Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cranberg and Pejovich join Wallace Hall's lawsuit

"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

Some good news:
First, the state attorney general sided with University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall Jr. in his court battle to obtain records of an investigation into admissions improprieties. Now, two frequent Hall allies on the Board of Regents and two former chairmen of the board have thrown in with him. 
Regents Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich and former chairmen Charles Miller and Gene Powell filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week backing Hall’s lawsuit against UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven. The chancellor contends that Hall is not entitled to see confidential student records of the investigation into favoritism in admissions at UT-Austin. 
“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (‘FERPA’) does not trump the need for individual regents to have access to such information for purposes of fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as Regents of the UT System,” lawyers for the four wrote in the brief. “While universities’ misapplications of FERPA to avoid disclosing negative or embarrassing information to the press have become increasingly common over the past several decades, this is the first time an educational institution has invoked FERPA against its very own regent. ”
Read the whole thing here.

Will Jason Villalba run against Ken Paxton for Attorney General?!?

"He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will be destroyed."
Proverbs 13:20

There's one other point worth making coming out of the conversation that led us to speculate about a Ted Cruz/Dan Branch race for the U.S. Senate: For similar reasons, we think there's a good chance Jason Villalba will run for Attorney General against Ken Paxton.

The two races would feature similar politics.  Like Dan Branch, Jason Villalba hails from the big money Dallas/Highland Park crowd.  Like Ted Cruz, that same big money Dallas/Highland Park crowd loathes Ken Paxton.

Furthermore, when Paxton's legal troubles emerged last year, Team Straus' stenographers at Quorum "Report" openly speculated about Villalba replacing Paxton:
But believe me when I tell you that some of those who wish to step into the role have been working overtime behind the scenes to jockey for position.


For that reason, two names in the list of potential replacements for Paxton stand out: Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Rep. Jason Villalba.


Rep. Villalba’s name first surfaced this weekend as the indictment of Paxton became public knowledge. Some Texas Capitol insiders have said Villalba “is on the short list” for consideration. The sophomore lawmaker has made it a personal mission to make it clear to his fellow Latinos that they belong in the Party of Ronald Reagan. "Latinos are Republican. They just don't know it yet,” Reagan once said.
There's no way a rumor like that appears in Quorum "Report" unless it's something Team Straus is actively persuing.

The whole farce of the Paxton prosecution stems from Team Straus' butthurt vendetta against Ken Paxton for interfering with their political plans.  Ken Paxton is the meddling teenager to the Scooby-Doo villains of Team Straus.  Jason Villalba is a low level sidekick who will do as he's told.

Learn more about Jason Villalba here and here and here.

Bottom Line:  At some point in the next year, Ken Paxton is going to beat these silly criminal charges.  When that happens, Paxton will become politically bulletproof.  At that point, Jason Villalba will be one of the few remaining people who fill the necessary preconditions to pursue this sort of campaign.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Revelation 6:1-8 -- The SEALS are BROKEN!!!

"First Seal: The Conqueror
Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

Second Seal: Conflict on Earth
When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.

Third Seal: Scarcity on Earth
When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”

Fourth Seal: Widespread Death on Earth
When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.”  So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
Revelation 6:1-8

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  September 7, 2014:

The Seals Are Broken, Part 1 - Dr. Danny Forshee - September 7, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

  1. Seal One (White Horse) (vv. 1-2)
    The Beast before people know he's the beast.
  2. Seal Two (Red Horse) (vv. 3-4)
    - War and Bloodshed.
    - War, like it or not, will continue to be with us until the end of this age.
  3. Seal Three (Black Horse) (vv. 5-6)
    - Famine
    - One day's food for a full day's wage.
  4. Seal Four (Pale Horse) (vv. 7-8)

  • Events that have yet to take place.
  • Has one-fourth of the Earth's population been killed in a short period of time at any point in history to this point?!?
    • The bubonic plague doesn't count, it only killed 1/4 of the European Population.
  • We can, and should, pray for God to save but eventually God will HAVE to judge.
  • "God doesn't smile" at sexual immorality.
  • Famine ALWAYS follows war.
  • Not too many preachers in America will preach on Revelation 6.
  • It's NOT gonna be ok; it'll be ok if you know Christ, but otherwise it won't be.
    • You'll either know Him as your friend and savior; otherwise, one day, you'll know Him as your Judge.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Michael Quinn Sullivan's perfect description of #TXLEGE state of play

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

The other day, Michael Quinn Sullivan gave his take on the #TXLEGE runoffs.  His two cents largely mirror our own.  That being said, he penned a half sentence that put into words a sentiment we've felt towards Team Straus for several years but have never been able to put into words:
[Team Straus is] also losing a war of attrition.

[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]

That's EXACTLY what this is....

As long as we stay in the fight, we win in the end; we just don't know when that end ultimately materializes.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Will Dan Branch run against Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate?!?

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But he who heeds counsel is wise."
Proverbs 12:15

Last night, we were war gaming various scenarios for the 2018 primaries with a knowledgeable source.  With Ted Cruz running for re-election, we started speculating about whom the big money crowd could run against him.  What follows is not an exact transcription, but is a reasonably accurate paraphrase of the conversation:
Source: The thing is, if you're going to run against Ted Cruz in a Republican primary in Texas in a midterm year, you'd have to be both incredibly arrogant and incredibly stupid; who fits that bill?!?

Cahnman's Musings: What about Dan Branch?!?

[Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong Pause]

Source: You know...[another long pause]...I think you may be onto something.
It just makes too much dadgum sense.

Dan Branch works with the Law Firm Winestead PC.  Winestead PC does business with the Export-Import 'bank.'  Ted Cruz led the fight to shut down the Ex-Im 'bank.'

It's also an open secret around the Capitol that Dan Branch loathes Ted Cruz.  Branch can't stand the fact that Cruz has derailed his political plans multiple times.  Most recently, Ted Cruz praised Ken Paxton during the latter's successful 2014 Attorney General campaign against Branch.

In his 2015 book, A Time for Truth, Cruz recounts a 2009 conversation with Karl Rove during his aborted run for Attorney General:
It turned out Rove was in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas.  Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for Attorney General.  Those donors were now berating Karl. (190)
The state rep to which that quote refers is Dan Branch.  This was briefly an issue during Cruz's presidential campaign.  You can learn the full history of that incident here.

George W. Bush gave BIG money to Branch's 2014 A.G. campaign and it's likewise not a secret that Dubya "just doesn't like" Cruz.

Furthermore, Branch is from Dallas.  Cruz is from Houston.  So it also makes sense from the perspective of the region vs. region dynamic that sometimes emerges in statewide races.

Branch remains the liberal he's always been.  But the Washington cartel and the big money crowd in Dallas and Austin hate Cruz enough that you've got to imagine they'll find some yutz to run against him.  And Dan Branch might just be the yutz they're looking for....

Bottom Line: For now, this is just informed speculation, but it just makes sooooooooooooooooooooooo much sense.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Delightfully good time had at Trib Higher Ed. Funding Event

"Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. "
Colossians 3:20

Lt. Governor Patrick's shadow loomed large over this morning's Trib event on Higher Ed. funding; as such it could not have been more enjoyable for this author to attend.

Chairman Seliger desperately clung to relevance discussed the practical aspects of implementing the Lt. Governor's agenda.  He was visibly caught between the rock of his longstanding history of gutting accountability in Higher education and the hard place of political reality in Dan Patrick's Senate.  To his credit, Chairman Seliger didn't seem to have much use for the lackadaisical financial management we've seen at public universities the past few years.

Senator Watson was full of excuses provided a contrarian, if logically questionable, perspective.  Watson mentioned his dissatisfaction with focusing on tuition as "a single tree as opposed to the whole forest" of higher ed. funding.  We're not sure what that means, but we're sure it involves spending a lot of money.  Watson also tried to hang his hat on the irrelevant claim that UT has the lowest tuition of the 15 largest flagship universities in the country.  Watson's overhyped statement reminded us of Michael Quinn Sullivan's longstanding observation that just because Texas is the least drunk state at the bar doesn't mean we should get behind the wheel.

Neither Senator brought up administrative expenses on their own.  To his credit, Evan Smith went there.  Discussing exploding administrative costs at a time when universities are raising tuition, Smith noted: "the optics are crap."  Seliger didn't argue.  Even Kirk Watson was forced, kicking and screaming though he might have been on the inside, to admit that looking at administrative costs is "appropriate."

Smith also asked whether higher education costs were the result of market forces creating an equilibrium along the supply and demand curves.  While neither Senator responded, we will point out that there is nothing even remotely resembling a free market in higher education.  While distortions in higher ed. market are primarily caused by the feds, it should still be the task of the Texas legislature to not create more distortions.

There was one topic that wasn't brought up that we wish had been: Endowments.  UT has the second largest endowment of any university in the country, A&M's isn't far behind, and no public university in Texas is exactly hurting in that department.  At some point we're going to have to ask if it's appropriate to have the universities sit on billions of dollars while they're raising tuition on students.

Bottom Line: When the biggest defenders of the status quo squirm visibly at a public event, that's a very good sign.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

2016 continues long-term historical #TXLEGE trend....

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

Here's the short version: In the Senate, Dan Patrick is SUBSTANTIALLY stronger and the Senate has SUBSTANTIALLY more leverage in inter-cameral disputes.  In the House, grassroots insurgents continued making incremental gains, but failed to land the knockout blow that earlier seemed within reach.  This cycle could have been better, but if modest gains every two years is a new baseline, that's also not a terrible place to be.

The most important result of the night was Dawn Buckingham's resounding victory over Susan King. As a Senator, Dawn will be a significant improvement over Troy Fraser.  Likewise, Bryan Hughes will be a major improvement over Kevin Eltife.  For Bryan Hughes to succeed where Susan King failed illustrates, once again, the degree to which Joe Straus carries negative coattails whenever House members try to run for anything else.  Adding Buckingham and Hughes to the mix will enable Dan Patrick to pass quickly a pro-growth, pro-liberty agenda early in the session then hold the line when the inevitable confrontation with the House comes late in the session.

In the House, we have mixed feelings.  Obviously, leadership is likely to return, and that's not a fact to gloss over.  On the other hand, if the best they can do is hold us to incremental gains while enabling a healthy churn in the open seats, that's just not a terrible place to be over the long run.

Consider the following:

  • 4 Straus lieutenants got directly popped (Debbie Riddle, Marsha Farney, Doug Miller, and Wayne Smith) between the primary and the runoff.
  • 3 more Straus lieutenants retired and were replaced by a substantial upgrade (Jim Keffer, Patricia Harless, and Allan Fletcher) during the primary.
  • While we lost 4 seats to leadership (Molly White, Stuart Spitzer, David Simpson, and Scott Turner), that still means +3 for the  grassroots; furthermore, we'd expect the leadership candidates who just won to vote substantially less badly during their first term than the incumbents who just got popped.
  • Speaking of leadership candidates voting less badly early in their tenure: There are several seats where incumbent leadership allies are being replaced by freshman leadership allies.  Freshmen leadership allies almost always vote better than longterm incumbent leadership allies.  Even when you don't get everything you want, churn is healthy.
That's our longwinded way of saying we expect there to be fewer "F's" and more "C's" in the House next session.  Obviously, that's frustrating when what you really need are "A's" and "B's."  But C's are still better than F's.

Also, Wayne Christian winning statewide was pretty awesome; we just had to throw that in there!

Bottom Line: We'd expect the 85th to be better than the 84th in a very similar way to how the 84th (for all it's flaws) was still better than the 83rd.  Obviously, it's not where we want to be, but it's still better than where we were.  While we're open to suggestion over how to hasten the process, if the worst case scenario is incremental gains of 5 to 7 seats (across both chambers) every two years, that will eventually get us where we need to go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wallace Hall reminds Appeals Court that the Clock is Ticking

"He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Good for Wallace:
A University of Texas System regent is worried that time might run out on his lawsuit seeking access to confidential student records from an investigation of favoritism in admissions at the Austin flagship.


Hall first asked the 3rd Court for “expedited consideration” of his case in January, asserting that time is running out to resolve the litigation, including any appeal to the state Supreme Court, while he is still a regent. McRaven did not oppose that request. In papers filed May 10 with the 3rd Court, Knight reminded the judges that the clock is ticking.

“So the last thing Hall wants is for his oral-argument request to delay the court’s decision,” Knight wrote. If that pending request will delay the case and the 3rd Court agrees with McRaven that oral argument is unnecessary, then Hall would forgo such argument, he added. Both sides have already filed court papers staking out their positions.

On Thursday, the court denied the request for oral argument. It has no deadline to rule in the case.

State Attorney General Ken Paxton has sided with Hall, issuing a nonbinding opinion in June that said the UT System should turn over the records to the regent. Paxton also filed a friend-of-the-court brief in March urging the 3rd Court to rule in Hall’s favor.

Although the UT board voted in April 2015 to grant Hall access to the records, McRaven said he could not turn over confidential student information, and the board sided with him in July.

McRaven’s lawyers contend that Hall’s demands do not meet the federal standard of “legitimate educational interest” to warrant granting him access to private student files underlying the admissions investigation.
Read the whole thing here.

Austin City Council GETS ONE RIGHT on Civil Asset Forfeiture!!! (*)

"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

We don't say this often, but kudos to council here:
TPPF Statement on Austin City Council’s Postponement of Purchase Approval Using Civil Asset Forfeiture Funds

AUSTIN – Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice Policy Analyst Greg Glod issued the following statement on the Austin City Council vote last Thursday to postpone approval of purchasing Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs) with civil asset forfeiture funds procured by the Austin City Police Department.

“We commend the Austin City Council for looking more closely at a contract that has several troubling aspects that requires further examination. First, the use of ALPRs have invoked recent controversy across Texas, with some jurisdictions, such as Kyle, rescinding their contract agreements after learning more information on some of the more troubling aspects of the technology. ALPRs have taken millions of pictures of license plates across the state in jurisdictions that utilize them, and without legislation restricting how this information is used there is an obvious privacy concern.

“Second, ALPRs can ‘ping’ an officer in real time as they drive past an automobile if the individual has an outstanding warrant, including those who only owe fines and fees on a traffic ticket. If an individual cannot pay the fine off at the point of the traffic stop, the officer can arrest that individual. This will likely hit the poor the hardest as they are most likely unable to pay the fines and fees in the first place.

“Third, the practice of civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to take property from citizens without ever convicting or even charging them. The poorest citizens would be most affected by this practice, which uses their own seized property to fund equipment that would adversely impact disadvantaged communities.

“We look forward to working with council members in the coming weeks to provide technical assistance as they look more into the subject.”
We've been thinking of late that abolishing civil asset forfeiture at the municipal level in Austin might be a project worth taking on; we're not yet ready to make a commitment at that level, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.


* -- For now.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Auto Dealers bet BIG on Susan King....

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:21

Given our recent interest in the death of the TESLA bill, we took a look into where the auto dealers were spending money this campaign season.  We did a search for all of their 2016 donations, expecting to see donations to Wayne Smith and possibly Doug Miller.  We were NOT prepared for what we found:

So the ONLY campaign donation the auto dealers have made this entire year was to Susan King.

King's runoff finance report for the runoff confirms the donation:

Susan King is a thoroughly mediocre state representative from Abilene who is running for an open Texas Senate seat against Austin-based ophthalmologist Dawn Buckingham; we've endorsed Buckingham.

Not only is Susan King an unexpected recipient for auto dealer cash, but the donation is MASSIVE.  Typically, when a lobbyist or a trade group wants to keep an open door with a legislator, they'll donate $500 or $1000.  You don't donate $10k to someone unless you're looking to make a statement.

And, apparently, the auto dealers are looking to make a statement with their support for Susan King.

Bottom Line: We have no idea why the auto dealers are so interested in Susan King, but we're glad to be supporting Dawn Buckingham!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Revelation 5:8-14 -- The LION and the LAMB (Part 2)

"And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.  And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
    and with your blood you purchased for God
    persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,

    and they will reign on the earth.”
 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped."

Pastor Danny Forshee. Great Hills Baptist Church. August 24, 2014:
The Lion and the Lamb, Part 2 - Dr. Danny Forshee - August 24, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.


  1. Stanza One (vv. 8-10)
    A. The Harp -- Connotation of prophecy
         - 2 Samuel 6:5
         - 1 Chronicles 25:3

    B. Bowls of Incense -- Prayers of God's People
         - Psalm 141:2
         - Luke 1:9-10

    C. The Message
         i. Redemption
              - 1 Peter 1:18-19
              - 1 John 2:2
        ii. Responsibility
  2. Stanza Two (vv. 11-12)
         - Ephesians 6:10
  3. Stanza Three (vv. 13-14)
         - Phillipians 2:10-11
  • Jesus purchased us out of the slave market.
  • Everyone will bow their knee to the Lamb of God whether or not they're with Him in Heaven.
    • If you ever come across a Christology that does not acknowledge Jesus as the eternal Son of God, it's just wrong.
    • Jesus of the Bible is not a created being; Jesus is eternal.
    • Will YOU be there?!?
  • Spontaneous outbreak of worship break out when the final defeat of Satan is imminent.
  • The Lamb is the answer tot he fervent prayers of God's people.
  • Every tribe is going to be in Heaven.
  • Freedom is gained because blood is shed.
  • Work, worship, serve, and praise!
    • Many will praise Him with eternal joy, but most will praise him with eternal regret.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

City can't even total all their "plans"....

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?"
Luke 14:28

Oh good grief:
I have asked this question before, both on this blog and in the offices down at City Hall. There was the first time and then the next time. The last time I tried it out on a City Council aide, I got a polite response. In fact, they’ve all been polite. But we are still no closer to an actual, tangible report that you could hold in your hand or click on from a website. What we need, in my opinion, is a complete list of all active City plans, showing how much each one of them will cost, and what the total cost would be if we funded every one of them. And, there’s one other thing. We need a public process to engage with the City Council, so they can set priorities and establish an affordable timeline to implement and pay for the most essential plans.

So, there! I’ve said it again. And on Thursday during Citizens Communications at the City Council meeting, I will deliver the suggestion and the request one more time. Rather than repeat myself on this blog, I will offer the previous links to this subject at the end. But first, I must confess that I failed to employ one of my core research principles. So, let’s get that out of the way right now.


One friend told me that it’s “pretty scary” to think that no one person at City Hall knows how many plans there are, much less how much all of them totaled up might cost. So, what deadline should I suggest, if I can find a Council sponsor for a resolution? The bottom line would be a pretty scary number, so perhaps October 31st, Halloween, would be appropriate. The City Manager would no doubt decide which Halloween of which year in the future to comply with the resolution, regardless of what due date is certified by the City Clerk in the approved document. But it’s still worth one more try. Maybe the request won’t just fade away, like all the other times.
Read the whole thing here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Dancing for the Devil, by Anny Donnewald

"There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death."
Proverbs 14:12

Eve's Angels is a Michigan-based ministry that works with women in the sex industry.  We've followed their work for several years.  Dancing for the Devil: One Woman's Dramatic and Divine Rescue from the Sex Industry tells the story of their founder, Anny Donewald.

Anny is the daughter of a well known NCAA basketball coach.  She grew up in a home shaped by the culture of the NCAA and her parents' Faith in Christ (6).  As she explains, "[M]y parents were God-fearing, private people who didn't talk about adult things with their children and tried to keep a protective bubble around each one of us" (11).  Describing her father, Anny notes "[T]he qualities that kept him successful at IU are perhaps what kept him from giving up on me despite how very uncomfortable I made him" (15).  She attended Sunday school where "I was sent to the basement and taught that the way out of the hole was to climb up the good-deed ladder and follow the teachings of the Lord Almighty" (25).

At age 13, Anny was molested by one of her father's players: "I stood there like a puppy stands for a groomer combing out its tangles.  I could not scream or make a sound....My body was never the same and my spirit was crushed" (55).  That began a downward spiral that became worse following a rape during her sophomore year at boarding school (94).  The rape produced a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage (102).  In college, Anny got pregnant and had an abortion: "My soul felt as barren as my womb.  I walked out of the building and got into my car and put my seat back.  I cried in my seat until I fell asleep" (130).

"I took the stage for the first time at age nineteen" (133).  Some girlfriends convinced Anny to do an amateur night at a Michigan Strip club, where "[T]hey knew I was a coach's daughter and if lured into their lair, would be the ultimate crown jewel in their female dig for dancers" (133).  The descriptions of the interactions with the male clientele will make any normal person shudder.  As one of the tamer examples, "You'll be sweaty and wan the guys saliva smell off your skin" (148).  The money and the hustle eventually became addictive, and it didn't hurt that the money could be used to buy drugs (151).

Anny subsequently moved onto clubs in Chicago, followed by Vegas.  Eventually, 'dating' customers moved into full-on prostitution.  After several years, she bottomed out in Los Angeles where "[T]his isn't a scene out of Pretty Woman, Mr. X is no Richard Gere.  He's overweight, bald, sweaty, and oily.  He grinds his teeth.  He's an especially lonely pervert....When the morning light finally pierced through the corners of the heavy drapes, I saw my beautiful, luxurious hotel room for the dungeon that it was.  A wretched smell of stale cigar smoke and body odor clung to the sheets, and a sourness filled the air" (3-4).  Narratively, this part of the book felt rushed, but that helped keep the lurid voyeurism to a minimum.

To their credit, Anny's parents never abandoned her.  During her worst days, they would watch her daughter for weeks at a time.  Describing her mother, "[T]here was something about her unmovable reply.  She wasn't fazed by how messed up my life was.  Having nothing else, I clung to her faith in me and the innocence of my daughter" (254).  Her parents' steadfast and unconditional love gave Anny a place to go when she was ready to leave.  The final third of the book details her recovery from the sex industry and the subsequent founding of her ministry.

This book lays bare the squalid truth behind the sex industry.  What seems light and carefee brings gruesome consequences if practiced for any length of time.  Fortunately, the mistakes one makes need not be permanent.  With Christ, healing and escape exist for any situation, including this one.  Dancing for the Devil makes both the fall and the subsequent rise accessible to the average person without having to live those experiences.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kathie Tovo's long, strange, "affordable housing" trip....

"For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another."
Titus 3:3

This is...odd:
All city tax revenue from most properties that a government, nonprofit or religious organization sells to a private buyer in the future — meaning those parcels begin to generate property tax dollars — would go toward affordable housing under a proposal from Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo.
So Councilmember Tovo's solution to Austin's housing cost related challenges is to divert general revenue into a dedicated account with a complicated funding formula?!?  We find our post-Prop. 1 vow to speak in an edifying manner towards all members of the council being challenged, as the phrase "political slush fund" does come to mind.  Suffice to say, Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal has many similarities to the way the state of Texas funds transportation.

At a minimum, maintaining city services under such a scenario might be difficult:
But city officials said that, in future years, Tovo’s proposal would mean a “significant” redirection of money from the city’s property tax-supported general fund that pays for city services such as parks, police and libraries. Without knowing what properties might be sold in the future, officials said they couldn’t give a specific estimate. 

Council Member Ellen Troxclair wondered out loud at Tuesday’s council work session about taking money away from other departments that provide city services that new developments require. 
“Those people are going to need city services, police response and water service, all the other things we use property taxes to provide,” Troxclair said. “So how do you argue for the loss of that revenue to other parts of the budget?”
Fortunately, Tovo had a well thought out answer to Troxclair's concerns:
Tovo said the council could choose in any year not to send the new property tax revenue to affordable housing and instead put that money toward other purposes.
So the solution to the funding challenges created by Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal is to ignore Councilmember Tovo's 'affordable housing' proposal!

Bottom Line: We commend Councilmember Tovo's good intentions but find her proposal excessively complicated and unlikely to achieve its stated objective.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Doug Miller: anti-Innovation; anti-Free Enterprise

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

While reviewing last year's hearing on the Tesla bill for our post earlier today about Wayne Smith, we also re-discovered this gem about Doug Miller:
Not wanting to miss out on the action, representative Doug Miller (Straus Lieutenant) also bragged about his family's history running auto dealerships.
So Doug Miller was standing right next to Wayne Smith as the Tesla bill was killed last session.

Like Wayne Smith, Doug Miller also faces a runoff in HD-73 (Comal, Gillespie, Kendall counties).  Early voting runs through this week.  Election day is next Tuesday.

Bottom Line: We wish we'd realized it earlier, but two of the biggest shills for the auto dealers against Tesla both face runoffs next week.

If Austin's Tech community is Serious about 2017 #TXLEGE action....

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

Following the Prop. 1 debacle, there's been a lot of ink spilled about getting the legislature involved in various regulatory disputes; we just realized something that, if the tech community is serious, should constitute an IMMEDIATE action item.

The guy who killed the Tesla bill last session is in a runoff RIGHT NOW in HD 128 (Eastern Harris County).  Early voting is this week.  Election day is next Tuesday.

Wayne Smith, the incumbent, has been under the pink dome for 7 terms and done little of note.  Empower Texans has a good summary of his record here.  From the tech community's perspective, however, the most important takeaway is that Smith was the guy who killed the Tesla bill last session.

As we wrote last year:
The Texas House Committee on Licencing and Administrative procedure, however, clearly telegraphed that they would rather protect middlemen from competition than allow entrepreneurs and consumers to flourish....The most revealing moment of the hearing came when chairman Wayne Smith "disclosed" that one of the auto dealers testifying against the bill was a member of the same Rotary club as him. In another act of chutzpah masquerading as disclosure, Chairman Smith told the committee he was friends the spouse of another witness.
Did we mention that Wayne Smith killed the Tesla bill last session?!?

His opponent Briscoe Cain, by contrast, just did this:
A Harris County state district judge ruled Tuesday that a state law barring the use of audio and video produced by the Legislature in political ads likely is unconstitutional, blocking enforcement of a two-decade-old ban that critics said was aimed at protecting incumbents from election challengers.

A tea party House candidate challenging one of Speaker Joe Straus' lieutenants in a runoff sued the Texas Ethics Commission to strike down the law that prohibits the use of audio and video from the floor of the House and Senate, along with committee hearings, in political ads.

State District Judge Brent Gamble granted a temporary injunction requested by Briscoe Cain, a Harris County lawyer in a May 24 runoff with state Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown.

Cain wants to use footage in his campaign ads of Smith from the House floor during the 2013 and 2015 legislative sessions. According to a court filing, Cain is planning to use the taxpayer-funded footage of Smith in ads on social media websites.

The law prohibits "a person from using in political advertising any audio or visual materials produced by or under the direction of the legislature or of a house, committee, or agency of the legislature." It carries a fine of up to $5,000.

Cain sued the ethics commission, which enforces the law, in late April and claimed the state was engaging in censorship and trying to stifle political speech. Cain also charged that the state law amounted to nothing more than protection for incumbents who did not want potentially unflattering footage of their work at the Capitol to appear in political ads.

"Overall it's a win for the First Amendment because it allows anybody in the state of Texas to use audio and video produced by taxpayers to hold elected officials accountable," said Trey Trainor, a lawyer representing Cain.
The word disruptive gets thrown around too much, but if successfully challenging unconstitutional barriers to entry for political speech isn't disruptive, then nothing is.

In other words, this race is literally between the guy who killed the Tesla bill last session and a challenger who just got a bunch of unconstitutional restrictions on political speech tossed in court.

Bottom Line: We'll say more about what the tech community should expect in the legislature soon, but in the very short term the runoff in HD-128 should be a top priority.

Donate to Briscoe Cain here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Team Straus' Smear Campaign against Kyle Biedermann

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord,
But those who deal truthfully are His delight."
Proverbs 12:22

Team Straus might be incorrigibly wicked, but their playbook is very predictable.  When you're losing, accuse the other guy of being a pervert.  They did it to Stickland.  They did it to Rinaldi.  They did it to Tinderholt.

Now, they're doing it to Kyle Biedermann.

Kyle Biedermann is in a runoff against Straus lieutenant Doug Miller in HD-73 (Comal, Gillespie, Kendall counties).  Apparently, fifteen years ago, Kyle was involved in a very contentious divorce where the custody battle turned bitter.  Miller is now taking something said during that divorce and trying to spin it into an accusation that Kyle molested his daughters.

The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, who typically isn't friendly to conservatives, has looked into the accusations and found them lacking:
While the contest between incumbent Doug Miller and Kyle Biedermann has been a contentious one for its entire run, it plunged to a new low this week after the Miller campaign sent out a mailer plumbing the depths of Biedermann’s 15-year-old divorce, selectively cherry picking nuggets to paint him as unworthy of a seat in the Texas House of Representatives.

It’s a repugnant piece of work — one entirely devoid of context that hinges on people reading between the lines to draw the conclusion that Biedermann is a danger to his own children, and by extension, unfit to hold public office.

Not included was the fact that Court Appointed Special Advocates who investigated found that both Kyle and his ex-wife were capable of being primary custodian, and should be granted “extensive visitation rights.” Something CASA wouldn’t have done if there was a danger. Also omitted was the resolution of the case which allowed that visitation, and later joint custody — something the state wouldn’t have approved if there was a danger.

This was just another unfortunately contentious divorce case between two adults who no longer loved one another, but who desperately loved their children.

There were mistakes and false allegations as both sides jockeyed for the best position, but ultimately it ended as these things should — with both parents agreeing to get along in the interest of the children.
Kyle's ex-wife released the following statement:
“Doug Miller should be ashamed. Miller and his campaign have been calling, emailing and mailing thousands of voters and telling them horrible lies about my ex-husband. I said things to hurt Kyle but never knew they would get out to the public. The court gave my ex-husband joint custody of our children because he is a great father. For the sake of our daughters, Kyle put aside our past and maintained a positive relationship with me. It sickens me that Doug Miller would go this far to get re-elected,” said Kyle Biedermann’s Ex-Wife, Avian Biedermann.

In addition, all four Biedermann daughters have stood up to the Miller Smear Campaign that is now desperately attempting to sully their dad’s reputation and hurt them all personally and professionally, during the final throws of a campaign.
From Kyle's children:
“Kyle Biedermann is my dad. He is a loving and caring father. Representative Miller should be ashamed. This is why good people are reluctant to run for office, it takes someone strong like my Daddy to stand up for what is right and run for office. Digging up garbage from my parents’ divorce 15 yrs ago is disgusting and hurtful and false.” -Loren Biedermann

“Doug Miller owes my family an apology. My sisters and I never knew about these accusations. I am the oldest and was 10 yrs old at the time and they are not true. Now the whole world will hear the lies. It shows his true character. I am taking leave to be with my dad when he wins this election.” – Petty Officer 2nd Class, Kyla Biedermann

“I can’t believe that Doug Miller is so desperate to win this election against my dad that he would make accusations he knows were disproven in a court of law. My sisters and I chose to live with my dad after the divorce because he is a loving and caring man. We never knew that these things were ever said about him. I am disappointed that my mother said these things and I am praying for healing for my family. ” -Petty Officer 2nd Class, Emily Biedermann

“My Dad is an honorable man. The same can’t be said for Doug Miller. These desperate attempts by Miller’s campaign are pathetic.” – Dana True Biedermann
Bottom Line: Whenever Straus lieutenants start accusing opponents of being child molesters it means their internal polling sucks.

Monday, May 16, 2016

2016 Texas Republican Runoff Election: YOUR Conservative/Libertarian Voter Guide!!!

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

With early voting underway in the 2016 Republican Runoff, Cahnman's Musings makes the following endorsements:

STATEWIDE -- Texas Railroad Commission

Wayne Christian:

Read our previous endorsement here; read our endorsement from the 2014 cycle here.

With this race, we have an opportunity to fix the greatest injustice of the 2014 cycle.

Let's take it.

STATEWIDE -- Judicial

Ray Wheless (Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2):

Read our previous endorsement for Ray Wheless here.

In addition, Judge Wheless won't be a rubber stamp for prosecutors.  That's often a problem in criminal cases.  Judge Wheless' record also suggests he will take a sane and rational approach to low level drug offenses.

While the worst candidate for this seat was eliminated in the first round, we remain unenthusiastic about Judge Wheless' opponent.

Brent Webster (Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5):

If we can only communicate one message to voters, it's this: The Governor of Wisconsin is NOT running for a judicial position in Texas.

Richard Scott Walker is an unqualified Dallas-based attorney who put his name on the ballot in such a way that it allows him to coast off of the Wisconsin governor's name recognition.  That's the only reason he made the runoff.  It's also worth pointing out that, at least to our knowledge, Walker hasn't spoken to a single grassroots group during this entire campaign.

Brent Webster, by contrast, is an actual attorney with meaningful criminal law experience.  While his background in the Williamson county DA's office makes us nervous, we've gotten to know him over the past few months and are comfortable he will treat defendants with fairness and respect.  FWIW, he's also been endorsed by every conservative group in Texas.


Bryan Hughes (District 1):

Let's make it official: We're switching sides.

Obviously, we endorsed David Simpson in the first round.  Heck, we gave David money back in December.  But we cannot support David's actions during the runoff.

Since this campaign moved into the runoff, David Simpson has gotten into bed with the Ratliff family.  He's been endorsed by ParentPAC.  His attacks on Ken Paxton were the final straw.

Fortunately, Bryan Hughes also got into this race.  Bryan is a conventional conservative who will vote in a predictable manner.  In the Texas Senate, at this point, a consistent 20th vote is more important than anything else.

This race was always a close call.  Both candidates are good Christian men, but neither is perfect.  Either one will be mostly good on most issues most of the time, and they have both made bewildering decisions over the years.

Nevertheless, at this point, we're just more comfortable with Bryan.

Sometimes you need to swallow your pride and hop in a life boat.  Stubbornly clinging to a sinking ship doesn't help anyone.  Especially when the ship is sinking due to it's own design failures.

Dawn Buckingham (District 24):

Read our previous endorsement of Dawn Buckingham here.


The Stickland Six:

Jonathan Stickland is currently supporting the following six House candidates in runoffs:

  • Cole Hefner (Camp, Morris, Rains, Smith, Titus, Wood counties). 


Mary Lou Bruner (District 9):
We don't agree with Donna Garner on everything, but we do agree with her on issues related to the State Board of Education:
"Texas public school students, parents, and teachers badly need Mary Lou Bruner on the SBOE. Mary Lou is now retired; but she worked for 36 years in the Texas public schools as a teacher, counselor, and educational diagnostician. She knows how children think. She also knows the best ways to help them learn the foundational knowledge and skills that parents want their children to know. Mary Lou will not be fooled by those who want to indoctrinate our Texas children into anti-American thinking nor by those people who see no need for children to learn the basic skills needed for success (e.g., phonics, grammar, usage, spelling, cursive, math facts, etc.)."
The fact that Mary Lou Bruner's election will give both Thomas Ratliff and the so-called Texas "Freedom" Network conniption fits doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Revelation 5:1-7 -- The LION and the LAMB (Part 1)

"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”  And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.  But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne."
Revelation 5:1-7

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  August 17, 2014:

The Lion And The Lamb, Part 1 - Dr. Danny Forshee - August 17, 2014 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

  • Scene shifts to God the Son.
  • The Guttenberg Bible is on display at UT Austin.
  • The Title Deed to Planet Earth
  • The Future of the World
  • Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the root of Jesse
  • The one who opens the Book must have the power to enact what is written in the Book.
  • When Jesus takes that scroll, it's on!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The AWFULNESS of the Dallas Convention Center....

"Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established."
Proverbs 16:3

We don't have much to say about this year's RPT convention, but one conclusion is inescapable: The Dallas Convention center is a terrible venue and no future convention should ever be held here again.

The biggest problem is it's massive size combined with a moronic layout.  Add to that the fact that there's no easy way to get around.  Case in point: Our SD caucus yesterday morning was nearly a mile from the exhibition hall.  There was no way to get there except walking.  They don't even have moving sidewalks.  Just the sheer amount of walking around the venue left us physically exhausted on a level we rarely experience.  If we're saying this as a mid-30's male in reasonably decent physical shape, we can only imagine what it must have been like for delegates who are senior citizens.

Next: The food selection SUCKS.  The only places to eat near the convention center are lousy and horrifically overpriced.  You shouldn't have to travel 6 or 7 blocks from the venue to find an affordable meal.

Then there's the internet situation.  The free wi-fi is painfully slow but $13/day for good wi-fi is likewise absurd.  Based on reports, it appears the paid wi-fi isn't much better than the free.

About six months ago, we started privately advocating to hold the next convention in Austin.  At the time, our primary motivation was personal laziness and a desire to not travel.  Having been though this year's convention, however, we can now testify from experience that the Austin Convention Center is a dramatically superior venue.  The entire facility is contained within one square block.  There are a plethora of affordable places to eat nearby and, if folks are interested, we can bring in food trucks to cover the lunch rush.  There's free, good, wi-fi throughout.  If the Austin Convention Center can handle SxSW, it can handle the RPT.

That being said, we are sensitive to the fact that most of the delegates live in the DFW area.  If that's a major consideration, we would suggest holding the event permanently in Ft. Worth.  At least they have food and wi-fi.

Whatever decisions are ultimately made, the Dallas Convention Center should be permanently off limits to future RPT conventions.