Monday, December 31, 2007
The gist: got to stop/greatly reduce the illegal traffic and enable/gently force those here illegally to assimilate or return home the way our previous waves of immigrants did. I never knew that during the depression something like half of the earlier immigrants went home because, in great part, due to the depression. Those that stayed were skilled and contributing. Then, after a while, figure out a way to increase the numbers of legal immigrants. While I'm not opposed to certain numbers of unskilled workers, isn't it in our better interest (oh, I'm so selfish) to admit those with skills that can contribute first?
The hard part is the great reduction of illegal traffic. But figures I've seen this year show something like a 20% decrease over 2006 due in part to the slumping housing market. To me this indicates that employer enforcement is critical. If the market can inform those who would be illegal not to bother to come, enforcement can, too.
As for my mixed feelings, I share what I am sure is your concern for these honest folks who want to provide for their families but cannot do so living under a grossly corrupt oligarchy in Mexico. The oligarchs export the natural would-be revolutionaries for a free market economy as evidenced by the comic book published to ease their illegal entry into the U.S. And, let's be clear and honest, that is who we are talking about--Mexicans and Central Americans.
One of my earliest best friends was a Mexican national named Fernando, not an illegal but I only mention him anecdotally lest a reader other than LJ or Michael think me a bigot. I don't know how else to prove my non-racist bona fides but know LJ and Michael would vouch for me. Also, one of the first persons other than family to come to my mother's house after my father died was Ruben, the guy who cuts my mom's lawn. I don't know his legal status but he does not speak English...he brought his young daughter to translate his condolences. He also quickly arranged to cut the lawn and clean up the yard in preparation of receiving visitors around the funeral. I'll be forever grateful for that. When I moved back to Texas from Denver, he sent a team to help me unload my belongings into storage. I'm grateful for that, too. (I gave him a couple of recliners.)
But when one considers that in 1970-Hispanics were 12% of California's population and 16% of its new prison admits and by 1998 they were 30% of the CA population and 42% of new admits (Immigration Solution, p. 102), the cost is staggering.
I'll only cite gangs like Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS 13). Nothing else needs saying.
This doesn't even begin to factor in the costs associated with the "welfare state" and the illegal immigrant population. That is a key difference between the current immigrant and those of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those previous waves had to sink, swim or rely on relatives or benefactors until they could succeed. Today, they can sink and rely on the American taxpayer to survive (or even thrive when compared to conditions at home).
Hispanic family values are also not what the Republicans would have you believe. Out of wedlock children are highest among Hispanics. In 2003, the number of children born to 1000 unmarried women was:
In 2005, the percentage of all births outside marriage:
While all those rates are disturbing, only the Hispanic population will triple in the next few decades (Immigration Solution, p. 118). Are we not now beyond the argument that it does not matter if a child has both parents? Nobody made the argument better than Patrick Moynihan in the 60s.
I want these folks to want to become Americans. That is why those images of the "demonstrations" in 2006 were so disturbing. Those along with many ideas of La Raza and similar groups. We bought California for about $15,000,000.00 about two weeks after gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill (word had not yet reached Washington or Mexico City, else Mexico would have insisted on much more). A bad deal for Mexico? Sure, but a hell of a lot better than the sellers of Manhattan got.
I'm all over the place but I believe if we could have a five to ten year hiatus (I haven't really thought about how long it would take), we could go a long way toward assimilating those here and get them well on the way to becoming Americans. Then, reopen the gates. We need immigrants; we need people.
Update: The Corner follows the LJ post lead.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
As the snow began (big, wet heavy flakes), we were loading up the rental car and I had the heater/defroster going and I somehow locked the keys inside with the engine running. Couldn't get any towing services on the phone so had to call the local police. They showed up in about 20 minutes and while it took them a while, they finally got it unlocked. We made it to the airport and it was really coming down. They kept closing the airport to plow it, then reopen, the close, etc. Our flight was coming from DFW and was 15 minutes from Milwaukee when the airport closed again. Plane was diverted somewhere (we never heard where) and our flight, among many others, was cancelled. 2 and 1/2 hours later, we finally got our luggage. One would think that the Milwaukee airport would go through this several times a year, but it was utter chaos. No on knew where bags were going, which flights bags were for, etc. Ours were in a cart outside "under a snowbank").
We got out yesterday afternoon (flight delayed over an hour for unknown reasons since it wasn't snowing and the airport was open). We finally got home around 6 - surviving the 2nd snowiest Dec in Milwaukee history.
On a side note, as we were sitting at the airport Fri and it's snowing like crazy, snow plows with blinking light is all you can see outside, chaos all around, I was flashing back to the classic movie "Airport". I kept expecting to see Deano or that old lady who sneaks aboard flights at any minute.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
If sincere, then obviously his policies are bad. If not, then they don't think him electable.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
It is worth noting that one of the greatest victories of the 20th century, the defeat of the Soviet Union in the Cold War at the end of the 1980s, was achieved by three eminently civilian heroes: Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The popes always wear white, the symbol of peace. Mr. Reagan, quite capable of acting heroic roles on screen, never succumbed to the temptation of wearing uniform in office. Margaret Thatcher was a war leader as well as a great leader in peace. She showed considerable courage during the Falklands War, a hazardous business for Britain with its limited military resources, but she never once stepped outside her strictly civilian role, even sartorially—though, as I often noted, she could snap her handbag with a military ring.
What a great writer/orator. Wish I coulda heard this speech.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Lawrence Sager, UT law school's dean, says the proposal that the school will present to the regents in early 2008 calls for a $4,000 increase in resident and nonresident tuition for each of the next two years. If approved by regents, the proposed increase would boost UT law school's resident tuition and fees to $24,632 for the 2008-2009 academic year and to $28,632 for the following year, according to information provided by the law school. The proposal would boost tuition and fees for nonresidents to $39,130 next year and to $43,130 in 2009-2010.
Update: I understand that my undergrad school at UT, now the McCombs School of Bidness, is even more expensive. If these tuitions had been in place in the early 80s, I'd be a plumber now and probably happier.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
CompUSA operates 103 stores, which plan to run store-closing sales during the holidays.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
 It's a mass-scale payment from city and state taxpayers to banks and big investors - institutions that should have known they risked a huge loss from lending on such an unsustainable basis.
 By encouraging people to stay in homes they can't afford, the plan keeps the housing market artificially high. When a bank forecloses on a home, conversely, someone else can buy it at a much cheaper price.
 The Bush plan encourages foolish local-level borrowing. City and state have limited funds; they should raise bonds only for crucial capital projects, like building and fixing roads, bridges, tunnels, schools and subway systems. Any money the government raises to bail out a homeowner who made a bad decision is money taken directly from fixing a pothole-scarred road or an aging bridge.
 Encouraging city and state governments to guarantee new mortgages for precarious borrowers puts the credit ratings of those governments at grave risk.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
In the early bit, there is a shot of the Underground with a sign showing the "Way Out."
I recall my first trip to London. On my first day there I asked directions to some location. The advice was to go "way out." I thought that meant to go a great distance and so missed my turn by about three blocks.
It was on Sunday that the Romney campaign announced the forthcoming speech, saying the candidate would discuss how his "own faith would inform his presidency if he were elected." On the same day in Britain, as it happened, the BBC broadcast an interview with former prime minister Tony Blair, who said that his Christian faith had been "hugely important" to him during his 10 years in power — but that he had felt constrained to keep it a secret for fear of being thought a crackpot.
"It's difficult to talk about religious faith in our political system," Blair said. "If you are in the American political system . . . you can talk about religious faith and people say, 'Yes, that's fair enough,' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."
Apparently that was more than Blair was willing to risk. The fear of being thought ridiculous was why his press secretary had snapped, "We don't do G-d," when an American reporter asked the prime minister about his religious views in 2003. It was why Blair's advisers vehemently protested when he wanted to end a televised speech on the eve of the Iraq war with the words "G-d bless you." American presidents routinely invoke G-d's blessing on the nation, but Blair's spinmasters warned him against offending "people who don't want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats." (Blair told his flacks they were "the most unG-dly lot," but bowed to their demand and ended the speech with a limp "thank you.")
I have vague memories of Blair's having a spiritual side but never would have thought he considered it "hugely important."
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Nonetheless, Saving Grace is a gripping show. It works because Holly Hunter infuses Grace with life, because of rich and engaging storylines, and because of strong characters. At the heart of the show, Grace’s choice is one rarely touched by modern storytelling, but one of the greatest dramas of life. A woman clings to her selfish habits and self-destructive crutches even though God wants better for her. Will she submit or will she wrestle with the angel until His patience runs out?
Me, on the same subject here:
I'm interested because faith is so little explored on television. I'm also interested because the hard living is pretty explicitly shown.I hope this will be a serious inquiry and not just salacious television. We'll see.
I missed Monday night's opener but will watch on the internet tonight.
Update: watched the episode...still like it.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Skyline's defense allowed only two first downs and made Round Rock punt four times in the second half. Round Rock (8-5) turned the ball over on downs with 58 seconds to play after Skyline held Zack Pate inches short of a first down after a reception.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I don't like the implied assault on the "rich" or the tax engineering for specific industries but this (Dem.) guy at least acknowledges JFK's position:
• Middle-class flat tax: This is simple and fair: no middle-class family with an income of under $150,000 should ever pay an effective tax rate of more than 10 percent. If what they owe after calculating their taxes is more than 10 percent of their income, they won't have to pay a dime above 10 percent. If they owe less than 10 percent, they pay the lesser amount.
• Permanent capital-gains tax cuts: Long-term capital gains tax rates now are between 5 percent and 15 percent. The rates are progressive: People in or below the 15 percent personal income tax bracket (which applies to married couples making $60,000) get the lower capital-gains rate. We should lower the capital-gains tax even further for people making up to $100,000 a year, provided they hold the asset for up to five years. Thus your tax would be 4 percent if you hold the asset for three years, 3 percent if you hold it for five years. This sliding scale for taxing capital gains will encourage investment and increase savings for a majority of Americans.
• Cut corporate tax rates to 30 percent: America has one of the developed world's highest corporate tax rates. Let's change that by lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 30 percent — with an even lower rate for new knowledge-based industries in energy technology, biotechnology and other science-rich sectors. We should follow House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel's lead and cut the corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 30 ½ percent[.]
Tennessee made a big mistake. Heck, I could have voted for this guy.
On an unrelated note, I have read where Texas A&M and my Hogs are about to sign a multi-year deal to play annually in the new Dallas Cowboy stadium (ala OU-UT). I'm very excited about that. That will be the only way I'll get inside "Jerry World". There was an article in the DMN a couple of weeks ago about what the highest price ticket in the new stadium will be. $340 a pop, plus a PSL (the biggest rip-off in sports) fee of.....$50,000 per seat!!!! The PSL is refunded in either 25 or 30 years, with minimal interest. The article also stated that the Cowboys are expecting every seat in the new stadium to be purchased via season tickets - meaning no individual game seats for sale. That is very hard for me to believe. They have a 65,000 seat stadium now that they can't sell out via season tickets - how do they expect to do that with a 90,000 seat stadium, with higher ticket prices AND higher PSL fees?????
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It is genuinely funny that the cable companies are taking the Edwardsian position of being on the side of the little guy.
Owners are certainly experimenting here (with an ultimate goal of going to all pay-per-view, all the time) and have lucked out that this is the sexiest game of the year. Sad to say but there are two things that men will pay for if the economic models are correct...sports and porn. (If you've never seen the profit margins on PPV porn for the cable companies, they are astounding. I've also read that only internet gambling has become more profitable than internet porn.)
Having come down firmly on the side of the Network, the more interesting question to me is the experiment itself. The owners have such a lucrative deal with the networks...are they taking this a bridge too far? I don't think so. If this proves a disaster, I believe they can come back and the fans will forgive and forget. I also suspect that it won't prove a disaster. I just don't know if moving from an advertiser model to a PPV model can be justified by the numbers. I don't have access to the numbers the owners must be using but I think they (the numbers) must be less than clear if the owners are having to stick in their collective toe rather than dive in head first.
The last thing we need is for the gummint to get involved. I've even heard arguments on the radio that the NFL is a utility and therefore can be regulated. Having said that, what a coup if some legislator could ride in on a white horse and save the electorate from the evil NFL Network.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
And Michael, if you have not seen it yet, perhaps this little tidbit might sway you. Other than a credit for "assistant to Mr. Penn", the director's name isn't listed in the credits (unless I missed it somehow and I stayed until the end). So perhaps you can "forget" who the director is.
Since I’m going to be in Coppell for Thanksgiving, I may just go.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
In a side note, My (and Michael's) high school, Sharpstown, made the play-offs for the first time in I don't know how long. They are now a 4A school, which is hard for me to believe. When we were seniors, I think we had one of the largest enrollments in HISD. News wasn't as good for us this weekend - the Apollos lose 27-21.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Hit the team across the field.
Show them that we are here.
Set the earth reverberating
With a mighty cheer...Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hit them hard and see how they fall.
Never let that team get the ball.
Hail, hail, the gang's all here.
So stand up for Skyline High
Notable Alums to make me feel unworthy:
Most famous alum: Michael Johnson.
A year behind me: Peri Gilpin.
The embarassing thing is I think we were the Red Raiders but I'm not certain...many moons have passed.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Since I don't listen to talk radio anymore, I'm tuning in more and more to the jihadist station. Though I have discovered my new favorite group - a French band that does lounge-version covers of 80's punk and New Wave songs. I have 2 of their cd's - the first one is better (more lounge sounding); the second one has songs I'm more interested in, but they strayed from the lounge sound a bit on it.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Dear Mr. [Scooter]: I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the case. I really appreciate how much you thoroughly listened to and considered all of the evidence. I noticed you might have had a question about the different jails. I'm still very new to felonies, but as I understand it, there are three different kinds of jail in Texas. First, there is the Travis County jail, which is for misdemeanors. Defendants get 2 for 1 time at this jail. For example, if a Defendant is sentenced to 30 days jail on a DWI, then he would get out in 15 days. Second, is State Jail. State Jail is the lowest level of felonies. In State Jail, Defendants have to serve day for day. Third is prison. Prison is the most serious jail. However, unlike with State Jail, Defendants are usually eligible for parole once they have been in jail for 1/4 of their sentence. The only exception to this is in the most serious cases, which are referred to as"3g offenses." (see 42.12, sec 3g of the Code of Criminal Procedure;examples include murder, capital murder, indecency with a child,aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery) In those cases, Defendants are not eligible for parole until they have served ½ of their time. If you have any more questions, feel free to call or email me. I hope you have a good weekend!
I wanted to thank you for your recent jury service in the possession of a controlled substance case in the 427th District Court. The jury trial process is an integral part of the criminal justice system, and it is people like you who help make the system work through jury service. This was my first felony jury trial. Since this was my first felony jury trial, I would appreciate any advice you might have about what I did that worked, what I could have done better, or any questions you were left with at the end of the process. You do not have to respond, but I was writing too see if you had any feedback for me. We are shredding all of your personal and contact information. I will not contact you in the future. However, you are welcome to contact me at any time. Thanks again!
[name and number]
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I was apparently wrong about my previous post. It was .09 grams of crack. I guess I heard 0.9 at one point.
Yesterday, the prosecution rested after three witnesses: arresting officer, one of his backup officers and the chemist who proved the "rock" was crack. The main part of the prosecution's case was the testimony of those three and the arresting officer's squad car videotape...just like one sees on television. I likely would have voted guilty based on the testimony alone but the video made it an easier call.
The officers were polite in the extreme to the defendant...less so to his female passenger who was very obnoxious and was arrested herself (she also had had a warrant issued against her) after giving the officers three fake names...somehow they knew that and kept going back to her for her real name. She had no i.d. Every time she gave a new name she also gave a new birthday...I guess that was a clue. In hindsight, I'm pretty sure the defendant was buying the drugs for her.
The defendant had two warrants out for him for minor matters. The defendant was nothing but polite and cooperative. At one point the backup officers loosened his cuffs for his comfort. Also, rather than impounding the guy's white Lincoln, they turned it over to his stepfather (I think, the relationship was a little fuzzy).
Officer pulls up in an apartment complex known for drug deals and prostitution, occupants and ownership having asked the police for highly visible patrols there, and sees defendant with another man (the stepfather) face to face with cash on the trunk of defendant's car being held down with large, but legal, knife. Officer approaches and stepfather disappears into darkness while defendant heads around to driver's side of car. Officer stops defendant while defendant's feet are still outside of car to question him. Defendant gives his name and license and arresting officer checks for warrants. At this point backup arrives. Once warrants are discovered, defendant is gently put in cuffs and moved to rear of his car in front of the squad car directly in front of the camera.
Defendant’s story: I was just loaning money to my stepfather who lives right over there. Big questions, if that is where stepdad and presumably mom live, why did stepdad disappear and where are they now? Why aren’t they out there now trying to clear this up?
The officer then radioed in to be sure of the warrants. Apparently there is a more thorough list that might indicate the warrants were no longer active. Once confirmed, defendant was searched (when the rock was discovered) and moved into the squad car. (The search was off camera which seemed a little strange to me. Had there been any really serious accusations of planting evidence, this would have been an issue for me. On the other hand, he was going to jail anyway due to the warrants so why would the young backup officer plant a $20.00 rock? On the third hand, maybe young backup wanted to be a hero but how would a $20.00 rock do that?)
When the defendant was move to the car the camera was turned around to face the rear of the squad car to keep an eye on the defendant who mostly slunk to the shadows. The clock on the videotape showed no break so any alleged brutality (see below) would have had to occur later.
Much was made about the backup officers' video by the defense which we never saw. Learned later that the defendant had made numerous charges against the arresting officer and his two backups in connection with brutality charges and planting evidence. The former charge was completely ludicrous and the latter also very unlikely given that the guy was going to jail for the two outstanding warrants anyway. I knew none of this last night as I pondered the prosecution's case.
It was clear as I thought about it that the guy was guilty of possession. I was thinking, "Ok, clearly he's guilty. Based upon what I know right now, I'll vote guilty and really push the jury for the lightest possible sentence.
Today, arrived at court at 9:00, told there would be an hour wait while the lawyers and judge did "legal stuff." About 9:45, we were moved from the jury room to the courtroom for our "safety." Judge said there was something going on elsewhere and they didn't want us in a room with a window. How comforting. They locked the courtroom doors.
I was never actually worried about anything and later learned that there was some kind of disturbance in the only other courtroom on our floor. What I did mind was in utterly inane small talk engaged in by two or three of my fellow jurors. Trying to read while they droned, oh how funny they thought they were, was excruciating.
Back to jury room at 11:15 and released for lunch at 11:30. Home for lunch (I love living close in even if it is a hole).
Back to court at 1:30. Found out later that beyond the security issue they were trying to find the backup officer’s videotape which had been pulled by “Internal Affairs” without the knowledge of the prosecution or the officers. Tape found and the defendant and lawyers and judge watched it. Apparently the tape revealed no brutality and the defendant then got religion and pled to 2 years in the big house. The real big house. He had previously been offered 8-12 months in a system (not county but a bit vague as to what system it was) that would have meant much easier time than in prison.
Talking to the judge and counsel afterwards, I learned that my guilty verdict would have been the correct one and that I would not have been trying to argue for a lenient sentence. He had been convicted five previous times for burglary, selling dope and other assorted crimes. He had served time on three previous occasions.
Negatives: not much in the way of real courtroom time, didn’t get to render a verdict (actually a bit of a relief), time out of the office (ok, a relief, too).
Positive: just the pending jury trial and therefore the possibility that other cases would come before the judge after our trial caused some 20 cases to be pled so 20 trials averted. I recall from my civil litigation days that lazy lawyers get a lot more done when the trial draws near.
As for lawyers being called to serve, I’m 47 and this was my first. I asked counsel about that and the defense lawyer and lead prosecutor both wanted me. Only the junior prosecutor wanted me booted. I don’t think that either side of a criminal trial has much to fear from a civil lawyer, especially a transactional guy instead of a litigator.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Monday, November 05, 2007
I had the great pleasure of attending a seminar of Francis A. Schaeffer of L'abri in the late 70s wherein he taught about declining culture and post- modernism from a Christian philosophy’s perspective. I think it was the first time I ever heard the term “world-view.” It was a brief course of several days following the outline staked out in his How Should We Then Live. It was, of course, way over my head but I knew I was in the company of greatness…along with 10,000 of my closest friends. Still, seeds were planted and for the first time, I began paying attention to "classical" music.
Indeed, within a year of that seminar, I had the great fortune of hearing the legendary Benny Goodman perform in Fair Park in Dallas. I was seventeen and still remember that before the intermission (where I purchased my first gin and tonic at 17) he performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and after with his big band. I have to admit I was delighted to read this in Steyn's piece:
The argument is that, oh, well, you uptight squares are always objecting to stuff: you thought Sinatra exciting bobbysoxers was dangerous, and the Viennese waltz was the mating dance of a hypersexualized culture. No. Benny Goodman, noted by Bloom, was a huge pop star but he could play the Mozart clarinet concerto.
Some ten years later, Allan Bloom summed up a similar world-view from a secular perspective with Closing. This one I didn’t read for another ten years when I saw the book on a Top 100 list for the 20th Century. A brutal read for a child of the sixties…but that is his whole point. I should probably reread after having become a bit more sophisticated as my reading has become a bit more thoughtful.
This was followed in 1999 by Chuck Colson’s How Now Shall We Live, obviously echoing the themes of Schaeffer. (I have to admit I haven’t read this one yet for fear of being shamed.)
Funny how Jonah's little blurb can send me through such a spiral.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The former mukhtar seemed to like the American lieutenant, as we continued to sit on his machine-made carpets, lean against undressed cinder blocks, and drink tea in his home. But he said no [to a plea to stand by the lieutenant against the insurgents]. "I cannot resume my role as mukhtar. They will kill me. The contractor down the street was threatened if he continued to repair the neighborhood. If you are so serious about security, why," he went on, "did you Americans release prisoners from Abu Ghraib?"
Lt. Turner said that the decision to release prisoners from Abu Ghraib was one made by Iraq's own new government. The former mukhtar wasn't convinced. Because many of the detainees at Abut Ghraib were known to be hardened criminals from the Mosul area, the release had undermined the credibility of American troops here. Abu Ghraib had a different connotation for Iraqis meeting with Americans in Mosul than it had back in the United States. Here the words meant American weakness and lack of resolve, not human rights violations. (p. 249)
One of the really wonderful aspects of Kaplan's book, indeed his main goal, is to give us insights into the type of men and women serving in our Armed Forces. Most of them deal with the men and women of the Hog and Grunt varieties (noncoms or non-commissioned officers and lower). Here though he writes of Army Maj. Larry Smith of Savannah, Illinois:
After community college, Larry enrolled at Rockford College.... In October 1983, after hearing about the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, as he told me, "I got up and walked out of a class on French literature, went straight to the local recruiter's office, and joined the Army as a buck private. I have nothing against French literature. But at the time, it didn't mean much to me."
Over the next fiver years, while working as a military policeman in Alabama and Germany, he rose to sergeant. Then he enrolled in the ROTC program at Illinois State University in Normal, graduating as a second lieutenant. Tours at Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Fort Carson, Colorado, followed in succession, as he rose to the command of a military intelligence company. Next, he decided he wanted to be a foreign area officer for the Indian subcontinent. That led to a year of studying Hindi at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, and a year of graduate school in subcontinental Asian studies at the University of Texas at Austin. (p. 212)
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Surplus property listed on this Web site is available to state agencies, political subdivisions, and assistance organizations, not to the general public. The owning agency determines the price for each item while it is listed here. The first state agency, political subdivision, or assistance organization agreeing to the price is entitled to the property. During the 10 business days that the property is posted on this Web site, a transfer to a state agency has priority over any other transfer under rules adopted by the commission.
Fairly decent inventories of stuff.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Give him or her a healthy reading habit (even if he never advances beyond Harry Potter, Larry Niven, either of the Kellermans and Tom Clancy) and his four years at McDonalds will result in a far better education than almost all colleges currently deliver.
Committed conservatives, meanwhile, find themselves at a disadvantage: They advocate smaller government for everybody — when Americans generally (including most Republicans) want smaller government for everybody but themselves.
One of our more sane local Ron Paul supporters (Jeff Ward of KLBJ radio, as opposed to Alex Jones) says it like this, "Liberty and equality for all, special privileges for me."
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I post this not so much because of the Roe v. Wade content but because it can show what happens when good, principled conservatives sit out elections...in this case the 1986 midterms when the Republicans lost the Senate majority. Reagan campaigned like crazy for the Republican senators but seven seats were lost in 1986. Après ça le deluge.
From today’s column by Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator (long but a great history lesson for those of us occupied by, er, other things in the mid-80s):
With the release of the papers of Roe's author, Nixon appointee Harry Blackmun, Justice Blackmun himself reveals that Kennedy [Me: Reagan appointee after the Bork disaster and the other Ginsburg...I’d forgotten about him] was poised to agree with a draft opinion of Chief Justice William Rehnquist that would essentially overturn Roe. Under pressure from Blackmun, Kennedy did something that would have been unthinkable for Bork: he switched sides, turning a 5-4 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey from an opinion overturning Roe v. Wade into one that reaffirmed it.
In other words, the loss of seven Senate Republicans, six by the closest of margins, saved Roe v. Wade. More accurately, a relative handful of conservatives in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington, by either taking a pass on the election entirely or actually voting for the liberal, inadvertently rescued the most controversial Court decision of our day.
Whatever on thinks about the pro-choice/pro-life arguments, clearly those that sat at home in November, 1986 didn’t intend for this to happen. Dobson and friends had better think and pray long and hard
Monday, October 22, 2007
Does Bin Ladenism or Salafism or whatever we agree to call it have anything in common with fascism?
I think yes. The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures.
The Cure for Market Failure
At the University of Chicago [Me: as much as I hate to go against the Chicago School], economists lean to the right of the economics profession. They are known for saying, in effect, "Markets work well. Use the market."
At MIT and other bastions of mainstream economics, most economists are to the left of center but to the right of the academic community as a whole. These economists are known for saying, in effect, "Markets fail. Use government."
Masonomics [Me: George Mason University school] says, "Markets fail. Use markets."
Masonomics sees market failure as a motivation for entrepreneurship. As an example of market failure, let us use a classic case described by a Nobel Laureate which is that the seller of a used car knows more about the condition of the car than the buyer. Masonomics predicts that entrepreneurs will try to address this problem. In fact, there are a number of entrepreneurial solutions. Buyers can obtain vehicle history reports. Sellers can offer warranties. Firms such as Carmax undertake professional inspections and stake their reputation on the quality of the cars that they sell.
Masonomics worries much more about government failure than market failure. Governments do not face competitive pressure. They are immune from the "creative destruction" of entrepreneurial innovation. In the market, ineffective firms go out of business. In government, ineffective programs develop powerful constituent groups with a stake in their perpetuation.
Consider business practices that alienate customers and clients. Surely no business with a general clientèle, such as Amazon, Home Depot, or Kmart, has this as a goal. Yet it occurs. Why?
The offending employee may be evil, bitter, or malicious, but economists have little to say about individual characteristics. Rather, economists examine the incentives and information facing the person who annoyed or harmed the customer. Here are two examples.
You’ll have to read them but both are egregiously bad errors. The good news? Go to Overstock.com or Wal-Mart and exercise your freedom to choose. Amazon and Target will make corrections out of nothing but self-interest. The Market will take care of errors made by businesses.
But what about when markets fail?
In recent news, Treasury man [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson has in fact taken a strong-dollar step with his proposal to slash corporate tax rates. The former Goldman head honcho is working with House Ways & Means chairman Charlie Rangel to reduce the 35 percent corporate tax rate all the way down to 25 percent. This is a terrific idea. Studies have shown that 70 percent of the benefits of a corporate tax cut would go to the American workforce, boosting jobs and wages.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I should have known they would be perfect. He may have been frugal (I doubt he bought any of his guns new) but he was a perfectionist.
Anything hit beyond 10 yards with the .25 and beyond 15 yards with the .32 was pure luck.
Any living thing ever hit with a .25 is likely going to keep doing what it was doing unless the shot was very lucky.
They are all dangerous but a Colt .45 is very scary.
Lots of young kids there learning from their dads.
Guy next to me was sighting some kind of rifle. I don't know what it was or what he hunts but yikes. I had my 29 db earmuffs on and every time he fired that cannon, I jumped a foot.
By habit I remain a registered Democrat, largely because my parents and grandparents were agrarian populists in outlook. I also try to vote and support (even as our district boundaries keep changing) one Democrat, Jim Costa, our local Democratic congressman, who is cut from the Scoop Jackson mold. Central Valley Democrats used to be considered mainstream center-right people in a way unimaginable now. We forget that a long time ago, Democrats were considered sort of tough, practical minded, a world away from the blueblood golf course crowd, receptacles of conservative values in a way the elite Republicans were not. That’s ancient history now.
I throat clear like that because of the steady insanity shown by the Democratic political class.
When we factor in the “Betray-us” ad, the Hollywood antics, and the university embarrassments, whether denying Larry Summers a right to speak at UC Davis or welcoming in Ahmadinejad at Columbia, one is forced to ask, “What happened to liberal thinking and the Democratic Party?” Why do dissent and criticism almost immediately devolve into elemental rage, whether Durbin screaming that our soldiers are Nazis or Moveon.org that their leader is a traitor? Why do deans, media heads, and politicians show such bad taste?
You’ll have to read his answer at his pajamasmedia post (it’s the penultimate section under “Democrats”).
Friday, October 19, 2007
The benefit from concealed handguns on multiple-victim public shootings is particularly large. Examining all the multiple-victim public shootings in the United States from 1977 to 1999 shows that on average, states that adopt right-to-carry laws experience a 60% drop in the rates at which the attacks occur, and a 78% drop in the rates at which people are killed or injured from such attacks.
The principle is simple. Access to lawyers is a fundamental human right. You are entitled to all you want, for any reason or for no particular reason at all, subject only to the government's willingness to provide it. In order to make sure you get everything the government thinks you need, from routine legal services to hit-the-jackpot lawsuits, the government will simply start treating lawyers the way they treat doctors.
2. There shall be tens of thousands of pages of government rules and fine print regarding how to practice law. These will require hundreds of hours a year to master, will change constantly, often without notice, and may result in lawyers having to hire and pay employees who do nothing but puzzle over rules of compliancy.
3. Failure to abide by these rules may result in harassment, fines or prison time.
4. Legal fees will be based on a relative value scale established in the 1980s, and will be cut back every year. Lawyers will simply have to handle more clients for less.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Prager at Townhall:
What damage has she ever done to Jews? What is wrong with a person believing that it would be better if another person adopted their faith? Is there one liberal who doesn't believe that a conservative would be better -- "perfected," if you will -- by embracing liberal beliefs and values? Why is it laudable for a liberal to hope that conservatives convert to liberalism, but dangerous and hate-filled when a Christian hopes that Jews or anyone else will go to heaven (that is, after all, Ann Coulter's and most other Christians' primary concern) by believing in Jesus?
I do dislike the term "perfected," though, preferring the term "completed." And, neither refer to a temporal, physical or moral perfection or completion, rather a theological or religious perfection or completion.
Update: Medved audio with Coulter (ten minutes on Oct. 15) at TH.
Monday, October 15, 2007
In short, if the religious right decided to support a third candidate, it would become the biggest loser in a Giuliani-Clinton contest, whatever the outcome. Even so, it is tempting for those opposed to Giuliani’s pro-choice stance to speculate that a Hillary Clinton presidency might shock the country into greater receptivity to policies espoused by people of faith. But it’s worth remembering that similar hopes, coupled with discontent with the presidency of George H.W. Bush, inspired some to vote for Ross Perot in 1992. As a result, America endured eight years of a Clinton presidency – and set Hillary Clinton on the path she’s pursuing now.
From the Australian:
For example, the former vice-president predicts a rise in sea levels of 6m "in the near future". "The Armageddon scenario he predicts," declared Burton, "is not in line with the scientific consensus."
A schoolkid in Ontario was complaining the other day that, whatever subject you do, you have to sit through Gore's movie: It turns up in biology class, in geography, in physics, in history, in English.
Whatever you're studying, it's all you need to know. It fulfils the same role in the schoolhouses of the guilt-ridden developed world that the Koran does in Pakistani madrassas. Gore's rise is as remorseless as those sea levels. I assumed Gore's clammy embrace would do for the environmental movement what his belated endorsement had done for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential candidacy: kill it stone dead. But governor Dean was constrained by actual humdrum prosaic vote tallies in Iowa and New Hampshire. The ecochondriacs, by contrast, seem happiest when they're most unmoored from reality.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Today I got notice that the City of Austin will pick up the tab from November 1 through February 28, of, of, of 2009!
Apparently, at the press conference after the game when asked about the 5 picks, he replied, "It felt like 7."
The guy must be getting self-effacement lessons. That is the kind of stuff that will make him the Second Coming in Dallas.
Update: I got Cogill's spelling incorrect. Here's his website.
More disturbing is Senator Clinton’s May 24, 2007 statement that “doctors and patients don’t know which medical interventions are most effective — and which have little benefit.”
Rather than trusting the decision about a medication or course of treatment to a surgeon or the parent of a sick child, Senator Clinton proposes instead to establish a “Best Practices Institute” so that “doctors, nurses and other health professionals…would know what drugs, devices, surgeries and treatments work best.”
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Before the Bills' game Monday night, the general feeling was that there was NO WAY Dallas could or would lose. They were going to roll out and destroy the Bills. It would be over by halftime, that is how good the Cowboys are and how bad the Bills are.
Tuesday morning, the spin was that the Cowboys showed their true greatest by winning a close game. It was a good thing for them to play and win a close game. Nothing about how bad they played, nothing about the Bills - if one hadn't known anything, you would come away from the spin thinking the Cowboys played a GREAT team, played a GREAT game and won. A truly great team doesn't win all their games easily - the truly great ones play and win close ones.
Romo is the second coming. Phillips is a genius. Jerry is a genius. I'm going to have to listen to Mike Gallagher or my jihadist station in the mornings; Medved in the afternoons. Shoot me now...please.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
And don't forget the first Commie in space.
Now where have I heard about some other scientific consensus lately?
Monday, October 08, 2007
(3) As a supporter of some four years of the now unpopular effort to remove Saddam and leave a democracy in his place, I continue to have only one reservation, albeit a major one. The U.S. soldier in the field is so unusually competent and heroic that one comes to despair at the very thought of losing even one of them. As a military historian I know that an army that can’t take casualties can’t win, but I confess after spending 16-hour days with our soldiers in impossible conditions one wonders whether the entire country of Iraq is worth the loss of just of these unusual Americans. I understand both the lack of logic and perhaps amorality in such a sweeping statement, but feel it nonetheless out here.
Dr. King, through Star Parker, taught me why I was wrong today at Townhall in her column on Jena:
The Rev. Martin Luther King pointed out that "It may be true that you cannot legislate morality, but behavior can be regulated." He observed that through legislation, he may not be able to get the other guy to love him, but he sure can use it to stop the guy from lynching him.
Friday, October 05, 2007
But, driving to work this morning, Mike Gallagher was talking to Gov. Huckabee and was making almost the exact same argument, not so much using the movie box office analogy, just that all we hear about the candidates is how much $$ they raise, not about their positions. And on CNN online this morning, the lead story in the politics section was about fund raising. Perhaps Savage isn’t as loonie as it might appear.
I’m not prepared to worry just yet although gf2 and the survey did get me going a bit last night. I think it just a slam at, duh, Rudy. Rudy’s my candidate in spite of many of his social positions because I think he’s the only guy who can beat her. And he's right on WWIV. He's the guy I think of when I hear the Samuel Jackson line about which I asked earlier, "I don't like you because you're trying to get me killed!"
He also seems to be the only guy, other than Paul, who seems to really understand the markets.
I know, I know, the Stepford Candidate from Massachusetts is a great business man but I don’t like some of what I’m hearing from him. I need to learn more about Mitt’s health insurance plan in Mass., too, and what he wants done nationally.
Back to Dobson, he is just not being practical. I appreciate that if one were as marrow-deep pro-life as Dobson is, then one could justifiably be conflicted as a matter of principle about supporting someone who is pro-choice, also as a matter of principle, regardless of what he promises about judges. But he needs to be practical and I suspect he will be.
I think the timing of this is pretty astute on Dobson’s part. Make noise now in an effort to get his preferred candidate the nomination and if that fails and Rudy wins, shut up. Who is going to throw his hat in the ring against Rudy? Huckabee (probably Dobson's choice)? I don’t think so. Romney (I don’t even know what Dobson thinks of Romney)? Not a chance. Newt? Even though staunchly pro-life, Dobson would still have to hold his nose. Paul (the oxymoronically pro-life Libertarian)? Maybe, but he’s so bad on WWIV, I don’t think he could garner much support.
No, I think if Rudy wins the nomination, Dobson just goes quiet. Or, he has one of those meetings like he did with the Supreme nominees and comes away convinced Rudy will do the right thing with the judges.
Even if I’m wrong, I’m not sure the Evangelical base would follow Dobson on this (I know I won’t) given the alternative.
But, to try to answer your question, instead of telling you who I would vote FOR if the election were tomorrow, let me tell you who I would NOT vote for (in no particular order):
McCain - no
Giuliani - no
Thompson - no
Huckabee - no
Obama - no
Hillary - no
Edwards - no
Hunter - no
So I guess that means I'll have to choose between Richardson, Romney or Paul.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Scooter, I know you're busy but I'd like your memo on my desk by the time I get in.
LJ, I started to write that you should help Scooter with his memo because, while it's our problem, one would expect you'd be interested in the answers because you stand to gain; but then I thought, "I can't imagine the LJ I know supporting any of the Dims." But you must support someone. So I ask, who? And do not give me any crap about it's too early, etc. If you prefer, my question to you is: If the election were held today, for whom would you vote?
I wouldn't worry about any kind of Dixie Chicks moment; you can't help who picks up the rights to a project in which you have interest.
And, I'd say we should've known that Comrade Penn would become a good actor and director because of his performance in Fast Times.
Kind of a Dallas meets Dynasty meets Desperate Housewives on crack.
Embarrassing Update: I've watched too many of the episodes. The women are exceedingly, er, uh, hot. Our friend Cin watches, too.
One of my all time favorite books and it started me on my obsession with Alaska/Artic/Canadian-themed wilderness books. One might not approve of Comrade Penn's politics, but is a very good actor (who would have predicted that following "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") and a very good director.
Into The Wild is now a movie, coming out this weekend it looks like. Directed by Comrade Penn, so I've got a Dixie Chick decision to make. Review in the Chronic here.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
More than one-fourth of the American League pennants in the 20th century were won by the New York Yankees -- and they didn't win their first pennant until 1921.
The Austin Diocese celebrates it following the First Monday in October to coincide with the opening of Supreme Court. The purpose is to bless/consecrate lawmakers, judges, lawyers, etc... to do their best.
Had to go in light of publication this week of the memoirs of Associate Justice Thomas, My Grandfather's Son.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Sure, I occasionally learn something like I did yesterday in his 90 minutes with Associate Justice Thomas, but I'd never use him as a primary source. What does he regularly call himself? Something like, "expert broadcast specialist." The other titles he bestows upon himself are pretty clearly marketing ploys.
Reid's comments and especially Harkin's drug reference on the floor appear so whiny, so small; it's embarrassing. Why give this attention to a radio host? The answer has to be they fear him. How cowardly is that? Afraid of a radio guy.
I know he has power and probably did have an effect in the '94 Republican taking of Congress but he's still just a radio guy.
This is silly. Please stop it.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Of course I'll watch and even pay any outrageous PPV fees, but with much less heart.
And, I readily acknowledge that UT should have two losses.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Included in my haul are two Colt 1911 .45s. Ok, more of the same except for the classic 1911 style that I've envied for some time.
New to me are two little Colt autos, a .32 and a .25. Both pea shooters.
A Ruger long barrel .22 six in the cylinder pistol. Still a pea shooter but a genuine target pistol.
Also new to me a Marlin .44 mag Rem. Magnum rifle...classic cowboy design...like Chuck Connors carried in The Rifleman. And a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, also six in the cylinder. I knew these were powerful guns but I went to Academy today to by ammunition. Obviously I need to do that before I take them out to see how they perform. As Lileks would say, "jeebus!" these are huge bullets. I had no idea what magnums (magna?) were.
Obviously, my .45s are actually larger. The magnum projectiles are not so imposing (except that the .357s are hollow point) but the cartridges holding the charge are huge. I cannot imagine what the recoils will be from these things.
Almost felt illegal just buying these things.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
You pay the deductible to people who dry out the house. However, I was told by the operations manager guy that came out a couple of times during the process that their bill ALONE would probably end up twice what my deductible was (State Farm will pay them the difference). So right then, I'm ahead of the game....
State Farm gave us a list of 4 or 5 general and flooring contractors to choose from. If you don't have a preference, the next ones in the rotation are chosen for you. While they won't "endorse" any one over the other (since they all have to meet certain standards for State Farm), one of the State Farm guys who works in this program told me about each one, so I got a sense of them.
State Farm is also paying for any increase in our electric bill during the dry out time (our usage went WAY up...3076 kwh the month before to 4800 this month), any increase in our water bill, eating expenses since our kitchen will be torn up and not usable, and for any days we have to stay in a hotel or extended stay place.
So far they are getting high marks from me....
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
We have in use today, a zero-emission energy that could provide electricity for millions more homes and businesses than it currently does. Yet it has been over 25 years since a nuclear-power plant has been constructed. The barriers to nuclear energy are political not technological. We’ve let the fears of 30 years ago, and an endless political squabble over the storage of nuclear spent fuel make it virtually impossible to build a single new plant that produces a form of energy that is safe and non-polluting. If France can produce 80-percent of its electricity with nuclear power, why can’t we? Is France a more secure, advanced, and innovative country than we are? Are France’s scientists and entrepreneurs more capable than we are? I need no answer to that rhetorical question. I know my country well enough to know otherwise.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The agreement allows GM to shift more than $50 billion of retiree health-care liabilities to an independent union-aligned trust -- a breakthrough expected to allow Detroit automakers to cut in half a labor-cost gap against Japanese competitors.
If GM couldn't manage the costs, how well will this "trust?" Good for GM but those UAW folks better start saving.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I'm still not sold on the Pokes' Offensive Line. We'll see.
Doesn't Dr. Skip (Bayless) still have a voice in Big D? He was a real homer under Landry but never seemed afraid to speak truth to power after the Landry decapitation.
From the part on Afghanistan and Iraq:
In hindsight, most people made the right decision about Afghanistan and Iraq. That is, in hindsight, most people are in favor of invading the former and against invading the latter.
In fact, the unexpectedly low cost of invading Afghanistan may have been one of the reasons for the unexpectedly high cost of invading Iraq. The Bush Administration probably based its expectations of the latter on the outcome of the former.
For now, it is not clear what is the best strategy in Iraq. Some argue that the larger the role that Americans take in the war, the less incentive for the Iraqi government to address difficult issues. Others argue that without a major American presence, security will deteriorate and the country will sink into sectarian violence. Years from now, we may know the answer to these and other questions. And with hindsight bias, we will wonder how those who were on the wrong side of the issue could have been so blind. Meanwhile, real decisions have to be made with imperfect information.
NRG Energy and CPS Energy filed with regulators Monday for licenses to build two new nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project, the first nuclear power application in nearly 30 years.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects applications for about two dozen new licenses in the next couple of years as power companies attempt to take advantage of federal loan guarantees for nuclear reactors. The NRG application may test Americans' appetite for the pollution-free energy that carries a risk of radioactive spills.
But of course:
NRG's other partner at the South Texas Project, the city of Austin's utility, hasn't decided whether to invest in the new reactors and won't make that decision for a few months, spokesman Ed Clark said.
Anyway....back to the Cowboys. Sunday night I did what I normally do - I watch their games until it seems like they will win, then I turn it off.
Monday, September 24, 2007
“On March 1, 2008, the level of subsidy will begin to be reduced, which will gradually lead families toward independence. Program participants will pay a portion of the cost, which will begin at $50 per month and incrementally increase each month thereafter until the program concludes on March 1, 2009...
and of course FEMA/HUD, both admin agencies with bush appointees at helm. Years of Rep controlled Congress could have made changes if they'd wanted to...”
Me: Well, I'm happy that the winding down seems to have commenced. Should have been transferred to HUD a long time ago (not that my faith in HUD far exceeds my faith in FEMA but, working often with HUD, faith in HUD does exceed faith in FEMA). FEMA should be for the quick in and out, HUD for the long-term. I realize there are those who will likely need assistance for about...forever.
It appears my clients' tenants will have received two full years of free rent and a third year that will average one-half of the total rent for the year if the increments are also $50.00 and good for them.
The Republican controlled Congress, the GWB Agencies, and GWB are precisely those upon whom I lay the blame. Can't point the finger anywhere else.