of federal bureaucracies.

    Finally, the Agency Accountability Act would make federal agencies accountable again by directing most fines, fees, and unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury, instead of letting federal agencies keep and spend them as they see fit.”
    http://dailysignal.com/2017/03/06/trumps-historic-chance-to-dismantle-the-administrative-state/

    After these are passed and 25% of the government workers(all dems) are fired.
    Then PRESIDENT Trump can roll back government funded pensions to a reasonable rate….oh say 25% of current rates.

  • WUSRPH

    Hey, JJ: Ryan has released his ACA “repeal and replace”…Seems like more “repeal” than “replace”. Want to bet that’s another promise by Trump we can forget.

    “The two measures dismantle the core aspects of ObamaCare, including its subsidies to help people buy coverage, its expansion of Medicaid, its taxes and its mandates for people to have insurance.
    In its place, Republicans would put in place a new system centered on a tax credit to help people buy insurance.

    That tax credit would range from $2,000 to $4,000 a year, increasing with someone’s age. That system would provide less financial assistance for low-income and older people than ObamaCare, but could give more assistance to younger people and those with somewhat higher incomes.

    Democrats warn that between the phasing out of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and the smaller tax credit for low income people, coverage would be put at risk for many of the 20 million people who gained it from ObamaCare…Republicans acknowledge that their plan will cover fewer people, ” ….” The Hill)

    Is that tax credit going to cover the cost of insurance to your family of four? Doubt it. Especially since the GOP itself says it will give “less financial assistance for low-income and older people” but more for “those with somewhat higher incomes.” Typical GOP. The better off you are, the more they give you. It sure sounds like my old theory about the purpose of government being to reward the worthwhile..

    I don’t see what they do to coverage up to age 26 on your parents policy, the cap on what can be charged older people, the ban on lifetime limits and on not covering preexisting conditions. I guess they’d rather not talk about the aspects of the ACA that every poll says a majority of the American people favor.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Republicans want you to die. Just do it quietly.

      • donuthin2

        If they would say that, it would at least be more honest. The Republicans have not had a meaningful alternate for the ACA. I am disappointed in Ryan but not too surprised. There are problems with ACA, but to repeal is idiotic. Just fix the problems. And yes, it will be expensive but no more expensive than doing nothing. Doing nothing is just not as transparent or as effective.

        • SpiritofPearl

          Chaffetz equates the cost of health insurance to that of a cell phone. He’s probably not that stupid, but he panders to those who believe him . . . all to give tax cuts to the wealthy.

  • John Bernard Books

    Republicans again demonstrated they have nothing to hide….you can read the bill before it is passed. Unlike the 1000+ pages of Obamacare, Trumpcare is about 120 pages and it doesn’t have to be passed to be read….
    https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/

  • WUSRPH

    Interesting thought in one column today—–that is by accusing Obama of wiretapping him and demanding an investigation Trump may be forcing the GOP to do just what they do not want to do—-investigate anything having to do with the 2016 elections, particularly Russians. Trump, being a creature of instant emotional action, never stopped to think about that.

  • John Bernard Books

    Republicans dismantle dem’s hidey holes….
    ” H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
    H.R. 899: To terminate the Department of Education
    H.R. 370: To repeal the Affordable Care Act
    H.R. 354: To defund Planned Parenthood
    H.R. 785: National Right-to-Work legislation
    H.R. 83: Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act
    H.R. 147: To criminalize abortion”
    http://resistancereport.com/politics/gop-bills-congress/

    Now on to PRESIDENT Trump’s desk to be signed into law…..

  • John Bernard Books

    Is it time some dems went to jail…..
    “President Trump is on to something. The Obama-connected wiretapping and illegal leaks of classified material concerning President Trump and General Flynn are a scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch aims to get to the truth about these crimes and we hope the Trump administration stands with us in the fight for transparency.””
    http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-sues-cia-doj-treasury-records-related-intelligence-leaks-regarding-investigation-general-flynn/

    Man this gets gooder and gooder…..breaking out the popcorn.

  • WUSRPH

    An interesting story from the Sacramento Bee about how California is sending us its poorer people while we are losing our better educated and wealthier to California.

    http://tinyurl.com/gmufluh

    • SpiritofPearl

      I saw that article a few days ago. I’ve met two Californians since I moved here. Both were definitely “not poor,” but moved here because TX has no state income tax. Of course, two people isn’t a representative sample.

      • John Johnson

        Who we going to believe? Angry Pearl or this piece? I think I’ll go with the later.

    • José

      There’s the old joke about the Aggie who moved across the Red River to Oklahoma, thereby increasing the average IQ of both states.

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  • WUSRPH

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Give the GOP a chance and what does it do….Give big tax cuts to the rich and to business…

    ” What we do know from the drafts is that there are huge tax breaks for some of the richest Americans:

    “Households at the top of the U.S. income ladder would see taxes on their wages and investments drop under the House Republicans’ new health-care proposal,” the Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin notes. “As expected, the bill repeals a 3.8% tax on investment income and a 0.9% tax on wages. Both levies affect only the highest-earning households, those individuals making at least $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.”

    “The Republican plan (also) includes a tax break for insurance company executives making over $500,000 per year,” BuzzFeed’s Paul McLeod observes. “Companies can generally deduct employee salaries as a business expense but in 2013 the ACA capped the deductions on health insurance executive salaries at $500,000. The average compensation for top health insurance executives is in the millions. In 2014 the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies found that this cap generated $72 million in additional tax revenue.” The draft explicitly eliminates the cap, so the more insurance companies pay their executives the less they will pay in taxes.” (Washington Post)

    They can’t tell us how much it will cost or how many will lose coverage, but they will push it thru committee and to the Floor anyway…..

  • John Bernard Books

    When LBJ ran things or in WASSUP’s day….the dems would call for a committee meeting and grandstand for the press. Then the dem’s staffers would write the press releases and fax to the “reporters” bosses for printing.
    Dems would then take the “reporters” out for a night on the town paid for by tax payers.
    “April D. Ryan, White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, tells this blog that “this pace of covering this new president is unsustainable for the long haul.””
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/03/06/can-president-trump-outlast-the-white-house-press-corps/?utm_term=.12d56a4617b4
    It is hard being a “news reporter” again…covering the news under PRESIDENT Trump will be like working again….

  • John Bernard Books

    Will you ever believe a dem again….
    “”I think the president is absolutely right. His phone calls, everything he did electronically, was being monitored,” Bill Binney, a 36-year veteran of the National Security Agency who resigned in protest from the organization in 2001, told Fox Business on Monday. Everyone’s conversations are being monitored and stored, Binney said.”
    https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2017-03-07/nsa-whistleblower-bill-binney-says-trump-is-absolutely-right-about-wiretap-claims

    Downsize the massive bloated bureaucracy now…

  • WUSRPH

    A congressional committee puts a preliminary price tag on the tax cuts in the Ryancare bill at $500 billion over 10 years…..

    http://thehill.com/policy/finance/322727-jct-bills-repeal-of-obamacare-taxes-would-cost-more-than-500b

    • John Bernard Books

      You can choose your doctor and $500 billion in tax cuts!?!