Another damned legislator blocked me on Twitter

Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 9.57.58 AMI awoke this morning to horrible news: another right-wing Dunndee Texas legislator blocked me on Twitter. Naturally, I’ve drafted a statement in reply to this outrageous act:

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, what in the sam hell did I do to you?

I mean, okay, yeah, I wrote last week about the dumb judicial complaint you filed. And I may have tweeted you serve one God, and his name is Tim Dunn. But geez, it’s not like a wrote a whole damned investigative report on you. (Speaking of, if you see Sen. Burton, tell her I say hi!)

Since I can’t get in touch with you, I’ll ask my readers to intervene for me and ask why I’ve been blocked. Would you prefer they tweet you? Or would you prefer they write on your Facebook page? Then again, you may have blocked them by now on social media, so here, I’ll just give them your Capitol office’s number: 512-463-0624.

Until I get an answer, I can’t wait to go to your district office’s opening in Arlington!

<3, JMR

 

—  James Russell

I’ve identified the people in the cake photo

People have asked who is cutting the cake in the photo from the Texas Faith and Family Day.

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From left to right: Rep. Stuart Spitzer peeking over Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz, who is looking creepy because he’s probably getting some from Spitzer. Rep. Mark Keough sharing a tender moment with Rep. Molly White (in red), Rep. Scott Turner struggling to find a way to prove he doesn’t deserve a primary with Sen. Charles Perry, who filed a bill similar to Rep. Cecil Bell’s punishing government employees who give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Sen. Brian Birdwell. And of course Sen. Donna Campbell, witness to the Second Coming.

This was also held in the Capitol, a taxpayer funded enterprise. And these legislators, accompanied by my BFF, Cathie Adams, and Saenz and others, were there on the government payroll.

While I’ve identified them by their names, let me sum them up: Assholes.

—  James Russell

Let them eat cake: rep offers free cake in honor of same-sex marriage ban

Freshman Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, is offering free cake to constituents.

A sponsor of Rep. Cecil Bell’s bill barring any salary to government employees who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Keough’s cake celebrates a decade of Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

Today was also Texas Faith and Family Day, so serving cake after a long day of eating the red meat social issues important to GOP primary makes sense.

I highly doubt all of Keough’s constituents are God-fearing Christians concerned the Apocalypse will emerge from Cathie Adams’ hair. I also doubt are all Republicans, much less Republicans who voted for his opponent in last year’s Republican primary.

But according to one observer, “regardless of your politics,” tweeted one person, seen below, “I 100% support offering free cake to your constituents. #FreeSpeech #txlege”:

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No matter how much I may want cake, I really don’t want to eat a cake celebrating the state’s refusal to recognize my friends’ marriages.

Haters gonna hate. And haters can eat their fucking cake too.

In fact, let them eat cake.

—  James Russell

Two anti-trans bills in Texas House slammed by LGBT groups

Riddle-Debbie

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Spring.

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Spring, filed HBs 1747 and 1748 on Friday, Feb. 20 targeting transgender Texans.

HB 1747 makes it a crime for transgender Texans to use a public accommodation such as a bathroom or locker room if the gender marker does not correlate with their gender identity or expression. HB 1748 makes it a felony for business owners to repeatedly allow a person to use public accommodations if that person’s gender identity does not match their chromosomes.

Numerous state and national LGBT groups have slammed the legislation.

“Criminalizing basic bodily functions puts Texans at risk,” Equality Texas released in an action alert. “Access to gender-segregated space should be based on gender, and only gender… not on assumptions of genetics.”

Michael Silverman, the Executive Director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, released a statement denouncing HB 1748 and a similar bill in Florida:

Bills like these target transgender people for harm by criminalizing the simple act of using a bathroom. They are an end run around non-discrimination ordinances in local areas that protect transgender people from discrimination in public accommodations. Lawmakers who sponsor this kind of mean-spirited legislation purport to be looking out for public safety.  But in reality, they are creating unsafe conditions by putting transgender people at great risk for harassment and violence

Transgender people must be able to access public facilities like bathrooms without fearing for their safety. When it comes to bathroom access, discrimination is wrong and unjust. Criminalization is outrageous and intolerable. These bills are pernicious. We hope they are soundly defeated.

Riddle has served in the House since 2003 and is a long-time opponent of LGBT equality. She currently serves as Vice Chair of Juvenile Justice and Family Issues Committee and a member of Calendars and Energy Resources.

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Anti-LGBT bill filed by freshman representative

shaheenRep. Matt Shaheen, a freshman Collin County state representative, filed HB 1355 this morning (Thursday, Feb. 12), a bill defending the religious liberty of individuals who feel bullied by elected officials.

The bill, which would prohibit anything that might “threaten, punish or intimidate an individual based on the individual ’s religious beliefs,” doesn’t specifically target LGBT people. But the veiled language says something else. After all, SB 343, according to its author, Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, would essentially overturn local nondiscrimination ordinance, because it would make municipal laws comply with state laws, which currently do not protect LGBT people.

Neither Shaheen nor Huffines are LGBT allies. Shaheen is also a co-sponsor of HB 623, which would bar government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And as a proud defender of religious liberty, he also signed a letter with his fellow Collin County lawmakers opposing Plano’s equal rights ordinance.

—  James Russell

LCR-Texas holding Lobby Day on Thursday

Jeff-Davis

LCR-Texas Chair Jeff Davis

Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT Republican organization, will be hold its LCR-Texas Lobby Day on Thursday, Feb. 12, and LCR leaders are encouraging LGBT Republicans and their GOP allies to register for and participant in the event.

Issues LCR wants to address with Texas lawmakers include low taxes, the Second Amendment, the right to privacy, protecting children and parental rights and promoting the Texas economy, according to Jeff Davis, LCR-Texas chairman.

LCR-Texas Lobby Day begins with check-in at the Capitol Rotunda at 8:30 a.m. (with breakfast provided). Introductions and instructions are set for 9 a.m., followed at 9:30 a.m. by meetings with lawmakers.

Lunch will be provided at noon, and the afternoon — from 12:30-4 p.m., will be filled with more meetings with legislators.

Lobby Day closes at 5 p.m., and the day winds up with a happy hour at Rain, 217 W. 4th St., beginning at 6 p.m.

RSVP here so that organizers can have a more accurate count of those attending, which will help with coordinating and planning, Davis said.

For more information about LCR-Texas and its legislative agenda, go here.

—  Tammye Nash

Bought and sold: Legislators believe in liberty and freedom, but not for you

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State Rep. Molly White, R-Empower Texans.

I did not think the 84th session of the Texas Legislature could get any worse.

Then it did.

Yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 4), Sen. Konni Burton, a Colleyville Republican, filed S.B. No. 440, which says that “a county or municipality may not prohibit hydraulic fracturing treatment of oil or gas wells.”

The bill presumably targets the controversial hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracing”) ban approved by Denton voters in November.

Meanwhile Sen. Don Huffines, a Dallas Republican, filed S.B. 343 last month, a bill that would overturn local ordinances protecting LGBT people, including those in all of Texas’ major cities.

An action alert sent by Equality Texas called Huffines’ bill harmful.

“SB 343 would restrict the ability of local elected officials to pass or enforce ordinances, rules or regulations that are not identical to state protections, restricting local governments to only protecting the attributes covered under state law: race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin,” according to the group.

Bully, buy and win

Burton’s bill coincidentally would help some of her biggest donors: West Texas oil barons Tim and Michael Dunn for example. As with Burton, the notoriously anti-LGBT brothers also backed Huffines in his successful primary race against John Carona. With a handful of other wealthy, far-right donors spread across Texas, they funnel money through ethically-challenged 501(c)4 dark money groups like Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Headed by the ruthless, gin-nosed Michael Quinn Sullivan, a former Ron Paul spokesperson who makes House of Cards‘ Frank Underwood look like the Dalai Lama, they bully and intimidate legislators through their main website and other entities like AgendaWise. These harbingers of freedom and limited government use a score card called the Fiscal Responsibility Index to rank legislators on a 0-100 scale. The score card is supposed to keep legislators accountable to whatever cause they heard about on Alex Jones radio show (or perhaps through Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s former radio show).

If a legislator strays from their issues — everything from tax increases to opposing charter schools or “school choice”— they prop up whomever they can find to challenge Republicans from the right. Huffines is one example. The senator ousted longtime incumbent Carona in a bitter primary by running to his right, including on LGBT issues.

When it’s convenient they’ll include meaty social issues appealing to grassroots Republican voters, like abortion and same-sex marriage. Other far right scorecard keepers, like Texas Right to Life, Texas Eagle Forum, Texas Home School Coalition and the latest entrant, Texas Values, are all more or less convenient pawns for the Dunns.

Which is why billionaire fracing brothers Dan and Farris Wilks pumped more money into Burton’s campaign than any other state race combined  last year. (I’ll get into them in a future post.)

Like with Underwood, however, it doesn’t matter whom you manipulate or destroy, as long as it gets you what you want.

Money will save the day

Liberty is about the freedom to choose as much as it is the freedom to fuck up.

Take Rep. Molly White, R-her church Belton. White ousted Ralph Sheffield, a three term member of the Texas House, in one of the biggest electoral upsets of the March 2014 primaries. When I interviewed him for another story a few months ago, he described her as a single-issue candidate: she’s anti-abortion “but she’s had of [two] of ‘em,” he said.

While other Dunn-backed freshman legislators have garnered more attention, such as Arlington’s Rep. Tony Tinderholt, White was hardly a late-blooming loon. Last week she made a name for herself when on Texas Capitol Muslim Day, an event similar to an Equality Texas’ upcoming action days, she wrote on Facebook she left an Israeli flag with her office staff and asked visiting Muslims “to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office.” The move was later condemned by a variety of legislators and groups, including Speaker Joe Straus and the Anti-Defamation League of Texas.

When asked by the Texas Tribune about her comments, White said she was, in fact, wary of the Texas chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations. She called them a terrorist group.  And big surprise: she’s also very unfriendly to the LGBT community. CAIR Texas has filed an ethics complaint against White.

Despite backing her, Empower Texans PAC and other have remained mum. But why waste their breath? Their money should assure White will be re-elected as many times as she wants.

Voters may have voted for Burton, Huffines and White. But a small group of ideologues, in fact, propped up them and countless others who now represent you locally and statewide.

The Dunns’ legislative puppets claim they promote the dictionary definition of liberty (“freedom from control”).

Liberty, but not for you.

—  James Russell

New bill in TX legislature would allow teachers to shoot students

gun-crazy-movie-poster-1949-1020142772A bill introduced in the new Texas legislature would protect teachers who shoot and kill their students.

Teachers in Texas are already allowed to carry guns in classrooms. The intent of that law was to stop a deadly massacre like the one in Newtown, Conn.

Now, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, filed H.B. 868 —dubbed the Teacher’s Protection Act — that would allow teachers to turn their guns on their students and not face prosecution. Not only would teachers be able to shoot a student to protect themselves or others, but also to protect school property.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators said it believes this should be determined at a local level. In other words, it’s OK to kill students, but local school boards should give the green light, not the Legislature.

Current Texas law allows teachers to use reasonable force against a student and avoid prosecution.

A bill Flynn previously wrote reduced the number of training hours required to obtain a concealed handgun license.

Our recommendation would be for teachers to engage their students like Scot Pankey rather than shoot them.

—  David Taffet

Konni Burton and other legislators attend energy briefing with quacks

10922581_215067605334889_3678561947259798580_oThere’s no need to bring your pitchforks and white hoods when you become a freshman in the Texas Lege. There are other people you meet down there who will bring all that — and a tin foil hat too.

Take, for instance, the photo to the right. It was posted on Senator Konni Burton’s Facebook page, from which I haven’t been blocked yet.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday, Jan. 21) she and other legislators attended an Energy Infrastructure Security Breakfast Briefing sponsored by fellow North Texas Republican legislators Rep. Tan Parker and Sen. Kelly Hancock. The guests of honor were, as you see, Frank Gaffney and Dr. Peter Vincent Fry.

Gaffney and Fry make Ted Cruz look like a kind and gentle grandmother.

Gaffney’s one helluva sweetheart. He’s a border-closing, right-wing warmongering Islamophobe who clings to his Bullion as much as his convictions. A champion of our 2003 march into Iraq (get the energy connection now?), he later threw around accusations that everybody and anybody was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Most notably he alleged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin was a conspirator in the Brotherhood, a claim also supported by former Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Gaffney set up a legitimate-sounding front shop for his whackodom called the Center for Security Policy. You can read more about him here.

Fry is concerned about the nuclear arsenal as executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, according to his Family Security Matters profile. He predicts the world is going to end a lot. He’s so concerned about our families’ security matters he formed The Noah Project, which is “dedicated to the civil defense and survival of American families and their communities in the event of a nuclear or solar EMP or any other catastrophic event that would affect societal change in America.”

They’ve formed two compounds — one already sold out — where you can live off their products and proven method. Funny enough, the website didn’t even mention the word “militia.”

Later that day, Sen. Burton voted with 19 other senators (including one Democrat) to gut the Senate’s two-thirds rule, which required 21 senators to even debate legislation. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick actively campaigned against the rule on the campaign trail.

He got what he asked for. The chamber voted to replace it with a three-fifths rule, requiring only 19 senators instead. Many observers say the two-thirds rule worked in the Democrats’ favor, and propelled Burton’s predecessor Wendy Davis to international fame by allowing her to filibuster legislation. (Incidentally, the rule propelled Burton into her current career as well.)

Folks, these are the people who represent you, whether you voted for them or not. They are taking advice from folks like Gaffney and Fry. They listen to the Eagle Forum’s virulently anti-LGBT Cathie Adams and take big checks from archconservative Republican millionaires. They are recruited and polished by fringe groups like Gaffney’s. And they run Texas.

After the briefing, legislators could ask questions. I wonder what they asked.

—  James Russell

Bought and sold: Lt. Gov-elect Patrick packs advisory boards with donors

Dan-Patrick

Republican Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick announced yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 15) he has appointed 56 state business leaders to six new citizen advisory panels who will advise him on a variety of policy areas, including water, taxes, economic development and forecasting, transportation and energy.

Texans for Public Justice, a liberal ethics watchdog group, noted 77 percent of the advisory members financially backed his campaign for lieutenant governor. Other members have backed Patrick since his first campaign for state senate in 2006, a position he held until his election as lieutenant governor this past November.

Nearly half of the advisory members live in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. Many are also among the Patrick campaign’s donors.

Dallas’ Roy Bailey will chair the advisory board’s committees.

Advisory group meetings would not be open to the public but Patrick said he will acknowledge legislation brought by the groups, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He also anticipates advisory board members to testify before committees.

“Endowing a handful of corporate titans with the power to write laws behind closed doors is the ultimate form of government privatization,” said Craig McDonald, the group’s director. “If you thought cronyism and corruption were out of hand under the [outgoing Gov.] Perry regime, just hang on!  The worst is yet to come.”

Major Patrick contributors and advisory board members:

Asterisk indicates Dallas/Fort Worth area resident 

*Roy Bailey, Chairman of Advisory Committees

Economic & Workforce Development:

Gene Powell, Chairman

*Barry Andrews

*Monty Bennett

Alonzo Cantu

*Dick Collins

*Doug Deason

Windi Grimes

*Mike Gruber

Bill Holmes

Michael Plank

Kyle Stallings

Massey Villareal

Economic Forecast:

Hon. Kent Hance

Tilman Fertitta

*Gerald Ford

Woody Hunt

Jodie L. Jiles

*Bob Rowling

Paul Sarvadi

*Shelly Stein

*Ardon Moore

Energy/Oil and Gas:

*T. Boone Pickens, Chairman

S. Javaid Anwar

John Connally

Tim Dunn

Kirk Edwards

Wil VanLoh, Jr.

John Walker

*Kelcy Warren

Tax Policy:

*Brint Ryan

Nelda Blair

Alan Hassenflu

*Marcus Hiles

Victor Leal

Steve Mach

*Bob McNutt

Mike Reitmeier

Ben Streusand

Sherry Sylvester

Transportation:

Ned Holmes, Chairman

*Bob Albritton

Steve Alvis

Arch “Beaver”  Aplin

*Pamela Bailey-Campbell

*Carter Pate

*Brenda Pejovich

*Jere Thompson, Jr.

John Weisman

Water:

Jack Wood, Chairman

*Joe Colonnetta

*Ralph Ellis, Jr.

Joseph Fitzsimons

*Kenn George

Gaylord Hughey

Kevin Sparks

—  James Russell