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Texas Fights Outloud Archives for 2022-11

Populism vs Realpolitik

The 88th session of the Lege is rapidly approaching, and as policy is being formed and legislation proposed, the jockeying for the position of Speaker of the House is kicking into high gear. We talked last week about Tony Tinderholt’s challenge to Dade Phelan for House Speaker. This week we’re going to dig into some of the latest developments in Austin and hone our message to our Representatives.


Not surprisingly, the debate over how to spend the state’s $27 billion tax surplus is center stage and a fight is brewing. While property tax relief is on every Republican’s mind, that’s where the consensus ends. Governor Abbott wants the Lege to spend half the surplus on it, and the Lieutenant Governor would like to see even more.


But certain Republicans are vociferously proposing that the entire surplus be spent on easing Texan’s onerous property tax burden. Among those proponents is Tony Tinderholt, the man who would be Speaker. Tinderholt, a Republican Representative from Arlington, is carving out a distinctly hardline GOP message: The Texas Republican Platform calls for us to move away from the broken property tax system and shift to sales taxes. This year provides a historic opportunity to do just that.”


Carrie Isaac, a Republican House freshman from Dripping Springs, has said she too wants to see the entire surplus allotted to buying down our property taxes. Many policy foundations and activist organizations agree, from Texas Public Policy Foundation to Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, which supports “using all—or as much as realistically possible—to ‘buy down’ the Maintenance and Operations portion of the property tax.” They’ve criticized Speaker Phelan for his recent comments on the issue, accusing him of not including property tax relief in his plans for spending the surplus.


What Phelan actually said on the topic seems at variance with that interpretation. He said that we “should look at more than just property tax relief,” and that this surplus represents “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use some of these resources for infrastructure.” Texas Fights Outloud was born of the hope that this surplus would be invested in infrastructure, though we strongly disagree about what that is.


Phelan defines the infrastructure investment critical to attracting new business and job creation as roads, water, broadband, and education. Notably absent is the grid. Visibly present is education. Don’t you think businesses would value affordable and reliable electricity? And I don’t think more CRT and social emotional learning are big calling cards for prospective businesses looking to relocate to Texas.


He goes on to point out that the surplus came not from property taxes, but from sales and franchise taxes, and that this surfeit of revenue is directly tied to inflation, or what he is calling financial “pain.” He thinks it is equally valid to offer relief to the business owner and consumer in their respective tax arenas.


This really got Tinderholt’s goat. He believes the “historic opportunity” being offered is to move Texas’ revenue base away from property taxes altogether and to shift it to sales taxes.


And so the debate on property tax relief becomes another central issue in the contest for Speaker of the House. With 3 billion already earmarked from prior legislation for a property tax buy-down this session and broad support for more, it appears that substantive tax relief is a foregone conclusion, the only remaining questions being how and how much.


But Tinderholt’s foregone conclusion (that we should shift to a sales tax revenue base exclusively) goes far beyond a squabble about how much property tax relief to pass this session and merits a transparent and exhaustive debate in the future. Bring it.




Which brings me smack dab back to the point I made last week about Tinderholt’s challenge to Dade Phelan for the speakership. In my estimation, it is not about him unseating Phelan (which I doubt is realistic), but about his being a cattle prod to push the House rightward if he can mount a credible challenge. In other words, perhaps he can catalyze a stronger backbone in our Republican leaders, the majority of which are going to be allied with the hidebound Establishment.


This plays out specifically on the topic of appointing Democratic committee chairs in a House dominated by Republicans. The GOP is solidly against the practice and Tinderholt is making this the centerpiece of his bid; whereas, Phelan has used it to cement his position and consolidate his power. He’s played footsies across the aisle on some issues that got the Republican base hot under the collar, by giving Democrats chairmanship of such committees as Public Education and Criminal Jurisprudence, the chair of which has said that “law enforcement is systemically racist.” Oh boy. That’s a non-starter.


But Steve Armbuster, Chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party, sent an email out to the GOP Exec Committee earlier this week asking it’s members to vote against a resolution that would ban Democrats from committee chair positions, saying it sounds good but could rally Dems to block all legislation that comes to the House floor, and possibly empower them to form a coalition with moderate Republicans to elect a leftier Speaker.


Realize that this is exactly the same argument playing out on Capital Hill in D.C. about Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House. There is no consensus, even among populist House members. For example, MAGA wonder woman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, is endorsing McCarthy as Speaker for much the same reason Armbuster is against the Texas GOP platform plank.


So I don’t think it’s clear. What I do think is that the Tinderholt “flex” is good for the Legislature and the Republican party, signaling that politics as usual is over in an era in which the Democratic Party has been commandeered by Marxists. We’re going to push back, and some stridency is called for.


The Democrat chair of Pensions, Investments and Financial Services last year called for the impeachment and removal of President Trump under the 25th Amendment. The Democrat chair of Business & Industry claimed that Ted Cruz, Ken Paxton and 16 GOP

Congressmen engaged in "sedition" for questioning election procedures or voting against certification of results. He also called for Paxton to be impeached. Our message should be, we don’t play nicely with radical leftists. Period. And we certainly don’t appoint them as committee chairs.


In the days of routinely stolen elections and the characterization of conservatives as terrorists, with the Green New Deal Fiasco tanking the economy, and the attack on parental rights on the ascendent, it is fantasy to pretend there is anything anymore called a Yellow Dog Democrat with whom we should collaborate. Total fiction. But this is the game still afoot.


Phelan is a crafty and skilled politician whose loyalties, at the end of the day, are to himself. As one blog post commentator said, “With friends like Dade, who needs enemies?” Another echoed, “Dade Phelan is an undocumented Democrat.” I believe we need to pry at least one rein out of his hands and ban the appointment of Democratic committee chairs. With one rein, you can control the whole horse.


I realize that populism can easily devolve into the polemics of polarity. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here. We are not playing tit for tat, as establishment Republicans would portray us. We are better than that—more civic minded, better informed, and more aware of the consequences of inaction. The question is, how do we marry this new and nuanced fire breathing populism to the grit of realpolitik without being derailed by our own idealism? Can we carve out a place in the ruling Republican establishment and so sway the body politic much as the Swedish Dems are doing in Sweden?

That is, until we entirely take it over.


This week’s call to action is a little different. Rather than reach outward to our Representatives, we want to circle the wagons. Texas Fights Outloud wants to hear from you. We want to know where you stand in the fight for House Speaker, and on the issue of power sharing with Democrats. Where do you think populism meets realpolitik? And what is the most efficacious path forward in the next legislative session?

Go to texasfightsoutloud.org and click on the blog post, Populism VS. Realpolitik to share your thoughts in the comments section.


It behooves all of us to get in the fight, by first getting into the discussion.  See you there.



A list of House Republicans supporting the ban on Democrat Committee Chairs so far:


Mark Dorazio, (R-San Antonio

Carrie Isaac, (R-Dripping Springs)

Terri Leo-Wilson, (R-Galveston)

Nate Schatzline,  (R-Ft. Worth)

Matt Schaefer, (R-Tyler)

Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie)

Bryan Slaton [R–Royse City]

Richard Hayes (R–Denton)

Cody Vasut (R–Lake Jackson)

The Invasion: Punch, Counterpunch

While our focus has been on the wild wild west of midterm elections, a lot has been happening on the wild west of our open southern border. Though October saw a small dip in the number of illegal border crossings, that is likely to change soon and radically with the expiration of Title 42, a public health order implemented at the beginning of the pandemic that enabled us to expel illegal aliens.


Republicans have noted that Title 42 has been an impactful tool in turning away inadmissible aliens at the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that 35% of the illegal immigrants apprehended along the southwestern U.S. border were expelled under the Title 42 policy.


But a ruling by a Federal judge in D.C. has put the kabosh on that policy, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” Judge Emmet Sullivan’s decision arose from a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

In response, Congressman Tony Gonzales (TX-23), whose district is largely Hispanic and stretches across southwest Texas, issued this statement following the judge’s decision:


Title 42 has been the only policy in place that has kept Border Patrol and law enforcement agencies above water. In its absence, there will be complete chaos in my district and across the country.”


In tandem with this development, and with the midterms securely behind him, Governor Abbott finally declared that an invasion is taking place along the U.S. southern border, and that he will send National Guard troops and gun boats” to secure the border and repel” people trying to cross illegally.


This is what he tweeted: I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the U.S. & Texas Constitutions to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion. I’m using that constitutional authority, & other authorization & Executive Orders to keep our state & country safe.”


As if to head off the criticism of the usual detractors of his border efforts as ineffectual, he also recapped a list of the actions that he has taken on the Border issue:


  • Deploy the National Guard to safeguard our border & to repel & turn back immigrants trying to cross the border illegally;
  • Deploy the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to arrest & return to the border immigrants who crossed illegally & deploy DPS to arrest illegal immigrants for criminal activity;
  • Build a border wall in multiple counties on the border;
  • Deploy gun boats to secure the border;
  • Designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations;
  • Enter into a compact with other states to secure the border;
  • Enter into agreements with foreign powers to enhance border security;
  • Provide resources for border counties to increase their efforts to respond to the border invasion.


But one persistent critic, Ken Cucinelli, who served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under Trump, is still not impressed. He reiterated his long held position that unless and until Abbott deports illegals and takes them back across the border, all other measures amount to a game of “catch and release,” a position the leftist mainstream media has seized upon to demean Abbott’s efforts and sow division among the Republican ranks.


As if upping the ante in this game of chicken, the Governor added another sanctuary city, Philadelphia, to the roster of destinations for the busing of illegals. Now illegals can choose between the City of Brotherly Love and Chicago, D.C or New York.


It’s not that I don’t richly enjoy New York City’s Mayor and Chief Hypocrite petulantly protest that his city’s “values are being exploited.” Or the fact that Abbott last week sent a third busload of  illegals to Kamala Harris’s DC historic residence. That’s all good clean fun. But we’re talking about less than 15,000 illegals total having been bused from Texas to other states. With minuscule numbers like that, it’s easy to dismiss his “busing strategy” as a PR stunt.


As Cucinelli insists, the proof is in the pudding. Until the number of illegal border crossings stops exponentiating and then rolls back to Trump era proportions, all Abbott’s efforts, no matter how self-congratulatory, will have been in vain, including this long awaited Declaration.



So what does the declaration of invasion mean in practical terms? Ten locations along the Texas–Mexico border will get Vietnam-era M113 armored personnel carriers (ie, tanks), with 50 trained personnel to operate them. The HQ for Operation Lone Star reports that the Texas National Guard is also increasing aircraft flights and security efforts” on the border.

 The Texas National Guard is taking unprecedented measures to safeguard our border and to repel and turn-back immigrants trying to cross the border illegally.”

How this translates into numbers of illegal incursions remains to be seen. It is possible to envision a scenario in which such defenses act as a deterrent to the cartels and coyotes and their trans national backers. It seems obvious they seek entry at the most porous and undefended border points.

But it seems equally obvious that they will not be easily deterred. The amounts of money being made, the amount of power being consolidated, the damage being done to the sovereignty of our country are so desirable as to merit a combat situation. That, in fact, is the meaning of an invasion. We are at war with the cartels, and are presently losing badly.

The irony of Vietnam era tanks being sent to the border while continuing to withhold the authority of deportation, neatly echoes the dynamic of the war we fought in Southeast Asia with one hand tied behind our backs. We know how that turned out.

We also know that Abbott lacks the boldness of a Kari Lake, who campaigned on the promise of declaring an invasion on day one of her governorship. Her position poses such a threat to our enemies, that now she is embroiled on another battlefield, enmeshed in the intricacies and minutiae of a stolen election and the lawfare that necessarily ensues.

So perhaps our Governor’s cautiousness was well considered. With the midterms behind us, he may have been waiting for the cover that a Republican majority in the House in D.C. provides the escalation of our home grown Operation Lone Star.

The punchline was just delivered: “House Judiciary Republicans to summon Mayorkas for border investigation.”

But here’s the counterpunch that just broke this morning from the Center for Immigration Studies, at CIS.org: the administration is ramping up a formerly little used clause called, humanitarian or significant public benefit parole,” to select hundreds of people a month for their escorted government-to-government handoffs. There are centers in Tijuana, Monterey and Cancun that fly illegals into this country where they are given a package that included health care, work authorization, and an application for asylum. They simply apply online. Word is spreading virally throughout Central America.







Write Gov. Abbott and let him know we the people of Texas support his declaration of invasion, along with every option at our disposal to repel the affront on our southern border.  Additionally, we believe it to be imperative that our law enforcement be authorized to return illegal crossers across the border into Mexico, delivering the necessary signal upstream to the cartels that we intend a zero tolerance policy to illegal immigration.


Governor Greg Abbott

Office of the Governor

P.O. Box 12428

Austin Texas 78711

Telephone: (512) 463-2000


Write our US Senators, Cornyn and Cruz and tell them in no uncertain terms that we DO NOT support amnesty for DACA’s here in the U.S.


U.S. Senator John Cornyn

600 Navarro, Suite 210

San Antonio, TX 78205

Telephone: 210-224-7485



U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

9901 IH-10W, Suite 950

San Antonio, TX 78230

Telephone: (210) 340-2885




Write or call our US House representatives from Texas who sit on the Judiciary Committee, Chip Roy and Louie Gohmert, and tell them we are fully in favor of aggressive investigations into the border fiasco and the current humanitarian or significant public benefit parole" scam being used to sidestep legal and formal immigration processes.


U.S. Representative Chip Roy

1100 NE Loop 410

Suite 640

San Antonio, TX  78209

Telephone: (210) 821-5024


U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert

1121 ESE Loop 323, Ste 206

Tyler, TX, 7570 

Telephone: (903) 561-6349

The Austin Powers

On January 10, the Texas House will place their votes for Speaker of the House, a role that wields far more power than merely overseeing that chamber’s function. The Speaker has tremendous influence over which bills reach the floor for a vote through his  naming of committees and appointment of committee chairs, by which he virtually sets the agenda of the lower chamber.


Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) has served as Speaker since 2021 when he was supported by both Democrats and Republicans. He was, in fact, House Democrats’ choice for Speaker. So, rather than choosing to consolidate Republican power and cement Republican policy, Phelan chose to ensure his own continuing political power, appointing 13 Democrats to committee chairmanships in February 2021 at the beginning of last year’s regular session.


Leftists have embraced Phelan as a “moderating influence on the hardliners in his party.” He has been given the thumbs up by Equality Texas, a powerful lobby that aggressively promotes pro LGBTQ legislation, gender modification, and transgender participation in sports.


Texas Values’ president, Jonathan Saenz said, Rep. Phelan used his power last session to advance the LGBT agenda and we have not forgotten.” The organization which supports social conservative values “strongly opposes” Phelan becoming Speaker again.

Texas GOP legislative priorities committee chair, Jill Glover, decried Phelan’s lack of support for the banning of gender modification of children, something that 95% of Republicans supported in the primary. We are very disappointed in Speaker Phelan,” Glover said.

And this is really the root issue. While it has been a longstanding tradition in the House for the Speaker to appoint members of the minority party to head some committees, 80% of GOP Texans who voted in the primary were in favor of a legislative rule ending the practice.



Enter Tony Tinderholt ((R–Arlington), a staunchly conservative combat veteran and former Freedom Caucus member who is throwing his hat in the ring for the Speakership. In an indictment of Phelan’s bipartisan style of power politics, Tinderholt said, “Most house Republicans will tell you that they fully expect many important Republican policies to die at the hands of liberal committee chairs appointed by Speaker Phelan.”


The accuracy of this assessment has not escaped the scrutiny of former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West who plainly stated, Texas will not allow the undermining of our Texas Republic… and will not support a potential Texas speaker of the House who would seek affirmation from progressive socialist Democrats to attain that position.”

The newly-elected Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Waxahachie) tweeted, There is an inverse relationship between Democrat committee chairs and Republican priorities that pass,” and House Republican Nate Schatzline tweeted back, I couldn’t agree more.”

No fan of West, former Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen observed that Phelan was elected Speaker by a Republican super majority and that voters will just have to suck it up. I think such a stance only encourages complacency on the part of the populist base (which is the future of the Party) and tacitly gives our consent to being ruled rather than governed, and to empowering a professional political class rather than constituents.


Phelan’s brand of across the aisle coalitions is not meant to further his party’s legislative priorities. It is, rather, a relic of old school power politics that has largely contributed to the creation of a Republican Party of ossified controlled opposition, the saddest archeological specimen of which is the dinosaur, Mitch McConnell, who has betrayed his Republican base at every turn.


There is no mistaking the America First agenda adopted by the Texas GOP at the June convention:

  • Protect our Elections
  • Secure the Border and Protect Texans
  • Ban Gender Modification of Children
  • Stop Sexualizing Texas Kids
  • Ban Democrat Chairs
  • Abolish Abortion in Texas
  • Defend Our Gun Rights
  • Parental Rights and Educational Freedom



But The Austin Powers that be might just as well tell us outright to pipe down. To which I say stuff and nonsense, and echo Tinderholt’s call to action: It is clear that Texas Republicans need new leadership who will fight for our values.” He cites his motivation to run for Speaker as “a lack of movement on the Republican Party’s legislative priorities.”

Tinderholt would need to rally at least twenty people to put his name forward for a serious challenge for Speaker, and though this seems unlikely, I believe we are obligated to voice our support. Here’s why. The days of playing nice with a Democratic Party that has become overtly Marxist are over. This is not the political landscape of yore, and even Bonnen admits that if he’s learned one thing from the Dems, it’s the value of refusing to be cooperative.


Last week  Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) gave his enthusiastic endorsement to Tinderholt. We’ll see what happens. But either we recognize that we are in a battle to the death with the Marxist globalists for the soul of our country, or we continue to pretend that there are two polite parties and that politics is properly done behind closed doors or over cocktails, and allow the political class to sell that soul to the highest bidder.

In my opinion, after yet another stolen election, it’s gloves off—bare knuckle populism, not panty waist pandering to the left side of the aisle. We need to breathe fire. There is only one voice that matters, that of We the People. It’s our government, and it’s time to take it back, starting with control of the Republican Party right here in our home state.



Contact your House Representative and tell them you support Tinderholt’s bid for Speaker.

Clearly state that you voted for Republicans in order to advance the Republican legislative agenda, and that Phelan has a proven track record of derailing those priorities, specifically by continuing the tradition of appointing Democratic committee chairs.

“Tradition” is utterly meaningless in the current political landscape in which the Democratic Party has been hijacked by its most radical element. The Republican base demands leadership that is committed to the values and issues outlined in the GOP legislative priorities for the next session, and not to placating or currying favor with the opposition.

Then reach out to our allies, Allen West, Don Huffines, and Matt Rinaldi and let them know the Republican base is riled up and we want to apply pressure on Phelan.



Rep. Abel Herrero

101 East Main Avenue

Robstown, Texas 78380

(361) 387-0457



Rep. Todd Hunter

District Office
15217 SPID, Ste. # 205
Corpus Christi, Texas


GOP Chairman Matt Rinaldi



Don Huffines

The Huffines Liberty Foundation

8222 Douglas Ave Ste 250
Dallas, TX 75225

(214) 526-3000


Lt. Col. Allen West

3318 Hwy 365 Suite 243
Nederland, TX 77627