Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Drill in ANWR

I hate when I don’t think of these arguments. This is also about Native Americans. Thanks to Tara Sweeney. It's not just national security and capitalism and cheaper energy costs. And this from me, whose only lib bone in my body is my green bone.

Ashby out!

I don't like it. I'll get Milo for half the Astros games and two guys I don't know. I don't like it one bit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rush v. Hugh

Was thinking today, and it is likely not an original thought, Hewitt seems a Republican first and Limbaugh a Conservative. Not anything revelatory...just crossed my mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This weekend...

One thing you said this weekend that I've been thinking about...

"Rush does a disservice when he says Dems want America to fail because they love America but just don't get/understand how things really work."

I paraphrase but you get my meaning.

I agree that what you say is true about the Dem base...the voters. I'm not sure I agree about the the big guns in the Party. I'm not ready to let them off the hook. A writer at Townhall last week said that he'd talked to a Repub ME senator until he was blue in the face about tax cuts but she couldn't change her position because of a segment of her electorate.

She chooses to take her stance because of her base in spite of the facts.

If Rush refers to Leadership, I'll agree because they know, or should know, better.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

George Will on Analog Welfare

I love Will but rarely does he make me laugh.

In his column on the the "compassionate conservatism" of tax dollars subsidizing TV viewers for the switch to digital, he asks:

"Why is this a crisis? Because, although programming currently is broadcast in both modes, by April 2009 broadcasters must end analog transmissions and the government will have auctioned the analog frequencies for various telecommunications purposes. For the vast majority of Americans, April 2009 will mean ... absolutely nothing. Nationwide, 85 percent of all television households (and 63 percent of households below the poverty line [emph. added]) already have cable or satellite service."

He calls the pending house version of the law (cheap at $990M, ack!) the "No Couch Potato Left Behind Act."

Former Ambivalence about Immigration Reform

I've always been of two minds on the issue. I've always felt that as a nation of immigrants, we should welcome those who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families. If they needed to cut corners to get here, so be it. If I were struggling to put bread on my family's table, I'd make like Jean Valjean and do what it takes.

Since 9-11 though, I've become uncomfortable with my position. Clearly, the possibility of terrorists crossing illegally changes everything. That's easy. The question of what to do to stop them is more difficult. I have no answers and that is not the subject of this post.

Another thing that has changed my feelings about the issue has to do with multi-culturalism (and its sister, political correctness) and the "balkanization" of our country (and Europe as demonstrated in France with the riots and the UK with the recent bombings there). It is the transformation from the "melting pot" to the "salad bowl" our country seems to be experiencing. I know the problems here are nowhere near that of France, Germany and apparently the UK, but I fear it is only a matter of time.

As she usually does, Peggy Noonan has asked some questions in her column today that offer some of the reasons why my thinking has changed. I think it primarily a matter of respect:

"What does it mean that your first act on entering a country--your first act on that soil--is the breaking of that country's laws? What does it suggest to you when that country does nothing about your lawbreaking because it cannot, or chooses not to? What does that tell you? Will that make you a better future citizen, or worse? More respecting of the rule of law in your new home, or less?"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Subsidize Big Oil!

Thoughts on Windfall Profits from Paul Greenberg:

"What about the millions of Americans whose retirement depends on their mutual funds, in which oil stocks are heavily represented? How many of those pension funds are dependent on the oil companies' profits, and what happens to those pensions if the profits evaporate? Don't the pensions shrink, too? Instead of talking about laws against price-gouging, shouldn't Congress now be holding impassioned hearings, complete with widows and orphans, to ask how it can help increase Big Oil's income to help those dependent on it? Worse news could still be ahead: The price of gas, which hovered around $3 a gallon on Labor Day, now has dropped some 80 cents and could dip below $2 a gallon by Christmas. Oh, the humanity! Shouldn't Congress act before it's too late? Disaster impends!"

Can't we all agree on this?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Anathema? Update

Does anyone know why the noun "anathema" never has an article in front of it?

"My conservative views are anathema to my liberal friends."

instead of

"My conservative views are an anathema to my liberal friends."

Update: I may not know anything about predicate nominatives, but the folks at Princeton don't seem to have any difficulty using an indefinite article:

"he is an anathema to me"

Monday, December 05, 2005

George Will on "Windfall" Profits

George Will offers this pocketbook argument against the tax:

"They [Robert J. Shapiro, former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, and Nam D. Pham, an economist] calculate that 41 percent of oil company stocks are owned by pension plans and individuals' retirement accounts. Hence much of the tax's burden would have fallen on current and future retirees, reducing both the market value of, and dividends paid by, those stocks. The cost to all the oil companies' shareholders, in forgone stock appreciation and dividends, would have ranged -- depending on oil prices and inflation -- from $21.3 billion to $121.8 billion per year."

I know I'm the only person on the planet who cares about this stuff but actions have consequences and our representatives have to consider them while they preen.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Update: a tonic for Abe Foxman

Update from Isi Liebler at the Jerusalem Post:

It is therefore highly regrettable that organizations devoted to promoting pluralism and combating anti-Semitism would paint friends as adversaries. This is hardly the way to retain the support of the one American major group that consistently and unconditionally supports Israel. It is surely wrong and counterproductive to insult friends and allies, even if we differ with them on many other issues.

If we had 50 million evangelicals in Europe the situation for Jews would be dramatically different. Conversely, we would do well to ask ourselves what the status of Israel and Jews in the United States would be in the absence of our evangelical supporters.

I know about the historical persecutions, but have never figured out the fears expressed today.

Thanks to Rabbi Lapin, Julia Gorin and Jeff Jacoby for weighing in. Foxman gets a bit tiresome.


As an Orthodox rabbi with an unquenchable passion for teaching Torah and devoting myself to the long term interests of Judaism and America’’s Jewish community, I believe we Jews must turn our backs on the secularism that will sink us all. An act of friendship would be welcome. Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends——a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America’s Bible belt is our safety belt.


Apparently, Jews don't have enough enemies in this world, and the one friend they have is one too many. Or perhaps these two and the Jews who think like they do figure that the world doesn't stand a chance against Islam, so why not help battle the only remaining religion standing in its way of world domination?


On the contrary: It makes me feel grateful -- to live in a land where freedom of religion shelters the Hanukkah menorah in my window no less than the Christmas tree in my neighbor's. That freedom is a reflection of America's Judeo-Christian culture, and a principal reason why, in this overwhelmingly Christian country, it isn't only Christians for whom Christmas is a season of joy. And why it isn't only Christians who should make a point of saying so.

Monday, November 28, 2005

National Review and Narnia

Ok, the cover of NR this week has me ready to subscribe. When I did that silly summer at Oxford, I made a point of having a pint at the "beak and baby" or Eagle and Child...the pub where the Inklings met.

Thanks to Vox Day for reminding me.

Still more on "Gouging"

I know this is quickly becoming a sick obsession of mine, but Ben Lieberman makes more good points on the issue at Heritage:

"Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, and the resulting combination of reduced oil production, knocked-out refineries and closed pipelines sent gasoline prices skyrocketing nearly 50 cents per gallon in a week. At its worst on Sept. 5, the national average hit $3.06 per gallon."

and then:

"The lesson is that markets work. Katrina-induced supply shortfalls caused an immediate jump in prices, which quickly triggered a series of self-correcting actions. The additional profit motive sent the oil industry scrambling to make repairs even before the floodwaters had receded, bringing supplies back online very quickly. Similarly, the high prices attracted extra gasoline from Europe and elsewhere to the American market."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy to be a Lawyer this day before Thanksgiving

In about 20 minutes I'm heading to a walk-through of two newly constructed homes. On behalf of a client of mine, if all goes well, we will close on the purchase of the two homes on Monday.

What's the big deal? My client is purchasing the two homes to provide housing to Katrina evacuees. Yes, FEMA has extended the hotel vouchers for another month but that can't go on forever.

Special thanks to Foundation Communities, for assistance in finding the families for the homes and creating the program which, if all goes well, will have these families on their feet financially and purchasing these homes in two or three years.

Special thanks to my client as well. Your generosity is extraordinary.

Update: finished the walk-though and the houses are beautiful. These will be tow very fortunate families, indeed.

Monday, November 21, 2005


A colleague of mine brought his two sons to the office today and the term "tow-heads" immediately sprang from my lips.

Their hair reminded me of my current and erstwhile nephews and nieces.

I've never known how the term was derived. Now, thanks to Word Detective, I know:

"In the case of 'tow-head,' understanding the phrase depends on knowing that 'tow' is another word for raw flax or hemp fibers. 'Tow' in this sense is apparently unrelated to the 'pull' sense of 'tow,' and comes from a prehistoric [Scooter's note: not sure I buy that] German word meaning 'to spin or weave.' Flax fibers in their natural state are a very light golden color, so 'tow-head' is a logical description of someone with very light or blonde hair. The phrase 'flaxen-haired' applied to such people is somewhat more common than 'tow-head,' although both phrases are gradually disappearing."

The death of manners

Don't miss George Will on manners.

From today's Jewish World Review:

"Actually, manners are the practice of a virtue. The virtue is called civility, a word related —— as a foundation is related to a house —— to the word civilization."

Monday, November 14, 2005

More on "Windfall Profits"

From Jeff Jacoby:

"Exxon's profits last quarter amounted to 9.8 cents for every dollar of sales. Is that obscene? Well, it was more profitable than Shell (which netted 7.8 cents of each dollar of revenue) or Chevron (6.6 cents) or BP (4.6 cents). But compared to Coca-Cola (21.2 cents), Bank of America (28.3 cents), or Microsoft (33.2 cents), it was nothing to write home about. "


"Over the past 25 years, according to the Tax Foundation, oil companies paid state and federal taxes of more than $2.2 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars). During the same period, the companies' profits totaled $630 billion...."

Who's responsible for high gasoline costs and shivering children in the north?

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Just got my Wiseguy (Mel Profitt) dvd set in the mail. For those who don't recall, it was a short-lived series in the 80s with Mel Proffitt appearing in 1987.

Ken Wahl plays a DEEP undercover agent and as I recall, there were about three subseries within the series...each subseries being about eight or ten episodes.

Mel Profitt and his sister Susan are Vancouver kingpins in the coke smuggling trade. Mel is played by Kevin Spacey and Susan by Joan Severance. Both characters were very quirky and the sibling relationship quite disturbing.

Can't wait to get home.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Redundant Rambling about Price "Gouging" and "Windfall" Profits

Seems to me that those are two terms that we've read a lot recently.

I remember reading in Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics an example he gave about price "gouging." I believe it was about the scarcity of hotel rooms and flashlights following a disaster like a tornado or hurricane. By "gouging," retailers and hotels actually more efficiently allocate resources by forcing the first family to reach the hotel or the flashlight store to think twice before taking more than they might really need: two rooms for the family of four at the hotel or four flashlights rather than just one. Thus, there is a room and flashlight available for the next family because the first family was priced out of the second room and a second, third or fourth flashlight.

He reiterated the argument after the 2004 hurricanes in Florida here at Jewish World Review.

The argument certainly made sense intellectually, but somehow still seemed wrong. My first thought was that the millionaire would still be able to take all the rooms and flashlights but, on further reflection, that would be an anomaly indeed, most millionaires having bolted for safer climes long before the tragedy struck.

So take most millionaires out of the equation.

Most of the people bolting Houston in those 20 hour traffic jams were pretty much regular folks. My friends who came to Austin were in fact relieved when they could purchase gasoline at "outrageous" prices. They didn't like it but were relieved to get the gas.

I remember hearing about a guy gassing up his 200 gallon cigarette boat before heading to Lake Travis and thought, "What a selfish S.O.B. All these folks up from Houston and he's sucking up 200 gallons." He is my millionaire. Fortunately, there were not too many of those and I think Houston was completely back in business in about a week.

I've seen the free market model work and still it seemed somehow wrong. Then it hit me: the model didn't seem wrong; it felt wrong. If I've learned anything in forty-five years, I've learned that feelings (mine, at least) are notoriously unreliable.

Walter Williams and John Stossel have also written about this recently and have helped me put things in perspective.

What are the alternatives to the "market" or Smith's "Invisible Hand?"

First, there is government. Katrina efforts don't speak too well for governmental efforts, but assume that, practically speaking, government works as it did in Texas. Williams, elsewhere in JWR, would call the taxation aspect of government assistance "theft" and Stossel implies that without the taxation, the government's alternative is "totalitarianism." (Both positions sound extreme here but Williams just means that government taxing us for altruistic purposes is both unconstitutional and forcing us to contribute to charity that we might or might not support. Stossel just means that the government could just order people to to the needed work).

By the way, it has always seemed to me that the idea of one or a hundred making making a million economic decisions rather than millions making dozens of economic decisions that affect them directly is inherently illogical...maybe it worked in feudal times when there were far fewer decisions to be made, but not today. A subject for later.

Second, there is altruism. This is what gets me beyond the "feeling" that the market should be forced to work differently. Whatever we have seen in government efforts over the last year (disgraces in Tsunami and Katrina and, in my view, triumphs in Texas and Florida), we have seen people, especially Americans, shine with their generosity. Generosity of Amerians goes a long way to lessen my concerns about Williams' $20.00 loaf of bread or Stossel's $20.00 bottle of water, too.

But Stossel is right that we cannot rely on Blanche's "kindness of strangers" to get us through more than the short term. It may even get us a great deal of the way through the mid-term, but it seems to me it is the market upon which we must ultimately rely because, as much as we might like to do require otherwise, we have to let the people decide what to do with their own assets of time, talent and treasure.

Basic Economics should be must reading for every American high school student...ok, maybe college student. My biggest gripe as I read it was that Sowell repeated too many of his points. In hindsight, he was just teaching. One can actually read the book once and learn the basics of economics, funny how he picked the title. The man knows his audience and what his audience needs.

I learned in one week reading Sowell more about economics more than I did in two semesters at my beloved University. (I rationalize that by telling myself that as a sophomore, I wasn't really paying attention. College, like youth, is too often wasted on the young.)

Ok, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

First US case of Avian Bird Flu?

A week ago I started to feel something coming on...started all the pseudo-science preventives...massive Vitamin C doses and the other stuff they put in those pre-cold things and that horrible tasting zinc stuff.

Didn't work, I think I've been hit by H5N1.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Enlightened Jacksonianism"

Just as I was getting depressed with the analysis of the Paris riots, Victor Davis Hanson comes along and cheers me up.

He concludes that the efforts of the Bush Doctrine, while certainly far from perfect, are reaching results both "striking, and admirable."

Eurabian Civil War

I can never seem to get home in time to catch Mark Steyn on the web with Hewitt so I am grateful to Radioblogger for those long posts. Great discussion on the Paris riots.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Is OJ now searching for a thief?

The Houston Chronicle reports, "U.S. District Judge Theodore Klein ordered Simpson last week to pay $33,678 in attorneys' fees and costs" to DirecTV "two months after he was ordered to pay the company $25,000 for pirating its satellite television signals."

Wish I could say the title was mine...I stole the concept from a friend.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Memory at Middle Age

Not only do I now have to wear those $2.00 reading glasses (still at magnification 1.0, thanks) at the computer and any font less than 14 (forget about maps in the car at night or menus in dimly lit restaurants), now I have to suffer with an unreliable memory.

Yesterday in our weekly Business Section Meeting at my firm, an associate mentioned that he was working on a file representing a hospital against a donor who wanted his donation returned because the hospital was not using the funds as he proscribed at the time the donation was made. (Actually, the proscriptions were quite broad and we all agreed that the hospital was, in fact, using the donation appropriately but we're talking about ME here.)

I chimed in confidently that I'd read about a case involving a large donation made to Harvard early in the 20th Century that was to be used for specific purposes within what would later become the JFK School of Government. The heirs of the donors wanted the money back because Harvard wasn't using the donation sufficiently within the parameters of the donors' proscriptions.

Today the associate found this article in the New Mexican.

No, the donation was in fact made during JFK's term not in the early 20th Century. Donor graduated from Princeton in 1926 and I'm not even sure if the second quarter qualifies as "early."

Princeton, not Harvard; Woodrow Wilson, not Kennedy.

Suit was filed in 2002 so it's not like I read about this in law school. The indignity.

Social Security unfair in effect...

I first heard this point made by Walter Williams while guest hosting for Limbaugh one day several years ago. Thomas Sowell repeats it today in his column, Civil Rights Rites.

"Social Security is not a racial policy either, but economists who have studied it have long described it as a system that transfers money from black men to white women, given the different life expectancies of these two groups."

When one considers the obvious truth to the description, why has there been so little discussion? Another reason for the privatization, even if a contributor didn't live long enough to access the privatized account, at least he could leave it to his spouse or children.

"Revolt for Excellence"

Blankley's Miers analysis is best I've seen...

Though I was wobbly in the Hugh Hewitt and Beldar camp until I cratered at the very end, I'm looking forward to the fight. Though I expect too little civility, I believe it will be a genuine battle of ideas. Survival of the fittest in the marketplace/jungle of ideas. The right has been training for thirty years. This should be fun.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Early thoughts on the scuttling of Miers

This is an email I Blackberried to Scooter while I was driving home listening to Hugh Hewitt's show on the radio:

"To: [Scooter]
Sent: Oct 6, 2005 5:31 PM

"Brownbeck on HH. He met today with Miers, did not sound impressed. I'm predicting Repubs torpedo her."

Comments: Yes I was driving home at 5:30 on a Thursday. Problem?

I was thinking of a revolt on the committee. Scooter emailed me back that it would be very tough for the Republican senators to go against the President. I thought about it and had to agree.

So what? While we were spared a hearing (which would have been a disaster) and a public revolt by the Republicans on the committee, I had an inkling that the nomination wasn't going to go.

Scooter's indictment

I've not read it nor all the commentary leading up to it, and I'm not sure this is THE lie, but if Libby lied about the fact that Cheney told him about Plame early on (as his notes seem to indicate) then he was covering for his boss. Which, it turns out, he didn't need to do because she hadn't been covert for the requisite number of years.

While lying to a grand jury is a serious matter, his motives were at least selfless (cf Martha Stewart).

Query: Is the loss of Libby all that big of a deal to the White House?

Query two: Don't the facts that (1) the indictment is about only (!) lying to the grand jury, and (2) Rove was not indicted make this a rather tepid tempest in the proverbial teapot? And to query further, doesn't this take the wind out of the Left's sails AND with the upcoming strong nomination for SCOTUS, put The White House in the best position it's been in for weeks?

Never trust a grown man...

who goes by the name "Scooter."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

If only Krauthammer hit for the Astros

"Faces saved. And we start again."

A week ago, at JWR.

Miers withdraws...

Bush reaffirms his respect.

Congratulations, Chicago!

The series was better than 4-0, but the White Sox did a great job.

Conagratulations, too, to the Astros...great year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Never been done. Brandon, you gotta get it started.

Miers and the Republican Conflagration

I know it wasn't to be applied to political parties, but I think it is related to Reagan's Eleventh Commandment.

In essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; in all things, Love.

Seems like we can honestly debate whether the nomination is Essential, but certainly the Love seems to be missing.

City Journal's Nicole Gelinas on Big Easy Corruption and Violence

Of course we all knew of the reputation of New Orleans long before Katrina hit, but who knew it was this bad. Wonderfully researched article on the well-known corruption and shockingly unknown (at least to this reader) murder rates.

Marketing to Pedophiles?

Traveling east of MoPac on 5th Street, it is impossible to miss the marquis that serves as mouthpiece for the owner of El Arroyo Mexican Restaurant. Over the years, I have been amused rarely and disappointed often by the personal politics and tasteless insults “hawked” from the street on a sign, but recently I was shocked to the point of contacting the restaurant immediately.

“Show us where on the doll El Arroyo touched you” was the message Clay McPhail felt would benefit his business that day, but it remains a mystery to me to whom he was marketing with the line used to interview children in cases against child molesters.

It was painful to imagine a young child with a history of speaking out against a molester seeing the marquis and wondering why their experience was being shared with all the world to see. Who would be motivated by the sign to stop in for a margarita or a meal? A call to the manager resulted in my being told the owner had a right to post any message he chose and a call to the owner was never returned.

However, the following day the marquis read “The devil called and said we were being mean.” For some people, any kind of publicity will do. Perhaps McPhail feels indebted to me now, for having again brought his message to the public eye. My appetite for Mexican food will take me anywhere but in “the ditch” with him.

Belinda Howell
Austin, Texas

Monday, October 24, 2005

Texas vaults USC in BCS Standings!

According to ESPN.

Should last exactly one week. Trick is staying in the top two spots.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

SSJ takes first step thanks to Radioblogger

Thanks to the Generalissimo for providing the link. We'll try to live up to the expectations...

Victor Hanson's Carnage and Culture

Just received my copy in the mail today and couldn't be more excited to get started. It is subtitled, "Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power." While wasting a little time at the office reading the book flaps, I noticed this paragraph:

"These [consensual government, free inquiry, innovative enterprise, rationalism, freedom and individualism] Hanson argues, are the cultural values that have enabled Western armies, often vastly outnumbered and far from home, to slaughter their opponents and impose their social, economic, and political ideals on other civilizations."

I happened to buy a first edition, something I don't normally do unless I've already read the book, because of my appreciation of his columns...hmmmm, that makes no sense...I guess now I need to go buy a copy of one or more of his books retail. Anyway, it's a first edition:

Release Date: September 2001

Just reading the book flap in light of the election last Saturday gave me chills. Pick up a copy of the paperback for yourself here at Amazon.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Austin Bay on Stros (and 1986)

Just in case you missed his comments on the 1986 game.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bork hearings....

You know, I think I was a young 26 year old lawyer during the Robert Bork hearings. I was fortunate to be traveling a lot in and around Houston at the time and was able to listen to the Pacifica affiliate carrying the hearings in my car. I thought I was really smart then but wish that I had the experience I have now, almost 20 years later.

I would love to listen to those today.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I was at the big game against the Mets, 1986. The Hatcher homerun put it away, except it didn't.
We wrapped out ties around our heads to no avail.

Pitching wins in playoffs, right?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Miers and my Spaghetti Spine

I never realized just how little I can think on my own. Someone, please, help me decide. Tell me what to think. Krauthammer says nay and Sowell says yea.

Chuck: To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution and to that vision of the institution.

Tom: But ideal was probably never in the cards, given the weak sisters among the Republicans' Senate "majority."

Why is Bidge...

signing with his left hand? (left-hand column, half way down, "Photo galleries: Game 2," photo #3)

SSJ ignored...

by the NYT. Beldar too. Althouse and Volokh made it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Harriet Miers as a "trial lawyer"

Robert Novak writes today that Harry Reid "praised [Miers] . . . a lot for being a 'trial lawyer' - no encomium in the GOP."

Without looking up the meaning of "encomium," I'm sure the point that Novak is making is that "trial lawyers" are hailed byDemocrats and despised by Republicans.

Reid and Novak are perpetuating a common misuse of the term "trial lawyer" and a misapprehension about what they do. Beldar addressed this topic early on and perhaps can do so again.

Courtland Milloy on Bennett

Courtland Milloy (who apparently writes a metro column for the Washington Post) makes an interesting observation today. He cites these stats: black women accounted for 32 percent of the abortions performed in the US in 2002, while making up only 13 percent of the female population; and half of all pregnancies in DC ended in abortion, a higher percentage than in any state. Then he says this:

"No outcry over that because those were just disposable fetuses, right?

"That is, until Bennett spoke of aborting 'black babies,' and suddenly those fetuses become precious pre-born black people who must be saved from the evil Dr. Bill."

As an aside, what has been lost in this kerfuffle is the fact that Bennett is adamantly pro-life, against all abortion no matter the color of the baby.


And here I thought Hewitt was being something of a Chicken Little for all the squawking he was doing about avian flu. Turns out he might be right. The 1918 pandemic, one of history's worst, was a bird flu.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

If Miers is second or third string...

then I'm the very definition of chopped liver. Wish I could take credit for that but one of the Directors of my law firm (a lib) said it this morning as we made coffee.

Also really take offense at the mud slung at SMU...and I'm a UT guy who had to live through the humiliation of the era of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (even if they were cheaters).

Many thanks to Beldar's Blog for applying a salve to my sore feelings...

Beldar sets the record straight on a lot of the aspersions cast on the latest nominee. Sheesh, I thought I had thicker skin.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Dem Contract with America [UPDATE]

Kondracke reports that Democrats are planning a version of Newt's Contract with America. I can't imagine that being a good idea. Kerry always referred folks to his website for details of his agenda, knowing full well that most Americans would yawn and never look. There was a reason he did that: the agenda won't sell.

I think Mr. Kondracke has it dead wrong.

If they really reduce their agenda to a dozen or so honest items that can be easily digested, they'll be shocked to learn just how far to the right the country (at least the red states) has moved since their heyday. Perhaps the MSM will be able to "interpret" the contract for us so that the agenda will seem more palatable but the blogosphere will not let them.

This could spell doom for those dems who've been elected to serve from the south and the west.

Update for anonymous:

While I do not know of any certain percentage of sessions the Speaker is required to attend, I suspect there are no such requirements since those rules are usually drafted by the party in power. Wish I could be more helpful. You might try looking here. Or here.

Moving to much more important subjects, blogging, Adams and the Astrodome:

Is posting on the internet half the fun? Sure it is. Guilty. Will anyone ever take seriously anything a dirt lawyer in Texas has to say? Doubtful, but there is the remote chance that someday I might have an original thought.

As for the Eighth Wonder of the World, anybody in the Houston area born before, say, five years before the move to Minute Maid Park would certainly have plenty to say about the 'dome. I didn’t even make it to my first game there until I was twenty-five…still, I was almost dumbstruck. If you’ve ever been to a little league game in Texas in August, you’d know how necessary the 'dome was. A great piece of engineering, then and today.

Most importantly: you clearly lack the sophistication necessary to appreciate the thespian skills of the late Mr. Adams. You probably think the French are wrong about Mr. Lewis.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Missed it by that much...

Can't believe Don Adams is gone.

Was one of my first TV icons...along with Shatner.


My secretary in our weekly meeting today said I am (accused me of being) loquacious. I don't like that.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A new hookah in Austin...

The Economist reports:

"Hookahs used to be associated with marijuana, opium dens and progressive rock (or that's what we vaguely remember).

Bart Whitaker found in Mexico

If the police tell you that your son is plotting to kill the family, you probably ought to keep an eye on him. Bart Whitaker was captured Thursday in Mexico. He had been on the lam after his mother and brother were killed, and he and his father wounded, by a masked gunman at their home in Sugar Land in December 2003. I described the story here and the creepy post Bart left on a gaming site lamenting the death of his brother.

Bart and some Baylor buddies had plotted twice before to kill the family. Police got wind of the second attempt and reported it to the family, who apparently dismissed it as not credible.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Where is Leonidas?

Did you make it home?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Houston refugees leaving Austin

Heading back to menagerie. PETA sucks. Several "accidents" from geriatric "dogs."

Friday, September 23, 2005

Leonidas at Thermopolae

Thanks, Mike.

Texas should deny/refuse federal financial assistance....

I know Perry can't do it politically, but how great would it be for the most capitalistic state to do it on its own.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Houston evacuation routes jammed

We'll be hearing complaints when this is over about the delay in reversing the inbound lanes of the evauation routes. Thirty minute drives are taking hours. Gasoline is almost impossible to find and some folks are running out of gas just sitting in traffic.

We're planning to take back roads south and west and work over to Austin. Three cars, four adults, one toddler, four dogs, and a cat.

Civil War terminology

Recently the left was all up in arms because Roberts had replaced the term "Civil War" with "War Between the States," clearly indicating his disdain for Civil Rights and a desire to turn the clock back 150 years. The first thing that popped into my mind was that if he truly had such feelings, he’d have replaced it with "The War of Northern Aggression." It is one of those terms that always makes me laugh when I think about how my fellow southerners try to rewrite history.

Paul Greenberg reminded me today of a somewhat more delicate way southerners have of referring to the conflict, "the Late Unpleasantness."

Is it time to turn my back on W?

I know that in a time of war and a time of one very recent and one pending national, natural disaster, this is probably the most inopportune time to discuss this but I am not the only one concerned about federal spending. Someone once apologized to drunken sailors for the comparison of their spending habits to those of the federal government.

Count me among Noonan’s dinosaurs; we’ve got to help pay for these things by revisiting the Transportation Bill and/or MORE TAX CUTS, if we can possibly get them thru. At least b---h about the spending as you sign the bills, Mr. President. Wring your hands. Complain.

Not turning my back yet; the war is too important. The tax cuts (now any discussion should be phrased as increases) are too important.

The Katrina relief efforts are too important (if they are done properly...a test to see if you really are a compassionate conservative, Mr. President...I have no doubt about the former, it is the latter that concerns me). We've screamed bloody murder for thirty, maybe fifty, years that handouts are not the way. Now is our chance to do it right. Get these folks on their feet and turn 'em loose.

Continued prayers for those along the Texas coast.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita bears down on Texas, blogger sees opportunity

As Rita - now the third strongest hurricane on record - marches toward Texas, this Houston blogger, who lives in Evacution Zone B, must decide whether to leave by 2 am as mandated by the Plan (yes we have one and it is being implemented) or stick around for the lootin'.

Did Reid really say/mean that?

From that conservative bastion, The Washington Post, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said, "The president is not entitled to very much deference in staffing the third branch of government, the judiciary."

That is a quote, the article rightly points out, that may come back to bite him.

Katrina v. Rita

Check out the coverage at the Houston Chronicle, particularly the "recommended routes" and other evacuation coverage. The entire Texas Gulf Coast seems prepared to go. Did NO have similar plans and coverage? Of course I realize that Texas has the benefit of having recently witnessed Katrina, but they couldn't have thrown all this together in three short weeks while simultaneously helping out those from LA.

Being a Texan I also know that many more will evacuate today than would have pre-Katrina...hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Hurricane tracking is notoriously difficult and Rita might not even come close...still I'm impressed. My prayers are with those along the coast.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ted Turner: master logician

Thanks to Radioblogger for the transcript from Blitzer:

TT: Have you ever been to North Korea?
WB: No. I've never been to North Korea.
TT: Well, you know, at least go up there and look in their eyes and have a chat with them, before you accuse them of...
WB: I've made several requests, but they haven't let me into North Korea.
TT: Then go on your vacation.
WB: Maybe if I go with you the next time.
TT: All right. I took Christianne Ammanpour with me this time.

Madeleine Albright had that chat (and dance as I recall) and look how well that turned out.

Clearly, I'm to examine the timber in my own eye before judging the mote in another's but I don't think that has much to do with logical discourse.

Chrisopher Hitchens v. George Galloway, no contest

"I did not have the lepidopteral presence of mind to point out, at that moment, that butterflies pupate from sturdy and furry caterpillars."

I wish he had. Hitchens' review of himself worth reading. Love this guy.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Jebby Bush, latest victim of Katrina racism

John "Jebby" Bush, son of Governor Jeb Bush, was arrested Friday in Austin for public intoxication.

Jebby had been living in a Red Cross shelter since he evacuated Florida when Katrina hit. Henry Silva, head of LULAC, decried the arrest. "This is just the latest example of the Bush administration's blatant racism in dealing with this tragedy."

Noting that Jebby's mother is a native of Mexico, Silva denounced the president. "George Bush doesn't care about his half-Mexican nephews and nieces."

Bart Whitaker, fugitive and scumbag

In December 2003, Bart's mother and brother were killed by a masked gunman in their home. Bart and his father were wounded.

I did a little googling on Bart and found this: Several days after the attack, he left this post at a gaming site where his brother was apparently well known, letting the gamers know that he (Bart) had pulled through, that he was "still pretty shocked by the whole thing," and that his brother was a "damn fine player, and a damn fine man."

Turns out Bart orchestrated the attack and that his brother was the original target.

The triggerman and getaway driver were arrested this week. Bart skipped town in July 2004 and hasn't been heard from since.

Update 9/26/05: Bart has been captured in Mexico.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Russ Smith is right: W could learn from Clinton

From this week's New York Press:

"Bill Clinton—who largely ignored the '93 World Trade Center terrorist strike, and was MIA during a '95 heat wave that killed almost 1000 people in the Chicago region—would've given a televised address to the nation within 24 hours of the storm's impact, probably from New Orleans, and he'd have worked the crowd there on the ground instead of viewing the floods from a helicopter. And while the media wasn't entirely in the tank for Clinton, he would've been hailed as an empathetic, hands-on president."

And I don't mean biting his lip or wiping a tear away...just being there.

Will W really hold to this...not raising taxes?

AP and Austin American Statesman report that Bush pledges not to raise taxes in light of all the spending required for Katrina [not to mention Iraq and the recent pork-laden transportation bill].

We'll see if he has the mettle of his dad or his dad's predecessor. (Thanks, Mike.)

Evacuees are taking what they can in the best Big Easy style

I guess it's no surprise that some of our new neighbors are making a grab for more than their fair share of the free money that's being handed out. Eleven were arrested yesterday for doing so. There are reports of evacuees making as many as six trips through the lines to receive financial aid. Houston police have even set up a Katrina Debit Card Fraud Task Force to combat the situation. They're not tasked, however, with monitoring the spending of the cash. "If you want to go buy a plasma TV or Nike tennis shoes, that's your business."

At least one Houstonian (last letter at the bottom) is pissed that his donations to the Red Cross are reportedly being used to purchase perfume and designer handbags, and vows he will not never donate again.

K-Lo was all over the potential for debit card fraud and abuse over a week ago, but she was looking in the wrong direction. She thought the problem would be that non-evacuees, i.e., Houstonians, would take advantage of the give-away. Nope (at least that hasn't been reported yet).

Corruption and fraud have a long and storied history in New Orleans, from the top pols on down. We're going to be hearing a lot more in the coming days, for instance, about the levee boards and their malfeasance.

Grab what you can, get away with whatever you can. It's the Big Easy way.

Update: Rich Lowry has a piece today that looks at the Orleans Levee Board and corruption.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

UT to partner with Community New Start in St. Johns in Austin

CNS and the St. John Community in Austin were selected as the focus of the University of Texas day of service next February. CNS will coordinate and host between 1300 and 2000 students for this event.

UT's proposal for W's Library...

From today's Daily Texan: "The three sites were presented Wednesday in the System's final proposal. One potential site would be part of UT-Dallas, and a second Dallas site would be downtown near Southwestern Medical Center. The Austin location would be on Town Lake."

I'd love to see it on Town Lake near the Lions Municipal Golf Course. The City of Austin would probably secede.

Nice read from Turley on Roberts...

A pretty fair read from Jonathan Turley on Roberts at Jewish World Review.

My favorite quote, "He is proof that politics remains primarily visual. Roberts is a handsome, perfectly groomed man who looks like he was raised hydroponically by Karl Rove in the White House basement."

Spike in drug and alcohol abuse among evacuee addicts expected

This is part of the Big Easy "culture" that I was concerned about earlier. That, and this: If the crime rate is substantially higher in New Orleans than in other metropolitan areas (I think I've read something like ten times), it stands to reason that a fair percentage of our new neighbors are criminals. Some were awaiting trials (that won't take place), or were out on bond awaiting sentencing (never to happen), or were on parole or probation (never to report in again). They are now out of reach of the Louisiana criminal justice system. Can we really expect that this element will suddenly stop committing crimes now that they are here?

And what percentage of these criminals are drug addicts or abusers? I'm guessing it's pretty high.

Unemployed drug-addicted criminals, welcome to Houston.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Did Biden actually say that?

I couldn't find it in the NYT transcript but I'm sure I heard a clip of Biden today say something like, "This is something I've actually written about...well, with the help of my staff...."

If I'm wrong, my apologies to the Senator...but if I heard correctly...this from a guy who failed a class in law school and had to bow out of a presidential campaign because of plagiarism.

If anyone has a link to the quote, I'd be grateful.

Ok, Michael found the link for me at the Washington Post. Thanks.

Here's the quote:

BIDEN: And I know people say they wrote things. I mean, I actually did write that my little old self, with my staff. And no one liked it, I might add, at first; women's groups or anybody else.

When will these bloated airlines ever learn?

LA Times reports that Delta and Northwest have both filed for bankruptcy.


Students scalping free Dalai Lama tickets per the Daily Texan. I'm glad they didn't do it before the Ohio State Game.

Altercation at Houston high school

Five students, three from Houston and two from Louisiana, were arrested yesterday after a fight involving 20 to 25 students at Jones High School. Looks like a Jones kid started it by throwing a can of Sprite at one of the evacuees. Also appears there had been trouble earlier when some students from New Orleans started threatening to take over the campus and the city. "I'm scared to go back to my own school, and I'm a grown man," said one Jones senior.

This isn't good: "They [the New Orleans students] started it, but we finished it. And it's not over yet."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Superdome is cursed

Scroll down to Sept 12

Evacuees finding jobs in Austin

The Austin American-Statesman reports some good news about evacuees finding jobs...more still needed. More than 100 have found jobs and another 400 are being considered. Good news from Dan Zehr.

Texans to pick up some costs of educating evacuees

Feds may not reimburse all the education costs for Louisiana evacuees: this from the Austin American Statesman. I’m no expert but isn’t much of the federal assistance based upon the number of students enrolled? Hopefully, the natural course of funding will pick up some of these additional costs. Otherwise, my fellow Texans will find a way even in light of our school finance system.

Do they play baseball in Delaware?

Read what Senator Biden had to say at

Recycling is silly

Houston spent $1.3 million last year on it's recycling program and took in only $885,000. Curbside recycling is offered to only one half of Houston neighborhoods and participation is down 13% from 2001 to 2005.

Perhaps the problem is the way we do it. There are two bins, one for paper and one for everything else (but no glass). I remember reading years ago that the only resource that made economic sense to recycle is aluminum.

Other cities may have problems with space for landfills; Houston doesn't. We should stop wasting money and put the trash where it belongs: in a big hole in the ground.

AstroWorld is closing

This is a bit of a shock. I had no idea there were problems. Apparently the owner, Six Flags, is millions of dollars in debt, attendance is down, land prices on the South Loop are up, and there is a dispute with the owner of the adjacent Reliant complex about parking.

I remember watching AstroWorld being built. Heck, I remember watching the South Loop being built.

Judge Roy Hofheinz is spinning in his grave. Or in his apartment high over right field in the Astrodome, where I have always suspected he was secretly entombed.

By the way, do recent events not now prove conclusively that the Astrodome was and is superior to the Superdome?

Hurtt sees no spurt In crime

Despite 105 arrests of Katrina evacuees in the last 11 days, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt foresees no significant increase in serious crime from our new neighbors.

I'm still wondering.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Nagin moves to Dallas

I guess when the going gets tough, the tough buy a house in Dallas, so reports (by subscription only or I'd post a link) the Dallas Morning News (quoting the Times Picayune).

Not really questioning His Honor, but seems he could have found something a little closer.


"GUsh is like GUlf, and KATif is like KATrina. If you take 'KAT' from KATif and KATrina, you are left with 'IF' and 'RAIN.' If you support Gush Katif evacuation, it will rain."

A call for a new Islam...from Rushdie

Found this link at REALCLEARPOLITICS.COM. Wonder if anyone will heed his call? Nice to read, even if nobody listens.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fox News Sunday

Brit and Juan are about to go to blows.

Katrina Relief in Austin

From Chris Plummer, Executive Director of Community New Start in Austin, Texas ( :

Dear Redeemer Family,

As we all are aware, Austin has become the new home to some 7,000 former Louisiana and surrounding area residents. In the wake of the confusion surrounding who was going where for assistance, we very quickly found ourselves as a city coping with the undertaking of absorbing folks into the various communities that are a part of Austin. As the churches, non-profits and city/state organizations continued to prepare and seek guidance for the next steps, Community New Start (CNS) and Redeemer Presbetyrian Church (RPC) have found ourselves with some 100 families who have moved into the St. John’s community.

On Wednesday, CNS was informed that the Hearthside Extended Stay hotel at the corner of St. John’s Avenue and IH-35, threw open their doors to families coming out of the Convention Center. Foundation Communities, a CNS partner non-profit housing organization, owns the building and was in the process of renovating the building for low-income housing; they have welcomed CNS in to help them provide assistance to these families. Currently, there are 95 families housed in the 138 rooms of the hotel (with another 5 families expected before the end of the weekend), representing approximately 250 people from New Orleans. We are approximating numbers because the intake information is still being gathered. There are well over 100 children in this mix, ranging from birth to 17. CNS is actively assessing our role, and the role of those churches with whom we are partnered. Several of the children will be absorbed into Pickle Elementary, Webb Middle School, and Reagan High School.

However because of overcrowding in these schools, many of the kids are having to be transported to other schools. To date, AISD is still not completely sure where all of the children will attend. The CNS after-school program, Smart Start, will also be available to the children at Hearthside. We aren’t sure how this will work out or where it will happen, but we are continuing to learn more each hour and hope to have an additional Smart Start entity up and running very quickly.

... [list of particular needs]

The list gets as long as our imaginations, though these are the needs as we see them at the present time. We will coordinate with you as you assess your unique abilities to help so that we are responsive to you as well as the community here in St. John’s.

Karen Parchman, the CNS Renewal Team Director, had the opportunity to spend some time yesterday with “Jeremy,” a 17 year-old who was sitting outside eating fried chicken. "I sat on the pavement next to him as he told me about his desire to get a work permit and find a job. He’s ready to put down roots in Austin, and says he really likes it here. I asked him about school. 'Yes ma’am, I want to go to Reagan,' he said. Allen Weeks, the CNS Community Coordinator, is the cross-country coach, and he asked if Jeremy would want to run. 'No, sir, I want to play in the band. That’s what I did back home. I want to play in the band. My grandma would want that. She’s deceased. I want to honor her by staying in the band.' His eyes filled with tears; the opportunity to grieve hasn’t happened for most of these new Austinites. The time is coming when they will need a compassionate shoulder, and a few words of Christ’s grace, mercy and kindness. Thanks to you for all your willingness to share the love of Christ in this particular manner to give these folks a new start."

Please contact me, and/or Bill Peacock, if you have any questions or need further clarity.

In Christ,

Chris Plummer
RPC Deacon & CNS Executive Director

For more information, please visit:


Ohio State University

Great Game! Your team gave UT a real shootout. Ohioans should be proud. For a win for my beloved Horns, that was three and half hours of great difficulty.

"Too many rules, too much police presence"

James Campbell reports in today's Houston Chronicle about an apparent growing backlash among some Katrina evacuees. One woman, currently living at the Astrodome, "feels there are too many rules, too much police presence." Another man, annoyed that his dreadlocks, gold teeth and tattoos might be cause some Houstonians to fear him, said "That's our culture down in New Orleans."

I'm concerned about importing some aspects of the "Big Easy" culture (and no I don't care what the guy looks like). I'm concerned about the woman who complains that there are too many cops.

The major shelters in Houston are closing and the evacuees are being placed in long-term housing. New job demands are estimated at 100,000, far too many for Houston to handle.

I wonder if we're facing some real trouble as our new neighbors begin to assimilate.

25 -22

(Homer voice) In your face, Hewitt!

Update: Just checked Hewitt's site and he is congratulating the Horns. Now I feel bad.

In your face, Hewitt!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005


Now what?
Test. Secondhand.