Share It

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Water, Trust, and the Texas Legislature


"Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah—all his might, and how he made a pool and a tunnel and brought water into the city—are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?"
2 Kings 20:20

This morning, we attended the Texas Public Policy Foundation's economics conference.  The event covered a number of topics, including an intriguing proposal to re-vamp the sales tax.  The topic that stands out, however, was water.

Federal Reserve Dallas president Richard Fisher gave the luncheon keynote.  He detailed Texas' stellar economic performance against the backdrop of Obama's national malaise.  Fischer identified water as Texas' biggest long-term economic challenge.

Demand for water is increasing while supply is going down.  The Texas Water Development Board estimates Texas will need to invest $231 Billion (with a B) over the next 50 years to meet demand (*).  As Fischer dryly noted: "You can't count on the Rainy Day Fund" for an investment of that magnitude.

Fischer urged the legislators in attendance to consider seriously the use of 100 year notes to finance Water infrastructure development.  He detailed how "some of our shrewdest operators" in the most recent credit cycle borrowed over a 100 year term.  When interest rates rise, wealth is redistributed from lenders to borrowers.  With interest rates near record lows, an opportunity exists to create a physical asset and pay for it with less valuable money later.  As Fisher predicted: "interest rates will rise in the next 100 years."

Going back to last year, when Governor Perry made a similar argument with us in a semi-private conversation, we've always found this argument the most persuasive.  There's a certain logic in saying that, since (due to decisions made outside Texas) the money is going to be worthless in a few years, we may as well convert it into something with intrinsic value.  The problem, unfortunately, is trust.

In 2013, the 83rd Texas Legislature had a gigantic surplus.  They blew through it, increased spending by 26%, and still had to raid the rainy day fund.  If you can't prioritize within a biannual budget, what makes us think you can successfully manage interest rate risk over the life of a 100 year note?!?

Using long-term debt to finance genuine water infrastructure development makes a certain type of financial sense.  Due to decisions made outside Texas, the money WILL be worthless in a few years.  Unfortunately, until Texas policymakers prove themselves trustworthy over smaller sums and shorter time frames, this sort of massive long term commitment remains a non-starter.

-----

* For the record, we don't accept the $231 Billion figure, but we readily admit it will be a big number.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick foil obscure Common Core Backdoor


"Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees,
Who write misfortune,
Which they have prescribed."
Isaiah 10:1

An extraordinary story out of Houston, for which Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick deserve ample kudos:
The citizens of Texas owe a huge thanks to two Texas conservatives – Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick.

Because on March 24, 2014, Attorney General Greg Abbott released his 0pinion #GA-1047 answering Senator Dan Patrick‘s request #RQ-1152-GA filed last November:

....

if the liberals are going to be successful by-passing the Texas Legislature to spread federal “common core for babies” across Texas, they need an obscure taxing authority that no one will notice, led by persons willing to exceed their authority. Lucky for them, Texas has just that - The Harris County School Trustees – aka - Harris County Department of Education (HCDE.)

In 1889, the Texas Legislature assigned the operation of public schools to county school boards. Over the years, Texas moved away from county run schools to smaller independent school districts with thir own elected school boards. When Texas no longer zoned students to county schools, the Legislature repealed the laws governing county school systems.

It may sound far-fetched, but it is true. Even though all Harris County students moved to ISDs over 50 years ago, HCDE uses a loophole to continue to elect County School Trustees and collect a countywide school property tax passed way back in 1937. They disregard TEC 18.14 which dictates the distribution of county school tax funds directly to Harris County ISDs, and spend the funds as they see fit. To top it off, most people in Harris County don’t even know HCDE still exists, thus making it the perfect “obscure” taxing authority, led by persons willing to exceed their authority.

In the 1960s, with the daily operation of public schools no longer their focus, HCDE began working with LBJ to increase federal participation in our education system. Today, HCDE is so entrenched with the Feds and the liberal agenda, they are like a “Who’s-Who” of the democrat party and ideology.

President Obama’s Education Czar, Arne Duncan, visited HCDE in person. The HCDE press release called the visit "historic" with particular emphasis on "more investments in early childhood education."

....

But even worse…they stated that their long term plan was to use HCDE as their hub to spread this ACROSS TEXAS.

The liberals thought they could slip the tax increase through by simply saying “it is for the children.” But it didn’t work. County Judge Ed Emmett questioned the legality of their November 2013 petition, and was backed up by the 14th Court of Appeals. It did not make it onto the ballot.

When word surfaced that liberals were going to try another petition in November of 2014, Senator Dan Patrick requested a legal opinion from the Attorney General . Because Greg Abbott is a true conservative who follows the letter of the law, his opinion released March 24, stopped it in its tracks.

But this does not mean the kids of Texas are safe. It simply means that the HCDE tax rate won’t be doubled to pay for it.

....

Why does HCDE even want to get involved?

Besides just supporting the liberal concept of bigger government, HCDE knows it is in trouble. People are starting to question the need for county school trustees in Harris County when 252 other counties in Texas abolished their county school boards decades ago –--- especially when HCDE is using our tax dollars to help turn Texas “blue.” HCDE is banking on their liberal friends in Washington putting pressure on the Texas Legislature to keep them open. The HCDE superintendent was heard saying that the Pre-K initiative would make HCDE so big that even the Texas Legislature would not be able to touch them.

Conservative Texas Representative Debbie Riddle tried to halt HCDE’s liberal agenda last session with HB945. HCDE spent hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars on lobbyists to fight against Rep Riddle’s bill. The lobbyists lined up Alma Allen and other liberals on the House Education Committee with "Republican" Rep Dan Huberty to keep HCDE operational. And it worked. HB945 bill did not get out of committee.

But, Rep Riddle was successful in getting the House Education Committee to take a closer look at HCDE in the interim so HCDE is spending hundreds of thousands of of our county education dollars again to hire lobbyists. Rob Eissler, the ex-chair of the Texas House Education Committee and one of Straus' ex-lieutenants, who was kicked out of office by his constituants and replaced with true conservative, Steve Toth, is one of them - a "Republican" who will rake in taxpayer money helping the liberals forward their agenda.

So now, like Paul Harvey listeners, you know “the rest of the story.”

Greg Abbott’s legal opinion answering Sen Dan Patrick’s question concerning HCDE’s tax increase was much more than a simple tax question. It stopped the liberals from abusing the law and holding an illegal tax election to fund the expansion of Obama’s Pre-K Initiative in Texas.
Read the whole thing, complete with financial ties to national progressive groups, here.

-----

It's worth noting that both Abbott's and Patrick's efforts came from the offices they currently hold, NOT their campaigns.  That they were able to score this critical victory while simultaneously running statewide campaigns reveals the diligence and multitasking abilities of both men.  Kudos to both!!!

Rusty Hardin: Joe Straus' (and Bill Powers') "Bloody, Poisoned, Dwarf"


"Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20

Marxists follow patterns.  Their power built on lies, they must demonize the truth.  Enemies of the state must be eliminated.  What was true for Soviet Russia in 1937 applies equally to the University of Texas in 2014.  In the 'purifying' thunderstorm of Soviet 'justice' that is the Wallace Hall impeachment, Rusty Hardin is Nikolai Yezhov.

Rusty Hardin's 'report' is an astonishing, though strangely entertaining, act of chutzpah.  Using innuendo and petulance, the $157,000 (and counting) 'report' concludes that Wallace Hall is a big meanie: "Hall acted like a roving inspector general in search of a problem rather than a solution." (2)  Specifically, the 'report' charges Hall with making people work late, 'violating' irrelevant federal privacy laws, being mean to Bill Powers, and demanding basic financial accountability as grounds for impeachment.  We haven't heard a powerful, politically-connected, Texan whine this much since we were last in a room with Jim Keffer.  But at least Rusty Hardin got his 30 pieces of silver.

Hardin echoes Jim Pitts' original resolution that Hall made "numerous unreasonably burdensome, wasteful, and intrusive requests for information" (44)  Waaah!!!  The 'report' shrieks for 30 pages about Hall's supposed misdeeds.  Examples include: making people work late (49), personally visiting campus (55), meeting with the Office of the Attorney General (59), sayin' mean stuff (61), that "have negatively impacted employee morale" (79).  Sounds to us like due diligence.

Hardin's greatest slight of hand, however, concerns Hall's alleged abuse of 'confidential' information while investigating improper relationships between the UT administration and state legislators Jim Pitts and Judith Zaffirini.  At issue is an interpretation of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974.  In the gray area of FERPA interpretation, Hardin uses a convenient standard set by the U.S. Department that contradicts directly with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 2002 Case Owasso Independent School District vs. Falvo.  The Court ruled unanimously that only an institution, not an individual, can violate FERPA, reducing Hardin's argument to legalistic sophistry.  A conservative lawyer with whom we spoke described this section as "sloppy" to the point "I would be embarrassed to put my name on it."

Of course, Wallace Hall's greatest 'transgression' is that he was mean to poor Bill Powers.  Following revelations about corruption at the UT Law School, "Hall's focus tightened on former law school dean Powers and what Hall perceived as Powers' failings." (117)   This January, following Powers' questionable testimony to the impeachment committee, "Hall sent [former U.T. Chancellor Francisco] Cigarroa a lengthy and detailed critique of President Powers's [sic] sworn testimony." (87)  He even had the nerve to follow up two weeks later!!! (88)  Clearly, Wallace Hall is worse than parents who eat their children's Halloween candy:



UT's most serious malfeasance, however, concerns the $215 million software donation scandal.  In 2007 and 2010, UT's geology department received valuable in-kind donations from a third party, which they counted towards their capital campaign using a favorable interpretation of a legal grey area.  In 2011, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) explicitly closed the loophole.  Caught with their pants down, UT panicked (93).  Hall refused to acquiesce to the cover-up (98).  Hall was eventually proven correct (95).  Clearly, the solution is to get rid of Wallace Hall.

An old legal cliche states: "[W]hen the law is on your side, argue the law.  When the facts are on your side, argue the facts.  When neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound the table."  Rusty Hardin's 'report' pounds...something.  It combines the precise legal analysis of Joseph Stalin with the rhetorical subtlety of Khrushchev at the United Nations.  But the University of Texas is the biggest special interest in this state, and enemies of Bill Powers and Joe Straus must be punished.  FORWARD fellow comrades!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

History Lesson: Meet Nikolai Yezhov


"and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world."
1 John 4:3

 We know this post seems off-topic, but if readers indulge us it will make sense shortly.

During the purges of the 1930's, Nikolai Yeshov was Joseph Stalin's primary hatchet man:
As a devout Stalinist and not a member of the organs of state security, Yezhov was just the man Stalin needed to intensify the terror and rid Stalin of potential opponents. Yezhov's first task from Stalin was to personally investigate and conduct the prosecution of his long-time Chekist mentor Yagoda, which he did with remorseless zeal. Ordered by Stalin to create a suitably grandiose plot for Yagoda's show trial, Yezhov ordered the NKVD to sprinkle mercury on the curtains of his office so that the physical evidence could be collected and used to support the charge that Yagoda was a German spy, sent to assassinate Yezhov and Stalin with poison and restore capitalism. [Emphasis Added]
From ExecutedToday.com:
From late 1936, when he eliminated his predecessor Genrikh Yagoda (later executed, of course), until his own fall from power in at the end of 1938, Yezhov presided over the apex of Stalinist terror, averaging hundreds of political killings daily — perhaps north of 600,000 for the two-year period, plus a like number disappeared into the Gulag’s freezers. (Just browse this here site’s ’1937′ tag for a taste.)
From Cyber USSR:
A complete nonentity, whose name, during the brief period of his administration, evoked horror throughout the entire country and entered history in the word "Ezhovshchina" [a curiously bland term, perhaps "the Yezhov thing" --HSC]. He was raised to power by Stalin for the specific purpose of setting up a bloodbath. In the Soviet press, he was called the "Iron Commissar," but among the people he was named the "bloody dwarf." [Ezhov was only 154 cm tall, about 5'1". Two other famous Russians of comparably short height were Nikita Khrushchev and Alexander Pushkin --HSC] According to those who knew him well, toward the end of his administration, he was totally dependent on narcotics.
More on the Poisoned (or bloody) dwarf:



Yeshov later fell from grace (hard), which was its own story, but for our purposes it's important to remember that he was Stalin's chosen agent for digging up dirt on enemies of the state.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Come and Take It -- Austin marches downtown


Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me.
Nehemiah 4:18

This afternoon, we attended an open carry event with the local Austin group.  The event began at the Texas State Capitol, then continued down Congress Ave to Sixth Street.  And yes, there was an open carry group walking up and down Sixth street in Austin just a couple hours ago!  Reactions were 99% positive, although we did observe on person giving the group a middle finger from a car.  We can't really explain it, but the hand of God is on this open-carry movement in Texas!!!




By the Angela Eberly statue at Sixth and Congress:


Turning the corner at sixth and Congress:


Various locations at Sixth Street and I-35:



Local firearms celebrity Michael Cargill spoke to the crowd about voting in  November:



And, of course, we had the election forecasting of Sam Fyrestarter!!! :)



If other event attendees have photos or video they'd like to add, they should e-mail them to cahnman@hotmail.com; please upload videos to YouTube BEFORE sending them to us!!!

Obama Attempting Texas Land Grab


"Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;"
Proverbs 22:22

Yikes and Gadzooks:



Highlights:
  • "Since 1803 when the Louisiana Purchase was completed, there has been a controversy over the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. The boundary is supposed to be the vegetation line on the south side of the Red River. But the River has moved over time. The problem is the definition of that boundary line- Oklahoma and Texas each use different semantics to define it. And the BLM is finding ways to use the disputed words to give them the ability to seize the land."
  • "Land that has been in the families of ranchers is to be seized as “public lands” that would be subject to fees or blocked off entirely from rancher’s use. Or in some cases, moving the boundary line over to Oklahoma, where Texas ranchers can lose their rights to the lands that they have owned for more than a century. The BLM had open meetings back in January to “take input” from the public …but they are moving forward with their plan to seize the land anyway. There was likely never any intention of actually listening to the rancher’s stand."
  • Open grazing of cattle has always been a common law right in America. It is time for the American people to rise up against the theft of private lands and property by a government that is out of control. Ranchers have contact Texas  Representative Mac Thornberry for assistance. We will monitor this situation as it progresses.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wendy Davis' filibuster, Wallace Hall's Impeachment, and Joe Straus


"When the wicked arise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase."
Proverbs 28:28

As a glutton for punishment, we are in the process of reading Rusty Hardin's "report" recommending Wallace Hall's impeachment; so far, the report is as big of a fiasco as one would expect, but one detail stands out:


As you can see from the picture, Joe Straus launched this fiasco on June 25, 2013.

What other event, pray tell, happened at the Texas Capitol on June 25, 2013?!?  (HINT: We were there.)

That's right: Abortion Barbie's filibuster!!!

That Joe Straus launched this crusade in the middle of Abortion Barbie's filibuster tells you everything you need to know about both Joe Straus and this impeachment fiasco....