This year, Wendy Davis Day was observed on a Monday

Good day Austin:

Like the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were

Oh, I’m sorry. I was lost in a reverie, recalling that day three years ago when I, only six months a reporter in Austin, a stranger in a strange land, found myself thrilled to be covering a truly exhilarating moment of genuine historical drama.

The Texas Capitol was the center of the political universe, the building fairly shaking, throbbing, pulsing with tension and consequence, with Wendy Davis – and that terse bard of the Texas Senate, Mike Ward – seizing the Twitterverse by the neck and shaking it for all it’s worth, and the moribund corpse of the Texas Democratic Party, laid out cold on a slab, being thumped and electric-shocked back to life.

I had been up the night before writing an anticipatory First Reading so I had only had an hour or two of sleep before showing up in the Senate that morning, and never leaving until well after it culminated in a delirious moment of confusion/triumph/defeat that made Mr. Smith, and all the fuss made about him, seem quaintly understated.

For that Sunday’s Statesman I wrote:

By standing her ground on the Senate floor for nearly 13 hours Tuesday against legislation that would severely restrict access to abortions in Texas, the petite Davis, in her now-celebrated rouge red Mizuno Wave Rider 16s, had provided downtrodden Texas Democrats with their best moment of the 21st century.

Overnight, Davis had raised the possibility that Democrats, against all odds, might mount a serious campaign for governor in 2014, scrambled Gov. Rick Perry’s political timetable, undermined Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s chances of re-election, and revised the politics of abortion in Texas by pushing final passage of Senate Bill 5 past its midnight deadline.

“That was the moment when the Democratic Party in Texas came alive,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the next day. “I was in the Texas Legislature for 10 years waiting for that moment. I never got it. It happened last night.”

Castro made the remarks on “All In” with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, the cable TV network of Democratic hopes and dreams, which in the past week, has been wall-to-wall Wendy.

“In my political career – and this is my sixth regular legislative session and 10 or 12 specials – there is nothing that compares,” said Democratic consultant Jeff Rotkoff, who predicted it will leave a profound legacy, whether it’s the more immediate gratification of a Davis run for governor, or the longer term impact on a 15-year-old who tagged along with his or her mother Tuesday to the Capitol and experienced the life-changing exhilaration of the moment.

Even in the time of Twitter – Davis’ Twitter following went from 1,200 before she began talking Tuesday to more than 116,000 – the trending trajectory of Davis’ rise is extraordinary.

When Hayes asked her whether she planned to run for governor, Davis, who this spring had said she would stick to seeking re-election to her closely contested Senate seat, replied, “You know, I would be lying if I told you I hadn’t had aspirations.”

It would depend, she said, on whether the current adrenaline rush among Texas Democrats could be maintained. Davis said she thought it could be.

But Democrats, knowing that only a truly breakthrough candidate has any chance of success statewide in Texas, are caught between wanting her to leap, a la Barack Obama, into what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and fearing they might squander their new superstar, knowing that, with the state’s changing demography, time is on their side.

Well, the adrenalin rush didn’t last, except maybe for Dan Patrick, who used the public flummoxing of David Dewhurst to launch a successful bid to remove and replace him. Davis’ gubernatorial campaign was a disaster. And somehow, when all the dust had settled, we had Sid Miller occupying the august office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner, once occupied by Jim Hightower and Rick Perry, and Ken Paxton succeeding Greg Abbott as attorney general.

Technically, Saturday was Wendy Davis Day, marking the third anniversary of her famous filibuster of Republican effort to enact legislation restricting access to abortion in Texas.


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But, like many holidays, Wendy Davis Day this year was actually observed on Monday, as the Supreme Court, with uncanny timing, struck down the abortion law that she had fought, and, for one brief shining moment, had briefly delayed.

She had ultimately lost, but now, in what is being termed the biggest Supreme Court decision on abortion of a generation, she has won.

She has been redeemed.

“This is the end of Wendy’s filibuster,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.

Some background on Miller, from the Whole Woman’s site:

My name is Amy Hagstrom Miller and I founded Whole Woman’s Health in 2003 with the mission to provide fabulous abortion care; which to me means excellent medicine for your body and mind, compassionate, supportive care for your mind and spirit. Our Whole Woman’s Health clinics provide abortion and gynecological care services. We are in the identity examination, stigma reduction, self-esteem boosting business as well. We understand that no one gets pregnant to have an abortion. We also understand that facing an unplanned pregnancy and choosing abortion involves all the big things in women’s lives – examination of identity, life, death, sex, religion, family. We are advocates for women, plain and simple, and we serve women and families with the best care possible during a difficult time in their lives.

And from

Amy Hagstrom Miller, who will face the Supreme Court next month in defense of her group of clinics, Whole Woman’s Health, is one of those Don’t-Mess-With-Texas women whose fight for rights has improved the lives of other women and families across America.

Hagstrom Miller is a mission-driven small business owner. At age 21, after graduating from Macalester College with degrees in religious and international studies, Hagstrom Miller accepted a job in a family planning clinic that faced hostile protests and regular threats of violence. She was motivated, she says, by her commitment to human rights and justice, a desire to be deeply present with women facing hard decisions and shaping their own futures with intention. Twenty-seven year later, Hagstrom Miller owns eight clinics in five states, many in hard-hit communities. Their name, Whole Woman’s Health, reflects her ongoing determination to treat abortion care as more than a medical procedure:

“This is the first victory we’ve had in decades,” Miller said Monday.

So, OK, Wendy Davis was not destined  to be the next Ann Richards.

But, with Monday’s Supreme Court decision, that failure receded between the twin triumphs of her filibuster and its ultimate affirmation by the highest court in the land.

Her place in history is secure, and her pink tennis shoes, now in storage, are destined for the Smithsonian or the National Women’s History Museum, or maybe Wendy Davis Land.


From Alex Ura’s story, Abortion Ruling a Vindication For Wendy Davis and ‘Unruly Mob’

“I understand Wendy Davis is running a victory lap,” Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday at a press conference in Houston.

Republicans are already gearing up for an “absolute onslaught of pro-life legislation” in the next session that begins in January. And House Bill 2 leaves behind reduced abortion access in a state of 5.4 million of reproductive age. Only 19 clinics remain, compared to more than 40 that operated in the state before the legislation passed.

But there’s little doubt that the filibuster and the organizing efforts that marked 2013 have led to increased awareness, particularly among younger Texans, of reproductive health issues, which were already a lightning rod for legislative and political drama.

“Although you’re not always going to see 5,000 people filling the Capitol, the seeds were planted in 2013, and it’s now spreading around the state,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

Among the people spurred to action by Davis’ filibuster was Sadie Hernandez, a 21-year-old student organizer from the Rio Grande Valley who made her way to the Capitol that night.

Hernandez, inspired by Davis’ action, last year camped out in front of the governor’s mansion to protest a provision in the state budget that prevented Planned Parenthood from participating in the joint state-federal Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program, which provides cancer screening for poor, uninsured women in Texas.

Dubbing her protest the “People’s Vote,” Hernandez was joined by many other protesters during her stint at the mansion, including Davis herself.

It was a full-circle moment for Hernandez, who wasn’t deeply involved in politics before Davis’ filibuster.

Now, not everyone joined in yesterday’s fanfare for the filibuster and the filibusterer.

Ken Herman comes to mind.

Brave and contrary and maybe the slightest bit cranky, Herman was sticking to his guns that the Davis filibuster, and the chaos that ensued, was both tragedy and farce.

From his column, posted yesterday almost as soon as the Supreme Court decision was announced:

Let’s be clear here. Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Texas’ onerous abortion restriction law was a major victory for the politics — not the tactics — of the obnoxious protesters who screamed the Texas Senate into temporary shutdown three years ago.

In a ruling that agreed with the protesters’ protestations that the law went way too far, the high court threw out the statute that effectively closed some Texas abortion clinics by setting standards they could not meet.

But we err if we in any way view this as vindication or justification for the childish protest mounted by folks who didn’t seem to understand how our system works.

Those with the most votes win — at least temporarily — no matter how loud or long you yell to try to prevent the votes from being cast. Absolutely having the votes, of course, does not mean absolute power. A Constitution prevails and courts interpret the Constitution. That’s what happened Monday in the proper process — as opposed to the 2013 Senate gallery protest — available to those who believe they are aggrieved, even if they are in the minority.

I believed in 2013 that the Senate gallery protest was a low point in my more than 35 years of watching the Texas Legislature. The protesters were way out of line, then-GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst screwed up in letting it get out of hand and Democratic senators on the floor acted unconscionably in waving their arms to further rouse the rabble in the gallery.

And the screamers, it turned out, couldn’t have been more wrong in predicting their nonsense would be s a landmark turning point that would change the course of Texas political history.

Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, the performer of a vote-stalling filibuster — silly stunts of endurance not equally available to all senators — used the attention to launch her 2014 gubernatorial campaign amid Democratic optimism unseen in Texas in many years.

She, of course, wound up losing to Republican Greg Abbott by a wider margin than Democrat Bill White lost to Republican Rick Perry four years earlier. So much for Democratic optimism.

Anybody have a possible 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee with a chance of winning?

Well, as I recall, Ken didn’t like Mr. Smith’s filibuster any better, describing it as both “puerile and vexatious” (that’s how he wrote back then).

Statesman readers rewarded Ken’s forthright statement of principle on the filibuster with a succession of negative comments that might unnerve a lesser man.

A favorite, for its vivid imagery: “Herman is a slug spreading his slime on sour grapes.”

I suspect that Pillorying Herman will become a fixture of future Wendy Davis Day celebrations.

Back to my story in the immediate aftermath of the filibuster.

The fervor for abortion rights – so evident in the din created in the Senate gallery Tuesday night that proved instrumental in delaying final passage until just past midnight – was new.

“Historically, there’s been an emotion and energy gap,” observed Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson. “The right-to-life people are always more motivated than the choice people. Last week that gap seemed to close.”

It is not that most Texans share Davis’ liberal views on abortion.

According to the UT/Tribune poll, 36 percent of Texans – including 59 percent of Democrats – agree that abortion should always be legal, and those numbers have, in fact, ebbed a bit since February.

The numbers of Texans who support an outright ban on abortion are even smaller – 16 percent of all Texans and 27 percent of Republicans – though those numbers are on the rise.

But, despite the emotion it provokes, only 2 percent of respondents in the survey consider it the most important problem facing the state.

In the days leading up to the filibuster, Democrats succeeded in framing the abortion legislation as tantamount to an effort to ban most abortions. Meanwhile, abortion opponents were largely absent from the debate because they didn’t want to do anything to slow a process that was heading in their desired direction.

“I don’t think that the Republican majority was at all effective in the arguments that this was an attempt to protect women and bring facilities up to speed,” Jillson said. “You can look right past that to the idea of their taking any opportunity to push the right-to-life agenda.”

“That’s why Dewhurst’s tweet was such a big tell,” said Jim Henson, who directs UT’s Texas Politics Project, referring to a tweet by Dewhurst for the bill that linked to a Planned Parenthood Web page predicting, “If SB 5 passes, it would essentially ban abortions statewide.”

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It was the first of several miscues for Dewhurst, with state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, grousing off the floor about four hours into the filibuster that it should be brought to a halt sooner rather than later.

“I just find it sad that there were people applauding Wendy Davis when she walked on the floor,” Patrick said. “So, we’re going to stand on our rulebook, our 25-year-old rule, and let a baby die a horrible death in the womb?”

Two days later, Patrick announced he was challenging Dewhurst’s re-election, joining a field that already included Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, in what promises to be a bitter GOP primary and another potential target of opportunity for Davis or another Democrat. (So far, no Democrat has indicated plans to run for any statewide office in 2014.)

We know how this all ends, sort of, but not entirely.

Yes, Wendy Davis is not governor. Yes, Dan Patrick is lieutenant governor.

But I think of what Jeff Rotkoff suggested in the immediate aftermath the filibuster.

It will leave a profound legacy, whether it’s the more immediate gratification of a Davis run for governor, or the longer term impact on a 15-year-old who tagged along with his or her mother Tuesday to the Capitol and experienced the life-changing exhilaration of the moment.

We don’t know how that ends. That 15 year old can vote this year, and, before long, run for office on his or her own.

And, I think the Davis filibuster, in which she read from countless wrenching personal accounts, had something to do with changing the nature of the debate about abortion in ways reflected in yesterday’s decision.

From SCOTUSblog – Symposium: Abortion rights come out of the shadow – by Jessica Pieklo, vice president of Law and the Courts at Rewire.

Nearly sixteen years to the day from the last Supreme Court ruling in support of abortion rights and it is Justice Stephen Breyer, again, leading the push back against state-level abortion restrictions. Only unlike his majority opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck as unconstitutional Nebraska’s so-called “partial birth abortion ban” and opens with a concession that the Court understands “the controversial nature of the [abortion] problem,” then practically apologizes for describing the details of the specific abortion procedure at issue, Monday’s opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt does just the opposite. It embraces, entirely, the reality that abortion is a fundamental right, a medical procedure that one in three women will need in their lifetime, and should not therefore be subject to the regulatory whims of anti-abortion lawmakers.

For abortion-rights advocates, the decision represents not just an important win, but signals an important rhetorical shift on the legal debate over abortion rights at a time when state-level restrictions threaten to render that right legal in name only.

At issue in this case were two provisions of HB 2, a Texas omnibus anti-abortion law passed in 2013 despite vigorous opposition including the “people’s protest” and an eleven-hour filibuster by then Texas state senator Wendy Davis. Those provisions required doctors performing abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and also required abortion clinics to meet the same architectural standards as surgical centers, even if those clinics did not offer surgical abortions.


Which is why it was important for abortion rights advocates that Monday’s decision not just strike down the Texas restrictions as unconstitutional, but do so in an opinion that dealt with abortion in a frank and unapologetic fashion while instructing the federal courts to do the same. “The statement [by the Fifth Circuit and advanced by the state of Texas] that legislatures, and not courts, must resolve questions of medical uncertainty is also inconsistent with this Court’s case law,” wrote Breyer. “Instead, the Court, when determining the constitutionality of laws regulating abortion procedures, has placed considerable weight upon evidence and argument presented in judicial proceedings.”

Those two sentences may not sound that remarkable — of course it is the job of the federal courts to weigh the evidence when there is a question of medical or scientific uncertainty — but in the context of the fight over abortion rights and access, those two sentences from Breyer are practically revolutionary.

Anti-abortion lawmakers have succeeded in advancing restriction after restriction in large part because of a cultural reluctance to speak frankly and openly about abortion, which includes pushing back against the suggestion that restricting access to abortion ever advances patient safety. As Texans felt the impact of HB 2, and as other states followed suit in enacting their own TRAP laws and more and more clinics closed, an amazing thing happened. People started sharing their abortion stories publicly and in ways designed specifically to affect not only the public debate over HB 2 but also the Court’s consideration of the claims against it. Doctors spoke out. Patients spoke out. Family members spoke out. For the first time in the Court’s history, female lawyers shared in detail with the Supreme Court their stories of how safe and legal abortion care made their careers, and their lives, possible.

Those stories were not apologetic over the need for an abortion. They did not shy away from the medical realities of abortion. Instead they affirmed the very core of abortion-rights jurisprudence from Roe v. Wade, which is that reproductive autonomy is a fundamental right and the right to choose is just that: An expression of that autonomy.


What’s next for Wendy Davis?

I doubt she’ll run for office again.

I think her future rests with Hillary Clinton and whoever runs MSNBC.

In the meantime she has started an organization, Deeds not Words.

There’s so much that needs to change—and so much red tape to navigate – it’s hard to know where to start. Believe us, we’ve been there. That’s why we, a group of passionate people led by Wendy Davis, created Deeds Not Words.

Deeds Not Words is your starting point for turning ideas about women’s equality into action. We’ll provide the tools you need to make changes in your community – like sample letters for legislators, toolkits, and a community where you can share stories and get advice.

Join us. Because we’re the #ChangeMakers.

OK. But I assume Deeds not Words is drawn from the rallying cry of The Women’s Social and Political Union, the leading militant organization campaigning for women’s suffrage in Great Britain from 1903-1917


Here, from the British Parliament web site entry on Deeds not Words.

Imprisonment for their actions became an important tool for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and led to another important tactic, hunger striking.

Hunger strikes

The first hunger strike was undertaken by Marion Wallace-Dunlop in 1909 as a protest when she was not given political prisoner status in prison. She had been arrested for damaging a wall in St. Stephen’s Hall in the Houses of Parliament.

When imprisoned, suffragettes would go on hunger strike, leading to the authorities force-feeding women in prison, a dangerous and humiliating treatment which provided the suffragettes with powerful propaganda.

‘Cat and Mouse Act’

The Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health Act, also known as ‘The Cat and Mouse Act’ was passed in 1913. This permitted the early release of women who had become so ill as a result of their hunger strike that they were at risk of death but required that they return to prison when their health was better to continue their sentence.

The hunger strike/force feeding process then began all over again.

Conciliation Bill

In 1910, a Conciliation Bill was read in Parliament. The bill was written to extend voting rights to women but failed to become law. Following its failure there were violent clashes outside Parliament. There were further Conciliation Bills proposed in subsequent years but they failed to resolve the situation.

Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison was particularly committed to ‘deeds not words’, notably hiding in the House of Commons on a number of occasions, including on Census night in April 1911 when she spent the night in a cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in order to state ‘House of Commons’ as her address on her census return.

She was imprisoned eight times for offences including assault and stone-throwing. Her final, and most dramatic, act was to step out in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in June 1913. It is unclear whether she intended to commit suicide, but she died soon afterwards of her injuries.

I can only imagine what Sir Ken Herman would have done with that.


In need of supervision? Why a lot of Democrats want to scuttle super delegates and a lot of Republicans wish they had them

Good morning:

There were a few recurring gags on the 1967 cartoon show Super Chicken.

There was  the point in most episodes where Super Chicken tells Fred, his sidekick/butler, who was always taking the brunt of their adventure, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.”

And there was this exchange, or some variant of it, between Fred and Super Chicken in which Fred, in the middle of an heroic exploit, would ask Super Chicken, “Why don’t you use your super vision?

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To which Super Chicken would answer, “If I had any supervision, I wouldn’t be running around in this funny suit.”


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I thought of this as the Democratic State Convention in San Antonio came to a wild conclusion at the Alamodome early Saturday evening with the delegates approving a few resolutions brought to the floor by outnumbered supporters of Bernie Sanders but ultimately adopted, amid a convention-wide chanting and shouting match which I, frankly, thoroughly enjoyed.

It made up for the low energy of the long, Teleprompted evening program of the night before.

Among the resolutions that passed, and the one that roused the most passion, was one to call on the Democratic National Committee to scale back the future influence of super delegates by reducing them from 15 to no more than 10 percent of all convention delegates, not allowing them to vote on the first ballot at the convention, and barring corporate lobbyists from serving as super delegates.

As succinctly explained by Emma Roller back in April in The New York Times:

Superdelegates are pre-eminently a Democratic institution: a group of more than 700 elected officials and senior party officers who are automatically entered into the delegation by virtue of their position. They account for about 15 percent of the convention’s total votes. Crucially, these superdelegates are “unpledged” or “unbound,” meaning they can change their mind about which candidate they will vote for at the Democratic National Convention in July. In other words, primary voters have no direct bearing on whom superdelegates choose to support.

Robert Shrum, a veteran Democratic consultant and a politics professor at the University of Southern California, said superdelegates are “cushy patronage for party officials and past political officeholders.”

“They’re fundamentally undemocratic,” he said. “They shouldn’t exist, and it would be wonderful if we got rid of them. Superdelegates are a poison pill that the Democratic Party has never swallowed, in the sense that they have never determined a nominee against the will of the voters.”

But, as Roller noted:

The paradox of a strong system of superdelegates in the 2016 primary season is that a significant section of the Democratic Party, which has them, wishes it didn’t, while the leadership of the Republican Party, which doesn’t have them, may well wish it did.

Left-wing Democrats have long argued that their party’s system of superdelegates is unfair because it gives too much weight to ruling elites, disenfranchising ordinary voters. Hillary Clinton’s lead in the delegate count — even as her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, racks up win after win in state primaries and caucuses — has only sharpened the debate.

At the same time, with the failure of any establishment candidate to stop the populist insurgency of Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party also seems saddled with rules it doesn’t like. In its case, though, party leaders may wish they had something more like the Democratic approach.

That was back in April and that “party leaders may wish,” is now more “party leaders would give anything if,” because they are frantically aware that if the party goes ahead and nominates its “presumptive nominee” in Cleveland in July, they will be left telling the Freds of America, “”If we had any supervision, we wouldn’t be making Donald Trump our candidate for president.”

Remarkably, Super Chicken had an episode – The Wild Hair – in which Super Chicken and Fred must tame a giant, out-of-control hair piece created by a mad scientist.

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Super Chicken and Fred try everything – attacking the hair with a razor, which only makes it grow stronger, and with hair spray – “It only made  the hair shiny and soft to the touch.”

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They chase the hair across the country to “Texas, at the Houston Barber Supply Warehouse, where it had glutted itself on a week’s output of  hair restorer.”

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“It’s bigger than ever,” said Fred.

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But it is then that Super Chicken has his aha moment.

Super Chicken: Fred, what makes hair fall out?

Fred: Gravity?

Super Chicken: “No. Worry. We have to worry that giant toupee to death.”

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Super Chicken proceeds to harass the toupee with late-night phone calls, salacious rumors, scare headlines.


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And finally, his masterpiece, a telegram from the toupee’s draft board classifying it 1A.


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Note this was 1967.

And here from Craig Whitlock last July in the Washington Post, which Trump has banned from his events.

A few weeks after his 22nd birthday, Donald Trump received a notice from the federal government. On July 9, 1968, his local draft board had scrawled a “1A” beside his name in its handwritten ledger, classifying him as available for unrestricted military service.

For the previous four years, Trump had avoided the draft — and the possibility of being sent to fight in the Vietnam War — by obtaining four separate deferments so he could study at Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania. With his diploma in hand and his college days over, he was suddenly vulnerable to conscription.

Trump’s exposure to the draft, however, didn’t last long. Two months later, on Sept. 17, 1968, he reported for an armed forces physical examination and was medically disqualified, according to the ledger from his local Selective Service System draft board in Jamaica, N.Y., now in the custody of the National Archives.

With news of his 1A classification, the remaining hair fell out the tortured toupee, leaving nothing but a giant, bald dome.

“But what are we Houston folks going to do with a ten-foot dome?”

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“What else?” Super chicken says. “Play ball.”


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And thus the Astrodome – (completed just two years before the episode was aired) was given a creation story.

Amid Trump’s troubles, he had a good couple of days in Texas last week, with three fundraisers – in Dallas, San Antonio, simultaneous with and a dozen miles away from the Democratic Convention, and Houston – and rallies in Dallas and The Woodlands.

Here is Trump Saturday night, even as the Democratic Convention was going on, with a huge, wild and woolly rally in The Woodlands, veritably feasting on hair restorer, if you will, from the mad, shouted opening invocation on.

Meanwhile, even as Texas Democrats – at a convention dominated by Clinton delegates –  were voting in their most raucous moment, to demand that their national party curb the future influence of super delegates – the Democratic Caucus of the Congressional Black Caucus was issuing an open letter saying that the super  delegate system has worked quite well and in the party’s interest, and should not be changed.


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Sanders has always been elected as an Independent, and only became a Democrat to run for president –  a fact that Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Houston, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Clinton insider, reminded the convention of Saturday.

“If you are a Democrat — and Bernie, he’s not been one in Congress yet,” she said to roaring hoots of derision from Sanders’ supporters on the floor.

Sanders ran against the Democratic establishment, but black elected officials are a bulwark of the  Democratic establishment, which is why Barack Obama had to prove he could beat Hillary Clinton – and John Edwards – with white voters in Iowa, before black leaders and black voters would throw their lot with Barack Obama, and only went with the outsider because he was a once-in-a-lifetime political talent on his way to becoming the first African-American president of the United States.

Now that establishment looks forward to making amends to Hillary Clinton, who was a good sport, serving as Obama’s secretary of state and cloaking her campaign in her greater faithfulness to Obama than Sanders. And black voters were, overwhelmingly, Clinton’s most devoted supporters, and it was they, not super delegates, who guaranteed her nomination.

In other words, the super delegate debate is complicated, even, maybe especially, from a progressive perspective.

From the Secret History of Super Delegates, a cover story last month in In These Times  Branko Marcetic, with the subhed: 712 Democratic Officials Will Decide Whether Clinton or Sanders Wins the Nomination. Newly published documents show that’s what the party planned all along.

Since its launch, a specter has haunted Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. It’s not his age, though at 74 he would be the oldest president in American history. And it’s not that he’s an avowed socialist, the label that a mere eight years ago was used to smear Barack Obama as a sinister, alien threat to the American way of life. Rather, it has been the so-called superdelegates—the 712 Democratic Party insiders who are free to vote at the nominating convention for the candidate of their choosing.


The Democratic Party’s bizarrely undemocratic process raises an obvious question: Why did it choose to institute such a system? To answer that, you need to go back to the Hunt Commission, which in 1982 invented the superdelegate.

The proceedings of the Hunt Commission were never published, so In These Times went to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to study the transcripts of the seven-month-long discussions. The records paint a picture of a party eager to win and convinced that, in order to do so, it must return control of the nominating process to top officials. It’s a strategy that reflects a shift in the party since the 1970s, away from the grassroots—a shift that has led to tensions within the party that are boiling to the surface with Bernie Sanders’ campaign.


 The superdelegates’ kryptonite

In recent months, momentum has been building on the Left to overhaul the Democratic Party nomination system, including superdelegates—part of the larger “battle for the soul of the Democratic Party” that has emerged in and around Sanders’ campaign.

“The superdelegates are an acid test for whether you think the Democratic Party should be democratic,” says Ben Wikler, MoveOn’s Washington director.

Kryptonite, kryptonite. Where else did I hear someone talking about kryptonite in the political context recently? (t wasn’t Super Chicken, who, as far as I know, had no weakness.)

Oh no, I’ve got it, it was Meet the Press Sunday, talking about nascent efforts by Republican delegates to do what super delegates would be doing if their party had super delegates, and stop Trump in Cleveland


So could a Stop Trump effort turn into a convention coup? And if so, how?


If the polling in the contested Senate races starts dropping for the Republican candidates, that can cause a general panic amongst all the elected officials not named Donald Trump.


Already, dozens of delegates are organizing an effort to replace Trump at the convention. Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate and Rules Committee member bound to Ted Cruz, has circulated a conscience clause that she plans to introduce.


The delegates have always had right to conscience and the free will to be able to unbind themselves. And so I say that we have the kryptonite, we have the power to be able to unbind. But we were told that it’s just a hunk of glass.


Other options, a vote to unbind the delegates or require a supermajority to win the nomination on the first ballot. For delegates looking to stop Trump, the alternative is unclear. No challenger has stepped up.

It is a very, very long shot.

Roger Stone predicted yesterday that Trump and the party “would crush this little rebellion of bitter-ender Ted Cruz supporters.”

From Charles Lane earlier this month in the Washington Post: If the GOP had superdelegates, we might not be in this Trump mess

Clinton got more primary votes and non-superdelegates than Sanders did anyway; thus, as many election analysts have noted, she probably would have won sans superdelegates.

Still, the latter served as a fail-safe, protecting the party against a hostile outside takeover in the event that Sanders denied Clinton a majority of pledged delegates.

If only the Republicans had such a circuit breaker! Instead, they were left at the mercy of an untameable intruder, Donald Trump, and the large but motivated minority of primary voters he inflamed by attacking the GOP and its leaders — as well as by vilifying various minority groups and repeatedly violating basic behavioral norms.

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(Note: The elephant images are from The Elephant Spreader, another remarkably prescient episode of Super Chicken, “in which Prince Blackhole of Calcutta is tired of the searing heat and ships elephants to every address on the other side of the planet. This causes the earth to shift and let it snow in India.” Man-made climate change! 1967!)

More from Meet the Press:

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: All I want to make sure is that it’s done above board clearly, honestly, and by the rules. So I see my role now given that he’s got the plurality, he actually won, is pretty much a ceremonial position. But the last thing I’m going to do is weigh in, and tell delegates what to do–how to do their jobs.

CHUCK TODD: All right. I guess so if they decide to change the rules, which they can do, you’re comfortable with however they change the game?

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: You’re asking the wrong person. You should ask the party. You should ask Reince Priebus. You should ask the delegates. I think the Rules Committee meets the week before or something like that–

CHUCK TODD: But if you have an opinion on this it matters–

SPEAKER PAUL RYAN: My opinion is not relevant here. I’m not going to tell the delegates how they should do their jobs, because I am Chair of the convention.

CHUCK TODD: As you know, there’s a ton of prominent Republicans that said they’re not going to do it. Governors of Maryland and Massachusetts. You know the handful of senators, whether it’s Senator Sasse, Senator Grant. Do you think it is that members in the House Republican Conference; follow your conscience. If you don’t want to support him, don’t do it?


Oh, I’m not going to tell– Absolutely. the last thing I would do is tell anybody to do something that’s contrary to their conscience. Of course I wouldn’t do that. Look, believe me, Chuck. I get that this a very strange situation. He’s a very unique nominee. But I feel as a responsibility institutionally as the Speaker of the House that I should not be leading some chasm in the middle of our party. Because you know what I know that’ll do? That’ll definitely knock us out of the White House


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CHUCK TODD: While hearing the speaker of the House tell members of his own party that they have a hall pass to walk away from their presidential nominee was extraordinary. And not surprisingly, Donald Trump was eager to respond. My colleague Hallie Jackson caught up with Trump yesterday, just before he held his rally in Las Vegas.



Well, we have to do what the Republican party is unify. I hope to see Speaker Ryan focusing on the budget. It’s a big job to get the budget down the way it should be. And other than that, I have no view on it.


It doesn’t bother you? The most powerful Republican in Congress isn’t telling his people to fully back the presumptive nominee?


I don’t know that that’s what he’s saying. He has endorsed me. And I tell you, you see the crowds I’m getting, you saw last night in Houston, you see today in Nevada, I think we’re going to do very, very well.


You told me recently that your campaign hasn’t even really started yet.


We really haven’t started. We start pretty much after the convention, during and after.


What’s taking you so long? Why wait? Hillary Clinton has a big head start.


Oh, well I’m doing well. She has a head start, but I’ve raised a lot of money for the party. We’re doing very well. Millions of dollars just this weekend.


Not as much as her.

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I don’t think we need frankly as much. And she’s selling herself to Wall Street and the Wall Street fat cats are all putting up a lot of money for her. And I don’t even want that kind of money. What I’m doing is, and I don’t think we need that money. I don’t think I need that money, frankly. I mean, look what we’re doing right now. This is like a commercial, right, except it’s tougher than a normal commercial.

Look, we’re going to raise a lot of money, I’ve raised a lot of money this weekend, I’m raising it for the Republican party. I mean, I’m doing a good job. If you look at Reince, he’ll say that we have done an amazing job in a very short period of time. I think we’re going to have a great convention.

And I think we’re going to go onto a great victory. It would be nice if the Republicans stuck together. I think because I’m a different kind of a candidate and, you know, Paul Ryan said that, I’m a different kind of a candidate, I think that I win either way. I can win one way or the other.


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With them or without them?


I do believe that. But I think because I obviously won the primaries without them, I’m an outsider and I won the primaries. I do believe that we can win either way. But it would be nice if we stuck together.


Last one for you before they pull me out of here. I talked with a lot of Republicans. Your critics say within your own party your campaign is not organized well enough, it doesn’t have the money, and it doesn’t have the infrastructure in the battleground states. How do you combat that perception? What are you doing to basically reassure people in your own party that you could actually win? There’s a real, deep concern about that.


Well, if it were short of money, because we’re raising a lot of money for the party. But if it were short of money for myself, I would put up my own money. I mean, I’d just put up my own money if it was at all short of money.


How much would you put up?


I’d put up whatever I need to win. I’d put up my own money. I wouldn’t be that generous with it outside. I mean, frankly, people have to contribute money, people have to endorse, people have to really come through. I think, you know, the one thing they’re not doing is, I’ve had so many endorsements, I mean, Darrell Issa called yesterday. And so many people have endorsed me. We have so many great endorsements, nobody ever talks about that.


If the delegates at the convention trying to overthrow?


I don’t believe that. I think that’s the press. Number one, they can’t do it legally. Number two, I worked for one year and we won all of those delegates. And, you know, I guess I’m at almost 1,600, 15 to 1,600. Remember they said the most we could get is 1,200, we’d be short of the magic number, and I got close to 1,600. So we worked for a year along with other people. And I competed along with a lot of establishment people. I beat them all.

And now a couple of them would like to come in through the back door. It’s awfully hard when I win, what did I when, 37 or 38 states? So I win 38 states and somebody else won none, and they’re going to be the nominee? I don’t think so.

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MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, on Meet the Press, said that any effort to make the bid to shear the Great hair in Cleveland appear as an organic, grassroots effort, reminded him of his father’s comb-over.

JOSE DIAZ-BALART: This reminds me of the, and my dad had this, the big comb-over, you know? The person–CHUCK TODD:

Where are you going with this?


The person with the comb-over thinks you think it looks natural. And that it really is that way. But when you’re looking at the person, you’re saying, “That’s a big comb-over.” This thing is being organic and that it comes from the bottom up is a big comb-over. It’s a big comb-over. We can see it, everybody’s going to see it. And you can say what you wish, if it’s coming from all these organized groups, it’s a comb-over.

But that was before the latest very bad news for the Trump campaign.

It was not his dismissal of the Big Lewandowski as his campaign manager.

It was this.

As Hallie Jackson pointed out on Morning Joe this morning, Ted Cruz, who dropped out of the race at the beginning of May, has fives times as much cash on hand as Trump; Ben Carson has more cash on hand, countless congressional candidates have more cash on hand.

This report doesn’t reflect the money Trump raised in Texas. But still.

“There’s  no way to spin this positively,” Jackson said. “It’s  bad new for Donald Trump.”




Meanwhile, because the Democratic Convention ran long on Friday night, they bumped a number of speakers to Saturday, and bumped John Patrick, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, from Saturday’s program altogether. Where I come from – New York – Democrats would not bump the the president of the AFL-CIO, but this is Texas, so they did.

But, courtesy Ed Sills’ Texas AFL-CIO email news, here is the speech that Patrick would have delivered.



Remarks by John Patrick
President, Texas AFL-CIO
before the
State Democratic Convention
June 18, 2016
Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
   Fellow Democrats, my name is John Patrick. I am President of the Texas AFL-CIO, an organization of more than 237,000 union members who fight for a Raising Wages Agenda in Texas.
   A Raising Wages Agenda is not only about raising your pay.
   It is also about making health care, family time, child care and a secure retirement available to all Texans.
   It is about a safer working environment. It is about fighting discrimination in all its ugly forms, both inside and outside the workplace. It is about standing in solidarity and love with the 49 promising lives lost at the Pulse in Orlando, because a Raising Wages Agenda cannot happen when hatred reigns.
   A Raising Wages Agenda is about punching the ticket of opportunity to the great American middle class. A Raising Wages Agenda enables us to work to live … rather than live to work.
   I want to give special recognition to a few of our Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations who have gone above and beyond in advancing a Raising Wages Agenda, with your help:
–El Paso delegates, you helped enact a wage theft ordinance that stops dishonest employers from paying immigrant laborers for fewer hours than they have worked.
–DFW delegates, you demanded and got rest breaks for construction workers who labor in 100-degree Texas heat.
–Houston delegates, you insisted on an ordinance that sets reasonable standards for a category of loan sharks known as payday lenders.
–Austin delegates, you rejected a $10 million attempt by ride-share corporations Uber and Lyft to regulate themselves at the expense of drivers and passengers.
–Corpus Christi delegates, you welcomed to union membership 925 military helicopter mechanics, technicians and maintenance personnel employed by a contractor at the Corpus Christi Army Depot.
–And San Antonio delegates, you gave moral support to the efforts of poverty-wage working people at our convention headquarters hotel, the Grand Hyatt. Your support enabled those hotel workers to speak up together with one clear voice and reach a better workplace deal through their newly formed union.
   Brothers and Sisters, despite these successes a Raising Wages Agenda and access to the middle class are in jeopardy. Republicans have embraced Donald Trump, the only presidential candidate I can think of who has ever said working people are paid too much in America. Trump’s Lowering Wages Agenda, which includes tax cuts for billionaires, only benefits the 1 percent.
   Speaking of the presumptive Republican nominee, how many of you are aware that Donald Trump is a bigot? Let me repeat: Donald Trump is a bigot. Trump’s attack on a courageous federal judge based on that judge’s ethnicity was absolutely atrocious. His repeated insults directed at Mexican immigrants, women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslims and people with disabilities are such disqualifiers that even Republicans have stopped making excuses for their choice of presidential candidate. But, apparently, they still intend to vote for him!
   Brothers and Sisters, we cannot and we will not allow Donald Trump to be our next President!
   I admire our good friend, Congressman Filemon Vela, whose father was a respected federal judge of Mexican-American heritage, for telling Donald Trump to shove his planned border wall up his ass. But friends, I must suggest the Congressman’s idea won’t work, for this reason: Donald Trump doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.
   In my professional opinion, this is going to be an excellent year for Democrats across the country. You are an integral part of a convention that will launch a big comeback for Texas Democrats. The platform that you will consider today presents a rock-solid Raising Wages Agenda, but even more rock-solid are the Democratic candidates who will pursue an agenda that helps all Texans, not just the privileged few.
   I congratulate Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders for waging a classic political contest that has revolved around real issues and an authentic, sincere, hard-fought struggle for the grass-roots of our party. Every delegate – every last one in this room – is a winner for having participated in this historic campaign. Thank you for the energy you are bringing to our joint struggle for a more Democratic Texas.
   In November, together we can rock the political foundations of this state. But first, we must join hands and come together. Let us all unite for a Raising Wages Agenda! And let us all continue the fight for a more Democratic Texas!
   God bless the Texas Democratic Party and God bless Texas.

And, yes, there is an apropos Super Chicken exchange, from an episode – One of our States is Missing – in which a villain by the name of Appian Way has carved Rhode Island out of the mainland, dragged it out to sea and is holding it for ransom.

It turns out that Appian Way is an old school chum of Super Chicken and Super Chicken tells Fred, he comes from money.

“But if he was born rich, why did he become a thief,” Fred asks.

“To stay rich,” said Super chicken.

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In the art of the spiel, Texas Democrats can’t compete with Donald Trump

Good morning Austin:

I was originally scheduled to arrive at the Democratic State Convention in San Antonio on Thursday. But that was before Donald Trump scheduled a two-day swing through Texas, so Ken Herman and I went to Dallas for Trump’s rally at Gilley’s South Side Ballroom on Thursday, spent the night at a hotel in Temple and then made our way to San Antonio, arriving at the Alamodome a little before noon.

Since Trump became the presumptive nominee with his crushing victory over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the May 3 Indiana primary, Trump has worked overtime to see if he could put that nomination at risk, or at any rate, make it virtually worthless once he claimed it.

But, of course, Trump, like no presidential candidate in American history, has managed to perpetually succeed by doing one thing after another, after another, after another, that seemed dead certain to destroy him but somehow, some way, only made him stronger, or at least, strong enough.

But, that said, the last few weeks have been so bad for him that I thought he was well on his way to well and truly blowing it.

But then I went to Trump rally at Gilley’s, and he had packed house in his thrall, and he was ebullient – which, for a candidate, goes a long way to selling yourself – on what was the first anniversary of his improbable, only-in-a-really-strange-America, run for the White House.

Also, as in my previous experiences at Trump rallies, Trump crowds are more interesting – and, in that, more invigorating – than you might imagine..



Or, Lance Listander, who drove up from Austin with his girlfriend, drawn by Trump’s “dynamism.”




While Trump is being widely mocked and derided for running for president on the fly and by the seat of his pants, with virtually no staff or infrastructure, when it comes to the rallies, there is not much to improve upon. Play the same three-song set by the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Elton John, get some local schmoes to make some opening remarks, and then hand it over to Trump and let him do what he wants to do until he is done.

He had the 3,800 folks at Gilley’s in the palm of his hands, and even from the road reporter next to me, who probably has heard him a hundred times, he still drew intermittent, heartfelt chuckles.

In other words, he put on a good show.

At one point Trump said how he was going to make the Republican National Convention interesting – maybe have a night of sports stars – of winners – instead of boring politicians – losers.

Nonetheless, I arrived at the Alamodome thinking that, through no fault of their own and thanks entirely to Donald J. Trump, beleaguered Democrats had an opportunity for a modestly good year in 2016.

Trump had opened the door wide. All they had to do was walk through.

But, by the time I put my head to the pillow last night, I had my doubts.

Put simply, Democrats had a simple mission. Present themselves as a sane alternative to the party of Trump. Put their best foot forward. Present the party as actually looking like the state of Texas. Showcase their stars of tomorrow, the candidates who might actually win this year, and I suppose, make a credible argument that Hillary Clinton would really be missing out if she didn’t put Julián Castro on the ticket.

And do it crisply.

But, by the time they had finished the convention program Friday night – and this is the only night of the convention, which ends this afternoon – they had dissipated any sense I had that this was going to be their year.

Here was the program for last night’s festivities.

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Lotta folks.

There were some nice moments.

But apparently the instructions were, take as much time as you like and feel free to repeat each other, because, the program fell an hour behind and what should have been Julián Castro’s prime tell fell to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, among the most insufferable members of Congress. (Don’t take my word for it. Google Sheila Jackson Lee, worst boss, boss from Hell, meanest member of Congress).

As an exiting delegate told me, she had already heard Jackson Lee deliver the speech at a big caucus earlier in the day. For most of the speakers, this was hardly their only opportunity to speak Friday.

As delegates continued to stream out, the convention planners seized control, brought Wendy Davis out to offer a modestly overlong and self-congratulatory introduction of Castro nine slots ahead of schedule so he could make the so-called keynote address.

Since Joaquin had opened the show and they are twins, Julián’s appearance seemed vaguely familiar, and while both Castros are enormously appealing characters, they are simply not commanding figures as public speakers.

Meanwhile, Trump’s simultaneous appearance Friday night at a rally in The Woodlands was, by all accounts, pulsing with mad energy.

OK. I hear what you’re saying. Hitler gave a good speech too. So did Huey Long. And George Wallace.

I also understand that just because the floor show got to be a bit tedious, that doesn’t mean that the convention, with 10,000 Democrats in the house, may not have been crackling with energy and excitement and useful networking at myriad caucus meetings and parties.

But Democrats had a bunch of reporters present and they blew a chance to show their stuff to best advantage. The big night of the convention was, in sum, enervating instead of energizing.

I also understand that I may have been cranky because, after a few bites of a blintz in Temple bright and early Friday, I could not find a morsel of food available in the Alamodome that one could avail oneself of without waiting in an endless line at one of the couple of concessions that were operating, before they ran out of food or closed.

I don’t get it. It was if the Alamodome is under some international sanctions regime.

The idea at places like this is to gouge people – I was happy to pay $7 for a coke and a bag of Cheez-Its at Gilley’s – not starve them.

Doesn’t anybody want to make money off Democrats?

Mayor Adler, couldn’t you have brought along some food trucks?

At one point I was tempted to grab a half-eaten apple out of a little girl’s hands.

I didn’t.

Here now, is a review of last night, through my eyes and that of other witnesses to history.


If you’re not speaking, you’re not in the hall

So I just left a couple of events at the Hyatt to cover some of the speeches in the Alamo Dome convention hall. It’s clear that most elected officials or Democratic power houses are not in the convention hall. Makes for a low energy session.

In other words, if you go to a Donald Trump rally, he revs you up and makes you feel like a winner. But, if you actually attended the one single night of the Texas Democratic State Convention, you were made to feel like a loser – like, why are you here and not over at the Hyatt, or somewhere else, anywhere else?

There were still signs on the floor and rhetoric form the stage plumping Castro for veep. But he had already let the air out of that tire.



Meanwhile …


Back at the Alamodome.

One of the better lines.

Back at The Woodlands.







The Woodlands.

Delegates making exodus from convention hall



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Julian Castro gives keynote speech in front of handful of tired Democrats

“I still think the American dream is not a sprint or marathon, but a relay,” he said. “This isn’t just about the past. It’s about the future… We need everyone’s God-given talent to succeed.”

Castro, the former San Antonio mayor, criticized Republicans for being divisive and against average Americans. He went through a roll call of prominent, successful Democrats, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

“Thanks to President Obama, America is poised for the future,” he said. “Barack Obama will go down as one of our nation’s finest presidents.”

Then he turned to Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“Donald Trump will never be president of America,” he said.

He added: “A good president unites America to make progress together,…A good public servant serves the people, not himself.”

Castro, mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate, said it was important to elect Hillary Clinton as president.

“Hillary has dedicated her life to fighting for fairness,” Castro said.

Castro began speaking shortly before 9  p.m., when most of the audience had left the arena.

The crowd received him warmly, albeit with little energy.

Castro took it in stride, calling Texas Democrats the “loudest, fiercest most determined Democrats in the country.”






Further evidence on why Dan Patrick’s tweet of Galatians was not an intentionally hateful act

Good morning Austin:
Life is odd. it is filled with coincidences and mistakes, except to the conspiracy minded, for whom there are no coincidences and mistakes.
Last Sunday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office tweeted its weekly Sunday Bible verse.
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Posted in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter at a gay night club in Orlando, it prompted a firestorm of tweeted outrage for whom it was  a horrible, sanctimonious expression of contempt for the victims, who, in death, had apparently reaped what they had sown.
But this read of what had happened seemed extraordinarily unlikely to me. It required one to believe that Dan Patrick – and not, as John Boehner would have it, Ted Cruz – was “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Only really.
As I reported on the tweet Sunday, it seemed to me that a more compelling, credible and rational reading of the facts was it was simply a terrible coincidence of timing, that the tweet was scheduled in advance, that Patrick – who was away on vacation on some foreign island –  only found out about what had been tweeted and the unfortunate juxtaposition with events in Florida, when I texted him Sunday morning.
Overnight Sunday, I wrote a First Reading, laying out why I thought that was the case and I why I thought the condemnation of Patrick was over the line.
That was met with some skepticism and anger and further questions.

I wondered. Could I be wrong? Did I misjudge this?

I didn’t think so, but I got in in touch with Allen Blakemore, the lieutenant governor’s political right hand, who I had talked to as events were unfolding on Sunday. Yesterday he offered to sit down and go through the sequence of events that led to the tweet. . The Statesman’s Gardner Selby, editor of Politifact Texas, who had also sent questions to Blakemore, joined us.



The first question was whether there was any documentary evidence proving the tweet had been pre-scheduled.

Blakemore said no. The social media team – Patrick’s social media consultant is Austin’s Harris Media – schedules the tweets through its own Twitter account and not through some third party.

“Unfortunately, once something is gone, it’s gone, it’s launched,” Blakemore said. There is no residual record to show that it had been pre-scheduled.

Could Twitter provide some forensic evidence that it had been pre-scheduled?

“We have asked, and it’s gone, once it goes, it goes,” Blakemore said.



After our interview with Blakemore, Gardner ran this by Apryl Pilolli, manager of social analytics for the Cox Media Group, of which the Statesman is a part. By email, Pilolli replied that yes, “through the Twitter ads platform you can schedule tweets to go out. They can go out organically or you can pay for them to be promoted. Read more here

“I am testing right now to see if there is a record of the scheduled tweet after it has been published. I will let you know after it goes out at 7:30 p.m. ”

From the link that Pilolli sent:

Now available: Scheduled Tweets

Monday, October 14, 2013 | By Christine Lee (@chrstnelee), Product Manager, Twitter Ads team  [16:27 UTC]  Starting today, all marketers using Twitter’s Ad Products can schedule organic or Promoted Tweets for specific dates and times up to a year in advance. These can be coordinated to go live with new or existing Promoted Tweet campaigns to enable you to plan your real-time campaigns at your convenience.

With scheduled Tweets, you can publish content at any time without having staff on-call to Tweet on evenings, weekends, holidays, or other inconvenient times. Advertisers also gain the flexibility to plan content in advance for events like premieres and product releases.

Scheduled Tweets are available to Twitter Ads users in all supported languages.

After her test, Pilloli wrote back, “Hey Gardner, I just confirmed that after the tweet goes out there is no way to tell that it was scheduled in advance.”
But, even without any documentary evidence of when the tweet went out, Blakemore did have evidence of the tweet being created in advance. He showed us copies of emails exchanged between members of the social media team about the selection and illustration of the Galatians tweet, beginning at 1:58 a.m. Thursday, June 9, and ending with the scheduling of the tweet at 4:12 p.m. Thursday.
And where did the social media team come up with the selection from Galatians?
“All of this comes through a program called Verse of the Day,” Blakemore said. “The social media team goes to Verse of the Day.”

Verse of the Day.

“That’s where they come from.”

In other words, Patrick’s social media team is looking for a Bible verse to schedule for Sunday June 12, and there on June 7, the Verse of the Day is Galatians 6:7.

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Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

We’re not going to fool God. While we might put up a facade for others, God knows our hearts. So, if we spend our wealth, time, and interest in other things and give God the crumbs, we need to know that we are not going to reap a bounteous spiritual harvest.


There were other suspicions. I have been sent Patrick’s Galatians tweet with a 5 a.m. time stamp. This did seem to odd to me, though I didn’t know what to make of it.

But, I’ve learned, time stamps are in the eyes of the beholder. So, for example, a person on the West Coast viewing a tweet that was sent out at 7 a.m. Central Time would see – and be able to do a screen grab – of a time stamp indicating it was sent out at 5 a.m.

I don’t think there is any there there.

Skeptics also point to the fact that there was a second Patrick Bible tweet on Sunday, posted at 7:30 a.m.

Doesn’t that second, bland tweet suggest that it might have been the pre-scheduled tweet and Galatians was posted by Patrick from his island lair in a sinister, spur-of-the-moment reaction to the unfolding horror in Orlando?
Well, there is another explanation.
It is the practice of Patrick’s office to post the same Bible verse on Twitter as on its Facebook page each Sunday.
If you look back to Sunday June 5, that same verse and image from Psalm 37:39 that appeared in the June 12 tweet, appeared on Patrick’s June 5 Facebook page.
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Now, why would that be?
Working back to figure this out, Blakemore discovered that, “The Psalm 37:39  tweet was the regularly scheduled post for June 5. It was inadvertently scheduled for June 12.”
Human error. The person charged with scheduling the June 5 tweet scheduled it to go out on June 12 instead, by mistake.
And indeed, if you look back at June 5, the previous Sunday, you find that Patrick didn’t tweet any  Bible verse that Sunday. In fact, it appears he tweeted nothing that day. His tweet stream goes directly from a tweet about the unpopularity of Obama’s transgender bathroom policy on June 4 to a tweet of remembrance for D-Day on June 6.
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Then, lo and behold, this past Sunday, the Psalm tweet popped up at 7:30 because that was when it was mistakenly scheduled to pop up.
“It was still in the queue and just went,” Blakemore said.


The other big and bitter complaint from Patrick’s critics was that it took about four hours to take the Galatians tweet down after it was posted.

As previously mentioned, Patrick was on an island and didn’t know until later in the morning what was going on, or even what Bible verse had been posted.

Blakemore was in church when the tweet blew up. He said when he first heard about the tragedy in Florida, his first thought was not that he better go check what Bible verse they had tweeted that week. In fact, in a breach of the usual protocol, the verse from Galatians had not been sent to him for his approval on Thursday. It took him a little while to figure out what was going on and rouse someone from the social media team to take it down.

“Galatians was posted as scheduled. and later deleted at my direction,” Blakemore said.

But, Blakemore said, “All of that is a distraction. The only thing that matters in my opinion is was Galatians tweeted in light of, with knowledge of,  with forethought of the tragedy in Orlando. That’s the only thing that matters.”

“I think all these things are distractions,” Blakemore said. “I think the crux of it, as I’ve said  – and it’s really back to the original question – did we send this out being mean and hateful about the tragedy in Orlando? No, it was in the pipeline. It was designed days before. It was all set, scheduled.”

And, Blakemore said, had he been sent the Galatians tweet for review before it was scheduled to run, he doubts he would have approved it, simply because it was more negative than the scripture they usually tweet since Patrick began posting the Sunday verses during his campaign for lieutenant governor.

“I think if you would go back and look at our entire body of all scripture posts for all time, they are designed to be positive and uplifting in their character and content and so I would like to think that I wouldn’t have approved that,” Blakemore said.

As for Patrick, Blakemore said he sometimes checks out the verse in advance but this time, he was away on vacation and had not. The first he knew about it was when I texted him on Sunday morning.

Will any of this persuade skeptics that Patrick’s tweet last Sunday was not an intentionally hateful act and a personification of his very essence?

Probably not.

In fact, I’m sure that I have, here, planted the seeds of countless other conspiracy theories.

In the end, Patrick would probably do well to produce his birth certificate.

For those for whom Patrick is a villain, this episode will remain embedded in their minds as vivid evidence of his villainy.

As for those at Bonnaroo, final judgement has already been rendered.

It was the tweet heard ’round the country after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s official Twitter account posted a Bible verse many believe to be in response the Orlando mass shooting. The shooting, which targeted the gay nightclub Pulse in Florida, has been deemed the worst in American history.

Patrick defended himself Sunday, saying the tweet was a regularly scheduled Sunday thing. But Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Bob Weir didn’t buy it.

During the Dead and Company’s set at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival Sunday, Weir set aside time to condemn Patrick for his tweet.

“Tell you what, I want to ask a question,” Weir said. “Is there a difference between that mindset and the mindset of the folks in the Taliban or ISIS?”

“The hatred and intolerance is the same. They may pull it out of different books but it’s the same [expletive] thing,” Weir said.



Twitter makes imbeciles of us all: On Anthony Weiner, Donald Trump and the backlash against Dan Patrick’s Bible verse

Good morning Austin:

We will begin First Reading today with a reading from Proverbs 6:16-19, New King James Version:

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

To this, I would add an eighth abomination: Twitter.

If this weekend took an epically awful turn overnight Saturday with the attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando, by a lone shooter, who apparently swore allegiance to the Islamic State, my weekend began on a high note seeing the documentary, Weiner, at the Violet Crown Cinema.

As you may recall, Weiner lost a very promising career in Congress when he was caught tweeting images of his, well, wiener, and – the real time subject of this extraordinary documentary – cost himself the possibility of a comeback win as mayor of New York, when he did very much the same thing again.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.26.32 PM

But, lo and behold, Weiner is back on the horse, tweeting again, within normal bounds, though reading his tweets is like watching someone you know to be an alcoholic enjoying a white wine with dinner – it looks safe and under control – but you know it is fraught with peril and may not end well.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 10.26.51 PM

But here is Weiner tweeting about the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard being ejected from a game for throwing behind the hated Los Angeles Dodger Chase Utley.


And here’s Weiner, whose extraordinary, long-suffering wife, Huma Abedin, is Hillary Clinton’s closest aide, on why Bernie Sanders isn’t dropping out of race even though he can’t win.

Here’s Weiner with a little Ted Cruz humor.


Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.47.37 PM

And here is Weiner with one of many dismissive tweets about Donald Trump.


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But, of course, Donald Trump – @realDonaldTrump – with his 32,000 tweets and nearly 9 million followers, is the King of Twitter.

In fact, the single biggest reason why Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States, and potentially the next president of the United States, is Twitter, which, with its instant gratification and bumper sticker mentality, is an exact match for what makes Trump tick.

Sure all that free cable helped make Trump. But the real key to his success was his ability to set the agenda, day by day, hour by hour, through Twitter.

Twitter – from the root “twit,”  a silly or foolish person – doesn’t care if its 140 characters reveal that you possess the wit of Oscar Wilde, or lay bare the sum total of your knowledge.

The only metric that matters to Twitter is impressions, engagements, retweets. Like everything else in social media, virtue is popularity, popularity is virtue, it is the only metric that matters and it destroys everything else in its path.

If America is no longer great, I know exactly when it ceased to be great, though I’m not sure of the precise date. It was probably in the late 70s or early 80s. It was the moment at which, as a sort of tag line on the national news each week, they would tell you which movies did the biggest box office that week. I remember it bothered me at the time.  It wasn’t merely a fun fact, it was tossed off as important measure of worth. A motion picture’s merit was less a function of its artistic value than its popularity. It was all about winners and losers and not good and bad.

And how did @realDonaldTrump react to the weekend attack in Orlando?

Through Twitter, of course.

OK. That last line about Obama’s refusal to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” is a standard GOP talking point and, in my view, a mile high pile of stupid, but that’s fine, though it would have been nice if there had been maybe the slightest pause Sunday to mourn the victims before each side – Republican and Democrat – opened fire on the other in casting blame.

But then look at that next – appreciate the congrats – tweet.

Hey Donald. You hear that 50 people were killed and 53 wounded overnight in Orlando, and, apparently, you say, people are coming up to you and saying, “Congratulations, Donald, you were right,” and you’re saying, “Well thank you, but I can’t be patting myself on the back at a time like this. I need to write `I told you so’ condolence cards to the families of the victims.”

Sunday was the epitome of what’s wrong with Twitter, which makes imbeciles of us all.

Which brings to the controversy surrounding Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s regular Sunday morning tweet of a passage of scripture.

Here it is, as it was posted at 7 a.m. Sunday.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 8.27.00 PM


The tweet was immediately met with an onslaught of criticism that Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, was quoting the Bible to lay the blame for the slaughter in Orlando on the victims because they are gay.

OK. Take a deep breath. Seeing that yesterday morning, it seemed clear to me that there was no more chance that Patrick had posted that quote with that intention than that Whole Foods this spring had inscribed a homophobic slur on an Austin customer’s cake, but, what the hell, that was a wild social media ride while it lasted.

At 9:41 yesterday, I sent a message to Patrick – who was out of the country on vacation – informing him that “some commenters on your tweet from Galatians this morning took it to be a comment on the shootings at the gay nightclub in Orlando. Didn’t know if you wanted to clarify.”

Patrick replied, “For anyone to suggest that is irresponsible.  Those are selected weeks in advance so graphics can be made up and scheduled to post in advance. What happened last night is an unspeakable tragedy. My prayers go out to all the families of those killed and wounded.”

The Galatians tweet was deleted.

Patrick subsequently posted this to his Facebook page.

This morning, as every Sunday morning for the past several years, we post a verse from scripture. Those posts are chosen in advance and scheduled in advance. As noted to the media earlier, the post from Galatians, that received many hateful comments, was put on the schedule Thursday. Our scripture was not posted in reaction to the shooting.

I’m actually on an island. The Internet is slow. I first heard of the news late this morning from a reporter. However, the time lag has given me an opportunity to reflect on this tragedy, your comments, our war on terrorism, our divided nation and God’s word for all of us.

The verse has nothing to do with God’s judgement on any one person or a specific group of people. If some chose to read into it what they wanted they either have never read Galatians Chapter 6 or have misread it.

Some wanted the post pulled down and others did not. Let me be clear, I didn’t pull down the FB post & tweet because God’s word is wrong. His word is never wrong. Taking down his word would be like tearing a page from the Bible because we didn’t like what God was telling us. I took it down to stop the hateful comments and the misinformation being spread of God’s message to all of us- straight or gay.

God’s message to all of us in the world is that of love and forgiveness – not hate. Jesus was clear that the only way to the Father was through him.

We are all sinners, straight or gay, and we all fall short of heaven and eternal life unless we accept Christ as our Savior. He died on the cross for all of us. Let me repeat that. He loves us all and died for all of our sins.

In the public policy arena there are differences of opinion from many viewpoints. Too often there is hate surrounding those differences. Whether it’s political parties, Presidential politics, or one of the many policy issues being debated today, our country is becoming more divided every day.

The hateful comments today following my post of a simple scripture verse, totally unrelated to the terrible killings last night, that were directed at me and God’s word, is another example of that hate. I pray these divisions will end.

Just as we saw the nation come together after 911 we need to come together again after the largest mass shooting in our history.

If some insist on hate speech as a response, that is their decision, not mine. The enemy is ISIS, not each other. We must come together to fight them. ISIS believes in the killing of gays. America does not and Christians do not. Let’s focus on the real enemy.

For those who have never read Galatians 6, here are the first ten verses. Only those who choose hate speech can suggest God’s word was directed at them. It was directed to the church of Galatia as Paul was talking to early Christians about moving from the law of Moses to the new Christian church.

Today God’s message is directed to ALL of us.

Bear One Another’s Burdens
6 Brothers,1 if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Now, I know the religious language of this response will only set those who hate Dan Patrick off. But, I think, to many of his detractors, Dan Patrick is a homophobic bigot, and no matter what he says or does, that tweet proves it, even if common sense and the clear evidence is that he didn’t intentionally post it as a comment on an event he could not have anticipated.

For those critics, Dan Patrick is guilty until proven innocent, and guilty even if proven innocent.


So, Joaquin Castro, twin co-star of the Texas Democratic Party, the party’s future, brother to the next, maybe,  vice president of the United States, believes that Dan Patrick tweeted a Bible verse with the intention of laying the blame for the Orlando shooting on its victims?

Wendy Davis upped the ante.

This assumes that Patrick is simply lying when he said the timing of that particular Bible verse was unintentional. This assumes that Dan Patrick wanted to let the world know at a moment when a gay nightclub was under siege by an Islamic terrorist, that he was willing to quote the Bible to indicate that he stood foursquare with the terrorist in the name of exterminating gay people. How else to interpret what she is saying?


Am I overstating this? I don’t think so. Listen to Joel Burns, the former Fort Worth city councilman (he succeeded Wendy Davis on the council), a very smart guy, and another bright light of the Democratic Party.



Does Burns really believe that Patrick is trying to bring down God’s wrath on the victims and their families? Seriously?

Apparently yes, and there is something about Twitter that invites and expedites that venting.

It makes imbeciles of us all.

For a few hours Sunday a bunch of Texas Democrats, ripped up by events in Orlando, desperately sought to focus their rage on Dan Patrick and on what they considered, in an awful and dangerous world, the most awful and dangerous enemy of them all – the Texas Republican Party.

Read again what Patrick wrote:

Just as we saw the nation come together after 911 we need to come together again after the largest mass shooting in our history.

If some insist on hate speech as a response, that is their decision, not mine. The enemy is ISIS, not each other. We must come together to fight them. ISIS believes in the killing of gays. America does not and Christians do not. Let’s focus on the real enemy.

I understand that Republicans – Texas Republicans in particular – are quick to blame Barack Obama for everything, to focus their hate on him.

But it seems to me that the certainty that Dan Patrick intentionally posted a Bible versus to celebrate the deaths in Orlando is as well grounded in reality as Donald Trump’s Obama birtherism.

In the same way rank and file Republicans made Trump possible because they failed to call him out on his birtherism – because, they figured, what the hell, it didn’t really matter whether or not Obama was or wasn’t born in Hawaii or Kenya or Indonesia, because Obama thought and acted like someone born in Kenya or Indonesia – Patrick haters figure it doesn’t matter whether Patrick actually posted that verse with that intention, it exposed him for who he really is.


Yes, it took a few hours for the tweet to come down. But Patrick was out of the country. His political advisor, Allen Blakemore, was in church – it was Sunday – as this was unfolding, contending with texts and Twitter. He said he made the call to take it down without consulting with Patrick, but, he said, he had to figure out what was going on, find someone from the social media team with the password to delete the post – he doesn’t have it. And it took a little while.

I know – to Patrick’s critics this is all “blah, blah, blah.”

But, unless you are prepared to conclude that Dan Patrick is an ISIS operative and part of international anti-gay jihad with advance notice of the Orlando attack, I am afraid that’s the way it is.

But, Patrick’s critics were undeterred.

From a reader:

If you look at all of Dan Patrick’s Sunday tweets with Bible quotes, I noticed they come with the tag line, “Have a Blessed Sunday.” The reaps what he sows tweet this morning at 7:00 am did not have this line. The next tweet a few minutes later with a bible verse did have it. There is always one bible verse on Sunday-why 2 this morning?

Aha. The smoking gun that Patrick really did post that tweet with ill intent.

Even the perspicacious Bud Kennedy was suspicious

Yes, the second tweet yesterday included Patrick’s Have a Blessed Sunday salutation, and that same salutation is included in his other Bible tweets of recent weeks.

But, if you look back into recesses of the long-forgotten past, way back to March and April of this year, week after week, the salutation is missing.






Well, how far back do you want me to go?

With all due respect, the attempt to divine some conspiracy here is  Paul is dead, the Walrus is Paul, Rafael Cruz passed the ammunition to Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas School Book Depository grade stuff.

Thanks to Twitter, the Texas Democratic Party – which holds it state convention later this week in San Antonio –  has been presented with a savior, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Donald Trump, who could deliver the party from the wilderness. But, if Sunday is any evidence, it can still tweet its way out of this opportunity by revealing itself as simply not credible.

I know the temptation is great.

I am sure, amid the horror of Orlando, they count the Twitter assault on Patrick as a success.

It was irresistible click bait for liberals always ready to consume the latest outrage confirming how hateful the religious zealots and charlatans posing as politicians in Texas are.

From Talking Points Memo.

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Even after all the facts were in, here was the tweet from The Hill.



And here is Sean Otto writing at the Huffington Post:  Texas Lt Gov. Dan Patrick Must Resign Over Anti-LGBT Tweets in Wake of Club Shooting

(Shawn Otto is a political advisor, novelist, filmmaker, science advocate, and social entrepreneur. His upcoming nonfiction book, The War on Science, can be ordered now. His new novel, Sins of Our Fathers is a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. He is co-founder of, which works to get politicians to debate the key science issues. He is recipient of the IEEE-USA National Distinguished Public Service Award “for elevating science and technology in the national dialogue.” He is also the writer/co-producer of the Academy-Award-nominated DreamWorks movie House of Sand and Fog. @ShawnOtto
Find Shawn on Facebook)

From Otto’s post:

Later on Sunday morning, even as criticism was growing about his first tweet, Patrick doubled down, tweeting another bible verse:

Late Sunday morning, after online criticism continued to grow, Patrick removed the posts, and a spokesman told the Texas Tribune that they had been pre-scheduled. That does not make it any better. Elected officials are there to represent everyone, impartially. Posts that seem to condone hatred of any constituency group should not be made by an elected official at any time, because they create an atmosphere of intolerance of fellow Americans that in turn can lead to violence.

People like Dan Patrick who encourage or in any way condone mass murder of fellow Americans they dislike or disagree with, however obliquely, are unAmerican and should not be in any position of authority in any state or community. This issue is not left or right, Republican or Democrat. It is about fundamentalists of any religion—Christian or Muslim—imposing their views on others. This is America. We are better and bigger than that.

Mike Huckabee, Ralph Reed, and other prominent endorsers of Patrick must publicly retract their support for his political future, or they will be condoning the same sort of assault on core American values and on fellow Americans.

This expression belongs only to brutal fascist thugs no better than Nazis, who wrap themselves in a group righteousness as they seek to deny, demean, destroy, and eject anyone not part of their authoritarian ideology, in this case, LGBT Americans. That’s why they deny science they dislike as well. Because it doesn’t support their authoritarian agenda.


It is time for a new Government in the State of Texas, and for Dan Patrick to resign.


UPDATE: Patrick has posted a statement attempting to explain his posts, bemoaning the “hateful comments” directed at him, and further quoting scripture. What it lacks is any apology or, more importantly, any expression of sympathy for the victims or their families. It’s all about him.

The leaps of logic here – all in the name of science and sweet reason – suggest that posting the verse from Galatians – at any time, in any context – is fascist hate speech. Apparently the only time it is OK to talk about reaping and sowing is when Patrick is reaping what he sowed.

Even Mr. Sulu joined in calling for Patrick’s resignation.

All I could think of is, where is Mr. Spock?

Oh yeah, he’s dead.

Twitter makes imbeciles of us all.

`Bigger than Trump?’ Can the national GOP borrow the Travis County Robert Morrow playbook?

Good morning Austin:

The Travis County Republicans, whose executive committee is meeting this evening, have come up with a nifty branding campaign to survive the impending chairmanship of Robert Morrow.




It’s well done, and the beauty of it is that, with the slightest edit – by scratching the words Travis County – our local Republicans could lend the logo to the their national brothers and sisters to deal with their own Robert Morrow problem, their own that, in the person of Donald Trump, presumptive Republican nominee.

(Morrow, from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, after his election as chairman in Texas’ March 1 primary: “I’m like Donald Trump on steroids, sweetheart.”)




And it’s not just the logo.

Read through this Q-and-A the Travis County Republicans put together about how it is contending with that whose name shall not be spoken, think Donald Trump instead of Robert Morrow, and, with just a few tweaks here and there it works pretty damn well, and shows how the local GOP is proving itself more sophisticated in dealing with its situation, than the national GOP is proving in dealing with its.


“How do you plan on getting anything done with a chairman who doesn’t support all of your goals?”

We’re bigger than a single elected official. We’re truly a “big tent” of thousands of volunteers dedicated to turning Travis County red and making Texas redder. And we made several changes to our bylaws to EMPOWER the members of our party and take things to the next level.

“Your chairman will still wield significant power and can hamstring the Travis GOP for the next two years. How do you expect to navigate that?”

We’re bigger than interpersonal squabbles. Our incoming chairman has said he is willing to do whatever he can to let the executive board lead the party in most respects, while performing his statuatory duty. He has said that he mainly wishes to have a “bully pulpit” to announce his viewpoints. We’re big enough to take a man at his word and work together with our duly elected chairman for the common good of our county party.

“You’ve taken quite a hit in the media and in the public eye. Wouldn’t it be best to quit for now and come back two years later when the coast is clear?”

We’re bigger than the new chairman’s antics. No, we’re not happy with his infamous objectivication of women or wild accusations of wrongdoing in high places, but everyone knows that those views do not reflect the values of the 99.99% of us who have respect for the opposite sex and believe in making a practical difference in politics. He’s entitled to his opinions, and we’re obliged to strongly disagree. As a matter of fact, we have officially censored him.

“But his rambling makes every one of you look bad individually. How are you going to save your reputations?”

We’re bigger than a few unorthodox rambles. The new chairman may say some odd (and, frankly, very offensive) things, but those things are not in our platform and are not what we officially believe as a body. His views are not binding on any one of us. They are his opinions alone.

“How will the Travis County GOP ever recover from this?”

We’re bigger than a public relations hit. We’ve been the smaller of two parties in Travis County since the Civil War! We’re by no means deterred by unfavorable press coverage (while very appreciative of the sympathy we’ve received from many reporters!), and are more committed than ever to our mission and core values. Now is the time to stand firm.

“What about your donors?”

We’re bigger than even the Travis County Republican Party. We’re working on setting up a separate entity to raise funds and communicate our conservative message. We’ll have more information on this development soon, but in the meantime our generous donors should know that we’re committed to safeguarding the funds entrusted to us and using our resources to make a measurable difference. We are committed to fully supporting ALL Republican candidates and officeholders, and will not officially take sides in a Primary.

“Won’t you run out of money in the meantime? The Republican Party is imploding!”

We’re bigger than our current bank statement. We host a major fundraiser every year, anyway, and expect many of our loyal supporters to return. We’re not worried, and are confident the extra attention we’ve been given will result in a record-setting fundraising year. If you would like to help us out, please DONATE HERE.

“Why are you reversing the will of the voters by taking away the chairman’s power?”

We’re certainly bigger than that, and we would never think of attempting to reverse an election (if that were even possible)! The Chairman position is given some authority and responsibility in the Texas Election Code and the Republican Party of Texas rules. All other authority and responsibility the Chairman has is what is granted by the Executive Committee. Every two years the Executive Committee, which is made up of elected Precinct Chairs, is required to develop the bylaws that will determine how much more responsibility they will delegate to the Chairman and/or other officers.


Like the ruggedly independent Central Texas conservatives we are, we didn’t lay down and lick our wounds while our detractors laughed at our misfortune.

Rather, we pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and came up with an expertly crafted plan to turn this controversy into a positive for Travis County.

Our plan to build the Travis GOP into a stronger volunteer-driven force for good in the Greater Austin area is still under development. Check back here soon for bullet-point highlights of our bylaws changes and a link to our new bylaws.

Pretty good, huh?

But, perhaps not enough to save the national Republicans from what in the last few days has come to appear the possibility of a real disaster.

Indeed, if one were to come up with a crazy-to-consequences-quotient, Trump would outdo Morrow.

But, for a bigger, more comprehensive plan to save the national GOP, we again have to look no further than the wisdom of Travis County Republicans in the person – gulp – of their incoming chairman, Robert Morrow.

There, I said it.

But let’s look at the tweetstream, or at least that which, considering the proclivities of Morrow, decency and a family newspaper, permit.


Well, as they say great minds, because, yesterday, before these last tweets, I was thinking that there had to be a lot of Republicans around the country thinking, it’s time for an intervention.



I can see the scene. Trump is called into a conference room at Trump Tower. Everyone’s there – Hope Hicks, Paul Manafort, Melania, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, the Big Lewandowski,  Omarosa, Sam Clovis, Chris Christie, Dr. Ben, Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, well, maybe not Rick Perry – and they say, “Donald, we love you, you’re amazing, what you’ve done is huge, no one’s ever done anything like it before, but, Donald, you’re not well, you have the whole weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re not sleeping right, you’re not listening to anyone, you’re not listening to the people who love you, and, Donald, you’re saying stuff that’s not good, that’s crazy, that’s hurting you, that’s hurting us, that’s going to hurt the country.”

And then what?





Unlikley? Sure. Unthinkable? No.

From my May 30 story on the convention:

The Rules Committee, which will draw up the rules that the convention must adopt as a first order of business, offers even more intriguing possibilities.

Those rules will determine whether Cruz can have his name entered into nomination, which might also offer Cruz a chance to speak to the convention by placing his own name in nomination.

In theory, the Rules Committee — with the OK of the full convention — could unbind all the delegates, unleashing all kinds of havoc.

“It’s not over till the fat lady sings,” said Ray Myers, chairman of the Kaufman County Tea Party, who will be a Cruz delegate in Cleveland.

Myers is not alone in believing there remains a whisper of a hope that Cruz could still emerge with the nomination if Trump finally goes too far.

“With Donald Trump’s personality, when he gets behind a microphone, anything can happen,” Myers said.

In just the past week, Trump suggested former President Bill Clinton was a rapist and, at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M., attacked the record of Gov. Susana Martinez, the first Hispanic female governor and head of the Republican Governors Association, who has not endorsed him.

And, with his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel and obsession with Trump U, it’s been downhill, way downhill, ever since.

During the late stages of the Republican primary campaign, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick would say that if and when it came down to a race between just Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with just the two of them up on the debate stage for an hour, Trump would be done for.


But, in retrospect, I think it was good for Trump to have Cruz in the race because it gave him an opponent who had his own negatives who he could run against and beat. When Cruz got out of the race, he did it with as frank an assessment of an opponent’s psychological problems as you’ll see.

But, as it’s turned out,  Cruz’s withdrawal from the race – by sheer accident or diabolical strategery – may have been the best way to undo Trump, leaving him all alone on the stage.

It’s as if, on bowing out, Cruz handed Trump some ball bearings and said, “Here, boss, it’s all yours, and be sure to tell them about the strawberries, I mean, Trump U. Man, that Mexican is really screwing you on Trump U. Be sure to talk about that. See you in Cleveland.”



Coming soon: `Trump U! The Musical,’ with the showstopper, `Stand By Your Scam’

Good morning Austin:

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest.

As everyone who ever personally encountered him has, in the last couple of days, told their stories, I will tell mine, which, among all the stories now being told is pretty lame, but still places me, among all the humanity who existed on Planet Earth while Ali resided here, in pretty select company.

Sometime between Dec. 3 and Dec. 6, 1969, at a time when Ali was banned from boxing because of his refusal to be drafted and his opposition to the Vietnam War, my friend Barry and I, aged 15, went to see Ali, the actor, appear in a Black Power Broadway musical at the George (no relation as far as I know to Greg) Abbott Theater, at 152 W 54th Street, which was previously a TV studio where The Honeymooners were made, and was later torn down by Hilton to expand one of its properties.



Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 1.07.40 PM


The play was Buck White, in which Ali opened the second half of the show by walking down the middle aisle of the theater in an Afro (wig?) and onto the stage for the number, We Came in Chains.


The might of Uncle Sam – and a big chunk of public opinion – may have been arrayed against the man who Ed Sullivan introduced as MuhammadAliCassiusClay when he performed We Came in Chains on the really big shoo, but Ali had, in Barry and me, two white boys from Long Island in his corner.

And, apparently not too many others because – and this is why I know with such precision when we went to see him – the show only lasted seven performances, and I think I’d remember if we were there opening night.

Buck White

George Abbott Theatre, (12/02/1969 – 12/06/1969)
First Preview: Total Previews: 16
Opening Date: Dec 02, 1969
Closing Date: Dec 06, 1969 Total Performances: 7

Really America?

December 1969. MuhammadAliCassiusClay is singing in a Black Power musical, and it only lasts seven performances?

And with a not at all terrible review from Clive Barnes?

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.07.06 PM

Which raises the obvious question?

When will we get to see Donald Trump sing on Broadway in the great White Power musical, White Bucks, or, more likely, TRUMP!!!!, or, better yet, Trump U! The Musical.

The one great sin for which Ali may have to atone to history is that he gave narcissism a good name – albeit if, as in his case, it was well-earned and imbued with good cheer.

Now comes Donald Trump, the superlative candidate for president whose credo is less float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, than  float like a dirigible, sting like swarm of fire ants.

And, if Trump U! The Musical it is, I have already come up with the showstopper number: a plaintive ballad with Trump, alone in the spotlight, singing, Stand by Your Scam.

So far, nothing has really caught up to Trump, but, the last week suggests, if anything will, it may be Trump University, if only because of how doggedly, unabashedly, brazenly, ridiculously devoted he is to a venture from which lesser men would have run as fast as they could, screaming Nolo contendere all the way.

From the Washington Post this weekend: Donald Trump said ‘university’ was all about education. Actually, its goal was: ‘Sell, sell, sell!’ by Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Dalton Bennett

Trump University was not a university. It was not even a school. Rather, it was a series of seminars held in hotel ballrooms across the country that promised attendees they could get rich quick but were mostly devoted to enriching the people who ran them.

Participants were enticed with local newspaper ads featuring images of Trump, then encouraged to write checks or charge tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards for multi-day learning sessions. Participants were considered “buyers,” as one internal document put it. According to the company’s former president, Trump did not personally pick the instructors. Many attendees were trained by people with little or no real estate expertise, customers and former employees have alleged in lawsuits against the company.


All told, Trump University received about $40 million in revenue from more than 5,000 participants before it halted operations in 2010 amid lawsuits in New York and California alleging widespread fraud. The New York attorney general estimated Trump netted more than $5 million during the five years it was active. He has since acknowledged that he gave none of the profits to charity.

This account is based on a review of hundreds of pages of internal company records that have become public as a result of the lawsuits, as well as new interviews with former Trump University employees and customers.

Many of the company’s internal records, including several “playbooks” that advised employees on strategies for pressuring customers, were unsealed in court over the past week in response to a request by The Post.

Trump and his lawyers have vigorously disputed the allegations, predicting that they will win in court and reopen the business. They point to positive customer-satisfaction surveys that have been submitted in the lawsuits and suggest they have been unfairly targeted by trial lawyers and a politically motivated attorney general in New York.


In recent days, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and her campaign have picked up on that theme.

“Trump U is devastating because its a metaphor for his whole campaign: promising hardworking Americans a way to get ahead, but all based on lies,” tweeted press secretary Brian Fallon.

Trump also last week invited a torrent of criticism, including from legal scholars on the left and right, for accusing the judge presiding over the California suits, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of being biased because he is of Mexican descent. Trump has said that Curiel is “Mexican,” although the 62-year-old was born in Indiana, and that because Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border the judge cannot properly do his job.

From Newt Gingrich, who is reportedly on the shortest of short lists to be Trump’s running-mate on Fox New Sunday.

CHRIS WALLACE:  Are you comfortable with a potential president attacking a federal judge for his heritage?

GINGRICH:  No.  This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made and I think it’s inexcusable.  He has every right to criticize a judge and he has every right to say certain decisions aren’t right and his attorneys can file to move the venue from the judge.

But, first of all, this judge was born in Indiana.  He is an American, period.  When you come to America, you get to become an American.  And Trump who has grandparents who came to the U.S. should understand this as much as anybody.

Second, to characterize, you know — if a liberal were to attack Justice Clarence Thomas on the grounds that he’s black, we would all go crazy.  Every conservative would say it was wrong and it was racism.

And Trump has got to, I think, move to a new level.  This is no longer the primaries.  He’s no longer an interesting contender.  He is now the potential leader of the United States and he’s got to move his game up to the level of being a potential leader.

But, Trump wasn’t budging.

And, on Face the Nation, Trump was still all aglow about Trump U, which he plans to reopen when he’s president.

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TRUMP: Look, I have a case where thousands of people have said it was a great school. They have written reviews where they say it`s a great school. Not a good school, like great. They gave it <the> highest marks. I have thousands of these papers.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about Trump University. You`re going to reopen it. Anything you would do differently when you reopen it?

TRUMP: Look, I guess, in life, you always do things differently.

I`ll tell you, <the> thing that we did very well is, we had evaluation reports done by all of <the> students. Without that, it would be my word against their word, I guess, or somebody`s word against their word.

We have evaluation reports where we have thousands of them, thousands of them. And these reports, they`re very detailed reports. What did you think of<the> instructors? What do you think of this? What do you think of <the>questions? One to five. Mostly five, five being excellent, right? It`s from one to five, five being <the> best.

And, a favorite refrain, repeated at a rally in San Diego last week:

I could have settled this case many times, but I don’t want to settle cases when we are right. I don’t believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler,

Trump U is a dilemma for Trump’s supporters because he seems to be saying, if it’s not legit, I’m not legit.

And that ye who doubt Trump U are of little faith. Literally.

From a piece last October in Politico by Trump biographer Gwenda Blair.  on the Trump family’s faith in Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking:

His parents, Fred and Mary, felt an immediate affinity for Peale’s teachings. On Sundays, they drove into Manhattan to worship at Marble Collegiate Church, where Peale was the head pastor. Donald and both his sisters were married there, and funeral services for both Fred and Mary took place in the main sanctuary.

“I still remember [Peale’s] sermons,” Trump told the Iowa Family Leadership Summit in July. “You could listen to him all day long. And when you left the church, you were disappointed it was over. He was the greatest guy.”


Known as “God’s salesman,” Peale merged worldliness and godliness to produce an easy-to-follow theology that preached self-confidence as a life philosophy. Critics called him a con man, described his church as a cult, and said his simple-minded approach shut off genuine thinking or insight. But Peale’s outlook, promoted through his radio shows, newspaper columns and articles, and through Guideposts, his monthly digest of inspirational messages, fit perfectly into the Trump family culture of never hesitating to bend the rules, doing whatever it took to win, and never, ever giving up.

“Believe in yourself!” Peale’s book begins. “Have faith in your abilities!” He then outlines 10 rules to overcome “inadequacy attitudes” and “build up confidence in your powers.” Rule one: “formulate and staple indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding,” “hold this picture tenaciously,” and always refer to it “no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.”

Subsequent rules tell the reader to avoid “fear thoughts,” “never think of yourself as failing,” summon up a positive thought whenever “a negative thought concerning your personal powers comes to mind,” “depreciate every so-called obstacle,” and “make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10 per cent.”

Over the years, as the public has walked by the buildings, gambled at the casinos and watched the TV show, the name has become ever more associated with overwhelming, gargantuan, and seemingly never-ending success. And in the process, Trump has created the armor-plated branding juggernaut, impervious to criticism, self-doubt, or self-reflection, which continues to roll over much of the Republican Party.

Whether or not Trump’s tireless self-advertisement will be enough to gain the Republican nomination, much less elect a president, is unknown. But it may well be that Trump will run into some of the same criticism as Peale himself later did. In an essay titled “Some Negative Thinking About Norman Vincent Peale,” a theologian from Yale University, William Lee Miller, wrote that Peale’s books had become “worse” since the original because “the rhetoric of the sermon has been replaced by the short, punchy sentences of the advertisement.”

Already it is clear that, thanks to Norman Vincent Peale and the magic of branding, Donald Trump is one of the most self-confident and most successful-seeming candidate the nation has ever seen. The question is whether the product will live up to the ad.

On Thursday, the Trump U story came home to Texas.

From Paul Singer and David McKay Wilson in USA TODAY.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office opened a deceptive trade practices investigation of Trump University in 2010 and chased the business out of the state, saying the promises made to students were “virtually impossible to achieve,” according to documents unearthed by a Democratic super PAC.

Assistant Attorney General Rick Berlin wrote to Donald Trump’s lawyers in June 2010 that Trump University seminars – for which students paid thousands of dollars – were targeted at real estate novices and promised “to teach these novices everything they need to know to be a successful residential real estate broker — in 3 days.”

But in Texas, “to become licensed as a real estate broker you must have 900 hours of classroom instruction and 2 years selling experience,” Berlin said, in the memo the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century uncovered through a public records request and provided to USA TODAY. The information given to students by Trump University “is essentially unusable,” and students “will be unable to recoup their investment in the course, much less make a profit, as promised by Trump U,” Berlin wrote.

“In addition to encouraging unlicensed activity (which is a misdemeanor in Texas),” Berlin wrote, “the course materials in a number of respects are simply wrong under Texas law.

In an email this week, AG spokeswoman Teresa Farfan told USA TODAY that after the office opened its probe, “we understand they left Texas.”

The investigation apparently never went further than the exchange of emails and documents between the AG’s office and Trump’s lawyers. In a May 2010 email, Trump lawyer Michelle Lokey said “it was never our client’s intent to deceive Texas consumers” and “nothing about the either the workshops or the materials presented at the workshops is, in fact, deceptive or misleading.”

Here is the money quote from Assistant Attorney General Rick Berlin:

It seemed to me that American Bridge released those documents to USA TODAY for the purpose of demonstrating that even a hard-core, right-wing Republican saw Trump U as a scam, and perhaps also to place Republicans like Abbott in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why they were supporting a man for president who they believed was perpetrating that type of scam.

It was, in fact, surprising to me that at a time that Marco Rubio was calling Trump U a fraud and Trump a con man, I am surprised that Ted Cruz – who was solicitor general in Abbott’s Attorney General’s Office but left before the Trump U case – didn’t call Abbott and say, “Hey boss, can you send me the Trump U file?” and, with it in hand, unleashed on Trump at one of the debates, “Donald, you might have been able to scam New Yorkers with Trump U, but the Texas Attorney General’s Office, in which I served, rode you out of Texas on a rail.”

But then, right after the USA TODAY appeared Thursday, there was an AP story  on Trump U, which contained a single paragraph toward the very bottom, that mentioned Texas.

Besides the probe that led to Attorney General Schneiderman’s suit in New York, the office of then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, opened a civil investigation of “possibly deceptive trade practices.” Abbott’s probe was quietly dropped in 2010 when Trump University agreed to end its operations in Texas. Trump subsequently donated $35,000 to Abbott’s successful gubernatorial campaign, according to records.

 Without elaboration or back-up, I thought that paragraph was unduly loaded.
Enter, a few hours later,  John Owens.
Owens was deputy chief of the consumer protection and public health division when lawyers under his supervision investigated and built what he considered a very strong case against Trump and Trump U for deceptive trade practices.
But, they were waved off by higher-ups at the Attorney General’s Office.

“I would bet my retirement that Greg Abbott knew about it and personally signed off on dropping it,” Owens told me on Friday morning.

Owens said the case against Trump was simply too well-developed and Trump too high-profile a figure for Abbott and his right-hand man, Daniel Hodge, not to have been in on the decision.

Owens said had no first-hand information to prove it, just long experience in the attorney general’s office.

According to a document that Owens had taken with him when he retired and that he dug out of storage and released Thursday when he was called by reporters, staffers in the attorney general’s office wanted to press forward to seek a $5.4 million settlement from Trump U in restitution, penalties and fees, when they were waved off in what he considered an atypical fashion.

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 What had gotten Owens going was a story he had just read about the role that Mike and Irene Milin – who had earlier run afoul of the Texas Attorney General’s Office with greater consequences – had played in creating Trump U, which, in his view, because Trump was Trump, got off easy.

From Gideon Resnick  in The Daily Beast: Trump’s Get Rich Seminar Partnered With Couple Prosecuted for Fraud

 Donald Trump needed some help in 2006. He was setting up Trump Institute, a series of seminars teaching the “way to wealth,” and was looking for expertise on how the conference business worked.

He turned to a pair with a troublesome legal history to give him a hand.

Mike and Irene Milin were known to law enforcement officials in a number of states for a host of get-rich-quick schemes and alleged real estate scams. They were prosecuted by the Texas attorney general for deceptive trade practices, and sued by the makers of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, to name just two of the Milins’ many legal entanglements. But Michael Sexton—then president of Trump University, which he said at the time included the Trump Institute seminars, as well as online courses—partnered with the Milins nonetheless, according to a report from The Sacramento Bee.

The Milins’ oft-investigated National Grants Conferences, in effect, became the blueprint for Trump Institute. The two seminar businesses used some of the same speakers and shared office space in Boca Raton, Florida. The ads for Trump University promised to make people “millionaires,” just as the National Grants Conference commercials told customers they’d make them rich from government money. And, most importantly, Trump Institute operated itself in much the same manner as National Grants Conferences: After a promise of easy riches and a free seminar, customers were cajoled into doling out more and more money to get the key to unlocking wealth.

The problem in both cases: The key never opened anything.


The next move for the scamming couple was a Texas-based company called Information Seminars International, for which they were also sued—this time by the Texas attorney general in 1993—who found them liable for deceptive trade practices. The Milins’ program promised that if customers paid $499 for what they referred to as the “Milin Method,” the company would turn around and help them re-sell real estate at government auctions.

This was basically the same method they would use in their partnership with Trump.

Then-Texas Assistant Attorney General Bruce Griffiths alleged that the couple made $30 million annually off this scheme and that when customers tried to reach anyone associated with the company by phone, no one would pick up.

In a settlement that the couple signed that year, they and their partners were permanently barred from claiming that they had become wealthy from real estate. The Milins also agreed to use full names in any testimonials—though the brochures later distributed by NGC in the mid-2000s did not.

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In 2006, the year that Trump joined forces with the now-bankrupt company, the Milins were accused of violating Vermont’s Consumer Fraud Act by William Sorrell, the state attorney general at the time. Sorrell called National Grants Conferences “unconscionable and illegal” in public documents of the allegations reviewed by The Daily Beast. The company was ordered to pay $65,000 in legal fees and an additional nearly $325,000 to customers.

Less than a year later, 34 state attorneys general wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission calling out the company for “deceptive advertising.” In 2010, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott took legal action against the company as well, resulting in them being unable to advertise as they had done so in the state.

And, from Ars Technica, a story in April by the authors of the Sacramento Bee story – Joe Mullin and Jonathan Kaminsky.

The booming industry of real estate investment seminar gurus—who by the early 2000s numbered in the dozens—made it clear that you could make big money selling a roomful of people at a time on the dream of easy riches. But seminar work itself was complex, ranging from managing teams of traveling crew members to keeping sales pitches just murky enough that law enforcement wouldn’t butt in.

Trump wanted a piece of the action, so he struck a licensing deal with the Milins in 2006. The couple created the “Trump Institute,” using much of the same pitch material and some of the same pitchmen.

The launch of Trump Institute, in turn, paved the way for the later creation of the Trump University live seminar business, which continues to be one of the biggest scandals dogging Trump’s presidential campaign.

Though there were many similarities between the NGC and Trump Institute pitches, one thing had changed: the price. With the Trump name, membership had increased to $1,399.

But just as the Trump Institute got rolling, the Milins ran into legal troubles.

This wasn’t a new situation for the couple. In the 1990s, they were sued for deceptive trade practices by the Texas Attorney General’s office after hawking the “Milin Method” for real estate investing, complete with infomercials, hotel seminars, and a $499 package of books and tapes about how to get rich at government auctions.

Their “testimonials were fake,” former Texas Assistant Attorney General Bruce Griffiths told us in an interview. The Milins settled in 1993, paying $500,000 in restitution and agreeing to never again claim to have grown wealthy from real estate. Griffiths regrets settling for such a low sum. “It only paid off something like 12 cents on the dollar of what they collected,” he said. “They had a $30 [million] or $40 million a year operation.”

Reading about the Milins revived Owens’ outrage that the Attorney General’s Office had passed on pursuing Trump, he posted something on his Facebook page and, one of his friends sent the post to a reporter, who got in touch with him and had him digging in his closet for those old documents.

But on Friday, David Morales, who had been deputy attorney general for civil litigation in 2010, wrote a letter to the editor of the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News, which had stories in Friday’s paper with Owens’ allegation. Abbott’s office also released the letter:

As Associate Deputy Attorney General for Litigation from 2004-2007, and Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation from 2007-2010, I was charged with supervising and managing 11 civil litigation divisions consisting of more than 300 Assistant Attorneys General who represented the State of Texas in federal and state courts. One of my responsibilities was approving our Consumer Protection Division’s opening of investigations and the allocation of resources to conduct those investigations. In 2009, I approved the opening of a Deceptive Trade Practices Act investigation into Trump University.  My decision to approve the request to investigate and to devote state resources to that investigation was made without regard to the fact that the company was associated with Donald Trump.

 During that investigation and following subsequent demands for documents, Trump University agreed to temporarily suspended its Texas operations.  By May 2010, Trump University had agreed to permanently suspend of all operations in Texas.  That agreement to permanently and immediately leave Texas was, in my opinion, the most important element of resolving this investigation.  It ensured that no further Texas citizens would be exposed to the company and it did not preclude those consumers who felt they wanted a refund to demand it from Trump University or in court.  At that time, I recall that the Office of the Attorney General had no written complaints from any of the consumers who participated in Trump University.

 The articles published on June 2 concerning this investigation contain conjecture as to who may have been involved in the decision on this matter.  To be clear, I did not discuss this matter with General Abbott or Daniel Hodge (who was incorrectly referenced as “second-in-command” at the time) prior to making my decision.  Any suggestion otherwise is false.  After the fact, I would have informed the Attorney General and First Assistant Attorney General Andrew Weber as a matter of course regarding this decision, along with dozens of others I would have made that week.   I am proud that our Consumer Protection Division was able to get Trump University to immediately and permanently leave the State of Texas.  Their good work served our Texas consumers well.

Owens replied:

 David’s a great guy.  If he says he made the decision and then informed Abbott and Hodge, then I can’t dispute it.  But, they could have reversed him easily.  The decision to leave Texas consumers high and dry was effectively made by the entire administration, including Abbott.  They can spin it all they want.  They treated Trump differently from every other similarly situated scam artist.  They did this for a reason.  It was political.  No other reason can explain why this was swept under the rug.  (Stating that consumers could have individually taken on trump in individual lawsuits to recover their money is absurd.  Trump voluntarily stopped doing business in Texas after he got our subpoena.  Taking credit for Trump’s cessation of scamming Texans is ludicrous. Trump volunteered to stop.).

By mid-afternoon Friday, I thought that was about it for the story.

I was part of the reporter’s roundtable on Time Warner Cable’s Capital Tonight.

When Karina Kling asked how much long-term impact the Abbott/Trump U/contribution story would have, I said not much, that by Monday it would be in the rear-view mirror.

So why I am writing about it today?

Because it raises a variety interesting questions.

But also because of what happened after I said that.

 And then at 4:18 on Friday afternoon, this email from Attorney General Ken Paxton:

Attorney General’s Office Issues Cease and Desist Letter to Former Agency Lawyer
AUSTIN Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, out of concern over the release of confidential and privileged information belonging to the Office of the Attorney General, today sent a Cease and Desist letter to John W. Owens of Houston. The letter identifies at least six violations of conduct that Mr. Owens may have committed by divulging confidential and privileged information.

“Current and former Assistant Attorneys General have a duty to follow all rules related to the practice of law in the state of Texas,” said First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer. “While everyone has First Amendment rights to free speech, the law strictly prohibits attorneys from releasing confidential and privileged information.”

The letter notifies Mr. Owens of his breach of various legal obligations and demands immediate compliance with all applicable state laws and rules of conduct.

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With that, Owens informed MSNBC that he wouldn’t be able to appear on Chris Hayes’ show Friday.

To MSNBC:  I have read the cease and desist letter from the Texas AG.  I have done nothing illegal or unethical as stated in the letter.  I think the information I provided to the press was important and needed to be shared with the public.  However, given the threats made to me by the Texas Attorney General in this letter, I am not going to be able to provide an interview with Chris Hayes.  I regret this but the Texas AG is a powerful agency and their threats, however inaccurate, are real.  I stand by everything I have said and everything I have said is true and correct.  John Owens
So I guess, from a narrow perspective, Paxton kept Owens off MSNBC.
But from a longer term political perspective I thought it was a blunder, reviving the story and in an unfavorable light for the governor because I think readers tend to believe “whistleblowers,” especially when somebody powerful is trying to shut them up.
From Abbott’s and Paxton’s political perspective, it’s hard to see how sending the cease and desist letter – and advertising that fact – is helpful.


I thought Abbott had a strong line of defense.

His office, without so much as a single written complaint, investigated Trump U and shut it down in Texas.

They could have pressed for damages, but Donald “I’m not a settler” Trump probably would have fought them and it would still be in court along with the other Trump U suits.

The Trump contributions were more likely a way for Trump to invest in the next governor of Texas than pay him off for easy treatment a few years earlier.

I understand why Democrats are trying to get a twofer or threefer out of the story.

But I thought the cleaner, clearer shot was that this story highlighted the dilemma that the Trump candidacy poses for Republicans in general, and Greg Abbott in particular.

I thought Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder had it right, even if acknowledges that she lacks the capacity to enjoy Trump”

I’ve come to understand, since last summer, that many Americans were genuinely amused by Trump’s campaign at first, or—since we’re all shaped by our unique bundle of experiences in life—not naturally attuned to some of the disturbing traits that seemed so glaring to me. But Trump has an abundance of disturbing qualities, and over the course of the past year he’s shown us that so many times that I’ve sometimes wondered if his pathologies are, ominously, insulating him from criticism. We now know that Abbott was forced to confront some of Trump’s qualities years ago, and that he responded with similar clarity the first time he crossed paths with the candidate he now supports. The problems with Trump and the perils his presidency would represent are really not that hard to see. The only thing that’s murky about this picture is why Abbott, our governor, wants Texans to ignore them.

I am rethinking Trump U! The Musical.

It needs an upbeat spin, a la The Music Man.

Flim-flammer Donald Trump – Trump U Conservatory, Gold-Medal Class of ’05 – arrives in a sleepy-dreary Iowa town, promising to make River City great again. The plan is to fleece the townsfolk with promises of creating a boys’ band using the Think Method (think Norman Vincent Peale).

The fuddy-duddy powers-that-be root out that Hill is a fraud, but, as they are about to tar-and-feather him, the townsfolk realize how much happier they are than before he arrived, and, even though the band can’t really play their instruments, he has fulfilled the promise of making River City great again because, being great, after all, is only a state of mind.

But  then the River City Democrats (because Republicans are clearly the powers-that-be in River City) tweet that it’s all been a corrupt bargain, that “bandmaster” Trump had kicked back some of the ill-gotten instrument and uniform proceeds to the mayor, that tar-and-feathering was too good for the likes of him.

Well, it’s a work in progress, and there’s still months before opening night.