FRI brief 7.3.20

Abbott goes all Oprah on masks

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Today's stories

GREG ABBOTT issued a statewide facemask mandate yesterday afternoon. The move came just two weeks after the governor said it would be an "infringement on individual liberty" to issue such an order.

But there's more. Abbott announcing his mask edict stated:

“COVID19 is not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse [inaccurate]. Now more than ever, action by everyone is needed until treatments are available for COVID”

This seems to suggest that Abbott will keep Texas in varying degrees of lockdown until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Texans and Americans complied with lockdowns and mask use to flatten the curve. Once the flattened, there was a lag in reopening, and elected officials lost the consent of the governed.

Local law enforcement officials around the state have begun to say they will not enforce Abbott's order.

Related: Abbott will be sued over mask mandate

COVID19 has changed and so has reporting on a treatment touted by Trump.

A recent study shows that the mutated variant of coronavirus most prevalent today spreads faster but doesn't make people sicker, and there's a live possibility it's weaker [read: not getting worse].

Dr. Robin Armstrong, a prominent Republican, and physician mentioned the latter observation on an SREC call to discuss the upcoming state convention. Also mentioned by Armstrong, successfully treating cases with hydroxychloroquine.

Related: Suicides likely to rise [1 | 2 | 3]

THE TEXAS GOP, in theory, is moving forward with its in-person convention in Houston after the party's governing board voted 40-20 on a resolution to proceed.

It's a good thing too. Last night members of the SREC meet via Zoom, and it was sort of a disaster.

There were issues with getting things up and running, voting, order of comments, and decorum. Multiply yesterday by thousands, and the cat-herding of a typical convention boggles the mind.

In defense of the meeting, there was only one utterance of "that's horse sh*t."

Still, Chairman Dickey has an outside shot at hosting the virtual convention he's been covertly planning with a cabal of SREC members.

There'll be a call on Sunday to set a contingency plan designed/rigged to have one conclusion, a virtual convention. This "ultimate" plan would be deployed if Governor Abbott or Harris Co. Judge Lina Hidalgo cancels the event or issues a cryptical executive order with the same net effect.

One item to note, Dickey squashed the idea of a hybrid convention because of the rules, but the question was not put to the vote, and there is a distinction that should be made.

Hybrid on the Zoom call was a bifurcated/networked event with a hub in Houston and satellite events in Senate Districts. This type of virtual and in-person convention would present unequal outcomes in participation.

Don't conflate this variant with the second more secure contingency option of holding a dispersed convention (standard SD and CD meetings) and a virtual meeting for the entire body, which would provide equal access.

Disparities in internet service access and capabilities around Texas ensure that there will not be equal participation in an all-virtual convention, and the variable is multiplied by the number of delegates.

In the case of a Senate District-based in-person convention with virtual general sessions, there are fewer connections to make and manage (31 not 254 or 63).

UT AUSTIN has started to trickle out its latest poll.

Yesterday, the poll highlighted Trump's four-point lead over Biden. Around the same time in 2016, Trump had an eight-point margin head to head with Hillary Clinton, with Gary Johnson included that margin shrank by one-point.

Polling of Trump voters, this cycle has been said to include social desirability bias.

The university has released roughly three polls a year, dating back to 2008. The next drop, if the pattern holds, will be in October. The current survey was in the field between June 19-29.

Related: Texans were more concerned about COVID in April (33% ) than June (18%)

Hit the links

SCOTUS grants Alabama's request to restore voting rules ($)

Court not fast-tracking Democrat mail-in ballot lawsuit

CBO: Coronavirus to scar U.S. labor market for next decade ($)

Rep. Drew Springer measuring curtains?

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Coming up

7/7: Texas Observer

7/15: FEC reports due

7/31: PFS filings due

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Please feel free to contact me (reply to this email or email me at with questions, comments, suggestions, or tips.

THU brief 7.2.20

Dickey's intent laid bare

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Today's stories

GREG ABBOTT is being sued by bar owners, again. A lawsuit filed by Austin attorney Brent Webster makes the case that Abbott should have called a special session since we have a representative government, not a monarchy.

TEXAS GOP LEADERSHIP is trying to manufacture an outcome it prefers, but its membership does not.

A review of public postings by elected officials and local party leaders soliciting feedback on a change of venue suggests a majority want to proceed with an in-person convention as planned.

Keeping to the plan is prototypical conservative behavior.

The polar opposite of the conservative thing to do is what the party is considering, moving to a completely virtual gathering and voting process.

Ironically, Chairman Dickey is suggesting the use of technology regularly and rightly decried by Republicans for use in conducting elections due to its insecurity, ease of use issues, and potential for fraud.

According to Austin blogger Scott Braddock, a document was circulated to members of the SREC contending that "the option that permits the most delegates to participate with the fewest limitations on their life is going virtual."

This is inaccurate but solidifies the party leadership's position on the matter; it's making a full-court press for virtual.

One of the anticipated blocking tactics leadership has deployed is the corporate-speak "logistical issues."

Don't lose sight of the reality that all options pose logistical issues. Still, only one has a monopoly on transparency and trust issues, and it happens to be the choice the party is careening toward.

REPUBLICANS in Texas and nationwide, for that matter, should take notes from Democrats in Virginia.

After taking control of all three branches of government, the Democrats have made sweeping reforms to a laundry list of items including removing protections to prevent election fraud.

Democrats "make hay while the sun shines" Republicans run from the task.

RASSMUSSEN: 45% of likely voters want less immigration, and 65% don't support an increase.

THE TEXAS TRIBUNE teamed up with Pro Publica to look at pictures and claim a border wall will fall. 

DAN PATRICK caught flack from liberals yesterday following a Tuesday evening appearance on Fox News; this routine is old hat.

Patrick goes on Fox; liberals twist what he says, Patrick issues a response. The only interesting variable in this well-worn pattern is the response, how aggressive is the apology or defense.

On Tuesday, Patrick directed criticism at Dr. Fauci for his unbalanced critique of Texas when compared to other states. Patrick issued a lengthy response defending his position.

GHISLAINE MAXWELL, a confidante and alleged accomplice to Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested by the FBI.

This is one of many major developments that could take place between now and November that could drastically alter Donald Trump’s reelection bid.

Hit the links

Comptroller: June sales tax revenue down 6.5% from a year ago

Middleton: We've got to protect people's right to make a living

Remains of missing soldier Vanessa Guillen likely found ($)

One suspect is dead and another arrested in Guillen disappearance

Appeals court reverses Wisconsin voting restrictions rulings

4.8 million jobs gained in June smashes expectations

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7/15: FEC reports due

7/31: PFS filings due

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WED brief 7.1.20

Dickey's convention hustle

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JAMES DICKEY will be accused of trying to move the Texas GOP convention into a black box in three, two, one.

In the past 48 hours, a series of potentially coordinated events has lead the current Chairman of the GOP to go from "we're not mandating mask use," to consideration of moving the biannual meeting 100% online.

Dickey is locked in a hotly contested race to keep his job, and there's a sense that the rank and file party members are growing upset with government lockdowns from Governor Abbott, two issues that could benefit from a black box convention.

According to Cassi Pollock, Dickey and party officials have been working on ensuring that "encrypted secret ballot voting" and "credentialed verification" could happen, should the convention go digital.

Virtual voting on items like Dickey’s race and party platform planks is likely to draw sharp criticism from the party faithful. Conventions are regularly marred by machinations to control the size and shape of the platform and party leadership by the power-elite.

Adding to the palace intrigue, in the past few years, statewide leaders who have drawn the ire of the base have been booed off the stage, a known possibility that could add to motivation for canceling an in-person event.

Related: Chairmen candidate questionnaire

SOCIAL DESIRABILITY BIAS in polling is an issue in 2020, more so than it was in 2016.

RealClearPolitics' Matt Bevin appearing on Spicer & Co spoke about the issues pollsters are encountering with the “shy Trump Voter.”

So, while it's likely given the mix of current events in the U.S. (COVID + ANTIFA/BLM) that Trump is behind in the polls, the margins of most polls are overblown and not reflective of actual voter sentiment.

Hispanic voters moving to Trump and the GOP would make sense since they were disproportionally harmed by the COVID19 shutdown, and the GOP has more actively pushed for a reopening.

Of course, the GOP hasn't taken advantage of this opportunity, but that is a hallmark of the party's operation.

COVID19 infections in Texas continue to climb, but deaths haven’t spiked, and hospitalizations aren’t exceeding capacity [Tarrant | Harris | Dallas]. Bend but don't break appears to be working.

TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY released a report yesterday suggesting that at least 10% of government educated children did not complete assignments and ghosted teachers during the spring semester of distance learning.

Hit the links

Was COVID with us long before anyone realized?

Workers get laid off for a second time ($)

Tubing outfitters selling parking, private river entry

Coin shortage hits Central Texas

Abbott’s elective surgeries ban threatens hospital solvency

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Coming up

7/15: FEC reports due

7/31: PFS filings due

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Please feel free to contact me (reply to this email or email me at with questions, comments, suggestions, or tips.

TUE brief 6.30.20

TX Teachers in a pickle

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Today's stories

HOUSTON hospitals aren't overrun.

Yesterday, the President and CEO of Memorial Herman Hospital stated, "We're not close to running out of capacity."

This good news may inexplicably upset Democrats who appear to be more concerned with preening over COVID than actually seeing the state to the other side.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner has taken to social media to shame businesses that did not comply with Governor Abbott arbitrarily reversing portions of his reopening plan.

TEACHERS UNIONS are threatening strikes if schools are open this fall, but since Texas is a right to work state, striking could be a costly endeavor with teachers jeopardizing certifications and pensions.

Related: U.S. pediatricians clamor for in-person school

The virus-induced tension in this situation is interesting. On the one hand, there is an imperative on the left to teach (a.k.a. indoctrinate). Still, this mandate has to contend with the fear of COVID, not to mention the ramifications of continued homeschooling should government schools remain closed.

Speaking of indoctrination, yesterday, the State Board of Education held a hearing to consider, among other things getting sex ed kicked off in the fifth grade (consent training).

Of course, it being 2020, there are calls for the SBOE to normalize and expand topics of sexual orientation and gender identity in any revised curriculum.

SCOTUS ruled yesterday that abortitoriums do not need admitting privileges to a local hospital, striking down a Louisiana law that was an identical twin to a Texas measure.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who at this point is openly accused of clouded judgment for fear of the left, sided with the court's liberal justices.

HARRIS COUNTY saw an increase of 9,000 mail-in ballots cast election-over-election on the first day of early voting in the run-off, a significant jump but hardly exponential.

The temporary Harris Co. Clerk has encouraged voting by mail in the run-off and applying to vote by mail in November. In the process, he's misrepresenting a recent SCOTX ruling that lack of immunity to the coronavirus is not a disability.

COVID cases continue to climb in Texas, but the death rate thankfully remains flat.

The proliferation of mask-wearing suggestions and mandates has citizens pushing back; in some cases, they've gone to the trouble of printing exemption cards, which federal officials have taken the time to warn are fake.

Hit the links

S.A. business owner ordered to stop seeking volunteers to aid police with riots

Conservatives are fleeing Twitter, flocking to Parler

On White Fragility

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Coming up

7/15: FEC reports due

7/31: PFS filings due

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Please feel free to contact me (reply to this email or email me at with questions, comments, suggestions, or tips.

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