Friday, September 30, 2016

The economics of school choice in Texas

"Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life."
Proverbs 4:13

We warn you that this video contains a LOT of numbers, but it's really good background if you're not familiar with the issue:


  • Texas spends nearly $13k per student right now.
  • Texas spends appox. $60 billion on K-12 education over the two year budget cycle.
  • Each class of 20 kids = $250k
    • "How many teachers do you know making a quarter million dollars per year?!?"
  • Non-teaching staff growing 3x faster than students.
    • Over $7 billion in additional expenses per year 
  • Is the purpose of the education system to train the next generation or to provide jobs for bureaucrats?!?
  • Over the past 25(ish) years, the number of students has grown by about 30% while the number of bureaucrats has grown by OVER 450%.
  • If you simply held the number of bureaucrats in line with the number of students, you could give every teacher a $22k raise (or you could cut property taxes).
    • You could also eliminate the margins tax.
  • School district debt undermines Texas economy and will lead to higher taxes down the line.
  • Under the current system, school districts are building $60 million football stadiums.
  • Local debt growing 2.5x faster than population.
  • Vote no on just about every bond.
  • "As long as schools are run by political entities, they are a source of political power."
    Milton Friedman
  • "No entity deserves a protected monopoly on educating our kids."
  • "Politically administered adult jobs program."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

How to fix bond elections in Texas

"The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender."
Proverbs 22:7

Amen; from TPPF via Watchdog:
Informing voters at the ballot box. Beyond the current minimal disclosure requirements, all bond propositions would disclose:
  • The estimated impact on the average homeowner.
  • The total cost to repay the bond in full and on time.
Separate ballot propositions. Quintero says it is common practice to embed large-scale, single-item projects into larger bond proposals (as McKinney ISD did with its football stadium).
“The Legislature would do well to reform this practice so that major capital improvements above a certain cost threshold are put before the voters in a separate fashion. This will allow voters to better decide which items are in the community’s best interest instead of being forced to accept a ‘take it or leave it’ approach,” Quintero said.
End rolling polling. Schools and local governments strategically locate polling places during the early voting period to maximize prospects for passage, not necessarily to boost voter turnout.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: As watchdog points out "Nine transparency bills were introduced in the 2015 Legislature, but none passed"...gee, we wonder why?!?

Travis County GOP announces AMAZING fundraiser guest!!!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;"
Proverbs 3:5

And James Dickey hits the ground running:
Travis County GOP Fall 2016 Fundraiser

“13 Hours” movie screening and Q&A


An Evening with Benghazi Hero
& "13 Hours" Co-author Kris “Tanto” Paronto

Sunday, October 16, 2016



1) Private “13 Hours” screening (Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane)
-VIP reception w/ photo & signed book (1:30-2pm) $500/per person
-Screening & Q&A ticket, w/ reserved seat (2-5pm) $75/per person

2) An Evening with Kris “Tanto” Paronto (Red’s Porch, 3508 S. Lamar Blvd)
-VIP reception w/ photo, signed book, & food/drink (5:30-6pm) $500/per person
-General attendance w/ cash bar and full menu available (6-7pm) $35/per person

SPECIAL DEAL: All-day VIP pass for a couple to all events, photo, and signed book, $1,500 per couple

About Kris “Tanto” Paronto:

Kris Paronto - “Tanto” as he is affectionately known - is a former Army Ranger from 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa.

He also worked with the US Government’s Global Response Staff conducting low profile security in high threat environments throughout the world.

Mr. Paronto was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, September 11th, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists from the CIA Annex for over 13 hours. Mr. Paronto’s story is told in the book “13 Hours” written by Mitchell Zuckoff and his five surviving annex security team members.

Mr. Paronto was born in Alamosa, Colorado and obtained his Associate Degree from Dixie College (now Dixie State University) in St. George, Utah, Bachelor’s Degree from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado and Masters Degree from The University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He served 4 years in the US Army and an additional 4 years in the US Army National Guard reaching the rank of Sergeant then becoming a commissioned officer in 2003. He started contracting for Blackwater Security Consulting in 2003 and continued to deploy on various security contracts, to include the Global Response Staff until 2013.

Mr. Paronto has been involved in security operations in hostile environments for over 10 years. His team’s involvement with the September 11th, 2012 attack on the US special mission in Benghazi, Libya was paramount in the saving of US lives and assets. He is a proven leader, teammate and friend to those who have deployed with him, and a devout father to three children.
This will be at the Alamo Draft House on Slaughter Lane two Sundays from now; learn more about the event here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

TPPF assists Judicial SMACKDown of protectionist TABC...

"A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."
Proverbs 28:16

Couldn't happen to a nicer state agency....

Texas Public Policy Foundation Files Amicus Brief on TABC Overreach Case

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s interpretation of law wrongly denies Texans the right to pursue an honest living.

AUSTIN –The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) filed an amicus curiae brief inCadena Commercial USA Corp. v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, opposing the overreaching interpretation of the state’s tied house laws, which wrongly denies the plaintiff their right to participate in economic activity.

            “The state’s power to regulate is not unlimited,” said Kathleen Hunker, senior policy analyst and attorney with the Center for Economic Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “From as far back as Aquinas, it has been understood that, a government action must advance a public good in order to be considered lawful. The so-called ‘One Share Rule,’ however, fails that basic standard. The history, impact, and selective enforcement all attest that the purpose behind TABC’s interpretation is to protect influential businesses from competition—not the health and safety of Texans. The One Share Rule therefore does not possess the qualities that grant it force under the Texas Constitution. It does not, simply put, deserve to be recognized as valid law.”

            “Even with Texas’ overall commitment to economic liberty, there remain too many examples where Texas law sacrifices the rights of many to benefit the pocketbooks of a few,” said Bill Peacock, vice president for research and director of the Center for Economic Freedom at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “The legitimate interests of the state of Texas do not include shielding politically-connected businesses from competition in order to enhance their profits.”
 Read the full brief here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dirty Little Secret of Dukes' Delayed "Retirement"....

"So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners."
Proverbs 1:19

Yesterday, Dawnna Dukes announced her intention to retire from the four months; what gives?!?

Consider this number: $3220.

That's the increase in annual pension Dukes will receive, for life, by retiring with 22 years of 'service time' instead of 21.


One perk Texas Legislators receive (that they don't like to talk about) is access to the state's "judicial retirement" system.  It's a form of kabuki theater that allows legislators to vote to increase their own pension without telling voters that's what they're doing.  That's why, every session, there's always some hack who pushes bills and budget amendments to increase pensions "for our hardworking judges."

As toughnickel explains:
The short sessions that take place every other year should be remembered when considering that state legislators have linked their pensions to the salaries of state district judges who work every year for a lot more than a 140 days in most cases. By linking their pensions to the state judge’s salaries, legislators receive a raise in their pension benefits every time judges receive a salary increase (Odessa American).
And yes, it's completely legal.


Consider the following from the state retirement system:

As it relates to legislators, they get 2.3% of a state district judges' salary (currently $140k) for every year of 'service time' they accrue in the legislature.  They vest at year 8, which translates to 18.4% and goes up from there.  Not coincidentally, this is why so many legislators have a strange habit of running for something else after their fourth session in the legislature (lookin' at you Allen Fletcher).


In Dukes' specific case, here's the math:

Retire with 21 years:

  • 2.3% x 21 = 48.3%
  • .483 x 140k = 67,620
  • Therefore, Dukes would receive $67,620 (*) for life.
Retire with 22 years:
  • 2.3% x 22 = 50.6%
  • .506 x 140k = 70,840
  • $70,840 (*) for life.
* -- Assuming, for the sake of discussion, that a future legislature doesn't increase the payout (which, of course, they will the second they think they can get away with it).

Don'cha love politicians?!?

[Sidenote: While we're on the subject, we'll make also predict cycically that Dukes will cash in with the lobby about ten seconds after she officially 'retires.']


That being said, the good news is that Dukes has an opponent in November.  We've known Gabriel Nila for years and have been impressed by his diligence in the district for awhile (though, we confess, we didn't think he had a snowball's chance prior to yesterday's announcement).  Learn more about Gabriel here, donate here.


Based on what we're hearing, it sounds like former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole would be the prohibitive favorite if there's a special election early next year; that she was a member of the old, pre 10-1, council speaks for itself.


Bottom Line: Whatever your thoughts on the long-term future of the district, the only way to stop Dawnna Dukes from acquiring another $3220 (+) of taxpayer money every year for life is to elect Gabriel Nila in November.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Adler gives Orwell run for his money....

"But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness."
2 Timothy 2:16

Having created barriers to entry for market participants, he actually called Austin's current ridesharing ecosystem "open and competitive."

In a buzzword and cliche filled appearance at last Saturday's Texas Tribune festival, Mayor Adler made a convoluted attempt to argue that mandates and regulation have increased competition; according to Adler, "if we continue on this path, we're going to end up in a good place."

With all due respect to the mayor, Austin's current ridesharing situation falls somewhere between "substandard" and "dysfunctional"; as Matt Mackowiak explained after the first UT Football game:
Austin’s special rules received their first real stress test when Notre Dame came to town for a nationally televised game and we can finally see that the emperor has no clothes. It was undeniably an unmitigated disaster.

My wife and I tried to get a ride from the Mueller area to campus four hours before the game, and three new startup apps, RideAustin, Fasten, and Wingz, not only had no available drivers, but their apps could not handle demand and failed. And that was at 2pm. After an hour of waiting and hoping, we texted a friend, a former Uber/Lyft driver, who came and picked us up and drove us in for $20.

By the time the game began, more than 102,000 people filed in to Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium. By game’s end, many thousands of attendees were stranded when the final whistle blew. I’m sure we have all heard the same thing. It was total chaos when the game ended at 10:30pm when thousands of people tried to find a ride home.
According to Adler, that's "open and competitive."  It's also "about liberty," "innovative," "creative," and "next century" (which is odd, considering that another century won't start for 84 years).  We're surprised he didn't trot out "transformative."

In reality, the ridesharing companies currently operating in Austin are all more expensive and less reliable than Uber and Lyft...which is exactly what people said would happen if council's restrictions went into effect.

Snark notwithstanding, scaling to meet the needs of a large city was always going to be a gigantic logistical challenge.  It isn't easy to coordinate thousands of drivers with tens of thousands of riders in a cost-effective and timely manner.  Returning to Mackowiak:
I really appreciate Andy Tryba, of RideAustin, for his honesty and transparency about their challenges relating to scale. This weekend they did over 17,000 rides, a new record, but they were simultaneously unable to service over 2,500 rides because demand was outpacing the drivers on the road. It would be valuable to know when those rides were being requested, because midnight is a lot different than 2pm. Think about 2,500 people walking around looking for a safe ride!

Here’s what really struck me. Andy said that “the more friction you put on driver signup (whether that be government instituted or company driven), the longer it takes drivers to (get) on board and many drop out of the funnel.”

I think this is where the rubber meets the road. RideAustin, with all of their deep relationships at city hall and their pursuit of ‘saving rideshare in Austin’, is waving the warning flag. Getting drivers signed up and driving is a big concern.
We've never met Tyrba, but other industry sources have privately used the word "nightmare" about attempting to comply with the City of Austin's regulations.

In another act of chutzpah, Adler attempted to create a narrative for the next predictable disaster this coming weekend when he said "it wouldn't surprise me at all if we have kinks" during ACL.

He actually called stranded Austinites and tourists "kinks."

Bottom Line: Google defines newspeak as "ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Revelation 13:1-10 -- The BEAST from the Sea

The Beast from the Sea
"Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”

And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

If anyone has an ear, let him hear. He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints."
Revelation 13:1-10

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  March 22, 2015:

The Beast from the Sea - Dr. Danny Forshee - March 22, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.


2 Thessalonians 2:8
Daniel 8:25

  1. The Ancestry of the beast (vv. 1-3)
    2 Thessalonians 2:4
    Daniel 7:7
  2. The Adoration of the beast (vv. 3-4)
  3. The Activities of the beast (vv. 5-8)
    Daniel 7:21,25
  4. The Admonition of God (vv. 9-10)
  • "The Devil is still God's devil."
    - Martin Luther
  • Who is the Lamb?!?
  • "This is a sermon I'll be glad I've preached...after I've preached it."
  • "No he has not come and no he is not our current president."
    • At one time, people thought JFK was the antichrist; which should give us perspective when leveling that charge against any particular American politician.
  • I don't fear evil, but I do respect it.
  • Just like the Holy Trinity, there's an unholy 'trinity.'
    • Whatever God means for good, satan tries to create a counterfeit for evil.
  • People hate Jesus because He's the real one.
  • "If you don't know Jesus, you're gonna worship the beast and you're gonna go to hell."
  • Remember the Lamb, because there's a victory coming.
  • It's going to get worse before it gets a whole lot better.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Team Straus' oddly light presence at #Tribfest

"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light."
Mark 4:22

Greetings from this years Tribfest.  In a development that will surprise no one, we had a question we hoped to ask Joe Straus.  But we didn't see him anywhere on the agenda.

So, we decided to do a search on the list of speakers:

But when we followed the link, it turned out that it was just a former staffer of his speaking on an unrelated panel; apparently, Joe is absent from this year's event.

That got us thinking, so we did a search for another well known Straus lieutenant who never misses a Trib event:

Ok, now this is getting strange, but let's try one more:

Bottom Line: We don't know what it means, and it could be something as innocent as a scheduling conflict, but for Joe Straus and his two most prominent lieutenants to miss the biggest #TXLEGE insider-fest of the year is...unusual.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Watson lays foundation for ANOTHER Tax Hike....

"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

The phrase "HELL No" comes to mind:
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, on Thursday proposed creating an "MD Anderson of the brain" on the site of the troubled Austin State Hospital, a psychiatric facility that has been plagued with staff shortages, crumbling facilities and a failure to meet federal health standards.

“The state must do something about the Austin State Hospital,” Watson told a crowd of higher education leaders and health care advocates at a downtown Austin hotel. "I call being worst an opportunity."


The commission estimated the cost of building a freestanding state mental health hospital ranges from $300 million to $400 million, but Watson said he hopes state and local governments can work together to shoulder the costs and, in the long run, “make Austin the place where we model mental health care.”

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


There is a lot we could say on this topic, but 2014 #ATXCouncil candidate Ed English (District 7) says it best:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"The Grove" and Austin's disengenous NIMBY Establishment....

"And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:31

[Author's Note: The Grove is up for final approval at today's council meeting (Item 73).  According to sources at City Hall, they're expecting about 8 hours of testimony.  We don't feel like sitting through the hearing, so this blog post can serve as written testimony.]

Let's suppose you live in a city with a severe housing shortage.  Let's suppose, further, that there was a gigantic empty lot one block away from a major highway.  Would it make sense to build housing?!?

Of course it would.

But old guard Austin begs to differ.


We discovered this issue a couple months ago when we started examining Natalie Gauldin's candidacy in district 7.  Natalie cut her teeth fighting for it.  But our thoughts today are only tangentially related to that race.

Mostly, we're incredulous that people oppose building housing on a gigantic empty lot in a city with a housing shortage.

How is this even controversial?!?


The short answer is that it's 'controversial' because of a phenomenon called "neighborhood association" politics; as Forbes explained this past summer:
[E]xisting residents buy homes in destination cities, and then utilize land-use regulations and anti-growth public officials to prevent new construction.
In this case, the anti-growth public official is Leslie Pool.


At this point, it's worth pointing out that we're not crazy about every aspect of this project.  As part of the political sausage making process, a whole bunch of unnecessary 'affordable housing' subsidies have been tacked on.  That being said, it's probably the best deal we can get within political reality.

On net, it moves the ball forward.

But this was never about 'affordable housing,' and now the NIMBY's are yammering on about "traffic."


It's the subject of 'traffic' where the disingenuousness of the opposition becomes obvious.  Remember, in the first section, when we said the site was one block away from a major highway?!?  That highway would be MoPAC.

In other words, it's pretty much impossible to site a project of this nature in a location where it would have less of an impact on 'traffic' in the surrounding neighborhood.

Personal note: we frequently travel through this intersection for work.  By standards of Austin's traffic, the 45th/MoPAC intersection isn't that bad.  But, of course, this isn't about 'traffic'....


At this point, let's circle back to district 7.  This issue highlights the single biggest difference between Natalie Gauldin and Leslie Pool.  Donate to Natalie's campaign here.


Bottom Line: How is this even controversial?!?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

3rd Court of Appeals ABETS UT Politburo's Admissions COVER UP....

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

We know (and, for the record, have voted for) each of these Justices personally, so this isn't fun.  But this is some major league bullshit.  Duly noted for the next Republican primary:
University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall Jr. has lost in court a second time, and perhaps for good, in his effort to gain access to confidential student information from an investigation of admissions irregularities.

A three-judge panel of the state 3rd Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Chancellor Bill McRaven didn’t act outside the scope of his authority when he refused to turn over unredacted records to Hall, a Dallas businessman. The UT System-commissioned investigation by Kroll Associates Inc. found that then-UT-Austin President Bill Powers sometimes ordered students admitted, despite subpar academic records, at the urging of legislators, regents, donors and other influential people.

Justice Cindy Olson Bourland, writing for the court, said it was the UT System Board of Regents, not McRaven, “who denied Hall access to the documents in unredacted form, having implicitly determined that Hall does not have a legitimate educational interest in the information and that it may be protected by other privacy laws. Whether the Board’s determination in this regard is correct is not before us, and we take no position on whether that decision would be reviewable by this Court.” Bourland added that McRaven “must comply” with board directives.
“I think it’s troubling for UT, and really for all state agencies, that the Court of Appeals has ruled that a majority of the governing board can withhold relevant information from an individual board member,” said Hall’s lawyer, Joe Knight. “That rule seems to invite cover-ups and defeat the kind of oversight the Legislature intended, especially here, given that Kroll specifically found that members of the Board of Regents were complicit in the improper secret admissions program.”
It gets better:
The 3rd Court’s ruling, filed Friday, upholds a decision by state District Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County, who dismissed the case in December. The appeals court said McRaven enjoys sovereign or governmental immunity that deprives Texas courts of jurisdiction unless an official acted without legal authority.

Bourland, whose ruling was joined by Chief Justice Jeff Rose and Justice Bob Pemberton, said Hall declined to avail himself of a board-approved process that might have given him access to some confidential records. She also detailed how the board changed its tune on addressing such disputes.

During an April 2015 board meeting, Hall’s request to review all Kroll materials, including information protected by a federal student privacy law, passed with a minority vote, as permitted under board rules at the time.

The board revised that rule the following month to require a majority vote and voted in July against Hall, but with a caveat: He could review redacted materials and then make his case to board Chairman Paul Foster, who could decide, in consultation with the board’s two vice chairmen and general counsel, to let Hall see some information otherwise protected by the student privacy law and other laws.
Read the whole thing here.

Bottom Line: Pemberton is up in '18.  Rose is up in '20.  Bourland is up this fall, and there's no Libertarian on the ballot, but she'll be up again in '22.


Cynical Prediction: Keep an eye on Rose the next time a Supreme Court vacancy opens up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

TPPF highlights spending recommendations for 85th #TXLEGE

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

Lots of good stuff here.  Great background if you need to get up to speed on how the state of Texas spends money.  We might go about a few details slightly differently, but at the conceptual level we agree with every single one:

Monday, September 19, 2016

For the Record: James Dickey for TCRP....(and #NEVERTRUMP)

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

We haven't commented upon the TCRP vacancy.  Largely, that's because we don't support the deranged cretin the Republican party nominated for president.  It's also because we're not a member of the executive committee and thus don't have a vote.

That being said, a number of people have inquired as to our thoughts, and it's probably time to say publicly what we've been saying privately for two weeks: to the extent that we care, we fully support James Dickey.

In February, when we endorsed James in the primary, we wrote: "Since James Dickey became county chairman two years ago, the Travis County Republican party helped put the first two conservatives EVER on the Austin City Council. The Travis County Republican party has a DA candidate on the ballot for the first time since we've lived here....Why mess with a good thing?!?"  To the extent that we care about the Republican party, those sentiments still apply.

Events of the ensuing months have revealed James' character and leadership skills.  While we view the Robert Morrow interregnum as delightfully good fun and the two party system's just desserts, it nevertheless produced unique and unprecedented challenges for the organization.  James' grace, humility, and wisdom during this period were obvious to anyone paying even casual attention.  If anything, the fact that Robert Morrow and Matt Mackowiak have both endorsed James tells you everything you need to know.

Here's the thing: Deranged cretin notwithstanding, there are several strong Republican candidates running in Travis county this cycle.  Maura Phelan is the only choice to introduce integrity (and basic competence) in the District Attorney's office.  Joe Martinez, running for sheriff, is a champion for the rule of law.  Gabriel Nila is doing the Lord's work in HD-46.  Deke Pierce is a credible constable candidate.  In western Travis County, while we didn't support him in the primary, a mediocre incumbent like Gerald Daugherty (Commissioner's court, precinct 3) still sucks less than whatever hack the D's are running against him.  And James helped recruit every single one of them (except Gerald).

Looking to 2018, James is the only person in this race we trust to recruit a credible candidate for Travis County Judge.

Bottom Line:  At this point, it's impossible to forecast the deranged cretin's impact.  That being said, there's a lot one can accomplish at the local level regardless of the details of how this ongoing national bi-partisan dumpster fire unfolds.  On that note, if anyone can salvage something from the Republican party, it's James Dickey.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Revelation 12:10-17 -- War in Heaven and Earth (Part 2)

"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The Woman Persecuted
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Revelation 12:10-17

Pastor Danny Forshee.  Great Hills Baptist Church.  March 15, 2015:

War in Heaven and Earth, Part 2 - Dr. Danny Forshee - March 15, 2015 from Great Hills Baptist Church on Vimeo.

  1. Celebration in Heaven (vv. 10-12)
           - Job1:9, 11

    How to overcome Satan
    A. The Blood of the Lamb
    B. Their Testimony
    C. Their Courage
  2. Sorrow on Earth (vv. 12-17)
    A. Attack One
           - Exodus 19:4
           - Psalm 57:1
    B. Attack Two
    C. Attack Three
  • "I'm gonna talk a lot about the Devil today."
  • Satan accuses us to God and he accuses God to us.
  • "Your test in life gives you a testimony for your life."
    • The Kingdom of Heaven "is augmented and increased" when you share it.
  • "He's still the God of the impossible!!!"
  • "We are marked as the people of God because we obey God."
    • And yes, that DOES mean go to Church on Sunday.
  • It is an honor to obey the King.
  • You don't know how long you have to live, you better giver your life to Christ today.
    • This might be the last time God gives you an opportunity to get saved.
    • Author's Note: As we type this post in a library in Austin, TX in September 2016. we cannot help the conviction that it will stay on the internet forever.  You could be reading this at some point years from now.  If you have read this far down this blog post, and you do not know the Lord, this means YOU.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Paxton's Constitution Day Challenge

"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,"
2 Peter 1:5

This is fantastic:
Dear Adam, 

Happy Constitution Day!
We are blessed to live in a nation where we have a Constitution that protects our liberties. On this Constitution Day, I encourage you to read it again
I sought the office of Texas Attorney General because I believe this document, which guarantees our liberty and truly makes the United States exceptional, is under attack.

Since you elected me, I've fought for these freedoms by standing up to President Obama's job-killing EPA and by leading a 26-state coalition to stop his unlawful amnesty plan -- which would have granted citizenship to millions here illegally.  

I'm also fighting to protect our religious liberties which are under attack. Many will not be happy until they've completely removed any reference of faith from the public square. And being 100% pro-life, protecting the life of innocent unborn children will always be a top priority.

Please forward this email to at least 5 friends and encourage them to re-read the Constitutionas well.

In liberty,

Friday, September 16, 2016

#ATXCouncil Majority Rubber Stamps Adler/Ott Budget....

"And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!"
1 Kings 12:11

At this's not surprising anymore:
Approved Austin 2017 budget comes with higher tax bill, new programs

After months of debate over the 2017 Austin city budget recommended by staffers, most of the changes the City Council made to the $3.7 billion budget were incremental compromises. Increasing the homestead exemption for seniors to $82,500 instead of $85,000. Adding several hundred thousand dollars in health and human services increases instead of a few million.

Once all the details were hammered out Wednesday night, the City Council approved a budget that will charge the typical resident about $87 more in city taxes and fees next year. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Next year’s operations include a 2 percent pay increase for city employees, to kick in during the pay period before Christmas. There’s funding for a new curbside composting program, at a cost of $4.2 million to the city and a phased-in cost of $64.80 to homeowners after five years. There’s $600,000 more for housing aimed at reducing homelessness.

The $970 million general fund also includes money to hire eight new employees to test DNA evidence for police, one facet of the rape kit backlog that prompted emotional testimony before the council two weeks ago. Austin also set aside $475,000 to help keep live music venues and $400,000 to extend healthy food options.

The new property tax rate of 44.18 cents per $100 of property valuation will be a decrease from last year’s rate of 45.89 cents. The council also voted earlier this summer to increase the homestead exemption, knocking 8 percent off the taxable value of a home, up from 6 percent. But with rising property values, most homeowners will receive higher tax bills. For the typical homeowner, that will mean a $46 increase in the annual property tax bill.

Fees in most areas of the city will also increase, including an average water cost increase of $35 for the year. But, thanks to a deal approved last month between ratepayers and Austin Energy, annual electricity costs will decrease an average of $44 for the year.

Council Members Don Zimmerman and Sheri Gallo voted against the budget, saying they couldn’t support the associated tax and fee increases. Council Member Ellen Troxclair, who recently gave birth to a daughter, didn’t attend the vote, but issued a written statement detailing her opposition.
The budget speaks for itself; nevertheless, THIS is an extraordinary act of chutzpah:

Translation: I totally just increased your taxes across the board, but y'all better thank your lucky stars I didn't increase them even further...#ANewWayForward.

Wonder Woman Ellen Troxclair says it best:
Amidst a record population influx, record development revenues, and record levels of tourism, our City is benefitting from over $40 million in additional revenue this year. Yet, our city government spending is greatly outpacing this growth, meaning current residents are still being asked for more.
Bottom Line: However you define it, every single person on that dais campaigned on the issue of "affordability." We can quibble over the relative importance between housing costs and direct governmental levies in driving Austin's affordability challenges, but the fact remains that BOTH matter. And, over the past two years, the incumbent council majority has made both issues worse...#ANewWayForward.


Update: Amen, Matt Mackowiak...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Cruz: Dangers of U.S. surrendering internet protocols to international bureaucrats.....

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

[Author's Note: While Senator Cruz focuses on the security aspects, there's also an economic component that bears consideration.  Will turning internet protocols over to 'international' bureaucrats lead to regulatory capture by incumbent industries?!?  In a post-AirBnB, post-Uber world it doesn't take a genius to see how horribly the untended consequences of this sort of move could backfire.]

We don't often get involved on Federal issues, but this one's important; kudos to Senator Cruz:


  • "[The internet] wasn't invented by any politician."
  • "It was invented by the ingenuity of the American people with the financial support of American taxpayers."
  • "Since the internet's inception, the United States' government has stood guard over critical internet functions; in almost any other country that power could have been used to deny internet access to websites that were deemed politically undesirable."
  • "Because of the first amendment to the constitution...the United States' government; as long a it has authority to oversee the infrastructure of the internet, has a duty to ensure that no website is denied internet access on account of the ideas it espouses."
  • In 16 days, USG relinquishing "historic guardianship" in favor of international body.
  • ICANN = Global bureaucracy with blurred lines of authority.
  • "Sadly, ICANN officials have already begun showing extraordinary affinity for China; the world's worst abuser of internet freedom."
  • Reporters weren't allowed to cover ICANN conference.
  • "Why risk it?!?"
  • "What is the problem that is trying to be solved here?!?"

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Texas Exes' latest gambit to brainwash Senators....

"He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known."
Proverbs 10:9

[Author's Note: Our commentary is in red.]

LOL, from yesterday's Daily Texan:
Longhorn Advocates, a mentorship program through Student Government and Texas Exes, is urging students from all over the state to apply to represent the University in legislative work. 
[So they don't even come up with a cover story, they're just 'representing the University.']
The program connects students with alumni to try and resolve University conflicts, sometimes by changing University policies and procedures. Members are also connected with Texas senators from their hometown districts and partake in projects and events like the Texas Tribune Festival. Applications for the Longhorn Advocates program close tonight. 
[Notice, post Houston expansion and tuition hike, that they're targeting Senators not House members.]
Ashley Alcantara, Plan II and government senior and one of the organizers for the program, said no background in government or public policy is necessary. 
[Because who needs someone who understands how the legislature actually works when you can fill young skulls full of mush full of UT Politburo propaganda?!?]
“The biggest thing is just bringing your experience of the University to the table and just talking about it,” Alcantara said. 
[Filibuster...ALL THE THINGS!!!]
Alcantara said she hopes students from all 31 districts in Texas join the program in order to show the government how serious students are about how their university functions. 
[We're gonna put a mole in every. single. Senate. office!!!] 
[On a more serious note, this is actually an insidious plan to brainwash individual Senators.]
“We just wanted to show [alumni and legislators] that Longhorns are all over the state and that UT issues are really important to constituents in all of these districts,” Alcantara said. 
[Because UT politburo propaganda was totally a winning issue for Governor Kay Bailout Hutchinson and Attorney General Dan Branch...oh, wait.]
Mentees get free passes to the Texas Tribune Festival, a three-day event from Sept. 23–25 where they can meet with politicians and hear speakers examine social and political issues. 
[We totally want to LOL about the Trib being in on this, but they just comped our own Tribfest admission this afternoon...soo, glass houses, stones.]
“I think it’s a really good idea to get them exposed to state politics,” Alcantara said.
Last year, mentees Carolyn Soucie and Emily Burns researched on-campus sexual assault with their alumni mentor Tom Taylor and Texas State Sen. Don Huffines’ staff. Burns, a psychology junior, said she enjoyed the program because it made her more knowledgeable about how the University works with the government. 
[So that's why Huffines voted for Abbott's UT Regents.]
“I really learned a lot about the University bureaucracy and how UT interacts with Texas legislation,” Burns said. “We had this awesome privilege to work with Texas Exes and the University administration to promote UT’s legislative goals.” Both Soucie and Burns also looked into the University’s programs to see what else could be done to improve how the University handles sexual assault. Soucie found the University provides adequate help for its victims, but fails to publicize such information to the student body in a simple way. 
[More accurate statement: We had this awesome privilege to serve as useful idiots for cost explosion and left wing bias in higher education!!!]
“It seems like UT does have a good process of handling complaints made by sexual assault victims,” said Soucie, a Plan II and biochemistry junior. “I think the issue that was brought up a lot throughout this whole process was that the information isn’t really out there as well as it could be.”
Read the whole thing here.


A couple thoughts:

1) This is brilliant in a diabolical way; the fact that they have the audacity to try a stunt like this illustrates why UT is such an entrenched force in the legislature.

2) That being said, any Republican in the Texas Senate who accepts allows a corrupt, liberal, organization like the Texas Exes to place an intern in their office is either foolish or willfully blind.

Team Straus telegraphs LATEST Property Tax Misdirection....

"As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly."
Proverbs 26:11

They never change, but they are predictable:
Straus also said the House can assist the state's economic situation by looking at the cause of growing property tax rates, particularly whether the process of setting the rates is open and transparent.
This is such a typical Straus move.

Nobody is mad about property tax rates. People are mad about the property tax appraisal system.  It's called "appraisal creep": as property values go up, people's property tax assessments are so high that their tax bills increase even though the tax "rate" goes down.

To solve appraisal creep requires appraisal caps.  Last session, HB 365 would have capped appraisal.  Naturally, HB 365 was killed without a hearing by Dennis Bonnen, Straus' anti-property tax reform hatchet man.

Also last session, Straus and Bonnen introduced a dopey scheme to cut a sales tax that nobody is complaining about.  The point was to chew up time and attempt to derail property tax relief.  While some property tax relief did emerge, Straus and Bonnen were able to use that effort to water it down.

Bottom Line: Talking about property tax 'rates' is a distraction.  The real issue is the property tax appraisal system.  Anyone who confuses the issue is deliberately killing time to enrich greedy local governments and their taxpayer funded lobbyist industrial complex.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Is Malik Jefferson a legit Heisman contender?!?

"And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
1 John 5:15

The short answer: Too early to tell.

The longer answer: He's worth three guys on defense and guys like that tend to be in the discussion.

We don't know how it comes across on TV, but watching up close against both Notre Dame and UTEP it's becoming obvious that he's in the middle of every single important play.  What's impressive is his diversity on the field.  Depending on the situation, he can backup the run defense, drop into pass coverage, or rush the quarterback.

His stats aren't overwhelming, but they're pretty good and it's still early.

The Longhorn defense remains a work in progress, but in the meantime Malik Jefferson helps overcome a multitude of shortcomings.

He was an All-American as a Freshman and this would be a logical progression.

Bottom Line: If he keeps playing the way he's been playing, it's going to become an unavoidable discussion.

#TroxRox: September 2016 District 8 Newsletter....

"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of[a] love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
Hebrews 6:10

Leave it to Ellen Troxclair to have a baby yet not miss her next constituent newsletter.  We're not gonna say she's Wonder Woman, but we will note that we've never seen her and Wonder Woman in the same location.  Important stuff here:
Austin City Budget
Budget adoption is underway, for the next three days the Mayor and Council will vote to adopt fiscal year 2016/2017 budget. The City Manager recently presented his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016/2017 to Council. This preliminary budget includes an additional $56M more in General Fund spending, 435 (!) new city employee positions, and is expected to cost the "average" homeowner an additional $150 more in taxes, bills and fees next year.  Despite a clear mandate to address affordability in Austin, this Council is nearing adoption of a budget that raises taxes, utility rates, and fees for every Austinite, despite record revenues from growth.

This increase would have been even more if it wasn't for the additional increase in the homestead exemption I was able to pass.  The proposed Budget adopts the rollback tax rate, which is the highest rate the City can adopt under state law without triggering an election.  It also includes increases to utility bills and fees.

As you know, addressing affordability by keeping spending under control was the main reason I ran for City Council, and remains my priority. I have presented my Council Colleagues with a budget plan that would reduce your tax bill. I am not giving up on the desperate necessity for Council to focus on affordability in Austin. 
Expedited Permitting 
The Zucker report noted that Austin’s building permitting process was one of the worst in the nation. Included in the list of recommendations in the report was one to create an expedited permitting process. This would be an elective program for commercial permits, which would allow applicants to pay an additional fee to use the expedited line. 
By creating this new line for permitting (which would pay for itself), the process is sped up for those in the regular line as well as those in the expedited line. However, at last week’s meeting, the majority of the Council elected to add multiple additional requirements to this new expedited permitting process, which include third-party on-site monitoring of construction sites, local hiring requirements, wage requirements, among other requirements. Those additional requirements would be paid for, with yet another fee, by the applicant who seeks a permit. It was passed despite deep concerns raised by a broad range of stakeholder groups that included builders, the real estate community, small and local business associations, and Goodwill, who alone lost $600,000 in revenue due to delays caused by the permitting process. 
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce noted in frustration, “it’s like the Council sees a traffic jam, adds a toll lane and then restricts it to a 5 mph speed limit, yet expects folks to use it.” [Author's note: We oppose any attempt to create a pay to play "fast line" for permits in lieu of fixing the permitting process for everyone. 

Meet Interim City Manager: Elaine Hart

City Council has selected Elaine Hart, the city's current Chief Financial Officer, as interim city manager.

Hart has had a more-than-20-year career with the city, including as the Assistant Finance Director, the City Controller, a Deputy City Auditor, and in management at Austin Energy.

Hart will serve as interim city manager when current City Manager, Marc Ott, leaves Austin to head to Washington DC. Ott has accepted a new position as executive director for ICMA, the International City/County Management Association.
Read the whole thing here.