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Politics & Policy |
April 7, 2012

Conservatives continue push for winner-take-all primary

The Texas Eagle Forum has upped the ante for the May 29 Texas presidential primary. Five prominent conservatives have signed a TEF e-mail headlined “Texas’ role in choosing the president.” It calls for a winner-take-all Republican presidential primary, rather than awarding the state’s 155 delegates based on proportionality, as stipulated

Politics & Policy |
April 6, 2012

Bernard Rapoport passes away at 94

B. Rapoport was a Texas giant. Universally respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, he served his state as chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents. For half a century, he supported the Texas Observer in its mission of bringing great public service journalism to Texans. His granddaughter, Abby,

Politics & Policy |
April 6, 2012

Santorum supporters seek winner-take-all Tx primary

From today’s Statesman: Trailing badly in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Rick Santorum is banking on a fast-moving effort to change the Texas primary into a winner-take-all affair, sending all 152 eligible delegates to the state’s top vote-getter. Weston Martinez, a Santorum supporter and Texas Republican

Eat My Words |
April 5, 2012

Have You Heard of Justin Yu’s Oxheart?

Despite only opening in mid-March, Oxheart is already winning hearts across Houston and breaking ones too far away to grab a bite. Justin Yu was on to something with his pop-up dinners, but he is really on to the extraordinary with his first restaurant. He explained to

Politics & Policy |
April 4, 2012

Times v. Sullivan

Maybe the times are a-changin’ in the Texas House if legislators are willing to challenge Michael Quinn Sullivan. Win or lose, the ethics complaints lodged against Sullivan by two committee chairs, Vicki Truitt and Jim Keffer, are a shot across the bow and an indication that Sullivan’s detractors are not

Politics & Policy |
April 4, 2012

GOP remains divided on party purity

I seldom devote time to reading press releases, but this one from the Dallas County Republican Assembly caught my eye. The subject of the release was endorsements in local races, but what really intrigued me was the DCRA’s self-description: The Dallas County Republican Assembly is a chapter of

Politics & Policy |
April 3, 2012

More on Perry and the e- book

I received a call from Catherine Frazier in the governor’s office early today (Tuesday). She was very critical of the last paragraph of the blog post about the allegations in the e- book. This is how it reads: The question that must be asked, and must be answered, is what

Politics & Policy |
April 3, 2012

DEFEAT THE SUPREME COURT DEADLY DUO

Their names are Nathan Hecht and Don Willett, and they are the only two of the five justices on the Texas Supreme Court who (1) v0ted to to protect the private property rights of beachfront landowners instead of protecting long-established public rights of access; and (2) are up for reelection

Politics & Policy |
April 2, 2012

Duty gets key endorsement in Williamson County DA race

The blogger WillcoWatchdog is reporting on his Web site that the Austin Police Association has endorsed Jana Duty for DA against John Bradley. The endorsement was made on March 28. UPDATE: Bradley issued a press release Monday saying that he had received the endorsements of seven Williamson County mayors.

Politics & Policy |
March 31, 2012

Obamacare and the Court

The outcome of the battle over healthcare before the Supreme Court was preordained. The majority was going to rule against Obama because he called them out in an earlier State of the Union Address over the Citizens United decision. Readers may recall that Alito was shown on TV, sitting in

Politics & Policy |
March 31, 2012

Romney win in WI could end GOP nomination fight

Romney holds a comfortable lead over Rick Santorum going into Tuesday’s primary election. Wisconsin does not have the profile of a state that is Santorum-friendly. I saw a graphic on TV on Friday showing that the percentage of  voters who are evangelicals is much smaller in Wisconsin than in Ohio,

Eat My Words |
March 30, 2012

Pecan Pie from Pie It Forward

We couldn’t resist asking Gesine to share her pecan pie recipe with us. Check out the instructions for that crunchy, gooey Texas dessert, below. Pecan Pie from Pie it Forward ⅛ batch Quick Puff Pastry (page 22 of Pie It Forward) 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups light brown

Politics & Policy |
March 27, 2012

D.C. Court sets Tx voter ID trial for July 9-13

From Michael Li’s “Texas Redistricting” Web site, earlier today: The D.C. district court has set trial in Texas’ voter ID suit for July 9-13. That’s nearly three weeks earlier than requested by the Justice Department and intervenors. However, the court also directed that issues related to the constitutionality of

Politics & Policy |
March 27, 2012

When Rick Perry became a movement conservative

This was the topic of a breakfast discussion yesterday, in which I participated. One of our group, a former legislator who served with Perry in the House, said it happened it 2002. Kay Bailey Hutchison was giving indications that she planned to run for governor against Perry, who had inherited

Eat My Words |
March 26, 2012

Foodways Texas Is Getting Fat and Sassy

Foodways Texas, which was founded in July 2010 “to preserve, promote, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas," held its second annual symposium in Austin this past weekend. A couple of hundred participants listened to talks on the theme of “Texas Preserved”—a deliberately wide-ranging topic that covered

Politics & Policy |
March 26, 2012

Williamson County DA faces tough race

John Bradley, Rick Perry’s choice to block the Forensic Science Commission’s investigation into the flawed arson science that led to the conviction and subsequent execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, is in a tough Republican Primary reelection battle with county attorney Jana Duty. Bradley has also been in the news recently

Politics & Policy |
March 26, 2012

Health care debate begins today

I watched the morning news shows today. The most interesting comment I heard was on Morning Joe, and it was that from Obama’s perspective, losing the case is not all bad. The White House can blame nine folks in black robes. FDR mastered the strategy during the New Deal. The

Politics & Policy |
March 21, 2012

Statesman: national tea party group targets Straus

I’m probably guilty of overusing the word “crazy” these days, but sometimes there is no other word to describe what is going on in Republican circles. FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has set its sights on defeating Dewhurst and Straus, the

Politics & Policy |
March 21, 2012

Romney grabs 2-1 lead in Illinois (54%-27%)

UPDATE: 9:16 p.m. The margin currently stands at 50%-32% (9:16 p.m.), down slightly from  54%-27%. Some commenters posted last week, after the vote in Alabama, that much of the Republican vote in Illinois was downstate. I didn’t buy that at the time, and I don’t buy it now. Illinois is

Politics & Policy |
March 19, 2012

Combs endorses far-right House members

I can’t recall an occasion in which a statewide official endorsed legislators. Usually it’s the other way around. Susan Combs has endorsed Wayne Christian, David Simpson, and Bryan Hughes (who doesn’t really fit in with the extremist crowd). Who’s next? Leo Berman? You have to hand it to Combs. She

Politics & Policy |
March 15, 2012

The $500 million flap

Texas Pays Out Big for Workers’ Unused Vacation Time.  This was the headline for the Star-Telegram story about payments to state employees for unused vacation time. Critics were quoted as saying that the payments, amounting to $500 million, are “ridiculous.” But the story is missing some crucial context.

Politics & Policy |
March 13, 2012

MS, AL primaries leave GOP race as clear as mud

Mississippi Santorum 33% Gingrich 31.53% Romney 30.04% You could throw a blanket over the three contenders. (Paul won 9%). This is an inconclusive result. Santorum held serve, Gingrich missed an opportunity, and Romney got what he wanted, a number that began with a “3.” Alabama CNN is calling the race

Eat My Words |
March 13, 2012

The BBQ Snob Is Hanging With the Big Dog

Enjoying his fifteen minutes (hours, days, whatever) of fame, self-declared “BBQ Snob” Daniel Vaughn is in Austin today hanging out with the big dog, Anthony Bourdain, of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.”  They’re  seen here at Franklin Barbecue, along with Vaughn’s photographer Nicholas McWhirter, Vaughn’s book agent

Politics & Policy |
March 12, 2012

DOJ knocks down Voter ID

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this. I’ve already said my piece. Voter ID is intentional voter suppression. Is it unconstitutional? Probably not. I admit to being uncomfortable that a state statute can be voided by the executive branch. That’s not separation of powers as I

Politics & Policy |
March 12, 2012

The Gingrich-Perry ticket

The conservatives might be able to organize a draft and take over the convention, but the question of electability is going to be the paramount concern. Gingrich has not been successful in the primaries. Another problem for him is that he has the worst gender gap vs. Obama of all

Politics & Policy |
March 12, 2012

Potential issues in the state women’s health program

Planned Parenthood has been providing an estimated 44% of the services in the women’s health care program. Now that the state is establishing its own program, the question is, Who will provide these services? There are two basic problems: (1) How does the state recruit physicians into the program? Reimbursement

Politics & Policy |
March 11, 2012

Combs endorses Santorum

She told the Texas Tribune that he is the only real conservative left in the race. Does this accolade stand up to scrutiny, or is she pandering to the social conservatives who have never fully embraced her? Mitt Romney criticized Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling on five

Politics & Policy |
March 10, 2012

Misunderestimated

Yesterday, I posted a story about Raul Torres’ decision to challenge Juan Hinojosa in SD-20. To quote the former president of the United States, I completely misunderestimated what was going on. Republicans have opened an offensive on a broad front against incumbent Hispanic senators. Uresti, Lucio, Hinojosa, and Zaffirini all

Politics & Policy |
March 9, 2012

Torres Senate candidacy could roil Texas politics

Here is one scenario: Torres defeats Hinojosa; Davis loses her Senate race; Democrats lose two seats; Republicans have 21 votes in the Senate. Another scenario: Torres’s candidacy raises Democratic enthusiasm, swells Democratic turnout, helping Abel Herrero defeat Connie Scott and turnout helps D’s in other key local races. The main

Politics & Policy |
March 9, 2012

The Big Apple

“Well done” for Governor Perry: Apple brings the promise of $304 million in future investment and 3,600 jobs to Austin. Do those newly arriving families know that Texas may not have the money to educate their kids?

Politics & Policy |
March 9, 2012

Margo vs. Moody

This is a swing district, one of the few in the state. I thought it presented the Democrats with a good opportunity to pick up a seat, but the report I get from El Paso is that Moody has been almost invisible in the community since he lost the seat

Politics & Policy |
March 9, 2012

TxDOT “finds” new money

TxDoT announced today that it has “found” $2 billion for new roads in the form of “unexpected federal funds” and underbidding of some contracts. Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it does make me wonder what’s going on at the agency; after

Politics & Policy |
March 8, 2012

Perry blinks on women’s health program

From the Morning News: Austin — Gov. Rick Perry dismissed concerns that 130,000 Texas women will lose cancer screenings and contraceptive services, saying Thursday that the Women’s Health Program — caught in a political crossfire between his administration and the federal government — will live on. The governor suggested

Politics & Policy |
March 8, 2012

Wisconsin judge enjoins Voter ID law

“The single most restrictive voter eligibility law in the United States.” So said Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan of the Wisconsin law, although his comment makes me wonder if the good judge has seen Texas’s law. If ours isn’t worse than Wisconsin’s, it isn’t for lack of trying.

Politics & Policy |
March 8, 2012

The gender gaps – for both parties

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story earlier this week about the gender gaps faced by both parties. The piece, by Gerald Seib, notes that Obama tied McCain among men in 08 but led McCain among women by 13 points. Some other comparisons, more contemporary: Obama vs. R0mney: +6

Politics & Policy |
March 7, 2012

Legler opts not to run

Demographic change takes its toll. Or was he pushed out in redistricting? Legler is the first, but will not be the last, to face the inevitable. If redistricting had historical markers, this transition would deserve one. District 144 was represented by Robert Talton from 1993 to 2009; Pasadena is a