Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘Show Business for Ugly People’

Now is not a good time for HHSC to be dysfunctional

And yet here we are. Under Charles Smith, the longtime ally of Gov. Greg Abbott picked to lead the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, Texas’ government health care infrastructure is hemorrhaging veteran employees and facing criticism for its response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Harvey. Dozens of experienced senior staff members have […]

Trump nominates two to the Fifth Circuit

This is why Republicans put aside their doubts to vote for Trump, and it’s why they stick with him. This is the prize they kept their eyes on, and it’s paying off for them bigtime. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is nominating two Texans to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: Texas […]

So were we targeted by Russian hackers or not?

Depends who you ask, I guess. A top state official is pushing back against the federal government’s claim that Texas was among states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers ahead of the 2016 presidential election. “At no point were any election-related systems, software, or information compromised by malicious cyber actors,” Texas Secretary of […]

Texas was a hacking target in 2016

We’re just finding out about this now? Hackers targeted Texas and 20 other states prior to the 2016 presidential election, the United States Department of Homeland Security has formally informed the states. But the hackers who tried to mess with Texas didn’t get far, officials with the Texas Secretary of State’s office said Monday. The […]

Ballot order

Kevin Drum finds this paper, entitled “The Ballot Order Effect is Huge: Evidence from Texas”, by a professor at Sam Houston State, and notes that it confirms what we have all long believed, that being first on the ballot in a non-partisan race like a primary or a municipal election is an advantage. From the […]

Yes, cities need lobbyists

Every few years, this argument heats up. In the run-up to this year’s Texas legislative session, Mayor Sylvester Turner decided to switch Capitol lobbying firms. In was Hillco Partners, considered by many the most powerful player in Austin lobbying. Out was a firm led by a political adviser to House Speaker Joe Straus. What didn’t […]

Pastoral malignancy

Know your enemy. A day before the Texas Legislature ended its special session this week, a session that included a high-profile fight over a “bathroom bill” that appeared almost certainly dead, David Welch had a message for Gov. Greg Abbott: call lawmakers back to Austin. Again. For years, Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor […]

Confederate monuments in the Capitol

Get rid of them, too. A state lawmaker wants all Confederate symbols removed from the Texas Capitol grounds, including a plaque that is 40 steps away from his office that rejects the idea that the South seceded from the Union over slavery. Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, sent a letter to the State Preservation Board Wednesday […]

What’s next for the now-canceled white nationalist rally at A&M

The legal experts are weighing in. Saunie Schuster, an attorney for The NCHERM Group, which provides consulting for schools on First Amendment issues, said that was the organizer’s big mistake. “You can be here and you can speak even if we hate what you’re saying, but you can’t disrupt the function of Texas A&M,” Schuster […]

White nationalist rally at A&M canceled

I’ve been on the road with limited Internet access, so I’m just now catching up on recent events. Unlike our garbage president, I wholeheartedly condemn the appalling racist violence committed in Charlottesville by a bunch of Nazi scum. As such, I was heartened to see this. A white nationalist rally planned on Texas A&M University’s […]

Dan Patrick hates Texas’ cities

I have so many things to say about this. City governments, particularly those led by Democrats, are to blame for problems nationwide, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said during a nationally televised interview Friday. “People are happy with their governments at their state level, they’re not with the city,” said Patrick, a Republican, in an […]

Your periodic reminder that non-citizens very rarely vote

I know you don’t need a reminder, being sophisticated followers of the news and all, but here it is anyway. Since Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote in November, our new commander-in-chief has consistently attacked the legitimacy of popular vote totals that showed his rival, Hillary Clinton, well ahead of him on election day. “In […]

Who wants to give Greg Abbott power over their health insurance?

I sure don’t, but then I’m not the median voter in this state. The Senate Republicans’ health care plan would give governors virtually unchecked discretion over health insurance plans. In red states with governors hostile to health care expansion, such as Texas, that could mean loss of coverage and skyrocketing costs for patients. Governor Greg […]

Denton County returns to paper ballots

I hadn’t realized this. Denton has been using a hybrid voting system that employs both electronic and paper ballots for about a decade. But county officials recently approved spending just shy of $9 million to buy new voting equipment from Austin-based Hart InterCivic that will return to an entirely paper-based system in time for this […]

Another look at redistricting in Texas

We’re in the spotlight right now. The odd shapes tell the story. A huge Republican majority in the Houston-area 2nd congressional district represented by Ted Poe curls around the region from Lake Houston, northeast of the city, makes a meandering, snakelike loop out to the western suburbs, and ends south of downtown near Loop 610. […]

An interesting shift in approval ratings for state leaders

More UT/Trib poll data: The figurative wrestling match between the state’s top three officials jiggled their approval ratings, but not by much, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Gov. Greg Abbott remains the highest rated of the state’s high officials, with 45 percent of voters saying they approve his job performance and […]

Yet another report about how much our voter ID law sucked

Keep ’em coming. Hundreds were delayed from voting and others nearly turned away entirely during the presidential election because of confusion over the status Texas voter ID laws, a new report from a voting rights advocacy group shows. It’s just one of numerous problems Texas voters — particularly minority groups — faced during the 2016 […]

Texas Republicans still mostly like Trump

There are a few cracks in the surface, however. Most voters in the country’s biggest red state are wary of President Donald Trump — but Republican voters remain strongly supportive of him, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. More than half of the voters said Trump does not have the temperament to […]

An SB4 threefer

We have our first SB4 casualty. A 15,000-member association of attorneys and law professors said on Wednesday that it is relocating its 2018 convention out of Texas in response to the state legislature passing Senate bill 4, a sweeping and controversial immigration enforcement measure. The American Immigration Lawyers Association was scheduled to hold its 3-day […]

Rep. Al Green gets death threats

sad, but hardly surprising. During a town hall meeting Saturday, Congressman Al Green played recordings of threatening voicemail messages left for him after he demanded the impeachment of President Donald Trump on the House floor earlier this week. “You’ll be hanging from a tree,” one caller said. The calls use graphic racial slurs, some calling […]

Warning labels, schmarning labels

Sid Miller, ladies and gentlemen, addressing the concerns of rancher Bruce Hunnicutt about the use of poison to try to control the feral hog population. Hunnicutt, 58, operates a hog hunting business on 30,000 acres — he owns 600 and leases another 24,000 — in Northeast Texas. He regularly sends the meat of the pigs […]

Culberson’s stock purchase

Interesting. In a heated confirmation hearing for then-Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Democrats raised pointed questions about the congressman’s trading in stocks of companies regulated by the House committees he serves on. One in particular, Innate Immunotherapeutics, a small Australian biotech firm, generated particular attention because it had […]

State seeks Medicaid money it gave up over Planned Parenthood ban

Ugh. Four years after Texas gave up millions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds so it could ban Planned Parenthood from participating in a family planning program for low-income women, the state is asking the Trump administration for the money back. The request presents an important early test for the administration of President Trump, who […]

The state’s voter ID failure is much bigger than you think

You really have to read this. The confusion started in the first hour of the first day of early voting in San Antonio last October. Signs in polling places about the state’s controversial voter ID law contained outdated rules. Poll workers gave voters incorrect information. Lines were long — full of people who were full […]

Bathroom bills and business interests

Texas Monthly’s Dave Mann reviews the Republican schism over the bathroom bill and comes to the same conclusion as I have. At the moment, the Legislature—and the Republican party, for that matter—has settled into an uneasy stalemate between Patrick’s right-leaning Senate and Straus’s more moderate coalition in the House. But, as they say, stalemates are […]

Progressives in East Texas

Yes, they exist, and they are coming out of the woodwork these days. “It was remarkable,” says Lee Hancock, a Tyler resident of over 20 years who formerly covered East Texas for the Dallas Morning News. Hancock is now a lead organizer with Indivisible of Smith County, one of several new progressive grassroots groups in […]

Texas Lyceum poll on Trump and 2018

From the inbox, the promised Day Two results: Statewide poll numbers released today by the Texas Lyceum, the state’s premier, non-partisan, nonprofit statewide leadership group, show U.S. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Houston (Lyceum Class of 2004) isn’t guaranteed another term as Texas’ Senator according to early trial ballots pitting the incumbent against his two […]

Greg Abbott wants to kill off cities

That’s the only way to describe it. As state lawmakers gather for their biennial session this spring, they’re weighing whether to rein in localities that ban plastic grocery bags, extend civil rights protections to LGBTQ residents, discourage cooperation with federal immigration authorities, impose driver screening requirements for ride-sharing companies and regulate the chopping down of […]

A tale of two Congressmen

Rep. Ted Poe has a status update. U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican from Humble, announced Sunday afternoon he is resigning from the hardline Republican group that helped sink GOP attempts to repeal former President Obama’s 2010 health care law. “I have resigned from the House Freedom Caucus. In order to deliver on the conservative […]

This is why you leave women’s health to the professionals

Because amateurs and zealots do a lousy job. In pushing a replacement for the Affordable Care Act that cuts off funds for Planned Parenthood, Republicans are out to reassure women who rely on the major health care organization that other clinics will step up to provide their low-cost breast exams, contraception and cancer screenings. Texas […]

On pot and potties

Two more poll results to note. Opposition to legal marijuana is dropping in Texas, with fewer than one in five respondents to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll saying they are against legalization in any form. Support for marijuana only for medical use has dropped over the last two years, but support for legalization […]

Trump approval

The Trib does its poll thing. In his second month in office, President Donald Trump is getting overwhelmingly good grades on his job performance from the state’s Republicans, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Trump is popular enough to cast positive light on Russian President Vladimir Putin, a world figure who turns […]

Abbott shakes fist at NFL

Seriously? Gov. Greg Abbott is blasting the NFL for raising the prospect that Texas’ so-called “bathroom bill” could impact future events in the state — wading into a debate he has so far mostly steered clear of. “The NFL is walking on thin ice right here,” Abbott told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday. […]

How all that activism is being received

Texas Monthly looks at the recent spate of rallies and visits to Texas elected officials’ events and offices to see what’s up. John Simpson and Mark Leech had never participated in a protest before last month. In fact, the couple—who got married in Temple last June—wasn’t particularly political before the 2016 election. They became concerned, […]