Friday, July 31, 2015

Meet the latest Central Texas Rail Boondoggle

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

Agenda 21 on steroids AND a multi-billion pricetag...what's not to love?!?
A national transportation expert calls the proposed Lone Star Rail project between Austin and San Antonio a bust for taxpayers.

Carrying an initial price tag of $2 billion to $3 billion, the commuter line would take over existing Union Pacific tracks near Interstate 35 and shift freight onto new rails to the east.

“This is how absurd governments can be when it comes to rail,” said Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the free-market Cato Institute.

“Union Pacific bought 8,000 miles of Southern Pacific tracks for $3 billion. To spend $3 billion for one short line is not in the realm of possibility,” he told in an interview.

Lone Star Rail supporters are banking on matching money from Washington, and since the federal New Starts program no longer requires projects to prove “operating efficiencies,” LSTAR remains bureaucratically viable.


O’Toole likens policymakers’ fixation with rail projects to the continued installation of streetcars in 1915, when automobiles were starting to hit the roads en masse.

“Technological change will overcome congestion,” he said, predicting the evolving generation of new cars could triple the capacity of existing roads, including I-35.

“Once 25 percent of cars have adaptive cruise control, roughly half of all congestion will go away,” O’Toole forecast.

Meantime, the Cato expert maintained no rail system in America can move more people than a two-lane freeway.

Undaunted, the government-run Lone Star Rail District is working with municipalities to form transportation infrastructure zones. Property tax increases within the zones would go toward train operations and maintenance. Sales tax increases are also being considered.
Read the whole thing here.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Austin City Council reconsidering BBQ regulation MONDAY!!!

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7

We were almost finished writing a post about the irresponsible reporting surrounding Austin's attempts to regulate BBQ smoke we'd previously thought was dead.

As we were wrapping up, we touched base with a council member to inquire if we could use a text message that person had sent us earlier this week.

The council member informed this website that the ordinance wasn't actually dead.

Apparently, the proposed ordinance was referred to two committees.  The first committee killed it back in May.  The Health and Human services committee, however, will hear the proposed ordinance on Monday:

Fortunately Ellen Troxclair, who voted against the measure in April, is on the committee.

The hearing starts at 4pm.


Austin City Council Health and Human Services Committee.
Ora Houston, Chair
(512) 978-2101

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Texas Senate's Planned Parenthood organ harvesting hearing

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:5

Abortion is always a difficult issue to discuss; even by the standards of the issue, however, today's Texas Senate hearing about organ harvesting and the recently released Planned Parenthood videos was astonishing.

Attorney General Paxton testified first.  For an hour, he outlined what his office's recently launched investigation has uncovered.  Investigators from the Texas Attorney General's office recently toured the "P.O.C." room at a Planned Parenthood facility in Houston.  'P.O.C' stands for 'product of conception'; Planned Parenthood couldn't even refer to their 'medical specimens' as children (Note: Abby Johnson later testified that when she worked at Planned Parenthood they would joke about calling it the 'pieces of children' room.).  Inside the 'P.O.C.' room, Planned Parenthood would store the remains of pre-born children in jars until they were ready to be transported for 'disposal.'  General Paxton testified that this particular facility 'discards' 260 pounds of 'medical waste' per week.

Following the testimony of several bureaucrats from state agencies, John Seago spoke on behalf of Texas Right to Life.  He explained how the raw footage from the Planned Parenthood sting mentions three facilities in Texas.  The Houston facility previously discussed by General Paxton was one of their largest "research" facilities in the country.  Seago also detailed how, despite improvements, Planned Parenthood was still eligible to collect subsidies from Texas taxpayers.  Seago restated Texas Right to Life's categorical opposition to any sort of 'medical research' on the carcasses of aborted children.

Abby Johnson followed Texas Right to Life.  She disputed the testimony one of the bureaucrats.  Whereas the bureaucrat testified that State inspections of abortion facilities are unannounced, Johnson said that when she worked at Planned Parenthood her facility was inspected during the same week of November every year.  This allowed the facility to scrub its records in anticipation of a visit from the state.  Johnson's testimony caused several D's to throw a tantrum over 'accusing a state employee of committing perjury.'  Of course, Johnson never accused the bureaucrat of lying, just being mistaken.  Upon being called to testify a second time, the bureaucrat admitted that she was discussing protocols as they exist on paper, not how they're carried out in real life.

Carol Everett spoke after Johnson.  Her testimony largely mirrored Texas Right to Life and Johnson.  The most notable part came when she discussed a medical procedure her mother had recently undergone.  As part of the procedure, the doctor recommended using placenta.  Everett was horrified.  As part of the discussion, the doctor explained that 'tissue' obtained via abortion was useless for either medical research or treatment because abortions rarely take place in sanitary conditions.

:This author found Johnson's and Everett's the most eye-opening.  The two former abortion industry workers discussed the number abortions performed on a daily basis.  Johnson said a Houston clinic in which she worked had a DAILY quota of 75 abortions, which extrapolates to 450 per week and 1800 per month.  Everett said she performed oversaw 35,000 abortions (spread among several clinics) over six years in the industry, which translates to approximately 20 per day.  That's not a medical procedure. , That's not "safe legal and rare."  That's genocide.

Finally, Cahnman's Musings would like to commend Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).  Visibly shaken by what she was hearing, Kolkhorst nonetheless managed to ask probing questions that cut to the heart of the matter.  Chairman Charles Schwertner (R - Georgetown) also deserves credit for running a diligent, focused, hearing.  On the other hand, Senators Sylvia Garcia (D - Houston), Jose Rodriguez (D - El Paso), and Carlos Uresti (D - San Antonio) all admitted they hadn't watched the videos.  Senator Craig Estes (R - Whichita Falls) failed to show up at the hearing at all.

Planned Parenthood refused to participate in today's hearing, though their lawyer eventually showed up to deliver written testimony.

It's hard to imagine that pre-born children are being dismembered for profit here in Texas.  Unfortunately, today's hearing made clear that that's exactly what's happening.  This must stop.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Straus recycles Bush talking points

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

Last week, as we're sure you're aware, Joe Straus got a strong primary challenge.  We'll have plenty to say in the coming weeks.  For now, however, we wanted to highlight Straus' response:
"The people of District 121 know Joe Straus and continue to re-elect him because he is an effective leader who consistently delivers conservative results," Straus spokesman Jason Embry said in a statement Friday. 

Gee, where have we heard that before?!?
With the long march to November under way, Gov. George W. Bush is arguing that his record in Texas proves he is best suited to bring reform to Washington. He has even coined a campaign slogan: ''A Reformer With Results.''
It isn't a secret that Straus is a raging Bush crony, but the degree to which they use identical campaign rhetoric is still revealing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

When Straus' House killed "Strategic Fiscal Reviews"

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

SB 53, by Jane Nelson, was a bill captioned: "relating to strategic fiscal reviews of state agencies and programs."

The purpose of the bill was to collect more information for legislators about state agencies going through the sunset process; among other things, it would require identifying statutory authority for each activity in which the relevant agency engages.

The bill passed the Texas Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Notably, every Democrat voted for the measure.  Kelly Hancock was the lone dissenting vote.

On May 4th, Joe Straus referred SB 53 to the House Appropriations committee.  Under chairman John Otto, the bill stalled.  Strategic Fiscal Reviews were dead in committee.

No one denies that the 84th #TXLEGE produced a "reasonably not crappy" two year budget, but the fate of SB 53 illustrates (again) how Team Straus went out of their way to kill any sort of structural fiscal reform.


Read the full bill below:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meet the AWFUL Higher Ed Bill the 84th #TXLEGE Passed

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

SB 24, aka. the "Brainwash University Regents" bill:

Bottom Line: On a practical level, this law probably won't have much impact, but it's still VERY revealing that they're so afraid of transparency that they're going to force future regents to sit through mandatory brainwashing sessions.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Texas Supreme Court SMACKS Down Annise Parker

"Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly."
Psalm 3:7

Fantastic news, from Texas Values:
Texas Supreme Court Stops Houston LGBT Ordinance, Must be Repealed or Placed on November Ballot

Today, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the Houston City Council must stop enforcement of a controversial anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, and the City must either repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot for vote by the people for the November 2015 election. Earlier this year, a state court held a trial on these issues of basic voting rights of one million Houston registered voters, including the 55,000 citizens who signed the No UNequal Rights referendum. The trial court decision resulted in a ruling that only 16,684 signatures were valid, 600 signatures short of the needed 17,269 for the law to be repealed or placed on the ballot. Jared Woodfill is the lead plaintiff, and a board member for Texas Values Action, and he sought to overturn this trial court ruling by filing a request directly with the Texas Supreme Court.

Texas Values Action President Jonathan Saenz released the following statement:

“This is a total victory for the people of Houston, for free speech, and a major loss for Mayor Parker and LGBT advocates who fought so hard to silence the people’s voice. We are thrilled that the rogue and dictator style tactics of lesbian Mayor Annise Parker and her crew have been stopped by the rule of law and the persistence of faith-based leaders in Houston. The Texas Supreme Court got it right on this one."

Last year, Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council passed this radical anti-religious freedom LGBT ordinance, despite overwhelming opposition. The ordinance allows men to go into women’s restrooms, forces business owners to violate their religious convictions, and increases government interference in the private sector. The city secretary reported there were more than enough signatures collected to put the ordinance to a referendum, but Mayor Parker and the City Attorney refused to recognize the signatures. Read more.


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

Among Republican Presidential candidates, several have respectable records when it comes to taking on Democrats and the radical left; when it comes to taking on legacy Republicans and the crony right, Ted Cruz stands alone.

This morning, United States Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell used a sleazy parliamentary trick to bind the U.S. Senate into supporting renewal of the Export-Import bank.  In so doing, Senator McConnell reneged on an explicit promise he made to the Republican caucus earlier this spring.  Senator Cruz was having none of it:


  • "What we just witnessed this morning is profoundly disappointing."
  • Ex-Im deal way originally cut on trade bill.
  • Cruz asked McConnell at GOP lunch: "What was the deal that was just cut?!?"
    • "The majority leader was visibly angry with me."
    • McConnell: "There is no deal."
  • Staff said McConnell was lying; Cruz gave McConnell the benefit of doubt.
  • "I had no choice but to assume that when the majority leader spoke to 54 Republican Senators, and made an explicit promise, that he wasn't lying to us."
  • "The same procedural abuse that Harry Reid did over an over the Republican leader is behaving like the senior Senator from Nevada."
  • Obamacare amendment cynical: "Of course it is."
    • "Meaningless political theater."
  • Ex-Im: "Classic example of cronyism and corporate welfare."
    • Single largest recipient is Boeing, who admits they'll be fine.
  • "It is wrong and it is corrupt."
  • "This institution should not operate at the beck and call of lobbyists in Washington."
  • "We now know that when the Majority leader looks us in the eyes, and makes an explicit commitment, that he is willing to say things he knows are false."
  • "Sadly today, we have a government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists."
On that note, we have made our first political donation of the 2016 cycle.  In the spirit of full disclosure, we are informing readers.  Ted Cruz's Presidential campaign is $25 richer:

I don't know about anyone else, but I just gave Ted Cruz $25 for confirming what we already knew about Mitch McConnell....
Posted by Adam Cahnman on Friday, July 24, 2015

As we said in the comments on the Facebook post, once we realized Cruz's campaign would have more than enough money, we'd held back from donating.  Today was different.  Senator Cruz's revelation this morning marks a level of honesty we've never seen in a quarter-century watching politics.  That type of honesty deserves a reward, regardless of the campaign's financial position.  We hope Senator Cruz raises an eye-popping sum off of this incident.

Cronyism on the right gravely threatens liberty.  You cannot limit government when Republican "leadership" prefers to channel big government towards their donors.  That's just as true in D.C. as it is in Austin.

Corporate welfare produces deadweight loss, which means less consumer choice at higher prices while protected industries reap a windfall.  That Republican "leadership" would go to extreme lengths to preserve corporate welfare speaks volumes.  And, finally, someone called B.S. on it.

And that's why we donated $25 to Ted Cruz's Presidential campaign; make your own donation here.


Rush Limbaugh has a lot more here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Venue shopping in evidence suppression case against Williamson County DA

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."
Exodus 20:16

We'd forgotten about this case, but Jana Duty's chutzpah amazes:
Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty wants Judge Rick Kennon off her case — literally.

The state district judge is seeking to hold Duty in contempt of court for what he says was a violation of a gag order, when Duty called reporters in May to defend herself against accusations of unethical behavior in the capital murder trial of Crispin Harmel.

In response to Kennon, Duty is expected to ask an administrative judge on Thursday to remove Kennon from presiding over her upcoming hearing on the matter, arguing that their strained relationship has more to do with their past dueling campaigns than it does with her actions.


Kennon has refused to recuse himself voluntarily and has declined comment because of the pending litigation.

Harmel is charged with strangling Jessika Kalaher in 2009 after following her out of a Wal-Mart in Cedar Park. His trial ended in a mistrial last year, and he was set to go before a jury a second time this spring until his counsel accused the district attorney’s office — mainly Duty — of withholding evidence.
The original article contains a timeline of important moments in the case, read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mr. McRaven tells a lie

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

If anyone believes this, we have some mineral rights in South Texas we would LOVE to sell you:
Letters of support from influential community leaders do not decide whether a student is admitted into the University of Texas, UT Chancellor William H. McRaven said Tuesday in response to this story.

“It is inaccurate to draw a correlation between a single letter of recommendation and the admission of a student,” McRaven said.

The News story pointed out that former UT President Bill Powers pushed through 73 under-qualified students after high university officials received recommendation letters from big donors, elected officials and former regents.

The 73 students were highlighted in an external study of UT admission policies, called the Kroll report, that looked at the years 2009 through 2014. While not identified, the Kroll report noted that the students had below a C+ high school grade average and 1100 SAT scores and were unlikely candidates for admission based on academics.


They were admitted based on a decision of the UT president and not through the regular admissions process. The slots they were given were added to the freshman class and did not displace other candidates, UT said.

Receiving letters of recommendation is a “reasonable and widely accepted practice” nationally and is only one aspect of many taken into consideration, McRaven said in his statement.

“The university makes a determination regarding whether or not a student is qualified based on an extensive review of many factors,” he said.
Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

John Cornyn creates Wall St. Slush Fund in "Education" Bill

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

Earlier, we noticed John Cornyn bragging about something on Facebook:

Great to see the Republican Majority working to keep education decisions local.
Posted by John Cornyn on Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Out of curiosity, we checked the link:
As budget-strapped Chicago follows a mass school closure with a new plan to layoff more than 1,400 teachers, one set of transactions sticks out: the city’s moves to refinance $1 billion in debt through complex financial instruments called swaps. The deals were spearheaded over the last few years by financial advisory firms brought in by the city to help find money saving efficiencies. Instead of saving money, though, the Windy City took a big hit: The school system has lost more than $100 million on the transactions and has paid millions in fees to its financial consultants.
Chicago is not alone. School districts across the country have been increasingly relying on high-priced consultants and Wall Street firms for financial and management advice. While proponents say many of the ensuing consultant-driven initiatives have resulted in cost savings, critics note that other initiatives have resulted in investment losses, layoffs and school closures. What is clear is that school districts’ reliance on outside advisers has created business opportunities for the financial industry. And now, thanks to an amendment to federal education legislation moving through Congress, that lucrative market for financial and consulting could become even more flush with cash -- specifically, with federal money meant for impoverished school districts.
The legislation was tucked into the Senate version of a massive K-12 education funding bill currently up for congressional reauthorization. The amendment from Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would allow local officials to divert money from the federal government’s multibillion-dollar fund for low-income school districts and use the cash to hire financial consulting firms, according to a press release from Cornyn's office. Both lawmakers are among the U.S. Senate’s top 10 recipients of campaign money from the financial industry, and Warner is a former venture capital executive.


But opponents of privatizing government services say the legislation raises questions about whether it is more focused on helping financial and consulting firms capture a larger share of the more than $600 billion federal, state and local governments now spend on education.
“There is a multibillion-dollar government consulting industry -- the question is, does this open up an entire new potential market for those very well-positioned consulting firms?” said Donald Cohen, of In the Public Interest, a watchdog group that opposes privatization. “Every industry looks for a way to increase their market share. People look for revenue streams to increase their market share. It’s a pot of gold.”
Under the legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously but still must pass the U.S. House, school districts would have wide latitude in how they could spend the money on consultants. Unlike other sections of federal education law, which have detailed mandates for the types of data that schools must collect about their students and teachers, there is no mandate for any financial reporting by -- or performance evaluation of -- the private firms that will ultimately get the money. The amendment permits schools to take the resources earmarked for low-income school districts and use it to hire “fiscal support teams” to guide districts’ “fiscal, administrative and staffing functions, and any other key operational function.”
In recent years, banks have joined traditional management consulting firms in advising -- and taking fees from -- local school districts. The proposed amendment would not prevent banks from receiving federal education funds to advise a school district on a plan involving complex financial transactions. Warner spokesperson Rachel Cohen told International Business Times: “The amendment doesn’t explicitly exclude any entities from conducting the review.”
But at least they're good financial stewards:
The amounts that consulting firms can earn for work on public school policy can be eye-popping. In Philadelphia, the Boston Consulting Group was reportedly paid $230,000 per week for its work pushing for privatized education services and closures of up to 88 schools in the city. The firm’s work was also kept secret from the public, until a parents group filed a successful lawsuit forcing the school district to release the firm’s final report and recommendations. In that case, the money to pay the Boston Consulting Group came from a private foundation, but the new Senate legislation could open up a federal funding stream for such work. 
But at least they're not working with far-left activists with ties to Common Core:
Among the chief proponents of the congressional bill was the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington, D.C., think tank that is closely associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton.  
Bank of America, which made fees off of school district swap deals made in Chicago and Denver, hasdonated at least $50,000 to the Center for American Progress. Other major donors to the Center for American Progress include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given at least $500,000, and the Walton Family Foundation (of the Walmart fortune), which has also given at least $500,000 to the think tank. Both the Walton and Gates foundations have partnered with the Boston Consulting Group.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Instead of using their majority in the United States Senate to reduce the Federal role in educations, Republicans led by John Cornyn are creating new carve-outs for Wall St. within that education budget...because, of course, Republicans have to "show they can govern."

U.T. Admissions: Usual Suspect Bush Cronies BUSTED All Over Again!!!

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Galatians 6:9

Yesterday's Dallas Morning News reconfirmed everything Watchdog reported on over a year ago:
AUSTIN – Dozens of highly influential Texans – including lawmakers, millionaire donors and university regents – helped under-qualified students get into the University of Texas at Austin, often by writing to UT officials, records show.

Among those who wrote directly to then-President Bill Powers and then-Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, bypassing the admissions office, were famed golfer and UT grad Ben Crenshaw, former UT regent H. Scott Caven Jr., Austin lawyer Roy Minton and Sens. Kevin Eltife and Carlos Uresti, records obtained by The Dallas Morning News show.

Dozens of others, many of them famous UT alumni, also helped tip the scales. They include House Speaker Joe Straus, former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, former regents Jess Hay and Thomas Hicks, former chairman of the state University Coordinating Board Larry Temple and former UT quarterback Randy McEachern.


The Kroll report found that the students were admitted by Powers, and it suggested that political or personal connections may have influenced the decision

The admissions issue and suggestions of favoritism have become a flashpoint on the UT governing board. Regent Wallace Hall of Dallas has relentlessly questioned the administration and pushed for the ouster of Powers, who stepped down in June.


House Speaker Straus wrote to the director of the admissions office in November 2012 requesting consideration of the daughter of a close family friend. Later in 2013, Straus directed a committee to investigate Hall, who had doggedly been pursuing investigations into UT operations.


Hicks, the Dallas multimillionaire who once owned the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, is a former UT regent and brother to current UT regent Steve Hicks. Tom Hicks wrote to the office of admissions in 2011 on behalf of an applicant whose grandparents “have been longtime generous supporters of UT-Austin.”
 Read the whole thing here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Meet the Super Liberal Education Bill that Passed Straus' House

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

"Community schools" are a euphemism for all in one social service centers that cover the cradle component of 'cradle to grave.'  We attended a government school lobby event early in the 84th session where they were discussed extensively.  Our own (Democrat) state rep, Eddie Rodriguez, was carrying the bill.

The idea sounded so far-fetched that, to be honest, we forgot about it.  Earlier today, on a whim, we decided to see which bills Eddie Rodrigez managed to pass.  What we discovered was shocking.

The Texas House, under Joe Straus' leadership, actually passed the community schools bill (HB 1891); making matters worse, Jimmie Don Aycock (Straus handpicked education committee chairman) was a co-author on the bill.

How the vote went down:
(by E. Rodriguez, Farney, S. Turner, VanDeaver, and Aycock)
HB 1891, A bill to be entitled An Act relating to Texas community schools.
HB 1891 was passed by (Record 1151): 69 Yeas, 52 Nays, 3 Present, not voting.

Yeas — Allen; Alonzo; Alvarado; Anderson, C.; Aycock; Bernal; Blanco; Canales; Coleman; Collier; Cyrier; Darby; Davis, S.; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dutton; Faircloth; Farias; Farney; Farrar; Frank; Giddings; Gonzales; Gonzalez; Guerra; Guillen; Gutierrez; Harless; Hernandez; Howard; Huberty; Isaac; Israel; Johnson; King, S.; King, T.; Klick; Lozano; Lucio; Martinez; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Minjarez; Moody; Morrison; Mun˜oz; Naishtat; Neva´rez; Oliveira; Pen˜a; Pickett; Raymond; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Romero; Rose; Schofield; Sheets; Sheffield; Stephenson; Thompson, S.; Turner, C.; Turner, S.; VanDeaver; Vo; White, J.; Workman; Wu; Zerwas.

Nays — Anderson, R.; Bell; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Burns; Burrows; Button; Capriglione; Craddick; Dale; Elkins; Fletcher; Flynn; Galindo; Geren; Goldman; Kacal; Keffer; Keough; Koop; Krause; Landgraf; Larson; Leach; Metcalf; Meyer; Miller, D.; Miller, R.; Murphy; Murr; Paul; Phelan; Phillips; Price; Riddle; Rinaldi; Sanford; Schaefer; Shaheen; Simmons; Simpson; Smith; Spitzer; Springer; Stickland; Tinderholt; Turner, E.S.; Villalba; White, M.; Wray; Zedler.

Present, not voting — Mr. Speaker; Clardy; Kuempel(C).

Absent, Excused — Anchia; Cook; Dukes; Fallon; Frullo; Herrero; King, K.; King, P.; Laubenberg; Longoria; Ma´rquez; Miles; Otto; Raney; Reynolds; Smithee; Thompson, E.; Walle.

Absent — Ashby; Burkett; Crownover; Hughes; Hunter; Paddie; Parker;Schubert.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added to highlight how Republican members in close proximity to Travis County voted.]
Even Charlie Geren voted against this flaming bag of junk.

Bottom Line: The Senate rightfully killed this bill, but for a 'community schools' bill to pass the Texas House in the first place tells you everything you need to know about Texas House leadership.

Cruz discusses "Mendacity" in D.C. Republican "Leadership"

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

[Author's Note: While Cruz is speaking about Republican "leadership" in D.C., he could just as easily be talking about it in Austin.]

Ted Cruz spoke candidly about Republican 'leadership' in the U.S. Senate last week:

  • Debt ceiling debate in early 2014 was very revealing.
  • Passed in U.S. House with D's and a few R's
    • Author's Note: This is straight out of Joe Straus' playbook
  • Mitch McConnell wanted to lower 60-vote threshold.
  • "I've never spoken I'll of another Senator."
  • "What is considered problematic is telling the truth...they would rather you call them an S.O.B."
  • D.C. would rather have you make personal attacks than substance.
  • "Why are you throwing 5 Republicans under the bus?!?"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Detailing Straus' liberal committee chairs

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

The other day, we mentioned that Joe Straus' REPUBLICAN committee chairs being more liberal than the rest of the caucus was a topic worthy of a separate post.  Empower Texans beat us to the punch.  See chart below:
Straus Versus The House
All Straus Committee chairs55%
House Average58%
Straus’ GOP Committee chairs65.8%
House GOP average73%
As Empower explains:
While the Texas House average was a 58 percent on the Index, Straus’ committee chairs averaged 55 percent. The difference is more glaring within the GOP. While House Republicans earned an average rating of 73 percent (passing) on the Index, Straus’ Republican chairmen averaged a failing 65.8 percent. Our results are re-enforced in reviewing the results of the non-partisan ranking of House members by Rice University professor Mark Jones; even there Straus’ GOP committee chairs are less conservative than the House GOP average.)

Joe Straus may not have been casting votes, but as speaker he didn’t have to: his left-of-average committee chairmen did the dirty work for him.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Wiley pledges to vote against Straus

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

Texas Land and Cattle -- Last night Jay Wiley, who's running against Paul Workman in HD-47 (Western Travis County), spoke to the Central Texas Republican Assembly:

  • "Six years of mediocrity is enough."
  • Workman: "Lack of enthusiasm for conservative reform."
  • The corrupt bargain of 2011: Workman sucked all the Republican leaning precincts in Travis County into his district.
  • Workman's scored under a 70 from on every major rating over the past two sessions.
  • Wiley endorses zero-based budgeting, ending property taxes.
  • Plans to knock 1000 doors per month.
  • To win, you need to flip 2500 votes in the GOP primary.
And, as to the first vote of the session:

  • "I will not be voting for Speaker Straus."
Learn more about Jay Wiley here; donate to his campaign here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Observations regarding 84th #TXLEGE Scorecards

"So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."
Romans 14:12

[Author's Note: Empower Texans scorecard can be found here; CWA's can be found here; Rice University House and Senate.]

While not every scorecard covering the 84th #TXLEGE session has been released, the ones currently out begin to reveal interesting patterns.

In no particular order:
  • All three indexes confirm that the members of the House who voted for Scott Turner are the most conservative ones; while some Straus supporters were on the lower end of the conservative mix, it was the same names consistently at the top of all three.
  • On Empower's scorecard: Generally, the 'conservative when convenient' house members scored worse than they did in 2013, while the outright RINO's scored substantially better.
    • Author's note: One major difference between 2015 and 2013 is that this time the budget was scored as a positive vote whereas last time it was negative.
  • Empower: 18 Republican members of the Texas House got an 'A'; 47 Republican members (almost half the caucus) got an F.
  • Empower: By contrast, every single Republican member of the Texas Senate got a passing grade.
  • Empower: Even among the Freshmen House members who voted for Straus, the new person tended to rate substantially higher than the person they replaced; for example, while John Wray isn't our cup of Tea, his 77 is 48 points better than the disgraced Jim Pitts' 29 in 2013.
    • Exceptions to this included Will Metcalf whose 76 comes in 8 points behind Brandon Creighton's 84 in 2013 and Linda Koop whose 60 who was 30 points behind Stefani Carter's 90 (of course, Koop's election was kind of a fluke to begin with).
  • Empower: Speaking of Brandon Crieghton, he improved from an 84 in the House in 2013 to a 90 in the Senate in 2015.
  • Empower/Rice: By contrast, some of the biggest declines came from Giovanni Capriglione (no surprise there), Jodie Laubenberg, Phil King, and Cindy Burkett.
  • All three: Joe Straus' committee chairs tended to fall in the most liberal third of the Republican caucus; this topic merits its' own post.
  • All three: Among local reps, John Cyrier (Bastrop), Jason Isaac (Hays), and Paul Workman (Travis) all finished in the middle of the pack.  The Williamson County House delegation (Tony Dale, Marsha Farney, and Larry Gonzales) all finished in the most liberal third of the Republican caucus.  Senators Charles Schwertner (Williamson) and Donna Campbell (Travis/Hays etc.) finished in the 'B' range.
  • CWA/Empower: Cecil Bell and Rick Miller scored substantially higher on CWA's scorecard than Empower Texans.
    • Rice: In the tiebreaker, Bell is the highest rated Straus supporter while Miller is in the middle of the pack.
  • All three: Among Senators who haven't retired Kel Seliger, Joan Huffman, Craig Estes, Robert Nichols, Larry Taylor, and Jane Nelson are the most liberal members of the Republican caucus.
    • Author's Note: That being said, Jane Nelson did a fantastic job as chair of the Finance Committee and deserves some slack.
  • Empower: Former speaker Tom Craddick had a higher score than any Straus appointed committee chair.
  • Empower: Interestingly enough, Dennis Bonnen improved from a 60 to a 72.
Bottom Line: Turnover made this past #TXLEGE incrementally more conservative than the one before.  Turnover will make then next one incrementally more conservative than this one.  Eventually, that turnover will hit critical mass.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    Watchdog Blows Lid Off of U.T. Admissions (all over again)....

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

    Once again, Jon Cassidy demonstrates that we've only scratched the surface when it comes to U.T. admissions:

    UT admissions abuse is 10 times bigger than Kroll’s depiction

    At least 764 applicants initially denied admission to the University of Texas enrolled, thanks to a backdoor program for the wealthy and politically connected administered by former president Bill Powers.

    More than 200 of those applicants were admitted despite having their applications cancelled by the Admissions Office.

    The total is more than 10 times the 73 applicants widely reported from an investigation paid for by the university and conducted by Kroll Associates. Kroll withheld the full findings from its 107-page final report.

    .... produced the final number by reassembling a key Kroll database tracking “holds,” or applicants rejected by the admissions office but granted favored status by Powers’ office from 2009 to 2014.

    Kroll arrived at its published tally by establishing an arbitrary cutoff point for grades and SAT scores that had nothing to do with finding the total number of admissions rejections Powers overrode, which was the original purpose of the investigation.

    The university kept the numbers in the database secret from the public and from regents who have asked to review the Kroll investigation records.


    The records analyzed by Watchdog show Powers rarely let his favorites be turned away.

    Kroll examined the admissions trajectory of 2,085 applicants on hold from 2009 to 2014. Investigators tracked each case and each stage of the admissions review process. For our tally, we simply compared the first impression to the final decision.

    Of those 2,085 applications, 834 were put in the “deny” pile and another 249 were cancelled without further processing. By the end of the process, only 84 of those applications were ultimately denied and just 33 remained cancelled.

    Of the cancelled applications, 220 gained admission without going through the process.

    The Kroll report makes no mention of how anybody got admitted without going through the applications process.

    Kroll found 729 applicants initially deemed worthy and 271 who were to be offered one of UT’s conditional transfer programs by the admissions office. But by the end of the process, 1,492 of the applicants were admitted and 474 offered a transfer program.


    The Kroll investigation confirmed what had been common knowledge in the wealthy Dallas-area community of Highland Park, which includes UT Regent Wallace Hall and House Education Committee chair Dan Branch: students were getting into UT at extraordinary rates, despite bad grades.

    UT admitted seven Highland Park students with grade point averages below 2.0 and SAT scores below 800.

    Bill Shain, who now runs a college admissions consultancy, dealt with many “university interest” special cases during a career in admissions at small private universities, but rarely saw that sort of “disastrously unqualified” applicant admitted.

    “I can think of three cases (at two schools where I worked) where the student could not possibly succeed, and none of the three did,” Shain said. “That was something I always opposed.”

    The very worst of the students UT admitted, the investigation showed, were clustered in the districts of Branch, House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), and Sen. Kirk Watson, (D-Austin).

    Straus has gone to even greater lengths than UT to cover up the abuses. He authorized a special committee operating behind the scenes in an effort to impeach Hall for asking too many questions about the admissions process.


    UT is trying to protect Highland Park and other communities with potential big dollar donors. In records provided to Watchdog, UT blacked out applicants’ names, as they should, but also their high schools. Plus it redacted GPAs, SAT and ACT scores, and even majors on the documents the school provided to Watchdog.

    The university knows this information is not confidential once names have been redacted. It recently released hundreds of pages with those same categories unredacted in response to a public records request related to an affirmative action lawsuit.

    There is more to be learned from the Kroll papers.

    Many of the applications being held for Powers’ review were tagged with another unknown code that apparently specified what sort of special case they were.

    The database also includes a column for the date of action taken on a hold, many of them in the fall and winter, calling into question Powers’ contention that “no spots at the university were saved for any of these students,” that they were all added after the class was otherwise set.


    The massive gulf between what Kroll discovered and what it reported helps to explain that press conference – and why Chancellor Bill McRaven has refused to let Hall see the unedited Kroll papers, in defiance of Attorney General Ken Paxton and in apparent violation of the law.

    Kroll started off looking for the number Watchdog found at the request of then Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. By the time its investigation was over, Cigarroa had been replaced by Bill McRaven.

    McRaven is responsible for Powers’ final group of special admissions into UT, the class coming this fall. Allowing Hall to look at the Kroll investigation papers wouldn’t have just reopened some “adjudicated” affair; it would prove that nothing has changed. UT’s leadership is still dirty and can’t be trusted to investigate itself.
    Read the whole thing here

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    Charlie Geren says something stupid

    "Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard
    Is a proverb in the mouth of fools."
    Proverbs 26:9

    Last week, Konni Burton wrote an op-ed for the Trib slamming a deal for a Facebook data center in Tarrant County that was loaded with corporate welfare.  In response, Charlie Geren (possibly in a drunken stupor) accused Konni of saying something she never said.  Konni responded this morning on her website:
    As many of you know, I have long been an opponent of corporate welfare and wealth redistribution. It’s particularly frustrating when I learn of government taking money from hardworking Texans right here in our community in order to put it into the pockets of politically-connected corporations.
    Last Friday I wrote an op-ed bringing to light just how much money was taken from the public and small business owners and given to Facebook in the form of incentives – all for the commitment of 40 jobs.
    After publishing my editorial, it was criticized on twitter by a couple of Texas reporters – Scott Braddock and Bud Kennedy. Not only did they profess that I was anti-business because of it, they also insinuated that my op-ed claimed Northwest ISD gave a tax discount to Facebook. Never did I even mention Northwest ISD.
    In fact, all I said was money spent out of the Texas Budget goes toward public schools. I once again tweeted my op-ed to show that.
    That’s when the most bizarre happened. Siding with the liberal media, Representative Charlie Geren took to twitter and tweeted that I had edited my original op-ed and excluded what these reporters were claiming. The problem for Geren is the op-ed was never edited, and I never made the reporters’ claims.
    Read the whole thing here.

    Bottom Line: Charlie's accusation is bizarre...was he drunk when he made it?!?

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    Simpson rebukes lawless state agencies; repeats call for Special Session

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

    Big news out of Team Simpson today:
    (Longview, TX) Monday, David Simpson sent a letter to Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, Attorney General Paxton and Speaker Straus concerning the decisions of state agencies to pay benefits for same-sex partners. Simpson observed that the Texas constitution prohibits new spending without legislative approval.

    Simpson started his letter stating, “The further we are removed from the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) pertaining to marriage, the more concerned I become about the enforcement of our Texas Constitution and Texas statutes…. While I do not agree with the decision . . . my main concern at this point is our state’s response.”

    Simpson also noted that Article 8, Section 6, of the Texas Constitution stipulates: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in pursuance of specific appropriations made by law.”

    Simpson then stated, “There is no question that the appropriations made by the Texas Legislature did not include benefits for same-sex partners. In fact, such benefits have been intentionally prohibited by state law. The SCOTUS has the authority to decide a case, but it has no authority to appropriate state funds, and anyone who expends state funds without an appropriation is in violation of state law.”
    Read Simpson's full letter below:

    Saturday, July 11, 2015

    Longhorn Football Perfectly Summarized in Three Paragraphs

    "He who spares his rod hates his son,
    But he who loves him disciplines him promptly."
    Proverbs 13:24

    One of the most difficult tasks this website will ever undertake will be to set realistic expectations for 2015 Longhorn Football; as much as we hate to admit it, the national media makes several good points:
    From #branding and money perspectives, life as a Longhorn has rarely been better than it is right now. The Longhorn Network is doing better than you think, and revenues are second to, temporarily, one. The facilities look nice, and both major sports have made no-brainer hires in the past 20 months.

    These are good things when it comes to health and direction. So why doesn't it seem like anybody in burnt orange is very happy?

    Easy: for five consecutive years, Texas has, by Texas' standards, stunk on the football field. All the revenue and branding in the world hasn't kept the Longhorns from going 36-28, with two below-.500 finishes, since losing to Alabama in 2009's BCS title game. Colt McCoy suffered a dead arm early in that game, and Texas hasn't had a quarterback who was both healthy and good since.
    Read the whole thing here.

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    Book Review: Betrayed, by Billy Vaughn

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

    To understand University of Texas Chancellor Bill McRaven, you have to examine his performance in his last job as the head of U.S. Special Forces.  Cahnman's Musings has previously examined his role in destroying the bin Laden death photos.  We've also looked into his failure to comply with Federal open records laws.

    Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL's Father, by Billy Vaughn, details the actions of the government following the Extortion 17 fiasco in Afghanistan in August 2011.  It was Navy Seal history's deadliest day.  Billy Vaughn's son, Aaron, was on-board.

    In May 2011, Seal Team 6 conducted the raid that killed Usama bin Laden.  They died less than four months later.  Almost immediately, the government's story began unraveling.

    Three day's after President Obama's announcement of bin Laden's death, Aaron Vaughn called his family in a panic (44).  They needed to instantly close their social media accounts and scrub their presence from the internet.  In an astonishing breach of protocol, senior government officials had already blabbed about Seal Team 6's role in the raid (52-3).  Because of that, the military was concerned about retaliaton against their family members.  This was the beginning of the journey.

    Following Aaron's tragic death that August, the government's story became increasingly suspect.  They lied to the families about the media presence when the coffins returned stateside (67).  Almost immediately, questions arose about both the competence and loyalty of their Afghan counterparts (75).  The team was transported into a combat zone "in these slow, outdated troop transport carriers, rather than the usual MH-47 Chinooks that are designed to get in and out of of hotspots quickly" (101).  Their number of missions had grown unsustainable (102).  Worst of all, the rules of engagement prevented the SEALs from properly engaging the enemy (103).  As Billy Vaughn explains, "something was starting to become very clear: weak-willed 'winnning hearts and minds' ideology had taken priority over keeping my son, the men on that chopper, our miliatry, and even our nation, secure" (105).

    As the Vaughn family's questions mounted, so did their inquiries in official Washington.  They were ignored by John Boehner and Harry Reid (106).  A staffer for their own U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio, rudely blew them off (107).  Further investigation led "to the appalling realization that the mightiest military in the world is being ripped asunder by a regime in Washington, D.C., putrefied with political correctness, moral depravity, and utter corruption" (114).  And that was before they learned that the landing zone hadn't been properly secured (131).  It's here where Mr. McRaven enters the picture.

    In November 2012, the Vaughns attended a Naval function in Florida where Mr. McRaven was the guest of honor.  Billy Vaughn wanted to share some of the things he'd learned to prevent future tragedies.  Their conversation speaks for itself:
    When the admiral finished speaking, I approached him, took off my sunglasses, shook his hand, and said, "My name is Billy Vaughn, you probably don't remember me..."

    Admiral [sic] McRaven responded cheerfully, "Well, of course, I remember you."

    I asked if I could speak with him privately. Hesitant, he paused, and then agreed to meet me behind the bleachers after he finished shaking hands and taking pictures with people in the audience.


    As the admiral approached, I spoke quickly, not wanting to was any time with pleasantries. "Sir, I just wanted to know if anything is being done differently to protect the lives of our men in battle."

    Since Admiral McRaven told me he knew who I was, I thought I didn't have to explain my connection to the Extortion 17 shoot-down. He had replaced Admiral Olson, as US Special Operations Commander, just a few days after Aaron died, and I wanted to know if the military strategy had changed.

    I meant this in the most respectful way, but for some reason he became irritated when he spoke with me, "What's the matter with you? Don't you think I care about every guy we lose?"

    I responded respectfully, "Well, Sir, I'm hoping you can share some things that will convince me that you do."

    I genuinely hoped that a man in his position would know if anything had changed since Extortion 17 went down. I felt the burden as a parent to make sure that nothing like this ever happened again to our military. Admiral McRaven got defensive, put his hand on my shoulder and drew me closer to him with a smirk on his face, which was quickly becoming a brighter shade of red, and said, "Let me give you a few facts, IF your son did die...."

    In lightning speed I raised my tone higher than his and said, "What do you mean IF my son was killed? You said you recognized me, and you knew who I was. I'm the father of Aaron Vaughn and he was killed."

    This was not going well. There had not been a single military officer who had shown any notion of disrespect toward me since Aaron had died. He flashed a deer in the headlights look, and then immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, I didn't recognize you."

    I can't remember what he said next, but he gave me the impression that he thought my son was connected to Benghazi. "I'm not talking about Benghazi. My son was killed on August 6, 2011." At this point, I was thinking, "he's just another politician. He pretended to know who I was, and now he's pretending to know something aboput me that he really didn't remember."

    I went on, "You can smile and smirk if you want to, Sir, but let me give you three facts..."

    Interrupting me nearly mid-sentence, he raised his voice and said, "Okay, I know who you are!"

    Ignoring the interruption and it's content, I continued quickly, "Sir, whey was there no pre-assault fire that night?"

    He snapped back, "They can get pre-assault fire any time they want it!"

    I responded, "Well, Sir, according to the sworn testimony, they can almost never get pre-assault fire."

    His next words only fueled the fire. "Well, what do you want to do, shoot up an entire village?"

    "No Sir, but according to the sworn testimony, the village was on the ridges of the valley. There had already been a three-and-a-half hour operation underway and the chopper was shot down in the valley. Also, after the chopper was shot down, the Air Weapons Team did not take out the men who shot the RPG because there might have been friendlies in the building below the tower."

    In a calmer tone he said, "There were a lot of mistakes made that night. This war is complicated."

    The last comment -- sort of a confession -- struck me. There are mistakes made in every operation; I'm willing to admit that. But I was primarily concerned about the ideology causing our men to die needlessly. It was also the timing of the way Admiral McRaven said, "This war is complicated," because I was just previously forewarned by someone in Washington, D.C. that the flag officers, like Admiral McRaven, are known to say these very words when they want to avoid questioning. It seemed to imply that I could not possibly understand if he were to to go into greater detail.

    I was now experiencing this warning firsthand.

    Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to tell him the third fact, and he still never answered my concern on whether he was doing something differently to protect our men in the battlefield. So all I could say was, "Sir, a man in your position, if he had the nuts and the guts, could speak up and change the way we conduct this war, and save our warriors."

    Admiral McRaven, who is quite a bit taller than me, then jabbed his finger in my face.

    I pointed my finger back at his chest, saying, "Let me tell you something, Sir. You can make a scene if you want, but there are people watching us right now, and I don't think either one of us want that.

    He agreed and backed off.

    I then calmly said, "What we need to do is get together and have a cup of coffee sometime." In agreement, we shook hands, and he told me to contact his office when I had an opportunity to stop by.

    As the Vaughn's dug deeper, they were continually approached by military members  who new first hand how the U.S. government's senior leadership was weakening the military; this set the stage for their follow-up visit with Mr. McRaven:
    On January 4, 2013, Admiral McRaven arrived in a black SUV with tinted windows. The SUV pulled into my driveway, all the way up to the garage, and Admiral McRaven and a staff member got out. The driver then backed into the street and reversed into my driveway to park. I chuckled because it appeared as though they had intended to make a speedy getaway when our visit was over.

    Karen and I welcomed Admiral McRaven and his subordinate into our home. We greeted each other and met his advisor, who was exceedingly polite and gracious. Admiral McRaven was a complete gentleman this time, leading me to believe it would be a positive encounter as I had hoped. He apologized for not knowing who I was. I accepted his apology and appreciated his concern. The four of us then sat at our dining room table.

    Admiral McRaven started out by kindly giving us his condolences and expressed that he wanted to answer any questions we had. He told us he wanted to help us with our 'grieving.'

    The 'grieving' angle must be a talking point all officers are keyed in on, since we've heard it time and time again. It's dismissive and insulting. It's as though any question or concern you have is only due to your "grief," not the very real possibility your question is valid.

    The admiral wanted to emphasize that nothing about the meeting would be political. Karen and I were primarily concerned about our men and women in the military and the questions surrounding Extortion 17, so naturally we agreed the meeting was not about politics.

    We started with small talk and about a half hour into the conversation, Admiral McRaven assured us, "I just want you to know that the military would never hold anything back from the parents."

    To which Karen very respectfully responded, "What about Pat Tillman?"

    Admiral McRaven lunged forward in his chair, his face instantly reddened, his voice churlish -- as though Karen had no right to say such a thing -- he nearly shouted, "What about Pat Tillman? It was just a simple case of friendly fire!"

    The room fell silent, stunned.

    Of course, it was just a 'simple case of friendly fire.' The problem was that it took the Tillman family three years to get the truth about the events surrounding Pat's death. Three years of being blatantly lied to by the United States military.

    It hadn't been Karen's intention, but clearly she struck a nerve. Much earlier in our search for truth, we had spoken with a man who serves on Admiral McRaven's staff. In that conversation...he finally said, "Billy, the damn Army will lie." Then shortly thereafter, he made a statement, which bluntly ended that portion of the conversation, "Remember Pat Tillman."

    We didn't know what to say next. The admiral did not realize the full impact of the revealing statement he'd just made. I finally spoke softly, "The military is holding something back from the parents right now."


    Further into our conversation, the admiral unexpectedly and with no apparent reason began touting the virtues of our current president. After a comment or two, I said, "Well, look, Sir, you are not going to get me to agree with you about President Obama.

    Admiral McRaven laughed and said, "Okay, I know."

    A short time later, he became more emboldened. "I know President Obama and I see him often. I don't just know him as a president, I know him as a man." He pounded his fist on our table. "And he's a good man."

    Politely, I touched his arm, "Sir, I'm going to have to ask you not to mention that man's name in my house."

    He said, "Okay." Then the admiral -- who said none of our discussion should be political -- continued weaving the praises of President Obama into our conversation any time he saw an opening.

    By the time of this meeting, I had been personally reviewing the redacted files we received at Virginia Beach for almost a year. I was very well up-to-date with the material, but felt I'd receive a fuller picture of the shoot-down through Admiral McRaven's eyes. Would they have the answers to my questions? I didn't know -- but I had been hopeful.

    That didn't last long.


    After a few seconds, I asked, "Why was there no pre-assault fire before Extortion 17 went in, you know, just to soften then landing zone?"

    With absolutely no hesitation, the admiral replied, "The Operation was already over. By that time, the Rangers were already in the questioning phase of those they'd detained in the earlier raid and nothing else was going on."

    Was this all Admiral McRaven had for his defense? If Operation Lefty Grove was "already over" then why was Extortion 17 sent in at all? Why was the IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) spun up with such hastiness that routes and landing zones were being determined after the chopper was already in the air? And why was the landing zone considered hot?


    The misinformation continued and suspicions rose.

    Around this point came yet another interjection about President Obama's qualifications and great, fearless leadership; this time it was in reference to Operation Neptune Spear.

    The admiral explained to us that the president had nothing to gain from taking out Bin Laden. He then elaborated on the fear factor behind the president's brave decision to do so, telling us "There was only a forty percent chance that Osama was going to be at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan."

    I told Admiral McRaven, "I'm going to have to disagree with you on that one. I don't think the president had any choice but to go after Osama [sic] bin Laden."

    He quickly replied, "How so?"

    "Because the CIA had located him, and if people learned that Osama bin Laden was there, and it leaked that Barack Obama still refused to take him out, it would have devastated him politically."

    At some point, the conversation shifted back to the matter at hand. I asked, "Why were our men on the wrong chopper?"

    His countenance became a bit haughty and even defiant towards me.


    And then came another round of praise for President Obama when I expressed a very painful concern, "It's hard for me to admit this, but I'm afraid my son's death is going to be in vain because the president has decided we're going to lose the war in Afghanistan."

    His response caught me off guard, "Well I can't guarantee how Afghanistan is going to turn out, but I can tell you that President Obama is getting us out of Afghanistan."

    Only two months earlier in our discussion at the Navy SEAL Mueseum, he'd snapped at me when I'd said the same thing. His response then: "We're winning the war in Afghanistan."

    Had something changed in the previous two months or had he only been honest in one of our two conversations? I came back at him with a little frustration, "Yeah, but at what cost?"

    His answer blew my mind: "President Obama got us out of Iraq!"

    Unable to contain myself I blurted out, "And look how well that turned out. Now Iran is transporting weapons through Iraq to Syria and threatening Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East."

    Still to this dat, I cannot believe what he said next, "Well, you know George Bush got us into the war in Iraq!"

    This statement literally shook me. It was a childish argument and very unbecoming of a man of such high stature.


    We were now faced with the heavy realization that one of the most powerful men in the special forces world had no intention of changing a single method of operation. [Author's Note: Which is EXACTLY what he did with Bill Powers.]

    All this from the man openly rumored to be on Hillary Clinton veep short list:

    Bottom Line: Before he carried water for Bill Powers and Joe Straus, Bill McRaven carried water for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  The Extortion 17 fiasco was well known by the time the U.T. system brought Mr. McRaven in as Chancellor.  For the scandal-plagued U.T. politburo to hire someone with Bill McRaven's record at this moment in it's history tells you everything you need to know about the U.T. politburo.