Saturday, February 28, 2015

Austin City Council Rebukes Enviromentalists


"who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen."
Romans 1:25

If you were still skeptical about the new council being light years better than the old one:
Following about three hours of public testimony – which included neighborhood association in-fighting, a choked-up speech, appearances from environmental activists and Q&As about a “traffic impact analysis” – the Austin City Council began debating Thursday’s marquee zoning item.
The question before the council was whether to more than double the limit of car trips allowed on a 32.8-acre piece of the old Garza Ranch that is in the heart of the Barton Springs recharge zone.
The Garza family had asked for 16,204 car trips a day, or 13,906 net trips if other factors are considered, such as cars that stop by the site at William Cannon Drive and MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) on the way to another place.
The vacant tract currently has a limit of 6,000 car trips a day. For Pennsylvania-based Brandywine Realty Trust, the potential buyer of the land, that’s not enough for the offices, multifamily housing and retail it hopes to construct on the site.
In one of its closest votes to date, the council approved 13,000 net trips on “first reading,” meaning the council will take up the issue again, and could conceivably change the number again, before there is a final vote.
 Read the whole thing here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Abortion Barbie belatedly complains about this website


"and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, “Here lies Jezebel."
2 Kings 9:37

This website didn't intend to ever write about Wendy Davis again.  That being said, she gave a speech at Princeton University earlier this week.  The best part:
“In my [gubernatorial] race, my opponent’s supporters derided me by using photoshopped sexual images of me in social media, with my face on a very sexy body, in order to invite responses from potential voters to view me as highly sexualized, rather than intelligent and confident potential state leader,” Davis said.

(h/t Pushjunction)
Cahnman's Musings is flattered to learn that, four and a half months after Election 2014, we're still living rent-free in Wendy Davis' head.

#HAILSATANTX

-----

While we're on the topic, we also find Davis' thin skin amusing compared to other female politicians who've been through worse.

BOOK REVIEW: Game Plan, by Kevin Freeman


"So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe....Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
Genesis 41:31...36

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

"But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand."
Ezekiel 33:6

Financial terrorism is the greatest threat currently facing the U.S. economy and national security.

In 2012, Kevin Freeman published Secret Weapon, which detailed how the 2008 financial crisis was a foreign attack on the U.S. economy.  Unfortunately, since then, U.S. political leadership has chosen cronyism over preparing for another attack.  Given this reality, Freeman's 2013 follow up Game Plan is a guide for individuals to protect themselves during perilous economic times.

Since 2008, under George W. Bush and Barack Obama (and congresses of both parties), the United States government has spent itself into oblivion.  The Federal Reserve has degraded the value of the dollar.  Productive economic activity is stagnant.  With more attacks on the horizon, the U.S. economy is prostrate.  While the primary battlefield is financial, military weakness and border chaos don't help.

Financial terrorism takes many forms (p. 71).  Examples include: an EMP (72), cyber attacks on financial markets (78-9), Flash Crashes (83), Bear Raids (90), or interest rate shocks (91).  Any of these scenarios could devastate the U.S. and/or Global economy.  From Al Qaeda, to China, to ISIS, to North Korea, to Russia, many of America's enemies have experimented with these capabilities.  Threats come from a variety of sources.

Over the next few years, prepare for economic uncertainty without recent precedent along with major downside risk.  Freeman investigates how various asset classes will act in various scenarios.  The biggest question is whether we face deflation or inflation.  The next major question is whether the dollar loses its status as global reserve currency.  Depending on the scenario, various allocations between precious metals (ch. 5), stocks (ch. 6), cash (ch. 8), and commodities (ch. 10) make sense.  Unfortunately, Freeman doesn't discuss BITCOIN, another avenue for diversification.  Under most circumstances, bonds should be avoided for a few years.

One note on gold: it's a good idea, but it's not a panacea.  Freeman tracks the price of gold from 1263 to 1932 to illustrate how, "for hundreds of years, gold was relatively steady (97)."  The U.S. "constitution also explicitly addresses gold and silver coinage for the states" (100) in Article I, Section 10.  Unfortunately, gold is also subject to confiscation (102) and price manipulation (107).  Over the long run, stocks outperform gold.

Bailouts, government debt, and "quantitative easing" have hobbled the U.S. economy.  This weakened state leaves the U.S. economy perilously vulnerable to financial terrorism.  That terrorism can take a variety of forms and come from a variety of places.  That being said, if you stay calm and adapt with circumstances, you can survive and proper through the coming crises.  To prepare yourself, Game Plan, by Kevin Freeman, is a fantastic place to start.

Stickland Punks Straus


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

Last November, Jonathan Stickland filed his bill to repeal in-state tuition for illegals.  Three months later, Stickland's bill has yet to be referred to committee.  With Straus obviously trying to kill Stickland's bill, Stickland isn't having any of it:



Dallas Morning News has more:
A tea party-backed, northeast Tarrant County House lawmaker is demanding to know why GOP Speaker Joe Straus is sitting on his bill to repeal a law granting those in the country illegally a break on the cost of higher education.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, wants to eliminate the measure allowing unauthorized immigrants to pay lower, in-state resident tuition rates at state colleges and universities.

He complained Thursday that Straus, R-San Antonio, has not referred his in-state tuition repeal bill to a House committee, though more than three months have passed since he filed it.

Stickland, a foe of Straus’ bipartisan leadership coalition in the chamber, took to the back microphone to complain about the speaker’s inaction.

Straus, who wasn’t presiding at the time, came out of his office and relieved Collin County freshman Rep. Matt Sheehan, who was wielding the gavel temporarily, so he could answer Stickland directly.

“Mr. Stickland, I’d be happy to visit with you about your concerns,” Straus said.

Shortly thereafter, Stickland could be seen conferring off the floor with Jesse Ancira, Straus’ chief of staff.
Read the whole thing here; Austin American-Statesman has more here.

Speaker Joe Straus: (512) 463-1000

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Controversial U.T. Regent Nominees face the music


"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
Matthew 7:7

Betty King Room -- Earlier today, the Texas Senate nominations committee held a confirmation hearing for Governor Abbott's controversial U.T. regent nominees.  The nominees faced a number of difficult questions from Committee Chairman Brian Birdwell, along with fellow committee members Konni Burton and Van Taylor.  Senator Charles Schwertner, who has taken an interest in higher ed issues this session, spent more time at the hearing than several committee members.

Regent nominee Steve Hicks was the first to testify, A known defender of Bill Powers, Hicks is the only current nominee being re-appointed.  While Hicks confessed that undue influence in the admissions process is undesirable, he nonetheless made the excuse that Powers was "the only one who sees the whole field of battle."  Hicks also denied the obvious similarities between the current issues at U.T. and the 2009 scandal at the University of Illinois.  Under questioning from Senator Burton, Hicks defended his vote against investigating the law school's secret "forgivable loan" program.  Hicks also made the absurd claim that while regents are supposed to "ask tough questions," they are subsequently expected to accept whatever answer the administration gives them.  Hicks could not provide answers to Senator Schwertner's questions about accounting gimmicks used to keep tuition "artificially low."

Nominee Sarah Martinez Tucker, who has come under fire for supporting Common Core, was up next.  Asked about the forgivable loan program, she explained "I don't have a lot of specifics," which makes one wonder how she will perform her duties if she can't prepare for an obvious question in a confirmation hearing.  Asked about her support for the controversial educational program, Tucker explained "I APPLAUD COMMON CORE."  Pressed to explain, Tucker made vague claims about Common Core being bad for Texas but o.k. for other states.  Asked by Senator Schwertner about the role of the student loan bailout she helped engineer in 2008 in higher education cost explosions, Tucker unconvincingly attempted to shift blame to the Obama administration.  To her credit, Tucker spoke favorably about zero-based budgeting for the U.T. system.

David Beck faced the most intense questioning.  Beck was a key player in creating the afore-mentioned forgivable loan program, and was mentioned by name in a scathing Attorney General's report released last year.  Pressed by lawmakers, Beck claimed "we can't compete" in retaining faculty with public compensation.  At issue was an undisclosed "deferred compensation" agreement with lame-duck university president Bill Powers during Powers' previous tenure as law school dean.  Beck told Senator Burton he had assumed that off-book compensation agreements had made their way up the chain of command.  As Senator Schwertner told Beck, seven years is a long time to not know the details of a compensation agreement not going up the chain of command.  Beck was also unable to answer questions about cutting university costs, although he did oppose a tuition increase "at this time."

Tony McDonald testified against all three nominees.  McDonald, who was a law student at U.T. during the height of the forgivable loan scandal, discussed professors of his who were visibly distracted by it.  Regarding Hicks, McDonald objected that he could not clean up a mess he helped create.  McDonald also explained that off-book compensation was not subject to open-record's laws.  Finally, McDonald chided Beck for "a shocking refusal to take responsibility" for his role in creating the mess.

The committee adjourned following testimony; no vote on the nominees has been scheduled.

Today's hearing asked difficult questions of these controversial nominees.  The committee maximized this point of leverage.  The nominees answers left much to be desired, but at least they were asked to the questions.  Kudos especially to Senators Burton and Schwertner for their question.  It's a start....

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Russell Brand's Monologue about Pornography


"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
John 3:17

This author isn't usually a fan of Russell Brand, but Amen on this:



(h/t Fight the new drug)

Highlights:

  • Our attitude towards sex has become warped.
  • Pornography reduces the spectacle of sex to some sort of "extracted physical act."
  • Consequences: Exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society, diminished trust between intimate partners, abandonment of hope for sexual monogamy, belief that promiscuity is the natural state....
  • His own relationship with pornography: "Is kind of the hub of my feelings of inner conflict and doubt."
  • "There's a general feeling, in your core, if you look at pornography that it isn't the best thing for me.
  • "I feel like if I had total dominion over myself that I would never look at porn again."
  • 50 shades of Grey is softcore porn.

Texas doesn't need California style "local control"


"But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:29

TPPF's James Quintero elaborates upon Governor Abbott's call to curtail local governments' ability to infringe citizens' property rights:
Abbott continued: “Some cities are telling citizens you don’t own some of the things on your property that you have purchased and owned for a long time, things like trees. This is a form of collectivism.”

And, of course, he’s right.

More and more municipalities are passing nanny state restrictions and regulations that infringe upon Texans’ personal freedoms, property rights, and livelihood. Indeed, there seems to be no nook or cranny too small to escape the growing regulatory reach of Texas’ local governments.

The glut of new rules and restraints run the gamut from the types of businesses allowed within city limits to the kind of bags a person can use at the grocery store to the things a person can and cannot do in the privacy of their own vehicle.

More often than not, the justification given for these intrusions hinges on “local control,” or the state-afforded authority granted to communities to govern certain policy areas. Local governments know best how to solve their problems, or so the thinking goes.

But where this rationale frequently goes off the rails is in its emphasis of local control over other, more important governing principles, such as liberty.

Liberty, not local control, is the overriding principle that should inform and direct our public policy makers. For without liberty, local control simply becomes a means toward the end of local tyranny.

....

Some might balk at the idea of Legislature tamping down on local overregulation, but it’s important to remember that municipalities are creatures of the state and they derive their authority from state government. As such, putting the kibosh on local government overreach is a perfectly legitimate exercise for state officials to undertake, especially when it’s done in defense of liberty.

The mishmash of restrictive regulations that ought to come under scrutiny from the new Legislature include those mentioned by Abbott — Denton’s fracking ban, San Antonio’s tree-cutting ban, and the many, likely illegal plastic bag ban and fee ordinances that have been enacted around Texas — as well as onerous ride- sharing regulations that have made it difficult for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate.

Undoubtedly, local governments and the numerous associations that represent them at the Capitol will not take kindly to the idea that local control is secondary to liberty.
 Read the whole thing here.