Will Gov. Abbott’s State of the State Address reveal his inner Trump?

 

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Good morning Austin:

I was in Washington for inaugural week.

Then, I went to New York for a week to visit family, figuring I could take a little time off between Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, and Gov. Greg Abbott delivering his State of the State Address today, without too much happening.

I was wrong.

Very wrong.

 

Betrayed?

Weak?

Very weak?

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/Impeach_D_Trump/status/826219595140829184

 

 

Ten days in, covering the Trump presidency is looking like a vigil.

The situation is so serious that when Rachel Maddow finished her show last night, she went over and sat in on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show.

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I would not be surprised if MSNBC declares its own version of martial law in which Maddow remains on the air, dressed, as ever, in Johnny Cash black, until Trump is defeated, impeached, or completes his two terms in office and is succeeded by Ivanka.

Can he keep it up?

From  Maureen Dowd’s Wild Child Takes Charge in Sunday’s New York Times.

The White House “is distilling Donald to his essence,” says another biographer, Michael D’Antonio. “If he could have commanded the attention of the world media every day of his life in the past he would have. The fact that the press corps is captive in the White House and can be dragged into these executive order signings is, for him, like mainlining heroin.

“He has hit his stride and is thrilled with this. The only thing that torments him is the disapproval of The New York Times. Every story that is critical of him hurts.”

“He is really a unique creature,” D’Antonio says. “He’s transfixing, riveting, really. It’s hard to take your eyes off him.”

I ask the biographer if he’s as nervous as everyone else, and he says yes.

“Donald’s manic without being depressive,” he muses. “The only thing you can do is keep him distracted for a day and then one more day so that he doesn’t do anything disastrous.”

Just like Obama and May, D’Antonio says, “a lot of people over the years have tried to mollify him and accommodate him day by day. And eventually you get a year behind you. Everybody else wants stability, but he thrives in turmoil.”

That’s all good for Trump.

This is who he is. This is how he operates.

And it has, so far, proved spectacularly successful for him.

He is, after all, president of the United States.

But what about Texas Republicans?

In early September, I wrote a First Reading, Why Texas Republicans would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president, in which I wrote:

The real hero of Greg Abbott’s big victory in 2014 was President Barack Obama, whose presidency gave Texas Republicans absolutely everything they could want to run against.

In fact, the central mantra of Abbott’s campaign was that, as attorney general, “I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home.”

Now, just suppose John McCain had been elected president in 2008, or Mitt Romney had been elected in 2012?

What would Abbott have run on?

“I go into the office, work hand-in-glove with the federal government, and I go home.”

That’s no good. No good at all.

Truth is, Texas Republicans are going to sorely miss Barack Obama.

But they need not grieve for long, because Hillary Clinton is pretty near just as excellent as a substitute, which is why, in their most secret heart-of-hearts, Texas Republicans are, or ought to be, rooting, for Clinton to win in November.

From Rice University political scientist Mark Jones:

From a Democratic perspective, Hillary Clinton is probably good for individual Texas Democrats if she’s in the White House, in that she can do things and promote policies that they agree with. She’s bad for Texas Democrats in terms of electoral politics because she will make it all the harder for Texas Democrats to win in 2018 and more likely than not, many of the gains they obtain this cycle, they’ll lose back to Republicans in 2018 when Republicans can campaign against Clinton in the White House and they’ll have Greg Abbott headlining their ticket as opposed to Donald Trump.

For Abbott or Cruz or any other Republican interested in being president, Jones said:

Trump is a no-win situation in the White House because either he is successful, in which case he will run for re-election in four years, or, more likely, he implodes or is such a disaster that the Republican brand is so damaged that it will be a cake walk for the Democratic nominee.

Ten – now eleven – days in, it’s fair to say that Trump is ploding, but it is too soon to tell whether he is exploding into an even more epic Trump, or imploding into a heap of ash and hair.

In the meantime, as I watched developments in Austin from a distance last week, I was surprised to see how the spirit of Trump was having an energizing, synergizing effect on Abbott, with his judicial background and judicious, unTrumpian temperament, and how, improbably, in newly-elected Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez, Abbott had found a worthy substitute for Hillary Clinton, and, in sanctuary cities, an issue that would fully align with the ‘you’re fired,” Trumpian zeitgeist of our time.

I assume that cracking down on sanctuary cities will be among the emergency items that the governor will identify for expedited action in his State of the State Address today at 11.

From Priscilla Alvarez at the Atlantic last week.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at cracking down on so-called “sanctuary cities,” which limit cooperation between state and local law enforcement and federal immigration agents. It follows through on his campaign-trail promise to withhold federal dollars from such cities, which might jeopardize support for services including education, health care, and housing for millions of American citizens.

According to the executive order, dubbed “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” cities that do not comply with federal immigration enforcement agents “are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.” It also notes that the director of the Office of Management and Budget will be responsible for obtaining and providing “relevant and responsive information on all Federal grant money that currently is received by any sanctuary jurisdiction.” It is not clear, however, which grants are at jeopardy.
Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at the daily press briefing: “We’re going to strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants. The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws.”

 

The governor went on Fox to prosecute his case against Hernandez.

 

 

In Sunday’s Statesman, from Tony Plohetski and Philip Jankowski:

That issue is now at the heart of a full-scale political showdown between Gov. Greg Abbott and new Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who announced nine days ago on YouTube that she would dramatically limit her cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Hernandez joins many other local authorities in her belief that such policies are fundamentally unjust — that they dismantle families over relatively minor offenses, drive up costs to the county and weaken the bond between local law enforcement and a large swath of the communities they serve.

Under a policy set to begin Wednesday, Hernandez said she will only honor such requests if an inmate has been charged with murder, sexual assault or human trafficking — or if federal agents obtain a court order or arrest warrant for a suspect. Otherwise, they will be allowed to post bail and be released, no matter their immigration status.

Abbott responded with escalating threats on social media, in national TV interviews and a strongly worded letter to Hernandez. He vowed to strip from Travis County nearly $2 million in grant funds administered through his office. Late last week, he indicated he might go further, demanding a list of all monies the state and federal government award Travis County, which total $10 million. He also said he would seek to remove Hernandez from office.

From Edwin Rios, Mother Jones: The First Big Fight Over Sanctuary Cities Pits a Latina Sheriff Against Texas’ Governor. Sally Hernandez says she won’t back down.

From the office of state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin on Saturday.

Austin, Texas — Yesterday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to state agency heads demanding that they submit to the Office of the Governor a list of all state and federal funds administered to Travis County and its various departments in FY 2016. Governor Abbott’s request for information includes, but is not limited to, contracts, grants, or any other payment of funds.

Governor Abbott gave the agency heads a deadline of Friday, February 3rd to submit the information to his office. He issued an ultimatum to Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez earlier this week, threatening to withhold millions of dollars in state grant funds from the Criminal Justice Division (CJD) unless she reverses the county’s immigration detention policy by Wednesday, February 1st.

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State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement in response to Governor Abbott’s letter to state agency heads:

“The funding that the Governor is threatening to withhold goes well beyond any immigration policy. His actions only hamstring efforts to help victims of child sex trafficking, violence against women and gang activity in Travis County.

The Governor has shown that he will resort to any tactic, no matter how extreme to get what he wants. In this case, rejecting the will of Travis County voters to allow the widespread, extrajudicial detention of certain Travis County residents.

“This road will never lead to a clean political victory. Governor Abbott’s Trumpian tactics will only backfire in a state where Mexican Americans play such a critical role in every part of our social and economic life in Texas.”

 

Before there was Sally Hernandez, there was Lupe Valdez – Dallas County’s first-ever lesbian Latina sheriff!

 

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From Jankowski last week:

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez knows what it’s like to get a letter from the governor.

In 2015, Valdez announced that her office would no longer provide blanket compliance with federal immigration officials seeking to intercept unauthorized immigrants at local jails for possible deportation.

Her new policy raised ire from numerous fronts in a deeply red Texas. And, like recently sworn-in Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Valdez quickly became the recipient of a letter from Gov. Greg Abbott with harsh criticism.

“He is doing the same thing to Sheriff Hernandez,” Valdez said in an interview Tuesday with the American-Statesman.

Where will this end up?

I don’t know.

It is a splendid issue for Abbott. There is none better with the base. President Trump will have his back. And, it enables the governor to occupy center stage as a man of action and not merely a spectator with a front-row seat for the Dan Patrick Show.

(Read R.G. Ratcliffe’s excellent profile in Texas Monthly.)

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And going after Austin is the cherry on top.

Except, on a cautionary note, the last time a Texas governor tried to remove a Travis County Democratic official, it led to the governor’s indictment, a failed bid for president, Dancing with the Stars, an appointment to the Trump Cabinet and, along the way, a couple of trips to Sandy’s.

 

 

The Stone Zone

Meanwhile, my copy of Roger Stone’s The Making of the President 2016 arrived yesterday.

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More later, but Stone makes clear how much he loves Alex Jones, and how much he loathes Ted Cruz.

On Jones:

Yes, I know that Jones has his critics in the Mainstream Media, but I love the guy! His fiery words have struck a chord in the nation and he speaks for millions. In fact, more people follow Alex than watch Fox News or CNN.

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Alex is fearless and a real showman. He likes s rink, a good cigar, bawdy stories, and hunting and fishing. he’s a man’s man. I quickly came to realize he could be a tremendous help for Trump. Despite Alex Jones’ enormous appeal, not one candidate was pushing for his support as the primaries drew closer – not Marco Rubio, not Ted Cruz, not Ben Carson, not Jeb Bush. No one! It was just mind-boggling how candidates chose to turn their backs on such a pool of potential voters as those millions of Americans who listen to or watch Alex Jones every day.

On Cruz:

Ted Cruz is a smart, canny, talented guy who ran a great `long race’ campaign. He aspires to be Reagan but, trust me, he’s Nixon – right down to the incredible discipline and smarts playing the political game. Ted Cruz is not who he appears to be. Heidi Cruz recently said that her husband’s candidacy was showing America “the face of God whom they serve.”  Heidi has it wrong, however, for Ted Cruz is more reminiscent of Elmer Gantry, the sleazy sociopathic preacher created by novelist Sinclair Lewis in the1920s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Alex Jones have a White House press credential? Yes. No. Maybe so.

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Good day Austin.

I am taking a break from my week off in New York to examine the important question of whether Alex Jones and Infowars will have a correspondent in the White House press corps who will be credentialed to attend Sean Spicer’s daily briefings and President Trump’s press conferences.

On Wednesday, Jones posted this video, which suggested that he had been offered White House press credentials.

Buckle Up: Alex Jones Says That Infowars Will Be In White House Briefings, Media Matters for America, the liberal media watchdog group that monitors Jones, reported yesterday.

Alex Jones Says Infowars Has Been Invited To Trump’s White House Press Briefings
Jones, A Conspiracy Theorist And Trump Ally, Is A Sandy Hook And 9/11 Truther

ALEX JONES: He keeps saying CNN is fake, and I’m not going to any of your fake news. What’s CNN doing in the front row, when [White House press secretary Sean] Spicer keeps going to them? And then the reporter yesterday goes, “Oh, maybe Trump wasn’t even elected. That’s why you say there’s fraud.” So they’re like little kids up there. These aren’t real journalists. Meanwhile, it’s just crazy, you should see Breitbart and Drudge, and also just reporters that are known to tell the truth from mainstream, whatever, promoted and put up at the front of those briefings, to bring up real questions, not just a battle where they’re just attacking with fricking lies.

Here’s the deal, I know I get White House credentials, we’ve already been offered them, we’re going to get them, but I’ve just got to spend the money to send somebody there. I want to make sure it’s even worth it. I don’t want to just sit there up there like “I’m in the media, look our people are there.” People don’t understand this paradigm, we’re devolving in a good way, power from the federal government back to the people, back from the centralized MSM [mainstream media] to the people, just like Trump said in his speech. 

But there is investigative journalism, or people to interview in DC. Might be good to put a few reporters there, it’s just all a money issue. That’s why it’s important for people who are watching us to know, you are our sponsors. You’re the reason we’re able to do this. You’re the reason we’re able to have the crew and do what we do and change the world. 

Or, as Katherine Krueger of Fusion put it:

Alex Jones, a thoroughly debunked, snake oil-selling, “gay frogs“-ranting conspiracy theorist, claimed on Wednesday that his site InfoWars had been offered White House press credentials.

And who is Fusion?

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Fusion is owned by the Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications

From Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post:

Univision is privately held. Its chairman is billionaire investor Haim Saban.

The TV news division is best known for anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas. In a high-profile incident during the presidential campaign, Donald Trump had Ramos removed from a news conference last year after his persistent questions about immigration.

But no, reported the Hill, Jones had not been promised a White House credential.

The White House press office is denying it offered credentials to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s website Infowars, after Jones claimed in a video that he had been offered access.

“He is not credentialed for the White House. The White House Press Office has not offered him credentials,” White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders told BuzzFeed on Thursday morning.

The Hill cited BuzzFeed.

You may recall BuzzFeed as the news organization that President-elect Trump at his press conference called “a failing pile of garbagee.”

From Louis Nelson at Politico:

BuzzFeed, the media outlet which published a 35-page unverified intelligence report alleging that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with Russia and that the Kremlin possesses salacious compromising information about him, is a “failing pile of garbage,” the president-elect said Wednesday.

Speaking at his first press conference since July of last year, Trump devoted significant time to complaining about the report published by BuzzFeed on Tuesday and another by CNN, which reported that a two-page synopsis of that larger unverified dossier had been presented to the president-elect during a briefing last week.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump complained about the reports on Twitter and asked his followers “are we living in Nazi Germany?” At his press conference, the president-elect explained what he meant.

“I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that, and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do,” Trump said. “I think it’s a disgrace. That information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences.”

Trump appeared ready to launch into a more detailed attack on CNN as well, but was seemingly sidetracked as he sought to further debunk the 35-page report published by BuzzFeed. The president-elect’s criticism of the network for allegedly propagating “fake news” prompted CNN reporter Jim Acosta to stand up and demand to be called on to ask a question, telling Trump, “Mr. President-elect, since you are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance? You’re attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?”

The president-elect rebuffed Acosta’s efforts though, saying “not you” as he called on a different reporter. When Acosta continued to protest, Trump chastised him: “Don’t be rude. Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. I am not going to give you a question. You are fake news.”

BuzzFeed sought to capitalize on Trump’s contempt.

From the BuzzFeed shop.

Our limited-edition “Failing Pile of Garbage” merchandise sale benefitting the Committee to Protect Journalists has ended. Interested in learning more or making a donation? Visit https://www.cpj.org/

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But, don’t bother ordering. The entire Failing Pile of Garbage line of products is sold out.

Then yesterday, Jones posted a video saying the whole controversy was trumped-up and ridiculous – that he had not actually been offered White House credentials, but knew from folks well-placed in Trump circles that he could secure them if he wanted them, and that he had not decided yet whether he wanted them.

Some highlights:

I’m always astounded by corporate fake news and how deceptive they are.

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I don’t even know if I want a Washington bureau. I don’t even know if I want to send people up there.

 I’m not sure I have the money. And then do I want to sit up there with the press corps asking their stupid questions?

And then I pointed out that not once but twice while I was in DC (for the inauguration) people that worked for President Trump, or let’s just say were involved in his election, say, we love (Infowars editor-at-large) Paul Watson, he’s a rock star, he ought to be up here with the national press corps.

Are you going to be moving up to D.C.? Are you going to be opening up a bureau because you ought to be part of this? So I took  this as, yeah we can get press credentials.

In fact I said in the piece  Breitbart ought to be there, Drudge ought to have a correspondent. It was more of war-gaming, and pointing out that wherever I go, members of the press who aren’t globalists, like Ann Coulter, run over – and that was in Cleveland, a separate event – and say, `Hey, Paul Watson’s a rock star. We love him. Hey he’s great.’

So what I was talking about was that. But they took the fact that I don’t read off a teleprompter, the fact that I, as a gestalt, talk about larger issues – `He said he has been given press credentials, but he hasn’t been given them.’ What I said was, we can get them if we want them. Guaranteed.

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But the point is we have already arrived. Arguing whether we have credentials or not is a joke.

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Infowars in the aggregate, globally, is bigger than Fox News by every major metric. Do you understand that? And we’re only growing.

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I don’t have the money, I don’t have the personnel I don’t have  organizational skills, but when it comes to reaching raw people on all these platforms, every thing we do is a hit.

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Being involved in mainstream media doesn’t validate you. It discredits you. They‘re acting like I want to be part of the MSM. They act like we’re desperately trying to get involved in their system when I’m trying to overthrow it.

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Just spell my name right

On yesterday’s show, Jones also engaged in a conversation with a caller, Blake from Texas, on the matter.

Blake from Texas:  I disagree with something you said yesterday. You said you didn’t want a presence in the White House. It’s your operation and you feel like you can be more of an impact on the outside. I think it’s just such a tremendous opportunity to be able to ask the president any kind of question. To be able to control the news cycle. I think it’s a great opportunity.

Alex Jones: I think you’re taking out of context what I said.

We have to have the money. We have people running around here saying, `Send me to Washington, send me Washington.’ Well, do it on your own money. Go. Go  now. I have to run an operation, I have to have real money. I have to plan things out. I have to make sure who I send doesn’t screw around all day.

I can’t get basic operations I want to launch from older plans done, so I have to finish those. The world’s full of ideas, not a lot of action. So I do agree we need to be there and ask real questions. It’s important. And I did criticize the fact that they’re going to ABC and to CNN first and where’s Breitbart? Breitbart’s important. So Bannon is in the White House, who cares. There were tons of people in the media who were at he Clinton and Obama White Houses and back and forth so yes, I’m going to get around to trying to figure out who we want to try to send up there to do that and to be in those press conferences.

I told Paul Watson, he’s the best choice, that’s who was recommended to us (by folks close to Trump) – `Hey we like Paul Watson.’ I’ve got to go through that process of  doing that, getting to those events. I just don’t  want to make it all about chasing the tail like old-fashioned media. We can sit there ad talk about the issues. We can tweet Trump and Facebook Trump and have him respond days later. 

They’re listening. They’re watching. I’m not going to get into any details but the president routinely listens to the show. OK. So you want to talk to trump you want to ask him a question.just go ahead.

Blake said being at the Trump  press conference would enable Infowars to ask the president “about the Communist Chines.”

Alex Jones: Absolutely.  The communist Chinese taking over our media. They’ve got major movies coming out where China takes over America. Is this something that’s a national security issue because no other country on earth would put up with something like this being done inside their nation.

`Our media being taken over by China is the real fake news issue, and they’re calling for censoring real independent media in this country, they’re calling for shutting down our free press. They’re calling for making a move on the First Amendment Mr. President, what are you going to do about it?’

Blake from Texas: ABC News, NBC News will not ask the president – you know he was talking about investigating the voter fraud, well, what has been made public, what Sean Spicer has indicated, that they were going to be looking at illegal immigrant voting and people being bused in. Things like that. But are they also going to be looking at the rigged machines, would they consider consulting Bev Harris people like that?

Alex Jones: Absolutely, I’ve already sent a report to Trump. And we also have public reports, and the public reports are the best because we can lay it all down and shake it all out, and then we the people who Trump’s listening to get the intel to him.

The president spends hours every day going over independent Americana media.

Bless you Blake. Great point. I don’t think we disagree.

 

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I checked in with the White House Correspondents’ Association yesterday to see who is responsible for issuing White House credentials.

The reply: “Absolutely a White House decision. We have nothing to do with credentialing.”

I checked in with Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, who said he was surprised that the White House was balking at credentialing Infowars, considering how all-in Jones has been for Trump.

“Is Alex Jones Trump’s kryptonite?” Carusone wondered.

If they deny him, he predicted, they will invite his wrath.

“They will see the real Alex Jones,” he said.

But I said I thought the White House would give Jones the access he wanted, and Carusone that remained a safer bet, though he said the White House might seek to accommodate Jones by offering temporary passes to the White House press space as need.

The thinking on why the White House would want Infowars there was outlined Monday by Media Matters’ Matt Gertz: Trump Wants To Flood White House Press Briefings With Sycophants And Propagandists

The White House press corps has and should remain welcoming to journalists of all political stripes. But White House press briefings will change dramatically if a vastly increased pool allows Spicer the opportunity to avoid damaging news revelations by directing questions to loyal outlets like Breitbart.com, Infowars, Right Side Broadcasting Network, One America News Network, Ingraham’s LifeZette, or the National Enquirer.

We saw how this could work in practice at Trump’s press conference last week. Trump had rarely publicly interacted with the press since his election, so there were a wide variety of pressing issues worthy of reporters’ attention. But the president-elect was able to soak up some of the precious question time by pivoting to softball questions from Breitbart and OANN.

Trump’s press conference behavior mirrored his general practice of using his platform to lift up outlets devoted to his success; for instance, over the past week, he has used his Twitter feed to promote LifeZette and OANN and to attack NBC News and CNN.

Overseas precedents demonstrate how this method, taken to the extreme, can be used to discredit the media and damage their ability to provide oversight. Alexey Kovalev, a Russian journalist who has covered Vladimir Putin’s annual press conferences, noted in the wake of Trump’s press conference last week that the Russian dictator has been able to defang the media by alternating questions between “people from publications that exist for no other reason than heaping fawning praise on him and attacking his enemies” and “token critic[s].”

As Gingrich’s November comments suggest, the floated plan to alter White House press briefings is based in a general denial of the media’s historical responsibility to inform the American public. We should expect Trump’s administration to do everything it can to do to hinder journalists’ efforts and reduce their credibility. He and his team treat the press as an enemy to be defeated and destroyed.

“You don’t have to think of The New York Times or CNN or any of these people as news organizations,” Gingrich explained last week. “They’re mostly propaganda organizations. And they’re going to be after Trump every single day of his presidency.”

Sean Hannity took this line of argument to its logical extreme in the wake of the election, stating that until the traditional press admit that they were “colluding” with the Clinton campaign (this is laughable), “they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.”

Trump’s potential plans for the White House press briefings should be seen as a part of that strategy of delegitimizing journalists. It is a tangible step he can take to damage the press corps. The White House Correspondents Association has spoken out against the proposed move, but the group can’t stop the move if the administration really wants to go through with it.

Quotations from Chairman Smith

Meanwhile, Media Matters for America’s opposite number, of sorts, is the congressional Media Fairness Caucus, chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.

Here are Smith’s House floor speeches on media bias since Trump’s election.

This was from Tuesday. You can watch here

IF PRESIDENT TRUMP WERE A DEMOCRAT

   (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the  House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)  

Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, just think what the media would be  saying about President Trump if he were a Democrat: He has tremendous energy. He campaigned for 18 months, puts       in 15-hour days, and has the stamina of a bull elephant like       Teddy Roosevelt.        He is courageous, even fearless. Given the amount of hate       directed his way, no doubt he constantly receives death       threats. But that doesn’t curtail his public appearances or       seem to worry him in the least.        He has conviction. He practices what he preaches. He       doesn’t waffle or waver. And he is obviously not deterred by       media criticism.        He is a great father. Anytime his son or daughter calls, he       picks up the phone. He includes them in his activities.       Clearly, he has a strong relationship with his children.        He is off to a fast start. His Cabinet consists of smart,       experienced, and successful individuals. He already has taken       steps to keep jobs in America, put unnecessary regulations on       hold, and improve health care. Consumer confidence is at a       16-year high.    No, the national liberal media won’t print that or air it or post it.  Better to get your news directly from the President. In fact, it might  be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.
 

From January 4.

THE MEDIA COULD PLAY A POSITIVE ROLE 

   (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the  House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)   Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the national liberal media continue  to promote a divided America. This is largely a result of their chosen  candidate not winning the Presidential election. Since 91 percent of  the media’s coverage of President-elect Trump was negative, it is no  surprise that they still see America in a negative light.   But the media could play a much more constructive role. They could  report the good news that Americans are more confident about the future  than they have been in 20 years. They could report on President-elect  Trump’s ability to attract individuals of competence and experience to  his administration. They could report on his fresh approach and new  ideas for, yes, making America great again.   Let’s hope the media will put aside their bias and give the American  people the facts, untainted by personal animosity. If they do, our  country will be better for it.

From December  7.

                                MEDIACRATS 

   (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the  House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)   Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, we need a new word for the  dictionary, a new term for the merger of the liberal media and the  Democratic Party.   Obviously, the liberal media have no intention of treating President- elect Trump objectively or fairly. They want to continue to link arms  with the Democrats. This is no surprise, given that 96 percent of  national reporters’ contributions went to Hillary Clinton.   As chairman of the Media Fairness Caucus, here is my proposal: let’s  combine the two words–“media” and “Democrat”–and go with  “mediacrat.” It is short; it gives the media first mention; and it  sounds like a new species. Now, I realize the liberal media is not  likely to use this word “mediacrat” very often, but there are two  reasons for them to do so–first, to show they have a sense of humor,  and, second, to show they have a sense of humility.   I think most Americans would be happy if the liberal media didn’t  display their bias every time they covered the President-elect. Maybe  the mediacrats should try balanced reporting. It surely would help  their credibility.

From December 6:

MEDIA SHOULD REPORT THE FACTS

(Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, Americans are frustrated because they know that many of the news stories they read are actually opinion pieces. If the facts do not fit the liberal world view, dissent is silenced, and the result is one-sided and often misleading. The Pew Research Center found that a majority of Americans–59 percent–reject the idea that reporters should add their own opinions to their news stories. Americans believe that the media’s responsibility is to present the facts, not ignore them. The media has work to do to repair the self-inflicted damage to its credibility over the last few months. Distrust of the national media will continue until the media provides the American people with the facts instead of telling them what to think.

From Nov. 29:

MEDIA IGNORES ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

(Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, a new report by the Wilson Center has found that illegal immigration across the southern border is on pace to break the previous record set in 2014. This record should not come as a surprise. The administration’s policies encourage illegal immigration. The number of apprehensions at the southern border in August reached its highest point for that month in the last 5 years. This record- setting pace of illegal immigration was largely ignored by the media. Neither the Big Three networks nor the national daily newspapers covered the report. The administration’s failure to enforce immigration laws has caused the new record surge. Americans are understandably concerned about illegal immigration. It is unfortunate that the media does not consider it newsworthy.

From November 15:

POLL: AMERICANS SEE LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS

(Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, these last few months have demonstrated how far the national media will go to promote a liberal agenda. Polls continue to show Americans’ trust in the media is at an all-time low. Instead of providing objective and fair coverage of the news, the media provided one-sided stories that further damaged their credibility. A recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that, by a nearly 10-to-1 ratio, Americans believe that the major newspapers and TV stations favored the Democratic candidate for President over the Republican candidate. Americans of all political affiliations know that the national media strongly leans to the left. Unfortunately, it has leaned too far for too long and has fallen off the credibility cliff. We need to remind the media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts, not tell them what to think.

From November 14:

DON’T BELIEVE THE MEDIA

(Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the liberal media tried to destroy Donald Trump. Instead, they destroyed their own credibility. Their extreme bias is provable. The network media’s coverage of Mr. Trump was 91 percent negative, and 96 percent of campaign contributions from journalists went to Hillary Clinton. By a 10 to 1 ratio, the American people felt the media were trying to elect Mrs. Clinton. A Gallup Poll found that the people’s trust in the media has hit a record low. Has the media learned any lessons? Will they show any humility? Will they now try to be objective? Not likely, given the last few days’ headlines and commentaries. Until news reporters give the American people the facts rather than expressing their own opinions, there is no reason to believe what they say or write.the

 

From January 9:

                      FAKE NEWS INCLUDES CLIMATE CHANGE 

   (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the  House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)   Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, a good example of fake news appeared  in Sunday’s New York Times. It is a column headlined, “As Trump Denies  Climate Change, These Kids Die.” This may be a new high–or maybe a  new low–for climate alarmists and their exaggerations.   Two facts: first, most severe and persistent droughts occurred  decades ago, not recently; and second, there is little connection  between climate change and extreme weather, in general, according to  numerous studies.   Climate alarmists tend to ignore scientific evidence and encourage  media hype, and, of course, the liberal media is all too willing to go  along. Climate discussions should be based on good science, not  politically correct science.

From January 5:

                                   MEDIA SHOULDN’T DECIDE WHAT IS FAKE  

  (Mr. SMITH of Texas asked and was given permission to address the  House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)   Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, you may have heard about this new  phenomenon called fake news. Fake news usually consists of false and  made-up stories. Actually, it is not new and it has been around as long  as there have been media.   What is new is that a few liberal media organizations are going to  label news stories suspect if they feel the stories are not true. This  should be of great concern to anyone who believes in free speech.   It works this way: nearly half of all Americans get information from  Facebook. Facebook has now decided to let liberal media like ABC News  and the Associated Press determine whether news is fake or not. This  represents the liberal mindset that the media know better than the  American people what is good for them.   A better idea is to trust the American people and let them determine  what is real news and what is not. The American people will learn to  discern the good from the bad if the media stops telling them what to  think.
 

Where have you gone Mary Richards?

Ten takes from the Trump inauguration: Alex Jones’ Night(cap) at the Newseum, the rise of the alt-Wrong, and more

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Good day Austin:

I have spent a week in Washington for Donald Trump’s inauguration as president.

I am taking the next week off to go to New York.

But before I do, here are ten takes on what I saw, because lists are where it’s at.

1 – The Curious Case of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s inaugural address is one for the books if for no other reason than all inaugural addresses are the stuff of history books.

But I think the speech every American should watch or read to get a better idea of what condition our condition is in is his utterly, unmistakably Trumpian remarks to the CIA on Saturday, his first full day as president.

Here is a favorite excerpt:

You know, when I was young and when I was — of course, I feel young. I feel like I’m 30, 35, 39. (Laughter.) Somebody said, are you young? I said, I think I’m young. You know, I was stopping — when we were in the final month of that campaign, four stops, five stops, seven stops. Speeches, speeches, in front of 25,000, 30,000 people, 15,000, 19,000 from stop to stop. I feel young.

When I was young — and I think we’re all sort of young. When I was young, we were always winning things in this country. We’d win with trade. We’d win with wars. At a certain age, I remember hearing from one of my instructors, “The United States has never lost a war.” And then, after that, it’s like we haven’t won anything.

We don’t win anymore. The old expression, “to the victor belong the spoils” — you remember. I always used to say, keep the oil. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said, in addition to that, keep the oil. Now, I said it for economic reasons. But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil. But okay. (Laughter.) Maybe you’ll have another chance. But the fact is, should have kept the oil.

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I watched myself crawling out as I was a-crawling in
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
I saw so much I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in
Yeah, yeah, oh-yeah, what condition my condition was in

From a paean to youth to a disarmingly frank description of a colonialist foreign policy in a few short lines.

But it made me wonder.

We all know about how the presidency ages a man. All that stress.

But what if, in Trump’s case, a la Benjamin Button, he grows younger as his administration wears on?

And, what if, while he is getting younger, the rest of America – everyone else – with all the stress we are all under, wondering, day by day, what he’s going to do next and how the Trump presidency is going to turn out, ages at an an accelerated pace, like Obama did these last eight years?

2. First there was the alt-Right. Now say hello to the alt-Wrong.

Watch here as the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, uses the occasion of his first press conference, after arriving an hour late, to scold the press, and then depart without taking a question.

And, here is the extraordinary exchange between Chuck Todd and Kellyanne Conway about this on Meet the Press.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the counselor to President Trump, Kellyanne Conway. Miss Conway, welcome to the White House north lawn which will–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

–become a familiar place for you I think–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

–for the next few years. Let me begin with this question, the presidency is about choices. So I’m curious why President Trump chose yesterday to send out his press secretary to essentially litigate a provable falsehood when it comes to a small and petty thing like inaugural crowd size. I guess my question to you is why do that?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Chuck, the president did many things yesterday and the day before that are very meaningful to America. He signed executive orders to stop Obamacare and all of its problems. Many people have lost their– Millions of people have lost their insurance, their doctors, their plans. So that stops right now.

He’s going to replace it with something much more free-market and patient-centric in nature. And on this matter of crowd size, I mean, for me I think the most quantifiable points of interest for Americans should be what just happened a few months ago that brought him here, the 31 of 50 states he won, the 2,600 counties, the 200 counties that went for President Obama that now went to President Trump. And the fact that 29, 30 million women voted for Donald Trump for president. They should be respected. Somebody should cover their voices as well.

I’m about things that are quantifiable and important. I don’t think that– I don’t think ultimately presidents are judged by crowd sizes at their inauguration. I think they’re judged by their accomplishments. And we know that President Obama and his accomplishments, that there’s a lot of unfinished business there.

And on this matter of crowd size I think it is a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this president often receives. I’m very heartened to see Nielsen just came out with the ratings, 31 million people watching the inauguration. President Obama had 20.5 million watching his second inauguration four short years ago. So we know people are also watching the inauguration on different screens and in different modes. And that there was, I mean, for me there was a prediction of a downpour of rain. I think that deterred many people from coming. But no question there were hundreds of thousands of people out on the mall and–

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Kellyanne, let me stop you here because–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–you know, many people enthused.

CHUCK TODD:

–you make a very reasonable and rational case for why crowd sizes don’t matter. Then explain, you did not answer the question, why did the president send out his press secretary, who’s not just the spokesperson for Donald Trump. He could be– He also serves as the spokesperson for all of America at times. He speaks for all of the country at times. Why put him out there for the very first time in front of that podium to utter a provable falsehood? It’s a small thing. But the first time he confronts the public it’s a falsehood?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Chuck, I mean, if we’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms I think that we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here. I want to have a great open relationship with our press. But look what happened the day before talking about falsehoods.

We allowed the press– the press to come into the Oval Office and witness President Trump signing executive orders. And of course, you know, the Senate had just confirmed General Mattis and General Kelly to their two posts. And we allowed the press in. And what happens almost immediately? A falsehood is told about removing the bust of Martin Luther King Junior from the Oval Office. No, that’s just flat-out false. And the pool writer–

CHUCK TODD:

And it was corrected immediately–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

But why– Chuck, why was it said?

CHUCK TODD:

–but Kellyanne, no, let me–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Chuck, why was it said in the first place because–

CHUCK TODD:

–I don’t know.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–everybody’s so presumptively negative–

CHUCK TODD:

–climb, climb into the head of that reporter–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

No, that it’s okay. No excuse me.

CHUCK TODD:

But Miss–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Oh no, no, no, that reporter was writing to– on behalf of the press pool. That falsehood–

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–got spread 3,000 times–

CHUCK TODD:

But it does not excuse–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–before it was corrected.

CHUCK TODD:

–excuse me. It does not–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

And it’s still out there.

CHUCK TODD:

–excuse and you did not answer the question.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

I did answer–

CHUCK TODD:

No you did not.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–your question.

CHUCK TODD:

You did not–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Yes I did.

CHUCK TODD:

–answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood? Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

No it doesn’t.

CHUCK TODD:

–on day one.

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What– You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains–

CHUCK TODD:

Wait a minute– Alternative facts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–that there’s–

CHUCK TODD:

Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right–

KELLYANNE CONWAY:

–hey, Chuck, why– Hey Chuck–

CHUCK TODD:

–was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

You can read the rest of the transcript here.

3. Alex Jones’s Night(cap) at the Newseum.

I love this.

Watch and see how Jones proves that, even when he’s a little looser than usual, he can pull off a bravura performance.

The premise here is that Jones, who was broadcasting from Washington for inaugural week, visits the Newseum – the museum of news – treating it as a museum of dinosaurs, with its line of newspaper front pages displayed out front, papers like, as Jones puts it, the Los Stegosaurus Times.

 

4. Rick Perry tousled my hair.

Yes. This is true.

 

Rick Perry is going to be confirmed for Energy Secretary because he gives off a good energy.

He is likeable.

The one downside here was that I asked Ken Herman, who was also covering the hearing, to take a photo of the spot Perry had tousled to send with the tweet, and when he complied and I looked at it, I asked him to try again and get it right this time. When he failed a second time, I tried it myself, with the same  horrifying result.

You see, while I am aware that my hairline is receding in the front, I had not, until that very moment, realized it was thinning on top and in the back. I still don’t understand how that is possible because when I tousle my own hair on the top and back, it feels to me as if there is plenty of hair there, but apparently, that’s just not the case.

Frankly, this revelation sent me into a deeper funk than anything else last week.

But I don’t blame Perry.

I saw Rick and Anita Perry again at the inaugural parade.

perry1

There were on the balcony of the presidential reviewing stand, and I was on the stand right next to it with a bunch of Texans – and some others – who were part of the Mighty American Strike Force, which sent volunteers from red states like Texas to campaign for Trump in critical swing states.

perry2jpg

Here is Perry taking a photo of Anita with Candy Carson, Ben Carson’s wife.

I wanted to call over to him to tell him not to sit so close to the edge.

5. Ex marks the spot.

Meanwhile, as I was peering over at the Perrys, I was standing next to Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples, who was there to watch her ex-husband’s arrival at the White House, and to cast a protective eye  on their daughter, Tiffany, or, as she called her, Tiff.

marla1jpg

 

Here she is taking a photo at the moment of Trump’s arrival.

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On Friday, the  Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a piece,  7 things to know about Donald Trump’s ex-wife, Marla Maples

The two most interesting to me were:

4. The Georgia native competed on the 22nd season of “Dancing With the Stars,” finishing in 10th place. 

7. In October 2016, many speculated that Maples leaked Trump’s tax returns to the New York Times. 

marla4

I would have not known it was Marla Maples, or that she was even there, were it not for Lucy Orlando, a member of the Mighty American Strike Force from Weston, Florida, who asked me to take her photo with Maples.

Orlando loves Trump, but she also carried with her a framed photo of Rudy Giuliani.

And, interestingly, considering how high-energy she is, she began the presidential campaign in Jeb Bush’s corner.

From Jess Swanson of New Times Miami: Jeb’s Biggest Fan? Haitian Granny, Power Broker Lucy Orlando]

In a sea of Jeb supporters at his announcement Monday, Lucy Orlando stood out as a particularly impassioned. The 71-year-old grandmother of nine was decked in a red T-shirt of Jeb’s smiling face above “We love you, Jeb! From the Lucy Orlando Team.” “Jeb is Unique…He loves people…He loves education and the whole country!” She made sure all members of her team were wearing the shirts (including two of her grandchildren). In fact, she kept a few extras draped over her arms to pass out to others.

xxxxxxxxxx

The woman has a bizarre background, according to the Sun Sentinel . Her answering machine once told callers to hang up if they didn’t support George Bush. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, she wore a Bush hat and glasses so that the New York Sun called her a “walking Bush poster.” By the way , she has also backed both Barack Obama and, *cough*, Hillary Clinton. A half dozen reports have even alleged that she attempted to broker deals that may have helped get weapons to Haiti in more tumultuous times. 

But on Monday, even as her grandkids rested their head on her lap during Jeb’s speech, Orlando looked on at the man whom she hoped (and truly believed) would be the next president of the United States. She was brimming with excitement.

6. No coup. No nukes.

I began last week with a First Reading, Alex Jones: Trump inauguration will be `biggest event in human history,’ barring a coup, assassination or nuke attack

I wrote:

I am here to observe the peaceful transition of power at a particularly stressful moment in American political history.

Or, if Alex Jones is correct, I may be here for riots and a coup against Trump orchestrated by George Soros, Rosie O’Donnell, the Deep State and the New World Order, the president-elect’s arrest – or assassination – and the imposition of martial law.

The good news is that, for the most part, power was peacefully transferred.

As I noted last week, Jones didn’t necessarily say these terrible things would happen. He just said they might happen.

So, if the inaugural festivities include tactical nuclear weapons, Alex Jones warned you. And if it doesn’t happen, well, he never said it was going to happen, so stop trying to make him look like some kind of nutty alarmist.

This is the way Jones communicates – in what might be called the conspiratorial conditional.

And, it appears from a poll on the Infowars site, his followers – or at least that tiny percentage who voted –  understand this.

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screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-11-40-21-pm

7.  Dances with Jews

Before he was Dancing with the Stars, Rick Perry was dancing with the Jews.

Last week, Alex Jones was dancing with a few Orthodox Jewish Trump supporters.

8. And a chance encounter with Ted Cruz

Alex Jones, sitting in his car, recalls the chance encounter.

Out of the darkness comes Senator Ted Cruz in a dark black trench coat.

Oh my god. People always talk about him looking like a vampire, Count Dracula.

I don’t mean to be mean. I admire him on certain levels, but it was like Ted Cruz comes drifting out of the darkness, but it was like I was Darth Vader and he was Obi-Wan Kenobi, like Obi-Wan Kenobi comes around the corner and there’s Darth Vader standing there in the darkness.

it was like that and he goes like `ugh,’ `oh,’ and then he kind of smiled and walked up, didn’t fight the interview. Very cool guy, must have ice water in his veins. We get on the elevator. I’m goofing around with him. We end up having a pretty good four or five minutes interview.

9. Making America Make Again

Here is Trump’s Inaugural Address.

Jennifer Mercieca, a professor of communication at Texas A&M University, took time out from writing her book, The Rhetorical Brilliance of Donald Trump, Demagogue for President, to offer me a few thoughts on the speech.

My initial response to President Trump’s version of America as presented in his inaugural address is that it could only be described as a hellscape in which politicians are corrupt and industry will save all.

While Trump did present this ominous vision of the nation, it isn’t new. It’s the version of America that he’s been selling on the campaign trail for a year-and-a-half. The news in his inaugural address is that his vision of Americans emphasizes a nation of makers — the “make” from his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. 

Americans will “rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people” and we will prosper together as makers “rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.” We will unite to make roads, rebuild schools, communities, and etc. Everyone will have a job, making something, and together we will make America great again.

I find it interesting that he views Americans as makers primarily — homo faber — “man making” is the Latin, as did Karl Marx. Is Trump’s version of human nature, Americans, American exceptionalism, and how we can once again become great an outdated concept? Can late-capitalism sustain Americans as makers as a viable income source? Can we literally make America great again?

I want to agree with him that we are most human when we make things — who doesn’t love the satisfaction of making? — but it seems like his ideal America is based upon a turn-of-the-20th century economy rather that a 21st-century economy. Is that economy possible or desirable now? I just don’t know.

10. Outnumbered.

Putting aside the fact that Trump lost the popular vote by a large margin, he won the Electoral College fair and square.

But, it is hard to watch what happened on Inauguration Day and the next day, with the massive Women’s Marches in D.C., in Austin and across the country, without getting the feeling that Trump is outnumbered.

From Sarah Frostenson at VOX:

Crowd estimates from Women’s Marches on Saturday are still trickling in, but political scientists say they think we may have just witnessed the largest day of demonstrations in American history.

According to data collected by Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver and Jeremy Pressman at the University of Connecticut, marches held in more than 500 US cities were attended by at least 3.3 million people.

 

 

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Trump is president. He is he master of his destiny. He is unbeholden, even to his own party, like few presidents in history.

But the enormous creative energy, and will, arrayed against him from all those women – who, while there were plenty of men there,  dominated the rallies – and especially all those younger women, should worry Trump.

 

nasty

(Valentina Von Klencke of Brooklyn at Eastern Market before he Women’s March on Saturday. Behind her is Rosalie Weisfeld of McAllen, who I wrote about in Sunday’s paper.)

Or would worry Trump if it were not for the condition that his condition is in.

From his CIA remarks:

We did a thing yesterday at the speech. Did everybody like the speech? (Applause.) I’ve been given good reviews. But we had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was — it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, Donald Trump did not draw well. I said, it was almost raining, the rain should have scared them away, but God looked down and he said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech.

In fact, when I first started, I said, oh, no. The first line, I got hit by a couple of drops. And I said, oh, this is too bad, but we’ll go right through it. But the truth is that it stopped immediately. It was amazing. And then it became really sunny. And then I walked off and it poured right after I left. It poured. But, you know, we have something that’s amazing because we had — it looked — honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was, it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument. And I turn on — and by mistake I get this network, and it showed an empty field. And it said we drew 250,000 people. Now, that’s not bad, but it’s a lie. We had 250,000 people literally around — you know, in the little bowl that we constructed. That was 250,000 people. The rest of the 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument, was packed. So we caught them, and we caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.

But then, not that long after.

Progress.

Meanwhile, when I talked to Roger Stone ahead of the inauguration he said they are not usually much fun and about the only good thing is that it is one of the rare occasions when you can appropriately wear a top hat.

 

 

https://twitter.com/RogerJStoneJr/status/823413592070488064

 

Of inaugural black tie and boots – ostrich leg for Lt. Gov. Patrick and crocodile for Gov. Abbott

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Good morning Austin:

Tomorrow is the inauguration of Donald Trump as president.

Tonight is the Texas Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, which describes itself as a “waterfront resort destination on the banks of the Potomac River,” just far enough south of D.C. to be inconvenient. It is plush with restaurants and stores, and there is a very large Ferris wheel – the Capital Wheel – “that takes riders up to 180 feet into the air, giving them great views of DC and the Potomac River.”

I am thinking that observing the transition of power from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump from the Capital Wheel may be the way to go, offering just the right surreal – or SirFerrisWheel – distance.

I would probably go with the VIP Experience.

If you are looking for an exceptional experience, The Capital Wheel’s National Harbor One
(the VIP gondola) 
provides an especially luxurious ride with its leather bucket seats,
and
glass floor. National Harbor One can accommodate up to four riders. VIP tickets at
$50 per rider
allow you to step right to the head of the line, and a photo package
(a $20 value)  
is included, too!

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Paying to “step right to the head of the line,” is, of course, what’s wrong with Washington, especially in the new Age of Jackson.

From a report on Trump’s day yesterday from Maggie Haberman in the New York Times:

Mr. Trump said that people compared his success to the popular movement that put Andrew Jackson in the White House.

“There hasn’t been anything like this since Andrew Jackson,” Mr. Trump quoted his admirers saying. “Andrew Jackson? What year was Andrew Jackson? That was a long time ago.”

Mr. Trump then gave the year — 1828 — and went on to suggest that his own nationalist movement had usurped Mr. Jackson’s.

He said that even “the haters” who disliked him called his movement “unprecedented.”

It is an open question which is the tougher ticket – the inauguration or Black Tie & Boots, the latter being modestly smaller, with only some 10,000 or 11,000 people.

“The event is larger than the Republican State Convention so bring your A game,” Gov. Greg Abbott said yesterday.

We pause here so you can watch a little ad for the event brought to you by Luchesse Boots and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams who, in addition to being a Republican congressman from Austin, is also president of the Texas State Society of Washington, D.C., sponsors of the 10th Quadrennial Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball.

The entertainment includes Cody Canada and the Departed, the Crawford Pirate Band, Texas State University Strutters, the Lil’ Wranglers, and, my favorite, the Kilgore College Rangerettes.

“I’ll wear black crocodile boots with the seal of Texas on them,” said Abbott, who said he has three pairs of black boots and three pairs of brown boots.

abbott-boot

For Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, it’s black ostrich leg boots, off the shelf, Luchesse, that have the Texas seal on them.

patrick-boot

“Everybody loves to be a Texan,” Patrick said.

Black Tie & Boots, “gives everyone a chance.”

I have been told by people, let’s just say close to the administration, that said, `Look, this is THE  ball. This is just it. There are other balls, there is the Liberty Ball, the balls the night of the Inauguration, but this is it.

Patrick, his wife, their son and daughter and respective spouses, are staying at the Gaylord.

Abbott and his wife Cecilia are staying steps away at the Westin Washington National Harbor.

I spoke with both Patrick and Abbott yesterday and this is what they said.

Dan Patrick

Last week at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Policy Policy Orientation in Austin, Patrick, who chaired the Trump campaign in Texas (he had previously chaired Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in Texas), said this about his relationship with the president elect: “That penny stock I bought in June … just saying.”

Q: Does the president elect know you that you referred to him as a penny stock?

DP:  No, I don’t know. I doubt it, but you know what, it really gets the point across.

Back in June, when I joined the Trump team I had a lot of friends who said, `Dan, don’t get involved in that campaign because he is going to go down and you’re going to go down with him,’ or, `He’s going to say something, and you’re going to have to respond,’ and I just made a decision, I’m a Republican, I’m going to support our candidate. I want to help him defeat Hillary by helping to raise money, but in Texas I want to be sure he wins by a wide margin, and no one else was wiling to step up, and so I stepped up, and I realized there was a risk, but I thought it was worth it.

There’s a risk any time you attach your name to another candidate because you can’t control what they’re going to say or do. But instead of explaining all that to folks, and I do it in a brief way, I say, `You know I bought a penny stock and today I wouldn’t sell it for anything.’

Q: Well they were probably telling you that you were making a mistake right up to the time he won.

DP: They were. And I honestly believed that he had a great shot of winning, despite that audiotape. I believed he had a great shot of winning, but when it happened I was in disbelief that the people actually showed up and fought back against the establishment of both parties. It was a wonderful victory for him and an incredible accomplishment. But it’s really a bigger victory for the people. It should really tell both parties, we will only take so much. If you don’t start behaving better we are going to continue to look for people who are going to work for us and not insiders in Washington, D.C.

Q: Do you think his success will draw more political outsiders into running for office?

DP: I just read that Laura Ingraham is thinking about running for the U.S. Senate from Virginia. She’s a dear friend. I sent her a note saying, if she does, I’m all in to help.

People were looking not only for a different candidate, but a different approach, and look, Ted gave him all he could handle and if not for Donald Trump, we would be here at the inauguration of Ted Cruz, no doubt about it.

This was a once in a lifetime phenomenon and there will never be another Donald Trump because anyone that replicates it, they’ll just say, `Oh you’re trying to be another Donald Trump.’ There’s nothing better than the original. But I think it will inspire more and more people to run for office.

I also think for our party, for Republicans, he is going to inspire people maybe who weren’t as bold before – I’ve never had that problem – to be a little stronger in their convictions, a little more outspoken, surely take on the media in a way that a lot of elected officials run the other way – don’t ever question the media. He’s now pulled that band-aid off. And to question their own party. He definitely has changed politics.

Q: The country is deeply divided over the election result. Some Democratic members of Congress are boycotting the inauguration. Is that polarization inexorable?

DP:  As each year goes by our country becomes more polarized. I know there are exceptions, but half the country was not as nasty toward Obama as the left has been to Trump. He has been treated horribly.

Most people I know, Republican or Democrat, when the president is elected, they respect the office and they pray for the candidate. I was asked a question at the Houston Chamber of Commerce before the election, `What if Hillary wins?’ I said, `I don’t expect her to win, but if she wins I’ll pray for her.’ I prayed for Barack Obama.

It’s important for us as Americans for our president to succeed. But there’s this loud voice in America now that wants him to fail. I don’t think the vast majority of Republicans ever wanted Obama to fail, but after so many failures, they viewed him as a failure, and that brought about discontent. Is it always going to be that way. Some of these Democrats said George Bush was illegitimate. This isn’t new. There’s a handful, a pretty large group of Democrats in Washington, D.C., I don’t think at the state level frankly, but in Washington, D.C., they have never accepted Republicans.

Friday should be a day to celebrate the peaceful transition of power from one president to another, from one party to another and for elected officials, who should know better, to be boycotting, it is disgraceful.

Q: Were you expecting Trump’s choice of  Rick Perry’s appointment for Energy Secretary?

DP:  What a great story that is.

Trump said – we were at a fundraiser in Houston in July, Trump introduced the governor, he introduced me – I’m bringing this guy to Washington with me.’ So he kept his word.

I didn’t know what position. I thought he would be a great candidate for Defense or Veterans Affairs, so I was surprised at the Energy thing, but it’s a brilliant thing. Even though it deals with our nuclear issues, he knows the oil and gas industry better than anybody else he could have selected and he’s run a major state and it’s a major agency.

And I’ve only talked to the governor very briefly a few weeks ago, and I said, `I can’t wait for things to slow down so you can tell me the whole story of how this happened,’ because I know personally that there were some very big names that were pushing very hard to get that position. And the fact that Trump selected Perry – and if you look at his other picks – he’s operating like a businessman, he’s getting the best person for the job. It doesn’t matter if they were at some point on the other side of the issue.

In this case Rick – who campaigned hard for him – it doesn’t matter (that they were somewhat bitter rivals in the primaries).  If it’s a choice between a longtime friend of Trump and another person, and the other person is better, he’s selecting the best person for the job, as you do in business. You don’t hire people for your company for important positions,because they’re your buddy.

Look it’s the most conservative Cabinet in the history of the country. Ted Cruz would have had a very conservative Cabinet. No one else would have had it, except these two guys.

I‘m sure the campaign changed him over times in many ways. You meet so many people, you hear their stories, you’re impacted by it. He probably studied issues more than he’s ever studied the issues and really started asking himself, `Is the conservative path forward better or the liberal path?’

And, he has become a Republican in later life, so on issues like pro-life, there’s no question that he’s all in. He is pro-life. Everything he’s said, everything he’s done. His appointments are strong. So I’m sure he’s evolved. Look in the year-and-a-half campaign for lieutenant governor, I evolved, we all evolve. You learn as you go and you meet people and you learn from people. You see what works and doesn’t work.

Patrick said this is his second inauguration. The first was President George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2005, which he attended with his son.

This time, “I brought my son and daughter and their spouses because it’s history, because we may not have this opportunity to do this again together. It’s something you can to back on and say, `I was there.”

Q: Should expect some selfies?

DP: Expect some selfies.

 

Greg Abbott

Abbott met with Toyota CEO James Lentz yesterday afternoon at the Westin to talk about their operations in Texas, manufacturing in the United States, and the like.

Earlier, he met with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at his usual spot at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Georgetown.

 

GA: This morning I met with Newt Gingrich, in part to pay up a bet, a losing bet, but also more substantively to talk about issues, about how states can work with the Trump administration, to really work toward our common interests. They include the kind of issues, frankly, that I’ve been working on for the past eight years.

One is to assemble a group of governors who can provide information at the state level on ways we can go about eliminating onerous regulations that are hampering business. Another, we talked about the structure to create a framework for states to begin the process of how Medicaid is going to change. Will it be block grants? Will it be a series of waivers? But more importantly, how do we go about the process of the states crafting their own standards and then being able to successfully implement them?

I have a meeting tomorrow with members of the Senate Finance Committee to talk about that very issue – the repeal of Obamacare, what the new iteration of health care will look like and what the future could look like for reformation of the Medicaid system.

It will be me and several governors and several members of the Senate Finance Committee, including he chairman, Orrin Hatch. It is my understanding, Sen. Cornyn will be there.

Newt Gingrich and I talked about working with the Trump administration, General (John) Kelly (Trump’s choice for Secretary of Homeland Security) in particular, to forge an effective relationship, to ensure that we are able to secure the border.

It’s clear that (Gingrich) is a person who understands how Washington works. He is a person with a connection to the president and his team, and is a great facilitator of getting things done in Washington, and he is a person who wants to see goals accomplished. It’s one thing to lay out an agenda, it’s another thing to accomplish that. Washington can be a challenging place to get things accomplished. Newt has a bunch of good ideas about how to actually get things done.

Most of the regulations I have thought about – such as Obamacare, such as Dodd-Frank, things like that – now we want to dig deeper, as opposed to the broad-based, let’s either repeal or restructure Dodd-Frank or Obamacare, it’s more talking to the local businessman or woman, talking to the farmer or rancher, what are your challenges, what can be done?

I’ll give you an easy example. There is this regulation called Waters of the United States – WOTUS – that basically allows he EPA to regulate water in ditches on the property of farmers and ranchers, and that’s an easy example of the type of onerous regulations that seem to be hampering either individuals, private property owners or businesses, in ways that seem nonsensical, in ways that can be reformed.

Q: It it different coming to Washington on the cusp of being entirely under Republican control?

GA: I left my legal briefcase behind. I’m not serving process on anybody.

Q: Have you been to previous inaugurations?

GA: Both George W. Bush inaugurals.

The first one in particular – he was a personal friend and a mentor of mine – and it was at that time a really big deal for Texas so it was extra special for Texas. There was a moment from that event, it was just unbelievable. In 2001 we were at the inaugural ball and George W. Bush and Laura came to it and we partied until about 2 a.m. and we left about 2 a.m. and as we were leaving it had just begun to snow and so the town was covered in white. We got into a car and drove through various parts of west Washington, D.C., and Georgetown, until about 4 a.m., by then city was blanketed in white, it was a beautiful experience.

Q: Is the First Lady excited about this inaugural?

GA: Yes. She’s co-chair of the Latino inaugural event, and will be saying a few words at that event and is very excited about it and excited about connecting the Latino culture and the Republican Party, which we’ve already done, with the Trump team.

Q: This will be a dramatic change. Any worries?

GA: The change that is coming about is a change that I fought for, and so I’m heavily immersed in everything that’s about to transition. There’s a transition of people in power but there’s also a transition of the way that America is going to be run, and a lot of the substantive changes are things that I’ve been working to see done. This is more of a sense of fruition to a lot of hard efforts that have been underway for many years now.

Q: What about Trump’s tweeting?

GA: The reality is the world is different and the world constantly changes. Listen the first president to do anything from a radio, the one who used it most profoundly originally, was FDR, that was a transformational moment. The first president to use TV, that was a transformational moment, was JFK.

And now we’ve got a president who’s changing the communications paradigm with social media. Just as there have always been changes in communications platforms, this is another change. It should be viewed as a good change in this sense and that is, citizens want to know what their leaders are thinking, and they want in a way direct access to their leaders and they’re getting information directly from their leader. Now obviously there are some national security based issues and things like that we all assume will be taken care of.

Q – This is kind of a working inaugural for you?

GA: The reality is  even during the balls I am going to among constituents, talking to constituents the whole time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipping the script: Austin-born movement touts tea party tactics to trip Trump

 

 

 

Good morning Austin:

When the history of the national grassroots effort to resist President Donald Trump is written, it may be recorded that the movement was born in Austin – prefigured at a Randalls supermarket in South Austin in the summer of 2009, forged at Drink.Well. on East 53rd Street over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, and conceived, in great part, by battle-tested veterans of the office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the indomitable Austin liberal who on Tuesday joined the ranks of Democratic members of Congress who will be boycotting Trump’s inauguration.

It was at that Randalls in the first summer of the Obama presidency that Doggett was besieged by tea party protesters chanting “Just Say No” to the health care reform that would come to be known as Obamacare, a jarring scene that, captured on video, went viral, and set the tone for what would be a dreadful August recess for Democratic members of Congress at bitterly contentious town hall meetings across he country.

“I don’t think any Democrats anticipated how tough that summer would be,” said Sarah Dohl, who had just started what would be a four-year stint as Doggett’s communications director. “Those health care protests were really game changers, and that’s when everything shifted.”

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“Mr. Doggett was one of the first members of Congress who was really targeted with this kind of mob scene. that was really vivid. That video made it to the national news and got tens of thousand of views,” said Jeremy Haile, who grew up in Dallas and worked with Dohl in Doggett’s office, where he served as legislative counsel. “It seemed so disproportionate to what was happening in Congress at the time. President Obama had run on expanding health care. Congressman Doggett had supported that. But the sort of vitriol that was coming out was pretty shocking.”

In a statement that appeared in the Statesman at the time, Doggett sounded stunned but unfazed.

This mob, sent by the local Republican and Libertarian parties, did not come just to be heard, but to deny others the right to be heard. And this appears to be part of a coordinated, nationwide effort. What could be more appropriate for the ‘party of no’ than having its stalwarts drowning out the voices of their neighbors by screaming ‘just say no!’ Their fanatical insistence on repealing Social Security and Medicare is not just about halting health care reform but rolling back 75 years of progress. I am more committed than ever to win approval of legislation to offer more individual choice to access affordable health care. An effective public plan is essential to achieve that goal.

“I think what became clear was Republicans had decided, just as a matter of strategy, to oppose everything that Obama wanted to do,” Haile said. “When I was on the Hill, I would see Democrats take legislation almost verbatim out of policy papers from more conservative think tanks, and Republicans and the tea party immediately opposed them. That seemed like something new that was, at the time, disconcerting, and seemed like it was a new kind of politics, unproductive and a kind of defensive, oppositional politics that seemed unhelpful and disproportionate to what we saw with the election, when President Obama won with a big majority. There was a kind of outpouring of excitement and a feeling that he would bring the country together.”

But the tea party saw to it that that was not to be.

Seven years and change later, in the aftermath of Trump’s election as president, Ezra Levin, who had worked with Dohl and Haile in Doggett’s office (he was there from 2008 to 2011) – beginning as a legislative correspondent and ending up as Doggett’s deputy policy director – was back in Austin for the Thanksgiving holiday – he grew up in Austin and Buda – with his wife, Leah Greenberg, another Capitol Hill veteran. One night they got together at Drink.Well. with an old friend who was involved in organizing a progressive group in Austin, to talk about how to channel their mutual despair and make use of their working knowledge of Capitol Hill and how congressional politics actually works.

The result: On the evening of Dec. 15, Levin, 31, tweeted out a link to a Google Doc: Indivisible: A practical guide For resisting the Trump agenda. Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.

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As Levin, Greenberg and another collaborator, Angel Padilla, wrote in a Jan. 2 New York Times Op-ed:

We served as congressional staff members during the early years of the Obama administration. It was an exhilarating time to be a progressive in Washington: An inspirational new president was taking office, accompanied by a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. But by February 2009, something had begun to change. Small protests calling themselves “tea parties” were popping up all over the country. In April, their Tax Day demonstrations dominated the news.

In August, routine hometown events got unexpectedly rough for members of Congress. At a neighborhood event at Randalls, a grocery store in Austin, Tex., Congressman Lloyd Doggett came face to face with a group of “tea party patriots,” carrying signs that said “No Socialized Health Care.” In Austin — and in congressional districts across the country — the tea partyers chanted what became their battle cry: “Just say no!”

Their tactics weren’t fancy: They just showed up on their own home turf, and they just said no.

Here’s the crazy thing: It worked.

 

Indivisible was an immediate sensation, with stories about it in the New Yorker  (The Crowdsourced Guide to Fighting Trump’s Agenda), New York Magazine (What Democrats Can Learn From the Tea Party), Slate (The Most Useful Guide to Resisting Donald Trump It’s the Tea Party playbook, minus the nooses), Vox (A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up. Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that.), and not one but two segments on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.

 

Yesterday, I talked with Levin and Dohl, who are in D.C., and Haile, who is in San Francisco.

 

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Ezra Levin:

This started coming together after the election. My wife, Leah Greenberg, is also a former congressional staffer and involved in progressive do-gooder politics and we were trying to figure out what we could do to respond to this incredibly surprising election. We were both on the Hill (she had worked for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, who is now running for governor of Virginia, a campaign for which she is policy and research director) and we were there during the rise of the tea party.

After the election we were seeing not just despair but also seeing some silver linings. There was a ton of energy out there that seemed to be popping up in terms of private Facebook groups, mailings lists, individual groups trying to figure out how they could resist Trump. They knew that Congress had power. They knew they could call members of Congress. They knew about petitions. What we were seeing, and was actually confirmed in a trip to Austin, was that Congress is a black box, that it is was hard to understand exactly what works and what makes members of Congress ticks, so Leah and I during this trip to Austin, we were talking to a college friend, who was the administrator of one of these new local groups that was popping up, and we heard from her the same thing.

We knew what works. We both knew how Congress works and we knew how a pretty darn small group relative to the total population, came together and implemented a very thoughtful strategy with very specific concrete tactics to resist an administration and a Congress that they didn’t agree with and that was the tea party.

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We, of course, weren’t ideologically in line with the tea party. We are progressive. But even beyond that we didn’t agree with the style, I guess you could  say, of some those tactics – spitting on staffers, the violent approaches that they took – but we thought their strategy and some of their tactics were fundamentally sound,  that politicians, members of Congress, just like anybody, respond to stimuli and that the particular thing they respond to is power and constituents have power, they have power when it comes to their own members of Congress because they get to choose heir members of Congress.

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-3-10-59-amThe tea party implemented a two-pronged strategy, and that was very locally focused, focused on their members of the Senate and their one member of Congress, and then they consciously chose to be defensive and almost exclusively defensive, because they understood if they tried to do any one of the crazy conservative things they wanted to do – restricting a women’s right to choose, destroying the planet, cutting taxes for the wealthy while cutting programs for the poor, that that would fracture their coalition.

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And they also understood that they weren’t setting the agenda, that at that time Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and the presidency, so what they could do is simply respond to it. And they did that in a few concrete, not rocket science kinds of way. They showed up in person at public events, at town halls, at district office and then called in response to whatever new thing President Obama or the Congress was trying to do.

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We started out writing a practical guide for progressives who find themselves in kind of the same situation now, with  a president we believe is illegitimate and is looking to destroy some key tenets of American democracy, and who controls the Senate and the House.

The difference, I would say, between  us and the tea party, is I think we’re right now, that I think that is exactly what we are facing. Donald Trump is a unique, historic threat, and that this unique, historic threat calls for unique historic action, on the part of constituents who have power with their own members of Congress, and that those members of Congress can hold him accountable.

My families in Austin and Buda, so we were home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and met with our friend at Drink.Well.

We had certainly been thinking about this, talking to a lot of friends. But, we didn’t go into that bar thinking that we have this idea for a tea party guide. The conversation there sparked the idea.

Looking back at 2009, Levin said:

 I think it’s important to note that Lloyd didn’t waver in his support. That he is a strong progressive, and remained one.

I think he did a phenomenal job. He stuck to his progressive values.

But, Levin said:

The tea party gave the sense – and it was true sense – that no matter where you are, no matter which district you are in, that, `we are here and we are asking you to, in this case, stand against President Obama,’ that this was a national movement. And you are seeing the identical thing right now, the only difference is that it is happening a lot faster and that it’s a lot better organized at the ground level.

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In the last two weeks about 3,300 local groups have registered, on our website, and I’d say only about a third of those are Indivisible in name. One of my favorites is in Alaska, it’s called 49 Moons, because that’s the length of time Trump would be in office.

But we’re not Subway and you don’t have to sell $5 foot-longs that you’re resisting Trump, as long as you agree that the Trump administration needs to be resisted, and whatever group you’re pulling together, either all of its work or part of its work will resist that agenda through local, defensive congressional action, and you agree to embrace progressive values, that you are going to be an inclusive group and are not going to be physically abusive to staff or other people you’re interacting with, then we consider you part of the tribe and we want to  work with you and help you do whatever you can do to resist locally.

Indivisible Austin, Levin said, is going great guns, started by people he didn’t previously know.

Levin:

So we put out a Google Doc, that’s all we did. We do explicitly say in the guide, one of the first steps is to  either find your local group or start it – you can call your self Indivisible, or call yourself whatever you want, as long as you’re working to resist Trump.

When we started out we didn’t think that we would have 126,000 people reach out to us with their zip codes and their emails, we didn’t think there would be 3,300 groups registering with us within a couple of weeks, and so this has all been a surprise to us and very welcome surprise.

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Of the name Indivisible, Levin said:

Leah gets credit. I don’t think it was in that bar, though it could have been – Leah forgot her ID so she couldn’t drink so she was the most clear-headed – but I think it was a couple of days later.

She said hey, `What do you think of Indivisible,” and immediately it felt right because it hits on the notes of, something that we feel is part of the theory of change here is that we have to treat an attack on one as an attack on all, that the progressive community is made up of a very diverse set of people and groups, and that the challenges we face require that we stand together strong. And it also hits notes of some kind of sense of American patriotism, coming from the Pledge of Allegiance – “indivisible with liberty and justice for all” – that felt really appropriate on a couple of fronts.

Do they have an anthem?

Levin:

We do not have an anthem.

We’re really humble about what we’ve done and what our role in this is. We just wrote a guide. There was already  energy out there to resist Trump.

We’re really happy this has resonated with folks. Our role is not to say, `Look at us, the leaders,’ because we know that we’re not. Our role is to provide useful tools to the leaders on the ground now, and many of whom have been on the ground for a long time.

The instant Indivisible was issued, Dohl got involved, overseeing communication, social media, design and brand.

Haile, who helped develop Indivisible, says that Trump is a far riper – and, obviously, in his view, a more deserving – target than Obama was.

I think that what we see with Donald Trump is that he did not win with a majority, his popularity and approval ratings are at an all-time low for an incoming president and, I guess most importantly, we feel that he ran a campaign based on racism and intolerance that we see as unacceptable. That’s why feel the lessons of the tea party, that progressive should apply them, because Trump must be stopped.

The tea party tactics – threats of violence, the racially tinged rallies – we reject, and we don’t recommend that anybody use those tactics now. But Donald Trump, the threat that we see to liberal democratic values is so extraordinary, we feel that he must be stopped and so that’s why we see the lesson of tea party of local defensive organizing as a strategy that liberals should now adopt.

I believe that the difference now is that Donald Trump is not popular, some of his proposals we see as antithetical to American values and principles, if not outright unconstitutional, and it appears that the Republicans in Congress are sort of falling in line and stand ready to do his bidding, so what we’re saying is the constituents in those districts need to speak out and need to ask for meetings with their members of Congress, need to flood Capitol Hill with phone calls to say that those policies are unacceptable.

The key lesson we learned with working with members of Congress is that they only care what their own constituents think, particularly those who have to run every two years. And so what we’re encouraging people to do, is if you don’t like what Congress is doing, and you don’t live in the First District of Wisconsin, it’s a waste of time to call Paul Ryan’s office, what you need to do is to call your congressman’s office.

And that’s really true if you’re in a conservative district with a Republican member of Congress, or if you are in a liberal district or state. In a lot of cases, if it’s a blue district or state, we think citizens have to tell their representative, thanks for being progressive and opposing Trump, but silently opposing Trump is not enough, what you need to do is use the  platform  you have as a member of Congress to vigorously state that you do  not support a person who ran on a sort of racist and corrupt campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Jones: Trump inauguration will be `biggest event in human history,’ barring a coup, assassination or nuke attack

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Good morning Austin:

I am in Washington, D.C., for inaugural week.

I arrived last night. The plane was an hour late taking off while they fixed a tray table that resisted being placed in its full upright position.

I am here to observe the peaceful transition of power at a particularly stressful moment in American political history.

Or, if Alex Jones is correct, I may be here for riots and a coup against Trump orchestrated by George Soros, Rosie O’Donnell, the Deep State and the New World Order, the president-elect’s arrest – or assassination – and the imposition of martial law.

Which will give me plenty to write about.

Or die trying.

Yesterday, Jones raised the specter of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons at the inauguration.

Or not.

Alex Jones:

A lot of people keep asking me, will they set off a low-yield or a tactical nuke in D.C. to stop the Trump inauguration and try to basically derail the whole populist movement, and I haven’t really responded to that because we don’t have any hard intel on it. We don’t have any chatter. I don’t have any sources on that fact.

But I have to ask myself, if Obama would fund ISIS and Al-Qaeda, taking over multiple countries in the Middle East and Africa and  killing hundreds of thousands of people and overthrowing non-radical regimes and putting every Christian they find to the sword, then the answer is, `yes.” If the people behind  Obama would launch major wars in the last few years in places like Ukraine and start a war with Russia and move U.S. troops to the border with Poland and have all sorts of other provocative actions put in place and the federalizing of elections, and the acting like they don’t intend to leave, then anything is possible.

I want to be clear, before the national media picks this up and lies and says that I’m saying there is going to be a nuclear attack in D.C. on Trump’s inauguration coming up in five days. I’m not saying that. I’m going to be there, with my crew, covering, on the ground, and if the globalists did try something like that it would blow up in their face because the populist movement worldwide is exploding, nationalism is exploding, and the people are on to this corporate form of world government.

So, if the inaugural festivities include tactical nuclear weapons, Alex Jones warned you. And if it doesn’t happen, well, he never said it was going to happen, so stop trying to make him look like some kind of nutty alarmist.

This is the way Jones communicates – in what might be called the conspiratorial conditional.

Of course, as someone who has been paying a lot of attention to Alex Jones in recent months, I have grown fatalistic.

Earlier this month I had to come to terms with an Infowars report that a noted conspiracy theorist – not Alex Jones – was predicting with great certainty that a rogue planet would crash into Earth in October, ending all life on our planet.

Not good.

But, to my relief, when I just went to find the story, the Infowars link to it was now dead. Don’t know why, but I’m taking that as good news.

https://twitter.com/infowars/status/816889715693588481

Jones has been out of Austin in recent days, traveling with his family, and sending in remote messages to his show from wherever he happens to be.

On Friday the 13th, it was about the Democrats planning riots and the imposition of martial law.

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we are, we’re only seven days out of Donald Trump being inaugurated the 45th president of the United States and they’re already on the verge of repealing Obamacare, every week tens of million of more new jobs are announced to come back to the United States, the latest the Chrysler plants. We are seeing him come out against vaccines. Again ladies and gentlemen, I told you that was coming. This is unbelievable.

xxxxx

And all the things that Trump has promised to the American people – and that he has promised to me – just leave it at that so the media doesn’t have another heyday with it – that he is going to deliver or die trying. And that’s why we are seeing this unprecedented move, this unprecedented move right now to disrupt the inauguration and actually sell the American people on an overthrow of Trump.

The Establishment, the globalists, are trying to convince themselves, that they can try some coup with Obama with seven days left. Now, you’ll remember, in the last month I’ve been warning you, that they are trying to launch a Continuity of Government – COG – basically Operation Valkyrie. They used COG in 1944 to try to kill Hitler, their Continuity of Government system, but it basically backfired.

They’ve turned that around now and acting like Trump is illegitimate. They’re trying to use COG and rogue groups in the government, to convince them that what they are doing is OK and normal, and I’ve said the left is openly, behind the scenes, calling for martial law, and the arrest of Trump or blocking of Trump, and then a quote, new election – that’s why Homeland Security announced last week the federalization and total control of elections.

From the Free Dictionary.

Continuity of government (COG) is the principle of establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event.

COG was developed by the British government before and during World War II to counter the threat of Luftwaffe bombing during the Battle of Britain. The need for continuity-of-government plans gained new urgency with nuclear proliferation.

Countries during the Cold War and afterwards developed such plans to avoid (or minimize) confusion and disorder in a power vacuum in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.

In the US at least, COG is no longer limited to nuclear emergencies; the Continuity of Operations Plan was activated following the September 11 attacks and has been in effect ever since.

Enter Rosie O’Donnell.

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Jones:

Now Rosie O’Donnell is one of the top people in the New York/Hollywood scene. She’s a has-been, but she’s a darling of the elites … and she has said she wants the election suspended because he is a quote, a Russian agent, until that can be cleared up, and that she wants martial law in place

 

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We are living in a Tom Clancy novel now folks, but it would be a Tom Clancy novel so fantastic nobody would believe it, because truth is stranger than fiction.

Here from last Thursday, is Jones, once again filing a report from a remote location, whispering  – if the background noise is any indication – aboard an aircraft readying for takeoff.

You can hear someone talk about stowing things in the “overhead bins.”

There is no mention of any errant tray tables.

The headline on this report: Biggest Event In Human History Now Taking Place:
The build up to Trump’s inauguration has the entire country on edge

Jones:

Trump has turned out to be so incredibly good

There is a historical battle taking place, the likes of which we’ll never see in our lifetimes.

I’m very frustrated right now because I’ve got a lot of intel that goes … as high as it goes. I can’t believe I’m in this position. A lot of people think we’re living in The Matrix, and I want to say it’s not true, but are we in a simulation?

Because why am I the one, and why is our audience the group that is the cutting edge in the fight for liberty worldwide?

I know what they are up to and I have been told my multiple high-level sources – and when I say high-level, I mean as high as it gets … It’ like, do people understand how much danger we’re in?

But no, the general public does not think of themselves as leaders. They just watch TV all day. They listen to music all day, which I’m not against, but they just don’t get how serious this world is and what’s going on.

I am just so frustrated  because I don’t like sitting on information, but I sit on a lot of it because I’m given information so I can make decisions about different issues that I’m not at liberty to give you, but the latest info is like, let’s not exaggerate, ten times worse, maybe more, than anything else I’ve ever sat on and I have to sit here, and I have to sit here, and I have to sit here, knowing the criminals have taken over the government, knowing they’re planning on blocking Trump, knowing it, knowing it as the clock ticks toward the next false flag, toward the next assassination, from the next person being attacked, and I just hope it’s you, the listeners, who understand this and are taking action because you are the hope. You are the resistance.

“We’re in the crossroads,” Jones said. “We’re in the zeitgeist.”

Here is Jones’ message to Trump on how to foil the plots against him.

 

Just a reminder. Jones has a huge audience, sometimes including the president-elect.

From a VICE News report, including an interview with Jones, from earlier this month.

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Oh, and here is Jones’s response to the VICE piece.

Stay tuned.

https://twitter.com/RealAlexJones/status/821127282748104704

Compromising position: On Joe Straus, Barack Obama and the lost art of the possible

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(AP photo by Eric Gay)

 

Good morning Austin:

It was only a coincidence of timing that Joe Straus accepted his election for a fifth term as speaker of the House on the same day that President Barack Obama, with only ten days left in his second term, delivered his farewell address in Chicago.

But the animating spirit of the two speeches by the Republican speaker of the Texas House and the departing Democratic president of the United States could not have been more in concert with one another, or more out of sync with the prevailing political zeitgeist in the Age of Twitter.

It was uncanny.

From Straus:

Throughout this session, our shared principles will be tested. And so will the goodwill that fills this chamber today.

But Texans are watching … and we have an opportunity: We can show that there’s still a place for thoughtful and inclusive leadership. We can show that elected officials still know how to solve problems. And we can show that, when necessary, principled leaders still have the courage to compromise.

Compromise has become a dirty word in politics. But in reality, it’s how we find common ground to achieve the common good. And it’s a good word in this House.

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There is a disconnect between the way we talk about politics in this country and the way that most Texans treat each other. The corrosive cynicism that dominates the public discussion of politics does not reflect the character of our people.

The Texans we represent are kind, and they are decent, and they are charitable. They deliver meals to the hungry, comfort the sick, and look after their neighbors.

Our constituents don’t expect us to agree on every issue. They want us to defend our core beliefs. But they also want solutions. They want us to conduct ourselves with civility and respect: respect for each other, and respect for the process of governing.

That’s what Texans do. If you walk into a factory or a restaurant or a hospital, you will find citizens of different races, religions and political beliefs working together every day. 

And that’s what Texans should expect of us.  So let’s follow their example. Let’s govern with the same sense of goodness — the same humanity and decency — that we so clearly recognize in the people we represent.

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

 

And here was president Obama last night in Chicago:

THE PRESIDENT: In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. 

AUDIENCE:  Nooo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, no, no — the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected President to the next.  I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.  Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.  Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.

We have what we need to do so.  We have everything we need to meet those challenges.  After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth.  Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours.  But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works.  Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now. 

That’s what I want to focus on tonight:  The state of our democracy.  Understand, democracy does not require uniformity.  Our founders argued.  They quarreled.  Eventually they compromised.  They expected us to do the same.  But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity -– the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.

For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.  The rise of naked partisanship, and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste — all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.  And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.

And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy.  But politics is a battle of ideas.  That’s how our democracy was designed.  In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them.  But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter — then we’re going to keep talking past each other, and we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.  Because for all our outward differences, we, in fact, all share the same proud title, the most important office in a democracy:  Citizen.   Citizen. 

So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life. If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up. Dive in. Stay at it.

Straus was nominated for speaker by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

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Years from now when our time is done, history will not judge us on how many bills we passed, how many awards we received, and certainly not on what grade we received on a scorecard. Instead, history will judge us on whether or not together we did the necessary work, whether together we advanced policies that protected and strengthened this state, and whether or not together we had the courage to do the right thing for Texas, even when it wasn’t popular.

Members, I submit to you that if we want to continue to build on the successes that we have enjoyed under Speaker Straus’ leadership, we need to recommit ourselves to doing the necessary work and to governing together. That’s what the people who send us here expect from us.

There were three seconding speeches.

The second of these was made by state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass.

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Joe Straus is a Republican and a conservative. As a Democrat, I sometimes disagree with him on policy. As a West Texan, I know that character matters. Joe Straus is a man of great character, and the people of Texas are blessed to have him at the helm of this ship.

In my time here, I have seen the speaker incorporate the talents and expertise of every member. He leverages our skills, our personal experiences, and commitment to serve, allowing for meaningful vetting of legislation. This makes the House special. It makes it work. It empowers this chamber and, by extension, the people who chose us to produce the best public policy for all Texans.

The third of the seconding speeches was delivered by Linda Koop, R-Dallas.

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It is a great honor to second the nomination of Joe Straus as speaker. Rare is the leader who does not seek to impose his will, who realizes his power is rooted in his ability to forge alliances and find common ground. Joe Straus is such a leader.

In this house, every voice is heard and every district is represented. Ideas rise and fall on their merit. Members argue their perspectives with passion but also with civility and respect. That is the tone Joe Straus sets for this house—one of respectful leadership.

I have been fortunate to have served with many leaders, including four mayors in my home community. I see Joe as unique. He welcomes vigorous debate. He is confident enough in his own views to allow others to express their views. He leads with an invisible hand, quietly guiding this house in the right direction, solving the great challenges of our time without worrying about who gets the credit.

But most remarkable, for its sheer intimacy, was the first seconding speech, from Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands.

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Here it is in its entirety.

Mr. Secretary, fellow members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a singular honor for me to address such a group on such an auspicious occasion. With my short tenure as a legislator, I trust that my words will ring true to all in attendance and especially to our freshmen.

As many of you know, I am a member of a group—the gang of 19—who voted against the nomination of Joe Straus as the speaker of the House in the last session, the 84th Session. I campaigned in my district according to the wishes of a variety of groups—good people with whom for the most part I am in full agreement with their political stance—who encouraged me to stand against the nomination of our speaker last session.

It should be noted, because I’m a pastor and believe in the wisdom of the scriptures that the proverbs teach, that there are two sides to every story. The man that listens to one side of the story is a fool. And so according to the dictates of my conscience, I chose to visit the speaker before the 84th Session and bring up the upcoming vote between the speaker and his challenger before the vote was taken.

As I inquired about the upcoming debate, I was met with graciousness by the speaker and his staff. I gave the speaker every opportunity to speak against his opponent and hear his position, but never did I hear one word of disparagement or anger against the challenger. I was invited with my bride, Kim, to the freshmen orientation banquet where I spent time with the speaker and his wife. I listened as he told me about his life, his family, and the opportunity that was before me as a legislator. I heard nothing but gracious, positive words. Having been in the car business—I was a partner in a dealership and managed a Lexus store, all combined almost 26 years—I had learned to question everything I was told. Yet I saw no guile in the speaker.

Needless to say, I became very conflicted as to how I would vote the next day.

True to my word, I voted in favor of the speaker’s opponent. Yet I remained conflicted.

For almost two months, I found myself on an island between those who supported the speaker and those who stood in opposition.

During that time, the freshness of Biblical truth was a guiding light to me as I watched and listened to the operations of the House. I watched the speaker’s demeanor. I saw him demonstrate respect, honor, and statesmanship. I listened to my colleagues as they spoke about the character of our speaker and as I watched many archived videos of past sessions. I heard the words respect, fair, balanced, and leadership again and again as words that endorsed the nominations of Joe Straus from past sessions.

Please understand that I do not take this lightly, as in this House we have a combination of brilliance and genius—doctors and attorneys and wildly successful entrepreneurs from Harvard, Tulane, UT, Tech, and our beloved A&M—that I have never seen in all my years. In a variety of settings, I observed the speaker and his interaction with his bride, Julie. Their kindness and humility, and their remembrance of names and birthdays and holidays is amazing.

As the voting on bills began, I watched individuals much younger than him in age attack him and, with relentless argument, challenge his authority. The words of scripture rang out, as Paul told Timothy in the New Testament, “do not rebuke an older man sharply” while the speaker remained calm and under total self-control.

I watched day after day the management of a group of no less than 145 people whom I have come to love: my colleagues who have made sacrifices only those who have had the experience can understand, my fellow legislators who are part of a sacred fraternity who walk these halls of power with confidence and self-reliance—that some could characterize as a group of swashbuckling pirates but I see as men and women of strength, genius, and honor, who know what they believe and will never back down for the benefit of the people they represent—men and women chosen by God through our republican form of government, that is a wonder to not just other states but to the entire world.

Who can manage such a group? Who has been given such authority by God? All the words inscribed on the wall behind me say, “In God We Trust.” Yet daily I saw the speaker walk on the chamber floor and by his very presence bring a spirit of calm to an otherwise potentially chaotic environment.

As I observed the attitudes of the committee chairs, I noticed that when I maintained an attitude of respect and an attitude of teachability, when I approached them with questions on how I could get things done—sometimes in desperation as I thought about the expectations of the constituents I represent—to a person, they were gracious and accommodating and always willing to help me. How do you explain this?

Management is everything. Our speaker, Joe Straus, has created an environment by his example where gifted leaders are free to work on behalf of our body of legislators and the people they represent to produce what some have said about the last session was the most productive and significant legislature in the history of our great state.

Mr. Speaker, I have much more to say, but as you said, “Mark, I know you’re a preacher, so keep it short.” So in the interest of time, thank you for your guidance and your leadership, and for allowing all of us to know your incredible wife, Julie, and how she nurtures and loves us and our wives, the legislative ladies.

Mr. Secretary, it is with great honor that I, as a student of our craft, as a pastor, as a husband and father, and as a citizen and legislator of the great State of Texas, second the motion to make Representative Joe Straus of Bexar the speaker of the House of Representatives of the 85th Legislature. God bless you, Joe and Julie Straus. God bless all of my colleagues, family, and friends, and God bless the great State of Texas.

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One might suppose that seconding the nomination of a man who was re-elected speaker by a unanimous 150-0 vote might be the safest political course one could possibly take.

But one would be wrong.

 

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A few hours later, even as President Obama was pleading with America, “If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with one of them in real life,” Twitter was ablaze with gleeful acrimony over the most salacious but unsubstantiated claims about President-elect Donald Trump Trump yet, and the next president was left to defend his character, a few characters at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin-bound, Bill Maher talks Trump, Cruz, Alex Jones and how he wishes there was more TX in ATX

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Good morning Austin:

Bill Maher of HBO’s Real Time will be at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president (and the day after Real Time returns from hiatus with new shows), which would be a very good time to see him if that inauguration concerns you. However, if you don’t already have tickets, the show is sold out. (Though tickets are still available through on-line marketplaces including Vivid Seats and StubHub.)

 

I interviewed Maher by phone Friday, and here is a transcript of our conversation. I edited my questions for length, but his answers are as given, with the exception of a few deleted expletives.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 23: Television host and comedian Bill Maher performs at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort on March 23, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 23: Television host and comedian Bill Maher performs at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort on March 23, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/WireImage)

FR: Do you have any special affinity for Austin?

MAHER:  I come as often as I can. It’s always been one of my favorite spots on the comedy tour.

It’s so hip I find myself wishing it were a little more Texan. What’s the point of coming to Texas if I don’t see anything Texas about this place. It’s much closer to coming to New York.

I still have my `Keep Austin Weird’ t-shirt.

FR: This election Texas was less weird than the rest of the country. Trump did less well relatively speaking than he did elsewhere, like the Midwest.

MAHER: Oh there was even talk before the election that she might be winning Texas. Then they couldn’t carry Pennsylvania.

FR: If they could have kept their eye on the ball.

MAHER: No they were going for the landslide. So they didn’t take out any ads in Wisconsin, so that was in the bag. `If we could pry open Arizona, Texas and Georgia’. Yeah good luck.

FR: What are your leading suspects for why Clinton lost.

MAHER: First of all, she won. Let’s not forget that. It reminds of when a basketball team loses 112 to 110 and then they spend the next half hour talking about the reasons they lost – they have to do this and change that, but really?  Because if one more shot goes down you’d have to talk about how the other team needs to do this. Only in this case, the team that lost actually won, by almost 3 million votes.

If some future historian looks at this election, you know, when the incumbent party has unemployment below 5 percent and the job market has been tracking upward for 75 months and the approval rating of the party in power’s president has been as high as Obama’s was, it’s very likely that that party is going to be returned to power. It’s only that under our shit system, you know, the other guy was able to get it because of this thing called the Electoral College. But having said that, she still did lose the election by the metrics we use and I think the reasons why were a perfect storm.

She was a crappy candidate. Lesson Number One –  go where the energy is. Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old man was a rock star filing arenas with 20-year-olds. Hillary Clinton was a nice women who couldn’t fill the function room at the Olive Garden. So they just nominated her and I thought she was going to win, blah blah blah, but there wasn’t a lot of energy for her.

But let’s not forget because of Putin and (FBI Director James) Comey, and Comey should have been the guy who was going to keep Putin in check, but somehow they wound up on the same team, the team that was trying to get Trump elected and this is just a giant story and I know it’s been a big story, but it’s even more important than they’ve made it out to be, that the Russians would hack one side of an election. It’s like she was playing a poker game with somebody and only her hand was face up. So they can pooh-pooh this all they want, this is a major reason why she lost the election and the FBI – the most frightening part of it to me, the FBI, which is supposed to be a completely non-political organization, it is our internal police department, turns out the FBI was totally in the tank for Donald, and Comey had to release that letter because he was losing control of his own agency. Who’s going to fix that? Not Donald Trump.

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FR: For the work you do, is Trump beyond comedy, beyond parody?

MAHER: Beyond comedy?  He’s certainly not beyond comedy. He’s comedy gold. I did everything I could to make sure that he didn’t get elected, and now that he did get elected, I’m sweating like a whore in church, but there’s no doubt about it that he’s good for business.

FB: The New York Times and the Washington Post moan and groan about Trump, but their audience is way up.

MAHER: Absolutely. We had record ratings last year and I would have expected that with Hillary this would be a down year. Mostly after an election, the horse race is exciting, then it’s over and we go back to a non-election year. But that’s not the case now. People had time to turn off after the election. I did that. You couldn’t look, it was so distressing. But you can’t live your life like that, and now I think people can’t help it, they want to know what’s going on, they want to know what this maniac is doing, and I said on the last show, I’m on the barricades with you,  we’re still here. We are still here and we are going to keep on fighting and I think more energized than ever on the left. If they’re not, if Trump can’t energize them If you can’t work for the good guy when this guy is the villain in the movie, then you’re not paying attention.

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FR: But when every day brings more seemingly outlandish things, do you have to go to basic, Three Stooges, slapstick comedy, people getting hit by two-by-fours?

MAHER: I see what you’re saying. He’s so ridiculous, parody is almost written into reality. This is a guy who believes the Enquirer as much as any newspaper. I watched that clip the other day when he’s going on and on about how the Enquirer should win Pulitzer Prizes. It’s very hard to parody that.

FR: In Austin, you are coming to the hometown of Alex Jones.

MAHER: He believes in the lizard people.

FR: He had Sy Hersh on Dec. 30 for a very respectful half hour.

MAHER: Really?

FR: He has a huge audience.

MAHER:  I know Trump loves him. I remember dealing with the lizard people in (Maher’s 2008 documentary) Religulous when we dealt with the guy who promulgated that – David Icke.

The theory is that there are people in the world, like George Bush was one of them, the Queen of England was one of them, who, when they turn the corner and  you don’t see them they turn into lizard people, I’m not kidding.

 

 

So the president of the United States is a big fan of this guy. So he hasn’t exactly jumped on the lizard people theory but just the fact that you would give any credibility to someone who believed in the lizard people.

 

 

FR: What’s going to happen?

MAHER: It really depends on what Trump does. He could be successful, especially in the early going because there’s a tremendous tail wind with the economy right now. And Donald Trump his MO his whole life is not to do anything, just to stand in front of something and slap his name on it and take credit, and I  could see him doing that with a lot of Obama’s accomplishments.

You know, with ISIS, I could wipe them out quickly. Well no one could wipe them out quickly but Obama basically did it slowly. ISIS is pretty much on the run but at the last minute he’ll stand there and take credit.

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Or the infrastructure proposal. When the black guy wanted to rebuild our infrastructure it was horrible idea to Republicans -`You’re bankrupting our grandchildren.’ Republicans are so funny. When they’re in office you can just spend any kid of money whether  you have it or not because they are the good people. When the Democrats want to spend money, you’re bankrupting our grandchildren.

But yeah, he’ll probably get that infrastructure deal passed that Obama wanted to pass and that’s a giant stimulus program that will help the economy. So I think he could have success. What’s going to happen, though, I think at some point, you know character is destiny, I don’t think he can sustain it forever, so when the shit starts hitting the fan … And I think there will be more Trump scandals. I can’t believe a guy who is on tape saying, I grabbed pussy whether women give me permission or not, doesn’t have bodies buried everywhere. I very much doubt that he has been faithful one day of his marriage and he’s basically bragged about sexual assault, I can’t believe there’s not going to be something, so at some point, you know, things aren’t going well and tapes emerge of him doing God knows what sexually, that could be enough to take him down, but we’ll see.

FR: But will his supporters believe anything negative about him?

MAHER: It is scary. It only took them a few weeks to turn fake news into anything. Fake news has a real meaning, like ‘the Pope has endorsed Donald Trump.’ That’s fake news because it’s easily checked. In fact what the Pope said is that he prays for his enlightenment, to which God said, `I’ve done a lot of miracles, but give me a break.’ Now anything that is slanted against them is fake news. So yeah, you’re right, there is no there there in America anymore

FR: Everyone has their own reason for distrusting what they read, it’s not for the same reason, but combined, there’s a generalized feeling that nothing can be trusted so you might as well go with what suits your fancy.

You’re coming to the home state of Ted Cruz. Would you have been any happier if he had been elected?

MAHER: It would have been better. Ted Cruz was within the parameters of normal awful. So is Mike Pence, within those parameters. I don’t think either Ted Cruz or Mike Pence is going to blow up the world. Trump, I have no idea. No one has an idea. He knows nothing about politics. He is just learning about it for the first time. He’s not interested. He is interested in two things – adulation and revenge.

That’s where his attention would be always wanting to brag, only interested in giving credit to himself.

If there’s a terrorist attack – “Told ya, I got it right.” As if one couldn’t have predicted there would be more terrorist attacks.

Or putting somebody down who has the temerity to in any way criticize him.

Why is Putin his best friend? Because Putin compliments him so Putin is brilliant.

FR: Do you think he benefited from the fact that no one thought they were voting for someone who was going to win, so they thought they had an immunity to vote for him

MAHER: He didn’t think he was going to win.

FR: Maybe he would have been happier with the reverse outcome – if he won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, so he could have asserted that he was the real winner but wouldn’t be burdened with actually having to serve president.

MAHER: Exactly, because then he could indulge the whiny little bitch side of him. What he and his followers really like after all – we did something a month before the election on the show, `You’re going to like it better if Hillary Clinton is president because you don’t really like to govern, because all you do is talk about  how government is awful and doesn’t work. and now you have to run it. You don’t want to do that. What you want is to stand outside and piss in. What’s going to be fun for you is impeaching Hillary. You could do it on Inaugural Day’ He doesn’t want to live in Washington. And he doesn’t want a job. It’s a job being president

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FR: Preview your show in Austin.

MAHER: Stand up comedy is for making people laugh out loud very hard. That’s the whole thing. If you’re doing anything else in a stand-up comedy show, to me, you’re doing it wrong.

So there’s plenty of material and the great thing about doing political stuff is it’s always new. You’re not going to hear any of the jokes from the last time I was there or any of my old specials because it’s always changing, especially now.

I certainly wasn’t doing a whole act on Donald Trump the last time I was in Austin. But that’s what it is. It’s not just for working out the stomach muscles laughing, at this point it’s a cathartic experience, to all be in a room with people who basically think like them and commiserate about what happened, and laugh about it and hopefully take something optimistically into the future.

FR: Austin’s not exactly Trump country, but when Trump had a rally in Austin he drew a huge and very likable crowd, many of whom were there for the experience and reveled in it.

MAHER: Exactly. It’s free entertainment. One of the myths about the Trump voter was that they were doing terrible economically. No, actually, they were doing better than the average American economically. It’s just that a Trump rally was free entertainment. They went there because they already saw the Captain America movies.

He does his greatest hits – `build the wall,’ “bring jobs back,” threaten companies that send them overseas. Throw somebody out. It’s like going to a Foghat concert.

FR: Where were you election night?

MAHER: What was I? Weeping. I was with a friend and when we couldn’t stand it anymore we walked around the block and smoked a joint. i went through a very dark period there for a while. One foot in Canada. Just too many messages from people, We need you now more than ever.’ It’s like a movie. `OK, I’ve got to stay and fight this evil,’ and I will.

FR: You weren’t one of those who threatened to leave the country if Trump won.

MAHER:  No no, that’s ridiculous, that’s silly. No, you’ve got to fight for you country, not leave it. I’m not going to let them win in the long run if I have anything to do with it.

Trump’s Eagle Scouts: On the split between Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson on gays in Scouting

Governor Rick Perry answers questions during an interview at the Governor's Mansion on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Governor Rick Perry answers questions during an interview at the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Good morning Austin:

I think it’s fair to say that President-elect Donald Trump is no Boy Scout.

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In fact, thanks to the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, we know that the PEOTUS apparently covered his son’s $7 registration fee for the BSA in 1989 with Trump Foundation money, though, who knows, maybe that comes under the heading a penny saved is a penny earned.

It is likewise hard to imagine a Norman Rockwell image of Trump helping an old lady cross Fifth Avenue without stopping to shoot someone to test his belief that he could do so without losing a single vote.

Nonetheless, the two Texans that Trump has chosen for his Cabinet – ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and former Gov Rick Perry – are both Eagle Scouts for whom the Boy Scouts of America have continued to be a central devotion of their lives.

But, as the confirmation hearings for the two Eagle Scouts approaches – Tillerson this Wednesday and Perry probably a week from Thursday – it is worth noting that Tillerson and Perry were diametrically opposed to one another on the central issue facing the Boy Scouts in recent years – how to contend with homosexuality.

With that in mind, it is well worth watching these two videos in which each of the men, within a month of one another in the spring of 2013,  address the question that was then before the BSA – whether to allow openly gay young men to participate in Scouting.

The first is an interview with Perry by Tony Perkins, head of the Christian conservative Family Research Council on May 8, 2013, in which, as it is described, You will learn what you can do to preserve Scouting as its founders envisioned it – as a resource for young men to develop in morally, mentally, and physically healthy ways, free to be boys and teens without the invasion of cultural controversies.

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The second are remarks Tillerson, who served as president of the BSA from 2010 to 2012, delivered to the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in June 2013 at which they had voted to change their policy on gay Scouts.

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The background of the Perry video is, per FRC, as follows:

 On Sunday, May 5, 2013, FRC hosted a special webcast, “Stand with Scouts Sunday.” You will learn what you can do to preserve Scouting as its founders envisioned it – as a resource for young men to develop in morally, mentally, and physically healthy ways, free to be boys and teens without the invasion of cultural controversies.

Speakers included:

Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
John Stemberger, President, OnMyHonor.net
Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas)
Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.)
Pastor Robert Hall, Calvary Chapel Rio Rancho
Zina Hackworth, Moms of Boy Scouts

In the voice-over introduction to the FRC’s Stand with Scouts Sunday Simulcast, we are told that the BSA is “one of the last non-religious institutions that has not yielded to political correctness.”

Under pressure from corporate elites and homosexual activists, the leadership of the Boy Scout is proposing a change regarding open homosexuality in the Scouts. It’s a change that would introduce what Scouts themselves call open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting. It would change Scouting forever. The impact of the change would not be limited to the Boy Scouts. It will dramatically change the culture and moral landscape of America.

From Perry:

Scouting for over  a century now has been the bedrock of values and traditions and developer of men and it’s the kind of young men by and large that you want knocking on your door asking your daughter out on a date or for that matter standing beside you if you’re in a fight  in the military or whether or not you’re trying to make a dollar in the free market capitalist economic system that  we have in this country.

xxxxx

The spiritual side of growing up its very important. I know there are those in the world who would tear that apart, but the fact is this is private organization. Their values and principles have worked for a century now. For pop culture to come in and try to tear that up to be the flavor of the month so to speak and to tear up one of the great organizations that have helped millions of young men and helped them to become men and to be great fathers, frankly, that is no  appropriate and frankly I hope that the American people will stand up and say, `Not on my watch.’

If we change and become more like pop culture, young men will not be as well served, America will not be as well served and the Boy Scouts will be set on a decline that will not serve this country well as we go into the future.

In 2008, Perry wrote a book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.

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During Perry’s first run for president, Justin Elliott in The New Republic, on Sept. 14, 2011, explained why he thought the book was a must-read for people wanting to understand where the Republican candidate was coming from.

His real political passion is he protection of traditional American institutions against elitist attacks. It’s no accident that even though Perry’s campaign is supposed to be founded on his economic record as governor of Texas, he’s been having trouble staying on message.

In making his book-length indictment, Perry paints with a startlingly wide brush. “Student campus unrest, rejection of authority, the ‘self-esteem’ movement, moral relativism, and the demands of secularists all gradually fused into a series of attacks on American institutions,” he writes in the book. We learn that he disdains “secular humanism,” the “self-esteem movement,” and youth sports leagues that don’t keep score. For good measure, he compares homosexuality to alcoholism, and supports corporal punishment of children.

Ultimately, for Perry, the Boy Scouts are the litmus test in adjudicating sides in this culture war. (Perry, it bears mentioning, is a proud Eagle Scout; he’s known to still wear his Eagle pin on the lapel of his suits.) As Perry tells it, the Scouts are at the center of two of the main fronts in the culture war: religion and homosexuality. The group has long barred participation by atheists or “avowed homosexuals.”

But it also becomes clear (to the reader of On My Honor, if not the author) that Perry’s fervor to protect traditional American culture—the reason he sees it as simultaneously fragile and central to the country’s fate—is motivated by his own nostalgia for an idealized childhood he can’t recover. Perry emphasizes that he learned to love the Scouting movement as a boy in the rural isolation of west Texas. There is poignancy here in his inability to distinguish between the personal and the political, the parochial and the historical. “Growing up in Paint Creek, I thought the things we were taught as Scouts—to do our best to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent—were pretty much what the Founding Fathers had intended for succeeding generations when they created our nation,” he writes.

If the focus on the Boy Scouts feels oddly dated, that’s because it is right now—and it was in 2008, too. The Boy Scouts have faced a number of anti-discrimination cases, but their heyday was in the 1990s. Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, the case that upheld the Scouts’ no-gays-allowed policy, ended in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2000. But Perry is insistent on placing the Boy Scouts in the context of a larger historical struggle within American society between traditionalists and “the forces of nihilism and self-centeredness.” “If we believe our technology, firepower, and educational attainment will save us from licentiousness, godlessness, and undisciplined living,” Perry writes, “we bet on a losing proposition according to the history of civilization (Rome, Greece, and Babylon, to name a few).”

Perry’s most explicit target in this fight is a familiar Republican Party bogeyman: the ACLU. The ACLU, mentioned over 100 times in On My Honor, is Perry’s favorite foil and he proceeds to reduce it to the caricature of cliche. (One sample: “Whether it is protecting the rights of pornographers, molesters, perverts, terrorists, garden-variety thugs, or those merely hostile to a belief in God, the ACLU is there to provide aid and comfort, in addition to a well-funded legal arsenal.”)

But for Perry the operative dividing line in the national culture war is between traditionalists and relativists, not Republicans and Democrats: party loyalty is secondary to ethical correctness. In that way it’s telling that long before they began sparring over Social Security, Perry and Romney butt heads over the Boy Scouts. When Romney, as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, barred the Boy Scouts from participating in the events, Perry seethed.

Tillerson is Perry’s equal in the ways that he was shaped by and remains devoted to the Boy Scouts and all Scouting represents.

From Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,  in December in The New Yorker.

Tillerson’s life has been shaped to a profound extent by two institutions: ExxonMobil and the Boy Scouts of America. He grew up in Texas, where his father was a modestly compensated administrator for the Scouts. Tillerson became an Eagle Scout. An engineering major at the University of Texas, in Austin, Tillerson joined ExxonMobil in 1975. He has never worked anywhere else. Of all the companies that were born out of the breakup of Standard Oil, Exxon is culturally the most direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller’s monopolistic giant, which was organized on principles of ruthless capitalism and Protestant faith. Exxon today is an unusually cloistered corporation that promotes virtually all of its top executives from within. Former executives I interviewed mentioned that as recently as the nineteen-seventies, it was not unusual to start company meetings with a prayer. When Tillerson finally won a competition for the top job, in 2004, he directed substantial time and charitable activity toward the Boy Scouts. In public appearances, he comes across as sophisticated, yet his life is rooted in environments that are fundamentally nostalgic for imagined midcentury virtues and for the days when burning fossil fuels did not threaten to trigger catastrophic climate change. Tillerson once listed his favorite book as “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel that has become a touchstone for libertarians and promoters of unbridled capitalism. Compared to the records of some of the other people around Trump, Tillerson’s is at least one of professional integrity; Exxon is a ruthless and unusually aggressive corporation, but it is also rule-bound, has built up a relatively strong safety record, and has avoided problems such as prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, even though it operates in many countries that are rife with corruption.

When Tillerson’s name surfaced as a potential pick for secretary of state, Tony Perkins sounded the alarm.

Donald Trump put a lot of names in the pipeline to head the State Department, but few have fueled more controversy than ExxonMobil CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson. The oil mogul, who’s spent his more than 40 years with the company, is one of the many names floated for the most-watched nomination of the new administration.

The Left, which doesn’t usually need a reason to oppose Trump’s choices, won’t find many here, since the ExxonMobil executive may be the greatest ally liberals have in the Cabinet for their abortion and LGBT agendas. That should be particularly alarming to conservatives, who’ve spent the last eight years watching the State Department lead the global parade for the slaughter of innocent unborn children and the intimidation of nations with natural views on marriage and sexuality. No sooner had Hillary Clinton taken over the State Department in 2009 than the White House ordered her to use the agency as a club to beat other nations into submission on sensitive culture issues — a tradition that successor John Kerry has been all too eager to continue.

Now, after two terms of exporting radical social policy, Americans could finally see the light at the end of the Obama administration tunnel. To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts to gay troop leaders but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting at best. FRC knows Tillerson all too well, having worked for years to put the brakes on his reckless agenda for a scouting organization that was already dealing with staggering numbers of sexual abuse cases. Unfortunately, the BSA, under Tillerson, ultimately caved to the pressure of the far-Left, irreparably splitting the Scouts and destroying a proud and honorable American tradition. Under his chairmanship, ExxonMobil’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate “Equality” Index has also skyrocketed to 87 percent. Still, Trump calls Rex a “world class player and dealmaker,” but if these are the kinds of deals Tillerson makes — sending dollars to an abortion business that’s just been referred for criminal prosecution and risking the well-being of young boys under his charge in an attempt to placate radical homosexual activists — then who knows what sort of “diplomacy” he would champion at DOS

Here is a post from Boy Scouting Magazine on June 6, 2013 about the Tillerson video below.

“So we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change,” says Rex Tillerson. “Now what?”

Less than 24 hours after the volunteer delegates voted to change the BSA’s membership policy for youth, Tillerson addressed a large room full of Scouting volunteers and professionals at the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

In a powerful, heartfelt speech, Tillerson made his message clear: Change is inevitable, but “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting, hasn’t changed. With that in mind, he reasoned, it’s time for all of us unite toward this common goal.

Tillerson, immediate past president of the Boy Scouts of America and a 2010 Silver Buffalo recipient, knows something about making big decisions and dealing with change. When he’s not serving as a Scouting volunteer, he’s the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies.

In 1999, Tillerson worked for Exxon when it merged with Mobil—definitely a big change for both companies.

Take 10 minutes to watch the video below and listen to Tillerson’s message. Then, share it with the members of your Scouting family.

Putting aside the merits of his argument, this is a very impressive performance and one that suggests to me that he will handle the senators considering his nomination – and who are likely to be more exercised over this relationship with Vladimir Putin than his role in changing how the Scouts contend with homosexuality – with aplomb.

From a very good piece this week by Matt Viser of the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON — Rex Tillerson commanded the stage and addressed a crowd of thousands of national Boy Scout delegates who were very much on edge, having just made a deeply divisive decision.

Some were angry, others brought to tears. Some pledged to never accept the change that Tillerson, a national leader of the organization, had helped engineer: allowing gays into the Scouts.

Tillerson, an Eagle Scout himself and a longtime booster of the organization, roamed the stage and spoke, unscripted, about the need to accept societal change even while honoring cherished traditions.

“What went on here was a remarkable thing,” Tillerson said, in a deep-voiced Southern drawl. “We’ve got to listen to people. We’ve got to listen to their concerns, we’ve got to listen to their fears. We can’t be dismissive of them.”

This is what secretary of state nominee Tillerson’s art of diplomacy looks like. In this case, during a 2013 gathering in Texas, he took on one of the most fraught issues ever faced by an organization that he deeply loves.

As the most recent president of the Boy Scouts, he had just helped lead the century-old organization into endorsing a historic change. And then he had to help calm the tempest that followed.

The years-long debate over allowing gay Scouts — a seismic shift the group called, euphemistically, the debate over “membership standards” — left deep fissures. Tillerson’s role during that period provides insights into his diplomatic instincts, his pragmatism, and his willingness to accept change.

It illustrated as well how he approached thorny questions without a clear answer — the kind secretaries of state often encounter — and showcased a leadership style centered on consensus building, putting people at ease by absorbing their thoughts before rendering his own judgment.

But while he recognized the need for the change, several close observers at the time said, he seemed to do it more to help the organization survive than out of a moral sense about gay rights. Even while overseeing shifts at the Scouts, the company he’s run since 2006 — Exxon Mobil — maintained policies that were considered far more discriminatory against gays than other Fortune 500 companies.

Those who have worked with him up close say that his style can be more deferential than one might expect of the chief executive of a vast multinational oil company. He doesn’t suck up all the attention in a room, he soaks it in.

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Two years after Tillerson’s tenure as Scouts president, Bob Gates took over. As defense secretary, Gates had overseen the dismantling of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred members of the military from being openly gay. Like Tillerson, he was a longtime Scouting advocate.

When he came on board, he oversaw the next change in its policy on gays: allowing openly gay leaders. The change was not as controversial as the first step had been, and Gates is said to have consulted with Tillerson.

Their bond over Scouting is something that would become vital later on. Gates became a consultant for Exxon, and, in December, he was meeting with Trump at a time when the new president-elect was trying to figure out whom to nominate as secretary of state.

Gates was the first one to bring Tillerson to Trump’s attention.

“If you want to understand Rex Tillerson, and it may be a corny thing to say,” Gates told The Washington Post in December, “but you’ve got to understand that he’s an Eagle Scout.”

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From a James Osborne story in the Dallas Morning News in September 2014: Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson an Eagle Scout to the core 

Despite increasing pressure from gay rights advocates, Exxon has refused to create a specific policy barring discrimination against gay employees, as many Fortune 500 companies have done. Nonetheless, Tillerson was instrumental in lobbying the Scouts’ board to accept openly gay youths, said John Hamre, president of the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, of which Tillerson is a board member.

“I can’t get into the intimacy of these conversations. But he agonized over this. He prayed on it, and ultimately he came to the conclusion the only thing that can guide him here is what’s best for the young boys,” he said. “I think he became a key leader in helping the group come to a consensus.”

Tillerson’s connection to Scouting extends back before he was even born 62 years ago.

His parents met at Boy Scout camp as teenagers. His father, Bob, worked at the camp and met his mother, Patty, while she was visiting her brother; sparks flew over a sing-along.

After serving on a battleship during World War II, Bob returned to North Texas and eventually took a full-time job with the Scouts, a career that would span four decades.

As the family moved between Boy Scout offices in Wichita Falls, Stillwater, Okla., and Huntsville, Scouting was ever-present for Tillerson. As a child and into adolescence, he racked up not just merit badges but some of Scouting’s highest awards, designated for leadership abilities and dedication.

To this day, Tillerson lists his rank of Eagle Scout on his résumé. And he maintains a reputation in the business world for honesty and straightforwardness, traits some interpret as proof that despite his success and wealth, he remains a Boy Scout to his core.

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Gavel to gavel: Of great moment, but with little drama, it remains the House of Straus

straus

Happy New Year Austin:

The 140 days of the 85th Texas Legislature begin on Tuesday.

Yee-hah!

If that looks insincere, I am just finishing up with whatever holiday virus people in these parts have been suffering through and I am conserving my energy in advance of going to Washington, D.C., from whence I came, to witness the moment at which, one imagines, an entire nation comes together as one, to pinch itself and rub its eyes, and solemnly acknolwedge that, yes, this is actually happening, Donald Trump really is president of the United States.

No moment since his election has been quite like those corresponding moments in years gone by.

I know. I know. It should be “led” not “lead,” right?

Compared to Trump’s ascension to the presidency, the drama of opening day of the Texas Legislature will likely seem downright quaint.

Two years ago it began with a speech from Secretary of State Nandita Berry, who offered a thorough disquisition on all the great and sublime things Texas has to offer, with Berry name-dropping the pertinent legislator each step of the way.

For example, this, from deep in the heart of her speech.

Representatives John Smithee and Four Price, I learned to look for beautifully painted quarter horse statues all over Amarillo, home to the American Quarter Horse Association. Representative Susan King, I learned that the sidewalks in downtown Abilene sparkle and McKay’s Bakery makes a fantastic thumbprint cookie. Representatives John Frullo and Dustin Burrows, I learned that within the city of Lubbock is a town just for prairie dogs. And, as your chief election officer, I have checked, and no, they cannot vote for you unless they have a valid form of photo ID.

Berry then presided over a contested election for speaker of the House, in which Joe Straus of San Antonio was challenged by Rep. Scott Turner of Frisco.

Turner had declared his candidacy a year earlier and campaigned long and hard. It was a full-blown challenge.

But, in the end, it wasn’t close.

From the House Journal:

For the Honorable Joe Straus –– 127

(USE THIS IMAGE LEDE) 27 MAY 2013: Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, smiles as he bangs the gavel closing Sine Die on the 83rd Legislator held at the State Capitol on Monday, May 27, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AMERICAN-STATESMAN / Rodolfo Gonzalez)

For the Honorable E. Scott Turner –– 19

scott-turner-hat

Anderson, R.
Klick
Schaefer
Tinderholt
Burrows
Krause
Shaheen
Turner, E. S.
Fallon
Leach
Simpson
White, M.
Hughes
Rinaldi Spitzer
Zedler
Keough
Sanford
Stickland

STATEMENT OF VOTE

When Record No. 1 was taken, my vote failed to register. I would have voted for the Honorable Joe Straus.

Dukes

Secretary Berry then declared the Honorable Joe Straus of Bexar County to be the duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives of the Eighty-Fourth Legislature of the State of Texas.

In his nomination of Straus, the aforementioned Four Price, said this about the speaker.

Leadership is not a title to be obtained; it is something you do. It has been said that leadership is an action, not merely a position. That is true. It is not gained by being the loudest, by arm-twisting, or through the use of intimidating tactics. Leaders earn their positions by their convictions, their actions, and the results they deliver. Exceptional leaders have vision. They think three to four steps ahead at all times. Not only do they have it, they also have the intangible ability to motivate others to see that vision for themselves and achieve success. President Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” In other words, results. Joe Straus gets results.

Tuesday will probably lack the drama of two years ago, though it will serve as the first opportunity for Rolando B. Pablos, Gov. Abbott’s choice to replace Carlos Cascos as secretary of state, to show his stuff.

And then he will preside over the election of a speaker, though this time it does not appear that Straus will face a challenge.

On Monday, Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of Empower Texans and Straus’ chief antagonist in this world, issued a piece under the headline, A Loyalty Vote on Day One

Loyalty, that is, to the Democrat coalition’s chosen House speaker, not the conservative principles embraced by Texas voters.

With the power to determine all of the committee chairs and the assignment of bills, the speaker of the Texas House controls whether conservative reforms live or die in the legislative process. Over the last three legislative sessions, conservative members of the Texas House have mounted challenges to the Democrat coalition that currently controls the speaker’s office and who have used that position to stifle popular conservative reforms.

No challenge to the status quo appears forthcoming. That means every member will own the results of House leadership this session. There will be no excuses for obstructionism.

Despite the lack of an opponent, the word from the Texas House is that Speaker Joe Straus wants a “loyalty vote” to start the session. Loyalty, that is, to the Democrat coalition’s speaker, not the conservative principles embraced by Texas voters.

Make no mistake: with no other option, it’s a meaningless vote. With only Straus’ name in nomination, there could be 149 of the 150 House members voting no, and he’d still be the speaker. Voting for or against Straus on the first day of the 2017 session will mean nothing.

Straus has held on to power because too many members of the Republican caucus have settled for conservative crumbs from the table of the Democrat coalition. They have been unwilling to suffer the price of missing cocktail parties and losing favor with lobbyists in order to deliver the promises they made to their voters.

Despite a near super-majority, senior Republicans who claim at home to be conservatives (yet rarely exhibit the courage of their convictions on the House floor) capitulate in hopes that some day the Democrats will tire of controlling the office and it will be the GOP’s turn to run things. And, trust them, then they will govern with the conservative principles they have thus far failed to exhibit.

Their inaction is why sanctuary cities still exist in Texas… It’s why property taxes haven’t been reformed… It’s why spending limits haven’t been adopted… It’s why labor unions haven’t been stopped from pilfering public employee paychecks… It’s why parents don’t have more choices in public education.

The list of reforms long promised by conservative lawmakers that have been stalled or killed is too long to mention here. They have produced little but excuses.

Around the same time that Sullivan was issuing this missive, Julie McCarty, president of the thriving NE Tarrant Tea Party, posted this on her Facebook page.

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Check out this list of legislative priorities the Republican Party of Texas (that’s we the people) put together for this next session. I can’t say I agree with all of them, but it’s a pretty impressive list. The question is, will the Republican-controlled House get any of them accomplished under RINO Joe’s leadership, more than just a bone thrown to us for show and for campaign literature next election cycle? History says no. Such a waste. One day we will be powerful enough to free ourselves from that man and will work to make Texas as conservative as we brag about being. We will celebrate that accomplishment and pass it down to our children and our children’s children. But Joe Straus will still have to live with his own shameful, conniving, wheeling and dealing self. How does he do that?

How indeed. Just watched Gangs of New York for the first time, it is hard for me to imagine Joe Straus as Boss Tweed.

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I’m not sure I have ever seen a cartoon of Straus, though there must be some. I don’t believe he tweets. He talks, but not to excess. He smiles a lot. He does not appear to be a man who has trouble living with himself. In fact, I think he finds that arrangement pleasing.

In an email to me, McCarty offered a similar take to MQS on the vote for speaker.

There is no speaker race this year, so I can’t spend my time focused on the political games of who does or does not greenlight Straus. If the Straus team makes good on their threat of requesting a record vote in order to “prove” how much support Straus has, fine… we can show him 100% support.  But they’d better look at the ramifications of having that support.  We will now have a unanimous speaker, a Republican majority, and a very clearly defined list of priorities issued by the GOP grassroots. With all that power and all that support, what excuses will the Speaker hide behind?  There is only one question that should be considered at this point…  Will the Speaker work towards the will of the people, or will the Speaker bow to the will of the donors?  It’s all on him this session

I spoke to three members of the House who voted for Scott Turner to ask them what their plan was for Tuesday – Matt Krause of Fort Worth, Matt Rinaldi of Irving and Jonathan Stickland of Bedford.

The trio are a good sample because, while they are ideologically very much alike, they are temperamentally quite different. Think three brothers from a 1940s movie – Krause is the good, well-mannered son who chooses the cloth (yeah he’s a lawyer, but from the inaugural class of Liberty University Law School); Stickland is the brawling street-fighter who can’t stay out of trouble, and Rinaldi is the bright young man whose pugilistic instincts have been tamped down by his fancy Massachusetts law school education (Boston University).

Matt Krause

(Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez)
(Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez)

Krause delivered a seconding speech for Turner two years ago in which he likened Turner to Abraham Lincoln.

Of this year, Krause said:

When there’s only one person in the race it’s not much of a contest, you can’t read much from it

There wasn’t any use in running a speaker race. You could see what the end result was going to be.

I will always vote for the most conservative candidate. I have no problem with that no matter what the numbers look like. What happened (in 2015) played into a lot of member’s minds about what would happen this year.

If there’s a record vote and it’s just one candidate, I am not going to red light a single candidate just to red light them. If there’s a recorded vote I do intend to vote for Speaker Straus. Now things can always change.  Other candidates could step up. At this late stage I don’t think so, but if somebody does, I’ll assess their candidacy and hear them out but, at this point, I don’t anticipate that happening.

xxxxxx

A lot of us I the House are looking forward to building on a lot of the conservative victories in the last session and make this the most conservative session Texas has had.

There are a lot of hours and lot of days after that first vote so a lot of us are determined to make sure that what happens with those other 139 days brings about good conservative results.

What matters is that at the end of the day, you can look back on sine die that we’ve done the job we were supposed to do, we moved the ball forward, we did some great reforms for conservative governance. I think that’s what’s going to matter. What happens  that first day isn’t so important. We could have the greatest challenge to a sitting speaker that falls just one vote short, but if you don’t get anything done the rest of the time, that’s not a success, but if  have a vote by acclamation on the fist day and after 140 days look back and say we did a lot of good, I think that’s more valuable.

 

Matt Rinaldi

rinaldi

We had our vote on House leadership last year (in 2015). There are quite a few of us in the Texas House who as Republicans are still very unhappy with House leadership. I have heard rumors hey are going to call for a record vote on the unanimous consent for the speaker. I don’t know exactly what we’re going to be voting on in the record vote if there’s nobody else running for speaker. It’s a meaningless vote. Whether you push the red button or the green button or the white button, it doesn’t matter. He could have 100 no votes and 50 yea votes and he would still be the speaker the next day.

I don’t waste my time organizing opposition on meaningless votes.

If they do (call for a record vote), I just might vote yes to show how meaningless the vote is.

I think you’ll find a lot of the strongest critics of the speaker will vote `yes.’

If we had the numbers there might be a challenge. We know there is significant portion of the caucus that isn’t happy with leadership, but if we can’t change it, there’s no reason to do it (have a speaker challenge) at this point in time.”

Instead, Rinaldi said, he will “focus on policy.”

I think the lieutenant governor set out a great group of priorities. We are going to set out to make those law.

I think he set out a bold agenda that we have no excuse for not passing. With unified Republican control of the Texas government and with unified Republican control of the U.S. government, I don’t think we have an excuse for not implementing at least a substantial portion of that agenda.

I think there’s definitely a conservative governing majority in the Senate. I think we have a conservative governor and lieutenant governor. I don’t know whether there is a conservative governing majority in the House, but I think it’s close.

I think if we can get the conservative bills to the floor, I think there is a conservative majority in Texas, at least among the voters, at least among the primary voters, so if we can get those conservative bills to the floor I think we can get the votes for Gov. Patrick’s agenda, and I think that’s the goal.

I think on immigration bills, religious liberties bills, sometimes that’s been the issue – those bills haven’t made it to the floor of the House because people don’t want to take a vote on them, so the inclination of leadership has been to protect the members who don’t want to take votes on them. But if the votes come to the floor they will have to vote yes because their constituents want them, so if they get to the floor they pass, as long as somebody isn’t trying to protect people from taking a vote.

Rinaldi said he and his allies have been strategizing about how to foil any efforts from Team Straus to deep-six some of Patrick’s agenda.

Yes, there are conservatives working to make sure those bills reach the floor for a vote. I am not going to discuss them (those tactics) now. They’d be less effective if we told everybody ahead of time.

From the rest of Michael Quinn Sullivan’s Monday message:

While the House is Republican, Democrats control the policy outcomes because they control the speakership. Indeed, Mark Jones of Rice University has confirmed that since Straus took office in 2009, House Democrats have been on the winning side of votes on the final passage of bills more often than Republicans.

Meanwhile, the Texas Senate managed to push through more conservative reforms in 2015 – the first session Dan Patrick served as lieutenant governor – than the Texas House had done in nearly a decade. That shows the importance of good leadership. (Those reforms were by and large killed by Straus once they traveled west of the rotunda.)

This session, the Republicans fronting for the Democrat coalition have no place left to hide. Gone is the shell game with the old Senate leadership in which the chambers took turns passing and killing conservative reforms.

The Texas Senate is on a mission to pass landmark reforms. The governor has signaled a bevy of items he wants passed. All the levels of the federal government are held by Republicans. Obama is gone; the Democrats can stop nothing of substance.

Anything not done in 2017, any long-held reform championed by the GOP not passed, will be the result of obstruction by Republicans in the Texas House.

The coalition leadership should schedule a record vote for speaker; it is good precedent for members to go on record “for” the leadership they tolerate. But since the vote is meaningless in 2017, some lawmakers may vote “aye” to avoid dealing with the pettiness of the Democrat coalition. Others may chose to vote “no” in defiance of the corrupt Democrat coalition.

Either way, the proof will always be in the policy results at the end of the Session. Those who vote “no” have just as much responsibility to find a “leadership” solution as those who vote “aye.”

A Straus “loyalty vote” will remind every legislator that if conservative priorities fail to reach the floor, it is the fault of ‎the members… and that starts with the speakership vote each session.

MQS is cherry-picking his Mark Jones here.

His Jones cite here is accurate as far as it goes, but he ignores Jones’ analysis of the last session, which he wrote about on Dec. 9, for the Texas Tribune, under the headline The decline of Democratic influence in the Texas House

The 84th (2015-16) Legislative Session witnessed a Democratic Texas House delegation that was on the losing side of about as many final passage votes as on the winning side. This represented a sharp contrast to the 2009-14 period, when the average Democrat had a final passage vote win rate that was higher than that of the average Republican. It suggests that Democrats’ level of influence on the House legislative agenda declined notably in 2015, with Democrats more frequently unable to both keep legislation they opposed off of the floor as well as to gain majority backing for legislation they supported.

In 2009, 11 Republican representatives joined forces with an overwhelming majority of Democratic representatives to oust Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, and replace him with Joe Straus, R-San Antonio. Speaker Straus thus began his speakership indebted to House Democrats, allowing them a de facto veto over the legislative agenda that year. In 2011 and 2013, Democrats no longer possessed this de facto veto power, but they nevertheless retained substantial influence over the legislative agenda — influence that was reflected in them being more likely on average to be on the winning side of final passage votes than their Republican colleagues, even though during this entire period the Texas House of Representatives had a Republican majority.

2013txhousefpv

The first figure details the win rates of representatives on non-lopsided final passage votes during the 83rd Legislative Session. The representatives are arrayed from left to right based on their Liberal-Conservative Score, with the bars (blue for Democrats, red for Republicans) showing the proportion of final passage votes where they voted and were on the winning side (final passage vote win rate). The win rates of the Democratic representatives ranged from a low of 86 percent to a high of 97 percent, with a median of 93 percent. In contrast, the win rates of the Republican representatives ranged from a low of 35 percent to a high of 98 percent, with a median win rate of 85 percent. Dividing the Republican House delegation into ideological quartiles, only the least-conservative quartile had a median win rate (96 percent) that was higher than the Democratic delegation median. The other three GOP delegation quartiles, moving from left to right, possessed median win rates of 89 percent, 82 percent, and 67 percent.

 

2015txhousefpv1

 

The second figure provides the same type of information on win rates and Liberal-Conservative Scores as the first, but for the 84th Legislative Session. In 2015, Democratic win rates plummeted to lows not seen since 2005 during the zenith of the Craddick speakership. At least from the optic of win rates on final passage votes, the impact of Texas Democrats on the legislative agenda during the 84th Legislative Session was substantially weaker than in the three preceding sessions of Straus’ speakership.

The median Democratic win rate in 2015 was a mere 52 percent, with win rates ranging from a low of 40 percent to a high of 67 percent. At 82 percent, the median Republican win rate in 2015 was significantly higher than the Democratic median, with win rates ranging from a low of 54 percent to a high of 93 percent. All of the Republican ideological quartiles had median win rates greater than that of the Democratic delegation median, with the respective win rates declining as the level of conservatism increased among the quartiles: 90 percent, 87 percent, 82 percent, and 71 percent.

As a further example of this change, in 2013 a majority of Republicans (53 out of 94) had a win rate that was lower than that of the Democrat with the lowest win rate. In 2015, only 8 Republicans out of 97 had a win rate that was lower than that of the Democrat with the highest win rate.

In other words, Jones told me, “the influence of Democrats waned in the 2015 session as Straus relied more on Republicans than on Democrats.”

The reality, Jones said, is that the centrist conservative wing of the wing, as opposed to the movement conservative wing, “is the dominant wing, the centrists being those to the left of the party mean. The 2015 results still do show that group runs the show in the Texas House more than the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.”

“I think what the last session showed is that Straus now definitely is the preferred candidate among a majority of Republicans, which was probably not the case in the past and that’s both a sort of combination of some Republicans have accepted that Straus is the speaker, even though they don’t agree with him 100 % ideologically, and Straus at the same time has tried to build a bridge to conservative Republicans to a greater extent so as to rely more on them than on Democrats.”

“One of the definitions of good leadership in the Legislature is that you keep members of your delegation  from having to cast difficult votes. Many people would consider you to be a good legislative leader if you keep your supporters from having to cast votes that are no-win votes for them.”

So, Jones said, if Patrick’s bathroom bill or efforts to deny in-state tuition at Texas public colleges and universities for those living in the state illegally, fail to reach the House floor, it will not be because of Democratic opposition, but because, like Straus, “a majority of Republican’s don’t believe that legislation is in the best interests of the state of Texas,” but also would prefer not to have to vote on it.

Jones thinks it made good strategic sense for the movement conservatives not to mount a challenge this session, because a poor showing “would allow Straus to demonstrate his complete domination of the House in a very visible manner. If you don’t run a candidate it makes it easier, through rumor or gossip to imply that the speaker doesn’t have as much support as many might think because it was never put to a test.”

Jones said the message from MQS and McCarty, and from the their allies in the House, is that with Republicans holding 95 of the 150 seats int he House, there should no excuse for not passing some of the more controversial bills if they make it out of the Senate. The Democrats cannot be used as an excuse for not passing the red meat legislation.”

Jones said practically speaking, Team Straus can kill some of Patrick’s priority bills. but not all of them, and they must pick their battles wisely.

As for the vote for speaker, “unless a `yes’ vote (by a well-known foe) was matched a shift in behavior and rhetoric, it’s unlikely that it would have much of a positive impact” on that member’s relationship with Team Straus.

Jonathan Stickland

(Photo by Jay Janner)
(Photo by Jay Janner)

Will he vote for Straus on Tuesday, vote against him, or vote present?

I really don’t care. I’m at war with the speaker. I know it. He knows it. My constituents know it and so it‘s a meaningless vote for me. I’ve just got to figure out what’s best for the movement and some of my friends in the House.

We’re going to have a thousand speaker votes all session long.

Right now I don’t see any reason for us to have some symbolic vote at the point when we’re going to have them (later in the week) on the rules fights.

There are going to be 30 `speaker votes’ on the rules changes. We are going to try to strip power from the speaker and give it back to the member and basically try to make it easier to push conservative legislation.

Everybody will be talking about the first vote but that’s nothing. I really don’t think it’s anything the fireworks will be later on that week.

It’s silly. What they should do is elect Straus by acclamation but what they are going to do, I assume and I have heard is that one of his guys is going to call for a record vote because they want to flush us out and show our numbers because they know that that will he lowest vote total we can muster up all session long. When it comes to the issues, our numbers will go through the roof.

They want to catch us and get the media to roll out this fictitious  – `look, they’ve lost ground, look they’ve only picked up one seat, blah blah blah.’ That’s stupid, so why play into their hands?”

This will be Straus’ fifth term as speaker. Only two other speakers have served that long. He has not said whether this will be his last term, though Stickland said the assumption among many in the House is that it is. If so, said Stickland:

The speaker’s race is going to start in February if this is Joe Straus’ last deal, and people are already scrambling for that. There’s blood in the water. There’s discontent among the team.

Once he hand out the last thing that they want, which is the committee assignments it will be over for Joe , and that comes in the middle of February.

Jones said Straus successor will undoubtedly be more conservative than he is.

If he does decide to leave, we will be looking at a more conservative speaker.

Straus is a centrist conservative Republican but he is even more centrist than a majority of the centrist conservatives,whereas if Straus wasn’t there you would expect the median Republican to choose the next speaker … which means you would have more of a Dennis Bonnen or, before he left for the Senate, Brandon Creighton, a hybrid between a movement conservative and a centrist conservative, but clearly more conservative than Straus. The only reason Straus is in that position is that he was able to get there first.

We will close with the view from state Rep. Poncho Nevárez, a savvy Democrat from Eagle Pass.
(Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez)
(Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez)

Nevárez recalled that his first session, in 2013, Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, was challenging Straus but, just before the vote, withdrew, saying he did not know if he had the votes to win and didn’t want to put his supporters in a tough spot.

“David, basically he stood down,” said Nevárez. There were some voices calling for, `Hey. let’s vote,’ and then calmer heads prevailed and it was by acclamation.”

But, Nevárez said of those clamoring for a record vote, “From the outside looking in my first session, I hadn’t been sworn in but 30 minutes before that, it seemed to me it was like an attempt to turn the light on to see where the cockroaches run.”

“Now that I’ve served with them I wouldn’t compare hem to cockroaches,” Nevárez said.

Of a call for a record vote this time, “I don’t see the speaker doing that,” but it could come from a Straus supporter who wants to see what those who voted against Straus two years ago will do.

Like his fellow Democrats, Nevárez will vote for Straus if there is a record vote.

I think the guy’s a very fair guy. There’s nothing wrong with Speaker Straus saying, we’ve got Democrats in this body too and we have a tradition of Democrats being chairs and participating meaningfully and he holds to that.

For some of us it’s simple. If here is a vote, we’re going to vote for Joe Straus, no heartburn or qualms about it. For somebody who’s telling their followers, I’m going to vote for Joe Straus because Joe Straus is the only one running, well, you have a choice. If your followers really believe that you shouldn’t be supporting Joe Straus and shouldn’t be voting for Joe Straus, well, don’t vote for him.

You have that choice. If those are your principles, stand by them.