Tue brief 10.12.21

Governor Shampoo

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GREG ABBOTT wants you to think he banned employer vaccine mandates.  Except he didn’t.  Everything in the past 24 hours has been performative.  Absent corresponding action from the legislature, yesterday’s executive order is as enforceable as Abbott’s previous “ban” on mask mandates by school districts.


This is Governor FoxNews’ most cynical playbook:

  1. Make a bombastic yet substance-free statement.

  2. Bait the left into overreacting.

  3. Trust national media (especially national conservative media) to cover the conflict without uncovering the toothlessness of the original statement.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Were Abbott serious, he could achieve far more excellent results by leveraging the state’s so-called “economic development” programs.  Whether grassroots conservatives like it or not, a blanket prohibition on private employers is legally dubious.  But the state of Texas has total jurisdiction over companies that receive public subsidies (Hello Facebook and Google).

In the cases of American and Southwest airlines (currently mocking Abbott), the solution is simple: Most airports in Texas are publicly owned.  There’s nothing to stop the legislature from prohibiting the use of DFW and Love Field by companies that mandate vaccinations.

The late addition to the special session had radio personality Mark Davis worked up. If barring vaccine mandates can be added, why not the protection of kids from chemical castration? It’s the right question with an answer that’s already been provided in the setup.

Leadership in Texas is unserious about protecting Texans against predators, be they businesses, tax assessors, vote harvesters, or the perverse who want to Frankenstein boys into girls.

Related: The natives restless over executive overreach

PAUL FOSTER has been named the new chairman of the ERCOT board.  This is both bad on the merits and indicative of Greg Abbott’s political fecklessness.

A former chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents, Foster was one of the villains of the Wallace Hall era.  A good ol’ boy and crony capitalist from El Paso, his ill repute precedes him.  For someone like Foster to be placed in charge of the state’s electric grid following last February’s statewide freeze is a status quo move.  Unfortunately, that’s not new.

But beyond this being a bad move on the merits, for Paul Foster to be out of the political doghouse tells us a lot about the man who appointed him.

In 2017, Abbott forced Foster out of the UT board following various acts of insubordination.  Yet, barely four years later, Foster gets another plum gubernatorial appointment.  This is an excellent example of why threats from Greg Abbott should not be taken seriously (see the previous item).

CHAD PRATHER had Williamson County activist Jeremy Story on his show last week. Unlike the last item, this development is good on multiple fronts.

At a minimum, it’s good that Story’s story (say that five times fast) reaches a broader audience.  Story was recently arrested following a recent attempt to raise concerns with the Round Rock ISD board about allegations of abusive womanizing against Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez.

The saga surrounding Jeremy Story and Round Rock ISD is a prime example of a form of dirty politics emerging in Williamson County that we will address in-depth as time permits.

Beyond helping to publicize the Willamson county drama, this is a very encouraging sign for Prather as a gubernatorial candidate.  To this point, the knock on Prather has been that he’s running for governor to sell merchandise, not to address Texas’ substantive challenges.  For Prather to devote twenty minutes of airtime to elevating the Round Rock ISD drama profile suggests that knock is incorrect.

Out of all the Republican gubernatorial candidates, Prather probably has the highest political ceiling.  Unlike the incumbent and the other two challengers, Prather comes across as blessedly and refreshingly normal.  He seems like the type of guy you could take to a tailgate without risking embarrassment.

The substance is more important than the public persona.  But the latter still matters.  If Prather can combine the two, he might become a powerful political force.

Related: 9-year-old allegedly raped by a dysphoric predator in school restroom

GOLDMAN SACHS is exiting the municipal debt market in Texas following the passage of pro-Second Amendment legislation during the year’s regular legislative session.  This issue was addressed in detail last week when J.P. Morgan Chase did something similar.  Two and a half cheers.

Still, wouldn’t it have been nice if local government debt in Texas, now over $365 billion, had been addressed ten years ago (when it was “just” a fiscal conservative hobbyhorse).

Never Forget: Government debt funds our enemies.