Summer session: On bathrooms, Boy Scouts, Trump, Abbott, Patrick, Straus and McRaven

Good day Austin:

Since he launched his candidacy for re-election on July 14, and the start of the special session four days later, Gov. Greg Abbott has been doing a lot of radio and TV interviews from Austin with stations across the state.

I’ve listened in to a number of them.

It’s a good way to hear what the governor has to say, what he’s messaging to audiences across the state and what kind of questions he gets.

It’s also like a vicarious little trip across Texas, all without leaving Austin.

Yesterday morning, one minute he was on with  Sergio Sanchez and Tim Sullivan on 710 AM KURV in the Rio Grande Valley, getting grilled on his initiatives  to countermand local control, and a few minutes later he was on Newstalk 550 KCRS, serving Midland-Odessa in the Permian Basin.

“This is Kris Moore in your driver’s seat.”

“And I’m Jeremy Jones riding shotgun.”

JJ:  As Kris said before we went to the break, we are waiting a phone call from the Honorable Greg Abbott, the great governor of our great state, going to give us a live update from Austin on their special session that started last week and they’ve already got some bills passed through.

KM: They have. They have.

JJ: We expect to have a good conversation with him about what we can expect from the special session.

KM: They’ve got twenty items on the agenda that they’re going to be addressing on the special session that did pick up July 18, and, as we said before the break, over the weekend they did pass the bathroom bill.

JJ: Now what does that mean for you and I?”

KM: What it means is, ah …

JJ: Or should we ask the governor?

KM: We will ask the governor for sure, But what the bill says is that you have to the bathroom of your birth.

JJ: Of the gender that is on your…

KM and JJ in unison: birth certificate.

KM: Right.

JJ: There is no intermingling.

KM: No.

JJ: There is no question.

KM: No.

JJ: You go.

KM: And here he is. He’s on the phone. Good morning.

(Exchange of pleasantries with the governor.)

KM: I know you guys have been very busy, been there since July 18 trying to get 20 different items taken care of and you just signed he bathroom bill. 

What else are you doing?

 

Putting aside the possibility that because of some special cosmic/geologic worm hole in the warp and woof of the time-space continuum in the Permiam Basin in which they are living say a week or two into the future, Kris Moore was speaking too soon.

But I am entirely sympathetic to her confusion.

Not to be too crude – but this is after all the bathroom bill  and there comes a point in the life of every political issue when it is  time to **** or get off the pot.

I think there are only so many times people can read stories about its to and fro without either assuming it’s been dealt with, or losing interest.

And Gov. Abbott’s 20-item agenda?

From University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus’ blog:

Governor Abbott has taken a more hands-on role in the special than he did in the bulk of the regular 85th Session but this isn’t a guarantee of success, especially with Speaker Straus’s cagey remark in Lawrence Wright’s New Yorker article that the House is under “no obligation to pass anything.”
 
Do the number of items on a governor’s call have an effect on the volume of legislation passed?  A little.  The graph below estimates the ratio of bills introduced to those passed graphed against the number of items on a special session call from 1991 to 2013.*  The effects are modest but show an interesting pattern:  more items on a call reduce the predicted pass rate of legislation in the special session. 
  
The passage of a bill doesn’t guarantee the bill is the “right” bill by a governor’s definition, but this gives us a flavor for how more items on a call reduces legislative productivity in a special.  Governor Abbott’s rather large menu of items may please the Republican base but could also hurt his chances of getting more legislation “signature ready.” 

 

And besides, it’s summer in Texas and very hot.

There is a reason, Rottinghaus said, why networks don’t roll out new shows in the summer.

And, the history of successful summer replacement shows is lean, Sonny & Cher being the notable exception.

And, I’m sure that Sonny & Cher weren’t up against anything like the Donald Trump Variety Hour.

I mean, seriously, how does one compete with what is going on in Washington?

Let’s face it, the man, our president, is a rating’s hog.

And each day, almost every hour, is more bizarre and gripping than the one that preceded it.

In true Emperor Has No Clothes fashion, I assume we are headed to the day when President Trump addresses the nation wearing nothing but a long, red tie.

For transfixing, stream-of-consciousness weirdness it would seem nohting could top yesterday’s speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia – with Eagle Scout Cabinet members Ryan Zinke, in Boy Scout uniform, and Rick Perry, in Trump Scout uniform (dark suit, white shirt, Trump red tie) – standing behind their man.

But, of course, something will, maybe before you read this.

 

Years from now, this speech may be the essential document of the Trump years.

Trump:

I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them. Man, this is a lot of people. Turn those cameras back there, please. That is so incredible.

By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible massive crowd, record-setting, is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero?

(APPLAUSE)

The fake media will say, “President Trump spoke” — you know what is — “President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.” That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.

Thank you. And I’m honored by that. By the way, all of you people that can’t even see you, so thank you. I hope you can hear.

Through scouting you also learned to believe in yourself — so important — to have confidence in your ability and to take responsibility for your own life. When you face down new challenges — and you will have plenty of them — develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything. And you learn it by being a Scout. It’s great.

(APPLAUSE)

You can do anything. You can be anything you want to be. But in order to succeed, you must find out what you love to do. You have to find your passion, no matter what they tell you. If you don’t — I love you too. I don’t know. Nice guy.

(APPLAUSE)

Hey, what am I going to do? He sounds like a nice person. He — he, he, he. I do. I do love you.

(CROWD CHANTING)

By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a Jamboree?

(APPLAUSE)

And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no. But we’ll be back.

In life, in order to be successful — and you people are well on the road to success — you have to find out what makes you excited, what makes you want to get up each morning and go to work? You have to find it. If you love what you do and dedicate yourself to your work, then you will gain momentum? And look, you have to. You need the word “momentum.” You will gain that momentum. And each success will create another success. The word “momentum.”

I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me. When I was young there was a man named William Levitt. You have some here. You have some in different states. Anybody ever hear of Levittown?

(APPLAUSE)

And he was a very successful man, became unbelievable — he was a home builder, became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful. And he’d build homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people, and he’d scour the sites for nails, and sawdust and small pieces of wood, and they cleaned the site, so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly. And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company, and he sold his company, for a tremendous amount of money, at the time especially. This is a long time ago. Sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.

And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did.

(CROWD CHANTING)

Should I tell you? Should I tell you?

(APPLAUSE)

You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.

So look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right? So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate, and they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it, and the scraps of wood. This was a big conglomerate based in New York City.

And after about a 10-year period, there were losing a lot with it. It didn’t mean anything to them. And they couldn’t sell it. So they called William Levitt up, and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said, yes, I would. He so badly wanted it. He got bored with this life of yachts, and sailing, and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places. You won’t get bored, right? You know, truthfully, you’re workers. You’ll get bored too, believe me.

Of course having a few good years like that isn’t so bad.

But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land, and he worked hard at getting zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop, and in the end he failed, and he failed badly, lost all of his money. He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party. And it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party. It was the party of Steve Ross — Steve Ross, who was one of the great people. He came up and discovered, really founded Time Warner, and he was a great guy. He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well, so I got invited to the party. I was very young. And I go in, but I’m in the real estate business, and I see a hundred people, some of whom I recognize, and they’re big in the entertainment business.

And I see sitting in the corner was a little old man who was all by himself. Nobody was talking to him. I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt, of Levittown, and I immediately went over. I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood, show business, communications people.
So I went over and talked to him, and I said, “Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.” He said, “I know.” I said, “Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?” He goes, “Not well, not well at all.” And I knew that. But he said, “Not well at all.” And he explained what was happening and how bad it’s been and how hard it’s been. And I said, “What exactly happened? Why did this happen to you? You’re one of the greats ever in our industry. Why did this happen to you?”

And he said, “Donald, I lost my momentum. I lost my momentum.”

A word you never hear when you’re talking about success when some of these guys that never made 10 cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape. But I tell you — I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.
And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true. He lost his momentum, meaning he took this period of time off, long, years, and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.

In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum. And if you don’t have it, that’s OK. Because you’re going to go on, and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great. But you have to know about the word “momentum.”

But the big thing, never quit, never give up; do something you love. When you do something you love as a Scout, I see that you love it. But when you do something that you love, you’ll never fail. What you’re going to do is give it a shot again and again and again. You’re ultimately going to be successful.

And remember this, you’re not working. Because when you’re doing something that you love, like I do — of course I love my business, but this is a little bit different. Who thought this was going to happen. We’re, you know, having a good time. We’re doing a good job.

(APPLAUSE)

Doing a good job. But when you do something that you love, remember this, it’s not work. So you’ll work 24/7. You’re going to work all the time. And at the end of the year you’re not really working. You don’t think of it as work. When you’re not doing something that you like or when you’re forced into do something that you really don’t like, that’s called work, and it’s hard work, and tedious work.
So as much as you can do something that you love, work hard and never ever give up, and you’re going to be tremendously successful, tremendously successful.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up since the election, November 8th — do we remember that day? Was that a beautiful day?

(APPLAUSE)

What a day.

Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th where they said, these dishonest people, where they said, there is no path to victory for Donald Trump. They forgot about the forgotten people.

By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They’re going crazy trying to figure it out, but I told them, far too late; it’s far too late.

But you remember that incredible night with the maps, and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red it was unbelievable. And they didn’t know what to say.

(APPLAUSE)

And you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier. We have — because New York, California, Illinois, you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania.

(APPLAUSE)

We won and won. So when they said, there is no way to victory; there is no way to 270. You know I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won. We won. One vote. I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269. But then Wisconsin came in. Many, many years. Michigan came in.

(APPLAUSE)

So — and we worked hard there. You know, my opponent didn’t work hard there, because she was told…

(BOOING)

She was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute. The car industry is moving to Mexico. Why is she going to move — she’s there. Why are they allowing it to move? And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening? They’re coming back to Michigan. They’re coming back to Ohio. They’re starting to peel back in.

(APPLAUSE)

And we go to Wisconsin, now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican. But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds. And I’d leave these massive crowds, I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?

The polls, that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.

(APPLAUSE)

So I have to tell you, what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for make America great again.

(APPLAUSE)

And I’ll tell you what, we are indeed making America great again.

CROWD: USA! USA! USA!

TRUMP: And I’ll tell you what, we are indeed making America great again. What’s going on is incredible.

(APPLAUSE)

We had the best jobs report in 16 years. The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high.
We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America. We’re doing things that nobody ever thought was possible, and we’ve just started. It’s just the beginning, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, in the Boy Scouts you learn right from wrong, correct? You learn to contribute to your communities, to take pride in your nation, and to seek out opportunities to serve. You pledge to help other people at all times.

(APPLAUSE)

In the Scout oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country.

(APPLAUSE)

And by the way, under the Trump administration you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” again when you go shopping, believe me.

(APPLAUSE)

Merry Christmas.

They’ve been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, folks.

 

Statement from Cruz:

Jeff Sessions is a friend and a strong conservative.  I was proud to vote to confirm Jeff and to vigorously defend his confirmation, and I’m deeply gratified that we have a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as Attorney General.  The stories being reported in the media tonight are false. My focus is and will remain on fighting every day to defend 28 million Texans in the U.S. Senate.

The Texas special session simply can’t compete.

And, it seems that maybe the momentum – to use Trump’s word of the day – may have shifted on the bathroom bill.

Coming out of the regular session Patrick seemed on fire and Straus on the ropes.

But something seems to have changed.

 

Straus now has the bearing of a man who thinks he can keep the bathroom bill off the floor without a wholesale mutiny from his members.

From an interview yesterday with NBC 5, DFW, political reporter Julie Fine

“I feel fine, you know, I feel good. I would rather not be in special session this summer,” Straus said.

It is not the special session he wanted, and Straus has become the Republican voice against a so-called “bathroom bill” that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and some others have touted. The legislation, Senate Bill 4, is likely to pass the Texas Senate, and Fine asked whether it will make it the House floor.

“Well, I hope it does not. My views on the so-called ‘bathroom bill’ are pretty well known, and I can’t see why we would want to walk right into the problems that North Carolina experienced,” Straus said.

Patrick maintains this bill is what Texans want, but Straus disagrees, saying he has heard from business leaders, law enforcement and educators who are concerned about this bill.

“I just believe it is not in the best interest of Texas to pass that bill,” Straus added.

The House just passed the routine sunset bill, so now lawmakers will address other issues. Straus says education is a priority.

“I think the number one priority of the House is what it normally is, and that is to address issues of public education, and funding public education, and the related issue of very high property taxes that people are paying for. They think they are paying for their schools,” Straus said.

Fine asked Straus if he would meet with the lieutenant governor.”Well, I am always willing to talk to anybody who wants to have a constructive conversation about the issues and challenges that really do face the state of Texas,” Straus said.

The Straus-Patrick faceoff, and the Straus-Patrick-Abbott dynamics, still make this special session very interesting for those who live and breathe the Capitol.

But it is still can’t compete with the Trump Show for broader public interest.

I think what is missing, what would put some click in the heels of Texas politics this summer, would be the prospect of a real live contest for governor and lieutenant governor in 2018, which, if it is going to happen, ought to be taking shape right now.

I think even Abbott, with his $41 million and state-of-the-art organization, is jonesing for a real race.

He loves politics and competition.

I mean otherwise, why this?

From Tim Alberta and Zack Stanton in Politico

As you’re reading this, odds are a Democratic operative in Michigan or Washington, D.C., is listening to Kid Rock’s gravelly voice—rapping, shrieking or crowing, depending on the song—and meticulously cataloguing every single offensive syllable. The renegade musician and prospective candidate for U.S. Senate is an opposition researcher’s dream come true: For more than two decades, Robert Ritchie—or Bobby, as he asks people to call him—has written and performed provocative records about, among other things, extravagant drug use, excessive drinking and sexual exploits with prostitutes, strippers and Hollywood starlets. These lyrics are far from hollow. Kid Rock’s hard-partying image is central to his popularity and has been exhaustively documented in media accounts over the years. Political opponents will be digging through more than just his albums, too: There’s the sex tape he starred in, the arrest following a Waffle House brawl, the no-contest plea to charges he assaulted a DJ at a Nashville strip club, the messy divorce from Pamela Anderson. If that weren’t enough, he has offered other forms of ammunition to potential foes in interviews over the years, such as when he told Rolling Stone of his distaste for Beyoncé (“I like skinny white chicks with big tits”) and gave the New Yorker his stance on same-sex marriage (“I don’t give a f*** if gay people get married. I don’t love anybody who acts like a f*****’ faggot”).

Because of his manifest rebelliousness—the offensive language, the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, the middle finger to polite company—Kid Rock’s tweet last week announcing that he is considering a campaign for U.S. Senate in Michigan was met with predictable contempt from the political class. How dare the foul-mouthed, long-haired, wifebeater-wearing, Jim Beam-swigging, self-described redneck suggest he belongs in the world’s greatest deliberative body? Moreover, critics had immediate cause to call his bluff: The website he tweeted out, http://www.kidrockforsenate.com, links to a merchandise store hosted by Warner Bros. Records, and Ritchie, who’s gearing up for a fall tour, also just happened to release two new singles from his forthcoming album. Consensus formed at warp speed in the Acela corridor that it’s a money-making publicity stunt, that Kid Rock for Senate should not be taken seriously.

 
That might be a huge miscalculation.

Yes, healthy skepticism is warranted: Not a single prominent Republican in Michigan told us they’d heard from Ritchie or his associates about a campaign. Good musicians are great marketers, and Kid Rock has been brilliant in terms of creating and selling a brand. His flirtation with electoral politics could be nothing more than a promotional ploy aimed at rekindling interest in his career—he’s had only one single reach any of Billboard’s charts in the past four years—and boosting his bottom line. And yet this theory doesn’t appear consistent with the man himself: Ritchie, who already boasts a huge and devoted following, has sold tens of millions of albums and amassed what he calls “f*** you money”—enough of it, in fact, that he has given seven-figure sums to charity and capped ticket prices to his concerts at $20 to make them accessible to working-class fans. Meanwhile, he’s earned a reputation in his native southeast Michigan as someone who is earnest when it comes to civic involvement, helping local businesses and headlining major philanthropic events. When Mitt Romney asked for his endorsement ahead of the pivotal Michigan primary in 2012, Ritchie invited him to his Metro Detroit home and peppered him with a list of policy questions, sleeping on the decision before informing Romney the next day he would support him. The two forged an unexpected bond: Romney adopted the patriotic rock anthem “Born Free” as his official campaign song, and Ritchie later praised the former Massachusetts governor as “the most decent motherfucker I’ve ever met in my life.”

None of this guarantees Ritchie will run, but it suggests he shouldn’t be mocked when he says he’s thinking about it—especially now that the media and the left have summarily and sneeringly popped his trial balloon. This same dismissiveness greeted (and motivated) Donald Trump throughout the 2016 campaign, and yes, given that Americans last fall elected a foul-mouthed political novice who was heard boasting on audiotape of grabbing women’s genitals without their permission, it’s worth noting that significant parallels exist between the rock star and the real estate mogul. So if you’re still not taking Kid Rock seriously, here’s why you should: His path to the U.S. Senate is far easier than Trump’s was to the White House.

So, is there a Democratic Kid Rock of Texas to give Abbott a run for his money?

No. Not that I know of.

But Erica Grieder has an idea.

 

Would McRaven do it?

Probably not.

But if he did, and he won, and was elected governor of Texas in 2018, quicker than you can say Ted Cruz, he would be the prohibitive favorite to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020.

When McRaven took the job as UT chancellor  there was scuttlebutt that he was preparing for a spot as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

From a story by Howard Altman in the Tampa Bay Times  when McRaven  retired as commander of the  U.S. Special Forces Command:

Nan McRaven said she doesn’t know her brother’s future plans, though whatever they are “I am sure it will bring great things.”

The family, she said, is “so proud of his career and what he has done for the country.”

She also said she is looking forward to spending more time with her brother, as is his wife and children.

Like McRaven’s sister, retired Vice Adm. Maguire doesn’t know for sure what’s on the horizon for his old friend.

Maguire said he and McRaven have been close friends for nearly four decades. He was in SEAL training a year ahead of McRaven and now McRaven and his wife Georgeann serve as godparents to Maguire’s sons.

“I’ve heard all the rumors,” he said, ranging from being named the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to running for office as either governor of Texas or even Hillary Clinton’s veep.

He dodged that bullet. Or, who knows, maybe he might have changed the outcome.

Here from a speech he delivered to the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America Dinner on November 19, 2015

It dawned on me relatively late in life that along with the Scouts, the military is one of the only institutions that explicitly teaches the values and principles of leadership. 

When I finally left college and joined the Navy, I found an entire ecosystem dedicated to building character and changing lives.

Loyalty, courtesy, kindness, courage, reverence, optimism – these core values are not just inherent in the boy scouts—they are universal for organizations that make a difference.

While folks would never mistake Navy SEALs for Boy Scouts, you might be surprised by the similarities—the  understanding on our part that character matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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