Saturday, November 29, 2014

From Zero to One: Peter Theil speaks at U.T.

"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
Mark 2:21-22

Peter Theil spoke recently at U.T; we didn't attend, but our friends at Emergent Order produced this fantastic video of the talk:

  • There's no real formula for success.
  • Each moment in business only happens once.
  • Courage is in shorter supply than brilliance; you need both.
  • As an entrepreneur, aim for monopoly.
    • Find something no one else is doing and develop a niche.
    • The people who have monopolies generally don't talk about it.
  • There's a natural tendency to imitate what's worked for others that often shows up in business.
    • "Catching the last wave."
    • In a military context, Generals tend to fight the last war.
  • Most fields are not "complete."
    • New discoveries still exist.
    • Frequently, "you can get to the frontier relatively quickly."
  • There's a difference between copying things and doing new things.
  • Disruption is a "chronic buzzword."
    • "When you set out to disrupt, you're already taking your bearings by existing industries."
  • The goal you should have as an entrepreneur isn't to destroy old things but to create new things.
  • Focus on some combination of short term and long term with less on the medium term.
  • Tech companies don't go public until much later in the game than they used to....
  • Monopolies become bad in a static, unchanging, world.
  • At first: Pick a small market, take it over, and scale it.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Jeff Sandefer: Transforming Higher Education

"For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it."
Ecclesiastes 7:12

Don't get mad, get even:

  • Current Higher Education model: "A paradigm so fundamentally flawed, we have to reject it."
  • "I'm done with traditional education."
  • Traditionally, few people went to college, most people had apprenticeships.
  • Four simple questions:
    • Who am I and where am I going?!?
    • What tools and skills will I need, and which will I master?!?
    • Who will affirm me and hold me accountable?!?
    • How do I prove what I can do?!?
  • Mixing video gaming and skill acquisition.
  • Master/Apprentice system: Eliminate teachers altogether.
  • "You can cling to this failed assembly line paradigm, based on fear and control, or you can raise your hand and become a master teacher yourself; someone who believes in Geniuses and Heroes and is willing to act a guide."
Take THAT Bill Powers....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Joe Lieberman: Ted Cruz's BRILLIANT Wedge Issue

"For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
And her salvation as a lamp that burns."
Isaiah 62:1

The other day, Ted Cruz floated Joe Lieberman's name for defense secretary.  This move simultaneously offers an olive branch to Mitch McConnell while alienating Barack Obama from his base.  It's flippin' brilliant.

With one (possible) exception, Joe Lieberman is a unifying figure for Republicans.  His nomination would enable Republicans to take the moral high ground in the Kabuki theater of D.C.'s "bipartisan outreach."  How can a Democrat President oppose a Democrat nominee on whom the U.S. Senate majority has already signed off?!?

But here's the rub: the Left HATES Joe Lieberman.  Should Republicans rally around him, it would force Obama to either publicly reject "bipartisan compromise" or throw his party's 2016 nominating process into chaos.  Making Hillary Clinton squirm though this process is a bonus.

On the substance, Lieberman is probably the least crappy person we can get as SecDef for the next two years.  He's hardly our first choice, but he's a solid pick for mop-up duty in a lame duck Democrat administration.  He's also a gigantic step forward from Chuck Hagel.

Rallying behind Joe Lieberman is a consequence free way to inflict pain on Barack Obama.  It unifies Republicans.  Simultaneously, it divides Democrats on an issue too complicated for the average person to follow.  However he reacts, Obama loses.  Kudos to Senator Cruz for the idea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Stepford Republicans

"Your prophets have seen for you
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity,
To bring back your captives,
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions."
Lamentations 2:14

Groupthink - Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.

[Photo (l to r): Rep. James White, Rep. Dan Flynn, Rep. John Otto, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, Rep. Jason Villalba, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Jim Keffer, Rep. Lyle Larson, Rep. Byron Cook, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. Larry Gonzales, Rep. Drew Springer.]


This website has never understood the psychology at the Texas Capitol.

Texas is a conservative state.  Texas voters routinely reward conservative legislators while punishing spendthrifts.  This has been going on for close to a decade.  Even when spendthrift legislators survive, they usually go down the next cycle (*).  Yet nothing changes.

One would think that if good governance wasn't sufficient cause for a new direction, naked self-interest would be.  Yet, time and again, it doesn't happen.  It's just bizarre.

Which brings us to the current race for Texas House speaker.

The reason there is such discontent with current House leadership is because of its recent output.  Last session, under current leadership, spending went up 26%.  Last session, under current leadership, meaningful school choice died (**).  Last session, under current leadership, none of this website's priorities became law.  Instead, the focus was on creating a slush fund for "water infrastructure development."

And nothing changes.

Since election night, Team Straus has released names of supporters every few days.  While, by itself, that isn't notable, the collectivized nature of it is.  As Sarah Rumpf explains:
Th[ese] statement[s] uses (sic) some nearly identical language: the Representatives declare themselves "conservative Members of the Texas House" who are "proud to support the re-election of Speaker Joe Straus," who they claim "will be decisively re-elected because he encourages members to vote in their districts' best interests and because he is a fair, principled leader."


The fact that individual Republican Representatives from different areas across this very large and diverse state are not just sending out letters endorsing Straus, but are using such oddly identical language in carefully timed releases, suggests that a coordinated effort is taking place. This mimicked language reminds one of the plot in the Academy Award-nominated 1962 movie "The Manchurian Candidate," in which the soldiers are all brainwashed to describe another character by saying, "Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life." Considering Straus' long-rumored reputation for controlling his chamber with an iron fist behind the scenes, an analogy to the movie may be even more apt.

[Author's Note: Obviously, this website prefers the Stepford Wives comparison]
This author has, in the past, joked about legislators getting brainwashed once they get to the Capitol.  Legislators ignore the will of the voters to advance the spendthrift status quo.  That's why there's a speaker's race in the first place.  Yet Texas House Republicans choose to follow status quo leadership.  This will not continue indefinitely.


(*) Which will likely happen to Byron Cook and Jim Keffer in 2016.

(**) Watered down tripe doesn't count.

Straus holding Border Security funding hostage to Unrelated Spending

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

84th #TXLEGE Preview?!?
Continuing his pattern of undermining conservatives and deceiving voters, House Speaker Joe Straus is poised to unravel the state’s border security operations on Dec. 1, while giving Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives. Due to Straus’ opposition, the state’s celebrated “border surge” is set to end in March rather than receive full funding through the end of the fiscal year.


A new deadline is looming. On Dec. 1, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) will meet to consider a proposal to extend state funding for border security operations which are currently set to expire. Under law, the LBB can shift funds within the budget when the legislature is not in session.

While responsible conservative leaders want the border security funding extended through the end of the fiscal year (August 2015), Straus told the Houston Chronicle last week he would only agree to extend funding until March. This shortfall will result in an immediate “winding down” of the border surge. The Houston Chronicle called it a “defeat” for border-security conservatives and a “victory for Democrats who have sharply criticized the National Guard deployment.”

Worse, the move gives Democrats a political tool to use against conservatives in the coming session.

Straus’ efforts are designed to create a crisis next session which will empower Democrats to hold border security funding hostage to massive new spending increases.

As you know, Straus has relied on the support of the Left since first being elected Speaker in 2009 by the Democrats and 11 liberal Republicans. By cutting off funding for border security operations in March, Straus is lending the Left a distinct political advantage while handing a defeat to Texans wanting to protect our borders. When funds dry up in March, the withdrawal of the National Guard will create a crisis that can be exploited by Straus and the Democrats to bust the state’s constitutional spending cap.

Instead of meeting border security needs with existing funds, Straus will offer a new spending package in excess of the constitutional spending limit as the only option for maintaining the border deployment. Conservatives will be forced to choose between continued funding for border security, and busting the constitutional cap on spending, a move which would empower Democrats to spend billions on Medicaid funding and other pet projects instead of tax relief for hard working Texans.
 C-Pax has more:
With the 84th session of the Texas Legislature still over a month away, big-spending politicians are already scheming on how to massively expand the next state budget, all while claiming fiscal discipline.

The main obstacle to the grow-government crowd is our constitutional spending limit on the growth of appropriations commonly referred to as “the spending cap.” However, given the way the limit is calculated, it becomes clear that it proves only a small hurdle to budget bloat.

Under our constitution, the growth of appropriations from non-constitutionally-dedicated tax revenue may not exceed growth in the state’s economy—as defined by the legislature (Article 8, Section 22). As per state law, the Legislative Budget Board (LBB)—a handful of powerful legislators—must set this new spending cap for the upcoming legislative session.


On Dec. 1, the LBB will meet to set the cap based on this measurement. Preliminary reports in the Texas Register show that the board will likely consider a limit reflecting an increase in personal income growth that is twice the rate of population and inflation growth—between 11.7% and 15.7%.

To put this number in perspective, the Texas Public Policy Foundation has calculated that a budget limited to the combined increase in population and inflation should cap growth at 6.2%.


There is a different path the LBB could take: under current law, the LBB could just as easily adopt a population-plus-inflation limit that more faithfully represents economic growth and safeguards citizens from virtually unrestrained government expansion.

Texans deserve a conservative budget. Our state cannot have a conservative budget if it does not have realistic, limits that adequately protect taxpayers from budget-busting politicians.
Read the original pieces here and here.

Readers can contact the Legislative Budget Board at (512) 463-1185.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Turner asks Straus (and Geren) for joint Recorded Vote call

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Well...THAT'S one way to preempt last minute shenanigans:

Christian Girl Instagram

"A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones."
Proverbs 17:22


  • "I always got totes stressed out trying to pick which verse to show; not anymore."
  • "Stay away from common verses like Jeremiah 29:11 or John 3:16.
  • "I used to spend like 5 minutes reading the Bible and 30 minutes choosing a hashtag."
  • Over a thousand hashtag selections: #CoffeewithColossians #Serenity #Muchneeded and, over course, #Blessed.
  • 31 piece collection of things to put in the background.
  • "If you're gonna include a hand in the photo, always include a purity ring."
  • Bonus Book: Announcing your social media fast.

Recorded Speaker's Vote: Multiple Ways to Win

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

We'd intended to express similar sentiments, but Peggy Fikac beat us to the punch:
Straus foes may have more than one way to count a win

Rep. Scott Turner and his tea party supporters show no sign of backing off their beyond-longshot challenge of House Speaker Joe Straus — maybe because they see more than one way to gauge success.


But even absent a victory, Turner could build his profile for future endeavors.

The groups that support him can use a record vote against Straus backers in the next election. They contend Straus has squelched or moved slowly on some conservative legislation, while his GOP backers point to conservative victories under his tenure.

Straus foes also hope to exert pressure on the speaker to support some of their pet legislation — although the stronger Straus looks, the more problematic that approach may be.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: A recorded vote for Speaker on January 13th will lead to 1 of 3 outcomes: an unexpected (at the moment) win for Scott Turner, changed behavior from Team Straus during the session, or accountability with the voters in March 2016.  Any of the three is a win.  The only question is how long it takes.

Obamacare failing Austin's HIV+ Community

"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."
Ephesians 4:28

Sigh.  On the one hand, this is tragic.  On the other hand, it's amusing to see a group of people counting on big government to subsidize treatment for the consequences of their freely chosen activity disappointed:
A bartender at one of Austin’s gay nightclubs recently decided to donate all tips he and his fellow drink pourers received one night to a local group dedicated to helping people with HIV and AIDS.

Ripped, shirtless and offering plenty of flirty smiles, 26-year-old Bradley Franklin, who is HIV positive, wanted to give something back to AIDS Services of Austin, the group that shepherded him through the treacherous health insurance landscape that has emerged since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.


Franklin learned that the plans on the federally created health insurance exchange, the Internet-based marketplace where consumers can compare and buy health plans, didn’t offer affordable ways to buy the life-saving medications he needs or allow him to see a physician with expertise in HIV and AIDS, he said.


One of the most significant issues is that many HIV patients who bought plans on the exchange can’t afford medications, which often run as high as $2,000 a month, he said. In most exchange plans, policyholders must pay a percentage of the cost of their drugs, not an affordable co-pay. Also, expensive and frequent lab tests for HIV and AIDS patients can run upwards of $1,700 a test.

“For a lot of patients, it actually created more barriers,” Wright said. “It’s kind of overwhelming.”

In the days before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, only about 30 percent to 40 percent of HIV patients in Central Texas had private insurance. The percentage remains the same today, Wright said.


Peter Pitts, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official and current president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, echoed Wright’s assessment. He said before the law’s rollout, the standard talking point of proponents was that people shouldn’t have to choose between food or medicine.

Unfortunately not only did the ACA not solve that problem, it made it worse,” Pitts said. “That’s shameful.”

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: This website has no desire to stop anyone from engaging in whatever behavior they choose to engage.  But, in the event you choose to engage in risky behavior, you need to be prepared to accept the full financial consequences of your actions.  And those consequences can get very, VERY expensive....

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Becoming Belle Knox (Part 5): Knowing when to Quit Porn (WARNING: GRAPHIC)

"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

[Author's Note: Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, Part 4 here]

The final installment of the documentary series, this entry deals with some of the dangers Miriam deals with working in the industry.  She doesn't show any of the false bravado and "no regrets" attitude we've seen in previous episode.  Before watching, this website warns readers that this video is, BY FAR, the most graphic in the series (and the others weren't exactly subtle):

  • "A lot of shit in my life has been ruined because of sex."
  • "A lot of my family doesn't fucking talk to me anymore."
  • "I lost my best freinds because I joined the sex industry and decided to become a Porn Star."
  • "Being in the sex industry has a way of making you very cynical and very bitter....and I feel like I've become a bit cynical and a bit bitter."
  • "I'm always on the lookout for scammers and people trying to pimp me out or traffic me."
    • Author's Note: Think about that.
  •  "If you work too much or have sex with guys with big dicks all the time, you get tears in your vagina."
    • Author's Note: Again, just think about that.
  • It's not 20 minutes, one and done; you're having sex for HOURS on end.
  • One time, had to "work with" a 50 year old dude and "I felt like crying the whole time."
  • "I miss my Mom and Dad so much right now."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Colt McCoy's on-field return is imminent

"And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,"
Colossians 3:23

On Wednesday, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden tried to put out the public fires about Robert Griffin III’s Sunday press conference and his own comments in his Monday presser.

Late on Wednesday afternoon, Gruden sat down with’s Albert Breer and he had some more pointed things to say.

"He's auditioned long enough," said Gruden of Griffin. "Clock's ticking. He's gotta play. We'll see. ... We want Robert to excel, we really do.

“But the last two games, it hasn't been very good, anywhere. We gotta play better around him. And the biggest thing for us as play-callers, and for him, we just have to come together and jell with plays he's comfortable with. That takes time. But we don't have a lot of time."

Although Gruden said again today that there are no plans to make a change under center, he told Breer that McCoy’s two game fill-in should serve to put pressure on the third-year signal caller.

"We have a guy behind him that played pretty well, and people are looking, 'OK, he's 2-0,' " Gruden said, of Colt McCoy. "There's always pressure on the quarterback to perform. And if you don't perform, like any other position, somebody's behind you pushing you.”

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Action Alert: Protect Religous Heritage in Texas!!!

"as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God."
1 Peter 2:16

From Texas Values:
This week, opponents of religious freedom and our nation’s religious heritage are pressuring textbook publishers and elected State Board of Education (SBOE) members to eliminate references to Moses and Judeo-Christian principles from new textbooks being proposed for approval. The SBOE has the authority to review and approve new social studies textbooks on a periodic basis and they are currently scheduled to make a decision by TOMORROW - Friday, Nov. 21. Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Texas Freedom Network are two of the groups demanding that publishers rewrite history books on this topic. Click here to contact the board right now.

Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values Action, released the following statement:

“The continued efforts by anti-religious freedom groups attacking references to Moses, Judeo-Christian values and their impact on American law, government, and founding in our Texas textbooks are outrageous. From the halls of the U.S. Capitol to the U.S. Supreme Court and even here on the Texas Capitol grounds the images, references and monuments highlighting Moses and the Ten Commandments make clear the influence they have on our law, government and founding. You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that Moses, the Ten Commandments and Judeo-Christian principles have had a significant impact on America since its founding. The efforts by these “Moses Deniers” to rewrite history should be firmly rejected and Texas residents should contact their State Board of Education member immediately to ask them to support our American religious heritage and reject these shameful attacks by fringe groups who seek to rewrite our nation’s founding.”

Earlier this week, Texas Values Action presented testimony to the State Board of Education discrediting the efforts by some who want to eliminate references to Moses and Judeo-Christian principles and texts that relate to the Ten Commandments from proposed Texas textbooks. Read more.

Take Action: Please contact the State Board of Education and immediately ask them to support our nation’s religious heritage and reject these shameful attacks by fringe groups who seek to rewrite our nation’s founding.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bowl Game: Aggies hiding from the Longhorns?!?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

Well, THAT's interesting:

Report: SEC/Texas A&M want to avoid Horns-Aggies Texas Bowl

Since discussion about a possible face off between the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies in the Texas Bowl on December 29 at NRG Stadium in Houston first surfaced when the Horns became bowl eligible on Saturday evening, it was only a matter of time until reports started emerging about one school or the other not wanting to play the game.

And so while some believe that neither administration wants the game, the first report emerged on Tuesday morning suggesting that the Aggies and/or the SEC don't want the game to happen.

Chip Brown of Horns Digest is reporting the following:
Two sources close to the situation told SEC officials have indicated to bowls with SEC and Big 12 tie-ins that the SEC won't support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup. In short, A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.
The report is furthering the growing narrative that Texas A&M is the school with more to lose, especially on the recruiting trail, and enabled by the fact that the SEC and bowl executives will be working from a pool of six teams to determine bowl placement -- the conference does have the power to ensure that the Longhorns and Aggies don't face off in the Texas Bowl if that's what the SEC decides.
 Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Livestream: Scott Turner Speaks in Denton County

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

[Author's Note: The event will begin around 7:15 pm.]

Highland Village -- Scott Turner speaks to a packed house tonight in North Texas:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Dallas County Republican Party endorses Scott Turner

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Big step backwards for Jason Villalba as his own county party votes to endorse Scott Turner:

Bottom Line: Ouch!!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jason Villalba attacks private citizens as "GOONS"

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ."
2 Corinthians 11:13

Because, heaven forbid, citizen activists say something a government official doesn't like:

  • Krause: The 80% number team Straus is putting out is bogus.
    • A lot of Scott's support is "like an iceberg." (ie. below the surface)
  • Lulz: Villalba calls Straus "Reagenesque."
  •  Villalba ignores election results in 2014 and 2012 when calling private citizens goons.
  • Straus obstructed the current border security operations for close to a year (until doing so became untenable in public opinion).
  • Straus failed to deliver on pro-Life legislation during the 83rd general session.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Scott Turner releases Legislative Priorities

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan."
Proverbs 29:2

Highlights include: Border Security, School Choice, and Conservative Budget!!!
“As we approach the upcoming 84th Texas Legislature, I am encouraged by the opportunities we have to accomplish great things for the State of Texas. Those opportunities begin on January 13, 2015 when each member of the Texas House will be called upon to select who will lead us as Speaker of the House.

As a candidate for the Office of Speaker of the House, I have spent the last several months traveling across our great state and have heard the voice of the people calling for their representatives to help promote and protect our shared values of faith, family, and free enterprise. It is important that we focus on the future of Texas and not rest on the perceived victories of the past.

As the next Speaker of the House, I want us to focus on securing our borders, fully implementing E-verify, and completely ending the practice of sanctuary cites. Moreover, we can no longer put off giving parents and families a choice to provide the best educational environment for their children. Additionally, we must provide a solid financial environment for our state by repealing the Gross Margins Tax and implementing a fiscally conservative budget that exemplifies responsible stewardship of the taxpayers’ money.

I look forward to working with my fellow members to seize the opportunities set before us, work on the passage of the critical legislation the people are calling for, and move forward in a bipartisan effort to ensure true freedom and prosperity for Texas.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Becoming Belle Knox (Part 4): How to Hustle in the Porn Industry (Warning: GRAPHIC)

"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

[Author's Note: View Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here.]

Episode 4 of Miriam Weeks' saga follows her to the Porn convention.  There, we get to meet her oh so classy fans.  Like part 3, understand that there are images in this video that don't leave a lot to the imagination:

  • When she won her award, other girls screamed at her and called her a slut.
  • "I thought this was a part-time job, that I could compartmentalize Miriam and Belle...but I was naive to think I could do that..because it becomes you like it's own identity and you can't just take that identity out whenever you want to, you have to constantly be your porn alter ego."
  • Signing graphic pictures of yourself for strangers.
    • Author's Note: Think about that.... 
  • She's barely been doing porn for a year.
  • A crap-ton of her money goes to expenses.

Don Zimmerman meets opponent at RLC Debate

"Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,"
Ephesians 6:14

Don Zimmerman faced off with his opponent in the Austin City Council district 6 runoff tonight.  While the debate was friendly and the candidates had meaningful areas of agreement, there was a clear difference in style.  Don's opponent argues that the district would be better served by a go-along-to-get-along representative, Don argues in favor of shaking up the status quo.

  • Libertarian leaning "Ron Paul Republican"  
  • Political liberty is a very, very, serious thing.
  • I'm all for singing kumbaya, but there comes a time you have to stand up for your liberties.
  • "I'm the only candidate in this city who has actually abolished a property tax."
Debate Notes:
  • Opponent has background in "workforce development"
  • Don on traffic: "We need road expansion."
    • Opposes rail on Guadelupe: "Just no good for moving people."
  • Opponent: Transportation problems are caused by land use.
  • Opponent endorses something along the lines of zero-based budgeting.
  • Don: "The spending habits have got to be broken."
    • Audit the City.
    • New City Manager.
  • Don: Homestead exemption "a step in the right direction."
    • Eliminate City Economic Development department.
    • 3% across the board budget cut.
    • Spending drives taxes.
  • Opponent: Restructure Austin Energy and Water.
  • Opponent: Militarization of police "frightening." 
  • Don: Appoint "technical people and engineers" to boards and commissions.
  • Don: Against sanctuary cities.
    • Opponent: For sanctuary cities.
  • Don: Singing kumbaya doesn't work.

  • City government doesn't respect rule of law.

  • Got to make city government follow rule of law.
  • Audit all city departments.
  • The people who know him best put him over the top.

Senator Ted Cruz addresses Austin's Tech Community

"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Mark 2:21-22

Capital Factory, Austin -- Senator Cruz addressed the central economic questions of the next decade at an Austin-based start up incubator today:

  • His first job was in the tech industry working for his father.
  • The internet has been transformational in terms of speech.
  • "Don't mess with the internet."
  • The worst thing that could happen to the internet would be for politicians to come in and regulate it.
  • First Principle: No internet sales tax.
    • "A perfect storm of Washington lobbyists."
    • Supported by big retail.
    • "That is a terrible idea."
  • Second Principle: Stop foreign governments form censoring the internet.
    • Don't hand the internet off to an international cartel.
  • Third Principle: Stop the Federal government from excessively regulating online.
    • We would quickly come to regret that decision.
    • Rotary phones regulated; smartphones not.
    • Taxi's vs. Uber and Lyft.
    • "This whole net neutrality fight is a fight between big boys."
    • "It's not a good thing when the Federal government comes in and dictates pricing and terms of service."
  • Fourth Principle: Our constitutional rights don't end when we go online.
  • Pass a permanent ban on internet access taxes.
  • There's a lot more big companies on the other side of the net neutrality debate than there are on his.
  • Quotes scripture to make an economic point to a room full of tech people.
    • Personal Note: How I LOVE this man!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Please Go Away: An open letter to "Abolish Human Abortion"

"But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned."
Titus 3:9-11

Dear AHA,

Your latest attack on Abby Johnson would be astonishing if it wasn't so stupid:

You're going after Abby for being Catholic?!?

First things first, a single Facebook post doesn't prove heresy.  Without having spoken to her about this post, it seems pretty clear that she's describing the Lord's Supper, not her specific moment of salvation.  Catholics and Protestants can disagree with how frequently Christians should observe the elements, but it's hardly heresy.

I seem to remember reading something somewhere about knowing someone by their fruit.  Abby Johnson's fruit includes helping dozens (if not hundreds) of clinic workers leave the abortion industry.  And what, pray tell, have you done?!?

For a group that loves to use civil war imagery, you forget history.  During the antebellum period, there was a group called the Underground Railroad who helped take care of the economic needs of fugitive slaves.  Do I need to explain this one?!?

The ironic thing is that Abby and I don't get along particularly well.  We've been on different sides of numerous political disputes in Texas.  Furthermore, that's going to continue.  But there are appropriate forums to settle these disputes.  Calling someone a heretic on Facebook isn't one of them.

I probably shouldn't feed you trolls, but you're the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-Life movement; please go away.

Adam Cahn
Austin, TX
November 13, 2014

#tbt: Straus calls TSA bill "Publicity Stunt"

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

The greatest hits, from 2011:
The TSA anti-groping bill hit another roadblock when the House adjourned today without considering the legislation as scheduled. “Our plane was not full to capacity,” House Speaker Joe Straus said, hinting that the House did not have a quorum present to pass the legislation. But that wasn't the only reason the bill wasn't heard.

“The bill, without some serious revisions, appears to me to be nothing more than an ill-advised publicity stunt, unenforceable…[and] misdirected at uniform security personnel,” Straus said. He argued the bill should be aimed “at Washington, at the bosses of these people."

The bill would criminalize "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly touching" the "sexual organs" of someone during a security screening at a public facility, including airports. Although it passed unanimously out of the House during the regular session, the bill died in the Senate after the Department of Justice threatened to shut down Texas airports if the legislation passed. In a letter to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy said the federal government would be forced to cancel flights in Texas if TSA could not effectively screen passengers to ensure the safety of all flights.

The Longview Republican who authored the bill, David Simpson, said he’s not surprised the bill was not considered today. Straus approached Simpson earlier this week and asked him to change the language of the bill. “The first thing I was asked to do was remove the section that refers to private parts,” said Simpson. He was also asked to reduce the standard for searching people in the bill from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion.” Simpson did not agree to change the language, but said he would have accepted an amendment, if it was supported by the House, to change the language in the bill.

Today, Straus — showing a degree of public adamance not seen much this session — said the bill will never be considered on the House floor "as written."
 Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How Texas' Sunset process works

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it.
Proverbs 20:21

We've been meaning to look into the Sunset process for a couple weeks, but Sarah Rumpf beat us to the punch:
AUSTIN, Texas -- As part of the preparation for the 84th Legislative Session, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a twelve-member legislative commission that reviews Texas agencies for waste, duplication, and inefficiency, began its first round of public hearings on Wednesday, to continue through Thursday. Approximately 130 agencies are subject to Sunset Commission review, generally every twelve years, although the Legislature can change an agency's Sunset date to a longer or shorter time. About 20 to 30 agencies go through this review every two years. Agencies subject to Sunset review face expiration if they do not receive legislative reauthorization at the end of their review period.

This reversal of the traditional government budgeting process -- instead of an agency's current budget being used as the baseline for calculating the future budget, the agency has to convince lawmakers that they should be allowed to continue to exist at all -- is viewed as adding an additional layer of accountability and fiscal restraint to the budgeting process. According to the Sunset Commission, since they were launched in 1977, 37 agencies have been completely abolished and an additional 42 were abolished and certain functions transferred to other existing or newly created agencies. This has saved Texas taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. A fiscal review of the Sunset Commission from 1982 to 2013 showed that their work had saved approximately $945.6 million, and their operational expenses had totaled about $37.2 million, resulting in a return of about $25 for every dollar spent by the Sunset Commission.


This week's hearings will include testimony from select agencies on Wednesday, followed by public testimony on Thursday. Agencies up for consideration include the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, the Texas Health Services Authority, the Health and Human Services Commission, and the Texas Education Agency (includes State Board for Educator Certification).
 Read the whole thing here.

Laying the Foundation for Gimmick Free Bugeting

"You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Leviticus 19:36

"Supplemental appropriations" are a measure the Legislature uses to hide spending increases.  It's how they continue to lie about the 26% spending increase last session.  They're up to the same thing next session and TPPF is calling them out:
Don’t be fooled by the claims that Texas’ current state budget is conservative.

First, the budget increase far outpaced population growth and inflation when considering an apples-to-apples comparison. Second, Texans may soon fund an even larger state government if reasonable steps aren’t taken to avoid busting the constitutional spending limit.


The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently suggested in their legislative appropriations request that more funds will be needed for the upcoming biennium. However, they estimate that higher caseloads and rising medical costs during the current budget cycle could require passage of a much larger $2.6 billion supplemental bill early next session. This amount pushes total state spending up to $204 billion for a whopping 10-percent budget increase.

Since the federal government picks up 60 percent of Medicaid costs and the state funds the rest, the state’s tab would be roughly $1 billion. You can quickly see that the state is on track to bust the constitutional spending limit by $737 million, since initial appropriations were only $263 million under last session’s $85.2 billion spending limit.


Many Texans know all too well what it’s like to live on a tight monthly budget. Budgeting in this fashion is stressful but necessary to live within one’s means. As the end of the month approaches, every purchase must be carefully considered to break even.

Though this applies to Texas families, the Texas Legislature plays by a different set of rules. Despite a spending limit that theoretically binds legislators’ expenditures of general revenue not dedicated by the constitution, they can bust the limit with a simple majority vote.

Such an act would grow the footprint of state government while the base for all future budgets ratchets up. This would cost financially prudent families more to fund state spending while giving them less to budget monthly — from no fault of their own. With fewer dollars exchanging hands, the economy would tend to slow as well.
Read the whole thing here; read TPPF's new report on this topic here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reviving Urban Rail?!?

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

That was quick:
The City of Austin will host the first public meeting for the Guadalupe Street Corridor Study to share the purpose of the study and listen to community feedback. Join area residents, students and business owners, among others to talk about how to improve the Guadalupe Corridor for pedestrians, bicycles, public transportation and cars.

Public meeting details:

Date: December 3, 2014
Time: 6 - 8 p.m.
Location: University Presbyterian Church
Address: 2203 San Antonio St. Austin, TX 78705
Validated Parking: University Co-op Parking Garage (2214 San Antonio St.)

The goal of the Guadalupe Street Transportation Corridor Project is to recommend short-term to long-term improvements to enhance mobility, safety, and the quality of life along the Guadalupe Corridor. The study area includes Guadalupe St. near the UT Austin campus, with approximate boundaries of MLK Jr. Blvd. to the south, W 29th Street to the north, Rio Grande Street to the west, and a block into the UT Austin campus to the east.
 Admittedly, it's a better location than the plan that was just defeated, but still....

Giovanni Capriglione: The End of a Career

"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver."
Matthew 26:14-15

It's Tarrant County, the commercials write themselves:

To be honest, this isn't a surprise.  We first heard he was leaning this way in August.  Still, the depth of the sellout becomes apparent when you read his op-ed from Saturday:
Transportation financing will be one of the items at the top of the agenda.
Really, transportation funding as the #1 issue?!?  Nobody opposes adding highway capacity, we object to the fact that you come back and ask us for more money after you've already increased spending by 26%.  But yah, "transportation"....

The op-ed gets better, check out this drivel section on education:
One major item that did not receive its fair share of the campaign attention was public education. This is even more remarkable considering that Judge John Dietz released his long-awaited decision on public education finance just two months before Election Day.

This is an issue where Republican officials can and should lead. Improving the quality of education is not a partisan issue, but by remaining relatively silent the ruling Republican party allowed Democrats to gain crossover votes.

I see an incredible opportunity for us to make positive education finance reforms in next year’s session — before being forced to do so by the courts.
Three paragraphs about "public education" and "education finance reforms" without mentioning school choice?!?  Duly noted.

We could almost forgive the Straus thing, but the op-ed makes clear he now endorses all of the Lobby's legislative priorities.

Agendawise has a good summary of what this means:
He seems to believe, as cynical insider thinking teaches, that by next primary voters won’t remember betrayals done at this point in the political calendar. In fact, the speaker may now even put him in front of one of next session’s unavoidable conservative outcomes in order to show his supporters how much he “gets done” now that he’s in with Straus.

Outcomes like these are always the result of conservative outsiders altering the political terrain in Texas. Nevertheless, insiders funnel the credit, as best they can, to their own people to keep as much control over the landscape as possible.

But a vote for Straus is not just an endorsement of a corrupt politician, it’s an endorsement of the ruling class kabuki theater that would leave voters naked and unarmed against their aggressors in Austin. This theater always includes things like low expectations, coordinated celebration of moderate results as conservative, a tough fight on a big conservative issue that is just barely lost but is set up so everyone can point the finger at someone else, no discussion of the many, many real conservative bills and issues that never see the light of day because the speaker didn’t want them to, and much else besides.
We concur with North Texas Tea Party:
Let’s make this simple for the members of the Texas House:


Various people claim we do not ‘understand how Austin works': the problem is, we DO understand how Austin ‘works’- some of us have understood that since the early 80s. And the way Austin works NEEDS TO CHANGE!

We do not work to elect people simply to vote the most conservative they can in the highly constrained environment Joe Straus maintains which precludes the truly tough votes. We work to elect WARRIORS to batter the ‘country club’ doors down and force votes- win or lose- on the really tough issues of the day. We are told good conservatives cannot get committee chairs if the current ‘Powers That Be’ are contested. Well, they weren’t contested in the last session- so kindly point out the powerful committee chairs that WERE assigned to ‘good conservatives’- NOT ONE!

Scott Turner is a unique individual, the likes of which we are unlikely to see again. As the ‘principled conservative’ core continues to grow each term at a faster rate than the ‘getalongs’ can corrupt them, we will soon reach a tipping point wherein the majority of the GOP caucus will put up someone like Jonathan Stickland for House, and the ‘getalong’s will face vindictive retribution for years of poor treatment. Scott Turner represents a unique opportunity to make the changeover WITHOUT that sort of vindictiveness. It simply isn’t in Scott’s character. We WILL throw in one caveat, though. If Joe Straus IS elected and the House TRULY DOES have a conservative session- as CONSERVATIVE GROUPS define it, NOT Austin- then those who voted for Straus will win a reprieve.
Bottom Line: It's his funeral.


Update: An earlier version of this misspelled Gio's name and incorrectly attributed the last statement to the NE Tarrant Tea party.  These mistakes have subsequently been corrected.  We got sloppy, we apologize.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Straus Admits Weakness

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

This is astonishing:
Straus, House leaders launch early PR offensive
By David Saleh Rauf

November 9, 2014 | Updated: November 9, 2014 10:05pm

AUSTIN — Team Joe Straus is going on offense.

The Republican House speaker from San Antonio and his top lieutenants have launched a pre-emptive strike leading up to the legislative session designed to buffer an anticipated barrage from special interest groups critical of the lower chamber's leadership.

The effort, involving a series of mailers to be pumped into Republican districts over the next month to highlight “conservative results” under current House leaders, is being footed by a political action committee led by Straus and created to protect incumbents.
Top legislators in the chamber familiar with the effort say it's the first pre-session salvo they've launched together under Straus' tenure, an offensive prompted by previous big money and nasty campaigns targeting the speaker and his allies.

“You can't sit around on your thumbs and let people take potshots at you,” said Rep. Jim Keffer, a Republican from Eastland and a top Straus supporter in the House.

Keffer described the mail campaign as an attempt at “balancing the message” after fiscally conservative and tea party-aligned outside groups, namely Empower Texans, funded by Midland oilman Tim Dunn and run by Michael Quinn Sullivan, have tried to topple Straus and his squad for several sessions in a row.
Straus' strategy has always been to keep as low a profile as possible; that he would do something like this in the first place reveals how weak he thinks he is.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#LighttheTower: Longhorns Win

"The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31

Darryl K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium -- The Texas Longhorns played their best game of the Carlie Strong era, to date, today.  Calling today's performance 'sharp' would be an exaggeration.  But the Longhorns finally managed the clock decently and kept the penalties and turnovers under control.

ESPN's recap of the game can be viewed here.

Others will have observations about the meaning of today's belated halfway decent performance; in the meantime, this is what we saw in person:

Army dudes doing cool looking stuff before the game:

The space dude observed from the stands:

The Eyes of Texas:

The Texas Longhorn's bands' entrance:

Entering the field:

First Touchdown:

Third Touchdown:

Late First Half:

Random Third down stand, mid third quarter:

Texas Longhorn Hellraisers:

Final Touchdown plus Penalty announcement:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Texas Drug Warriors destroy family and kill small child

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Reprinted in full:
Little Alex Hill would have been turning four-years-old this Friday. But rather than celebrating their child's birthday, the toddler's parents have only the bitter consolation of seeing a judge in Milam County hand Alex's foster mother a life sentence for murder.

The life sentence is a small victory in the case of 2-year-old Alex, whose July 2013 death was caused by devastating injuries at the hands of her foster mother, 52-year old Sherill Small.

Alex was placed in Small's care in early 2013, after her father admitted to child welfare investigators that he had smoked marijuana while the child was tucked away in bed at night.

By all accounts, towheaded Alexandria "Alex" Hill, was a healthy and happy toddler, living with her parents, Joshua Hill and Mary Sweeny, in Cameron, Texas in late 2012. But in Texas, using cannabis goes against child welfare policy, and Hill, who told investigators he'd been smoking pot at night, was in violation of those laws.

"Mr. Hill admitted to smoking marijuana in the house when his daughter has been upstairs sleeping," the caseworker representing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services noted in court records.

The CPS caseworker ultimately determined that Alex's mother's frequent seizures (a medical condition), coupled with that pesky marijuana use, warranted removal from the home, and Alex was placed with a foster family.

But Alex's parents immediately began to notice red flags about the conditions in the first home during visitations with their daughter, according to Hill. Alex had noticeable bruises, and the couple also found mold & mildew in the little girl's bag.

See Also:

Medical Marijuana Refugees Are Fleeing Texas to Help Their Loved Ones
These Cannabis Bills Could Change Toking in Texas for Good

Fearing for her safety, Hill refused to give Alex back, despite the threat of jail time, unless the state placed her in a different home. The placement agency ultimately gave in, and Alex was placed in her second foster home, this time with Sherill Small, who had one other child in her care.

Small had been approved as a foster parent by Texas Mentor, a third party private agency who provides foster homes to the Texas Child Protective Services system. No mention was made of Texas Mentor's shady track record -- they had racked up over 15 violations by this point, according to the Dallas Morning News.

114 more violations would ultimately follow, but none of this information was shared with Hill. The first time he heard it, he was sitting in the courtroom listening to testimony on Alex's beating death.

On July 29, 2013 -- just four months before Joshua Hill was set to regain custody of his daughter -- he received an urgent call requesting that he rush to the Scott and White Children's Emergency Hospital in Temple.

When Hill arrived, he found his daughter attached to machines, with Alex's tiny body kept alive on life support. Her father had no choice but to say goodbye.

Ultimately, Small admitted to Rockdale police that Alex's injuries came from her slamming the toddler onto the floor of the home where she lived with her husband, Clemons Small III.

But it was an accident, Small said, one that happened when she was "playing a game" with the child. Still, she admitted to being "frustrated" with the girl because the the toddler had woken up early that morning to get herself food and water.

While the idea of removing a toddler from her parents' care not for abuse, but for simple marijuana use, is puzzling at best, what's even more disconcerting is that the same rules didn't apply to her foster family.

Turns out Sherill Small's third husband, Clemon Small, had a pretty legit criminal history, including multiple drug charges for marijuana.

During the home study portion of the couple's foster application, Clemon described himself as a recovering crack cocaine addict, and admitted to multiple drug charges. Small also admitted to the home study investigator that she had also been out of work for months. Rather, she made a living by keeping foster children.

Still, the report from the home study concluded that "the family is capable of providing a safe home environment," and Small was given the go ahead to provide foster care.
That "safe environment" is where Alex died. A medical examiner found that her head hit the floor so violently that she was found to have "subdural hemorrhaging, subarachnoid hemorrhaging, and retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes," according to court testimony.
Alex's autopsy also revealed several bruises and injuries on her cheek, arms, legs, and behind her ear, he said. The most severe bruising was found on top of the head and around Alexandria's lower back and buttocks.

Court testimony in the case stated that Alex had also lost about a third of her total blood volume from her liver, preventing oxygen from reaching her brain and causing liver function to fail.

Not only is it stunning the state would allow kids to be placed with such foster parents. Alex's case also begs the question as to why investigators must remove a child whose parents smoked pot -- while she was tucked a way in bed upstairs -- in the first place.
While the state of Texas may still have antiquated marijuana policies on the books, other states sure don't. Recreational and medicinal pot is, as of Tuesday's election, legal in four states -- Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado -- along with the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., and one city, South Portland, Maine.

See Also:

Texas Man No Longer Faces Life in Prison for Pot Brownies
Cannabis, Texas: How Close Are We to Legalization in the Lone Star State?

Medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, there is pending legislation in two more -- Ohio and Pennsylvania -- and 14 other states tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to pass medical marijuana legislation in 2014.

Alex died a brutal, untimely death because she was placed in a dangerous foster home. But she put in foster care in the first place because the state of Texas deemed it reasonable to remove her from a loving home because her father smoked pot while she was asleep.

That seems like too high a price to pay for pot prohibition.