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Agenda Wise~ Straus the weak

Date posted: May 10, 2012

RIP the Rino - No Pledge to Joe Straus

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Straus the weak

Fourteen points of unusual Speaker weakness for Joe Straus

  1. Tea Parties, the most powerful force in Texas politics right now, uniformly oppose Joe Straus.
  2. Straus is on the wrong side of the other most powerful force in Texas politics, the Governor, by opposing the Texas Budget Compact, the Governor’s signature off-season policy initiative. Gov. Perry has endorsed legislators who voted against Joe Straus for Speaker in the 83rd Lege.
  3. In the first possible year, Straus attracted a speaker challenge, and will again if he can get past his primary.
  4. Several Speaker team incumbents are in primary fights, and it is largely because of their association with the Speaker.
  5. Speaker team candidates are faring poorly in the many open seats in play this cycle.
  6. Straus will forever be the Texas Speaker who squandered the hugely advantageous pledge card system due to inability to secure pledges.
  7. In a state where pro-choice Republicans are teetering on extinction, Straus was pro-choice until his post speaker challenge “conversion”. Though wishing to avoid the accountability of the proper label, in his Evan Smith interview days after being elected speaker, Straus articulated his pro-choice position when he said he was not in favor of changing the current abortion laws.  In addition, Straus has personal and spousal ties to Planned Parenthood.
  8. Straus was brought to power by the trial lawyer party, the Texas Democrats, and has proudly advertised his uncommon “fairness” with “all sides” ever since, angering all Republican party quarters accept his own Republican-only-because-they’re-in-Texas cardinals.
  9. Straus is the only Texas Speaker to attract a primary challenge since 1989 according to Secretary of State website.
  10. To the embarrassment (on several levels) of the entire establishment, Speaker Straus’s primary battle is very serious. The average margin of victory of challenged Republicans in 2010, none of whom had anywhere near the Speaker’s considerable advantages, was 23 points.
  11. Speaker Straus was easily knocked off of his off-season message about needing new revenues, now the Governor has buried it.
  12. Speaker Straus has specially targeted extremely popular Republican incumbent James White after previously claiming to never oppose incumbents. He’s helped fund raise for White’s opponent Tuffy Hamilton.
  13. Straus managed his way through an entire session with 101 Republicans without any reform of bloated and arcane bureaucracies, public education, or budgeting practices, and helped kill a popular TSA anti-groping bill.
  14. The friendly San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board (they endorsed Obama in 2008) had to resort to a particularly shameless brand of campaigning, desperately defending Straus’s credentials as conservative in the pages of their newspaper this week.

Texans should be thinking about which Straus clones will run for Speaker as conservatives, something almost sure to happen ahead of the 83rd Lege.

–San Antonio Express-News campaign piece



Sec. 302.032.  LEGISLATIVE BRIBERY:  PROMISES OR THREATS.  A person commits an offense if, with the intent to influence a member of or candidate for the house of representatives in casting a vote for speaker of the house of representatives, the person:(1)  promises or agrees to cause:(A)  the appointment of a person to a chairmanship or vice-chairmanship of a house committee or subcommittee;(B)  the appointment of a person to a particular house committee or subcommittee, the Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Legislative Council, the Legislative Library Board, the Legislative Audit Committee, or any other position the speaker appoints;(C)  preferential treatment on any legislation or appropriation;(D)  the employment of a person;  or(E)  economic benefit to a person;  or(2)  threatens to cause:(A)  the failure to appoint a person to a chairmanship or vice-chairmanship of a house committee or subcommittee;(B)  the failure to appoint a person to a particular house committee or subcommittee, the Legislative Budget Board, the Texas Legislative Council, the Legislative Library Board, the Legislative Audit Committee, or any other position the speaker appoints;(C)  unfavorable treatment on any legislation or appropriation;(D)  the refusal of or removal from employment of a person;  or(E)  the withholding of economic benefit from a person.

Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.

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12 Things We Learned During The 82nd Legislative Session

Date posted: June 1, 2011

Clear Lake Tea Party

By the Clear Lake Tea Party

Special thanks to Geri Bentley and Cheryl Johnson for training in how to get around Austin and lobby our own Representatives.  And more special thanks to the dozens of patriots who spent long, arduous days going to and from Austin to confront our legislators with information, appeals, and calls to action.  We all owe them our sincere gratitude for taking our concerns to the Capitol on our behalf.

During our Citizen Lobbyist Trips we were armed with our white papers outlining our conservative positions FOR or AGAINST specific bills.  We would present these at every stop in the Capitol. We made a point of visiting the Governor’s office, our Senators Mike Jackson and Dan Patrick, and any Representative who was involved in legislation we wanted to influence.  And of course, we always dropped in on our own Reps who represent this area:   Larry Taylor,  John Davis, Randy Weber, Wayne Smith and sometimes even Democrat Craig Eiland!  (FYI:  you can see a graph of how they voted in the first 120 days of the session here.)

Here are the Top Twelve Things We Learned During the 82 Legislative Session:

12.  For better or worse, you will be dealing mostly with your legislator’s staff.

You can learn a lot about a legislator from the attitudes of his staff.  People tend to surround themselves with like-minded folks, and staff is really an extension of the legislator.  Some are rude and snotty, some are warm and welcoming.  Sometimes, the legislative staffs will outright lie to you.  More than once, when we asked if a legislator was in his office, his staff would say “No, he’s not here.”  Then, while we’re signing his guest book, wouldn’t ya know, the Rep unwittingly traipsed out of a back room and right into our midst!

The key is to never forget that all these folks work for us.  We always stayed polite but firm when presenting our cases to legislative staff.

11.  Learn to translate Clintonese!

Speaking of untruths, be aware that the legislators will parse their language so carefully that what they are saying to you might only be true in that moment, under specific circumstances, but otherwise not true at all.  This is truly Clintonian stuff, folks! The tip is here is DO NOT TRUST, and ALWAYS VERIFY.

10.  Reps don’t always cast their own votes.

The Reps vote to suspend a House Rule every session that requires them to cast their own votes on each piece of legislation.  They will tell you it’s so they can go to the restroom, each some lunch, negotiate with their peers, get to committee meetings.  The reality is that on many days, a couple dozen or so Reps may vote for everyone.  I’ll leave that up to you to decide whether that’s acceptable or not.

9.  Committee chairmen will try and dodge citizen input in hearings.

Chairmen will drag out committee hearings so they can avoid hearing from work-a-day folks who are signed up to testify.  They will even adjourn, knowing that folks have been waiting for hours, and then commence again at 10pm, when most folks have to go home to families and jobs.  Just be ready for it!  It’s a game they play and your only option is to outlast ’em!  Unfortunately, it is effective, because no one but those yahoos are getting paid to be there, and they know you have pressing responsibilities.   If your testimony is imperative, you have to know ahead of time that sometimes you might be there all night!

8.  The folks are NOT policy experts. 

We are represented by folks elected from among us:  insurance agents, business owners, attorneys, veterans, retirees, etc.  They are not legislative geniuses.  Many times the language of bills is written by staffers, consultants, or lobbyists, and the legislator slaps his name on it.  Some of it is so poorly written, it’s unenforceable, and sometimes it’s so convoluted that it leaves loopholes of unintended consequences lurking in the muddled language. Worse, some legislators don’t always read the bills they vote on, unless they are directly involved as authors or sponsors.  They rely on the expertise of the other Reps to know which way to vote.  You know what that means?  There is a very tiny niche of self-proclaimed experts making decisions for the entire deliberative body on issues within their purview.  It is a self-perpetuating problem, and it needs watching!

That’s why your letters, emails, and phone calls are so crucial.  If you don’t feed these guys info on important issues, folks, they will not know.

7.  TRADITION!!!!!!

Sometimes bills are passed because “that’s the way things have always been done.”  By now, most of you are already aware of the self-inflicted disaster of the Republican redistricting maps – at every level.  As predicted, conservatives who had opposed Straus were paired against each other or drawn right out of their known districts.  A more strongly conservative map (Cain/Nixon) was ignored and never made it to the floor for debate.  The SBOE map set up some of the conservative members to be eliminated in the next election.  When we discussed our concerns with Senator Mike Jackson, we learned that the Senate always passes the House map and vice versa – it’s tradition!

Tradition.  The bottom line is that’s a pretty poor cop out.

6.  Where’s the fire??

Very little business gets done in full view of the public and even fewer folks are paying attention.  Bills are thrown up on the floor at a rapid fire pace in a constant drone from the clerk.  Yes, there are thousands of bills but much of it is nonsense, such as commending Mildred for her 100th birthday, congratulating so and so on the birth of their first child, their 50th anniversary, their new dog, whatever!  Meanwhile, the people’s business is not getting done!  There seems to be ZERO sense of urgency.  Big issues languished in committees or Calendars while the House voted day in and day out on ridiculous stuff.

We were there on the last day of the House voting on House bills.  You’d think they would be on fire with an urgency to pass every last bit of serious business they could get to before midnight, right?  No, they passed one bill dealing with electronic bingo and the rest was garbage.

If you don’t know already what’s wrong with Austin, a recent article in the Dallas Morning News should give you more clues:

AUSTIN — As lawmakers scramble to pass thousands of bills during the legislative session’s final weeks, one House committee wields the power to decide which legislation will see the light of day on the floor and which will die an unceremonious death.

Once a committee advances legislation, the Calendars Committee must then schedule it for floor debate. With a key House deadline looming, committee members are at the height of their power. To outsiders, the powerful 15-member group largely works in the shadows, shrouded by its esoteric procedures.

At the committee’s daily meetings, Chairman Todd Hunter rapidly lists off bills by their numbers, and committee members vote on whether to schedule the bill for a House vote. There is little discussion, and the meetings are so short that many committee members don’t even bother to take seats.

How the committee makes its final decisions, which bills out of the nearly 400 currently pending get a chance, and exactly what legislation they will stall or push is murky. The real action takes place among committee members, other legislators and lobbyists in private conversations.

The House speaker loads the committee with trusted allies who can advance the leadership’s agenda — and insulate him from criticism by members whose bills never get to the floor.

In essence, there are two people who can veto a bill: the governor and the Chairman of House Calendars…

5.  The Republicans can’t blame anyone but themselves for their performance.

You are going to hear Republicans claim heroics for having to return for a special session.  You will also hear Republicans blame Democrats for “chubbing” or killing legislation with technicalities before the deadline.  Don’t let them get away with it!  They have to come back because their super-majority failed to take care of business in a timely manner.  They could not even complete the emergency legislation Governor Perry assigned at the beginning of the session! There’s nothing heroic about willful neglect or incompetence.

Look, the bottom line is the Republicans passed important legislation that was a no brainer.  It’s like calling Obama “gutsy” for sending the SEALs after bin Laden.  Anyone would’ve made the same call and good on them for doing so, but they would’ve gotten creamed if they hadn’t.   Self-preservation is a powerful motivator folks, and if there is anything that drives these yahoos, it’s self-preservation.

The real test is in what DIDN’T get passed.

4.  We don’t answer to special interest lobbies, and neither should our Reps!

Lobbysists live in Austin round the clock and spend every resource they have hammering home their agenda on these guys.  When the House failed to pass E-Verify, a cornerstone bill to stem illegal immigration, we were told by Taylor’s staff that the TAB – Texas Association of Business  lobby – killed the legislation and if we had a problem with it we needed to take it up with them!  Wrong answer.

3.  The Texas Senate is out of touch with regular Texans.

How is that possible when they are only in Austin 5 months every 2 years?  Believe me, folks, they manage.

This excerpt from EmpowerTexans sums it up well:

Texas senators seem to believe they’re members of an exclusive club, rather than elected public servants. Speaking for the club this week, State Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan), chair of the Finance Committee, told the press it “has always been … pretty hard to penetrate the club, but these outside groups have done it and it’s making it hard to pass the [budget].”

Outsiders?  That’s you, the voting taxpayer; the one paying their club dues. That’s the general sentiment inside the halls of the Senatorial Clubhouse.

Senators are dismayed that their budget scheme isn’t sailing through the chamber. It’s a spending plan that lives beyond the taxpayers’ means using one-time revenue gimmicks and tapping the rainy day fund.
In conversations this week with senior senate leaders, I was struck by just how out of touch that chamber’s Republicans are with political reality. Senators and staffers – all Republicans – told me they fear being defeated by Democrats in November 2012 unless they break the bank.

You know what that tells me, folks?  They are worried about the WRONG VOTERS!

2.  Pledge Cards – the dirty inside secret of Austin politics. 

This corrupt practice protects the power structure in Austin. Here’s some background from the North Texas Tea Party:  there has been a long-standing ‘tradition’ of pledge cards that has made selecting a Speaker nothing but a sham.  The real backroom process is about as democratic as a mugging and is another tradition than needs to go away.

Here’s how it really works.  A seated Speaker has hordes of special interests slavering to do favors for the one individual that controls ALL legislation- and tens of billions in State spending. And they have VERY deep pockets for donating vast sums for campaigns.  Toward the end of the session, the Speaker will approach each representative and ask for them to sign a pledge card, promising to support the Speaker for re-election in the NEXT session.  And everyone KNOWS that donations and future committee assignments are tied to this decision.  This last session, redistricting was also a weapon to be used and it was used to effectively eliminate opposition.  Normally, a seated Speaker can get nearly all of his own party’s cards; they ALSO can get many for the opposing party, based on favorable committee assignments and- you can be assured- assistance at killing selective majority party legislation by letting it die in the committees controlled by the Speaker.  The current session, in which the GOP had a super-majority, the vast majority of the conservative agenda – other than the budget – died this way.

In open seats, candidates parade down to Austin looking for donations for their runs.  They are judged by the ‘powers that be’, on whether they are willing to ‘play the game’.  In the majority party, that very often involves a willingness to sign a pre-election pledge card.  Sign a pledge, and doors are opened and donations made.

The major problem with the raw exercise of political power is there is ZERO input by the electorate in this.  They don’t wait for the office holder or candidates are validated by the voters; they don’t brook any input from the electorate after.  This is the power of the ‘Austin machine’ and it is time to challenge that when it matters- BEFORE the session is out, BEFORE the election.

Mind you, much of that ‘machine is pretty conservative and that is the ONLY reason Texas is STILL in decent shape.  But the constituency has amazing little say in events in Austin and that is one thing we of the Tea Parties need to help change. Both policy AND process matter.

1.  WE were right and our Reps were WRONG.

We were 100% right to oppose Joe Straus as Speaker of the House and all of our Reps were 100% wrong to support him.  All of our warnings about Committee assignments, calendars, and  procedures that killed conservative bills came true.  What these Reps will tell you – and I want you to watch for it – is that “Hey, look at what we passed! You guys should be so happy.”  What they want you to do is look at what’s in this hand so that you don’t realize the other hand is empty.  I’m telling you right now that approximately 30% of the conservative agenda has passed thus far.  (We’ll be updating this figure after the session ends with the final tally.)  That’s not nearly good enough.

SUMMARY:  Nice guys finish last.  Let me leave you with this thought.  The big bills that got passed are certainly a credit to the Republicans.  But it is a paltry showing when they had the opportunity to do so much more – and PROMISED to do so much more to get elected.   Passing 30% while leaving 70% on the table is unacceptable. We must demand more.  We had a serious shot at a bold conservative agenda with an unprecedented super majority.  But we were let down by our Reps who thought they knew better than us.

We don’t need more of the same self-interested politicians worried about re-election, we need fearless leaders driven by their principles.  When the issues get complicated and the pressure mounts, we have to know that the Reps we elect have a bedrock of uncompromising conservative principles.

Knowing what we know now, we are committed to vetting candidates for office for the 2012 primary.  Principle matters above all!  We don’t want flowery words and empty promises – we want backbone and determination.  We absolutely count on YOU folks to back conservatives that otherwise would not have a chance without your commitment.

It is imperative that we build a grassroots organization to support these efforts  and it starts in your neighborhoods in your precincts.  To that end, we need everyday folks to step and volunteer to become precinct chairs.  We want to help you do this.  We will help you determine your precinct by your address, and will help you with the 1-page application.

This is a call to action, folks.  If you’re interested, please email me at info@clearlaketeaparty.com, and we can talk further.

Thank you, Patriots!

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Call to Action – Aggregate and Disseminate the “No Pledge To Joe Straus” Video

Date posted: May 26, 2011

In preparing for my interview today at 5:05 with  Jon-David Wells AM 660 KSKY which we will be discussing the release of the Women On The Wall.org  ”No Pledge To Joe Straus video I just keep coming back to the importance of action by Conservatives.

Our Call to Action – Show Up, Conservatives, and get in the game. It is time to………….

 Aggregate and Disseminate the “No Pledge To Joe Straus” Video

They say the people who run the government are the ones who show up, well it is time for Conservatives to show up!!

Today Michael Quinn Sullivan reported that Ross Ramsey with the Texas Tribune which was ” founded recently by liberal Texas donor John Thornton, and has received money from national leftist George Soros has stooped to berating voters directly.

He apparently thinks that we are uninformed about the back door deals that go on in the Capital so we need to just “Shut Up and eat our Vegetables. Really Ross Ramsey? Well I agree with my  friend Larry who said  on my FaceBook when I  shared  this story.

“This child is developing oppositional defiant disorder.”


My thought is moderate Republicans need to “Eat their Vegetables” and look at reality outside the State Capital. Based on the success of the leadership you voted for as the Speaker of the House you were wrong and we were right, and we are NOT GOING AWAY! 

I am thinking the Capital insiders are not aware that Grassroots and Tea Party folks are very informed on the issues and we know exactly what we want. Smaller Government and Conservative “Leaders” as Evan Smith stated who will get us there. What we have on our side is the Power of Knowledge and the Power of the Vote. They work for us and we can fire them in the primaries.

The left are the masters of deception and now the Moderate Republicans are using the lefts play-book to hold onto power. The Republican establishment on the state level and the national level are just as fearful of us as the Democrats so they are doing everything they can to marginalize and take us out.

No Pledge Card for Struas - OUST STRAUS once and for all!!

After the Speaker Showdown in Austin Straus said the Tea Party was going away.  He has told countless legislators not to worry about us. In fact in reference to all Tea Party Texans right after the Speaker Debate to quote Joe Straus,     “We won–We beat’um — and ” We don’t need’um!”

Speaker Struas we are not going away and as a matter a fact we have a message for all of those elected
State House Representatives that we put in office. Here is a message for you………….


“That is how nations are lost……

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

Quote by:

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.) Roman Statesman, Philosopher and Orator

Source: Attributed. 58 BC, Speech in the Roman Senate

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