FRI brief 1.7.22
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KELCY WARREN (previously discussed), in the context of his role in the February 2021 power grid collapse, appears to be a bad actor.
Warren’s presence on the UT board is illustrative of multiple macro-trends in Texas:
A small group of insiders controls real economic & political power in Texas (aka. The Good Ol’ Boy system).
Greg Abbott is the puppet of those insiders.
Texas Democrats aren’t a serious opposition party.
Warren, an energy company CEO, came under scrutiny following a Bloomberg Report last July that detailed his firm’s multi-billion dollar windfall during the grid collapse. Warren donated $1 million to Abbott’s re-election campaign after serious efforts to fix the power grid died in the Texas House during the 2021 legislative session.
However, for Abbott to appoint Warren to the UT Board is fascinating.
Pop quiz: Where does the University of Texas (and Texas A&M’s) money come from?!?
For those who don’t know the history, in 1876, the legislature set aside 1 million acres in West Texas to create a “Permanent University Fund.” In 1883, they set aside 1 million more.
A half-century later, they discovered oil—lots of it. Over time, similar discoveries of natural gas were also made. In the 2010s, innovations in hydraulic fracturing (i.e., “fracking”) technology made those deposits economical to recover in a way they had not been previously.
TL;DR version: The University of Texas has even more oil/gas money today than they had a decade ago when they already had a lot.
Given this background, for Abbott to appoint an infamous industry insider to this oversight position is interesting. No specific aspersions have been cast at Mr. Warren during his time on the UT board, possibly because it’s gone unconsidered.
But, as a general rule, Texas shouldn’t be in the practice of hiring foxes to guard oil-filled hen houses.
On a more narrowly “political” note, however, for this factoid to have avoided attention is illustrative that Democrats aren’t serious about making the 2021 freeze a campaign issue in 2022.
While the Texas Observer pointed out this appointment last summer, one aside in an ideologically friendly publication is not a credible opposition campaign.
The 2021 freeze could have been the Texas GOP’s, Hurricane Katrina. Abbott could have been George W. Bush. But for that to have happened, the Democrats would have had to have made Kelcy Warren a household name the way Nancy Pelosi made “Heckuva job” Brownie a household name 17 years ago.
That didn’t happen. Instead, Texas Democrats have turned #FIXTHEDAMNGRID into a hashtag campaign.
Missed opportunities all around. (AC)
TED CRUZ backtracked on his assertion that January 6th LARPers were “terrorists” on an appearance with Tucker Carlson last night.
First things first: That yesterday’s edition of this newsletter arrived quickly after Cruz’s appearance ended was a coincidence. Funny coincidence, but a coincidence nonetheless.
Cruz may have once been but is no longer a good politician. A case can be made that he has never been. Cruz’s early success may owe more to the fact that David Dewhurst was the alternative than anything Cruz himself did.
Cruz will always be one of the most conservative U.S. Senators. But that doesn’t mean much. Being a conservative member of the United States Senate is like being the prettiest girl in Arkansas: Even if you win, consider the competition. (AC)
JAMES WHITE has been endorsed for Agriculture Commissioner by Senators Drew Springer (gag) and Charles Perry (meh).
White, a nice enough guy, who passed some decent bills, is clearly somebody’s cat’s paw in this forgettable run for higher office.
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