Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rosemary Lehmberg costs taxpayers ANOTHER 50 grand....

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

This story keeps getting better:
Less than two months after Travis County commissioners hired an outside law firm to represent the county and District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in a wrongful termination lawsuit, attorneys have burned through the initial $50,000

The Commissioners Court last week approved raising the not-to-exceed amount of its contract with Scott, Douglass & McConnico to $100,000.

The lawsuit stemmed from Lehmberg’s firing of former prosecutor Steve Brand in June, a decision she said was based on comments he made in court that she found racially insensitive.

Brand alleged in a federal lawsuit filed in July that Lehmberg fired him after he triggered a Texas Rangers review of her actions when he reported that she tried to pressure him into protecting an Austin police homicide detective under two internal affairs investigations. The Rangers review determined no criminal offense had been committed.

County officials had told the American-Statesman that the $600 hourly rate for lawyer Stephen McConnico was higher than usual. The typical rate is $200 to $400, county officials said.
Read the whole thing here.

#HookemWelfare: UT wants Austin taxpayers to finance new arena

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

From the department of "you have GOT to be kidding me":
Texas AD Steve Patterson: Taxpayers should help finance new arena

Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said the school is “probably six to eight years” away from building a new basketball arena to replace the Erwin Center.

UT’s new Dell Medical School will eventually need the land the Erwin Center is situated on. School officials have yet to determine where a new arena fits into the campus master plan, though.

During a speaking engagement Monday night sponsored by Texas Monthly, Patterson reiterated his belief the city of Austin should shoulder some construction costs. Patterson has previously told the American-Statesman a new arena could cost a $500 million or more.

“The reality is that Austin has had a free arena for 3 1/2 decades at no investment whatsoever,” Patterson said. “You look at the growth projections five years out, to be a top 25 market in this country and not to have an invested a nickel in an arena is a heck of a position for the city of Austin to be in.

“So perhaps we ought to be looking at all the constituent groups and how they contribute or invest in a facility going forward,” Patterson added.
Read the whole thing here.


On an unrelated note, at the same event Patterson spoke about upgrading the wi-fi system at DKR stadium; Cahnman's Musings fully supports this idea.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Konni Burton Burns Democrat Opponent

"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well."
Psalm 139:13-14

Konni Burton debated her Democrat opponent Sunday.  The debate was a nondescript discussion of issues.  Then, Konni was asked about rape exceptions for abortion; watch....

  •  Libby attacked Konni for opposing special interest boondoggles.
  • Konni: Include water and transportation in regular budget, not slush funds.
  • Konni, re: rape exemptions: "This is about life.  This is about a right.  A right is different than a law....It is our God given right: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  We are talking about a life and what government is supposed to do is to protect the rights of citizens.  That is their first right.  I will always protect the right to life.  Always."
Read our endorsement of Konni here; donate to her campaign here.

Texas Medical Association protects Abortionists (and Obamacare)

"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
John 3:20

This is a topic we've been meaning to address for awhile, but kudos to Texas Right to Life for beating us to the punch:
After multiple humiliating defeats at the polls, TEXPAC (the political arm of Texas Medical Association) penned an article on the recent elections, citing their obvious need to "squash medicine’s enemies" and the "anti-medicine opponents." During this recent primary election cycle, one of TMA’s lobbyists was overheard at the state capitol, "We are going to spend a lot of money to make sure that Texas Right to Life doesn’t have any influence next session." Good luck with that -- Pro-Life legislators have told us the same about TMA.

Who are these enemies and opponents of TMA?

Referenced by name in their article -- Texas Right to Life and Empower Texans, of course.

Instead of being daunted, Texas Right to Life is proud to rebuke the worldview of TMA/TEXPAC. We are doubly proud that almost all our candidates (and Empower Texans’) have beat the TMA big government, RINO (Republican In Name Only) establishment candidates in the recent Republican primary, runoff, and special elections for the last four election cycles.

But who is TMA, what do they do, and why should voters, let alone physicians who prioritize patient care, ever follow the lead of TMA?**

  • TMA refused to support a ban on secret Do-Not-Resuscitate orders. (Senate Health & Human Services Witness List -- SB 303 -- March 19, 2013). In other words, TMA lobbied against patient/surrogate consent to DNR orders. 
  • TMA opposed a law requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion practice. (TMA Article -- Nov. 1, 2013). Click here to read document
  • In 2013, TMA again supported Texas hospital panels’ unchecked authority to withdraw all treatment from patients, against the wishes of a patient, even if the patient is conscious! (Senate Health & Human Services Witness List -- SB 303 -- March 19, 2013). 
  • In 2012, TMA complained to the Department of State Health Services that doctors receiving state tax dollars for preventative care should also be allowed to discuss elective abortions with their patients. What exactly does abortion prevent? (TMA Press Release -- August 6, 2012). Click here to read document
  • In 2011, TMA supported physicians’ abilities to withdraw artificial water and food from sick patients without patient or family consent. (House Human Services Witness List -- HB 3520 -- April 12, 2011). TMA opposed full disclosure by physicians to women regarding abortion procedures, specifically information related to development of the preborn child. (TMA Letter to then-Senator Duncan –Feb. 8, 2011). Click here to read document.
  • In 2011, after Pro-Life legislators had successfully implemented Texas Right to Life’s strategy of redirecting family planning dollars to clean health care programs, TMA told legislators that they disagreed with this move, a move that would eventually result in the closure of 12 abortion clinics. In 2003, a known TMA lobbyist testified against enacting a Texas version of the Laci and Connor Peterson Law (Senate State Affairs Witness List – Feb. 24, 2003). Click here to read document.
Read the whole thing here.

Learn about TMA's support for Obamacare here.

Agendawise details TMA's endorsements of Democrats here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Texas: Future Headquarters Of Bitcoin

"The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil."
Joel 2:24

Astonishing and exciting news about the convergence of BITCOIN and good economic policy in Texas:
When it comes to creating jobs, don’t mess with Texas. The state has had stronger job growth over the last 13 years than any of the other 49 states, and even though the state will soon have a new governor, Texas will continue to be poised as a leader in job growth, while other states stifle innovation with regulation.

Here’s why:
Texas has embraced companies with a clear regulatory environment and that is not just for big oil. Texas is home to a large aerospace industry and a booming technology sector that could take bitcoin to the moon. You may think California is the bitcoin capital of the world and it is in terms of investment and innovation, but bitcoin companies are considering moving from Silicon Valley to the Silicon Prairie and Silicon Hills for the lower costs of doing business and tax incentives. Texas is ranked 11th on the State Business Tax Climate Index for 2014, while California is 48th and New York is dead last.

Dustin Trammell, Bitcoin Venture Capitalist and entrepreneur, says that “Given the contradictory guidance regarding Bitcoin regulation that’s been provided by U.S. Federal agencies, and no desire by the Fed to settle the differences, how to handle Bitcoin is being worked out by some states.”

This is where the opportunity lies. While some states have said that virtual currency regulation already falls within the scope of existing regulations, others have suggested the need for new virtual currency specific regulations such as New York Department of Financial Services’ (DFS) BitLicense.

Many prominent figures and businesses in the Bitcoin community have already come out against Ben Lawsky, the unelected superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, for his proposed BitLicense. These industry leaders and companies include Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, Xapo CEO Wences Casares, Coinbase and Max Keiser, among more.

While New York seems to be pushing away bitcoin business, others states, like Texas, are seeing this as an opportunity to bring more jobs to their state.

Texas offers $19 billion in tax incentives to businesses, the highest of any state, and has low taxes. Last year, Texas recorded a 5.5 billion dollar budget surplus.

Greg Abbott, Texas’ Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, who is positioned to be the next governor, is accepting bitcoins for his campaign and will likely be one of the first governors to win an election accepting bitcoin.

“I made the decision to accept Bitcoin because I believe that it represents the free-market economic principles that make Texas a national leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. As Governor, I will keep taxes low, government small and reduce regulations so Texas’ booming technology sector will continue to flourish,” said Abbott.

Abbott is leading in the polls by a 12.6 percent margin, a sizable lead considering there is only one debate left on September 30. Abbott has served Texas as Attorney General since 2002 and knows the potential bitcoin can bring to his state.

Texas has a strong technology friendly history. Jack Kilby invented the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in Dallas in 1958. Texas played a large part in the dot com era, and it hosts large technology companies like Dell and Texas Instruments. Texas can also support these businesses with a highly skilled workforce with the roughly 578,000 students enrolled in Texas’s 36 largest universities. These veterans from the dot com era along with a growing educated workforce will play a major role in Texas’s Bitcoin future.

US Representative Steve Stockman (TX-36) is also a public supporter of bitcoin. Rep. Stockman was the first Member of Congress to introduce a piece of Bitcoin legislation back in May 2014. The Virtual Currency Tax Reform Act aimed to treat virtual currencies as currency instead of property for federal tax purposes.

“It’s good to see Attorney General Abbott embrace virtual currencies like Bitcoin. It’s an emerging technology, and one that opens the doors for small businesses to sell globally. Texans have always embraced innovation. We created the modern economy by giving birth to the petroleum revolution, we led the world into the space age and now Texans are at the cutting edge of economic evolution,” said Rep. Stockman.

Regardless of political affiliations, most bitcoiners would like to see the advancement of Bitcoin technology and the values Bitcoin represents. The fact that many political figures are taking their stances on Bitcoin by accepting seems promising.

“As a Bitcoin enthusiast living in Texas, I am encouraged when our leaders and representatives support Bitcoin and encourage the development of technologies based on the blockchain. Keeping regulations reasonable will insure Texas will be at the center of developing this new technology,” according to Paul Snow, President of the Texas Bitcoin Association.

While accepting bitcoin for political contributions is a great first step, what the Bitcoin community really wants and needs is smart regulation that promotes the acceptance and use of digital currencies. After all, actions speak louder than words.

“If a politician wants to be serious about promoting and normalizing using Bitcoin, he or she will introduce legislation which allows me to pay for my property taxes and parking tickets with it. That would be much more beneficial to me, the citizen taxpayer, instead of merely benefiting a candidate’s campaign,” said Tod Beardsley, Engineering Manager at Rapid7, Dogecoin Shibe.

Being able to pay taxes in bitcoin would certainly be a game-changer, but is not anywhere on the US government’s agenda. However, the Isle of Man’s chief executive of economic development said that residents of the Isle could soon be able to do just that.

Texas vs. New York
One thing is for sure: New York’s proposed BitLicense companies will look at Texas’ regulatory environment and lower cost of living, and set up business because of the reduced barriers to entry.

“In some cases, the contrast between these various laboratories of economics are becoming quite stark, such as between economically conservative and even libertarian leaning states like Texas versus states like the New-York-nanny-staters and their proposed BitLicense,” said Dustin Trammell, Bitcoin Venture Capitalist & entrepreneur.


There are a lot of applications bitcoin can be used for and Texas’s bitcoin community will surely take advantage of them. From financial services to solving problems associated with The Internet of Things, entrepreneurs are finding use cases for bitcoin wherever they can.

“Austin is home to quite a number of Bitcoin startups, and even one of the few established regional Bitcoin conferences, the Texas Bitcoin Conference held every March in Austin, Texas. We have the momentum here in Texas, and we want to build on that, not suppress it with counterproductive regulation,” according to Paul Snow.

One problem bitcoin can solve in Texas is to help the vast amount of the population that is unbanked. Texas is ranked fifth in the country for having the largest percentage of unbanked and underbanked residents: 11.7% of Texas’s population is unbanked and 24.1% is underbanked.
 Read the whole thing here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Did Greg Abbott just take a shot at Joe Straus?!?

"So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward."
Luke 16:2

Very, very interesting ad from Greg Abbott:

Which begs the real question: When Greg Abbott talks about "no more taking highway funds by the Legislature to pay for their pet projects" who is he talking about?!?

To be fair, Straus isn't the only member of the legislature who's played games with transportation funding, but he is the most powerful.

Even if the line wasn't aimed specifically at Straus, it's clearly at attack on business as usual in the Legislature; also, Abbott didn't need to include the line for the ad to be effective, so the fact that it's in there in the first place is revealing.

Either way: Great job by Abbott on a subject he didn't have to address!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Derek Jeter was temporary; Jesus is Eternal!!!

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."
Matthew 6:19-20

#FarewellCaptain; "Well, the script is there, the last page is in Derek's Hands":

Michael Kay said it best: "Where fantasy becomes reality."

It's impossible to do justice to my love for Derek Jeter.  He's my favorite.  He always has been and he always will be.  Unfortunately, there's a dirty secret.  Jeter's baseball success was always temporary.

And isn't that just the dirty little secret of life: Success on this side of Heaven, even if you're Derek Jeter, is always temporary.

I never expected Derek Jeter's retirement to put "worldly treasures" in perspective, yet here we are.  I'm stuck with the fact that five world championships out of 19 years eventually came to an end.  Suffice to say, if you'd offered me the deal "Derek Jeter will play 19 seasons and win championships in 1 out of 4 of them" in 1994 I would have taken it.

But still...those 19 years came to an end.

Yet the resurrection is eternal.

Every one of us is separated from God.  Every one of us needs a savior.  Derek Jeter's heroism tonight proves nothing except the fact that the good guys eventually retire.  Yet, eternity continues to concern everyone.  Yankee fans, like all Americans, would be well served to trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior....

Straus Lieutenants Continue to Attempt Witness Intimidation

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

First, Lyle Larson:

Next, Frank Ferdinand Fischer:

(h/t Watchdog)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#HookemDoh: Democrat Canvasser recruiting fails at U.T.

"He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
So that their hands cannot carry out their plans."
Job 5:12

University of Texas -- Three days ago, this author was walking across the University of Texas campus when we noticed that the #HailSatanTX Democrats had flyered the campus hoping to add to their paid campaign staff.  They were the type of flyers where interested potential counterparties are supposed to tear off a tag on the bottom.  Typically, on a popular item, the tiny little squares are gone within a day.  Tonight, we attended an event on campus and decided to scout the flyers while killing time.  The three day progress report speaks for itself:

Each picture is a separate flyer; political consultants have a word for this: Metrics.

Austin Church Vandalized

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
Genesis 50:20

That's too bad:

MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

  • This isn't the first time the Church has been vandalized.
  • "Somebody that's hurting had to have done something like this. You don't just come into establishments like this, especially the church, where you just come in and destroy."
  • Suspects left behind "a ton" of fingerprint evidence.

Longhorns Poach a Baylor Recruit

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Galatians 6:10

Score one for Charlie Strong:
Austin Westlake linebacker Breckyn Hager (6-3, 210) has flipped his commitment to the Texas Longhorns from conference rival Baylor. Hager was recently rumored to have received an offer from the Longhorns, but it was not confirmed until today.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 210-pound Hager is ranked as a three-star defensive end prospect by 247Sports. With no current linebacker commitments in the 2015 recruiting class, in addition to 2013 signee Deoundrei Davis no longer being in the program and 2014 signee Andrew Beck moving to tight end, the Longhorns need help at linebacker.


Hager is the son of former Texas All-American linebacker Britt Hager. Hager, who wore No. 60 at Texas, holds the all-time record on the Forty Acres for single season (195 in 1988) and and career (499) tackles.
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Duke University Porn Star": The Truth Emerges....

"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."
2 Peter 2:19

We declined to discuss the 'Duke University Porn Star' story when it emerged.  We figured it would get a lot more complicated over time.  Didn't take long:
Hundreds of thousands of fans know her as Belle Knox, one of the most popular names in porn. The media often refers to her as the “Duke University porn star,” after a classmate revealed that she was paying her tuition by starring in porn shoots. We later discovered that the name her friends and family know her by is Miriam Weeks.

She has been touted far and wide as proof that porn can be empowering and evidence that feminists can sell their bodies as objects and still be, well, “feminist.” Here, porn supporters told us with satisfaction, is a nice girl from a Catholic home who loves to do porn just because she loves sex. Porn is, as Weeks told the cameras, “empowering” and “freeing” and “the way the world should be.”

And then, recently, Weeks did a series of interviews for an upcoming documentary. In them, she paints a much different picture than the freeing, empowering, sex-fueled fantasy world her fans and porn supporters claim she inhabits.

“The sex industry has a way of making you very cynical and very bitter,” a tired-looking Weeks tells an off-camera interviewer, “In a way I’ve started to become kind of a bit bitter and a bit cynical.”

Why? “It teaches you to be street smart and not to trust people…I’m so used to being on the lookout for scammers, people who are going to try pimp me out or traffic me. I think my experiences have aged me. I don’t have the mind of an eighteen-year-old. I have the emotional baggage of someone much, much older than me.”


In many interviews, Weeks talks obsessively about how porn gives her control over her own sexual destiny: “In porn, everything is on my terms. I can say no whenever I want to. I am in control.” Later on, we discover why this is so important to her: Weeks reveals that she had been raped. “What porn has done for me,” she says firmly, “is it has given me back my agency.”

Even amidst the perverted adulation of porn-addicted fans, however, she still bears the scars of self-loathing. In some cases, literal scars. One day looking in the mirror, she became so overcome with self-hatred that she smashed the mirror and cut herself, slicing the jagged letters “FAT” into the flesh of her thigh.


Miriam herself admits that her first scene, shot for a company she refers to as “Facial Abuse,” was “a really, really rough scene. I wasn’t prepared for how rough it was. It was weird having some random photographer watch me have my a** kicked on camera.” She talks about getting literally torn up during porn shoots. She admits that porn shoots in which she was physically beaten up until she sobbed were probably shoots she should have refused. Yet she didn’t.

The control is a myth too, of course. The porn industry has many ways of coercing the human beings they market into doing what they want. For one shoot, Miriam recalls almost tearfully, her agent wouldn’t tell her who she had to “work with.” When she arrived at the set, she realized he was fifty years old. She wanted to leave, but then she’d have to pay a 300 dollar “kill fee,” the director would have been furious, and, she says, she could never have worked for that company again. So she did it.

“I felt like crying during the entire scene and afterwards I was really, really upset,” Miriam says tearfully to the camera, looking like nothing more than the hurting 18-year-old girl she is. “I just thought of my mom, who was always there for me and always protected me…I think about my mom a lot when I do porn scenes. Just how sad she would be that her little daughter was doing this.”
We'll review the interviews and, if they're not too graphic, will re-post them on this website; in the meantime, read the whole thing here.

Deregulation begets Entrepreneurship in Texas

"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,"
1 Thessalonians 3:12

We'd heard about the cottage food movement from some of the libertarian circles in which we hang out in Austin, but this is a fantastic write up:
Texas is enjoying a burst of entrepreneurship after enacting laws that let anyone turn a home kitchen into a business incubator. Under “cottage food” laws, people can sell food baked or cooked at home, like cookies, cakes and jams, if it’s deemed to have a very low chance of causing foodborne illnesses. Crucially, cottage food laws exempt home bakers from having to rent commercial kitchen space.


Under the new cottage food law, Padilla reopened Bellissimo Bakery, so she could carry on customizing children’s birthday cakes and selling her cupcakes, in flavors like Kona Kahlua or Death by Chocolate. Since 2011, her sales have increased by 25 percent every year, and she’s predicting an increase of up to 50 percent this year. “Not only do I love creating custom cakes and cupcakes, but I love that my cottage food bakery has the ability to financially make a difference,” she added. “I couldn’t be happier that this law is in effect.”

The Texas cottage food law does not extend to “potentially hazardous” foods, like dishes that have meat or shellfish, so consumers have had few problems with home bakers. After contacting both the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and environmental health departments for the 25 largest cities and counties in Texas, the Institute for Justice found no complaints regarding foodborne illnesses from a cottage food business.

An exact number of just how many of these operations have sprung up is rather hard to come by. Since Texas does not issue permits or licenses for cottage food production operations, the state does not have a precise way to track them. However, anyone who wants to operate a cottage food business is required to become a certified food handler. In Texas, there are at least two organizations that offer courses specifically designed for cottage food: Texas Food Safety Training and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Between the two of them, over 1,400 individuals have purchased and completed courses over the past year. Given that cottage food entrepreneurs can also comply with the state’s regulations by taking a general food handler course, the true number of home baking businesses may be even higher.

For bakers like Masters and Padilla, complying with the state’s regulations is relatively painless. Aspiring entrepreneurs need only pass a “food handler” course to learn common-sense information about food safety, hygiene and cross-contamination. Not only are these courses available online, home bakers can finish one in two hours and for as little as $8. Additionally, Texas requires cottage food businesses to properly package and label their products.

Under the first cottage food law (SB 81) passed back in 2011, Texans were limited to selling only baked goods, jams, jellies and dried herbs. But the state’s second cottage food law (HB 970), enacted September 1, 2013, redefined “cottage food” to make it more encompassing. Now Texans can legally create and sell candy, coated and uncoated nuts, fruit butters, cereal, dried fruits and vegetables, vinegar, pickles, mustard, roasted coffee and popcorn out of their homes. Moreover, HB 970 allows modern-day homesteaders to sell their treats at more locations, including at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and events like county fairs. Previously, the law only permitted selling out of the home directly to consumers.

With HB 970, Texas lawmakers also closed a loophole in the state’s first cottage food law. By enforcing zoning ordinances, local governments could essentially ban bakers from operating out of their homes. One woman in Frisco was told her home-based gluten-free bakery violated the town’s zoning laws. Now state law explicitly bans cities and counties from using zoning to stop cottage food businesses.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bill Powers' State of the University Speech

"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,"
2 Timothy 3:2

University of Texas Student Union -- Earlier this afternoon, University of Texas President Bill Powers delivered his final "State of the University" Address.  The speech combined lofty rhetoric with cries of poverty and excuses for cost explosion.  Watch the whole thing below:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

  • "To be immodest for a moment, I'm proud of what we've done for the last eight and a half years."
  • Sigh: "We've become a much more diverse campus and we've successfully defended the need for diversity in the Fischer case.  We've established the Department of African and African diaspora studies and the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, and we're currently establishing a Department of Mexican American and Latina and Latino studies."
  • Lulz: "To those who think universities never reform themselves -- that universities never change -- just look at what we have done.  Yes, I'm proud of what the University has done over the last eight years."
  • Once again, lulz: "My first observation is that to meet these challenges, we'll need to be tough-minded and disciplined."
  • Dept of Obvious Statements: "Moneyball means that it's not enough that a project will produce more good than it costs.  It also has to be better at doing that than competing good projects.  Our task isn't just to weed out bad projects from good ones, although we certainly need to do that too.  Out task is to be sleective even among very good projects.  Our task is to select excellent projects."
  • "I think that all of this is actually related to discussions about productivity.  It is what the call for increased productivity should be about.  We need to make sure our detailed designs are producing what we want to produce on a larger scale, that every investment we make -- including our teaching time and our students' learning time -- advances the vision we have for our outputs.  We need to do it in a disciplined, tough-minded way.  If we are going to focus on being productive and efficient, this is the right approach.  We need to do more than just focus on the cost side, simply making our work as cheap as possible.  We will make more progress by making sure that what we do on a detailed level is tightly aligned with the overall outputs we are trying to produce.
    • Translation: Don't expect us to be able to justify all the money we spend.
  • "There is one more ingredient we need for success.  Design can do a lot, but it can't do everything.  We sorely need adequate resources, both for recurring operations and for capital projects.  As I have said, we are at or near the bottom of our peer group in terms of per-year, per-student state resources, including general revenue, Available University Fund proceeds, and tuition."
    • Translation: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

Davis Debate Meltdown Produces Abbott YouTube Victory

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:9

Last Friday, Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis had their first campaign debate, it didn't go well for Davis:

[Note: Bryan Preston explains the substance of Davis' accusation here.]

Davis' performance speaks for itself, but what caught our attention was the amount of traffic the Abbott video has generated:

Almost 60,000 views on the video?!?  Out of curiosity, how is the Davis YouTube page doing?!?  From the front page:
  • Politifact Rates Abbott's Desperate FBI Claim Not True -- 150 views
  • Operation -- 1,635 views.
  • Davis Campaign's New TV ad, "Time went by" gets widespread coverage -- 237 views.
  • Time Went By -- 3,064 Views.
  • Wendy Davis Gets Personal on Morning Joe -- 1,054 views.
  • Wendy Davis Respond to Critics on Rachel Maddow --  335 views.
    • Personal Note: What's Rachel Maddow?!?
  • GMA: Wendy Davis Tells her story of challenges and triumphs -- 5,215 views.
  • "Court" -- 4,617 views.
  • Davis rallies U of H: "Abbott A part of Old Insider Network" -- 399 views.
  • KXAS: Greg Abbott suffers "Big Defeat" Following School Finance Ruling -- 164 views.
  • As Davis Lays Out Her Plan to Make College More Affordable, Abbott is MIA -- 434 views.
  • WOAI: Davis Wants to Make College More Affordable for Students -- 67 views.
  • KSAT: Davis Announce Plan to Make College More Affordable -- 71 views.
  • KENS: Davis Announce plan to Make Higher Education "More Accessible" -- 48 views.
  • TWC: Davis Proposes Plan to Create Educational Opportunities for All Texans -- 129 views.
  • "Manuel" -- 4,782 views.
  • In Houston, Davis calls for End to Statute of Limitations on Rape -- 202 views.
    • Personal Note: What could POSSIBLY go wrong?!?
  • En Houston, Davis propone que delito de violacion no expire -- 48 views.
  • In Dallas, Davis calls for End to Statue of Limitations for Rape -- 111 views.
  • In Odessa, Davis calls out Abbott for "Heinous Betrayal" in siding against rape survivor -- 101 views.
  • KAMC: In Lubbock, Wendy Davis calls out Abbott for Siding with Corporation over Rape Victim -- 116 views.
  • Greg Abbott enfrenta criticas sobre case de violacion -- 120 views.
  • Abbott's disturbing pattern of siding against rape victims get noticed -- 601 views.
  • ALS Ice Bucket challenge -- 615 views.
  • Harold Cook: Davis ad sets up strong contrast with Abbott -- 402 views.
  • Davis discusses Her Record Empowering Survivors -- 480 views.
  • Davis compares her record empowering survivors, Abbott's record Choosing Company Over Rape Victims -- 1,011 views.
  • Davis: Sobreviventes Se Merecen Justicia -- 376 views.
  • That's a total of 26,939 total views for the videos on the front page of her YouTube page, which includes her entire book tour.
Davis' debate meltdown has sent nearly 60,000 people to Abbott's YouTube page since Friday.  By contrast, her own YouTube page has fewer than 27,000 hits on its entire front page.  Fancy-pants political consultants have a word to describe this phenomenon: METRICS!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tribune attempts to ignore Dan Flynn letter

"He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit."
Proverbs 12:17

First things first, zowie:
The co-chair of a legislative committee that investigated University of Texas regent Wallace Hall failed to disclose conflict of interest in his conduct of the investigation: he had written one of the clout letters at issue in the controversy.

When Hall began asking questions about legislators pulling strings to get their unqualified friends and family members into UT, Speaker Joe Straus responded by assigning Reps. Dan Flynn and Carol Alvarado to lead a committee in finding grounds to impeach Hall.

Flynn, however, is one of the lawmakers who tried to pull strings for a family friend, and never disclosed that fact throughout his yearlong investigation, even as the question of legislative influence became the subject of two official investigations and independent media investigations, and ultimately led to the forced resignation of the university’s president, Bill Powers.
It gets better:
The Tribune didn’t bother to mention Flynn’s letter in its own report.
Read the whole thing here.

Roger Williams votes AGAINST arming Syrian 'rebels'

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass."
Psalm 37:7

Good for Roger:
Republicans — Barton, X; Brady, Y; Burgess, N; Carter, Y; Conaway, Y; Culberson, Y; Farenthold, Y; Flores, Y; Gohmert, N; Granger, Y; Hall, Y; Hensarling, Y; Johnson, Sam, N; Marchant, Y; McCaul, Y; Neugebauer, N; Olson, Y; Poe, N; Sessions, Y; Smith, Y; Stockman, N; Thornberry, Y; Weber, N; Williams, N.

[Emphasis added]
Also, and we don't say this often, but kudos also to Lloyd Doggett for voting against this looming disaster.

Maybe he's smarter than his colleagues.  Maybe he just knows where public opinion stands in his district.  In either case, kudos to Roger Williams!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Advocating Population Control in Texas

"Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28

Remember the pro-eugenics group we discovered at the #HAILSATANTX Democrat convention?!?  The ones who are going to be presenting at SxSW Eco next month?!?  Yeah, they're back:
Texas women have suffered major setbacks to their reproductive health and rights this year.

At the federal level, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has made it more difficult for women to access their contraceptive method of choice. At the state level, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have enacted new restrictions on clinics providing basic women’s health care and family planning services.

Of course, these decisions hurt Texas women and their families — but they also increase the risk of social, economic and environmental harm in our great state.


Since 2010, the population in Texas has grown by more than 1.3 million people. Much of the state is suffering from a severe drought that has caused more than $7 billion in damage as of January 2013. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 796 public water supply systems in Texas currently have mandatory water restrictions in place. An additional 390 systems have voluntary water restrictions in place. Restrictions in big cities such as San Antonio and Austin are now commonplace, and the likelihood of more frequent extreme weather events is higher.

The solutions to these diverse challenges are mutually reinforcing. Greater access to voluntary family planning and more funding for comprehensive sex education in Texas would result in smaller and healthier families, fewer teen pregnancies, lower health costs and less pressure on dwindling resources. A healthier environment benefits the health of women and families.

Two recent studies found that giving women more freedom to time their pregnancies would provide 8 to 15 percent of the carbon reductions needed to prevent further climate disruption. And the cost would be small — about $3.7 billion per year — compared with other ways of cutting emissions on a large scale.

Providing access to family planning education and services should be recognized by policymakers in Washington and Austin as an important piece of the puzzle to creating a more sustainable, just and thriving state. Meeting the family planning needs of women in Texas and around the globe is key to protecting the health of women, the health of the planet and the availability of resources for generations to come. And every child deserves to be a wanted child.

[Emphasis added]
 Their words, not ours; read the whole (psychotic) thing here.


Author's Note #1: When they talk about 'access to family planning' it's a euphemism for taxpayer-funded abortion.


Author's Note #2: Typically, this website finds Trib-bashing to be a pointless activity, but shame on the Texas Tribune for giving this sort of Malthusian bovine excrement the time of day.

Wendy Davis: Yet Another Scandal

"Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot. And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, “Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel"
2 Kings 9:33-36

They seem to be piling up, don't they?!?

  •  As a State Senator, Davis used her influence to land lucrative taxpayer funded contracts, then voted on bills that helped her own law firm.
  • Davis "profited from her day job" by "voting and twisting arms in the Senate."
  • She crossed from potential to real conflicts of interest.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letter from a Former Prositute

"You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry"
Exodus 22:22-23

From Donny Pauling:
I became involved in the sex industry 7 years ago, working as a prostitute in a brothel known as the “Wildkat Ranch” in Mina Nevada. Nothing could have prepared me for the devastation it would reap upon me in the 1 1/2 years of working there… I met a girl picked up from a mental facility after her release, I worked with girls cleared to work because they hadn’t disclosed that they had been exposed to someone with genital herpes, I worked with women who had done nothing with their lives but bounce from brothel to brothel for 10 years… But this pales in comparison to the changes I saw in myself.

I lived in [removed] and would fly out to the brothel every month and a half to work for 3-4 weeks straight. During this time my schedule was from 12 noon-4am EVERYDAY (when clients were no longer supposed to be accepted, but let me tell you if they were the only one of the day, they would wake us up for the line up) Sometimes we would come out of the shower at 10 in the morning to find a man waiting for us to line up, and we had to pretend we wanted to be having sex again… These men that would come through, some were 400+ pound truck drivers, with penises that had smegma rimming them, we’d have to wash the penis during the “Dick Check” you know the part where we make sure they don’t have a current outbreak of something.. their bodies would smell from being on the road.. On one occasion I had my clitoris bit, I received a rectal tear, and my episiotomy from my last child was retorn.. Often the men would want to watch porn with us, or they would bring in porn magazines.. one man brought in pornography that could be classified as rape.. during this incident he slapped me and told me that I needed to act like I didn’t want it.. Another man tried to violently fist me.

They tell you at the Brothel that they are there to protect you, but on more than one occasion I screamed, and no one came- even though they have a speaker to the room where they make sure we aren’t asking for more money and not giving them half.. Out of it all, having to watch porn with the men was the worst though, because they would want to know what I liked, they would rub at my body or have me rub them off while they told me how they wished I was as pretty as her, or how they wished I was skinnier. They would make fun of my stretch marks and tell me that I should give them a refund.. The would tell me after I was done that they were going to try my friend and maybe she would be more like the girl in the video..

I would come home from this, and try to pretend that I was a better person because I didn’t need a loan for school now, or that I had a car I could use to drive my kids around.. But I am less of a person. I would have to continue the lies with my family, telling them the story that the brothel had me tell, that I was training for a new career in Real Estate and I was working for Jerry Dickerson the man that owned the brothel at the time.. They offered to write me a letter of reference if I ever needed one, and my tax statement looked normal to those who weren’t familiar with the location or industry.. but there were physical costs too. My vagina needs repair from the way it was stretched, it is nearly impossible for me to have a vaginal orgasm now, my anal tear took months to heal, but the worst is my brain. I gained weight from severe depression, had to be put on medication, and I saw any beauty that I had as a young women disappear before my eyes.

God is the only one that could fix that.. but it took A LONG TIME before I ever felt that God could want me back.
 Remember, it's legal in Nevada; read the whole thing here.

Tan Parker talks sense on Marijuana policy

"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"
Micah 6:8

This election season our newspaper added two questions on drug policy to questionnaires we sent candidates for state offices. Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, surprised me with his answer on whether he’d support putting a medical marijuana amendment on the ballot for voters to decide.

Parker said he’d be open to a tightly written medical marijuana amendment.

Further, in an interview with the editorial board yesterday (along with his Democratic opponent, Daniel Moran, a UNT student), Parker said he would support legislation eliminating jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana. His position reminded me of Gov. Rick Perry’s statement this year that, “You don’t want to ruin a kid’s life for having a joint.”
Read the whole surprisingly sensible thing here.

Alternatives needed to restore Affordability

"But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?"
James 2:6

Erin McCann, the only non-incumbent running in Austin City Council district 9, nails it:
Austin, TX (September 15th). Austin residents have been vocal about the two most troubling issues facing Austinites: affordability and traffic. Regrettably, the major concerns of Austin residents have not been heard at City Hall. Fortunately, there is hope in November. Austinites will have the opportunity to elect a concerned and qualified citizen in every one of the newly created City Council Districts. In District 9, Erin McGann’s victory in November would ensure a completely new City Council, while giving District 9 residents a representative who listens to their concerns.

The back of the purple & white shirts McGann’s supporters wear walking the streets of District 9 read, "We cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein’s famous words are especially relevant as the current City Council pushes through measures that will negatively impact every Austin resident. On Monday, September 8th, the Austin City Council voted to increase spending in the City budget for 2014-15, resulting in an increase in property taxes, Austin Energy rates, and Austin Water Utility rates.

McGann’s opponents in District 9 both voted in favor of these increases. In a statement this week, McGann said that, “Although I am happy to see some much needed additional funding for our first responders, it is disturbing to me that the City Council professes to be actively working to make Austin more affordable, while increasing utilities and spending the budget surplus they discovered in less than two weeks. This surplus could be returned to the taxpayer in the form of even lower tax rates for homeowners.”

According to the City’s website, every month Austin residents will experience an “approximate $2.72 increase for the typical Austin energy customer.” Along with this increase, Austin Water Utility will “implement a system-wide rate increase of 8.1%.” As for property taxes, this budget will implement “an approximate increase of $3.49 per month for the owner of a median-priced home, estimated at $202,254.”

In addition to these tax increases, the City has proposed adding $28.5 million to existing City debt, which is currently more than $5 billion, not including interest.. All current City Council members voted to borrow the $28.5 million in order to purchase a tract of land at the intersection of Bull Creek Road & 45th Street, bypassing a vote by citizens and committing them to additional spending in order to develop that land. This action, according to Mayor Leffingwell, would negatively “impact property taxes, without voter approval.”

In November, Austin residents will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to spend $1.4 billion on the proposed Austin Rail Project. The City Council, including McGann’s two opponents in District 9, voted unanimously in favor of Prop. 1, Austin’s Rail Project. Without truly addressing Austin’s most pressing issue, traffic congestion, this project will commit Austin tax-payers to further tax increases in the future. According to the City of Austin, once the project is completed in 2030, the Rail will carry only ½ of 1% of all Austin commuters. The projected ridership numbers fall very short of even carrying a small portion of those who will move to Austin by 2030.

As for the cost, according to the project planners, the $1.4 billion price tag would cost $155,000 per rider. This figure does not include the estimated $22.1 million in annual operating costs. Keep in mind that the last rail project cost 5 times what the City planners had projected. According to AustinAffordability.com, in order to fulfill the full Project Connect plans “80% [of future project funding] must come from local funding sources.” This would put an enormous burden on Austin taxpayers.

To truly address traffic congestion in Austin, the newly elected City Council must focus its stretched resources on a more sensible and effective approach to the problem. More effective alternatives include building new roads, improving existing infrastructure, traffic-light synchronization, improving and extending bus routes and schedules, encouraging expansion of services like Uber and Lyft, and even consider staggered City employee work hours.

McGann is publicly encouraging residents to vote no on the Rail proposition in November.. But she does understand that “traffic desperately needs to be addressed, and there are many other options on the table. Congestion can be positively affected with a more thorough, less expensive approach. The options include, but are not limited to, improving existing roads, providing City and State employees with bus passes and responding to the need for later and more frequent bus lines. When addressing the traffic issue, we must balance the cost to the citizen of Austin and remember our goal to keep Austin affordable for its diverse citizens.”
 Amen, amen, amen!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

History Lesson: The Tuition Hikers selecting Bill Powers' replacement

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Yesterday, UT-Austin announced the search committee to select it's new president.  In 2004, UT-Austin passed a 57% tuition increase as part of a decade where its tuition increased 134%.  What does one have to do with the other?!?


In 2003, during one of the U.T.'s biannual cries of poverty, the 78th legislature passed tuition "deregulation."  Tuition "deregulation" transferred the authority to set tuition rates from the legislature to the Board of Regents.  As Tony McDonald wrote in 2009:
When the policy was proposed in 2003, my organization, Young Conservatives of Texas, opposed it from the beginning. YCT understood that the proposed policy would not “deregulate” higher education. It wouldn’t expand competition or end government favoritism, to allow the best providers to win in the battle for their customers, Texas students.

Instead, the policy merely transferred the power to set tuition and fees from the elected Texas legislature, a body that was accountable to the people, to an unelected body; the appointed boards of regents.

This is the underlying problem with the tuition deregulation.

What many conservatives who supported the tuition “deregulation” policy forgot was that our public universities are government agencies; no different than our department of transportation or department of public safety. Allowing them unlimited control to set the fees they charge Texas families would be no different than allowing the department of transportation to charge anything they would like for license plates.

Without restraints, government bureaucracies will always find some way to rationalize their need for more tax dollars. As President Ronald Reagan once wittily proclaimed: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
The presidential search committee has recycled several of the key players from the tuition "deregulation" saga.  Several other members have demonstrated antipathy to affordability in Higher Ed.  Consider the following:
  • Robert Rowling - Former vice-Chair of the UT Board of Regents during the era.
In addition to these five who have explicitly supported tuition increases in the past, the search committee also features four additional members (Hicks, Hilley, Hillis, and Hutchinson) who have supported other lame-brained schemes of the administration.

It doesn't take a genius to see the foundation this search committee is laying.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The true cost of Austin rail emerges

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

Read much closer, however, and it becomes clear that the $1 billion will pay for only one small piece of that rail web — the part shown in lighter green, for $600 million of borrowed money — and those seven yellow circles for the other $400 million. And building the rail part will require at least another $600 million from the federal government.

All of this is no accident, of course. Getting to that map on that mailer — also posted on the advocacy’s group’s website at www.letsgoaustin.org — has been a three-year process.

The city of Austin and its junior partner Capital Metro had foundered trying to build popular support for a Central Austin light rail system when, in 2011, they called in experts from other cities with light rail on the ground. What Austin needed, they said, was a long-term transit vision. Get that done properly, they said, and maybe you can sell the initial piece of rail.


Turns out that transit vision has been refocused a couple of times, adding those extensions and altering an earlier Mueller extension to end it at that neighborhood rather than continuing north to U.S. 290. The latest version, largely reflected in the flier map, was approved by the Austin City Council and the Capital Metro board this summer, officials tell me.

Well, OK. So, that’s the current vision version, which has the distinct political advantage of showing rail going out in every direction, eventually.

But if Proposition 1 supporters are going to argue — as they increasingly are — that the 9.5 miles of light rail and its 18,000 rides a day in 2030 are just the beginning and that you have to start somewhere, then it is equally valid to note that the overall system will be costly. How costly? And who will pay?


We might eventually get another 100 miles or more of rail in greater Austin, as that map shows. And it could cost well above $6 billion to get it, though the feds surely will chip in some of that. That doesn’t include finding the money going forward to pay annually for train engineers, mechanics, managers, fuel, electricity, track and signal repairs, and, in time, replacement train cars.

So, yes, Proposition 1’s 9.5 miles of rail is only a start. So is the $600 million Austin taxpayers are being asked to pay.
Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

U.T. Admissions: Straus lieutenants attempting witness intimidation

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

Ummmm, excuse me?!?
Legislators want to sit in on UT admissions investigation

Two state representatives from San Antonio who have been assigned to monitor the University of Texas System are taking their role seriously. Apparently more seriously than system officials would like.

Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat, and Lyle Larson, a Republican, told UT System Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster this week that they “plan on attending or otherwise monitoring all interviews” conducted by Kroll Associates Inc. in connection with its investigation into admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. The investigation was prompted in part by accusations that candidates who are recommended by state lawmakers and other influential people receive favoritism.

In a letter to Foster, the two legislators offered to have the interviews conducted at the Capitol, “which would have the added advantage of audio and video equipment to record and preserve the interviews.”


System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said in June that he was commissioning the outside investigation in light of a new complaint about the “integrity” of the admissions process. That was a reversal of his decision to forgo further review after an earlier inquiry by the system reached mixed conclusions.

The system found that applicants recommended by legislators were accepted to the School of Law and undergraduate programs at much higher rates than their counterparts who didn’t get such backing. But the system also found no “evidence of a quid pro quo for admissions decisions, or other wrongdoing.”
 Read the whole thing here.
Read Lyle Larson and Trey Martinez Fischer's letter in full:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Phil Robertson Describes Finding Jesus

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Phil Robertson spoke with Glenn Beck this morning about how Jesus turned his life around:

  • His wife: "is a wonderful, wonderful woman."
  • Literally ran off his wife and two of his sons.
  • Pastor came into the bar one night with a Bible in his hand.
    • "That was the first time in my 28 years that I'd actually even heard...the gospel of Jesus Christ."
    • "I wasn't even aware...."
  • "I didn't even realize what a trap that I had been in until I was released from the trap." 
  • We argue about politics ad infinitum but no one ever changes their mind because before you can change a mind you have to change a heart, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can change a heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rosemary Lehmberg Resumes the Warpath

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

Sigh, some people never learn...
The Travis County District Attorney’s office is doubling down on the widely mocked legal theories used to indict Governor Rick Perry.

Rosemary Lehmberg’s office is now trying to get a grand jury to indict another prominent Texas conservative on the exact same charge—abuse of official capacity. The cases have nothing in common, other than a shameless and blackhearted prosecutor who has discovered a vague paragraph in state law that lets her bring charges against any Republican she wants for just about any reason.


When Perry was indicted, I pointed out that the charge was so expansive it could make whistleblowing a crime, and now the most infamous drunk in Texas is proving me right by seeking charges against the state’s most famous whistleblower, Wallace Hall.

Lehmberg has found that Section 39.02 of the Texas Penal Code has a magic property. It turns the rest of state law— property code, education code, water code, etc.—into a vast extension of the criminal code. So long as Lehmberg can claim that the Republican was trying to “harm” someone, then just about anything can be turned into a crime. That’s how Perry’s exercise of his veto power became a crime (you can supply the air quotes). And that’s how a regent of the University of Texas System is facing actual jail time for supposed failure to “enhance the public image” of the university, or “nurture” it, or “achieve the maximum operating efficiency.”

If those don’t sound like crimes, it’s because they’re not. They’re bits of boilerplate from the state Education Code on the duties of a regent. But the magic paragraph makes a knowing violation of any “law relating to the public servant's office” a crime if it’s done “with intent to harm or defraud another.”

The same law makes it a crime to knowingly misuse government property with intent to harm, which is the farfetched theory being employed against Perry’s veto of funding for Lehmberg’s office.

Hall, the regent facing criminal charges, has antagonized some of the most powerful politicians in Austin by asking questions about how they get their children and their friends’ children into the University of Texas. In retaliation, those politicians convened a legislative committee to build a case for impeachment against Hall, an effort that collapsed into a bit of desultory finger wagging when the answers to Hall’s questions proved to be damning. The committee settled on a face-saving censure vote after referring its findings to Lehmberg’s office for further action (or at least a few more headlines).


The facts underlying these legal theories are fairly simple: Hall found some emails between Powers’s office and the dean of the law school discussing whether or not to admit the son of the state House Appropriations Committee chairman, despite his poor scores on the Law School Admissions Test. (They admitted him; he’s flunked the bar three times since.) Hall showed the email to an official investigator from the state attorney general’s office, and to his defense attorney, who cited it in a letter to the legislative committee, naming no names. The name came out when a reporter bluffed the chairman into outing his son.

The persecutors and prosecutors contend that the emails are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and by nearly identical state law as well, and that Hall committed some sort of crime in showing it to his attorney or the investigator. One theory is that this “leak” is the real “abuse of office,” rather than the whole non-enhancement of the public image theory. But that would involve proving that Hall “intentionally or knowingly” leaked FERPA-protected information, when the emails are almost certainly not FERPA-protected “education records” in the first place. The Supreme Court has ruled that “FERPA implies that education records are institutional records kept by a single central custodian, such as a registrar,” or that they’re “kept in a filing cabinet in a records room at the school or on a permanent secure database.” That wouldn’t include every last email or assignment that might include the student’s name. But that’s the sort of thing a motivated prosecutor never tells a grand jury.


Under any of the theories, Hall would have had to leak information that is “prohibited from disclosure” under the Texas Public Information Act, which is a problem for prosecutors, as the Act doesn’t apply to education records, much less prohibit their disclosure.

The mendacity of the legislative report is perfectly captured by the footnote to a sentence asserting that “Student records are confidential under two separate provisions of the Act*…” The footnote, a bit sheepishly, is forced to admit that “neither section of the code refers to student records as ‘confidential…’”

One of those old New Yorker guys, Benchley or Perelman or one of them, had a great piece once where he got into an argument with his own footnotes. It’s somehow less amusing here.
Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jihadist Enclave discovered near Houston

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them."
Ephesians 5:11

This came out last February, but we just learned about it:
A Clarion Project investigation has discovered a jihadist enclave in Texas where a deadly shooting took place in 2002. Declassified FBI documents obtained by Clarion confirm the find and show the U.S. government’s concern about its links to terrorism. The investigation was completed with help from ACT! For America Houston.

The enclave belongs to the network of Muslims of the Americas, a radical group linked to a Pakistani militant group called Jamaat ul-Fuqra. Its members are devoted followers of Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, an extremist cleric in Pakistan.


Terror Enclave: “Mahmoudberg, Texas”

The MOA compound in Texas, described by the FBI as an “enclave” and “communal living site,” is in Brazoria county along County Road 3 near Sweeny. It was discovered by the FBI due to a tip from an informant in New York.

The MOA referred to its Texas commune as “Mahmoudberg” in online instructions for a parade in New York in 2010. A posting on an Islamic message board in 2005 advertised a speaking engagement in Houston by someone from Mahmoudberg.

According to the reports, the commune is seven to 10 acres large, is in an “extremely wooded area” and two or three trailer homes moved there in December 2001. However, ACT members visited the area as part of Clarion’s investigation and interviewed one nearby local who confidently said it is closer to 25 acres in size and spoke of a presence dating back to the late 1980s.

“The area is so rural it is quite common for residents to shoot firearms for target practice or hunting on private property without interference from law enforcement,” one FBI report states.

Locals told the ACT members that they haveShells found in the area of MOA's 'Mahmoudberg' enclave in TexasShells found in the area of MOA's 'Mahmoudberg' enclave in Texas heard gunfire coming from the commune. Pictures of shells from the area are posted to the right:

The FBI reported in 2007 that one commune resident used to be a leader at the MOA commune in Badger, California. The site was called "Baladullah." In March 2001, one of the Baladullah members was arrested for transporting guns between New York and South Carolina. Another was charged with murdering a police deputy that caught him breaking and entering a home.

Interviewed residents all agreed that the MOA members are private, yet when the ACT members were spotted in the area, they were immediately and repeatedly approached. At one point, a commune resident gave them a final warning to leave, despite the fact that they were not trespassing or harassing MOA members.

“It was definitely very threatening and menacing,” an ACT member told me.

Multiple sources confirmed that one resident of the commune is a police officer. According to a nearby neighbor, one of the MOA members used to drive trucks for the U.S. Army in Kuwait.

The commune is also linked to a non-profit called the Muslim Model Community of Texas. Members travel to Houston to worship at the MOA Dawah Center that is linked to another organization called First Muslims of Texas.
 And where, pray tell, is Sweeny, TX?!?

And how would you get to Minute Maid Park from Sweeny, TX (assuming the Astros one day start drawing enough fans to become a legit mass casualty target)?!?

How would one get to the Alamo from Sweeny, TX?!?

And finally, since this is a Longhorn-friendly website, how would one get to Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium from Sweeny, TX?!?

Seriously, though, it gets better:
More MOA Activity in Texas

The MOA presence in Texas is not limited to the Mahmoudberg commune near Sweeny. As mentioned, the MOA utilizes a dawah (outreach) center in Houston for activities. The declassified FBI documents show that the extremist group has been in Texas since the 1980s.

On October 11, 1991, a federal search warrant for three suspects was issued after a MOA/Jamaat-ul-Fuqra bomb plot in Toronto was foiled. A nearly 45-acre “compound” about 70 miles south of Dallas was raided. The location may have been near Corsicana, as another FBI document mentions that about seven MOA members purchased property in that area.

The suspects managed to flee on October 5-6 before the raid took place. Their children also suddenly disappeared from school. The feds found four mobile homes, three military, general-purpose tents and six vehicles. Loose ammunition, books on counter-terrorism techniques and weaponry and various items with “Jamaat Fuqra Land” written on them were discovered.

They also found surveillance photos of a post office building and the Greenhead Station in Los Angeles, leading authorities to suspect that attacks on these sites were planned.

MOA activities in Texas continued after the October 1991 raid. Two FBI documents from 1992 mention that MOA members in the state were using false aliases, social security numbers and birth certificates.

(h/t Bryan Preston.)